Chapter 2 : II
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“What the hell was I thinking?” I asked aloud, berating myself during my entire walk to the nearest alley.
Did I seriously just offer to buy her dinner? Did leaving Hogwarts melt my brain or something?
‘Lily has been telling you to meet someone lately,’ a voice said.
That was right. Lily has been pestering to meet someone since sixth year. But I highly doubt she expected me to meet up with a Muggle. Merlin, I must have been losing my mind.
I cleared my mind for a moment, Apparating while thinking about all of that would surely cause me to splinch myself. So I closed my eyes and soon felt the tug of Apparation.
“Where have you been?”
The voice no longer startled me; I had become accustomed to people being in my home before I could get there. Opening my eyes, I turned away from the rusting door and addressed the visitor.
“I took a walk, Sirius,” I answered, tossing my cloak on the hanger near the door.
Sirius stretched out on my torn sofa. “You seem upset.”
“I’m just tired and would like to go to sleep if you don’t mind.”
“Oh, come on, Moony. I’m bored here.”
“I’m serious. We can talk more tomorrow.”
Sirius jumped up, still stretching. “Fine then.”
“Go and bother James.”
“He’s with Lily. Don’t forget the wedding next week.”
“You okay?” he asked.
I gave him a sharp nod and adverted my eyes from him. “I’m fine; just a bit ill is all.”
“Right, got it. I’ll catch up with you later then.”
I felt Sirius giving me another curious look before hearing him Disapparate away.
I lied down on my sofa, resting my hands behind my head. Carson’s face replaced the dingy ceiling. She was quite beautiful in an odd way.
‘Then it’s a date,’ said that darn voice. Lily must have found a way to communicate in my mind.
“She’s a Muggle,” I whispered.
‘Yet you’re a half-blood.’
“And a werewolf.”
Those last words halted the voice in my head. It would have been difficult for me to find a girlfriend in the wizarding world because of my little…problem. How could I possibly date a Muggle?
‘So it really is a date.’
No, it wasn’t a date. It couldn’t be a date. I was just being nice to her. She deserved it….
Groaning, I forced myself up off the sofa and headed back to my bedroom. Just one quick dinner, and I never have to see her again. The others didn’t have to know about. Lily, surely, didn’t have to know about it.
‘Why not? Carson may just want to see you again after tomorrow.’
Merlin, if I were to deal with Carson, I first needed to stop talking to myself. First sign of madness, but I guess I already flew past that by asking a Muggle out to dinner with a werewolf.
“James, I was wondering if…if I could borrow a few, um, galleons?”
James handed over a cup of tea and sat down next to Sirius and Peter at the kitchen table. We had all ended a long, difficult day of trying to find outfits to wear to the wedding. Shopping wasn’t the most pleasant experience in the first place. Having Sirius and James act like fools while making it a point to try on every color of the rainbow didn’t make it any easier.
“What do you need the money for?” Sirius asked.
“How much?” James asked at the same time.
I took a large gulp of the tea, keeping the promise I made to myself last night to not mention Carson. The guys would never let me hear the end of it, and James would definitely go off to tell Lily all about it. For all I know, they’d probably try to get her to come to the wedding as my date.
“I’m running low on food,” I lied, shifting around uneasily in my seat. Lying to them was never easy. They knew me too well.
“Shopping in the Muggle world?” James asked, seemingly dealing with the lie for the moment.
“I’ll be right back then.”
James hurried out of the kitchen, leaving me wide open to an interrogation from Sirius.
“You need food?” he asked with skepticism lacing his voice.
“What have you been living off of the past month?”
“Food does run out,” Peter muttered, loud enough for all of us to hear.
I shot Peter a grateful look as Sirius sat back in the chair, his brows knitting tightly together. Both Peter and I watched him, waiting for him to say more, but the subject was dropped. It was a first for him. Sirius would never back down if someone in the group were keeping a secret, no matter how trivial it may have been. Something was off with him. With the uncomfortable look Peter wore, I knew I wasn’t the only one that could tell.
“Here you go, mate.” James came back in, dropping a few bills in front of me. “Lily exchanged some money at Gringotts the other day.”
“Thank you. I’ll make sure to pay you--,”
“Oh, belt up, would ya? You don’t have to pay me anything. You know that, Moony.”
I hastily shoved the money into my pocket. “I know. Thanks.”
“Yep. Padfoot, you okay?”
Our attention went back to Sirius. He looked up at us, and the concentrated look earlier vanished and was replaced with the usual look.
“I’m fine. Just plotting out what to do on your wedding day.”
James smiled and gave Sirius a hard punch on the arm. “Don’t even think about it. Lily would have my head if a prank went off.”
“Oh, come on,” Sirius pressed. “It’ll be great. The first Marauder to get married is the first to have a prank laid upon him. It’s the rule.”
“What rule?” Peter asked, growing more relaxed as well.
“I’d like to know that as well,” I chimed in.
Sirius smirked at me and then faced Peter. “It’s an unwritten rule. There are a few more if you want--,”
“Don’t test it, Wormtail,” James warned as Peter opened his mouth again.
The three of them laughed, while I managed to force out a small chuckle. The clock on the wall indicated that it was well after six. I had to get ready for Carson.
“Bugger,” I muttered, jumping up from the chair. “I have to go.”
“Shopping so soon?” Sirius asked, that hint of distrustfulness back in his voice.
I gave him a small glare. “Yes, I want to get out before it gets too crowded.”
James and Peter looked between the two of us with James speaking first. “What’s the matter with you two?”
“Nothing,” Sirius answered. “Go on, then, Moony. Can’t keep that empty refrigerator of yours waiting.”
I managed to shrug off his smart comments long enough to thank James again. “Thank you, Prongs. I mean it.”
James stood up and gave me a slap on my back. “Don’t mention it. Be careful out there.” “I will.”
After saying my goodbye Peter, I quickly Disapparated back to my empty home, not bothering to spare another glance toward Sirius. I didn’t know what had gotten into him, but I wasn’t liking it. James would get to the bottom of it. He always did when it concerned Sirius’ mood swings.
‘Get dressed, Remus.’
Right, I had to get dressed…. Hold on, I was already dressed.
Checking over myself, I sighed. There was no way I could meet Carson in torn trousers and a dingy, old shirt.
I tore inside my bedroom and pulled open my wardrobe, scolding myself for ever beginning to think that there would have been something nice in it. Everything I had was either second-hand or torn and too old.
“This isn’t a date,” I told myself for the hundredth time.
I snatched at the best looking trousers and jumper I could find and made an attempt to fix my hair. By the time I was finished dressing and tucking my wand in my pocket, it was already five to seven. Closing my eyes, I Apparated to my usual alley in the city. Getting to Berkeley Square wouldn’t be hard. I had walked in the park several times when I was younger, but I still found myself taking the long way. I was nervous…. No, I was terrified.
Before I knew it, I was standing on the south side of the centre garden. Only a handful of people were walking about, mostly couples and groups. Sitting alone on a bench not too far from me was her. The closer I approached, the more stunning she looked. Her hair was nicer, her make-up softer. She looked amazing. I could even smell the light fruit perfume she wore. It wasn’t overbearing, it was perfect.
“Hello,” I said quietly.
Carson tensed a bit, but smiled. The knots in my stomach unraveled a bit; I wasn’t the only one nervous.
“Hello,” she said back. “How are you?”
“Very well. And you?”
“…Well, should we go?”
She stood, gently adjusting her light colored dress, and the two of us walked side-by-side down out of the square and into the bigger city.
“So, where are we going?” she asked.
I froze and those knots tightened up again. How could I forget to pick out a place? That should have been the first thing on my list to do.
Carson let out a soft laugh, obviously noticing the panicked look on my face. “I reserved us a seat at the Veeraswamy restaurant last night.”
“You got in that easily?” I asked, a slight wave of relief blowing over me.
“Well, a friend of mine gave me an edge.”
“Oh, thanks. I should have thought of that.”
“It’s no problem. I kind of figured you were new at this.”
My face heated up. I didn’t want it to, nor could I stop it. Carson saw that as well. She wouldn’t have laughed if she didn’t see.
“Come on,” she said. “If we hurry, we can get that cab.”
The date went better than I expected. Yes, it was a date. It couldn’t have been anything else. I mean, there was nothing but couples at the restaurant she reserved for us. People looked at us as if we were dating. Carson even dressed as if we were on a date. It was hard to keep my eyes off of her fitting dress. She was more than gorgeous. She was….
“Where did you go to school at?” she asked mid-way through the meal.
I hesitated for a moment. Of course she would bring that up since I asked enough about her the day before, but I still didn’t prepare a well enough answer.
“It was a private school in Scotland,” I said, buying enough time to come up with a better answer were she to ask more. And she would. Just by the short enough time we had been around each other, I knew she wasn’t the type to easily trust someone like me.
“Scotland? I use to live there.”
“Really?” her accent didn’t give that impression. “Why did you leave?”
“Well, my mother didn’t like it too much.”
“Do you still live around your mother?”
She lowered her fork slightly, and I felt that panic creeping up. I said something wrong.
“No,” she answered. “She passed when I was eighteen. Cancer.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
Her eyes reached mine and a warm smile formed on her face. “It happens. So, what about you? You still live with your parents?”
“Umm, not any more. They passed away a year ago.” She opened her mouth, but I waved her off as the lies easily spilled from my mouth that time. “Don’t. It was just a silly car accident. They’re better off now than they were before. Enough talking about death. It’s depressing.”
She laughed. “Yes, very.”
Despite the awkward moment, the rest of the dinner went on smoothly. She spoke more of her job and took the piss out of some of the people that worked with her. I still couldn’t understand how someone like her could stick around the people she worked with.
“You still should start your own office,” I told her.
She laughed more openly then. “Right, I’ll quit my job tomorrow and go off on my own. Heck, I may even move elsewhere to start fresh.”
“Scotland’s still available.”
“Of course, of course. Enough with you pressuring me to end my career, what about you and your little friends from school? You were saying something about a few pranks here and there?”
“What about them?” I asked with a smile. I did bring up the others without revealing magic, of course. There was no need to keep them a secret, and Carson seemed to enjoy the stories.
“You were a prefect, and yet you didn’t stop them?”
She went into a small fit of laughter. It was contagious. I didn’t know why it was so funny, but I laughed along with her. I never felt that light with anyone else but my friends. Lily was right; meeting someone new did help.
“The bill,” the waiter said, interrupting us.
I watched as Carson moved for her handbag and stopped her at once. “No, I’ll pay.”
“Are you sure?” she asked.
She sat back, wearing a smaller, yet soft, smile as I paid for our meal. We were out of the restaurant a few minutes later and riding back to her home.
“I’m quite afraid to ever meet your friends,” Carson said during the ride. “Especially that Sirius bloke.”
“Oh, he will eat you alive.”
“I imagine he would.”
Our small talk continued on out of the cab as we walked through the park to her home. The night air had grown a bit cooler, so Carson stuck closer to me that time with her hand wrapped around my arm. The conversation ceased by then and I ached for it to return. My heart had begun pounding so fast and loud, that I swore she could hear it.
It felt like days went by once Carson announced that we were at her house.
“I had a great time tonight,” she said, standing on the steps in front of her door.
I stood a step down from her, still managing to be at her height level. “Yeah, me too.”
A beat of silence hit us once more. I should have left. I should have willed my stubborn legs to run as fast as they could out of the city and back to my quiet house. It was a nice night, but a one-time night as well. I couldn’t see her again. I just couldn’t.
“Well, thank you,” Carson said, ending the dreaded silence. She leaned forward and placed a light kiss on my cheek. “Goodnight.”
I opened my mouth, but nothing came out as Carson turned her back to me and entered her home, gently closing the door behind her. I scratched at the back of my neck as I started my journey away from her house. She was better than I thought. She was very intelligent and caring and…everything I could ask for.
“But still a Muggle,” I whispered.
It took me a bit longer that time to focus on my destination, but I managed to return home after fifteen minutes of walking. That time, another visitor occupied my home. A visitor that was going through my refrigerator. I walked in, half-expecting to catch Sirius and start a row, but stopped short once I saw the long, bright red hair flowing down the back of a slender woman.
“Lily,” I said and she jumped slightly, facing me with a carton of milk in her hands.
“Remus, you frightened me,” she said.
“Sorry. What’s up?” I asked, sitting down at the uneven table.
Lily joined me after placing the milk back in its rightful spot. “Nothing. I just came by to see if you were all right. James told me that you needed to buy some food, but I see that nothing is here.”
“Yeah, well, I kind of needed the money for something else.” Lily only stared at me, waiting for me to continue. I had to tell her. She would pry it out of me if I didn’t. “I met this…girl.”
A grin took over her entire face; she looked ready to burst. “Did you? Oh, Remus, that’s wonderful. Did you go out tonight?”
I nodded. “Yes. She had reserved a place at this fancy restaurant and we had fun.”
“What’s her name?”
“Carson. Carson Gordon.”
I stood up from the chair and paced in the kitchen. “She’s great. Really, she is. But she’s a Muggle, Lily.”
“A Muggle? She knows absolutely nothing about--?”
“No, nothing. I want to keep it that way. She’s a nice girl.”
“Are you going to see her again?”
“Of course not.”
Lily stood and grabbed my arm. “Remus Lupin, you just told me you had fun.”
“And I also said that she’s a Muggle. If we were to date, who knows what would happen two months from now. She could find out about Voldemort and the war. She could find out that I’m a werewolf and never want to speak to me again.”
“Are you a Seer now?” Lily asked, a hint of anger in her voice.
“Then you don’t know the future. Go out with her again.” She gave me a quick hug before walking off. “I mean it, Remus. If I come back in a few days and you still haven’t contacted her, I’m getting James.”
“Go to Hell,” I shouted after her.
She laughed and I soon heard the echoing ‘pop’ of her Disapparating.
I sat back down at the table, resting my head in my hands. What had I gotten myself into?
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