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Chapter 13 : October 31st prt 1
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Gabriel opened his eyes slowly, taking in the familiar sight of the room he’d spent seven years in. It was his room at Hogwarts, not the lagoon.
Not the lagoon with dozens of fireflies surrounding him.
Not with Danyeal.
He blinked away the blur in his vision caused by sleep.
He couldn’t count the many times he’d had that dream, but the disappointment and sadness stung more than usual this morning. It was so vivid, like he was really there, really there in his brother’s arms again, only to be wrenched back to the reality that Danyeal was no longer there.
Taking the chain from around his neck, he cradled the pendant – a small angel with sapphire jewels encrusted in its wings—in the palm of his hand, running a finger over his precious gift. He squeezed it and hugged it close to his chest.
The room was so dark that he thought it may have still be early in the morning, until he heard the sounds of fabric rustling. Severus was readying himself.
A chill travelled down his spine.
He tilted his head back slightly, just so he could glance at the window. His fears were confirmed. A vicious storm was raging.
Thunder rumbled outside. The sky was a rolling, churning mass of grey and black clouds, illuminated briefly by arbitrary strips of lightning and rain was pounding against the window.
It was late in October and expected of typical English weather. He no longer resided in a place there was sun year round.
Cat purred loudly at the foot of his bed, his head moving from right to left to measure the amount of space that was available for a safe jump. He barely scaled the height of the mattress and used his claws to climb the remainder, walking over Gabriel and nudging his cheek with his cold, little nose.
It was quiet for a few seconds; Severus may have been doing something that required concentration. Cat sat close to his face looking at him expectantly and purring.
“Severus, could you please pour him some milk?” he asked, his voice still cracked from sleep. There was no reply and an eighty percent chance Severus may have been glaring at him.
Something clinked against the stone floor. Cat unceremoniously jumped over him purring again and from the lapping noises, enjoying his breakfast.
“You’ll miss breakfast if you keep lying in bed,” Severus said plainly.
Gabriel grunted, for the first time really knowing what it was like to not have an appetite. “No, thank you.”
There was a pause and then Severus spoke. “There may be…pastries.”
Gabriel almost wanted to smile.
Severus trying to get him to eat was endearing it made it seem that he may have cared about Gabriel’s well being.
Am I over thinking things or did Severus’ voice sound colder than usual.
He honestly wasn’t in the mood now even if it was something sweet. He shook his head, curling up and bringing his knees as far up to his chest as they would go, pressing his face into the bed.
“I’ll send something down so be sure to eat it,” Severus persisted. “I can cover for you if you won’t be able to attend classes.”
Gabriel couldn’t reply.
Severus took this as incentive to leave and only then did Gabriel swing his legs over the bed and sit up.
Severus was being so kind to him. It made him feel guilty about not recognizing an imposter in his skin; for not realizing that it wasn’t the someone he shared a room with for so long, the someone he considered his closest thing to a friend and confident, the someone he almost...
In the fairly large trunk beneath his bed, he got down on his knees and searched through the clothes and robes and books, right to the bottom in a false compartment to take out a small photo.
A loud clap of thunder vibrated through his chest. Why was it that thunder always felt the scarier of the two when it could do no harm?
He got back into bed with the picture, throwing the covers over his head. If he listened hard, he could pretend to hear the waves lapping at the shore in the snippet; the ocean, blue as a sapphire melding into turquoise at the shore was calm, the waves ferrying an array of shells and broken bits of glass bottle dulled by the sea. They were sitting under a coconut tree. Danyeal, clad only in a pair of torn shorts, was waving at the camera with one hand, the other around a ten year old Gabriel’s shoulder casually.
The trees swayed and Danyeal’s copper hair blew into his eyes. His warm, kind eyes. He brushed it away nonchalantly, not losing an inch of his poise. They had been so happy the day the picture had been taken and yet it all ended so quickly.
Life was indeed unfair.
If only he could escape within the picture, replacing his younger naïve self. The boy who was unable to comprehend anything and couldn’t put his feelings into coherent words.
The young boy he was that had a chance but was unaware of the time slipping by.
It never did any good to immerse oneself in the past. ‘Live for the present and hope for the future’ some would say.
What would Danyeal say if he saw him now? Afraid like this? Crippled with fear right down to his bones, hands trembling…
He would be ashamed, disappointed, to see his brother struggling to overcome something so small.
He tucked away the picture and got up to search through Severus’ supply of potions to see if he could chance upon a sedative.
Severus, ever the blunt one, always kept them hidden away, saying Gabriel was someone with the potential to become dependent. This offended him really.
He wasn’t so weak as to let something take control of him!
“But you are so weak to cower at the mere sight of rain…” Cat remarked snidely.
“Shut up! T-That’s not true.”
“Coward, coward, coward. You’ll never reach Danyeal. You’re not good enough. That’s why he chose Julian.”
“I am not afraid!”
He would seize control and no longer let this shadow hang over him. Surely it would be nothing for his brother to handle and he would make it the same for himself.
It was cold inside the castle. The howling wind outside was even colder, sharpened by the oncoming winter. James shivered, pulling his robes closer to his body and doubling over. Damn Professor Binns was a ghost so he couldn’t care less about temperature but that didn’t mean everyone had to suffer. Looking around James could see that many shared this sentiment.
James was as usual, using this time to do some thinking about a number of things that were bothering him, like what had happened that morning.
At first, he thought he was still asleep, dreaming that he was hearing the voices because he had only opened his eyes for a moment. They weren’t speaking loudly, but in hushed whispers, trying not to be loud, but that’s exactly why it caught his attention. Still sleepy, he had tried to focus his mind on the voices.
“I don’t want to hear anymore of this Moony. Give it a rest!” Sirius was saying.
It was Remus and Sirius. From the direction of the voices, they sounded like they were standing close to the door.
“It’s not that simple.”
“Yes it is! Merlin…what’s wrong with you?”
“Where are you going?” Remus’ voice was soft and pleading.
“Somewhere where I won’t have to listen to this.”
“Sirius…wait” There was a pause. James thought they might have left, and turned his head around but Sirius spoke again.
“Don’t touch me!”
James was so startled by the venom in those words that he sat up abruptly, raking across the curtains around his bed. No one was there. The curtains around Remus’ bed were still fluttering, proof he’d just closed them.
It wasn’t a dream.
It was a small snatch of conversation that he just so happened to hear. It was nothing to base anything on or to jump to conclusions about, and yet it made him feel terribly uneasy.
The Marauders weren’t perfect.
They had their share of arguments and disagreements. Four varying personalities were bound to clash sooner or later. And Remus and Sirius were polar opposites, they often playfully argued. It was never anything serious and even if it was, it wasn’t enough to drive a wedge between them for long.
But this… this was something else.
There was no way James could tell himself that he was just hearing things, that it might have been his newly awakened mind perceiving it as something other than what it was. He may be a little slow on the uptake at times but he wasn’t deaf or blind!
Sirius was missing for the rest of the morning. Remus shut himself up in his bed without a word and before he got a chance to ask an opinion from him, Peter was gone. Had he even returned to his room last night?
James ate breakfast alone for possibly the first time in his existence at Hogwarts. No jokes, no laughing, no company. Plain, soggy cereal, and rain pouring on the enchanted ceiling.
Maybe they had a row…he thought.
Possible. He personally hadn’t witnessed anything before this incident. He wanted to ask someone, to talk about it or seek some kind of advice, but it felt wrong to. They were more than friends. They were brothers. Family. It felt like a family matter, private and not to be discussed with anyone outside of the immediate family.
Not that he had anyone.
Was he popular? One could say yes. He was often told that he was a hit with the witches and that he was quite the charmer.
Did he have many friends? Acquaintances, plenty. One doesn’t just come by real friends.
People he would feel comfortable telling something like this?
The best thing to do in a case like this was to feign ignorance. Sirius was volatile, maybe he just overreacted? So it was wrapped up and tossed aside.
James sighed; it was easier said than done.
What’s happening to us?
Far away from him to the back of the classroom, a certain someone had his head on his desk. Sleeping perhaps?
James did not forget what he had learned little over a week ago. He’d felt violated, to know someone had gone through his memories and erased them. What if he took away something important? Or damaged his brain or some shit! It wasn’t safe to go around prying into people’s minds.
He still planned on exacting sweet vengeance for that. But more curious, was what he had possibly stumbled upon that was cause for such a desperate move? What little secret did he find out about Monte?
His body crackled with anxiety every time he thought about it. He often forced himself to try and remember, even a glimpse or a faint image. Anything!
And more still, Monte’s curious confession. Was it possible for someone to be afraid of water? It didn’t make sense in his mind, but there was no question of it being a lie.
James was so deep in thought that he didn’t hear when the bell went, signaling the end of class. Everyone was leaving, in more of a hurry than necessary. Monte was still lying down though. He was very lethargic lately, not his usual self-assured, smartassed self. James had grown used to his mood swings, though, admittedly, this one lasted a tad too long. Not that he was monitoring them but Monte was always back to his usual self within days.
All he did was mope around these days.
He gathered his things unhurriedly to waste some time. This was hard because he hadn’t taken anything out so in actuality, he had to spread books and quills and then pretend to put them away slowly, waiting to observe Monte. For research purposes, of course.
He saw a movement out of the corner of his eye. Monte raised his head to look around the classroom before lowering it again. When the boy finally managed to haul himself up it was a pitiful sight. He looked like he was going to fall right back down or keel over at any moment
There was no color to him; his face as pale as a sheet. He looked sick, about ready to bring up his insides if he ever so much as walked too quickly.
James got up and followed, not even needing to be silent or employ stealth. Monte did not look back nor did he notice him. He swayed and rocked in the moments when he couldn’t contain it. When he caught himself, he would straighten quickly – or try to – and continue in his pseudo swagger for appearances sake.
It didn’t work, because when you’re good you are and when you’re not, you’re not. He could not fool anyone – well maybe he could fool some. This who didn’t care or checked, but James would notice because he… what? Cared?
Monte kept close to the walls and when his head turned and James was in view of his profile, he was sure it was a painful expression he saw. Monte faltered whenever he looked at a window.
Then something clicked. Monte wasn’t like this every day; there was a pattern to it. Thinking back… wasn’t it always when it was raining? When they had been serving detention together, the night he had been so disturbed about Charlie’s prank, all those nights during their rounds together…
James didn’t know for sure but if he was afraid of water (or so he claimed) would it be possible for him to be afraid of rain?
He followed him all the way to the first floor, past the great hall. No lunch? He didn’t have much of an appetite either.
Where is he going…
Eventually, they came upon an open corridor just beside a courtyard. Apparently, Monte had no idea where he had been going. The sudden movement it took him to come to a dead halt, something fluttered out from under his robes, floating and landing at James’ feet.
For the first time in a while, Monte looked aware of his surroundings and of his missing possession. James picked it up unwittingly, not really thinking but just wanting to have a look at something that could be a potential arsenal.
The way the boy turned to look at him, it was an important something.
“Don’t touch that!”
“A little late for that.” James said, turning it over. Monte made a lunge for it but James saw him coming and raised it above his head, out of reach of the clawing hands.
“Potter, don’t.” Grinning, James fought him off with one hand. He didn’t know why he was so interested or if he even was interested or just killing time so that he wouldn’t have to face his own awkward situation.
Why was Monte acting so strangely about something like this? It was just a photo with two boys. The older one was more prominent while smaller one with green eyes had fine features. Monte.
The seconds James took to examine it, he left a hole in his defense and Monte took advantage. When he grabbed for it this time, he reached it and James was having trouble fending him off.
Monte was suddenly all over him, his body flush against his, pinning him to the wall, his hand pressing heavily on James’ chest as he tiptoed, the other had a firm grip on his outstretched hand, pulling it down the best he could.
It was too much too sudden and James felt angry that Monte was crawling all over him, overwhelming him. With a burst of strength he gave him one solid push that put some space between them
“If this is so important to you then take it.”
He’d meant to just throw it at Monte but the wind picked it up and carried it away, out into the rain.
Monte was off behind it instantly, nearly thwarting James’ theory that he disliked rain water. He skidded in the mud and caught up to it before it got any further.
Monte smiled triumphantly having retrieved his picture. He admired it fondly, but something in his face changed, and then he looked at his hands, around him, up at the sky, and then began to scream. The most horrific screaming James had heard in his life. Anyone passing by might have thought he was being tortured or that the raindrops had suddenly turned to boiling water. He fell to his knees, crawling around and screaming bloody murder. James’ first thought was that Monte was tricking him, trying to get a reaction out of him. He watched in fascination because there was little else he could do.
“Get away from me! Get away from me!” Monte shrieked.
“Oi, what tha fuck are you doing? There’s no one there.”
James’ skin prickled, he could feel the pain on his own hands as he watched Monte scratch at his skin, drawing blood from the cuts his nails were making.
This triggered James’ mental alarm bells. Something was wrong. That was apparent even before his body started convulsing and his eyes rolled back into his head. He fell into the mud.
“Monte! Monte!” James rushed outside beside him, propped his head on his knee and slapped him lightly in succession across the cheek. He didn’t come around.
James tried his best to hold him down, to stop the shaking, but the thrashing boy was more than he could handle. He threw one of the boy’s arms over his shoulder the best he could and hoped that his wobbly knees held up long enough for him to reach the hospital wing in time.
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