Chapter 9 : Lullaby By the Window
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Lullaby by the Window
Remus Lupin was frantically searching the castle. About five minutes ago, he’d been told by Abbie that Rachel’s boyfriend had broken up with her. And she had run off, incredibly distraught because of it. In fact, distraught didn’t even begin to describe the expression on Abbie’s face when she had said: I think she’s going to kill herself!
Remus had then rushed from the room with a compelling urge to find her, hold her in his arms and tell her everything would be alright. He ran along the corridors, checking in empty classrooms and as he threw open another door he froze.
It was only now he realised why he cared so much.
When Abbie had told them about her and her boyfriend splitting up, something had flared inside Remus. An overwhelming sense of joy, but at the same time a grim determination had settled itself in his chest. Not just his chest, but his heart. Determination to find her. That didn’t mean to say he wasn’t also saving a punch for Andy Carter later. Still standing in that open doorway, Remus sank to his knees, clutching his head in his hands.
Her hair… her silky black hair… her eyes, her beautiful – beautiful ice blue eyes. And the reason he could never get her out of his head all term. He liked her. He liked Rachel Sanderson, and he probably had for a long time. He felt like a rug had been pulled out from underneath him – Rachel had always had a boyfriend. Now she didn’t, and Remus suddenly felt incredibly unstable, and he had no idea what he would do when he found her.
If he found her.
Remus jumped to his feet again, realising the real reason he had been searching the castle – sitting around here moping would not get Rachel safely back to her friends. He gave the classroom a once over, and having noticed her not being here carried on until the next one. Not there either. He slammed his head up against the wall.
“Think, Remus, think!” He urged. Where would someone go if they intended on killing themselves – if that’s what she intended. Abbie was known to exaggerate things. But still –
Then it came to him: The Astronomy Tower.
Remus’ eyes flew open and he took off in the direction of the Tower – which would undoubtedly be a good place to go if someone were looking for solitude (or a decent place to try to injure them). He quickly scolded himself for thinking that though.
Five minutes later, Remus stood out of breath at the bottom of the tower. What he heard startled him briefly – it was singing. It was a sweet song, like a lullaby and he felt his eyes half closing to listen. “When you come home, when you come home to me…”
Remus shook himself from his reverie and regained his resolve. Rachel could be in trouble!
“It’s a gift. For you because…” He trailed off, looking away from her. Rachel’s smile faltered.
“Because of what?” She asked hesitantly. Andy turned back to her and stared intently into her eyes.
“Look, I don’t know how to put this…” he trailed off again, but Rachel was not going to let him get away.
“How to put what, Andy?” She asked, but she was reluctant to hear the answer.
“I like you. I really do, Rachel, but I… I don’t want to lead you on when I…” Rachel felt her eyes begin to moisten and her cheeks began to flush. She opened her mouth to ask him how he was leading her on but she found she couldn’t. Her mouth had dried up and her tongue seemed incapable of forming coherent sentences. Andy was gazing at her with sad eyes.
“I’ve met this girl… she’s really nice – so are you, and I like you but… I think I might like her too and I don’t want to carry things on with you when I might -”
“Those eyes…” She said quietly and Andy’s expression faltered. He swallowed nervously.
“W-what?” He asked. Rachel felt her emotions bottling up inside no, no, NO! Andy's lying - he has to be! Her hands began to tremble, her arms shaking violently. “Rachel are you… are you okay?” He asked hesitantly.
“Don’t look at me with those eyes!” Andy leaned backwards slightly, wiping his mouth with a sweaty palm.
“What eyes?” He asked, against his better judgement.
“Those eyes when you look at me as if I am the most pitiful thing in the world! Don’t look at me like that!”
“I – I’m sorry, Rachel. Please…” He covered her hand with his own. “I want to stay friends.”
“How could you – everything was going so well and… I hate you!” Rachel chocked back a sob as tears began to stream down her cheeks. Andy’s eyes narrowed slightly and his jaw tightened.
“Don’t you think this is hard on me too? I like you, Rachel! But I don’t want to lead you on when I might like another girl too – I don’t want you to get hurt! It’s a kindness, Rache, a kindness!”
“Oh a very subtle kindness it is then!” She cried through her tears. “I would rather remain ignorant – I… I love you, Andy! P-please don’t do this to m-me!” Andy sighed, his own eyes beginning to moisten and his face softened.
“Rachel…” He smiled sadly and took her into his arms before she pulled back.
“Don’t –don’t touch me anymore, i-if you don’t f-feel the way I do.” Andy let go of her, reluctantly and stepped backwards.
“I’m sorry.” Was all he could say. In that moment, Rachel dashed from the room, knocking over chairs and tables as she went. The only thought going through her mind: No, no, no, this cannot be happening NO! She vaguely remembered knocking into someone who said something to her and the only thing she had managed to choke out was:
“I can’t live on like this!” She had screamed before stumbling along the corridor. Clutching for handholds in the walls, almost as if she couldn’t grasp one she’d lose her grasp on reality. She saw many things that night, but was unaware of how much was real, and how much was a dream. She cried and cried until there were no more tears, and she soon found herself at the top of the Astronomy Tower and she was so sure she was going to jump.
Several thoughts flashed across her mind. Andy. She was going to jump. Lily. She was going to stay. Andy. She was definitely going to jump. Will. She hesitated. Andy. She climbed up onto the window sill. Abbie. She almost stopped again. Andy. She prepared to jump. Remus. Rachel sank to her knees and cried out, before sliding from the window and stumbling into a corner of the tower.
She sat there, clawing at her hair, scratching herself, and still sobbing until it stung. About half an hour later, the shock had subsided and she began to feel intense sadness.
She remembered… when her father had died and she and her little sister Millie had been devastated, her mother used to sing her a lullaby that always managed to cheer her up. She slowly opened her mouth, and her throat that felt so dry was determined. She hummed it first, and when she gained confidence, she began to sing. Rachel had never really thought she was a good singer, but it sounded alright to her.
“When you come home, when you come home to me. I see you on the horizon, sailing from the ocean blue, I hear you cry, and when you do, you know I’ll sing along too. But only, but remember only when you come home, when you come home to me.”
Peter and Peri rushed along the corridors, checking in classrooms and calling out to Rachel. After Remus’ departure from the Great Hall, the friends (well mostly friends) had sprung into action. They split off into teams to search the castle for Rachel. Lily had been outvoted when she asked them to tell the teachers, as the rest of the group thought it would be better that this stayed between them.
Find Rachel. Take her back to the dorm. Keep it quiet. That was the plan.
But of course, no one had counted on Doris Crockford arriving on the scene.
“Carltona! Pettigrew! What on earth are you doing out here? Making a loud racket – after curfew!”
“But, please – uh… Doris?” Peri wasn’t quite sure how to address Doris Crockford – she wasn’t even aware of where she quite fitted into the staff’s hierarchy at Hogwarts. But ‘Doris’ had evidently been the wrong thing to say. Her left eyebrow had begun to twitch as it had back on the first day of term when she was scolding Will. Peri remembered watching it from next to Sirius – and now she knew how Will felt.
“You will address me as Miss Crockford! I never thought to expect such rudeness from a friend of my brother – but Doris! I am Assistant to the Board of the Heads of Houses and I expect the due respect from a students. And a seventh year, no less!”
“I – sorry -” Peri tried to speak.
“And what are you doing out at this hour anyway? Breaking the rules like this – I simply cannot permit it!”
“But – Miss Crockford – we are serving a detention for Professor McGonagall!” Peri burst out and Doris fell silent, eyeing her suspiciously. “To… er, clean the Great Hall.” Peri continued hesitantly.
“Well – what are you doing here then?” She snapped. Peri was at a loss for words.
“We were looking for Professor McGonagall because… we ran out of water. We ran out of water for the cleaning.” Peter piped up. Peri looked over at him in surprise – he was pretty good under pressure. Doris sniffed, turning her nose to the air.
“I’m sure those buckets she gave you would be magically charmed to refill. Are you saying she’s stupid?” Peri gaped at Doris, not quite knowing what to say.
“Of course not!” Peter squealed. “We just didn’t think about it. It’s late and we’re tired and if we don’t finish the detention then… we won’t get to go to sleep and - … yeah.” He finished lamely. Doris eyed them suspiciously but nodded reluctantly.
“You better go and finish it then.” She sniffed, turned on her heel and marched off down the corridor. Peri sighed with relief and slumped against the wall.
“Phew – what a character.” She laughed nervously. “Now I know what Will must put up with – and what kind of job is ‘Assistant to the Board of the Heads of Houses’ anyway?” She huffed. Peter shrugged.
“Dunno. They’ve never needed an assistant before. I wonder what she does…”
“Who cares? But hey - without you there, Pete, we’d be Doris-Meat. Those Marauders don’t give you enough credit – you’re great under pressure!” Peter flushed bright red.
“I – it was nothing.” He stuttered. Peri grinned.
“Look at you – red as a tomato!” She laughed. “Well, we better go and finish that detention anyway, or we’ll be Minnie-Meat.” Peter nodded and started after her back towards the Great Hall.”
“Ha ha… Minnie-Meat. Where do you come up with these things?”
“Just my messed up brain, I guess. Oh, I hope Rachel’s okay…” The two friend’s voices faded off down the corridor, and Doris saw it fit to creep back round the corner from her hiding place. It certainly seemed that they did have a detention… but these scheming seventh years. She headed off after them making sure she was out of sight.
She didn’t want Will in any more trouble than he need be. Especially not this year, of all years. Why would she have gotten this job otherwise?
Remus was just reaching the top of the tower when the singing faded. He guessed it must have been because his footsteps were loud and echoed throughout the tower. Rachel must have heard him. He peered inside the open doorway, and there, huddled up in a heap in what he supposed she wanted to be the corner of the room (do you get corners in circular towers?...) he wondered.
There she was, all of her pride and her ego disregarded along with her jacket that lay on the floor. Rachel wasn’t dressed in her uniform, and Remus recalled hearing Rachel was with her (ex) boyfriend – so that was probably why. But being her best clothes didn’t tend to provide much warmth.
He stepped into the room and picked up the jacket. He heard a snivel from the corner, and the rustling of clothes.
“Go away.” He heard her mumble. Remus ignored her and began walking towards her. He draped the jacket over her shoulders.
“Here. You’ll catch a cold.” He murmured softly. Rachel didn’t say anything, but hugged it tighter around her shoulders. Remus decided to sit down next to her. “Rachel?”
“I was so sure it would b-be Andy. But it’s just you, Remus.” That stung. Andy wasn’t the guy who ran all the way here to comfort her, was he?!
“Well, I apologise for being unexpected.” He said bitterly. Rachel’s eyes widened, but she still wouldn’t meet his gaze. “Listen. I… I’m sorry. About you and your boyfriend.” That’s a lie… he thought. Rachel sniffed again.
“I w-was going to jump.”
“That’s why I ran all the way here.” Remus smiled kindly and for once she met his gaze. But she immediately turned away again.
“He’s met a new girl h-he likes. He didn’t want me anymore.” She mumbled, her voice trembling.
“Then he’s a fool.” And that’s when Rachel’s resolve broke. She found a fresh set of tears pouring down her face and she turned and sobbed into Remus shoulder. He didn’t say anything – he didn’t need to. She only needed someone, anyone, there to hold her when she cracked. But why did it have to be him… not when I just got my heart broken. But Remus just sat there and held her for god knows how long, just holding her tight as if he never wanted to let go. Finally, when Rachel had recovered some she spoke again.
“N-no one would like me. Not w-when my own b-boyfriend just left me for someone else.” Remus furrowed his eyebrows, but Rachel didn’t notice. “I’m so stupid. I thought this w-would really work. With m-me and him.” She choked; more tears began to drip down her cheeks. Remus rubbed them away with his thumb and smiled.
“Nothing ever works out the way we planned it too. Much like our pranks – they never seem to work the way they’re supposed to.” Rachel gave a small chuckle, although it could have been another sob for all Remus could tell. “Listen, everyone loves you. There’s Lily and Abbie, Will, you’re little sister Millie…”
“How do you know about her?” Rachel asked confusedly.
“You told me in Arithmancy last week.” Rachel furrowed her eyebrows but didn’t comment. “But that’s not the point. Plenty of people make your life worth living, so there’s no point giving it up for a guy.”
“But it was my guy.” Remus hated to see her so cut up.
“Heh… usually there’s an explosion when I say those kinds of things.”
“You comfort girls who get their hearts broken. You p-pervert.” Rachel laughed a little, and it was music to Remus’ ears. It was then it suddenly struck him how close they were, and his heart began to thump loudly in his chest. It had all seemed so natural up until now – now what?! Now he was incredibly self conscious...?
“N-no. It’s just er… James gets his heart broken a lot too.” Rachel nodded. “Listen, Carter’s an idiot for not seeing the beauty of who you are… and er… he doesn’t know how lucky he was.” Rachel snickered at his slight pause and Remus huffed well naturedly. “Well I’m sorry I’m not the perfect guy here.” Rachel buried her face further into Remus’ robes and muttered something Remus couldn’t hear.
“What was that?”
“Besides, there are plenty of other guys out there who you’re bound to love you just as much as Carter and you him.”
“Oh really. Like who?”
“Me.” The words were out of Remus’ mouth before he'd even thought about it. His eyes widened and one of his hands flew to his mouth. “I – no, sorry I didn’t mean to -” He flustered. Rachel was just sitting there open mouthed and Remus looked away, blushing horribly. His first thought was to get up and leave – but how could he leave her in this state? His personality wouldn’t allow it.
An awkward silence descended on the two people and you could hear a faint clattering in the distance.
“Well, I… uh. Um.” Remus shook his head in self annoyance. “I’m not gonna sit in an awkward silence so, uh….” He coughed uncomfortably. “How was er, your summer?” He rushed on. Great, now I seem like an idiot! Rachel just sat there bewildered, staring at him.
“Do you… like me?” She asked. Remus’ cheeks flushed beet red.
“Now’s not really a good time…” He muttered, but nodded his head reluctantly. He didn't particularly want to bring it up - but he was never likely to get the courage to tell her how he felt on another occasion. May as well drop the bombshell. “I like you. Probably have for a while.” He added hesitantly. Rachel’s mouth dropped open again. “Careful – you’ll let the flies in.” He chuckled before he could help himself. Her mouth shut abruptly and she glared at him.
“But… I’ve liked you for a long time too.” Remus’ head snapped up and he glared at her incredulously.
“Don’t give me that!” He cried. “You’ve been going out with Carter!”
“But I’ve always liked you – longer than him anyway!” Rachel blushed.
“Look, now really isn’t a good time. You’re sad because you broke up with your boyfriend and you just want someone to make you feel special. It’s okay, that’s natural, but please try and think about my feelings before you say anymore.” Remus turned away. His heart was beating so loudly he was sure Rachel must have been able to hear it, and he couldn’t help but feel a glimmer of hope lighten up his mood – no matter how much he tried to suppress it.
But he felt small fingers lift up his chin and he turned to see Rachel leaning towards him.
His brain kicked into overdrive.
“No.” He placed to fingers on her lips. “I’m not going to take advantage of you in this state. You’re tired, and you need to go to sleep. Look at the bags under your eyes!” Rachel looked away in disappointment and Remus’ heart wrenched. But he refused to be a victim of a rebound from a broken hearted girl. He got to his feet and held out his hand for Rachel. She wouldn’t take it but continued to look at the floor.
Remus sighed irritably was bending down to pull her up when he realised she was asleep. Remus’ mouth dropped open – she just fell asleep?! After all that she went to sleep? He shook his head in admiration for this girl. And her amazing ability to snooze. Remus carefully slid his hands underneath her and carried her down the tower.
“Ugh, this is so cliché.” Remus grumbled but a soft smile appeared on his face. “But cliché doesn’t seem so bad with you around.” He planted a soft kiss on her forehead before walking back to the Gryffindor Common Room.
If he had turned around, or listened more closely to the clattering earlier he would have realised that they were not the only two people in the tower that night. And should he have realised that, he might have noticed the bouncy blonde ponytail disappearing around the corridor.
“Why am I stuck looking around with you anyway.” Lily grumbled, as she and James arrived back at the common room – with no joy as to finding Rachel either. The Gryffindors had split off into small search parties once they had decided to search for her – Peter and Peri, Sirius and Will, Abbie was on her own and she was left with James. Who sighed irritably.
“Well, I don’t know. Maybe the others thought it would be funny to watch you tear my eyes out and use them to search the castle for her.”
“What was that?” Lily snapped.
“Nothing.” James sighed.
“I don’t see why you’d care so much anyway,” She carried on hotly as they reached the portrait hole.
“What did you just call me?!”
“It’s the password.” James replied dully and Lily flushed slightly.
“Well, it’s not like Rachel’s your friend so I don’t see why you’d bother looking for her.” She continued as they clambered through. James grabbed her arm and swivelled her round.
“Is that what you think I’m like?” He asked incredulously. Lily bit her lip and nodded – James was being quite scary. “Well I’d like to think you’re completely wrong – you honestly think that I would turn my back on a girl who someone says is going to kill themselves? You think I’d do that?”
“Yes – yes I do! You’re a pig headed, arrogant and selfish boy who needs to grow up and start thinking about the others around him!” She cried back defiantly, well aware that the whole common room had turned to watch. She couldn't back out now, her pride wouldn't allow her.
“I need to start thinking about the others around me? Now that’s rich, coming from you – but wait. Fine. Fine, Evans - I’ll let you have your argument and your holier-than-thou logic because that just tells me I need to work harder to gain your oh-so-special seal of approval!”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“This is an argument for another day, Evans. But you better stop looking at me from down your nose and use your bloody eyes!!” He turned away from her and threw himself into one of the chairs by the fire. Lily’s face flushed angrily and she was about to retort when Remus clambered in through the entrance hole, holding Rachel asleep in his arms.
“You found her!” Lily cried, forgetting James and running over to the pair. James jumped up from his seat, glancing round the common room.
“It’s after hours – shouldn’t you all be in bed?” He asked, still seething from his argument with Lily.
“Why should we – things seem to have just got more interesting.” A cocky sixth year laughed.
“Just go to bed!” James roared and the guy (taken aback) spat on James’ feet before departing with the other Gryffindors.
“Be quiet!” Remus whispered urgently. “She fell asleep, and I intend to keep it that way.” Lily and James nodded in understanding. “I’ll take her up to her dorm.” Remus strode over to the bottom of the girls’ staircase and after waving his hand in an intricate pattern and mumbling something began to climb the stairs.
“How did he do that?” Lil wondered aloud. “That’s a complicated spell and should take ages to break.”
“Guess I’m not as stupid as you think then, Evans.”
Lily turned to face James only to see the portrait hole closing behind him. He would be heading back to the Head’s Dorms. Lily’s pride wouldn’t permit her to head there as well, even though she wanted to – it would seem like she was following James and she couldn’t have that.
How could he say all those things to her? After claiming he liked her so much, he goes on ranting and raving at her like that as if she’s the scum of the Earth. That was so stupid – I mean, who does that anyway? She thought to herself. There was a simple answer to that question too, but Lily refused to accept it.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the castle, Sirius and Will were still frantically searching classrooms.
“We’re never going to find her!” Sirius groaned in frustration.
“Come on Black – Abbie said she said she was going to killer herself!” Will replied. And so the two carried on until four in the morning – at which point they gave up and grumpily headed back to Gryffindor Tower.
The doorbell was ringing pretty loudly, so Rachel reluctantly got up from her bed and a walked to the door in the hallway.
“Alright, I’m coming, I’m coming.” She yawned. She turned down the handle and pulled it open and saw Sirius on the doorstep. “Black what are you doing here?” She mumbled sleepily, not quite awake yet.
“Who’s Sirius? I'm Stubby.” Rachel’s eyes shot open. Stubby Boardman the lead singer of the Hobgoblins- her favourite band -was standing on her doorstep!
It was then that Rachel awoke with a start – there really was a ringing sound somewhere. Her alarm clock was clanging off next to her and she groaned before switching it off. Darn wind up contraptions – as Rachel hadn’t been able to cast an effective alarm charm she used wind up clocks from her mother (electric ones wouldn’t work at Hogwarts). Rachel struggle to remember what she had been dreaming about… it had been good… it had Stubby Boardman in it. From the Hobgoblins, her absolute most favourite band of all time.
“Great, I’m completely heart broken; so I dream of rock stars?” Rachel shook her head in disbelief. “I surprise even myself sometimes.”
“Oh, good. You’re up!” Lily just walked out of the bathroom, apparently fresh out of the shower. “We thought you’d never get up.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence.” She grumbled, before slumping back onto her mattress.
“You better go to classes, though. Wouldn’t wanna miss two days of classes.”
“Well, see who’s Miss Cheerful this early in the morning. Wait… two days?!”
“Well, yeah. You didn’t wake up yesterday. To be honest we were starting to get worried. Remus was asking after you like every other minute. It was starting to get annoying!”
“Oh…” Rachel didn’t say anything else. I like you. I probably have for a long time. She didn’t know quite how to respond to that. Especially since every time she thought of that Andy’s face came flashing through her mind.
Everything from that night was a blur, the only memory she felt she could depend on that was actually true was the fact that Remus was there. Now that she thought about it, she had no idea how she managed to get back up to the dorm in the first place. He might not even have said that he liked her for all she knew – after all, if she had been sleeping for over a day she could have dreamt it all up.
“So you gonna get up, Rache?” Lily asked cheerfully.
“Lily…” Rachel began. “Lily, what’s bothering you? Not to mention the fact that you're here, rather than the Head's Dorms.” Lily's smile faltered, and she was about to reply when she was cut off by a loud rumbling from Rachel’s stomach.
“So if you don’t wanna go to classes today, I’ll get you something from the kitchens – it’s still early, so don’t worry.” Lily ignored her and grinned widely. “See you in a bit!”
“Lily -” Rachel began but she was already out the door. Lily was being unnaturally cheerful today – she was sure something had happened. Maybe Abbie would know. But she thought about what Lily had said. Did she really want to go to classes today… which was now Friday, apparently. She slumped back into her bed, mulling over her timetable mentally.
She had Transfiguration first… with the Ravenclaws. Then a free, then Charms with the Hufflepuffs, Arithmancy… which involved Remus and a free last. She could easily skive off today too and not miss too much. She just wasn’t quite ready to face Andy yet – or Remus, for that matter. She could just sleep in. Yeah, that would be fine. In fact, that was a lie. She wasn’t sure she’d ever be fine again.
But everything would be fine today. So it was lucky she didn’t notice the stony look she received from a bed across the room, or the remainder of her rest that day would not have been so peaceful.
So there's chapter nine! What did you think - too cliche? Needs work - let me know in a review! I'm not too sure about this one, so I'll definately take your feelings into consideration. Don't hate Lily either! She may seem really rude and mean, but she's certainly feeling remorseful about that now :) Special thanks go to Shadowrunnerflinn, chocolatefrog and Itsjustafairytale for reviewing and another thank you to Itsjustafairytale for adding this to their favorites! And if anyone else reviews whilst this is in the validation queue, I'll get you next time ;) Thanks for reading!
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