“Our Remedies Oft in Ourselves Do Lie”
Seventh Year, 1977
I was in the middle of searching for the parchments that Regulus had given me when Pamela walked into the room. Her smile blossomed when she saw me and she flounced onto my bed without invitation.
I winced at the nickname. “Hi Pam.”
“Oh don’t you ‘hi Pam’ me.” She leaned forward eagerly, her smile wicked. “Come now, spill the dirt! What’s this I hear about you going on a date with Regulus Black?”
I nearly groaned out loud. It looked like I was never going to hear the end of this.
“It’s a rumor,” I said, trying to sound adamant.
She scoffed. “Liar.”
“No really,” I insisted.
“Pam,” I snapped.
“Neels,” she retorted.
I finally sighed and turned around to face her. The smug smile on her face made me want to tear her hair out, but I managed to restrain myself from actually committing the act of violence. “He did ask me out, all right? But it’s really not what you think. We were just going as friends.”
Pamela rolled her eyes. “Seriously, how daft can you be? Someone like Black would never go out with a girl as ‘just friends’. He wants something from you.”
I stopped rifling through my papers. “And why is that?”
“He’s a Slytherin,” she said flippantly, as if that explained everything. “It’s common knowledge that Slytherins can’t be trusted.”
I just shook my head and grabbed the aforementioned parchments when I found them. They had been buried under the previous day’s Potions homework. “Maybe you should learn to be less judgmental, Pam.”
“And maybe you should be more careful.” She clucked her tongue. “You do realize that you’re going to be the start of a huge scandal if you go out with him, right?”
“More scandalous than your sleepover sessions with Sirius?” I couldn’t help but say.
Pamela looked startled and I immediately felt bad about my mouth diarrhea. It honestly hadn’t been my intention to attack her.
But then she snickered and tossed her dark hair over her shoulder, looking more amused than insulted. “Contrary to what you may think, Neels, it isn’t a crime to have sex.”
“I know that,” I muttered.
“Unless of course,” she continued, ignoring my previous comment, “someone is jealous?”
I was scandalized by her accusation. “No!”
“He’s a great shag.” Pamela sighed dreamily. “Merlin, that stamina…”
I was growing steadily more repulsed and would’ve left right at that moment if she hadn’t suddenly jerked out of her trance. Her smile bordered on a smirk. “Then again, you probably have full experience of Sirius’ sexual prowl. You did go out with him for several long months.”
I just swallowed and gave her a weak smile and a wave goodbye before I high-tailed it out of the room. That was a conversation that I most definitely refused to have again anytime soon.
I was about halfway down the spiral staircase when I noticed the commotion around the portrait hole. The Gryffindors were whispering amongst themselves, and over the din, I could hear the Fat Lady’s shrill voice. She was yelling herself hoarse at the would-be intruder, and as a result, I could barely make out what the person was saying on the other side.
Since I had no interest in joining the crowd, I headed over to the couches, where I saw Remus sprawled on the longest one. There was a book on his face, as if he was trying to muffle the noise. Was he seriously attempting to sleep through this loud ruckus?
He looked weary when I lifted the book. “Hi Neely.”
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“Only Merlin knows,” he muttered. He looked exceptionally tired and I attributed this to the quickly approaching full moon. “Someone’s been pounding on the portrait for the last fifteen minutes and we don’t even know who it is because the Fat Lady is screaming like a banshee.”
“And no one has bothered to open the portrait?”
“What if it’s a murderer?” Remus’ voice was dull, so I took his comment as sarcasm.
I frowned at him. “And you don’t plan to do anything about it?” I had always thought the Marauders made it their business to deal with everything.
Remus’ eyes were closed again and he shook his head. “I’m a little tired. Not really up to drama, if you know what I mean.”
I nodded sympathetically and brushed a few strands of hair away from his forehead. “It’s probably just some psychotic girl looking for her boyfriend. And he’s probably hiding in his room like the brave little Gryffindor that he is.”
“Or maybe it’s a Slytherin looking for his beloved tutor.” I looked up and found Lily standing right next to me. Her book bag was still on her shoulder and she was carrying a few extra books, which meant she had just entered the common room.
She lifted an eyebrow at my shocked look. “You did miss yesterday’s session, if you hadn’t realized.”
I was incredibly alarmed. “What day is it today?”
“Friday,” she reported cheerfully. “Regulus looks a bit angry right now, so good luck with him. Make sure he doesn’t kill you, all right? I really don’t want to revert back to my old opinion of him, especially not after I just got a new and better impression of him.”
Remus snorted as I tried to summon all my courage to go out there and face Hurricane Regulus. I had never seen him downright angry before, but I had been on the receiving end of Sirius’ fury more than once. And if Sirius and Regulus were anything alike, I was seriously doomed.
I took in a deep breath and slowly made my way through the crowd. A few people called out warnings to me when they realized what I was about to do, but I only smiled and pushed open the portrait hole. The Fat Lady abruptly stopped screaming when she felt her portrait move, and I stepped out… right into Regulus’ fist.
I let out a little ‘oomph!’ and felt myself crash towards the ground. There was a pause as I tried to get a feel for which way was up and which way was down, and right when my head stopped spinning, I felt a pair of arms hoist me back to my feet.
My forehead throbbed painfully and I winced when I touched a finger to it. Ouch.
Regulus looked apologetic for accidentally punching me, but I could still see the rage in his eyes. The fury had turned his dark blue irises into such a deep color that I could’ve sworn they were black. He pressed gentle fingers to my forehead and caressed the spot that had probably turned a shade of violent red by now.
“Does it hurt?” he muttered.
I scowled and ducked away from his touch. “You think?”
Regulus looked offended by that comment, but also slightly repentant. He withdrew his hands and stuffed them into the pockets of his trousers. “I didn’t mean to hit you, the portrait opened too suddenly. That bloody woman is such a pain in the arse.” He gestured towards the Fat Lady, who scowled down at him.
“You assaulted her in the first place,” I pointed out. “If you hadn’t come, none of this would’ve happened and you wouldn’t have a huge crowd of curious Gryffindors behind that wall.”
Regulus’ lips curled sardonically. “If you hadn’t avoided me, I wouldn’t be here in the first place.”
I fidgeted when I realized the truth in that statement. It was my fault that I hadn’t gone to meet him yesterday. And interestingly enough, he was making a much bigger deal out of it than I thought he would.
“I wasn’t avoiding you,” I said truthfully. “I just lost track of the days. But that didn’t mean you had to harass our poor Fat Lady.”
“How else was I supposed to talk to you then?”
“Oh I don’t know. Through owl?” I said, not without a hint of sarcasm. It was hard to believe that he had forgotten the most typical mode of communication.
He scoffed loudly and gave me a look that made me feel slightly intimidated. “I thought you were avoiding me. And if that were the case, then there was a nine out of ten chance that my letter to you would come back unopened.” He shrugged then. “So I decided on a more straight-forward route.”
“Ah.” I nodded. That made sense. “Right then. Sorry about missing yesterday, but I promise I’ll make it up to you next week. So um… goodbye!”
I made a hasty move to rush back towards the portrait, but Regulus was too quick. He grabbed me before I could even complete my second step.
“You’re not going anywhere until I receive some kind of explanation,” he snapped. His grip on my arm tightened and I blew out an annoyed sigh.
“What makes you think I want to talk to you?” I retorted. There was a moment’s pause as we glared at each other, and I wondered why I was lying straight through my teeth. I actually did want to talk to him… I just wasn’t completely ready yet.
Regulus sneered, the tightness in his jaw accentuating his anger and frustration. “And what makes you think I care about what you want?”
I was taken aback by his anger and I physically took a step back. He narrowed his eyes, his gaze piercing, and I swallowed. The Slytherin side of him was coming out, and I found myself hating it. And yet, at the same time, I realized how ridiculous I was being. Regulus was a Slytherin, so why was I reprimanding him for acting like one?
Without warning, he grabbed my hand and started pulling me down the corridor. I stumbled and nearly fell, but I managed to right my footing.
He didn’t even spare me a glance and continued pulling me along until we were at the end of the seventh floor. I had a feeling that I knew where he was heading, but I wondered how he knew about it in the first place. I had always thought it was a Marauder secret, but when he stopped knowledgeably in front of the seemingly blank wall, I realized that I had underestimated the Slytherins’ grasp of the castle.
We paced in front of that wall three times, and I suddenly found myself entering a miniature version of the Three Broomsticks. I could see the familiar bar and the warm surroundings, complete with a crackling fire on the side.
Regulus smirked and gestured towards the bar that was lined with butterbeers. “I had a feeling we’d need a bit of alcohol for this conversation.”
He handed me a mug of steaming buttery goodness and I took an eager sip, if only to busy myself so I wouldn’t have to start the conversation.
But when it was clear that Regulus wouldn’t speak up before I did, I blew out a sigh and carefully set the mug down. “Did you want to talk to me about something?”
“I want to talk about you and me.”
My breath hitched. “What about us?”
Regulus scoffed loudly, and if he were prone to violence, I was certain that he wouldn’t have hesitated to smash his fist against the bar a few times. But as it was, he took in a deep breath and even closed his eyes in a struggle to keep himself calm.
“What about us?” he repeated incredulously. “Bloody hell, are you really so blind? Did last weekend mean nothing to you?”
My eyes were wide. “Well um… I really enjoyed spending time with you. It was fun.”
He shook his head. “Unbelievable,” he muttered.
I was scrambling for words now. “I mean… it really was fun. And thanks for the chocolate. It was great.” I laughed nervously. “I actually finished the entire box three days after you gave it to me. And then I got a stomachache and-”
His lips cut me off, and from that moment, I knew there would be nothing gentle about the kiss. It was fueled by anger, hurt, and a tinge of frustration, so when he plunged his tongue into my slightly parted lips, I wasn’t surprised. His thumb brushed my jaw as he pulled me closer and deepened the kiss, his warm lips nipping and sucking on mine. All sense of time had been lost to me, and when he finally pulled away to rest his forehead against mine, my chest was heaving from the lack of breath and he was breathing fairly erratically.
“You kissed me back,” he murmured, sounding awed.
I swallowed. “I…”
Regulus took my hand and pressed it to his chest, right over his heart. I felt his racing pulse under my palm. “Do you feel this?” he asked quietly. When I gave a short nod, his hand tightened on mine. “Neely, do you really have no idea what this means?”
My heart was pounding. I knew what he was getting at… oh Merlin I knew. But was it something I was ready to accept? Lily had been so certain about the fact that I harbored a liking towards Regulus. Yet hadn’t I dissuaded myself from believing so? I clearly wasn’t his type and I had been so certain that he would never see me as anything but a friend.
And yet here he was, his actions contradicting anything and everything I had ever thought him to be.
“Um… are you saying that you… you like me?” I said weakly.
His eyes glowed such a brilliant blue that I was momentarily dazzled. “I do, Neely. I really do.” But then he closed his eyes and let out a deep breath of exasperation, effectively breaking me out of my trance. “Bloody hell, you have got to be the densest girl I know. You have no idea how long I’ve been hinting at this.”
“But you never gave any signs,” I protested.
“I gave plenty of signs. You just never paid attention to any of them.”
I frowned. “Are you calling me unobservant?”
“Yes,” he said bluntly. At my look of offense, he rolled his eyes and handed me another mug of butterbeer. “Why did you think I spent all that time in the library with you when I clearly had no homework to do? I went out of my way to see you, and on top of that, I volunteered to help you influence Slughorn. I’ve never offered that to anyone before!”
I took all this information in with my jaw agape. I had a slight inkling about the library incidents, but I had honestly believed that every time I bumped into him was a coincidence. And as for dealing with Slughorn…
“How was I supposed to know you’ve never offered anyone else help before?” I demanded hotly. “It’s not as if I can read your mind.”
Regulus gave me a look. “Are you seriously going to argue with me on that point?”
I flushed when I realized how irrational I was being. “No,” I muttered. And then another thought came to me. “But how did you expect me to even guess this? You distinctly said that I wasn’t your type.”
He arched a brow. “When did I ever say that?”
“When you said I’m not like any of the girls in Slytherin.”
“And what makes you think Slytherin girls are my type?”
“Well you’re in Slytherin…”
“So since you’re in Gryffindor, does that make me not your type?”
My head shot up. “No, that’s not what I…”
Regulus seemed pleasantly surprised by my outburst and his lips curled. “So I am your type?”
I frantically wondered what I ought to say and cast around for a suitable response, as if one would be hovering in the air above me. But when I accidentally met his gaze, and saw the anticipation and worry that lingered, I decided to just settle on the truth. Regulus had been nothing but truthful with me since we stepped into the Room of Requirement, and if anything, I owed him the truth as well.
I held his gaze. “Maybe.”
Regulus’ smile grew impossibly wide. I did a double take when I saw it and had to reassure myself several times that I had been the one to put that smile on him. I had never thought I’d feel all that different about making Regulus happy, but the butterflies in my stomach alerted me to the fact that I was secretly pleased and bloody ecstatic that he was happy because of me.
He looped an arm around my waist and tugged me closer. His tone was playful. “And how definite is this maybe?”
His mood was contagious and I found myself giving him a coy smile. “At the moment, pretty definite.”
“Good.” Regulus threaded his fingers through my hair and gave it a little tug. “After you ran away from me at the Three Broomsticks, I was so sure that I had overstepped my boundaries. I thought you hated me.”
He frowned unpleasantly at the memory.
“I’m sorry,” I said, realizing that I had yet to apologize for my rude behavior. “I really didn’t mean to. I don’t react well to surprises, and well… that kiss was very surprising.”
“So you don’t regret it?”
“Not at all,” I responded truthfully.
Regulus let out a breath of relief and pressed his lips to my hair. “Thank you.” There was a moment’s pause as we both tried to let the situation sink in, and then he suddenly chuckled, prompting me to look up at him. “You know, I have half a mind to just ask you to be my girlfriend right now. But I get the feeling that you’ll say no.”
I sighed. “You’re right. I… I have some things to work out before I can make any sort of commitment to you.” Namely Sirius, I thought. “I’m sorry, Regulus.”
To my surprise, he was neither surprised nor angry. “I understand. I just want you to know that I’m not just pulling your leg. I do like you, Neely. You know that, right?”
I nodded. I was completely certain about that at this point.
He put a finger under my chin and gently tilted my head so he could look me in the eyes. “Take as much time as you need to sort things out. I’ll wait for you.”
My eyes widened in surprise. “You will?”
“Of course.” Regulus’ smile was crooked. “I like you, don’t I?”
I blushed and lowered my head. I had never thought that telling someone you ‘liked’ them could sound so intimate, especially after being given a love declaration that was observed by Hogwarts’ entire student population. But the way Regulus said it made it sound so profound and touching that my stomach fluttered. It was one of Regulus’ many charms, I supposed.
“Thank you.” I felt jittery and my smile betrayed my emotions. “I suppose I should go back to the common room now. Everyone’s probably curious about our conversation.”
“Ah, right. Sorry about making such a ruckus.”
I rolled my eyes. From his roguish smile, I could tell that he wasn’t sorry at all. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Regulus grabbed my hand before I could go anywhere. “Neely, wait.” He bit his lip when I cocked my head curiously. “You won’t make me wait too long, will you?”
His worried expression was adorable. I grinned and pressed a brief kiss to his lips. It was chaste and nowhere close to what we had experienced before, but from his smile, I could tell that it was enough for him.
I squeezed his hand warmly. “No, I won’t make you wait too long.”
“I’ll hold you to that.” And then he reached into the pocket of his robes and emerged with a Gringotts banknote, which he offered to me. “Here, before I forget.”
I nearly dropped it when I got a good look at it. It was the fifty thousand Galleons that Regulus had promised me in return for my translations. “Why are you giving this to me now? I’m not even halfway done with the work!”
“It’s all right. Just take this and give it to the St. Mungo’s healers so they can start your mum’s treatment.”
“But aren’t you scared that I’m going to run off with the money?”
Regulus raised an eyebrow. “Where could you run to? The girls’ bathroom?” He smirked when I blushed a furious red at the memory. “If it does come to that, I’m warning you now that I’m not afraid to go in there and seek you out.”
I impulsively hugged him. “Thank you, Regulus. You have no idea how much this means to me.”
“Oh I think I do.”
I smiled and waved the banknote in the air. “I’ll let you know how it goes?”
He ruffled my hair. “Looking forward to it. Until then, beautiful.”
I had trouble keeping the smile off my face on the way back to the common room.
Dumbledore granted my request to visit St. Mungo’s easily when I told him about the situation regarding my mum. And that was how I found myself walking towards the receptionist on the fourth floor of the wizarding hospital.
She smiled pleasantly and I saw that she was the same woman who had ogled Sirius when we had visited last time. “Hello. What can I do for you today?”
“Do you happen to know where Healer Mariam Chortley’s office is?”
“She’s down the hall, the second door to your right.”
I smiled. “Thank you.”
The walk was brief and I was able to find the room easily. The door was slightly ajar and I could hear humming from within. I took in a deep breath to prepare myself and knocked, only to be admitted right on the spot.
Chortley looked up when I entered and her smile widened when she saw me. “Ms. Grey! It’s certainly a pleasure to see you again.” She shook my hand enthusiastically. “How have you been doing?”
This woman’s energy was contagious and I found myself grinning. “I’ve been good. School has been rather hectic, but I’ve been managing.”
“Good, good.” She flicked her wand, summoning two cups of hot coffee, and offered one to me. “So what can I do for you today? Have you seen your mum yet?”
I shook my head. “I thought I’d hear about her progress first.”
She bobbed her head. “I see, I see. Well, your mum is currently in stable condition. She hasn’t woken up from her comatose state yet, but unfortunately, with an attack like that, it’s to be expected.” She took a sip of her coffee. “And as I told you last time, the required potions can’t be administered until we have the funds to purchase the ingredients.”
“I know. That’s why I came today.” I reached into my pocket and pulled out the crisp banknote that Regulus had given me. “I only brought fifty thousand Galleons today, but I was hoping it would be enough to at least start the treatment.”
Chortley’s eyes widened when she saw the money and her smile blossomed till it stretched across her entire face. “Yes, yes, this will definitely be enough to purchase the ingredients for the first stage treatment.” She carefully stashed the money into a folder that had ‘Clarissa Grey’ written on it and placed it back on her desk. “I will owl you when we receive news of your mum’s progress.”
I stood and shook her hand again. “Thank you so much, Healer Chortley. Please do the best you can for my mum.”
“Not to worry, darling. I will.”
I left her office and continued down the hallway until I was standing in front of room 472. I pushed open the door carefully and quietly, even though a part of me wanted to slam it open in hopes of waking my mum up for her coma.
The room smelled fresh, nothing like the stifling smell of potions that I had been expecting. The curtains were pulled open and I could see the bustling city from where I stood.
I moved towards the bed and transfigured one of the cups on the bedside table into a chair. Even though I knew my mum wasn’t dead, it was still comforting to hear her steady breathing and see the rise and fall of her chest. Her face was smooth and worry-free, and I smiled at the sight of it. At least I knew that wherever she was, nothing was bothering her.
I reached under the covers and took hold of one of her hands. “Hi mum,” I whispered. “Sorry I haven’t been here to see you often enough, but school has been insanely busy. So many things have happened, and sometimes, I feel as if I’m barely in control of anything.”
I took in a deep breath. “Lily and Remus are doing wonderfully right now. Lily’s relationship with James has been steady, even though they argue more than your regular couple.” I ran my thumb over her hand, reveling in the thin scars that had formed over the years of working as an Auror. “As for Sirius… he’s confusing me immensely. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t really know how to be around him. One minute I think he cares about me and the next he goes and does something completely ridiculous that makes me wonder why I don’t hate him.
“And then there’s Regulus. Did you know he’s the one who gave me the fifty thousand Galleons to start your treatment? Regulus and Sirius are so alike in every way, but there’s just something about Regulus that Sirius lacks. It’s going to sound funny, but Regulus is serious and Sirius… well, Sirius isn’t.”
I laughed a little and shook my head. “Mum… I think I really do like Regulus. I never thought I’d ever like a Slytherin, especially since our houses have an age-old rivalry that I’m really not interested in contesting. But this time feels different. I think I just might agree to be his girlfriend. What do you think?”
Of course, there was nothing but silence.
I smiled regretfully. “I really wish you were awake, Mum. I miss you and dad so much.”
I glanced up at the clock on the wall and realized with a start that forty-five minutes had already passed. I returned my chair to its original form and pressed a kiss to my mum’s forehead. “I have to go now. I’ll come and visit you soon again, I promise. Please get better.”
I stopped in my tracks the moment I entered the Gryffindor common room. I had expected the room to be empty since it was currently dinnertime, but my eyes widened when I saw Sirius sitting on one of the couches. His feet were propped on the table in front of him and his arms were crossed.
He lifted his head when he heard me enter. “Where have you been?” he demanded.
I was taken aback by his tone. “What?”
Sirius stood and I saw the Marauder’s Map in his hand. He tossed it onto the table in front of him and gave me a sardonic look. “You remember how this works?” When I nodded, he smirked and gestured towards it. “You’ve been gone for the past three hours. I’m assuming you were in the Room of Requirement with my little brother for the first half.”
My jaw dropped. “You’ve been spying on me?” I asked furiously.
“I was worried,” he said coolly. “You left with Regulus and never came back.”
His arrogance infuriated me. “So you thought Regulus kidnapped me?”
“I wouldn’t put it past him.”
“You’re a prat, Sirius,” I snapped. “Do you even hear yourself? Bloody hell, you make me so angry sometimes!”
Sirius snorted and rolled his eyes, not looking the least bit repentant. “Well that makes the two of us then. I’ve warned you about Regulus so many times and yet you never listen to me.”
“Maybe it’s because I don’t have to listen to you.” I took in a deep breath and turned away from him in an attempt to control my temper. “I’ve had enough of your immature antics, Sirius. You may be biased against Regulus, but I see him for who he actually is. He’s not just any other Slytherin.”
His dark gray eyes were stormy and I could tell that he was on the verge of exploding. “Then who is he to you?” he asked silkily. When I didn’t respond, he let out a bitter chuckle and grabbed my arm, spinning me around so we were face to face. “Tell me, Neely. Who is he to you?”
I didn’t understand his anger. “Why are you being like this?”
“I just… I…” And suddenly, the anger drained away from Sirius, leaving him tired and frustrated. He ran a hand through his hair and adopted a bewildered expression. “I don’t even know. I thought… I thought after what I told you in the bathroom, you would at least open your eyes and see.”
“Never mind,” he suddenly said, cutting me off. “It doesn’t matter.”
I grabbed his arm before he could turn away from me. “But it does. Sirius…” He looked at me, his eyes wide. “Sirius, I think we should talk.”
Author's Note: You guys asked for Regulus, so here he is, a full chapter filled with Regulus :) Please do enjoy. Next chapter will have an indepth conversation between Neely and Sirius and I think we'll finally be able to resolve some relationship problems by then. Thanks for all your fantastic reviews and please keep them coming! They keep me motivated :)
Chapter Title: All's Well That Ends Well, Act 1 scene 1
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