A/N: I'm not JKR. She wrote HP for a living. I write HPFF as a hobby. Don't worry, I won't quit my day job.
Chapter 25: What’s the Point?
I stood on Platform 9 ¾. People were just starting to show up, to send their children back to Hogwarts until June. A family came through the barrier. The two boys started chasing each other. The mother yelled at them to slow down. The father laughed as he pushed the large trolley towards the train.
I looked back to Randy. Instead of looking around the platform, at the witches and wizards all around him, he had his silver eyes locked on me. I stared straight into his coat, not meeting those eyes. I couldn’t.
“Artemis, it’s time to board the train,” Randy said softly. “You like getting the front compartment, right? Don’t want anyone to take it from you.”
I shrugged. My gaze wandered from Randy to a family of five. Two girls and a boy. One of the girls ran off to another group of girls, who then began talking to each other excitedly about something. I could hear their laughs and giggles from here.
“I still don’t want to go back,” I whispered.
“We’ve already gone over this,” Randy sighed, bowing his head forward. “You can’t stay with Nick, Zach and me. You would be robbing yourself of your future. And-” Randy stopped. He took a breath. “And, Ken and Jake wouldn’t have wanted you to give up your life just because of what happened to them.”
I closed my eyes. It’s my fault. My fault they’re. . . If I were a better witch, maybe I could have gotten to them. If I didn’t take so long in shopping, we would have been out of London before the attack. If I-
I felt Randy’s hand on my cheek, wiping away fresh tears. Opening my eyes, I saw his face was closer than I would have expected.
He smiled slightly when we briefly made eye contact. The smile faded as I turned my eyes to his chin instead. “It will be okay,” he said. “You’ll see. The others and I will still be here when you get back this summer. We’ll be laughing and messing around before you know it.”
It won’t be the same. Two of my friends won’t be there. It won’t be the same. I should have done something. More. Anything. If I did, they might still be alive.
“It’s not your fault,” Randy said. “There was nothing you could have done. You heard everyone. You don’t know how much I want you to stay. I-” His voice choked up. He cleared his throat. “I only want what’s best for you. I love you, Artemis.”
I looked down. I didn’t need to hear that one of my friends loved me. I knew they all loved me. It was why Ken put up with my teasing of him and why Jake took pleasure in grossing me out. I just wanted two of my friends back. Was that too much to ask?
Randy sighed loudly. He shook his head back and forth slowly. “I love you,” he whispered again.
“I heard you the first time.”
“No.” He forced a smile on his face. The smile didn’t reach his eyes. “You’re still not hearing me. Probably never will either.” He then looked over my head, towards the train behind me. The forced smile slipped from his face. “Remus,” he said, nodding curtly.
“Randy,” Remus said. Remus entered my field of vision, already dressed in his school robes. “Is she ready to go?”
Randy shrugged a shoulder. “Said for the millionth time she doesn’t want to go back. Wants to stay home.” He shrugged the shoulder again. “Not a good idea, though.”
Randy put a hand on my shoulder, turning me to face Remus. “Keep her safe for me,” he said.
“I will,” Remus promised. He took my left hand. “Let’s get you on the train, Artemis.” He gently began pulling me after him.
Remus stopped to look back. “What?”
Randy took a deep breath. “Thank you.” He extended his right hand.
There was a pause. Then Remus took a step towards Randy. They locked hands. “No. Thank you.” They held each other’s gaze for a moment longer before the handshake dissolved. Remus took my hand again, still somewhat warm from Randy’s. “Let’s go.”
My legs moved me forward. I glanced back at Randy. He just stood there, smiling, as Remus weaved the two of us through the gathering crowd on the platform. I came across my parents in the throng. Mum cried and hugged me tightly. Dad also hugged me, but not as tight. He held me as if I were a delicate china doll in his arms before releasing me to Remus.
Once in my compartment, the one I’d had by myself for the past five and a half years, I just gazed out the window. Mum and Dad had moved to Randy, and the three of them waved to me when they saw me on the train. They stayed for another few minutes. Their mouths were moving, but they kept waving at me. Finally, the crowd became too thick and they left through the barrier.
The train jerked into motion. I blinked and realized that the Marauders had filed into the compartment while I wasn’t paying attention. Sirius sat directly across from me, with James seated beside him. Peter sat on the bench with me, but with room between us for Remus when he finishes his Prefect duties.
“Hey Artemis,” Sirius said softly, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees. “We heard about your friends. Sorry about that.”
I shrugged and looked out the window. The train began picking up speed as we left London. The last place where I saw Ken and Jake alive. And now, the last place I saw Randy and my parents. I pulled my arms closer to my body, trying to tell myself not to think that way.
“If you need us, we’re here,” Peter said. “You still have us.”
“Right. So just because I have more friends left, it makes everything okay.” I instantly regretted those words. Peter’s eyes widened, and for a moment I thought he was going to cry.
“I didn’t mean it that way,” he said in a quiet voice.
I propped my head on my right hand to block out PB&J and their ‘attempts’ to cheer me up. Out my window, I just saw rolling hills of snow pass by at impressive speeds.
“We should probably just leave her alone right now,” James said softly. Through the reflection in the glass, I saw James’s head swivel to look out of the compartment door. After a few seconds, he gasped. “Evans,” he whispered, standing up.
I heard the door open, but James didn’t bother to close it.
“Evans, I heard about what happened to your parents-”
“Leave me alone, Potter,” Lily’s voice choked out. “I’m not up for your harassment today.”
“No, Evans. I’m not here to harass you, or anything like that.” There was a pause. “What do you need from me?”
“Just leave me-”
“Besides that.” James’s voice lowered. “I mean it. What do you need?”
I heard some rustling. Then someone, Lily, started crying. The sobs were soon muffled against something. Or someone. And through the sobs, I could make out soft shushes and hums from James, trying to let her know that it was all right.
I watched the trees go whipping by out my window. One after another. All looking the same. The browns and whites swirled together to become a large fog. My stomach churned. In fact, I-
I threw up. In the middle of the floor of the compartment.
“Ewe! Artemis!” Sirius jumped up, pieces of my last meal now on his trainers. “Don’t puke! Peter, do something about it!”
Peter coughed, his eyes looking down at the vomit. After a few seconds, he leaned forward and added to the mess.
“Ah!” Sirius yelled, standing on the bench and pressing his body against the wall behind him. “Not like that, Wormtail! Help! Help! Massive mess in the first compartment! HELP!”
The train finally came to a stop at the Hogsmeade station. Remus was the first to stand up. “Come on Artemis, let’s go.” He pulled me to my feet. He then looked down at Sirius, who was still studying the spot Peter and I threw up on a few hours ago. It had been long since cleaned by a particularly-tall Prefect. “Can you make sure she gets to the carriages? I have-”
“Prefect duties. We know.” Sirius swung his feet off the bench to stand up. He patted me on the shoulder. “Let’s move, Artemis. The house elves probably made too much food for the school during your absence.”
I sighed but followed PB&J. Remus walked us out of the train, but he soon separated himself from us, weaving around the other students to collect the first years. It was still easy to spot him though. He was one of the tallest people in school.
“Too bad Hogwarts is a school,” Sirius said, arm now resting over my shoulders. “It’s great being back here, but I could do without the daily lectures and homework.”
“Not that we do the homework, Sirius,” James said. He kept looking around, though. He was really quiet all throughout the train ride. All the Marauders were, actually.
“But if teachers didn’t assign us homework, they wouldn’t get mad at us for not doing it,” Sirius said. “It’s brilliant, really. Can’t they trust us to understand perfectly the first time we hear things?”
“Speak for yourselves,” Peter mumbled. “I do the homework, but I can’t get it as much as you guys.”
“Don’t worry too much about-” James started.
I just stopped paying attention. My thoughts returned to Ken and Jake. How I failed as a witch and a friend. Did I even deserve to be here?
Remus tapped me on my left shoulder. “Did you hear me? I said pass the potatoes, please.”
I blinked. Somehow, I’d gotten to the Great Hall. James and Sirius were just starting to pile food on their plates, so I knew I hadn’t been here too long. I reached for the bowl and passed it to Remus, as requested. I then took some potatoes for myself.
“So,” Sirius said once we started to actually eat. “What should our first prank of the year be? Has to be something for the students to remember.”
“Not even here an hour and scheming for more detentions, Mr. Black?” Professor McGonagall walked up the aisle between the Gryffindor and Hufflepuff tables. She stopped directly behind Sirius.
“Minnie, so glad to see you!” Sirius swiveled around to look up at our teacher. “Happy New Year!”
“I hope so.” McGonagall, however, did not return Sirius’s smile. “It would be a better year if I didn’t have to write letters home to your families on nearly a nightly basis.”
“Lets our parents know we’re alive and well!” Sirius said. “Well, maybe not so much on the ‘well’ part. So what can I do for you tonight, Minnie?”
“You can stop addressing me by a shortened version of my first name-”
Sirius gasped. “But I thought we had developed a beautiful relationship over these past six years!”
“I’m here to give you your detention assignments for this evening,” McGonagall said. “Mr. Pettigrew will join you in your detention with Mr. Filch. Mr. Lupin and Mr. Potter will be working in the library with Madam Pince.”
Sirius’s eyes widened. “You still remember that?”
“Of course. While you were having a fine time over Christmas, your professors have been putting their names on a list of tasks they would like you four to do for the next two months. Enjoy your dinners, gentlemen.” McGonagall returned to the front table.
“I was hoping she would forget,” Sirius groaned, slouching against the table. “Why do I get landed with Filch?”
“I just hope we can stop by our room before we have to report in,” James said, staring at Sirius.
Sirius sat up, smiling. “Yeah, we need a chance to, er, make sure our trunks have arrived and aren’t still on the Hogwarts Express.”
“I’d say that we ‘make sure they are up there’ right now,” James said. He stood and began walking out of the hall.
“You finished eating, Artemis?” Remus asked as Sirius and Peter went to follow James. “I can sit with you-”
“No, I’m done.” I stood up.
“You sure? You didn’t seem to eat much-”
“I ate as much as you. Let’s just go. I hate sitting in here by myself.”
I tapped the point of my quill to my parchment, but I didn’t hear anything of what McGonagall was saying. I didn’t know, nor really care what the topic was. My notes remained blank, even through to the end of class.
“Artemis, class is over. Time for lunch.”
I snapped out of my trance-like state to look around. Oh, so it was. Most everyone was gone. Even McGonagall had left the room. Sighing, I put my blank notes into my bag. Swung the bag over my shoulder. There were words written on the front board, but I didn’t bother to read them. I just walked with Remus to the Great Hall, continuing my previous thoughts.
“Oi, Artemis!” Sirius said in a stage whisper. He sat down on the bench beside me. “Get a look at the Slytherins! Wait for it. Wait for it. . .” He pointed to said table.
I shrugged, taking a small cold sandwich from the same tray as Remus. And a bagel. And a goblet of pumpkin juice. The same exact meal as Remus. I wasn’t feeling up to loading my plate with everything in sight at the moment.
There was loud POP! from somewhere at the Slytherin table. Then came a lot of red and gold smoke. A lot of students, especially Gryffindors, laughed and cheered. I just ate my sandwich.
“All right, Pads!” James said, reaching over the table to slap hands with Sirius. “Good one! Never knew the Slytherins could look good sporting our colors.”
“Especially their hair,” Peter giggled.
“Especially their eyes,” Sirius said proudly. “Not that I would ever get close enough to see the color of their eyes, but I wonder how long it’ll take them to reverse this.”
I shook my head. “No, I’m fine.” I finished my bagel, then took a sip of pumpkin juice. As my head tilted back, I could vaguely make out a sea of red and gold robes, hair, and bags. Even the table itself seemed striped in Gryffindor House colors.
I put the goblet down, folded my arms on the table, and rested my head inside the nest.
“Moony? She alright?” Sirius asked.
Remus sighed. “I really don’t know.”
“Artemis, please pay attention,” Remus begged me, whispering as Professor DiGroop went on with the discussion.
I ignored him. Instead, I kept my palms pressing against the sides of my skull. My head was throbbing, my stomach was churning, and my brain was just refusing to comprehend anything over ten words at a time. What was wrong with me?
We were eventually released from class. DiGroop gave some last minute instructions. I didn’t catch any of it. I just knew that my muscles felt deflated as I pushed myself away from the desk and put my blank parchment and unused quill back in my bag. I could hardly believe that I’ve been back for only three days. It felt like months, years, decades even.
Remus stayed with me as I trudged out of the room. I think DiGroop called something to me, but I ignored him. My brain was still buzzing.
“I’m taking you to Poppy,” Remus said, the two of us the only ones in the hall. He looked at his watch. “I’ve still got time. Artemis, what’s wrong? You can tell me.”
I shook my head. “I’m not really sure,” I said slowly. “But I-”
A shot of pain shot through me from my stomach. I winced, dropping my book bag to the ground. I also stumbled, landing against Remus.
“Merlin’s beard!” I felt Remus take hold of my shoulders. “I’ll get you to Poppy, Artemis. Hold on!”
But I didn’t. I collapsed.
My muscles felt like they were filled with lead. And that I had used that lead in some sort of weight training program, leaving them exhausted for the next ten years. Even my eyelids felt heavy.
“Oi! She’s waking up, guys!”
“We see it too, Padfoot. No need to shout it through the entire wing.”
I struggled, but finally opened my eyes. I was once again staring at the ceiling of the Hospital Wing. Rotating my eyes, I saw two heads of black hair sitting on my right side. Sirius and James. And there was something at my feet. Oh, it was Peter, sitting at the foot of the bed.
“Artemis? Are you alright?”
I looked to my left. Remus was pale, extremely pale, but he wasn’t the one laying on the bed.
“What happened?” I asked, but my throat was dry. Raw, almost.
“Would you believe that you collapsed because you didn’t eat enough to feed all four Quidditch teams?” Sirius asked, smiling.
I looked to Remus, confused. “I’ve been eating. The exact same as you have.”
Remus offered a weak smile. “Yeah. But Poppy said you should have eaten more than me, which to most people is counterintuitive.” (“Big word there, mate,” Sirius said.) “You’ve been in here since you collapsed yesterday.” He pressed his lips together, looking down for a moment. “You missed today’s classes.”
I rolled my head away from Remus and just stared up at the ceiling. So what if I physically wasn’t in class today? Not like I learned anything over the past three, er, four days we’ve been back.
Madam Pomfrey eventually came out and shooed PB&J away from my bed. Peter moved too fast, though, and ended up falling out of my bed and onto his kneecap. Pomfrey had to treat him before checking to see if I was okay.
“My only order to you is to get food in your system. Lots of it.” Pomfrey pointed towards the double doors out of here. “Your little body requires a lot of fuel to operate.”
“So she wasn’t kidding when she said she had a high metabolism,” Sirius said. He was lounging on another bed, technically out of Pomfrey’s way. The nurse didn’t seem to like him messing up another bed for nothing, though.
“I’ll take her down to the kitchens,” Remus said, standing up from his chair. “Dinner’s long over, anyway.” He turned his attention to Pomfrey. “Thanks for taking care of her, Poppy.”
Pomfrey smiled. “Anything for two of my favorite students.”
“Hey Pomfrey, am I one of your favorite students?” Sirius asked.
“Of course. Now get down to scrubbing out my cauldrons. You lot get so many detentions, it benefits Artemis and me in avoiding the dirty work.”
Remus helped me off the bed, then lead me down to the kitchens. I remained silent in our journey.
Remus placed a large plate of spaghetti in front of me. Somehow, we had gotten into the kitchen without me noticing. I’ve been doing that a lot, I realized.
“Eat,” Remus directed.
I picked up a fork, but I didn’t have much of an apatite. I remembered that one time Jake dyed some spaghetti brown, threw in meatballs, and presented it as his science project in school, modeling how things decompose and worms grow everywhere. I didn’t even think we were studying decomposition in school at the time. Jake just did it to gross out the girls (and most of the boys) in class.
“Do I have to feed you myself?” Remus muttered, sitting down beside me. He took the fork and rolled it through the spaghetti. “Open up, Artemis.”
“I’m not hungry,” I said.
Rolling my eyes, I opened my mouth.
We repeated this process until the plate of spaghetti disappeared. It was quickly taken away by a house elf and replaced with a fresh plate. Remus handed me the fork.
“I’m not hungry,” I said.
We must have silently sat there for at least ten minutes. The steam from the spaghetti eventually dissipated. The house elves continued to work around us. If not for them, it would have been absolutely silent.
“Too bad we’ve lost the war,” Remus said. He slouched back in his seat and stared at the ceiling.
I straightened up. I couldn’t have heard him right. “What?!”
“The war against Voldemort,” Remus said simply. His eyes remained on the ceiling. “And Death Eaters. Our side’s lost.” He let out a long, loud sigh. “At least I don’t have to worry about getting all O’s on my N.E.W.T.’s anymore.”
“The war’s not over!” I said, slightly confused. “If it were, the Death Eaters would be here! We’d be under attack. Or conquered. Or, well, something!”
Remus shrugged. “Just a formality. I mean, if no one’s around to fight dark wizards, then what opposition do they have? None. Might as well pack my trunk and get out of here before they show up. They will show up eventually.” He paused. “Muggles don’t stand a change. Most will probably be gone within the month.”
“No!” I snapped at him. “There are plenty of people out fighting! The Aurors! They saved my life!”
“They still die,” Remus said. “If there’s no one to replace our side but the Death Eaters keep recruiting the young witches and wizards of pureblood families, it’ll turn into a numbers game. And if you care to remember History of Magic, numbers do make a difference.”
“And who says there’s no one to replace our side?” I asked.
“You.” Remus said. He looked down from the ceiling to stare at me. His gaze told me not to look away. “One bad thing happens. You shut down. You haven’t been in to see Madam Pomfrey for Healer training since we got back. With one less skilled Healer, more people will be hurt or sick longer. If everyone just shut down after a tragedy, we would have lost this war years ago, maybe even before it began. And I-” Remus paused, his eyes widening. He broke eye contact first, looking over to the house elves surrounding the ovens. “Didn’t you tell me once that you wanted to be a Healer so you could help us out in this war? That and your mother would have a fit if you became an Auror?”
“I’m just one person. I can’t save everyone.” I looked down to poke the cold spaghetti. That was just the short truth of it all. I was just one person. One witch in this huge world.
Remus closed his eyes. “That’s not the point. You just do your best.” He reopened his eyes. “No one’s perfect.”
I thought about this. As I twirled my fork around the food, I thought of all my friends. No one had ever told me I couldn’t do something. Of course, they were very quick to point out any faults. Everyone has faults. Myself included. Merlin, I know I had issues. It just made life fun. Life that Ken and Jake would not- No. Randy was right on the platform.
“Our side will win,” I said. I pointed my wand at the spaghetti to reheat it while reaching for a blueberry muffin with my left hand. “You-Know-Who’s going to dread the day when I’m released onto the world full-time.”
Remus smiled. “The rest of the world is also dreading that day. And call him by his real name. Fearing to speak the name just makes him feel more powerful than he is.”
I nodded. “Okay. Dad just has a weird feeling about saying Voldemort’s name. Weird in a bad way.”
“My parents feel the same. But all we can do is our best.”
I went on to finish that second plate of spaghetti, then requested a large steak, a mound of fries, trout, and an unlimited supply of muffins. Remus also offered me some hot chocolate with some chocolate squares inside. I felt a little better after eating my fill, but I knew I wasn’t feeling like the girl who had left last December.
Leaving the kitchens with our pockets filled with muffins, a thought hit me. “Remus?”
I hesitated, not really wanting to ask this question, but knowing that I had to anyway. “What, er, what do you think you would do if you lost PB&J?”
Remus frowned. He looked away.
I opened the door out of the kitchens. The two of us walked back to Gryffindor Tower practically in silence.
Remus never did answer my question.
A/N: So, thoughts? Comments? Feelings? Please tell me if this chapter is good, bad, blah, or otherwise. Thank you!
Write a Review I Want to Walk in the Full Moon With You: Chapter 25: What's the Point?