Chapter 2 : The boy who smiles like hot chocolate
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In talking, shyness and timidity distort the very meaning of my words. I don’t pretend to know anybody well. People are like shadows to me and I am like a shadow to them - Gwen John
Lovely Chapter Image by enchantress @ tda
Remus Lupin, the boy who smiles like hot chocolate.
“You know, Venus, I never thought I would make it.” I murmured, stroking my cats’ pure white head. Venus purred and rubbed her nose against my hand. “I never knew I was good enough.”
“Yes, my thoughts exactly.” I sighed, lying back down against my pillow.
I looked down at the long line of little half moons etched into my arm. I had been pinching myself ever since I had gotten back from those Locker rooms yesterday, just to make sure I hadn’t been dreaming.
I had gone through the whole tryout and hour long speech in a sort of daze. I could hardly remember the actual tryouts at all anymore. They were all hazy and distant, like an old dream you just can’t catch.
Hence the pinching.
Now, I was lying in bed, morning sunlight streaming through the dusty windows, sending streaks of gold dancing across my arms. It was Sunday, which meant that I had nothing to do except my overdue Astronomy homework, and speculate over my place on the Team.
I guess I had thought, at the very back of my mind, that I wouldn’t get in. And I had been hoping for that, a little. An excuse I could use on my parents: I tried, but they didn’t accept me. And then they would leave me alone, and I could go back to my life.
If someone had told me, two weeks ago, that fourteen days from then I would have a place on the Gryffindor Quidditch team, I would have kindly directed them to the closest loony bin. And now that it had actually happened, I was just so bloody surprised.
And I was terrified, faced with the prospect of having to talk to more people, and put myself out there. I had felt so sheltered and safe in my little cocoon of shyness, so this was a sudden, drastic change. I felt lost.
And I wasn’t entirely happy about it. It still felt like half a dream, but I knew that as soon as training started, it would be real enough.
I pinched myself once more, for good measure. The dorms were empty by now, my roommates having gone down for breakfast. I had stayed in bed, because I was positive that as soon as I walked into the Great Hall, everyone would start whispering.
Is she the new chaser for the Gryffindor team? What was she thinking? What was James thinking?
So I decided that it was much safer to stay in bed.
But that did get boring. So I carefully pushed Venus off my stomach, and threw my legs over the edge of the mattress, looking around for something to do. My eyes fell on my father’s letter, lying open on my bedside table.
So I decided to answer him.
And that turned out to be harder than I thought it would be. Every attempt I made at an answer came out too formal or too rude. I was soon surrounded by a steadily growing pile of scrunched up parchment.
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Rose,
This is your Daughter, Delilah Jane Rose, writing to inform you that she
How are you? I have great news! See, I’ve
How you doing? OMG, I’ve so like totally gone and gotten myself a place on, like, the awesome Quidditch team. I mean, how totally cool is
Greetings, fellow earthlings,
I am corresponding to you from the land of Hogwarts, to tell you
Mr. and Mrs. Prat,
After that horrible letter you so kindly sent my way (which was, by the way, just plain mean) I went to try out for the Quidditch team, because, you know, you guys didn’t really leave me a choice. And guess what? I got in! So, what’s the next thing I should change about myself? Be sure to tell me soon, so I can fix that, too. I wouldn’t want you guys to be disappointed in me. Again.
Just for the record, how long do you think it’s going to take for me to live up to your expectations? Ten more years? I’ve only been trying for seventeen, after all
After countless tries, I finally settled with:
Dear Mother and Father,
How are you both? In response to the letter I received last week, I attended the Quidditch tryouts. I was accepted on the team, and training starts in two days. I hope this is what you expected of me. I will also try my best to participate in class, and I will try hard in Quidditch, promise. I will surely see you soon, as the holidays are coming closer.
Yours faithfully, your daughter, Delilah Rose.
My letter finished, I folded up the parchment and wrote down my parents names on the top.
“I’ll be right back, Venus.” I whispered, pulling some track-suit pants under my baggy T, and slipping my feet into a pair of warm ugg boots.
The common room was deserted, the plush red armchairs looking strangely desolate in the morning sun. I padded through the silent room, pulling my wavy blonde hair up into a messy pony tail on my way.
The corridors were equally as empty. I was glad for the silence, glad to have time to think and breathe, with the moving portraits as my only audience.
“Ahem, excuse me?” The small cough made me turn around. The noise had come from the painting of a wizened old man wearing a tall pointy hat. He looked rather befuddled and confused. I stopped in my tracks to look at him. “I…I have a question…” The old man said, trailing off. I waited patiently for him to continue. “It’s been bothering me for quite some time…I don’t know if you know…”
“What is it?” I asked him kindly. He gave me a weak mile.
“What happens if I…if I add two drops of sneezewort to an infusion of lovage?” He looked at me hopefully, and the surprise I had felt at his question melted away at his expectant expression.
“Er…I’m not sure…” I murmured, taken aback. I can honestly say that I had never been asked a question like this by the portrait of a mumbling old man before. “A potion?” I suggested, biting my lip. What kind of question was this anyway? The old man smiled nervously, and his eyes unfocused, before snapping over to me again.
“Excuse me, young lady…” He said. “I-I have question for you…”
I smiled sadly at him and glanced down and his name plaque. It read ‘Billius the Baffled, 1763’.
“I need to go,” I told him softly. “Nice meeting you…”
Billius the Baffled waved vaguely as I walked off. His mumblings followed me as I continued down the corridor.
Some of the portraits here at Hogwarts were like that. They muttered to themselves, shooting evil glares at the students walking by, or stopping them in their tracks for a chat. The worst was Sir Cadogan, a knight on the seventh floor. I’d heard stories of him practically chasing students on their way to class.
I arrived at the Owlery, slightly puffed from climbing up the stairs. I realized then that if I wanted to stay on the Quidditch team, I was going to have to work on my fitness.
The owls hooted and ruffled their feathers when I stepped in, the small bones of their last night’s dinner crunching underfoot. I scanned the ledges the owls were sleeping on, searching for Quill. He was a sooty owl, all black apart from the small grey specks dusted across his feathers. I spotted him and padded over to his perch.
“Wake-up Quill,” I whispered, holding my arm out for him to hop onto. He opened one sleepy eye at the sound of my voice, hooted feebly, and grudgingly hopped onto to my arm.
Smiling, I stroked his feathers, making my way over to the large open window on the far wall. I loved it up here, especially in the mornings. There was something quite magical about this lonely tower, filled with the gentle sound of rustling feathers, the feeble morning sun seeping through the window and splashing its golden colors across the floor and walls. Whenever I sat on the window ledge, looking out at the mountains and forests rising proudly in the distance, I would feel like I was the only living thing in this vast, colorful world. It was peaceful and calming, with just me and the owls.
For some, that would be terrifying rather than relaxing, but I needed it sometimes. This feeling of quiet tranquility, a time when I felt like the earth stood still, and I could just relax, without having to worry about all the petty things in life.
I felt free up here.
“Rose, is it?”
I jumped at the voice, earning me an angry hoot from Quill as he was nearly knocked off my arm.
Turning around, I looked over at the door to see who had spoken. I recognized the boy, having seen him around school and in class. He had also been at my Quidditch tryouts yesterday, even though he wasn’t on the team. He hanged around with James Potter and Sirius Black. I had heard people calling them ‘The Marauders’.
“I’m Remus,” He greeted, when I remained silent. He had messy, sandy brown hair, and his chin had a line of stubble running along it. He looked worn and tired, as if he was carrying all the weight of the world on his shoulders, and then some.
“Delilah,” I answered in a small voice, staring down at the ground. Remus grinned and strolled over to one of the school barn owls, attempting to lure it down from its ledge with a treat of some sort. An angry screech from Quill reminded me that he was still standing on my arm, leg held out in wait for my letter.
Trying to ignore Remus, and the feeling that he had somehow disturbed my morning alone time, I carefully tied my letter to Quill’s leg. After making sure my knot was secure, I sent him into the air, feeling his claws dig softly into my arm as he spread his wings and took off.
After watching him fly further and further away, until he was just a small grey smudge in the pale sky, I turned my back to the window, feeling awkward now that there was someone else in the room. I didn’t know if I should leave or try to make conversation.
I knew that anything I said would just end in disaster. After all, I had a reason to be an unsocial nobody.
But Remus solved my dilemma, having finally tempted the barn owl down from its perch, and turning to me with a friendly but somewhat reserved smile on his face.
“I saw you at the Quidditch Tryouts yesterday,” He was saying, now walking over to the window, his owl perched loftily on his arm. “I never placed you as one to play Quidditch.”
I shifted awkwardly at his words. I didn’t know what to say, so instead I watched him tie a scroll and a tiny little package to his owl’s leg.
“What did you place me as?” I finally asked, in my small voice. He chuckled and looked at me thoughtfully.
“I didn’t place you” He smiled again. His smile was warm and honest, and his eyes crinkled up at the sides as he did it.
I was at loss for words once again. Why did I always end up in these kinds of situations? My best friend was my cat for Merlin’s sake, I wasn’t programmed to be around normale human beings! Maybe this was God’s (or whoever the hell is up there’s, anyway), way of telling me that I needed to step out of my comfort zone, tempt fate, and try to make some friends.
Well I have four words for you, God:
No. Way. In. Hell.
Yep, I’m a stubborn little mule when I want to be.
“Err well I guess now you know…” I eventually stuttered in answer to Remus’s statement, blushing harder with each word.
Merlin, why did I even bother!?
Wanting to be anywhere but here, I scuffed the dirt with my boot, wishing that I had left my hair down this morning so I could let a golden sheet of it fall across my face and hide my blush.
Remus rubbed his neck nervously, looking over at me. His eyes were stormy grey in the soft sunlight.
Dear me, why hadn’t I just stayed in my room this morning? I could feel the awkwardness hanging in the air, thick and muggy, so heavy it was practically pressing up against my skin.
My cheeks burned redder, as the silence grew heavier and heavier. Finally, when it felt like even the wind had gone quiet just to rub it in my face, Remus coughed and said something about breakfast. I shook myself out of my head, and nodded, wondering what the hell he had been saying.
“Are you coming?” The boy asked, cocking his head to the side as he stood waiting by the door. He reminded me of a puppy when he did that.
A cute puppy, with a nice smile and raincloud eyes.
I nodded, eyes wide, and walked over to where Remus stood waiting.
As we walked down the dizzying spiral staircase, Remus slipped into a comfortable stream of chatter, to which all I had to do was nod and try not to trip over too much. There was something about Remus, something calm and sincere, which made me want to trust him with every single one of my crazy little secrets. He made me think of drinking hot chocolate on rainy nights, or the warmth you feel when you pull your dusty, one-eyed teddy bear out of an old trunk it reminds you of childhood.
I wasn’t really listening to him talk. I just let his slightly hoarse voice buzz through my head, focusing on remaining calm. There is no reason to be uncomfortable, Delilah. I told myself. Just relax.
Just as my blush died down, and I felt my voice creep back into my throat, a shout behind us made Remus turn around.
Sirius Black and James Potter were standing at the top of the main staircase, beckoning at their friend to join them. Remus gave me an apologetic smile.
“Are you coming down to breakfast?” He asked me. I shook my head. “Well, it was nice meeting you, Delilah” He said. I just nodded. “See you around, yeah?”
I nodded again.
Smooth, Del, smooth.
“Hello love,” I whispered, throwing myself onto my bed, stomach first, and scratching Venus behind the ears affectionately. Venus responded by dragging her small pink tongue over the back of my hand. I giggled and wiped it on my T-shirt. “I wish you could play Quidditch, so that you could go to the tryouts tomorrow instead of me.” My cat ignored me and licked her paw, with all the dignity she possessed under that soft white coat of hers. “Yes, I know,” I sighed, rolling over onto my back and folding my arms under my head. “Man up Delilah, right?” Venus meowed. “No need to rub it in.”
I really wish I was a cat myself sometimes. All that sleeping and lying around in the sun…those felines had it easy. But instead I was stuck with all the courage of a rabbit, and a pile of overdue Astronomy homework.
What had that hat been thinking when he placed me in Gryffindor?
I groaned, pulling a cushion over my head. I didn’t even have the bonus of being unpopular because I was too smart. You would think that if I was going to be blessed with a shy personality, I could at least have some brains as a compromise.
But no, I just had my cat.
Soon, I was going to start meowing from lack of a normale conversation.
I tried pushing my homework to the back of my head by opening The Sweet Far thing, a novel I had started a couple of days ago, but my assignment was always there, nagging and persistent, screaming at me to close the damn book and skedaddle
on to the Library. Finally, naming my attempt to read a lost cause, I shut the novel, right on the suspenseful part (does she die, does she die?) and shoved a quill, some ink, and parchment into my bag.
The Library would be a nice place if it wasn’t for the Librarian, Madame Pince, who chased you with a feather duster if you so much as dog eared a page. All those shelves, full of books and knowledge, standing there tall and magnificent, row after row, the dusty air, and the sunshine seeping through high windows, shyly, as if scared to disturb the peace... maybe I’m crazy, but it was enough to give me goosebumps.
It was eerily quiet in the Library. I always felt like I couldn’t even cough in here without waking the dead. Silently, I found myself an empty desk, and pulled out my quill, a fresh sheet of parchment, and a star chart.
I did find Astronomy fascinating, but the theory always bored me. Dipping my quill in ink, I poised it over the blank page, searching through my chart for the name of Jupiter’s biggest moon. I had a faint memory of it being Callisto…
I was wrong, however. Jupiter’s largest moon was Ganymede, and Io was the one with the volcanoes, not Europa. I bite the end of my quill, thinking. I really was rubbish at this whole memorizing thing. I was just about to write down Saturn’s place in the solar system, when I felt a presence next to me. I glanced up from my work.
Standing in front of me was a girl I recognized as being in my year, but a Hufflepuff. She was smiling broadly at me, her dark eyes twinkling from behind her big black glasses. Her hair was an explosion of dark frizz, which she had tied a pretty green feather into. Her wrists were littered with bright bracelets of different shapes and sizes, and she was clutching a copy of The Quibbler to her chest, along with a couple of school books.
“I love your glasses,” She told me brightly. “A bit like mine, but red. I’ve never seen you wear them before.”
“I, um, only wear them when I read,” I muttered, wondering what the girl was doing here. I couldn’t remember her name, but it was something quirky.
“Lucky you,” The girl said with another happy smile. “I’m Breeze, by the way, but you can call me Blossom. I think it’s so much prettier,” she smiled merrily into space for a second, then turned her attention back to me. “You have an adorable name, don’t you?”
“Delilah Rose…” I said unsurely. Secretly, I loved my name, because it sounded like spring days and apple cheesecake, but it did sound unusual, and with unusual generally came much unwanted attention. But Breeze (or Blossom) just grinned.
“So pretty!” She exclaimed. “It has such a yummy ring to it. My full names Breeze Seraphina Anglesong. It’s so different and eccentric, I absolutely adore it.” She then glanced down at the empty seat beside me, seeming to notice it for the first time. “Do you mind if I sit here?” She asked, pointing at it. I shook my head, and Blossom (Breeze?), continued talking without wasting a breath. “I always see you sitting by yourself, so I thought I would come and keep you company. I don’t really hang out with others much anyway, even though Xenophilius Lovegood isn’t half bad. Lovegood…now that’s a pretty surname.” She stopped rambling and stared at me for a few moments, calculating. “I think you’re in my Charms. You never say much, do you?”
For some reason, coming from her, it didn’t sound offensive in the slightest. So I just shook my head and smiled. “No one minds.” I said. Blossom looked appalled at this.
“Never say that!” She said heatedly. “You really shouldn’t care if anyone minds or not. Just talk, girl! You’ll see, it’ll feel good!”
I laughed quietly at her excitement, but the pink tinge creeping to my cheeks stopped me from adding anything else. Blossom pouted.
“You’re stunning, and I bet you don’t even know it.” She said. The pink of my cheeks turned to crimson. “You have such lovely hair!” She reached over and ran her hand through the wavy blond strands, and raised her eyes to her own fuzz-ball. “Nothing like mine.”
I couldn’t see what Blossom was complaining about. She was beautiful in her own, original way, which made her all the more striking. I parted my lips to tell her this, but refrained. Blossom glanced at my homework.
“Sorry, I didn’t realize you were studying.” She rummaged through her bag and pulled out a quill and ink of her own. “I’ve got a Potions essay to finish,” She explained. “I hope you don’t mind if I sit here and do it.”
Blossom seemed to be able stay silent if she had something to do, so I was able to continue with my assignment in calm. I never talked to anyone unless I absolutely needed to, and now, out of nowhere, I had had two conversations (one sided, but conversations nonetheless), and I was on the Gryffindor Quidditch team.
I blamed that letter.
I managed to finish my homework fairly quickly, but even still, by the time I had rolled up the parchment, and packed my things back into my bag, it was nearing lunchtime. Blossom hadn’t finished her essay yet, but she happily told me that it had been wonderful to meet me, and that she would catch up with me next Charms lesson.
It was like I was walking into an explosion of sound as soon as I stepped out of the Library doors. A flurry of voices and laughter hit me at once, and the bright light of the hall burned my eyes. I brought my arm up to shield my face, while jostling crowd swept me up and pulled me towards the Great Hall.
Deciding that it wouldn’t be healthy to skip another meal, I grudgingly went with the flow, taking a seat by myself at the Gryffindor table, and trying to avoid glances as I piled some spaghetti onto my plate. I knew I was just being paranoid, and that no one gave a hippogriffs tail about me, or my new place as Chaser, but I couldn’t help feeling like every whisper, every giggle and gasp, was aimed at me.
Conceited, I know, but what can I saw? I‘m flawed in many ways.
I finished my plate as fast as I could without giving myself heartburn, eager to get back up to the Gryffindor Tower, where my novel was waiting for me (does she die?), so as soon as my plate was clean, I swung my bag over my shoulder and hurried from the Hall, and up onto the moving staircase, deftly skipping the trick step as I went.
“If he asks me out one more time!”
“Lils, calm down, it’s just a-”
“I will castrate him with my bare hands-”
“I think he’d rather enjoy that, actually”
“And then I’ll slap him silly, and wipe that stupid-”
“Sexy, alluring, charming-”
“Smile off his face, once and for all!”
I glanced up from my book, pulled out of my reverie by the sound of my roommates entering the room. There was Lily and Mary, both of them pretty and popular, and loud as a family of blast-ended-skrewts (the name says it all).
I had a faint idea of what Lily must be raving about, seeing as James’s infatuation with her was no secret, even to a nobody like me. He asked her out five times a day, give or take, and even though she always said no (with the most colorful stream of insults I had ever heard), he never ever stepped down.
Lily let out an angry growl and ripped a hair tie out of her hair, shaking out her thick auburn curls to get out the kinks. Mary grinned and sashayed over to her bed, letting herself fall into the pillows with a contented sigh.
“John Beaker asked me to go to the Halloween celebration with him,” She said, stretching out like a cat. “I said no.”
Lily turned to face her, looking mildly surprised. “How come?” she asked. Mary shrugged.
“I don’t like his brother.” She explained nonchalantly. “And plus, I’m waiting for Sirius to ask me…” She glanced at her friend, a cheeky smile lighting up her face. Lily laughed.
“You don’t even fancy the bloke.” She said, and Mary shrugged again.
“He’ll make me look good.” Was her answer.
I went back to my book after that. I didn’t fancy listening to conversations about a world I didn’t live in, and those two girls couldn’t be more different than me. The only other girl to share our dorm was a sweet brunette called Alice. She didn’t talk much, and even though she spent most of her time with her boyfriend, Frank, and we hardly said a word to eachother anyway, it was nice to have someone who wasn’t…well, Mary and Lily.
A soft meow interrupted my train of thought. Venus was nudging my elbow, and with a sinking heart I remembered that my first Quidditch practice would be starting tomorrow. What if I had just gotten lucky at tryouts? What if I made a complete fool out of myself? I knew I could ride a broom. Hell, I practically grew up in the air. But with people watching, and the pressure of the game…I was just hoping I was going to be able to keep it together.
But when had things ever gone my way?
A/N: I have a couple of things to sort out here:
So, yes, I know that Xenophilius, as the editor of the Quibbler, isn't actually out of school printing copies yet, so Blossom shouldn't really be holding an edition of the uninvented magazine.
BUT. I wanted something to show what a quirky person Blossom was, I and couldn't think of a better way...so how about we just ignore that little mistep, yeah?
Next, I know this chapter is unforgivably uneventful, but I just needed to introduce some characters, and also show what Del is like out in public. Its actually surprisingly hard to write from a shy persons point of view and make the story amusing at the same time, but I'm really doing my best.
Now, even though I bet no one is still reading this novel of an authors note anymore, I also wanted to explain why I skipped Del's Quidditch trials.
I did try to write them, I really did, but even though I wrote and re-wrote ane re-re-wrote it, I just couldn't get it right at all. So I figured that instead of making you go through a thousand words of torture, I just skipped the whole ordeal and moved on to bigger and better things. Maybe I'll post her tryouts as a One-shot or something...We'll see.
Right, for that one person out there who is still with me on this, thanks for sticking through. The last thing I wanted to say (this really is the last, promise), is that I know Delilah's way of describing things may be a little strange on occasions. Ok, all the time. But I do have reasons for comparing people to food and teddy bears! See, Del isn't just a shy nobody, she's someone who really sees the world differently to other people, which is why she always feels like an outsider. She notices things others don't, and she's just...I don't want to say special, but I cant think of another word right now, so eh. But if you ever find some strange metaphors and descriptions, its normale! For Del.
So thankyou to that one person still reading this. You are now smarter than all other readers ;)
Thanks for reading!
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