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Breathless by celticbard
Chapter 11 : Almost Normal
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 2


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Fantastic chapter image by laelia @ TDA

Disclaimer: I claim no ownership of Rowling’s work. However, all OCs mentioned herein belong to me.


Medical Disclaimer: Much of this story revolves around the infectious disease, tuberculosis and its treatment. The methods I have described in this story are a mixture of both modern regimens and outdated procedures from the heyday of the sanatorium. For the purpose of this story, the main character contracts and suffers from a strain of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis found only in “wizards”, therefore, her experience may differ from the experience of a “muggle” with the same disease. Finally, I am not a physician. My statements regarding tuberculosis, although thoroughly researched, should not be taken as actual medical facts.

Cast List:
Forbia “Freddy” Fotherby - Melanie Lynskey
Healer Calum Crane - Peter Facinelli
Remus Lupin - James D’Arcy
Slatero Quirrell - Simon Woods
Minerva McGonagall - Maggie Smith
Sibyl Trelawney - Emma Thompson
Nurse Jenkins - Samantha Morton
Lavinia Wainwright - Naomi Watts
Finella Fotherby/Mam - Maria Doyle Kennedy
Healer Elliot - Mark Ruffalo
Oliver Lias - Derek Cecil
Cecilia - Ellen Page



Chapter Eleven Almost Normal

It took Oliver a solid hour to talk Freddy into going to the ribbon cutting ceremony that weekend. In the end, after enduring one too many of his shoddy persuasive arguments, she agreed to go, if only because she was certain that she would eventually regret not seizing an opportunity to be out of doors.

“I don’t want to fool myself, though,” Freddy told Oliver on the morning of the festivities. Her friend was lingering in the doorway of her room, his giddiness adding a boyish air to his otherwise archaic sense of charm.

“This is a charity event and we’re what you call charity cases,” she said as she sat on her bed, taking her time in tying the laces on her shoe. It dawned on her just how out of practice she was with all the little daily occupations and rituals that made up a normal life. Around the sanatorium, most patients wore slippers or clogs or even garden mules, shoes without laces that could be slipped out of easily when one wanted to hop back into bed.

And Freddy herself had felt terribly peculiar as she dressed that morning. After rummaging through her trunk, she had managed to find a pair of nice robes she often wore during the spring at Hogwarts. It was awkward, however, putting on regular clothes and not pajamas. Awkward and strangely invigorating.

Perhaps, yes, perhaps if she looked normal enough, she might actually be able to pass for healthy. That would certainly be an accomplishment…if she could only manage to get her shoes tied.

Oliver leaned against the open door, his agitation building to a fever pitch. “I don’t care if we’re charity cases,” he said. “Let people feel sorry for us, then they’ll treat us nicely. Didn’t you learn anything as a child? If you can make people pity you--”

“Ugh, what a primitive argument,” Freddy groaned. She finished off her left shoe with a bow and stood, wondering if her robes had become wrinkled from slouching on her bed for so long.

“So says the professor.” Oliver glanced down the hall. “Oh my, it looks like the nurse’s station is completely empty. We could run amok if we wanted to.”

Freddy grimaced at his childishness. Leave it to a perfectly rational man to lose his head over a woman. As Oliver had told her twenty times over that morning, his fiancée Cecilia was expected at the ceremony. Because she lived and worked in the States, Cecilia had only been able to visit him twice since he was admitted, and despite his normally nonchalant attitude, Freddy knew Oliver missed her awfully.

But still, that didn’t give him license to act like a twelve year old.

She shook her head, suddenly thinking of Crane. Ugh.

“Are you ready?” Oliver was in the corridor now, glancing eagerly in the direction of the stairwell.

“God, yes,” Freddy said. In truth, she wanted another minute to look in the mirror. It was only small square of glass, kept over the sink in her bathroom. Most of the time, Freddy was too sick or too tired to even worry about her looks, and having never been vain, she hadn’t fussed much over her appearance in the last few months. But today, yes today, she wanted to look a certain way.

Normal…or at least almost normal.

As she studied her appearance, Freddy realized with a sinking feeling that the mirror never lied. Her cheeks lacked color and, despite all her efforts to distance herself from the snare of disease, she still bore the particular look of the consumptive. It was not so much a physical deformity as an imperceptible one. The eyes were washed out, the expression dull and the whole air perfectly pensive. Hunched over and miserable.

Freddy straightened up, pretending that she was back at Hogwarts about to give a lecture to her students. But it was to no avail. That look, that marked for death look…it was there in the glass, the ghost of what life was and not what it could be.

Angry, Freddy turned from the mirror and left her room, joining Oliver in the hall.

“I hate this,” she grumbled, noticing how quickly her mood became surly these days. She thought it had something to do with McGonagall’s news of the TriWizard Tournament and she was still upset knowing she’d have to miss what would have probably been the most important event in her career.

Just thinking about it made her stomach twist into painful knots.

Oliver, however, was oblivious. “Can you hear it?” he asked her, pausing for a moment outside the stairwell.

Freddy listened. The sound of jazz music drifted up from the sanatorium grounds and into the building. The song was ungainly, with some of the instruments out of tune, but alive.

Alive.

Something stirred within her, something old and creaking and long repressed. And Freddy began to remember what it was to be alive and to love it.

“Yeah,” she told Oliver, pushing open the door that led to the stairwell. “I hear it.”


 




Freddy was surprised at how nice the sanatorium grounds looked when crowded with people. Normally, patients stayed within the hospital walls themselves, only venturing into the open air when they lounged on the porches that jutted out from the solarium. Sometimes, the truly ambitious (and mostly healthy) patients took short walks in the garden, which wasn’t very impressive in and of itself.

Today, however, the grounds were almost inviting. Although Freddy and Oliver had missed the pomp and circumstance of the ribbon cutting ceremony, they were just in time for the party being hosted in the new housing development behind the hospital. Previously, the land behind the sanatorium had been made up of old, dilapidated cottages that were once used by teachers when the hospital was still a Muggle boarding school. Up until two months ago, the crumbling buildings had belonged to the Muggle village nearly five miles away. It had been easy for the sanatorium to purchase the land and the houses with the money earned from generous donations, and now the buildings had been completely renovated.

Freddy, who had a taste for the old-fashioned, wasn’t sure she liked the new housing development, which was now made up entirely of refurbished brownstones. It would have been better if they restored the cottages and kept the development looking like a quaint hamlet. Right now, it reminded her of a rather out of place Victorian neighborhood.

“I don’t know anything about architecture,” Lias muttered into her ear as they walked up the sloping path to the development, “but isn’t a little--”

“Overpowering,” Freddy supplemented.

Her companion nodded. “You’re too polite sometimes.”

They got as far as the edge of the development before they had to leave the path. A group of reporters were busy conducting a dozen interviews at once. Freddy recognized Healer Elliot talking with some man from Witch Weekly, but her attention was soon snagged by Crane, who was smiling and chatting happily with a very pretty witch from the Daily Prophet.

Freddy quickly looked away.

The jazz band had been set up on a small stage off to the side, sandwiched in-between two long buffet tables that were covered in gold cloths and boasted platters of fresh fruit and pastries.

A wooden dance floor had been constructed in front of the band and there were several couples lingering on the edges of it, swaying to the music. Freddy thought she picked out Nurse Jenkins on the arm of freckled young man and was about to tell Oliver when she realized he was gone.

A slight current of annoyance coursed through as she turned around to look for him. It had been Oliver, after all, who had insisted on coming to this thing and Freddy didn’t like having to stand there, in the middle of the crowd, completely alone.

It made her feel vulnerable.

But as it turned out, Oliver hadn’t gone far. He was standing across on the other side of the path, hugging his fiancée, who had apparently gotten off work early.

Freddy pointedly looked away as they kissed, feeling a bit like an intruder. She’d never been one for overly amorous displays of affection in public, but then again, she couldn’t really blame Oliver.

He loved his fiancée very much.

“Oh, where’s Freddy? I seem to have lost her.” This came from Oliver, who had finished his private greeting with Cecilia and was now holding her hand, leading her across the path in search of his friend.

Freddy herself pretended to be distracted by the crowd of reporters before she responded. “Here I am,” she said lazily. “Sorry, there’ so much going on…oh hello, Cecilia. You made it!”

“Wow, you look great,” Cecilia said.

Freddy laughed and accepted her handshake, relieved that she hadn’t been pulled into a hug. Cecilia was actually one of the rare women she liked. Although they had only met once before, Freddy had appreciated her nonchalant, laid-back attitude and congenial personality. She was quite different from her fiancé Oliver, having a little less of his overly polished manners and charm, but a good deal of genuine friendliness.

Freddy appreciated Cecilia’s cut and dry humor, her openness and unabashed earnestness. If I ever came down to it, she thought she could very well be friends with the woman.

“I’m glad you were able to get here so early,” Freddy told her.

“Yeah, like this place isn’t crowded enough.” Cecilia glanced once over her shoulder, all the while easily pulling Oliver’s hand around her waist. “I think there is some clear space just off to the side there. Come on, I don’t want us blocking the path.”

Oliver followed her dumbly, his expression one of perfect contentment. Freddy herself took up the rear and was glad when they came to a small space of lawn just opposite the dance floor. The crowd had not reached the farthest corners of the development yet, and in this particular spot, there was room to breath. Freddy felt the first of a series of warm summer breezes ruffle the hem of her robes and tease her hair.

This was pleasant, she decided, listening to the happy bubble of conversation around her. Very pleasant.

Cecilia, who was Muggleborn and still wearing a pair of jeans and a v-neck, green blouse, looked up at the sky with a faint smile. “The weather’s actually not too bad today. Isn’t it usually cold up here? What a place to put a bunch of wheezing consumptives. Wouldn’t you guys do better somewhere warm?”

“Ah, but this sanatorium has more poetic appeal,” said Oliver, coming out of his stupor and regaining his quick wit.

Freddy only shook her head. “I’d much rather something on the Mediterranean. Or the Caribbean. I’m not picky.”

“Caribbean for me. I’m sick of Europe,” Cecilia said.

Freddy knew the woman had done a fair bit of traveling, although nothing up to her own personal standards. Still, it was nice to have something in common.

“I don’t care where I go,” she said, with only a hint of desperation seeping into her voice, “as long as it’s far away from this place. As soon as I get out of here, I’ll be gone.”

“Can’t say I blame you,” Cecilia said and Freddy was glad that she managed to tone down her sympathy to a level that was hardly noticeable. “Speaking of which, when are you getting out of here, Oliver? I put the deposit down for the venue last week. Didn’t that healer say you’d be released at least a month before the wedding?”

“Uh, last I checked,” Oliver mumbled, rubbing the back of his head. “Yes, that should be right.”

“And Freddy,” Cecilia remarked, turning away from her fiancé for the slightest instant, “I wanted to send you an invitation, but I wasn’t sure if…you know.” She shrugged artlessly. “Are you going to be released soon?”

Something lodged in Freddy’s ribcage and stung. “I don’t know, the healers are always rather vague when it comes to me. Believe me, I wish I could come to your wedding, I wish--”

“Yeah, I understand,” Cecilia nodded. “For what it’s worth, I think you’re much braver than me. I would have discharged myself already.”

“Self discharge?” Freddy asked, her attention suddenly snagged. “I didn’t know that--”

“Yeah, as long as you’re not contagious or likely to infect others, you can discharge yourself,” Cecilia added. “It’s against medical advice, of course. They told us all that when Oliver was admitted. But you must have heard the same thing when you came here.”

Freddy blinked, recalling the day she had arrive at the sanatorium. She’d just come out of St. Mungo’s and was still in dreadful discomfort, recovering from her pneumonectomy and her first severe hemorrhage. The nurses had given her papers to sign, but she couldn’t remember anything they said. Nothing had mattered then anyway, when she was so sure she was going to die.

“They probably told me,” she muttered, feeling a little dazed. “I just don’t remember.”

“Well, it’s not really important anyway,” Oliver said, adopting his usual cavalier tone. “I wouldn’t act against medical advice…even if it meant missing my wedding.”

He was teasing Cecilia, but she was too smart to rise to the bait.

“That’s fine with me,” she mumbled, pretending to look at her nails, “I can get married without you.”

“Try,” Oliver whispered into her ear.

Cecilia pulled away, pushing him lightly in the stomach. “I will, if you want me to.”

Oliver moved in to kiss her and as he did so, Freddy blushed, feeling once more like she was intruding on a private moment.

It was then that Remus Lupin tapped her on the shoulder.

“Hello Freddy,” he said brightly, extending his arm so that she could shake his hand.

Freddy was stunned and although she tried to retain an ounce of dignity, she felt her jaw promptly drop. “Remus, my God, what are you doing here?”

The handshake became an embrace.

Remus laughed after they had separated. “Sorry. I hope I’m not uninvited. There was an ad in the Daily Prophet yesterday. They said the event was open to the public. Thought I might stop by.” He shrugged, the shoulders of his worn, tweed robes rising sharply. “It’s great to see you, Freddy. You look so much better.”

Much to her surprise, Freddy found herself blushing. “Thank you, Remus. I have to admit, I do feel almost normal. Being out in the fresh air helps, of course. Also, it’s nice to be around some sane people for a change.” Suddenly, she remembered Oliver and Cecilia, both of whom were now awkwardly hovering on the edge of their conversation.

Freddy mentally scolded herself for being impolite. Her mother would certainly be disappointed.

“Remus, I think you know Mr. Oliver Lias,” she said quickly. “He ran that antique shop in Hogsmeade.”

Oliver, however, dominated her fumbling introduction at once. Adopting his smooth, salesman’s voice, he stepped forward and grasped the newcomer’s hand. “Professor Lupin, yes we have met. I sold you that briefcase last October. Hope it served you well.”

Recognition lightened Remus’s gaze. “Ah, yes. Of course I remember. Good to see you again, Mr. Lias. The briefcase is holding up nicely.”

Oliver beamed at the compliment. “My fiancée, Cecilia,” he said, ushering her forward.

Remus shook hands with her. “Excuse my ignorance,” he said, “but are you two also visiting the sanatorium today?”

“Nah.” This from Cecilia, who patted Oliver on the arm. “He’s an inmate, aren’t you sweetheart?”

“Caught it from poor Freddy here,” Oliver said. “But I’ve made off well. I still have both my lungs, after all.”

Again, Freddy blushed. “Sorry. If I had known--”

Cecilia took control of the situation easily, though. She winked at Freddy, neatly pulling Oliver’s arm around her waist once more. “On that sufficiently rude note, we’ll be off. Oliver here has promised me a dance and believe me, he needs to practice for our wedding.”

Surprisingly, Freddy was glad when they left. The silence that followed their absence was relaxed and she took a moment to look Remus over.

He was still pale, still drawn, still wearing the same frayed robes.

He wasn’t quite normal, but close enough. Almost normal, she decided and offered him her best smile.


 




They found an empty bench on the side of the dance floor and sat there to watch Oliver stumble his way through the fox-trot with a laughing Cecilia. The jazz band seemed to have settled into an easy rhythm of playing and with each successive song, they became more animated. With the music growing louder, Freddy had to sit close to Remus, her shoulder brushing against his as they conversed.

“See, now you can’t feel sorry for me for having TB,” she said, pointing at the band and the buffet tables and the tasteful decorations. “Look at the parties I get invited to.”

“There are perks to be found in everything, I suppose,” Remus replied in an even tone, which rendered his sarcasm all the more effective.

Freddy snorted into her palm. “I guess I’ll have to be honest with you. I never liked parties, so this isn’t much of a perk. Remember last year, when I skipped out on the annual Halloween feast to go to Hogsmeade? Poor McGonagall had to send her Patronus down to the village to find me when all that Sirius Black nonsense started.”

Lupin looked at his hands, grinning faintly. “I can top that. Remember when I couldn’t come to the Christmas feast because I was…indisposed.”

“Oh, I completely forgot about that! But you didn’t miss anything. It was one of the most awkward Christmas dinners of my life and I had to sit between Trelawney and McGonagall. I think Dumbledore wanted me to keep the peace, but well.” She paused and shrugged. “Sweet-tempered Helga Hufflepuff herself couldn’t keep the peace between those two.”

Remus opened his mouth to laugh, but the sound was abruptly chopped off as the band began another song. “I’m sure you made a valiant effort, though.”

“Please. I half-ass everything.”

The music was too loud for them to talk now. Freddy tapped her foot on the ground. It was a shame, she realized, that she and Remus had gotten off to such a bad start at Hogwarts. Circumstances and her own prickly nature had delayed their friendship for far too long and Freddy thought that she might have actually had an enjoyable year teaching alongside him, her best year at Hogwarts since Quirrell had died.

There was something genuine and easy about Remus that made her comfortable. They could get right to the heart of a conversation without tacking on any superfluous pleasantries or meaningless chit-chat. There was no need to make small talk, to discuss the weather or how many people were at the party or what they’d been doing since they last saw each other.

Freddy liked the easy ebb and flow that existed between them. She liked not having to search for suitable subjects or answer touchy questions or pretend that she was anything other than what she was.

Remus, at the very least, was real.

An idea struck her then. Sudden, insistent, but entirely welcome. Freddy’s lips folded into a smile and she touched Remus’s arm just below the elbow. “I’ve just decided, we need to go somewhere, you and I.”

The music was still loud and he had to lean closer to hear her properly.

“What?” he asked.

Freddy put her lips to her ear, his light brown hair brushing against her nose. “I said, we need to go somewhere.”

His eyes widened. “I’m not--”

“Somewhere in Europe, maybe. Greece is nice. Have you ever been to Greece?”

Remus laughed then, the sound so boisterous and strong that it broke over the flow of the music, reaching its crescendo just as the saxophonist finished his solo. “Merlin, I thought you meant…”

“What?” She looked at him.

“Nothing, never mind.” The lines around his mouth receded as he spoke. “Greece, you were saying.”

“Well, it doesn’t have to be Greece,” Freddy said. Her hand was still on his arm. The strong sunlight had warmed the sleeve of his robes. “Have you ever been to Europe?”

“No, I’m afraid I haven’t,” he said. “My parents were always nervous to travel with me when I was young…for obvious reasons.”

“But there’s no reason you can’t go now.”

He tipped his head to the side, biting the corner of his mouth. “Money.”

“Don’t worry about money. I can take care of that.” Unconsciously, Freddy scooted closer to him on the bench. Excitement was rising up within her, stale and forgotten, shaking off the cobwebs of disuse. She always got like this when she planned a trip and it had been so long, so very long….

“You can’t pay for the whole thing,” Remus said, interrupting the stream of her thoughts.

“No, but I know some cheap places we can stay. And being a professor at Hogwarts helps. If I say the trip is for research, I’ll get a discount. Besides, you act as if I am completely friendless. I know people on the Continent that would be happy to lend us their summer houses.”

Her breathing had quickened, and for the first time in ages, it had absolutely nothing to do with the TB. The mere thought of getting away from the sanatorium, of going to some place where she wouldn’t have nurses forcing pills on her or healers snooping about, bothering her with nonsense, made her life seem a little less constricted.

“We’ll have a great time,” Freddy said, happy to see that Remus was excited as well. “It’s just what we need. As soon as I get out. Wherever you want to go.”

After all, she remembered, it was so much better traveling with someone else. And she wouldn’t have to be alone.

No, alone was for the sanatorium. Not the world. Not real life.

Remus looked thoughtful. “Somewhere warm.”

“Naturally.”

“And not too stuffy. I’d feel out of place in, well…” He paused, glancing dismally at his patched robes.

“Please. Have I ever seemed stuffy to you?” Freddy prompted.

He raised his eyebrows, making his face lighten and come to life, until there was less of that drawn, pinched look about him. “Remember when we first met? I thought you were stuffy then.” And although he was trying to be serious, something of mirth made his tone clipped and joyful.

Freddy snorted. “In the staffroom? Hardly!”

“You wouldn’t even look at me. I was almost afraid of you.”

“Of me?” She was laughing in earnest now. “How could you be--”

“You told me I wouldn’t be at Hogwarts for long, practically threatened to have my job.” The words spilled from his mouth, swift and sound.

Freddy pressed her shoulder against his, her giggling softening, her heart racing. “Oh God,” she panted. “I remember that, oh God.”

“And I thought you were some kind of madwoman,” Remus continued. “But I--”

He paused abruptly and they were sitting close together. With his side pressed against hers, Freddy could feel the air whooshing in and out of his lungs, the rhythm of life in his body.

And he was so near, his face so near….

“Excuse me, Professor?”

Freddy jumped and turned around on the bench, thinking, for one ridiculous moment, that she was back at Hogwarts amongst her nosey students.

But then, as she shielded her eyes from the sun, she caught sight of him standing there. Crane looked awfully sheepish for a man who had just spent an hour sweet talking a pretty Daily Prophet reporter. There was something determined about his expression though, his jaw firmly set, his hands clenched.

Freddy swallowed. “Oh hello. Can I help you?”

Of course, she sounded horrifically awkward. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Remus raise his eyebrows.

“Excuse me,” Crane repeated and Freddy was glad to see that she alone wasn’t alone in her discomfort. “I’m sorry to interrupt like this.” He paused, glancing over at Remus. “But I was wondering if I could have a word.”

“Er.” Out of pure instinct, Freddy stood. She really wanted to refuse him, to tell him he was rude for disrupting what had turned out to be an extremely pleasant chat with Remus, but then again, she had never been that brave. “Sure. We can talk.”

Crane looked relieved and he even offered Remus a smiling nod of recognition.

Freddy too looked back once at her friend, mouthing “I’m sorry.”

Remus shrugged.

“Have you had a tour of the new housing development yet?” Crane asked her when they had stepped away.

Freddy shook her head mutely, trying her best to weave her way through the crowds of people gathered around the dance floor. Naturally, Crane was leading her away from the throng of people and down past the new houses. They didn’t stop until they came to a nearly empty lane in front of a handsomely gated, three storey brownstone.

Crane glanced once at the building, dropping his fine surgeon’s hands on the posts of the wrought iron fence. The sun, which was perceptibly lower in the sky now, colored the upper windows of the house a brilliant gold.

Freddy shut her eyes for an instance, remembering all the things that were kept hidden in the back of mind, shards of memory, wisps of fate, and dreams, her Seer’s dreams.

He shifted closer to her then, and Freddy’s eyes snapped open, ever wary.

“Do you like it?” he asked, gesturing at the majestic stone façade, the narrow rectangular windows, the stately wooden door with its glass panes.

“Very nice,” she replied.

Crane’s expression lightened some. “It’s supposed to be mine…my home, that is. I don’t know if I want it, though.”

Freddy made an indistinct noise in the back of her throat. “Why not? It certainly is beautiful, and I think it suits your character quite well.”

“How so?” His eyes widened.

Freddy rolled her shoulders, feeling the tension of the moment press down on her like a heavy yoke. “I can’t say, really.”

“Oh.” Crane dropped his gaze and stared at the iron fence. “It is nice,” he continued after a pause, “but I don’t know what I would do with such a house. It’s too big, not meant for a bachelor like me. I don’t like a lot of empty space.”

Freddy didn’t know what to say. Her intuition had kicked in and she was already worrying over his insinuations. “It’s up to you, I suppose.”

“Yes, yes it is.” Crane shifted his weight from one foot to another.

They stood in silence. Freddy felt her annoyance growing and she wanted to get back to Remus, to end the unspoken unease that had settled between Crane and her. She was not in a generous mood and it was all too easy to blame the healer for the strain in their relationship. After all, she had never asked for his attention, had never thrown herself at him like Lavinia Wainwright and her friends. Freddy liked to think she had more sense than that. Although her mother often suggested that she had her head stuck firmly in the clouds, Freddy knew that she was realistic. When she was a young student still at Hogwarts, McGonagall had taught her how to put two and two together, how to expect what was expected.

And this certainly was not expected, and therefore, not allowed.

Crane was a different sort of person. Unsettling in his supposed perfection. Too handsome. Too helpful. Too kind.

And the world simply didn’t work that way.

In the back of her mind, amidst the shards of memory and wisps of fate and broken dreams existed a thought…an unfounded, helpless fancy.

She thought, she feared, that Crane might love her.

But that was not how Freddy’s world worked. No, she wouldn’t let it work that way, she would never, ever--

“We need to talk,” Crane’s voice was smooth and confident. He had quickly shed his awkwardness and regained the charisma Freddy knew he would always possess.

She cringed, having already guessed what he wanted to talk about.

Go on, she thought viciously. Let’s see you try to work your way out of this one.

“I…” Crane began, but then paused, “I want you to know that I’m not an impulsive person, that I’ve tried to conduct my life…that I’ve always…”

She half-listened to him, a sardonic smile tempting her lips. Excuses, excuses.

A good part of her wanted to tell him that it was all right, that he should forget about trying to kiss her, because she definitely wanted to.

But then again, she had never been that brave.

“Listen,” Freddy said, feeling the need to stop him. They were going down a road that she wanted to avoid and something in the falsely calm air of the afternoon made all her nerves tingle. Freddy felt as though she had been here before, had come to a similar place and made the wrong decision.

Standing on a balcony in the south of France with Quirrell…

For some reason, she started to feel embarrassed. She should end this, end this now.

But oh, she did pity him. It dawned on Freddy then that Crane might be just as lost as her and a thread of sympathy extended from her heart.

She felt sorry for him, yes, but that didn’t mean she was foolish.

No, she’d never be foolish again.

“Wait,” Freddy said, raising her hand and placing it on Crane’s sleeve. As always, his robes were soft and crisp. Freshly laundered. Not a stain on them. “I really can’t discuss this with you now,” she continued, her mind working fast, her thoughts leaping past all that was mundane into the realm of fancy. “I…I feel as though I should tell you--”

Crane’s resolve seemed to shrink, leaving his face strained, pensive. “What, what is it?”

Freddy felt the blood rush into her head. Oh, she hated doing this. “I think you should know, I’ve been seeing Remus Lupin for some time now. Romantically, that is, seeing him romantically.”

She was going to wait for him to respond, but then the last of her bravery deserted her. As Freddy turned to go, she caught a fleeting glimpse of Crane’s face.

He was heartbroken. 
 

 




Author’s Note: Finally! It’s about time we had some romance, yes? And is it me, but have the chapters of this story been getting progressively longer? Hmm…

Thanks so much for taking the time to read! If you have a spare moment, please review. I’d absolutely love to hear from you. The next chapter has been drafted and will be posted soon. Until then, take care and be well!
 
 


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