Chapter 38 : Furry Little Problem, in the Plural
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“This is the third fucking time,” I pant, “that we’ve passed this God-forsaken café.” I bend over, clutching at the stitch in my side. “At this rate it’ll be a miracle if we make it to Ian’s house at all, much less today! Dumb-ass wand compass…”
I am not a happy camper right now.
And you know what? That phrase really pisses me off. If you’re calling me a camper, like I’m two or something, of course I’m not going to be very happy. It kind of goes without saying.
“I’m a werewolf,” Remus says again. “I think we should try going this way this time.” He points in a direction we haven’t tried yet.
“Well, why the hell not? Come on, then.” The roads are crowded, of course, which doesn’t make things any easier. It’s really, really cold out, and the air seems thinner than usual. I’ve been having some trouble breathing, but nothing I can’t handle.
When we come back out of the loop of buildings next to Ernie’s Café, again, I literally fall to my knees and throw my arms up to the heavens, shouting “WHY?” at the top of my lungs.
“Chin up! At least we get to spend more time together this way,” Remus says. “You, me, and my inner werewolf.”
“Yeah, well, it’s eleven thirty and I’m half starved. Can we at least get something to eat? Might as well go into the café. After all, we’ve seen the outside of it so many times, I’m curious to see what it looks like on the inside. I’ll treat.”
“Excellent!” he says, clapping his hands together. “It’s bloody cold out here!” We hurry into the café, where it’s heated thank goodness. There are two dozen or so people sitting around, talking, reading, sipping at hot cocoa, or being immersed in other business. A young, pretty waitress shows us to a seat; it’s a cute little booth, tucked away from the rest of the café.
“I’m Macie,” she says. She has a gap between her two front teeth. “Can I get you two anything hot to drink?”
“I’ll have a coffee, with cream and sugar, please,” I say politely. “And could I have some soup? Whatever your special is will be fine.”
“And I’ll take the same,” Remus says, giving the waitress a smile. “Thanks, Macie.”
“Thanks, Macie,” I mock when the girl leaves. Remus grins.
“What? She’s well fit, isn’t she?”
“Sure. Whatever. Hey, is there something you’ve been trying to tell me, Remus? I feel like I’ve been tuning you out today.
“Well, that’s always nice to hear.”
“I’m sorry, okay? I’m a bit preoccupied at the moment with not getting lost.”
“Well, are you listening now?”
“Okay then. What I’ve been trying to tell you is that I’m a werewolf.”
“…Is that all, then?” I ask after he’s silent for a bit.
“I know it’s a shock to you, and, well…wait, what?”
“Damn, I was hoping Snape was lying,” I say, letting out a sigh. “Oh, well. Your scars sort of gave you away.”
“So…you knew? All this time?”
“Yes. But honestly, Remus, your furry little problems have been the last things on my mind recently.”
“It’s really just one furry little problem, Max. No need to pull out the plurals.”
“Oh, trust me, if you’re anything like James, ‘furry little problem’ definitely should be plural.”
“I’ll try not to read too far into that.”
At this point Macie the waitress returns with our coffees and soup. She’s got impeccable timing, this one.
While we sip at our meals and beverages, I look around the café. Maybe I’ll recognize someone from school; you never know.
Remus beats me to the chase.
“Is that that Brigit girl from Ravenclaw? Over there?” I look, and sure enough I recognize her sleek, perfectly coifed hair, even from behind. Her head’s bent over; it looks like she’s crying.
“Maybe I should go see what’s wrong,” I say, frowning. I stand and walk over to her. Sure enough, there are tears running down her face.
“Brigit?” She looks up at once, her face flushing as she recognizes me.
“Oh. Hi, Max.” She’s being abnormally quiet. I sit down across from her.
“What’s wrong?” I ask, skipping the whole ‘are you alright’ tosh. Obviously, if she’s crying, publicly no less, then she isn’t.
“It’s nothing, really. My parents just got into a huge fight, is all.”
“About what?” I ask, because I don’t have to worry about seeming too nosy in front of Brigit, who is possibly more nosy than the rest of Hogwarts put together.
“Morals, mostly. Work, somewhat. Dad’s been recruited somewhere and mum doesn’t want him to go. I don’t, either. His new boss is a right tosser.”
“Who is he? His boss, I mean?”
She looks at me shrewdly from under her perfect bangs. “I think you know, Max.”
“No…no, I really don’t,” I say. “But that’s alright. Hey, Remus is just over there, do you want to join us?”
“Remus is here? With you?” This catches her interest—the spark re-enters her eyes. “Are you two…seeing each other? No, no! Don’t tell me! Oh, how drama warms my little old heart!” She looks positively thrilled. “He’s looking really good, isn’t he!” She says, eyeing him unabashedly.
“He’s a looker alright,” I agree. “But we’re just friends, Bee. Really.”
“Oh.” She looks sorely disappointed. “Well, sure, I guess I can join you for a bit.” She picks up her Fendi handbag and follows me back to where Remus is sitting, chewing on his straw.
“Hello, Brigit,” he says cordially. “I’m not sure if we’ve ever really been properly introduced. I’m Remus.”
“Well, duhhh,” she says, rolling her eyes. “Remus John Lupin, five foot eleven and three quarter inches. Hair: light brown in winter, dirty blond in summer. Eyes: golden brown. Western zodiac sign: Pisces. Amerind Earth Magic Zodiac sign: the wolf. I know; RAWR, right? Hobbies include reading, plotting pranks, and getting the others out of trouble once they’ve been caught carrying out said pranks.” She rattles all of this off nonchalantly, like it’s completely normal to have someone’s birth sign and exact height memorized.
“Well..err..yes, that’d be me I suppose,” he says, widening his eyes at me in the universal ‘I’m so freaked out right now’ sort of way.
“Brigit, Brigit! How amusing you are!” I laugh, slapping the table. “Why don’t you tell Remus what you were telling me?”
“You know…about your parents?” I press.
“Oh, he doesn’t want to hear about that. And I don’t want to talk about my parents, Max—how utterly boring they are! Let’s talk about…you and James. How are you two doing?”
“Fine, fine!” I say, a bit too quickly, my hand jumping--without my permission--to my stomach. Despite Mrs. Potter’s claim that it’s only dark magic in there, I can’t help but wonder…was the Healer in Washington right? Is there a little bit of James Potter growing inside of me right now?
Oh, fabulous. What a lovely image.
“You know, Remus, we should probably get going. Who knows how long it’ll take us to find Ian’s house,” I say, ignoring Brigit’s wide, way-too-knowing eyes.
“Good plan,” he says, standing up quickly. “It was nice to see you, Brigit.”
“Are you two having trouble finding your way around here? I mean, I live really nearby; I could take you wherever you want to go.”
“No, that’s okay,” Remus says quickly. “I think I know where to go now.”
“Oh, like you did last time, and the time before that? I don’t think so, buddy. It is effing cold outside, and if Brigit here can help us find Ian’s apartment, then I think we should accept her help. Thanks, Bee!”
“No problem! So, what’s the address?”
With Brigit’s help we manage to make it to Ian’s in under twenty minutes. Considering our lack of success earlier in the day, twenty minutes feels like a freaking miracle.
I push the buzzer under Ian’s name, then wait to hear his voice. Instead, a female’s voice crackles through the static of the intercom.
“Hello? Who is it?”
“My name is Max DeVough. Is Ian home?”
There’s a click, and one of the doors nearby opens a crack. Taking this as a sign that we can enter, I cautiously make my way through the door and up the steps, with Remus and Brigit close behind me. When we reach the top there’s another door. I knock on it, and seconds later it too opens, revealing an older woman wearing a thick shawl around her face and a cloak over her slightly hunched back.
“My name’s Max DeVough. I’m a friend of Ian’s…I think he’s expecting me?”
I’m getting kind of nervous now, because she’s just staring at me.
“Max!” Suddenly I’m attacked from the side by who I can only assume is Ian himself. “Excuse my mum…she’s not used to having guests. Oh, Max, it’s so great to see you! And you two are friends, right? I recognize you from the hospital. Come in, have a seat!”
The flat is nice; it isn’t amazing, but it has nice sitting chairs and a comfortable couch, and a tv even. And jeez, is it just me, or is Ian no longer completely and utterly depressed? I mean, he’s smiling; that’s gotta be a good sign.
“It’s so nice to meet you,” I say, taking his mom’s hand, which is tiny and scarred, the only part of her that’s revealed besides her eyes. “This is my good friend Remus, and... this is Brigit.”
“I live a few blocks away,” Brigit says, taking a seat and looking around. “I can’t believe we’ve never met…Ian.” She smiles up at him, batting her eyelashes. He just clears his throat, looking mildly uncomfortable.
“We just moved here. Thanks to Max.” He gives me a warm smile, and I return it.
“She is very generous,” Remus agrees, grinning. “She treated me to soup and coffee not even an hour ago.” I glare at him.
“So, Ian,” Brigit says then, in a voice that tells me she’s about to say something very tactless (I’ve heard the voice a lot, as it so happens). “I couldn’t help but notice that you’re a little…scarred up. What happened?” I cringe when Brigit asks him this.
“No, it’s okay, I can talk about it. I was in an abusive relationship. My father is a werewolf, see, and tends to get very violent. It was only because of Max’s kindness that my mother and I were able to leave him.”
“It’s weird, to hear about Max being kind. I mean, I always thought she was kind of a bitch,” Brigit says bluntly, shrugging. Ohhh, Brigit. Thanks for that, dearie.
The rest of the visit goes by in much of the same manner; Brigit making unintentionally insulting comments, Remus chuckling under his breath, Ian barely taking his eyes off of me, and his mom watching from the shadows of the next room. When we finally stand to leave it’s one-thirty in the afternoon, and my stomach is growling again. We leave on happy terms, Brigit chattering away about how ‘roguishly handsome and badass’ Ian is, and Remus silent and contemplative. When we stop outside of Brigit’s house, I’m not surprised by how huge and gothic it is, like a castle plopped down in the middle of a city.
“You two can come in, if you want.”
“That’s okay, we’d better get going,” I say, after Remus prods me rather violently in the back. “Thanks for hanging out with us. It was fun.”
“No, wait you guys!” She says as we begin to leave her, her voice slightly frantic. “Please come in with me. My parents are…I really don’t want to face them alone.”
“Oh, Brigit,” I sigh, stopping. “You can’t be scared of them forever.”
“Please, Max? Just for half an hour. We can have snacks; anything you want!”
My stomach growls loudly, reminding me that it is time for something to eat.
“Oh, okay,” I say, looking back at Remus, who looks resigned. “But just for half an hour.”
Brigit leads us inside; at first I think it’s empty, but then a house elf cracks into being, and tells us we are to report to the sitting room immediately.
“I have a bad feeling about this,” Remus mutters next to my ear. “I don’t like this place, Max. I think we should leave.”
“We can’t leave her alone with them,” I whisper back, but deep down I agree. Something here is very, very wrong.
“Max…are you okay?” Brigit asks, stopping suddenly and looking at me like I’ve sprouted a second head. I’m about to say that, yeah, of course I’m fine, when I realize that I’m not.
What is it that tips me off?
That would be Ninja, the dark magic inside of me, who apparently is getting quite excited about being in Brigit’s house for whatever reason.
I clutch my stomach and stumble forward; it feels like something’s trying to break out of me, like it’s taking a knife and cutting up my insides.
“Son of a biscuit!” I hiss, giving my stomach a good whack, which unsurprisingly doesn’t help much.
“We need to get her back to the hospital,” Remus says, and I think I almost hear relief in his voice for a second, before it gives way to anxiety. “Max, can you side-along it?”
“I don’t exactly have a choice,” I growl, lowering myself down onto the hard stone of her floor. “Sorry, Brigit. See you later?”
“No! No, I’m going to go with you of course,” she says, her voice a bit higher than usual.
“You really don’t have to; I can take care of her,” Remus says kindly. “Come on, Max.” He picks me up in his arms like I’m weightless, and after another second we’re back in the hospital.
The moment I’m out of that house, my stomach returns to normal. I sigh in relief, wiping sweat from my brow.
“What the hell, Max?!” Remus says, looking panicked. “You have got to stop…you’ve got to stop getting sick! It…it scares me more than anything else, it really does. Now, I’m going to get Mrs. Potter, okay?”
I nod, rolling my eyes. Doesn’t he know that I would give almost anything in the world to be completely healthy for even one day? I let my mind wander towards thinking of all of the possibilities I’d have if I were healthy. I could get married; I could have a family. I could play sports and go to normal classes and not have to worry about silly things like getting hit by a soccer ball.
Once upon a time, a girl was pricked by a needle. That needle had some badass dark magic on it. The girl lived with it for awhile, but eventually it was too much for her. Eventually she died. She died and the people who had once loved her forgot her or moved on.
I really don’t want that to be my story.
“Oh Max, you unbearably stupid girl! Out for a stroll in the dead of winter? My God, if the circumstances were different I’d say you had a death wish!”
Mrs. Potter is not happy with me, apparently.
“You knew I was going,” I mutter. “And why can’t I go back to your house and be with the others again? I’m fine now, honestly.”
“You need to be examined! Remus told me what happened when you walked into that girl’s house…I just can’t seem to make a connection! Do you happen to know if…if her parents are in any way involved with dark magic?”
“No, I don’t think…wait…she did mention something about her dad being recruited by some big jerk boss, and I know for a fact her parents aren’t that pleasant to be around.”
“It could be,” Mrs. Potter mutters, looking concerned, “That your friend’s parents are involved with You-Know-Who.”
“Well,” I say, unsure of how to react. “That really, really sucks.”
“Now hold still while I run some tests, love. Oh Max,” She starts, as she waves her wand over my body and mutters a few familiar spells under her breath, “I do love you so much. Like a daughter. I want you to live as…as long as you can. Please take better care of yourself. For your sake, and for the rest of our sakes. And especially for James. He loves you, I think.”
“Yes,” I say, because she’s right; James does love me, and I love him, and I have to hold onto that love for as long as I can. No more visits to Brigit’s house for me.
“I’ll look into what happened today with the other Healers—maybe they’ll have some idea of what’s going on. But you do look like you’re fine now, no matter what happened earlier. Remus can take you back to my place, if you’re okay with that. James will be glad to see you again.”
“Oh, come on—it’s only been a day.”
“A long time to wait, for a boy in love,” Mrs. Potter says, her eyes twinkling. I give her a small smile, just as Remus reenters the room.
“Is she okay?” He asks, eyebrows furrowed in anxiety.
“No. I’m afraid she’s dying,” Mrs. Potter says, her lips pursed. I’m so shocked by this stab at humor that it takes me a moment to laugh, but laugh I do, and so does Remus.
“Death jokes—classy,” I say, giving Mrs. Potter a quick hug and kiss on the cheek. “I love you too, Mrs. P.” And with that I take Remus’s arm and we’re on our way back to the Potter’s.
And it has been one hell of a long day.
A/N: So, it's been a long time since my last update, hasn't it? I don't really know what to say, except for that I have been completely uninspired lately, and since I felt like the story wasn't exactly going in the direction I wanted it to, I thought I'd take a break and try to refocus a bit. I'm so close to the end, and I will finish it, just please be patient with me as I have a lot going on in my life right now and some very big decisions to make that take priority. I may be going back in the future and rewriting a few of the most recent chapters, just because I'm not particularly pleased with them.
All this serious stuff aside, what did you all think of the chapter? Nothing much happened, I know--I wanted to clear the air about Remus being a werewolf (Max had guessed it earlier, but Remus had no idea that she suspected it), and also introduce Brigit to Ian (for a certain reason ;) But I quite liked the dialogue between Remus and Max, I have to say! And hopefully you won't all hate me for not updating in sooo long. I love you all, I really do! Your comments are what inspire me, so please leave them!
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