A/N: Yeah, JKR doesn't give chapter-ly disclaimers. I do. So I'm not that amazing woman (bummer for me!).
Chapter 30: An Example of Poor Judgment
I ran ahead of Remus, eventually beating him to the Great Hall. I plopped myself next to Sirius and started my daily practice of fitting as much breakfast onto my plate as possible. “Morning, Marauders!” I said brightly, smiling at PB&J before I turned my attention to my first serving of everything in sight.
“You’re exceptionally cheerful this morning,” James said between bites of his French toast.
“Maybe it’s because it finally stopped raining after a solid week of muggy weather,” Peter guessed.
“Nah,” Sirius said as Remus walked behind us to sit down. “My money’s on those two snogging before breakfast. How right am I, Moony?”
Remus, rubbing the back of his neck, looked at me, smiled, and started eating his porridge. I took the cue and continued to stuff my face, though I could not for the life of me stop giggling.
“I’m inclined to agree with you, Padfoot,” James said. He snickered. “It seems like they’ve been snogging a lot more since Moony’s birthday party last Thursday.”
‘Birthday party’ was an understatement. Being the first Marauder to turn of age, the other Marauders made a school-wide event of it. If I had still been in the library under the guise of my bookworm persona, I would have still been fully aware of Remus’s birthday. There were balloons everywhere that sang ‘Moony is Seventeen!’ and suits of armor that had messages spelled across them conveying the same thing (PB&J got a few more detentions for defacing school artifacts). In every class, even Arithmancy, origami birds fluttered around the classroom, displaying a large ‘17’ on one side and ‘Moony’ on the other.
That evening after classes, the Gryffindor common room ended up trashed from the force of the party. Even Lily didn’t seem to mind the loud music or the fact that the first years stayed up past two in the morning on a school night. At least, I think that’s how long they stayed up. Sometime after ten o’clock, I finally got hold of Remus and led him up to the boys’ dorm, seeing as that was the only place in the school where we could snog in privacy and not extend the party to the rest of the castle.
I smiled at the memory, giggled a bit more, and finished off my first serving of breakfast. I then went in search for seconds, wondering how I should tell these four Marauders the news that was in the forefront of my mind.
Well, best to do it now while we’re all eating breakfast together. “So, Marauders,” I said, trying to take a deep breath to wipe the wide grin off my face. “I have something I want to tell you.”
“We’re listening,” Sirius said, smirking. The other three also turned their attention to me.
Ack, I didn’t want to phrase it like that. “I mean, I wanted to let you know, I mean to ask you, I, er-” I stopped and bent my head over my food, now surrendering to my fit of giggles.
“Did someone hit her with a tickling charm again this morning, Moony?” James asked idly.
I finally pulled myself together, taking deep breaths to prevent myself from breaking down again. Though I didn’t try to get rid of my grin. I wanted to see all four boys’ reaction to what I was going to say. I finally found the right words to use.
“Guess what happens in nine months!”
I wished I had a Muggle video camera, but my memories would have to do. Peter’s jaw dropped as he gaped at me. Pieces of egg fell from his mouth back onto his plate, though he didn’t seem to notice.
James’s eyes widened to the diameter of his glasses as the widest smile was plastered on his face. He started chuckling.
Beside me, Remus choked on his porridge and had to spit it out onto a napkin. His face was still red as he stared hard at me. His eyes started flickering gold around the rims.
Sirius barked out a laugh. He slammed his palm onto the table, making all the plates and utensils jump about a centimeter. “Knew it! I knew it!” He stood to lean around me to see Remus. “I knew you did it! You can’t go up to our dorm, alone with a girl, and not do it!”
“But- but-” Remus kept his eyes on me in horror. He coughed again into his napkin. “But Artemis, we’ve never done it! We were just snogging.”
“Yeah,” I agreed with Remus. I looked up to Sirius. “Besides, what makes you think Remus has anything to do with this?”
Ooh, more fun expressions from my friends. Peter’s jaw, and his head for that matter, slammed into table as fell off his bench.
James’s eyes stayed wide, but the grin was replaced by his own jaw dropping. His mouth finally formed an ‘O’ shape, and I think he stopped breathing for a moment.
And again, Sirius was the most interesting reaction. “What?!” he choked, earning stares from a few students sitting close to us. “You can’t be serious. Why would you, how could you, when?” Sirius got lost in asking half-formed questions.
“You know, you’re reacting to this news a lot more than I had expected,” I said. Ooh, blueberry muffins. I took one.
“How can you act like this is nothing at all!” Sirius yelled at me. Hm, I think he was getting angry. “This is big! This is major! Merlin, if it were Remus’s, I think we’d all be okay with it, but I thought we knew you-”
“But Remus just had his three days ago-” I started to say.
Peter, finally back to sitting on the bench, raised his hand a little, as if we actually had class on Sundays. “Artemis, maybe I missed something when I fell, but what exactly are you talking about?”
I just continued to smile as all four Marauders either glared at me or just looked at me with horror. I shrugged. “I thought it was obvious. In exactly nine months, I turn eighteen. It feels like you guys don’t want me to reach another birthday of my own, though.” What the hell, I’ll take another muffin.
Sirius was the first one to laugh, similar to how he did earlier. He laughed so much, tears started running down his face. “Okay, that was impressive,” he said between gasps. “You got me.”
“She got all of us,” James said, laughing almost as hard.
“So, what did you blokes think I was talking about?” I asked sweetly.
“If you honestly don’t know,” Sirius snickered, “then Moony has a lot that he has to still teach you.”
Remus, his complexion having just recovered from jumping to conclusions, turned red again. “Watch it, Padfoot. I know she’s not that type of girl, unlike what you’re attracted to.”
“Ooh,” Peter and James said in unison.
“I’m just amazed that you four think so low of my integrity,” I said. “Even you, Remus.”
“What?! But you made it sound-” Remus stopped when I started laughing. “You’re still messing with us, aren’t you?”
“Like I said. And it’s like people think I can’t say ‘no’ to you.”
A screech from the rafters echoed through the Great Hall, announcing the first of the owls coming for the daily post. I looked up, hoping to pick my barn owl from the-
“Artemis, isn’t that Peck?” Peter asked, pointing to the first owl.
Peck shot into the hall. There weren’t any other owls coming in to follow in his wake. Peck circled above Gryffindor table twice, then dove. Fast. His talons stretched forward, aimed for-
“Remus, duck!” I yelped, pulling Remus down by his hair.
Peck’s talons just grazed the back of his neck, drawing up a thin line of blood.
“Bloody hell!” Remus yelled. His left hand clamped onto the scratch. “What’s gotten into your owl?!”
“I don’t know!” I said. The rest of the students in the hall had quieted down as they witnessed my owl attack my boyfriend. Peck was gaining altitude for a second run just as the rest of the owls started to arrive.
“Oh no you don’t,” I muttered, standing above Remus, waiting for the next attack.
Sure enough, Peck tried to dive at Remus again. But I was quick too. I caught him by his left wing and body just before he tried to give Remus an owl’s form of a haircut. His sharp talons scratched my arms, ripping through my sleeves and drawing a tiny amount of blood.
“Peck!” I shouted at him, sitting down. Looking around, I was grateful most of the other students had gone back to retrieving their own post once they saw someone had claimed the mad owl. “Peck.” I made my owl look into my eyes. “Peck, look at me.”
The owl, however, still tried to escape my grasp. His head stayed swiveled to look at Remus, to which he glared hard at him. Well, I suppose Peck usually looked like he was glaring, so this instance was just a bit more intense.
“Peck, I told you to look at me.” I had to maneuver my arms around so he was forced to look at me. “Peck, listen to me. I’m not pregnant. Remus and I have never done it. I’m still a virgin.”
“Artemis, I don’t think many girls would be willing to say they’re virgins too loudly in a hall packed full of blokes,” Sirius noted.
Peck finally made eye contact with me, now giving me nasty looks.
“Who are you going to believe?” I asked him. “Me, whom you’ve known for six years, or Randy, who probably jumped to the same conclusion that my other friends did.”
I waited for about a minute at Peck considered my words. He shot a nasty look to Remus a few more times. Finally, he hooted at me and offered three bulging envelopes to me.
“Good boy,” I said, taking the letters. “Oh, one of them is for you, Remus.” I tossed the envelope to my boyfriend. Sometimes Randy sends letters to Remus, probably to make sure Remus is taking good care of me or something.
“What does it say?” James asked. Remus had torn open his letter as I searched my pockets for my owl treats.
Remus slumped in his seat as his eyes scanned the letter. “I am so grateful that Muggles cannot send Howlers. I wouldn’t want the entire hall to hear how Randy plans to kill me the next time he sees me.”
“What did you tell Randy in your last letter anyway?” James asked.
I shrugged. “Just the same things mostly. I put in the post script ‘Guess what happens in nine months.’ You know, the same thing I told you. That’s enough, Peck. I’ll see you later tonight.”
When Remus finally put down the letter, his hands were shaking. “I really wish you hadn’t done that,” Remus said.
“It can’t be too bad,” Sirius said.
“Are you kidding? I just read three pages that detail my execution, down to the tiny little details someone shouldn’t have to read. He would make a good writer for a horror movie.”
“Let me see that.” Sirius snatched up the letter and started reading. He only got halfway through the first page and even his complexion was a bit pale. “Okay, I formally retract my previous statement.”
As the Marauders passed around Randy’s letter, which I was sure contained all bark and no bite, I opened my own letter from Randy, curious what his reaction towards my ‘pregnancy’ would have been.
I WILL KILL HIM! I told him to take care of you, and this is what happens?! Don’t they teach wizards any common sense?! Don’t worry, love, I don’t blame you in the slightest. But if I ever get my hands on him, he will regret the day he saw you and thought of even asking you for a date!
I’m serious! I am one step away from coercing Warren to take me to Hogsmeade so I can reach your school. I don’t care if I think I’m seeing ‘ruins’ or ‘rubble’ or whatnot, I will come get you and bring you back. I’ll get Marie to home school you, maybe even Zach to help with all he’s learned about that world. I will make sure that lowlife of a boyfriend never lays another finger on you again!
How could this have even happ- No, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know that part. Don’t worry, Artemis, just remember that you’ve got people back home that love you, and we’ll make sure you’re okay when you return.
Randy continued to rant through four more pages of the letter, often cursing Remus and reassuring me, sometimes repeating himself. Okay, often repeating himself. I counted six instances of ‘kill’ and three more references to bringing me back home before the end of the school year. Near the end, he seemed to mellow out a bit.
Artemis, don’t worry. I know you’re strong, but I don’t think you realize how serious this issue is. But I love you, and I’ll take care of you.
Peace out, love,
P.S. I WILL KILL REMUS!
Okay, make that seven instances of Randy’s desire to kill my boyfriend.
“Doesn’t anyone have faith in my integrity?” I wondered, putting away the letter.
“What did Randy say to you?” Sirius asked, snatching the letter out of my hands.
“Oi, give the letter back and your face stays attractive to the opposite sex.”
“Okay, okay.” Sirius dropped the envelope. “No need to make drastic threats.”
“This is the scariest thing I’ve ever read,” Peter trembled, passing the letter back to Remus. “Is Artemis’s best mate capable of all these things? With his bare hands and no wand?”
Well, as the Marauders went to exchange notes about how ‘big, strong, and scary’ my best mate was (honestly, they were exaggerating), I glanced down the table to look at the sixth year girls. Kati and Melissa were deep in a conversation, and Samantha was flirting with a seventh year bloke next to her.
Lily, however, was still reading a relatively short letter. Her lips were pressed thinly together as she reread the words.
I looked away, not wanting it to seem obvious that the letter came from me. Or rather that it was drafted by me, went home to be copied in Zach’s handwriting, then finally came back to me just to be sent last night by a school owl as to arrive from a ‘mysterious sender.’
Hey, I might have problems solving my own problems, but I finally came up with a decent plan to give Snape what he wanted. I could still recite the letter Lily was holding from memory, mainly because it took me hours to word it perfectly.
Dear Lily Evans,
I wish I could speak with you in person. Unfortunately, we both know that any direct contact between the two of us would certainly end with my visit to the Hospital Wing at the very least. But I have been wishing to speak with you for the longest time. And it has taken me this long just to ensure that this letter reaches you without unwanted eyes seeing this.
I do not wish to tell you my identity at the present moment, for again I fear retaliation from the one who openly claims his love for you. Forgive me, for I am not as bold. But I cannot wait any longer. I wish to see you, and speak of something of great importance for just our ears.
If it would be possible, I would like to meet with you today, at eleven o’clock this morning. Please meet me on the far side of the Black Lake, just out of sight of Hagrid’s hut bordering the Forbidden Forest. I apologize for the remote location, but again I fear the repercussions that will occur if anyone sees you speaking with me. If you do not wish to meet with me, I will cease in my efforts to see you and respect those wishes, even though they may go against my own.
I turned my attention from Lily to the Slytherin table. It wasn’t too difficult to locate Snape. He was speaking with a Slytherin student next to him. When his black eyes met with mine, he nodded once, said something else to the bloke next to him, then excused himself from his table. Once outside of the Great Hall, he made a left.
“Then Moony’s dead if he goes back to Artemis’s village,” Peter summed up.
“I think that’s the message Randy was trying to convey in the letter,” James said.
“Well, mates, I’m done with breakfast,” I said, standing up. “I’ve had a good morning. I should send the four of you into near-heart attacks more often just for the reaction. Excuse me.” It was a good thing Remus hadn’t touched much of his porridge since this whole event began.
“Where are you going?” Sirius asked me.
“Oh, places to go, people to see, herbs to collect,” I said, shrugging. “A Healer’s job is never done. I promised Madam Pomfrey yesterday that I would collect some things from Professor Sprout today, so we’re not going to be having our morning study session in the library today, Remus. But enjoy cowering at the thought of one little Muggle.” I laughed at that thought.
“Randy’s not little,” Remus started.
“He was when I met him when we were both five. Tootles.” I left the Great Hall and turned right. I stood behind a suit of armor and cast the disillusionment charm on myself. Then I proceeded left, to where I saw Snape stalk off to in the first place.
Snape stood at the top of a set of stairs that only lead to the dungeons. His eyes stayed locked on the hall leading to the Great Hall. Apparently, he couldn’t see the small distorted space where I stood. I chose not to remove the charm until I was standing behind him, just so he couldn’t see how skilled I was with it.
“So after this favor, we’re even then?” I asked calmly.
Snape actually jumped when I spoke. He spun around and his eyes widened just slightly when he realized that I had managed to get behind him without his notice. “Do you Gryffindors always have to be so sneaky?” he sneered.
“That’s not a nice way to greet someone doing you a favor on already-flimsy reasons,” I said.
Snape took a deep breath. He looked really close to apologizing for it, but he stopped when he saw my Gryffindor crest on my robes. “Yes, Monroe, after this is finished, I promise not to ask any more favors of you.”
“Even if this doesn’t turn out the way you want?”
Snape just frowned at me, though it was a good mark in my book that the frown didn’t resemble the Slytherin sneer.
“I want this to be crystal clear. Once you meet with Lily, alone, you will not ask me to arrange anything else for you, correct? Anything else will not have anything to do with me borrowing your spell back in October, correct?”
“Yes,” Snape said.
“Yes, what? I want to hear you say it.”
Snape sighed, closing his eyes. “Once I see Lily, I will not bother you again with anything relating to our interaction back in October.” He reopened his eyes. “Happy now, Monroe? Tell me when and where I’m meeting her.”
“Eleven o’clock, other side of the Black Lake bordering the Forbidden Forest, just out of sight of Hagrid’s hut. Oh, and if you tell Lily I set this up-”
“I understand,” Snape said, nodding. “Thank you.”
Surprised at the manners, I just returned the nod and went back the way I came. Behind me, I heard Snape turn and descend the stairs into the dungeons.
Not even ten seconds later, I ran into Sirius on my way to the greenhouses.
“You four done gossiping?” I teased, putting on a smile.
Sirius just frowned. “Weren’t you supposed to be getting herbs from Sprout?”
“There’s more than one way to the greenhouses, you know.” I walked past Sirius.
When I got to the corner, I looked back at Sirius. He was standing against the wall, looking at a bit of parchment that he pulled from his robes. I could only see his back, so I couldn’t see his expression. Shrugging, I drew my robes around me closely so I could take a shortcut to the greenhouses, which meant a walk outside in nippy mid-March weather.
By a quarter to eleven, I was once again disillusioned and trying to pick the best tree for me to hang from. Not that I didn’t trust Snape, but I had a responsibility to protect Lily from whatever might happen. After all, I had picked this remote place. I wasn’t going to have James come after me if anything bad happened to Lily should he get wind that this was all my doing.
Finding a tree that looked sturdy, I quickly climbed up and made myself face the castle, waiting for someone to show up, either Lily or Snape.
Snape showed up first. He approached from the castle, with his robes drawn close around him to protect him from the cold. He actually leaned against the tree I was in, so I had to cast a muffling charm around the branches.
Lily showed up just as my watch showed eleven o’clock. She still had the letter in her hands, her eyes flickering from the directions in the letter up to her surroundings. As she approached, Snape moved to stand against the other side of the tree. Good thing for him that this was a big tree.
“Hello?” Lily called out, looking into the Forbidden Forest. “Is someone there? You wanted to speak with me?”
“It’s me, Lily.” Snape pushed himself off the tree and circled around to face her.
Lily took a step back when she saw Snape, her eyes widening. After a moment, her eyes narrowed and she frowned. “I thought I made myself clear, Severus. We’re not friends anymore. We have nothing else to say.” Lily turned around to leave.
Gee, I was expecting a better show.
“No, Lily, wait!” Snape ran forward to stand in front of her, blocking her way back to the castle. “Please, just stop avoiding me! I know that if we can just talk about what happened-”
“I think it was pretty clear what happened,” Lily said. “You called me a Mudblood, not even a day after telling me that blood status doesn’t matter to you. I’d have thought that after all this time, you would finally have given up on speaking with me.”
“No, Lily, I can’t. And I didn’t mean it, like I’ve been trying to tell you! I was under a lot of stress! You saw what Potter was doing to me! You can’t expect me to know what I’m saying under those circumstances.”
“You don’t get it,” Lily said. She crossed her arms. “People often mean what comes out of their mouths the first time. That’s when the filters come down and they speak how they feel. Besides, we’ve been growing apart of years, Severus. I just hadn’t admitted it yet.”
“Just stop this, Severus. You’ll be a lot happier if you stay away from me. I appreciate and value the friendship we had, but it’s now just in the past.” Lily backed up and walked around Snape. Snape didn’t move to stop her.
Lily had gotten about ten meters away before Snape found his voice.
“Lily Evans, I love you!”
I nearly fell out of the tree. Totally didn’t see that coming.
But Lily didn’t stop. “You have to love yourself before you can love anyone else, Severus. Please, for your sake, don’t do this to yourself. Just let me go and live your life. Good bye.” Lily disappeared around the bend. Eventually, even the sound her footsteps faded away.
Snape stood still for about two minutes. When he did move, he let out a rather loud swear and stormed off in the opposite direction, actually heading into the Forbidden Forest.
Well, I guess that’s all. I should get back to the castle for lunch now, then a fun afternoon stuck in the Hospital Wing. Joy.
I rolled around to hang by my legs in the tree, then let myself drop from the tree, planning to land on my feet.
I landed on a really solid patch of air directly under me. Rolling off, I wondered what I had bounced off, and what had made that ‘oof’ sound. As far as I could see, no one else was here. But wait, I myself was disillusioned. Perhaps there was someone else here, also under the disillusionment charm. But who?
“Hello?” I called, straining my eyes in search of any signs of distorted air, the signs that someone had a disillusionment charm on them. But no, there was nothing rippling through the air. It was just me, the almost-invisible girl.
“Hello,” I tried again, reaching out. For a moment, I thought I felt something silk-like at my fingertips, but it was pulled away. But while my vision told me I was alone, I could almost feel the eyes on me. When I looked straight forward, I felt like I was close to making eye contact.
I waited, hoping that I might hear the other person move, or see something that would tell me-
My stomach rumbled, signaling that I was late for lunch. And telling whoever it was that I was not only still here, but also starved.
“Fine, don’t confirm your presence. See if I care.” I turned and dashed back for the castle, hoping to beat the Marauders to lunch and tease them again about what little faith they have in me. I had to remind myself that I can’t worry about everything.
A/N: Thoughts? Predictions? I really like hearing from you. You make me sooo happy when I hear your thoughts. For example, kassandra466, orangezauber, Marauderette, Werewolf love, PineappleGoddess 13, and Kay Kay make me happy on nearly a regular basis. So here’s an extra-special thank you to those six and the additional people who have also reviewed. And take a thank you if you’re actually taking time to read this, even if you don’t review. You’ve earned it for reading through all my ranting and babbling. And I applaud you for reading through all thirty chapters! Don’t worry, I don’t think I’ll get to forty, so the mystery should be solved soon (though don’t quote me on that). And again, thank you everyone!
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