Chapter 31 : Chapter 31: If Only I Could Retrace My Steps . . .
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Chapter 31: If Only I Could Retrace My Steps . . .
“My hand hurts,” I groaned, slouching over my Transfiguration essay on a fine Saturday morning.
Remus, studying for Arithmancy, looked over at my hand, which was still squeezing my quill pretty tightly. “Maybe you should stop clutching the quill like that. It’s not going to run away from you.”
“If I let go, my hand will give out on me. And I’m not ambidextrous.”
Remus groaned. “Here, let me see it.” He held my right hand in his, brought it up to his mouth, and placed a soft kiss on the back of my hand. “Feel better now?” He smiled slightly as he released it.
“Just a little,” I said, just happy for the attention. I turned back to my essay, searching for more information from this book to pull out and keep McGonagall impressed with how dedicated I am to writing these extremely-long papers. Actually, dedicated to adding another paper to my O collection, but she could think I was studious if she wanted.
After about fifteen minutes, my bottom lip was chewed nearly-raw. I just wasn’t getting anything more from this book, and I still had another eight inches to go. “Now my lips hurt, Remus,” I whined.
Remus, who had been sitting with his fingers threaded through his hair and his elbows propped on the table, just swiveled his head to look over at me. “Maybe if you didn’t try to eat yourself you wouldn’t feel that way.”
“I wasn’t trying to eat myself!”
“Shh!” Ouch, Madam Pince was closer to our table than I thought.
“I wasn’t trying to eat myself,” I whispered again.
“You eat everything else in sight.”
“No I don’t-”
“Then why are you reaching for my chocolate again?”
I dropped the square of chocolate back onto its wrapper, not realizing that I was reaching for the candy. Though you can’t blame me if Remus regularly puts out the chocolate for us to munch on while we study. It’s become a tradition.
Remus picked up the piece I had just dropped and popped it into his mouth. “So, where were we?” he asked.
“I complained about-”
“You like to complain.”
“Not all the time!”
Remus chuckled a little. “You want more attention? Here.” He leaned forward, pressing his lips against mine. My lips, which hadn’t really hurt that much, now buzzed with Remus’s touch. My right hand reached forward and took hold of Remus’s tie. I kept it taut, not wanting him to pull away. I didn’t want to lose contact, too much enjoying the waves of pleasure rippling through my body from just a simple kiss.
“Study,” Remus muttered against my lips.
I moaned but released the tie. I then tapped my wand to the back of Remus’s neck, knowing that he would start complaining if I didn’t do anything.
“Congratulations, you’re dating a future Healer,” I said softly.
“What is it with you and my tie anyway?” Remus muttered. He still rubbed the back of his neck for a bit before returning to his previous study posture. “Never mind. Just get back to studying. The others would hound us tomorrow if they find out you haven’t finished your homework because we’ve been snogging up here.”
I turned my attention back to the paper, but there wasn’t anything else I could get out of this book. Even if I didn’t have small handwriting, the paper would still only be worthy of an E anyway. “I need a new book. What did you use, Remus?”
Remus shrugged a shoulder, his eyes gone back to studying our Arithmancy chart. “Don’t remember. I also write larger than you, so I usually don’t have to look so hard.”
“Fine. I’m going to look for another book.” I stood, but Remus didn’t look up. “I’m going to the Transfiguration section. You know, if you need to find me.” Still, no movement. “If you don’t hear back from me in three days, then send out a search party.”
Remus just turned to another Arithmancy chart and went back to studying every aspect of it.
“So glad to know you care,” I muttered, heading out from History of Magic and crossing halfway through the library to Transfiguration.
“What am I going to do?” I muttered under my breath, looking through all the Transfiguration books. I must have looked through at least three quarters of these books in my time at Hogwarts. It’s not like I could remember what each one had inside, though.
Each book could also have the answer to my missing memories and- oh crap! Full moon’s on Monday night! At best, I’m not going to remember how I get to Potions on Tuesday. At worst, I might not remember anything until I’m in Transfiguration on Friday! Just thinking about it was making my stomach queasy for some reason.
I rested my chin against one of the bookshelves, looking at the vast collection of books and topics relating to Transfiguration. Some books had such similar titles, I wasn’t sure how much different they could be on the inside. But really, would Transfiguration have the answers as to why I lose my memories on the nights of the full moon and some time before and after?
Last month, I obviously screwed up. Royally. I mean, what was I thinking? Staring at a clock? Like I would be able to actually stay awake long enough and record what happens at night. If I did do anything during the night, did I actually expect myself to pull out a bit of parchment and write down something like I’m doing something weird right now, something that can explain the missing memory episodes I’ve been having all year! Right, that would be too easy.
What I actually needed was to find out where I’ve been, without depending entirely on myself. If only I could retrace my steps-
“I’m an idiot!” I hissed to myself. I turned away from the Transfiguration section and weaved my way through to the Defense Against the Dark Arts section. Or more specifically, the tracking sections that pertain to the Auror division.
“Here it is,” I muttered, happy. I found a tracking spell, simple enough for a non-Auror to perform. I pointed my wand to my shoes. “Vestigium Semita,” I whispered.
My shoes shined purple for a moment before returning to their normal black. Lifting my foot, I couldn’t tell if anything had changed. There weren’t any footsteps detectable. But to make sure, I walked in a complete circle around the bookcase. Nope, still nothing to show where I’ve been.
I looked back to the Defense book. The following page had the next part of the spell. “Ostendo Sum Semita.”
This time, the tip of my wand emitted a purple light. My shoes, however, turned a pale pink for a moment (yuck, I hate pink!). When the light faded, though, my wand light showed me the purple shoeprints all around me and some leading off in two different directions. The purple wand light showed that after I had cast the first spell, I must have shuffled around a little at my present location. At least, that’s what the shoeprints indicated. Yup, I remembered doing that. It was from when I had looked under my shoes for the first few seconds. I pointed my wand to the right. More shoeprints became visible, seeming to walk away towards my right and headed down to the end of the aisle (even though they weren’t moving). They oriented themselves to the left, the same way I turned just a minute ago. Moving my wand to my left side, more shoeprints seemed to approach me before eventually reuniting with my own feet. If I actually wanted to follow them, I’m sure I could literally retrace my few dozen steps.
“That worked nicely,” I smiled, turning my attention back to the book. “Hm. Deleo Semita.” The purple light of my wand faded, as did the footsteps. I tried to reveal the path again, but nothing happened. I guess my footsteps really were gone. Though I suppose it would get confusing if everyone’s tracks didn’t disappear when they were supposed to be gone for good.
“Better than last month’s plan,” I thought brightly. I spent a minute memorizing the spells (not too hard since they were all Latin-based), then returned to Transfiguration to get a book for my essay. At this point, I didn’t really care how I finished it. So long as I solved this mystery soon, I was willing to receive even a T on all of this week’s papers.
“Sorry it took my so long,” I whispered, arriving back at the table. I sat down and just looked at Remus. His eyes were still glued to our Arithmancy chart. He didn’t even look up when I returned. “Glad to know you missed me,” I muttered, shaking my head and getting back to work.
“Twenty-three, twenty-four, twenty-five. . .” James counted slowly.
“He won’t get over thirty-five,” I bet, watching Peter in awe. He already had twenty-six carrots shoved into his open mouth. If he beat my number (thirty-four), I owed him five Galleons.
“He will,” James said. “Come on, Peter, just seven more to go.”
“Ah aah,” Peter said. Or tried to say. It was kind of hard to talk with so many carrots in your mouth. I should know. My jaw was still sore.
“Who’s next after Wormtail?” James asked, directing his question to Remus and Sirius.
The two blokes on either side of me, however, seemed distracted at something. Remus had been moody during all of our classes today, but that might have been because we came across Peeves right after breakfast. The poltergeist sucked Remus into our bit of fun and we had to go back to Gryffindor Tower covered in what I hope was only orange paint. I guess it was supposed to be a blend of our House colors, but it smelled like a mix between orange juice and ear wax. I tried not to think about it, but Remus had grumbled that he’d have the smell in his nose for the next two weeks. It was a shame, too, because before the incident Remus had been in a fairly pleasant mood, though he seemed a bit uncomfortable when he tried talking to me.
Sirius also seemed bummed out, but I didn’t know his reasons. He just pushed about the food on his plate but didn’t eat much. He was missing from the common room, actually, when Remus and I showed up as a matching mess. He was also the last of us to arrive here for dinner.
“Looks like it’ll be you, James,” I said.
Peter tried jamming the thirtieth carrot into his mouth. But his mouth wouldn’t open any wider. He finally waved his hands around frantically, his eyes wide. I took that as my signal to dislodge the carrots before he broke his jaw or any of the carrots would fall back into his mouth and choke him.
“Here,” Peter said, fishing the five Galleons out of his pocket and sliding them across the table to me. “You win. Owe, my mouth.”
“It can’t be that bad,” James said.
“Your turn then. Owe. Artemis?”
“Already on it,” I said, taking out my wand and pointing it at Peter’s jaw. “It’ll still be sore, but that’s the best I’ve got.”
“Anything’s better than it feeling unhinged,” Peter said, wiggling his jaw around.
James was in the middle of losing five Galleons to me when Sirius dropped his fork and stood up. He turned to leave the Great Hall.
“Oi!” I grabbed a fist of his robes to make him hang back. “Where do you think you’re going? You’re leaving before dessert!”
Sirius glanced at the other tables in the Hall, avoiding the look of his Marauding friends and me. “Just something I have to take care of. Don’t wait up for me.” Sirius yanked his robes out of my hand and continued out of the Hall, turning to the left. He was just one of a few students who left dinner without dessert.
I turned to look back to the remaining Marauders. Remus, well, he kept his eyes locked on his plate as he ate really, really slowly. For fear of getting my head bitten off, I turned my attention to the blokes across from me.
“Don’t look at me,” Peter said, shaking his head. “Wait Prongs, was that twenty-eight or twenty-nine carrots? Give me time to recount.” He tried to make James turn to look at him.
James turned his head to Peter, his brows furrowed. Peter only got to six carrots when most of them exploded out of James’s mouth. One of them hit Peter in the eye.
“I couldn’t hold them anymore,” James groaned, picking out bits of carrot from his teeth. “Sorry, Wormtail.”
“It’s okay. Artemis-”
I pointed my wand first at Peter’s eye, then at James’s jaw. I continued to look at James, hoping he would know what his best mate was up to.
“For once, I’m as lost at Wormy,” James said. “No idea whatsoever on what Pads has up his sleeve. Here.” After he gave me the coins, he looked down at his watch. “It’s getting pretty late in the afternoon, Moony. Did you tell her this morning about- OWE!”
Remus kept his head bowed over his plate, but his eyes glared up at James. “Shut up,” he growled.
“Tell me what?” I asked. Certainly, ‘her’ had to refer to me. Who else would Remus have to tell something important to? I looked over at Remus.
“I don’t get it,” Peter said innocently. “I thought she already-”
“OWE! Remus!” I yelled. His right shoe slammed hard and fast into my leg. And being a girl stuck in a girl’s uniform, I didn’t have anything to protect my skin from the side of his shoe. “What did you do that for?” I scooted away from Remus to look at my leg.
“Sorry,” Remus mumbled. He bent his head lower over his dinner and continued to eat.
“How bad is it?” James asked, standing to get a better look.
“Nothing too bad,” I said honestly. The outside of my lower left leg was just bright pink in the area where he slammed into me. “I take it Remus was aiming for Peter.”
“Sorry!” Peter put his hands over his mouth and slouched down. “You can kick me if you want!”
“Be grateful Pads isn’t around to hear that,” James teased him.
I pointed my wand to my leg and the skin returned back to normal. “I should probably head upstairs for bed now,” I said, also realizing how late it was getting. “I don’t want to go to the Hospital Wing tomorrow morning because I’m the patient! See you tomorrow, Marauders.”
I grabbed a blueberry muffin on my way out of the Great Hall. Once outside the Hall, seeing no one was in sight, I pointed my wand to my shoes. “Vestigium semita,” I whispered.
My shoes shined purple for a moment. The tracing spell was on. I quickly walked myself back to Gryffindor Tower, determined to keep the spell on until I realize that I’m once again missing memories.
“You have exactly one hour to make this potion. Extra credit to the one who can make it the best! Begin.” Professor Slughorn turned over a large hourglass, telling us sixth years to get to work.
I blinked. Looked around. Yes, I was in Potions. I looked at my watch. Class only began three minutes ago. Good news, I suppose.
“Hey Remus, today’s still Tues-”
Remus wasn’t there.
Strange. While waiting to collect the classroom’s ingredients necessary for the potion, I scanned the room. Okay, four chairs were empty (not counting my own). Remus. Check. James and Sirius. Yup, class was a lot quieter without those two just dumping ingredients into their cauldrons. There was also another student missing. Snape. Snape was also not in class this morning.
“Hey Lily,” I whispered as I passed her table, “it’s still Tuesday, right? No closer to the weekend?”
Lily smiled. “No such luck for a quick weekend, Artemis. Get started with your potion. Good luck.”
“You too.” Although I knew Lily didn’t need it. Not with Slughorn. If Lily and I both made a perfect potion, three guesses to who Slughorn will choose in the end. First two don’t count.
As I left Potions class alone, after being ‘narrowly outdone by Miss Evans’ according to Slughorn (big surprise), I headed down for lunch in the Great Hall. Hopefully I wouldn’t have to eat alone. Or worse, with the girls.
“Hi Artemis,” Peter said, coming in just after me. His smile was a bit too bright however. “How was Potions?”
“Lily won again,” I shrugged. “Nothing new. You?”
Peter shrugged. “Still don’t understand most of the Transfiguration essay we have to write. I’m just aiming for an A.”
“Aw, Peter, you’ve got to aim higher than that! At least for an E!” I looked towards the doors again. “Any idea where the other Marauders are?”
“Haven’t the foggiest. Want to see how many grapes we can stuff in our mouths? Five Galleons says I can put more inside my mouth than you. Just because your mouth is wider doesn’t mean it can hold more.”
“Fine. But you have to spit them out so we can count when we’re done. Otherwise we might ‘accidentally’ swallow some.”
Peter groaned but still agreed to the conditions.
“If you were Rachael,” Peter said as we headed down to Herbology together, “she would have an incredible time down in Hogsmeade with how much money you’ve gotten last night and today.”
“But I hate shopping unless it’s for something I need.”
“Rachael could think of a lot of things she would ‘need,’ if you know what I mean,” Peter said, sighing.
“Oh sure. Purses, shoes, blouses, skirts, jewelry.” I shivered. “I think I’m getting nauseated.”
“Well, that’s good, right? Aren’t we studying some sort of fern that eats other animals’ vomit?”
“That was a moss, and we finished those last week. We’re now onto man-eating flowers. Which means the female population is safe!”
Peter’s eyes widened. “Really? Plants can tell a boy from a girl?”
“Peter, I was trying to be funny.”
“Huh? Oh. Haha.”
“So, do you know where the others are?” I asked before we split up.
“I’m the clueless Marauder, remember? Ooh, there’s Rachael. Bye, Artemis.” Peter sped up to sit next to his girlfriend.
It was only forty minutes later, when Samantha had resorted to fighting off her flower with her shoe, that I remembered the tracing spell that I put on my shoes last night. Merlin, and I didn’t stop it when I realized my memories were missing. Well, might as well now. I tapped my wand to my shoes, telling my feet to stop leaving footprints everywhere but not to reveal where I’d been just yet.
Getting through the rest of Herbology was nearly impossible. It went on for so long. I mean, Remus wasn’t there for me to talk to. And James and Sirius weren’t making the usual ruckus that distracts Professor Sprout from helping to prevent the plants from eating the Ravenclaw students (I think the plants could sense the fear from the ‘smart’ students).
Arithmancy was even worse. Again, Remus was absent from class. I could remember him studying the charts in the library on Saturday, so he would have done well with the surprise exam we had. Note- not a surprise quiz, but a surprise exam. Yeah, James and Sirius would never have made it through this class with their lack of study skills.
I was so tempted to retrace my steps during dinner while most of the school was eating, but my stomach told me it was too starved to do anything but eat. So, I dumped off my bag in my dorm, left a flower petal from today’s Herbology lesson on Samantha’s bed just for the hell of it, and headed down to dinner.
“Gee, I thought you two fell off the face of the planet,” I said, sitting down beside Sirius. “What prank have you two been up to? Remus putting the finishing touches on it right now?”
Sirius slouched low in his seat, poking at his food like he did yesterday. However, today’s motions felt completely different. It was hard to describe, but it felt like Sirius wanted to just shrink down into himself. He’s a fairly large bloke, but today I felt bigger than him.
I looked over to James. James, however, was glaring hard at Sirius. He kept his gaze focused sharply on the top of his best mate’s head until he realized I was looking. James turned his eyes to me, which softened considerably. I tried to read them. What emotion was that? Sadness? Hurt?
Shaking his head, James looked back down to his own dinner and began eating.
I finally turned my attention back to Peter. He shrugged and hunkered down over his own plate.
No one is speaking. Which is very unusual for PB&J. Did something happen last night that I’m not aware of? Should I ask them? No, what if I’m not supposed to know? Maybe it was a prank gone wrong or something. Or worse- what if it has to do with me and they think I should remember? I can’t let them know I’m missing my memories. I told myself that I’m not going to let my friends worry about me, and that’s what I’m going to do.
So I too bowed my head and ate in silence.
I think I would have preferred eating by myself during that meal. Remus never did show up, but if he was in a mood similar to his friends, I was actually grateful for his absence. I’ve seen how much of a grouch he could be at times.
The dinner plates eventually transitioned to dessert mode. I reached for the nearby chocolate cake. Maybe I should offer chocolate to the others. They looked like they needed some.
Just as I was about to offer, however, James stood up. “Where are you going?” I asked. I had the strangest feeling of déjà vu with a different Marauder. Too bad I couldn’t take hold of James’s robes in case he tried to walk off like Sirius did yesterday.
James looked me in the eye, glanced at Sirius, then returned his focus to me. “I have to ask Dan Logan a question. About Quidditch.” His hazel eyes flickered back to Sirius for a moment. “Stupid question that I regret having to ask anyway. I’ll be right back.”
Sirius sighed once James was out of hearing range. “I should probably go before he gets back.” He stood, taking his time as he got his legs untangled from the bench.
“Care to tell me-”
“Detention.” Sirius made sure I couldn’t reach his robes as he slowly started shuffling out of the doors.
Detention? But didn’t the Marauders have a big party last week when they were all finished making up all their detentions?
“What did Black do this time to warrant more detentions?” I asked Peter.
“Huh?” Peter blinked, looking around. Seeing no one, he shoved a pumpkin pastry into his mouth. “Af ah oof. Ahh o’ oo-”
“Never mind,” I groaned, turning my attention back to my chocolate cake. Must have been part of something I missed. Which means I have to figure this out. Great. I’ll never know what’s going on.
James returned to his seat and took a bowl of pudding. He didn’t comment about Sirius’s absence. But when I kept staring at him, he said, “Logan said yes. He’s a third year, but he was one of the best as try-outs last fall. Wish we had more time, though. Just a week and a half until we play Ravenclaw, and that captain is an excellent strategist-”
“Why do you need another Quidditch player? I know I don’t follow the game, but I thought you only had seven players per team.”
“Yeah, and we were down to six.” James swallowed a spoonful of pudding. “Sirius got banned from Quidditch. For this year and next.”
“What?!” I choked, spewing chocolate cake over the table. Oops, a large piece landed itself on James’s right lens. “What did he do now?!”
Again, James just stared at me with a sad look in his eyes. He looked down after a few seconds in order to clean off his glasses. “Doesn’t matter much anymore. Finish your cake.”
Seeing as that James was obsessed with cleaning his glasses (to avoid looking at me again?) and Peter excused himself to sit with Rachael, I decided that this would be a good time to test my spell and see where I’ve been between dinner last night and Herbology this afternoon.
“Ostendo Sum Semita,” I whispered. The tip of my wand once again turned purple as my shoes flashed pink momentarily. When everything settled down half a second later, my wand’s light illuminated my starting steps along with the next dozen or so steps. After that, the purple light wasn’t able to reach far enough to light up any more footprints. But I could see that I went for the moving staircase.
“I should have known better than come this way,” I muttered after waiting about five minutes for all the stairs to line up the way they did last night.
Okay, so last night I went from the Great Hall to Gryffindor Tower. I remembered the walk last night. Before going up to the girls’ dorm, I apparently spun around in a circle (at least, I think that’s why my shoes seemed to point in every direction before going on). I couldn’t remember that part. I had then gone up to the dorm, used the bathroom, and my shoeprints ended at the side of my bed.
I then followed my shoeprints back out of the girls’ dorm, went around the circle of tracks, and headed back out of the tower. I had used a different staircase to get down to the main level, so at least I wouldn’t have to wait for the stairs again. Thinking about it, though, I suppose it would have been a little fun to jump from staircase to staircase.
Strange. My footsteps led me outside. Quite a ways outside, near the Black Lake. What was I doing out here? I stopped when I came to the edge of the water. I looked around. There was nothing out here for me to see.
To the east, I saw it. Just barely over the mountains and hills in the distance, it was still yellowish-orange. The waning moon was slowly making its way up into its normal spot in the sky.
I tore my gaze away from the moon. I didn’t need it taunting me. I needed answers. I followed the footsteps that led me back into the castle. I was only half-surprised when my tracks brought me back to the Hospital Wing. Footsteps disappeared under the closed doors.
“Okay, two possibilities,” I said quietly to myself, unwilling to go inside. I started backing away, hoping Pomfrey wasn’t going to open the doors any time soon. “One, I came here like regular mornings, and it was something after my duties with Pomfrey that caused my memory loss. Two, something happened before and required me to receive Pomfrey’s help. But she should have told me if I needed help, right?” Unless I couldn’t be told for my own good. I know her. She would actually let me go on and be happy rather than confusing me with information I’d have no recollection of.
“What time did I actually come here?” I wondered. But unfortunately, these footsteps didn’t leave a convenient time and date stamped to the heel of each foot. I had to figure that out the hard way.
Maybe there was another part of this spell that I didn’t see the other day. I had to look into it.
In the library, no one was in the Defense section of the library. I took that as a good sign. Now all I needed to do was find the book, looked up the spells again, and see if there was anything about-
“I know your secret, Monroe.”
“Eep!” I jumped the book and turned around. I sighed. “Snape, what are you doing here?”
Snape just continued to look down at me with his narrowed black eyes. “Same as you, Monroe. Looking up information in the library.” He took a step closer to me.
I took a step back. My skin started to feel cold.
“I know your secret,” he said again.
“Your missing memories, conveniently lost once a month?” He paused. “Ring any bells?”
“You know? How?”
Snape just leaned forward, as if he were going to whisper it. He opened his mouth. Paused. Closed his mouth again and leaned away from me. “No, I won’t tell you.” He turned to walk away.
“What? Snape, wait.” I stepped forward but didn’t touch him. I didn’t want to be accused of assaulting him or anything. “Please, tell me what you know.” I didn’t care where it came from, if someone had my answers, I wanted them.
“Why should I?” Snape crossed his arms and sneered down at me. “I owe you nothing, Monroe.” He tilted his head to the side, shifting his black hair easily to the side. “I suppose I would have been more, generous, if my meeting with Lily had gone better-”
“-but seeing as it didn’t, I see no reason to keep playing our little ‘owing favors’ game. We are currently even, and that is good enough for me. Good day, and good riddance.” His shoulder brushed past me as he walked to the end of the aisle.
“Then why bring it up if you’re not going to tell me?” I grumbled.
Snape paused. Looked back at me. Smirked. “To make it absolutely clear that neither of us owes the other anything. Ever again.” He walked left, towards another part of the Defense section of the library.
I reached down to pick up the book. The fingers that wrapped around the spine were still cold and shivering.
“I know something you don’t know . . . I know something you don’t know . . .”
“Just shut up,” I muttered, shoving the book somewhere into the other books and walking out of the library. “Deleo semita.”
A/N: So, have I confused every last one of you yet? Yes? No? Oh, here are the translations of the three spells Artemis used: vestigium semita = trace path; ostendo sum semita = reveal path; deleo semita = erase path. I just translated it straight from English to Latin (I’m lazy).
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