It’s an odd thing to fall so hard so fast for someone you know so little about. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get Remus out of my head. It didn’t help that his group of friends had become somewhat regulars at the café. They came at least three times a week for a cup of coffee and a chat, always at closing time. Sometimes Remus was with them, sometimes he was not.
I didn’t get it. How can you go from having a blast with someone one night, and actually kissing them, to complete silence. He didn’t say a word and avoided eye contact at all costs. I would occasionally catch him looking at me, though, when he thought I wasn’t paying attention. I didn’t understand him.
Not that he and his friends weren’t great to be around. I was actually growing fond of having them around. They were quite a unique and quirky bunch – not like the normal people you meet every day. They had an odd way of getting things done, and spoke of weird things I had never even heard of. The boys, more so than Lily, were quite entertaining and caused a bit of ruckus. They had a knack for mischief and got bored quite easily. On one particular night, James and Sirius decided they wanted to see how high all the chairs in the café stacked and if they could sit on them. Sirius succeeded in climbing to the top of the chair stack, but as soon as he sat, all the chairs went tumbling down and he landed on top of them. I was worried that maybe he had hurt himself, but instead he lay on the pile of chairs laughing his head off as if it were the most amusing thing he had ever done. I liked that about them. They lived each day as if it were their last and enjoyed every little bit and they didn’t care if they came off a little absurd.
It never really struck me exactly how off they actually were, until the strangest thing happened while I wasn’t looking. It was a Friday night, and they’d come in close to closing for a cup of coffee. I had been having an off day as it was. My father had been yelling at me about how short my attention span had been lately. Earl had gone home sick and I had almost scorched a batch of pancakes, thinking of what my friends did in their everyday lives besides come to the café. With Earl gone, and me in the kitchen, my father had to cover the tables, and he only left when the group arrived.
I watched through the kitchen window when they entered. The café had been dead for a whole two hours, and my father seemed surprised by their presence. I saw their smiles shift when they entered. They had come in laughing like they usually did, but when they saw my father behind the counter, rather than me, they ceased their laughter and smiled at him politely. I could see Remus openly looking for me rather than staring at the floor, like he had taken to recently. My father’s burly body covered their view of the kitchen window, so I knew he couldn’t see me.
My father turned.
“Are these regulars?” He asked, raising an eyebrow at me. “Meaning, do a lot of people come in so close to closing, or is this unusual?”
I peered around him and looked at them in their usual booth looking around curiously, as if I’d maybe pop through the walls and laugh at the practical joke I’d pulled on them.
“People don’t usually come in past six or seven,” I told him. “Except for that lot. They usually come in close to closing and have a cup of coffee, or a slice of cheesecake, but that’s it.”
My father looked over his shoulder at them at the same moment they all buried their noses in their menus, like they were considering what to order. Except for Sirius. He seemed a little out of the loop and noticed my father looking at him. He gave a very cheesy and toothy smile as if he were up to something and then he, too, started looking through his menu.
“They seem a little strange,” Dad said. “I don’t like the look of that one with the long hair. He looks like trouble.”
“He’s not,” I said a little too quickly. By this point, James and Sirius had figured out that it was me in the kitchen that my father was talking to, and began to make faces while his back was turned. I tried not to laugh at James’s crossed eyes. “I mean, I can handle them,” I said to dad, taking my attention off of the boys. “Earl is usually gone by the time they come in, and they never order anything that needs me to be in the kitchen for more than a minute, so don’t worry about it. You can go home, if you want.”
“Are they friends of yours?” Dad asked curiously.
“Uh, they’re just some regular customers,” I told him. “They’re nice enough.”
“Oh, okay then,” he said, seemingly pleased that I didn’t have friends coming in to the café to goof off. He began to take his apron off and turned around so he faced the group and leaned over the counter. “My daughter will be with you in a moment, if you don’t mind waiting,” he said to them, and came around into the kitchen. I saw them smiling at me through the window now that they could see. Remus had gone back to staring at the table in front of him.
“Call home if you need anything,” Dad said before taking off through the back door. I waited for a minute or two to make sure he wasn’t coming back in before I headed out into the main dining area with a couple plates of cookies and a tray of coffee.
“Sorry about that,” I said, setting the cookies and the tray down on their table. “Carl took a sick day, so my dad stayed late.”
“He’s quite the intimidating fellow, isn’t he?” Sirius teased. I stuck my tongue out at him as I pulled up a chair next to him and took a cookie from the plate.
Peter picked one up as well and examined it. “What kind of cookie is this?” he asked.
“Reverse peanut butter and chocolate,” Remus answered before I could. He didn’t look at me as he grabbed one off the plate. “I take it they turned out alright?”
“The first batch was alright,” I started awkwardly, as he began to munch, still not looking at me. “They needed a few tweaks, though.”
“I thought they were perfect just the way they were,” said Remus, reaching for another cookie.
Now, what I did next even took me by surprise.
“Are you kidding me?!” I exclaimed. I snatched the plate of cookies up angrily from the table before he could take another one. Everyone looked at me in shock. I’d never had an outburst like this before, but, hey, it’s what happens to girls like me. Boys have the ability to drive us crazy.
“You didn’t even stick around the other night to try one! You were perfectly fine just leaving me in the dust,” I growled. I paused to take a breath and look at them all. “Do you even have anything to say for yourself? An apology maybe for kissing me and taking off?”
James blinked at me blankly. Lily looked from Remus to me and back again. Peter shifted awkwardly in his seat. Remus looked up at me, finally. His eyes looked hurt. Confused even. He had no idea what was even going on in his head, and I had put him on the spot looking for an explanation he didn’t even have. I almost felt bad. Almost, until Sirius opened his mouth and made things even more awkward.
“YOU KISSED CASSIOPEIA?!” He practically screamed, flailing his arms around in excitement. He pounded his fists on the table loudly and hollered happily. Sirius even pulled Remus into a headlock and began to mess up his hair. “You dog, you!”
When he finally released Remus, all attention was on him. Sirius looked around the group with a confused expression on his face. “What?” he said. “Don’t even pretend you all aren’t excited that our little Remmy is finally getting himself some action.”
Remus was at a loss for words. His jaw was dropped, and he looked to each of his friends to save him. No one knew exactly what to say. Suddenly I went from almost feeling bad to feeling absolutely terrible. I realized upon looking at him that he had no explanation for what he did. He was just as confused by his actions as I was, and he was just trying to figure them out. Just like me.
I fiddled with the plate of cookies awkwardly. My palms were starting to sweat nervously. “I wouldn’t call it getting action,” I said quietly. “It was just… confusing. I don’t even know exactly what it was. Clearly you don’t either, Remus. So, let’s just drop it?”
Remus looked to the table and then up at me. He looked me in the eye for the first time since that night and spoke as he nodded. “Can I have another cookie?”
I laughed to myself as Sirius folded his arms across his chest grumpily. “Whatever,” he muttered. “I still think you guys should get together.”
As I offered the plate of cookies back to the table, Sirius, who was now overly excited, leapt forward from his seat across the table screaming “I WANT ONE, TOO!” The action caught me off guard and he ended up knocking the plate out of my slippery hands and to the ground. It shattered and the cookies spread across the tile.
I looked up at him. “Really?” I said. “Those were perfectly good cookies and that was a perfectly good plate! Dad is going to kill me.”
“No! It’s okay!” Sirius said, climbing over the table the rest of the way. He knelt on the floor and started to gather the fallen cookies in his arms. “The cookies are still good. We can still eat them.”
I shook my head down at him. “Alright, Sirius, you eat the cookies off the floor. I’m going to go get a broom.”
So I went to get a broom to clean up the mess. And that, my friends, is when the really weird stuff began to happen. I swear I was only gone for only a minute, maybe, fetching the broom from the kitchen. When I returned, they were all chatting at their booth casually. I went to sweep up the plate shards, but they weren’t there. Instead, the plate of cookies was sitting in the middle of the table. Still intact. As if I had never dropped it.
“What happened to the plate?” I asked, confused.
“You dropped it,” James told me as if I had forgotten. “We picked it up and put the cookies back on it. We don’t mind that they dropped on the floor. It’s not like this place is filthy.”
“No, I mean, it broke,” I said. “I dropped it and it broke and Sirius started picking up the cookies when I went to go get the broom.”
“It didn’t break, Casey,” Lily said, shaking her head. “It must have been your eyes playing tricks on you.”
“I swear it broke,” I went on. “It broke and I said my dad was going to kill me and went to get the broom to sweep it up.”
Remus looked down at his watch. “It’s late, Casey,” he said, starting to stand up. “You’re probably a little tired. Maybe we should get going.”
“Mind if I take some floor cookies to go?” Sirius asked, grabbing a few and a napkin as he, too, slid out of the booth.
“You guys are making me feel like I’m going crazy,” I whined, watching them slip out of the booth one by one. “The plate broke! I dropped it and it broke! There’s no way that the plate magically patched itself together like that.”
“The plate didn’t break,” Peter repeated, also grabbing some cookies. Remus slipped the rest of the cookies in his pocket and Peter picked the plate up. “Look, see?” He flipped it over. “There’s not even a chip in it.”
“Get some sleep, Casey,” James said, patting me on the top of my head. “We’ll see you in a couple of days. Thanks for the cookies.”
Then they started to leave. I was standing there, staring at the plate dumfounded. “You’ve got to be kidding me!” I said, just as the door shut behind them. I walked to the window and watched them, searching for an explanation. They made their way down the street and after a little ways, disappeared just as I blinked my eyes. Just as they had on their first trip. Just as Remus had the other night in the alley. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” I said again, pressing my face to the glass. I watched the spot where they had just disappeared from, and let myself droop into the nearest seat.
I looked at the plate that was still on their table. Not even a chip, just as Peter had said. Something just wasn’t right. There was no way that my eyes had played tricks on me this many times. These strange things only ever happened when they were around. Then they acted like I was the crazy one. Maybe I was, but I was determined to find out once and for all exactly what was going on.
So, it's been a while, huh? Yeah... I apologize. It's been a really busy couple of months. I'm amazed that I survived. To be honest, I've had most of this chapter written forever, but haven't been able to get back to it until now. That's how busy my life has been.
But it's starting to calm down. So, why don't you head on over to my MTA and ask me some questions?