Chapter 6 : Strong Tea
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"Shh, shh, he's coming this way," Lily whispered frantically.
I quickly got back to the essay I had spread in front of me on a table in the Gryffindor common room.
"What are you two up to?"
"Nothing," I said innocently, glancing over at Sirius, but continuing to pretend I was working.
"I know you're up to something," he accused. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him stroke the scruff on his chin as he looked back and forth between the two of us.
"Sirius, really, I'm trying to finish this ridiculous Transfiguration essay. Could you bother us about what were up to some other time?" Lily frowned at him.
"I see how it is," he stood, began backing up, and pointed at the both of us, "but mark my words, I'll be back."
"Yes, we know you will," I rolled my eyes at Lily.
"How does he always know the second somebody starts talking about him?" Lily's comment let me know he was out of earshot.
"I don't know, but it's a bit scary," I chanced a glance over my shoulder at the sixth year boys sitting by the fire.
"Muffliato," I heard Lily whisper next to me.
"Good thinking. So, what do you think about it?"
"I can see your point, but I don't think there's enough evidence yet," she sighed, "especially not on Jane's end. I can't even tell if she's dating Octavius or not…"
"They're not dating," I told her happily, "I asked him about it weeks ago."
"Of course, how could I have forgotten you always know?" Lily smiled.
"Almost always," I frowned, "not in this situation. I don't even think James knows what's wrong with Sirius this year."
"I don't think boys talk about that kind of thing," Lily's eyes slid from her essay back to her book, "what about Lupin?"
"What about him?" I looked at her, confused.
"He doesn't seem to mind her, if you know what I mean," she arched an eyebrow at me before looking down to scrawl another sentence.
"Oh, he's just being friendly. You know as well as me he doesn't date," I dismissed her suspicion, though vaguely aware she could very well be right.
She just shrugged and continued working. She'd brought a completely new dynamic to my thoughts on the subject of who fancied Jane Montague, and who she liked back. Sirius, on the one hand, had barely even looked at any girls this year--except Jane. I'd caught him staring at her in lessons they had together and his eyes often snuck glances at the Ravenclaw table during mealtimes. Something was definitely going on there. He'd normally be in and out of at least one fling by this time of year.
Remus, on the other hand, had never dated anyone, at least to my knowledge (which was considerable). But maybe Lily had been right; maybe Remus Lupin had finally found a girl that struck his fancy. He had sat in the stands with her on my birthday, and she seemd to talk to him more comfortably than a lot of people, after all...
But of course, Jane showed no clearn signs one way or the other. She blushed when spoken to by anyone, and when in doubt she would read a book, or even stare at the floor if she had to. I needed a second opinion, but Lily was proving to be useless.
"Done," Lily happily interrupted my thoughts.
"What? I've barely even started!"
"Get to it," she packed away her schoolwork and left me sitting at the table alone. It only took a moment for Sirius to slide into her vacated seat. He didn't say anything, but rested his chin on one hand and gazed at me until I could ignore him no more.
"Unless you're here to explain the theory behind human transfiguration, stop staring," I sighed.
"If you insist. You have to really understand what makes up the human body. Remember when we were changing rats in fourth year? Yeah it was awhile back," he grinned, "but that was like a precursor to this. However now, you're changing yourself instead of another animal. Think about exactly how--"
Sirius continued explaining until Lily came back downstairs a half hour later and told him off for helping me cheat.
"Yes, Sirius, talking her through her essay counts as cheating," she scowled at him. It was a shame, really, because I'd been on a roll.
The next day I had Care of Magical Creatures with Jane first thing. The malaclaw we were supposed to be cleaning scuttled around it's crate, already gleaming. Her shy nature didn't suggest she'd ever be so straightforward with a dangerous animal, but I still had yet to discover a subject Jane wasn't brilliant at. Professor Kettleburn dismissed us earlier than the rest of the class when he came to inspect and found us already finished, bite free.
I asked her questions about her family as we walked back up to the castle and provided my answers as well, just to keep the conversation going. She seemed distracted while she told me what her sister, Ann, was up to these days. We ran into an ill-looking Remus on the fourth floor.
"Hey, Lupin, what are you up to?" I smiled at him as he approached.
"Fritz, Jane," he smiled politely in return, "I'm headed to the infirmary."
"Good, Madam Pomfrey will be able to fix you up in no time," I patted his arm.
"Well, I'll just be off, then," he looked like he needed to lie down.
"See you, feel better," I called after him.
"Bye," Jane whispered at the same time.
"Poor Remus," I said sadly when he was out of earshot, "he gets sick so often."
"Well it is almost the full moon," Jane sighed.
"What does the full moon got to do with anything?"
"He's a--oh. You don't know?"
"What don't I know?"
He's… well… he's a werewolf, isn't he?" she brought her voice so low I could barely hear her.
"Are you serious?" I burst out laughing, "Remus Lupin?"
She just looked at me, her eyes slightly wider than normal, no hint of a smile on her face.
"You are serious?" my laughter subsided.
"I--" she took a deep breath, "just forget I said anything."
"No! Explain yourself!" I said as she hastily started walking again.
"There's not much to explain," she said quietly, "he gets sick at every full moon."
"How would you know? You'd have to track it for months and months to know that!"
Jane turned beat red as I spoke.
"Oh my gosh, you have been tracking it for months and months, haven't you?"
She nodded sheepishly and mumbled, "since third year. I--I just make a tick in my planner, you know…" she trailed off, looking mortified.
"So… so you're quite certain?"
"I've never verified where he is during his illnesses, but it seems likely," she choked out.
"When's the next full moon?"
"Tomorrow," she whispered.
"I see…" I was slightly shell shocked, but of course, now that Jane had pointed it out, it seemed very likely that Remus Lupin was a werewolf. Despite the fact that he was quiet and kind in nature, he had been getting sick on fairly regular intervals since our first year at school. I'd been very good friends with the guys since about second year, and now their references to Lupin's 'furry little problem' made sense, but I didn't want to believe it. "I… I think I need to go find Lily…"
"Don't you have to get to Divination soon?"
"Oh, right," the fact that I still had classes at this particular moment seemed foreign.
"Do you think--could you keep it quiet, though?" Jane finished lamely.
"Of course," I agreed immediately, "I just… Lily needs to be consulted. Nobody else."
"Right," she gave me a sad smile and turned to go, "see you."
"Yeah, see you…" Maybe Jane did fancy Remus. She'd paid him close enough attention to figure out when he was sick for nearly three years...
Divination passed in a blur, and I found Lily as quickly as possible after class was over. She was walking to the Great Hall side by side with Katharine Warwick, another sixth year Gryffindor girl. James and Sirius were close behind them.
"Lily could I talk to you for a minute?" I whispered in her ear as I fell into step next to her.
"Of course, what's up?"
"Pretend you forgot your book or something," I needed to get alone for this.
"Right," she whispered, then added in a louder voice, "oh, I've forgotten my Arithmancy book. I'll see you guys there."
Luckily James didn't try to accompany her to get her book and we fell back from the group and ducked into an empty classroom.
"What is it?"
"Jane thinks Remus is a werewolf," I blurted. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Now Lily could tell me there was no possible way and I could calm down.
Instead of answering, however, Lily frowned, deep in thought, and leaned against a desk. Her silence seemed to go on and on until finally…
"She's probably right," Lily shrugged, "I never would have thought about it, but now that you said it, it seems perfectly obvious."
"Oh," my face fell.
"What's the matter?" she actually laughed.
"Lily--you are implying that one of our best friends is a werewolf!" I flailed my arms a bit hoping it would make her get the point.
"And what if he is?" Lily shrugged, "does that make him less our friend? The Remus I know wouldn't hurt a fly, and he'd've been one since first year."
"Weren't you listening in Defense Against the Dark Arts when we learned about werewolves? They're completely normal when the moon's not full."
"I--you're right," I sighed, "I'm going to be so awkward next time I see him, though…"
"Look I don't think we should mention it to anyone. It's his business," Lily looked worried.
"I would never," I promised, "Jane asked me not to tell anyone, but I told her I'd just tell you."
"Good. Poor Remus," she sighed as we left the classroom and hurried down to lunch. I was still worried about next time I would see him. I would have to try not to stare…
The next evening proved to be quite bland for a Friday night, and Saturday was no improvement. It seemed James, Sirius, and Peter had stayed out all evening, so they were likely still in bed. Their absence coupled with the fact that the majority of students had gone into Hogsmeade for the day made the common room oddly quiet.
Lily and I were seated at our usual table with homework covering the entire surface, most of it mine as I still had to add a few things here and there to a lot of different assignments. Around one, James and Sirius ambled down, fully dressed, but their hair still disheveled and looking groggy.
"Morning," they both grunted on their way out through the portrait hole.
"Afternoon," Lily corrected curtly. She was furious with them for being out most of the night, her prefect sensibilities on edge.
They didn't even pause, but stumbled out of the room. Lily gave a loud 'humph' as the portrait swung shut. For the next ten minutes, she muttered under her breath; I caught random words and phrases like 'childish,' 'irresponsible,' and 'lose us the House Cup,' before I couldn't take it anymore and slammed my book shut.
"I'm going to the library," I gathered up all my homework from the table as she apologized and promised to be quieter.
"No, no, get it out. I'll see you later," I slung my bag over my shoulder and left before she could say anything else. She would be muttering about the boys--mostly James, whose specialty was getting under her skin--for the next half hour at least. Best to leave her to it.
As I walked towards the library, I slowly became aware that the girl walking a good distance ahead of me was Jane. I sped up, hoping she might go to the library with me; when I got closer I called out her name, but stopped in my tracks as a male voice calling her name drowned my voice out.
Jane turned abruptly to her right and yelped as two spells shot at her from either side. My heart stopped when she dropped to the floor, but it hadn't seemed like either spell had hit her. When I got closer she seemed fine, though she was still curled up in a ball, trembling with her arms over her head. I looked down the corridor to my right and saw Sirius supporting James, who was struggling to hold up his head due to his nose growing at a rapid pace.
I glanced to the left and did a double take when I saw Severus Snape vomiting what looked like a torrential amount of blood.
"Jane, are you alright," I asked her quickly.
"Y-yes, I th-think so," she slowly stood up and I hurried towards Snape.
"Do you need help to the hospital wing?" I asked Severus tentatively.
"Get away from me," he managed to sputter through the blood still pouring out of his mouth and down the front of his robes. He stumbled backwards away from me and raised his wand threateningly. I crossed my arms and glared at him until he was out of sight, then turned and hurried back over to Jane, whose eyes were staring wide at where Snape had been standing moments before.
"Let's get James up to the hospital wing, shall we?" I said to the group as I pulled Jane with me over to James and Sirius.
"Are you alright?" Sirius' eyes were full of concern as he completely ignored me and gave Jane a once-over.
"Yes," she breathed, though she still looked rather shaken.
"Ugh," James groaned loudly.
"Right, sorry mate," Sirius pulled out his wand and muttered 'reducio'; James' nose began to shrink back to it's normal size.
"What just happened," James panted, feeling his nose with one hand and rubbing his neck with the other.
"Dunno," Sirius looked over to where Snape had been, as though hoping the spot would give him some answer, "both spells must've missed Jane somehow."
"Can't be," James cracked his neck, "I got hit with the spell I sent at Snape, unless by freak chance he used the same spell as me."
"No, he was vomiting blood," I offered the information matter-of-factly.
"Then our spells must've rebounded off something.. but what?" James asked.
We all looked at Jane. Her eyes were wide and she seemed to be trembling from head to foot. Though usually quite pale, she was now white as a sheet. Her mouth was slightly open, as if about to say something, but no sound was coming out.
"Did you put up a shield or something, Jane?" Sirius asked gently.
"N-no," she looked faint, "I don't even have my wand… I was just going to the library…"
"How about some good, strong tea instead?" James suggested, who seemed to have recovered rather well, considering.
A/N: I hope you enjoyed our brief trip into Lynn's head.
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