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Chapter 33 : Problems
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Madame Pomfrey yawned and entered the infirmary through her office door. She had just woken up and was now opening the infirmary for visitors. She began to busy herself with opening up the window curtains and windows, letting the morning light and air in. She turned to tidying the beds messed up from recent patients.
She turned to the second row of beds along the wall rear the door and let out a gasp of surprise. She gave a quick frantic look around before rushing back into her office and to her fireplace. She lit the fire with her wand and threw some floo powder onto the logs. She stuck her head in as the flames turned green.
"Professor Dumbledore!" Pomfrey gasped as soon as the headmaster sitting at his desk came into view.
"Poppy." He said with slight surprise and turned to face her. "Is there something wrong?"
"Albus, it's the Potter girl!" She said panicky.
"What is it?" He asked quickly, standing up. "Has something happened to her?"
"I don't know, Albus." She gasped. "She's gone!"
"She's not in her bed!" She cried frantically.
The old man turned serious. "Search the wing; I will inform the rest of the staff."
Pomfrey nodded and pulled out of the fire. She stood and didn't waste a moment before rushing out of the infirmary and searching the halls. However, if she had took a moment good look at the grounds when she had opened the windows, she would have noticed a small figure sitting next to the lake.
Emily stared at the water blankly as she hugged herself to try and keep warm. She was sitting on the edge of a small hill overlooking the lake, her back leaning against a tree. She glanced down and estimated that the distance from the water was about five feet and the water was about ten.
The cold morning air traveled across her skin and she shivered, goosebumps rising on her bare arms and legs, the blue hospital gown not keeping her very warm. However, she ignored it and stared at the dark water, determination set in her eyes.
When she had woken up in the infirmary she had been a little dazed and confused. After she remembered the first thing she had to do was use the bathroom. It was after she finished and washed her hands that she saw her reflection.
It was the most horrifying thing she ever saw in her life. Her skin was sickly pale, her eyes were bloodshot and purple bags resided underneath, and her hair, the most difficult physical attribute she had, was longer and was laying flat without use of her hair potion, but she was hardly happy about it. The reason being was because her hair was greasy. It needed a good washing and she also realized, as she scratched her arms, that her body needed a good scrubbing. She had used the wall and anything else for support and made her way out of the bathroom and out of the hospital wing.
So, there she was, at the lake, wondering if it was a good idea to come out. The hospital wing was warm, but if she stayed then someone might see her as she was at the moment: unattractive and dirty. And since Emily didn't have the password for the prefect's bathroom or the Slytherin common room, the lake was her final choice.
After all, she'd rather be clean and cold than dirty and warm.
Emily took a deep breath and stood. She wobbled slightly; her legs were still not used to supporting her, but put a hand on the tree for balance. She stared down at the water again, preparing herself to jump.
Emily's eyes widened and turned, but then she let out a tiny scream and hid behind the tree. "Don't come any closer, Lupin!"
Remus hesitated, but took another step closer. "What are you doing out here? How long have you been awake?"
"None of your business, beast!" She snapped, pressing herself closer to the tree.
Remus flinched and stopped moving, but he didn't leave. "Does James know you're awake?"
"No, why would he care?" She asked irritably.
"Well, he's been so worried he hasn't been able to prank anyone, even Snape."
Emily paused. "Really? He's that worried."
Remus smiled slightly. "Yeah."
"Well he'll know soon enough I'm awake."
"When are you going to go see him?"
"When I feel like it."
"Why do you care?" She snapped. "What are you even out here?"
"I just wanted to be alone, to think." He said quietly.
"Well I'm here, so go somewhere else." She said snottily.
There was a silence and Emily sagged a little in relief, thinking he left.
"I know you don't want me around because of what I did."
His soft voice appeared closer than she jumped, sliding around the tree and away from him.
Remus leaned his back against the tree, and sigh leaving his lips. "Emily, I'm sorry. I wish I were never allowed to attend Hogwarts. I wish I were expelled. I'm nothing but a monster. I don't deserve to even be alive."
Emily stared ahead of her thoughtfully. "Well that's an awful thing to say about yourself."
"But it's true." He said. "I'm nothing but a beast."
"Yeah, you are, and you should have been punished for what happened." Remus flinched. "But you should stop apologizing, because it won't fix what happened."
"And you should know that I won't accept your apology."
"Because it wasn't your fault."
"I kn- What?"
Emily sighed and leaned her head against the bark. "It wasn't your fault. I followed Pettigrew 'cause I knew he would lead me to you. That's why I switched prefect shifts with you, because I wanted to find out where you went once a month."
"Why?" Remus breathed.
"It doesn't matter." She said scornfully. "That's my business."
"No, why are you telling me this?" He asked. "You hate me don't you?"
"Of course." She said easily. "You scarred me, and I'll never forgive you or like you, but you're so annoying. 'Oh I'm such a monster.' 'I shouldn't be alive.' Blah, blah, blah, you have no idea how irritating you are to some, pitying yourself as you do."
Emily groaned in annoyance. "Idiot. Just stop thinking everything is your fault. And stop holding yourself back because you think you don't deserve happiness. For some reason Pettigrew, Black, and James are friends with you and actually care about you enough to do something illegal just to help with your transformations.
"You should be grateful for your luck and not question everything. Truth be told, I didn't like you even before I found out you were a monster. You were just so… cowardly. You never did anything if you thought that your friends didn't approve. You don't do anything for yourself and only think about what happens to others. And this is why Gryffindors are annoying. Always doing stuff for the greater good and all that. Who cares about the greater good when it's at the expense of your own good and happiness?" She ranted, losing sight of herself and she hands balled up into fists.
"If you want something, do what you have to do to get it. Not because it will help everyone in the end, but because it will help you. Don't be a follower because you're afraid to do things yourself. Don't lie to yourself because it will make life easier. Don't be who you're not. Don't let others control you. If they think they know what's best for you then they can just worry about themselves." Her voice hitched. "How I live my life is my own bloody business and I don't care about what they want! I don't care if I have to be alone. I'll do whatever I want to prove that I'm not a failure!"
"Emily…" Remus started, sounding shocked. "Are you alright?"
Emily wiped away the tears and scoffed. "Are you concerned? When it's you who's wallowing in self-pity? Why would anything be wrong with me? My life is perfect."
"Are you sure?" Remus moved around the tree. "Maybe you should go back to the hospital wing. You've only just woken up. You need rest."
"Don't tell me what I need!" She said, but then caught sight of him moving towards her from her left. "No!" She screamed, pushing him away before he saw her gruesome appearance. She gave another scream when her foot tripped over a root as she tried to take a step backwards.
Remus's eyes widened when he saw her falling back. "Emily!" He reached forward and grabbed her arm before she fell over the edge and into the deep lake. He sighed in relief, but gasped in pain when she kicked him in the stomach.
"Don't look at me!"
Remus's grip slipped and Emily screamed and fell into the water. The cold water almost hurt when she hit it and its iciness shocked her as she sunk below it, and the unexpected hit caused her to gasp and breathe in some water. She blew it out, bubbles emerging from her mouth, and opened her eyes opened wide. It stung, but she ignored it and looked around the blurry water around her. It was as dark as it looked from the hill, but the coldness had shocked her most. Her body felt numb and her skin prickled and her lungs began to burn slightly. She swung her arms and tried to swim up, but at a certain point she was tugged back down. She pulled her foot, but something was wrapped around it.
Emily tugged harder and kicked. Her foot hit something and she kicked again. Whatever was on her leg let go and she tried to swim to the surface, but more things caught onto both her legs, pulling her down with a stronger force.
Emily let out a scream and kicked harder, her arms getting tired and her legs suddenly burned.
Suddenly something slipped around her waist. She thrashed, trying to get away, but her mind was getting fuzzy. Her eyes closed and she sagged, barley feeling when whatever was holding her legs let go.
Remus gasped for air when he broke the surface of the water, his arm securely around Emily's waist. She slumped to the side, her head falling onto his shoulder; she wasn't breathing. Panicking, he swam to the shore quickly and dragged her to the grass. He then laid her down, kneeling down beside her head.
Biting his lip, he hesitated for a moment before leaning down and breathing into her mouth. He sat back up and pushed down in her chest before leaning down again, his hand pinching her nose.
Emily's eye fluttered open before widening. She pushed Remus away roughly then turned to the side, coughing up water. Panting she turned back to look at him, her eyes narrowed.
"Never…ever do that again…"
"I'm sorry." He said immediately. "But you weren't breathing and I…I just…"
Emily rolled her eyes and tried to stand, but winced. She sat up and looked down at her legs. There were long scratches going from her calves to her ankles.
"What…What grabbed me?"
"Grin…Grindylows." Remus panted. "You… must have fallen into a bed of weeds." He took a deep breath. "Grindylows live in weeds in parts of the lake. Although, they usually reside in the deeper parts, but maybe it was because the hill shaded that part, they like the dark you see-"
"Lupin," Emily cut him off. "If I wanted a lesson on the creatures of the lake I could just ask the Defense teacher. It seems those little demons did a number on my legs and it's gonna be kinda hard to walk, so could you…"
"Ah." Remus muttered, catching on. "Of course." He helped Emily stand and kept an arm around her waist to support her. She winced as she walked and leaned on Remus a bit, but she refused when he asked if she wanted to be carried.
"You know," he said conversationally. "Grindylows, are known as water demons, so you were right when you called them demons."
"Never, in all my years… Jumping into the lake! Such irresponsibility! Could have gotten pneumonia!" Madame Pomfrey said loudly to herself as she covered Emily and Remus with blankets. Emily was forced into bed the minute Remus brought her to the hospital wing, while Remus just sat on the edge of the bed next to her, the blanket around his shoulder. The scrapes on Emily's legs were easily healed and their clothes easily dried with a few waves of the nurse's wand. They were then interrogated on what had happened.
Emily explained that she had left the infirmary and went to the lake, where she ran into Remus, and then fell in and Remus had to save her. Pomfrey then proceeded to scold her and make a huge fuss, as she was now.
"Miss Potter, you should not have been out of bed at all! You only have just woken up and you need rest."
"I think I've had enough of that, Madame Pomfrey." Emily said sitting up. "Two months worth from what Lupin told me. I just wanted a bit of fresh air."
"Then you should have just stuck your head out the window! Here, drink." Pomfrey snapped, handing Emily a potion. Emily didn't question her and drank the potion, forcing it down with a cringe. She made a gagging noise and muttered under her breath.
Madame Pomfrey stepped back, hands on her hips, and gave Emily and Remus a stern look. "Now neither of you to leave this infirmary until I say, and don't move until I have informed the Headmaster of your discovery." She gave Emily a pointed look then turned on her heel and entered her office, closing the door behind her with a snap.
"So annoying." Emily sighed, running her hands through her wet hair. She glanced at the silent Remus and raised an eyebrow. "Don't you have class or something?"
He shook his head. "Saturday, no classes."
Emily nodded. "Right."
They both fell silent. Emily stared down at her hands while Remus busied himself with a stray string on the corner of the blanket.
Emily glanced at him, her eyes narrowed. "Lupin…"
Remus looked at her, but she was gazing down at her hands. "Yes?" He asked.
She licked her lips. "…Thank you."
His eyes widened. "What?"
"I won't say it again." She snapped, glaring at him. "But because you saved me I will no longer hold what you did to me against you. So you should know that you are now debt free and you can stop being so pathetic."
Remus blinked, and blinked again. Emily stared back, her cheeks turning a light red. She looked away and busied herself with combing her fingers through her long wet hair. Remus smiled and opened his mouth. "You-"
"This doesn't make us friends." She interrupted. "It just means that you've repaid me for almost killing me."
He nodded, but he was still smiling. "Of course."
They were both silent again, but the tension between them was gone. Remus pulled his wand from his pocket after a moment and dried his hair, feeling less chilly when the warm air blew threw his hair. Emily glanced at him and Remus caught her eye. He lifted his wand slightly. "Do you want me to dry your hair?"
"No thank you." She said primly, looking away.
He raised an eyebrow. "Why not? You'll probably feel much warmer."
"I don't care. I like it better wet."
He chuckled and pointed his wand at her head. "I'm sure that's not true."
"Stop!" She cried, but Remus already muttered the spell.
After a moment he saw why she didn't want it dry. Remus got over the shock after a moment before letting out a laugh. "I guess you didn't grow out of the Potter curse."
Emily glared, trying to make her unruly hair lay flat. Now dry the long hair was a series of frizz and curls, shortening a few inches from where it was when wet and expanding a couple inches in width. She tried to run her hands through it to brush it down, but her fingers got tangled and she winced. "I told you not to!" She screamed. "It won't lay flat now!"
"It would have dried eventually." He reasoned, trying to hide his smile, but failed and let out another laugh.
Emily gave up at her attempts and scowled at him. "It's not funny!"
"Miss Potter, what are you screaming about…now?" Madame Pomfrey reentered the infirmary, her scolding tone trailing off when she caught sight of Emily. "Miss Potter, what's wrong with your hair?"
"Nothing!" Emily yelled, throwing her blanket over her head.
Madame Pomfrey rolled her eyes at the girl's childish behavior. "Fine, but I hardly think you'll want to be hiding underneath the blankets when your visitors arrive."
"Visitors!" Emily squeaked, not moving the blanket.
"Professor Slughorn is on his way and the headmaster is sending your parents a letter, and I'm sure Mr. Black is going to visit after breakfast. Now really Miss Potter, no one is going to care about your hair. They'll all be just care that you're awake." The nurse chided.
"Really Emily," Remus added. "It's not that big a deal."
"But you laughed!" She accused. "I'm not coming out, they'll all laugh!"
"I was just surprised." Remus said, sounding sheepish. "It's just 'cause I know your brother and know that you all have problems with your hair. Now just take off the blanket."
"No!" She said stubbornly.
Madame Pomfrey rolled her eyes. "Miss Potter, you're acting like a child!"
"I don't care!"
"What's going on here?"
Remus and Pomfrey turned to look as Slughorn entered the infirmary. The large professor looked around curiously, a bit of excitement in the depths of his eyes. "Where is Miss Potter?"
"Here Professor." Emily said softly from beneath the blanket, the silhouette of her hand rising.
"What are you doing under there?" He asked. "Is there something wrong?"
Emily answered yes the same time Madame Pomfrey said no.
"Well which is it?" Slughorn asked.
"It's her hair, professor." Remus answered. "She doesn't want anyone to see it because it's a bit frizzy."
"It's worse then that!" Emily wailed. "And I don't want anyone else to see it!"
Slughorn chuckled. "Now Emily, I know that some girls are a bit sensitive about their looks, but I hadn't pegged you as one of them."
"You don't understand professor." Emily said. "It's-"
"Yes, yes, I know." He said understandably. "But this is no way a proud Slytherin should act. Now I'm sure it's not that bad."
Emily flung the covers off her and glared at him. Slughorn's smile dropped and he stared. "My word, Emily, what happened?"
Emily's lower lip trembled and she threw the blanket back over her head with a wail.
"I-I mean, that is to say, I….I'm sure it will return to normal." Slughorn stuttered, his eyes seeking Pomfrey's desperately. "Right Poppy?"
Madame Pomfrey sighed. "It was probably the lake water. After a good washing her hair will return to normal."
"Lake water?" Slughorn asked sharply. "When was she in the lake?"
"She fell in, sir." Remus answered, smiling slightly. "But I don't think it's the lake water that did it." He added.
"Lupin." Emily hissed. "Shut up!"
"Her hair is naturally like that." He continued despite Emily's warning tone.
Emily threw the blankets off her again and threw a pillow at Remus.
"Miss Potter!" Madame Pomfrey scolded. "No throwing things in the infirmary."
Emily crossed her arms and glared at Remus. "I drink a potion every month to tame my hair." She said irritably.
"A potion?" Slughorn asked; eyes alight with interest. "What potion?"
Emily looked away from Remus and up at her Head of House. "One that I made myself. I made it back in third year. I only have to drink it once a month and my hair will be straight or however I want it to be, depending on the dosage I take."
"Inventing potions at thirteen." Slughorn muttered. "Remarkable. What are the ingredients?"
"Umm." Emily raked her brain and began to read off ingredients at the top of her head. She listed them absentmindedly as she tried fruitlessly to smooth down her mane.
"Aconite?" Slughorn interrupted, looking very shocked. "That is an extremely poisonous plant. Ingestion could mean death."
"Not when mixed with belladonna and dried nettles. They counter and neutralize the poisonous attributes and leave only properties that allow extra moisture into the roots and hair that help with getting it to loss its frizz." She explained.
"Ingenious." The Potions Master murmured stroking his chin, a hungry gleam appearing in his eyes. "If you've been taking this potion frequently before you were poisoned then that must have been why you were about to fight it off for so long. Belladonna and dried nettles are used in most antidotes." He exchanged a look with Madame Pomfrey before looking down at Emily again. "And you invented this all by yourself during your third year?"
"Well, I started making it in my second year after you taught us how to make the hair growth potion. So I started there. Pinpointing the ingredients that were focused for the hair and the ones focused for growth. Then replaced the grow ingredients with different ones. It took a while, and testing the early versions was tedious, but by third year I got it."
"You tested these potions on yourself?" Madame Pomfrey asked shocked. "Miss Potter do you have any idea how dangerous that is? Far more experiences witches have gotten themselves killed experimenting with potions."
Emily frowned. "I knew what I was doing, and it wasn't experimenting. Besides, I tested the first versions on cats."
Slughorn waved Madame Pomfrey off before she could ask any more questions. He seemed more interested in Emily's successfulness with her potion at the measures taken to test it. "I had no idea you were so interested in Potions, Emily."
She shrugged and covered her mouth as she yawned. "Just, some are kinda easy to me I guess. It's nothing special."
Slughorn chuckled. "Don't be modest my dear girl. You have a great talent. I can see a future for you in this field. I'll have to introduce you to a colleague of mine. He-"
"Horace," Madame Pomfrey interrupted, finally fed up with the talking. "Miss Potter has only just woken up this morning and she needs her rest before she's allowed to meet anyone or do anything."
"Madame Pomfrey, really, I'm fine." Emily protested, although she suddenly realized how heavy her lids felt.
"I'll tell you when you're alright, Miss Potter." The nurse snapped. "And right now you look positively exhausted. Now, Mr. Lupin, you're free to go, and Horace…" Madame Pomfrey gave him a pointed look. "I'd like to speak to you."
Slughorn looked less than excited about this. "Of course."
Madame Pomfrey pushed Emily back and drew the covers up to her chin. "Go to sleep Miss Potter, the sleeping potion should be taking effect by now."
"I...I don' wanna." She slurred, her eyes drooping.
"I know." Madame Pomfrey said with a nod.
Emily mumbled something incomprehensible before closing her eyes completely, her mind clearing and sleep overtaking her, the worries of tomorrow leaving her.
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