Chapter 6 : We Thought Those Days Would Never End
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Now nothing seems as strange as
When the leaves begin to change
Or how we thought those days would never end
I was finally about to be a forth year. It was something I’d been dreaming of for years. The privileges of being a Fourth year it Hogwarts . . . Well I just had always felt that people take you more seriously once you’re that age.
But before I could finish backing my trunk get off to school I had to enjoy one last summer day. It was a tradition since the war ended apparently; Mum and Dad would host a barbeque on August 31st every year. The last real day of summer, even for those who didn’t attend Hogwarts.
It was August 31st and I still had not packed my trunk. I guess I got that from Mum. But today was one of the best days of the year, because it was the annual barbeque before school. It was the last real day of summer, of true freedom.
I looked forward to this day the whole year. It was a big party full of fun and food- two of the best things in the world. Dad, Darren, Uncle Remus, Uncle Jason and Stephen would usually man the grill, because well, they’re men, cooking up vegetables and burgers and all that delicious stuff. Connie, Stella and Emma (Jason’s wife and Stephen’s wife, respectively) would bake and array of treats and desserts for us. Mum wasn’t allowed to cook or bake, because everyone knew it would end in disaster. It was a well-known fact that she couldn’t bake to save her life, but whenever it was mentioned- Mum and baking- Dad and Uncle Remus would end up on the floor in fits of laughter; but no one was quite sure why.
And as for us kids, well, we did what kids to best… had a blast and didn’t help at all. Instead, we played Quidditch and football, swam; basically making it harder for the adults to do what they needed to do. Of course.
Of course, now that Aldan was a Sixth year, he’d probably be too cool for us and not join in the fun. He always thought he was so damn cool.
I waited impatiently for people to arrive, but was getting bored fast. Dad was preparing the grill, Mum was helping (or probably not, just annoying him), Aldan was flying around on his broom and Will was probably sulking in his room. Moody teenage boys are scary.
I stretched my legs out on the table, thinking of Oliver; Darren’s twenty-something son who happened to be extremely attractive and how much fun we’d all have together, playing games and swimming and eating delicious food. This was the day I was so nostalgic for, and it was finally here. Just as I was remembering last year and the time when Aldan had decided to be and idiot and fly his broom into our pool, the doorbell rang. I bounded towards the door and flung it open.
The incredibly handsome, sexy, fit Oliver Wood was standing in my doorway. He was older now, so he showed up without Darren and Connie, who were sure to come later.
“Hey, little munchkin!”
Ugh, little munckin. I hated that name. It just reminded me that the most beautiful man in the world never see me as more than a little sibling. Sure, I was only fourteen, and he was six or seven years my senior but that didn’t mean couldn’t have a fantastic, torrid love affair in five or so years.
But I was sure Oliver would never see me as anything but the short little ten-year-old with a lisp. But I was so much more than that now and four years older and I’d lost my lisp! And four more years from now, I’d be even better!
Meanwhile, I suppose I’d have to make do with his nicknames and brotherly love for me. And his fantastic hugs.
I wonder if he noticed that my boobs grew since the last time he’s hugged me?
He didn’t seem to, but he followed me into the kitchen and was excitedly telling me about his promotion from Reserve Keeper to Keeper when my Mum bounded out of no where and cut Oliver off to give him a big hug.
“Oli! We heard about the promotion! Congratulations!” Mum smiled widely.
Oliver blushed, mumbled a thank you and, “Oh, Anna don’t call me Oli anymore.”
Apparently, everyone used to call him Oli, but in his Seventh year of Hogwarts he asked everyone to start calling him Oliver. Aldan says it was because his girlfriend called him Oli in bed. I tried not to think about that.
But Mum was politely shoved aside by my Dad who was out of his mind with excitement and wanted to talk to Oliver all about his team while they began to grill.
As the walked away my Mum looked at me and went, “He’s cute, huh?”
“Ugh, Mom that’s so creepy. He’s like twenty!” I said exasperatedly; she was so embarrassing sometimes.
“Oh, Lupin, come on! I was talking about for you! He sure does take after his Dad, though . . . And damn, was Darren hot.” She smiled slightly fondly at the thought.
I wonder if anyone else has to deal with this ridiculous nonsense?
I didn’t even dignify that with a response and instead turned grumbled and stalked off to the living room. I slumped onto the couch and waited for Darren and Connie to arrive with Catherine, who was my age, and her brother Dylan, who was going to be Second year.
But I didn’t have to wait long. At eleven o’clock on the dot the doorbell wrung. Connie was always on time.
Even though I’d only seen Catherine a week ago it was fantastic to see her again. My family really, really drove me crazy. Al was just stupid, Will was always freaking out about something. My Mum was off her rocker, and in all of this my Dad was the only somewhat normal one. Read: somewhat.
Of course, the first thing I did was squeal to her about Oliver. “Cat, he looks so hot today.”
She looked at me and raised a perfectly shaped blonde eyebrow. “Eww.”
Sometimes I forgot that Oliver was her half-brother. They were actually really, really close and cared for each other a lot. Mum told me that it had to do with an age difference; that’s why she was so close with her brother. She also told me I was doomed to row with my brothers forever. Oh, well.
“Sorry,” I said sheepishly. I devised a plan then. I asked Catherine to come swimming – which she loved – but really I was be displaying to Oliver that I had grown boobs. A rather wonderful plan if I said so myself.
So we ran upstairs to change and then climbed out on the lower roof. It was a good ten feet above the pool, which was deep enough to safely jump. (We had Al test it out before anyone else in the family dared make the jump.) We ran to the end of it, jumped and went flying through the air, finally lading in the pool with a huge splash. A few people gasped yelped, but mostly everyone was laughing and clapping. As the attention was turned toward Cat and I, I attempted to keep my chest above the water, trying to catch Oliver’s eye.
However, Oliver paid me no mind, but continued his excited conversation with many of the guys. I sighed, and began to come to my senses. I may have been young, but a smarter, more mature part of my brain had been fighting to overtake my stupid, petty, little girl thoughts for over a year.
Yes, Oliver was extremely hot and charming, but this was getting out of hand.
What am I doing, throwing myself at him? It would be creepy if he actually were into me. I need to calm down before this little schoolgirl crush makes me act like an idiot. Okay, before I act like any more of an idiot.
So Catherine and I played in the pool for the next hour or so, splashing each other and laughing. Soon enough I was forgetting about Oliver. Will and Dylan joined us, and we ended up playing our own game of volleyball with a beach ball. It sort of worked.
“Ow! You dolt, watch where you’re hitting that thing!” Will was rubbing his eye gently; I had just thwacked the ball towards him and missed my aim a bit, consequently hitting him hard in the eye. Oops. But really, he was a being a baby. It was a soft plastic ball. Filled with air.
"Sorry Will! I didn’t-” but I was cut off by the ball soaring towards me at a surprising speed since it was filled with air and very light. It hit me squarely in the face. Ugh. I suppose I deserved it, but I hadn’t meant to hit him. Sheesh.
Dylan was laughing hysterically and even Cat had a smirk on her face. Since I couldn’t actually reach Will or Dylan for that matter, I dove for Cat, sending her under the water. She popped up again, looking annoyed. And so the splashing and fighting began.
Oh, how I loved these summer days.
Mum was playing hostess, because she was allowed neither near the baking (because she was a disaster) nor the grilling (because she wasn’t a man.) Instead, she traipsed around in a cute blue and white dress, bringing food outside and making mixed drinks. Mum’s drinks were infamous, but I was repeatedly told I was not allowed to have any.
Which I thought was totally unfair. As if they didn’t drink when they were my age. I would have to work on that later.
But my opportunity presented myself when my Mum abandoned her hostess duties and sat outside with a gigantic blue glass filled with alcohol.
A little while later, I grabbed Catherine’s hand and dragged her inside to the kitchen. Mum was outside and clearly distracted, reminiscing about the good ‘ol days, and already slightly tipsy. This was the perfect opportunity.
“Lupin! What are you doing? Let go of me!” Now, it’s not like Cat never did anything wrong . . . Well, actually, it was sort of like that. Cat never did anything wrong; I wasn’t exactly a Marauder myself (I was terrified of being reprimanded) but something this little was the perfect gateway crime to corrupt my friend.
“Relax Cat, will you?” I rolled my eyes and stopped her in front of the blender, whipping around. A devilish smirk appeared on my face. She looked a bit tentative.
I looked at the red slushy and then back at Catherine. “Haven’t you ever wanted to try Mum’s infamous drinks? And hey, if we get a little tipsy, then all the better!”
Then we heard from outside one of the women saying, “Merlin, Anna, you make your drinks strong!”
Another responded, “Don’t you remember what her and the boys were like in school? It’s certainly no surprise that she’s a little heavy with the good stuff!”
Catherine and I looked at each other, but I brushed it off and figured I’d take a small sip.
I really had no idea what drinking was like, Mum and Dad had forebode us from doing it, although I was one hundred percent positive that Alden got drunk quite often at Hogwarts, and probably Will sometimes too. But I always thought it looked like fun.
“Now. Are you in?” I gave Cat a hard stare. She nodded resignedly.
I took the blender down and brought it to my lips, then took a big sip.
“Lupin!” Cat was shocked at my boldness, and snatched the blender from my hands. I however, was choking and making a retched face. Ew, that stuff was absolutely disgusting. I shook my head violently, urging her not to take a sip.
Cat was giggling at me, no doubt feeling superior. No fair.
Suddenly, the doors to the kitchen swung open. I was still choking and Cat giggling, but when Remus walked in, Cat shoved me over to the other end of the counter so we were no longer by the drinks and started slapping me violently on the back. I shot her an look.
Nice one Catherine, real nice.
Remus walked over to the blender, picking it up and looking at us suspiciously. “What are you guys doing?”
“Oh, Lupin here just choked on some water, you know her, so clumsy!” I hurumphed at that and then smiled innocently at Remus, my namesake.
“Okay, sure.” But he didn’t press further, and walked out of the kitchen.
Catherine and I turned to each other and burst out laughing and collapsed onto each other in a happy, glorious fit.
Everyone was standing or sitting around the yard, by now the pool was empty we were all firmly planted on the ground, eating treats and drinking lemonade (or spiked lemonade). I was standing with Catherine, making plans for tomorrow and the upcoming school year.
“Hey, maybe Connie would let you sleep over! That way we can just go right to King’s Cross and stuff.” I smiled hopefully, excitement bubbling inside me.
It didn’t really make sense, but I loved spontaneous sleepovers with my best friend, especially when I sometimes felt like I wouldn’t see her so much next year. Being in different houses really, really sucked.
“I don’t know if my mom will agree Lupin, she’ll probably get all “but I wont see you for months!” and want to tuck me in or something like that.” She rolled her eyes. It was probably true, Connie was like that, but we all loved her to death. Just as I was about to respond I heard a Scottish shout. I turned around to see Oliver standing in the middle of the yard, looking slightly nervous.
Everyone looked to him, and he cleared his throat. “Now, as you all know, I’ve been seeing Jenny for a while now, and as I’m sure you definitely all know, I love her very much.”
Jenny was his girlfriend that he’d been dating since shortly after he got out of Hogwarts. I was vaguely aware that they were serious, but kind of always hoped-rather sickly- that they’d break up and he’d realize his love for me and then wait for me.
Until that night I’d really been holding out on that.
“Unfortunately, she couldn’t make it here tonight because of an emergency at the Ministry but I couldn’t wait to tell you all- I’ve asked her to marry me and she said yes. We’re getting married!” He was grinning from ear to ear and then everyone was cheering, congratulating him and surrounding him with hugs and handshakes.
And I wasn’t even jealous. Well, maybe a bit, but I suppose I really realized that it just wasn’t going to happen, and now I was genuinely happy for him. Like really, really happy. I actually really liked Jenny, she was super friendly, and such a sweetheart, and I was looking forward to having her as a part of our large, unconventional family. I mean, sure, she wasn’t as fabulous and wonderful as I was, but she was a good bit older than me and I suppose that tipped the scales in her favor.
I heard someone say, ”He’s the first of the kids! Pretty soon everyone will be moving on and getting married!” I knew what Mum’s reaction would be to that; she’d scoff and say that they were still young and in Hogwarts.
There were far to many people surrounding Oliver now to say congratulations and I knew I’d get a change later, since Darren and Connie would probably stay a bit later like they always did, and Remus, Mum and Connie would reminisce about Hogwarts.
I turned to Catherine, shrugging. “More cake?” I asked as I looped my arm through hers.
“Sounds good Lupin.”
It was nearing two o’clock and lunch was always an exciting event, the actual eating on party day. Because every year, our crowd grew.
Whether it be one of our close friends who’d become like family, and a visitor that we just couldn’t get rid of. Also, each year, the boys got older. And as everyone knows any male wizard between the ages of thirteen and twenty-five can eat the amount that three regular wizards could. There were so many people here that could a cupboard full of food in one sitting.
After lunch, Mum made the announcement that everyone (save her, Sirius and Uncle Remus) dreaded. It was time for the annual showing of Star Wars. She thought that she could make it less painful by allowing the everyone to vote for which movie we viewed. But it didn’t matter what the majority vote was, because it was horrific either way.
Don’t get me wrong – Star Wars was great. But Mum and Dad watched it all the time. I suppose it was partially because they thought it was fabulous and magical, but also partially because it was some big thing with them when they were just a bit older than me. Nostalgic, it was for them. Painful, for the rest of us.
But there was an unspoken agreement by everyone to humour them all, because they were wonderful, hilarious people, and the star wars obsession just happened to be one of their character flaws.
Usually everyone was content to sit quietly and daydream for two hours and some odd minutes. However, this year, Darren had the worst idea ever.
“Let’s turn Star Wars into a drinking game!”
Many people whooped and cheered at the prospect of having something toget them through the next god awful two hours.
“The first and only rule . . . Drink every time someone mentions the force. I’d come up with another rule but everyone’s going to be so smashed after this one that I don’t know if we can handle another; after all, we’re not at Hogwarts anymore.”
I’ll be honest. When Darren first suggested this to the adults in the room, I thought it would be bloody hilarious. However, shortly into the movie I realized how much I had been mistaken. Star Wars mentioned the force a lot and everyone was strictly following the rules.
Everyone. Was. Smashed. To make matters worse, Aldan had talked Oliver into letting him drink once everyone was too gone to realize it, anyways, and had began to brag about the number of girls he’s shagged, how many times he’d shagged each of them, and how good they were.
About half way through the movie my Mom made an announcement: “Guys, I think we better slowwwwww down! If we drink much more, I will be giving everyone dark marks, compliments of Anna!”
I didn’t know why everyone laughed after that and I didn’t want to. I didn’t know why dark marks were funny either.
I was very close to jumping up and turning off the VHS before anymore drinks were taken, but I was afraid of being chased around town by the angry mob. At this point, everyone was so drunk that even those who majorly hated on the Wars were loving it.
However, at the precise moment that I was internally struggling with myself, Catherine tapped me on the shoulder and motioned for me to follow her out of the room. “This is what we should have a long time ago,” she pointed out, yelling over the crazed shouts of the drunken fools.
We retreated up to my bedroom – a happy mix of pastels, mostly pink and blue – and sat down on my big bed. “Quiet.” I smiled appreciatively.
“I hate when they get nostalgic,” I admitted. “Sometimes it’s funny, but usually it gets pretty weird. Seriously, I think our parents were a little too crazy for our own good.”
“At least your Dad didn’t have a kid when he was fifteen,” Catherine pointed out, raising an eyebrow.
I nodded. “That’s true.”
“At least our Mum’s have stopped drinking now. It’s only a matter of time before they come to their senses, until my Mum realizes that Al is drunk and talking about sex, and until the rest of them are so drunk that we may never recover after hearing the stories they have to tell.
Catherine and I giggled. It was true – our parents were majorly embarrassing. But here, we were all in the same boat, so it was slightly less embarrassing and traumatizing.
We hid in the room for about two hours (long after Star Wars and the adults starting sobering up) excitedly talking about next year. Cat and I had been bursting with excitement all summer, constantly talking about how excited we were for school to start and about what might happen. I can’t explain it but I found that Catherine and I could talk for hours about the same thing, over and over again, becoming enamored by our own dreams and sharing them with each other.
Honestly, we should have written movie scripts for romantic comedies, or something.
However, just as we were talking about which older boy we might date this year, given luck and chance, I heard my mother’s voice roaring from downstairs.
“Aldan! What the hell do you think you’re doing?!”
“I am drinking some tequila, mother.” Oh, boy. Was he drunk and was he about to be in trouble.
I excitedly pulled Catherine back downstairs. I loved watching Al get in trouble.
We thundered down the stairs and stood excitedly in the doorway as my tall brother cowered under the wrath of my less-tall Mum. Well, I suppose wrath was the wrong word. She wasn’t angry. I can’t really describe exactly what she was, but she definitely wasn’t happy.
Perhaps we’d missed something Al had been saying more quietly before Mum started yelling because she began to scold him for talking about sex. “There are younger kids you. Don’t go around talking about how many girls you’ve shagged, that’s completely inappropriate. In fact, we shouldn’t be having this conversation here, either.”
Mum sighed and looked at my Dad. “Drunk Sirius, come here.” I did get a kick out of the way Mum said ‘Drunk Sirius.’ More like it was actually his name and less like she was describing his state of being. “Come. Take Al and explain how what he’s doing wrong in life.”
Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Yes! This is the best day of my life!
“Uhhhh.” My Dad seemed unenthusiastic about the task assigned to him, but he got up. It was a bit funny, actually. If my parents had been more sober, my Dad would have been the one furious at Al (he was terrified that Al’s misogynistic ways would turn me into a slag. Mum probably would have thought he was hilarious and directed him to Remus and Darren so they could all have a good time comparing.
So, Dad pulled Al aside to a room. Cat and I immediately dropped to the floor so we could hear through the crack.
“Er. Just don’t get anyone pregnant, okay?”
Good reprimanding, Dad.
“Oh, you mean like you did?” Al taunted.
“What are you talking about?” my Dad responded.
“Oh, please! I’m not as dumb as you lot think!” Al cried.
I beg to differ.
“I did the math! I know I was a badly timed accident.”
My Dad didn’t have a response to that, so he waited a few moments and simply said, “Just tell your Mum I told you to stop being rude, or something. And you should probably stop drinking. I mean, you should definitely stop drinking.”
So Cat and I scurried from the door and back into the room wear Connie was now trying to distract everyone with cakes and cookies.
Luckily, every single person we associate with is a combination of crazy, hot-headed and (at that moment) drunk. So my Mum’s outburst wasn’t even the most embarrassing thing that happened that night.
But, later on, after the party had sobered up and the clock was crawling towards midnight, and we all sat around the giant bonfire and listened to (what we all knew were the heavily censored) stories about when our parents were in Hogwarts.
“You know,” Stephen said, addressing Al. “I know your parents don’t want you to drink, but don’t let them fool you. Your Dad and Mum used to almost get themselves killed whenever they drank. They would play chicken-out-of water and become so dangerous to themselves and others that Remus would have to remove them from the parties.”
“And we can’t forget about the time that your Mum got so drunk after we graduated and were partying at Damon’s that she ran around drawing Dark Marks on everyone’s arms,” Darren added.
Well, at least I understood what the Dark Mark comment from earlier was about.
And on the subject of Damon, it was a shame that he was unable to attend the party this year, as he usually was here, and had the most attractive son I’d ever seen. Kostas was my age, and although I wasn’t usually into that, for him, I made an exception.
“Oh yeah?” My Mum cried, jumping out of her seat. “Well, you kissed Stephen!”
Raucous laughter from the adults and facial expressions that could only be made in response to the Cruciatus curse, and finding out that your Dad had kissed one of his friends back in the day.
It took the whole party a good half hour to recover from that outburst, but it soon came time for everyone to leave. Most everyone had kids to put on a train the next morning and many people (specifically, my parents) were horrendous at waking up and could rarely get to King’s Cross in a timely manner.
But Mum knew me well, and after she had said goodbye to Remus and locked the door behind him, she came up to help me pack before the morning.
We were having a pleasant chat about the upcoming school year – my classes, my friends and even a bit about boys.
And then, what someone had said about marriage popped into my head again. “Pretty soon, everyone will moving on and getting married!” Now, granted, it was an exaggeration but there was still truth to that fact. Except for the fact that Mum and Dad had never gotten married. And they’d been together since they were seventeen.
I had never questioned this before; I never had any sparkly, shimmering fantasy about marriage, sure it was great for some people, but I had felt from an early age - what was the point? If you loved someone enough, enough to have a family, why would it matter if you were married or not? Of course, I’m sure it had something to do with my parents’ cavalier attitude about marriage.
But then I thought about Oliver’s smile and how happy, how truly happy he’d looked and wondered if there may be more to it than that. So why hadn’t Mum and Dad gotten married, after all these years. She wore an engagement ring but never a wedding ring. And he wore no ring. Why was this bothering me so much? How come it mattered?
Later, after we’d shoved the last spellbook into my trunk, I retreated into the kitchen, making myself a cup of hot coca, when the words popped into my head again, “Pretty soon, everyone will moving on and getting married!” Good godric, why was this bothering me so much? Just then Mum walked in, and lit up at the sight of my hot chocolate.
“Ooooh, Lupin, that looks good, can I have some?” She grinned hopefully at me, but I snatched it out of her reach. No way was I giving up my delicious, chocolately goodness. No way.
“Make your own, Mum, I’m not giving this up.” I took a long sip, enjoying it deeply, and grinned smugly at her.
She glared at me and went to make herself some.
I sat down at the dark wood kitchen table and sipped quietly. Then a thought occurred to me.
Just ask her, Lupin. You deserve to know.
I jumped slightly, though Mum didn’t notice. Did that really just happen? It seemed as if there was a voice in the back of my head that I didn’t have control over.
Yes, it did. Your mother had her fair share of conversations inside her head, and it ended up helping tremendously. Once she got over the weirdness, she moved on and was able to gain much wisdom from it. Now, I assume you can accept it faster than she did and that way we can move on quickly. Now, shall we?
I tried very hard not to think anything. What the hell was going on? I suppose it was kind of cool to have my own conversation like this, I mean- wait no! It was so not cool! It was totally weird and freakish!
You come from a rather freakish family, do you not? Now, lets move on, shall we? Just ask her about the marriage thing. You’re being a scaredy-cat.
I took a deep breath and tried to gather my bearings. Okay, so now have a voice in my head. Great.
Oh, shush! You love me.
Geez, my head was big.
Ask her already!
And before I could even stop myself, the words had come out. It was a bit like word vomit.
“Mum, how come you and Dad never married?”
She just kind of looked at me, staring. She opened her mouth then closed it and then opened it again. “I- we- I- Sirius-” she stopped short, bringing her nail to her mouth, chewing nervously. She brought it down quickly.
“Why are you asking?” Her brows scrunched together and she looked slightly concerned. Before I answered, her hot cocoa was ready and she turned her back and poured it, then came to sit down across from me.
“I was just wondering.” I said lightly, figuring it would be best to tread lightly, since I felt a little weird asking in the first place.
She was following my lead. “We just never felt like we needed to. It’s no big deal.” She wouldn’t quite look me in the eye.
“But why?” I asked again, I felt like a five year old, constantly asking why, why, why.
This time she didn’t answer quite so quickly. She took a sip of hot cocoa, and I did too, waiting. She sighed slightly, then said, “We just never got around to it; we had Aldan early on and then Will and then you. We just never made time.”
Oh, please. We both knew that if she had really wanted to, she would have made time. When Siruis Black and Anna Xanthis wanted something, they certainly made time.
Naughty, naughty. Please, some dignity.
Oh shut up, you stupid mind. That’s not what I was thinking. That’s disgusting.
“Oh, come on Mum, we both know that’s not true.” I sipped again and peered at her over my mug. She seemed to be caving.
She fidgeted. “We just... never wanted to I guess. We never needed to.” She looked down and I could sense doubt in her words.
I chose my words carefully. “Is it that you guys never wanted to or is it because you, Anna Xanthis, never could.”
“Don’t you dare, Lupin. I love your Dad more than I love my own life. I’ll admit, it’s taken me far to long to admit that, but it is the most truthful thing I’ve ever said. He’s funny, he’s sweet, he’s sexy-“
“Mum, please.” I stopped her before I was scarred permanently.
“Right, well. It never mattered to me. I never wanted a whole big fancy wedding, the whole thing. I hate parties, anyway.” Okay, now I knew she was outright lying. My mother lived for parties. She was the party queen. A crown should be made for her with those words on them.
I looked at her very skeptically. We both burst out laughing, sputtering hot cocoa all over the table. She looked a bit tentative again though.
“I just, I didn’t want that. I mean, I did, in a way. But,” she paused, looking down at her mug. “Ugh, Lupin! You’re too good at this! It’s not fair. You’re like your namesake! Remus was always so good at getting things out of me. Where the hell did you get it from?!”
My mother was not one for emotions. How my Dad was with her for so long, will never cease to amaze me. (As far as her inability to express emotion, because on every other level my Mum was fantastic.) This woman could not talk about her feelings.
“But what, Mum?” I stared her down effectively; she finally gave in.
“But, I didn’t want to ruin us. Marriage is no good for people! I don’t want to be tied down, I want to be her because I want to.”
She took a deep breath and her voice got very small. Maybe this was a bad idea. “I didn’t want to end up unhappy, or end up like…” she trailed off, biting her lip and not looking at me. She didn’t finish her sentence, and I figured I wouldn’t push it by asking, but I had a feeling what, or whom she was referring to.
“When I was younger, Lupin, I was wild and crazy. I look back now, and think, what in the world was wrong with me? I did stupid things, I caused so much trouble for myself and others and just constantly embarrassed myself in epic proportions.” My Mum sighed and looked at me.
“I just couldn’t settle down. I don’t know if you know this, but your Dad and I dated a first time, before we were together for good. There was this whole big thing with me being crazy, some Veritaserum and a memory-wiping potion. But, long story short was that I couldn’t handle committing.
“Even when I got pregnant with your brother, your Dad proposed to me and I told him no. It wasn’t for a few years when I realized I wanted to be with him forever that I finally said yes. But I could just never bring myself to do it. I mean, so many people just assume we’re married, and most of the time I refer to myself as Anna Black anyway.”
It was clear that my Mum had some deep-seated issues. I tried to figure out where they could have come from, but my grandparents were, for the most part, completely normal, so I had no idea where her craziness had come from.
“After time went by I just felt like if I made it official, I would have some sort of bonkers relapse and ruin it all from the pressure. I mean, now, I never would, what with your and your brothers and your Dad but. I just. Ugh. I’m talking in circles now.”
I nodded and we stayed silent for a while, contemplating her words. I was rather happy that my mum had caved and shared this part of her life with me, because to the best of my knowledge, it wasn’t something she usually did with anyone.
I had to say one last thing though. “You know, it wouldn’t ruin you. You’re already committed, Mum. Clearly.” I gestured around slightly. “You said that you don’t want to, but honestly, it’s basically one giant party in your honour. How could you not want that?”
Mum smiled at me and gave me a long hug. I swear, if she had tear ducts, I bet she would have cried. (I had always assumed Mum had been born without tear ducts.)
Then, without saying anything, she got up and went upstairs. Something about her was off, so I followed her and stood outside her bedroom door that she left open a crack.
“Sirius?” she said, crawling next to my Dad.
“Let’s have a wedding. Let’s get married. I’m serious.”
“You’re hilarious, Anastasia. Now, come on it’s late and we have to get up in the morning.”
But Mum was being serious and was determined. “Excuse me, mister. I’m serious. Let’s get married. And, if I’m being totally honest, it’s more the seventeen years overdue anyway.”
At this, my Dad sat up abruptly. “Are you kidding? Because if you are you know how I hate these kinds of jokes.”
“No, Sirius. I’m serious.”
“Actually, I’m Sirius . . . And I’m so glad that you’re serious because I’ve been waiting to hear this from you for so long.”
Dad leaned over Mum to give her a kiss but I high-tailed it out of there before their lips could even touch. Let’s just say that all of us have walked in on Mum and Dad at least once, and I just . . . I just didn’t have enough brain cells to let a few go willy nilly.
The next morning was perhaps the worst experience any of us had had in our entire lives. It was amazing that we even got to the platform. In fact, I don’t even think I can relive it. But, suffice to say, we all made it alive (if not well) and settled into the ride to what would surely be another fabulous year at Hogwarts.
“Where in the world does Al get off treating me like I’m ten years old?! For Merlin’s sake I’m going to be fifteen this year!” I ranted and raved to Catherine. We were sitting on the Hogwarts Express – just the two of us, after Al had come in and scared off the bloody cute boys we had been chatting with.
He then left unceremoniously. But, of course not before hitting on Catherine. Now that she was a Fourth year she was officially on his “To-Do” list. Around me, he liked to pretend that he didn’t have one, but that was a blatant, damnable lie.
“Oh, goodness gracious, Lupin. Get over it! You’ve been whining about this for the past three years, and even before we got to Hogwarts too. He’s a big brother; they do those things. And the only reason Will doesn’t . . . Well, I don’t really know why he doesn’t, but he’s always been a bit different, you know?” She flicked her bright blonde hair with attitude, as if to point out how silly I was being.
I huffed and puffed and turned to look out the window without saying anything. It was a best friend’s job to be supportive, even if the other friend was being unreasonable.
“Oh, come off it!” Catherine said, huffing as well.
I didn’t think there was anything so wrong with being upset with Al. In the past, he’d thwarted many of what could have been successful relationships. I mean, I’d have to date someone older than Al in order to not have him scared off, and that would just be weird.
Catherine didn’t understand, because she was the oldest child. Well, I suppose I was the baby and the only girl, and that came with both good things and bad things. Sure, I have two overprotective brothers and my parents have actually gotten more strict instead of more lenient as they had more kids. But, on the other hand, I basically got whatever I wanted.
However, I let the whole thing roll of my shoulders and decided to change the subject. No need to dwell on it, there were much more important things to do. “So, you know Al wants to shag you, right?”
This got Catherine to smirk. “Oh, of course I know.”
I paused. Catherine was rarely devious, but that smirk was a mark of bad things to come. “You’re not really considering it, are you? Because if you are, you should know that my brother is a womanizing, misogynistic piece of dung that will take your virginity and leave you-”
“Relax, Lupin! I would never. I love you and your family but I wouldn’t shag your brother if it was just us left in wizard-kind and we had to repopulate the magic world.”
I smiled. “Good. Thank Merlin.”
“Although… he is rather hot. I wouldn’t mind at least imagining shagging him.”
I had the best retaliation, and it wasn’t even a lie. “Well I imagine shagging Oliver’s brains out every day.”
“Oh, Lupin, you haven’t even kissed a guy and you’re having daydreams about shagging one over half a decade older than you?”
Ouch. Okay, she can retaliate too. I was silent after that.
The sky was darkening outside I could see stars appearing, but countryside was no longer visible. We’d been on this train for hours.
Catherine glanced at her watch. “We’re definitely getting close to the castle; we should change into our robes.” I went into the small travel bag we’d packed ourselves, pulling out the red-trimmed robes for myself, and the yellow-trimmed ones for Catherine.
Catherine was, and always would be, my best friend. Our friendship was more of a sister thing, she was basically the sister I never had. Sometimes we didn’t talk for a while, but that never changed anything and it never got awkward. She was always there for me, and I was always there for her, no questions asked. That’s why being in separate house was difficult sometimes, we didn’t always get to talk all the time, and mostly it was okay, but I just wished I could see her more.
But besides Catherine, I didn’t have any friends from different houses, it was just too hard, too much competition, too much rivalry. Even the tentative alliance between Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Gryffindor against Slytherin wasn’t enough to foster real friendship between the houses. Honestly, if I controlled Hogwarts, I would do away with the houses and mix everyone in together, so no one could think they were better than anyone else.
Suddenly, we heard shouting.
“TAKE THAT CURSE UP YOUR STUPID SLYTHERIN ARSE! YOU JUST GOT BEAT BY A GRYFFINDOR, NOT LIKE THAT’S ANY SURPRISE!”
Oh dear Lord, it was Aldan.
No one had an overactive sense of house pride like Al did. In fact, I could hear his pride from all the way down the corridor. With a desperate look towards Catherine I sprung up and out of the compartment.
I looked to my left and raced towards Al and his poor victim. There was a Slytherin who looked to be on the bad end of a Bat Bogey Hex, and he looked to be a year or two younger than Aldan. “Al, you put him right! You can’t just go around cursing people for the fun of it!”
Al looked menacingly at his crumpled classmate. “Says you!”
“No!” I cried. “Says the rules! Now put him right and stop doing stupid things within earshot of me!” And then I spun on my heel and marched back down the corridor. Honestly, sometimes I felt like I was the older sibling.
I slumped back into the compartment and rolled my eyes at Catherine to indicate that the usual had occurred. I was in a sour mood from being reminded that I was part of one of the most ridiculous families in the world and sat with my arms crossed, silently brooding, until we reached Hogwarts.
But once I’d stepped off the train and caught a glimpse of Hogwarts I couldn’t help but grin. I mean, I loved my house and my Mum and Dad, but Hogwarts was like my second home – like a really fun, super long stay at a relative’s house. I was always fond of Hogwarts and it’s grandiose beauty.
“Last year was good,” I said to Catherine, smiling. “But something tells me this year will be even better.”
“Cheers to that!” Catherine grinned, and threw her arm around my shoulder. We tipped our heads towards each other affectionately.
We took our time ambling towards the carriages, and had to jump into one of the last ones that was already partially full.
I opened the door and sighed heavily. My luck (or lack thereof) never ceased to amaze me.
“Al,” I grumbled. I mumbled a less disgruntled and more polite greeting to Dean and Seamus. I blushed a little bit as I spoke with Seamus; I suppose you could say I had a bit of a crush on him.
Al took mine and Catherine’s entrance as an invitation to slide next to Catherine and place his hand up her thigh. How classy. But Catherine did not remember sending out that invitation. She glared at him. “Al Black, I swear on Helga Hufflepuff’s grave that I will kill you if you don’t take your hand off of my leg.”
Now, normally Al would have made some wisecrack about Hufflepuff not being a real house, and Gryffindor being far superior, but I think he was actually smart enough to realize that would hurt his chances of sleeping with Catherine in the future.
“Did you ever set that poor bloke right, Al?” I asked after he’d returned to his seat – hand off Catherine’s thigh and still alive.
He nodded curtly at me. Sometimes I could get him so frustrated that he wouldn’t speak. I’d always considered that a great accomplishment.
“So, Al! I’m trying out for Quidditch this year.” I decided that it was the right moment to make the announcement. I’d been dreading it for quite a while now. I knew that Al wouldn’t want me to play Quidditch; I knew because he’d said so.
Apparently female Gryffindor Quidditch players were sex symbols . . . I didn’t know if he’d seen the ladies that finished up their Seventh year last year, but I don’t think he knew what he was talking about.
I knew it. Stupid jerk.
“You can’t stop me from trying out,” I pointed out. “And I doubt you’ll have any say in whether I make the team, or not. Everyone knows that Harry likes me better than you.” I raised my eyebrows at him, “I didn’t spend my first few years at Hogwarts being a total douche.”
Al grumbled incoherently and made a pouty face.
“I think you’ll do really well at tryouts, Lupin,” Seamus said.
I smiled shyly and looked towards the ground. “Thanks,” I mumbled. I chanced a look back up at Seamus. He winked at me.
My breath caught a little bit. To my knowledge, Seamus did not have an eye twitch, which meant that he had purposefully winked at me. And everyone knows that winking is a universal expression of thinking someone is hot.
I smiled coyly back. I could totally see myself dating Seamus. He was cute, he was always quite funny and to top it all off it would totally and completely infuriate Al.
And infuriating Al was a job well done.
A/N: I bet y'all are surprised to see me, huh? So am I, haha! After a long time (over a year, almost two I think!) I am back and ready to finish what I've started. There's still a bit of story that has been left untold, and it's all thanks to a special someone that you get to see it!
A/N2: BellaCamille is the savior of this story. It was her kind and complimentary words that got me to write the first few sentences of the chapter, and it was her encouragement and helpfulness that kept me going to the end. Many parts of this chapter that you read were written by her, when my rustiness and writers block prevented me from finishing the chapters, and those parts that weren't written by her were polished and set to flow. Without her, this chapter would have not been possible, and I mean that truly and honestly. So, to BellaCamille, I give the biggest thank you I can possibly give! Writing is so important to me and you brought me back to it.
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