Chapter 11 : Secrets
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“School is bone-shatteringly tiring,” I moaned, drooping over my homework in the library, barely noticing that the boys had joined me and Lily; Alice was with Frank. I’d spent the whole of last night on the sofa in the Room of Requirement with James again; an annoyed Remus had woken us up again really early.
James dropped a kiss on my head as he left later, and when I woke up and there was just Alice sitting with me, I discovered someone had also put their jacket around me. My hands were white with cold, so I jammed them into the pockets.
“Who’s is this?” I asked, indicating the coat.
“The love of your life’s,” she answered. “Are you awake now?”
“Very.” I rubbed at my eyes then pulled my books towards me. “Hell, I hate work,” I grumbled.
I skipped lunch, too busy translating Runes to eat, and set off for the common room at about half five. I never got there.
I was walking up from the library and I heard footsteps behind me. Because I’m naturally a suspicious person, I quickened my pace. So did they. I turned the first corner I saw, and then full out sprinted until I was around another corner. I pulled out my wand, trying to slow my breathing and heart.
Their footsteps got closer to where I lay in wait. They were creeping up the deserted corridor, so slowly. Where the hell were people when you needed them? I waited until they were so close I could hear their breathing, and then leaped out, screaming “AHAHAHAHA!”
They wet themselves with fright, and I quickly judged the situation. There were six of them.
One and Two had fallen backwards, probably tripped on robes- not a threat.
Three was leaning forwards, gasping, his wand lying a few feet away- not a threat.
Four was apologising to Three- threat.
Five and Six had leaped backwards, but were fully in control now, wands out- very threatening.
I shot a few spells at them, and sprinted past them, knocking Three (who I realised was a girl) over in the process.
I ran desperately through the corridors, my bag banging on my hip painfully.
Four, Five and Six were chasing me. Four I realised was Sirius’ brother; Regulus. Five was short and stocky, and if I kept this pace up, I might not have to deal with. I could hear one slipping behind. Six was strong and lean. A definite problem. I shot a spell over my shoulder randomly; yelling words which popped into my head. I chanced a look back. Dammit, I took out Five.
I flew around a corner, and nearly collided with Regulus. How the hell?
He pushed me aside and aimed a Stunning Spell at Six. What the hell?
It missed, but made him angry. “I’LL GET YOU, BITCH!” he screamed. As ‘bitch’ is a predominantly female insult, I’m guessing he thought it was me.
I was stationary. Why wasn’t I running away? Oh yeah. I was watching Regulus with an expression of total astonishment. Why was he helping me, when the last time we met, I gave him boils? Boys are so weird.
Six was powering towards me, I turned to run but a hex hit me square in the back. I fell to the floor, immobile. Regulus shouted something and I rolled out of the way, free to move again as he tried to leap on top of me. He was had long blonde hair and I recognised him as Lucius Malfoy. Regulus pulled something out of his pocket and threw it on the floor. Darkness enveloped the corridor.
I stopped. I held my breath and listened. Malfoy was on the floor, he’d have to get up, and I would hear him. Silence. I couldn’t hear anything from Regulus’ direction either. I backed up, slowly, so slowly and quietly. I felt a tapestry behind me. Good. I didn’t have to worry about anyone sneaking up behind me. I realised I’d dropped my school bag.
Then- “Lumos.” It wasn’t Regulus’ voice. A pinprick of light appeared, and moved quickly to the right. As if the wand had been thrown.
I watched it fall, and then a fist slammed into my jaw. At least, I assume it was a fist. I couldn’t see it, but it felt like a fist. My head slammed back into the wall and I saw stars. However, I have been punched in the face in the dark to many times to count, and I didn’t even have to think about what to do. I dropped to the floor, and Malfoy assumed –like they all do- that I would be standing in the exact same place, just waiting for him to hit me again. I heard the satisfying crunch of his bones as he hit the wall, and I will admit I smiled at his whimper of pain. I stood back up, (he’d be nursing his hand now, I could see it in my mind’s eye) and kicked him straight in the goolies. He dropped like a stone.
The darkness was kinda grey now, and getting lighter by the second. Whatever Regulus had done was wearing off. I saw a bumbling shape come towards me.
“Regulus?” I asked.
The figure grunted very slightly, and I relaxed. Slightly. Not totally; so when the curse came, I was half-ready, and my quick soundless Shield Charm mostly protected me. I still was knocked off my feet, and the fall completely winded me. I lay on the floor gasping for breath, and my wand hand was hindered by the long sleeves of my borrowed jacket.
I tried to get up, but whoever it was kicked me in the ribs.
“Shit!” I wheezed. I still managed to kick at his ankle, but he bloody fell on top of me. I managed to Stun him as he was falling, but I couldn’t push him off. Stupid lumbering oaf. It really wasn’t my day. The grey was lighter now; colours were becoming sharper and shapes easier to recognize. However, I didn’t see Regulus appear until he tried to heave the person off me. I helped, pushing as well as I could, until we both were standing in the now-light corridor. I saw that the ‘lumbering oaf’ was in fact Two.
“Thanks,” I said. “I owe you one.” I didn’t bother asking why he helped.
He smiled thinly. “You’d better go before they wake up. It’ll be hard to explain as it is.”
I studied his impassive face for a moment before scooping up my bag from the floor and setting off a run. He didn’t look as much like Sirius as I thought he did.
I finally stopped outside of the kitchens, and quietly let myself in. I expected it to be empty, but someone was hunched over a counter, drumming their fingers. I wanted somewhere alone, so I went to leave, but the person turned around. It was Remus.
“What the hell happened to you?” he asked.
“I was attacked,” I said shortly, pulling up a stool next to him.
“By what?” he flicked my hair away from my bruised cheek. I shivered at his icy touch, and realised he looked like death.
“By some steps and Peeves with a bunch of chalk,” I lied. “You look awful too.”
“I’m fine,” he said, brushing away my concern. He didn’t look fine. His skin was ashen, his hair slick with sweat and his hands were shaking. I pressed the back of my hand to his forehead.
“You’re burning up!” I exclaimed. “You should be in the Hospital Wing, not the kitchens!” Just then, a house-elf tottered up, stooped under the weight of what looked like half a dead cow. “Remus. What the hell is that?”
“It’s a steak,” he said, grabbing the knife and fork.
“It looks like half an hour ago it was alive.”
“The correct name for it is ‘blue’.”
“Not raw?” I was aghast. “Should you really be eating that?”
“I’m hungry, and I want to eat an uncooked cow, alright?” he snapped.
“Excuse me for caring,” I muttered.
“Sorry.” He did sound sorry, so I smiled to show he was forgiven.
I nearly fell out of my seat. James, Sirius and Peter had come through the door. “We need to go,” Sirius said. “It’s nearly curfew.”
“Where are you all going?” I asked.
James tapped the side of his nose. Fine, be mysterious.
“Wait,” I called, as they filed out the door, Remus leaving his half-eaten cow on the counter. “Do you want your coat back?”
I shrugged out of the warm leather and held it out, but to my surprise, Remus took it off me.
“Thanks,” he said.
“I thought... Alice said...”
“...Nothing. Have fun doing whatever you’re doing.”
James and Sirius grinned. Peter and Remus didn’t.
I had been to the common room to see if Remus was there, but he wasn’t. I’d walked slowly to the Hall to get coffee, hoping to find him, but no such luck. I ended up on the common room windowsill, watching the full moon set and the sun rise.
And then I saw something rather odd.
On the lawn in front of the castle were four shapes. One looked like a stag, one a dog, one was humanoid and one was so small I barely saw it at first. And then all the shapes became distinctly human-looking. They quickly made it across the lawn to the castle. I watched for a long while, but no more animal-people turned up.
Then the portrait-hole opened, and through it climbed James, Peter, Sirius and Remus, all looking bedraggled and rather worse for the wear. “We cut that fine!” Peter said, glancing up at the sun streaming through the windows. “We’re going to get caught one of these days, Prongs.”
I slid down from the sill. “James?”
He turned with a start. “Eva!” he exclaimed, flattening his hair. “Didn’t see you there!”
“I saw you,” I said advancing. I felt very powerful. I poked his chest with my finger. “Prongs.” His eyes widened, and he looked –ironically- like a deer in headlights. “You’re an Animagus. Don’t try and deny it!” I said, as he started to protest. “Sirius or Padfoot, is a really big dog, and Wormtail is what? A mouse?”
“Rat, actually,” Peter said. I studied his face. He looked like a rat really, with the long teeth and nose, and his little eyes and stubby fingers.
“Alright, rat then. I have two, no three questions. Who else knows, what is Remus, and why?”
James completely relaxed. “Nobody else knows. Not even Lily. And I can’t tell you what Remus is, or why.”
“You can’t tell me?”
“Are you going out fighting crime or something? As illegal unregistered Animagi?”
“Keep your voice down!” Peter pleaded, in his mousy little voice. I am never going to be able to look at him the same again.
“Not exactly,” James said. “Look, please don’t ask any more questions, or tell anyone alright? I don’t want to lie to you.” He held me in his arms, and kissed my forehead. “Promise?”
I must have looked unsure, because Sirius grinned at me, showing a lot of teeth. "I'm sure you've got secrets you don't want out," he said.
Oh, shut the fuck up Sirius. This is blackmail.
I put my arms around James, and buried my face in his shoulder. “Promise.”
“Unbelievable,” Peter said. “Two weeks and Eva finds out. How have we managed to keep it from everyone else?”
Suddenly, Lily came pounding down the stairs. “EVA!” she yelled. “Where do you keep your paracetamol?”
She paused at the bottom of the stairs when she saw me and James. “Oh for God’s sake, get a room.”
“We had one,” I pointed out, “but then you came. And they’re in my wash-bag. It’s the stripy green one.”
She half-scowled at us. “Thanks. And I’m eating with Garrett today.”
She left, and James raised his eyebrows at me. “Well,” he mused. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say she was trying to make me jealous.”
“What?” Peter asked, but we ignored him. James kissed me again, and they went to be cleaned up. They smelt.
The days quickly fell into a pattern. I met Remus at some un-godly hour and we wandered down to the Great Hall to take our normal and asleep friends some liquids, chatting as we did. I never mentioned his Animagi, and neither did he. I wondered if he was more distant than he was when we first met, but I dismissed this thought as paranoia. School was boring, a long hard slog of homework which Lily forced us to do, and lessons which dragged on into eternity.
The only thing which put sparks into my days was my relationship with James. Every night, at about seven, I’d bid adieu to Lily and Alice, who would usually be with their boyfriends –Garrett and Lily had the biggest rows ever, but she insisted she loved him-, and James and I would sit together in the Room of Requirement. I read, James talked, we laughed, and we usually made it back to the common room by ten; if not Remus woke us up and we dragged James back to the common room before eight. Our evenings usually finished with a long, passionate kiss (in front of Lily if James could manage it) before we separated to go to our dorms. I know it’s pretend, but nothing will stop me from feeling the way I do after I kiss James. My whole heart fills up with this warm fuzzy feeling- and I feel for the first time in my life like I’m wanted. How sad? I feel wanted in a pretend relationship. Even little hugs, like when I found out about the Animagi, made me feel special. There was no-one there to pretend for there, so why do it?
I thought I knew- turns out I didn’t.
A/N: What an action-packed chapter! Fights, a bit of Remus *swoon* and then Eva works out they're Animagi! Wowzers! Thank you for reading, and PLEASE REVIEW!
Also. I need you to help me out. In a later chapter, Sirius is being stupid, and insists there are three things more important than Quidditch. So, my lovely readers, what three things would you say are more important?
Much love! xx
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