Chapter 14 : A Day in the Life
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It was the greatest time of month, right between full moons when I felt most like myself, but not this time; now I was listless, as I had been most of sixth year. Alright, admittedly it had been creeping on for a long time, but I was lucky enough to have friends that were able to make me forget everything for hours at a time. When they failed, I resorted to books--and I was beginning to feel like Jane; I was almost out of library books to read.
As I walked down the lonely corridor with my nose pressed into my current book, History of Hogwarts Headmasters, my foot caught on something and I toppled over, spilling the contents of my bag, my book flying.
"Oughf," I landed much softer than I expected and found myself sprawled on top of Jane Montague, my face inches from hers. "Oh, sorry," I hastily jumped up and began gathering my things, "I didn't see you."
"That's okay," she whispered, blushing furiously, "usually I'm the one falling over other people."
"I think you're rubbing off on me," I smiled at her, "I'm almost done reading the library, I'm tripping over people… where will it end?"
"Oh, how much reading do you have left to do?"
"Only about fifteen books--but don't get me wrong, I wouldn't be caught dead reading some of those huge volumes on the history of gobstones you took on. I've almost read everything in the library I'd care to read--except what's in the restricted section of course."
"I'd love to get my hands on some books in there," she mused.
"What were you doing on the floor anyway?" I asked.
"Just writing a letter," she shrugged, "people don't usually come this way."
"Only to get away from everyone else," I pointed out, "so who are you avoiding?"
"Everyone," she whispered, "you?"
"Yeah… everyone," I frowned, "why?"
"Well…" she met my eyes briefly, uncertainty written across her features.
"I'm a good listener," I offered, "and a good secret keeper."
A shy smile formed on her lips as she said, "okay. It's just… well, I thought people would stop talking about Sirius and I so much now. They already talked when we got together, and even more when we broke up. And now it seems like it's increased tenfold since we're back together. Will it ever stop?" she asked hopelessly.
"Of course not," I told her honestly, even though this was the last thing I wanted to be talking about with her, "but it will let up eventually. He's the famous Sirius Black--" I tried to keep the bitterness out of my voice, "--when has he ever gotten back together with someone?"
"Never," she answered feebly.
"Exactly, so it's bound to get people talking. If you wanted a relationship people wouldn't talk about much you should've dated me," it was out of my mouth before I could stop it, "I mean… people just talk about Sirius a lot…" I trailed off, lamely trying to save myself.
"People would have talked had it been you," she replied meekly, "you've never dated anyone before, at least here. Why not? There are plenty of girls who like you."
Yeah, but how much would they like me if they knew my secret? They wouldn't. "Nobody here has really caught my eye," I shrugged trying to be nonchalant, even though it was a complete lie. "You didn't date anyone until Sirius," I added accusingly.
"Not here," she said vaguely, "there are plenty of girls here to choose from, though. What about that other Gryffindor girl. Penny?"
"Too boring," I object. There is only one girl here I want, and my best friend got to her first.
"I thought she was nice," she frowned, "How about Bridget or Ali in Ravenclaw? Oh but I think Ali started dating some seventh year Gryffindor…"
"I wouldn't know," I said shortly. For some reason, hearing Jane suggest various girls to me was incredibly irritating.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to offend you," she blushed and looked at the floor.
"No, you didn't," I softened my tone, "let's just talk about something else."
"Okay," she bit her bottom lip, trying to think of something to say. I studied her face, offering her no help. "Uhm… so what are you reading?" she asked lamely. Our conversation lapsed back into safe territory.
"Come on, mate, at least stay for a little while," James whined for the seventieth time, "it'll be a drag without you."
"You'll be too busy ogling Lily to notice whether or not I'm there," I pointed out. For the last hour, the guys had been diligently trying to get me to come down to the common room to celebrate Gryffindor's victory over Hufflepuff.
"Nah, I'm done trying to get with her. It's no use," he sighed, defeated.
"Since when? This afternoon when you offered to carry her library books after waiting for her outside for an hour, or last night when you told her you'd 'be honored if you could comb her long, fiery red hair?'" I quoted his exact words.
"I--well--that's just being nice!" he sputtered.
"You might as well buy a collar and hand the leash over, mate," Sirius put in idly, leaning back in a chair with his feet on the nightstand looking at some Muggle magazine called GQ.
"I'm just… waiting for her to come to me. Okay?" James huffed, "what are you reading anyway?"
"Some men's Muggle magazine. Jane showed me the section of the library with their literature."
"Really, it wasn't Professor Quirrell in Muggle Studies third year?" I rolled my eyes and read another few sentences of my book before Sirius interrupted me again.
"Just come down and say hi to everyone, then you can come back up here and sulk all you want."
"I'm not sulking, I'm--"
"You're sulking, mate," James interrupted.
"Jane said you looked down the other day. Hanging out with everyone will help, I promise!" Sirius insisted.
"She did, did she?" I scowl. I promised to keep her secrets and she told Sirius I looked sad… great. "Fine, I'll come down for a little while."
Sirius, James, and Peter all cheered at my decision and slowly began getting ready. By the time James had declared his hair perfection and Sirius had figured out how to operate a tie, everyone did look quite good, with the exception of Peter's stained button down and mismatched socks. Black looked exceptional in a Muggle suit coat and tie, his hair perfectly disheveled--he worked harder to impress Jane than he ever had with anyone else, even though she was the easiest to impress of the lot.
Downstairs, the common room was already packed with Gryffindors and Ravenclaws--all the Hufflepuffs were probably sour because of their loss. It didn't take us long to find the girls--Jane, Lily, Lynn, and a few others huddled close to the fire. All of them looked beautiful, but I found myself staring at Montague almost as much as Sirius was; she was stunning, in all black as usual, setting off her creamy skin, silken dark hair cascading almost down to her waist. As the night progressed, I had to be careful to keep my eyes averted, but every so often, I couldn't help myself and glanced at her as she laughed at a joke, graceful and catlike perched on Sirius' chair.
"Remus," Lily placed her hand on my arm, "I'm so sorry."
"Sorry for what?" I asked.
"Well… Jane. You deserve her," she smiled sadly, keeping her voice low.
"Yeah, well, Sirius got to her first. Big surprise," I replied, surprised at how well I concealed the bitterness that was threatening to bite through. "I've only been trying to get her attention since first year," I added, this time the edge in my voice quite clear, and I glanced around to make sure nobody was near enough to overhear.
"She doesn't know the effect she has on people," Lily sighed, "You'll find your girl someday though."
"Doubtful," I muttered. Lily didn't even know what I was; she'd rethink if she did.
"So pessimistic," she ruffled my hair like only Lily could and kissed me on the cheek. Unfortunately James saw and was not happy about it.
"What did he do to deserve a kiss?" he looked sourly from me to Lily, obviously not quite sober.
"None of your business, Potter," Lily threw back at him.
With that, I went back to pretending to listen to the conversation around me, but really mulled everything that had happened this year over in my mind. By the time I realized the party had dwindled to Jane, Sirius, James, Lily, Lynn, Octavius, and Peter, each of them were drunk enough to not care that it was almost two in the morning. I just continued staring into the fire until I heard my name… multiple times.
"Remus," Lynn giggled, "gosh I've only been trying to get your attention for like a year."
"Sorry," I raised my eyebrow at her, "was there something in particular you needed my attention for?"
"Duh," she fell off her seat on the arm of the couch and started laughing hysterically. When she finally regained her composure, her face turned deadly serious and she whispered, "are you really a werewolf?"
My heart stopped. The entire remains of the party--luckily just close friends--went quiet to stare at Lynn.
"What?" she looked woozily around everyone.
I could feel my lips tighten and my body rising from the chair by the fire. My face began to feel flushed and my vision blurred around the edges, but somehow I made it to the portrait hole and down the corridor into an empty classroom without getting caught or passing out. As I left, I was only vaguely aware of the voices calling after me, and I only felt secure when the heavy wooden door off the classroom was shut firmly behind me.
My salvation was brief, however, as mere moments after I leaned on a desk, somebody came bursting through the door; my wand was drawn quicker than a flash, but then clattered to the floor when I realized I was pointing it directly at Jane's heart.
"Sorry," I muttered, bending over to pick it up. Only when I straightened did I notice her eyes were glistening with tears.
"Oh Remus… I'm--so--sorry," she choked, barely able to hold back sobs, "it was all my fault."
"What are you talking about?" she had me utterly perplexed.
She stared at the floor for a moment, trying to regain her composure then looked back up and said, "I've known what you are for quite some time--"
"Say it," I cut her off curtly.
"S-say what?" she asked nervously.
"What am I?"
"A we-werewolf," she gulped, "I've known since second year. Maybe sooner. I-I confided in Lynn and Lily, but I never--and Octavius, I told him a few years ago," she remembered and admitted quickly, "I didn't know… I made a mistake. I'm so, so sorry and I hope you can forgive me."
She'd said the last bit in such a small, sad voice, that I knew I'd forgiven her already, but I was still confused.
"If you know, then why are you here?"
"Well, y-you're my friend. Are-aren't you?" she asked as if afraid to hear the answer.
"Nobody wants to be friends with the likes of me," I said darkly.
"What about James and Sirius? And Peter? T-they know, don't they?" she asked, still frightened as a mouse encountering an angry cat.
"Yes," I admitted curtly, "but they don't judge me. They make it bearable instead of miserable. They're… different."
Her eyes narrowed and she responded in a stronger voice than I'd ever heard from her, "So am I."
I stared at her, lost for words. When I didn't say anything, she continued.
"Octavius, Lynn, and Lily are different too," her voice returned to it's normal, soft tones, but still filled with conviction, "They've… well, they've known for awhile… and nothing's changed, has it?"
"No," I finally had to admit; I hadn't detected the slightest change of attitude in Lily or Lynn… or Octavius for that matter.
"We all want to be your friend," she lightly placed her hand on my arm, and even through my sweater it raised goosebumps.
"I might have… overreacted," I sighed, "She just took me off guard…"
"I'm so sorry Remus," she said again, taking her hand away and looking down at the floor. It took all my self control not to cup her face in my hands to lift her gaze back up to mine.
"You have nothing to be sorry for," I promised, "you have all proven to be great friends. I couldn't ask for better."
"You're not mad at me?" she timidly looked up at me through her long, curling eyelashes.
"Never," I said, too truthfully.
A small smile crept across her lips, and I lost it.
Before I was conscious of what I was doing, I'd pulled her to me and planted my lips firmly on hers. They were softer than I could have imagined. She was stiff in my arms, but then for one brief, glorious moment, I could have sworn she was kissing me back.
As suddenly as it started, it ended. Jane ripped out of my embrace and slapped me across the face with a force I thought her incapable of. Her face was contorted into a mixed look of shock and anger.
"Oh my gosh, I'm sorry, did I hurt you?" Her eyes widened nervously to replace the narrowed fury of the moment before.
"No…I-- you shouldn't be sorry. It was my fault. It was stupid. I was stupid. This has been a long night. I'm just... I'm sorry, Jane," as I talked I crept towards the door, "Please, don't tell Sirius…"
"I won't," came her whispered reply right as I opened the door to escape.
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