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Chapter 9 : The First Date
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“No!” Remus said a little too quickly, and Bethany looked stunned. “I, uh, I meant no, because, um, I have a... thing. Yeah, I have a thing that I have to do first. So, er, how about we meet up at the Three Broomsticks at around noon?”
“Uh, yeah, sure thing,” Bethany said slowly, seeming taken aback. “That sounds good.” Recovering, she gave him an award-winning smile and said, “I’ll see you tomorrow, then,” before trotting off.
“Could I have sounded stupider?” Remus asked himself angrily. So much for the cool façade he’d had on the train when he’d talked to her, and the one other time he’d talked to her in Transfiguration.
“I, uh, I meant, er, um, yeah, so, like, I have a, um, thing...” Sirius mocked as he walked up to Remus, who was blushing madly now.
“You heard that?” Remus asked.
“Every last, pathetic second. I think I’m going to cry,” Sirius joked. “How you got a date with her, I’ll never know.”
“I don’t know how I did it either, to be honest,” Remus admitted. “What if I make a fool out of myself tomorrow?”
“Then there are plenty of other fish in the sea,” Sirius assured his friend. “If she doesn’t like you for who you are, there are plenty of other girls out there who will.” Remus’ stomach knotted up, and he felt his face fall. “What is it, mate?” Sirius asked worriedly.
“No girl will really ever like me for me,” Remus sighed, walking over to a stone staircase and sitting down on a step.
“Why not? You’re a great guy, Moony. Any girl would be lucky to have you.”
“In case you’ve forgotten, Padfoot, I’m a monster. Let’s just say there aren’t many girls willing to take on that much responsibility. Sometimes I think my own mom wants to get rid of me,” Remus sighed, putting his head in his hands.
“Now that’s probably the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard you say. Now listen, and listen closely, Remus. It may not be Bethany, and it may not be the next girl you date, but some day you’re going to find someone who loves you because of what a great guy you are. You being a werewolf—and you’re a werewolf, not a monster by any stretch of the imagination—will only be something about you that makes her love you even more. She will be sensible, she will be kind, she will be loving, and she will want to help you deal with your problems through thick and thin. Someday, you’ll find her.” That was probably the kindest and deepest thing Remus had ever heard his friend say, and he found himself too stunned for words. Sirius, now obviously finished with this conversation, stood up and patted Remus on the back. “Now then, I’m starving. Let’s go get some lunch before Peter eats everything.”
The next day Remus’ stomach was doing flips. Before heading out to Hogsmead with everyone else, James had slipped Remus the invisibility cloak. Now Remus was heading to the statue of the one-eyed witch, glancing over his shoulder every five seconds to make sure no one was around. We’ve really got to find a way to keep tabs on where people are, Remus thought after once again looking over his shoulder. When he reached the statue, he pulled out his wand and said, “Dissendium,” while tapping the witch. Her hump opened, and, with the invisibility cloak clutched in his sweaty hand, he slid down into the secret passageway.
About an hour later he was crawling through the secret door in the floor of Honeydukes cellar, the invisibility cloak hiding him from sight. Very quietly, he placed the floor tile back over the trap door and then headed up the stairs and out into the main part of Honeydukes, where he then carefully took off the invisibility cloak and stuffed it into his robe pocket. Someone opened the door, letting in a chilly breeze, and Remus wished he’d worn something warmer than just his school uniform. Or something nicer to impress his date. Oh well.
Having never been to Hogsmeade before, Remus became quickly lost, panic slowly rising in his chest as the clock ticked down to noon. He didn’t want to be late for his first date, but the Three Broomsticks was nowhere in sight. Just as he was about to give up his frantic search and give up, James, Sirius, and Peter ran up to him, their noses red from the cold.
“Hey, mate, why aren’t you at the Three Broomsticks with Bethany?” Sirius asked accusingly.
“I’d be there if I could find it!” Remus exclaimed. “But it’s bloody impossible to find your way around! I’ve passed that joke shop at least a hundred times!”
“And you haven’t gone in it yet?” James asked incredulously. “How much more of a sign do you need?”
“I don’t need any sign, unless it says ‘This Way to the Three Broomsticks!’”
“Or how about that one?” Sirius asked, sniggering as he pointed over the heads of their peers to a sign hanging over a doorway that read ‘The Three Broomsticks.’
“Oh,” Remus said, stunned. How had he not seen that?
“We’ll walk you there, and then the three of us will come back and check out Zonkos,” Sirius offered, still chortling.
“You don’t need to walk me. I’ll find my way,” Remus sighed, but James shook his head.
“No, no, you might get lost. Merlin only knows how you even get around Hogwarts. You have no sense of direction.”
“Well, then, make me a map,” Remus said sarcastically, beginning to push his way through the crowd to the pub.
“Yeah, one with every classroom labeled,” Sirius laughed.
“And every secret passageway,” Peter added. “Just in case he lost those, too.” James and Sirius laughed loudly at this, and Peter beamed with pride at his joke being thought funny.
“Might as well have something on there to let me know what teachers were near, so I don’t do something stupid and get caught,” Remus offered. Hey, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
“I could only dream of a map like that!” James sighed happily.
“But we’d have to make it so no one else could read it,” Sirius invented. “Like a secret password.”
“Yeah, like ‘Hocus Pocus,’” James agreed.
“Or ‘Open, Says Me,’” Sirius said with a nod.
“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good,” Remus said suddenly, and his three friends looked at him as if he’d just spoken a new language. “What?” he asked nervously.
“That’s absolutely brilliant, mate!” Sirius exclaimed.
“Yeah! And when we want the map to disappear, we should say ‘mischief managed!’” Peter squealed.
“Um, we are talking hypothetically, right?” Remus asked as they reached the door of the pub.
“I was, but this is too good of an idea to pass up!” Sirius said excitedly. “And think about how much this could help us. Especially on full moons, after we figure out how to become animagi!”
“Yes, Sirius, let’s announce that to the world,” Remus said sarcastically. “Merlin, keep your voice down!”
“Remus!” Bethany’s voice called. Remus turned around, and he saw her walking toward him, pushing through the crowds of people. “Remus, I’m so sorry I’m late,” she apologized, combing her fingers through her hair to try and tame it. “I got caught up at the post office.”
“It’s okay. I just got here,” Remus said with a smile. Well, at least he was back to forming reasonable sentences around her again.
“Good!” she said happily. “Come on, then, let’s get a butterbeer. I hear that they’re amazing!”
“Sure,” Remus agreed, and then turned to his friends. “See you guys later.” He was then led into the pub by the hand to the counter, where he chivalrously ordered and paid for both butterbeers. He and Bethany then spent the whole afternoon walking through Hogsmeade, testing sweets from Honeydukes and getting a good laugh from Zonkos.
Remus even got up the courage to hold Bethany’s hand at one point, and he couldn’t believe how good it felt to have his fingers laced with a girl’s. He’d never felt more content in his life.
“Remus, let’s go look at the Shrieking Shack!” Bethany said excitedly. “Apparently it’s recently become haunted. My sister says that loud noises come out of it some nights, and the townspeople believe its restless spirits.”
“Restless spirits?” Remus asked, trying to keep his voice steady. Visiting the Shrieking Shack was the last thing he wanted to do, especially when it wasn’t the full moon.
“Yeah,” she said eagerly. “Not like Nearly Headless Nick, but like ghouls and things like that! It’ll be especially spooky since its Halloween! And look,” she said, pointing over the buildings at the sky, where the moon was already risen even though the sun hadn’t set yet. “You can see the full moon.”
Wait, full moon? No, that couldn’t be right. Remus had checked, and the full moon wasn’t supposed...
“Damn it!” Remus muttered. The full moon was tonight, and he’d forgotten all about it!
“Remus, what’s wrong?” Bethany asked worriedly.
“It’s... It’s nothing...” Remus muttered. He had to get back to Hogwarts quickly, or else Madam Pomfrey would be worried sick. “Listen, this has been great, and I don’t mean to be rude, but there’s something really important that I have to do.”
“Like what? Can’t it wait? I’m having such a good time,” Bethany pleaded, grabbing Remus’ arm.
“I’m sorry, but it really can’t,” Remus said regretfully, pulling away from her and beginning to walk backwards towards Honeydukes. “I hope you’ll forgive me.” And with that he turned and ran, past all of his classmates who looked at him strangely, as if he’d already transformed. Before entering the sweet shop, he threw on the invisibility cloak, muttering obscenities under his breath. He could already feel his skin becoming clammy, the first signs of a transformation. Or maybe he was just panicking.
The run back to Hogwarts through the secret passageway seemed to take forever, and when he finally emerged through the hump of the one-eyed witch, he was gasping for breath and had sweat pouring down his face. Halfway to the Hospital Wing, Madam Pomfrey found him and hustled him out to the Whomping Willow, muttering about indecency and putting other’s lives in danger. Remus didn’t have nearly enough energy to listen to her nagging, and he allowed himself to be shoved into the secret passageway. As he walked towards the Shrieking Shack, Remus’ only thoughts were of the spectacular day that he’d sent with Bethany.
The next day Bethany caught up to Remus in the hallway, looking worried.
“So what happened yesterday? You seemed upset,” she said, and then took in Remus’ full appearance. “Oh my gosh, are you okay? You look terrible!” That was not what he wanted to hear right now. He’d woken up this morning with deep wounds on his chest, and he hadn’t known how they’d gotten there. Professor Dumbledore had explained that some werewolves, when they had no one to hunt, took to harming themselves instead. Apparently he’d thought Remus wouldn’t go through that, since he’d changed many times before and had come out unscathed. He’d suggested that Remus had possibly had something troubling on his mind, and Remus definitely knew what it was.
“I’m fine. I just wasn’t feeling well, is all,” Remus lied tiredly. “And then I had a bad night’s sleep.” More like a horrible night’s sleep, apparently filled with self harm... But she didn’t need to know that.
“Oh. You seemed like you had forgotten something,” Bethany questioned.
“Yeah... I forgot that I had a potion’s essay due today. I...” This lying thing wasn’t working out well for Remus. He just couldn’t handle this right now. Plus, his injured chest was stinging really badly. “Okay, in complete honesty, I had a detention that I had to serve. I didn’t want you to know about it because I thought you’d think I was a bad guy or something,” Remus ‘admitted.’ At least that lie was more believeable. “I’m sorry for lying.”
“It’s okay,” Bethany said with a smile. “I think it’s sweet that you care about what I think of you.”
“Okay, I’m glad,” Remus said happily, though a voice in the back of his head asked how he could lie to such a trusting person. “I won’t run out on you next time. I promise.”
“So there’s a next time?” Bethany asked hopefully.
“Definitely,” Remus smiled. As he turned to go, Bethany grabbed his arm and spun him back around, pressing his lips to hers. After a second their lips parted, and she whispered in his ear:
“Just so you know, I kind of like the ‘bad boy’ type.” She then pulled away and winked at him before turning her back and heading off down the corridor, leaving Remus standing there, dumbfounded.
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