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Secrets by bexi_potter
Chapter 4 : Whoa. Wait. What?!
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 0


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I sighed in my sleep and rolled to my side, clutching onto the last strands of unconsciousness as my mind picked up speed. Slowly, my eyes opened and I took in my surroundings like I had the previous night. The windows to the – bugger, I’m still in the Hospital Wing, I thought irritably – were open wide and there was a pleasant breeze flowing. The sun outside was bright but not blindingly so, and the Hospital Wing looked squeaky clean and immaculate in its glow.

 

I sat up slowly and could see through the window of Madame Pomfrey’s office that she was asleep in her chair, her legs up on her desk with a Muggle romance novel open on her chest. She seemed to be snoring. I giggled a little, wondering where on earth Madame Pomfrey would get Muggle romance novels. Maybe the Library has a selection of Muggle books? I’d have to look for some classics…

 

I slumped back on my pillows again, this time a little more with it, and realized I felt fine. Actually, I felt great. I hadn’t felt this healthy in a while.

 

I checked the nightstand beside me and saw the Potion Bottles she had made me drink or forced down my throat whilst I was asleep.

 

One was labelled Dreamless Sleep. She probably let me sleep so long because she realized how little sleep I’ve been getting, how tired I must’ve looked when I came in. Another was a cure for sickness and fever and everything else I had.

 

A muffled sort of grunt and movement averted my attention. I quickly glanced in the direction that it had come from and someone else was lying on the bed next to me. Poor guy, having to be in here as well.

 

And then I recognised the sandy blonde hair, mussed up on the top of his head – it was Remus.

 

Last night was the Full Moon, idiot, I reminded myself. Of course he was going to be here. I observed him properly. He had a sling on his left arm and I could just about see some bandages peeking through his pyjama top.

 

Not that I was staring at his chest or anything.

 

The duvet covered the rest of his torso and his legs up but one was sticking out and hanging off the side of the bed adorably, and it looked a little scratched up.

 

I gently hoisted myself out of bed, waiting for a moment to make sure I could handle it, and tiptoed over to him. His face was thrown into the light and I gasped audibly, which made him grunt again in his sleep and screw up his eyes. I put a hand over my mouth to make myself silent, and waited for him to stop moving before I breathed loudly again.

 

His face was scratched on the right hand side, running from his cheekbone to his jaw, and it was a vivid pink underneath the Healing Paste that Madame Pomfrey had slathered all over it. Now I was closer, too, I could pick out some other things. Such as the bruises and scrapes all over his hands, the particularly violent and slightly off-colour swelling underneath his left eye, the small cut on his lip. I felt tears threaten my eyes but I tried to push them away.

 

I had seen Remus after his transformation before. But it was always after he was out of the Hospital Wing and his injuries had been improved immensely, so the only traces of his problem would be a new scar if on show and the fact that he was extremely tired.

 

But I had never seen him looking so…fragile. So injured.

 

I choked up, and an overwhelming feeling coursed through me. I wanted to lock Madame Pomfrey’s door so she couldn’t get out and look after Remus myself, and clear up his wounds and make sure he was well fed and rested and happy…

 

This is all Sirius’ fault. I wouldn’t be thinking like this if he hadn’t planted into my mind that I was secretly crushing on my best guy mate.

 

Or…maybe he’s better at reading people than I thought?

 

Not contemplating now.

 

I leaned a little closer to him to check out his new cut and I caught a whiff of his smell. It was his natural smell; it was woody and masculine and very, very irresistible. It definitely fitted his lifestyle, him being a werewolf and free out in the woods once a month.

 

I stared around. No one else was here. Madame Pomfrey, and Remus as well, seemed to be in a very deep sleep. So really there was no reason I couldn’t indulge my senses and smell him when I could. It was a little creepy, yes, but being his best friend I felt I was entitled to smelling his amazing scent once in a while.

 

And it calmed me down, too, which was what I needed a lot.

 

And so I leaned right to his hair and smelled gently, and it was better than I’d imagined. Much better in a more concentrated dose, I’d found, like his hair which always smelt amazing. It was like his shampoo smelt exactly the same as him, which was really nice. Or maybe it was a shampoo and body wash set that smelt the same? Well, either way. I felt a dopey smile come across my face and I drew away, and as I did Remus’ eyes flickered open.

 

Shit.

 

Startled, I let out a yelp and moved backwards, subsequently falling over my own feet and landing bum first on the floor. He sat up wildly and leant over his bed, looking at me on the floor.

 

“Are you alright?” he asked concernedly, and when I didn’t answer he held his good hand out for me and pulled me up. “You’re blushing.”

 

And, sure enough, my face was alight. Embarrassed at being caught sniffing his hair, I stammered quickly, “y-you had a spider in your hair, I was just getting it out for you.”

 

“Oh.” He shivered. “I hate spiders. Where did you put it?”

 

“Where did I put it?” I blanched. “Oh, well, I threw it…away. Onto the floor. And it kind of, scuttled away in that general direction…” I pointed to Pomfrey’s door and to the non-existent spider, cringing. He would obviously see through this pathetic shamble of a lie.

 

“Thanks,” he said genuinely, smiling as he rubbed his uninjured eye sleepily with his good hand.

 

Or not?

 

Maybe he was just pretending to believe me because he didn’t want to think that I’d lean over him in his sleep like some strange perverted person…

 

Either way, I was glad I didn’t have to face the truth.

 

“How are you?” I asked, recovering. “You look…awful.”

 

He looked down at himself and suddenly realized that his cuts and bruises were still there. This time, he was the one that blushed. Looking mortified, he sat back in his bed and leant on the pillows. He looked to his fingers as he answered me.

 

“I’m fine, nothing to worry about…”

 

“What happened to your arm?” I continued, moving cautiously forward. I wasn’t sure what I was intending to do once I got to him.

 

“Just a minor sprain. It’s almost painless,” he said quietly, and I could tell he was ashamed of what he had done to himself, the creature that he was. And it was heartbreaking to watch.

 

“You don’t have to pretend for me,” I said, almost in a whisper, as I closed the gap between myself and the bed and gently reached for his hurt arm. He let me take his fingers in my hand and I put my hand in his palm very gently, so I didn’t hurt the rest of his arm.

 

“Your hand is tiny,” he said almost inaudibly, looking at them together.

 

“Maybe your hand is just huge,” I teased back, looking at the sizes. My hand was indeed tiny compared to his; the size of his little finger was the same size as my longest finger. My palm was lost in his.

 

He smiled slightly and I tried to smile back at him, but I was feeling a little woozy after all the falling over. He frowned and then realized what I was doing here.

 

“I completely forgot, are you alright? How are you feeling now? I’m sorry I left before you woke up last night, it was rather…unavoidable. You should really go and lay back down, you might still be ill…”

 

I giggled at his over-protectiveness. He sat up and swung his legs round the side of his bed, transferring my hand to his non-injured arm and stood up. He wobbled a tiny bit and bit down on his lip, hissing and letting the bed support his weight again as he leant back.

 

“Are you okay?” I asked, panicky.

 

“My leg,” he said quietly. I looked down and saw his right leg bore some nasty bruises and possibly muscle or tendon damage, because it didn’t look broken. Instead of him putting me back to bed, I firmly but gently pushed back on his shoulders and made him lie down. He rolled his eyes in nonchalance but it was slightly marred by the fact that his face was screwed up in pain.

 

“Now you just…sit there and be good. And don’t damage the rest of you.”

 

“It’s so boring here,” he said in a slightly whiney tone, and I agreed with him wholeheartedly, “and plus, you’re still ill. I think it's only fair if you come and sit with me too. Because then neither of us will be bored.” My breath hitched a little bit in my throat and I laughed at him, trying to disguise it.

 

“You don’t want me over there, taking up all your room and making you hurt more,” I joked, turning back to my bed, but his good arm snaked around my waist and pulled me back onto him and onto the bed. My eyes went wide and it was good I was facing outwards.

 

“I’m not an invalid,” he said in mock outrage, smiling down at me as I looked up, “now sit there like a good ill person.” I sighed irritably and made myself comfortable. I sat back next to him and curled my feet up underneath me, and leant on his side.

 

“Will I hurt you if I sit like this?” I asked. He shook his head and wrapped the good arm round me, hugging me closer and resting his head on mine. We sat in silence for a few minutes, and all I could hear was our breathing in unison. And then he started talking.

 

“I’m sorry about Saturday,” he said unexpectedly, “I should have just let you go, I didn’t know you didn’t like rats and that you felt that awful. I thought you had just…got embarrassed about something and was running off. I didn’t want to let you go off to miss our prank. I didn’t like it much myself but it was pretty tricky wand work and with what I had to do before like setting it up and, well, I wanted you to witness it. I’m sorry for being selfish about it.” 

 

I looked up at him, shocked, to see he was really beaten up about it.

 

“Please don’t think you’re selfish,” I said after a moment, “because you’re really not. And please don’t be sorry, you’ve nothing to be sorry for. I’m the one who should be sorry…for jumping on you? I just really, really hate rats.” I cringed at the last part, about jumping on him, and he chuckled quietly.

 

“Well if you’re scared, you can always jump on me.”

 

I laughed a little high-pitched and my cheeks burst with colour at the very thought of it.

 

“Thanks.”

 

We heard a huge grunt and a thud. I looked round to Madame Pomfrey’s office and she wasn’t on her chair anymore.

 

“She must’ve fallen off,” I mused to myself. Remus looked at me funny, as he hadn’t seen Madame Pomfrey on the chair to begin with. Then I realized that she was awake. My eyes went wide and I jumped off the bed just as she appeared in the window, dusting off her robes and muttering irately to herself. Remus nodded in understanding and I dove back into my bed just in time for her to pick up her book and bustle out the door to check on us.

 

///

 

Madame Pomfrey dealt with Remus first. She healed his arm and his leg – it was muscle damage, I found out – and got rid of the nasty cuts and bruises littering his body, although the cut on his face turned into a scar. It wasn’t as noticeable as he thought it was but it was still quite pink and looked painful, even though he said it wasn’t so bad.

 

Remus had closed his curtains round the bed and was just getting dressed whilst Madame Pomfrey checked over me.

 

“Well, you seem to be okay, although you seem like you are not getting the recommended amount of sleep a night.” Which is why she made me go back to sleep, as I had theorised. “But you’re feeling much better, and your bug is gone, so you can leave with Mr. Lupin.”

 

“Thank you,” I smiled, and hopped off my bed fully dressed to wait for Remus outside.

 

“But…” I stopped in my tracks and my smile disappeared. She laid a gentle hand on my shoulder and turned me to face her. “I must ask…if…there’s anything you’d like to talk about?”

 

Ice dropped into the pit of my stomach. She was giving you that look that teachers have perfected when they know you haven’t done something they asked and they’re just waiting for you to confess it, but Madame Pomfrey’s face was much kinder and gentler than that. She seemed almost sympathetic.

 

“I only ask because you appear very…tired...and lack of sleep obviously has tell-tale signs. If it’s only recently then do not worry but if it’s been going on a while, if there’s something going on in your life that you would like to talk about, I am a nurse first and foremost should you need any help. If it’s the troubles with your father that are causing this then perhaps talking would be the best solution.”

 

“No,” I said as convincingly as I could, “I’m completely fine.” In the back of my mind I remembered Remus was still in the room and could hear everything, and my stomach clenched uncomfortably.

 

She looked slightly disappointed with me but nodded anyway.

 

“My office will always be open if you need me, Miss Meadows.”

 

“Thank you very much, Madame, but I’m fine.” I strode determinedly to the doors of the Hospital Wing and after a minute Remus joined me. We started walking down the corridor and I prayed that he wouldn’t bring up what he had obviously just heard. He looked very deep in thought, his brow creased somewhat, and his eyes seemed far away.

 

“So, what lesson do we have now?” I asked, trying to sound cheery, smiling widely at him.

 

“Madame Pomfrey said we could go back to lessons after lunch,” he answered without looking at me. My fake smile disappeared slowly.

 

“Oh. So where should we go?”

 

“The Common Room?”

 

I nodded and looked at the floor.

 

“Sounds fine,” I said in a small voice. We walked in silence the whole way back and once we were stood outside the Portrait Hole, he stopped and turned to me.

 

“Are you okay?” he almost blurted out. I stared at him, confused.

 

“Um, I suppose so, why?”

 

“No, I meant…what Madame Pomfrey was talking about, she said about sleeping and…your family and your dad and, well, I don’t know, I knew you wouldn’t tell her but I thought you might tell me if there was something wrong?”

 

My eyes hardened as I dropped his gaze and I looked at my shoes, letting my hair fall in my face.

 

“I’m fine.” My voice sounded cold and so determinedly unruffled that it sounded suspicious, and I was wondering whether he’d leave it. Though, knowing him, probably not.

 

“Oh.” I could hear the disappointment in his voice as well as something that sounded like…rejection? “Okay, well…Jelly Babies.

 

The Fat Lady, who had been pretending not to listen to everything we had just said, swung silently open. He held his arm out feebly for me to go first and I murmured, “Thanks,” before walking into the Common Room, feeling like a completely horrible person.

 

He followed me and we stood side by side, looking at the Common Room in silence.

 

“I’m sorry,” I said suddenly, not quite sure why I had. I just felt so unbearably guilty. “I’m sorry.”

 

He laid a gentle hand on my shoulder and waited until I looked up before smiling softly and saying, “Don’t worry.” I smiled gratefully and he pulled me into a hug. I looked up slightly to see he was staring down at me, and his expression changed to be serious. His eyes flickered from mine to – my lips?  I thought wildly – and he seemed to be deliberating about something. Then he gently lowered his head, and, still taken by surprise, I couldn’t tell what he was doing or how to react – 

 

“You’re back!”

 

We jumped apart again and Peter came bounding towards us gleefully.

 

“How are you both feeling?” he asked in a rush, “Everyone was thinking of skipping to wait for you both here but Lily coerced them into going to lessons. They have Potions, that’s why I’m here now,” he added, “what do you want to do while we wait for lunch?”

 

Completely taken by surprise, Remus and I blinked a few times at his happy, bubbly energy.

 

"Um," Remus hedged, "we can sit down here if you want?" Peter nodded enthusiastically and sat himself down. Remus took a seat next to him. I avoided both their eyes and looked at the floor.

 

"I'm going to go to my dorm," I said quietly, "I've got to...sort out my books and my hair and...things."

 

"See you later, Ophelia," Peter waved as I retreated to the staircase.

 

"Bye," Remus said after me, and I stopped on the stairs for a moment at the sound of his voice, but decided I needed some time to be myself and have a shower, and most importantly...sort out my feelings, if any, for the boy in question.

 

Ignoring the two boys I had left as they deliberated whether to play Exploding Snap or Chess, I almost ran up the stair case and threw open the dorm door, clicking it shut behind me and flopping down onto my bed. My fathers’ letter stuck out the side of the mattress. I stuffed it back under, not willing to go through another emotional journey like that again.

 

Then my mind started to wander. Specifically to Remus, and what the hell just happened. I couldn't even contemplate it.

 

Was he going to...kiss me?

 

No way. Because he doesn't like me like that. And I don't like him in that way, of course.

 

Or do I?

 

It's just Sirius, putting ideas into my head.

 

 I thought of all the ways he'd changed over the summer. Not seeing him for six weeks had definitely had an impact on his ability to grow; he was much taller and more filled out with wiry muscles that you could see moving under his skin when he flexed or moved or held onto something tight. His skin was a shade darker it seemed; when we had broken up for the sixth year, he was almost as pale as me but now he was visibly darker. Not very much, he was still quite pale, but you could see the change.

 

His cheekbones were amazing now. And his jaw seemed like it was chiselled by angels, truly perfection.

 

Okay, so he had changed a little in looks. And his voice had turned inexplicably sexy.

 

Damn those dropped octaves.

 

But there were still some things about him that were the same. Like his eyes, for instance. They'd always been beautiful. A light shade of grey that could be so determined and so fixated on something that it was if he was staring right through it. And his smile hadn't changed, either. It was still crooked and breathtaking. And he was still very smart and well-mannered and...

 

Well, no wonder Sirius thinks I like him when I go on like this. He has got some rather strong good traits.

 

But that's not the point.

 

Groaning in frustration, I dragged my feet to the bathroom and had a quick shower. The water soothed me and calmed me down. I felt my shoulders relax in the heat and it felt good to wash my hair. I only just realized that my hair had been unwashed since Saturday, when I fainted. So it had been awful, in front of Remus, which made me blush in morbid embarrassment just thinking about it.

 

But he didn't say anything about it. Maybe he's just too nice...

 

There I go again. Shut up, Ophelia.

 

I got out, dried my hair and dressed and sat in the middle of my bed, staring at the wall, confused again. I should really have checked the time but I couldn't bring myself to go downstairs and see Remus again.

 

And, you know, considering what happened the last time I ate, it would probably be better if I skipped lunch. Just in case.

 

"Ophelia? Remus said you were in here, it's lunch time if you want to go down -" Lily's voice carried up the stairs and when she appeared, she looked at me strangely. "What's wrong?" she demanded instantly, gliding over to my bed and sitting herself down.

 

I deliberated for a moment whether to tell her the truth, but it was something I couldn't keep to myself.

 

"I sort of...had a...weird moment. I think." I struggled to get the words out.

 

"Weird moment?" she pressed.

 

"Uh...yeah. With Remus." Her face changed as soon as the last two syllables had left my mouth; she was immediately excited, and a little smug.

 

"What happened?" she squealed, clapping her hands together delightedly. I raised an eyebrow at her enthusiasm.

 

"We...downstairs, we got back from the Hospital Wing -" This was harder than I thought, telling the truth, "- and we hugged and then...I don't know, he kept looking at my face and then he sort of lowered his head -"

 

"Oh my God! Did he kiss you?!"

 

Should I be frightened that she came to that conclusion?

 

"Peter walked in," I said, distracted, "did you say kiss?"

 

"Yes. Kiss." She looked a little annoyed at my slow understanding and rolled her eyes. "Honestly, Ophelia. Keep up. He's liked you since last year."

 

Woah. Wait. What?!

 

"What?!" I practically screamed. "Remus doesn't like me!" My voice was high-pitched and squeaky, and Lily rolled her eyes again, this time much more exaggerated.

 

"Please, he's practically in love with you. As if you didn't know." She caught sight of my stunned face and then suddenly realized, "Oh. You didn't know."

 

"You think?" I mumbled sarcastically.

 

"I thought you were just pretending to be oblivious to his crush so you didn't have to deal with it, because lets be honest, you're completely clueless when it comes to dealing with emotional stuff," Lily continued, "So do you like him back?" I gaped; taken aback at her brazen question, still befuddled by the fact she said I was clueless at dealing with emotional things.

 

"No, we're best friends, of course not!" My tone was too defensive, even to my own ears.

 

"Do you know of any other girl and boy best friends who have a completely platonic relationship?" she asked smugly, as if proving her point.

 

"Fliss and James?" I asked after a moment, and she pursed her lips, looking characteristically angry.

 

"Hmm," was all she could get out. I dropped the topic at one.

 

"There is nothing going on between Remus and I," I insisted. "And I sincerely doubt he likes me."

 

"You're going to have one of those relationships, aren't you?" she sighed. "Well, come on. Let's go to lunch. Unless you're still not feeling too well, if so we can go to the library instead."

 

"Is that alright?" I asked.

 

"Sure," she smiled and grabbed my hand, pulling me off the bed.

 

///

 

Next morning, as Lily and I were sitting down to breakfast, a tawny coloured owl flew over and landed on my shoulder, dropping a letter that had my name written on it in calligraphy on my lap.

 

"Huh?"

 

I never got owls, apart from my dad and that owl was black. My mum was a Muggle so we didn’t have a family owl like James did.

 

"Who's that from?" Lily asked interestedly, spooning porridge into her mouth.

 

"No idea," I replied stupidly, still staring at it. I turned my gaze to the owl and furrowed my brow, and it took off without a sound.

 

"Well...open it, then."

 

She made it sound as if I were completely incompetent. Which I probably was.

 

I made a grab for the letter and opened the back, making a mess of everything. I heard Lily sigh painfully and I was all too aware that she was all too aware of the fact I was mutilating my post.

 

"You'll rip your letter..." she muttered into her bowl. I shushed her and unfolded the small - and unripped, may I add - letter. Well, hardly a letter, more like a note.

 

Miss Meadows,

Your first Tutor session will be held tonight at 6:30 in the Library.

- Professor Slughorn.

 

I passed it to Lily, immensely glad that Slughorn hadn't put Regulus' name on it.

 

"Well it's not me," Lily said after scanning the paper, "he hasn't asked me to do it. Sorry, Ophie." She handed it back and I slipped it my pocket, shrugging.

 

"No problem," I said, my head turning as I heard Fliss' dulcet tones ring through the Great Hall, followed by Sirius' loud guffaw, James' somewhat high-pitched snigger, Remus’ quiet chuckle and Peter’s squeaky wheeze. Lily rolled her eyes and grabbed the Daily Prophet next to her, and buried her head in it.

 

"Ophelia's got her Tutor tonight," Lily announced Fliss and the Marauders joined us.

 

"If it's Snape, I'll eat him so you don't have to worry," Fliss grinned. I rolled my eyes.

 

"Thanks Fliss. That's real comforting."

 

"I'm sure he'll be okay. I mean, he doesn't mind you, does he?" Remus interjected, picking up a piece of buttered toast and munching on it thoughtfully. I wasn’t quite sure why he was playing along but I appreciated it. "The rest of us, on the other hand..." Sirius laughed again.

 

"Yeah, Snivelly hates our guts," he said cheerfully, "but you'll be fine."

 

"Thanks," I muttered, rolling my eyes.

 

"Well, just remember you and Remus have to Patrol at quarter to nine, so don't be too late," Lily said sternly, looking at me over her paper. My cheeks went red; she was right, I hadn't remembered about Patrol.

 

"Lily, we know when to do our Patrol," Remus laughed before I could get my mouth open to apologize, and when he turned to me I mouthed a thank you at him. He smiled crookedly and nodded, and the bell went as we made our way out of the Great Hall and to lessons.

 

///

 

Lunch came round. After Astronomy I slipped out of the classroom and made my way to the Library. I took some things out of my bag, mostly to look like I was doing something, but more to distract me. I had to think about things. About Remus. About what Lily said.

 

My quill scratched relentlessly on a fresh piece of Parchment, soon to be an essay for Professor McGonagall. I checked the book in front of me, turning to the page about Full Body Transformations so I could start my first paragraph.

 

"Hey, what are you doing here?" I heard someone whisper. I looked round and Remus was suddenly sitting next to me, smiling his lovely crooked smile. Oh crap.

 

"Oh, I'm working on my Transfiguration essay," I stuttered in a whisper, caught off guard. I looked him over, confused. "Is it raining outside?"

 

He frowned, and I motioned to his wet hair that was hanging irresistibly round his face. Comprehension dawned and he shook his head roughly. I giggled as I got sprayed with droplets. He grinned.

 

"Sirius. Water balloons. Need I say more?"

 

"Most likely not."

 

We sat in silence for a while and he got his essay out and started scribbling as I was. Then he looked up and I could feel his eyes on me, even though I was really trying to concentrate on the parchment in front of me.

 

"Ophelia?" I heard his voice ask quietly. I shut my eyes slowly and opened them again, and turned to look at him.

 

"Yes, Remus?"

 

"I'm sorry, about yesterday," he stammered out, "about trying to push you about what Madame Pomfrey was asking."

 

I was silent for a moment.

 

"My dad doesn't live with us anymore," I said after a while, with some difficulty, "he left in...bad circumstances. He cheated. A lot. It's just me and my mum and my sister now." Well, it was partially true at least.

 

"I didn't know you had a sister," he said with some surprise. I shrugged.

 

"I don't talk about my home life," I answered, and he nodded a little.

 

"Your dad sends you letters, though?" he pressed, and I think he realized I probably wouldn't be so open again so he had to make the best of it.

 

"Yeah," I sighed, "trying to make up for leaving." Still partially true. "They're kind of...upsetting." He immediately put an arm round my waist and hugged me to his chest, our chairs pulling closer.

 

"What's your sister’s name?"

 

"Bethany. It's a bit more modern than mine, eh?" I forced out a little chuckle but a wave of homesickness hit me. I missed my little sister, and I missed my mother, and I missed my house and the park down the road and the little corner shop...everything.

 

"I love your name, it's unique," Remus smiled into my hair.

 

We were quiet for a while.

 

"Thanks. For forcing it out of me." He squeezed me a little.

 

"You can talk to me any time."

 

I nodded and he let go, and we got back to our essays, though the corners of my lips were twitching, itching to turn into a smile.

 

Telling the truth - well, partly - didn't seem so bad. But that's it, though. No more. They don't need to know.

 

They stopped twitching and I stared down at my parchment, dipping my quill in black ink and watching my script flow out of the quill silently.

 

///

 

After lessons, I made it back to the Library with only a minute to spare before my Tutorage with...Regulus.

 

How long was this going to go on? Was he expecting me to bring anything? I had my Potions book and some Parchment, a Quill and some ink in my school bag and I had put on a simple pair of jeans and a blue jumper. I wasn't expected to wear school uniform, was I? Because Slughorn has arranged it?

 

I caught my breath and tried to ignore the questions in my head.

 

I'm fine. This is nothing to be nervous about.

 

I studied the tables and saw several study groups, mostly Ravenclaws by the looks of it, one including Amelia Argon.

 

Ah, yeah. Lily was totally going to kill me for caving in to Sirius.

 

I shook my head and kept on looking and I saw Regulus on a table quite away from the groups. He had his head partially in a book and every so often he looked up slightly and scanned the area, and when he spotted me he sort of did a double take. Then a light red brushed his cheeks and he nodded to me. I made my way hurriedly over and put my bag on the table next to him, sliding into the available seat.

 

"Hi," I whispered, my voice sounding slightly breathless.

 

"Hello," he said back, but it wasn't how I imagined he'd talk to me, how, if I'm honest, the conversation with Remus had convinced me he'd sound. He was polite but he wasn't curt, and he wasn't nasty either. Just...normal. Which I wasn't expecting.

 

"So what are you having trouble with?" he asked after a moment, and I realized I'd just been sitting staring at my hands. My neck flamed and I pulled my book out of my bag.

 

"Um. Everything. Just Potions in general. I'm hopeless, really." He gave a short chuckle that reminded me of Remus and opened the book in front of me.

 

"Well, shall we start with...Slughorn said you had particular trouble recognising the symbols for ingredients?" I nodded as he scanned the contents page, and sighed in impatience.

 

"He's still getting these books?" He rolled his eyes and replaced it with the Potions book he was reading. "This is what we need, to start off with. It's got detailed accounts of the most common Potions ingredient symbols and what the actual ingredients are used for, plus the less common ones and the ones where, if you use them with anything else, will cause an explosion."

 

I gaped.

 

"That, um...yeah. That sounds good." He smiled good-naturedly and flicked his book open to page one.

 

"It's not that hard, trust me." I smiled nervously and looked down at the book.

 

Easy for you to say, you’re a genius boy.

 

"Slughorn said that you accidentally used Powdered Melaforical Leaf instead of Crushed Beetles Eyes in the latest Potions mishap," he continued, studying the page.

 

"Oh God, that's embarrassing. He's been talking about me?" My voice went squeaky.

 

"Oh no, not a lot," Regulus assured me, “it was just to help me sort of...know what level you're at."

 

"And what level am I at? Zero?" I sighed. That would most likely be my luck.

 

"Not that low," he said in a teasing manner, "but, if I'm truthful, you need a little help."

 

"A little? Don't you mean a hell of a lot?"

 

He laughed again.

 

"Yeah, okay, a hell of a lot. But it's okay, because I'm a genius at Potions. You'll be level a hundred-odd in no time."

 

Talking with Regulus, I found out, was easy. Like talking with Remus or Sirius or James or Peter. He was gentle and attentive and answered any questions I had, whether completely stupid or difficult to answer. He was calm when I got things wrong and encouraging when, by some miracle, I got things right.

 

After what seemed like no time at all I got a tap on my shoulder. Regulus looked up and glowered.

 

"Ophelia, we have to patrol now," I heard Remus say. I checked my watch. Quarter to nine already? I looked up and his face was like stone, and he and Regulus hadn't taken their eyes off each other.

 

"Oh, thanks Remus." I gathered my stuff and stood up. "Thank you so much, Regulus, you're a great help." He smiled in my direction briefly.

 

"Same time next week?" he asked.

 

"Sure," I smiled. He nodded. "Goodbye, Regulus."

 

"Goodbye, Ophelia. Remus."

 

"Regulus. You should get to your Common Room soon, it's almost curfew." I was surprised at the harsh tone in his voice.

 

"Yeah. Thanks." The sarcasm in Regulus' voice was evident as he got his stuff too, and Remus almost steered me out of the Library by my shoulder.

 

"Remus?" I asked once we were out of ear-shot of Regulus.

 

"Yes?" he asked stiffly, still walking. His grip on my shoulder was beginning to sting a little.

 

"Remus, let go. What's wrong?" He noticed his hand and relaxed his fingers, and he looked at me apologetically.

 

"I'm just worried about you...being around him for too long."

 

Confused didn't even cover it.

 

"Worried?" I asked incredulously, "what is Regulus going to do to me?"

 

He seemed torn, probably whether to answer my question truthfully, and I saw the anger in his eyes as he glared at the floor.

 

"Remus. Look at me." He looked in my eyes and I sighed. "I don’t know what you think Regulus is going to do to me but he won’t. Trust me. I need your support on this, because you know Sirius won’t be okay with it.” For a moment, I could see he was thinking about it. Then, his shoulders slumped and his gaze fell to the floor again.

 

"You're right," he said, almost inaudibly, "I'm sorry."

 

"Well, that's fine. Just, please…trust me.”  His face screwed up funnily as though saying trust you? and my heart beat a little faster in anxiousness.

 

"Okay." I looked at him hopefully.

 

"You sure?" I asked.

 

"Yes." He nodded his head and glanced back up at me. "Yes, I'm sure." He seemed to be telling the truth, at any rate.

 

"Okay. Well, shall we get this patrol done?" He cracked a smile and nodded again, and he linked our arms as we strolled through the corridors, looking for any trouble or students being where they weren't supposed to be.

 


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