Chapter 7 : Chapter 6
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Tammy didn’t understand what had happened last night. I had refused to speak of it. I merely shook my head, and wore an expression on my face that Tammy did understand. A frown. From then on, Tammy didn’t speak a word of it, though she did cast me concerned looks to ensure that I was still with her in the real world.
I dreaded facing the Marauders all day and that meant Charms class was something my entire being did not look forward to. Tammy and I slowly walked down the corridor, hoping for the life of me that the Marauders were already inside, transfixed on Professor Flitwick and whatever wand-waving or incantation he was making us perform.
I stopped abruptly as I entered the already open door. Luckily, the Marauders were already inside and were transfixed on Professor Flitwick, but – cue the miserable coincidence - there were only two empty seats left. I froze. Conveniently, the universe decided to torture me for what I’d done and they had placed one spare seat next to Remus and the other next to Sirius. Oh, how it laughs at my misery. I stood at the door, mouth agape as a blur darted past me. I didn’t know whether to be relieved or feel betrayed when I saw that having to decide which one to run to was an unnecessary thought process, as I found that Tammy had already seated herself next to Remus. That girl apparated there, I swear it.
I took a deep breath before making my slow, hellish way towards Sirius. I avoided eye contact with him as I unpacked my tattered bag, pulling out my notebook and my fancy red and yellow phoenix quill. Some would think I belonged in Gryffindor for boring such colours, but I cared not. All would know with one look at me that I certainly did not belong in such a wretched house.
I let out a small huff as I pondered over that thought, bringing about the intensely unwanted attention of Sirius Black to me. I mentally gave myself a kick up the arse. I felt the ferocity of his stare as I pretended everything went unnoticed, pretended to be inconspicuous.
“Huckleberry,” I heard him mutter. Oh dear Merlin. This is the death of me, I thought.
“Look, Sirius, before I apolo-” I started, eyes closed as an apology formulated in my head.
“You look a lot more trollish today,” I heard the condescending jeer come out of Sirius’ mouth.
I turned to him; mouth wide in an aghast expression. Never have I met someone as impervious… as thick skinned as this person before me.
I’d had enough. I’ve tried enough. Rage filled me and I could tell by the way Sirius’ eyes flickered that he knew it too.
“I’m sorry, Huckleberry,” he said as I was about to proceed with my ranting. “I just need a bit of a laugh today.” He cast me a small smile, one of genuine warmth, so unlike to all the others he had given me.
“And you think because I’m funny looking, you think that’ll give you the laugh you need?” I shot at him angrily; forgetting that this newly depressed Sirius was my fault.
And certainly, he did laugh. He cackled as he prodded my quill with his wand, sending it into ashes. “You always seem to have a way.”
I frowned at him, appalled. There is no getting to him. Perhaps he’s just far too thick to insult. I watched as he poked at my quill once again, the ashes flying back into its rightful place.
He looked back up at me through his long lashes, a softness present in his eyes that I hadn’t noticed before last night’s incident. “We –” I’m positive he was referring to other three quarters of the Marauders – “had a bad night last night.” He decided to confide in me.
I was taken aback. Why in Merlin’s knickers would he be telling me?
“Amazingly, we all had some sort of nightmare.” My brain let out a small cackle. How stupid can one get? But then I stopped. He was referring to the boggart. The one I had set on him and the others.
“Wh-what happened?” I stammered, wanting to know what Sirius saw as a means of ensuring that my brain had not tricked me to feel pity for them all; in particular, for Sirius.
He let out a deep sigh as he now lit a blue fire on the black hair of the girl in front of us, much to her oblivion. “Just,” he hesitated, his eyes growing blue from the swelling of the sapphire fire in front of us, “Only family problems.”
I realized then that there was more to Sirius than the blithe front he’d been putting on for five years. I continued looking at him, scrutinizing this newly visible breed of Sirius.
“I can’t wait to get out of there,” he mumbled, losing interest in the fire that had now engulfed the poor girl’s entire head. “But I can’t.”
“Why not?” I blurted out, much to my own surprise. The less I knew about Sirius the more easily accessible the ten galleons would be, so my logic told me.
“I think,” he looked at me, a grin on his – apparently – pained face. “That’s a story for another day.”
I nodded once in understanding and sensitivity, something that almost everyone seemed to lack. I found myself gazing around the room, my stare focusing on each corner of the room to which each of the Marauders had found themselves. James had possessed a certain droop in his figure, his usually obnoxious and arrogant self pushed deeply aside, Peter seemed to be a lot more quivery, flinching with every loud sound. Then there was Remus, who seemed to be the calmest, most collected of them all. He was in conversation with Tammy, who appeared to be over the four moons of Jupiter, giggling almost every second. Once or twice, I had imagined him looking over at me, a small snarl on his lips.
I shuddered, the memory of Remus clouding my mind.
“Are you cold?” Sirius asked, mistaking my quiver of fear for coldness. He instantly pulled out his wand and lit another bright blue fire in front of us, cradling it in his hand as he held it closer towards me. And I thought it was only Tammy, Neo, Brad and I to have known about the Bluebell Charm. I huffed.
“Do you hate me?” I heard him question me, neither disappointment nor delight in his voice.
My eyes widened at him, shocked. What a question! Yes. “No!” I kicked myself for saying it.
“It just seems like you do.” Well, being subjected to his taunts and name-calling and the many referrals to ugly, it would be expected for it to seem like I do. “Or is that just how you act all the time?”
I sneered at him but stopped almost at once as I noticed there was no smirk on his face, only a real curious expression and a cocked head. I stared at him for a moment too long and suddenly found that my mouth would not close, nor did my voice box shut up.
I ranted to him. I ranted to Sirius Black, the very reason for my ranting. It was as though the words had erupted from my mouth like some sort of verbal vomit, formulating, in its own way, the explanation as to why I had every reason to hate him but, surprisingly, didn’t.
“So, in short, Sirius, I do not, in fact, hate you.”
“Why?” he asked me, ignoring the flicker of the flames in his hand, “After everything, why don’t you hate me?”
“It- It’s because,” I hesitated, biting my bottom lip and scrunching up my nose in - what I thought to be – a very unattractive way. “B-Because…”
The bell had decided to chime at that very moment, bringing about a whole clutter of noise to surround us. I didn’t know whether, for the second time in an hour, to be relieved or disappointed.
Sirius continued gazing at me for another second before flicking the flame across the room, this time inflaming the sandy brown hair of a small boy, who suddenly shrieked. He packed up his things slowly, not acknowledging the three Marauders that were already standing beside him.
I looked away from the group, packing my own things rather quickly. I was about to reach Tammy, who nicely enough, was waiting beside the door when I heard Remus’ voice call for me.
“Penny,” I heard him call in a tone that seemed too polite. I didn’t turn around immediately. Instead I glanced at Tammy, eyes portraying nothing but fear and shame. She looked back at me unblinkingly, confusion clear on her face.
“I’ll catch up to you later,” I managed to mutter to Tammy, her blue eyes glistening with what appeared to be the torment she felt for me. She nodded, her yellow hair attacking the air around her.
I turned around to find the Marauders gazing at me; Sirius still in his seat, his fashionably well-kept bag stood stiffly on his lap, James seated on his table, his grin wide as he stared at my perplexed expression. Peter and Remus stood where they were around the table, Peter bearing an indifferent face while Remus stared right at me. I felt nervous.
“I’ll catch up with you later,” Remus murmured to the others, all of who looked at him as though surprised. Sirius shot his head up at him, his head cocked to the side once more.
Whatever I was feeling beforehand was intensified infinitely. I started to play with the hem of my jumper as the three Marauders filed out, noticing how Sirius glanced at me as he walked past.
Remus waited until the tapping of the footsteps had disappeared from the corridor outside. “Penny,” his voice rumbled so low it was intimidating. Remus started shaking his head as he walked around the table, his hands placed on the desktop.
I didn’t know what to say. After all, I had no idea what Remus wanted to say to me.
“Wh- What you did, Penny,” Remus paused, running a hand through his wispy hair, “What you did last night was absolutely appalling.” His voice was low and steady yet possessed a slight tremble.
I stared at him, speechless. He knew. Not for the first time, it was as though he had read my mind. He thrust a piece of yellowing parchment at me, the edges hitting my chin quite forcefully. I held the parchment in my shaking hands, not taking my eyes off of what seemed to be a seething Remus.
“Look at it,” he snarled. Again, I imagined the yellow slits on his face.
When I did decide to look at it, the breath got stuck in my throat. What stained the yellowing parchment was blue ink that ran across it like webs. Labels that read the names of people was sprawled across the entire page; there was Tammy, Neo and Brad at the Great Hall, there was Regulus on his lonesome self in the library, Sirius, James and Peter at Hagrid’s hut, then there was Remus and I. The two of us in this mangy old charms classroom.
With no time to admire their intelligence, I instantly knew how he knew.
“I saw you, Penny,” he said through gritted teeth, as though trying with all his might to not explode at me, something that I was internally grateful for. “This map told me everything.”
“Remus,” I finally managed to breathe, “I didn’t mean-”
“YOU SAW EVERYTHING!” he roared, slamming the table so violently that it let out a yelp and cowered below him like a wounded puppy. He took massive steps towards me and I, for a moment, thought he was about to attack me. “You saw everything,” he hissed when he was mere millimeters away from me.
“You didn’t think of the repercussions, of how it could possibly have affected Sirius, James, Peter or me.” He retreated slightly, his teary eyes full of anger. “How could you be so selfish?”
I couldn’t answer him. For the first time in my life, I couldn’t answer a question. My heart was hammering and my knees were starting to shake.
Remus shook his head once more, as though unable to stand the sight of me for any longer. He ripped the map out of my hands and pushed past me forcefully.
I was on the brink of tears. I didn’t know why, though. I couldn’t leave it like this. My logic told me that the only way to get my ten galleons was to follow after him, make him promise not to tell the others. My conscience told me I deserved this. I was torn.
Almost instantly, I ran out of the room and followed Remus down the corridor.
“Stop!” I yelled, panting as I neared Remus’ slowing figure. “Stop, Remus. Please,” I breathed as I caught up to him, “Please, let me explain.”
“What is there to explain, Penny?” he shot, his eyes squinted in pain as he fought hard to hide the few tears that fell around his bottom lashes.
“How sorry I am!” I said urgently, “Remus, honestly, I am sorry, I never meant it to go that far!” Merlin, the burden in my stomach rumbled loudly, as though it wanted me to do more to fix it.
The lines on Remus’ face seemed to multiply as he glared at me. Never has Remus hated someone, I thought. Yet here I was, receiving the most hateful face Remus had to offer.
“I won’t tell anyone,” I finally said after a moment of silence, “I won’t tell anyone about any of you.” Another moment of silence… “I- I know what you are-”
“I KNOW YOU DO!” he bellowed, his hands going back up to his head as he gripped onto the sides tightly, as though frustrated.
“I won’t tell anyone!” I shouted back at him, trying my hardest to get him to listen. I, for one, knew that Remus was not stupid. He should have been able to hear the sincerity in my voice and the guilt written across my face. I held onto his arms, all thoughts of contaminating him removed, “No one.” I stared right into his eyes, as though that would ensure his belief in my promise.
Remus’ body started to tremble as he shook my grip off so he could wipe the single tear that fell down his cheek. “You’re afraid of me.”
Once again, I was taken aback.
“I see it in your eyes,” Remus sniffed, appearing to calm down.
“I’m only shocked,” I told him, bashfully. “I wasn’t sure what I saw.”
He studied my face, focusing on my plain brown eyes before coughing and glancing away.
“I’m sorry I shouted,” he muttered, playing with his ear lobe. “I didn’t mean to… I just lose my temper a lot quicker when it’s…” he trailed off.
I knew what he meant. The full moon was approaching.
“I deserved it,” I murmured back, refusing to look away from Remus, determined to show him that I actually was not terrified of him. He looked back at me and gave me a small smile. “Remus, don’t-”
“Don’t tell Sirius,” he heaved, closing his eyes as though in thought. “I know. But don’t be hurting him along the way, otherwise I will have to step in.” He gave me a serious look then patted my arm before sauntering off, no doubt, to find his friends.
I watched as he descended the staircase, looking left to right as though looking either way would give him an answer. “They’re at Hagrid’s!” I yelled after him, tearing up slightly from happiness as he shot me a nice, small smile.
A/N: Hello there everyone!
Thanks for dropping by! If you've made it this far, it probably means you've read the previous chapters and I'd like to say thanks for sticking by!
Anyway, you guys know the drill :)
Please tell me what you think! (especially about Remus' outburst, I want to know what people think about that part).
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