When we arrived back at the cabin, Sirius led me up to the door and once I was through waved farewell stating that he, too needed to sleep. I was heading straight for my room, planning to shower and sleep immediately when a movement by the couch shocked me. “Oh my God!” was all I could manage to say before I hit the floor.
“Oh hell, sorry Holly!” Remus jumped off the couch now, trying to help me up. His sudden sitting up had scared me to bits since I had forgotten that other people inhabited this cabin, too. When I was finally standing, Remus scratched the back of his head awkwardly, “So… what took you so long to get home?”
I was confused and then noticed from the clock on the wall that it was well after midnight. I walked towards my room to gather my pajamas. “I made Sirius drive on the ground the whole way home, needless to say, it’s a much longer trip.”
He was leaning on the doorframe, “Oh.” Pause. “good.”
I was confused about why he was just standing there, saying nothing, but obviously wanting me to say something. As I walked towards the bathroom, I put out that query, “Why do you ask?”
Remus sat back down, “I don’t know.”
I shrugged, he was being weird. I went into the bathroom, but before I could shut the door Remus continued, “it’s just that…”
“Just what, Remus?” I was tired and just wanted to wash all the lake off me so I could sleep.
“I don’t know.” He stood up and walked towards his room, passing me. “Sirius, he just … he doesn’t typically have girls out so late without – er – ulterior motives.”
Was he hinting at thinking that Sirius and I were busying ourselves in other forms than travelling? “I’m not really sure what you’re getting at Remus. But seriously, it was a long trip back because it was a large distance to travel.”
Remus looked at me again, both of us leaning around our respective doorframes, and looking down the wall at each other. “Whatever.” I finally said, shutting the door to the bathroom. Whatever Remus suspected I was up to with Sirius was bogus. And what did he care anyways? I stepped into the bathtub and washed myself, but wasn’t quite able to wash away the bother that Remus thinking I would go off gallivanting with Sirius. If he cared that I was on the back of a motorcycle with some boy, then he may as well be my father. But he couldn’t be since him and the fact that he’s a werewolf took me away from my family. And if he was bothered that I was off with Sirius, then why have Sirius take me when he got to just teleport or whatever. It wasn’t fair.
I stewed on this for a while and then eventually got out of the tub. I dried myself off, got dressed, and then looked at my reflection. There was no way he was worried I was up to Sirius’ ulterior motives, instead he was probably just worried I’d escaped and told a newspaper about his kind – both his kinds. That was probably it. It was much more plausible.
With a much calmer head, I exited the bathroom and went back to my room. I noticed that Remus’ door was shut before I shut my own. Clearly he had the sense to forget about whatever was bothering him as well. Exhausted from the day, I fell asleep instantly.
When I woke up, I was shocked to find I wasn’t alone again. Remus was in the kitchen making some tea, he looked exhausted. “Did you sleep at all last night, Remus?”
He jumped, obviously not noticing my approach, “Not a wink.”
“Everything alright?” I pulled out some juice from the fridge and popped some bread into the toaster. I faced him while I drank a little, waiting for my toast.
“Eh, I think too much. But I think I’ve got it sorted now.”
I nodded, then jumped when the toaster popped. I grabbed the slices and sat down to coat them in jam, I gestured at him to sit down. “Relax, you don’t get many days off, so would you just shut your brain off for a bit?”
He smiled, “Actually, I think I’m going to go back to sleep- just for a little. Wake me up if I’m still asleep at noon?”
“Of course!” He went into his bedroom and I went and picked a book of the shelf, after breakfast I settled in on the couch, only to fall asleep as well. I woke from my slumber to realize that it was about one in the afternoon, I went to Remus’ room to wake him up as I had promised.
I never imagined that waking Remus up would be such a difficult task. First of all, his room was tiny with barely enough space for his bed, a dresser was placed inside of the closet at the far wall and shelves were lining the walls surrounding the bed covered in books and pictures. I could hardly maneuver about his bed to shake his shoulders, seeing as there was only room to scooch sideways and I didn’t want to bump my head on any of the shelving. At last I settled on just shaking his foot which was the closest part of him to me as I stood by the door. Unfortunately, this had little to no result. I tried several other tactics, including throwing things at him, but he continued to sleep. At one point, I panicked that he might be dead, but then remembered I could still hear him breathing and that his heart was beating at a slow steady sleeping rate. Frustrated I went into the kitchen and filled a glass of water up, then promptly returned to the bedroom, shimmied my way down towards the head of the bed, and poured a little bit onto the back of his head.
He woke with such a quick start that I did not expect. The other bit that I did not expect was that I would be slammed immobile against the wall because he slept with his wand in his hand and have to watch as a still groggy Remus assessed the situation. He wiped his eyes, still pointing his wand at me, and when he had sufficiently cleared away his sleepys, his eyes widened in shock when he saw what he had done. A quick wave of his wand allowed me to move again and his apologies were endless.
It was weird, that was the first time I’d ever experienced magic against me. Weird didn’t even begin to describe it, I felt a mix of being powerless but also, I was impressed at Remus’ power. I had no scale to judge upon, but I knew I never wanted to know. I rubbed at my shoulder and walked towards the kitchen, Remus followed me and insisted I sit down and that he’d make food today as it was the least he could do. While he dabbled about in the kitchen, I asked him about the group he belonged to, if they were all his age.
“Well, we’re the youngest. Most of us our under thirty, I suppose.” He set a lid over the pot and came back over to the table, “I think it’s because we’re all unattached. Two of the guys have a sister with something like four or five children, clearly she can’t join up.”
“Maybe it’s just because only the young are so rash to put themselves into such danger?”
Remus chuckled, “Or maybe we’re just all that desperate for jobs?”
“So it’s a league of unemployed hotheads eager to stop evil?”
Now Remus guffawed, “Yes. Exactly.” He stood up and checked on the noodles, “Well, some are employed. Like Frank for example, he’s one of the people that also works as an Auror.”
“So he’s a wizard policeman and with you guys? Isn’t that redundant?” I walked over to help him get the plates together.
“Only slightly, we need people on the inside, too.”
“So he’s like a double agent, but only on both of the good sides?” I peered over at the stove, “Sauce is boiling.”
“Thanks,” Remus took the pan off the heat and stirred it about, “Yeah, you could say that. Some of the older members work in the Ministry as well.”
We sat down to eat, Remus frowning slightly at my putting my feet on another chair. I responded by raising my eyebrows and shoving another chair towards him. “Try it, its more comfortable, as though you’re reclining to eat like a Roman.”
He laughed and put his feet up, which looked incredibly ridiculous. His knees were well above the table because he had such long limbs. I laughed and brought the conversation back to before, “So its mostly you and your classmates, then?”
“Yeah, I mean, that I know of. I don’t know quite how many of us there are, but there isn’t many. There may be others that are a bit more incognito.”
I nodded and kept eating, “All my classmates are either going to University, working as secretaries in the city, or just working on their MRS.”
Remus furrowed his brow, “What kind of degree is that?”
I put down my fork, lifted my left hand and waggled my fingers. “The kind that gets you married!”
“So that’s what you were working on when we were first ‘acquainted’.”
“Well, it’s not like you were working or in school.”
I did my best attempt at raising one eyebrow. “I could say the same for yourself.”
We ate in silence for a little, until Remus asked, “So were there prospects?”
I was confused for a little, “for marriage? You’re kidding me, Lupin. I was much too annoying in school to have gained prospects. My only prospect in life was to become the town nanny.”
More silence ensued, and then when we finished eating and Remus and I were clearing up, Remus cleared his throat a little to get my attention. I set the plates down in the sink and looked at him.
“So you know how Alice quasi-invited you to her wedding?”
I definitely hadn’t forgotten about that, I had actually inspected my closet the night before wondering if I had anything to wear. And wondering what wizards wore to weddings. “Yeah, I’m not too sure about that.” I mumbled, then I realized that Remus was looking at me rather expectantly, so I hurried into a babbling rant. “I mean, I don’t even know them. I don’t even have something to wear. I don’t even know what one wears to a wizard wedding. And again, I hardly know them.”
“Well, you’re welcome to come as my date then, to make it socially acceptable.”
"Of course, I’ll come as your date. So it’s socially acceptable.”
He smiled, “Thanks.” With a wave of his wand, all the dirty dishes were clean and started putting themselves away.
“Thank you, I missed having you around, so many more chores.” I said, waving my arm about towards the rest of the room.
“And to think, it was the company I’d assumed you’d missed.” Remus commented, grabbing a book off the shelf.
“Of course, I missed you and your friends- but you lot come with a lot of perks. If you ignore the negatives.” I picked up a novel myself and laid down on the couch. From his chair, Remus looked up, confused, “What negatives?”
Instead of answering, I stretched my leg up and gestured towards the scarring. Remus immediately shut his mouth and looked down into his book. I felt terrible for bringing it up, trying to make amends, I kept blabbering, “Well, it’s not like I think about it often. I was just, I dunno – normally you’re the one bringing it up. Not that I blame you. I’m just – I don’t know.”
I could see Remus starring at me over his book, but refusing to put it down. As if it was a shield. So I kept talking, “I think that we had a lovely day, truly lovely, so for once you actually forgot about this – this crap.” I wildly pointed at my leg. “And I’m sorry I brought it up, because with all this garbage going on, whatever you guys are fighting against, you don’t need me bringing up the one thing that you hate so much.” I pulled my book in front of my face, covering up the fact that every time I speak candidly, I get emotional. “I’m sorry.”
We sat in silence, I pretended to read, counting to thirty and then turning a page. Listening intently to see if Remus was turning pages in his book. Then I noticed that his I could hear his heart, thumping. When I heard it, I gasped. Then I heard Remus set his book down. I lowered my book and looked over at him. He was sitting in the chair, thumb holding his spot in the book, and the other hand open, palm up. I could tell that he wanted me to explain my slight outburst.
“I’m sorry, I had forgotten how much I could hear. With nothing going on in these woods, I guess I had forgotten.”
He relaxed a bit, “It is certainly something.” He lifted his book back up and resumed reading, “For instance, I could tell that you had been holding your breath before.”
“So you weren’t reading?”
"Were you?” He raised an eyebrow.
I chucked my book at him, “How do you do that?”
“Do what?” Remus alternated raising each of his eyebrows, teasing me.
“You jerk. Give me back my book.”
Remus tossed it back over to me, and I found my spot again. Before I began reading, I thought about how if it was any of the other boys, they probably would have kept messing with me. It was nice to have Remus, who knew when to joke and when to stop. After a couple chapters, I put my book down, “Hey, Remus?”
“Hmm?” I watched until he had come to the end of a paragraph, when he looked up.
“I’m glad that it’s you.” I don’t really know what made me say it, but I knew that it was true. And that it would be nice for him to hear.
He didn’t respond immediately, I could tell he was turning the phrase over in his head, evaluating it, “In what respect?”
“I dunno, all of them. Living with, mostly. I like having you around. Everyone else just exhausts me, but you’re… you’re quite alright.” I felt foolish. I already looked foolish, seeing as I was laying back flat against the couch, legs up and twisted so that they were not on the armrest, but on the couch’s back, arms gesticulating as I spoke.
“I’ll take that as a compliment.” Remus smiled and lifted his book back up to read. He looked relaxed, for him, at least. His feet were up on the coffee table, but his back was still straight up against the cushioned chair. I stopped observing him and went back to my book.
"Holly?” He asked, giving me the same courtesy of getting to a stopping point before I looked over. “Me too.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, I like having you around, too. I’m glad it’s you, and not some other person who could have gone crazy about what had happened. Somehow, and I don’t quite understand why, you don’t really vocalize any complaints about the situation you’re in.”
I did my best ‘really?’ look and he chuckled, “Well, I guess not that often, as often as I would. And I like having you around when I’m here.”
I smiled at him and returned to my book, Remus to his.
I spent the next morning, attempting to sew by letting the hem out of Remus’ trouser legs. “Really, Remus, I don’t understand how you’re still growing. I could have sworn this pair fit you fine the last time you wore them.”
He shrugged and I poked him with the needle, “Don’t fidget!”
A mumbled, “fine.” was the response I received and I continued putting in pins to mark where I would sew the new hem in.
A sudden whoosh of air made me look up from my work, and the large silvery stag standing there made me fall back from knees onto my bum. It was shiny and translucent and it opened its mouth and spoke, “Ten minutes, outside The Three Broomsticks.” Then it disappeared.
I looked up at Remus, “Was that James?”
“What?” He asked, hopping off of the kitchen chair he had been standing on. “Oh yeah, a message from him.” He tip-toe ran to his room, trying to avoid being pricked by the pins I had placed in the bottoms of his trousers. “I have to go Holly, thanks for fixing these.” He gestured to the khakis and then went to take them off, thought better of it and shut the door. He emerged again quickly, handing me the pair, “I’ll see you later, okay?”
He seemed flustered, I had thought they were getting more free days, so I could see why he was thrown off. When I saw him disappear with the crack! I was left alone.
Keeping myself busy, I set to work sewing in the hem. After two hours bent over the pant legs, I held them up to examine my work.
Yep, they were crooked and the stitches I had made were uneven. But the good thing was, was that this was my first attempt at my ‘new hobby’ and it wasn’t that bad. And no one would really see it, since it was ground level. I folded them and laid them on the corner of Remus’ bed.
It still surprised me how small Remus’ room was. And the fact that it was the only room besides the combined kitchen and sitting room. Before I had arrived, of course. Hadn’t his parents lived here? I never wanted to approach the subject with Remus, because I knew there were all sorts of reasons, money being the most obvious. I didn’t want to know the reasons why Remus did not have a room to his own. But it seemed as if he spent the majority of his time at school anyways. Remus had gone so far as to build me a room onto the house, but never bothered to expand his own. He was an odd character, that was for sure.
I closed his door and went about the rest of my day. Around nine in the evening, I decided I was tired enough to make going to sleep this early acceptable. I didn’t think that Remus would be home that night anyways.
The front door slamming open woke me up, and I stumbled out into the living room. Déjà vu overwhelming me as I watched Remus and Sirius carry in Peter. He had a deep gash across his right arm and was gushing blood. I went into panic mode initially. Standing there staring at what was going on before rushing to get rags to help tourniquet and clean the mess. When I ran back in from the sink, I saw that Lily, Alice, and James were there. Lily was hysterical over something, crying and yelling, and James was trying to calm her down and Alice was dumping out a bag full of bottles onto the table, sorting though them and trying to pick out which to use. I tied off Peter’s arm tightly and Alice set to work pouring potions steadily across his upper arm while Remus repeatedly muttered spells which seemed to slowly, too slowly, close up the wounds.
I watched fascinated by this until Sirius nudged me. I looked up at him and he pointed at me.
“What?” I didn’t get what he was trying to say.
He pointed again, and this time I looked down at myself. When was I going to learn my lesson that I should wear more than a t shirt to sleep in? “Ugh, sorry.” I looked around and grabbed the first thing on the top of the laundry pile.
Soon enough, Alice stepped back from her work on Peter. She wiped off her brow and smoothed out her clothes. “Just keep putting dittany on it, probably every few hours, and it should heal up just fine. I’ve never seen a wound so deep from a curse, what was that?”
Sirius shrugged, “Never encountered it before, either.”
“And I never want to see it again.” Remus added, “and neither does Lily, she seemed pretty distraught, when’d she leave?”
Everyone shrugged, but it was clear that James had taken Lily home rather than try to calm her down with a bleeding Peter right in front of her. Alice yawned and stretched, “I really must be going, so sorry to see you again on such odd terms, Holly.” She waved and walked out into the darkness.
Sirius offered to keep an eye on Pete while we slept, but Remus refused, telling him to go home and sleep as well. Since I had already been asleep, I asked for instructions from Remus and took the first shift for Remus.
While I sat there reading, but mostly staring at Pete’s restored arm, something was bugging me, but I couldn’t figure out what. When it finally clicked, burst into Remus’ room did I ask, “Why did you guys bring Alice here? I thought that no one but Lily, James, Sirius, and Peter knew that you lived in the middle of the woods.”
His eyes bulged at that, “Holly! Crap. Umm… I’ve got to go explain some things. Especially why you were here. We were not thinking at the time and I just took everyone here. Shoot. I’ll be back.” He didn’t even put on shoes, just ran out into the night and with a pop was gone.
He didn’t return right away, so I gave Peter’s arm another dose and fell asleep.
I woke up to the smell of Remus cooking breakfast. When I went to the kitchen I saw that it was not even seven in the morning. “Remus, when did you get back? Did you even sleep at all?”
“What? Oh, no. No I didn’t.” He seemed distracted.
“How’d the cover up with Alice go?”
He stopped what he was doing, and turned slowly, holding his hands up, one tilted slightly above the other.
“I take it that means not good? Or not like you planned?”
“The latter. When she got back to her place, Lily was already there and so when Alice thought to ask the questions, Lily answered them. Not quite the way I would have wanted them to be answered.” He continued scratching the back of his head, his obvious tell of uncomfort.
“Well, Lily told a half truth about the cabin. Said that my family was poor so that’s why we own this dingy little shack in the woods-“
“Remus, it’s not dingy!”
“Well, Lily’s words not mine. You can take it up with her, okay?” He laughed, “And when Alice asked Lily about you. Lily said that you lived in the village nearby, then, Alice caught her off guard when she said that you were here. In a nightshirt.”
“Oh.” I looked down at what I was wearing, hoping that Alice was too preoccupied to notice my scars. “Did she…?” I trailed off and pointed towards my leg.
"No, no actually. She was more concerned with your presence and attire than your appearance. And unfortunately, Lily (rather than saying you were mad at your family and staying the night or something of that sort that I was planning on saying) let slip that you lived here. And upon further pressure for gossip from Alice decided to say we were ‘an item.’”
“Yeah. So good news is you are officially my plus one to Frank and Alice’s wedding. Bad news is that they think we are a couple living together.”
“Yeah, to make things worse, Alice decided that we must have been seeing each other for a while now and that is why I never flirted at Hogwarts.”
I have no idea how my facial expressions were. I couldn’t figure out how I felt. We were now in such a tangled web of lies and confusion all because I got in a werewolf’s way less than a three months ago. Had it only been a month? Now, not only was I a captive, but one of the few people that knew us ‘on the outside’ now thought we were a couple, a long term, living together couple. “Did Lily tell her not to tell anyone about me?”
"I didn’t see Alice to tell her myself, believe me I would have. But I made Lily promise that she would tell Alice not to talk about you whatsoever.”
“Of course, Lily made an addendum: That you must still attend the wedding still and that we would keep up this ‘charade’ of being together while there.”
"And this charade, we shall keep." I cheersed towards him with a glass of orange juice and he returned the gesture.