Lily and I were joined later by the boys, Peter’s arm in a sling. He said he was doing fine and James seemed excited about the fact that they were able to bring home a dozen burgers balanced in that sling. Lily seemed back to normal, no longer dwelling on the story she had told me.
The next morning, I waved Remus goodbye from my bedroom doorframe. It was back to the usual: me spending time in this cozy little prison, waiting for a cure to loneliness. I stared at the bookshelf, the kitchen, the window, my bed, contemplating what I could do with my day. Rather than become well-read, a chef, or less sleep deprived, I opted for another option. I was going to learn how to arch one eyebrow so I could no longer endure the subtle mockery of Remus.
Perched atop the couch, with my feet on the cushioned seat, I held up a mirror and did my best effort. The result was actually just both of my eyebrows going down and instead one cheek going up in a half smile. I attempted concentrating, not concentrating, and even closing my eyes – until I realized that I would never know the result – until I gave up.
I hopped down from my perch, deciding to use the bathroom mirror so I could have both hands to physically hold down one eyebrow. I was so focused on completing my task, that when I looked into the mirror at my whole self, I was taken aback. It had only been a few months, since I, well, changed, and I felt like I looked totally different. But, still, not different at all.
Maybe it was the lighting, but the freckles on my nose had spread to dust under my eyes and I felt less chubby. I guess running rampant about the woods for an entire night was the equivalent of daily aerobics. I shook it off, not wanting to think much of my reflection.
There was no use, really. I mean, if I had cared about my appearance in school, maybe I would have been out at midnight on some boys couch rather than chasing my dog and getting attacked by a werewolf. There were plenty of things that could be different. I shook that thought off, as well.
Frustrating myself, I looked in the mirror and pointed at my reflection, “Not that off, Holly. This is it, you could have taken a different road years ago, but ya didn’t so stop thinking about it.”
Then I realized something, when I was self-lecturing, my reflection had arched its eyebrow! I think! I tried to repeat the same stern face I made, but to no avail. It would never work.
I went back into the main room and was shocked by how much time I had wasted on stupid human tricks. I grabbed a book and flopped upon the couch. But I couldn’t read, my thoughts kept going back a bunch of what if’s. I slammed my book down in frustration at the same time Remus walked in, “Whoa, Holly, thought you’d be happy to see me.”
I hopped up, “No, I am. I’m just…” I wasn’t sure what to tell him, so I opted for the truth, “contemplating some what if’s and getting irritated.”
He nodded, sitting down upon his chair, untying his shoes one by one before kicking them off, “Oh, I know how that can go.”
I knew he was talking about his bite and probably my bite, too. I rolled onto my stomach, “Excluding the obvious, do you have a lot of what-ifs?”
He sighed, “Who doesn’t?”
I nodded, “I always wonder what if I had really became close friends with people in secondary. Not just a friend, but actually trusted them.”
Rather than share his own, he inquired, “and?”
“Well, I think that I would have done something more, more than sit around my house or work. I saved money while my friends moved away to spend it. But I wonder if I would have ever moved away.”
He nodded, just listening and stood up to heat up some food, gesturing for me to continue, “I mean, my closest friends moved away before I was even thirteen. Then after that, it was just a steady cycle of people I talked to during school, and who now occasionally send letters to me from the city.”
Remus pulled the flatware out of the drawer, sending it over to the table with a wave of his fingers, “Enough about your friends, aren’t these your what-ifs?”
“Yeah.” I stared at the table, picking at some dried food I must have missed the last time I cleaned. “I always just wanted to work with little kids, I think that’s why I was fine being stuck as the neighborhood nanny.”
“Really? I didn’t take you for a child lover.”
“Truly. Despite my lack of social schedule, I enjoyed it. I considered being an au pair, and travelling whilst doing what I enjoy, but I was… comfortable being comfortable.”
We ate in quiet for a bit until Remus broke it, saying, “I mostly wonder what-ifs about things I cannot control. Like what if I was put in a different house, or what if James, Sirius, and Peter didn’t forcibly befriend me, or what if I don’t know, everything.” He took another bite before continuing, “but you wonder what-ifs about things you did control, and I respect that. I’m going to have many more for myself now.”
I cleared the table but Remus magically washed the dishes. Instead of reading we talked and I told him about each of the kids I babysat. After a story about how one tiny girl had bitten a chunk out of my arm during one of her tantrums, he stopped me, “Are you serious that you wanted to keep doing that? Just spending each day and evening at someone else’s house, taking care of someone else’s kids?”
I nodded, “Hey, eventually I could have worked my way up to being a caretaker of some titled person’s child. Dressing up and attending fancy functions with the family.”
“Yeah, and sitting in the back corner and changing nappies.”
“I take it you are not a fan of kids, Remus.”
He laughed, “Is it that obvious? I don’t mind the older ones, but the ones that can’t feed, dress, or – don’t even get me started on the toilet,” he continued with an exaggerated shudder.
The following weeks were strange. It was as if I was a shared pet of the Marauders’ and Lily’s. Almost every night and day I spent by myself while they were off on missions, stake outs, or whatever covert operations their group organized. But at least once a day one of them would drop in to visit, claiming it was a stop on their way home, whilst asking how I was doing.
I greeted this all with several different emotions. First: elation at the company. Second: embarrassment once I realized how their drops ins were similar to taking care of a neighbor’s cat while they were on holiday. You drop in, occasionally leave food, make sure everything is okay, try to entertain cat, give up then leave. With an occasional sleep on the couch thrown in here and there. Third: stubbornness, if it can be considered an emotion as well as a trait. Sometimes I would shoo them out, insisting I was fine and to go check on their own houses for once. Fourth: elation and acceptance of the company.
It made the passing weeks go by sooner, and I realized that there was only full moon and a few days until the wedding. Remus spent the whole day home leading up to the moon, but we weren’t much company to each other. He had commandeered the bathroom and I couldn’t get myself out of bed. As embarrassing as it was, James, Sirius, and Peter had to haul us both out to the woods in time for the moon.
I don’t recall much – just digging my nails into Remus’ hand from gripping so tight. I woke up to a note next to my bed,
Hope you are doing well and are awake soon. It’s been almost a day 2 days. Moony had it rough as well, think he’s jealous that you get to sleep. Lily left food warming for you.
PS. We promise we didn’t talk about your bum too much.
Laughing at the note and wincing at my aching bones, I ate the food from Lily then fell back asleep. My visitor that day was Lily, she shook me awake, and when I grumbled she prodded me in the side. “Get up, Holly. I know you ate so you’ve been up before, so get up now, this is important!”
I rolled over to see her standing with her hands behind her back, “What do you have?”
Lily shook her head, “Get up.”
I sat up and dangled my feet over the edge. Lily shook her head no. I stood up, balancing with my hands still on the bed. Again, a head shake. I straightened up and stood on my own, to which Lily responded by bringing forth the object from behind her with a loud “ta-da!”
I rushed forward to look at it, it was a gorgeous green dress, draped over the shoulders and gathered under the bust only to flow down to the floor. “Lily, its beautiful! Is this what you’re wearing to the wedding?”
“No, its what you are wearing to the wedding. Lucky for you, I have stash of dresses from Christmas parties thrown by the potions master.”
I stared at it a while longer, thanking her profusely until she held up her hand, “Got to run, you took forever to wake up or else I would have made you try it on to make sure it fits. You’re getting as bad as Remus.”
AN: Yes it is very brief, but I promise next chapter will make up for it! I'd love to hear what you hope to happen/have been enjoying or not enjoying/what you think/whatever,