Chapter 18 : Chapter 17
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I slept late - as usual - and woke up to an empty cabin. Everything was going to slip back into that same routine of loneliness and the occasional quick visit. Disheartened, I picked up a book and went towards the kitchen to read while I breakfasted. The past few days of activity and crowded chairs and couches felt like a fluke.
After I sat down at the table with my book and juice in hand, I discovered a note that changed my forlorn mood.
"Don’t know when I’ll be back,
Practice your steps and see you (hopefully) tonight"
I pranced my way about the cabin floor, doing the steps Remus had shown me over and over. When I was bored with their simplicity I attempted to add in some flair - a flourish of my hands or a turn to help maneuver me around a chair or table.
I had the record player blasting and did not know someone else was in the room until I heard a slow clapping from by the door. I whirled around to see Lily leaning against the wall by the front window. My heart slowed, “Geeze, Lily you almost gave me a heart attack!”
She laughed and sat down on the window seat, “So you’re trying out new hobbies again, Holly?”
“You could say that.” I turned off the music, “What brings you here?”
She shrugged in reply. I knew she probably wanted to talk about James, but figured she wasn’t quite ready to yet. “I thought you would be staking out various suspicious persons’ activities today. Isn’t that what you normally get up to?”
Lily was fiddling with some loose threads on her jeans, “Yeah, that is the usual for us. Gets very head bobbing after a while.”
“You know, when you’re bored to pieces and no matter how alert you may have been before, you just start falling asleep.” While speaking, Lily slowly let her head drift forward, chin tucking in towards her chest, then she quickly jerked it back up, “And your head bobs.”
While laughing at Lily’s terminology and acting, I managed to ask, “So, what’s new?”
She looked straight at me, “Why don’t you ask what you really want to ask?”
“Fine. How are things with James? I know he realized how impulsive and stupid he was, but have you two talked since?”
“Yes, we’ve talked, but it’s mostly been a mix of begging for forgiveness or begging for my hand in marriage.” She stood up and started pacing back and forth. “I know that I love him, I do. But we’re ridiculously young. Too young. For marriage. Can you imagine? I’m not even twenty, hell, I’m only eighteen.” She stopped mid pivot, but before I could possibly think of something to say, she continued. “I know that Alice just got married, but Frank is in his mid-twenties. So many people are just running down the aisle, and I don’t think I want-” She stopped and walked towards the couch, falling forward onto her stomach.
“Want what, Lily?” I sat on the ground next to her, rubbing her back in small circles as if she was a child.
“I think, no, I know that I want to marry James. But I just don’t want it to be like this. As if we were eloping because of the state of the world.” She turned her head to face me, “I can’t figure out if I would do this in any other situation.”
“Lily, listen, you just answered it, you said you want to marry James. So what if there’s a long wait at the courthouse because everyone is eloping? It’s about you two. That’s it.”
“Holly, can you tell me another point of view? ‘Cause right now you’re repeating what I’m thinking. And I just - I just want a different thought process. I just keep thinking how I make such rash decisions, and this one is too important for me to just think of James and me and no other factors, does that make sense?”
I thought for a little, trying to decide if she wanted to hear what a gossip monger would think or if she wanted to hear what other people her age would think. Then I realized that it didn’t matter what she wanted to hear, what she asked for was entirely different. “Okay, so from my point of view, I think that although it may seem young, you are both out of school, You both have the capability of having a job despite your current unpaid spy work, so it’s not entirely irresponsible. And the whole state of the world business? If you think that you would marry James in five years, why not do it now? Why twiddle your thumbs and wait?
“But there are a few arguments against it. Find out why James wants to marry you, figure out why you want to marry James. If your reasons are better than finding fleeting happiness in a dangerous time and his are better than being excited by a good snog, then really think about it.”
Lily snorted at that, “Oh he can be so daft sometimes. Did he really think that it was an appropriate time for a proposal?”
“Men.” I joked, but Lily corrected me with a better phrasing, “No, boys.”
We sat there for a bit. I waited for Lily to collect her thoughts. I really did not know what to tell her, and had felt as if I was rambling the entire time.
Then again, she had rambled herself, so I guess we were even.
“If he asks me properly, I won’t say no.”
“Will you say yes?”
She nodded then rolled over onto her back, “Oh if eleven year old to fifteen year old me knew this, she’d invent a time machine just to slap me.”
“You really hated him, huh?”
“I wouldn’t say ‘hated,’ more like I thought of him as an adversary. We’ll never agree on anything, but I’ve learned to enjoy our spats or to just settle and do something his way to make him happy.”
It was the first time I really heard her speak so freely, and my opinion became solidified. “You should marry him.”
Remus and I were able to have short little lessons each night that he was actually home, or morning depending on what his assignments were. I did not feel much improvement though, seeing as it was mostly instruction with very little practice. It didn’t matter though, because the dancing did what was easiest and most appreciated for Remus and I. That is, gave us something to talk about and do together while still avoiding any feelings. Unfortunately, the more I got to see Remus’ more kinesthetic side (as opposed to seeing him reading on a daily basis), the more I found him attractive. It was the extra push of affirmation I needed when I realized that I was looking forward to his coming home not just so that other people would be in the house, but that he would be in the house.
Our routine would be to dance then eat while talking. Previously, I had realized that I liked being able to just be in Remus’ company but then I caught on that I liked to converse with him even more. He’d tell me about his days documenting the visitors to various shops in the shadier part of the wizarding shopping district and we’d get into discussions about why people were getting involved with what Remus told me was called ‘the Dark Arts.’ I found myself reading more of the books covering the walls not just for enjoyment but also to increase the amount of things that we could talk about.
When Frank and Alice had returned from their honeymoon, Alice had scolded Lily for even thinking that she should move out. This ended Lily’s quest for a new flat- or a room in someone else’s- and ended James’ panic that Lily may actually move in with Sirius. James hadn’t proposed since, but we all had a feeling that he was cooking up something special as he had confided in Sirius that he was making sure that he never messed up his chance again.
I still found it odd that wizards celebrated halloween. I mean it was not as if it was spooky and fun for them, it was real life. I wanted to talk to Lily about it. She'd probably understand my confusion. I rolled a large pumpkin from the back garden to the kitchen door, when I got it inside I quickly went about prepping it to cook in the oven. The whole time wondering about reasons wizards would celebrate halloween. Maybe as a way to mock muggles? They seemed to have a good sense of humor about things. Maybe the History of Magic textbook would mention something. I decided that I would consult it later, but for now I went back to the garden to find a more manageably sized pumpkin to carve for our window. I wished that one of the boys was here to prep for halloween with me. I was not quite sure how wizards celebrated it anyways, so I figured I would set about carving a pumpkin and figuring out a costume. It would also be nice to have a television, scary movies just went with this time of year. I glopped out some pumpkin seeds onto a tray and spread them about to roast later. It had seemed ages since I was able to talk to Remus, Sirius, James, or Peter for longer than five minutes at a time and the brief notes did not help either.
I ripped out the last of the seeds and set those for baking later. I looked at the front of the pumpkin, picking a smooth side to decorate. But what to include? I smiled and bit my tongue a little in concentration when I thought of the perfect idea. Grabbing a kitchen knife I set to work, only pausing to turn down the heat on the pumpkin currently baking.
I was done at the same time the kitchen timer dinged to let me know that the pumpkin was ready to be turned into pumpkin bread. I put the seeds into roast as I scooped out the warm pumpkin to further mash.
It was times like these when I did wish that I could set a spell to keep stirring and mashing the pumpkin as I gathered the other ingredients. But also the lonely times like these reminded me how much I enjoyed being busy so that I didn't think about how I was probably the only person around for a square five kilometers. As I mixed together the ingredients for a dense pumpkin bread, I admired my jack-o-lantern sitting on the table. When the seeds were roasted and the pumpkin bread was in the oven. I searched the cabin for candles to put inside my jack-o-lantern. I lit it up and sat in the quiet on the couch watching the flame flicker.
I must have fallen asleep there, a slice of pumpkin bread cut but uneaten still in my hand. The creaking door woke me, but I was groggy and comfortable underneath my quilts and nestled in the cozy warm and pumpkinny smelling cottage, so I stayed where I was. Two voices could be heard approaching my couch and when the jack-o-lantern was visible to them both a bark of laughter and a belly laugh were heard.
"Poking fun at yourself there Holly?" Sirius called as he shook me to be further awake.
Peter was crouched down at the coffee table looking at my jack-o-lantern. "This is very good, Holly, you know that?"
I sat up and smiled at the glowing wolf and moon carved into the pumpkin. Sirius sat down next to me and nudged with his shoulder as he pointed, "You need to include us on the other sides. How about it, make a dog, stag, and rat. Hell, you can include another wolf for Remus as well."
"Hmm... maybe." I smiled as Peter reached for a slice of pumpkin bread and nibbled at it with a big smile on his face.
"ShishrealgooHol" Peter garbled. He swallowed, "Really good! Did you make it from scratch?"
Sirius swatted Peter upside the head, "No, Wormtail, she walked to town and bought some at the market." He rolled his eyes.
I ignored Sirius' prodding and replied, "Yes, from the pumpkins growing in the garden. Thank you, Peter." I turned towards them both and asked, "So where have you all been? It's been ages since Remus has slept here, I think. What's going on?"
The boys looked at each other, almost urging the other to speak first. Peter lost that battle of wits and responded, "We think that Moony is trying to prove himself, especially after missing the last meeting. He keeps volunteering for more shifts than anyone else." He ended this with a shrug and then reached to cut himself another piece.
Sirius snatched Peter's cut slice before Peter could take it for himself. "I think that Moony should chill out, he cannot take on a full role following someone if he has to cut out once a month at least. But he will not listen to us. We've only made him angry."
"Well obviously, we've made him angry, Padfoot! He's annoyed because James has been following some tall blonde oaf on an assignment and they're prepping you to follow some family member of yours. Moony's the only non-auror of us all without a set or upcoming assign-" Peter spoke as if this was all very obvious and Sirius had his lips straight and head tilted, eyes bulging in that tell tale look of 'stop talking you've already said too much.' Peter had been looking at the ceiling for most of his exposition, and when he finally saw Sirius' face he stopped midsentence. "uhh..."
So Remus wasn't coming home because he was taking on extra work. His extra effort was not being rewarded which only made him take on even more work. No wonder I hadn't seen him. He was probably only sleeping for a few hours a day- if that. I wouldn't bother travelling all the way home for that. Let alone for me to ask about if he'd gotten an assignment yet. I wanted to find out what exactly Remus was doing, but apparently that was a sore point for Sirius, so instead I focused on him. "So... you're watching a family member?"
"She is not my family." Sirius growled.
Oh. Maybe that was the sore point. I leaned back and looked at Peter, hoping to change the subject, "How's your assignment going, Peter?"
"Eh, it's nothing special. I keep an eye on him at work. I've searched his house a few times while he sleeps. But they have this cat-" He let out a shiver.
Sirius barked out a laugh, "Worms, Wormtail, oh Merlin, tell her about - tell her- the cat- what it did!" He was already losing his words from laughing so hard that I looked back and forth from both of them, trying to decipher what was so funny.
Peter crossed his arms in an attempt to not tell his story, but eventually Sirius' laugh won him over and after cracking a smile he recounted- with rather precise imitations of cat and rat noises- just how the cat had picked Wormtail up and how he had to transform back to Peter to get away. "I'd reckon I broke the jaw on it, but what was I supposed to do??"
I joined in on the laughter and we chuckled together until it quieted down and slowly ended with a final sigh from Sirius.
"I guess, I should head home. Excellent baking as always, Holly." Peter said as he reached for one more piece of the pumpkin loaf. I nodded my head and he took it.
"Have a good evening!" Sirius stood up and stretched, picking up the rest of the loaf in the process, "I'll find Moony, eat this in front of him and make him so jealous that he'll have no choice but to stop back in, okay?"
I smiled and waved farewell to them both. I grabbed a novel off of the shelf and snuggled into my blankets again, wishing there was a way to turn the page without extricating my arms as I started at yet another page one.
The last full moon had made both me and Remus physically ill, but this time it had more sympathy and we were both practically normal in the days leading up to it. I noticed that my senses had intensified even more noticeably. At first I took advantage by making sure I could identify each of the scents and sounds. Then it became almost unnerving when I finally isolated the most pungent of them all.
It was while we were dancing, Remus had decided to loosen up the instruction and just have us dance to an entire record to enjoy the night before the full moon. When he spun me in towards him, I stumbled and ended up slamming into his chest. The proximity coupled with the deja vu of the wedding made me realize that the mystery scent was the same as what I smelled on Remus at the wedding. But it wasn’t on Remus, because it was him. And, just as before, it was delicious and enticing. But this time it was much stronger as was my reaction to the scent.
Not wanting to linger, I apologized and quickly moved back into our regular hold. I looked up to see that he was looking at me curiously. Obviously, it must have been because I had taken several deep inhales, oh goodness, would one call them sniffs?, when i had smacked myself into him.
Although the music continued, we had both stopped. I started second guessing what his expression meant, but forced myself not to back away. But just as I was thinking to myself ‘Holly, don’t you run off just because you realize you’re attracted to him even more’ I realized that there was no need for me to think that, seeing as I was not moving away. And oddly enough, I was moving back towards, still holding his two hands. I soon found myself wrapping my arms around his shoulders and lifting myself towards him. I paused, for the briefest of moments, and looked up towards Remus’ eyes. As soon as we made eye contact, he leant in and put his lips to mine.
About fifty billion things went through my head but I ignored them all as instinct took over and I tightened my hold on him. I felt his arms wrap around me and pull me closer. We hardly parted a second to look back up into the other’s eyes, when we came together again.
A/N: I know it's short, but I think that you've all been waiting for this, right? Let me know what you think!
Update 7/2015: Added passage about Halloween that had been misplaced in my original writing.
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