Chapter 3 : Crazy Train
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Crazy, but that’s how it goes
Millions of people living as foes
But maybe it’s not too late
To learn how to love and forget how to hate
~ Crazy Train ~ Ozzy Osbourne ~
The image of a pair of cold eyes woke me up. It was probably a good thing, I noted, as I looked at the clock. I probably would’ve overslept for my first classes if I hadn’t had that same old nightmare. I wondered why it even bothered me- it wasn’t as if I was likely to ever forget it, or like it was a new image that creeped me out. It was the same old dream, every night: those same eyes from behind the same Death Eater mask, holding a wand to my throat.
I was still in a cold sweat however, and found myself blundering out of bed into the shower, feeling awful. Usually, I loved the first day of school. I couldn’t wait to get to class and start learning new things, but today I just didn’t feel like it. I tried to remind myself that seeing as it was a Thursday, I only had to live through today and tomorrow before I could relax, but it made no difference. For the first time in my life I knew what it felt like to want to crawl back into bed and skip all my lessons.
I was still the first awake, somehow. But then I realised, Alice and Perry probably expected me to wake them up anyway, like I did every year, and hadn’t set their alarms. So, I woke them up, and as they grumbled, pulled on my robes. I was a lot thinner than last year so I’d had to get new ones so that they didn’t hang off me like a sack. The other two were ready to go by the time I’d done up my blue and bronze-striped tie.
“Frank’ll already be at breakfast.” Alice yawned as we walked along the cosy round corridor leading from our dormitory into the Ravenclaw common room.
“I hope I have free periods today.” I mumbled, which caused Perry to look at me as if I’d gone insane.
“You love school!” She exclaimed, shocked.
“Yeah, I guess I just don’t feel well today.” I shrugged. I really was tempted to skip, but as we walked down the stairs, I realised I was ravenous. I refused to bunk off on my first day back- this was a year of firsts, and I fully intended to get detention and indeed skip a lesson at some point- just not now. That would be pushing it.
We entered the Great Hall, where Professor Flitwick was handing out the timetables for this year. I got mine, and looked down at the Thursday column with disgust.
“Double Arithmency, followed by Double Ancient Runes, then Double Charms. Are they serious?” I moaned.
“I have it even worse; I have Double History of Magic first.” Perry looked like she wanted to cry.
“It’s your fault for taking that class.” Alice pointed out sagely. “You had enough experience of Binns to know what to expect.” Professor Binns had been boring when he was alive; imagine, in second year, when the man continued to teach even though he had died and was in ghost form. I felt Perry’s pain, but as Alice said, she chose the class.
“I’m free until Charms. A nice, chilled out day for moi.” Alice grinned. We both glared at her.
None of my friends did Arithmency, so I made my way to the third floor alone. I wasn’t very good at this class, but there was something satisfying about problem solving that had compelled me to continue with it to NEWT level. I’d forgotten, though, that I literally didn’t speak to anybody in this lesson, with it being made up of Winnie Corner, a couple of Hufflepuffs, a few Slytherin’s- and, I suddenly remembered as he smiled at me in greeting whilst queuing outside the classroom- Remus Lupin.
He was shy and quiet, so we’d never spoken much, but he seemed nice, and I felt more comfortable speaking to him since we shared a compartment on the way to school.
“How are you?” He asked politely.
“Not enthused by my timetable. You?”
“Oh, I’m fine.” He said, in a way that didn’t sound convincing at all. He was notoriously sickly, just like his mother, who he went home to visit quite a lot. I wondered if he was coming down with yet another bug. But then, he’d always looked slightly peaky. During the rather awkward pause, I realised something- despite looking ill, and having scars all over him- Remus Lupin was… well, attractive. I felt my face getting hot as I realised this. How had I never noticed? Why had I never noticed anything about any of my fellow students? Had I really been that self-absorbed? I supposed I must have. Remus glanced at me at that moment.
“Are you feeling okay? You look hot.” He blushed, too, when he realised how that sounded. “I meant- you’re kind of red. Do you have a temperature?” Oh Merlin, I wanted to die.
“Oh! I, um, no I’m okay, although I don’t really feel too good to be honest. I guess I might be getting ill.” I babbled. We avoided each other’s eyes as we made our way into the classroom. I’d always laughed at those girls who could barely get a straight sentence out around a cute boy, but now I guessed I knew how they felt. Remus sat beside me anyway, which was nice, though after that awkward display I had no idea why he’d want to spend any time with me.
I concentrated as hard as I could on what the teacher was saying, but this only seemed to loosen my grasp of the mathematical jargon even more. This was always the case with Arithmency- I knew I was horrendous at it, so I tried really hard to pay attention, but as hard as I tried, my attention wandered beyond my control. It was like a mental block for me, that I continued to battle, even though I nearly always lost. I barely even noticed when chatter started around me, but I did notice that Remus was looking at me expectantly.
“Um.” I said, intelligently.
“Did you hear a word of that?” He smiled.
“No, not really. Look, I’m going to level with you, Remus-“my stomach did a little flip as I said his name- “It’s nice of you to want to work with me, but I am horrible at this subject.”
“But you’re a Ravenclaw.” Remus said.
“Yeah, you want a Ravenclaw who understands Arithmency? Go work with Winnie Corner.”
“I’m sure you can’t be that bad. I’m okay at it, anyway, so I can try to help you, if you want.” He offered. This was really kind, but he honestly didn’t know what he was letting himself in for.
“Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
The two torturous hours passed quite quickly now that I had someone in class to talk to. We had a short break before my Ancient Runes marathon lesson, and Remus and I wandered down to the courtyard. It was drizzling a little bit with rain at this stage. My heart seemed to be suffering with constant palpitations, walking beside Remus. I continued to wonder what in the name of Merlin was wrong with me even as I realised we were approaching the other three Marauders.
“Hey, Enid.” James Potter greeted me.
“Erin.” I corrected.
“Whatever. Is it true your friend Prewett is marrying Longbottom?”
“Apparently.” I admitted.
“Wow. If I could get Evans to agree to marry me…” James said wistfully, his hazel eyes clouding over with daydreams behind his glasses. Sirius rolled his eyes at me and Remus coughed.
“But Lily won’t even go out with you, so what would be the point in proposing?” Peter Pettigrew stated the obvious. James didn’t look happy with this.
“I’m working on it, okay?” He snapped.
“You’ve been working on it for six years, Prongs. Maybe it’s time to give up?” Sirius suggested. James looked scandalised. “Look, I get it, you’re crazy about her, but you’ve destroyed the sanctity of it by asking her out in the most ludicrous ways you can think of for the past six years. She hasn’t once hesitated when rejecting you. You have your whole life ahead of you, I just don’t get why you’d get so swept up by one girl?” James glared at his friend before storming off. There was a pregnant pause.
“That was harsh, Padfoot.” Remus said.
“Well, it’s true, isn’t it? Merlin, I am just bored of hearing about Lily.” Remus and Peter looked extremely uncomfortable. It appeared that both of them got sick of hearing about Lily Evans, too, but neither would ever say anything like that. And then, Sirius was supposed to be James’ best friend. Remus shuffled his feet nervously beside me and Peter’s nose twitched. “Are we going to Ancient Runes, or what?” Sirius fired at me aggressively.
“Um, okay.” I squeaked as he grabbed my arm and dragged me into the castle.
A/N: I'm sorry it's been a bit of a wait. I've been really busy. I have several chapters of this already written so I'm trying to avoid delays in future! Thanks so much if you've reviewed, and please continue to review, or if this is your first read, please drop me a line, it makes everything worth it, trust me :)
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