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Chapter 15 : Whipping Post
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And Gemma’s outfit is inspired by Janis Joplin’s attire on the cover of her last album, Pearl. I also don’t own Soul Train, its catch phrases or the songs mentioned in this chapter. Soul Train was created by Don Cornelius, the first host and executive producer. The songs are owned by the artists mentioned in the chapter.
The brooding Remus chapter image below was made by me!
“Nothin' seems to change, bad times stay the same and I can't run. Sometimes I feel like I've been tied to the whipping post, good lord I feel like I'm dying.” – The Allman Brothers, 1971
Remus Lupin was drunk. Extremely drunk.
He had been in the mood to get shitfaced and the 6th shot of firewhiskey had certainly sent him over the edge. His head pounded; he couldn’t feel his feet. And even though his eyes were closed, he felt like his surroundings had turned into a gigantic vortex, spinning out of control. His stomach lurched, but he barely had time to breathe as his lips attacked Marlene McKinnon’s mouth and she eagerly kissed him back.
The pair embraced in the corner of one of the older Astronomy Tower classrooms while the rest of the students around them raged to the live music. Remus didn’t know how their relationship had progressed so quickly, but one minute he was dancing with Marlene as Tarantellegra played an acoustic set, and seconds later, she dragged him into the shadows for some serious snogging.
And he didn’t protest. He was willing to do anything to make the deep, throbbing pain in his chest go away.
He continued to kiss Marlene lazily, his tongue noticeably missing its mark.
“ … Moony.”
He barely registered the hand on his shoulder but assumed that Marlene was encouraging him to keep going. He tried to jam his tongue further down her throat, but her giggles forced him to abandon his mission. Instead, Remus’ fingers fumbled with the buttons on her brown chiffon shirt and his lips travel down towards her luscious, soft neck.
“For fucks sake, man! Remus!”
Suddenly, he felt someone force him off the Seventh Year Ravenclaw with a strong shove and when he finally opened his eyes, Remus saw that James and Lily were standing in front of him with their mouths agape; behind them, the small crowd of students that remained clapped their hands enthusiastically after the band finished their rendition of “Strange Brew” by the Muggle super group, Cream. The party was starting to wind down, but the werewolf had no intention of stopping his quest for total intoxication and no one could persuade him otherwise.
“We’re leaving,” James stated dumbly, still in shock that his best friend was so uncharacteristically inebriated. Beside him, Lily sniffled. “Padfoot said he’d take care of the mess when everyone finally goes back to their common rooms.”
“Ah,” Remus retorted, his words starting to slur together as James sneezed loudly, “You two lovebirds got each other sick, now didn’t you? How cute. Yes, of course you have to leave early. And besides, the Head Boy and Girl can’t be seen breaking the rules any longer.”
Lily sucked in a sharp breath, physically alarmed at his snappy response. James quickly reached out, grabbed her hand, and intertwined their fingers to steady her.
“Remmy,” Marlene cooed in his ear as she wrapped her arms around his waist and the sandy haired Marauder was temporarily derailed from his intoxicated train of thought, “I’ve got to run as well. Cassy is waiting.” Before he could get a word out, the Ravenclaw stood up on her tippy toes and captured his mouth once more. Remus voraciously responded, failing to see James and Lily rolling their eyes with disgust.
“Bye,” he said when they both finally came up for air.
“Listen,” Marlene muttered into his ear after she tugged at his lobe with her teeth, “since we had such a good time tonight, d’ya want to go to the Ball with me?”
“Sure,” Remus grinned wolfishly, the alcohol clearly taking control of his words and actions.
“Great. ‘Night Remmy.”
“Remmy?” James sputtered once the girl sauntered back to her best friend, Dorcas Meadows, who didn’t seem very happy that she had been without her drinking buddy for the past hour. “Who the bloody hell is Remmy?”
“Well me, of course,” Remus responded, rolling his eyes as he turned towards the table next to him. He reached out for one of the half empty bottles of firewhiskey and James quickly snatched it out of his hand before he could press the container to his lips. Remus growled stubbornly, but the Head Boy didn’t budge.
“What is wrong with you?”
“Nothing!” the boy cried as he tried to rip the bottle out of his friend’s hands. “Let me have the whiskey, you wanker!”
“You know I can’t, Moony. You’re drunk.”
“Yes. I am certainly drunk. But I did just get a girl to ask me to the Winter Ball without lifting a finger so I want to celebrate.”
“Merlin, a girl who Padfoot shagged when he was 15! She’s the village bicycle -”
“She is not! Ok, wait. Wait. She probably has more experience than most girls in this Castle - ”
“Remus,” Lily finally cut in, placing a hand on his outstretched arm, “I think you’ve had enough.”
The werewolf sighed and finally stopped trying to fight against Hogwarts’ ultimate power couple. As the band started up again and Gio’s raspy voice sang the opening lyrics to The Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, Remus watched as Lily’s hand fell to her side and then subsequently grasped James’ fingers again. Something deep inside him began to ache when he realized that he was being a complete arse; this was the first time Lily had ever been to an illegal Marauder's party and here he was, making fun of the both of them for being out after hours instead of congratulating them on their budding relationship. As James wrapped his arm around his girlfriend’s waist, Remus huffed and ran a hand through his long hair.
“I’m sorry. I’ll help Padfoot clean everything up later. I’m being a complete git.”
“Yes. Yes, you are,” James responded, narrowing his eyes as he placed the bottle back on the table. “You know, you’ve been acting like an absolute prat ever since the last Hogsmeade weekend and I suspect that’s why you didn’t leave the Castle for today’s trip. Something happened and you won’t tell us. We Marauders respect our sacred laws but when the clock strikes midnight on December 19th, you’re going to have to explain yourself.”
“James,” Lily warned.
“No, Lily!” James snapped but his expression softened when he saw her cringe slightly. “I’m sorry dear, I love you very much, but you’re going to have to stay out of this one.” He then turned back to his best friend and pointed a finger in his face. “You’re officially on notice.”
As James angrily spun on his foot and set off towards the Gryffindor common room, Remus saw Lily throw him a sympathetic look; her expression caused him to immediately grab the firewhiskey bottle that James had tried to stop him from drinking. He placed it to his mouth to take another swig. However, once the liquid touched his lips, he coughed violently. Since he had stopped using his brain hours before, it was almost as if his body was physically rejecting the magical alcohol to tell him to stop drinking too.
He pounded his chest several times - gasping for air - and promptly ignored the warning signs. As Kaia’s voice began to soar above the softly buzzing side conversations, Remus grabbed the bottle and headed towards the outside deck that was attached to the old classroom. When he opened the door, several voices cried out as the freezing air crept into the party. He growled and slammed it shut, cutting off their whining protests.
As silence enveloped him, Remus cocked a brow as he eyed the large cloud of steam next to him. It suddenly dawned on him that the heat from the crowded room had escaped as well. He dumbly watched it rise into the crisp night sky when he suddenly had a craving.
He wanted a cigarette. Badly.
However, Remus was not the type of bloke who carried around a pack with him, so he lazily turned his head back and forth to scan for a fellow student; his eyes settled on a large mass of pink and purple feathers on the far side of the deck. When he squinted, he realized that the colorful feather boas were attached to the blonde locks of none other than Gemma, the wandering hippie. She was quietly sitting on the banister, wearing a flowing purple shirt under a large brown jacket with a pair of Sirius’ baggy denim jeans tucked into matching boots. A gust of wind whipped past them and he saw her shiver as she continued to roll the small joint next to her.
“Gemma, is that you?”
“Wotcher, Remus!” she called playfully as she waved to him.
The werewolf staggered over to her location, happy that he had found another outsider. She swung her feet back and forth and stuck her tongue out determinedly as she twisted the final bit of rolling paper around her gillyweed. The Hufflepuff then placed the joint between her lips and used her wand to light the end of it.
“Give us a puff,” he slurred.
“This isn’t a cigarette, Remus,” she chuckled as she exhaled.
“I know. I still want some.”
“You’re going to be one blitzed motherfucker then,” she laughed again, handing him the smoking object. He put the joint to his lips and inhaled deeply. Since he was a gillyweed smoking novice, he coughed deeply as he exhaled and Gemma continued to laugh as she patted him on the back.
“There, there. You’ll be fine. Man! I never thought I’d see the day. Remus Lupin, did you honestly just ask to smoke some of my shit?”
“It’s been a bad day,” he growled.
“Yeah, I would agree with you there,” she muttered as she snatched the joint from his grasp. She continued to swing her legs as she inhaled; Remus finally caught his breath and pulled his large black cloak tighter around his body. “Gio’s mad at me because I won’t do him a favor. Merlin, don’t look at me like that. He wasn’t asking for a sexual favor.”
“What did he want then?”
“He wants me to sing on stage with him during the Winter Ball. I told him I don’t like to sing in front of crowds.”
“Really? I hear you singing all the time when you’re with Sirius,” Remus countered as she passed the joint back to him. He raised a brow when she sighed heavily.
“Ok, this is going to sound really crazy, but bare with me. I grew up in a music hall - so naturally I was always around singers - and my Mum was the lead vocalist of a band before she met my Dad, so I certainly have the right genetics … but I dunno, I can’t explain it. I only sing around people I trust. So I can’t just go up onstage and belt out some fantastic number. My voice would crack.”
She took the joint from him when he exhaled and continued to ramble.
“But he doesn’t seem to understand that. He says I’m willing to sing for Sirius, but not for him. Can’t he see it doesn’t work that way?”
Before Remus could get out another word, she quickly took several small puffs and continued with a mouthful of smoke.
“You know what? I think that sometimes magic is more powerful and primal than we realize. There are just some things in this world that can’t be explained. Take my relationship with Sirius, for instance. I don’t know what it is about that boy … but I feel like our souls are just, attached. That little bugger has wormed his way into my damaged heart and I’m not willing to let him go. I tell ya, love is scary as hell. But exhilarating at the same time.”
When she finished her confession, she reached out to hand the joint to him.
“You diggin’ me? Wait, what am I saying, of course you understand. You’re a werewolf, you know exactly how hard it is to let people in.”
The shared joint quickly fell to the stone surface beneath them as Remus’ jaw dropped sharply.
Immediately, his heart began to race as he started to hyperventilate. His ears popped loudly and his drunken brain almost exploded with shock. How did she know? Had Sirius told her? If so, he was personally going to –
“Shit,” Gemma whispered, her hand flying to cover her mouth. “Shit, shit, shit. I wasn’t supposed to say that. Wait, don’t go! Before you tear out of here and kill Sirius, you should know he didn’t tell me. I – I dreamed about you.”
“You what?!” Remus exclaimed. Pure distress buzzed through his blood stream, but his brain was still stuck in a catatonic daze. In order to keep from falling over, he sat back down on the banister.
“I dreamed about you,” she repeated as she hopped off the railing and picked up the joint. The surrounding snow had snuffed out the roll so she quickly placed it back in her mouth and lit the end with her wand. “I’ll admit, it took me awhile to figure out whom I was dreaming about, but every time I slept in Sirius’ bed, I saw your past, present, and possibly your future. I guess my craziness latched onto you since you were always sleeping in the bed next to me.”
“So you know everything about me, even though we’ve never had a real, meaningful conversation before?”
“You guessed it, mate.”
The air quickly flew out of Remus’ lungs and he felt extremely lightheaded. He clutched his chest just below his heart and blinked back several scared tears. He rapidly threw a frightened glance in Gemma’s direction and in response, she smiled softly and reached out to offer the joint back to him.
“I’m sorry Remus, I didn’t want you to tell you like this. I wanted to keep it a secret until you told me about it yourself … but the same thing happened with Sirius. Usually when I meet people for the first time, I don’t care enough to talk to them. I don’t feel anything. But when I met Sirius … and after I figured out your secret … I dunno, I just feel comfortable around you two. I’m willing to share anything, I’m willing to sing, I – Merlin, this is starting to sound psychotic. All I’m trying to say is that I can’t help but feel like I know you because I’ve relived all your painful experiences. It’s like our souls are attached. But we barely know each other.”
Her smile turned into a large grin and she chuckled slightly as she took another puff.
“Look, I won’t tell anyone, bother you, or pry, but there’s one thing I want you to know. You don’t have to be so cynical all the time. Life is a blessing, not a curse. Sometimes we outcasts need to let people who care about us into our hearts because they make our lives exponentially better.”
“You’re starting to sound very prophetic,” Remus growled playfully as he plucked the joint out of her fingers. He couldn’t explain why, but his tense muscles slowly began to relax and the warm feeling of relief washed over him.
“I am not! You forget that I’ve seen your present predicament,” she responded matter of factly. “I’m referring to the Seventh Year Ravenclaw whom you seem to be involved with.”
“No, you berk. Marianne.”
“You know about her?” Remus gasped, almost choking on the smoke in his throat.
She gave him a look that said, “Are you even listening to me at all?”
“Right, of course you do. But that topic is not up for conversation.”
“Remus - ”
“You said you weren’t going to pry,” he snarled, his mood suddenly turning sour at the mention of Marianne’s name.
“Gemma, my love! There you are!” Sirius bellowed as he thrust open the classroom door leading to the outside deck and both of the damaged individuals sitting on the railing immediately shifted their attention to his boisterous greeting. Several large clusters of steam rose into the air before Sirius slammed the door shut and Remus was thankful that he had been saved from discussing the painful topic any further.
“Hello, dear,” Gemma smiled softly after Sirius placed a kiss on her forehead. Remus tried not to gulp, but it looked like she realized that she was not going to win in a fight against the werewolf if he wasn’t ready to overcome his extreme denial.
“You have to come inside! Everyone is doing that thing I told you I saw on the Muggle lelevision.”
“Television, Padfoot,” Remus muttered, running a hand through his long hair.
“The Soul Train Line?” Gemma squealed as her hands balled up and quivered excitedly. “My word, we have join them! Why didn’t you tell me sooner, you buffoon?”
She vaulted off the banister and grabbed Sirius’ hand, pulling him towards the door; he laughed and eagerly followed her, like a dog following its owner. Yet, just before the couple returned to the party, Gemma whipped her head around, flashed Remus an extremely deliberate smile, and quoted the television show that had coined the famous dance formation.
“ … And as always in parting, we wish you love, peace … and soul!”
She let out a piercing giggle just before Sirius dragged her towards the dance floor where the other students had formed two lines and couples took turns sashaying and strutting down the center to show off their dancing skills. Remus silently watched them through the window. Sirius impatiently thrust them into the front of the line and when it was their turn, the couple playfully boogied and twirled down the center towards the end. As Gemma circled her hips and did a series of funky kick ball changes, Remus finally understood why Sirius had fallen in love with her at first sight.
Although he felt no romantic connection to the girl, he still couldn’t deny that her bubbling, otherworldly personality was infectious. If anyone else had told him they knew about his lycanthropy, he probably would have screamed at them and stormed out … but not Gemma. Although he was unwilling to talk to her about his forbidden romance, he suddenly comprehended her earlier statements; there was some sort of unexplainable connection between them that made him feel comfortable around her. He sighed, playing her encouraging words over and over in his head. The werewolf hated to admit it, but part of him knew she was right.
Suddenly, the wind whipped up again and smoke crawled up Remus’ nose. He looked down and noticed that Gemma had left the smoking joint in his hands. He smiled softly and leaned back, placing the object between his lips, and finally reveled in the healing powers of gillyweed.
Author’s Note: Omg, I had so much fun writing this chapter. I like snarky, drunk Remus. I think I’ll keep him around XD
I’m also going to let you know that my chapter updates are going to continue but will be out every 2 weeks rather than every week. My schedule starting to get busier sadly :(
Thank you to everyone who has reviewed, especially PitchBlue (if you're looking for a good Remus/OC story, check out hers!!). I really really appreciate it!!
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