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Chapter 33 : 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover
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“There must be 50 ways to leave your lover.” – Paul Simon, 1973
Early the next morning, the Marauders lumbered into the Great Hall and settled at the Gryffindor table. Remus Lupin pushed some of his sandy hair away from his face as he reached for the hard-boiled eggs; Sirius, James, and Peter piled various other breakfast items onto their plates. The boys ate their food in silence, for they’d had little sleep in the past 48 hours.
“I hate Mondays,” Peter said to no one in particular.
“I hate NEWTs,” Sirius grumbled. James, however, seemed to be in a good mood. He hummed to himself, peeled a tangerine, and popped it in his mouth.
“Cheer up, mates,” he said after swallowing. “Only a few weeks left and then we’re out of here.”
“We still have to take our NEWTs,” Remus reminded him.
“Well yeah, ‘course,” James agreed, “but then it’s a whole new world. Aren’t you the least bit excited for life after Hogwarts? Living on our own, fighting in the Or-”
“Prongs!” Peter squeaked. “Don’t let someone hear you!” He furtively glanced around the room, but there were only a few Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws eating their breakfasts. They were not in a position to hear anything.
Remus gulped, despite James’ attempt to make everyone feel better; the future was not something he wanted to think about. He didn’t regret asking Dumbledore to join the Order – because he knew he would always be fiercely loyal to the man who had apparated into his home, armed with a Gobstones set and several tasty crumpets – he just didn’t want to dwell on the inevitable consequences of being a werewolf in the real world.
“You didn’t say ‘becoming an Auror’,” Sirius pointed out. “Isn’t that dream job?”
“I thought it was,” the Head Boy admitted. “But ever since Dumbledore told us about -”
“Sorry, Wormtail. Man, who knew you’d be so touchy?”
“What?” Peter muttered. “They call it a secret organization for a reason.”
“Wormtail’s right,” Remus said with a half smirk. “You have to be more careful, mate.”
“Oh sod off, no one’s here - fine, don’t look at me like that,” James pouted. “But I was being serious. I don’t think I want to become an Auror.”
“Why?” Sirius asked just before taking a sip of coffee. Remus tried to hide his shaking hands under the table; he didn’t like where the conversation was going.
“Because I don’t need to. I’ve got -” James looked over his shoulder to see if anyone was paying attention to them. “- a … ‘hobby’ … that will take up most of my time. And …” His lips formed a guilty frown. “I don’t need the money. I already have enough.”
“I guess I’ve never thought about it like that,” Sirius mused. “I don’t need the money either, thanks to Uncle Alphard. Well way to go Prongs, you’ve convinced me purposefully fail all my NEWTs. Not going to need the scores to get a job, am I?”
“Take your NEWTs seriously, Padfoot,” Remus said through his teeth. “Don’t be daft.”
“Well I still need the passing scores,” Peter proclaimed as he took a bite of buttered toast. “The Ministry requires them for almost any job they have.”
“You honestly want to sit at a desk for the rest of your life?” Sirius asked with a disgusted look on his face.
“I want to be useful,” the pudgy Marauder answered. “Yes, I need the money … But …” He took a moment to check out the pack of Fifth Years that had settled near them. Remus saw his eyes turn cold and calculating. “It would be useful to have someone on the inside of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Eyes and ears, if you will. I could pass along information.”
“Brilliant!” Sirius laughed. “Wormtail has the right idea – we need a spy!”
The label caused Peter to jump a couple centimeters off the wooden bench, but he masked his unease by taking a large sip of pumpkin juice.
“What about you, Moony?” James said in between chuckles. “What’s your plan?”
Remus shuddered in the spotlight; he anxiously bit the inside of his cheek as he looked down at his lap. Two noisy groups of Slytherins and Hufflepuffs entered the Great Hall - giving him a little time to stall – but he eventually lifted his head and faced his fear.
“I don’t know,” he admitted softly.
“I don’t know,” Remus said, louder this time. “I have no bloody clue what I’m going to do after the End of the Year Feast.”
The boys took a moment of silence to collect their thoughts.
“Well, you could,” Sirius began, but quickly backtracked. “No, I don’t think that would work out actually.”
“What about – no,” James puzzled aloud. “Not a good idea.”
Remus turned to Peter.
“Sorry, mate,” he whimpered, “I’m stumped as well.”
The werewolf let out a depressed moan before collapsing on the table. This was exactly why he didn’t want to talk about the future. He closed his eyes, tried to think happy thoughts, and was so preoccupied that he failed to see Lily walk in through the main doors.
“Morning, boys,” she chirped after she sat down next to James. “Remus, are you alright?”
“No,” he muttered from the table. “I’m hopeless.”
“Because?” she prodded.
“I don’t have a future.”
“Oh, don’t say that,” Lily laughed as she helped herself to a large cup of tea. The other Marauders collectively gulped and adopted newly found interests in their breakfast plates.
“After the Feast, I’m not going to get a job,” he answered tensely. “I’m not going to have any money. That’s pretty hopeless.”
“What about Smithers?” she said, finishing her pour. “He’s a good bloke – I’d be willing to bet 10 galleons that if you asked the Headmaster to talk him, you’d get a job at his bookstore. You already know all the inventory.”
“At The P-Purple Inkpot?” Remus stuttered. His friends perked up and started to grin at one another.
“Does he have another shop?” Lily teased, letting her sassy side show.
“Merlin, I love you and your ideas,” James said in her ear. She smiled gratefully, nestled into his embrace, and took a dainty sip from her teacup. He gave her a peck on the cheek.
Although Remus thought her suggestion was a good one, the pessimistic faction of his brain roared to life. It was only an idea. It wasn’t definite. It certainly didn’t cure the gnawing pain in the bottom of his stomach. Besides, if it really did develop into a full time position, there was still something else in his future that wasn’t certain.
“It’s worth pursuing,” Sirius encouraged as he hit his friend in the shoulder.
“Sure,” Remus gulped. “Now can we change the subject? I’d rather not talk about this anymore.”
The others nodded their heads and went back to their food. More students began to populate the Great Hall, and in between bites, Remus tried to keep track of who had shown up for breakfast. He ignored all the swirling questions in his head – where would Marianne end up after school? what would happen to their relationship? – but knew the apprehensive pain in his gut wouldn’t go away until he saw her face. He couldn’t wait to see her until their rendezvous tonight; he needed her too much.
Yet, when the French aristocrat finally arrived, he noticed her overall demeanor was cold, but confident. Her heavily made up face was etched in an indifferent expression; her stride was more of a strut. Even thought Marianne was wearing the standard Hogwarts uniform, her diamond earrings, leather flats, cashmere knee socks, and other acceptable accessories displayed her immense wealth and status. She made sure to keep her composure as she sat down at the Ravenclaw table next to Marlene McKinnon.
Remus felt even more unease. He knew she was being an ice queen for the sake of appearances, but her pureblood mask was a still shock. She’d been so carefree and honest with him lately … so what had changed since he’d last seen her?
“Oi,” James piped up to get his attention, “we’re talking about turning seeds into shrubs. Do you think that’ll be on the Charms NEWT? Flitwick only taught us how to do it last week.”
“I suppose so,” Remus sighed. “But it’s unlikely.”
“Yessssss,” James hissed in victory. “I hate that spell.”
The other Marauders started to engage in mindless chatter, Lily adding her opinion every once and awhile when she felt it was appropriate. Remus, however, remained silent and listened to them prattle on about Quidditch, bacon, Egyptian cotton, flobberworms, crossing the Atlantic on a Muggle steam ship, and whatever else came into their heads. He tried to catch Marianne’s wandering gaze, but she made sure to never glance away from her place setting; she took a practiced sip from her goblet and patted her mouth to avoid smearing her deep red lipstick. She didn’t even flinch when piercing hoots and cries suddenly began to echo throughout the Great Hall.
“Morning post, hurray!” Peter cried. “I bet Mum sent me shortbread.”
Sure enough, a package dropped in front of Peter’s plate, but Remus paid no attention to it; he was too busy scrutinizing the large shiny black box that had appeared in front of Marianne. As Marlene eyed the package enviously, he felt like a fly on the wall as he watched them interact; his girlfriend ignored the box, but the other pureblood goaded her into opening it in front of everyone. Marianne flipped open the top and pulled out a sleek set of black dress robes from a bed of roses. An invitation fell out as well.
The color drained from his face. The rest of the group continued to chatter away, but one person noticed his terror.
“Moony,” Sirius said discretely, “you’re starting to look ill.”
Remus didn’t reply and watched Marianne continue to neglect the gift in front of her. Sirius followed his gaze and gulped when he realized what was happening.
“Fuck,” he breathed.
“What? What’s going on?” James questioned when he noticed his distracted friends. He twisted round in his seat, Lily and Peter doing the same, and his mouth dropped to the floor when he caught sight of the elaborate present.
“Those,” Peter stuttered, “those are some expensive looking robes.”
“You’re not helping,” James said under his breath.
Remus felt his saliva turn to ash; his heart stopped beating normally. He looked away from his girlfriend and locked eyes with Sirius – the only one who was from that world and knew what was going on.
“Tell me that’s not what I think it is,” he asked. The former member of the Noble House of Black bit his lip and took a deep breath, not wanting to speak.
“What is it?” Lily asked, blissfully ignorant due to her blood status.
“It’s a token,” Sirius finally answered, “a public display of wealth and status to get her attention.” He threw his best mate a guilty glance before finishing. “And that ostentatious of a gift means he’s marking his territory to scare off other suitors.”
No one moved or said anything.
Remus felt his eyes start to well up with tears but he clenched his jaw and kept his composure. For the rest of breakfast, the others tried to distract him with corny jokes and witty banter, but he ignored them completely as his internal emotions sucked him dry.
“Well, time for Transfiguration,” Peter lamented. “But I’m going to find Aeryn before the lesson. I’ve barely seen her since the match.”
The group started to pack up their things to leave, but Remus stood still; he had finally locked eyes with Marianne. He watched her struggle to keep her pureblood fortitude – and for one second, she let her guard down as her lip wobbled emotionally – but she quickly reverted back to her defense mechanisms and raced out of the Great Hall.
Remus spent the rest of the day in a daze. Their Transfiguration lesson bled into Potions, which fluidly melted into Herbology and dinner in the Great Hall. Nothing caught his attention. He couldn’t stop thinking about their secret meeting later that night and what she would say to him.
When the time finally came, he trudged to the Room of Requirement and dragged his feet through the small wooden door. But instead of creating their normal beach, Marianne had changed the location to inside the island’s main compound, more specifically in the Grand Ballroom. The gramophone in the corner blasted an old 1920s blues standard and the Ravenclaw stood by one of the glass windows and mournfully watched the thundering rain as she smoked a cigarette through her old-fashioned holder.
She was wearing a pair of silk black robes that cinched her petite waist – the same ones she had received earlier that morning.
“What’s the occasion?” he asked. His tone was abrupt and sharp.
She hesitated, took a drag, and exhaled.
“I’m going on a date,” she answered, smoke streaming from her lips as she tapped the end of her cigarette. She continued to shy away from him by fixating on the storm.
“With whom?” he said through his teeth.
“Do you really want to know?” Marianne snapped, barely missing a beat.
Remus fell silent and stared at her back. He couldn’t stand their distance; he gravitated towards her; he couldn’t help it. Yet, she flinched when he placed a hand on her shoulder.
“Who is it? Tell me, please. I have to know.”
Marianne took another drag as fat raindrops smashed against the windows in front of her. She looked down at her high fashion shoes and fidgeted anxiously.
Remus blinked in shock. His hand dropped from her shoulder.
The Gryffindor had expected her suitor to be someone wealthy and connected, but he never thought the bloke would still be at Hogwarts. He could have dealt with an older gentleman who lived far away, but Rabastan? How was he supposed to eat his meals in the Great Hall without beating him to a pulp?
“Has he asked to marry you?” Remus said.
“He has stated his intentions,” she answered. “But I have the final say in the matter.”
“Are you going to say yes?”
“I do not know what my answer will be,” she said coolly as she let out another exhale. She tapped her cigarette and placed it back in her mouth.
Remus couldn’t say anything; in fact, if he did manage to properly move his mouth to make coherent sentences, he didn’t know what he would say.
“We knew this would happen, Remus,” Marianne reminded him.
The record slipped into the next song and a throaty witch began to croon. Her loud, passionate singing saved him from uttering a word.
“The only logical solution is to part ways,” she concluded, her lawyer instincts taking control. She threw her cigarette to the ground and smashed it with her killer heel. “So this is goodbye.”
However, her façade started to crumble and her eyes watered emotionally. In a moment of alarm and agitation, Marianne turned to run for the door, but Remus was too quick. He caught her arm as she brushed past him.
“Forget logic,” he spat.
“Remus,” she whimpered. “Please.”
At first, she refused to turn around and face him. But when she took a deep breath, she presented a very determined and professional Marianne and Remus found himself in a role reversal. Instead of being the one who shut down emotionally, he was now on the receiving end of someone who pushed others away when they were in a moment of crisis.
“If we continued to see each other while Rabastan is courting me, he will find out. Trust me. And when he does, he will ruin us.” She paused and removed his hand from her arm. “It has to be this way. For both our sakes.”
She jutted her chin upwards.
This time, he chose not to stop her when she headed for the door. He listened to the rain pound against the window, but quickly found that the room felt eerie and off balance without his girlfriend next to him.
Well ex-girlfriend now, Remus reminded himself.
He huffed tensely and his mind switched onto autopilot as he made his way back to Gryffindor Tower. He put one foot in front of the other and climbed into the common room once he breathlessly said the password. The Fat Lady squawked about his middle of the night entrance, but the werewolf didn’t hear her. He didn’t even feel the door hit him in the back when he joined the other Marauders in their male dormitory. James, Sirius, and Peter got off their respective beds, but were careful not to crowd him. They stood around him in a circle of solidarity.
“What did she say, mate?” Sirius asked.
Remus looked up from the floor, his face rigid and tough.
“She ended it.”
James let an aloof puff of air pass through his lips as Sirius ran a troubled hand through his hair; Peter blinked aimlessly, unsure of what to say or do. Just saying the words made things all the more real for Remus.
At first, he let out a small cry of heartbreak. But when Sirius put an arm around his shoulder for comfort, he began to break down in the presence of his only remaining support system and his tenacity melted away. He sobbed uncontrollably, sniveling and gasping for breath, and the other Marauders guided him over to his bed. The werewolf didn’t put up a fight and quickly curled into the fetal position.
“It’s going to be ok, Moony,” Peter soothed.
“No,” Remus croaked. “It’s not.”
“Don’t say that,” Sirius said in an attempt to console him.
“I have no future job prospects and no chance at being with Marianne,” he growled, his voice catching in his throat.
“But you have the Marauders,” James reminded him.
“Yeah,” Peter grinned.
“You’ll always have us, Moony,” Sirius agreed.
Remus unclenched his favorite pillow and peered up at his best mates. All of them were smiling like idiots.
“Look, I think Lily was right,” James said as he placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. “I think you should talk to Dumbledore about getting a job at The Inkpot. But if that doesn’t work …” The pureblood trailed off for a moment. “I can loan you money.”
“No, never -”
“Remus,” James said, choosing not to use his nickname, “I know you don’t like to be treated like a charity case, but I don’t want you to be a nervous wreck anymore. I want you to enjoy every one of these last weeks, because you deserve it. So if I can offer you a safety net - if you will – so you can pursue every option you have without worrying about putting food on the table, then I will be a happy man.”
“As for Marianne …” Peter began, but stopped when he realized he was unsure of what to say.
“We’ll help you through that too,” Sirius finished for him, a sentimental twinkle in his grey eyes. “That’s what mates do.”
Despite all of the horrible news he had received that day, the werewolf’s steady whimper grew into a snickering laugh. They was right; even though his sudden depression threatened to consume him, he had the best friends in the world who help him through it.
“Thanks,” Remus smiled. “That means a lot.”
“Now, where is that chocolate stash of yours?” Sirius asked. Before Remus could direct him to the proper spot, Peter vaulted off the bed and retrieved it for him.
“Sorry,” he said with a guilty gulp. “I get hungry sometimes.”
“S’all right,” Remus grinned as he reached into the bag. The werewolf pulled out a large Honeyduke’s bar, stuffed it in his mouth, flopped back onto his bed, and spent the rest of the night recuperating in peace.
Author’s Note: now before you come after me with torches and pitchforks, I want to say that even though there are 4 chapters left, this story is far from over XD So hold onto your hats, kiddos, drama is a’coming!
Thank you to everyone who has read/favorited/reviewed this story. It really brightens my day so please keep sharing all your comments and criticisms if you have the time!!
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