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Chapter 14 : Superhero
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AN: Okay, right, with the brief dedications: kenpo and LightLeviosa! Then also for keiradawn3 and Skyler315. Also, stop trying to kill Severus – you know who you are! :D I'm not killing him off, that would mean I would have to rewrite the introduction (and probably change the MP). Sorry for the long wait between this update and the last, this chapter refused to cooperate with me.
4/10/14: Update -- Chapter Image added.
October 7th, 1976
The bath water splashed into itself, falling with adequate force from the faucet head.
Several long days of numbness, training, attempting to concentrate on schoolwork for Albus' sake, and avoiding most people had left Grace feeling unpleasantly down. A hot bath and a lapse into her bittersweet addiction to tobacco were the only things she felt could soothe her retching mind. Between a trip to Cruor Terra, the confrontation with Severus, Sirius' continuous, unwanted presence, avoiding Remus, Peter's awkward ramblings in attempt to remedy the situation, James' attempts at balancing some time with her while being with his friends, and the tensions in the girls' dormitory, Grace was ready for a vacation.
Speaking to Severus was never an easy task, but after their accidental trip to Cruor it seemed impossible. He always managed to slip away down the corridors before Grace could catch up with him, and in Defense class, would only speak to her if absolutely necessary, fleeing immediately after the class would end. It wasn't until yesterday, Wednesday, that Grace was able to capture him before lunch.
She had decided earlier this week that she would use Remus' tactic – the subtle skills of delegation and negotiation by way of speaking – to confront Severus, feeling it would be better to handle the situation delicately. That didn't work. She then decided that manhandling him into an abandoned classroom with a subterfuge tactic – or more of a hide-in-the-shadows-and-wait-until-he-walks-by-and-grab-him tactic – would be the best option to reach a point where she could use the subtle skills of speaking.
He hadn't taken kindly to the attack.
She was met with a wand pointed at her, inches from her face, as she pressed her back against the door of the classroom, trapping him within.
“Let me go,” he had demanded, venom seeping through his voice.
Grace had taken a deep breath of air to stall for a moment, realizing then that she hadn't quite figured out what she was supposed to do once she had captured him. There was, however, one thing she had brought him here to do, which was to talk. So, she did. “You said you were going to help me in potions. You haven't spoken to me all week.”
His eyes had flashed, widening briefly, and he faltered slightly, as though he hadn't expected her to bring up their agreement, or why she had brought it up to begin with. After a moment of silent staring, in which Grace patiently waited, he had finally asked, “What are you?”
“I can explain if you get your wand out of my face.”
With hesitation, Severus had lowered his wand, keeping it firmly ready in his hand, and backed away from her slowly.
“What happened to the vampire?” she had queried.
“Vampire? There wasn't–”
“– Not like the vampires from this world. It's the name of the creature that followed us from Cruor. The name must have been carried over to Cruor by one of my ancestors. What happened to it?”
“Cruor?” he snorted impatiently. “What are you on about, Potter?”
“What happened to the creature?” she demanded, growing just as impatient. “You said I killed it. If it's still here, then people are in danger–”
“– It disappeared.”
He nodded rigidly.
Grace had frowned thoughtfully; if he was right, then something was definitely wrong. Vampires can't just “disappear”, and she would have to visit Cruor Terra.
“What are you?” he demanded again.
Grace had reluctantly explained as little as possible to him. She had told him about being an Everto Trucido and the war in Cruor. She told him about the Morticaine and the antidote and finding a portal to Vicis. She left out pieces of her Sight, her Servitor, and her true love. She didn't tell him about the cosmic plane, or anything to do with the current war that was brewing in their world. She had even shown him her handbook, after meeting some degree of disbelief.
She hadn't expected the question he had for her after she'd finished, however, and it confused her, to say the least.
“Is that why you're here, hanging around Lupin?” he had asked. “You're going to...kill him?”
It was the question, in combination with the strange glint in his eyes, that left Grace at a loss for words, if only for a moment.
She had shook her head slowly. “No... I only kill evil. Remus isn't–”
“–evil? You don't know what he is, do you?”
Growing annoyed, she narrowed her eyes. “Do you?” she had countered. “He's far from evil.”
“He- he's–” Severus stopped, stumbling over his words frantically. “...you don't know what you're talking about! You haven't seen–“
“– You don't know what you're fucking talking about...dammit.”
With some skepticism, the subject was dropped, though the air in the room remained heavy. After some debate, Severus had agreed to meet Grace on the seventh floor on Sunday, as long as Grace brought everything they needed.
The trip to Cruor had been both due to the fear that the distress call had not been false, and wondering how the vampire could have disappeared. She could not find a logical explanation for a solid entity transporting through a portal if it was meant to be a simulation, or vanishing thereafter. It had been, more-or-less, a simple explanation. Since the simulations were meant to replicate a real-life situation, the vampires were, in fact, solid entities as real as any other vampire in Cruor. They had, in a simplistic view, created vampires from nothing. While Grace didn't fully understand the technology – or magic, perhaps – behind the simulations, she did understand a brief portion of the explanation. Until the simulation was ended, the vampires could exist in multiple realms, maintaining their natural states of physical and mental structures.
Grace had demanded to know why they hadn't ended the simulation when they realized that there was an outsider there as well, but she was merely chastised for bringing the outsider to Cruor.
A letter from her parents had been the highlight of her week, accompanied by several from Anne in response to her strife. While her parents' letter was new and exciting, welcoming her to spend the holidays with them in a long, sweet note, Anne remained a constant relief for Grace's grievances.
James was another constant positive in her life, though he seemed to be around much less than usual. It didn't help that Grace was avoiding the Great Hall like it was infectious, taking her meals in the kitchens, instead. The house elves were growing fairly accustomed to her presence, and were always happy to make her something delicious.
Her brother chose to ignore anything that had happened between Remus and Grace, or anything that had caused the two to become distant. He chose to press matters of flying and more about Grace's interests rather than dealing with any issues.
After some gleeful, playful rifts with her, insisting that she at least join him for a fly, to at least try it, he would ask, “Well, what do you like to do, then?”
Grace would stare at him in question. She could never give an answer, because she wasn't so sure that she liked doing anything. She liked talking to her friends, some of the time. Then again, who were her friends at this point short of Anne and Albus? She didn't have any hobbies, and she could not claim that she enjoyed being an Everto Trucido, as it proved monotonous and dangerous and alienated her from the general population.
So she'd say, “I like to take baths.”
James would laugh in disbelief. “You have to like something!” he'd insist, before changing the subject to less thought-provoking matters.
At some point, she had become Sirius' personal confessional and confidante, resulting from what only Grace could surmise was the conversation she had with him concerning Marlene. He would ask her about Marlene, and if she had said anything that would have led Grace to her conclusion.
One afternoon, when Sirius was severely pestering her by the lake while she was trying to do homework, she asked, “If you care about this so much, then why don't you and Marlene sit down and talk about your relationship?”
He had snorted indignantly. “What would I do that for? Marlene isn't the type of girl who's interested in a 'relationship'.”
“Have you asked her?”
“Have you asked her if she wants an actual relationship with you?”
“She's not that type of girl.... I mean, I think she's kind of with Fabian Prewett now.”
“The two of you aren't seeing each other?”
“We are. Look, it's just – It's complicated.”
Grace had sighed in frustration, setting her book down to focus on the grey-eyed boy pestering her. “How do you know that she just thinks that you don't want a fucking relationship, so she's dating other guys to protect herself because you are dating other goddamned girls?”
He had merely made a face.
“Listen, if you want an actual relationship with her, then you have to–”
“– I never said that I wanted an 'actual relationship'.”
“Then why are you bothering me, for fuck's sake?”
Sirius never answered, nor did he leave her alone.
Peter was on a mission to establish common-ground and peace between Grace and Remus, though she insisted that they weren't fighting. Despite her efforts to debunk his theory that they had a falling-out, the Potion's class that was supposed to be peaceful – Grace had already bought enough Unicorn horn in Hogsmeade and was planning on spending the class doing homework, instead – turned into some amateur therapy with the mousy-haired boy.
Her patients was growing ever shorter with Peter.
Classes with Remus were only slightly awkward, though the two ignored each other. Grace had taken to sitting by herself, unless she was forced to be paired with a classmate for a project. She pulled her emotions inward, so that when they were near, she would only be mildly aware of his feelings and moods. It was a relief to feel his presence though, and sometimes she wanted to fully open their connection, believing that anything would feel better than not having him there at all.
On occasion, that control would slip and Remus definitely took notice. For example, the other night Grace was tactfully treading across the Common Room to head to bed, until she caught sight of Mary attempting to comfort Remus. Grace knew she had no reason, nor right, to be jealous, but she had an extreme distaste for the girl. For only a moment, the sight of her leaning close to him with her hand on his arm caused Grace to drop any kind of restraint she had on their connection.
Remus had jumped slightly, as though he had been shocked, and turned his head to look at her. He titled his head curiously to the side and Grace fled the room, ignoring Mary's glare.
Today was the day before the full moon, however, and Remus would almost certainly be in a mood. She planned on avoiding any raging werewolves by hiding in her dormitory, doing more homework, for the remainder of the day.
Though, that couldn't stop her from spending time with Moony tomorrow night.
She missed her Servitor, and Moony would hold no grudge against her, even if Remus was upset with her. Her plan to revert back to the way things were was not going smoothly, because she was an idiot for stepping over some lines to begin with. However, if she could have one night a month to be friends with her Servitor, than she could live with that.
She was certain that James, Sirius, and Peter would try to stop her, but she was pretty certain she could take them in their animagi forms.
Leaving her thoughts to rest, Grace glanced down at her belly. The scar of the lion appeared somewhat lighter than the serpent, though she couldn't remember if it had always been that way. She frowned at the scars, wishing that she had added bubbles to the bath.
Suddenly, the door to the bathroom opened and Grace instinctively slid lower into the water.
To her dismay, not only did Lily interrupt her bath, but Alice and Marlene came in as well.
“What the hell?” she exclaimed, attempting to cover herself in the water, grabbing the curtain and yanking it in front of her. That of course, only resulted in the curtain tearing away from its hangings and then falling over her head, blinding her from the intruders.
“We need to talk,” Lily said simply, closing the door behind the trio.
With some effort, Grace managed to free her head from the curtain, wrapping the plastic around her body like a towel – though, it did attempt to float away atop the water – and sputtered, “Now?”
With a laugh, Alice explained, “You've been avoiding us, and it's time we sat down and had a chat.”
“Lily said that if we trapped you in the bath, you wouldn't be able to escape,” Marlene assisted.
“You could have just asked to speak with me! I probably wouldn't have run away.”
“Probably isn't good enough,” said Lily.
“What did I do?”
There was an uncertain silence among the girls for a few moments in which Alice began shifting her weight from one foot to the other uncomfortably. Grace watched them from behind her curtain, annoyed with the intrusion and quickly losing patience.
Finally Lily began speaking, saying softly, “Well, first we want to know if you're okay; you've been avoiding us all for days.”
Nodding, Grace said stiffly, “I'm fine. I haven't been avoiding you.” Perhaps she had been avoiding them only slightly.
The three standing girls exchanged some skeptical looks, before Lily continued. “Good. Now please tell me why you thought it was okay for you to bring Sev – Snape – Er, for your to bring him here.”
“Uhm,” she answered hesitantly, not anticipating the question.
Lily raised her eyebrows expectantly, though the remainder of her features remained patient, as opposed to Marlene who appeared anxious and uneasy.
“I needed his help with something,” she mumbled truthfully, “and the only way I could convince him was to have you agree to speak with him.”
Sighing, Lily's eyebrows returned to their typical location. “Please don't involve yourself in matters that concern he and I.... We're not on very good terms right now.”
Grace agreed quietly, resisting the urge to tell Lily that if she wanted her to mind her own business, then Lily should first mind her own business. Any mention of Lily's constant thieving of her handbook stayed, thankfully, firmly on her tongue. “Is that everything?”
“Not quite,” Marlene answered quickly.
“Can I at least get dressed?”
Without argument, Grace was allowed to dress herself, feeling much better in her jumper and tracksuit bottoms than in a curtain. She was beginning to rethink her fondness for baths as they were consistently being interrupted.
“I just want to know why everybody is saying that you were on a date with Sirius.”
Grace winced at Marlene's bluntness and the underlying agitated tone. If Sirius couldn't see that she was obviously jealous that he would date other people, than Grace didn't know exactly how to help them, though she would more-or-less prefer to stay out of it. So, she recounted the Hogsmeade tip tale and her encounter with Sirius, why they went to the pink-decorated shop with the Chantilly lace napkins, and even what they discussed, hoping that she could ease Marlene's mind.
“But why did you break up with Remus?” Alice questioned, suddenly. “He's so nice.”
Desperately wanting to leave, Grace bit her lip. “It's a long story.”
“Do you really believe that you two weren't meant to be together?” Lily questioned, knowing far too much for her own good.
After some vague answers and direct questions, Grace ultimately opened up to the three girls, telling them who she was and her connection with Remus, only leaving out his condition for his sake. Perhaps it was alright to share with friends, if these girls could be her friends. These girls could be her friends.
This of course initiated a heated discussion, including a small conversation that Grace would always remember.
“So, you're like a superhero?” Alice asked enthusiastically.
Grace shrugged, shaking her head slightly. “Not so much.”
Grace hit the ground hard, the fallen leaves in the Forbidden Forest doing little to dampen the impact. On her back, she glanced around her, though the darkness hindered her sight. The fall had knocked the wind out of her, and she struggled to breathe for a moment as she attempted to located whatever had attacked her.
It couldn't have been Moony, she decided, he felt too far away still, though he'd been coming ever closer since she had stepped foot onto the grounds. She wished she had stayed on Hogwart's grounds, where the light of the full moon flooded the land, because he would have eventually found her. Traveling deep into the forest, where the canopy was too crowded to allow the light to slip through, was not one of her better ideas.
As the air returned to her lungs, she sat up from the damp ground, whispering, “Lumos,” with her hands outstretched in front of her. As the small ball of light formed between her palms, she took in her surroundings again. Dense trees surrounded her for as far as she could see, broken up only by the patchy ground, scattered with shrubbery.
It would be easy for something to hide in the thick of the forest, and Grace couldn't spot her attacker. Whatever or whoever it was that attacked her wasn't going to be very happy for long, because Moony was becoming very close to her location.
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