Chapter 27 : state of dreaming
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I live my life inside a dream
Only waking when I sleep
I would sell my sorry soul, if I could have it all
State of Dreaming -- Marina and the Diamonds
Saturday morning Rainne wakes up grinning.Today is the day she goes Christmas shopping with Lily. Soft rays of light peek through the gap between the wine colored hangings, illuminating her bare feet. She rolls over, placing her feet on her pillow and basking in the warm sunlight. Today will be a good day, she decides.
And what gives you that idea?
Her smile disappears quickly and she yanks the hangings open, doing a sort of backflip to drop out of bed. She checks the beds around her, confirming the rest of the girls remain sound asleep. After taking a quick, hot shower, she opens her wardrobe in search of an outfit, towels still wrapped around her body and hair.
Do you really think you can still fit in all your muggle clothes? Fat pig can’t even see herself properly in the mirror.
Anxiety laughs and Rainne frowns, rummaging through her clothes.
“No… no… no…” every reject is tossed over her shoulder, but she quickly grabs the discarded clothes and folds them, placing them neatly on her bed.
With a stretch and a yawn, Carmen rolls out of bed, scratching her knotted hair. She stops on her way to the bathroom, observing Rainne for a moment. After a quick thought, she hands Rainne a discarded sweater and trousers.
“These will look great on you, Rae,” she says before yawning once more. Rainne takes them, staring at Carmen in surprise.
Yeah, okay. If that’s true you better expect a marriage proposal from half the school.
Oh and don’t forget to see if pigs -such as yourself -are flying today.
“Thanks,” says Rainne, ignoring the intrusive thoughts. Carmen smiles and shuts the bathroom door behind her. Before Anxiety can change her mind, Rainne has shut the hangings around her and changed into the outfit, donning some old brown boots on her feet. She plops down in front of the vanity and, as is her daily routine, cakes her face with makeup. Somewhere in between, Marlene has gotten up and is brushing her brown hair, eyes still half closed.
Yeah, go for the ‘natural’ look. They’ll never know.
The voice is sarcastic, and Rainne frowns at her reflection, setting down the mascara wand. She pulls her cheeks back and puckers her lips, pretending she is beautiful.
She continues to apply mascara when, in the mirror, she sees Lily sit upright. Her hair is a tangled mess, looking more like an afro than the usual sleek locks she wears it in. Dry drool shines on her chin and the left arm of her pajama shirt hangs lower than it should, exposing her pale shoulder.
“Hmm?” she says, looking around tiredly.
“Morning, sunshine,” says Marlene, now hopping about in an attempt to put on her pants.
Lily nearly falls out of bed, barely awake. She stands behind Rainne at the vanity and stares at her reflection for a moment. Rainne, now finished with her makeup, watches her.
“Can’t go out looking like that, can I?” says Lily matter of fact. She waves her wand, taming her hair into loose curls, “Oh bother,” she says upon noticing the dry saliva, “Do I really drool that much?” scratching it off with a long red nail, she shrugs, “I’ll just be a mo,” she says to Rainne when Carmen exits the bathroom, jumping inside before the door shuts.
“You two are going shopping, right?” says Marlene, seeming to have fully accomplished getting dressed. Rainne nods, “It’s a pity I still have that Potions essay. I’d love to join you.”
Before Rainne can utter a response, Lily has already jumped out of the bathroom, donning a bathrobe, her hair still dry.
“How in the bloody hell did you shower so quickly?” asks Carmen, astounded.
“Growing up with my sister could teach anyone to shower in a minute,” Lily says, wiggling into some underwear underneath her robe, “With her it was get in, get out, or be killed.”
“She sounds fun,” says Marlene.
“Very,” says Lily, now fully dressed. The girls stare at her, “If you knew Petunia, you would understand. You ready, Rainne?”
Rainne nods, feeling silly for spending so much time thinking about her appearance. In a matter of minutes Lily went from monster bed head to beautifully casual. Rainne wishes she could look that amazing without an ounce of makeup. She glances at her reflection.
Don’t you dare wipe it off. Do you want the whole town to laugh at you?
She looks back at Lily, who has grabbed a cardigan and handbag and stands patiently by the door.
“Yeah,” says Rainne, grabbing her own bag and following Lily down the steps.
“Okay,” says Lily, checking her list one more time. The girls have been in Hogsmeade for just under three hours and are almost done with their shopping, only a few items remaining on their lists, “All I need is Remus’s gift… and then we can split up and buy each other’s!” Lily grins at Rainne.
Rainne smiles back, adjusting her grip around her shopping bags. She has only bought Ben and Sirius’s gift. She has an idea for the guys, but she hasn’t a clue as to what she can buy for the her roommates. The girls decide to buy Remus a joint gift, and make their way to the nearest bookshop. As the door opens it rings a small bell, alerting the clerk, which greets them quickly. Lily walks right by the sales display to the back of the shop, but Rainne is drawn to the flashing, colorful books at the front.
Too Hairy For Her Liking? 10 Easy Steps To A Baby’s Bottom!
How To Make the Quidditch Team by Maximus Brankovitch III
Then, Rainne sees them side by side. The perfect gifts for Remus and James.
How To Get The Girl: A Step By Step Guide To Win A Woman’s Heart
Track Your Monthly Visit! A Calendar That Reminds You When The Moment Will Strike
Rainne laughs out loud at the outrageous titles, calling Lily over. Before the redhead joins her, Rainne quickly turns over How To Get The Girl, deciding it probably isn’t the best idea to show her that particular book. When Lily reaches the display, however, Rainne realises she can’t exactly make the joke.
Does Lily know about Remus? Even if he hasn’t told her, she must. She’s top in their year, there’s no way she could miss it.
Rainne decides to chance it.
“Ha-ha,” she laughs awkwardly, pointing at the pink, girly book, “For Remus,” she sounds the words out as if speaking to a foreigner, or perhaps a small child.
Lily stifles a chortle, instead snorting through her nose. Then she catches herself, staring at Rainne.
Does Rainne know about Remus? Rainne is so intelligent, she must have guessed it.
“Heh,” Lily finally replies, “Right. Because of… yeah.”
They stare at each other, breaking the silence at the same time.
“So you know-,“says Lily.
“Did he tell you too- ,” says Rainne.
“Yeah, good,” they finish together, still standing awkwardly.
“This is the perfect book for him,” says Lily, finally letting herself laugh. Rainne joins in.
“Can we get him one every year?” she suggests as they make their way to the register.
That same evening the sixth year gryffindors sit in a close huddle in a corner of their common room. Though they’ve spent the past week pouring over books and staining their belongings with spilled ink in their rush to finish last minute assignments, their end of term exams seem to have snuck up on them. Even Lily, the most prepared of them all, bites her nails feverishly as she reviews what she thinks are the most important Arithmancy formulas for Monday’s exam. Remus, feeling the full moon approaching, nervously runs his thin fingers through his hair as he studies a list of counter curses for Defence. Marlene, Carmen, and James quiz each other at random on the properties of knarls, kneazles, and porlocks for Care of Magical Creatures. Ben and Rainne exchange notes for Charms, seeing as Rainne’s collection is far more neat and detailed than his. They all seem to be working hard, all except for Sirius, who stares wistfully at the couple across the table from him. Ever since he admitted, not only to Bonham but to himself, that he has fallen for Rainne, he goes through the daily struggle of keeping his eyes off of her. At the moment, he has lost the fight with himself and examines her dark brown curls, describing the way they frame her face in his mind.
He is soon, and abruptly, pulled from his longing thoughts.
“Siri-poo,” says a seventh year blonde whose name he can’t recall, “Would you help me study for Transfiguration?” she bats her eyelashes at him, but his eyes have an empty stare about them as he faces her.
“Sorry,” he says shortly, focusing more than he has all day on his notes, “I need to prepare for…” he eyes the parchment, trying to figure out what subject he is currently working on. He holds back laughter when he realises, “Divination.”
The busty seventh year, soon turning from hurt to indignant, huffs at him before she stomps away. Sirius raises his eyebrows and mutters to himself, still staring at the parchment.
“Ah, yes, tea leaves…” the group stares at him while he pretends to engross himself in the subject.
“What was that?” asks James, dumbfounded.
“Hmm?” is Sirius’s response, his eyes still on the scribbled notes in his hands. He stares at a fixed point on the page, not even bothering to skim it.
“Sirius Whatever-Your-Middle-Name-Is Black never refuses a flirtatious invitation,” says Carmen, eyebrows raised.
“It’s Orion. And sure I do,” says Sirius, finally lifting his gaze.
Everyone else joins Carmen in raising their eyebrows in disbelief, causing Sirius to mockingly gasp.
“Well, I am offended,” he says, avoiding Rainne’s gaze, “I am a perfect gentleman,” Lily scoffs, causing Sirius to glare at her, “Like I said, I really need to focus on Divination.”
“Whatever you say, Padfoot,” says Ben, “We all know it’s bollocks.”
“Must be his time of the month,” mutters Rainne. For a moment, the group is shocked. Rainne? Making a joke?
Remus is the first to laugh, doing so heartily, and soon the rest join in.
“Would you like something for your cramps?” asks Marlene, “I’ve got a great draft in my dorm, I could fetch it for you.”
Sirius, pretending not to find it funny, rolls his eyes, “Oh shove off, why don’t you. Let’s get back to studying before you lot blame me for getting Trolls on your exams.”
This shuts them up quickly, and soon they are back to quietly quizzing each other and scribbling notes on margins. Sirius, for once, is grateful that he was able to divert everyone’s attention from himself. They can’t know what he’s thinking. No, there’s no way that would end well.
“Hello, Rainne,” says Bonham as Rainne settles into the sofa in front of her. She fiddles with her handbag, still succeeding in her vow of silence. Bonham sighs, “Have you written in the diary at all?”
Rainne pulls the leather journal from her bag and clutches it tightly, nodding tersely.
“Is there anything you would like to talk about?” Bonham asks.
With pleading eyes, Rainne shakes her head. Why does everyone feel this obsessive urge to make her talk about everything? Why do they care?
They don’t. They just want to laugh at you.
Rainne agrees with the voice. There is no way she’s giving them something to laugh at.
“I’ll remind you that you are to attend these meetings until I say otherwise,” Bonham’s words are strong, but her tone is kind, “The longer you take to open up the longer you’ll have to come see me every week.”
Rainne exhales, using all of her willpower to keep herself from rolling her eyes. Why should she open up to this doctor? Why would she be any different from the rest? She’ll just go back to being locked in an office until she shows her bloody wrists to her and then endure her patronising advice. This is the farthest from what Rainne needs right now.
“We can just sit here in silence for the whole session, if you’d like,” Bonham says. Rainne would have expected this to be said in a condescending tone, but Bonham folds her hands in her lap and waits pleasantly, humming quietly to herself.
It’s the humming that pushes Rainne over the edge.
“Fine,” she says quickly, trying to hide her annoyance. Bonham grins.
“Great!” she exclaims, opening up her notepad, “What would you like to talk about?”
Rainne flips through the scribbled pages in her journal, chewing on the inside of her bottom lip.
“James’s family is having a ball over the holiday,” one of the skills Rainne prides herself in is her ability to speak to doctors with such ease. After enduring the nightmares of hearing her parents’ condition over and over again she seems to have grown immune to them.
“And who is James?”
“James Potter. We’re in the same house,” Rainne keeps her descriptions short and to the point, “He’s in love with Lily Evans, and she sleeps in the bed beside mine.”
“Are you excited for this ball?”
Rainne shakes her head, “No. I don’t want to go.”
“They’ll see my wrists,” Rainne self consciously pulls her sleeves past her wrists, grabbing hold of the ends in the palms of her hands.
“And that would be bad?” Bonham puts down her quill, looking at Rainne intently.
“Well, yeah. They don’t know about any of it. They can’t know. They’d think I’m mad.”
You are mad.
“You’re not mad, Rainne.”
Rainne doesn’t respond. She doesn’t know who to agree with. Is she mad?
Why else would they send you to her?
She must be mad.
“So will you be going to the ball?” Bonham resumes her note taking, barely looking at the parchment.
“I don’t know. I don’t really have a choice.”
“Why do you say that?”
Rainne pauses, “If I go, they’ll see. They’ll know I’m mad. If I don’t go, they’ll want to know why. They’ll get angry.”
“You’re not mad, Rainne.”
Yes you are.
“Have you told anyone that you don’t want to go?”
“Just you,” Rainne is messing with her handbag strap again.
“Why don’t you talk to Lily about it?”
“I’d rather not. I don’t want to tell them why.”
“Sooner or later, you will have to tell them,” she smiles sadly at Rainne, “They are your friends. They will understand. If you want to recover, you’ll have to be honest with the people you care about.”
Rainne’s chest rises and falls at a rapid pace. Her heart beat accelerates.
They can’t know.
You’ll be the butt of every joke. On the receiving end of every sneer, every smirk. They’ll see you for who you really are: a phony! You’re a fake. Just pretending to be normal like the rest of them. They’re going to find you out sooner or later.
“I can’t do this,” Rainne is out of the room in a matter of moments, Bonham right behind her. Rainne runs down the corridor, holding back tears.
“I’ll see you when you get back from holiday,” Bonham calls, sighing and returning to her office.
You belong in a madhouse.
Who do you think you are?
The tears come flooding down her cheeks, stinging her skin and running mascara streaks down her face. She can barely see and when she rounds the corner she collides with something, hard.
“Woah there, Rainne.”
A hand grips her arm, steadying her as she sways back. She looks up, whimpering slightly as she wipes away the tears, smearing her makeup even more in the process. Her eyes widen.
“Oh, hello, Sirius,” she sniffles, “Di-didn’t see you there.”
“What’s wrong?” Sirius asks nervously. He lets go of her arm.
Don’t touch her, she’s Ben’s. Not yours.
“Oh -er,” Rainne struggles to find an acceptable lie, “I -er.”
Sirius smiles at her, “You don’t need to tell me if you don’t want to,” he turns around so he’s beside her, “Where are we going?”
Rainne looks up at him strangely, wiping away what she hopes is the last of her smeared mascara.
He didn’t even ask. He doesn’t care about you.
He doesn’t even care enough to laugh about it later.
He can probably sense how mad you are.
“I dunno,” she says, “Anywhere.”
“Anywhere it is,” chirps Sirius.
In the past, the two were able to walk in a comfortable silence without any need for conversation. For Rainne, this fact remains true, but for Sirius it is a very different story. The silence feels awkward, his robes cling uncomfortably to his limbs and he finds himself adjusting them too often. He wants to say something, but she seems content with the lack of words exchanged between them. More than once he finds his mouth hanging open as he searches for something to say, shutting it rather stupidly when he realises he’s at a loss for words. The silence calms Rainne, and soon her breathing and heartbeat return to their normal pace. She clutches tightly to her bag, keeping it close. The last thing she wants is for the journal to topple out into Sirius’s hands.
Why do you think anyone would want to read what you have to say?
Rainne furrows her brow at this statement, something Sirius notices immediately. He yearns to know what she’s thinking, wishing to hang on her every word. But there are no words to hang onto. Just the quiet sound of their feet against the stone floor, the nearly undetectable inhales and exhales of them both.
Sooner than Sirius would have liked, they find themselves climbing through the portrait hole. He is even more disappointed when he sees Ben sitting on the sofa, his arm draped over an empty seat beside him. He looks up at the sound of them entering and grins when his eyes meet Rainne’s.
“I see you found my lady, Padfoot,” he pauses to give her a quick peck as she sits with his arm around her, “Thank you for escorting her to safety,” remaining seated, he gives Sirius an exaggerated bow, which is met with a curt nod. Ben frowns but shrugs it off, thinking it really must be his time of the month. He asks Rainne yet another question about Charms while Sirius trudges up the stairs to his dorm, exhaling angrily as he nearly slams the door behind him.
“What’s gotten into you, Siri-poo?” asks James in a high pitched voice, no doubt imitating the blonde seventh year that failed to lure Sirius away the day before.
“I’m on my period,” snaps Sirius, falling backwards onto his bed with a heavy thud.
“Don’t get your tampons all up in a bunch,” says James, pursing his lips and raising his eyebrows. He looks back to his quidditch magazine, coveting the uniforms he hopes to one day wear, “So the full moon is in a couple weeks,” he says, eyes still on the magazine, “I reckon it would be best if Moony stayed at my place, seeing as we’ve got the woods behind us.”
“Will everyone be staying over the holiday like last year?” he asks, tugging at a loose string on his trousers.
“Most likely,” James says, “Maybe Evans will finally let me sneak into her room after dark,” he looks up at Sirius, wagging his eyebrows. His suggestive smirk is met with a bark of laughter.
“As if,” Sirius laughs, “Dream on, mate.”
“You’ll see,” says James, unaffected by Sirius’s disbelief, “I’m going to marry her one day.”
“Right,” says Sirius, dragging out the word in a mocking tone. But he can’t help but be in awe of his friend’s determination. If Sirius had befriended Rainne at the beginning of their schooling, would he feel that way about her? Would he be determined to marry her?
Would she still hurt herself?
Instead of studying, as he should be, Sirius spends his day wondering how different things could be had he noticed Rainne sooner. He can’t believe he hadn’t, seeing as his breath catches in his throat whenever he meets her gaze. How did she remain invisible all these years? Is it because she wanted to?
Does she still want to?
When the end of term exams finally arrive, everyone seems to experience them differently.
Carmen, ever confident, shrugs off her nerves as she flips her hair over her shoulder, writing her answers slowly and carefully. She grins at Thomas across the room from her, causing him to make the tail on a y far too long. She giggles at his nerves, winking at him before returning to her own exam. Marlene spends most of her time daydreaming about all the kinds of gowns she could wear to the Potters’ ball. She realises a little too late where she is, rushing to finish the last few questions.
Lily and Remus are both well prepared, though their exam taking techniques vary greatly. Lily frantically scribbles as much information as she can possibly fit, hoping her professors can read her minuscule handwriting. She frowns after every question, wondering if there’s anything missing or if she should add more detail to each response. Remus on the other hand answers with concise sentences, longing for this entire ordeal to be over. He uses as little information as possible, being one of the first to finish each exam -something that puts Lily on edge.
James and Sirius, overly self assured, spend most of their exam time doodling on scrap parchment. They each imagine themselves with their respective crushes, James more obviously than Sirius. More than once, making sure the professor’s back is turned, he tosses his cute little drawings at Sirius, who mock vomits in response. Sirius rips every single one of his own doodles to shreds, afraid of what Ben will do if he sees them.
Ben sits by Rainne in every exam they have together, sneaking glances at her answers. She is so engrossed by the questions she never notices -or at least never lets on that she does. Her answers tend to be in bullets, followed by a closing paragraph that deems the list above it completely unnecessary. Ben scribbles recklessly, more than once finding himself without enough room for the responses. He ends up squeezing in several lines in the tiniest print he can manage, later laughing at the thought of his professor’s attempting to read it. As long as Rainne is right, he thinks, he’ll be fine.
“Finally!” says Lily, bursting through the door. As for all of the exams, she is the last one out, their final one being no different. The group applauds mockingly, giving her posh looks of approval, and she takes a bow, joining them as they walk down the corridor.
“Glad that’s finally over,” says Carmen, “Now I can relax and get my beauty sleep, instead of those pesky nightmares. I’ve had the same dream all week. Peeves impersonated me and failed all of my exams -it was awful!”
“That sounds like something he would actually do,” says Ben, his hand holding Rainne’s waist loosely, “I might suggest it to him.”
“That would be our best prank yet!” says Sirius excitedly, pretending he doesn’t notice how close the couple is.
“He could impersonate Sni-,” James starts, abruptly stopping himself when he sees Lily’s knowing look, “I mean, we probably shouldn’t do that. That would be against school rules,” he looks back at Lily, who has rolled her eyes at his obvious brown nosing, “I just can’t win, can I?” he says under his breath.
The group spends their last afternoon at the school taking much needed naps, making up for sleepless nights spent studying in the common room. Rainne, much to Sirius’s dismay, sneaks into the boy’s dorm and snuggles up to Ben. The rest of the sixth year gryffindors sleep alone, most cuddling a pillow instead of whoever they wish lay beside them. Their naps extend through the night and, before they know it, they’re aboard the Hogwarts Express.
Crammed into their own compartment, they discuss their plans for the holiday.
“So it’s agreed,” says Marlene, “The first week is spent with family,” she counts on her fingers while everyone else nods, “Then the second week is at James’s house,” another unanimous nod, “And then the third week is gender split. Boy’s at James’s, girls at Lily’s.”
The group is in agreement.
Sirius, with one arm pressed against the wall and the other almost completely under Remus, leans his head against the window. He is sitting as far away from Rainne as he can, but upon seeing her in the reflection on the glass, he can’t help but think he is cursed to always have her in his sight. Why must he want Ben’s girl? Why her? He could have any girl he wanted. Why in the name of Merlin does it have to be her?
Remus, who has been in deep conversation with Carmen about which of her suitors should escort her to the ball, turns to him.
“You alright Padfoot?” he asks. Sirius gives a weak nod, which Remus understands instantly as ‘Not here’, “We’ll talk later, yeah?” he is met with a shrug, which he returns before continuing his discussion with Carmen.
James, Marlene, and a reluctant Lily talk about what they could wear to the ball. James, failing to be inconspicuous, is trying to figure out what Lily is going to wear so he can get matching dress robes.
“Yeah, Marlene,” he says, barely paying attention to her, “Blue is so your colour.”
Rainne, amongst the chatter, somehow still finds herself exhausted. Usually so much talking would make her nervous, but instead she is calm, her head resting on Ben’s shoulder. Ben, with his arm around her as always, leans his head against the wall opposite the window, wishing he was on the other side of her. He has tried to wake her up gently several times, now moving a bit roughly in an attempt to bring her to. All of his attempts fail, and it is the abrupt halt of the train that makes her sit upright.
“Finally,” Ben mutters. He is disappointed when he realises that they have arrived to King’s Cross, and that he has spent the entire train ride wriggling in his seat. But when Rainne smiles and asks if she had bothered him by falling asleep, he lies and says she didn’t. He doesn’t know why, but something is keeping him from telling her the truth. He shakes it off, grabbing both his and her luggage and carrying them onto the platform.
Upon seeing her grandfather, Rainne breaks into a run, practically jumping into his arms.
“Rainne,” he says happily, patting her head lovingly, “It’s so good to see you.”
“You too, Grandpa,” says Rainne, her eyes shut as she leans against his soft chest. Ben catches up to her, setting her suitcase beside her. Rainne pulls away from her grandfather, taking Ben’s hand.
“Grandpa, this is Ben,” she says, grinning from ear to ear, “My boyfriend.”
Ben, who had not been expecting this, becomes rigid as a board. He glances between the two, unsure of what to expect. After eyeing Ben menacingly, Rainne’s grandfather opens his arms in welcome.
“Ben, my boy, it’s so good to meet you,” Ben awkwardly embraces him, surprised at the warm welcome, “Stop by sometime, we’d love to have you over for dinner.”
Ben smiles, “Yeah, I’ll be there.”
Rainne grins broadly at their exchange, giving Ben a quick kiss on the cheek, “I’ll see you at James’s,” she says, her face never showing any signs of the plummet her stomach just had. He nods and joins his family a few feet away.
“Who was that, Benjamin?” Rainne hears her mother say.
“Oh, that’s just Rainne, my girlfriend,” Ben says, “You can meet her some other time.”
author’s note: alright, if you got through that whole thing, you deserve a pat on the back. that is the longest chapter i’ve ever written, so congrats on getting all the way down here. now, some people have been asking for longer chapters. i can easily do that, but it would mean less frequent updates. do you prefer short chapters, posted often? or would you rather i post longer chapters but further apart? let me know, because i can do either! i’m excited about the next chapters, there are definitely some big plot points coming up…
thanks for reading!
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