Chapter 5 : Chapter Five
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Author’s Note: So, I’ve just got to say thank you to all my lovely readers and reviewers! You all stick with me even when it takes me 5 months to update. BUT I’ve promised myself to write more and get back into the swing of things to take me away from the stress that life can provide, so hopefully you’ll be seeing me a lot more! Anywho, I hope you enjoy this next chapter, which is a bit longer than my last few, with a lot more content that before! I’m a little worried that Remus is a bit out of character, but I’m hoping to get more into the swing of things and help that along. I’m interested to know your thoughts, so if you’d like, drop me a review and let me know what you’re thinking! If not, I’m just happy you’re giving the story a chance and reading along with us!
Also, I’ve decided to pursue this story in a past tense way rather than present, to keep myself from jumping around tense wise, which I noticed I was doing in the last chapter. So, things will continue in past tense from here on out!
Right-o, on to the story!!
“So,” I watched as Remus smiles nervously, scratching at his neck with the hand that isn’t holding the sugar quill. “Are you okay? It’s just that you’re not really talking and you’re kind of looking at me like you’re going to run away at any moment.”
I wiped my dry hands on my jeans, realizing that they weren’t sweaty at the moment, but I had I still been alive they would have been. Remus Lupin was standing in front of me, looking at me with apprehension. He was talking to me, looking directly at me, seeing me, and I was standing here like I’d never seen a person in my life.
“I’m fine.” I blurted out right before he had written me off and turned to move away. He sent me a more concrete smile, a small blush staining his cheeks. I felt my own darken in response. “I’m Gwen.”
“Remus Lupin, though I guess you know that seeing as you’re at this party.” His blush deepened, and I realized that he meant it, not in the same cocky way as Potter or Black did, but in a way that said, ‘don’t focus your attention on me, the others are right over there.’
“Yeah, I guess you and your friends are hard to miss.” I said, trying hard to think of a way to keep Remus here, to keep him talking to me. I had no idea how he could see me, or why since he didn’t even know me, but he was the first alive person I’d talked to in ages that was my own age, and I was desperate for the contact if only for a bit longer. “It’s a really great party.”
“Thanks,” Remus finished off his sweet, and then put his hands in the pocket of his pants. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I feel like I’ve seen you before. Although, I don’t think we’ve ever been introduced.” He looked at me a little harder, and for a moment I felt like disappearing, although I caught myself before I could go transparent. I focused a little harder on remaining in the ‘alive’ world.
I also hoped beyond hope that Remus wouldn’t piece two and two together and realize that I was the girl that died over summer. I knew he was partners with Riley in Charms class, and they often practiced spells together in the library, but I couldn’t remember if they’d ever talked about me. Realizing Remus was staring again, and I wasn’t responding, I shook myself back into action.
“I tend to keep to myself. I’m sure we’ve probably seen each other in passing.” I smiled at him, and he nodded. I was about to ask him a subtle question like ‘hey how can you see me when I’m a ghost and we’ve never even met before’ when I felt the air behind me stir. Turning to look over my shoulder, I saw Sirius Black pouring another cup of spiked punch into his goblet. He didn’t acknowledge me, instead turning to look directly at his friend.
“Moony, what’re you over here mumbling to yourself?” I turned so that I was standing between the two boys, back some so I wasn’t directly in Remus’ line of sight anymore. Remus tracked me with his eyes, and then looked at Black with a bewildered expression.
“Look, Pads, I know you can be thick sometimes, but it’s not nice to ignore someone that’s right in front of you.” Remus sent me an apologetic look, and Black followed his line of sight and then looked back at his friend with confusion written all over his gray eyes.
“I don’t want to alarm you, Remus, but I think you’re going a bit bonkers. There’s no one here.” Black moved his hand in the space I was occupying and I felt it pass through me. I shivered as my shape flickered slightly. Then I panicked. Looking back to Remus quickly, I noticed his mouth had dropped open, his gaze going from perplexed to ‘holy hell’ in less than a moment.
“Sirius. You can’t see her?” He asked and I reached out a hand towards Remus, who darted back from me and into the snack table.
“Uh, I don’t know what ‘her’ you’re referring to, mate. Did someone slip you those weird mushrooms Lovegood was toting around earlier?” Black was looking at Remus with caution, who was still staring at the space I occupied. As he turned to call towards Potter, thinking Remus had been slipped psychoactive drugs, I faced Remus fully.
“Remus, look, I can explain. I’m not a hallucination.” I pleaded, but he shook his head, backing farther away from me as Potter came forward. “Remus, please, you have to believe me.”
“Mate, I think you may need to go lie down.” Potter was saying, reaching for his friend. Remus turned away from me, resolutely keeping his back towards me as I called out his name again.
“I think you’re right,” He said, moving towards the entrance of the Room of Requirements. I stood in place, watching him leave. Then I turned my attention towards the other two Marauders. Potter was looking after Remus with a look of concern behind his wide rimmed glasses, but Black was staring right at me. I felt my breath catch as he stared a little harder, but recognition never flared in his eyes, and he looked back at Potter after a few moments more.
“Think Moony is okay?” Potter asked his best friend, and Black shrugged, his attention falling to a blonde in a mermaid costume who was staring at him unabashedly.
“I’ll go check on him in an hour,” Black said, despite his attention being elsewhere. James followed his line of sight and then rolled his eyes, clapping his friend on the back as they walked away from the snack table. I felt my heartrate return to normal, and then I started off towards the door to the Room of Requirements, determined to find Remus Lupin before he got too far.
As I stalked the halls, I realized that in my exploration of the castle so far, I had never actually found the Gryffindor Common Room. It was a bit of a mystery to those who weren’t in the actual house, and I found myself stalling on a staircase as I tried to think of something. Cursing myself for not doing a more thorough explore of the different areas, I smiled as an idea popped into my head.
“Peeves!” I called out, and waited a full ten seconds before I heard someone blow a raspberry in my ear. “Damn it,” I waved at him, my hand passing through his ghostly body as he cackled mercilessly at my shock.
“What might I do for you, Miss G?” He asked, floating above me in a taunting manner. I resolved to work on my flight skills as I watched him, if only to shut up that smug look he was throwing me.
“I need to find the Gryffindor Common Room.” I said, deliberately not telling him the reason why. I knew if I did, he would tease me mercilessly, trying to find out why I was chasing a boy. Peeves floated a moment longer, sobering up for a moment, before laughing again and zooming away. “Wait up!” I called after him, picking up my pace into a full run.
We were winding down corridors, and down staircases, and then up some more and I narrowly missed slamming into a few walls before we stopped outside a picture of an extremely plump woman in a garish looking pink dress and hat. She turned her attention to us for a moment before going back to her horrible warbling.
“Oi, open up.” Peeves called over her singing, and she looked at us with distaste.
“The only ghostly sort allowed into this Common Room is Sir Nicholas, who I must say, always treats me with the utmost respect.” She said, distaste clear in her voice. I rolled my eyes, preparing to sink through her frame when the portrait swung forward involuntarily as a few girls walked out, looking around the hallways for teachers. Peeves, distracted from our quest, started taunting their costumes as he followed them off down the hall.
Taking advantage of her distaste for Peeves and her distraction, I slipped into the narrow tunnel before it closed completely. A short few feet and I was in the overly-bright red and gold room. The room was mostly deserted, most people choosing to spend the Halloween night at the party rather than their dorms, and I knew a smaller get together was being thrown for the younger students by the Head of Houses. I wondered if they knew about the larger more promiscuous party being thrown a few floors above them?
Focusing back on my task, I made my way over to the two staircases that I assumed led up to the dormitories. The right staircase looked brighter, and a few stairs up I could see the decorated door of a first-year dorm. Realizing that that meant the left, darker staircase was the way to the boys’ dorms, I started up, counting the numbers on the doors until I was at the one marked ‘7.’ I drew in a breath, placing my hands on the frame before thinking better of it.
Concentrating on staying solid, I rapped my knuckles on the door three times, waiting for movement behind it. I heard footsteps coming closer, and then the door swung open. I looked into the eyes of Remus Lupin, back in sweats and a t-shirt rather than dressed like a vampire as before. His eyes widened and he went to shut the door back, when I stopped it with my foot.
“Please, Remus, wait! I think I need to explain.” I said, pushing into the room. He fell back, trying to get away from me as fast as he could. I kept going until he was scrambling for his wand next to what I assumed was his bed. I held my hands up, unsure of whether a hex would hurt me or not. “Wait, please, I’m begging you to listen to me. You’re the first person that I’ve talked to in a long time and I just want to explain before you write me off as a hallucination and I go back to having no one to talk to but Peeves.”
I caught my breath as he continued to stare at me, his wand wavering slightly. “Who, or what, are you?” He whispered out, fear and confusion written in his voice. I sighed, running my hand through the bottom part of my hair and then tucking it behind me ear.
“I’m a student here at Hogwarts. Or, I guess, I was,” I muttered, trying to figure out how to go about this. Giving up, I let my shoulders drop from their tensed position and sighed. “I’m a ghost, Remus.”
Laughter rang through the dorm room, and Remus sat down on his bed, running a hand through his hair and gripping his wand tighter. “I must be finally going crazy after 7 years in this school because there is no way this is happening right now.”
“It is! Please, I’m being serious. I don’t know how you can see me, but I’m a ghost. And you’re the first person that has been able to see me since I got here this summer. If you don’t believe me then you can ask Dumbledore. He’ll tell you everything, but I need you to believe me. Please.” I added again for good luck. Remus looked at me harder now, trying to wrap his head around what he was seeing.
“Say I believe you. Say that this is actually happening and I’m crazy enough to believe you. Why can’t everyone else see you, but we can see all the other ghosts in this school? Why can’t James and Sirius see you but I can?” His eyes focused a bit more, narrowing as he started to question me. “How do I know you’re not some sick Slytherin joke designed to pull one over on me?”
He held his wand up again, and I ran a hand over my face. “Because why would I target you over Potter and Black? Aren’t they usually the antagonizes to the snakes? And I don’t know why you can see me and no one else can. Trust me, if I knew how to make people see me I would have told Riley I was still here and not dead in the ground like she thinks I am.”
“Riley?” Remus said, his voice recognizing the name. “As in Riley Clark, the Ravenclaw seventh year?” I nod with what he’s saying, and then it’s almost like something clicks inside his brain. “Holy shit, you’re Gwen as in her best friend Gwen that died during the summer.”
“Yes,” I breathed out, feeling immense relief as he started to believe me. And then something funny happened. For the first time since I had died, I felt a small tingling running up my arm, and I shivered, almost like the cool air in the dorm room touched me for the first time. I shivered, feeling the slight breeze that was coming from the small crack in the window. I actually felt something.
“What was that?” Remus asked, watching me with a look of amazement on his face. I looked down to find that my hands were emitting a very small glow, that had already begun to dim. The breeze on the back of my neck had dimmed as well, and I felt a sinking feeling in my gut.
“I think that’s because you actually believe in me now.” I said, looking up at him with a small smile. “I’m not lying to you, Remus. I don’t know why you can see me, but you can, and I’m sorry that this is so selfish but I have to take advantage of it. I haven’t been seen in so long.”
Remus nodded, putting his wand on the table and running a hand through his hair. He reached over and grabbed what I realized was a sweatshirt at the end of his bed. Then he stood up. “I think we need to go see Dumbledore.”
I agreed, and followed him out of the door, feeling for the first time what it would be like for people to know I was there. My nervousness bubbled into something else, and I reached out to touch Remus’ arm in my excitement. He flinched away from my touch, and I apologized quickly. “I, well, I shouldn’t have done that.”
“No, it’s not that, it’s just that your hand was so cold.” He said, before stopping and holding his arm out towards me again. “It’s okay,” He nodded towards his arm, and I hesitantly reached out, touching him gently. A small tingle of feeling went through my fingers, and I pulled back, the grin on my face feeling excessive.
“I haven’t been able to do that to anyone in months. I don’t know how you can see me, Remus, but thank you.” I felt my eyes water, the relief of no longer being alone coursing through my body in waves.
“Well, I think we’re about to find out.” He said, giving me a small but apprehensive smile. I resolved to stop being so creepy, realizing that all my excitement was probably causing Remus, a boy I had never met before, to feel nervous. Before I could apologize again, however, the gargoyle to Dumbledore’s office sprang aside, revealing the staircase that would lead us up to the office itself.
As we reached the top, I heard a voice call us in, and we walked in without knowing what would happen. “Mr. Lupin,” Dumbledore said happily, standing up by a magnificent fire-red bird, that seemed almost as tall as me. “What brings you into my office at this hour?” His eyes twinkled mysteriously, and as he glanced over to me, his eyes danced even more.
“I hate to interrupt your evening, sir, but I have a couple of questions,” Remus turned to look at me then, and Dumbledore openly smiled in amusement. “About, well, about Gwen.”
“I’m sure you do, Mr. Lupin. And I’ll be more than happy to explain.” I melted into one of the chairs in front of Dumbledore’s desk, Remus taking the one next to me. “Miss Alexander came to us this past summer. She passed and her ethereal form appeared soon after.” He looked at me as if asking my permission to continue forward, which I gave quickly in a nod.
“You see the magical world affords magical beings to remain here on this earth when it is not the soul’s time to leave. In a way, the muggle ideal of ‘unfinished business’ is not very far from the truth. In the case of Miss Alexander, however, it is different. For a ghost to be seen, they must be believed in. And I’m assuming, Mr. Lupin, that you had not met Miss Alexander before?”
Remus shook his head no. “I saw her tonight at,” Remus stopped abruptly, but Dumbledore nodded as if he already knew about the large Halloween party the Marauders were throwing.
“Indeed. You see, Mr. Lupin, beings that possess certain magical properties have an ability to see things that have not yet come into being for many other magical folk. Such as ghosts that have not made themselves known to others, and the like.”
“Oh,” Was all Remus said, and I felt my curiosity peak. “So, because of my condition, I can see Gwen without having to have ever met her before?”
“Precisely. Now, I know it may be a lot to ask, and it may be something that you do not want to do, but you are the first student to be aware of Gwen’s presence. And I’m sure Miss Alexander would be happy with the companionship?”
I looked at Remus, who was looking at his hands. “If you don’t want to, Remus, I completely understand. It’s a lot to comprehend.” I whispered, trying to tune out Dumbledore who was now humming to himself and unwrapping a yellow candy from a container on his desk.
“I don’t know what to think, right now,” Remus muttered, trying to comprehend all the information that had just been laid on him. I felt a streak of disappointment, and nodded sadly.
“Perhaps I’ll let you all discuss this matter privately? I do think it’s time for a small walk around the castle.” Dumbledore said, patting Remus on the shoulder as he stood and walked towards the door. “Fawkes?” He called, and the large bird swooped through the air, landing on his shoulder. I watched in amazement as they walked out of the room.
“It’s enough that you know I’m here,” I whispered, and Remus looked up at me. I tried to hide the sadness in my eyes as the only person besides me professors who knew I was really there struggled to decide whether or not he would be able to acknowledge me outside of this interaction. And I felt a strange need to tell him everything; to let him know all the things about me that I couldn’t tell Riley because she wasn’t aware of my presence. To let him know that I was lonely, scared, unsure of all the things that were happening in my death.
“We should probably get to know each other if we’re going to be friends,” Remus said with a small smile, and I felt my heart leap back into my throat at the thought of having a friend again. I nodded, trying to hide my excitement and not run Remus away with the neediness. I vowed to not latch onto him, to let him still lead a normal life, only maybe with a ghost as a friend.
“I don’t want you to do this because you feel like you have to,” I told the boy in front of me, and he shook his head.
“I know what it feels like to be alone,” He said, and then he pushed his hand out towards mine. “Remus Lupin, Gryffindor Seventh Year.” He smiled and I couldn’t help but smile back.
“Gwen Alexander, ghost.” We shared a laugh, and I felt something I hadn’t felt since I woke up at the bottom of the stairs, my body dead but my soul still alive: hope.
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