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Moonlit Meetings by KilledByDrapery
Chapter 33 : Crimson Orchard
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 8

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 Moonlit Meetings

Chapter 33: Crimson Orchard

The next day, the Hogwarts Express was scheduled to leave its station promptly at noon, with carriages leaving the castle with students in rounds as early as seven in the morning. But, let’s be honest, with the Winter Ball ending so late the night before, it was only the younger students who were up and ready to go so early in the morning. Having packed most of my belongings a few days prior, it didn’t take me more than half an hour to round up the rest of my things before darting my way down to the carriages at a quarter past eleven—along with the rest of the stragglers.

I seated myself and my trunk in a carriage with a handful of eagerly bundled-up Hufflepuff third years who couldn’t stop gossiping about “that adorable Ravenclaw” and his “unbelievably sexy cousin” who apparently “lived out in Dublin” but who “visited often, especially during the holidays” and whom they were all “hoping beyond hope” would “make an appearance at [that adorable Ravenclaw’s] holiday party this year.” Thankfully, due to my unfortunate intoxication the night before, the pounding in my head and ringing in my ears allowed me the ability to block out the rest of their conversation—giving me some much needed time to think.

It was around ten when I woke up that morning, and James had long since vacated his spot on the adjacent couch. To be honest, he might have just waited for me to fall asleep before leaving to get back to the dormitory—which made a lot of sense considering that Sirius and them would have been waiting up for him to get back. Past my nausea and migraine, I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about that. Thankful, mostly, since it gave me more time to figure out how in the world I was going to recover from my drunken...mishaps.

You can’t just ignore this like last time, a voice in the back of my head pointed out. Last time, he kissed you. But this time? You can’t exactly blame it on the firewhiskey and pretend it never happened.

As much as I wanted to do just that, I knew I couldn’t keep pushing everything away with the intention to “deal with it later.” If now wasn’t later, I didn’t know when would be.

The carriage halted just outside of the station, and I looked up to see a horde of students milling around in the chilled air, their scarves wrapped tight around their necks and her mittens rubbing heat in front of them. It looked like the majority of people were already packed away on the Express, and the rest—like my dormitory-mates—were waiting outside for their friends.

“Serena!” Lily called out, rushing forward and heaving my trunk off the carriage. Her cheeks were flushed from the cold, and she gave an exasperated eye roll as she motioned toward the group. “The girls insisted on waiting for you out here. Felicia’s holding the compartment for us until we get there. Unless,” she paused, remembering something. “Oh, you wanted to sit with your boyfriend and his mates, didn’t you?”—she sighed—“I told them you would want to—”

I waved her off, shaking my head vehemently. “I’ve had enough of them for a bit,” I said truthfully. “It’s about to be the holidays, Lily. I miss spending time with you lot.”

Lily gave me a relieved smile, flicking her wand at my trunk and watching it make its way to the pile near the back of the Express. She then proceeded to link her arm with mine and began steering me toward the rest of the group. “Come on, then.” Before we reached the rest of the girls—who were fawning over a group of seventh year boys—Lily leaned over to me. “I covered for you this morning, by the way.”

“What?” In all of my confusion that morning, I had completely forgotten that the girls would have noticed my absence. It was hard enough sneaking back into the common room in my ball gown, and worrying about the guys, that it had completely slipped my mind.

“I told them you stayed up late with Sirius and then took an early run this morning before getting packed,” Lily continued. She flashed me a concerned look. “Where did you run off to last night, anyway? Sirius was so worried about you!”

I avoided eye contact with her. “I got in a little fight with a mate of mine,” I told her, not entirely lying. “So I went out to get some air.”

“Did Sirius ever find you, then?” Lily asked.

“Oh, yeah,” I replied, jumping at the opportunity Lily had presented me with.

She winked at me. “I thought so. Did you have a fun evening, then?”

I flashed a triumphant smile. “Oh, loads!”

To be honest, I thought Lily would be the very last person to get excited about the idea of Sirius and I spending the night together, but her smile was genuine. And not only that, but I was pretty sure that I had just implied losing my virginity to Sirius the night prior.

Oh Merlin...What have I gotten myself into?

After I was basically attacked by the ladies, we all piled onto the train, making our way to the middle of the Express where Felicia was waiting just outside of our compartment, glaring at all of the passing students. Her thick red hair was pulled back into a tight bun at the nape of her neck, two small gold hoops dangling from her ears.

“This compartment’s full!” she barked at a group of first-years. “Scoot!” Her eyes narrowed, scanning the train corridor before she spotted us. “Oh, thank Merlin. I thought I was going to have to hip-check someone if you took much longer.” Her eyes caught onto me and she nodded, “Colton.”

“Woolf,” I responded in turn. Felicia and I had never been close, but with Quidditch bonding us, we had settled into a comfortable friendship. To be honest, if the five of us hadn’t been year-mates, I wasn’t sure Felicia would have ever opened up to us as much as she did—which wasn’t much, mind you.

Settling into the compartment, I turned my attention back to Felicia’s unusual appearance.

“Why so formal?” I asked her.

Felicia sighed, plopping down next to the window. She smoothed a few wrinkles out of her crisp black suit skirt, straightening her blazer. “My parents,” she said in a huff. “I swear, it’s like living inside the bloody Ministry itself!”

Lily—always in the know—piped up with a simple, “lawyers.”

Felicia nodded in confirmation. “They work in the Ministry’s legal department. You’d be surprised just how many legal battles wizards get into with muggles that they need to sweep under the rug.” She stared out the window thoughtfully. “This is the first Christmas in years that both of them managed to get off of work. Winter holidays are normally the busiest time of year for them.”

“Hence the change in wardrobe,” I concluded.

“Hence the change in wardrobe,” she repeated with a nod and a sigh.

Mary turned her attention toward me, making her way into the conversation. “So what about you, Serena? Are you excited to go home for the holidays?”

Even when I was being smothered by my parents at Platform 9 3/4, I wasn’t sure why that question had stumped me. I loved my parents, I loved the holidays, and most importantly—I loved having time to myself.

Well, four months ago I loved having time to myself. Now? To be honest, I wasn’t sure anymore. It felt like ages ago that I was that girl at school who sat by herself on the stairs to the astronomy tower and read the day away—or the girl huddled up in the corner of the library with a book in hand and a stack of others scattered at her feet. I felt like I hardly knew that girl anymore.

But don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think it was a bad thing that I had come out of my shell. It was just...different. I had undergone a transformation these past few months that seemed like so much more than my werewolf problem.

“Alright, your father’s just going to pop off to the loo right quick and then we’ll all be on our way, okay pumpkin?” my mother cooed, pressing my hair down on the top of my head and leaving a trail of kisses at my hairline.

Believe me, struggling never worked.

“Yes, mum. But you don’t have to treat me like a child, anymore, you know. I’m not eleven!”

She frowned at me, little crow’s feet gathering at the corners of her eyes. “Nonsense, Serena. You will always be eleven to your father and I, and you would do well not to forget it,” she finished with a smile and a wink.

Suddenly overcome with a tight feeling in my chest, I reached forward, throwing my arms around her for a hug. I may have complained about my mum, but she really was one of the best things to have ever happened to me (besides the fact that without her I wouldn’t have been born and all that).

“This your mum?”

It was Remus’s voice—steady, confident, and humble—that cut through the air, causing me to pull back from my mum’s arms. He was standing with Sirius, with Peter and James off thirty yards or so talking to a beautiful brunette couple. Remus stepped forward, offering his hand.

“Mrs. Colton, I presume?”

My mom nearly blushed looking at him, clasping his hand and shaking it briskly. “Are you one of my pumpkin’s friends?”

Remus smiled warmly at her, dropping his hand back down to his side. “I’m Remus Lupin, ma’am. Pleased to meet you. It’s so kind of you to invite us to your home over the holidays.”

She beamed back at him. “Oh, it’s not a problem at all! I’m just happy that my little pumpkin will be able to spend the holidays with her friends.”

Sirius took a step forward, switching the attention away from Remus and thrusting his hand forward. “I’m Sirius Black, ma’am,” he offered, his voice sounding more unsure than Remus’s had.

It was then, poor soul, that my father returned from the loo: just in time to meet my boyfriend. Regardless of the fact that I had never referred to him by name in any of my letters, my parents seemed to have some insider knowledge that tipped them off to the fact that he was “the one.” My father put his hand forward in the way that seemed more like a challenge than anything else.

“Mr. Black,” my father greeted gruffly, shaking Sirius’s hand.

“Mr. Colton,” he countered. “Pleasure.”

He dropped Sirius’s hand, pointedly turning his attention to Remus, who smiled broadly, unaware of the alpha fight in front of him. “And you are?”

“Remus, sir,” he offered, taking my father’s hand confidently. “Serena and I have four courses together. I’m a Gryffindor as well,” he added, pointing to his tie with his free hand.

“You’re a sixth year as well?” my father questioned him.

“Yes, sir,” he confirmed with a nod. “But looking toward the future.”

My father nodded, clearly impressed with the boy he knew little to nothing about. Though, in his defense, Remus wasn’t Sirius and that was a clear advantage on his part.

“They’re coming to visit over the holidays, honey. Isn’t that nice?” Mum finally piped up, cutting through the tense atmosphere radiating between Dad and Sirius.

“Nice indeed,” he nodded before taking a deep breath and exhaling it loudly. He clasped his hands together in front of him. “Well, it’s time to head out—long drive ahead.”

“Right,” I agreed with a nod. “I’ll see you all in a few of days?”

Remus smiled and nodded, giving me a quick hug before waving goodbye and heading back over to where James and Peter were waiting with the Potters. Sirius moved forward, hesitating—his eyes flicking over to where my parents were standing—before settling on a hug and a peck on the cheek.

“See you soon, love,” he cooed in my ear.

It was only a two hour drive, so we managed to beat rush-hour traffic and ended up at the house around dinnertime. As soon as we were in the door, the three of us scattered. Mum straight to the bathroom, Dad to his den, and me up to my bedroom on the second floor, bashing my trunk against each step as I lugged it behind me.

Making my way all the way down the skinny corridor, I pushed open the door to the room all the way at the end of the hall, inhaling the familiar scent—which to me didn’t smell like anything, but was actually a mixture of the berry candles I had sitting around. It wasn’t a horribly big room, but it wasn’t all that small either. The flowered wallpaper my mum put up when I was just a baby was still stuck to the wall, albeit peeling in some areas. The wood panel flooring was covered in a variety of yellow and orange shag rugs, matching the duvet and sheets on my double bed. A matching bookcase, dresser, and desk set were also placed around the room, each piled high with books.

I turned on my light, pulling the trunk to the end of my bed before plopping down onto the mattress. I had completely forgotten how amazing the feel of home was. Don’t get me wrong, Hogwarts was beautiful. But sometimes it’s that small-town charm that tugs your heart into oblivion and makes you never want to leave.

And that’s how I ended up falling asleep at six in the afternoon.

Mornings in the Colton household weren’t anything spectacular. As a family, we tended to sleep in—at least since Tyler died. He was always the one getting up ungodly early to take a run or practice quidditch with the guys. Weirdly enough, that kind of left a spot open for me.

I blinked myself awake at eight the next morning, feeling something fuzzy rubbing up against my face. Pulling my face back in confusion, I blinked a few more times until the creature came into focus.

There was a cat. A cat was pawing me in the face.

It was fluffy and orange and had white feet. And it was staring at me with its big blue and green speckled eyes.

Since when did we have a cat?

I sat up, watching the furry creature the entire time with a mixture of confusion and admiration. Regardless of the fact that we didn’t have a cat, I appreciated the fact that this particular creature was kind enough to A) not attack my face, and B) act as my alarm clock for the morning.

I slipped out of bed—which I had somehow burrowed into during the night—and made my way over to my trunk to find my workout gear. And the cat followed me, padding down my bed until she reached the end and peered down into my trunk as I rifled through it. I silently hoped that the creature wouldn’t suddenly decide it hated me.

I changed into a bright orange sports bra with black spandex pants. I pulled on a pair of low-cut socks and trainers, before moving to my closet to fish out one of Tyler’s old exercise jackets. Once I was thoroughly dressed, I moved forward toward the cat, holding a hand out.

“Here, kitty, kitty,” I cooed in what I could only imagine was a comforting cat voice.

Surprisingly enough, the big orange fluff-ball actually moved forward immediately, pushing its head against my fingers. I smiled, scratching the top of its head.

“Alright, you,” I said, moving forward and scooping the purring cat up into my arms. “Let’s go figure out who you belong to.”

The smell of cooking pancakes was already filling the first floor by the time I made it downstairs, and I inhaled happily as I ventured into the kitchen. Standing at the stove, wearing one of the most ridiculously aprons I had ever seen in my life, was my mum.

“Ah!” she greeted me, turning away from the stove toward me, a pan in one hand and a spatula in the other. She waved the utensil in my direction. “I see you met Gizmo.”

“Who?” I asked, looking down at the cat and then back up at her.

“Gizmo,” she repeated, waving the spatula at the fuzzy creature. “Your father picked him up when he was away for work. To be honest, I never thought it would be your father who would come home with a pet, but he’s one of the friendliest cats I’ve ever known.” She made a couple weird faces at Gizmo before turning back to the stove. A moment later, she looked back over her shoulder. “Going for a run?”

Gizmo started squirming, so I lowered him to the floor—or as much as I could before he leaped from my arms. “Yeah,” I confirmed. “If I don’t keep it up, I’ll be a sorry mess of a quidditch player when I get back to school.”

“Well, we don’t want that,” mum joked. “I’ll leave the batter out so you can make some fresh ones when you get back.”

“Thanks,” I said with a smile, walking over and giving her a peck on the cheek before I headed to the front door. “I’ll be back soon.”

“Have fun!”

The second I opened the front door, I instantly regretted it. The wind was biting against my face and there was a fresh layer of snow on everything. But I pushed myself to keep going, shutting the door behind me and reveling in the fact that although my face was cold, the rest of my body didn’t feel all that chilled. Thank Merlin for windproof clothing.

I started walking for a bit, then quickened my steps into a jog as I tested the ground for ice. Thankfully, the weather hadn’t had a chance to thaw and freeze yet, so I was free to start my run without worrying about slipping and falling on my arse like an idiot.

It didn’t take long before I got into my rhythm, feet pounding against the pavement, leaving footprints in the fresh snow. As I ran, I started to wonder about the wolf. Sure, I had a potion that would keep me from transforming… But I wondered what it would feel like to run as the wolf; to just be free and run as fast as I could without worrying about all the bloody horrid things about having the wolf inside me. The longer I ran, the more beautiful that sounded. I started picturing it. I was the wolf and I was running, fast, free, away from everything. There was only grass as far as the eye could see.

And James.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I ended up tripping on a crack in the sidewalk and falling flat on my face in the snow. My left cheek and palms scraped against the concrete, leaving red in the snow and a persistent stinging in my skin.

“Sodding bugger!” I swore, pushing myself slowly off the ground. Sitting up on my haunches, I looked at both my palms—raw, broken, with beads of blood over my scrapes—before gingerly feeling the left side of my face. Flinching, I pulled my hand back and decided to just wait until I got home to do anything about it.

“Are you alright?” a familiar voice asked from across the street. “You probably shouldn’t be running so fast… The snow’s still pretty slippery.”

I turned to look over at him. “Ethan,” I exclaimed, my voice revealing my surprise a lot more than I wanted it to. With everything else, I had completely forgotten that being back in my hometown would mean being back in the Gerald twins’ hometown.

Ethan’s blonde hair had been slicked back and he wore a pair of Dockers, black skinny jeans, and a black pea coat, a green scarf wrapped around his neck. He raised a barely-there eyebrow, moving to cross the street and join me on the other side.

“Though I guess if you break an ankle, you’ll be easier to beat for the rest of the year,” Ethan pointed out, nodding down at my leg.

I glanced at his own ankle, recalling how he had broken it in the Gryffindor-Slytherin game not too long ago. “Maybe that’s the curse of quidditch. When one person gets better, another has to fall.”

“We could just count that Ravenclaw keeper’s broken arm as the next in line, though,” he shrugged. “I’d hate to win to you just because you can’t play.”

I managed to get myself to my feet, thankful that it was only broken skin and not broken bones. “I think we both know that isn’t exactly the case,” I joked with a laugh.

Ethan cocked an eyebrow. “True. But I’d rather win without the handicap.” He paused for a minute, hands in his coat pockets. “What’d you do to Casper?” he finally asked. “I’m not asking because I really care or anything, but I’m curious what you did to get him to stop talking to you so quickly. Eighteen years is a long streak, but I’m hoping to pick up some pointers for the next time I need to shut him up.”

I felt like someone had punched me straight in the gut. Which, granted, might have still had something to do with falling on my face at such a high velocity.

“That’s none of your—” I began, but Ethan cut me off.

“It’s serious then, is it?” he cooed, watching my face carefully. “Good to know.” He nodded down the street further. “Well, if you have a hankering to salt the wound a bit, my wanker of a brother’s down there being morbid.” He nodded at me before taking off down the street, not waiting for my response.

Normally when someone says something like that, it would take a minute to figure out. But I knew exactly what he meant the moment he tilted his head. And while I didn’t have any idea what I was going to say to him, my feet started taking me in the direction I had intended to go from the moment I left the house.

Crimson Orchard—both aptly and uncomfortably named—was a beautiful cemetery just outside of the town borders, nestled in the middle of a field full of cherry trees. It was gorgeous any time of year, thanks to its ever-watchful and incredibly patient groundskeepers, Mrs. and Mr. Golding. Near the back fence, cozied up between two sizable oaks, was the headstone marking the resting place of brother. Unsurprisingly, that was also where I saw the outline of one blonde Gerald brother.

I’m sure he heard me coming, but Casper didn’t say anything until I was standing directly beside him.

“When’s Charlotte coming with her fiancée?” Casper asked, bringing up my brother’s girlfriend from before his death.

“Tuesday,” I answered, recalling a conversation I had with my parents on the drive back from the train station.

Tuesday, as luck would have it, was also the day the rest of the gang was set to show up. And it was the next full-moon. And I was dreading every moment of it.

And Casper knew that.

“What time?” he inquired, eyes still glued to Tyler’s blue granite headstone.

“Around noon, I think,” I replied with a shrug. I wanted to look at him, but all I could manage was peering out of the corner of my eyes, since I was too nervous to look at him full-on.

“I’ll be there at eleven.”

I could have cried. I would have cried, but I was too busy hoping that this meant the shut-out was over to do anything other than maintain my breathing.

“Tyler wouldn’t have wanted you to deal with that alone,” he added a moment later.

“Thank you,” I managed to choke out, hoping that my words would double as everything I wanted to ask him without having to say any of it. But as we stood there, the silence dragging between us, I decided to chance voicing one of them, even turning toward him and looking at his stoic face. “Does this mean you changed your mind?”

I watched as Casper’s face tightened from his jaw up to his forehead. After what felt like an eternity, he turned to look at me, searching my face.

“You should really clean out those cuts.”

When I got home, flushed and out of breath from the run back, my parents were both sitting in the sitting room; Dad with the paper and Mum petting an old I had never seen before, Gizmo sitting in front of her with a look of horror in his eyes.

“Cat’s not one for owls, I see,” I commented, bending down to unlace my trainers.

“Gizmo,” Mum corrected me, scratching at the feathers on the owl’s neck. “And no, he doesn’t prefer them.”

“Who’s the owl for?” I asked, settling down in an arm chair near the entrance to the kitchen. I grabbed a blanket from a basket next to the chair, unfolding it and draping it over my lap.

“You,” she said plainly. “Actually, you had two while you were out, pumpkin. They’re on the dining room table.”

I pushed the blanket off my body, thanking her quickly, before making my way into the dining room, Gizmo padding his way behind me. Sitting on the table, just like she said, were two separate items: a package wrapped in brown paper and a single envelope. I sat down, Gizmo amusing himself by pawing at my toes, and pulled the package toward me. There wasn’t anything written on the outside, but when I opened it, there was a small paper closed with the Hogwarts seal.

Miss Colton,

I hope this reaches you in good spirits on your holiday break.

This package has been charmed so no individual but you can open it since we have spoken about your situation. But I also encourage you to perhaps invest in your family members the information you were willing to share with myself. Prejudice, I understand, runs deep in these matters. However, I have often found that people you love can surprise you. It takes a group wonderful and willing to help you through such issues. I have high hopes that things will work out in your favor.

Remember: Drink this as the sun comes up on the 22nd and you will be protected by the time the sun goes down.

Happy holidays,

Headmaster Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore

I put the letter to the side, moving the enclosed paper bits around until I found a single purple vial nestled at the bottom. I picked it up, holding it between my thumb and forefinger, peering at the contents. It didn’t seem like something so small, so weird looking, could be the thing that changed everything. Even weirder still, since it looked a bit like Kool-Aid with flower petals.

But it changes everything.

I pushed the chair out, grabbing the folded up letter in one hand and the vial in the other, standing and making my way back to the front door.

“Again?” my dad asked as I pulled the front door open. “Didn’t you just go running?”

“Yeah, but I need to run an errand. I’ll be back this afternoon,” I explained as quickly as I could, yanking my trainers back on. I didn’t really want to stop and say anything, but I had learned that ignoring direct questions from inquisitive parents doesn’t work as well if you don’t have a sibling to push the attention back toward.

“Okay, sweetheart,” Mum piped up. “But don’t be too late. I wanted to—”

“Sure, mum,” I interrupted. “See you.”

Slipping back out into the cold air, I set off on my way. I wasn’t just meandering around the city streets anymore, I had direction. I had a mission. I had a friendship to rekindle—a friendship to save.

It didn’t take long before I was standing on the front porch to the Gerald abode. A beautiful three-story home with gray brick siding and blue shutters, I had always loved the Gerald home. When I was a kid, I didn’t go there much since Ethan and Casper had never really gotten along and Casper preferred spending the days at our house or any of the other neighbor kids’ homes. But every once in a while, Casper opened up his house for an afternoon of lemonade by the plastic-rimmed above-ground pool.

I raised my fist, knocking loudly on the oak door. I could hear it resounding on the other side, and suddenly became extremely self-conscious holding my items, so I slipped them into the pockets of Tyler’s jacket.

It was the “man of the house” that opened the door. Mr. Gerald was a strict, older man with that much coveted after salt-and-pepper hair, sharp jawline, and broad shoulders that looked as though they could knock a man over just by looking at them. He peered down at me like a look as blank as it ever was, but even though I couldn’t tell on his face, I knew he recognized me.

“Serena Colton,” he greeted—always in favor of addressing guests by their full name. “What can I do for you.” He never said anything like a question, which bugged me immensely as a child, but I had come to appreciate it over the years. It didn’t leave room for doubt; just answers.

“I’m looking for Casper,” I told him, although I was also a hundred and ten percent certain that he knew the answer without needing to ask it.

Mr. Gerald gave a single nod in response and stepped aside, holding the door open further as an invitation inside. I smiled at him, moving into the foyer and allowing him space to close the door behind me. And with that, Mr. Gerald went back to his business, assuming that I would show myself up to Casper’s room where he presumably had gone after visiting Tyler at the cemetery.

I slipped off my trainers, lining them up with the others by the door, before making my way up the sweeping staircase to the second floor where Casper’s room resided.

When I got to his room, the door was already open and he was sitting cross-legged on the floor, his back up against the side of his bed, a book perched in one hand and the other scratching the side of his head. He looked up, hearing my footsteps.

“What are you doing here?”

I shouldn’t have expected anything less, especially since he actually hadn’t said anything about changing his mind about me and my situation. He had just told me to wash my face and left.

Oh, the cuts, I remembered. I should have done something about them before I left. I probably had dried blood all over my cheek and palms.

I walked into his room, trying not to let him take away my confidence. I dug in my pocket, pulling out the letter and vial, holding them up for him to see.

“Here,” I said, dropping the letter into his lap.

Casper gave me a weird look and then picked it up, peeling up the seal and quickly reading Dumbledore’s words. When he looked back up at me, his face had slightly shifted.

“And?” he asked. “What does this mean?”

I held up the vial. “This is what it means,” I told him plainly. “I don’t transform anymore, Casper. I told you I talked to Dumbledore and he gave me a potion to…”—I searched my brain for the right words—“help me. I’m just me now. Just me,” I reiterated, making sure he could tell just how dead serious I was being about the entire thing. “I’m still the girl you knew, I just have a past problem you don’t agree with. Are you really going to stop being friends with me because of something that’s not even a problem anymore?”

He stared at the vial like he didn’t know whether to believe me or not.

Understandable. Not twenty minutes ago, I was thinking the exact same thing. But that didn’t change the fact that it was true and I needed to convince Casper of that. I wracked my brain, trying to figure out what would bring him round.

“James,” I finally remembered. “Ask James. He was there with me last month and it worked. I didn’t transform at all.”

“You could have—”

“But I didn’t!” I exclaimed, falling onto my knees in front of him so we were at the same elevation. “You’re so fixated on everything that could have gone wrong, when nothing has!”

“I just don’t see how—”

“Neither could I!” I cut him off, pleading. “It seems like such a small thing, but it actually works.”

He just looked at me, gears turning in his head. His eyes flitted to the vial, inspecting its contents carefully.

“Casper,” I began again, unsure of how I was going to put everything I was thinking into words. “You were my brother’s best friend for years. I’ve known you nearly as long and I always thought of you as kind of the level-headed one out of all of us. You kept Tyler from doing ridiculous things when he didn’t want to admit he was being stupid… You were who I wanted to be.”

Casper’s brow furrowed. “Tyler loved you.”

“I know that. But at the same time, you were his best friend. I was his sister. Looking back, it’s easy to block out all the fights and bloody stupid comments. But we were siblings; it came with the territory. You didn’t have all that.” I sighed, shrugging. “I’ve always looked up to you.”

Casper’s hand reached out suddenly, causing me to recoil unconsciously. He ignored it, and took the vial from my fingers nonetheless. He then sat it down next to him in one fluid movement, and pulled me into his chest, wrapping his arms around my frame. A mixture of sandalwood and lavender—his mother’s tell-tale fabric cleaner—enveloped my senses, giving me the feeling the a giant weight had been lifted away from my chest, my lungs gulping at the new sense of freedom. I snaked my arms around his torso, pulling him even further toward me.

I knew I was probably being silly, but I didn’t want to let go.

A/N: I know it's been a while since I last updated, but a couple new reviews prompted me to get my butt writing again! I hope you enjoyed the chapter! And, in my best reporter voice: "NEW NEXT TIME ON 'MOONLIT MEETINGS'...SERENA SPENDS A FULL-MOON AT HOME WITH HER NEWLY REINSTATED BFF, ALONG WITH HER DECEASED BROTHER'S EX-GIRLFRIEND AND HER FIANCEE, THE GUY SHE CAN'T SEEM TO STOP KISSING, THE GUY WHO'S DEFINITELY STILL HER BOYFRIEND, AND BASICALLY THE REST OF THE QUIDDITCH TEAM." Well, there you go! A preview for the next chapter. I'm excited to start getting feedback again from all of you lovely human beings! Until next time! (Please rate/review) - KBD

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