Lisa and Remus spent the night on the couch in the common room.
She didn't peal herself from him all evening, as if holding on to him was the only thing that kept her sane. He was also shaken up over the news, and seeing her so distraught made any notion of pushing her away inconceivable. Frank wasn't taking it very well either. Being an only child and having spent many summers with the Fawley sisters, he came to consider the two of them as the siblings he never had. He sat with Alice in his lap as she caressed his head lovingly, and no one knew what to say to make things better. Eventually everyone went back to their dorms, but Lisa didn't move, and neither did Remus. She cried many times during the night, and he just stroke her gently, not saying a word.
When morning came, she didn't even attempt to go to lessons, and he stayed with her. James, Sirius and Peter brought them breakfast, but didn't ask questions. Sometime around lunch, he disentangled himself from her and tried to get up.
"Where are you going?" Lisa asked, a tinge of panic in her voice.
He gave her a small smile. "The bathroom. I'll be right back, I promise."
She let him go reluctantly and curled up on the couch, pulling her knees close. When her glance fell at her school bag still on the floor, she reached down slowly and pulled out the green notebook. There was a message on the first page:
I heard. You okay?
Lisa took out a quill and scribbled below:
In a matter of seconds, black lines appeared on the paper, forming into Dorcas' words.
Anything I can do?
Can you bring back the dead?
I can bring you ice cream.
Lisa's gaze softened, but she couldn't bring herself to smile.
I'm not sure I can make it to the portrait.
I'll send it by owl post.
Then I'd have to make it to the window.
Then I'll send McKinnon. But she'll probably look to see what it is and eat it.
You don't need to send me anything. Your quips are plenty.
Then I'll be sure to write often.
Lisa closed the notebook and held it close to her chest.
"What's that?" Remus asked, sitting back down beside her.
"Dorcas made it," she said, surprised at how hoarse her voice was. She showed the notebook to him, and he nodded in understanding.
"A Protean Charm."
"You really do know everything," she said, leaning against his chest again. He laughed softly and wrapped his arms around her.
"You should know that too, it could be on our N.E.W.T.s."
"Sure, Professor." She felt him smile in her hair. "If you could, what subject would you teach?"
"Me? An actual Professor?"
"Why not? Haven't you ever thought what you'd work after graduation?"
"I have... Maybe a Professor position wouldn't be so bad..."
"You could stay here, in Hogwarts... be safe... away from the war..." she said longingly.
He pulled back slightly and gave her a strange look. "Is that what you want?"
She looked away. "Maybe. What's so bad about that?"
"What happened to joining Dumbledore? Or were you content on fighting only as long as it was relatively safe?"
Her eyes were tearing up again, and he felt guilt over his harsh words, but she needed to hear them.
"At least in here we have a chance!" she cried. "At least here we can sleep without worrying about being killed in our beds! He has too many on his side, and you never know who it might turn out to be! You never know when your best friend might be Imperiused to attack you or tortured into betraying you!"
"Does that mean we should just give up? Submit to his tyranny, muggles and muggle-borns be damned? Let Lily, Mary, everyone else, die?!"
Lisa's body shook with violent sobs and she hid her face in her hands. "I don't know if I can do this! They killed Julie! They'll kill us all, and I'll lose everyone! Frank, Alice, Lily and James, Peter and Sirius and Dorcas and you... we'll all die!"
"You don't know that," he said firmly, grasping her wrists gently and pulling them down. "There is a risk, yes, but we have to try. For Julie and every other innocent like her." Her sobbing stopped and she stared at him in shock at the mention of her sister. "As long as Voldemort is in power, no one is safe and there will be many more victims. People who have nothing to do with the war, muggles, that don't even know what's going on, or children, whose parents offended or refused him in some way. You're not honoring Julie's memory by letting what happened to her become inconsequential!"
She looked at him like he'd just slapped her across the face.
"I'm scared," she admitted quietly.
He pulled her back into his embrace. "I know. But you won't be in this alone. James and Sirius are the best at everything; they always come out on top. And Lily, have you seen her in a duel? Dorcas is no slouch either, not just anyone can perform a Protean Charm. I've been on patrol with both Frank and Alice, and trust me when I tell you, they're both exceptionally skilled. Peter may not be the best duelist, but he's loyal and true. As for me... I've been told I can hold my own."
"Don't die," she whispered, desperately clinging to his robes. "Promise me."
In the following weeks, Lisa started to hate being alone. Because being alone meant she had a chance to think. Even books, one of her favorite pastimes, only seemed to make the silence more deafening. While before she enjoyed spending hours in the Library, leafing through random books and sinking into potion recipes or learning about flesh-eating trees, now just the idea of being by herself for so long terrified her. She stuck like glue to Lily or Dorcas during the day and somehow found herself gravitating to Remus more than usual. Her parents managed to send her an owl, which was still unopened. Frank told her there would be a funeral, but she couldn't bring herself to go.
The nights were the worst. Not only did she have near constant nightmares, but the time between saying 'goodnight' and actually falling asleep never passed without at least one fit of sobs. It got so bad, she resorted to casting a silencing charm on the curtains around her bed so she wouldn't disturb the others.
Julie kept haunting her dreams often. The little, smiling chatterbox that jumped on her bed to wake her up or got mad because she dropped her ice cream and blew the bulb of a street lamp... Tears threatened to choke Lisa, just thinking how she'd never gotten around to saying she loved her.
She dreamed of other terrors too. Lily being tortured, Dorcas falling dead to the ground, Frank and Alice, being blown to bits... The grins fading from James' and Sirius' faces, as they were hit by killing curses, and small, nervous Peter, valiantly trying to help but in the end being too slow... And Remus, wand in hand, crumpling to the ground, his eyes glassy...
Lisa stood up in her bed sharply, a loud scream emitting from her own throat. She broke down into crying again, unable to draw breath. Some desperate madness caught a hold on her and she whipped the curtains open. Carefully standing up on her wobbly legs, she tiptoed to the door as best she could, trying to not wake anyone up. Crossing the common room almost in a run, she climbed the stairs to the sixth year boy's dormitory and opened the door slightly. A beam of moonlight was shining on James' bed, as he was snoring loudly, his glasses flung casually on his nightstand. Sirius's messy black mane was showing from the top of his covers, and the round bundle in the corner bed she guessed to be Peter. The curtains around Remus' bed were drawn.
Lisa slipped between them cautiously and shook his shoulders gently. His eyelids fluttered open, heavy with sleep, only to widen in shock as soon as he registered her presence and he sat up sharply.
"Can I stay with you?" she whispered with an involuntary shiver, as tears streaked down her cheeks anew.
If it were under any other circumstances, he would turn her away. But seeing her like this, trembling and crying... it broke his heart. He nodded slowly and she slipped under his covers, inhaling his soothing scent. He hugged her and she snuggled against his chest, dripping tears onto his pajamas. She continued to cry for a while longer, as his thumb caressed her shoulder comfortingly.
Lisa wondered at herself. Crying like a child and hiding in his arms like that, it wasn't like her at all. Remus was right to call her out earlier, she was ready to fight in Hogwarts, but somewhere deep down, she knew none of them would be killed right under Dumbledore's nose. She liked the idea of standing up against Voldemort, but the reality of it had finally caught up to her. Being brave is easy, when the danger isn't staring you in the face. Suddenly, risking her life for nameless people she'd never met didn't seem as appealing anymore. She thought hopefully that she could fight the same way her father was, through words and showing everyone the truth. Then thought back on her nightmare, thought about all of her friends who would join the fight, even if she didn't. And she asked herself how it would feel to know they were risking everything, even if she wasn't in the front lines. How it would hurt if she learned of their death by seeing the obituaries in the paper, and how the thought that if she were there she could've saved them would crush her. Just like... just like Julie.
Her hands balled into fists and her resolve strengthened like cold steel. She wouldn't lose anyone else the same way ever again.
James woke up and stretched with a huge yawn. 'Nothing like a Saturday morning,' he thought to himself with a grin and flung his pillow at the still sleeping Sirius. His mate gave out a low, throaty growl and threw it back, but it only reached the foot of his bed. Putting on his glasses, James got up and sneakily approached Remus' bed, intent on inducing a hilariously loud awakening by screaming 'Death Eaters!' right in his ear. The yell caught in his throat when he flung the curtains open and saw there was one extra body with disheveled blond hair in the bed. Backing away slowly, he shook Sirius violently and put a hand on his mouth when he tried to scream at him to shove off. Inclining his head to the werewolf's bed, James saw realization dawn in Sirius' eyes and he nodded. The two of them dressed quietly and levitated the sleeping Wormtail, along with his clothes, out of there.
Lisa woke up as the sun shone right in her face. She pulled herself up and the foggy memories of last night flooded her mind. Her face turned red when she realized she had begged him to let her into his bed. Glancing down, she smiled at Remus' sleeping face and remembered her newfound resolve. Crying and shaking in the corner wouldn't help anything. It would be scary and dangerous and not everyone would survive it... but she'd do her best to keep them safe however she could, and if that meant risking her life and taking a curse or two... then so be it. No matter what, she would keep them alive.
She slipped out of the bed, careful not to wake him up and made for the door.
"Aren't you gonna stay for pancakes?" his sleepy voice came from the four-poster as he sat up.
She turned around and gave him a small smile. "I didn't know you made any."
He chuckled, got out of bed and approached her. "Are you feeling better?"
She nodded. She knew now her life after graduation wasn't going to be pretty, and she accepted it. Having made a firm decision to fight had somehow lessened her crippling anxiety.
"Then I have a present for you," he said, taking her hand and gently pulling her back to his bed. With a wave of his wand, a big cardboard box slid out from under it. "I ordered it around Christmas, but with everything that happened, I didn't have much time to work on it."
The box opened and an old gramophone levitated out of it and landed softly on the bed, followed by a few vinyl records. She gaped at him in disbelief, before sliding on the sheets and taking a closer look. He sat down next to her, placed a record labeled Boston on it and tapped it with his wand. The album spun and music poured out of the tube.
"Happy birthday," he said. Her head whipped around to stare at him, and he laughed at her expression. "I couldn't afford a magical one, so... I ordered an old muggle one and enchanted it myself. Sorry I took so long."
"B-but... my birthday isn't for another month," she managed to mumble.
"I know. I just... wanted to cheer you up."
She looked up at him. He was smiling warmly at her in that way that made her heart swell, and his face was so close to hers, their noses were nearly touching... And slowly, without thinking, she closed the distance between them.
There was no desperation this time, no urgency, no angst. Her lips were feather-light and gentle against his, and so warm, so sweet... Remus knew he should pull away, that he shouldn't let this happen. He knew he was giving into temptation, but he was just so tired of resisting... Her hand brushed over his, sending sparks of electricity down his spine and every thought of defense crumbled, as his other hand rose to caress the her face. He felt like he would melt into her, like her touch made all of the unpleasant truths about him and about the future wash away, leaving only that warm, beautiful feeling of her lips against his.
After a few blissful moments, they broke apart. She looked at him, and he stared back with a strange expression.
"Let me guess... this isn't a good idea?" she said softly. This would be the part where she would usually get mad, but she was strangely calm.
He didn't say anything. Forgetting the truth didn't make it any less real. He struggled to find the words to explain, to make her understand...
Lisa pulled herself up and got off the bed, as he looked down at the sheets.
"I'm not sure what's going on with you, Remus. Every time I start thinking there could be something between us, you go and do this. I don't know how you got the scars, I don't know why Snape is so obsessed with you, or what you're refusing to do for him, but... I know how I feel about you. And I think it's a damned waste of time to dance around each other like this. If you ever make up your mind about us, you know where to find me."
And with that, she turned around and left the dormitory.
Seth was waiting for her again when she left the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom.
"Not now, Seth."
"I just wanted to... I mean I heard, and..." He trailed off and ran a hand through his hair. For the first time since Lisa had known him, Seth Tenley was at a loss for words.
"Over here." She smiled slightly and led him a bit farther down the corridor.
"Are you... doing okay?" he asked.
"Listen, I... I'm sorry for what happened. I hope... I hope the rest of your family is fine."
At that moment Dorcas came around the corner to pick her up for lunch. She spotted them immediately and raised an eyebrow in a silent question, already reaching for her wand. Lisa made a small head shake to reassure her.
"I have to go," she told Seth. She'd barely made two steps, when he called after her.
"Why him?" he said when she turned around. "What does Lupin have that I don't?"
A million answers flew through her mind, but as she smiled, Lisa said simply, "There doesn't have to be a reason."