A Little Bit of Love
"I've found something," Severus Snape said, throwing the heavy book he was carrying on the table in the Slytherin common room.
The Death Eaters that were gathered around threw a look at it, but seemed mostly uninterested.
Avery peered at the brown cover. "Hogwarts: A History?"
Rosier however, became instantly alert and leaned in closer.
"We've been going about this the wrong way," Snape explained. "Instead of looking for something we don't even know anything about by interrogating students, who might know something, we should have gone straight to the source."
"I take it you've come across something interesting?" Rosier's deep voice rumbled.
"I have. Take a look at this." Snape opened the book to a specific chapter and stuck his finger on the illustration on the right page. "All we need... is a Gryffindor."
'Cass will kill me!' Lisa thought frantically, rushing down the corridor. When she had stopped to talk to Remus after Transfiguration, she completely forgot she was supposed to meet her friend at the Library. As if the Slytherin wasn't annoyed enough already that Lisa cancelled so many of their usual together time to be with him... In the past, she could juggle her Gryffindor friends and Dorcas quite easily, just by spending whatever time she could during the day with her and hanging out with the others in the evenings in the common room or the dormitory. But now that she had a boyfriend on top of that (and one that constantly needed reassurance, to boot), it was becoming a bit hectic. She was almost at the second floor, when she spotted a familiar figure and her curiosity made her stop.
"Hey Pete!" Lisa greeted jovially, startling the boy peering around the corner. He mumbled a greeting in return, but his whole face was flushed. Lisa craned her neck out to see what he was staring at. "Marlene, huh? Have you asked her out yet?"
Peter became an interesting shade of red, hastily adjusted his school bag and almost ran down the corridor.
"What's the big deal?" Lisa asked, running to keep up with him. "She could say yes, you know."
"But she won't," Peter grumbled unhappily, still red-faced. "I know what she'll say."
"Pete..." Lisa tried to place a hand on his shoulder, but he shrugged it off.
"Just... leave me alone, Lisa."
She let him go, staring after him sadly. She wanted to call after him, but didn't know what to say. Marlene wasn't an especially deep person, and with Peter's best friends being James and Sirius, she probably never even noticed him.
Deep in such thoughts, Lisa barely registered the irritated look on Dorcas' face when she finally made it to the Library.
"Let me guess... Lupin distracted you?" she snapped. Lisa just nodded, not really hearing the question, and sat down. Dorcas' anger softened somewhat. "Don't tell me there's been more trouble?"
"None caused by Death Eaters, if that's what you mean." Lisa cracked a small smile. "Any ideas how to make a shallow bird fall for a nice bloke?"
Dorcas shrugged. "Depends on the bloke. And how shallow the bird in question is."
"It's Peter. And Marlene."
"McKinnon?" Dorcas snorted. "No chance."
"Come on, Cass! You're so much better at this than I am!" Lisa gave her the biggest puppy dog eyes she could manage.
Dorcas rolled her eyes. "Don't we have more important things to do than play match maker?"
"I think the Defenders can live a couple of hours without us. I just want to help Pete out, he gets rejected all the time! Doesn't he deserve a little bit of love, like anyone else? And I think Marlene would be good for him, bring him out of his shell. What do you say?"
"I'd say the chances of McKinnon growing a brain are slim to none."
"She's not that bad."
"I never said she was bad. What she is, is prejudiced and vain. In her head it was more important that you and Lupin slept in the same bed, than the fact that your sister was murdered the previous week!" Lisa winced at the mention of Julie and Dorcas apologized hastily. "What I'm saying is, Marlene is too self absorbed to see anything in Peter past his looks. And I'm sorry to tell you, but he won't win her over with those."
"But if she did look past them..."
"Then maybe he'd have a shot," Dorcas conceded. "He's not a Marauder for nothing, I'm sure if the other three accepted him into the fold, there's something more to him. But the problem will be getting McKinnon head out of her arse."
"Does that mean you'll help?" Lisa beamed hopefully.
"What else have I got to do, study?" Dorcas quipped, but returned her smile.
Lisa embraced her in a suffocating hug. "What will I ever do without you?"
"Are you sure about this?" Lisa whispered to her friend two days later, as McGonagall was screaming at Marlene after the two dozen dungbombs they stashed in both hers and Peter's bags exploded when they sat down for lunch and filled the Great Hall with... erm, unpleasant aroma.
"Trust me. There's no time like detention to help you see sides of others you normally wouldn't. Plus, it's a good environment for deflating heads," Dorcas sniggered.
Lisa threw her a suspicious look. "If you're helping me just so you could get her in trouble..."
Dorcas gasped in mock-offense. "You wound me! I am only trying to help love blossom."
"What love?" Remus interjected, suddenly behind the girls.
"Look at the time! I'm supposed to be helping Nataly with her runes. Later, Lisa." Dorcas waved quickly and ran out of sight.
Lisa was left to smile awkwardly under her boyfriend's suspicious gaze.
"Ah, it's... really not what you think... oh look, there's Lily!" And with very enthusiastic waving, Lisa made her way over to the redheaded Gryffindor and started babbling and dragging her out of the Hall to get away from the smell.
Of course, when you're dating someone, it's not so easy to escape questioning.
On Saturday, the Marauders were planning to raid the kitchen for a 'small pre-exams party', which gave Lisa and Remus some alone time and they decided to have a sunny reading hour under the beech tree near the lake. Lisa was sprawled on her stomach, reading The Old Man and the Sea, one of her favorite muggle stories, while Remus was sitting next to her, his back leaning against the tree trunk, engulfed in All Quiet on the Western Front.
"So... are you going to tell me why you got Peter a week-long detention?" Remus asked casually, turning the page of his book.
"Why should I?" she said playfully, looking up from her own.
His eyes slid from the page and lingered on hers. "Because I covered for you. I could go ahead and tell Sirius and James, I daresay they'll be delighted to know why Peter couldn't be the look out the other day when they were trying to sneak into the girls' prefect bath..."
Lisa immediately rolled into a sitting position and stared at him in horror. "You wouldn't..."
He smirked slightly. "You want to test that?"
"This isn't fair! You can't use your mates as leverage over me!" Lisa exclaimed, but he only stared at her expectantly, the smirk never leaving his mouth. "Fine!" she grumbled, closing the thin book. "Peter has a crush on Marlene and I sort of... arranged for them to spend some quality time together. There. But don't tell anyone!"
He stared at her with a mixture of amusement and confusion. "I didn't know you enjoyed playing matchmaker."
"I don't! ... I just... I saw him sulking around and... I wanted to do something to help. What's so bad about that?" she asked, a bit defensively.
He stared at her for a second, before leaving his own book on the ground and reaching for her hand.
"Nothing," he said, caressing the back of it with his thumb. "Nothing is bad about that. But why did you even feel you should keep it a secret?"
"Because... I didn't want anyone to know I was messing with their lives," she admitted with a blush, as his body shook with laughter. "Besides, you don't tell me everything," she added quietly, pulling his sleeve back a little.
He shot her a perplexed look. "What do you mean?"
"I mean the scars. You still haven't told me how you got them."
"I did... I mean, I thought you figured it out..." He fumbled for the right words. "The scars... they're self-inflicted."
The atmosphere immediately turned serious as her eyes snapped to meet his, full of concern and surprise.
"I... I really thought—"
"When I transform... if there aren't any people around to bite... I bite and scratch myself."
She gaped at him, a horrible, cold, sinking feeling weighing in her stomach. He looked away, burning with shame. He knew his scars were revolting, but now she probably found them even more disgusting. She squeezed his hand gently with both of hers.
"I'm so sorry," she whispered, voice heavy with emotion. "Is there anything I can do?"
"Do?" He almost laughed. "No, thank you. You've been too close for comfort to my transformed self already. I'd rather you stayed as far away as possible during a full moon."
"The Marauders don't stay away," she pointed out. "What do they to do to keep you under control, anyway? At first I thought they might be..." She trailed of, her fingers tracing the twisted flesh of his forearm.
"Hurting me?" he guessed. "No, they would never do that, not unless they really have to. But they..." He paused. The Marauders never gave away his secret. He shouldn't give away theirs.
"I can't tell you."
"So you really are going to continue having secrets from me?"
"It's not my secret to tell."
"But they don't hurt you?"
"... Do you hurt them?"
There was a long silence.
"I try not to," he whispered.
Lisa studied his expression, as he still refused to look at her. "When James got hurt last time... that wasn't you, right?"
His face paled in an instant. "No, that was a Gytrash, if I remember correctly. We ran into a bunch of them in the forest."
Lisa bit her lip. She knew pressing the issue would upset him, but she cared about the other Marauders too.
"Remus... whatever you lot are up to... being so close to a werewolf is dangerous."
"You don' think I know that!?" he snapped, his eyes finally meeting hers. "You don't think I'm terrified I'll lose control and bite one of them? Or someone else?"
"Because they follow me! I've tried telling them that it isn't safe, but they won't listen! And in my other form my mind isn't as clear, as rational...!"
He ran his free hand frantically through his hair, and she grasped it gently and pulled it down to the other one in her lap, before he could start tugging again.
"How long have they been doing this?"
"About a year now... close to two," he answered miserably.
"See? They know what they're doing, then. No need to worry," she tried to reassure him. If they had managed to make it out alive for so long, whatever it was they were up to worked. And to be honest, she didn't like the idea of Remus being left to wander alone or to hurt himself during a full moon.
He shook his head in that irritating, stubborn way and she did the only thing (other than smacking him over the head) she could think of – she hugged him. He whimpered sadly in her hair, but his arms wrapped tightly around her.
The warm May weather was perfect for studying outside and half the school was scattered around the grounds during the weekend the following week. Lisa sat with Lily near the lake, dipping her feet in the cool water while occasionally glancing at Remus, who was sitting with James and Sirius under the beech tree.
"Look who it is." Lily nudged her and inclined her head to the castle doors, where Marlene was chatting happily with Peter, heading their way. When they neared, she waved goodbye to him and made for the girls, as Pete stared after her with a goofy smile, before heading to join the Marauders.
"So, how was detention?" Lisa asked, trying to make it sound casual.
"You will never believe what happened!" Marlene exclaimed in her usual gossipy tone. "The Sorting Hat was stolen!"
Both girls' heads snapped to gape at her.
"You're not serious!" Lily gasped. "They would have had to take it from Dumbledore's office! It's just a rumor!"
"It is not! I overheard McGonagall tell Sprout about it when Peter and I were cleaning the second floor staircase!" Marlene insisted. "Dumbledore was out last night and some delinquents snuck in and nicked it!"
Lily and Lisa exchanged worried glances.
"Dumbledore just leaves the school?" Lily asked.
"Because he's fighting," Lisa whispered. "He's building a resistance against Voldemort."
The other girls gawked at her.
"Sort of like... what we're doing with the Defenders?" Marlene said.
Lisa rolled her eyes. "Sure. Except a million times more dangerous!"
Lily smiled sadly. "I suppose I should put my St. Mungo's application on hold then?"
"I don't see why you can't fight Dark Wizards and study for a Healer," Marlene said cockily.
Lisa sighed deeply. She knew this would happen. Everyone would jump into the war, without even realizing what it meant. 'Not that I was any better', she thought bitterly. But she had to make them understand, before something happened that they would regret.
"Hey Marlene," Lisa greeted as she approached the girl waiting for her by the staircase on Wednesday night.
Dorcas had a date tonight, so when Lisa asked James who was going with her on patrol, he told her only Marlene would have a frivolous enough schedule to switch like that. So she did.
Marlene greeted her back and started complaining about having to walk up and down the same stairs she had just cleaned a few days ago, and Lisa found a perfect opportunity to work on the Peter angle.
"Speaking of which, you seemed to get along pretty well with your partner in crime."
"For the last time, we were framed! I bet it was Angelica Durnhil, she's been sore with me for weeks for snogging her boyfriend. I really have no idea why she's complaining, he's the worst snog I've ever had."
"At least you got to spend your detention in nice company."
"You mean Peter?" Marlene snorted. "He makes me laugh and all, but come on! Who wants to date such a pitiful wizard? I do wonder sometimes how he even got accepted here."
"There's more to a person than their magical ability," Lisa said slowly, taking a measurable amount of willpower not to start yelling.
"Ah, well, he's a nice guy and all, but let's be honest – what girl would even look at him twice? I mean, he's always with James and Sirius, two of the hottest hunks in the school!"
"You just said he was nice and that he made you laugh!" Lisa exclaimed. Maybe Dorcas had a point about her after all.
"Look, I do like him, but we just occupy different positions in the popu—"
Suddenly, Lisa shushed her. There was a muffled noise coming from the corridor they were just passing. The two girls exchanged glances and pulled out their wands. Approaching carefully, they found the sounds were coming from an empty classroom. Lisa looked around cautiously and realized this was supposed to be Frank and Alice's route. She cursed under her breath and swore she's have a good talk with James about continuing to let them schedule their rounds together. As if they didn't spend enough time snogging already! She and Remus would never be this careless!
"It won't appear for him," Avery's sneer sounded through the door. "Was he the only one you could find?"
"It's not my fault they've all hidden somewhere! This is a big castle!" Mulciber snapped.
"Should we try, while we have him? Who knows, maybe a bit of torture will make him desperate enough..." Wilkes said, sounding bored.
"On three," Lisa whispered and Marlene nodded.
She counted slowly and then burst through the door, only to find that Snape's gang had Peter, who was trembling in the corner without a wand. A fierce duel ensued, and as always, they were outnumbered nearly 3 to 1. Not that Mulciber, Avery or Wilkes were anything more than mediocre, but with Snape and Rosier, the odds were in the Death Eater's favor. Probably hearing the commotion, Frank and Alice also ran in, evening things a little, and Peter managed to get to his wand.
"Sectumsempra!" Snape snarled, pointing his wand at Marlene.
She was caught unawares, but just as the curse was about to hit her, a small body threw itself in the way. Deep cuts colored Peter's shirt red, as his limp form sank to the ground. Lisa wasted no time in stunning the Slytherin and knelt down next to the Marauder, murmuring the healing spell. The biggest wounds closed, but he was far from being out of danger. Marlene was staring at him, face pale and eyes wide.
"We have to move him! Marlene, cover me!" Lisa shouted, but the other girl seemed to be in shock. They didn't have time for such nonsense! Snape and Avery were out, but everyone else was still in the middle of a heated duel! Lisa stood up and slapped Marlene right across the face. "Help me get him out of here, or he'll die!"
Marlene touched her cheek and stared back at Lisa with a horrified expression, but nodded. Lisa levitated Peter's body out of the door, as Marlene deflected any hexes shot their way. They rushed him back to the Gryffindor common room and, ignoring all the weird looks, went straight for his dorm.
The Marauders weren't there, so they placed Peter on his bed. Marlene practically collapsed on her knees, as Lisa ripped open his shirt to have a better look at the wounds.
"Is he... is he..." Marlene mumbled hoarsely.
"He'll live," Lisa said, rummaging through Remus' potion supplies.
Finding the Essence of Dittany she was looking for, she returned to Peter and carefully spread the brown liquid over his cuts. Marlene finally moved in some sort of trance-like state and sat on the other end of the bed, curling her fingers over his.
"That... could have been me," she muttered, her eyes welling up with tears.
"It would have been you," Lisa corrected her. "Although why he didn't just conjure a shield charm is beyond me. But in all probability, he wouldn't have been capable of making something strong enough to protect you from that. This spell is some pretty foul Dark Magic, if I ever saw it."
Marlene glared daggers into her.
"What? You yourself said he was a pitiful wizard," Lisa piled on mercilessly. "Even if he gets a scar from this, who cares, right? After all, what girl would look at him twice?"
Marlene's tears dripped down and fell on his bare hand.
"You still want to join Dumbledore?" Lisa asked in a softer voice. "Because you're looking at your future. Anyone can, and probably will end up this way. You, him, me... It won't be like it is now. We'll be vastly outnumbered, fighting real, experienced duelists, not loudmouthed schoolboys."
Marlene started sobbing uncontrollably and Lisa felt pity for her. She left the Dittany on Peter's nightstand and with a soft pat on Marlene's shoulder, left them alone.
"Hunting Gryffindors seems to be more trouble than it's worth," Avery complained the next evening, as Snape was re-applying Dittany to his arm in the Slytherin common room.
"I'll let you tell the Dark Lord that, Avery," Wilkes sneered. "I'm sure he'll take it into consideration."
"The Dark Lord doesn't care about Gryffindor," Rosier stated. "He cares about the item."
"Then why not just grab a first year, or something?" Mulciber grunted.
"Because it can only be obtained through an act of courage..." Snape mused, and his eyes fell on Dorcas Meadowes, playing Exploding Snap with Nataly Prior near the fire. "And I think I know how we can get one of them to demonstrate that."
He whipped out his wand and fired a silent curse. Dorcas' body slumped over the cards, and the whole common room went silent.