A Baby Pumpkin Sings Billy Joel
It was the most wonderful feeling in the world.
A strange, new feeling, being wrapped in his arms, as his warm lips were drinking hers. Lisa had never experienced a kiss like that before. It felt so good, so impossibly good, the fireworks in her stomach were flaring with full force and she thought she might just burst from it all. Her hands clutched the front of his robes, as her mouth moved to reciprocate the kiss. It deepened and deepened, as his arms tightened around her and one of her hands slipped up to cup his face.
The distant laugh of Peeves the poltergeist echoed through the hall and kick-started Remus' brain again.
He pulled away abruptly, startling her a bit. He couldn't do this; he absolutely could not do this! Not knowing, nor wanting to find any words to say, he turned around and bolted down the corridor.
He knew this brief transgression would cost him dearly, but he couldn't bring himself to regret it. 'One kiss' he thought, 'Just one.' And without meaning to, he pursed his lips to savor her lingering taste. As soon as he did, he cursed himself for his weakness. As fast as he ran, he couldn't escape the memory, as it played fresh over and over again in his mind. The way her body fit perfectly against his, how she tasted like honey and just how her hand had moved to caress his cheek... He felt his face blush, as the wanting in his stomach urged him to go back there, to hold her again and to experience once more that warmth that no one else could give him...
Lisa was left alone and confused, to stare down the way Remus had ran. He kissed her and it seemed like he meant it, but then he suddenly ran off! She didn't know what to make of it anymore, what to think about his cryptic behavior. She skulked miserably down the corridor and her feet automatically seemed to take her to the Owlery. She called out to her Tawny owl, Gwen, and gently stroke the feathers on her back when the bird fluttered to land on her shoulder.
Lisa sighed as she leaned on one of the big Owlery windows and her thoughts ran back to that moment when Remus swept her into his arms and the way he had smiled when she babbled about Snape... 'Why can't he be like that all the time?' she asked herself bitterly. But regardless of his reasons, it seemed that his armor wasn't impenetrable after all. She thought for a second what Dorcas would do in her place and a smile stretched across her face. Her friend was never one to back down from a challenge and did not like losing one bit. She would badger and pester him, until she broke through that armor, until she got what she wanted. Lisa frowned a little, remembering that that was also James Potter's favorite tactic when chasing after Lily and that, if anything, it had only decreased his chances. But then again, Lily hadn't kissed James in empty hallways...
"You called?" Dorcas said, entering the Owlery half an hour later, still holding the enchanted origami swan Lisa had used to send her a message. The Gryffindor smiled weakly and gestured for her friend to join her at the window.
"You alright?" Dorcas asked after a brief silence.
"I'll let you know once I figure it out."
"You're starting to freak me out a bit. Snape was muttering something about you to Avery in the Common Room. Did you get on his bad side?"
"He kissed me."
"What? No! Lupin!"
Lisa couldn't help the massive smile that spilled onto her face.
"You snogged Remus Lupin?!" Dorcas exclaimed. The blush on her friend's cheeks made her grin. "I knew you fancied him! When and where?"
"About an hour ago, in the East Wing corridor."
"You saucy little minx, you! Well, that's a good thing right? No more pouting about him being 'less friendly'."
"I wouldn't say that." Lisa's smile faded somewhat. "He ran away right after he did it. And before that, he flat out refused to spend time alone with me."
"That bloke's not right in the head," Dorcas said, shaking hers. "What guy in his right mind would refuse alone time with a pretty bird like you?"
"Thanks, but I think it's literally written somewhere that you have to say that when your friends get rejected," Lisa rolled her eyes.
"So what if it is? It's true, at any rate," Dorcas scoffed. "So... what now? You'll continue moping and staring until the end of time?"
"It seems that way," Lisa smiled sadly.
"Oh no, you don't!" Dorcas seized her friend's shoulder and made her turn to face her. "Lisa Fawley, have I taught you nothing? If you want something, you go and get it! I won't let you sit around the Owlery and feel sorry for yourself, when there's a perfectly handsome, smart young man you could be snogging! If you want Remus Lupin, go out there and get him!"
"He's not a bloody book I can get from the Library!" Lisa snapped. "He's a person, not an object, and if he doesn't want to snog me, there's nothing I can do about it!"
"Bollocks! He does want to snog you, otherwise you wouldn't be here right now arguing about it!"
"But he didn't want to be alone with me!" Lisa cried angrily. "What if... I don't just want to snog him? What if I want... more than that?" she added in a calmer tone, looking desperately at her friend.
"Stop staring at me like a wounded puppy!" Dorcas scolded her. "You must be daft, if you think Remus Lupin goes around snogging birds just for the hell of it! It's clear the bloke has some issues, but a lack of feelings for you is not one of them! I can tell by the way he looks at you."
"He doesn't look at me," Lisa said unhappily.
"Yes, he does. Just a few moments at a time and only when you aren't looking his way, but he does."
Lisa remembered the moment she thought she'd imagined in the Great Hall and hope fluttered inside her like a swarm of butterflies.
"You really think... I mean, is it possible that he...?"
"That he wants something more too? Yes, I'd bet a solid sum of gold that he does," Dorcas smiled encouragingly. "As far as I know, he's never dated before... but with a lot of persistence and a little bit of luck... I really think you can do this."
On Monday, the 18 of October, Lisa gathered all the Gryffindor courage she could muster and entered her fist class, Ancient Runes, with the full intention of talking to Remus about what happened on Saturday. He and the Marauders had spent the entirety of Sunday nowhere to be found, but there were no corridors to escape through this time. For her disappointment however, she found James, Sirius and Peter chatting happily in the back without him.
"Is Remus sick again?" she asked Lily, taking her usual seat next to her.
"He's held up at the Hospital Wing," Lily nodded. "I overheard that lot, when they were planning a visit during breakfast," she added, inclining her head towards the Marauders.
Just then, Professor Babbling tapped her wand on the black board, causing a paragraph of complicated runes to appear and told the class to open their books on page 56. Lisa giggled a bit at the way James was feverishly flipping through the pages and Sirius was getting his quill ready for taking notes.
"What?" Lily whispered.
"I just think it's kinda cute, the way James and Sirius take notes for Remus like that," Lisa explained in a low voice. "You know they don't usually bother to do it for themselves."
Lily's eyes shifted over to the Marauders, but the typical sharpness in her gaze whenever she looked at them was somewhat softened this time.
"Well, not everyone can be a slimy git 24/7, right? They have to slip up sometime" she said, causing Lisa to shake in another fit of laughter.
"There you go, mate" James said, handing Remus a messy, but detailed stack of notes. "That's from Runes, and Defense from yesterday, plus Charms and Transfiguration from today."
"Thank you," Remus smiled weakly. Even if he had a hundred thousand lives, he could never express how much it meant to him that his friends stuck by him, despite his... condition.
"That's enough visiting for one day, boys. You must let him rest!" Madam Pomfrey called, rushing towards the Remus' bed. "Now out, all of you!"
"See ya later, Moony" Peter called and his friends started for the door.
"By the way dear, a girl dropped this for you this morning. I didn't want to disturb you before, so here," Madam Pomfrey added, giving Remus a medium small blue box.
At the word 'girl', Sirius' head twisted around so fast, his neck almost snapped.
"A girl? You've been holding out on us, Moony! And here I thought I was the dog! Who-"
"Oh, no you don't! I let you stay with him for 15 minutes! 15 minutes! He's never going to get better if you keep fluttering around his bed! Now out, OUT!" Madam Pomfrey shrieked and chased the Marauders out the door, but not before they managed to throw a few meaningful glances at Remus. The healer had saved him from their questions for now, but he knew that as soon as he stepped foot over the Fat Lady's portrait, they would ambush him for answers.
Of course, he could make a very educated guess on who left the box for him, as he had very few friends outside the Marauders, and even fewer of those were girls. The only ones who would bother to go out of their way before classes just to leave something for him would either be Lily Evans, a longtime friend and fellow prefect, or...
His insides wiggled like snakes just at the thought of her, and his cheek burned where she had touched it. With trembling hands, he lifted the lid and surprisingly came face to face with... a baby pumpkin? He picked it up and inspected it curiously.
"Hey, pal, watch it! Your fingers taste like soap!" it scowled, as it came to life in his hand. "Ya want me to sing ya a tune?" it added with its gruff voice and started singing (terribly off-key) 'James', a song form the new album of the muggle musician Billy Joel.
Remus stared at it in surprise, a smile creeping onto his face. He picked up the note folded up in the corner of the box and read:
I heard you were sick again. I wanted to make you something that would cheer you up, although I suppose your friends already do that, but I felt restless nonetheless and I've never told you this before, but enchanting my own food to sing acapella to me was something I loved doing when I caught Scrofungulus when I was nine and had to stay at St. Mungo's for nearly a month, but it wasn't my fault, really, it was because Frank wanted to visit that blasted garden, and-...
I'm rambling again, aren't I?
Remus smiled, despite himself. Lisa often digressed like that and sometimes the most fascinating tidbits about her life would just casually slip out. But she looked so animated and lively as the waterfall of words fell from her mouth that he couldn't help but stand there and stare at her.
Anyway, I only wanted to drop you a line to let you know that I want to make a deal. I know it can't be easy, but whatever mess you've gotten yourself into, I still want to be there for you. I promise, I won't ask you any questions and whatever happened in the Library on Saturday will stay between a certain Slytherin and us, I'll make sure of that. But in exchange, I want you to stop alienating me and go back to being my friend. If you agree to do this, give this pumpkin back to me and I will take it as a sign that you want us to go back to normal. If you don't, I'll take the hint, and won't bother you anymore. I just want you to know, that... I care about you. Please don't shut me out.
It was a quarter past nine on Thursday night and Lisa's eyes were already tired from staring at the parchment. She was sitting in the common room with Frank, Alice and Lily, as they were all scribbling away on their homework.
"I hate this," Lisa grumbled and threw another piece she got wrong into the fireplace.
Frank laughed dryly. "You hate it now, wait till next year. It's just like O.W.L. year, except much, much worse."
"Weren't you supposed to be helping us with Charms?" Lily reminded him, dipping her quill in the ink bottle anew.
"I am. See, I let you have my old notes," he nodded towards the pile of parchment he brought to the table.
"But that'll take ages to go through!" Lisa whined. "Can't you just tell us?"
"I could, but how will you learn?" he said theatrically, making Alice chuckle.
"Well, one of us is gonna have to explain it all to Marlene, when she comes back from her date anyway," she noted.
"Looks like we have a volunteer then!" Lisa said quickly. "How noble of you, Alice."
Lily giggled at Alice's shocked face and gave her an apologetic smile.
"Sorry," Lily tried to say, but her attention was immediately drawn to the portrait hole, where the Marauders had just entered, bringing supplies of food from the kitchens and spreading them generously among the Gryffindors.
"Urg, looks like this place won't be safe to study for much longer. I'm going up before Potter sees me" she said hastily and shoved her half-finished essay in her bag. She wasn't even half way there, when James spotted her.
"Hey, Evans!" he called out, and as usual the whole common room turned to watch their spectacle.
The whole room, but Lisa, whose attention was engulfed entirely by the approaching Remus Lupin, who carried a baby pumpkin in his hand. Her heart fluttered up to her throat again.
"Did it have to be off-key?" he asked jovially, holding out the pumpkin for her.
"I thought it'd make you laugh," she smiled weakly, placing her hand on top of it.
Frank's eyes darted between the two of them quickly, before he suddenly stood up.
"Come on, Alice. I'll teach you the basics of turning vinegar into wine," he said, pulling a bemused Alice after him.
Remus used that opportunity and quickly slid beside Lisa on the vacated couch.
"It did," he smiled warmly, like he hadn't noticed Frank and Alice at all.
Finally, Lisa thought to herself and once again had to fight back tears. Finally, he was back to normal, and he looked at her in that way he did last week in the East Wing...
"Did you like it? I was sort of wondering if you'd recognize the song," she said sheepishly.
"Billy Joel? How could I not? My mother's crazy about him," he laughed.
"So is Lily! She gave me a record of his for my birthday, so mom and dad had to take me to buy a muggle record player. Dad's fascinated by it."
"Most wizards are, when they come across muggle technology."
"I wish I could bring it in here... some music wouldn't hurt around this place, would it? But the magic's so thick; it won't allow anything that isn't powered by it to work!"
"Good thing, too. Otherwise, we'd have to listen to Billy Joel every day. Imagine the horror!" he joked.
"What music would you prefer, then?" she puffed indignantly.
"Jazz" he answered simply. Lisa erupted in a hearty laughter.
"You would, wouldn't you? That's so... so you!" she exclaimed. "Alright, next time I'll charm an orange choir to sing you something jazzy."
"As long as it's on-key. That last one gave me a headache."
"I thought you said it made you laugh!"
"Made-me-laugh and made-me-want-to-smash-it-against-a-wall are not mutually exclusive," he pointed out.
"Alright, alright! Never send Remus Lupin singing fruits, I got it."
"No! I loved it, really!" he said urgently. She blushed and looked down at her parchment.
"Then I'll definitely make you more," she muttered barely above a whisper.
"Come on Moony, you can catch up on homework later! Come play Fanged Frisbee with us!" Sirius shouted from across the room and threw a handler's glove onto Remus' lap. He shot Lisa an apologetic look and paid for it with a Frisbee bite to the back of the neck.
"Too slow!" Sirius roared in laughter, and the rest of the Gryffindors joined in.