The Worst Party Ever
Remus paced back and forth nervously.
He had been debating with himself for the last half an hour. She'd made it clear they were only going as friends, but he knew that's not how it would feel for him, and he couldn't let himself grow to like her more than he already did. He thought distancing himself from her would do the trick, that if he didn't let himself feel anything while he was with her, it would eventually go away. But if it made her cry, it wasn't worth it. Nothing was.
But if he went to that party, he might end up falling for her even harder. And she didn't return his affections, so what was the point of torturing himself like that? He wanted to kick himself again. He knew he was slipping, starting to want things he knew he was never meant to have. But when he looked at her sometimes, his mind would just wander...
"Hey Moony, come on! You've been in there for like an hour!" Sirius banged on the bathroom door. Remus jumped, straightened his clothes and opened it.
"Sorry. You can go in now," he mumbled quickly.
"Why are you all dressed up?" Sirius asked, dumbfounded, looking him up and down.
"Lisa asked you to the Christmas party, didn't she?" Peter called perceptively from behind James' latest issue of Transfiguration Today.
His friends turned to stare at him in bewilderment.
"How did you know?" Remus asked hoarsely.
"Like it could get more obvious," Peter rolled his eyes. "You two are practically staring holes into each other at every opportunity."
Sirius moved his surprised gaze to Remus, his eyebrows rising in realization.
"Mate... you fancy Fawley?"
"I do not." Remus clenched his fists, his nails sinking painfully in his palms.
"Why didn't you say anything? If I'd known—"
"There's nothing to know, Sirius!" Remus exploded. "There's nothing between me and Lisa, and there never can be!"
"Never can be?" Sirius' brows knitted. "Don't tell me you're holding yourself back."
"I'm a freak, Sirius," Remus said more calmly, looking away. "You know as well as I do I can't have a relationship like that. I'm not... I'm not human."
"Not human!?" Sirius exclaimed angrily, clutching the front of Remus' robes. "Where the bloody hell did that rubbish come from!? Excepting one measly night of the month, you're just as human as the rest of us! As long as you don't take her out during the full moon, there is nothing stopping you from having a girl!"
"And what happens when she finds out!?" Remus shouted back. "What happens when she learns she's with a monster?"
"Fawley's not a shallow prat. She'll under—"
"YOU CAN'T KNOW THAT!" He jerked away from Sirius' grasp roughly. Breathing heavily, he looked at his friends' stunned faces.
"Remus... we understood" Peter said carefully, putting the magazine down.
"And I'm very grateful for that, I really am, but it's different for you!" Remus barked. "You don't have to spend time alone with me, or touch me, or..."
"Look mate, if I swung that way, I'd be all over you, bu—" Sirius started with a smirk.
"This isn't funny! It's one thing to be friends with someone like me; it's a completely different thing to... to be with me."
"If James were here, he'd tell you to take a chance," Peter said.
"What's the worse that could happen?" added Sirius. "You lose her? If you don't try, you'll never even have her."
Remus moved his eyes from one to the other. They were making sense, and the thought terrified him.
"I can't," he said quietly. "I think it would hurt less if I never tried."
And with that, he turned his back to his friends and left the dorm.
"You look incredible," Marlene said, watching Lisa turn around in front of the bathroom mirror. Both Alice and Lily had already left for the party a few minutes ago, and Mary was doing some homework in the Library.
"Thanks," Lisa said absentmindedly, smoothing out the wrinkles on her light blue dress robes. "Let's hope he thinks the same..."
"You have a date?" Marlene's eyes widened and a grin crossed her lips. "Who is he? When did he ask you?"
"Can we leave the gossip for after the party? I'm a bit nervous." Lisa rubbed her hands together, but Marlene's smile only grew.
"Fine, but you owe me full details."
Lisa rolled her eyes, but a smile crept on her lips nonetheless. She took a deep breath and opened the door. The Common Room was noisy as usual, but Remus was nowhere to be seen. In the corner, Lisa spotted Felicity Rickett and a few of her friends, so she approached them quickly.
"Wow, your dress robes are beautiful!" Felicity exclaimed.
"Better be, with all the money it cost me," Lisa quipped. "Have you seen Remus?"
"Yeah, he ran past like... what, ten minutes ago? Went out the portrait. Wait, are you-"
"Thanks, Felicity," Lisa said quickly and rushed to the portrait hole.
Did he decide to skip out? Why didn't he tell her? As soon as she climbed through the entrance though, she almost ran into him.
"Lisa!" he exclaimed, startled. "I was just about to... you look beautiful."
She felt a blush color her face.
"Thanks. You too. You look handsome, that is. I mean, I'm not sure why beautiful can't be applied to guys, I have heard it used in that way, but is seems weird to call a guy beautiful. But if you can use the word for both genders, why would there even be a need for a gender specific word that only applies to men, you can't call a girl handsome, although I don't see why not, but if you did call a girl that, would you mean that she looked like a good-looking guy, or a good-looking girl, or maybe a good-looking person in general—"
Despite the heavy ball in his stomach, Remus couldn't help but smile.
"... I'm doing it again, aren't I?" she caught herself.
He chuckled and offered her his arm. She took it with an awkward smile and they headed to Professor Slughorn's office.
"So, um... why were you outside?" she asked, trying to distract herself from the frantic beating of her heart. His face fell.
"I... I had a row with Sirius and Peter."
"Oh... what about?"
"Nothing that was any of their business," he replied bitterly.
"Listen... I know it's probably not any of my business either, but... you lot are best friends. I'm sure they're just... trying to look out for you." He tried to say something, but she cut him off. "Do you think me and Cass agree about everything? We've come this close to hexing each other more than once, but I know she always has my back. Even if her nagging advice does get annoying at times, it's only because she wants to help me. You know what I mean?"
He nodded and let out an exasperated sigh. "They just... they're talking about things they don't understand."
"Maybe so. But they're doing it, because they think that's how you can be happy. Believe me when I say Cass can go on for hours about how my life would be so much better, if I only did what she told me. It frustrates me, but I know she means well."
His brow smoothed a bit and he laughed softly. "How did you two become friends, anyway? I've always wondered. Did you know each other before Hogwarts?"
"You mean because of the house thing?" Lisa chuckled. "No, we met in first year. Marlene had detention for... I can't even remember what, and everyone was paired up for potions, you four, Alice with Mary and Lily with Snape. So I had to pair up with a Slytherin, and she was the only one without a partner. I was eleven, so I... I kinda bought into that whole 'all Slytherins are evil' thing. So she and I didn't exactly get on the right foot. In the middle of class she went off about how I was a bigoted moron, who lets the masses dictate my every thought and was just a brainless sheep."
"I remember that." He perked up. "Her wand rained sparks into your cauldron and the whole thing exploded."
"Yeah." She smiled fondly. "We both smelled like sweaty socks for a week. And we got detention after that, to clean up the mess. So we got to talking, and..."
"And you became best friends."
"Not everyone gets us at first. We are very different. I'm awkward and hot-tempered, and she's all grace and poise, but we're alike where it matters. I trust her completely."
Remus smiled to himself. "I guess I get that. My friends can be arrogant prats sometimes, but I do trust them with my life."
"See? I told you. Don't get cross with them; they're only looking out for you." She rubbed his arm comfortingly, making his heart beat on double speed. He couldn't believe how much lighter his chest felt, after only a short conversation with her.
When they reached the door to Slughorn's office, there was music playing from somewhere inside. Remus opened the door for Lisa with a slight bow, making her giggle. As soon as they entered, their eyes fell on Slughorn, taking a central place in the room, talking to a very serious looking wizard, introducing him to Lily Evans and James Potter. Lisa and Remus exchanged an amazed look.
"Did you know they were—?"
"No. Did you?"
At that moment, Lily spotted them and almost let out a groan. James turned to look, and his face stretched into a huge grin, as he waved enthusiastically for them to come closer.
"Lily, I had no—" Lisa started, but the redhead cut her off quickly.
"This is not a date!"
"Indeed. I am but a simple guard, bestowed the favor of protecting this fair maiden," James bowed, the self-important smirk not leaving his mouth.
Lily rolled her eyes. "I only agreed because you wouldn't stop pestering me! And I'm pretty sure you scared away anyone else who wanted to ask me!"
"How was I to know they weren't a secret Death Eater?"
"You're impossible!" Lily puffed angrily, walking away.
"Come on, Evans! I was only looking out for you!" He flashed one last grin at Remus and Lisa and followed her through the crowd.
"Well, that was... perfectly normal, actually. Mead?" Remus offered.
Lisa nodded, but they had barely filled their goblets, when Slughorn put his giant palm on her shoulder.
"There you are, my dear! I have someone who you simply must meet!" the Professor rumbled, ignoring Remus completely.
She let Slughorn drag her off, pulling Remus with her, to face a tall woman dressed in brilliant yellow robes.
"This here is Erika Guptill, the amazing Captain of the Holyhead Harpies! Erika, this is the young woman I was telling you about."
Lisa gaped at the witch before her, completely awestruck.
"Nice to meet you," Remus said and shook the Quidditch Captain's hand, saving the situation. "Lisa is one of the best fliers the Gryffindor's ever seen. She performed extraordinarily well in the last match against Slytherin a month ago."
"Yes, yes, quite. The match even had to be rescheduled, because there was sabotage against her. She is the best on the team, you know, so some prankster set the Quaffle to explode in her hands, to get her out of the game." Slughorn added.
Lisa was almost amazed at how wrong that statement was. It was common knowledge that James was the best flyer on the team, and that was not at all the reason she got hurt. She realized, a bit disgusted, that Slughorn was trying to sell her.
"Really? Tell me Lisa, how do you feel about going pro after Hogwarts?" Erika Guptill asked, intrigued.
"If I do, you will know it when I come to try out," Lisa said boldly. Remus almost choked on his drink.
"Is that so?" the Captain said, the corners of her mouth twitching upwards. "I'll be sure to keep my eyes open, then."
Slughorn gave out a hearty laugh and left the company to chase after a floating platter of crystallized pineapple. After Erika Guptill, they met with Harold Minchum, the current Minister for Magic, who terrified them with his plans for improving Azkaban with even more Dementors; Violeta Stitch, the author of a best selling book about spells and the leading man of the band 'The Hobgoblins' Stubby Boardman, who was wearing a ridiculous spiked outfit, presumably to impress his Slug Club fans.
"And so we're thinking of promoting the new album by having a concert at Gringotts, but those blasted goblins-" he was explaining, when some girl in the crowd recognized him and asked for an autograph. He turned sharply to face her, ripping Remus' right sleeve with one of his spikes.
"Sorry, mate," Stubby said quickly and turned to his fan, ignoring the red that was beginning to seep through the sleeve.
"That stuck up, good for nothing..." Lisa shot him a glare. "Roll up your sleeve, I'll fix this up for you."
Remus' face went white with panic and he drew back abruptly. "No need for that. I... I have some dittany in my dorm," he said quickly and ran out the door.
"What? Dittany? Remus, wait!" Lisa yelled and ran after him.
She probably would've lost him, if it weren't for the trail of blood he was leaving. He was as far as the second floor, when she finally caught up to him.
"Remus, wait up! What's gotten into you!?" Lisa demanded, cutting off his path. "You're in pain, let me help-"
"No!" he growled, almost feral.
She froze and stared at him in shock. She'd never seen him like this before.
"You're hurt," she said, softly but insistently. "I can heal you. It'll only take a couple of seconds."
She took a step forward, he took a step back.
"If you don't let me, you'll pass out. Be reasonable," she urged.
"I don't need help!" he insisted. "I'll just get the dittany..."
"Dittany isn't nearly as good as a healing spell!" Lisa was starting to get irritated. "Come here and let me do it, or I'll stun you!"
Their eyes locked, and he saw she meant it. Begrudgingly, he stepped forward and slowly rolled up his sleeve. Lisa gasped and almost dropped her wand. His whole arm was covered in nasty-looking scars, his flesh so twisted and deformed, it looked more like a gnarled piece of wood than an arm. He started to turn around and leave, when her hand shot forward and held his wrist firmly, as she spoke the incantation. When she was done, there was no sign of the wound, but all of his old scars remained.
"What happened to you?" she asked, unable to look away from them.
"You promised you wouldn't ask questions," he reminded her in a small voice.
"That was before I knew someone was hurting you."
"No one is hurting me."
"What's all this then, a tattoo?! I want to help—"
"Well, you can't!" he said sharply, pulling away. "You can't help me, so stay the hell AWAY!"
He walked briskly down the corridor, leaving her confused and shocked, again. Except this time, it was much, much worse.