Second Aside - Shits and Giggles
His whole body screaming resistance, Remus struggled into wakefulness. He was back in the Hospital Wing, and from the feel of things the wolf in him had had a reasonably eventful night. Dazedly he remembered chasing Prongs and Wormtail around the grounds… Padfoot had been late for some reason. The pillock had probably earned himself a detention. Typical.
He flexed his limbs experimentally: nope, they still hurt like hell. He sighed heavily and went to turn over – at least, he tried to. What should have been a sigh left him coughing and gulping for breath.
That’s new, he thought, massaging his chest.
The commotion had alerted Madame Pomfrey and she came bustling over, several familiar bottles of potion tucked into her apron.
“Now, now, Mr Lupin, just lie still…” obediently he let her check his wounds, wincing every so often. Some of these new scratches would scar, he knew, others would heal this month only to be ripped apart the next. He huffed to himself. It was difficult, sometimes, to remain optimistic about a life where the moon controlled your shape.
“I heard you coughing, can you breathe properly?”
Remus nodded… he often couldn’t remember the night of his transformation, but generally he didn’t do anything to harm his lungs…why would she a-
“You gave us quite a scare last night,” she said, a deep frown forming on her face. “Miss Wren too – she probably saved your life you know.”
Something unpleasant reared in the groggy recesses of his brain…
Oh Merlin, he thought, remembering his desperate struggle for breath, and the way she’d held him until his body had begun to co-operate again.
“Was she ok?” he managed, voice rasping unpleasantly.
Madame Pomfrey smiled at him, fondly.
“Always thinking of others, aren’t you? She was very shaken, but I suspect she’ll be alright, particularly when she sees you up and about later on… I won’t be surprised if she doesn’t visit you actually.” Her expression darkened slightly. “Your friends did, several times. I had to haul Mr Black out of here three times before I took you down to the Shack.”
Well, at least he hasn’t been sneaking into the girls’ loos again, Remus thought. I’ll have to thank him…
“Drink this,” she instructed, pulling him painfully upright. “It will help with your chest.”
He swallowed the silky blue liquid and sank gratefully back down into his pillow.
“Try to get some rest. I don’t think you’ll be out of here until evening this time.” She drew the screens around him as she left, and not for the first time Remus was profoundly glad of Madame Pomfrey’s practical and unflinching acceptance of his condition. Taking a deep breath (and succeeding this time, with only a small twinge) he settled back and let his mind drift away from how much various parts of his body hurt. He could feel his chest catch very slightly with every breath he took.
It’s strange, he thought, how you spend your entire life breathing, not even noticing you’re doing it, until you can’t… it was a good job Eleanor was there…
He smiled comfortably, now there was a subject that he could happily dwell on.
Eleanor… with her storm-cloud eyes, and the way she twists her hair when she works, and that smile… he stopped a moment to consider her lips, perfect, and pink, and full, and on mine…
Another chunk of memory slid into place with all the sensitivity of a sledgehammer. Remus’s eyes flew open.
By the time Madame Pomfrey had forced him to eat some lunch (not that he felt he deserved food, closet molester as he apparently was), he was feeling well enough to sit up and the rest of the Marauders arrived.
“You had us worried mate,” said Sirius, straddling a chair, “going all blue like that – I think you scared the shit out of new-girl too.”
“What happened anyway?” asked Peter, taking a packet of Bertie Botts Every Flavour Jelly Beans from somewhere about his person. “One minute you were right behind us, and the next you’d run off somewhere.”
“Yeah, we were worried in case –” James lowered his voice. “In case you didn’t get back in time.”
“I – er – needed to go to the Library,” Remus said, not meeting their eyes.
“On the night of the full moon?” asked Peter. “Ow! I said it quietly!”
“He has a point Moony,” said Sirius, concerned. “Anything might have happened.”
“Anything nearly did,” said James. “I stayed with Eleanor a bit longer than the others and she was a real mess… what set you off?”
“I don’t know,” said Remus, untruthfully. “But I think the wolf wanted to change early… I guess fighting him off stopped me breathing.”
His friends shared worried looks.
“Then you skip dinner in future,” said Sirius firmly. “We can bring you something to eat down at the Shack… last night was too close a call.”
Remus nodded sadly, then, remembering something, said “Thanks – for sneaking in to check on me – Madame Pomfrey said you got caught a few times.”
“Only because this idiot doesn’t know the meaning of subtlety,” said Peter as Sirius grinned.
“Minnie had me cataloguing her journal articles – I think she was as worried about you as the rest of us.”
He chuckled along with the rest of them, but his heart wasn’t really in it. Interpreting this as exhaustion, James bustled his friends out of the Hospital Wing, but Remus called him back.
“Would you thank Eleanor for me?” he asked. “She saved my life last night.”
He watched them go, miserably.
Which I wouldn’t have needed her to do if I hadn’t let my wolfishness take over and – he blushed. He remembered with painful clarity the way she’d tried to pull away from him, and the delicious way she’d tasted and felt as he’d pressed her up against that statue… He’d felt the wolf rising and had pushed him back.
The wolf had tried to get out early because his guard had been down, he knew… he’d been feeling pretty wolfish himself. The poor beast had probably been unable to resist.
Apparently fumbling around with attractive young witches is a bad idea just before full moon… he thought, sternly. It was just that Eleanor was so enticing… and she didn’t seem to know it, which made her even more alluring. He’d noticed her curious glances over dinner – he’d undoubtedly been acting a little out of character, that was the problem with full moons as a hormonal teenage boy – and hadn’t been able to stop himself following her when she’d left the group.
That’s right Moony, he thought savagely, disgusted with himself. Separate them from the group and pick them off.
If only she wasn’t so warm and kind and intelligent… he could ignore other girls easily, either they were too pretty, or not pretty enough, or with the general mental capacity of a dormouse… or someone else’s he reminded himself. But Eleanor was none of those things… she was improbably and inescapably herself; even though she was still shy around most of their classmates, she’d let him see flashes of her wicked sense of humour and achingly bright smile. In their numerous study sessions he’d been struggling to resist her…
Not that it matters now, he thought sulkily, she probably wont want anything to do with me anymore.
About this, it turned out, he was exactly one hundred percent wrong.
“Hey,” Eleanor said, dropping herself into Sirius’s recently vacated chair.
Surprised, and a little bit afraid of what she might say, he stammered.
“Feeling better?” she asked. Was it just him, or was she having trouble meeting his eyes?
“Much… er – Eleanor, about last night-”
“I got James’s message,” she interrupted. “– you’re welcome.”
“Oh, good… er – Madame Pomfrey said I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you…”
She flashed him a small smile and took his hand, as if to reassure herself that he was still there. He swallowed. An ache that had nothing to do with his injuries was beginning to spread through his body.
“Then I’m glad I was there,” she said. “Had me really worried for a while though…”
She shook her head at him slightly, as if this conversation wasn’t quite going the way she’d wanted it to.
“I brought you some notes from Ancient Runes,” she said, pulling her hand away to reach into her bag; he missed the contact instantly. “Professor Castaway said to tell you to ‘buck up,’ whatever that means…”
“Thanks,” he smiled. If she had thought enough of him to bring him notes, perhaps she didn’t resent him as much as he’d feared. “I should be back to normal by tomorrow.”
Eleanor raised an eyebrow at him.
“This happen to you a lot, then?”
“Er – unfortunately,” he said, finding it pointless not to admit to the frequency of his condition, if not its nature. As the only other person in at least one of his classes, she’d notice when he wasn’t around. “I have this condition… it comes back every few weeks… I get a bit -” he searched for an appropriate word for his behaviour the previous evening, and gave up. “Odd. And then this happens,” he continued, gesturing to some of the scratches on his arms. “I don’t usually stop breathing though, that was a new one on me.”
“That must be exhausting,” she said, and took back his hand. He nodded, feeling he’d handled that rather well. Then:
“Do they know what it is?”
“No – no, they don’t.”
He could have sworn that she was giving him a searching look, but it was gone in a second, replaced by the same quiet concern. A prickle of doubt began to form in his mind.
“Seems like the kind of condition that people would hear about,” she continued slowly, apparently oblivious to precisely how frightening her words were. “I mean, it’s not every day you see someone’s flesh tear itself to shreds… they almost look like… claw marks,” she added, almost to herself.
Remus swallowed; this was dangerous territory. He had to distract her. Fortunately, the action of gulping set off another coughing fit. He reached for the potion Madame Pomfrey had left him and took a swig. What a mess he must look…
He turned back to Eleanor to apologise, but she was staring at his side. When he’d turned, his pyjama shirt had been pulled across to reveal his bare, scarred skin and there, just below his ribs, was the imperfect half circle of tooth-marks that had got him in this mess in the first place.
Eleanor however, did not. She had her head slightly to one side, seemingly mesmerised by the sight of those offending prick-marks; the irony was not lost on him that of all his injuries, those had healed the quickest. Almost without realising it, she reached out and brushed her fingertips across the bite mark, making him shiver in both fear and unhelpful teenage lust. Madly, he wondered just how much Madame Pomfrey would mind if he just pulled her into his lap right here and had his wicked way with her.
Probably quite a lot.
Somehow, he forced his frightened vocal chords into action.
“I er – was b-bitten by a dog when I was little…” he stammered.
“A dog?” Eleanor asked, apparently still unaware of the dual turmoil her fingers were causing in her convalescing friend.
“A – a pit-bull, Mum said…”
Eleanor spread her fingers out across his skin, ignoring the gasp that this action caused.
“Bit big, for a pit-bull…” she said.
Oh Gods, he thought, she’s measuring the bite –
“Might have been an Alsatian,” he said, hurriedly pulling his shirt back down.
“Bit of a difference,” Eleanor reflected, still staring at the fabric concealing his shame.
“It was a long time ago,” he mumbled, and she met his eyes.
“Sorry,” she blushed, recognising the fear there. “I should get to Potions…”
She stood to leave and Remus stared at her.
“Er – I hope you feel better soon – well,” she qualified, “for the time being at least…”
Embarrassed, Eleanor turned and left him to his thoughts without meeting his eyes.
Get a hold of yourself! She thought sternly. Since when could you not keep your hands off someone? That sort of thing only leads to disaster, as you mother has often told you… and he’s Lily’s!
Remus watched her go, torn somewhere between mortification at the thought of precisely what he wanted to do to her (and what he already had done to her) and the terrifying possibility that was threatening to consume him.
She knew. Or almost did, and that was just as bad.
He rubbed his face angrily. What in Hecate’s name was he going to do?
By the time Remus was caught up in all his lectures, Eleanor was kicking herself for being so forward. Of course he didn’t like her: it was just his lupine (heh!) self acting on his baser instincts with the nearest witch to hand… she’d surmised as much from the way he’d tried to stammer an apology. Clearly, he regretted his actions.
Which was a pity, really… she blushed. Not a pity, she told herself firmly. The best for everyone concerned. But she did miss talking to him as a friend.
She drummed her fingers impatiently on the wood of the desk in front of her. She’d completed her transfiguration of a button into a butterfly nearly half an hour previously and was glumly watching it flutter against the insides of an upturned jar.
Beat, beat, beat, went the butterfly’s wings.
She’d been so sure she could talk to him about his condition… but he seemed to be too afraid. Not that she blamed him. People could be perfectly horrid sometimes.
Drum, drum, drum, went her fingers.
She remembered the night that the mob had chased her groundskeepers’ nephew out of their chalet and down to the river; she could still hear their shouts of outrage as he’d simply swum across and made a run for it. As if werewolves couldn’t cross running water.
Beat, beat, beat.
It wasn’t as if she couldn’t keep a secret… he already knew that, what with her quiet confession about her mother, even a secret as big as his…
Drum, drum, dr-
That was it! How could she have been so stupid? Remus’s secret was so big it could destroy him, no wonder he was frightened to share it. She’d just have to give him something just as dangerous in return, as a reassurance of her intentions.
Triumphantly, she glanced up at him across the classroom. He too had a butterfly beating away under the jar in front of him; he was rolling his eyes at Sirius, who was apparently trying to turn his button into a vampire bat.
She snorted, and the movement made him look up at her.
For just a second, he stared back at her, like a deer caught in the headlights of a truck; he flashed her a terrified smile and looked determinedly back at his butterfly.
If I can ever get him to listen to me, she thought sadly.
Ever since she’d visited him in the Hospital Wing he’d run out of every room she entered – with the exception of the Ancient Runes classroom, which would have been rather difficult to explain to Professor Castaway. He barely even spoke to her there, too, and truth be told, she was beginning to get a little sick of it.
She glanced back across at him, and this time it was Sirius who caught her eye, and he winked, salaciously. Eleanor rolled her eyes and stuck out her tongue at him. At the first post-Quidditch party of the year she had quickly discovered that the best way of dealing with Sirius was playing along; he was beginning to get a bit too cosy with her though, and she had a feeling that she was going to have to put him down quite harshly soon. She laughed as his bell jar jumped across the desk towards Remus’s butterfly. His vampire bat hadn’t turned out too badly at all.
Remus closed the door to the dormitories behind him and heaved a sigh of relief. If he’d been worried that she suspected him when she’d visited him in the Hospital Wing, now he was certain. Eleanor seemed determined to question him… he’d caught her glancing at him in class several times with that frown on her face, as if she was trying to figure him out.
He sat on his bed with a thump.
Now if only he could stop looking at her in the first place…
By late October, his second transformation of the year had been and gone, and he was aware that the Marauders were getting suspicious of his avoidance of the spirited Miss Wren, whom they all agreed was settling into their group rather well.
After legging it to the safety of the dormitory for the third time that Saturday afternoon, Sirius and James had apparently had enough.
He heard them coming, wolf that he was, and pulled a pillow over his head. It had only been a matter of time before they asked; they weren’t patient men.
He felt either side of his bed dip as they cut off his escape routes.
“So,” said James, from somewhere on his left.
“So,” repeated Sirius, from his other side.
It was a curious interrogation technique, but one that never failed; they might not be subtle, but Gods were they tenacious.
“Ffug off” said Remus, deep within his cushion.
“What have you got against the lovely Eleanor?” asked Sirius, the very antithesis of tact.
“Sorry, I didn’t quite catch that,” said James.
Sirius and James shared a glance and wordlessly hauled him upright, holding him in place.
“I’ll ask again,” said Sirius, now with a bit of an edge to his voice. “What have you got against our lovely Eleanor?”
“Nothing,” said Remus, heavily, avoiding their eyes.
“Strange that,” said James, “since you leave the room every time she comes in.”
“Yes,” agreed Sirius. “Very strange – in fact you pretty much bolted when she sat down with us for lunch.”
“I’m surprised she hasn’t taken it personally,” said James, in that infuriatingly arrogant tone he got when someone annoyed him. “You running away from her all the time.”
“So am I,” said Sirius. “I’d say a lesser young lady would find it bloody rude.”
The sheer hypocrisy of this statement made Remus stare at his friend, a hot blush of anger staining his face.
“Oh, would she?” he growled, wolf and boy both rising to the challenge. “Like you can tell what a girl would find rude!”
James pushed him firmly back down into a sitting position.
“In this instance I’d say he’s fairly accurate,” said James. “Even Lily said so.”
“Oh, and that makes it fact of course,” Remus muttered, but not too loud. He was being rude to Eleanor, and he knew it. He just couldn’t think of anything else to do.
“What was that?” James asked sharply, and it was Sirius’s turn to push his friend back down.
“Come on Remus,” he said, “you’re usually the last person to start a fight. What’s up?”
Remus met his eye, ready to face his friend down, but found that he couldn’t and sank back.
“I think she knows – or at least suspects,” he told them, wretchedly.
“Knows what?” asked Sirius, perplexed.
“That he’s a you-know-what, you tit,” said James, tensely. “How?”
“She came to see me after my attack… she was asking lots of questions…” he swallowed and continued very quietly. “And she saw my bite.”
Both of them were staring at him.
“How did she see your bite – it’s halfway up your front, you’d have to’ve been half naked-” said Sirius, incredulously, but James interrupted him.
“What did you tell her?”
“That – that I was bitten by a dog when I was a child… I don’t think she believed me. My pyjamas slipped,” he added for Sirius’s benefit.
James was frowning at him. “And she can hardly have missed that you’re ill every four weeks…”
“I told her I had a weird condition that resurfaced every so often…”
The three friends stared at one another.
“We’ll just have to keep her away from you, that’s all,” said James, firmly.
“I’ll distract her,” Sirius offered, with just a little too much relish for Remus’s liking.
“We’ll fill Pete in tonight, after his rehearsal.”
Remus nodded. He should have told them straight away really…
“You should have told us right away,” said Sirius, as if he were suddenly telepathic. “You know we’d never let you face this alone.”
Remus smiled wryly.
“I’ll just go check if the coast’s cle- oh bugger!” cried James, smacking himself in the face with a force that made Remus and Sirius wince. “I’d forgotten – me and Padfoot have a detention with Sprout!”
“Oh fuck, I’d forgotten that,” said Sirius, suddenly grumpy. It was really quite difficult to annoy the cheerful young Herbology Professor, but when you did, by Gods she let you know about it. “Looks like you’re on your own tonight, mate.”
“No worries,” said James, “just hole up in here. We’ll drop you some food after dinner and Peter’ll be back in no time.”
Remus nodded doubtfully; at least he’d be able to get some homework done, he supposed. He pulled out his Arithmancy essay and got to work, one ear on the door in case Eleanor decided to take slightly more drastic action; after all, he could always lock himself in the shower…
Eleanor was looking forward to a depressingly lonely evening; Lily was on Prefect duty, Peter at choir – his rehearsal looked to be a long one, what with the performance coming up soon – and James and Sirius had landed themselves a detention for a particularly interesting prank involving Professor Sprout’s Tentacula plant. Eleanor sniggered to herself, it had been quite funny; even so she was beginning to worry that her ‘grace period’ as James had called it, was running out. She would have to come up with something spectacular to get them back with, just in case.
This being a Saturday, Alice had a date with Frank – they kept glancing at one another throughout dinner and beaming, it was very sweet in a really quite sickening way. She flicked through her Astronomy textbook angrily; honestly, what right did anyone else have to a successful love life? But that was the thing about Frank and Alice, they were so nice that you couldn’t begrudge them anything for long.
Since Remus still wasn’t talking to her, she was the only sixth year left in the tower, and was therefore desperately bored. She’d even asked Severus Snape if he’d wanted to go over the new Potions recipes with her, but he too had apparently had plans, though he’d neglected to mention what they were. She glared at the stairs leading to the boys’ dormitories. At least Snape had had the decency to apologise to her; in fact, he’d even looked like he’d rather be working on Potions with her than whatever else he was doing…
She turned her attention back to the composition of Saturn’s rings; she’d managed to get half a scroll of parchment written before something soft and worryingly squeaky smacked her in the back of the head. Behind her a considerable amount of chaos was unfolding as a collection of students from the lower years (and therefore with considerably less homework) let off steam.
“Er – sorry,” said the offending second year. “I meant to hit Anton…”
“Corin! Give Lottie back!” demanded a first year girl, presumably his sister, who looked close to tears.
Eleanor reached under the desk and extracted a stunned looking pygmy puff from the tangle of parchment that was her schoolbag, and passed her back to her owner, who actually did burst into tears and ran off wailing in the direction of her dormitories. Her brother stared after her, probably not having intended to upset her quite so thoroughly.
Eleanor gave him a Look that could have peeled the skin off his face, and he ran for it. With one sixth year Prefect on duty and the other sulking in the dormitories, there was no way anyone would get any work done (the fifth years being a bit more lax and the seventh years at their Astronomy class). She slammed her book shut. Something had to be done, even if it meant he never spoke to her again – at least people would be able to hear themselves think in the Common Room.
Clearing her work into her bag with a flick of her wand and banishing it to her dormitory, she stamped up the boys’ stairs. Corin, who had decided to try to break into the girls’ dormitory to apologise, came running down the corridor, took one look at Eleanor and ran back the way he came. She smirked; apparently she could be quite frightening when she chose to be.
Well, good, she thought: time to put it to good use.
It was time for drastic measures – time her friends got to see the measure of her: pulling out her wand in case he made a run for it she banged insistently on the oak door; from somewhere inside came the sound of someone waking suddenly and immediately falling out of bed. She pushed the door open.
Remus was on the floor amidst an avalanche of books and rolls of parchment; he took one look at her, swore and bolted for the bathroom door, but Eleanor had expected this, and locked both it and the door behind her.
Seeing that he was reaching for his wand, she removed it with a casual flick and caught it as it flew through the air towards her.
“Right,” she said, “now that I have your attention…”
Remus backed against his bed in blind panic, as if staying further away from her would prevent her from progressing.
“H-hi Eleanor!” he said, far too brightly. “Nice weather we’re having!”
“Were you looking for Sirius?” he demanded, desperately. “He’s got a detention, Peter said he did something unreasonable with a Tentacula – isn’t that funny! Ha! Ha!”
“Or if you’re looking for Peter he’s-”
This isn’t getting us anywhere, she thought as he babbled miserably about rehearsals and Professor Flitwick’s apparent fondness for arpeggios.
He was so engrossed in his description of how Peter came to join the choir that he kept mouthing the words for several seconds after she’d cast the silencing charm, looking like an overgrown, humanoid goldfish. He gaped at her.
“As fascinating as all that is,” said Eleanor coldly, “I came to speak to you, not your room mates. I know you’ve been avoiding me-”
He began to shake his head, but stopped when he saw her expression.
“-and I just wanted to tell you that there’s no need. Since you seem so very determined not to interact with me, from today I promise to leave you alone.”
Remus closed his mouth and sank back onto his bed; some things were simply inevitable. As much as he’d wanted to avoid this confrontation, he didn’t like the thought of Eleanor staying away from him one bit…
“But first we need to settle a few things.”
She saw the flash of panic cross his features, but he hid it rather well, all told.
“I know what you are,” she announced, simply.
There it was, out in the open. No more hiding.
For nearly a minute he did his best to look politely confused, but under her steady and unflinching gaze his disguise crumbled; he closed his eyes in resignation, bowing his head and pointing at his mouth.
“Finite incantatem,” she said, softly.
“What are you going to do?” he asked miserably, still not looking at her.
“Do? About you being a loup-garou? Nothing.”
He looked at her confused, seizing on the more likely glimmer of hope.
“Loop guru? I’m not a-”
“‘Loup-garou’; it’s medieval French for werewolf.”
“I think a loop-guru would be a perfectly normal person who has an insatiable urge to knit ferociously every full moon,” she added, unable to help her mouth twisting into a half smile, and he shot her a look caught somewhere between fear and perplexity.
“Please don’t tell anyone,” he begged. “I don’t want to leave the school – and I’ve never hurt anyone, I swear –”
“Please Eleanor, I’ll never even sit near you again, I’m not a threat –”
With one stride she crossed the room and took his arms, holding him in place.
“I could destroy you with this,” she said, calmly.
“Please,” he begged, and gave a dry sob.
“So the only way that you’ll trust me is if I give you the same opportunity.” She leant down and whispered softly in his ear: “My mother’s name is Violetta Buchardt.” He stared at her in incomprehension as she pulled away from him. “Not even Dumbledore knows that. Now you can destroy me.”
She let him go.
“I…” he began, unable to form even the questions he needed to ask.
“I’m not going to tell anyone – I wouldn’t do that to you – and my mother’s name stands as my assurance to you on that.”
“You – you don’t hate me?” he asked, lost in wonder.
“No,” she said gently, sitting down beside him. “Far from it. It’s not your fault you looked like an aperitif to some hungry scavenger all those year ago.”
He gave her a half smile, still not quite believing anything she’d said.
“Although – a piece of advice: a pit-bull is way too small to give you a bite like that – the Alsatian was a much better idea.”
“I’ll… keep that in mind… er, where did you get such a high opinion of were- of people like me, by the way?” apparently saying the word was a bit much for him; she didn’t blame him.
“My housekeepers’ nephew; he never hurt anyone either, has a family in Toulouse these days… I proof-read a book for him.”
“He’s an author?” Remus asked hopefully, employment being problematic for dark creatures.
“Yeah, you might have read it,” she smiled knowingly. “‘Hairy Snout, Human Heart’ – but he’s written quite a few now, under various pseudonyms.”
He stared at her for a few seconds, then made a grab for his copy.
“It’s you,” he said, and it was Eleanor’s turn to be confused. “Look-” he showed her the dedication. “ ‘To the little bird in her hidden nest, who helped me find the words’ – you’re the ‘little bird’, the wren!”
“That’s me,” she said, smiling at his excitement.
“I’ve always wondered…” His face fell; “Eleanor, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you-”
“You didn’t know you could trust me.”
“I do now,” he said, a genuine smile lighting up his face at last. She couldn’t help it; she pulled him into a tight hug.
“Good… Well, I’d best leave you to it,” she said, getting up.
“Er- you don’t have to-”
“Yes I do, I promised to leave you alone.”
“But I don’t want you to,” he said, following her. “I was just… I was afraid…”
“That I’d tell half of Hogwarts? I know you’ve not known me for long Remus, but really…”
“I couldn’t be sure,” he said, sadly, “and I thought you wouldn’t want anything to do with me…”
“You were wrong. Anyway I need to get on with some work…”
“Then I’ll come with you,” he said, gathering his fallen paperwork.
They walked together to the top of the Common Room stairs; the scene below was worse than when she’d left it; it looked rather more like a war-zone than a living room. There were students hurling charms at one another all across the room and charred papers spread across every surface.
“Sweet Merlin…” Remus said, softly, surveying the carnage.
“Ah, yes, that was the other reason I needed to talk to you. Gryffindor needs its Prefect back.”
“And James and Sirius are nowhere in sight… they’ll be really disappointed they missed this.” He cleared his throat and raised his wand. “Is your stuff down there? No? Good. Step back a moment, Eleanor? Thanks. AGUAMENTI MAXIMUS!” he shouted, and the Common Room was doused in quite a large quantity of water.
The outraged students below looked around for their attacker, realised that he was A: a Prefect and B: not amused, and immediately began shifting about, looking sheepish; it was all Eleanor could do not to burst out laughing.
“Now,” he said, in a reasonable tone. “I will refrain from mentioning this to my fellow Prefects, one of whom I assure you would be perfectly happy to strip us of every house point Gryffindor have earned so far this year, on the understanding that every person in this room cleans up this mess.” He glanced at the large clock over the mantelpiece, pointedly ignoring their groans of displeasure. “I’d get a move on, if I were you, she’ll be back in about an hour – you’ve got quite a bit of work to do.”
He watched them look around at each other in dismay and start putting their Common Room back together, and said in an aside to Eleanor, “I’d suggest the Library, but I suspect that they’ll do better if I’m still somewhere in the tower… do you want to retreat to the dorm’s? The others won’t be back for ages.”
“Sounds like a plan,” she smiled, and summoned her work bag. “We can work on those translations.”
He grinned, and she noticed that it slid more up one side of his face than the other.
“If you lot can keep reasonably quiet for the next few hours, I’d appreciate it,” he said to the Common Room at large. “You might try Scourgify and Tergeo,” he added kindly, as they turned back up the passageway.
“You’re too nice, you know,” Eleanor told him, conversationally.
“Most of them were just taking cover behind the furniture,” he pointed out. “Besides, Lily’s the mean one, I’m the nice one, it works.”
Eleanor nodded, trying to ignore the little twist in her stomach that that statement caused.
“That was pretty awesome, by the way,” she said instead, and he grinned that lopsided grin and she wished really hard that she didn’t know that he’d kissed Lily back.
“Madame Buchardt, really?” he asked her, as they spread out their work. “I can imagine how an ill-timed affair might prove… problematic.”
“Indeed,” said Eleanor, wryly. “Though I don’t think she blames me for it – I’m lucky in that respect…” she said, settling down beside Remus on the floor.
He smiled warmly at her.
“Why would she?”
It was nearly one in the morning when Sirius and James got back from the greenhouses, muddy and exhausted; to their surprise, Peter was waiting for them.
“You know that message you sent me in rehearsal that we really needed to talk about Remus?” he asked, and they froze. “Was it that we had to keep Eleanor away from him, by any chance?”
For some reason he was smirking.
“He’s afraid she knows,” said Sirius quietly, “we need to-”
“Oh, she knows alright,” said Peter, grinning broadly. “They’ve been making really bad lycanthropy jokes for the last two hours.”
“Come on, I’ll show you,” he said, leading them towards the dormitories.
Remus and Eleanor were lying on their fronts on the floor between his and Sirius’s beds, homework spread out (and largely ignored) in front of them, roaring with laughter.
“-and then she turned to look at him and said:” – and here Eleanor put on a very stern tone “ ‘Did you wish really hard?’”
Both of them collapsed into gales of laughter, Remus rolling onto his back and clutching his sides.
“Did he even know?”
“No! We never told him!” she replied, sending them into a fresh fit of giggles
“See?” said Peter. “I went downstairs to get a bit of peace and quiet…” he nudged James in the ribs and whispered. “I think he fancies her.”
James stared at him; Sirius spluttered at his friends on the floor.
“But- I thought-”
“Oh, hi guys,” said Eleanor, grinning up at them. “How was detention?”
“Er- muddy as hell,” said James, staring at her. “Remus, are you alright?”
“I’m fine Prongs,” he grinned. “Bit of an epic fail on the keeping-Eleanor-away-from-me-front, by the way, but everything’s fine now.”
“Er- good,” said James, flabbergasted.
“She knows,” said Remus, and Sirius sat down heavily on his bed.
“And everything’s ok?” he asked weakly, still at a bit of a loss.
“Yes,” said Remus happily, and beamed at Eleanor, who shook her head.
“Oh. Er… we’d better go shower then,” said James, steering his friend towards the bathroom.
“I should probably get to bed, actually,” said Eleanor, kneeling to gather her work. “And let you get some peace Peter, sorry.”
“It’s no trouble,” said Peter happily, “so long as you two are talking again.”
“I’ll walk you,” said Remus, even though they were practically next door.
Back in the common room, he thanked her again for being so understanding; Eleanor waved his gratitude away, however.
“Not everyone’s born to be a bastard,” she said, and frowned. “By the way, I think Lily and Alice know…”
Remus’s face fell so abruptly that she grasped his arm.
“Remus, think about it, this is Lily and Alice we’re talking about. They’re not going to tell anyone. Probably not even Frank – they were trying to keep it from me, too.”
He smiled wanly.
“Yesterday I wouldn’t even have thought someone other than those idiots would keep my secret… I’ll talk to them.”
“Good. Er- Remus?” she asked, as he turned to go. “Do I ever want to know what part of James’s anatomy ‘Prongs’ refers to?”
“Probably not,” he said, and departed, still chuckling.
“That’s what I thought,” she said, and began to climb her own stairs.