Back in Action
As I throw the Portkey we “borrowed” from St. Mungo's over my shoulder and run across the Hogwarts grounds as discreetly as possible, I turn towards Sirius and ask, “Hey, so you were pretty sweet on me back when I lost my memories huh?”
Sirius nearly trips over his own feet before stuttering, “Wha—er, I mean, in context of what I said at the Malfoy Manor, are you even surprised?”
I narrow my eyes in thought. Now that I think about it, that entire night is pretty blurry. Something something forest something something water something something amnesia? I think?
“Huh, no…” I admit. “No, I don’t remember really. What did you say?”
After a pause, I turn my head to see Sirius gaping at me. “You—what—after all that?” he demands aghast. “You don’t remember any of it?!”
I frown. “Any of what?” The look on his face makes me smirk. “Oh, I see… What could you have possibly said that could have justified you being all sugary charming with me?”
“Oi! Like you should even be talking!” Sirius retorts indignantly as we reach a secluded side of the castle a little ways from the front doors.
Naturally, all the doors are locked for the night and, even if we did somehow manage to break the lock, Filch would no doubt be snooping around the entrance anyway. So, here we are instead against the castle walls by the lowest window we could find.
Sirius entwines his fingers to make a saddle and scoops me up to the window so I can make a hole for us to get through.
I grab the window sill with one hand to hold myself up and reach the other into my back pocket to pull out my wand and point it at the glass window. “Incendio magnus,” I whisper.
A small, but intense flame appears at my wand tip and I slowly trace a circle against the glass, melting it away.
“You think I was being sugary charming?” Sirius continues below me. “You were totally flirting with me back at the hospital! Going all, ‘you’re really good looking’ and then were getting all grabby with me once the lights went out. What, you forget I’m a guy or something? Not to mention you kept muttering my name in your slee—”
And at those words, I completely lose my balance on his hands and tumble back down to earth. Thankfully, right on top of him. Well, thankfully for me, not for him.
I immediately jump to my feet. “I did not say, nor do, any of that!” I say defensively.
Sirius rolls his eyes as he pushes himself off the ground. “Oh, you sure as hell did. Grabbing me in places you shouldn't have and getting all cute and crap around me.”
Good thing it's pitch black outside because my face turns a bloody glowing pink. I swear I can pass for Rudolph, only it's not just my nose that's red.
“Well, I…” I start lamely, avoiding Sirius' eyes.
As much as I try to deny it, what he said was completely true. Even after getting the rest of my memory back (pretty much at least), I still remember everything that happened while I was an amnesiac, as well as the kinds of feelings I had. For some reason, without the premise of us being engaged, I found myself so easily attracted to him. I felt like there was nothing holding me back.
I liked holding his hand. I liked talking to him. I liked just being around him. But now that I remember everything, our engagement feels like heavy chains rather than a blessing. If anything else, I find myself trying to push away from him, even more now than before.
“Well, what?” Sirius asks in my long moment of silence. “Run out of excuses?”
I glare at him, really wanting to just yell, yeah I did run out, so what? “I was on drugs!” I blurt out instead.
Oh, yes. Nice save.
“You were on what?”
Mentally slapping myself, I glance sideways awkwardly before looking up at him. “Yeah, I was totally high! Those nurses loaded me up with all kinds of drugs!”
Sirius stares at me in disbelief. “LIES,” he says suddenly. “You had amnesia, not a bloody amputation. They can’t have drugged you, you weren’t in any pain!”
“Well, how would you know?” I retaliate childishly.
He just throws his arms in the air in exasperation. “You’re so stubborn, I can’t believe you.” He gestures towards the window and bends down again. “And while you’re thinking of another lame excuse for why you’re just undeniably attracted to me, get over here so I can boost you up. It’s almost five in the morning. People are going to be up soon.”
I stick my tongue out at him before placing my foot in his interlocked hands and grabbing the windowsill again.
“You wish I was undeniably attracted to you,” I mutter under my breath.
I reach my hand through the small hole I made in the glass and snap open the window lock. And with a gentle push, the window slides right open.
A satisfied grin spreads across my face.
I quietly slip through the window and take a glance around the secluded hallway before reaching back down for Sirius’ hand. Of course, master marauder that he is, Sirius takes almost no effort to climb up the two meters of completely flat brick wall and through the window. He didn’t even put that much weight on my hand to pull him up! Playboy or not, I have to admit it’s hard not to admire his skill.
“We make a pretty good team,” I point out as he scrambles through the window.
Sirius grins and brushes off his clothes. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were enjoying yourself. Next thing you know you’ll be tossing dungbombs along with the rest of us.”
“Oi.” I roll my eyes. “Don’t lump me in with you delinquents.”
He smirks. “And don’t tell me you’ve never had the irresistible urge to hurl a bucket of frog spawn in ol’ Filchy-poo’s face. C’mon, you love this.”
“Alright, maybe just once—”
“Meow?” I stare up at the playboy in confusion. “Why… AGH!” My head snaps down to my feet. “MRS. NORRIS!”
“Mrs. Norris…?” Sirius repeats with an equal amount of confusion.
And then it dawns on him.
“AGH, FILCH! RUN!” He grabs my hand and we sprint for our dear lives down the corridor, opposite from the faint light of the caretaker’s lantern.
Just our luck. Of all the corridors Filch patrolled at night, this just had to be the one he walks down at this very moment.
“Ah, what’s this, my pretty?” an old voice growls. “An opened window? Some sneaky students here in the castle tonight, eh? I smell detention, my sweet…”
The words make me shudder as I turn to Sirius, who is dragging me by the hand behind him.
“Wow, Filch didn’t even notice us running away from him down the exact same corridor he was walking down in the first place,” I remark in a lowered voice. “I’m kind of impressed at how elusive you are. Do this often, do you?”
Sirius glances over his shoulder impishly. “Been doing it for four years. How else do you think I know my way around here so well?”
I roll my eyes. “Figured as mu—”
Sirius stops abruptly in his tracks, while I clumsily continue running for a few steps from my lack of Sirius’ apparent pro-braking mechanism. He swings me around in front of him from the momentum and then lunges for my waist, unceremoniously dragging me into a room on our right. The moment we disappear into the broom closet, my eyes catch sight of the swinging lantern a couple of meters down the corridor yet again.
Blimey, how does Filch manage to appear everywhere at the same time?!
We crash to the floor of the broom closet, probably louder than Sirius would have hoped for.
Fortunately, Filch seemed completely oblivious to our sudden disappearance because he just stalks right on by the closet without a word.
After several nerve-wrecking moments that felt like my heart would literally shoot out of my chest, I finally reach out in the darkness to push myself up only to find that I’m completely on top of the playboy.
“Ugghhh, you’re so heavy…” Sirius groans from somewhere below me.
I shift my weight in irritation as I try to push myself away in the cramped space. “Well, maybe you shouldn’t have flung me on top of you then! Let’s just get—”
Sirius grabs my waist before I can fidget around again. “H-hey, stop moving, bloody hell!” he hisses loudly.
“Why? Stop being… oh.” My face flushes when I belatedly realize that I was straddling his lap. “Well, let go of me then if you’re getting so worked up!”
“They don’t exact make broom closets for spacious comfort you know!” Sirius retorts, slightly pink in the face himself. “Let’s see you try getting off without falling over me again!” He pauses. “Wait, that was a bad choice of words…”
I blush harder, if that were even possible. “W-well, let go of my waist for starters—”
And before I can even finish, the door suddenly flies open only to reveal none other than the caretaker himself. “GOTCHA, YOU FILTHY MONGRELS!”
I’m just about to feel thoroughly mortified at our position on the ground when Sirius pulls out his wand at lightning-speed and yells, “Stupefy!”
Filch stumbles back a few steps as the spell catches him in the shoulder and Sirius takes this chance to shove me off of him, grab my hand, and dash through the now Filch-free doorway. He starts backing away in one direction of the corridor and pushes me down the other. “I’ll met you back at the Common Room! It’ll be harder for him to catch us if we split up!”
“You mean it’s harder for him to catch you when you don’t have to drag me around!” I hiss irritably at him.
Sirius just winks at me and with a grin and a wave, he’s gone.
I stare at his retreating back in exasperation before turning around to sprint down the corridor myself. Just as I turn the corner, I hear echoing footsteps behind me and a loud growling.
“YOU TROUBLE-MAKING STUDENTS, HOW DARE YOU STUN A TEACHER?!”
Great, he’s after me now. And I’m not even the one that jinxed him!
“You’re not a teacher, dumbass!” I yell back at him, now sprinting even faster. There goes my winning streak of avoiding detention during my first year at Hogwarts…
I turn down a more familiar corridor closer to the west side of the school and screech to a halt when I pass by a fancy-looking door.
“The Prefects’ Bathoroom!” I mutter to myself. “He’ll never think of finding me here!”
Conveniently, last term I just so happened to pass by this bathroom while a careless prefect decided to practically bellow the password at the door. Hopefully they haven’t changed it yet.
“Ipso facto!” I whisper at the door knocker and smile to myself at the satisfying click of the opening lock. I hear the trudging footsteps and hastily rip open the door, dash in, and… collide with an unknowing early-rising prefect, who just happened to be putting his shirt on right in front of the door.
I hear a familiar “Wagh!” before a half-dressed Remus and I tumble right into the pool-sized bathtub with a splash that could probably rival most tsunamis. I sink a bit of distance from the impact and then break through the surface with a sputter to see an exasperated Remus coughing out water as he hurls his previously half-on shirt back onto the bathroom floor.
He wipes a good amount of bubbles from his face and glares at me. “What the bloody hell do you think yo—Cecilia! You’re back!”
“Uh, yeah, hey!” I laugh sheepishly and very, er, wetly as I brush back my soapy hair from my forehead. “I just got back from St. Mungo’s a couple of minutes ag—”
“WHERE ARE YOU, YOU STINKIN’ HOOLIGAN OF A STUDENT?”
My eyes snap to the bathroom door handle as it slowly turns by the hands of the furious caretaker. “Bollocks, he’s found me!” I yelp, making a failed attempt to hide myself in the very open space of the bathtub.
And with that, Remus solves my problem by shoving my head underwater. It was efficient, I’ll give him that.
I hold my breath as best I can and strain my ears to hear Filch burst into the bathroom and stomp towards Remus. “Lupin! Did you see Vance or Black come in here?!”
Remus’ grip tightens on my shoulder under the water. I feel my lower body start to float towards the surface and I clutch Remus’ lower leg to anchor myself. Why am I floating, am I like 90% blubber or something?!
“Please, Mr. Filch,” I hear Remus’ voice say to the caretaker, muffled through the meter of water between us. “How could those two possibly know the password to the Prefects’ Bathroom? And even if they did manage to get in, do you really think that I, a prefect, would let such delinquents break school rules such as this, friends or not? My dear caretaker, you truly underestimate my integrity. I am a prefect chosen by the headmaster after all.”
I nearly snort in laughter at his words. Nearly. It's a good thing I didn't because I'm seriously running out of air here.
I start hitting Remus in the side of his leg to get him to hurry his pompous little speech up. I know he's helping me out, but if he takes any longer there's not going to be any me to help out! I can just imagine Filch staring suspiciously at the little air bubbles I can't help but let out towards the surface of the water.
Evidently, Filch thought nothing of it because he then replies rather nervously, “O-oh, you're absolutely right, Lupin. A prefect, of course. I'll look elsewhere for them.”
Wow, to think Filch himself would be intimidated by a prefect. Then again, it is Remus Lupin after all. There is something about that sweet smile that is just so diabolical.
I hear the bathroom door close behind him and finally burst out of the water, gasping for breath. I stop coughing water for a moment to look at Remus with a mixed expression of gratefulness and amusement.
“Nice acting, Remus. Do that a couple more times and the general public might actually mistaken you for an honorable citizen.”
Remus pats me a couple of times on the back and chuckles. “What are you talking about? I am an honorable citizen. I mean, I’m a prefect.” He pauses. “Wait a minute, who are you to talk, little miss troublemaker? What was Filch chasing you and Sirius around at this hour for anyway?”
“We snuck into the castle.” I shrug, grinning.
Remus raises an eyebrow. “How?”
“I melted a hole in a window, popped it open and climbed in? Duh. You hang out with Sirius, mate. I would assume that’d be obvious to you.”
At this, Remus bursts out in surprised laughter. “Yeah, maybe it was kind of obvious to me. Not so much for you though.” He gives me a pointed look. “You're seriously getting more and more like Sirius. Been hanging out with your fiancé a little too much, eh?”
“Take that back!” I say indignantly, splashing a copious amount of water on him in retaliation. “Hanging out with Sirius all holiday didn’t influence me that much.”
Remus just snorts and mutters under his breath, “Yeah, a little late for that.”
Laughing heartily, he raises his arms in front of his face to block another angry splash of bathwater at him. “Alright, alright! All Sirius-related insults put aside, you're the last person I would've thought to have snuck into the castle at daybreak.”
Indeed. And it was my idea too. Now that's pretty sad.
“What a way to start the new term.” He lets out another laugh. “Getting chased into the castle by Filch.”
I shrink back into the water a little, grinning sheepishly. “Well, I've been away from school for so long, I was just dying to get back. I missed you guys! A person can only stand being in a hospital for so long. I swear I still smell like antiseptic.”
Remus looks up at the ceiling thoughtfully. “Huh, how long were you gone again? One… two…?”
“About a month,” I correct him.
Something flickers behind Remus’ eyes, so briefly that I almost missed it. “So, it’s February huh?” he says slowly.
I raise my eyebrows at him, almost alarmed. “Yeaaah,” I answer equally slowly. Peculiar question. You’d think a student would know the date while at school, or at least the month.
“So, you haven’t heard about the upcoming Hogsmeade weekend yet?” Remus asks, now avoiding my gaze.
But I just stare at him blatantly, curious as to where he was going with this. “No, I haven’t exactly heard anything from school yet. I mean, unless they’re planning on telling me I’m going to get detention with Filch, which is way less likely now thanks to yo—”
“Do you want to go with me?”
“Thanks, by the wa—what?”
Remus rubs the back of his head nervously, now a light shade of pink. “Well, the next Hogsmeade weekend is basically on Valentine’s Day and, er, I was wondering if you wanted to go with me?”
I just stare at him in reply. Yeah, maybe my mind just isn’t working all that well, but did Remus Lupin just bloody ask me out?
Taking my silence for exactly what it meant, a lack of words to say, Remus decides to just push himself out of the bath instead. “Well, you don’t have to answer right now, mate. Just…” He bends down to pick up his sodden t-shirt and takes a slow breath. “Just think about it, alright?”
And with that, he pivots on his heel and walks out the door.
Still speechless and unmoving, I just stare at the door as it swings closed. I literally just got back from St. Mungo’s and already I have to hit the ground running! What is with everyone? Did I just completely miss something while I was gone?
“What is life even…” I grumble to myself as I let my head sink below the surface, blowing exasperated bubbles into the water.
Someone out there must really hate me.