The moment I step out into the swirling snow, I realize… why the bloody hell am I so stupid?!
I clutch my head and groan so loudly that I actually attract some startled glances.
What was the point of getting into a row with Sirius, huh? Why couldn’t I just spit it out that I don’t have feelings for Remus and let us get on with our date?
No, I know why. Remus is my best mate, the twin brother I never had. He doesn’t deserve half a thought and a wave goodbye. He deserves me genuinely considering his words before I tell him how I feel. It’s not that I was hesitating because I might actually have feelings for Remus, it was that it just wasn’t my place to say at the moment. After a few minutes of actual thinking, would anyone know how they actually feel?
But why have things gotten so confusing…?
This whole row with Sirius… he was definitely acting like a jealous boyfriend. Don’t be an idiot, Cecilia. He likes you. And I like him… right? That would make sense. But… why does this engagement feel so stifling? Would these feelings ever have emerged if we weren’t forced together in the first place? Would we even be on this date otherwise? Do we really have feelings for each other or are we just conforming to the happy couple roles that we need to be? I’m not sure anymore. I don’t know if I ever knew. The lines are so blurred that I can’t even tell anymore what’s real or conceived.
I slump against the wall of the Three Broomsticks and sigh. “Just thinking about this makes my head hurt,” I mumble to myself as I stare at the cloud-covered skies.
What do I do now… I know I told Sirius I’d go off and find Remus out of spite, but to be honest I don’t want to see either of them right now.
“Right then. I guess I’ll just go back up to the castle. Happy Valentine’s Day to meeee…” I say in a monotone sing-song voice as I push myself off the wall of the pub. But before I can begin trudging back through the snow, my eyes catch a familiar figure pass in and out of my range of sight behind Zonko’s Joke Shop.
Wait, isn’t that Remus?
I’m about to make my way towards him when I stop myself mid-step.
What am I doing, I don’t even want to see him. But… what’s he doing in Hogsmeade on Valentine’s Day all by himself? So he didn’t end up getting a date after all? Then why’s he even here? You’d think a dateless bloke would want to avoid the couple-filled Hogsmeade Village at all costs on a holiday like this.
I squeeze my eyes shut and root myself into the ground.
Curiosity killed the cat, curiosity killed the cat, curiosity killed the ca—“Screw it, I’m too curious,” I mutter under my breath before jogging over towards Zonko’s.
I peek my head out around the corner of the building just time to see him walk into the Hogsmeade Post Office and run in after him stealthily. As I watch him from behind a marble column (borderline creepy, I know, but you’d be surprised at the lengths I’d go to avoid social interactions sometimes), I see him place a large package onto the counter for the postal worker to process.
That’s it? My shoulders slump in the anticlimax. Well, that was boring. Then again what on earth did I expect from someone walking into a post office?
I shove my hands into my coat pockets and begin to make my way towards the door when…
“Remus! Remus Lupin!”
I see him spin around at the sound of his name and immediately panic. After nearly blurting out a loud “crap!” and blowing my cover, I dive back behind the marble column just before Remus spots me.
“Are you alone?” I hear the girl ask Remus tentatively.
I squint at the reflection in the tinted glass window in front of me, but can’t exactly ascertain who the girl is in the blurry image. Don’t recognize the voice either. Maybe she’s not in our house?
“Yeah, I’m here on my own,” Remus admits, gesturing towards the package on the counter. “I’m actually only in Hogsmeade to send this package to my mum.”
“You don’t have a Valentine’s Day date?”
There’s a short pause. “No, not today. I’m just going to head back to the castle after finishing up here. Got some prefect duties to get to. Why?”
“Oh! Well…” I see the girl’s head tilt down shyly. “Then I was just wondering since you’re here anyway… will you be my Valentine today?”
My eyes widen. Oh boy, if it wasn’t creepy enough that I was following Remus, now I really feel like I’m invading their privacy. Note to self: don’t stalk people… pretty much ever. But as I prepare to leave, I see Remus look up and seemingly stare directly at me in the reflection of the tinted window.
I immediately duck down behind the pillar in surprise.
“Sorry, I’m going to have to decline,” I hear him reply. “Looks like I already found my date.”
Already found his date? I furrow my brows in confusion, still hugging my knees behind the pillar. What’s that supposed to mean? What a bizarre way to reject a girl…
“Hey, if you want a date with me so badly, you’re going to have to ask like Madeleine did,” his voice comments by my ear.
I let out a yelp and jump to my feet. “I wasn’t eavesdropping!” I blurt out hastily.
Remus grins, a dubious look on his face. “Uh huh, sure…”
“I mean, not on purpose anyway,” I correct myself. “I was kind of just… well, alright, I know this sounds kind of creepy but—”
“I’m kidding, mate.” Remus laughs. He gives me a pointed look up and down before glancing at me questionably. “What are you doing here anyway? What happened with your date with Sirius? I know he’s not the greatest romantic in the world, but even he knows how to take a girl on a proper date that’s not less than an hour long. You look nice, by the way,” he adds.
“Thanks, they’re Lily’s clothes,” I reply absently before sighing. “And I left the date. Sirius and I kind of got into this fight.”
Remus raises an eyebrow. “You mean, another one of those meaningless little rows you two always have or…?”
“No—well, yes, but not really… I mean, I don’t know. It’s just a huge misunderstanding,” I finish lamely. Now that I’m telling it to a third-party, it sounds even more trivial than when I went over it in my head.
“And you’re here because…?” He gestures for me to continue.
I grin sheepishly. “Er, I was curious as to what you were doing here in the first place, so I kind of followed you.”
Remus slaps a hand over his eyes and laughs. “Blimey, you’re definitely getting more and more like Sirius.”
“Hey!” I punch his shoulder indignantly. “I’m just being myself! Who’d want to be like that playboy?”
He pushes my hand away, still laughing. “Okay, fine, maybe you two were just alike to begin with. No wonder you both quarrel all the time. Two stubborn deliquents that are too smart for their own good with egos the size of the Quidditch pitch? I’m surprised you can stand being in the same room as each other!”
“Oi, I take issue with that description!”
Remus chuckles and grabs my hand, pulling me out of the post office. “Maybe if you weren’t so easy to poke fun at, you wouldn’t be having so many issues, mate. C’mon, let’s go.”
“Go where?” I protest. “Can’t we just go back to the castle?”
Remus grins at me over his shoulder. “What a waste of Hogsmeade weekend! I’m sure you didn’t get to see all the shops with Sirius. I’ll show you around.” But before he can pull me towards Honeydukes, I stop in my tracks.
“You’re… still holding my hand,” I mumble awkwardly.
Remus glances down at our joined hands before smiling sadly. “It’s still Valentine’s Day.”
I feel a pang in my chest at his words. “Remus,” I start, “listen… I don’t—”
“Don’t say it,” he cuts in, “not today.” My eyes widen puzzled, but he just takes a deep breath before continuing, “Whatever it is you were going to say, don’t tell me. Not right now.”
“Even if it’s only just today… let me hold your hand. Let me take you on this half a date. Let me treat you the way I’d want to treat you.” His hand tightens around mine. “Just for today.”
And that’s when everything falls into place.
He knew all along. He knew that I didn’t feel the same way and that’s why he didn’t tell Sirius about it. It’s not that he was going behind Sirius’ back or anything, all he wanted was a day with me and nothing more. Remus… he cared so much more about me than just his romantic feelings and nothing was ever going to change that. And at this very moment, I realize it as well.
Remus, you’re my best friend. Our friendship means as much to me as it does to you. So today I won’t say anything. Just for today.
I swallow before squeezing his hand back.