A/N: HI! so, it's 12:32AM EST on 9/7/10, but i figure it's still Labor Day in all of the other time zones in America, right? let's all just pretend that i didn't break my promise, yeah? alright, cool. =D though i FINALLY don't have to apologize for taking forever again, i do apologize for the length -- or, lack thereof -- of this chapter. 8095 isn't bad, but if you had gotten used to my gigantor chapters (12,000+ words? i mean, really??), i am sorry. i hope it's worth the read, though! THANKS: to Molly Raesly aka Addison, as always! she's the best butt-kicker-to-write out there. and her encouraging messages like, "I believe in you!" and, "You can do this!" were very helpful. =P oh, and the help with the outlining (bahaha. inside joke). she's the greatest.
and thanks to YOU, dear reader, for coming back to read this chapter! you're the best! *tap on the nose*
and on with the show...
Chapter 8: “I thought you’d never ask.”
“You can’t just say that and expect me to be all fine and dandy about it!”
“Jenyse, calm down.”
“At least put your wand away?”
I glowered silently back at his pleading face for a moment, and then complied, putting my wand in my messenger bag. Placing my hands calmly at my side, I took a breath before I started, again. “How…could you not like…Jason Stone?” I asked, peeking incredulously at him.
Ian rolled his eyes, rubbing his temples. “His music is rubbish, Jenyse.”
I opened my mouth to retort angrily, but he beat me to it.
“Ah-ah-ah. It’s my turn to talk, Jenyse,” he chided, as though I was a child. “I’ve got the talking stick.”
I raised an eyebrow, to which he replied by pulling out a pencil from his own bag. It was my turn to roll my eyes, but I let him continue.
“Good girl. Now, as I was saying…his music is complete and utter crap. Ah–” he said when my mouth opened again. He waved his “talking stick” in my face and once he was convinced I wouldn’t interrupt again, he went on. “His name should be Jason ‘Stoner’, not ‘Stone.’ Have you listened to his lyrics?”
I stalled – mentally and physically – as we stopped by some of our other classmates outside of McGonagall’s classroom, to which the door was still closed. “Alright, so he’s a druggie,” I admitted, “but that doesn’t mean his music isn’t great!”
“And by great you mean sucky, right?”
I glared, reaching in my bag to get out my wand again. Unfortunately, I was stopped by Ian who grabbed my arm before I could pull my weapon out.
“Alright, alright! His music’s fine! Great! His music’s great!” he added when my glare didn’t waver. “Now, just drop the wand, and everyone will be alright; especially the guy with the brain damage.”
I dropped my hostility and laughed, submitting to his demands.
He let out a dramatic sigh of relief and then extracted my hand from my bag by my arm. He slid his hand down to take hold of mine, theatrically saying, “Thank you for sparing my life, Ms. Baccari,” while staring straight into my eyes.
“Uhh, hey, guys,” said a suspicious looking Remus, glancing back and forth between Ian, me, and our linked hands.
We quickly let go and put more space between us, his hand going to rub the back of his neck and mine to clutch at my bag strap, going across my chest.
It had been twenty-three days (no, I was not counting) since Ian’s birthday, when we had that heart-to-heart in the seventh-year Gryffindor boys’ dormitory after the Quidditch match victory party. It was that night that we had shared a silent mutual agreement to be friends. Since then, we had gotten along increasingly well, even hanging out a few times without the Marauders around. Even though our friendship grew, day by day, it unfortunately didn’t stop awkward moments like these.
Remus’s brow rose even further. “What’s up?”
“Oh!” Ian cleared his throat. “I was just saving the day from a very furious Jenyse Baccari. You know…same old.”
“Ahh. What’d you do this time?” Remus asked knowingly. “Criticize her on her Quidditch ability? Bring up last week’s blood incident? Declare your dislike for Jason Stone?”
“Wh– I didn’t know she’d react like that!” he defended, flabbergasted at Remus’s mighty knowledge. “How’d you know?”
Remus clapped his hand on Ian’s shoulder, pityingly. “Seven years, mate. Seven years.”
“Hey!” I cut in. “Is that disdain I hear in your voice, Remus Lupin?”
“Not at all, Jenyse,” he assured me. He put his arm around my shoulders, and I could detect a little protectiveness in the action.
I refrained from rolling my eyes again. I caught Ian’s eye, but we both looked away quickly, still feeling awkward from what had just happened when Remus came.
Luckily, we didn’t have to endure any uncomfortable silences afterwards – McGonagall had come to save the day. She opened the door and allowed the group of us waiting into the room to await the start of class.
I sat in my seat, behind Remus – who sat backwards, straddling his chair – while Ian stood by us.
He set his books down on my desk. “Hey, Jenyse, can I see your wand for a sec?”
I eyed him suspiciously but gave in, slowly fishing out my wand. I placed it in his awaiting hand, and he looked at it for a brief moment before handing it over to Remus. I raised a brow, not bothering to voice my questions.
“Hold this for me? Thanks,” he said to an amused Remus before turning back to me. “Now that you’re unarmed, I can support my argument of Jason Stone sucking as a musician.”
Indignantly, I declared, “Hey! You can’t just say that, take it back, and then say it again only when I’m unarmed! That’s not playing very fair, Hayes.”
“I’m gonna have to agree with her on this one, Ian. Clearly, you don’t know the extent of Jenyse’s obsession with him,” Remus said, receiving a grin from me.
Obviously not caring, he fixed his tie and buttoned the top of his cloak. After a moment of Remus and I staring, waiting for him to respond, Ian looked between us, wearily. “May I finish?”
We let him continue, but I stared him down carefully, warning him silently to tread lightly.
“Just because the whole country all of a sudden likes one song that he wrote, doesn’t mean he’s an artist. Jason Stone is nothing but a one-hit wonder. His lyrics have no substance, his guitar playing is amateur, and, frankly, he sounds like a girl.”
Taking a deep breath to keep my temper, I replied, “You can’t just judge a singer by one song. You have to hear his old stuff to really know and appreciate him.”
“Alright, fair enough. I will allow you to educate me on his music. But in the meantime, I’ll show you what real music is. There are some talents I have that you don’t yet know about, Ms. Baccari,” he informed me, wiggling his eyebrows.
I was a millisecond away from correcting him. I was sure that he was talking about his singing and multiple-instrument-playing talents. But I wasn’t supposed to know about that. Alec had told me about those things, but Ian hadn’t. Once I had recovered from my almost slip-up, I played innocent. “Oh? And these talents would be…?”
“Do I really want to be hearing this conversation?”
My head swiveled to face Sirius, who had just slid into his seat next to me, and Peter, who sat next to Remus. I broke out in laughter when seeing Sirius’s – and noticing Remus’s and Peter’s similarly – semi-disgusted expression. “Oh, shut up, Sirius.” I bashfully glanced up at Ian, to see a smirk upon his face.
“So, what do you say?”
Remembering what he was referring to, I asked, “Well, do I really have a choice?”
Ian’s smirk just morphed into a smile that I was very familiar with. One that I used to be very well acquainted with. One that – ever since Ian’s birthday – had been showing up more and more often. One that was oddly, but adorably, crooked. One that was displayed by two different people, on one shared set of lips.
I ignored the yearning for Alec within me and reminded myself that Ian, though, to me, a different individual, was still as good a person as his spirit was – as, I realized, it should be. My brain befuddled by that particular thought process, I shot a small smile back.
The bell rang, and Ian left to go take his seat, a couple desks back in the row of desks next to ours.
“Wand please, Remus,” I requested, as I went in my bag to take out my textbook. When he didn’t hand it over right away, I looked up expectantly. I was greeted with knowing looks. “What?”
“Nothing,” Remus sighed, putting my wand on my desk, before turning to sit in his chair correctly.
“What is it?” I asked Peter and Sirius.
Neither answered; they both just shook their heads and faced the front of the room.
I slammed my book on the desk with frustration. What were they playing at, looking at me all knowingly? There was nothing for them to know! There was nothing going on between Ian and me, if that was what they were getting at. They didn’t have to get all protective on me.
“Everybody take your seats, please,” McGonagall ordered.
The sound of chairs scraping across the floor sounded through the classroom. I was distracted from watching James and Lily sit down at the desk next to Remus’s, when I heard the chair behind me move and someone sit in it.
Mid-scooching my chair in, I stiffened in my seat and waited for the familiar sadness and guilt to fill me, like it had been doing, nearly every class, since the second day of this month of March. Looking down at my lap, I listened to the pile of books being set down and the light sound of wood against wood, made by a wand being placed on a table. Closing my eyes, Travis’s heartbroken face seemed etched behind my eyelids.
“You alright?” I heard Sirius ask, though I wish he hadn’t. He had spoken quietly enough so that McGonagall – who was starting class – wouldn’t hear, but Travis would have heard him just fine.
I cleared my throat, but didn’t look up. “Uh, yeah. I’m fine.” I finished situating myself closer to our desk and pretended to turn my attention to McGonagall. I watched her movements, but didn’t listen to her words.
Though Ian and I had been getting closer and closer with time, there had been no progress or reconciliation made between Travis and me. Every time I saw him, it had taken everything within me to just walk away and leave him alone. If I had had my way, I would have sat Travis down and made him listen to and accept my apologies and return to being my friend, in an instant. But I needed to respect Travis’s request for me to leave him alone and give him time. Otherwise, I might never get him back.
Twenty-three days, it had been. Nearly a month of seeing my best friend affected by the pain I caused him. Nearly a month of seeing my best friend every day, everywhere I went, but never actually having him be there with me.
Noticing that everyone had their notebooks opened and their quills scratching against their pages, I sighed and followed suit, copying down the theory behind Conjuring Spells that was written on the board.
“Now, I’d like you all to spread out and pick a spot in the room, and practice conjuring these items listed on the board,” McGonagall instructed, flicking her wand at the board, which flipped to reveal its other side with the aforementioned list of items. “Get to work.”
The moment she said this, I heard the swift scraping of Travis’s chair, again, and his rushing away to find a spot in the room.
I wasn’t a fool. I didn’t expect him to ask me to join him, but I couldn’t help my feelings being hurt when he was the first person to leave his chair, surely in a haste to get away from me.
“Come on, Jenyse,” called Peter, who was heading toward the front corner of the room with Remus and Sirius.
I got up, grabbed my wand, and joined the group of six – James, Sirius, Remus, Peter, Lily, and Ian – by James and Lily’s desk.
For the rest of the duration of the class, we practiced conjuring the items on the board, first verbally and then silently. Conjuring spells, I had learned, were a lot harder than the Vanishing spells we had learned for our O.W.L.s. By the time class ended, I was only able to silently conjure a third of the items.
The whole time, I couldn’t help wishing that one of the things on the list of items to conjure was a solution to the problems between myself and a certain Travis Decker.
I hope you’re doing well and not getting too stressed from all the N.E.W.T. work you’re getting. I’m assuming that that’s the reason why you haven’t been writing much in your letters back with Ian’s checkup results. I suppose I’ll live without your snarky letters full of complaints. Updates from home: your car’s fine, Alaina gave into Jarron and let Jondi join a little league Quidditch team, Baby Jaylyn has visited every week (we can never get your mum off of her), Jace and David are still together (yes, we're all as shocked as you are), and your mother has finally stopped with the whole cat business. Instead, she opted to get an owl (yes, the one that gave you this letter). Three guesses to what letter she named him with. Her two top choices were Jonah and Jethro. Honestly…“Jethro”? Luckily, I convinced her to go with Jonah. Anyway, Easter’s coming up. I expect to see James, Remus, Peter, and Sirius with you when you walk through our front door. With one last reminder from your mum to quit the caffeine (it’s only because she loves you; you know that, right?), I bid you goodbye. Love you, Nees.
P.S. Jonah’s an eater.
I looked past the letter in my hands to find said owl nipping at the toast on my plate.
“Hey! Get your own breakfast,” I told the yellow-eyed demon, whom, I was sure, had taken my place as the family baby, in my mother’s eyes. I ripped off half of the roll in Peter’s hand and fed it to Jonah. “There you go, you little beast. Go on. Go back to mummy.”
Jonah snapped at me – quite brattily, I might say – before taking off and flying out of the Great Hall, along with everyone else’s owls.
I looked at the small piece of parchment behind the letter briefly and saw that it was instructions for this week’s checkup. As I was folding the letter back up, another postscript caught my attention, below the first.
P.P.S. I almost forgot – I want you to invite Ian over for holiday, too. I just think it would be foolish to let him come only on Fridays for his checkups. From what you’ve told me, I believe he’s friends with the boys, right? There’s plenty of room in the family room. He’s got no home to go to, remember? It’s the least we can do. Please invite him. For me? Thanks, Jeneesy. – Dad
“What’d Papa Baccari say?” asked James, when I folded the letter up and put it in my bag. “Everyone’s okay, right?”
At first I was lost, but understood his concern when I realized what my face probably looked like: full of dread. Even Alec – who could go anywhere he wanted in the world – had never been to my house, and as much of good friends Ian and I were becoming, I didn’t think I could handle having him in my home for a week and a half, watching him interact with my family.
“Yeah, they’re all fine.”
“Then what’s with the face?” Sirius asked with his mouth full of oatmeal.
I didn’t want to get into it, so I joked, saying, “My father wants you guys to come over. What has the world come to?”
“What do you mean?” Peter asked.
“Your dad loves us, Jenyse,” James added. “Why wouldn’t he want us over for the holidays?”
I stared at him, feeling shame for being friends with such a dimwitted person. “He’s my father. He’s supposed to hate the boys I hang out with. It’s in the father code.”
“She’s right,” Lily pitched in. “It’s in their nature to be overly protective; especially if you’re the youngest girl in the family. My dad hates your guts, James.”
James stopped, mid-chew, in shock. “But– but you said your parents loved me!”
The rest of us laughed and let the two of them duke it out amongst themselves, while we went back to our food.
Remus walked alongside me when breakfast ended and we got up to head to the dungeons for Potions. “Hey, Jenyse,” he said, knocking his side into mine.
“Hey, Remus,” I shot back playfully, returning the gesture.
“Whatcha doin’ tonight?” he asked with sing-songy voice.
I smiled at his lightness, despite the coming full moon. He was clearly looking ill, but didn’t show it in his attitude. That was one of the things I admired most about Remus. Copying his tone, I replied, “I’m hanging out with you.”
He grinned, squeezing me to his side. “I’ve got dungeon duty–”
“Hah! You said ‘doodie.’”
“Mature,” he said, his voice dripping with sarcasm, before going on. “As I was saying, I’ve got to patrol in the dungeons. Wanna keep a lonely man company as he walks through these creepy halls tonight?”
“Sure, but what man?”
Remus shoved me away from him, mock-offended, making me bump into someone as I chuckled.
“Whoa, there, Jenyse. Save the feeling up for Friday’s checkup.”
I put on an angry face to cover up the blush growing on my cheeks. I didn’t bother to satisfy him by answering back testily, but I answered Remus, instead. “I was kidding, Remus. You’re as manly as a man can be.”
“Yeah, sure,” Remus said, laughing. “Sooo…?”
“It’s a date, my lovely manly man Potions partner!” I agreed. I may or may not have been choosing my words and turning my back to Ian on purpose, but my actions sure did get a reaction.
“Wait,” a – might I say jealous – Ian cut into our very private conversation, “you two are going on a date tonight? As in…a date?”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa! Who’s going on a date?!” exclaimed Sirius, forcing his way in between Ian and I, which proved to be a horrible idea, seeing as we were going through the classroom door.
Poor Remus was squished in between the door frame and me. “Padfoot! You git! That hurt!”
“Ooh, sorry, Moony. It’s the Beater in me. I’ve got to protect our little girl,” he explained, throwing in a hair-ruffling of my hair.
I swatted his hand away, pushing him the rest of the way into the room, so that everyone else could get through. “Cool it, Black. Remus and I are just patrolling together tonight in the very romantic halls of the dungeon.” I gave him a slap in the back of the head for overreacting.
“Oh. Well, why didn’t you say so?”
I rolled my eyes and quickened my pace, to get away from him and to hide the smile on my face when I heard Ian’s and Sirius’s “hushed” conversation.
“And you’re okay with that?” Ian asked, clearly concerned.
“Uhh, yeah, Hayes. They’re practically brother and sister. Remus would kick any guy’s arse who tried to make a move on Jenyse, too.”
I could practically hear Ian gulp as he walked to his seat at the desk next to Remus’s and mine.
Again, when everyone was in the room and class began, all of my happy feelings went out the door. Even though Travis sat right behind me in Transfiguration, Potions was the worst class. Not only was I miserably aware of Travis, across the aisle to my right, but Ian had to be his partner.
Like every Potions class I had attended in the past twenty-three days, I sucked in a deep breath and hoped for the best. More often than not, I casted a glance at the pair and was highly aware of the heavy silence between them, as Remus and I worked together to create our own potion.
Remus and I got an Outstanding from the very boisterous Slughorn, as per usual, and cleaned up our station.
When the bell rang, I winced, once again, as Travis shot up speed-walked down the aisle. Recovering from the mental blow, I got up, but paused, noticing a quill on the floor next to Travis’s chair. I picked it up, ignoring whatever Ian was saying to me. After much inner conflict, I muttered, “Screw it,” before calling out, “Travis!”
As expected, Travis kept his long strides.
“Travis! Hey, Trav, wait!” I called, chasing after him.
To my slight surprise, and relief as well, Travis stopped right before the door, took a deep breath, and turned to face me, without really looking me in the face. “What?”
I paused, forgetting for a second what I was doing, when I saw his expression. It was clear that he still hated me and wanted nothing more than to leave the room and put as much distance between us as possible. “Wait!” I said when he moved to do just that. A couple of people were behind me, trying to get through, so I moved to the side, mentally thanking Travis for following me. “I–…Your quill. You dropped it,” I said lamely, holding it out for him to take.
We stood there for a moment, until Travis nodded and started to walk away.
I rushed back up to him before he could leave. I figured that since I had already dug myself this cozy little hole, I had nothing to lose. “So,” I started urgently, “how have things been going? Are you okay?”
His blank stare made me feel awful and dimwitted.
“Sorry,” I apologized quickly, “stupid question. Of course you’re not….I mean….Sorry. Merlin, my tact does not seem to be in tact today…. Sorry, bad joke.” I let out a short, shaky laugh.
Travis didn’t respond; he just adjusted his bag on his shoulder and walked out of the door.
I followed him again, reaching out my hand to touch his shoulder, but thought better of it and quickly retracted my hand. Ignoring the other traffic in the hall and trying to keep up with his pace, I said, “Travis, please talk to me. I feel absolutely terrible. I can’t even begin to tell you how so–”
Suddenly, Travis stopped and faced me, almost making me run into him. “Stop–…just, stop saying you’re sorry. Please,” he said, holding his hands out between us with his palms facing me.
“Oh, right, I’m so –…well, you know. It’s just that I am. I think about us and just wish–”
“I know,” he muttered with his head down. There was a slight awkward pause before he murmured, “Me too.”
“Trav, I just want us to go back to the way things were.”
“It can’t– We can’t go back.”
I looked away, feeling my heart sink.
“Look, I know that you’re only trying to help, but having you around me is doing the exact opposite of helping me.”
“I miss you, Trav,” I told him, my voice cracking, as my fingers picked at a string on my bag strap. I chanced a glance up at him, but averted my gaze quickly.
Travis let out a heavy sigh, but didn’t say anything.
“I wish there was a spell or potion or something I could do or make to make things right with you.” Feeling brave, I looked him in the eyes. “It hurts to see you like this – in so much pain. Tell me something that I can do,” I begged.
“I told you. I need time.”
“Time. I can do that. We can ease back into it,” I proposed, full of hope.
All hope drained from inside of me. “Right. Space from me.” Not feeling so brave anymore, I let my head droop down.
“I don’t like it either, Je–… You don’t know how much I wish– …It’s just what I need,” he explained, stumbling through his speech.
“How long do y–?”
“I don’t know.
“Trav…I really am–” My voice gave out, not allowing me to finish my apology.
Once again, Travis gave a short nod, and then walked away, leaving me feeling abandoned.
I stood there for another minute, with my head down, willing myself to accept what had just occurred and move on, at least for now. Realizing I only had a few more minutes to get to my next class I took in a shaky breath and started walking. I jumped a little when I heard footsteps behind me, catching up, and turned to see who it was.
“Hey! That’s twice already today that you didn’t wait for me to go to class. Wasn’t that one of your first assignments or whatever from Healer B.?”
A small smile crept onto my face, as I started walking again. “Sorry. I thought you were with the other guys.”
“Nope. I was waiting for you. You left your book on your desk. I thought you were going to come back to get it.”
“Thanks,” I murmured, taking it from him and clutching it to my chest.
A sniff from me caused Ian to peek at me concernedly. Somehow, I knew that he had witnessed all of what had just gone on between Travis and me. I mentally thanked him for not mentioning it, but just wrapping his arm comfortingly around my shoulders as we strolled together to our next class.
I looked up from place, kneeling on the floor in front of my trunk, to see Lily coming through the dormitory door. “Oh, hey, Lily,” I greeted, glad that it wasn’t any of my other roommates. I went back to rummaging through my trunk. “What are you doing up here?”
Lily sat on her bed, next to mine, and I saw her shrug from out of the corner of my eye. “I thought I’d take a nice long shower and snuggle into my warm bed with a friendly book,” she replied, sighing with a dreamy look. “Hmm…or maybe I’ll take a bath in the Prefects’ bathroom.”
A little jealous, I smiled and said, “Merlin, that sounds amazing,” pushing a picture album aside to dig deeper into my trunk.
“Mmm, yeah. And I get the added bonus of infuriating James by not letting him participate.” She laid back and gave a little laugh. “He gets so pouty when he doesn’t get what he wants. It’s annoyingly adorable.”
I rolled my eyes, throwing a book on my bed, which made a small thud, to make more room.
“What are you looking for?”
“Cloak,” I grumbled, a little distracted by my hunt. I paused and sat back on my heels. “I have the luxury of staying warm and cozy in the drafty dungeons tonight. Remus is taking me on his patrol.” Taking a breath, I went back to my search.
“Oh, I do not envy you.”
“Tell me ‘bout it.” Defeated, I sat back again to look at Lily. “Hey, you haven’t seen– Oh, I’m in idiot.” I mentally hit myself, grabbing my wand. “Accio cloak!”
The cloak flew out from a drawer across the room towards me. I caught it, glaring at the stupid thing.
I got up, put the cloak on, and then started for the door, saying, “Well, I better–”
“Travis Decker has seemed pretty down lately.”
I froze with my hand on the doorknob.
“Sorry,” she said quickly. “I know it’s not my place to intrude; it’s just that I’ve noticed that you two have kind of been avoiding each other lately.”
I turned and saw Lily in a sitting position, now. I slowly walked over to her bed to lean against one of her bedposts. “Yeah, we, uh, well…there was a bit of a falling out.”
Lily nodded knowingly. “Yeah,” she sighed, “I know a little bit about those. Look, Jenyse, I know that we really only talk now because of the Marauders, which is kind of ironic, since they were why we stopped talking in the first place–”
My eyebrows drew together. “We’re friends. Really, Lily,” I told her earnestly.
She flashed a smile. “Thanks. I just want to tell you,” she said seriously, “that it’s not your fault.”
The crease in my forehead grew as my eyebrows drew closer together. “Huh?”
“Travis, Jenyse. His liking you and all of the drama it’s caused. It’s not your fault,” she insisted, looking me straight in the eye.
“How–,” I cleared my throat and crossed my arms across my chest, “How’d you know?”
Lily just shrugged, saying, “I’m pretty observant, I suppose. Aaand, I know the signs. I’ve been there before.”
I felt a little embarrassed having this talk with Lily; like I was intruding into her personal life, as she was mine. I had a feeling I knew what she was talking about. A little shyly, to be sure, I asked, “You mean, with…Snape?”
She nodded slowly. “Look, Jenyse, I know it’s awful and it’s eating at you inside, but you have to stop feeling guilty.”
“But– he’s my friend!” I retorted, losing my cool. “I should’ve realized sooner or done something to make it better. I need to help him somehow. I need to try and–”
“Jenyse,” Lily firmly cut in, “you can’t make yourself fall in love with him.”
I cringed internally when I heard her words.
“You can love him as a friend and be there for him,” she went on, “but you can’t force something that isn’t there. You’ll only end up hurting yourself and him in the long run.”
I sighed, realizing that she was right, and sank down next to her on her bed. “I’ve done a pretty brilliant job at that already,” I grumbled.
Lily took her own sigh. “Losing Severus in my life was one of the hardest things…but I couldn’t give him what he wanted,” she admitted. “It took me a while to realize this, but I didn’t have anyone to give me any advice.” She turned to look at me, but I avoided her gaze.
“So what did you do?”
“Muck things up, mostly,” she confessed. “But our case was different. There’s a lot of water…. I think you and Travis will have better luck. You just need to let the wounds heal for a while. Give him time to get over you.”
I nodded, absorbing all of what she was telling me. “So you think there’s hope?”
“I’d say so,” she said, confident. “I've got James now. I'm happy. I think I might lo–”
I smiled at her slip-up.
“Anyways,” she rushed on, “you still have a chance to find the right guy. More importantly, though, you have to give him room to find a girl who can love him back.”
I let this sink in, finding myself believing her. “And you and Snape?”
She shrugged, looking down. “Every relationship is different. You just shouldn’t blame yourself for something that’s not your fault. Believe me.”
I did, nodding. A moment later, I got up.
“Good luck on patrol tonight. I heard a bunch of fourth years talking about dungbombs before,” she said with a laugh.
I chuckled lightly along with her. Looking back at her, I said, “Thanks, Lily,” sincerely.
I gave her a smile and then walked out and down the stairs to a waiting Remus Lupin. “Hey.”
“Hey, what took you so long?”
“Couldn’t find my cloak,” I said nonchalantly. “Shall we go?”
“We shall.” Remus held his arm out for me to take. Such the gentleman.
When we got out of the portrait hole and into the corridor, I said, “So, Lily said she overheard some kids talking about dungbombs.”
He groaned. “Well, this is going to be a lovely night.”
“Of course it is, Remmy,” I told him playfully. “You’re spending it with me.”
He smiled down at me, squeezing me to him. “So, what are the plans for break?”
I grinned, thankful for a light conversation. “The usual. Big huge party in the yard, lots of food, stupid – but surprisingly fun – games that my dad comes up with. You’ve been over for Easter before. You know what goes down with the Baccari’s.”
“Ahh, that I do,” he agreed, as we went down the many steps leading to the Entrance Hall. “Do we get to meet the baby?” he asked excitedly.
I laughed at his enthusiasm. “Of course you do. You’ve got to help me keep Sirius away from her, though. Don’t want him corrupting the little girl at such a young age. He’s already practically charmed the pants off of my mother, sister, and niece. Jondi asks me where he is, every time I visit.”
“Right, how are your mum and sister?”
Disgusted, I punched him lightly in the arm. “That’s gross, Remus.”
He guffawed, grabbing my hands to keep me from hitting him again, as we both walked sideways down the stairs into the dungeon. “I was just kidding, Jenyse,” he assured me. “But your parents are cool with all of us staying over?”
I shot him a look. He asked me that every time I invited them over and he always said it was because he didn’t want to be a burden to my family. And every time – including this one – I would assure him, saying that, “My parents had more than one kid for a reason.”
“If you say so,” he said, unconvinced. “What about Ian? Is he coming, too?”
I could feel my cheeks going red and thanked Merlin that the lighting in these halls sucked. “Why?”
Remus shrugged. “I dunno. I mean, he has nowhere else to go, and he really only hangs out with us here. Plus, your dad is his Healer, right?”
My eyes narrowed at the whole world. Everyone had multiple valid reasons why Ian should go to my house for the holidays, while I had one reason why he shouldn’t, that couldn’t even be voiced. I sighed, deciding to tell Remus. “My dad told me to invite him,” I grumbled.
“You don’t look too thrilled,” he observed.
It was my turn to shrug. I very well couldn’t tell him my reason.
“Have you asked him yet?”
“Asked who what?”
“Ian. Have you invited him yet?”
“No. I’m not looking forward to that conversation, either.” Making up a quick excuse, I said, “You know him, with all those suggestive remarks. He’s going to turn this on me, like it was my idea, and it certainly wasn’t.”
Remus gave me a knowing look that slightly annoyed me for some reason. “He hasn’t been making those kinds of remarks lately, from what I’ve observed. It seems like he’s cooled down on that approach, to me.”
I raised a brow, glancing at the apparently all-knowing Remus Lupin. “Approach on what?”
He just smiled, not answering, and just walked on.
We walked through the dark and dank corridors, keeping a lookout for any troublemakers, out after curfew. We found a couple of Slytherin sixth years, doing something, we assumed, very inappropriate in a broom closet, who – when we barged in – exclaimed for us to get our own room. Remus and I had a good laugh and told them to beat it after showing them Remus’s shiny prefect badge.
I kept hoping that no fourth year idiots would detonate any dungbombs as we turned every corner. I voiced my concerns to Remus, who just laughed at me. “I’m serious, Remus. Lily wouldn’t lie about a thing like…. What’s that smell?” I asked, suddenly stopping and sticking my arm out to stop him, as well.
“Very funny, Jenyse. You can stop overreacting, now.”
I glowered at him. “I am not overreacting. Look.” I pointed sharply at a black ball on the floor, next to a snoring suit of armor.
“Alright, so you’re right. Merlin, it reeks,” he said, putting his arm over his nose.
With my hand holding part of my cloak up to block my own nose, I ordered, “Get rid of it.”
He looked back at me, almost outraged. “Me? Why me?”
“Hey, you’re the one with the fancy prefect badge,” I defended. “I don’t think I’m authorized to even touch it, Mr. Lupin.” I tried not to laugh at his repulsed expression, but couldn’t hold it in. “Go on. Don’t worry. I’m right here giving moral support.”
He glared at me, before creeping towards the revolting toy with his wand pointed at it. “I don’t know what to do!”
I fought back the urge to gag from the horrid smell and rolled my eyes. “Did you learn nothing in yesterday’s Transfiguration class?”
“Oh, right. Conjuring spell. Wait. What?”
“Try the opposite, Remus!” I wanted to hit him for taking forever.
“Oh, right. Vanishing spell.” Finally, Remus managed to vanish the dungbomb, but it didn’t help with the smell, much. “Ugh, that’s nauseating. Come on. Let’s go.” He grabbed my hand and we rushed down the hall to escape the stench. “Aw, great. Now I smell like dung,” he said, sniffing at the arm of his cloak.
In the matter of a mere millisecond, I was doubled over, shaking with laughter and holding myself up by holding onto Remus’s arm.
“What?” Remus demanded, befuddled by my sudden outburst.
Once I calmed down enough to speak, even if broken in between laughs, I managed to get out, “You smell…like doodie…on dungeon duty!”
I inhaled the aroma radiating off of the hot coffee, filled to the brim of the big mug I held to my lips. I sipped it, savoring the taste and enjoying the sensation of its warmth going down my throat and spreading to the rest of my body. I all but moaned into the mug, never getting tired of this feeling.
Naturally, this very special and intimate moment between me and what I considered an extension of my soul was ruined when a certain patient of mine barged into the room, making me jump and my coffee spill a little over the rim.
“Merlin, you could at least have the decency to knock,” I reprimanded him, wishing for a napkin – which appeared on the coffee table in front of me. I grabbed it and attempted to wipe the dark liquid off of my jeans.
Ian kicked the door closed, before making his way over to the couch I sat on. “Oh, I am so sorry for interrupting your precious moment with an edible, inanimate liquid,” he said sarcastically, as he plopped down, almost making my coffee spill again. He sat slightly sideways, his back leaning half against the back of the couch and half against the couch’s arm, with his arm draped across the back.
Disgruntled and giving up on the stain on my jeans, I set my mug on the coffee table. “Alright. Let’s do this,” I said, picking up today’s checkup list.
I caught him smirking and hit him upside the head, as I got up to sit on the coffee table to face him.
“Hey! Brain damage!” he exclaimed, laughing and fixing his hair.
I scoffed. “It’s been nearly three months. I think you’re fine. Pulse,” I ordered curtly, while picking up my wand.
He made a show of sighing heavily, and then placed two of his fingers on his neck. After feeling around a bit, he gave a nod, saying, “Got it.”
I replaced his fingers with my wand, said the incantation, counted for sixty seconds, and then tapped the spot on the parchment, next to the first task, where his resting heart rate appeared. Moving on, I started the next task. I picked up the set of cards – on which the pictures changed each week – and held one up, showing him for one second, before turning it back around. “Picture on the right?”
I held up the next one and then asked, “Colors from right to left.”
“Uhh, black, green…purple, red?”
“Yep…. Middle, left, right?”
“A dog, a chair, and a pie…which I could really go for right now. Mmm,” he said, evidently fantasizing.
I chuckled, putting the cards away and recording the results. “You just had pie on Wednesday night, as you do on every Wednesday night.”
He shrugged as he rolled his sleeves up to his elbows. “What can I say?... Love me some pie.”
I laughed again, shaking my head at his foolishness. I tested his blood sugar with another incantation and tested his reflexes, recording both on the checkup list. Second to last on the list was my favorite part, since all I had to do was write his answers to the questions provided – not to mention getting the chance to innocently pry into his weaknesses.
“Mr. Hayes,” I began.
“Yes, Nurse Baccari?”
I shot him a look at which he just smiled innocently. “Any trouble sleeping?”
“Well, that depends on what you mean. You see– OW!” he exclaimed, though laughing, when I hit his leg. “Isn’t it illegal for a nurse to inflict pain on a patient, unless they’re giving a shot?”
“Luckily, I’m no nurse. Answer the question, please…for real,” I commanded him, my quill hovering over the parchment.
He sighed, replying, “Yes, I have had a little trouble sleeping. I, personally, don’t think it’s that big of a deal. I blame the stress of homework at the age of twenty.”
I rolled my eyes at his excuse, which he used quite often as the start of a rant about how unfair it was that he was still in school at his age. I wrote his response down, not including his complaint. “Any trouble paying attention? Oh, wait. I can answer this one myself.”
“Ha-ha. Very funny,” he said dryly, making a childish face at me, which I gladly returned. “Alright, so I have a bit of trouble. But my minor brain damage is not to blame. It’s not my fault that I have a very pretty nurse in every single one of my classes, which is quite distracting, I tell you.”
I ignored his comments and my slight blush and just wrote. “Trouble eating? Stupid question.” Without waiting for an answer, I wrote ‘Never’ on the page. “Any physical problems or pains?”
“Again, it depends–”
“Okay, I need to stop asking these questions.”
Ian laughed at me and assured me that no, he did not have any medically physical problems.
I finished writing, and then pulled out the potions that he needed to take, handing him one vial after another, as he quickly downed each of them with a grimace upon his face. When he finished, I handed him a mug of coffee of his own, which he downed as well. I watched him as he chugged it, appalled at his mistreatment of the liquid.
“What?” he asked when he saw my expression.
“If you don’t feel the need to cherish every sip of it, you’re not drinking it right,” I told him seriously. I wasn’t one to take lightly to people who didn’t appreciate what they were eating or drinking, especially if it was coffee.
Ian set his mug down, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees. “You realize that coffee isn’t exactly the best thing for a person, what with the jitters, growth stunting, yellow teeth,” he quipped. “Oh, and not to mention…the tendering of certain…” his eyes flashed downward, unmistakably to my chest, “parts.”
My eyes grew wide as I scooted backwards to put more space between us, while covering my chest by crossing my arms over it.
A wicked smile grew across Ian’s lips as he leaned forward even more, cheekily saying, “I’d be more than willing to help you check.”
Finally getting over the shock over what he had just said, I reached out and pushed his head backwards, causing him to go back to leaning on the back of the couch. “In your dreams, Hayes.”
“How’d you know?”
Faking repulsion, just to cover up the definite reddening of my face and maybe a little attraction – No! Amusement! – I grabbed my stuff and went to leave.
“No!” Ian called, chortling. He rushed after me and grabbed my wrist before I got to the door. “Don’t leave.”
“The checkup’s over.”
“I’m aware.” He turned me around to face him. “That doesn’t mean we can’t just stay and hang out. It’s Friday night and you might have James, Remus, Sirius, and Peter to go back to, but I’ll just be forced to sit on my bed, reading Quidditch magazines, like a chump.” He squeezed my hand, saying, “Please stay,” desperately.
My eyes rolled at his puppy dog eyes and dramatic begging. “Fine,” I gave in, letting him pull me back to the couch.
“Oh, thank Merlin,” he said, as we sank down into the couch. “And here’s another cup of coffee, on me.” He winked with his ever-so-familiar crooked smile.
I chuckled at his antics and took the mug from him. After taking a nice, long sniff and sip, I pulled my legs under me, faced him, and said, “Sooo…?”
“Sooo,” he imitated me. “What’s new?”
“My growing hatred for you.”
“Nice,” he drawled. “How’s Healer B.?”
I smiled at his nickname for my father, but it quickly faded as I remembered the letter I had received earlier in the week. I still hadn’t done what my father asked – to invite Ian over for the holidays. I hadn’t built up the courage to do so, yet. Pushing it aside, once again, I replied, “Uhh, he’s good. From his letters, I can tell that he’s just putting up with my mother. Apparently, she’s going through menopause and the Healer is not enjoying it very much.”
Ian laughed. “I bet. And how’s the new kid?”
“You mean the owl my mum got? She named him Jonah. Figures…her and her ‘J’ names. It’s better than Jethro, I suppose, though,” I admitted.
His eyebrows went up at this. “Jethro? Jenyse, I was talking about the baby. What was her name again? Your brother’s kid?”
Well, I felt dumb. “Oh, heh. Sorry. Her name’s Jaylyn; Jayden’s and Maddy’s baby. She’s good, apparently. Still alive, which is always a good sign, when Jayden’s involved,” I joked.
He smiled at this and took another sip of his coffee. “I love kids,” he said suddenly.
This, for some reason, did and didn’t shock me. Thinking about all of his inappropriate and idiotic remarks and jokes, I would never see him liking kids, but taking into account his more – shall I say – innocent and honest side, I supposed I could see it. Nonetheless, his confession made me curious to see him with a child. I smiled and concurred, “Same. At least up to before they get to the bratty stage. Babies are my favorite. They’re so tiny and smell so good.”
“Mmm, I know what you mean,” he said.
There was a moment of a comfortable silence between us as we just sat and sipped our coffee, enjoying one another’s company.
“Hey,” he said, finally breaking the silence, his tone serious, making me look at him. “You know how I wanted to be a Pro Quidditch player?”
My stomach clenched as I realized how wrong it seemed to me. Though Alec had once said he had once wanted to be a Pro Quidditch player, he had changed his mind. I felt guilty, knowing that comparing Alec and Ian with each other was always a bad idea, but couldn’t help it sometimes. Somehow, their similarities – though hurtful reminders – comforted me. Their differences, on the other hand, worried me. I finally recovered enough to answer with a simple, “Mmhmm,” before hiding behind my coffee again.
“Well,” he started thoughtfully, “I’ve been thinking. As much as I would love to do that, in the back of mind, I just know that I won’t be picked up, because of the whole coma and brain damage thing.”
I nodded, waiting on bated breath for him to just spit out what he was going on about.
“And, after meeting your dad and learning what he does and having to have all these checkups every week…I think it’d be cool to become a Healer.”
A rush of an odd sense of relief and feeling of home overtook me. I felt the corners of my lips tug, and I gave in, letting out a wide smile. My eyes met his familiar hazel-green, which I held, as, with a newfound confidence, I asked, “Do you want to go and stay at my house with me and the other guys over the Easter break?”
His seriously sincere features were over taken by a stunning crooked grin. “I thought you’d never ask.”
A/N: hola! so, what do you think? tell me in a review! comments, suggestions, favorite parts (you should know by now that they're my favorite!) are all very appreciated. and i respond to all reviews, too! thanks again, for reading! now go on and review! the box is right there! thanks thanks thanks! adios!
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