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stranger things by blackballet

Format: Novel
Chapters: 12
Word Count: 26,889
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Contains profanity, Strong violence, Scenes of a mild sexual nature, Substance abuse, Sensitive topic/issue/theme

Genres: Drama, Horror/Dark, Young Adult
Characters: Dumbledore, Lupin, James, Lily, Sirius, Pettigrew, Regulus, OC
Pairings: James/Lily, Remus/OC, Sirius/OC, Other Pairing

First Published: 07/08/2013
Last Chapter: 06/04/2017
Last Updated: 06/04/2017

Summary:
banner by me








A story about a teenage inferius. Stranger things have happened. 
 


Chapter 9: paranoia

I had difficulty keeping my eyes trained on Professor Slughorn as Remus Lupin stared down the back of my neck. After our uncomfortable encounter in Hogsmeade, Remus switched partners with some random Gryffindor who could not keep up with anything. I had asked her once before how she made it into the class. She seemed insulted, and I haven’t asked her anything since.

I am pretty sure that Remus knew something was up with me. Ever since last Sunday in the library he kept cropping up everywhere. Sitting across from me at dinner, waiting behind at the end of classes, and even sometimes taking a stroll around the Quidditch pitch during Ravenclaw practices. It might just be a coincidence, and I might be becoming more paranoid, but it seemed that Remus was straight up following me.

“Class dismissed,” Professor Slughorn said, clapping his great, meaty hands together. I blinked quickly, and shook my head slightly. My new Potions partner was finishing cleaning up our station, and I began packing up my bag. We had created a system where I did the actual potion making and she cleaned up after me.

I headed out of the classroom hurriedly. And I am sure that Remus Lupin had not actually spent the entirety of Potions staring at the back of my neck. I would like to think I was that important. But it was something about the way Remus looked at me: as if he knew more than he did. I paused in the hallway, contemplating his gaze, as someone pushed past me on their way somewhere apparently important. I shook my head, and continued out into the Transfiguration Courtyard on my way to the docks.

“Charlotte,” I heard a subtle and familiar voice call from the other side of the courtyard. I looked over my shoulder, stopping in my tracks again. Regulus was sitting on a bench, alone. I turned further over my shoulder, looking (for some unknown reason) to see if there was anyone else in the courtyard.

The two of us stood opposite each other, and for some reason, neither of us would take the first step forward. I had trouble locking eyes with people, but with Regulus, it was simpler. He still wasn’t curious, and was comfortable in the silence. A pair of students finally entered the courtyard, and Regulus stood up hastily. I blinked, and he was striding over towards me easily.

“Regulus,” I finally said back as he approached me. I kept walking on my way to the docks. If Regulus had the inclination to follow me, I wouldn’t stop him. Regulus stayed silent as we walked down the stone pathway, past a small hut, and made the bend to the docks. I watched a cloud of my breath leave my mouth in the cold air, and I realized that I was letting out a breath I didn’t know I was holding.

“How did your Muggle Studies project turn out?” I asked, curious and still wary of Regulus. Regulus took in a small breath through his nose and his eyes flitted up to the sky.

So I was correct. He was lying.

“I did not have a Muggle Studies project, Charlotte,” he admitted, crossing his hands behind his back and looking down at me for a reaction. I denied him the satisfaction of a reaction and kept my face still.

“Oh?” I questioned. “You like asking perfect strangers for intimate information?” Regulus pondered on this only for a second.

“You like to give information out to perfect strangers,” he said, not asking me, telling me. “Some people just like talking about themselves,” he quipped, biting his bottom lip as soon as his sentence came out.

I was slightly taken aback by Regulus’ comment. I liked talking to myself. Did I really enjoy talking about myself that much? Maybe compared to Regulus, but I thought I fell perfectly normal on the narcissism spectrum.

“So why did you ask me those questions?” I was managing to keep the panic and paranoia out of my voice.

Regulus kicked a small pebble off the path, and I saw the left side of his mouth perk up. He shook his head gently, and then uncrossed his hands from behind his back, stuffing them in his pockets.

“There you go again, asking more questions about yourself,” he said pointedly, skipping every other step as we finally made our way into the boathouse.

“Fine,” I said, frustrated that he dodged my question. “Where were you born?” I asked, throwing his own odd question back at him from that night. Regulus leaned up against a wooden post and wrapped his hand around it.

“London,” he said definitively.

“Okay,” I said automatically, having nothing else really to say back. I tucked the hair that had flown out of my plait back behind my ear. I took my usual seat, a rickety chair left behind from a time in which the boathouse was visited more often. Regulus was still hanging off the weight-bearing pole, watching me as I took out my book.

I sat back in the chair, opening Giovanni Pico Della Mirandola’s Oration on the Dignity of Man to the page I left off on. The text was rich with theories about original, natural magic. Although most of it was debunked in modern times, I felt a special connection to his theories, being an inherently magical being myself.

“Why don’t we take out a boat?” he asked casually, breaking my train of thought. I blinked in surprise at the bold request from the still perfect stranger.

“I am sorry if I gave you the wrong impression, Regulus,” I said, taken aback. “I am not here looking to chat idly with an idyllic stranger. I am here to read,” I said indignantly, motioning to my book.

“Idyllic?” he said, raising both of his jet black eyebrows. I couldn’t tell if he was insulted or content with my description. “Oddly fitting,” he mused to himself, pushing himself off the pole and stepped off the dock and into a boat.

This made me shut my book and take a second look at Regulus. He was far less reserved than the last time we met: still quiet yet engaging, but louder in some way. It was then I realized that Regulus had no books with him. He had no bag, no parchment, no quill. I didn’t even know if he had his wand.

“Where were you coming from, Regulus? When you were in the courtyard.” Regulus looked up at me from the boat, a hand extended. I stood up from my chair and dropped my book into my bag.

“I was coming from my dormitory,” he said, still holding his right hand out for me to take it. I looked down at his hand: calloused only in between the pointer and middle finger. Probably from extensive writing and wand-wielding. His fingernails were neatly kept, and he wore a large, gaudy ring on his ring finger. I took another step forward and something about Regulus’ extended hand and gazing eyes made me want to take his offer.

“Why should I trust that?” I asked warily. The feeling in my chest, the wanting to spend time with him, was foreign to me. And I didn’t know him, and I wanted to. I wanted, needed to be careful. I didn’t extend my hand yet.

“I don’t know if you should.” Regulus’ eyes came up to my face, and I was suddenly aware of every infinitesimal movement I made. “Was he waiting for me in the courtyard?” a lingering voice asked in my head.

“I should get going,” I finally managed. It felt like a balloon was deflating in my chest. Pressure released. Regulus dropped his hand, but his eyes did not leave my face.

“Maybe you should, Charlotte,” he said dully, sitting back in the boat and returning to his aloof personality. I stepped backwards, almost stumbling over my feet. Regulus still had not broken eye contact with me, and I didn’t want to be the one to do it. His icy eyes made me shiver.

“O-okay,” I stuttered, frustrated with myself as I ducked my head down to pick up my bag and run back to my room for no good reason. Regulus reached over the side of the boat and unhooked the rope from a post on the dock. He pressed off from the dock, and the boat began floating out onto the Great Lake.

I watched Regulus sit complacently, his hands folded across his lap, leaning back into the bow of the boat. I picked up my bag and shook my head to clear it. I slung it over my shoulder, took one last look out at the lake, and then began jogging up the stairs back towards the castle.

 




 

“Happy Halloween to me,” Sirius Black grumbled, balancing on a chair in the back of the library, trying to put back about five textbooks at a time. I kept separating the seemingly unending stack of books that we had at our disposal. Students kept coming and tossing their used books on my stack, making my job even harder.

Mr. Filch had sent us to the library for our first detention. We were here until 8:30, putting back all the books that students used throughout the day.

“Oi!” Sirius exclaimed, grasping towards the bookshelf before falling back out of his chair. He landed on the edge of the table. It shook, and my piles all melded back into one big heap. Sirius looked up at me apologetically from the floor, and I merely rolled my eyes, offering a hand to help him up.

“I can’t believe they took our wands,” he said angrily. “Don’t they want the work to get bloody done?” He dusted off his trousers, and shook back his black hair.

“It’s a punishment, Black,” I argued uselessly, beginning my sorting again. “And it isn’t even that bad,” I muttered to myself. I had become increasingly irritable over the past week; over the past two months, really.

“It is Halloween, Malkin, and we are sitting here sorting books out the muggle way.” I didn’t turn to look at Sirius. I heard him climb back onto his chair.

“And what is so wrong about the muggle way?” I asked, not meaning to sound defensive but managing to do so all the same.

“Nothing,” he said automatically. “It’s just…harder,” he grunted as he shoved another book on the highest shelf.

“Freaking entitled Pureblood.”

I said it just under my breath. But I think that Sirius has exceptional hearing.

“You do not want to go there, Malkin. You don’t know a thing about my childhood,” said testily. I kept my mouth shut after that. He was right. I didn’t know a thing about his childhood.

“So how was your childhood?” he asked, the anger still tangible in his voice. “Mum and dad proud that their pretty, smart, athletic daughter was also magical?” he asked, now slamming the books into their places.

“Not really,” I said discreetly, leaning further into my pile of books.

“Of course, you probably had to hide your magic from the family for a bit,” he pondered aloud. “How terrible that must have been,” he mocked, jumping down from his chair. I felt Sirius place his hands on the table, his arms hovering next to each of my ears. “At least they didn’t torture the magic out of you,” Sirius whispered. I couldn’t help but let my eyes linger to his left forearm, which I knew was littered with burn marks.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea, pitting how bad our childhoods were against one another.”

It slipped out. I knew it would aggravate the situation, but I said it anyway. Sirius quieted down for a second.

“I’m sorry, Malkin,” he apologized suddenly, backing off of me. “I didn’t realize that you were also beaten to rid you of your beliefs!” I closed my eyes as his voice rose, realizing his sarcasm.

“I’m not doing this,” I said quietly, standing up and collecting my belongings quickly.

“You’re just a crybaby, Malkin, admit it,” he jeered, leaning over me as I tried to collect my things as fast as I could. “Go on, go run to your mum.”

I turned on Sirius at this. I didn’t like when people poked fun at my mum. And it wasn’t his fault. Sirius probably had very Sirius Black-like things going on in his life. I didn’t tell people about my life, so how could I expect them to know my mother was a re-animated puppet of the darkest wizard of our time? But anyway, it bothered me.

“My mum is dead,” I said, taking advantage of his stunned state to push past him and duck out of detention early. I sealed my tongue to the roof of my mouth to avoid saying and so am I


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