I smiled as a First Year Gryffindor walked up to me. Her eyes were focused on the ground, her book tightly clenched in her hand. From the way her face was drawn and the subtle look of fear in her eyes, I knew I appeared daunting. And yet the girl continued to approach me.
I wondered if she wanted me to autograph her book. And no, I was not joking. There were two Second Years who approached me the other day, flattered me for ten minutes, and then asked for a signature.
If I were James, Sirius, or even Peter, I would’ve given it. But I lacked the former two’s flair for dramatics and the latter’s hopeful nature, so I bade them to go away and spend their time on more useful things. One can only imagine how well that went.
The blonde had called me a stuck-up pig and ran off crying. The brunette merely huffed and slammed the book on my table before she too stormed away. I admitted, I had been a little confused at the time, not to mention a tad startled. This sudden surge of popularity had knocked me off balance. The Marauders had indeed been popular, but now the group had gone extinct. Was this similar to aftershock following an earthquake? The little last shake that hadn’t quite faded away.
I had the right to say that out of all the Marauders, I was the least fond of popularity.
James had it, Sirius demanded it, and even Peter scraped off from it. Me? I stood away from all the attention and kept my sanity intact. That was the price for popularity: the building of insanity.
The girl smiled hesitantly. She appeared young for an eleven-year-old, but she was definitely pretty. If I were to guess right, she’d be a heartbreaker by Fifth Year, or maybe even Fourth.
I smiled warily. “Yes?”
“I um…well I was just wondering…you know, if…”
“If you could teach me this Charms lesson.” She gestured towards the book she was holding. “Flitwick let us practice today, but I haven’t a clue about the wand motions and whatnot.”
I mentally breathed a sigh of relief. At least she didn’t want me to sign her book. I didn’t understand why my popularity was suddenly boosted up a few notches. According to what Peter and Lily said, I had a fan club of my own. I scanned the library. Apparently, all those now residing in the library were my loyal devotees, and all who lounged around the rest of Hogwarts were James and Sirius supporters. I wasn’t surprised that my group was slightly smaller, though I had a feeling that some of my minions were out scouting the campus.
Dear Merlin, I felt like an evil overlord.
I mentally slapped myself and returned to the situation at hand. The girl was looking at me, eyes wide and blatantly curious.
“Sorry about that,” I said, turning my attention to the Standard Book of Spells, Year One. I recognized it from my first year here. “Which chapter do you need help on?”
She nodded. “I can’t seem to get Alohomora right. I mean, the doors usually unlock halfway, but they still don’t open.”
I restrained my laughter. I may have been a good tutor, but that didn’t mean young brains didn’t amuse me. I didn’t laugh out loud simply because I knew I had gone through the same trouble when I had been their age. If it were up to James and Sirius, they probably would’ve laughed their arses off.
“Well, it’s really quite simple,” I began. “I think it’s the wand movement that’s troubling you. I remember I had a few problems…”
The girl let out a little gasp right there. “You had trouble?”
I felt slightly flattered that she was utterly startled by this new information. But still, she was being a little unrealistic. There was the common belief that role models never made mistakes, but I knew it was far from reality. Everyone bumped into problems every once in a while, and now that I thought about it, the Marauders had collided into a rather thick brick wall of trouble.
I chuckled in response. “Yes, I had problems. Quite a bit actually.”
“But I thought all Marauders were smart.”
I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to respond to that comment. Should I have told her that the Marauders were of the past? But that would inevitably lead to more questions. I played it off with a shrug and said, “Not really. James and Sirius are pretty brilliant, but Peter doesn’t catch on as fast.”
She smiled and then flushed in the cheeks. I wondered what had crossed her mind, and then thought better of it. Whatever was making the girl blush probably wasn’t something I was interested in hearing. And for Merlin’s sake, the girl was only a First Year. Children were so mature these days.
“But you’re the smartest, Remus,” she said, beaming up at me. “You’re smarter than everyone else in the castle.”
I couldn’t help but smile. She was sweet, and I felt oddly touched. “Thank you, um…”
“Mina,” she supplied.
“Right. Mina.” I gestured towards the book again, if only to get her mind off those dangerous thoughts of hers. I could guarantee that they had nothing to do with Alohomora, but then again, she could be using the spell to unlock some bedroom doors…
Bad thoughts, Remus, bad thoughts! I scolded myself and quickly focused on the books to get my head out of the gutter.
The doors to the library suddenly crashed open. I looked up and frowned at a red-faced Peter stumbling his way towards my table. Seeing Peter was a rather normal occurrence, considering that he was practically the only one who ran back and forth between the three of us. He normally stopped by everyday to chat about this and that, and occasional fill me in on the situation regarding the new ‘groupies.’
Today, however, he looked like he had just sprinted ten laps around Hogwarts. Perhaps he had accidentally flushed his books down the toilet?
“Re-Remus,” he gasped, slapping his hands on the table.
Mina eyed him with distaste. I could tell she wasn’t taken by the beads of sweat forming on his forehead, or by his slightly unattractive short figure.
”What’s gotten into you?”
All right, I took that back. She wasn’t so sweet anymore. In fact, she was probably as superficial as all the other girls James and Sirius often dated. Brainless airheads, that was what they were.
Peter didn’t pay attention to her, however. His eyes were wide with fear. I grew concerned. Peter was a little paranoid at times, but there was an inkling that this wasn’t just some simple issue.
“Peter, you all right?” I asked.
He shook his head. “James…Sirius…fight…out there…” he gasped in between breaths.
I felt dull. It was those two again. The two who had successfully split the school in two halves. It was startling how popular they were. Peter and I had never really compared to them.
Mina squealed and jumped out of her chair. “Oh Merlin! I have to tell Victoria about this!” And then she scrambled off.
I didn’t even spare her a glance. “Tell me what happened, Peter.”
He took her vacated chair and sucked in a deep breath. “Sirius temporarily joined the Quidditch team because one of the Beaters had broken his arm. But then he and James got into a fight, and now it’s a bloody war out there.”
I was up out of my chair in two seconds.
And then I sat back down again.
Peter eyed me strangely. “Aren’t you going to do something about it, Remus?”
I slowly shook my head and calmed my nerves. There was no need for me to meddle in their affairs anymore. I was done with James and Sirius. “They can sort this out. I’m not going to stick myself into the mess.”
Peter appeared desperate now. “But there’s really blood involved.” He gestured with his hands. “James’s ribs are broken and Sirius has a bloody nose.”
I lifted an eyebrow in surprise. Sirius had managed to break James’s ribs while James only gave Sirius a bloody nose? How was that right? They were equally matched in everything, including fist fighting.
As if reading my mind, Peter added, “Sirius hit James with a Bludger, and it knocked James out of the air. Thank Merlin Kathryn caught him in time, else he would’ve broken his neck or something.”
I sighed. “I’m not going to go, Peter. They’ve always complained that I don’t let them have enough fun. This is their chance.”
He frowned, eyes narrowed. “Isn’t that being a little…”
I rubbed my face. “What do you really expect me to do?” I asked quietly. “I may be a prefect, but since when did James and Sirius obey authority? It won’t do any good if I’m out there screaming my head off at them.”
“They’d listen to you,” Peter offered. “I know they will. Just say the magic word.”
I looked at him. “What word?”
“Oh, you know: please.”
A corner of my mouth turned up. Only Peter could pull off such innocence amongst the Marauders. We were all contaminated in one way or another, James and Sirius more so. From everything that they had gone through already, one would’ve expected them to be full, mature adults. It was tragic that their minds resembled that of an eight-year-old.
“I doubt that’s going to work on them,” I said dryly.
Was it just me, or did Peter look slightly tearful? He ducked his head and focused on the tabletop, his eyes straying towards one of the cracks. I closed my eyes and leaned back in my chair. On the outside, I may have looked composed. Unfortunately, I was anything but that. My stupid conscience was eating away at me. At times like this, I really wish I were more like Sirius. He didn’t care how immoral some things were, just so long as they pleased him.
I opened my eyes. “So?”
“You really aren’t going to do anything?” Peter sounded sincerely shocked, which made me feel another pang of guilt. Was I really right in completely ignoring the problem at hand?
My question was answered when the library doors abruptly slammed open…again. Lily Evans stormed in, her red hair flailing wildly behind her like some sort of cloak. Her cheeks were tinged pink, and since it wasn’t particularly freezing outside, I knew that it was from the frustration and pent up anger within her. She had probably yelled her head off at something, or rather, someone.
Her eyes scanned the various tables, and they positively narrowed when she found me lounging in my chair, appearing completely nonchalant. Naturally, my insides were squirming. I had seen a pissed off Lily deal with James, and it would be a drastic understatement to say that the situation had not turned out prettily.
She stopped in front of me, her hands crossed, that familiar scowl on her face. James had always been on the receiving end of it, but oh glory to me, I was the honored one this time. Apparently, she had found fault in me.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Lily snapped. “Aren’t you supposed to be out there right now? They’re your friends.”
I didn’t feign ignorance. “They were my friends,” I started slowly, and then cleared my throat. “They’ve always wanted…” How could I say that they’ve always wanted freedom from my constant attempts to educate them on Hogwarts rules?
“What?” she snorted. “To punch each other to oblivion in a manly plummet of fists?”
I shook my head.
Lily threw up her arms. “Exactly! You’re supposed to be out there, and forget about that stupid grudge you guys have! You’re a prefect, Remus. Business is business and personal stuff is personal stuff. Don’t get the two mixed.”
Peter looked at me imploringly. I knew he wanted me to do this; I knew Lily wanted me to do this. But did I want to? Was I willing to stick myself into James and Sirius’s business again, even after we had made it clear that we would not interrupt one another’s lives again? Lily hardly knew anything about our ‘grudge,’ as she called it, sine Snape had managed to keep his mouth closed and we had not let out a peep. Peter was too innocent and naïve to understand the complexity of the situation.
It was my decision now.
I sighed and slowly pulled myself to my feet. Lily looked up at me, now that I was towering a few inches above her. “Are you finally climbing out of your shell?”
I chuckled wryly. “Yeah, I suppose so. I am a prefect after all.”
Was I making the right decision?
Peter seemed pleased. “Let’s go then! Merlin knows whether James and Sirius are still alive or not.”
I grabbed my bag and walked down the corridor with Peter at my side. Lily was speed walking furiously, and I could tell she was prepping herself for the inevitable shouting match ahead.
We were out on the Quidditch pitch before I knew it. And yes, the sight was indeed alarming. Now I knew what Lily had meant when she said prefects were definitely needed. The Quidditch players were doing their best to stop the fight, but James and Sirius paid them no heed. They continued in their roll-n-smack match, their Quidditch robes torn and dirty from their fighting. It was a true wonder that James could even continue with his condition of broken ribs. Sheer adrenaline, I assumed.
It had fooled even the strongest men.
“Stop this!” Kathryn shouted, her voice dying in the din. “Stop it right now!”
James managed to jump up just in time before Sirius aimed a kick at his abdomen. A glance at his face told me that he was in pain. Sirius pushed himself up and circled James, his dark eyes narrowed outrageously. His face was pale against the blood running down the cut on his eyebrow. There were bruises aligning his jaw and he paced with a slight stumble in his step.
Kathryn suddenly inserted herself between the two, her arms stretched out wide. I saw the dangerous way her eyes were narrowed, her lips pursed. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her. On one side was her Quidditch teammate and the other was her good friend. How could she choose sides?
“Get out of the way,” Sirius spat, running the back of his hand along his bleeding lip.
The blonde shook her head. “And let you guys kill each other? Hell no.”
James winced with his step, but his voice was harsh. “If you don’t step out of the way now, you’re going to get hurt. That is not my intention.”
Kathryn snorted. “Shouldn’t you be caring more about your friend here?” she said derisively, and jabbed a finger at Sirius.
James and Sirius exchanged a look of disgust and snarled.
Lily had finally managed to push her way through the throng until she reached the center. I watched in faint awe as she stormed up to James and forcefully yanked him back. Kathryn looked surprised, but also pleased. I smiled. Only Lily would be daring enough to interrupt the feud between James and Sirius when it was at its peak. Even the Quidditch players were shying away from the two boys, afraid that they would get hurt in the process. And yet here Lily was, unabashed and unafraid. I had to admit—the girl had guts.
James nearly lost his footing, but he managed to stabilize himself before he toppled over. Lily looked at him disdainfully and then turned her glare towards Sirius, who observed her with a mixture of amusement and annoyance.
“Come to enjoy the show, Evans?”
“I believe you are in no condition to talk, Black,” she retorted sharply. Her eyes scanned the rest of the teammates before they fell on Marcus. “How exactly did this happen?”
Peter and I had managed to push through the crowd by then, but we stood off to the side. Lily needed her limelight, and I was not about to ruin the tense atmosphere that she had created. James caught sight of Peter and me, but he didn’t even bat an eyelid. For all that we were to him, we might as well have been flies on the wall. Sirius hadn’t even caught sight of us, as he was too busy watching Lily to gauge her reaction.
Marcus ran a hand through his hair awkwardly, his gaze shifting from James to Sirius. “It was actually rather unexpected. We were just playing a practice game, and then…”
“Practice game?” Lily screeched. “You’re the team captain, Marcus! You don’t just let this kind of thing happen even if you were playing a practice game!”
Peter sounded amused. “I can’t believe he’s letting Lily ride over him like that,” he whispered. “He’s a Seventh Year after all.”
I shrugged. “Lily has this magnetic attraction. It’s hard to defy her, especially when she’s sizzling with rage.”
Kathryn gently pulled on Lily’s arm, cutting her off mid-rant. She glared at the blonde, but nevertheless closed her mouth. Kathryn leaned forward and whispered something in her ear. Lily pulled away, frowned, and then turned towards James, who stiffened when he noticed that her gaze was entirely on him.
“You started this?” Lily said coolly.
His eyes darkened. “So what if I did?”
“Then you deser—”
“Deserve this, you mean?” James’s smile was sardonic. “Why thank you, Evans. I always knew you had faith in me.”
Lily was practically spitting by now. I placed a firm hand on her shoulder and guided her off to the side. She was fuming so much that I could practically see her chest rising and falling from exertion. It made me wonder why she was so affected by this. Was the division of the school finally taking its toll on her?
“Lily, you need to relax,” I said gently. “Calm down.”
“Calm down?” she yelled. “How can I calm down? Did you see how pathetic they were? Fighting for bloody hell’s sake.” She laughed bitterly. “Gryffindors are not known for House riots.”
I glanced over my shoulder and found that a few more Gryffindors had inserted themselves between James and Sirius. A few of the Quidditch players were holding the two back, but from the looks of it, James and Sirius had already tired themselves out. I didn’t think that they’d opt to fight even if they were given the chance. Kathryn remained in between them, arms crossed adamantly in front of her chest.
Lily blew out a breath of irritation. “Look at that, Remus. How can they even set examples for younger students? They’ve hardly grown past the age of three!”
I smiled faintly. “I was part of them, remember?” Or has it already been so long that no one remembers that we were once best mates?
Her tone grew softer. “You are part of them. You’re just the mature one of the bunch.” Her lips twisted. “Not that I’m saying you haven’t had your fair share of stupid moments, but at least you don’t always make a fool of yourself.”
I cleared my throat and stuck my hands into the pockets of my trousers. “You got your verb tense wrong, Lily.”
Her eyes narrowed. “Oh for Merlin’s sake, I don’t care about your feud!” She threw up her arms exasperatedly. “As callous and unfeeling as I must sound, it’s your guys’ problem, not mine. As far as I’m concerned…”
Lily was cut off by a loud hoot behind us, which I identified as Sirius’s. It was followed by more shouts, and I realized that James was attempting to lunge at Sirius again. I sighed. As much as James was reported to have been the one who initiated the attack, he was generally milder when compared to Sirius. They were both manipulative and provocative, but Sirius had a tendency to take things beyond the boundary. James generally knew where to draw the line.
I rubbed the back of my neck. “I think I’m going to go sort them out.” Truthfully, that was the last thing I wanted to do. I didn’t need them lunging at me with their flying fists. I was nowhere nearly as capable as they were when it came to fighting.
Lily nodded approval. “Finally. You should’ve done something sooner.”
“Perhaps, if I had known about it sooner.”
She smiled sheepishly. “Sorry. You’re right.”
I lifted a hand as a parting gesture and made my way towards James and Sirius, dreading each step of the way. James had finally stopped his struggles, but his death glare was focused on Sirius with such a heated intensity that I swore Sirius’s eyes were going to burnt out.
Sirius tore away his gaze and landed them right on me. I forced my face into a mask of blandness. Over the last few years, I had realized that James and Sirius fed on anger and emotion. They were like fires—the more oxygen they get, the higher they burn.
“James, Sirius,” I said, nodding at each respectively. They remained silent. “I hope you understand that fighting on the grounds is not allowed.”
I surveyed them. Sirius was looking at anywhere but at me, but James had his gaze focused, his eyes narrowed. Even so, neither of them spoke up. I wondered if they were just unsure of what to say, or maybe that were both so angry that they couldn’t even talk. Whatever the case was, at least they were quiet enough for me to continue.
“Twenty points will be deducted,” I carefully monitored their expressions, “from each of you.”
Silence. It put me at unease. Why were they not retaliating?
Lily stepped up beside me, her green eyes skeptical. Apparently, she too found their particular behavior rather odd. But she refrained from voicing her suspicion and tilted her head up slightly so to look them in the eye.
“I hope you two realize that you are both setting terrible examples for the younger students.” She shook her head. “I don’t see why the two of you haven’t felt the least bit ashamed of yourselves.”
James angled his head towards the ground and smiled wryly.
Lily narrowed her eyes. “Is that some sort of apology I see from you, Potter?”
“Apology?” His voice was sardonic. “Apology for whom? For you? Or for him?” Though he didn’t specify, it was rather obvious that the last comment was directed towards Sirius.
Sirius bristled. “No need to sound so eager, James.”
“Oh hardly.” James smiled languidly. “Since the oh-so-high-and-mighty prefects here believe that you’re the victim and I’m the villain, I might as well do as they say, right?”
I shifted uncomfortably. “James, can you not…”
He turned to me, that same sardonic smile on his face. “Don’t pressure yourself, Remus. I wouldn’t want you going against your conscience.” And with that said, he turned around and limped away, one hand clutching his side.
Sirius blew out a huff of laughter and smirked. “Now look who’s the cowardly one.” He clucked his tongue. “Such a pathetic excuse for a hypocrite.” No one laughed, not even the Sirius supporters.
Lily apparently hadn’t heard his comment. Her eyes were still focused in the direction that James had gone. Curiously, her brows were furrowed, as if something was troubling her. I made an assumption. “Are you worried about him?”
She bit her lip. “Did you see the way he walked? He was limping.”
“His ribs are broken.”
Her eyes widened. “Really? But he isn’t heading towards the Hospital Wing.”
I nodded slowly. “Yeah.” I had a feeling as to where James was going, but if I had told Lily, she would’ve made a beeline for him. Ever since First Year, the rules had been firmly announced that no one was to go near the Forbidden Forest without professor supervision. He would surely get an earful from her if she found out.
Sirius snorted loudly on the side. I eyed him strangely, but he merely rolled his eyes and ran a hand across his jaw, wincing as he touched a particularly large bruise. Kathryn appeared annoyed, but when she saw Sirius wince, she lowered her crossed arms and checked on him. I didn’t know whether she ‘belonged’ to James or Sirius, since she had acted mostly on neutral ground.
Lily must’ve read the look on my face because she sighed and pressed the bridge of her nose. “Kathryn is Sirius’s friend.”
There was nothing off about the reply, but it confirmed my suspicions. The rest of the Quidditch team undoubtedly rooted for James, but even he couldn’t capture everyone. Kathryn had decided to be the odd man out.
“I guess I’m going to go now,” I eventually said, breaking the uneasy silence between us.
Lily glanced at me, her brows still furrowed. “Where are you going?”
“Back to the Gryffindor Tower,” I replied. I would rather lie than let her know that I was going to check up on James. He and I may not have been friends any longer, but he was still an acquaintance, and he was hurt. It was easy to tell that Sirius had no internal injuries, just scrapes and bruises.
Lily looked like she didn’t fully believe me, but since I was no longer willing to divulge any more information, she reluctantly nodded and then turned to Sirius. I made sure that no one was looking at me before I sped off. I circled around the pitch and ran past the Black Lake to the edge of the Forbidden Forest.
Since it was daytime, the forest wasn’t quite as dark and ominous as it was at night. I stepped in and pulled out my wand as a safety precaution. James wasn’t stupid; he shouldn’t have gone too deep, considering his condition.
I surveyed my surroundings and headed down the path that we normally took on our nightly strolls during full moon. Even though I knew the Forbidden Forest better than anyone else did, I still felt a little jittery. This place wasn’t meant to be disturbed.
And then I saw James, sitting on the ground with his back to a tree. His eyes were closed and he had removed his glasses. It made sense, considering Sirius had smashed it during their fight.
I neared him. His wand wasn’t visible, so it meant that either he had concealed it, or he just hadn’t taken it out. I frowned, and was about to voice my concerns regarding the lack of safety measures when I realized that James had opened his eyes. His gaze was set on me, albeit a little wearily.
I nodded in greeting. “James.”
He looked away and remained silent. I considered letting him have his peace and quiet since we really weren’t on speaking terms; the situation was already awkward enough as it was. But then I saw him cringe slightly and remembered that he was wounded. Our group may have split, but I was still a prefect and James a student. It was still an obligation to help a peer.
“You shouldn’t be here,” I said quietly.
James snorted. “Neither should you.”
“I came here to bring you to the Hospital Wing. Your ribs are broken.”
“And I wouldn’t know this?” he asked skeptically. His eyes flickered shut. “And for your information, they’re fractured, not broken.”
I headed closer till I was towering above him. “It doesn’t matter. You still shouldn’t be here, especially when you’re not in the best condition.”
James sighed and favored me with a weary look. Could he even see me clearly?
“Don’t bother, Remus. Just keep your nose to yourself and I’ll be as good as I ever was.”
The words were callous, but I wasn’t hurt or angry. It was just like James to resort to cruelty when he didn’t want to talk to anyone. He and Sirius were so alike.
I stuck to my original intention. “It’s my duty to bring you back.”
“Duty can go to hell,” James replied.
“Damn it, Lupin,” he snapped. “Mind your own business! You have no bloody obligation towards me, so drop the noble act and go bitch at someone else.”
I stopped. James was right. I had no obligation towards him anymore, even though he was a fellow student. Prefect, friend, or just as an acquaintance, he didn’t want me here. And though I never would’ve expected this of myself, I walked away from him.
There had been times in the past when James and Sirius were upset. They had always cursed or yelled, but I hadn’t left them then. I knew what they needed, but now I wasn’t so sure anymore. A few weeks couldn’t change the depth of understanding of a person, but it almost felt as if I didn’t know James and Sirius anymore. They were in a completely different dimension.
Peter, however, was a different situation.
But it hardly mattered anymore. I stuck my wand into my robes and headed back towards the castle.
For the first time in my life, I walked away from a friend in need.
Author's Note: Update! Cheers! Haha. I must admit, I'm not entirely pleased with this chapter, but I suppose it'll have to do. It's rather hard to write in Remus's POV for some reason x) His subtle and wry humor is so hard to bring out. Blargh. Oh well. Hope you guys enjoy this either way :)
Thanks so much guys! And please review :)
Track This Story: Feed
Write a Review
JOIN HARRY POTTER FANFICTION
Get access to every new feature the moment it comes out.Register Today!