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Chapter 2 – Taking Another Step Backward

The steps seemed to narrow as he made his way to the dungeons. Why was it always as he made his way into Slytherin territory that he felt the incessant need to run and flee? It wasn’t that he was scared of them. It wasn’t even the fact that there was anything wrong with the dungeons of Hogwarts. There was just this overwhelming feeling of dread as he continued to make his way toward Potions. There was nothing that would help him be rid of that feeling. Perhaps it was just the fact that he knew what the darkness brought and that one source of light that would forever bring him to his knees. The darkness…it always seemed to creep up on him. There was no way to be rid of it. There was just no way…

A hand brought to the side of his head brought Remus out of his reverie. He quickly blinked his eyes before shoving Sirius down the rest of the stairs. James’s laughter echoed all around him and he could just imagine Lily rolling her eyes at the sight. He was actually growing tired of the childish games that they were playing. There wasn’t a day that had gone by this year that he didn’t regret. James and Sirius just seemed to be getting worse. With the appearance of this new kid, there was no stopping them from their pranks. And just when he thought that things couldn’t get worse…they did. Just by standing beside James and Sirius, he had served more detentions than the total combined of the previous six years.

“Merlin, Moony, quit being so damn serious. That’s all you’ve been this year. It’s our Seventh Year. Perk the hell up.”

Remus sighed and ignored James’s comment as his friend brushed past him only to shove Sirius through the Potions’ classroom door. He stood on the bottom step and watched as Sirius and James continued to act like five year olds walking toward their seats. Feeling Lily’s hot breath on his neck, he faked a smile and peered over at her.

“When did we become babysitters?” Lily asked, shaking her head. “I feel like that we have to watch the two of them now more than ever. The rumors are flying around the school about them and I’m not quite sure if I even want to try and put them to bed.”

All Remus could do was shake his head. He understood where Lily was coming from. After all, being the girlfriend of James Potter had given her a mark on her own reputation. So anything that James did practically rubbed off on her. Day after day Lily seemed to grow weary of the games he was playing. She had defended Severus Snape during the years, but now it seemed as though she was protecting more and more people. It was truly becoming more and more like a daycare than just a normal every day school day.

“Do I dare ask what the rumors are?”

Lily just stood there disgusted. “I won’t even begin to tell you. The rumors are flying about James and Sirius and if they have lost their minds. This new kid is really driving them over the edge and frankly I’m getting sick of it.”

“Maybe we just have to ignore them,” he suggested. “If we ignore them, then they won’t have the attention.”

“Don’t you see?! That’s the problem! They don’t have the bloody attention and it’s driving them insane. Why, oh why, must James be the center of attention? Why can’t he just be a normal student that enjoys to be out of the spotlight once in awhile?”

Remus smirked. “Because once you’re in the spotlight, there’s no reason to step out of it.”

“I wouldn’t mind being out of it.”

Remus peered over his shoulder only to see the newbie standing there. Beside him was the young woman that he had practically drooled over. He felt Lily jab him in the ribs with her elbow before he even began to smile and clear his throat in embarrassment.

“Teddy, welcome to Potions,” Remus said happily. While he was actually addressing Teddy, his eyes were kept on Mackenzie. “Mackenzie, it’s good to see you again.”

Mackenzie’s smile practically lit up the corridor. The once dark dungeon was filled with a light that he never imagined. Just the sight of her made him warm inside and feel as though nothing could touch him.

Is she actually blushing?

Still smiling, Mackenzie nodded and practically hid behind Teddy. “You too, Remus.”

Lily continued down the stairs with Mackenzie trailing behind her as the two young men decided to stare at each other. Remus glanced over his shoulder only to see Mackenzie taking a peek back at him. Lily giggled and shook her head. He knew that Lily was getting the hint that he was falling for the new girl. If James or Sirius found out he would be in a heap of trouble. He wasn’t in the mood to hear the cackling or the name calling or hell even the pranks that would ensue just because he wanted to get to know the girl who knew Teddy better. All he wanted to do was get to know Mackenzie better. The only thing he had been able to do since the first day of term was get to know her name and know that she was practically attached to Teddy’s side. They were inseparable. He was beginning to wonder if they ever parted. Would he ever get a chance to talk to her alone?

Teddy gestured to James and Sirius inside the classroom. “They still giving you a hard time about helping me on the platform?”

“It wouldn’t have mattered if I helped you or not. They still give me a hard time. Well, Peter usually gets the brunt of it, but this year I seem to be the one that is in the direct path of James and Sirius. I’m not entirely sure why but I guess I shouldn’t question it. It’s better to be in their path than off of it. Trust me about that.”

Remus tried to laugh it off but found himself dreading what was to come. It hadn’t occurred to him till that moment that he was in the direct path of the two most famous Marauders. How had it come to that? How had he become the outcast in a matter of days? Just because he decided to stand up for the one time in his career at Hogwarts, he was going to get scolded for it?

“Are you alright?” Teddy asked him, knocking him out of his thought process.

Nodding he replied, “I’m sure I will be. I just hadn’t realized what you pointed out until just now. I just…”

The darkness, it was always threatening to consume him. Why was it in this moment that he feared this was the year it would? He had always been alone in his fight. Yes, James and Sirius always seemed to help him, but he was alone. He was the one with the damned disease. He was the one to feel his body change into a form that he damned every day of his life…every day of his infection. Remus longed to have an equal, someone to share in his pain. There were no other creatures around. There was nothing and no one that would ever understand him.

“You know, I begin to wonder if your friends truly know what its like to be in the spotlight.” Teddy watched as Remus peered over at him. “Even though some are in the spotlight, hogging all of the attention, some truly never know what its like to live. You can be popular and wanted all of your life but never understand the hardships and pain that you have to go through. They’re sheltered, Remus. They’re sheltered and I can tell that you and I know more of the ways of the world than they ever will.”

Before Remus could reply, Teddy walked slowly past him and into the classroom. He stood there dumbfounded yet felt more connected to Teddy than anyone else he ever had before. It was so true. James and Sirius would never understand what he was going through no matter how much they tried to. They enjoyed the popularity. They enjoyed the spotlight. Remus longed to be as far away from it as possible. He longed to be normal just for a few days. The darkness beckoned to him but he continued to fight.

But how long will I be able to ignore the darkness and the glow of the moon before my body trembles for its delicate touch?

The Whomping Willow just seemed to be limp with no life in it without something in its path to try and decimate. The leaves rustled beneath it as the light autumn breeze blew around her. She took a deep breath and noted the difference in the smell than her own time. Things just seemed so different and she had never expected it. All she thought was the clothes would be different not the entire layout…even the scenery. Everything was just so different and she was rather enjoying it.

“Merlin, he’s so hot! Why didn’t he say yes?”

“Lily, not you too! Please tell me it’s not you too.”

Mackenzie slowly turned her head to see Lily walking down the hill with several other Gryffindor girls. Diving behind a nearby bush, she listened intently to their conversation, beginning to wonder what they were talking about.

Isn’t she with James Potter?

Sighing, Lily stared off dreamily, clutching her books tightly to her chest. “Teddy…ever since the platform I’ve been trying to get him off of my mind. But since James has been a right git lately, it hasn’t been easy. At least James would have been able to distract me, but without him to do that, I can’t get him off of my mind.”

Quickly putting her hand over her mouth, she stifled a scream. Mackenzie couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Lily Evans falling for Teddy? This wasn’t what they had planned. This was far from what they had planned. They can’t change the timeline. They had been warned…well she had. If Teddy and Lily…

Teddy would never fall for Lily. He wouldn’t…couldn’t…would he?

“Lily, you’re out of your mind,” the brunette Gryffindor quickly said. “You’ve got James Potter. Why the bloody hell would you even be tempted by someone else?”

The blonde Gryffindor rolled her eyes. “Have you seen Teddy Wolfe? I mean seriously, Victoria. Teddy is the hottest thing. Forget James Potter. If Lily can have James she can certainly have Teddy.”

Mackenzie’s jaw dropped. Is she actually blushing?

“What are we staring at?”

Screaming, she stumbled forward and groan in pain as her elbow hit the ground with a thud. Rolling over, Mackenzie looked up to see Remus staring down at her. Her eyes went wide in horror as he smiled down at her. He held out a hand and she quickly grasped it, getting pulled to her feet. She quickly brushed herself off and cleared her throat before smiling in return.

“Uh…Remus…hi!” She giggled and shook her head. “This isn’t…well its not really…I’m not doing anything…”

Remus couldn’t help but laugh. “You didn’t seem to stutter on the platform. Why are you starting now?”

Merlin, am I blushing?

“I’m not! I’m just…” Groaning, she shuffled her feet. “Bloody hell.”

He plucked a leaf from her hair before gesturing behind her. “Did Lily say something interesting to warrant you to hide from her?”

Mackenzie shook her head. She couldn’t tell him what she heard. She couldn’t… “Lily is falling for Teddy.”

As Remus’s eyes went wide, Mackenzie’s hand flew over her mouth. She always had the knack to let things spill no matter how much her conscience always told her to shut up. Her throat was going dry as she continued to see Remus stand there in shock. All she wanted to do was tell him everything would be alright, that it was just a crush. But there were no words forming. Her mind had drawn blank.

“Falling for Teddy?” Remus sat down on the large boulder behind him. “If James finds out…”

“He won’t!” Mackenzie quickly said. “He won’t! Teddy…Teddy doesn’t like her. He has a girlfriend back home. He won’t…”

His eyes met hers and she felt herself go numb. As he rose to his feet and began toward her, her heart stopped beating. What was it about him that just seemed to make her go weak in the knees?

“I need your help,” he softly said to her. “I need your help to make James the popular kid again. You don’t understand. Just by Teddy being here, he’s thrown everything off balance. If James finds out about Lily liking Teddy, all hell will break loose. And it won’t just be James. James will get Sirius involved and…” There was a slight pause before he continued, “I like Teddy and all, but I fear what is to come.”

“What is to come?”

Remus grasped her hand and went silent for a moment. Finally his eyes met hers once again and he simply said, “A feud unlike anyone has ever seen.”

A/N: Sorry about the long break. Writer's block will do that to you. Hopefully I will be updating more frequently now. I hope you like the chapter. Happy Holidays!

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