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 “Now what is the most important variable when making any potion?” Professor Slughorn asked, scribbling on the chalkboard at the head of the classroom.


“Time management,” the class grumbled together. I tuned out as he continued lecturing. The problem with Professor Slughorn was that he forgot that he was teaching the N.E.W.T Potions course, and that we already knew most of the basics that he droned on and on about.

“Yes, that’s it,” he said cheerfully. “And how do we start with that, Miss Evans?” Most of the class took to rolling their eyes at this: Lily Evans was Slughorn’s prized pupil.

“Creating a timetable for your potion. You should map out every direction and follow accordingly,” she answered brightly, ignoring the snickers of the students who poked fun at her straight-laced nature.

Although Lily Evans and I had never formally met, I never had any reason to dislike her. She was relatively quiet, excepting her small outbursts towards Severus Snape and her tittering laugh that really did sound like nails on a chalkboard.

“And you may begin,” Slughorn said, sitting back behind his desk and opening a recent issue of Potions Weekly. My eyes widened slightly, as I realized I had not been paying any sort of attention. I squinted to see what was on the board, but couldn’t make out what was written.

“I can grab the ingredients,” Remus Lupin offered, standing up and grabbing the ingredients that we would need for our potion.

Remus Lupin had light brown eyes and light brown hair that made him so much less than James Potter or Sirius Black. Not less in a bad way, just less. He was less imposing, less boastful, less intimidating, and less irritating. Remus Lupin also had a small, lilting voice that reminded me of Mary on a sick day, or rather, on one of her pretend sick days.

“Here we are,” he said (lightly), dropping the ingredients on our shared desk. I looked at Remus' hands.They were delicate, careful. They were also strong and calloused, with just a bit of a nail on each finger from what seemed like an awful lot of biting. I looked at his palms. They were massive, and the lines ran deep, as if his hands were wiser than his age. He flicked on the burner under our cauldron.

“So how do you want to start?” he asked, grabbing my attention away from his striking hands.

“We should probably start with the first ingredient,” I said, in no way making an attempt at a joke. Remus chuckled anyway, and picked up a vial of the pomegranate juice. He poured it in.

“Would you put in the fluxweed?” he asked, pointing to a stack of some herbs while concentrating on monitoring the color of the potion.

“Would you put in the fluxweed, my love?” Sirius said, leaning over James dramatically in front of us. I noticed Remus’ face turn slightly red, but did as he did and ignored it. His two friends sat in front of us, clearly enjoying the partnership more than either of us.

“Of course, dear,” James said, passing their fluxweed to Sirius and leaning across his arm as he did so. A thought occurred to me: perhaps Remus is the boy that Mary was talking about.

“Tossers,” he muttered, stirring more furiously than necessary. I then had the thought that Remus was exactly the boy she was talking about.

Isn’t it funny how something can become so apparent once someone else has pointed it out? For the first three weeks of seventh year, Remus and I had been partners and I went the entire time without so much as an inkling that he might fancy me. On the one day after Mary has told me that someone, a friend of James and Sirius, may fancy me I found him only twenty minutes into the first class of the day.

“I’m sorry,” Remus apologized under his breath, smashing the dung beetle with his pestle.

“What for?” I asked, taking a turn stirring the cauldron. I checked back to my textbook, ensuring that our color and viscosity were correct. Remus shrugged and his cheeks turned slightly red.

“For those two,” he said, nodding his chin towards James and Sirius who had taken to tossing small bits of the potion ingredients at the back of Severus Snape’s head. “They’re…a handful.” I nodded tightly at Remus, and continued stirring silently.

And although Remus Lupin did have striking hands and unimposing eyes, I did not want to date Remus Lupin. As I’d said to Mary many times before, and as I’m sure I will say many times more, I do not want a boyfriend; in all honesty, I didn’t really want friends either. Every time that thought crosses my mind, I feel worse about myself, because I am very aware that the thought is incredibly unfair to Mary, who puts up with more than her fair share of nonsense from me.

I just don’t see the necessity for it all; the fleeting friendships, the even more fleeting relationships that make everyone angrier and bitterer than when they started.  And then after that, you’re unable to work with that person ever again. Case in point, Remus Lupin.

“So Charlotte,” Remus started again, tapping the edge of his quill against the desk. I waited for him to continue, but he did not. I continued stirring the cauldron, eyeing the burner as it rose around the sides. “What do you think about Hogsmeade?”

“Hogsmeade is very useful. I don’t know what we would do without access to some shopping all year,” I said, rambling slightly.

The problem with Remus Lupin: his politeness was overwhelming. Something I didn’t understand: his supposed infatuation with me. I am one of the least polite people in Hogwarts, and Remus one of the most. We were civil in Potions the beginning of this year, and have shared classes in the past, but we were never anywhere close to being friends.

“What do you think?” he asked, tilting his head towards me. I lifted my head up off my chin, and looked into Remus’ unimposing eyes.

“Sorry?”

Remus leaned back in his seat, and ran a hand through his hair.

“Do you want to go to Hogsmeade this weekend?” he asked again quickly, grabbing some rose water and flicking a few drops in. My head turned slowly to Remus, but his eyes were completely focused on the cauldron in front of him.

“You know, I actually have Quidditch this weekend. We’re playing the first game of the year, so,” I said to his ear, lowering my voice slightly, as his friends had stopped joking and started listening in to our conversation. I saw Sirius look at James and snort into his hand.

And then for some reason, of which its origin I do not know (and will forever blame on the human part of me), I said, “But yes, I can go with you Saturday afternoon.”

Remus smiled, and I grimaced, turning my head away from him. James and Sirius stopped laughing.

 






“I cannot believe that you said yes to a date with Remus Lupin,” Mary said quite seriously, flipping through all the garments I had available. “The Remus Lupin, the one that is best friends with James bloody Potter,” she squealed in a failed attempt to quell her excitement.

“Me either,” I grumbled. “Tell me, Mary, what is it like to make a fool of yourself?” I asked, looking at the hem of my skirt and rolling my eyes at the tumbling thread.

“Very funny,” she said flatly, throwing a shirt and pair of trousers my way. “I don’t know what you could possibly mean.”

“Hand me my sewing kit, will you?” I asked, holding out my hand. Mary tossed me the kit, and continued rifling through my clothes.

“Merlin, it’s like you’ve never heard of color,” she said with a bit of disgust, holding up two of my more bland sweaters. I shrugged and looked back to my hem, taking out a bobbin and threading the needle.

Sewing was a fantastic habit of mine. It was so…certain. There wasn’t room for deviation. Once you set out to make a pattern, you made it. And then it was either right, or it was wrong. Sewing a hem: it was either a straight line or it wasn’t. The clarity was satisfying.

“Don’t you care at all, Charlotte?” Mary asked exasperatedly, throwing another sweater at me in frustration. I looked up at her once more and raised an eyebrow. “Okay, so I know you don’t care,” Mary agreed, coming to sit next to me. She shoved me over to the side of my bed with a jolt of her hip. “But doesn’t it bother you that you don’t care? I mean even just a teensy bit?” she asked, demonstrating with her fingers how little I cared.

“Mary, although I would love to pretend I don’t care at all, there must be some part of me that does,” I admitted begrudgingly, tying the knot at the end of my hem neatly. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t have said yes.” I snipped off the end of my thread with a pair of scissors, and held up my skirt to examine it.

“So you do fancy him?” she asked tentatively, peeking over my shoulder at the skirt. I flopped it down on my lap and took a deep breath.

“Well, Mary, that’s never happened to me before, so I guess I wouldn’t know,” I snapped at her. Unintentionally. I did not like admitting I didn’t know something.

“You would know,” Mary said, laying back on my bed, swooning. “It’s like this: every time you think of something, you think of him instead. It’s lovely.”

I looked at Mary, laying back on my bed, her brown eyes closed, and her blonde eyelashes fluttering slightly. I couldn’t help but think that that sounded incredibly inconvenient. .  

 






The castle at night was eerie. I was difficult to frighten, but I often felt a sense of wariness when wandering the castle alone at night. The duties of a prefect were quite simple: monitor you peers. And while that seemed all fine and dandy, it also tended to cause a bit of controversy. Example: James Potter broke more rules than most people do in their entire lives and he was given Head Boy. Not that James isn’t sincere, it’s just, he is not a rule-abiding student.

So walking around the castle for an hour a week really wasn’t that big of an inconvenience, except for when your fellow prefect (Emma Vanity, a fair but relaxed peer) fails to show up to patrol on her designated night. Then, all of a sudden, I find myself questioning whether or not it is actually worth it to be a prefect.

My feet clapping against the marble floor were suddenly joined by another noise, and I stopped in my tracks.

“Hello? I’m on rounds,” I announced, trying to add a bit of depth to my admittedly squeaky voice.

“Hello,” a voice responded, answering my question. I spun around on my heel, brandishing my wand and tilting my chin up. The light from the large windows only cast upon the foreground, and so I stepped forward, moving closer into the darkness.

“Who’s there? It’s past curfew,” I recited, recalling on the prefect handbook. I took another breath and stepped towards the darkened hallway.

“Come here,” the voice whispered again. I shook my head and tightened my grip on my wand.

“Lumos,” I said decidedly, pointing my wand into the abyss. The whoosh of a curtain caught my attention, and I directed my wand to the large drapes that hung next to the window.

I rolled my eyes upon realizing the culprit. Stalking forward, I lowered my wand and stuck back in my pocket.

I whipped open the curtain, saying once more, “It’s past curfew.” My mouth dropped ever so slightly at the sight of Sirius Black's bare chest and Marlene McKinnon’s, well, bare chest.

“Like what you see?” Sirius asked, smirking at me in what I felt carried an undertone of mockery.

I dropped the curtain and turned my back to the pair, hearing Marlene scuffle for what I hoped would be a shirt, or at least a bra. I crossed my arms as I heard a clear giggle coming from the curtain. They were clearly not focused on coming out any time soon. Marlene yelped again, and so I cleared my throat too loudly to be natural.

It took another minute of me tapping my foot, but Marlene eventually appeared from behind the curtain followed by Sirius, who had still failed to find a shirt to put on.

“Alright then,” I said with an exhale, standing in front of the two. “That’ll be ten points from Gryffindor.” I kept my chin up high, trying to match both of their heights and garner some respect.

“Whatever, Malkin,” Marlene muttered turning her back and walking back towards the Gryffindor tower. I nodded tightly at Sirius, and kept on in the other direction.

“Wait, Charlotte,” Sirius called, jogging to catch up with me.

“Sirius, if you do not find a shirt and head back to the Gryffindor tower I will dock more points,” I warned, folding my hands behind my back and taking a brisker pace. It did not seem to do much, as, previously mentioned, Sirius was much taller than I was.

“So, Charlotte and Remus,” he mused. “How about that?” he asked provocatively, poking my arm.

“I don’t need to explain myself to you,” I responded, attempting an end to the conversation.

“Well you do if you plan on hurting my friend,” he said quickly, running forward and taking my shoulder in his hand to cut off my path. “Don’t go if you’re just going to poke fun at him, got it Malkin?”

I slowed down, and so did Sirius. He walked backwards, a hand on my shoulder, and I walked forwards, both hands tucked at the base of my spine. He stopped walking and then so did I.

“I am not going to make fun of him, Black,” I spat back. Insulted, although mostly just upset that I was so transparent. Was it so easy to see that I didn’t care either way?

Sirius Black was taller than it was normal to be. And so with his hand on my shoulder, I felt very short because we had a lot of space between us and that emphasized it. I thought about all the other things that were different about the two of us, as we stood there, moonlight spilling on my back and his face.

Sirius Black also sported a look of mischief at all times, and it was especially vibrant when inappropriate. I did not know what type of look I sported at all times, but I’m sure it wasn’t that. His severe eyes were very clear in the moonlight; the type of clarity that reminded me of a sewing kit. And then my eyes were clear, too, but in a different way. My eyes were clear in the way that air was clear: it was there, but you didn’t really notice it.

“Okay, Malkin,” Sirius said, believing me easily. He turned around and kept walking, just slightly ahead of me. It took me a minute to realize that Sirius still was not heading to the Gryffindor tower.

“Sirius, you still need to go back to your tower,” I implored, now jogging to catch up with him.

“I’m taking the long way,” he explained to me vaguely.

“Sirius, the castle is not in a circle,” I argued, jogging again to keep up with him. Sirius Black had long strides that seemed effortless.

“I think you’ll find that at some times at night…it is.” Sirius looked down at me as he said that, and I found myself intently listening even though I really didn’t believe him.

I stopped walking, and let Sirius continue; because what was I really to do? Hex him right there?

“Twenty points from Gryffindor,” I called down the hall in a last ditch effort to keep control of the situation. I heard a deep chuckle from the end of the hall, and it echoed back to me. It echoed for what seemed a strange amount of time, and so I stood there until I saw Sirius disappear around the corner. 

 






A/N: I really enjoyed this chapter! I hope you did, too. Please let me know down below!

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