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“Hello, Charlotte,” Madame Pomfrey said as I walked into the hospital wing. She bustled out from behind a curtain where I spotted a figure lying still on the bed.

“Madame Pomfrey,” I greeted her, dragging my eyes away from the shadowed body.

“Come in here,” she said, motioning to her office. “I have a patient,” she whispered, not wanting to arouse suspicion. I walked into her office, and sat down in a comfortable chair across from her desk. Madame Pomfrey closed the door behind me, and began digging through some files.

“How have you been lately? You missed our meeting last week,” she reprimanded. She pulled out a file that I am sure had my name on it.  

“I apologize, I have been busy with Quidditch.” I lied this away easily. I had missed our meeting last week while I sat with Regulus on the docks.

“Hmm,” she grumbled skeptically, taking out her wand and scanning it over my body slowly. “Stay still,” she said unnecessarily, as I had been through this many times before. My skeleton appeared as an X-ray on the wall in front of me.

“It’s grown,” I said squarely, scanning the image of my inferius layer. My brain was now fully encased in the plasmid.

“Yes. And now you see why I was so worried about any change in behavior. Have you noticed any changes in your behavior since our last meeting?”

“The only thing different…” I muttered, wanting to tell Madame Pomfrey but being afraid all the same. “I have had a recurring dream,” I admitted. Madame Pomfrey sat down across from me, and folded her hands together on the desk.

“Tell me about it.” I cleared my throat and shifted slightly in my chair.

“Well, it starts with me standing in the middle of a room. And I don’t recognize the room, but I am also not scared.” Madame Pomfrey nodded for me to continue, and took my file back out. “And I am on fire, but I am still not scared. And then I hear…” I stop at this, not knowing if I should mention that Remus was in my dream or not.

“Go on,” she encouraged, scribbling on her chart.

“I hear a voice,” I decided, “…a voice I don’t recognize. And it asks me why I’m doing this.” Madame Pomfrey stayed silent, so I continued. “And I don’t know what it is referring to, and then I ask a question about a violin,” I said slowly, finally deciding to attempt to analyze my dream. “I don’t know why, though.” Madame Pomfrey continued writing down notes about my dream, and then closed her folder.

“Is that all you remember?” I nodded and she let out a sigh.

“Well, Charlotte I will take this to Professor Dumbledore, and perhaps he can talk with our Divination professor about its meaning. For now, just keep me updated with your dreams and any other –,”

Madame Pomfrey stopped talking at a knock at her office door. She stood up from her desk and flicked her wand at the wall, the image of my skeleton disappearing. She picked up my folder, and stuffed it back into her filing cabinet.

“Come in!” she said cheerfully, giving me a quick glance as the door swung open.

“Sorry, Madame Pomfrey I’ve started bleeding through my bandages again…” Remus Lupin said, standing in the threshold with a large bandage wrapped around his left thigh. I tried to keep my focus on Madame Pomfrey, but Remus would not let me.

“Charlotte?” I peered around the door, and looked up curtly at Remus. It was almost too coincidental that he was here.

“Hello Remus.” I waved to him with a shake of my hand, and he nodded his head at me, unable to move his hands as they were bearing all his weight as he leaned against the doorframe.

Madame Pomfrey looked between the two of us nervously, and then seemed to suddenly remember that Remus was bleeding out in her doorway.

“Oh yes, Remus!” she exclaimed. “Go sit, sit, I’ll fix you up. Charlotte,” she said addressing me, “we can continue our discussion of your apprenticeship at another time.” Remus glanced at me one last time before heading back out to his bed with Madame Pomfrey on his heels. I squinted my eyes as Remus put an arm around her shoulder and they limped back to his bed.

I collected my belongings and headed out, letting my eyes linger on the closed curtain. I saw Madame Pomfrey stripping bandages off Remus’ leg. I pushed open the door to the Hospital Wing and began my way to Defense Against the Dark Arts. One thing that I would give Remus Lupin: he was not daft enough to believe I was setting up an apprenticeship with Madame Pomfrey.

 




 

“Impedimenta,” James Potter bellowed at me, swishing his wand grandly. I deflected his spell, and James smiled at me through my shield.

“Expelliarmus,” I said back, flicking my wand tightly. James put up a similar deflective shield, and his smile widened.

“Remus was in the hospital today,” I said as casually as possible, twisting my wand and making James almost hit the floor to dodge my spell.

“What?” James asked, sending my own spell back towards me. “Since when do you care where Remus was?”

“I don’t,” I said defensively, not used to handling manipulating people. “I just thought you might like to know.”

“I really don’t think you care what I might like to know,” James muttered. “Stupefy!” he shouted. I dodged again.

“You aren’t wrong,” I said after a moment. Arguing with James Potter would solve nothing. James and I continued sparring for a few moments, neither of us getting the better of the other. He was an exceptional dueler, and I enjoyed working with him as long as he kept his mouth shut.

“Are you ready for the match with Slytherin?” I asked without missing a beat. “I heard they’ve really been improving their new Seeker,” I deadpanned. James looked, fittingly, stupefied by my comment. “Cantis!” I said suddenly, slicing my wand through the air horizontally.

James immediately opened his mouth and began singing (more like wailing) a song that I did not recognize. I let it go on only for a moment.

“Expelliarmus!” I called again, rejoicing internally as James’ wand came flying into my hand. James mouth hung open slightly, and I walked over to hand his wand back to him.

“Excellent! Excellent, Charlotte,” Professor Magnolia cried, walking over hastily to James and me and placing her hands on her hips. “I’d say ten points to Ravenclaw!”

Professor Magnolia turned to the rest of class, each pair having stopped their duels as a bell rang out, signaling the end of class.

“You can all take a page out of Miss Malkin’s book!” she called as I packed up my book and wand. “Fancy wand work and advanced spells are all well and good, but distracting your opponent is the only thing that can, without a doubt, stop them from completing their spells!”

The rest of the class was filing out, and I followed as our Professor continued shouting out the door at us. “And we will be reviewing the properties of Inferi next week, so please remember your textbooks!”

I felt my face drain of color. 

 




 

“Come on, Charlotte, or we won’t get good seats!” Mary urged, pulling me along the wooden bleachers of the Quidditch Pitch.

“We are already here, Mary, we’ll have good enough seats,” I said, deciding to settle in the third row back from the front. Slytherin and Gryffindor students were crowded against the front railing, and tensions were soaring.

“Fine.” She sat down dejectedly beside me, and pulled a red and gold scarf out of her bag. I pulled a textbook out of my bag, and opened to where I left off.

“You can go battle at the front with the rest of your clan if you want,” I offered as Mary looked longingly down to the predominantly Gryffindor section.

“No, it’s alright,” she said dismissively, waving her hand. “It can get pretty volatile at the Slytherin games sometimes.”

I made a noise to show Mary that I was listening. Something about Gryffindor: they all cared so damn much. Mary would not be happy sitting here with me for the entire game, listening to the commentator dully. But she would sit with me anyway, and keep me company while I silently analyzed my History of Magic textbook. The only thing I might get out of the game is knowing who I would be playing in the upcoming weeks.

“Oh, they’re lining up,” Mary said squeakily, pulling out a set of binoculars and peering through them

And of course it wouldn’t really help that I was preoccupied with the whole Remus situation. Should I bring it up to Dumbledore? Remus was very bright, and I’m willing to bet he was listening at the door the other day in the hospital wing. I don’t know that Remus would tell anyone, but it would definitely be an inconvenience.

“Ten points to Gryffindor!” announced Bertha Jorkins, a younger girl I did not know personally. I looked towards the Slytherin goal posts, and James Potter was already speeding back away from the goal posts as a Slytherin beater was sending a bludger his way. The crowd was a mix of booing and cheering.

I looked over at Mary, who had put down her binoculars and was now standing, cheering for the goal. Mary knew about me. Of course, that was more out of convenience and necessity than out of her figuring it out. But if Mary could handle it, then surely Remus could. But then, the more important question: why was Remus trying to figure it out?

“Black has spotted the snitch!” Bertha said again. The crowd all looked up, and my head snapped up, too. I must have heard that wrong. I shook my head, and searched for the snitch myself, but could not spot it. I looked back down to my textbook. “Oh, and it’s gone again as Dearborn whips a bludger towards Black!”

That could not be right. Why would Caradoc Dearborn, a Gryffindor beater, be aiming a bludger towards Sirius Black, a Gryffindor beater?

“Give me those,” I muttered quickly, grabbing the binoculars out of Mary’s lap. I put them to my eyes, and automatically zoomed in on Marlene McKinnon, who was in possession of the Quaffle. I followed her to the goal post, and it snuck past the keeper into the goal.

“McKinnon’s made a goal!” she exclaimed. I scanned the back end of the field to find Caradoc Dearborn. He was zooming low on the pitch across from Sirius, working on some play I did not recognize, and a bludger approached his bat.

“And Black has spotted the snitch again! He’s getting closer, closer,” she said with anticipation. “But brother Sirius Black has managed to hit the end of Regulus Black’s broom with a bludger.” I lowered the binoculars and my mouth fell open.

Black hair. Bright, bright eyes.

“Mary does Sirius Black have a brother?” I asked cautiously.

“Yes, of course,” she said hastily. “He’s the Slytherin seeker, just there,” she pointed, out of my line of sight.

Tall and athletic. Annoyingly aristocratic.

I picked the binoculars back up and found Sirius, who was chasing after the Slytherin seeker, who I now recognized to be Regulus. He ducked to the side, came in line with a bludger veering off in another direction, and slammed it at Regulus’ back.

The crowd gasped, and so did I, as Regulus fell forward off his broom. I turned my attention back to Sirius, and he pumped a fist in the air triumphantly before speeding away. I put the binoculars down slowly.

Regulus was Sirius Black’s brother. And they weren’t happy about it. 

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