At ten, the castle became quiet as students reached their Dormitories. Teachers retreated into the privacy of their own rooms, and when the lights turned off─ only candles would remain─ no one were up but Snape and Harry, patrolling.
Remus, sitting at his own desk, preferred not to think about them. Whatever they talked about─ if they talked, which he strongly doubted─ was not something he wished to hear. He finished correcting and grading a stack of papers from his third years and went to sit on his bed, thinking of all the students now sleeping peacefully in their Dormitories.
That was one topic he avoided; even to himself he couldn’t admit he hated the nights. They were always the same: either he slept─ in this case, he had nightmares─ or he lay awake for hours.
The memories would haunt him forever, and he knew it. Whether they were playing in his mind or there in his nightmares, they had never left him for all these years.
They never would.
He couldn’t remember when was the last time he had slept for a whole night without waking up screaming or trembling. He suspected that maybe it was the reason Dumbledore had given him a room far from the other teachers; if he yelled, no one would hear him. No one would know what haunted him, hour after hour. No one would have the slightest idea.
He felt like laughing; a hard, very unnatural laugh. The sound of joy that came out seemed false somehow. He didn’t even know how to laugh anymore, not even at himself.
Yes, if only they knew, all of them. Snape, Malfoy, Harry...
They would probably laugh at him, too. He could just imagine what Snape’s comments would sound like.
Waking up at night, aren’t you, Remus? A sneer. Having nightmares? Why would that be? Did something bad happen to you in life?
Remus winced, cleared his mind from the thought─ it was no use thinking about it again─ and concentrated on the idea he had had earlier.
Convincing Dumbledore wouldn’t be a problem─ he even thought the Headmaster would support it─ but Harry… that would be something else.
Sighting, he rolled over and rested his head on his pillow, then shut his eyes.
When he woke up, sweating, he knew this night would be no different from the others. Except─ yes, it was almost time for the patrols. He knew being so tired gave him a haggard look, but he couldn’t sleep despite his need.
Half an hour later, Lupin waited for Malfoy to arrive in front of the Staff Room, as planned. The minutes passed. Only five left until they had to start patrolling; only five left until Snape would come around the corner with Harry.
Only three minutes left now. Two. One. Still, Remus saw no sign of Draco.
Was he going to come? Not respecting his duties as Prefect would be a serious offense to Dumbledore. As Slytherin Prefect, Draco must follow the rules.
But Remus doubted he would come, especially now that the time was slipping by. He’d been a fool thinking Malfoy would come to patrol with him; the Slytherin had probably chosen to stay in his bed and sleep…
Footsteps grew louder. Listening, Remus made out two separate people walking. Snape and Harry.
And a third one, coming from a stair that led down─
Malfoy appeared at the same time as Snape and Harry. Draco seemed a little off, still asleep, but was doing his best to appear on top form, his Slytherin pride forcing him to show off even at three in the morning. Snape and Harry kept a good three meters between each other, and Lupin could almost feel the silence heavy with mutual loathing.
“Until four in the morning” Snape stared at his watch with a malevolent expression. Then he gave a small nod to Malfoy and disappeared, as Harry turned the other way, acting as though Lupin wasn’t there.
“Let’s go, Malfoy” Remus muttered. Draco remained behind him and they started to tour the castle slowly, floor after floor, corridor after corridor.
It was even more boring than Lupin had feared. In fact there was absolutely nothing interesting to do, except be careful about not making too much noise that could wake someone up. An hour and a half after the beginning of the shift─ it was now five in the morning─ they had checked everywhere. No one was up, of course.
So they turned around and did it again─ the same floors and corridors. Remus’s legs were starting to ache from the walk─ he had never realized just how huge Hogwarts was─ but he didn’t stop. He wouldn’t give Malfoy the opportunity to rest.
Second floor… third floor… first corridor… second corridor… fourth floor… dungeons… astronomy tower… transfiguration classroom… they all seemed to be miles from one another.
Now Remus almost wished he was in bed; his eyes were menacing to close when suddenly─
Both he and Malfoy stopped dead.
Filch, the ghosts, even Peeves had received the orders to stay put, so no one was supposed to be there. Absolutely no one.
Remus quickly took out his wand and motioned for Malfoy to stay behind. Whan Malfoy came forward with his wand out, Lupin had to pin him to the wall to stop him. Malfoy eyed him with disgust, quickly took out his arm from Lupin’s grip, but stayed behind.
When Lupin dared take a glance around the corner of the corridor, he saw an empty one, dark and desert. But the footsteps were coming closer and closer until─
Lupin searched the air with both hands, jerking from his spot. It happened it a flash; his fingers met something and he pulled on it.
Lupin catched a pair of arms before the two students that had hid under the Invisibility Cloak got a chance to escape him, and two bodies fell to the floor together.
Lupin wondered who had dared cross the interdiction to come out of the Dormitories.
When he saw the two faces that came out, he bit his lip. He should have known. Tall, red-haired, in trouble.
Fred and George Weasley. On the floor, entangled in the cloak.
They both stayed momentarily stunned when they saw an Lupin.
“It’s Remus” George finally groaned. He seemed relieved, but then he saw Draco watching with interest and surprise: “I mean, Professor Lup─”
“Get up” Lupin ordered roughly.
“Maybe I should go and get Filch, tell him there were intruders in the castle...” Malfoy stated with a nasty grin of anticipation.
“No” Remus replied, ignoring Malfoy’s scowl. “You go and watch if anyone else is coming” he indicated the far end of the corridor that led to the stairs. “I shall deal with them” he gestured at Fred and George.
He thought for an instant Malfoy wouldn’t obey; and apparently the Slythering thought about it. He eventually walked away furiously, fuming but probably thinking this wasn’t exactly the right time for arguing.
“What are you both doing here?” Lupin asked without sympathy. Fred and George were really nice, but why were they at Hogwarts? They had their business running in Diagon Alley now, didn't they?
And shouldn't they be with their family right now, with what had happened to their father?
"Mom sent us to Dumbledore with a message" George's tone was gloomy, and he seemed sad suddenly. "He told us to spend the night at Hogwarts like the other students".
Remus nodded with understanding. There was a silence. "How's Molly?" he muttered.
Fred sighed. "She cries all the time. Just like Ginny─" he stopped abruptly, averting his gaze.
Lupin wondered what to do with the twins. Right now... they had crossed the instructions they had received, and though Remus hated to think about it, he’d have to report them. If he didn’t, he knew Malfoy would─ and if word reached Dumbledore about the incident without Lupin having made a report… they’d all be in serious trouble.
"Why were you up?" Lupin asked again.
“We were just─” George said with embarrassment “─taking a night stroll.”
Lupin looked up at them and didn’t reply, shaking his head disbelievingly and waiting for the truth. When Fred saw he was waiting for a better answer, he came forward.
“We met Harry on the way, and he asked us where Ron was or when he'd be coming back and when we couldn't really answer he told us─ he told us it were Snape and Malfoy on patrols right now─” Fred stammered with a puzzled look toward where Malfoy was standing.
Lupin frowned. “Harry was on patrol with Snape,” he said, “three hours ago”.
Fred and George gave a glance at each other. “But─” George scratched his chin “was there any changes? Or─” his eyes widened, “are you saying he lied to us when he gave us his Invisibility cloak?”
“And how come you weren’t together?” Fred asked.
Because I couldn’t do that.
“That’s not the question─” Lupin said harshly. “I’m going to have to report you.”
“What? Come on, Remus, we just wanted a bit of fun─ not that you never had any!”
Lupin closed his eyes, knowing exactly what they meant. How many times had he got up at night? How many times had he strolled around with James, Sirius and Peter in these very same walls? How many hours of fun had they had together?
“Listen” he said in a low tone “I don’t want to do this anymore than you do, but I’ll tell Dumbledore. He can't give you detention, can he? And I’ll tell him you’ll never compromise this castle’s security again, understood?”
Fred and Geroge remained frozen; then, at long last, they nodded.
The twins sighed and put the cloak back on, then turned back in the direction they had come from. Lupin went back to Malfoy and didn’t say a word. If he wanted information, he’d be disappointed. Draco wouldn’t even know what Lupin had said to the Weasleys, nor why they had been at Hogwarts.
Lupin saw a glint of anger in Malfoy’s eyes. But he didn’t care if Malfoy told Snape anything, he, Remus, would see Dumbledore before. On the other hand─
What on earth was Harry thinking about?
He had a pretty good idea already. Whatever prank Fred and George would have played, he would have been the one ending up looking stupid in front of Malfoy; not Snape.
Harry was going too far if he used others to reach him; and that only increased Lupin’s resolution to go ask Dumbledore for the special permission he’d been thinking about.
He hoped with all his heart that it would work.
Because if it didn’t, it might as well aggravate things even more.
A/N: Hey guys keep on reviewing k? Please???
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