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sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2005-07-15 12:10 pm

And His Law

Rating: PG-13 (Remus/OFC)
Summary: Lupin's mooning over a girl.
Warnings: None.

Also available at AO3.


Saadi held the Muse in awe,
She was his mistress, and his law;
A twelvemonth he could silence hold
Nor ran to speak, till she him told.
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

It wasn't that she was beautiful.

In fact, she wasn't.

Sirius had remarked that she wasn't, and it was true; this did not, however, stop Remus Lupin from "pulling a James" as Sirius called it, and breaking his nose.

The nose-breaking was unintentional. Werewolf strength was a thing Sirius had learned to forgive, the first time Remus accidentally snapped his ulna while they were play-wrestling in fourth year. What shocked them more was the fact that Remus had thrown a punch, that Remus had for the first time in his entire life started a fight and lost them House points. And him a Prefect, too.

Sirius took it with good cheer. As he remarked, rather cattily in James' (and consequently, Peter's) opinion, hanging about with Potter, romantic obsession could rub off on one.

The news of the fight filtered down to the object of their discussion, but the reasoning behind it did not; she remained blissfully unaware of the seventh-years. Or perhaps not; perhaps it was simply the blissful general-terror of the seventh years that all other students had. They might be only a year ahead, but once you started cramming for your NEWTs, you were a world apart from the rest of the school, and even those who'd been close friends with the lower years began to drift away.

Not that she and Lupin had ever been close, as Sirius also had pointed out P.N. (Pre-Nosebreaking), but that was Lupin's fault, wasn't it?

Remus wretchedly apologised for the injury, and offered to let Sirius break his nose in return. Sirius graciously declined, though not before James had started selling tickets. There were kids who'd pay good money to see a prefect take one in the face, whether or not it was gentle-voiced, even-handed Lupin.

And he had to agree that she wasn't beautiful, but as he'd tried to explain to Sirius, that didn't matter. She wasn't ugly, by a long stretch, and there were plenty of girls who could wish to be as pretty as Allison Barrett, especially when she sat at the library table under the windows and the sun caught her dark hair...

James shoved his elbow, which happened to be supporting the arm that was attached to the hand that his chin was resting on, and he collapsed gracelessly into his book. The resulting clatter made heads turn, and he closed the book, blushing furiously, while James and Sirius chuckled to themselves.

"Moony's mooning," James whispered, obviously please with this bit of alliteration.

"Loony mooning Moony Lupin," Sirius added, then raised a hand to cover his nose. "Don't break it again, I just got it fixed!"

"Bastards," Remus sighed, without any real feeling to it. He'd given as good as he was getting, over the years, and it was only what he deserved. Still, they might have the grace not to embarrass him in front of her.

Not that she'd even noticed when he'd crashed into the book.

Not that she was ever going to notice him.

None of the girls ever did, after all, not with James and Sirius (bloody Sirius) around. And he'd never minded, before, but then he'd always been too busy with schoolwork or Prefecting or running about with three unregistered Animagi to care whether girls noticed him.

Now he did, and James and Sirius thought it was funny, and in a way it was. It was Moony's turn to make a fool of himself, and the others, who had been teased and laughed at and on occasion patched up by him over the years -- well, it was only fair.

He haunted the library, which was just as well, since he could study while she wasn't there. She had a favourite chair, and his became the wing-chair that he could slump into and read, and incidently see her chair, from over the top of the book.

Anyone else sitting in Allison's Chair received a baleful glare from him until they grew uncomfortable -- whether they knew why or not -- and moved.

It wasn't as though she was a complete mystery. She was only one year below them, and she was a Ravenclaw, and Remus had plenty of friends in Ravenclaw. She knew his name and he knew hers, but it was a small school, so that wasn't unusual.

The thing was...

He'd never had a class with her. He knew she was smart, she was routinely credited as top of her class for Ravenclaw, but he'd never seen her in class, or studying...

He shouldn't have volunteered to lead a study session for sixth-year fall exams. That was all there was to it. But he wanted to be a teacher and McGonagall had tapped him specially to spend his Thursday evenings teaching -- everything, really, from History of Magic to Defence Against the Dark Arts. He was proud to be teaching. Proud to be standing in front of a classroom, answering questions, being helpful.

And then she'd spoken up one night to ask a question so far beyond the remedial queries he was getting from the others that some of them had stared at her as though she were speaking a foreign language. He'd answered it, uncertainly for once, and given her a reference for where to look up the specifics.

And she'd smiled, and said thank you, she'd do that.

And Remus Lupin, according to his mates, lost his mind.

It would be closer to reality to say that he lost his heart, but perhaps it was both.

And bloody Allison Barrett, she kept doing it. She kept being relentlessly, unwaveringly intelligent, and charming, and pretty, until he began to wonder why she was in his tutoring course at all. None of the professor he not-so-slyly pumped for information said they'd sent her. Perhaps she was just...intense about exams. Perhaps she got bored on Thursday nights.

It didn't matter, because as long as he didn't look at her he was fine, but the one time she sat in the front row he wasn't sure he answered any single question put to him that night.

"Mr. Lupin?"

He snapped the book shut in surprise, and looked up from the recesses of the wing-chair. Professor Kiernan -- Dark Arts and Quidditch -- was staring down at him in thinly-veiled disapproval.

"Professor, sir," Remus said, rising to his feet. The Dark Arts teacher was one of the old school; you stood when addressing Professor Kiernan.

"If I could draw you out of your reverie on the art of upside-down reading..." Kiernan said, taking Remus' book and turning it so that the spine was the right way up, "I'd like a word with you in the hallway."

Remus felt a sinking feeling in his stomach. This meeting had been coming for six years, and he knew exactly what it was going to be about.

He followed Kiernan out into the hallway, and walked with him as he paced towards the staircase. Kiernan was silent -- it was a trick of his that Remus had picked up, where he kept quiet until the last possible moment the student could bear, and then he spoke.

"I've been going over records for all the students planning on graduating this year," Kiernan said finally. "You're quite near the top of the class, Lupin."

"Yes, sir," Remus said. It was true. He knew he wasn't top, but he doubted he was lower than fourth.

"But you are not the top."

"No sir."

"Do you know why, Mr. Lupin?"

Remus did know why, but he kept silent.

"Because you failed a class in first year, Mr. Lupin."

"It was marked Incomplete, sir," Remus whispered, feeling hot shame wash over him.

"Which will become a fail, Lupin, if you don't complete the class before your NEWTs," Kiernan continued mercilessly.

"Yes, sir."

"Do you have any plans to complete the class?"

Remus was silent again.

"You do realise if you want to graduate, Lupin, you have to pass this class."

"Yes, sir."

"How did you escape with an incomplete, in your first year?"

Remus felt his chest tighten. "Was sick," he muttered.

"Four times?" Kiernan asked. He waited until Remus was completely wrecked, and then continued. "Very well, Mr. Lupin, I see you have long been adept at avoiding that which you find unpleasant."

Remus hung his head.

"You have four weeks, Lupin, to prepare for a final exam. I am sure you can find one of your...companions, to help you," Kiernan said significantly.


That was James.

"Understood, Lupin?"

"Yes, sir," Remus said softly. He stopped at the top of the stairs, and Kiernan continued down.

Damn, damn, double damn. He'd been hoping nobody would check that far back. First year! What was Kiernan thinking?

Perhaps he'd been holding a six-year grudge. He did seem to take delight in springing the thing on him.

It wasn't as though it was his fault he couldn't seem to operate a broomstick to save his life. (Literally. Once one had failed in midair, and James'd had to catch him).

He couldn't go to James or Sirius. He couldn't. They were already in the mood to make fun, lately, and they were mercilessly picking on Peter for his panicked NEWTs studying. It was all in fun, of course, but...

He couldn't.

He leaned on the banister, lost in theought. He hadn't even been on a broomstick in four years, at least. He never had to. During the summer, he traveled by floo or Muggle transport. During the school year, there was no reason to travel anywhere, and he did just fine watching Quidditch. He had no desire ever to play it. Crashing about on broomsticks being chased by hard metal balls? Strictly for the Potters of the world.

"Don't jump, it's not worth it."

He was so startled he nearly did. Instead he turned, sharply, and fixed his best glare on the perpetrator --

"Allison?" he asked, stupidly. She smiled. She had splendid teeth.

You are a moron and you HAVE lost your mind, said the voice in the back of his head.

"Whatever Kiernan said, it isn't worth throwing yourself down the stairs," she continued, leaning on the railing next to him. "Besides, shallow steps like these, you probably wouldn't even die."

"Probably not," he muttered. After all, it took silver or beheading to kill a werewolf...

"Might knock Kiernan down on the way, though," she said, contemplatively. "He's a right bastard, you know."

He couldn't think of a single witty thing to say. Where the hell are you, voice in the back of my head?

"He's all right," he stammered. She flicked hair out of her eyes.

"What'd he want to yell at you for, anyhow? Get an ink spot on a paper?" she asked.

"I failed a class," he blurted.

Oh, bloody brilliant, Lupin. Well done.

"You?" she asked. "Nonsense."

"In first year," he explained.

"I don't believe it. They wouldn't let you teach Thursday Review if you weren't going to graduate," she insisted.

"Yes, well, I don't think broomstick flying is essential to one's academic life, but apparently my elders and betters think differently," he sighed. "Please don't tell."

"Tell who?" she asked. "Who cares? It's broomsticks."

"Nobody cares when you pass. Everyone cares when you fail," he said. It was a line of Kiernan's. "Excuse me, I've...I ought to..." he backed away, and nearly fled.

Well, she noticed you. For about two seconds. Because you're a screwup. And you're going to be stuck here all next year with her knowing you're a screwup because you're not going to graduate because you can't fly a bloody broomstick.

He growled the password and slunk into the Gryffindor common room, snarling when Sirius jumped up and tried to pull him over to the fire. It was so unexpected, so un-Lupin-like, that Sirius stopped dead in his tracks, and stared after him as he climbed the stairs to the dormitory.

"He's been in a snit for two weeks," he heard Peter say, before he opened the door to their room. He paused.

"Girl trouble, hasn't he?" James answered.

Sirius' voice. "He'd listen to me, I'd solve it for him."

"Yeah, like Lupin'd ever take our help on stuff like that."

Remus leaned his head against the wooden door, and took a deep breath.

Sleep. He'd sleep. And in the morning he'd have a nervous breakdown and have done with it.


He woke early the next morning, by habit as well as intention; he was usually up before the others, and this time he was glad. He didn't feel like taking James' ribbing, or Peter's Helpful Suggestions, or Sirius'...whatever Sirius did. Sirius tried too hard, when he knew his friends were upset. It was like being knocked down by Padfoot. Too much.

He liked Hogwarts in the very early hours. The ghosts had generally drifted off somewhere, and no-one was up yet, and even the few professors who had a habit of prowling the halls were in bed. It was chilly, and echoingly silent, and it made him feel...special. As if the world was made just for him.

Breakfast hadn't begun yet, but the House Elves knew him, and more or less ignored him as he stole some scrambled eggs and toast, carrying them through the kitchen and out into the courtyard. He sat, balancing the plate on his knees, and making a sort of buttered-toast-and-egg sandwich to eat in the cold morning air.

He was used to a certain amount of free-floating anxiety -- he was a worrier by nature -- so it took him a second to attach it to something.

Bloody broomsticks. Bloody, bloody broomsticks.

He hated flying. He hated how exhausting it was, hated the wind disordering his hair, hated being that far off the ground while trusting only himself to keep from falling. He'd done badly at it in class, and after a while had given up, taking to flying the minimum possibly distance to a turret in the castle, and then hiding out, crouched on top of a gargoyle, the broom lying harmlessly nearby.

James would go on and on about what a thrill it was, and you really should give it another go, Moony, and it was like being free, really free, with nothing to worry about.

Remus had nodded, and listened silently. He felt the same about...about books, and knowing things, and learning new things, but James -- to whom learning came too easily for him to really value it -- would just have laughed.

"Did you know you're in ogling distance of two out of the four girls' dormitories?"

He started, nearly falling off the step he was sitting on.

"Are you always this jumpy?" Allison Barrett asked, dropping onto the step next to him.

"Do you always creep up on people?" he replied, before he could think.

"I never creep up. I don't think you spend much time paying attention to the real world. It's a wonder you haven't walked into a tree yet, or something."

He didn't have a ready reply to that, so he offered her a slice of toast. She ate quickly, neatly talking around her food.

"I was thinking about what you said last night," she remarked.

"Which part, the bit where I admitted I'm a failure or the bit where I whined about it?"

"All of it."

"Oh." He subsided into silence.

It really shouldn't be this difficult, talking to girls. Maybe Sirius had read a book on the subject. There ought to be flash cards or something.

"Did you come to any conclusions?" he asked, after a while. She shredded the crust of her toast, dropping crumbs on the steps.



"Maybe you should've jumped after all."

His throat tightened, and a blush spread across his cheeks. It was embarrassing, anyone knowing, and especially a sixth year, and especially her. He'd heard James talk about playing the pity card, but it wasn't worth the loss of what, Remus was willing to admit, was his considerable pride.

"You know you're allowed to ask people to help you," she said finally.

"I can do it on my own."

"Can you now?"

"I always do. I don't need anyone's help."

"Well, excuse me, I'm sure," she said, tossing her crusts out into the courtyard. Birds began to descend as she stood up, dusting herself off. "Next time I won't offer."

He stared wretchedly at the birds fighting over the crusts as she walked away.

"You're not supposed to do that, you know," he said. He heard her stop.

"Do what?"

"Feed them scraps. It's not good for them."

"It's a good thing you're easy on the eyes, because otherwise people would notice how nuts you are."

He leaned back, resting his head on the top step.

"Were you really offering to tutor me in broomstick flying?" he asked. He couldn't quite see her, just an Allison-shaped shadow out of the corner of his eye.

"Well, not offering as such," she said. "I was just pointing out that I'm not too bad a flyer. I'll probably make fun of you, but at least I'm witty about it."

"I doubt it'll help much."

"Thank you," she said sourly.

"I'm unteachable."

"Be a short lesson, then. At least you won't waste my time."

He closed his eyes, and held out his plate. She took another piece of toast.

"I can't afford to pay you for the tutoring or anything."

"I don't pay for Thursday Review."

"I get class credit for that."

"Consider it my yearly good deed. Or possibly karmic payback for the owl I accidentally hit when I was twelve."

He sat up, turning to stare at her. "You hit an owl?"

"It was an accident."

"How do you hit an owl with a broomstick?"

She turned bright red. "I didn't hit it with a broomstick."

He blinked.

"I thought it was a Bludger..."

Remus Lupin's sudden peals of laughter sent the birds in the courtyard flying, and woke up half of the Gryffindor dormitory as it echoed up the walls.


It looked like rain, Remus thought, as he reluctantly trudged onto the Quidditch Pitch, carrying Sirius' borrowed broomstick.

Well, 'borrowed'.

He was sure Sirius would never miss it, he never went flying on Friday afternoons.

Yes, it looked like rain. They'd better do this some other day --

"At least there won't be any glare," said a voice, behind him, and he turned to find Allison Barrett, a rather less expensive broomstick in her hands, regarding him sagely.

"I was just thinking it looked like rain," he said. "Perhaps another day?"

"You won't fly any worse for being wet," she answered, with an impish smile. "Nice broomstick, for a boy who claims he can't fly."

"Borrowed it," he muttered.

"All right then. At least you've got something quality to work with. You can do the basics, right?"

He looked at her dumbly.

"You do know what the basics are, don't you?" she asked. He shifted uncomfortably.

"I was sick a lot, first year," he said.

"Well, you're not sick now. Put it on the ground."

"What if it escapes?"

She laughed. He liked that laugh. He liked it so much he didn't mind that she was laughing at him.

"They don't fly away on their own unless you fall off, and you won't fall off."

He put it gingerly on the ground, hovering his hand over it for a minute, just in case. Finally he straightened. She'd put hers down too, facing him.

"Up!" she commanded. The broom leapt easily into her hand. "Now you do it."

He held out his hand.

"Up!" he said, voice cracking. He concentrated hard on making it fly. This was how it was done, wasn't it? You thought really hard about it and made it rise.

It lifted a few feet off the ground, and he brought his hand down, catching it.

"That's no good. Not enough lift. Try again," she said. He pushed the broom back down to the ground.


It rose a little higher this time. She pursed her lips.

"Well, I suppose that's good enough to pass the basic course. Leg over, then," she said, swinging onto the broom. He ignored the way her robes hitched up over her school trousers, and awkwardly climbed on. Effortlessly, she rose a few feet off the ground.

"Pull up a little," she said. He followed her instructions, then quickly panicked and gripped the broom handle with both hands, tightly, when his feet left the ground. The broomstick crashed down, and he stumbled, white hot embarrassment racing through him.

"This is going to take a while, isn't it," she sighed.


A twisted ankle, a healing spell, and a lot of panic later, it started to rain.

"Where are you going?" she asked, as he picked up the broomstick and wrapped his coat tighter around himself.

"Inside," he replied.

"I told you, a little damp never hurt anyone," Allison said, hands on her hips. The rain was making her hair curl in ways that shouldn't be legal.

"I don't want to fly, I don't know how to fly, and I don't see the point of flying," he said. "If I do well enough on my NEWTs I don't really have to graduate."

"Going to tell your parents that?"

He bit back the reply that his parents were just happy he was gone ten months out of the year and they didn't have to hear him screaming every full moon.

"This is stupid. If I get my Apparating licence I'll never need one anyway, they're uncomfortable, they're cold, and they're exhausting," he answered. "There's no point. I'm wet, I'm tired, and I hate sodding broomsticks."

"Quitter," she replied.

"Fortunately, that never really bothered me much," he snarled, turning on his heel, leaving her with both broomsticks.

"I thought you were better than this," she called after him. He paused. "You and Potter and Black. Kings of the school, right?"

"They are," he muttered.

"Yeah, but they're always with you. So all the sixth-years think you're like them. Truth is you're just a coward."

He turned, and growled. He was thoroughly wet now, the rain tracing lines down his face, plastering his hair to his head. "I am not a coward. You don't know anything."

"Prove it," she said, and tossed the broomstick at him. He let it fall.

"I don't have to prove myself to you or anyone else," he said. "If you haven't the natural sense to get in out of the rain -- "

"I like the rain!" she shouted.

"You would! You like stupid broomsticks too!" he shouted back.

"You utter -- do you really think I'm doing this because of a broomstick?"

"I don't know why you're doing this but I wish you'd stop!"

"I like you, idiot!"

He stopped mid-shout.

"What?" he asked, as rainwater ran into his eyes.

"Are you oblivious too? I completely overestimated you!" she shouted. "Pick up your broomstick!"

"What?" he repeated. She picked it up for him and put it in his hands.

"What do you think when you try to fly a broomstick?" she asked, face upturned to his. "What's in your head that makes it so bloody hard for you?"

"It's bloody hard!" he responded. "You've got to think about getting the stupid thing off the ground, and then you've got to think about where you want to go, AND still think about keeping it in the air, and stay balanced, and -- "

"You're thinking too much!"

"Oh, thank you, thank you ever so."

"No, I mean..." she stepped back, and he felt he could actually breathe again. "It's not you. It's the broomstick. It does all the work. It's not levitation, it's a charm on the thing itself."

"What are you on about?"

"You don't use your head to lift it with. It lifts all on its own. You just tell it where to go."

His jaw dropped. "But I thought...but James says -- "

"Sod what James Potter says! Is he out here in the rain teaching your or am I?"

He looked down at the broomstick. "But how's that work?"

"Who cares how it works!"

"I do!"

"Well, stop caring! Some things you don't need to know, you great prat, you just need to trust."

He hefted the broomstick. "A bit of wood's a lot to trust when it's all that's keeping me from a broken spine, you know."

"Then trust me," she said. She leaned over the broomstick, her hands between his, and kissed him.

She tasted a bit like rainwater, and a bit like what he vaguely recognised as lip gloss. Her nose fit next to his quite nicely. Objectively, it was a good kiss.

Subjectively, small parts of his brain were fusing together, and his hands were letting go of the broomstick to cup her cheeks, pull her closer, draw his thumb down along her chin in a subtle but effective bid to get her to open her mouth and let him deepen the kiss substantially.

When she opened her eyes and pulled back, he let her go.

She pushed the broomstick against his stomach. He looked at it again.

"Will you let me kiss you again if I fly it?" he asked hopefully.

"Maybe," she replied. She ran her fingers along the handle and swung a leg over, in front of him. The bristles brushed his knee.

He followed suit, and reached around her, arms circling her waist.

"Fly us," she said. He rested his chin on her shoulder, and she didn't shrug it off. "Think about me. Trust me," she said.


Flying was marvelous after all.


[identity profile] 2007-04-29 09:01 am (UTC)(link)
Sirius tried too hard, when he knew his friends were upset. It was like being knocked down by Padfoot.

And I thought I loved Sirius to pieces before reading your fics...

(Anonymous) 2010-01-09 06:21 am (UTC)(link)
I still remember you writing this for me. I loved it. I still do.


[identity profile] 2010-01-09 03:07 pm (UTC)(link)
I still remember writing it for you! I'm glad it holds good memories :)

[identity profile] 2010-08-02 06:45 am (UTC)(link)
"Anyone else sitting in Allison's Chair received a baleful glare from him until they grew uncomfortable -- whether they knew why or not -- and moved."

Baleful is one of my favorite words. And I loved this line to pieces.