"So…let's go over this one more time," said Sirius, running his hands through his hair and staring confusedly into the fire, "Why are we here?"
"To find Evan's necklace," replied James, crawling past him on his hands and knees and peering under the sofas.
"But why is Evans here?"
"Because I walked in on you looking for it and realised what you were doing!" snapped Evans, standing to the side of him with her arms folded. "Check the armchair again, Potter."
"But why is she here?" Sirius pointed at a blond, heavy jawed girl with big, hoop earrings sitting next to him.
"I'm Lily's friend," she replied, without taking her eyes off James's rear end, which was all that was visible of him as he scrabbled desperately around under the armchair.
The girl rolled her eyes and didn't answer. Sirius shrugged and looked away, his eyes falling on Peter's feet.
"And to conclude…what the hell is Peter doing?"
"Looking for that necklace!" came Peter's indignant, rather muffled voice from behind the sofa, "What did you think I was doing?"
Sirius grinned. Now here was a question he could answer. "Well, Peter, we all know how you like to retreat behind the couch when the world gets you down…"
Evan's friend threw her head back and laughed loudly, and James sniggered along with her, but broke off laughing with a sudden: "Oh-ho!"
"Have you got it?" asked Evans frantically, as her and Sirius rushed over to the armchair, just as James wriggled backwards and knelt on the carpet, a great deal of fluff attached to the side of his head and a magazine clutched in his hand.
"My Quidditch Mania!" he said enthusiastically, brushing cob-webs off it, "I've been looking for this for ages…"
With one furious movement, Evans whipped the magazine out his hand and slapped him round the head with it. Hard.
"Ouch!" James yelled, standing up at once to glare down at her, "What the bloody hell was that for?"
"Does this look like my necklace?" Evans shouted back at him, the angry blotches of scarlet creeping into her cheeks again, "You made me think you had it!"
James raised his eyebrows at her. "So it's my fault you jump to conclusions?"
Not caring to listen to the retort, Sirius glanced round and saw Peter standing behind the sofa, looking on with interest as the pair snapped at each other. Sidling up to him, Sirius muttered out the corner of his mouth: "So does she know James broke it yet?"
"Huh?" Peter mumbled, eyes still glued to Evans, "Oh, right. No, I think James forgot to mention that bit, somehow."
Sirius shook his head mock-disapprovingly, and was about to say something in reply, when he saw something out the corner of his eye glitter. Turning his head, he scanned the common room floor, and at first thought it had been his imagination, but suddenly he saw it again. With a broad smile he bent down and tugged at the part of the silver chain he could see was poking out from under the golden rug, and after a bit of manipulating, out came Evan's familiar, broken, green heart necklace.
"Hey guys," he said casually, standing up and holding it aloft, "I found it."
Silence was all that came back to him, and looking up he saw James back under the armchair and Evans had her back to him, watching James. At his words, however, she turned slowly around, her bright green eyes falling on what was dangling from Sirius's fingers. Her hand flew to her mouth. For a moment she looked at though she was going to cry.
"Oh," she whispered, and to Sirius's surprise her voice sounded rather wobbly, "It's broken, isn't it?"
James emerged from the armchair again, guilt written all over his face. Even Sirius felt rather bad as he came forwards and held it out to her. She looked totally stricken, he thought, as he watched her take in the blackened silver chain, and, worst of all, the broken, jagged half of the heart shaped jade. He almost wanted to hug her, she looked so upset, before he reminded himself they weren't exactly friends, and looked pointedly at the blond girl still lounging on the sofa, who only yawned and drummed her long-nailed fingers on her knee.
"I kept thinking it might be broken, or the chain might have snapped," she whispered, her hand still over her mouth, "but I just kept hoping it wasn't."
James came over, looking incredibly uncomfortable. "Er," he said stupidly, raking a hand through his hair, "Um. I'm real sorry, Evans." He stared fixedly at his shoes. "I've got the other half to it," he muttered, repeatedly running his hand through his hair, "D'you…d'you want it?"
Evans looked up at him dazedly. "Other…half?" she asked, the tiniest frown on her face, "Why do you have the other half?"
"I…ah…found it," squeaked James, sounding slightly like Peter for the smallest of moments. He cleared his throat, then thrust his hand in his pocket and held out the chipped green stone to her, determinedly not meeting her eye. Evans looked down at it, frowning. Then she carefully picked it up without saying a word. Swallowing slightly, she nodded to Sirius and scooped her necklace off his hand as well, holding both items together in one fist. With a slightly tremulous, "Thank you," to no-one in particular, she walked swiftly up the girl's dormitories staircase, her face crumpled and fighting tears. The blond girl gave a sigh and jumped up to run after her, and after a few seconds the sound of their clumping footsteps died away. James's shoulders visibly relaxed.
"Sweet Merlin," he sighed, sinking into the sofa, "I thought that'd never end."
"Did you see her face?" Peter joined in, flopping face first into a cushion, "You'd have thought someone had kicked her in the stomach."
"I never realised it meant that much to her," muttered James, gazing into the fireplace, "If I'd have known…" he trailed off and flushed slightly.
Sirius stared at him. "Yeah? If you had known, what would you have done?"
James tried to shrug nonchalantly, but ruined the act by colouring even pinker. "Oh. You know." He yawned and stretched his arms, then rumpled his hair once more for good measure, carefully not looking Sirius in the eye.
"No, I don't know…" said Sirius teasingly, a knowing grin suddenly falling onto his face. "Would you like to elaborate, James?"
James coughed, went even redder then quickly stood up and said: "Right, well, I'm going to bed. G'night, all." Without waiting for a reply he turned and almost ran up the boys stairs. Sirius watched him go with a half amused, half disgusted look on his face.
"He fancies her."
Peter whipped his head round to look at him. "No, he doesn't! They hate each other!"
"Say's who?" snorted Sirius, falling back onto the sofa and pulling a face. "They just argue a lot, which is a sure sign in itself if you ask me."
"But Evans can't stand him!"
Sirius shrugged. "Whatever. I reckon James likes her, and I'm sticking to it."
Peter stared at him with an awed look on his face. "Wow. Imagine if they dated!" He giggled nervously, then turned his head to check James wasn't lurking at the top of the stairs, listening. Satisfied he wasn't he turned back and grinned excitedly again at Sirius. "Are you going to tell James you know?"
"Not bloody likely!" Sirius snorted, "He'd start hexing me before I would get all the words out." He winced at the thought. "Nah, best leave well enough alone."
They were both silent for a moment, gazing into the fire. Sirius sighed and ran a hand lightly through his cropped hair, not really seeing the flickering flames at all. Remus had been in the Hospital Wing for three days now – they hadn't seen hide nor hair of him. Every visit they tried to make was thrown by a prune-faced Madam Pomfrey, who had told them crisply that their friend was 'sleeping.' Damn – for one person, Remus sure did sleep a lot. Sirius smiled slightly at his own joke, then looked around as Peter stood up.
"I think I'll go to bed as well," he announced, "Coming?"
"Nah, you're alright," muttered Sirius, "I don't feel like sleeping. I'll stay down here…"
Peter shrugged and tramped his way up the stairs as well, leaving Sirius with the sofa to himself. Deciding he might as well make the most of it, Sirius stretched his legs out so his feet rested comfortably on the opposite arm, tucked his hands behind his head and gazed up at the ceiling. The usual chatter of the common room was gone from the air: it seemed everyone had gone to bed. Warm and comfortable in the light of the gradually dying fire, Sirius felt his eyelids start to flutter closed.
A shadow fell on him, and his eyes snapped open. There – standing with a rather odd look on his face – was Remus.
"Remus?" asked Sirius, feeling a grin of delight break out over his face, "So you finally tore yourself away from Pomfrey!"
Remus was standing with his back to the fire, throwing his face into shadow, so Sirius could barely see his expression. "I did," he replied, his voice sounding slightly strained. Sirius watched his hands twist a piece of robe around his fingers, and raised an eyebrow when Remus did not elaborate.
"So? You've got some explaining to do, buddy. What was wrong with you?" His voice echoed bluntly around the common room, and to his surprise, he saw Remus cringe. He frowned, then took his legs off the sofa and thumped the place beside him. "Sit down," he said, squinting up at his shadowy silhouette. "I can't see you up there."
Remus visibly hesitated, before lowering himself gingerly onto the edge of the sofa, as though expecting to have to leap up and run at any moment. Now his face was in the light, Sirius looked at him properly, and his eyebrows rose even higher. His friend's skin was pale – almost deathly pale, with dark patches circling the lower rims of his eyes. So much for all that sleeping, thought Sirius critically, taking in his appearance. Remus looked like he had been up since the crack of dawn – perhaps even longer.
"So what was wrong with you?" he asked, getting straight to the point. "We've been pretty worried about you, mate. Pomfrey wouldn't let us see you, the old cow."
Remus's hair hung down in dirty, rusty looking strands, covering his face. "No, she told me you had visited every time I woke up. I had to sleep a lot, you see. Pretty knackered."
"But why were you knackered? Come on, Remus." Sirius felt himself starting to get rather irritated. Remus's lack of eye contact was starting to annoy him, and the tension in the air was building. "You have no idea how weird this seems to me – to all of us! You caught that bloody necklace of Evans's and passed out. Why?" Remus rubbed his arm uncomfortably, and Sirius heard him heave a deep breath.
"Sirius, there's something I have to tell you." His voice was so quiet Sirius could barely hear it, and he leant back uneasily against the sofa, his immediate instinct to run away. This sort of situation was deeply embarrassing for him.
"Mate, you don't have to tell me anything," he said awkwardly, but Remus laughed slightly, and the tension in the air relaxed.
"It's nothing important. It's just that – well – I have an allergy. A really – well, quite rare one." He drew another deep breath, and Sirius heard the tremble in it. "I'm allergic to silver."
"Yeah." Remus coughed and rubbed his arm again. "It – burns me. And, well, you know that necklace was made out of silver, and the pain was so bad I just passed out, it's nothing important. I – I just thought you should know."
Sirius frowned at him in silence, and suddenly recalled the bandages on Remus's hand. Yes, that would make sense, if silver burned him. But he had never heard of people being allergic to silver before. Then again – you could get all kinds of allergies these days. Just because he hadn't heard of it didn't mean it didn't exist. "Ok…" he said slowly, studying Remus's tense outline. "Why didn't you ever tell us this before?"
A shrug. "It didn't seem that important."
"Didn't seem that important? If James had known, he wouldn't have been stupid enough to throw that necklace at you!"
"I didn't know he would do that," replied Remus softly. His liquid blue eyes reflected the glowing embers of the fire, and Sirius stared at it as well. His head was starting to feel rather muzzy with lack of sleep, and a faint ringing was starting up in his ears.
"But how do you manage?" he mumbled sleepily, suppressing a yawn. "We have to use silver knives in Potions sometimes."
"They have wooden handles, so that's ok. I just have to be careful not to touch the blade."
"Are you going to tell James and Peter?"
Another shrug. "If they ask."
"They will." Sirius tried to fight off the yawn, but the more he struggled, the more fiercely it pulled at his jaw, and in the end he gave up and allowed himself to go slack-jawed. Remus glanced around, meeting eyes with him for the first time.
"Nothin' compared to you," muttered Sirius, rubbing his eyes. "You look dead on your feet."
Remus smiled. "I'm alright. I'm going up to bed now, anyway." He stood up, and Sirius followed his lead with a grunt. Together they trooped up the spiralling staircase without speaking to each other, Sirius too tired, and Remus lost in his own thoughts.
Remus watched as Sirius collapsed onto his bed and buried himself under his duvet without removing his clothes. Soon his snores were filling the air, and Remus smiled slightly to himself, tip-toeing quietly across the room to his bed by the window, where a pale, ghostly light filtered in through the curtains. Folding his robe neatly into a pile at the foot of his bed, he kicked off his shoes and lay down as well, feeling drained, but glad he was back at last, despite the inevitable questions he knew he would get in the morning.
His plan had worked. Remus felt the old guilt stir up in his stomach as he lay there, gazing up at the darkened canopy roof. Sirius hadn't recognised silver allergies as a characteristic of a werewolf – just as Pomfrey had assured him he wouldn't. "A thirteen year old boy, know something like that?" She had snorted when he had anxiously asked her. "Don't be so ridiculous, Lupin. He may think it a little strange, yes, but only a medi-witch or a Defence against the Dark Arts Professor would know if it was mentioned in casual conversation to them." Much as Remus would never underestimate his friend's intelligence, he would have to admit she was right. Sirius wouldn't suspect a thing…unless, of course, he decided to look it up…
"Don't be so stupid," he told himself sharply, (in his head, of course.) "Sirius, look something up? You know how unlikely that is. Just stop worrying and go to sleep."
His mind put temporarily at rest, he rolled over and yanked his curtain across, blocking the thin blade of moonlight. Then he closed his eyes and allowed sleep to come to him.
This entire chapter is dedicated to RT, because if it wasn't for her (or him) then this chapter wouldn't be here. Your review got me off my lazy...backside and motivated me.I had all but given up this story because I thought people just weren't interested in it any more, so I moved onto another original story. But taking a break from it was good for me: I've discovered I love writing Remus again! I am SO SO sorry to any of you out there who actually do like my odd story, with my over-emotional Remus and my crazy version of his friends. And for those of you who don't review...hope you enjoyed reading this chapter anyway!
By the way, it's my GSCE year, and my teachers are putting quite a load of preassure on us at the moment. So I probably won't be updating reguarly. But I won't leave it three months again. More like six months. No, I'm joking! Come back! I'll be good, I promise! (Weeps into pillow) Ok, I don't know where the pillow came from. I'm going to stop talking now.
Love and peace,