AUTHOR'S NOTE: Sorry guys, I know it's been a long wait. –sheepish grin- Thanks to all who are still reading and an even bigger thanks to all those that are still reading and reviewing! Enjoy!
Chapter 7: First Day
The bright afternoon sun found Eliza dusting the office she and Remus shared. A comfy white T-shirt had been thrown over the velveteen tank top and the hair had been swept up into a haphazard bun, away from Eliza's way. A rag beat against the furniture in a steady rhythm, showering dust into all the four corners of the world. The window was thrust open, and the cry of a bird pierced the studious environment.
Remus's door opened and his grinning face popped out. "Good morning, Eliza. I see you're hard at work." He nodded at the state of his previously dormant study. She grinned back at him.
"I just thought, what with today being the first day and all, for the students, I might as well freshen things up." She noted his brown hair was damp, as though he'd been towel drying it before the ruckus she'd created drew him hither. His dun gray robes, too, bore random splotches of moisture.
Soon, the dust was magicked out of the air, the cobwebs cleared away, tanks scrubbed, cauldrons wiped clean and books stacked neatly in their proper place. The rolls of parchment Eliza left to Remus to sort through, seeing as how they were all his, and he'd be in a better position to know what to keep and what to toss out.
Lunch was a quiet, thoughtful affair for her. She went down to the kitchens, tickled the ticklish pear and sat in a corner of the kitchens, chewing on a green apple. The house elves went about their business after a while, when they were certain sure there wasn't anything they could do for the "New Miss". Still, any time one passed her, he or she was sure to bow low.
How did one prepare for students? This wasn't' like the muggle schools she'd seen on the muggle tele, she'd be teaching all levels of students here. She'd have, she decided, to be open to all sorts of things, and opinions and suggestions. Plenty of students would probably not like her, she reasoned, preparing herself for the worst, just in case.
"Careful not to eat too much- you wouldn't want to miss the feast." Eliza turned at the sound of a voice above and behind her.
She grinned as Remus took a seat beside her and accepted a glass of pumpkin juice from an eager house elf with a murmured "Thank you." He took a few sips and then turned to regard her. "So, you'll take the first, second and third years today, right?" A brown eyebrow quirked inward in question at her.
Eliza froze. "Uhh…what?" 'Oh, nice, very articulate,' she chided herself.
"Lessons- for today," Remus clarified. "You'll be doing the first through third years." More of the pumpkin juice was consumed.
"Uhh…" Now might be a nice time for Eliza to say something intellectually stirring, to prove she wasn't a complete blob of molasses, but her brain wasn't helping. All she could think about was that she was supposed to help Remus with classes, and watch and learn from him. Not actually take over on the first day!
His question and eyes bored into her, and she sensed a slight frustration with her lack of cooperation. Eliza recalled a muggle commercial advertising a muggle chocolate. 'Need a moment? Chew it over with Tilks' Or whatever it had been called, she couldn't remember.
"Well, you see…uh, I was under the impression that I would, well, heh." She laughed halfheartedly. "You know, be helping you, you know? Not actually," here she forced a derisive laugh, "teaching the students myself!"
Remus heaved a long, drawn out sigh, and rested his elbows on his knees, hands holding the goblet and head bowed low. The fake smile fell off Eliza's face. He rubbed his face with one hand in aggravation and turned to her with a grin.
"I know, I was just scaring you."
Eliza blinked. "What?" Her word choices just didn't stop improving.
He laughed. "You are only helping me, although I wouldn't call that "only" helping. You watch and after a while, you'll have a few classes to yourself, but not right at the beginning, heavens, no!" He drained his goblet.
"You seriously scared me!" the girl protested. "You little-" She stopped short. If this had been Mick or anyone else, she would have punched his arm and called him a jerk. But this was not Mick or any other friend of hers. This was her boss, technically speaking. "Ahem."
Remus's eyes twinkled, however, and his grin widened. "What?" he demanded. He was clearly aware of her predicament and enjoying every minute of it.
The younger woman scowled, more embarrassed than anything else. "Nothing."
"Say it," he countered.
"No, it wasn't anything."
"Yes it was."
"No, it wasn't."
"Then you wouldn't have said it."
"I didn't. I didn't say anything at all, you're imagining things, go away," she laughed, thoroughly confused by now.
"You," he pointed an accusatory finger at her. "Were about to call me a…dundundun! Bad name!"
"Dundundun?" Eliza quirked an eyebrow.
The corners of his mouth tugged into a half grin. "Drumroll," he explained.
She laughed and punched his arm lightly after all. "Jerk."
He lifted an eyebrow at her and for a second there, she was sure she'd gone too far after all. "There is nothing jerk-ish about a drumroll," he defended.
"No, but your trick was in bad taste," she informed him, standing up and dusting off her shirtfront. He stood up, too, and the two made their way back to the study to get lesson plans together.
It seemed, to Eliza, that the moment in the kitchens had been something of a test. Not the kind administered by an instructor, but more…it was as if they were each testing the boundaries and seeing where they lay. It seemed that the boundaries were comfortably far enough that neither would have to control their nature to keep from offending the other. They both had a like sense of humor and could take a joke. This was a profound relief to both, whether they admitted it or not.
Eliza yawned and stretched in her chair, laying down her quill to do so. She sat across from Remus on the same table that had doubled as the dinner table the night before. It was now, however, stacked with books and parchment, quills and inkbottles. She had just finished writing down the basics for learning the petrificus totalus charm down, for the second years.
"I have to ask," Eliza commented. "Why Cornish pixies? They're little devils, you know." She eyed the large birdcage in the corner that was draped over with a cloth. The second year students would be practicing on the pixies to learn the charm.
"The pixies are little buggers, and as such, make excellent practice for aiming and the like. And anyhow," he smiled slightly. "It reminds me of something amusing."
She didn't prod the ambiguous statement, but merely shrugged. It was starting to get late, the sun would be setting soon, and the fading gray skies would be painted red with the rays. Deciding she'd be taking a small break, Eliza rested her chin in her hands and propped her elbows on the table, listening to the scratching sounds of Remus's quill on his parchment, and watching his head tilt to and fro as he copied down incantations.
A few seconds passed, and the quill paused, the head froze, the lifted slowly to look at her. The mild Remus Smile was in place as he asked, "Yes?"
"Oh! Uh, nothing." He went back to his work and she shuffled and fastened the papers she'd finished.
"What're the third years working on?"
"Ah, I see. Practical session?"
"Nice. You have a bogart?"
"It's in the suitcase."
He lifted his head to look at her again, smiling in an amused way. "You can go take a nap if you want."
She colored a bit and smiled. "No thanks," she yawned again, and stretched, then patted down the sheaf of parchment she'd put together and folded her arms over it, resting her head in the nest of arms. "But if you don't mind, I'm going to just put my head down for a quick while, is that okay?"
She shut her eyes, only vaguely hearing his affirmative answer. The breeze blew in from the open window and the room was already bright red from the setting sun. A bird called somewhere over the grounds, and she inhaled the smell of mostly-fresh ink and parchment from what her head was on. The steady scratching of the quill kept on, and the bird called again from somewhere farther out…
Remus chuckled quietly to himself as her steady breathing carried over to him. It was inevitable, of course. She was tired, he could tell, and one didn't simply lay their head down and rest their eyes in such a state. But at the angle her head was in, not to mention the uncomfortable wood of the table, she was sure to develop a crick in her neck and be sore, to boot. He'd move her after finishing this paragraph, he decided.
The paragraph finished, as did the work for the day, and Remus moved all the scrolls into orderly stacks. Coming around the table, he stood contemplating the girl. Her arms had likely lost feeling from the weight of her head and angle of elevation. The hair was starting to fall out of the precarious bun. But her breathing was deep and even and she was obviously resting up quite nicely. He hated to wake her like this…
He laid his hand on her shoulder and squeezed it gently, whispering her name softly, close to her ear. "Eliza." No response. The squeeze was followed by a gentle shaking. "Eliza, get up and go to your bed, you're going to stiffen up lying here…" Deep breathing. Remus sighed and shuffled the hair on the back of his head.
Stooping, he scooped her up, ignoring her sleep-ladden mutterings and shifted her weight till he could carry her comfortably, head resting in the crook of his right arm and legs draped over his left. With one leg, he managed to open her door and he also somehow managed to pull back her covers and lay her in her bed without waking her.
Tucking the covers in around her sleeping form, he watched her shift around a bit, head resting to one side. It was an awkward angle because of her hair being put up, so he carefully and gently undid the bun, letting her hair fall around her. The open window he shut firmly. The night got cold fast, and it was never pleasant to wake up to a freezing cold room. Stepping out lightly, Remus shut the door to her chamber quietly behind himself, then prepared to make ready for the feast and Sorting of the new first years.
It seemed a shame for Eliza to miss it; she'd been looking quite forward to it.
It seemed, Remus noted with inner relief as he tucked his gray slightly frayed dress robes underneath himself and took a seat, that he'd be spared having to sit next to Snape for another Sorting this year. It got to be a bit of a chore having to sit through his little smirks every time a Slytherin was named and to hear him spit foul words whenever a Gryffindor was. The naming of a Gryffindor was usually followed by a disdainful look in Remus's direction and a slight huff. This, Remus found, was most annoying.
But, he was Remus Lupin, and he sat through it all with a mild smile and a valiant attempt at normal conversation. The sorting was about a third of the way through and unfortunately for Remus, Snape had the capability to throw disdainful looks even across an empty chair. He sighed inwardly. This would be a long Sorting indeed.
Yawn. Stretch. Stretch more. Shake head. Look around. Eliza did all of those and sat up in her dark room. Staring at nothing. The window was closed, even though she thought she'd left it open. Her hair, too, had probably been undone by her rambunctious sleeping. She sighed, got up, and slogged slowly to the door.
The office was looking very nice and clean and orderly. All the lessons for the new first ye- She froze. No. Oh no. Oh no no no nono! The Sorting! The feast! The sitting at the high table! The poor young woman almost cried. In a flash, she'd thrown open her trunk, magicked some light, and ransacked her wardrobe, trying to find something appropriate.
Her eyes fell on the blood red dress robes she'd worn to her sixth interview, the one with Dumbledore, and she snatched it up, tugging it over her head as quick as lightening. The hair was tossed over her shoulders in their natural, semi-wavy state.
A mad dash out the door, down the corridors and full tilt sprinting got her to the door of the Great Hall. She paused a few seconds to catch her breath and then opened the doors. They slid smoothly, oiled well in preparation. It was her hope to make a discreet, unnoticeable entrance. The empty seat up at the high table, of course, would be noticed, but still, if she could just slip in…
Everyone had turned to look at her. The color rushed to her cheeks and she stared at the floor, still not completely in control of her breathing. Eliza smiled nervously and walked through the aisles, her footsteps echoing painfully loudly and her throat inexplicably dry. Her palms, too, had decided to sweat, and it wasn't helping her image that she was trying to wipe them surreptitiously on her robes.
She realized that in order to look like she knew what she was doing, she would have to look up and survey the table to see where the empty seat was. She did so in a flitting manner, not meeting any eyes and walking resolutely to the empty chair. As she stood behind her chair for a second, she could see the hooked nosed Professor, Snape, stiffen slightly, and she noticed Remus had placed a hand conveniently in front of his mouth. His cheeks, too, and the line of his jaw, looked suspiciously like they were grinning. Her eyes narrowed, and she was sure to bump her elbow into his arm knowingly as she sat down. This only served to widen his grin.
She tuned in to her surroundings in time to notice piece together the fact that Dumbledore had just finished introducing her. She looked up at the mass of students and smiled nervously, but brightly. There was mostly silence until Dumbledore and Remus started to clap, and then everyone joined in, most probably for the sake of creating noise. Hagrid's thunderclaps popped her ears, but she grinned anyhow.
Soon, Dumbledore had spoken his few words and everyone tucked in to rip into another great feast. Eliza lifted her fork and was just about to string some spaghetti around it and smother it in sauce, when a quiet, amused voice to her right murmured, "Lovely, what you're doing with your hair." She knew he was talking to him even though he was leaning over his plate, seemingly concentrating hard on stringing the contents onto his fork. "It has that just-got-out-of-bed look to it."
He swallowed a small bite of something and turned to grin at her. She couldn't help but laugh back. Mussing her hair affectionately she agreed, "Yes, it's very much in style these days. You know how I like to keep with the trends." A roll of the eyes indicated her sarcasm and the feast went much better after that.
Even though it was terribly rude of her, she knew, Eliza spent most of the feast turned at an angle away from Snape, facing Remus. Still, she felt her feast passed the better for it, so she didn't let it worry her too much.
It wasn't long before the dishes were cleared, stomachs were stuffed, and beginning of the year notices were issued. Before she knew it, the kids were being told to file out to their respective dormitories, first years lead by prefects. The Great Hall emptied out, and the teachers were all bid a good night.
Rochelle Sinistra smiled and winked at her as she left, "Fabulous entrance!" she mouthed, as Eliza blushed some more. Snape's lips tightened even further, if at all humanly possible, and he swept off. Eliza, too, bade her goodnights, and made her way to her room. Opening the door to the office, she found Remus wrestling with a suitcase.
"Bogart," he explained. With a violent jerk, the suitcase fell open and Eliza looked around, wondering what had happened. She'd only just saw a shimmering orb out of the corner of her eye when CRACK! The creature disappeared courtesy of Remus Lupin.
"Ah, well, that's that," he said briskly, avoiding her eyes. Setting the suitcase aside, he looked up at her, bid her good night, and retired to his chamber. 'That was odd,' Eliza mused. 'The presence of the bogart seemed to render a change in Remus. He was suddenly all brisk and businesslike. It was unusual. And what was that shape? Certainly no demon of hers…'
It is a curious fact, but no matter how much sleep one has acquired, there always seems to be room for more- especially after good eatings. And so, it didn't take Eliza long to fall back asleep again.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Wow, that was long, but hey, I was ….-drumroll- inspired! -grins- Please, please, please review! I'd appreciate it so much! A full five pages in Word! Don'tcha think that deserves a review? Pretty please?