Thank you for all your reviews (Wow, 14 for a chapter I didn't think was particularly long!), but I think I'll continue writing as much "teenage angst" as I like. Though oddly enough I didn't have any secret convict/adulterer/werewolf/evil fathers hidden in the magical world, or even any maybe-cousins to almost make-out with to be angsty about when I was sixteen, so I didn't realise how grating it would be to hear about something so common. Maybe I just had a really sheltered childhood compared the certain few who mentioned how boring it was?
I can be sassy too, you know.
Hermione's acceptance of her DNA plan gave Raven the confidence to face Harry and Ron the next day. She breezed into breakfast as if she hadn't completely ignored them the day before, and made a benign comment about the weather, glancing up at the ceiling while she was really watching for Harry's reaction. He frowned slightly, and didn't seem as comfortable around her as before, but he didn't say a word. She was sure Ron knew nothing about what had happened on the turret, because if he did he was doing far too good a job of hiding it. She examined him for a moment, wondering if his personality was just an act and in order to preserve peace he was simply playing that character. She sometimes wondered the same thing with Beastboy. If his dismal jokes and grins weren't just a way of protecting himself, one that was a thousand times more convincing than her ice Queen exterior. But then Ron began suggesting various ways Harry might smuggle his broom out from the Dungeons and rejoin the Quiddich team and she decided he was really just that oblivious.
"Seriously though - How about Polyjuice potion?" He suggested to Hermione, with all the seriousness of someone planning a rescue mission for political prisoners rather than charmed logs. Hermione had snorted into her cereal, Ron had demanded to know what was so laughable about the idea and Harry had rolled his eyes and ignored their bickering, and with that a normal atmosphere was returned. Raven felt she'd gotten away with it. With everything. It was such a feeling of relief that she was able to meet Harry's eyes, a small smile sharing in amusement at the silly argument. No odd urges surfaced at the contact, life seemed to settle suddenly, and it was a shock to realise just how worried and confused she'd really been in the aftermath.
The next week passed without any incidences of note. Draco looked either translucent or green in turn whenever Raven saw him, and his body was drawn in at all times, as if someone had tightened invisible screws in all his limbs. Something was bothering him, but it was not in her to feel sympathy for him, or think up conspiracy theories about it like the others. The snowfall increased. DA meetings were a continued success, as were her classes. On Friday she left the others in the common room playing exploding snap, heading to her final remedial lesson, filled with yet more relief. She was still further behind in her work than Ron, but that was only because these remedial classes in almost every subject had taken up so much time. Now she could begin to catch up, and once she did, devote more time to the fight against Voldemort. Dumbledore had been largely silent, but she doubted that would last for long once Robin's reply found it's way into her hands. She'd sent the vials and her note away as soon as she and Hermione had agreed to keep it their little secret, and despite knowing he might not give her the information she so desperately craved for another few weeks, she found herself filled with hopeful anticipation each and every time the post owls appeared. She wasn't worried that Robin would refuse to help her. She could still feel their bond buried deep in her mind, weak from distance and time, but ever-present and incandescent with his existence amongst her thoughts and memories.
The cold had really begun to permeate through the castle wherever there wasn't a fire, and she didn't expect to see anyone lingering around. That's why it surprised her to see a student with eyes the size of dinner plates appear in her path, like he'd been waiting for her. She'd never seen the kid before, or at least, if she had she'd taken no notice of him. That didn't seem to be too unlikely really, when she thought about it. The boy was tiny, one of the second years who looked like they shouldn't have been allowed on the Hogwart's express for another couple of years, whose bodies hadn't even thought of starting puberty yet. She would have simply glared down at him and moved past, but his giant shinning eyes caught hers and she found herself frozen. Something about the recognition- no, reverence- there made her feel as if frigid hands were trailing up her back.
"What do you want?" she asked, voice as cold and dark as the empty hall. The sound set off a reaction in him, and his body began to tremble, as if the edges of him were blurring.
"Could you sign my scrapbook?" He asked in a whisper. His own request seemed to infuse him with a sort of courage and urgency, and from his bag he produced a large, flat book, from which she could see the sides and corners of newspaper clippings protruding. Raven stared at it, her skin growing colder while her organs grew hot. If not for that gaze, which seemed to convey a message she didn't want to hear, she would have shoved past him by now. When she didn't speak, he hurried to open the cover. On the inside cover If found, please return to Dennis Creevey at... was written, but it wasn't the familiarity of his name that made her feel as if she'd fallen from a great height. It was the first, introductory page, where a photograph of the Justice League was pasted. A group of familiar faces, static unlike those in magical photos, smiled up at Raven, and it occurred to her that they didn't look so out of place in Hogwarts. There were the capes of course, which lent themselves to the setting, but maybe it was more the expressions of complete confidence that reminded her of Wizards, particularly her professors.
"I have no idea what you're talking about." She said, regaining control of herself and pushing past him. The boy dropped his scrapbook in surprise. "Stay away from me."
She was now late for her class, but she doubted McGonigall would mind if she missed it all together once she knew what had happened. Of course she considered keeping this whole incident to herself, but the thought of what might happen if she let it go unchecked was terrifying. If this kid knew superheroes, and he knew who she was, who might he tell? If the entire school found out, who outside of it might know she was here? The Titans might find out and try to come, and that would be a disaster. Worse still, if Voldemort knew she was here her advantage over Wizard magic would be revealed and thus, less valuable to the order. Her heart raced in her ears as she jogged to Dumbledore's Office, half fearing the boy would follow. She needn't have worried: Following Raven was the last thing of Dennis Creevey's mind.
Dennis picked his book up off the ground, careful to make sure none of the loose clipping fell out, and tucked it back into his bag. He headed off in the opposite direction, to the common room from which Raven had come. Without stopping to talk or acknowledge anyone, he made his way to his dormitory, where he could be alone with his thoughts because Davey Caldon and Brian Whitley were ment to be out in the grounds with the Paldew twins, Betsey and Emma, tonight. Once he'd made sure to check he really was alone, he pulled out his scrapbook once more and flipped past the smiling faces of the Justice league to a newspaper clipping. It contained a blurry photograph of six people, most of whom had their faces obscured by masks, metal, hoods, or goggles.
It was the very first day back at Hogwarts when he'd noticed her. The new exchange student form America, with her purple hair and scarlet gem, who glared contemptuously at those in her way and gave tongue lashings sharper than the Head of Gryffindor house when they didn't get out of it fast enough. He'd known she was familiar, but it wasn't until Colin had shown him the photos he'd taken of the Quiddich game that he'd recognised her. From between another two pages he slipped it out - the glossy moving picture Colin had taken at breakfast. In the centre was Harry Potter, who Dennis and Colin both agreed was absolutely brilliant, looking slightly shocked to have his photo taken. He kept blinking up at Colin, while Ron Weasley glared down at his food and Hermione Granger smiled slightly from across the table and intermittently turned her head to say something to the girl on her right. She was only three-quarters in the frame, talking back to Hermione and throwing Dennis dirty looks, but when he compared the newspaper photo and this one he could see the exact same distasteful expression. Raven of the Teen Titans, who did not like her picture taken.
Even though she hadn't wanted to sign his scrapbook, Dennis could barely contain his excitement. He needed to tell someone now that he'd proven it by seeing her up close, and Colin sprang to mind. Back before Colin had found out about real magic, he'd shared Dennis' enthusiasm for Superheroes. It was the American ones they'd liked the best. Superman in primary colours, flying through the sky. It was rumoured in the magazines his father got for them over the internet that he could see through walls, destroy his enemies with heat vision, and turn back time. Batman in the dead of night, swooping down like a shadow to catch the bad guy with fantastic gadgets. Wonder Woman, with her lasso and spangled shorts, beating up the criminals better than any normal man could. They were like the war heroes in his mother's stories, but shinier. They were perfect, like gods. Colin had thought so too, but then his Hogwarts letter had come and he'd replaced them with Wizards like Harry Potter, and Dumbledore, who he said were the real deal. In his mind groups like the Justice League became a myth, a hoax, like the WWE wrestlers he'd seen on the blurry television channel at home. Just guys who dressed up in costumes for kids, who weren't capable of the things people claimed they'd done, because they were muggles instead of Wizards.
Colin didn't see, like Dennis did, that they could both be real. Because now one of them was in their school. Raven of the Teen Titans, who Dennis couldn't believe no one else had recognised, hung out with Harry Potter and was in their house. She was a superhero and a witch, which made her about the most wonderful hero ever. Back home Dennis had plastered the walls of their room in Justice League publicity shoots, but now he knew he had to get her signature, or a better photo, or something to add to his collection. Raven had been harsh just now, but he supposed he'd scared her. Once he told Colin, he knew could talk to her together.
Weight's Room, T-Tower, Jump City
Just five more minutes.
The dull thought burnt through Robin's mind, a temporary reprieve from fixation on his searing muscles. He pushed himself just that little bit harder with the realisation he was falling behind on the treadmill, knowing that if he let himself loose an inch now he'd be tumbling off the back before long and Cyborg would never let him forget it.
"Damn, Boy Wonder. How long have you been on that thing?" The robotic man in question entered the gym, wearing the familiar Robin-is-crazy expression the whole team had perfected. Robin simply grunted. There was something about clean smirky people with resting heart rates that could really piss off a person in the home stretch of an hour long workout. "Okay... how long you got to go?" Cyborg probed. Robin tried to resist the urge to check the timer, but failed. Three more minutes. He knew it would seem like ten, now that he'd given in and looked. The final part of a run could be torture if you were watching the clock.
"A few. More minutes." He answered with another grunt, swiping his water bottle from it's perch and taking a swig, feeling the welcome moisture wet the dry back of his throat.
"Well, when you're done we thought we'd go get some Pizza or something. We haven't really been out much since Raven left, and I think BB is suffering withdrawals." Cyborg suggested, though there was something off about his tone. A little bit of accusation, perhaps, Robin thought vaguely.
"Eating Pizza would render this workout," he panted. "pointless."
"Okay then. You can get sushi and watch us eat Pizza. Means we won't have to get Hawaiian, thank the good lord." His team-mate grinned, taking his excuse as confirmation. The timer reached zero and Robin slowed to a walk, ab and calf muscles painful in the best possible way. Cyborg helpfully doused him with water.
"What's wrong with Hawaiian Pizza?"
"No one likes hot pineapple but you."
Feeling light-headed, Robin jumped off the treadmill to find the ground still moving. He steadied himself and waited for the feeling to subside, mentally running through the list of paperwork sitting on his desk.
"I don't know Cy, I've got a lot of stuff to get through..."
"C'mon man. You've been pulling back lately. Star thinks we're going to break apart." This time, there was no mistaking the accusation. Cyborg stared him down, frowning.
"Star thinks we're going to break apart every time you and BB have an argument over breakfast. So, constantly." Robin shrugged.
"Still, you've been off in your own world. I think she's even considering taking Aqualad up on his offer of a date." Cyborg watched him carefully for his reaction, his tone suspiciously light. Robin almost choked on his water mid-gulp.
"Aqualad asked Starfire on a date?"
"He's asked her about five times. She didn't want to say yes because of you." Cyborg rolled his eyes.
"Me?" He asked incredulously. Sure, there'd been a time when he'd thought about Starfire in that way, but what man hadn't? Judging by the huge amount of fanmail Starfire got from women (Raven used to read through them at the breakfast table, raising her eyebrows often and disguarding the more sexually explicit letters to shield Star's innocence while BB begged to take over the job) everyone in the city had.
"C'mon."Cyborg snorted, wondering if Robin was being dense on purpose. "There was some tension between you two."
"Maybe. But it's pretty much dissolved now." He promised, slightly bemused. Cyborg continued to watch him carefully. It was plausible that Robin had been too busy (with paperwork, with criminals, or with Raven's disapearance) to take any notice of the way Starfire dropped hints or tried out her flirting techniques on him, but he was usually more observant.
"Allright. I'll buy it."
Robin grinned and flicked the off switch on the treadmill. It was one of the best feelings in the world, the end of strenuous exercise. Running, even on a treadmill, made him feel as if his life were moving forward the way it should be. Like if the belt was turning, time would move faster and Raven's reply (This one filled with heartfelt confessions punctuated by sardonic one-liners) would arrive when he finished.
"You really need to pull back on the workouts." Cyborg noted.
"Someone's got to keep in shape around here." Robin shot back. He wiped his forehead and pulled it back slick with sweat, as if he'd finished washing his hands.
"Eugh. I'll get you a towel. But you are coming." Cyborg warned, retreating out of the gym. Accepting defeat and knowing he would regret it tonight, Robin sat down on the weights' bench, looking out the window. The gym was on the opposite side of the tower to the commonroom, pretty much identical in size and with the same sort of wide, floor length window that gave a very different but still spectacular view. It was just Ocean right up to the horizon, and here it was possile to buy into the illusion that the T-Tower existed in the middle of the sea, and forget there was a city and all it's responsibilities right behind you. It was easy to get lost in the motion of the white-crested waves, but before he could fall completely into his thoughts there was a sharp tapping on the window. Jerking his head, he was confronted with the sight of a small grey owl. He'd jumped to his feet and let it in before his muscles could even protest. This Owl wasn't the same one he was used to, and his blood ran cold as he wondered why Raven was sending him mail now. For someone who was used to thinking on his feet in ever-changing situations, this small change terrified him. If his short, apologetic letter had even reached her yet, there was no way a reply could make it's way back in such a short amount of time. Something else must have happened, so rather than waiting for Cyborg or calling the others he ripped the oddly bulky envelope open, straining against the packaging tape. Two Vials rolled out into his hands, and the accompanying message rendered him speechless and numb.
Do a DNA test on these hairs for me and send the results back with this owl. Please, don't ask questions and don't tell anyone. I trust you, and this time I'm not being sarcastic.
He checked the back of the note and re-read it several times, expecting something more, even from Raven. He thought he'd see an explanation, or a post script that said she was kidding, but there was nothing.
Jesus Raven. Where are you and what the hell have you got yourself into?
Nevertheless Robin put both vials into his pocket of his sweat pants, almost mechanically, as if this was a routine he knew well. Later he knew he would go down to the Police Station and harass the chief until he agreed to surrender a lab technician to carry out a DNA test, quick as possible. As secretly as he could, of course. It crossed his mind to tell the others, but only for a moment. Raven trusted him, even if she didn't think he deserved an explanation. For all he knew, he was the only person she had ever trusted in her entire life. It was not an option to show her that was a mistake.
Cyborg returned with the towel and Robin somehow managed to block the mercifully silent owl from view. He told Cyborg he'd have a shower and meet the Team at the Pizza place. They were wrong, when they said he didn't trust Raven and that was why he was so intent on finding where she had gone. He cared about her so much it hurt, and that was why it had turned into a new obsession. This new development... he didn't know what to think. All he knew was that once he finally got the results, they wouldn't be sent through Owl post. He would be handing them to her in person, and if she didn't agree to meet him she wouldn't get them at all.
Once again, a little short for all our tastes but I felt like updating. More to come soon, I promise.