That Pulling Feeling by Bella
AN – I know I haven’t written anything for ages and I feel awful (especially to the regular readers of Pocket). I just feel like I’ve completely run out of... ideas.
But something happened – or started to happen – to me recently, and I felt a sudden rush of inspiration. So, this story is more of a traditional format (than my usual drabble-style), but it’s from Remus’s POV.
I won’t say anything more than that – the overall plot will become pretty much clear from the first chapter.
Please leave something on your way out.
That Pulling Feeling
Chapter 1: Of Feminism And Feelings
“Mm-hmm,” I nodded
“You’re not an Austen fan?” I was genuinely surprised.
Lily scrunched up her face in a clear expression of disapproval. “Well you clearly are, Remus.”
“How can you not love her?” I exclaimed, “She is one of the most fabulous feminist writers. Especially for her time.”
“Ok, firstly,” Lily said. I could see her mentally preparing a list. “It is pretty easy not to love Austen. I mean, how can you sit through ‘Persuasion’? It’s unbearable. Secondly, feminist? Are you kidding me? Her female characters may be appealing but they’re not feminists. They may have wonderful ideologies or they effectively manipulate men, but in the end they simply conform to society’s ideal. And thirdly, you use the word fabulous. You are so gay.” She grinned at me.
I took a deep breath. “Firstly, Persuasion may not be your thing, but you have to admit that Pride and Prejudice is a beautiful book.”
“Accepted,” she cut in, “But one book doesn’t make up for the trashiness of ‘Sense and Sensibility’ or the boringness of ‘Emma’. And I know boringness isn’t a word – don’t correct me.”
“Actually it is. Weird, huh? Secondly,” I continued, “Name me a better feminist writer.”
“Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Mary Wollstonecraft, Maya Angelo–”
“Ok, ok,” I conceded, before adding: “And thirdly, I am not gay.”
She reached over and held my knee. “It’s ok. I won’t tell James and Sirius. I promise.”
She giggled. “I know. I just like screwing with you.”
She heaved herself up from her sprawled position and sat cross-legged on the grass opposite me.
“You know,” she said, looking up at the orangey-pink sky, “I’m so lucky to have you.”
I could feel myself blushing. I looked at my lap and shrugged.
“Don’t get all girly on me,” she said, casually. “I just like talking to you about books.”
One of the many things I loved about Lily Evans was her ability to ease an awkward situation with her never-failing happiness and familiarity.
“But seriously, Remus.” She looked at me. “I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have you for your... perceptiveness and your advice and your... intellectuality. That is a word, right?”
I laughed. “Yeah it is. But you don’t need me for intellectual stimulation. You’ve got Carla... and Jen.”
She suppressed a grin as she whacked my leg. “Hey! That’s not fair!”
“No, you’re right. I’m sure they’d love discussing Sylvia Plath with you. I think they’d find ‘The Bell Jar’ particularly appealing. It’s so–”
She laughed. “Ok, ok, fine. But that’s only ‘cause they don’t know Muggle authors.” She paused. “It actually kind of pisses me off, you know. That no one here bothers with Muggle authors.”
“Yeah. Me too,” I said, remembering the hundreds of times that James and Sirius – no matter how intelligent they were – had rejected my “literature-y crap”.
Lily sighed gently. When I looked up she had an odd look on her face.
“Oh nothing much,” she said. “I... it’s Potter...”
“Look, Lily, you know he’s one of my best friends. You are too, and he can be prat sometimes – trust me, I know – but I just can’t let you–”
“No, no, it’s not that.”
“Oh. Right. What is it then?” I asked.
“James, he... I feel like... like things are different, somehow...”
She never called him ‘James’.
I swallowed gently. “With you and him?” I asked tentatively.
“No, not exactly. It’s just... him really.”
“He seems to have...changed. I mean, I know he can’t have. And maybe it’s just the way I’m seeing him, but he seems...different...”
“Yeah. I guess he has changed.”
“Really?” she said excitedly, leaping at my small comment. “‘Cause, I saw him in the corridor today. This girl dropped all her books and he picked them all up for her, straightaway, no fuss. So I thought ‘There’s Potter, ambushing some poor, unsuspecting girl, trying to flirt with her or get off with her or something’. But then, he just picked up the books and gave them back and smiled.”
“So...?” I was slightly confused as to the point of this anecdote.
“So, he didn’t flirt with her. At all! I mean, this girl was all over him. It was Callie Smith in Ravenclaw, 5th Year. You know?”
“I think so. Is she–”
“Complete slag. But Potter didn’t do anything. He just smiled and gave her the books back and said it wasn’t a problem and left. That’s it!”
“Hmm.” I still didn’t really get her point. I don’t think Lily picked up on this.
“I think he has changed. He just doesn’t seem so...Potter-ish anymore. I haven’t seen him picking on anyone or stuff like that, you know?”
She added quietly. “I want him to have changed.”
My head jerked up. She looked at me.
“Do you think he’s changed? You might not have much objectivity, seeing as you’re his best friend and all, but I trust your judgment, Remus. More than anyone else.”
I gazed at her beautifully open face and her expectant emerald eyes. There was only one thing I could say.
“Yeah. I think he has. A lot.”
And it was true. He had changed.
All for her.
Lily beamed at me.
There was a silence.
I looked out at the lake. “I knew this would happen one day.”
“What?” she asked.
I looked back at her. “You and James.”
“Me and James? Do you...oh Merlin, Remus! It’s not like that!”
“I reckon it is. Or it soon will be at least,” I said softly.
“Hmm. I doubt that, very much, Mr Lupin.”
“Well I don’t,” I looked back at the lake. “James has an uncanny way of...getting what he wants.”
“Maybe so, but I have an uncanny way of avoiding what I don’t want.”
“You’ll change your mind,” I said.
“When have you ever known me to change my mind about something like this? You’ve been my closest friend since first year, and you know I don’t make snap judgements, but I rarely change my decisions.”
“Well, I’m sure James will manage to prove you wrong,” I snapped.
She leaned towards me and put both hands on my knees. “What’s wrong? I would’ve thought you’d be happy that two of your friends are getting on better.”
I sighed. I was being idiotic. I took both of her hands in mine.
“I am. I’m sorry, I’m just...distracted.”
She leaned forward, her weight pressing down on my hands and kissed me. “Good,” she grinned.
I smiled back at her before turning to look out at the lake again.
There was a pause. I could sense her trying to fill the – for her, at least – unexplainable silence.
“So, back to my favourite feminist authors. What about...Toni Morison?”
“I don’t know her.”
“Oh, Remus! You must. She really is a fabulous writer. ‘Beloved’ has got to be one of the best books of all time. I’ll lend it to you.”
“And ‘The Bluest Eye’. You should read that as well.”
I wasn’t trying to be standoffish. I guess I couldn’t really help it right then.
But Lily – as ever – didn’t give up her trying to pull me back to her.
She seemed to catch hold of an idea. “What do you think of Maya Angelou?”
Looking back on it, she must have known of my scepticism about her writings and known that mentioning her love for the black American author would make me respond with more gusto. I turned back to her expectant face and couldn’t help grinning as I launched into my argument.
“Ok, ‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings’? I’m sorry but the best thing about that book is the title. It just gets progressively worse from there. It’s packed with clichés and her style isn’t even that inspirational. And I’m not an oversensitive bible-bashing American, but even I can acknowledge that it is a little graphic.”
She smiled. I continued.
“And, oh sweet Merlin – Still I Rise. There are way too many devices which are so clearly purposefully put in there. Like that god-awful refrain. Ugh. And, I mean, I have sympathy for the philosophy of Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome and I get that she’s a black woman growing up in racist America with – let’s face it – a pretty shit life, but it just screams ‘Victim Complex’! That is so clearly not the way to get sympathy.”
I took a deep breath.
She looked at me and grinned. “Gotcha talking.”
She stood up and collected her books.
“Where are you going?”
“I said I’d go to dinner with Jen – and don’t start!”
She caught me before I even opened my mouth to insult her friend’s intelligence, or lack thereof.
“Come see me in the common room after dinner. We shall discuss the Angelou-Austen debate in greater detail.”
I couldn’t help but smile.
She bent down and kissed me on the forehead. “I love you,” she said, before running lightly over to the school building.
I watched her go. She looked over her shoulder, winked at me and blew me a kiss.
“I love you, too,” I whispered into the breeze.
I sat there for a while and eventually shook my head, stood up and gathered up my things, looking out at the lake.
“Stop thinking about it, you stupid bugger. It’s too late now anyway.”
I ambled up to the school, mentally wrestling with myself.
I stopped at the front entrance and pushed my head against the wall. I smashed a fist the hard stone and pressed my head deep into the cold surface. I bit back tears as I tried not to care about how I looked, before realising that I genuinely didn’t give damn.
I thought of Lily and I felt like smiling. I thought of James and I felt like crying. I thought of myself and I felt alone. I thought of everything I should have done and I felt like hitting something. I thought of what I could do now and I felt lost.
I had a sudden rush of adrenaline, an urge to run and find Lily and tell her everything, tell her I loved her and then launch into a passionate kiss.
And then I realised that there was no way that would happen. I was pathetically and ashamedly awful at anything remotely of “carpe diem” spirit, a flaw I didn’t share with James and Sirius. They didn’t posses my ridiculous need to plan and over think everything. I knew that I’d never have the courage to do something so...James.
And though I never even admitted it to myself, my greatest fear – which still lay unspoken and not fully formulated in my mind – was that I had known it all along. I knew both Lily and James so well – possibly better than they knew themselves – and I had always been able to see that they were more than perfect for each other, in spite of their disagreements and waveringly mutual dislike.
Any gossiping 4th year could look at them and see that they had a connection, guess that they would get together, hope that they would have beautiful children and a perfect life. But I could see it on a deeper level. I think Sirius could to, which explains why he was so afraid when they started to get closer: he was terrified of losing his best friend forever. I never believed in fate, but I could see that there would always be something... more to Lily-and-James.
I was pulled out of my reverie as something hid the back of my head suddenly.
“Oi!” I could the voice was Sirius’s.
His hair was matted and dishevelled, one entire half of his body was caked in mud and I could see blood on the arm which was clutching his broom.
Thank Merlin for Sirius was the one thought running through my mind. He was so loyal, so familiar, so constant.
“What the blood hell was that for?” I asked, rubbing the sore spot on the back of my head.
“That was to give you some idea of what I’m feeling all over my fucking body. I’ll tell you what,” he said, ruffling his hair, “Say what you want about Jason Felts, he is fucking ace on a broom.”
I laughed as Sirius climbed the stairs. “Hey! Don’t go inside with all that crap on you.”
“Jesus Christ, you’re such a fucking prefect.”
He sighed exasperatedly. “I know you are a prefect. I just mean you don’t need to take it so personally. Take a break, man. Left me roam free in the corridors and spread my dirt.”
I grinned and Sirius threw his arm over my shoulder as we walked down the entrance hall.
“Hey, guess what?” Sirius chimed.
“I figured out that ‘riddle’ you told me this morning.”
“You don’t need to sound so sceptical. I promise you – riddle is a real word.”
“So you say. Anyway, the ‘riddle’,” he said, as he made a ridiculous inverted-commas gesture. “Ok. A man is on a beach of a tropical island. He takes out a cigarette, lights it, and starts smoking it. Then he takes out a letter and begins reading it. Oh yeah – and he’s wearing uniform, I forgot that bit. Anyway, the cigarette burns down between his fingers, but he doesn't throw it away. And then...he...shit I can’t remember. He–”
“He cries,” I added.
“Oh yeah, he cries. Ok, here’s the answer. So, basically, he starts smoking. And then he gets out this letter and it’s from his girl, right? And ‘cause he’s on holiday on the tropical island and he hasn’t seen her for ages, she’s sent him a picture of her. Naked. Anyway, he’s so...absorbed by the picture, that he forgets he’s got a cig in his hand. So it burns him. But by now he’s already looked back at the letter – cause he didn’t read it properly ‘cause he got distracted by the picture – and his girlfriend writes that she’s leaving him for some other guy. And he’s so fucking upset that he doesn’t give a shit if the fag burns his fingers. And then he cries. ‘Cause he’s so upset. And ‘cause he’s a bit pathetic.”
He looked at me eagerly.
I gave Sirius’ theory a moment to settle before I laughed.
He tried not to smile. “I hate these fucking things. They’re such a fucking waste of time but they end up driving me insane. Why d’you always tell me the bloody things?”
“Because I like driving you insane. It brings some joy into my otherwise disappointment of a life.”
“Aw, a compliment. Go on then, what’s the answer?”
“The man’s a guard on a leper colony and he’s just got a letter telling him he’s got the disease. That’s why he cried. And leprosy kills your sensory neurones without destroying your motor ability–”
Sirius was staring at me blankly. I decided to paraphrase without the scientific terminology. “Basically, the leprosy means that he can hold and light a cigarette but he can’t feel it when it burns down his fingers.”
There was a pause.
“Well that’s just fucking unfair. I don’t know what the fuck ‘leprosy’ is,” he said, complete with his bizarre little gesture.
“Leprosy is a real word, mate. Trust me.”
“Yeah, well. It’s still unfair. My answer was way better than that.”
I cocked an eyebrow at him.
“Come on! Yes it was! Mine had nudity in it. How many riddles do you know that have nudity in them?”
We were both laughing as we reached the portrait hole for the common room.
“So how many Evans Stories d’you reckon Prongs has got lined up for today. I haven’t seen him since breakfast, so I’m guessing around...thirteen.”
“Can we not talk about Evans? Please.”
“What? I’m the one who says that. You’re her fan numero duo.”
I decided to ignore Sirius’s ridiculous attempt at a Spanish accent. No need to ask who ‘numero uno’ would be a reference to.
He put his hand on my shoulder and looked at me questioningly. “Did you two have a lovers’ quarrel?”
Despite his clear sarcasm, I knew that Sirius did care.
“No, it’s fine. I’m just...oh it’s fine...”
“Yeah. It’s nothing.”
“Right you are, mate,” he said as I followed him in through the portrait hole.
“Brace yourself,” he whispered, subtly.
“Why?” I said out of the corner of my mouth.
Sirius nudged his head in the direction of the fireplace, where James was sitting, grinning inanely, vigorously patting the two adjacent armchairs.
“Oh lord,” I moaned, “He’s saved seats.”
“Yep. We’re in for Evans Appreciation Society Meeting number...532 I make it.”