I am SO sorry! I have no excuse for not updating for this long! Can I make it up to you by giving you chapter 20?
DISCLAIMER - Anything recognisable is not mine.
Life is made up of moments. Some moments make a huge impact; others make barely a dent. Eleanor was experiencing the former. It sounded silly when she thought about it – in fact it sounded down right stupid. She tried to smile and pretend she wasn't bothered at all. That it was just one of those things. She was pretty sure that her act was going well – to everyone but Lily.
As per, Lily played the best friend card perfectly and had littered her with knowing looks all day. It was actually becoming annoying how well the other girl knew her. Eleanor couldn't quite get used to it, even after nine months. It had always been the other way around – she knew everyone better than they even knew themselves. How had the roles reversed?
Deciding to ignore the slight panic that came with someone knowing her so well, Eleanor instead focused on the problem in front of her. Literally. It was sat opposite and a few chairs down from her at the dinner table in the Great hall. Letting her hair fall in her face to hide her eyes, she quickly glanced up and immediately regretted it. Was she just a glutton for punishment?
Blissfully unaware of her predicament, Sirius sat with his arm around his new hoe- uh, beau, Eleanor corrected herself internally. Hestia Jones was a Ravenclaw from their year and the latest in a decently sized line of girls to take Sirius' fancy; difference being that this time it was official. Never before had Sirius had a 'girlfriend', in fact Eleanor had heard him refer to himself as "a lone ranger" multiple times – a term he had picked up in Muggle Studies. It had always made her shake her head and smile conflictedly. Realistically there wasn't any way they would ever date – they were friends and nothing more - but knowing that he wouldn't go official with any other girl had lifted her spirits. Maybe it was wrong, but whatever, it had never really been an issue until now. Sure, whenever he ended up snogging a new girl, she felt like she had been punched in the gut – but at least she knew that the next day it would be over, and she could, perhaps foolishly, pretend it never happened; going back to the fantasy that her mind had made up involving the two of them being ridiculously in love.
And anyways, Hestia was a nice girl no matter what the jealous teenage girl side of her thought. And he seemed happy right? But he's not happy with me.
Her hand gripped the Addict-A-Ball in her pocket that Sirius had given her over three weeks earlier. As much as it had helped – especially since finding out about Sirius and Hestia – she was starting to wish he hadn't bothered giving her it. That rare glimpse into his real, caring self, not the one he put on for show around school; it had just made her all the more enamoured with him. And now she had to sit at the dinner table trying to keep her food down as she watched him whisper into Hestia's ear, probably something inappropriate considering her blush and flirty giggle.
And it's only been 3 days…
"So I was thinking, after dinner, maybe we should study?" Lily said, purposely flicking her eyes towards Remus. Another full moon had gone and passed without any kind of eureka moment on the 'curing werewolves' front. That probably didn't help Eleanor's mood.
She just nodded absently as she pushed her cauliflower around with her fork. Whatever happened to "I'm not going to let a boy dictate my happiness at Hogwarts"? Buck up! Her inner monologue was having a much easier time with the show in front of her.
Later on, the two girls sat in Eleanor's room with books, pieces of parchment with quick notes and ideas jotted down on them and ink splodges forming a semicircle around them.
"Ok, so we've exhausted the 'charm' side of things…" Eleanor closed the book to her left. After getting nowhere with their researching in the previous weeks, they had decided to update their researching technique. Lily had the idea to go through every subject in school with a fine-toothed comb, seeing what, if any, specific area held the most promise. Looking through all of those charm books had definitely improved Eleanor's ability in the subject, if nothing else.
"So…" Lily muttered, tapping her finger against her knee as she looked across the open books lay out in front of her, "Potions?" She picked one up and held it out to Eleanor questioningly. Despite deciding that any potions that might be able to help were way out of their capabilities when they first started their mission, the two girls were at their wits end and willing to try anything.
Eleanor nodded and took the book silently.
A few moments passed when Lily spoke up again, "I know you said you don't have anything to say about it, but if you want to talk, you know I'm here right?" Eleanor didn't have to ask what she was talking about.
"Lily, it's just a stupid crush. Honestly, I'm fine," And that was the very first time Eleanor barefaced lied to her best friend. It didn't go very well as Lily obviously didn't believe her.
"You know, they say if you've had a crush on someone longer than 4 months, you've fallen in love with them…" Lily said quietly as she continued to read.
"Woah woah woah! I am not in love with Sirius! He's my friend! He's just… just nice to look at," Eleanor shrugged, attempting nonchalance as she trailed off but picked up again when she noticed Lily looking at her with a raised eyebrow, "Don't look at me like that! You're the one throwing crazy accusations around! Anyway, we have work to do." She tried to veer the conversation away, gesturing to the book Lily had just handed her.
She heard Lily sigh, "You need to talk about this,"
"There's nothing to talk about,"
"El, you're clearly shocked by the news, you need to let it out,"
"Lily, there's nothing to say," Eleanor was starting to get frustrated. Why couldn't Lily just pick up on the fact that she didn't want to talk about it? The red head managed to notice just about everything else.
"You need to talk about it El," Lily repeated.
"Why can't you just let it go?" Eleanor snapped. To Lily's defence, she didn't react to the annoyed tone.
"Because you're my friend. And you're hurting," She paused before adding, "And we both know what happens when you keep things in for too long," She said softly. Eleanor felt her face tense as she looked at Lily. Damn it, she was right. But I don't want too and she should just respect that. She immediately thought in response. She cares about you and doesn't want you to get hurt. (Or hurt anyone else). A small voice at the back of her head added. After a few seconds, Eleanor sighed, letting her eyelids close as she did so. Her mind raced back to the numerous occasions she had lost control, mainly the times where she either didn't have or hadn't been able to reach her room quick enough.
In her own way, she was rather like Remus. Losing control to a crazed monster who only seeks to destroy. When she had first moved to Xavier's, the professor told her to try to get to know that side of herself, to give it a name, to overcome her fear of it. At first she refused, too terrified that it would take over and consume her, but one night, the professor was going through her mind - as was their nightly routine – when he made a breakthrough. Either the walls surrounding that side of her had been broken down, or even more alarmingly, he had been welcomed through them. All he heard was one word before he was pushed back out; Phoenix. From then on, that was what that side of her was named.
"You're right," Eleanor murmured, "Of course you're right,"
The corner of Lily's lips twitched upwards sadly but she didn't say anything.
"But I'm not in love with him," She denied strongly, then almost contradicted herself as she thought about it, "At least, I don't think I am. I just feel like there's a weight on my chest. And every time I look at them I feel like I've been hit by a bludger – not that I've ever been hit by a bludger – but by what I imagine being hit by a bludger feels like," She was rambling, "I don't know why this is so different to the others though. I mean, sure it's an actual relationship so there's a slight difference there, but I've seen him literally feeling up that slag Honey Taylor at parties and it never felt this bad."
Unconsciously, Eleanor's hand came to rest on her chest as she tried to hold herself together.
Lily closed the book she was reading and turned to face her, "Maybe it's because it's an "actual relationship"…? I mean, before he was kind of your Sirius- and don't try to say he wasn't because you know it's true, you're one of the only girls in our entire school that he's actually friends with and not trying to get with," She added quickly, holding up a finger as Eleanor tried to interrupt her, "But now he's Hestia's Sirius, and let's be honest, girl/boy friendships always suffer when one of them gets into a relationship. Or… maybe it's not the fact that he's in a relationship, maybe it's the fact that he's not in a relationship with you?" Lily paused as if trying to think of a way to phrase her words, but Eleanor wanted it straight, no bubble wrap, "I mean before, he never did relationships like you said, and it didn't hurt so bad. But now he does apparently, and he didn't choose you to be in one with…" Lily trailed off but Eleanor had heard all she needed to get the cogs in her brain turning.
Was that why? Did she feel rejected? Upset? Yes. Hurt? Definitely. Frustrated? Of course. Rejected? Yes. She realised. Yes, she did feel rejected. Even though he hadn't actually done so, she still felt the sting of rejection with the fact that he had chosen Hestia Jones over her. As far as she was aware, the two had never really spoken up until recently. He chose a stranger over her.
Eleanor felt herself being pulled into a hug as tears began to form. When Lily's hand rubbed her arm comfortingly, a few escaped down her cheeks. She leaned onto her friends shoulder for a few minutes before the silence was broken by Lily.
"Do you want me to kick his arse?"
Eleanor couldn't help but let out a watery laugh.
"So what's up?" Remus asked as he sat down opposite her at the table. It had been almost a week since Eleanor had gone through the realisation that she felt betrayed, rejected, abandoned… pick one, by Sirius. In a complete coincidence, it had also been almost a week since she began avoiding all four of the marauders – not an easy task, she even went as far as to move seats in Muggle Studies; blaming it on Professor Mailer when Sirius questioned the change. The other three boys hadn't done a thing wrong, and she knew that, but they were like a pack of wolves – it was rare to find one of them alone and Eleanor just didn't want to risk that it would be Sirius popping up out of nowhere as he regularly did. That didn't mean that she wasn't feeling guilty about it, but a girl can only be emotionally punched in the face so many times before she calls it quits.
"What do you mean?" Eleanor looked up from her Transfiguration book. As had become more of a habit than she cared to admit, she was once again in the library; however, luckily, this time she actually was doing just regular homework.
"We've barely seen you all week," Remus said as if it was obvious.
"I've been busy," When he didn't reply, she glanced back at him to see a dubious expression on his face, "Honest, I have. I only came to Hogwarts this year remember, so with end of year exams coming up soon, I need to be studying constantly if I have any hope of even getting Acceptables',"
"Did your old school not teach the same stuff?" Eleanor blinked as she remembered that Remus didn't know about her previous school.
"Not exactly… Anyway, what are you working on?" She continued in an unnecessary attempt to change the subject. Unnecessary because at that moment the library doors were pushed open, slamming against the walls behind them, and in sauntered James and Peter, earning themselves a harsh glare from Madam Pince. Eleanor waited nervously for a certain dark-haired marauder to follow them but after a few moments she realised he must have been elsewhere, like snogging his girlfriend, the though made her nauseous.
"What the hell are you two doing in here?" Remus asked as the two boys flopped down in the remaining empty seats.
"Someone decided to drag me here," Peter said, jokingly glaring at James.
"If you must know, I must borrow Miss Douglas here as we are long overdue for a very important conversation," James said before turning to Eleanor, "Now, I have a mission for you. It could very well be dangerous, but I promise you it will be worth it-"
"I'm not convincing Lily to go out with you,"
"Wha- Hey! Why not?" He dropped the pompous tone and reverted back to his regular annoying, teenage boy self.
"Why should I do all the work? If you actually like her, prove it, I've told you a thousand times,"
"Every time I 'prove it', I end getting hexed or otherwise physically assaulted!"
"Yes, and as funny as that is, maybe you should change tactics?" Eleanor tidied her books into a pile and stood up from her chair, pulling her bag over her shoulder, "I'll see you guys later," She'd pushed her luck enough. Any longer and she was risking Sirius appearing, even if it was a library. However, she had clearly done something in a previous life to piss someone off.
Eleanor managed three simple steps before the last voice she wanted to hear called out.
"Ellie!" She quickly calculated in her head whether he was far enough away that she could get away with pretending not to have heard him, and then remembered this was Sirius and he was just as likely to follow her getting louder and louder until she turned around. Sighing softly, she plastered a big smile on her face and spun on her heel. It got worse. Not only was it Sirius, but Hestia was walking beside him, looking very comfortable as she practically hung off his arm.
Eleanor looked up to the sky quickly, really? What have I ever done to you?
"Hey," Sirius said when they reached her, "Haven't seen much of you recently,"
"Yeah, I've just been really busy," She replied, hearing the question in his statement.
"Sure, sure," He trailed off, looking at her with questioning eyes. A small cough from the girl beside him brought back his attention, "What?"
Hestia visibly jerked her head in Eleanor's direction – a plastic smile on her lips – but Sirius just continued to look confused.
Ground, swallow me please?
Eleanor sighed and bit the proverbial bullet, "I'm Eleanor, it's nice to meet you properly," She turned to the other girl and smiled - which probably looked more like a grimace - as she tried to ignore the bitter taste the words left in her mouth.
"You too, I'm Hestia, most people just call me Hes though," 'Hes' began, "You're the girl who started here at the beginning of the year, right? That must have been strange,"
"Yeah, that's uh, one word for it," Eleanor quickly gave up on being kind and, as always, settled for civility.
A few awkward seconds passed, when nothing happened with the exception of uncomfortable staring. Uncomfortable staring between the two girls at least; Sirius stood tall with his usual grin on his face. 'Hes' coughed again and tugged on his arm, god I hope I'm not that annoying. Instead of sticking around for the inevitably weird goodbyes as she watched her crush walk away with his girlfriend, Eleanor decided to make a sharp exit.
"I best be off then." Without waiting for a response, she continued on her way down the corridor with no particular destination in mind as long as it was far from Sirius and Hes. She cringed internally as she thought the name. It was wrong to dislike someone before you even knew them, yes, she knew that, but how could she possibly be friendly with the girl who was currently dating her crush? Any maturity that she felt had left her body, leaving a normal 15 year old girl who fancied a boy who had a girlfriend – and that wasn't a good combination.
Verbally groaning, Eleanor smacked her forehead against the books in her arms.
When the day was done and darkness had fallen, Eleanor collapsed into bed with an oomph. Nothing was more appealing than her bed right now. Not one single thing. The relaxing warmth called to her after her long, long day.
After Sirius caught her, and introduced her to 'Hes', Eleanor ended up wandering for a while. Her mind was stuck on a repetitive loop of Sirius and girlfriends and marauders. She didn't even have anyone to help take her mind away – Lily was with Snape, Elsie was down on the Quidditch pitch flying, Dorcas was probably there too and she had no idea where Mary and Alice were. Even though the girls still lived in the same room, both of them were usually up and out on a morning before Eleanor even had a chance to turn around – and they were always the last two back on a night – so they hadn't really spoken much more than 'hello's and 'goodbye's recently.
She had ended up in her room where she finished her Transfiguration assignment, seeing as though she was rudely interrupted, and got a head start on her next Charms essay.
And now relax. She thought as she pulled the covers up to her chin, her wand lay on the bed beside her pillow. It always fascinated her how much a wand affected a witch or wizard's ability to perform magic. Unless you were an extremely powerful witch/wizard, it even controlled whether you could perform magic. Your wand became an extension of yourself. It acted as a funnel in the ocean, creating order out of chaos as magic was taken from the depths of your soul and poured down through what appeared to be a wooden stick but was so much more. Not for the first time, Eleanor mused about how brilliant it would be to have such a crutch to rely on when it came to her mutation. Maybe if she had something she could use to pin point what part of her power she wanted to use and how, she could take down her walls and be free – well… all except the Phoenix.
Relaxation wasn't going as well as Eleanor hoped. She was jittery and excited. The professor was 'calling' tonight and even though it was only a few weeks, she felt like she hadn't heard from her surrogate father in forever. She missed him and everyone back at Xavier's terribly but it was only around two more months before she would see them again – she could do it.
Suddenly, a voice spoke in her mind, "Eleanor?"
"Professor!" It was a strange feeling to greet someone excitedly in your mind; in person, Eleanor would run up and hug the professor on sight but through telepathy? Well, her hands just kind of lay there awkwardly itching to hug thin air, "I've missed you so much professor! How are you? How's Raven? And Scott?"
She felt him laugh softly, "Slow down El, everyone is fine as always. Raven keeps badgering me to remind you that you still owe her five dollars from a bet you made last summer? She said you'd know what it means," Dammit, she thought. Just before coming to Hogwarts, she had bet Raven that she would be back at Xavier's by April at the very latest. The professor laughed even more when he heard her 'explanation', "I'm not even surprised. How are you doing anyway?"
"I'm good thanks,"
"Are you sure? The situation with Sirius seems to be-"
"None of your business thank you!" She interrupted him. One of the few good things about not having these conversations in person, was that he couldn't see the huge blush that would grow whenever he mentioned Sirius – he could, however, hear her mortification which if she was honest was just as bad.
"Ok, ok," He laughed once more, "How are you doing with your school work then? Are you feeling ready for your exams?"
"I think so, I mean, I've had a lot of catching up to do, but Lily helps me a lot and all of the professors are really good at explaining things. So as long as I study loads, I think I'll do ok. Or I hope I will at least,"
"You always do your best El, and it's always brilliant,"
She smiled to herself, "I miss you,"
"And I, you Eleanor," He paused, "But let's not get all sad, summer is in two months and then you're home for weeks and weeks!"
Eleanor's smile grew at that. Going back to Xavier's for six weeks was an enlivening thought – even if the tables would turn and she would undoubtedly miss Hogwarts.
"I know you will El," The professor said in response to her thoughts, "But you'll see them again in September, and anyway, you've still got plenty of time over there before you come back! Although, I'm sure you're living with your head in books for the time being," He added jokingly. But it brought up an idea.
"Professor? Can I ask you a question?"
"Of course, El,"
"What do you know of werewolves?" She felt shock waver in his mind before he collected himself.
"Is this about your friend Remus?" It hadn't been intentional to tell the professor about Remus, not at all. But one night he 'called', she was showing him her day and he saw the memory of when she found out playing in the far corners of her mind. As he was with everything, instead of being wary, the professor was fascinated and keen to know more about Remus and his condition. Since then, he had seen a little of what she and Lily were trying to do, but nothing concrete.
"It is, yes," She said with a sigh, "Lily and I, we want to help him… but we have no idea how. Everything that we've read and looked into says that it can't be done. It doesn't help that lycanthropy is looked down upon like a horrific disease – which I suppose it is, but no one wants to help them! Instead of trying to find a cure or a way to ease the suffering of these people, the entire wizarding community shuns them, claiming that they're below the dirt on the street! I just… ugh, I don't know what to do," Eleanor felt herself become worked up, as she always did when talking or even thinking about the disgusting treatment of people with lycanthropy, and took a deep breath to try and calm down, "So anyway, you saying about studying has got me thinking… do you think there's anything that we could do? As mutants?"
She suddenly felt very sheepish, which confused her totally until she realised it was coming from the professor; which, to be honest, confused her even more.
"Actually El, I should probably tell you, but since you told me about your friend and indeed the existence of such people, I've been thinking along the same lines as you. From my research, there is nothing definite yet – nothing even experimentation worthy yet either – but I am looking into it, and I'll keep you informed of any discoveries made. Raven and I even had the idea of using her cellular structure to create a 'potion' as it were that would allow the person to stay in their human form under the full moon, but I'm afraid we've hit a rather big brick wall with that."
Eleanor sighed, disappointed. Honestly, she hadn't thought about the possibility of Raven holding the key to a cure and when the professor mentioned it, her heart skipped a beat, however, the notion was clearly premature if even the professor, the man with the most brilliant brain she had ever known, couldn't figure it out.
"Thank you professor," She said dejectedly.
"What is it, Eleanor?"
"It's just.. do you really think there's a way to help?"
"As I recall you once said to your friend Lily, 'I think that there's no way you will give up until you find a way,' and I'm right here, backing you all the way. I truly believe you can do this; this and so much more."