X. FELICITY HATES SLUGHORN

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      "A small improvement, but an improvement nonetheless, Miss Opal," Slughorn commented when he asked her to stay after their Potions lesson. "I see lessons with Severus are working in your favor."

      She had to bite her tongue so she wouldn't say something that sounded unprofessional. Like professing that Snape was the biggest git she'd ever met. "I am trying, Professor, I promise."

      "Of course, dear. I know you are," Slughorn replied, giving her a smile before he seemed to remember something. "Right, I forgot to give something to Mister Lupin today, and seeing as I've seen the two of you have started hanging around each other, I was wondering if you'd give it to him for me."

      Felicity's heart dropped. She had managed to avoid Remus Lupin for the past week (which proved hard when they were both in the Potions classroom together and she had literally ducked underneath a table when he was walking by so she didn't have to speak to him) and now Slughorn was telling her it was all in vain?

      "S-sir," she said, letting a shaky smile cross her face, "don't you think one of his other friends should deliver it? Surely Sirius could-"

      "I'd rather this stayed between you and I, Miss Opal, but I don't exactly trust any of Remus Lupin's normal group of friends with this particular book."

      She was about to mention that she didn't blame him when he held up a book, tattered and covered in dust. The spine was cracked and the pages were yellowed with age, but Felicity was surprised at the elegance of it.

      "What book is that, Professor?"

      Slughorn waved her off with a smile. "Just something Mister Lupin's been requesting for some time now. I promised I would deliver. Thank you again for dropping it off for me, Miss Opal."

      She opened and closed her mouth, spluttering when he dropped the book into her hands. She scrambled to catch it, making sure she had a tight grip on the large object as she stood and made her way to the hall. When she made her way over to the Gryffindor table, anxiously pushing her hair behind her ear. Sirius spotted her first, and sent her a grin and a wink.

      "Flick, always a pleasure to see your lovely face."

      "Hi, Sirius," she said with a faint smile, her fingers trembling. "Do you know where Remus is?"

      "Why?"

      "Slughorn gave me this book to give to him. I thought he would be sitting with you lot, but..." It was very odd to see Sirius, James, and Peter without Remus. It was like seeing an incomplete puzzle with no way of finishing. "Is he feeling alright?"

      She didn't miss the looks his friends sent one another. Suddenly panicked, James whispered something to Sirius before the three turned back to her.

      Felicity had never felt like more of an intruder in that moment.

      "Felicity?" a soft voice from behind her said. When she turned, her mouth fell open in shock.

      The blonde saw Remus Lupin, but it was like he wasn't himself. He had dark circles underneath his eyes, angry puckered scratches on his face, and his hair was completely unkempt. He looked incredibly sick, like he had spent his entire night tossing and turning.

      "Oh my Godric, Remus," she said gently, walking over to him. Without thinking, she pressed her hand to the skin of his forehead. "You're burning up. Shouldn't you go to the hospital wing?"

      "I'm fine," he replied, but he let out a tiny smile when she pulled her hand away. "I promise."

      She narrowed her eyes, not believing him, but nonetheless held out the book to him. "Slughorn said you were asking about this book and asked me to deliver it."

      He took it into his hands and his eyes widened just slightly. "Did you read it?"

      Felicity shook her head. "I'm a bigger fan of muggle books."

      Remus raised his eyebrows. "Really? You know about muggle books?"

      "My father works at the Muggle Liaison Office at the Ministry, so he makes sure to always ask for recommendations for me. Do you read muggle books?"

      "They're some of my favorites," he replied, and his smile grew just a little bit wider. "Maybe we could make each other a list of favorites? I'd love some new ones."

      Remus Lupin wanted a list of her favorite books? She numbly nodded, not really computing what she was agreeing to as she started to make her way back to the Hufflepuff table, but he called her back.

      "Have...have you been avoiding me?"

      Felicity's eyes widened. He had noticed? Lanelle had said he wouldn't notice. She was going to kill Lanelle. "Nope. Not at all. No avoiding whatsoever."

      He raised and eyebrow.

      She slapped her hand onto her face (a little too harshly, for her skin stung) and sighed. "I always make a fool out of myself when I speak. I figure avoiding people might help with that. You were caught in the crossfire."

      Remus laughed, and it was going down in Felicity's book as one of the most beautiful sounds in the world. "You could never make a fool out of yourself."

      "Oh, but I could."

      He rolled his eyes. "Alright, sure." Before he went to sit with his friends, he smiled once more. "Make me that list of muggle books. I'd like to see if we've read any of the same."

      "Will do. See you later, Remus." Don't say anything stupid. Don't say anything stupid. "Oh, and please stop by the Hospital Wing. I'd hate to see you get sick."

      Well, there went not saying anything stupid.

      Lanelle was munching on a sandwich when Felicity made her way over to the Hufflepuff table. "Saw you talking to Remus. How did that go?" her eyebrows wiggled.

      "I hate myself. I hate whoever he fancies. I hate him."

      "You could never hate Remus Lupin."

      "I hate you, too." But Lanelle was right. She was pretty sure she couldn't hate Remus Lupin even if she tried (which, she most definitely had been).

lanelle is me okay and also the book is on werewolves in case y'all were wondering. big thanks to @johoester for the beautiful gif of lopal! look at how cute!

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