The Order of Things

Chapter 13

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter

Discomfort

I ran. It probably wasn't the wisest course of action. But at the moment, I didn't care. Nothing less than force could have prevented me from fleeing. Pucey, or Black, whoever he was didn't pursue me further than calling out, "Weasley! Weasley come back!" I wondered what that means. As I dashed back up to Hogwarts castle, I wondered what it meant that a not-so-dead ex-death eater didn't stop me from running away with his secret. I couldn't wrap my head around this. Either because it was illogical or because I didn't have enough information to make sense of it all. Both ways didn't matter. Only one thing was clear. There were now two unknown variables potentially screwing with the order of things. The first variable is me. The unwritten character who knew the plot and was using it to her advantage to save loved ones. The second is now Pucey. A minor character that was suddenly not so minor. I raced past the wrought iron gate that marks the border of the Hogwarts' grounds. I understand my motivation. Mine is quite clear. Don't let Fred Weasley die. The only thing that makes me an unknown variable is the fact that I don't know how my presence or actions will change the course of events. Pucey's goals, motivation, and intentions are just question marks. All I have to go off on are breadcrumbs. I sprint past Filch who yells to me, "come back here, and check in properly! Bloody brat". But before he even finished speaking, I am up the stone steps of Hogwarts' entrance. All I know is that Pucey was once Regulus black. Or so he claims. And that he wants to use his current life to avoid past mistakes. But that knowledge leads to more questions than answers. Pushing open the Hogwarts' entrance doors, I let them swing shut behind me as I bound up the stairs. Where I am running too, remains unseen. What would constitute as a mistake to Regulus? Who was in the driver's seat? Regulus or Adrian? Or was he more like me? Were Regulus and Adrian meshed together as one person like how Jessie and I are? Or was it another matter entirely? And most importantly, why would he take the risk and tell me about his past life? I take the steps two at a time as I dashed up them. Not the smartest thing to do considering that the staircases liked to move without warning. However, I can't say that I am being very rational at the moment. The boy that I didn't like, but liked better than most was harboring a secret big enough to make things extremely difficult in the future. Potentially, this unknown second variable could destroy the future. Or, the future I am working to obtain.

I end up on the 7th-floor landing before I ran out of wind. Having run all the way from Hogsmeade to the Hogwarts' 7th floor I end up hunched over, balancing my hands on my knees as my chest heaves with every breath. I have never run like that before in either of my lives. Which might partially be a contributing factor to why Jessie died before her time. In the back of my mind, I am surprised that I had that in me. But now is not the time to uncover undiscovered athletic abilities. Now's the time to think. To plan. To come up with a course of action. But as I stood on the landing of the 7th floor, panting with great effort in a hunched over position, my mind is completely blank. I don't want to think. I don't want to plan. I suspect anything that I did come up with would just be complete rubbish at this point anyway. All I want to do is cry. I shut my eyes and hold them so tight that my whole face squinches. As if that would prevent my tear ducts from overflowing. Crying, I thought to myself, would be a stupid waste of time. But thinking that doesn't lessen the urge. I had been looking forward today. I made the effort to look somewhat nice. As nice as a person can look when wearing a pink Sherlock Holmes hat. I gave up spending my first trip to Hogsmeade with my brothers for today to happen. And it had been a lovely day. Up until Pucey dropped that bombshell. It made me wonder how much of it was real. The pleasant rapport in potions class. The friendly acknowledgment in the hallways. Him putting up with my interfering brothers. Or was it all a pretense to pull me into this... this madness.

Having regained a resting heart rate, I can return to breathing through my nose. Which I do by exhaling loudly through my nostrils. I leave my right hand pressed against my right knee, and use my left hand to cover my sweaty face. Maybe Fred and George are right. I do have horrid taste in men. Damn it! Why are those gits always right? Gah! What am I even doing? What is the point of making all of these plans regarding my knowledge of the future if something completely inconceivable, like the rebirth of Regulus Black, gets thrown into the mix? I run the hand covering my face down, pulling the skin with the motion. What am I even doing here? Does me being here actually mean anything at all?

"Er, Holly?" An unsure and slightly embarrassed voice liberates me from my existential crisis. I snap my waist up and straighten my knees so that I am in an upright standing position. Standing to my left on the 7th-floor landing are Ron and Harry. The first looks like he is trying to decide if he should be worried or apprehensive. While the second just seems concerned. "What are you doing?" Ron asked.

"Nothing, nothing," I said, giving my knee jerk response. After growing up as an accomplice to Fred and George, I learned to claim innocence before ever being accused of anything. However, the intensity of the moment I was having spurs me to say more. "Just reacting to the biggest, most ludicrous mother-" A side look at the two impressionable first-years had me tactfully rewording my intended statement. "monstrous emotional upheaval of my young life".

Every descriptive word I used had the first-years looking at me with more and more puzzlement. Evidentially, they never thought they would be witnessing a mental breakdown when the adventured outside of the common room. "Right" Ron drawled out after a moment. "Well, we were just going to Hagrid's". My youngest brother said as he started to inch around me. Yeah, that's right Ronald. Emotional upheavals are contagious. Keep your distance. But Harry didn't have to same self-preservation instincts as Ron. He grabbed Ron by his sleeve, and at Ron's inquiring expression, bobbed Harry bobbed his head in my direction. It took Ron a moment to interpret what Harry's gesture meant. But when he had it, he rolled his eyes and asked, "but are you alright?" His voice was flat as is appropriate for an obligatory question. This brat.

"Yeah, just fine". I said a little too forcibly. "Just having a mid-life crisis is all. Perfectly natural".

Ron takes on a look of vexation. "You're thirteen!" He said, gesturing at my whole person. "You're not having a mid-life crisis".

I look heavenward and roll my eyes. He's missing the point. "Well, this will be my mid-life crisis if I die when I'm twenty-five or twenty-six". I argued just for the sake of arguing. Riling up my little brother is currently a more appealing option than thinking about Adrian Pucey's past life and the miraculous return of Regulus Black.

"Bloody Hell" Ron complained as he tried to share a commiserating look with Harry.

Harry, however; has his eyes set on me. He seems to be stuck in between a place of amused laughter and genuine concern. Poor boy. He'll learn soon enough. "umm" Harry broke in before Ron and I could continue our dance of sibling repartee. "Is this… are you having another fit?" He managed to ask on his second attempt.

At Harry's question, the vexing expression melted off of Ron's face, and he really started to look me over. Glad to know that some part of him cares. I breathe in deeply through my nose in an attempt to actually calm down. No boy is worth getting this worked up over, I think to myself. I remember Jessie's mum telling her the same thing when she was sixteen and crying over a homecoming date that dumped in the middle of the dance. No boy who is the reincarnated soul of youngest known death eater is worth getting worked up over. I think again, rephrasing it to fit my exact situation…. Yeah, not buying it. But I force myself to calm down anyway. It's one thing to snap at Ron. The boy asks for it, I swear. But it would be another thing to go off on the boy-who-lived. He just hasn't done anything to deserve a biting rapport. Give it time. I suspect by his third year he'll be able to banter with the best of us Weasleys. "This," I said in a voice that almost resembled my everyday voice as I waved a hand around the vicinity of my torso. "Is not what a seizure looks like. If I was having a fit I would be convulsing on the floor and choking on my salvia. This is me freaking out because something just got vastly over-complicated". I have to swallow after the word complicated. Otherwise, I feared might end up hunched over again due to the weight of all of the implications. Would it be reasonable to just go to bed and forget any of this ever happened?

When I confirmed that I wasn't having another episode, Ron lost his limited concern and went back to being annoyed. "Something that's over-complicated sounds like a girl problem," my brother said, wiping his hands of it. "Come on Harry. We can't help. She never makes any sense when she gets like this". After a little prodding for my dear, dear brother, Harry and Ron continued on their way to visit Hagrid. But not before I get a timid 'take care' for the black-haired first-year. Black. I think as I start to move. This time taking a much slower pace. Regulus bloody Black.

I decided that since I am already on the 7th floor it would be best to go to the common room and wait for Fred and George to stumble home. It's probably the safest place anyway since only Gryffindors and McGonagall could get in. This way Pucey couldn't sneak up on me and insist that we finish our conversation.

From within the common room, I killed time by pacing in front of the portrait entrance. Fred and George had plans to raid and pillage Honeydukes and Zonkos (In a legal fashion, of course) with Lee. So, I couldn't expect them to be back until a later time. Probably not until dinner. But that doesn't mean that I can't act like a lonely house pet until they do come back. Regulus bloody Black! They were going to lose their heads when they found out. Just like I did. Just like I am currently doing.

My pacing didn't seem to be bothering the majority of my housemates. Mostly because, beside myself, there were only two Gryffindors in the common room this Saturday afternoon; Neville Longbottom and Hermione Granger. Longbottom was tucked in his own little corner and was reading what looked like a potions book with half a roll of parchment rolled out in front of him. One of Snape's assignments by the look of it. He had been warily watching me for the past five minutes. Sinking further into his corner as time ticked by. If he's that nervous about a random girl walking back and forth, I don't think I have to worry about him coming over and asking what I was doing. The same can not be said about Granger. Like Longbottom, she had spent the last five minutes watching me from one of the couches by the fireplace. Unlike Longbottom, she appeared to be more eager than wary. After that day in the library with Lee, I had caught her a couple of times looking at me from across the way. Probably because I second-handedly offered to be study buddies with the girl. Hermione still hasn't made any lasting connections yet so it makes sense. A few times she's even managed to sit across from me at Gryffindor table in the great hall. But other than polite greetings, and the standard 'how are you', we don't really talk. What can I say? I spend meals with Fred and George, and they tend to be handfuls. Today, however; Granger seems to decide this her moment. Merlin, help me.

"Excuse me," the first-year said after she had crossed the room to stand in the middle of my pacing path. She has a book the size of her stomach clutched in her arms. But she has the title facing her chest so I can't see what it is.

I hummed at her to go on as I walked around her and continued to pace. I doubt I am capable of holding still at the moment. And I probably would struggle to be still until I got the chance to spill everything that's happened to Fred and George. This situation is so bizarre, they probably won't know what to do either. But I feel like it would help if I wasn't the only one panicking. Or at least, it would make me feel better. "I've been doing some reading on the side," Hermione said, nodding to the book in her arms. I continue to walk back and forth, back and forth. Reading. Awesome. Glad to see she's keeping up with a hobby. I am only half-listening. I'll probably spend the rest of my life half-listening as I doubt that I will ever be able to stop thinking about Regulus bloody Black. "It's really interesting" Hermione goes on to say. "And it relates to you. So, I wanted to ask you about it".

That got my attention. "Sure," I said, as I walked past her and kept on walking up and down the length of the room. "What's it about?" I asked as I turned around. Adrian Pucey and Regulus Black are the same person. Blah! It makes my skin crawl.

"It's about legilimency". Granger's simple sentence gave me cause to pause. At my abrupt stillness, Hermione notices that she is holding my attention. Quickly, she said, "There's an interesting chapter to. About the effect it has on witches and wizards who have experienced past lives". Bullocks. I should have locked myself in the room of requirement. "Isn't that what you are?" Hermione asked. But she answers her own question. "Because the book says that the only people who have seizures after a legilimency attack or those who have more than one set of memories. And I just… It's so rare that I wanted to talk to you about it".

Once I had comprehended Hermione's words, I turned to face her. My eyes bore into hers as she stares back at me with the start of unease growing into her expression. If Hermione Jean Granger, Ron's future wife, tells me that she was once someone else. Something equally ridiculous as Regulus reborn. Like if she was once Rowena Ravenclaw, then I am packing Fred, George and I up and transferring the three of us to Mahoutokoro. I don't care if Mum and Dad can't afford it. I'll find a way to get us full scholarships. I don't care if none of us speak any Japanese. We are getting the hell out of dodge before any more of this… of this silliness can consume us further.

Hermione squares her shoulders, deciding that my intense look isn't enough to dissuade her curiosity. "What's it like?" She asked. "What's it like to have lived two lives?" Hermione leaned forward ever so slightly to whisper her question and in anticipation of my answer. It is a small consolation that she had the sense not to say it loud enough for Longbottom to hear.

I sigh, as some tension leaves me. She makes it sound like I have already died for the second time. But at least she isn't confessing a big, deep death-defying secret to me. Though leave it to Hermione to piece together such an important detail about my life with only a book for guidance. "That isn't something you should be going around asking people," I said, as an upsurge of tiredness suddenly engulfed me. "Past lives are rather personal" I whispered, matching her volume.

Hermione nods. "I figured" She assured me. But that didn't stop her from asking further questions. "But what is it like? Are you the same person? Or do you just have the memories of someone else? How much do you remember?"

I cut her off before she can shovel any more question marks at me. "Granger," I said slowly, reaching up to pinch the bridge of my nose. I was starting to feel the early onset symptoms of a headache coming on. Though I am unsure if the direct cause is Granger's questions, the fact that I ran all the way from Hogsmeade to the 7th floor, or Regulus bloody Black. "Kudos to you for connecting the dots," I said as earnestly as I can, considering that I'd like nothing more to just rewind the clock at this point. Granger beams at the compliment. I guess that means that my words are more powerful than my tone of voice. "But please drop the subject. I don't want people to know about this. Only my family knows about my past, and frankly, it isn't any of your business".

Hermione's face falls. And if it wasn't for Regulus bloody Black ruining my image of Pucey then I would have probably felt bad. "I understand," the first-year girl said as she looked down at her Mary Jane shoes. "I won't tell anyone".

"Thank you," I said, finally managing a breath of relief.

But then her bushy little head popped back up. "But can you answer just one question?" She asked, holding up one finger.

My shoulders sagged as I responded with, "I'm going to bed".

"Wait, it's only one O'clock" Hermione called as I passed her, dragging my feet in the direction of the dormitories. When I don't answer her, Hermione called out something else. "That's the boys' dorm! You're going up the wrong set of stairs!" Without turning around, I raise my hand in the air. As if to say, 'goodnight'. I'm so done.

A little after dinner, Fred and George find me curled up on George's bed with George's pillow locked in my arms. George is one of those special people who can't stand sleeping with an unfamiliar pillow. So, he always brings his pillow from home with him. As such, the pillow's case smells like the floral detergent Mum favors and it has been a big help in calming me down. The moment I notice them, standing at the foot of George's bed with their pockets bulging, I pick up my head. But otherwise, maintain my lying door position. Their pockets are probably stuffed with all of their Hogsmeade spoils. "We need to talk," I said, morosely.

A look passed between Fred and George before the two of them join me on top of George's bed. They are the only two who have made it back yet. Lee and their other two roommates are probably still at dinner. "Sorry, Holls," Fred said as he reclined against George's headboard.

"But we're are triplets," George said as he laid down on my other side and wrapped an arm around my middle and his pillow. Effectively squeezing me between the two of them.

"We're stuck with each other for life" Fred goes on to say.

"So, you can't break up with us". George finished.

I snuggled deeper into George's hold. He was warm, and his embrace was like giving your favorite book another read. There would be no nasty surprises with him. "What?" I asked, utterly confused by their words.

"We need to talk", Fred said, quoting me. "Isn't that what all girls say when they are about to dumb a bloke?" Fred asked as he looked down at George and me.

I rolled my eyes. These two are great co-conspirators, but it always takes a bit of time to get them out of a joking mood. "Funny," I said dryly. "But we really do need to talk. Something happened today with Pucey". I started my story.

But I am not allowed to get very far. "We'll kill him" the boys interrupted as they assuredly informed me of Pucey's downfall.

"Just tell us what he did," said George.

"And we'll gut him and feed him to the giant squid," said Fred.

Well, as nice as that sounds… "No guys," I said before they could get too carried away. "you really need to hear this". And so, I told them. Everything from the moment Pucey gave me his scarf (which I still have, by the way) to the great reveal. Now, two more people know that Regulus Black is walking the Earth as Adrian Pucey. And hopefully, between the three of us, we'd be able to work out what this all means.

"Do you know what the lesson is from all of this?" George asked a while after I had spilled the beans.

I shifted my eyes back and forth from my spot in George's hold. We hadn't moved since I started talking. "Don't trust a pretty face?" I guessed.

"No," said George. "But yeah, don't do that either".

"Then what's the lesson?" I asked.

"Don't trust boys" Fred supplied the answer.

"But you two are boys". I retorted.

"Doesn't count" Fred immediately responded.

"We're your brothers" George finished.

I hummed at them as I closed my eyes. I think I sleep here tonight. I think I'll even be able to fall asleep without changing into my pajamas. I don't agree with them, of course. Not all boys are going to be untrustworthy. Not all boys are going to have past lives. But at the moment I can't disagree with them either. "Don't worry", I mumbled. "For now on I am going to stir clear of Pucey". I promised. Or at least until we know more about his intentions.