Part 9 (Journal date: 31st of October, 1993 – part B)
I talked to Professor Lupin. I had intended to stay in the dormitory all day and have the crackers Ali sent with the book for lunch, but Jason had already ruined my plans. So I decided to go to the Great Hall, even though I didn't really feel like eating. I managed to leave at the same time as Professor Lupin, who asked why I had stayed at school and invited me to his office when I said I would rather not to talk about it in the Entrance Hall. He was very friendly and helpful again.
- - -
"So, what's the matter?" Remus asks, sitting down at his desk and gesturing for Leander to take the other chair of the room.
"Jason Stuart," Leander says shortly.
Remus frowns. One of the Slytherins he gave detentions to, incurring Snape's fury?
"Did he attack you again?"
Leander's half-smile immediately reassures the teacher, but he still fails to expect what's coming next.
"Actually, he, um, kissed me," Leander says with obvious embarrassment.
For a couple of seconds, Remus just stares, gaping.
"Just like that?"
"Without asking or warning, yes. I thought he was totally out of his mind. Why would he do that?"
This time, Remus can't help smiling with amusement.
"Well, it's not exactly the politest way to proceed, of course, but as for the reason . . . usually, when you kiss someone, it means you like that person, don't you think?"
"I suppose," Leander replies, not sounding very convinced, "but he can't like me. He doesn't even know me."
Remus can only agree with that, but thinking it over, he realises that for a teenager, liking how someone looks, especially when there's a shared secret involved, is probably enough to justify a kiss.
"True, he should have made sure you wouldn't mind," he says, then adds, "but did you mind?"
According to Leander's reaction, it's a very good question.
"I don't know."
Remus doesn't comment on this. By the tone of the boy's voice, he can tell there'll be more. And he's right.
"I don't think I really minded," Leander confesses eventually. "Do you think it's okay?"
The question makes it sound like he's expecting a lecture, and Remus thinks it's quite funny because really, how could he blame someone for that?
"What? To enjoy being kissed by another boy? I'm certainly not telling you it's wrong."
Leander smiles shyly before replying.
"No, not that. Or rather, yes, that too, but he's a total stranger to me, he's older and . . . he's a Slytherin."
The last words are added in a shameful tone, and Remus guesses it's the most important part.
"Since I don’t feel very comfortable even with my own classmates, how can I trust a Slytherin?" Leander goes on, still looking ill at ease. "I don't want to judge people on their House, but the statistics are against them, you know? And typical Slytherin traits are things that I consider flaws. How could I get along with someone whose values contradict mine? Do you understand?"
"More than you can imagine," Remus sighs, remembering the time when he didn't want to make friends. "I kept away from people when I was young. I didn’t want to take risks, but sometimes it can be worth it."
His relationship with Sirius and the joy it brought him was definitely worth it at the time. But looking at their present situation, he's not so sure of his words. He would never go so far as to wish he had never met Sirius, and he still cherishes the memory of the time when they were happy together. But the memory of Sirius’ betrayal is still a bitter one.
"You'll understand in time," he concludes, aware of Leander's doubts. "Or maybe not. But either way, you don’t have to date Jason Stuart or even to be his friend."
To the teacher's surprise, though, Leander tentatively says, "I think I'd like to be his friend."
"It means you would have to trust him," Remus remarks.
"Yes, but not as much. Or, more exactly, there would be fewer risks of regretting it later, you see?"
Remus nods knowingly. Yes, he sees. It seems to him that Leander isn’t as worried about having a Slytherin boyfriend as about having a boyfriend in general.
"Well, I really wish I had time to get used to the idea," Leander admits when Remus asks for a confirmation.
"So the actual question is would you like to be his boyfriend if he asked you properly?"
Leander hesitates again. And this time he really doesn't seem to know at all.
"I'm not sure. I don't know him enough to decide."
"You should tell him that, then," Remus advises gently. "So you can be friends first, and then you'll see."
"But what if he thinks I'm annoying, asking for time and stuff?" Leander worries.
"If he can't understand, you'll know it's better for you to wait until you find someone who can."
Just like the other time, things seem much clearer to Leander when Remus talks about them, and the teacher's conclusion is so logical that the Ravenclaw boy can't believe he didn’t see it before.
"Okay," he says with a thankful smile. "It sounds more like I have a choice now."
Remus smiles back, happy to see he helped the boy feel a little less confused. It's almost like talking to the son he sometimes dreamed of having when he saw James with his family. Earlier in the day, he talked with Harry, but it wasn't the same. Although Harry seems to like him, there are so many things Remus can’t tell him to avoid mentioning the past that he has little hope of regaining the affection he used to have from the baby he once knew. Since the fake detention, though, Remus has had all Leander’s trust, and it's a nice feeling to know someone values his advice.
For that reason, he allows himself to give one final reminder.
"You always have a choice. Don't let people decide for you just because you're not sure of what you want."
- - -
When I left his office, I was determined to do exactly what he said – explain to Jason that I needed time to get to know him – but then...I didn't. The thing is Jason is so persuasive. He didn't really forced me to anything but when he kissed me again (practically as I entered the room), Professor Lupin's words seemed to vanish from my mind, and I couldn't think of anything to say. To be honest, I was no longer sure I wanted to protest at all. I was getting used to it and...I did like it; I can't deny. So I let him.
- - -
(Journal date again, later)
This time, it's not just a little kiss. Leander doesn't really know what to do, but he does know that he likes it, so the rest doesn't matter much.
"No one’s ever kissed you before, have they?" Jason asks, gently enough to stop Leander from thinking it’s mockery.
"Is it that obvious?"
"No. Well, yes – you're so shy! But it's cute, all that blushing. Look at me."
Leander reluctantly looks up, even redder, which makes Jason smile.
"It's not funny," Leander protests feebly. "And it's not fair – you can't blush."
He feels a little foolish saying it, but Jason's clearly amused.
"I can - it just doesn't really show."
"You're not shy, anyway," Leander remarks with a slight note of envy in his voice.
Jason looks at him thoughtfully, as if trying to decide whether he should speak or not, then eventually confesses that he wasn't always as confident either.
"I was fourteen when I met my first boyfriend, and it took me a while to get used to it. Actually, even now, when I think of how my family would react... But it's not like if we were doing something on purpose to annoy them or dishonour them, is it?"
"No... Of course not."
Still, Leander wonders if they're not supposed to fight their "strangeness" like one's supposed to fight laziness, egoism, or any other flaw. Seeing things this way, claiming "It's not my fault, I'm just born like that" would be so wrong.
"You don't sound very convinced," Jason remarks, probably in the hope of making Leander explain what he's thinking. "Feel guilty all the same?"
"A little. The religion lessons I had in primary school may have affected me more than I thought. Or maybe I just shouldn't read my children’s books now that I can see how over-moralising they are."
"You still read children books?"
Jason's surprise is mixed with amusement, but he also appears to think it's rather cute. Still, Leander justifies himself hastily ("I would read anything when I'm bored") then changes the subject, asking something he had wondered before.
"Do you know if there's anyone else here who is...like us?"
"You mean gay?" (Clearly, the too obvious effort to avoid saying the word amuses Jason.) "Yes, there are a few. It's not hard to tell – at least not for me."
Leander wonders if Jason guessed about Professor Lupin, too, but it's better not asking, in case the answer is no, so he says instead, "You were wrong about Roger, though. He loves girls."
"I know," Jason replies, unperturbed. "I've never thought otherwise, and I don't even think Marcus does. It was just a stupid insult like every other stupid insult between Quidditch Captains."
A slight pause (hesitation?) then the Slytherin adds, "Still, I bet you could have him."
Leander's incredulity and shock are so obvious Jason bursts out laughing.
"It's quite easy, you know. Not with all straight boys, of course, but with some of them – idealistic blokes who want to prove they don't find it shocking, and curious ones who can't resist the opportunity of knowing what it's like. So when they're wizards, Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws, mostly. Gryffindors are nearly all too proud and Slytherins...they can't be trusted not to tell any of my relatives. But people like Davies... If you know how to be persuasive – how to play on their weaknesses, sort of - they forget everything and allow themselves things you may not even imagine."
"And I don't want to imagine them," Leander mutters automatically, taking several steps back.
What he can imagine is embarrassing enough. He really doesn't want to hear about anything else. And, had he a choice, he certainly wouldn't want to hear Jason say "I'll teach you everything" as if it was perfectly normal to make barely disguised advances after so little time.
His reaction must seem ridiculous to Jason, but moving away and looking frightened is not really something one can help when he wishes he'd never left his common room – or even his parents' house.
"Not now," Jason hastens to specify. "Forget what I said. I won't do anything unless you want me to. Well, I might try – out of habit, you know? – but just stop me if I go too far, okay?"
Leander nods without looking up, and Jason cautiously takes a step forward to hold him again.
It's a nice feeling, to be wrapped in those arms. Instinctively, Leander rests his head on Jason's shoulder and puts his arms around him as well.
But there's something that bothers him.
"Do you think I behave like a girl?" he asks hesitantly. "Sometimes you treat me as if I was one."
Alistair does it too, in a way, but it's not the same. It's because of that habit of giving him the female parts in their role playing games, and nothing else than harmless teasing. But it seems it’s in the most serious moments that everything Jason says sounds like he's talking to a girl.
"Maybe it was a girly response, but I can't tell for sure - I've never said that kind of things to any girl," Jason replies, in clearly amused mood again. "Anyway, don't worry, I know you're a boy. And that's what I like, remember? Boys, not girls. Otherwise I would be straight and probably just as homophobic as my brother."
- - -
He was really kind and surprisingly understanding when I freaked out because he seemed to think I would let him do whatever he was thinking of doing. I could never tell Professor Lupin that. I would never be able to find the words, and even allusions would be far too embarrassing. "He's older" was all I managed to say when I explained why the thought of being Jason's boyfriend scared me, and I don't think he knew what I meant when I said it. "He's a Slytherin" sounded more important at the time, and in a way it was because I was naïve enough to believe that the other problem wouldn't arise before...I don't know, a few weeks or so.
I don't even know how I feel about Jason now - don't know if I'm still scared or happy that I can have his arms around me from time to time. I do love that. But could I love him? Could I trust him and love him enough to stop worrying about what he wants? And could he love me? Why would he?
It's stupid, but right now all I can think of is "I want Roger to be there and hold me so I feel less lost." As if Roger would hold me. Maybe Ali would, if he noticed I really need it. But he's even farther away. And neither him nor Roger will ever understand, anyway.