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Chapter 14: Miles from Normal
Welcome to Chapter 14 guys! Thank you for continuing this long, hope you like the story so far.
I know it's been an incredibly long wait, RL has been impossible but I didn't want to take a hiatus so I hope an Extra LOOOONG chapter with Apologies on the side will make up for it :)
Let me know what you think.Thanks.
My mind went blank…. I forgot the word for help.
I felt my mind reeling and I could only splutter inaudibly. All my deafening screams were swallowed by the devastating chaos that wrecked the town around me.
I cried, repeatedly asking for Nora to open her eyes.
“Wake up! Wake up, Nora! Please, wake up!”
But she did not return. My eyes watered, quickly blurring my vision till I couldn’t see at all. I couldn’t even think of what else to do but to keep shaking her, calling her name, begging for her to waken.
“Capri… Capri!” A pair of hands grabbed my arms tightly from behind and pulled me away from Nora. I fought against their grip with all the strength left in me but they held me sturdily pulling me away.
“CAPRI! STOP! Listen to me!” the voice said urgently as I fought to get back to Nora. The hands that held my arms moved to hold the sides of my face. “STOP! It’s ok Capri, she’s alive! Listen to me… Nora’s alive!”
That was all I needed to hear at that moment. My eyes focused and saw Lily’s face, watching me anxiously.
“She’s alive…?” I finally spoke.
“Yes,” Lily nodded, relieved that I was responding. A trickle of blood had been wiped away from her forehead that still left a dark stain on her pale face. I watched her eyes as she instructed me, “Now breathe, Please…I need you right now, ok?” her voice was still echoing in the back of my skull but her request registered in my head.
I nodded and did as told. My most basic instinct right then was to follow Lily.
I breathed in sucking the air around me into my lungs. The smoke and ash made me cough but the coolness of the wind helped clear my head. It instilled some calmness in me even as I watched Lily move over to Nora and check her pulse, pressing her fingers against Nora’s neck. I wondered angrily why it hadn’t even occurred to me to check if Nora was alive. But my mind travelled a defensive step further, It was because I too afraid to know the answer.
When Lily looked at me again I was sharp enough to see all the emotions on her face. She was just as terrified as I was, but by some willpower she tried to stay together.
She nodded slowly.
“She’s ok,” She said to relieve my anxiety, “But we’ve got to get her out of here. She won’t stay like this for long…”
She left out all the words that would cause alarm in me and still managed to say all that needed to be said. Instinctively, I nodded again. I still didn’t know what to do, but trusted Lily to save us all.
“Grab her feet,” she said as she moved to support Nora’s head, “we’ll take her into the forest, I have a feeling it’s the safest place to be right now”
It didn’t occur for me to question her judgement. I merely agreed yet again.
“Where’s Emma? And Kate?” I asked suddenly as I realised they weren’t there.
Lily avoided my eyes for the first time, “I… I don’t know”
“What?” the panic returned in full volume, “How do you not know? They were right here with us!”
“I DON’T KNOW CAPPIE!” Lily snapped back in frustration, “I just hit my head on the floor, when I woke up they were gone! It was just you, me and Nora! ”
I tried not to think of their fate but my stomach was churning and I knew I was close to becoming sick. Lily ordered me again to pick up Nora’s feet. As I shuffled toward Nora’s feet on hands and knees bricks crumbled of the smoking houses. There were people on the ashen snow unconscious, bleeding, unable to move or speak. I wanted to help them but my entire being was glued to saving Nora’s flickering life.
I held her boots tightly in my arms and we both tried to lift her up. Just as Lily and I had finally managed to pull Nora in our arms and stagger up, we were distracted by a crying far down the road.
“No, please! Don’t hurt me! I don’t know what you want!” the old man whimpered as he was dragged out of his shop and pushed roughly into the snow.
We knew him to be the quiet reserved shopkeeper of the least visited store in all of Hogsmeade, Goulbone’s Antiques. I had only been inside the dark dingy shop once with James a long time ago to retrieve a very ordinary looking pocket mirror. Although it had some objects of definite interest, its wide collection of sinister looking objects made me resolve never to return to the shop again.
The old man now cowered in his ragged clothes before four tall men in ominous black hooded cloaks who stepped out of the shop. It seemed to be the only shop that wasn’t destroyed by the fire. They circled him like vultures about to attack a dying animal, as we watched from a distance frozen in horror.
“Please…” the man spluttered, “I’ve never seen it before… please believe me!”
“We know you have it! Where is it?” One of the black hooded men thundered at the old man who shrank into the frosted ground.
“I don’t know! Please! I swear I never bought it! I swear!”
Little did that man know that just that precise moment his luck would change. As would ours.
Nora’s hand fell off her body and dropped down. My all-too-familiar bracelet slipped out of her hand and dropped onto the icy pavement. My heart stopped as the crystal charms hid the hard surface with a resonating chime.
As if the air stood still between us and them, they turned towards us. Whether they heard the sound or caught the movement of Nora’s hand I couldn’t tell. But what they were going to do was clearly evident in their faces.
“HELP… PLEASE!” the old man cried out to us.
“They’ve seen us!”
“After them! Go!”
My heart restarted on double speed as the cloaked men abandoned the old man and started running up the snow covered path towards us. I quickly stooped low and retrieved the fallen jewel pocketing it safely. Something told me it wasn’t a wasted second.
“Capri…” said Lily slowly in an undertone so I wouldn’t panic, “Run!”
It was as if Lily’s mind and mine connected right then, we both shouldered Nora and clambered as fast as we could over to the fence just a few feet away beyond which the forest extended.
Lily reached the fence first. Two curses flew past us while she climbed over it. She produced a shield to protect us as she pulled Nora into her arms and the next three curses rebounded off the plasma membrane as I placed my hands on the fence and jumped over it.
We didn’t even stop to think. As if by reflex we pulled the still unconscious Nora into the forest.
Struck by a sudden inspiration I stopped dead in my tracks.
“Cappie! What are you doing?!” Lily yelled as I placed Nora’s feet back on the ground.
I pulled out my wand. The hooded masked men were just about to climb the fence. I held my wand so tightly it vibrated with the adrenaline pulsing through my body. Both my hands pulled back against my shoulders, the right clasped tightly around my wand, and then the next second I pushed them out forcefully with the spell.
“OBSTRUCOLO!” I yelled with all my might.
The pursuers rebounded off the fence falling on the road behind it in a pile. Achieving what I had wanted I stuck my wand back into the belt of my coat and returned to Lily and Nora.
“The Venetian Barrier Charm! Good thinking!” Lily commented out of breath while struggling to pull Nora back onto her shoulder.
“Thanks!” I said breathlessly, astonished at my own courage and supported Nora’s legs again, “Hopefully it’ll buy us some time. Let’s go!”
We continued to run deep into the forest we hardly knew leaving behind the home we’d come to love as it was consumed by terror.
“Cappie… Stop… Stop here!” Lily panted as we reached a small clearing surrounded by thick trees. I squinted around, seeing as it was too dark to see clearly in the thick of the forest. For now it seemed to provide a seemingly protective hideout for us to catch our breath. The moment we set Nora down on the damp forest floor however, Lily immediately set to work.
I was beginning to think we were safe for now, that we had escaped somehow. But of course in a nightmare this real no one escapes.
Nora was as pale as chalk. I couldn’t tell how much time she had left but I knew it wasn’t much. Lily hacked away Nora’s blood soaked white coat with a small penknife to expose her bleeding wound. Between her left shoulder and her neck was a deep cut that looked as if it had been made by a large piece of sharp glass thrust into her chest.
When I saw it I felt as if a knife was being plunged into my own lungs. My best friend lay there nearing death with every passing second and there was literally nothing I could do to help her.
My reading had only been sufficient for theory. I had no knowledge of anything that could save her life at that moment. All I could do was hope and pray that fifteen year old Lily could manage to find a way to keep Nora alive till we could get help.
“Cappie,” Lily whispered without turning to me, “keep a lookout”.
I nodded and did as told, although the thick fog only gave me a few yards’ distance of vision.
We sat crouched behind a vast moss-covered log in what I presumed was the dense heart of the forest where the light could not reach the underbrush. Though the canopy was too thick for snow the cold began to bite at our already trembling fingers. My numb hand still clenched tightly around my wand as I kept a lookout.
As my mind finally started to think clearly I found myself embedded in questions.
Why?... Why here?... Why now?... What was happening?
Will Nora make it? Or will this be a day I could never leave behind?
Every few seconds I looked around for anything that disturbed the choked silence of our dark shelter. My eyes returned to my friends for the tenth time. Over Lily’s shoulder as she worked quickly with her wand muttering incantations I’d never even heard of, I could see Nora’s head and the now partially healed wound that drew life from her as she lay on the leaf-strewn floor.
“Is she ok?” I asked timidly. Lily didn’t respond immediately, but nodded slowly.
“She’s lost a lot of blood,” she said continuing to nurse Nora, “but I think I managed to close the wound best I could.” When Lily turned back to me her eyes were glazed and she looked at me apologetically. She felt inadequate and she was scared for Nora. We both were.
I tried to smile reassuringly at her. I knew she was doing her best.
There was a soft crunch that disrupted the dead silence as clearly as a gunshot. We both turned sharply at the sound. The minute our attention had diverted had cost us. Although the sound came from afar I knew we didn’t have long before it reached us, whoever it was.
I naively prayed for it to be help or at the very least a straggler like us. Just then we heard the distant voices.
“They’re around here somewhere! I can feel it…” the voice that carried over to us from the distance made my bones chill.
“They’re close!” came an excited second voice.
My heart dropped to the pit of my stomach. “What are they?”
I turned to Lily, “Are those,” I swallowed trying to get the word out, “De- Dementors?”
“Dementors don’t talk” Lily said immediately under her breath as she stared at the distant raiders, her eyes wide and petrified, “and they definitely do not hunt!”
Whoever they were, they weren’t going to help us and worse, they were not alone.
Suddenly remembering something I turned back to the still frozen Lily.
“Lily!” I whispered urgently, “make Nora feather-light! We can carry her and run! We might be able to get out of here!” I said excited at the prospect of a getaway.
Lily stayed silent still staring straight ahead with large fearful eyes.
“Lily?” I whispered more forcefully.
“I can’t!” she whispered back almost in a whimper. My eyes widened incredulously.
“What?! Snap out of it!” I hissed back through my teeth, “What do you mean you can’t? I’ve seen you do it a hundred times!”
“Capri!” she looked at me finally, “they didn’t just find us,” she explained in a crestfallen tone, some theoretical reason why we shouldn’t be running already, “they’re tracking us!”
“I put a spell to block our scent when we escaped into the forest. They’re not following our scent”
“Then how did they find us?” I asked in an unintentionally accusing voice under my breath.
Lily turned her frightened eyes to hunters and then back to me. She bit her trembling lip as we both heard their voices coming closer.
“They’re tracking magic…” her words were a mere whisper but they resonated in my ears. Nora was surviving because of the sheer magnitude of magic Lily had cast upon her. Now she had become a magnet to her own death.
My throat went dry. I knew we had no escape at this point. We were both silent praying desperately for a way to survive this nightmare. But as I sat there I knew there was only one.
“Lily,” I said quietly realising at that moment that for the first time that day my voice was strong, confidant and decided, “take Nora, and get out of here…”
My words made her turn sharply to me, “What? Cappie are you insane?” she hissed, “There are four of them! You cannot possibly-”
“I’m aware,” I said shortly not meeting her eyes, “just please get yourselves out-”
“No!” Lily hissed.
“Please, just keep running. Don’t stop and don’t look back-”
“I’ll buy as much time as I ca-”
“You’ll buy 10 seconds!” Lily hissed unleashing her furious glare on me, “You are not going on this suicide mission! Not here!”
I swallowed the large lump in my throat and felt a deadened beat in my heart as I turned to see her bright eyes through the haze of my tears. We’d been good friends but never as close as with Nora. Now I wondered if I’d see either of them again.
“For once Lily… Please… Don’t tell me what to do. Go. Take Nora and go!” I swallowed and Lily stared back at me as if she was seeing me for the first time, “Get out of here please!”
“Capri… No…Listen to me!” she was begging me now.
“Please…” there was no time for good-byes. I put my hand as a gesture on her shoulder, gripped my wand tighter and crept sideways along the edge of the log we hid behind trying to ignore Lily’s whispered cries asking me to stay.
Once amid the bushes I gave my feet the freedom to run. My friends disappeared into the mystic fog and the black green darkness embraced me as I ran into the dense forest.
I kept running as away from Nora and Lily as I could. I stopped once I was sure I could lead the masked murderers safely away from my friends if I could get them to chase me instead. Panting in the dark stillness, I raised my wand high above me and cried out to the sky I could not see.
“EJECTO LUMOS MAXIMA!”
I shielded my eyes as my wand tip glowed bright white and a strong light burst forth into the sky filtering through the leaves and bushes in a thousand luminescent beams.
“OVER THERE!” I heard voices in the distance.
“THIS WAY!” they weren’t too far behind.
Having achieved what I wanted I ran flat out continuing to lead them away from Nora and Lily. I knew that if I could by them ten minutes at least, then Lily would be able to get Nora out of the forest and hide somewhere.
The fear I felt for my own life was suppressed by my mission. As long as I heard footsteps crunching leaves behind me, I was happy. But I was right to assume the worst. I soon realised there were many pairs of feet behind me. They chased after me like ravenous wolves as I carved through the Forbidden Forest.
Cold air flushed into my lungs with every breath I took pricking at my throat. I did not turn back.
Pine needles whipped my face and thorns grazed my skin as I pushed past them. I did not waver.
“To your left!”
My pursuers were just as determined about catching me as I was about escaping them. I could hear my heartbeat, my breath, my blood pounding. When my legs could carry me no further, I stumbled and sank into the damp soil struggling to breathe. I could hear their footsteps as they surrounded me.
They appeared one by one through the veil of fog around me.
With death so imminent my bravado faltered and my heart fluttered in my chest asking me to protect my life.
“Well, aren’t you feisty!” the coldness of the mirthless voice made my spine chill.
“Get up!” a second voice ordered.
I did not stir but simply breathed letting the earthly smell of the forest floor rush through me.
“I said… Get UP!”
My eyes clamped shut and I moaned in pain as invisible iron cuffs bound tightly against my joints pulling me up against my will. It was then that faced my potential murderers. I stared boldly at them not seeing their faces as they hid cowardly behind their hooded cloaks. At that moment I did not care that I would die, only that I faced it with at least a glimmer of courage.
“I’m up” I said sarcastically through my teeth, “now what?”
They laughed, “Now we say goodbye”
“Fine” I clenched my teeth.
My wand was still trapped in my coat. I had never done wand-less magic in my entire life but still I tried to find in me something, anything that would just give me a few more minutes.
I had nothing that could break this hold. But I knew something about Holding Spells. They differed from other spells by such that they required full concentration of the caster for as long as the spell was functional. If I couldn’t break it myself, I’d have to force him to do it.
I knew what I had to do.
My eyes closed. Under my order my spirit, faith and strength, all gathered to one place in my heart and I willed my mind with all its might.
Illumine Sona… Illumine Sona… ILLUMINE SONA
Behind the lids of my eyes I knew something had happened. The light was bright and blinding as soon as I opened them. The next second I collapsed back onto the foliage released from the forced shackles but I didn’t even stop to think. My hand moved instinctively to my pocket and my wand tip flared with the jet of red light I projected at them.
I wasn’t the only one who fired the spell. Two more red streaks travelled along with mine and I believed Lily had found me despite my urges not to.
Their wands scattered and they fell over on their backs with the force of the spell. It didn’t even take the low lives seconds to collect themselves again as they tried to pick their wands off the forest floor.
“Lily! Run!” I shouted, before aiming another spell at the first person to stand up again, “Impervius!”
The cloaked figure took two steps forward and collided against an invisible barrier, rebounded back with such force that he flew a feet into the air and spiralled onto the floor.
My mind quickly gathered that we were outnumbered and decided to take the small window of time to help Lily carry Nora out of there. But the second I turned towards her I faced a mass of black robes and became trapped in the iron grip of yet another cloaked monster.
“No… Please! No!”
The last words I could utter were a weak battle against fate as my feet lifted off the floor and I was sucked into a swirling torrent of darkness.
I could not breathe for the longest minute. Everything around me was spinning so fast in a whorl of colour that I felt nauseous. I was still trapped in the tight grasp of the stranger that held me hostage. Suddenly out of the blue the scene settled. I could hear the bustling of busy streets, cars and busses rushing by. The next second my unsteady feet hit the floor, my knees buckled and I fell on my back on hard ground which forced all the air out of my lungs in a loud cough. My head throbbed where I had hit it on the stone floor and my eyes closed against the pain.
In the minute it took me to collect myself I was left unharmed…
“- not responding!”
“-you hear me?”
“Cappie?... Open your eyes…”
I obeyed tentatively.
The first thing I saw made relief flood into my veins. His eyes were chaotic, tortured even, almost bloodshot. Yet like every time before, they gave me the feeling only he could bring.
I was safe. We were safe.
I blinked and the foggy image cleared.
“Yes,” he spoke in an equally tortured but relieved voice. Sirius was kneeling by my side, crouched over me as if protecting me from the falling sky as I lay on the floor. My hand impulsively rose to touch his cheek. Sirius let his face rest on my hand for a short second. He then supported my neck gently and he pulled me up in one fluid motion cradling me to his chest. I did not have any words in me to describe the overwhelming sense of relief and gratitude I felt at that moment. For a long minute I simply held onto him as if he was the source of my life.
As it all started coming back to me I pulled apart from him.
“Sirius! Nora!… she’s hurt! We’ve got to get help!”
“Calm down, Capri” I heard James’s voice and turned to see him tending to Nora as Lily kneeled beside them.
“We have to take her to St. Mungo’s” I said trying to sit up on the pavement of the alleyway. In the distance it opened up to a busy street where cars and busses rolled by unknowing of our troubles.
“It’s ok. We’ve got it sorted Cappie, relax” Sirius kept a firm hand on my shoulder to keep me from getting up, “I need you to listen to me. Capri! Look at me” I tore my eyes away from Nora and turned back to Sirius. He held my chin as I searched his eyes.
“You’ve got to get her to your Aunt’s London home,” he instructed, “she’s there already. She’ll know exactly what to do.”
“No time Capp, just trust me ok… Please” he said holding my face in his hands. I nodded slowly.
He smiled softly to encourage me. “We don’t know what’s happening yet so whatever you do Cappie, please stay in the Muggle world. It’s where you’re safest. Do you understand?” I nodded blindly again.
“I’m done!” James announced.
Sirius nodded, pulled out his wand and pointed it at the far end of the alleyway where the busy road ran past. The next second a little black taxi had just pulled up to the side and its door magically popped open.
“What in the world?” I heard the driver in the distance mutter as he turned over his shoulder to see his door open.
“Go!” Sirius said pulling me up to my feet as James helped Lily pull Nora onto her.
“Wait! You’re not coming?” I asked holding onto Sirius’ sleeve not wanting to let go.
“We’ve got to find Dumbledore and we have to tell James’ parents. The Aurors should be notified of the attack. But don’t worry, we’ll get there soon”
I wasn’t convinced and he saw it.
Sirius took my hand in his and gently squeezed it.
“I promise,” he said quietly looking into my eyes. I nodded and let go.
“And we’ll send a Healer over now” James said reassuringly while steadying Lily who staggered under Nora’s weight.
I didn’t know what else to do but to think that what they said was true. If we couldn’t go to Mungo’s then Aunt Agatha was probably our best next option.
I moved over to Lily and quickly put Nora’s arm around my shoulder to share her weight. When I looked back, the boys had already disapparated, leaving no trace of their existence behind.
Lily and I looked at each other and proceeded towards the car. The balding taxi driver kindly helped us place Nora in the back seat. His eyes lingered over our messy getup and the dirt that clung to our hair and skin. Lily sat at the front of the car while I joined Nora in the back. James had cleared all signs of blood from her wounds and clothing. Apart from a few mud stains Nora didn’t look any more suspicious than us. We let the man believe she had “celebrated a wee bit too much last night”.
“Where to, Miss?”
“Shouldn’t she be up by now?”
“Relax darling, she’s alright. Give her time. She’ll wake up when she’s ready, don’t you worry,” my aunt told me for perhaps the hundredth time.
I resumed my position in the armchair by Nora’s bed with one of my knees quivering of its own accord while my nails flayed themselves repeatedly under my teeth. I counted the minutes, the seconds but Nora slept on, peacefully unaware.
Aunt Agatha and the Healer had arrived minutes before we reached the house. To be honest he looked much more like a theatrical version of an outlaw in his long trench coat and fedora. But he treated Nora promptly pulling potion after potion from the many pockets in his coat and forcing it sip by sip down her throat. Within minutes Nora regained her colour.
After giving us instructions on how to administer seven different kinds of potion to her, the Healer tended to our minor cuts and bruises before leaving us with a farewell.
For the next three hours Lily and I sat by Nora’s bed pouring spoonfuls of potion down her throat while Aunt Agatha tried to coax us into eating some food.
Letters arrived from Kate and Emma for each of us bearing news that they were together and well at Emma’s house and we sent off our reply that we all were together and well.
Remus wrote to us informing us that James and Sirius had returned from the Ministry of Magic itself and will arrive at Aunt Agatha’s shortly.
Lily stood up from the wooden chair by the bed. As she took to pacing the room I bit on my nail once more.
There was quick knock on the door before it was pushed open.
“Capri, your mother’s on the phone,” Aunt Agatha said in a rush, “she says coming over now!”
“What?” I stood up, “She can’t come here now!”
“She’s heard that Abbey Wytt School received holidays and asked me if we came to London.” Aunt Agatha gave a guilty expression, “She’s decided to come over to pick you up!”
“No no no no… I can’t leave! What about Nora?”
“Capri, listen to me,” my aunt put her hands on my shoulders just as she always did when she needed me to understand something difficult, “if your mother comes here and you decide to stay, then so will she. That will make it very difficult to treat Nora not to mention there’s a huge risk of your mother finding out that there’s no such pupil as Caprice Waltham attending Abbey Wytt”.
I hung my head, my argument was weak and I knew I didn’t have a choice. Aunt Agatha raised my chin up so she could see my face, “I know this is hard sweetheart, but I promise I will let you know the minute Nora wakes up and I’ll help you find an excuse to come back to see her.”
“Cappie,” Lily interrupted in a quiet voice, “I’ve already told my parents that I’m staying with your aunt and helping a friend. I promise I won’t leave Nora ‘till she is completely recovered. I know you don’t want to leave Cappie but you shouldn’t risk you mum finding out. It might end badly”.
They were right. I was still underage and I couldn’t leave the house if my mother didn’t allow it. And I knew that magic was a concept far beyond my mother’s understanding let alone acceptance. I would lose everything I loved. Hogwarts… Magic… Nora… Sirius…
In my own bedroom I felt imprisoned, held captive against my will.
My feet paced in circles in front of the fire. I’d never appreciated before, the sheer effort of the task of pretending everything was normal. It was a near impossible to me. In the depth of my being a part of me wanted to think about Sirius. I wanted so desperately to think of him because I knew it would calm my anxiety. But I didn’t allow it.
I thought only of Nora struggling her way back to health, and hoped and prayed only for her.
I hated being stuck inside pretending to be enjoying the Christmas holidays in front of my mother just so she wouldn’t be suspicious. I bottled up my frustration putting it into the footsteps I never counted. Denver the Dog lay stretched out on the warm rug by the fireplace with his eyes following me as I walked back and forth in front of him.
Nora was circling my mind as I circled the room.
Had she recovered?... Did anything happen while I was away… Why did I leave? I shouldn’t have!
Did the potions work?…. Why if it didn’t?...
How was she now? Better… or worse?...
WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING?
The unanswered questions made my head hurt. I felt like I might faint any second. Suddenly I came to a stop in the middle of my room, facing the fire. I’d been racing so fast that the moment I stopped the world began to spin. Denver raised his head off the carpet and watched me anxiously.
When the spinning stopped I was staring at the golden glow of the bright crackling fire.
I could hear her laughter ringing in my ears…
Oh please, rain or no rain, I’ll always be here Cappie, don’t worry. Even if it’s without an umbrella!
I’ll always be here Cappie…
Always be here…
be here… be here...
There was a soft click as the window latch opened behind me and the pane slid up silently of its own accord. My body chilled even as I faced the fire, as the December wind hurled into my bedroom. The powdery snow pressed against my skin leaving drops of moisture where they melted. With both anticipation and relief I turned to face the silhouette that stood in the lamp light of the street cascading into my room.
“Sirius…” my whisper carried across the room.
His smile was sympathetic and tender as he looked at me, “Nora’s awake”.
The gush of emotion I felt was so overwhelming I sank to my knees. I didn’t know to laugh or cry or both so I let my hands collect together thanking the blessing, and the warm feeling streamed down my cheeks.
“They said you shouldn’t try to come just yet,” Sirius said looking down and avoiding my eyes. The words punctured my blissful happiness the moment they were spoken.
“Bu-but…” I staggered to my feet in shock.
“But,” Sirius said slowly, “I told them you wouldn’t eat, drink or sleep till you saw Nora well and awake with your own eyes,” his soft smile caught me again and pulled me to him. I smiled back warmly trying to hold back the tears that came for the first time for gratitude.
Sirius pulled a small silver vial from his cloak pocket as he took a step closer to me.
“Your mother decided to take a nap after her tea,” he said shaking the vial with a hint of a smirk, “that’ll give us about an hour to get you to your aunt’s and back”.
I looked up at him with something close to admiration as he pocketed the vial and offered his hand.
My stomach unclenched as soon as we hit the snow outside Aunt Agatha’s house.
“Are you ok?” Sirius asked genuinely concerned.
Side along apparition would take some getting used to but I smiled and nodded as Sirius released me gently. I ran up the cold stone steps and knocked hard on the door. Aunt Agatha answered immediately.
I didn’t even stop for greetings but with a simple hello ran upstairs in one breath.
“I’ll be up with some soup in a minute dear,” my aunt called up the stairs as she welcomed Sirius. I turned swiftly at the top landing, bumping against the wall in my haste. My feet carried me fast along the hallway past the second floor drawing room and at long last my hand closed upon the shiny brass doorknob of the second floor bedroom. I grasped it tightly and turned.
With a small creak the door opened a small fraction. My first glimpse was of Lily’s flowing red hair as she sat by Nora’s bedside. Their conversation seized immediately and they both turned toward me. After what had seemed like an eternity, I saw again my best friend’s angelic face with her kind smile back in place. Her cheeks glowed rosy red with her chocolate hair glazed golden in the light of the evening sky.
Nora sat on her bed propped up by several pillows.
“Cappie…” her smiled widened.
Lily jumped up and ran over to me hugging me tightly before releasing me, “I was so hoping Black would jail-break you out of your room!” she said smiling widely.
I laughed amid the strong emotions at the complete irony of the statement coming from Lily herself. Lily left the room with the pretence of checking on tea leaving me and Nora alone in the space that seemed to hold time still.
As I looked back at Nora I realised, even though I had been bursting to be in this room I didn’t exactly know what to say.
Nora smiled even more, her eyes crinkling as usual, “Lost for words? Now, that’s a first for us!”
I bit my trembling lip and crossed over to her bed. My arms found their place around her, my head on her shoulder. I closed my eyes and hugged her tightly to me. There really was no need for words as the tears came freely dropping warm and heavy onto Nora's shoulder.
“Shhh… It’s ok Cappie, I’m here.” she soothed me finally, “I’m here.”
Regardless of what had become of the world around us, we had come full circle back to our normal. Normal was where Nora and I sat across from each other on the bed of Aunt Agatha’s guest room eating through her jam tarts and chocolate frogs talking about anything and everything trivial.
It was astounding how easily we could fall back into in to the ordinary after all we had been through.
We laughed as if we hadn’t done so in years, and we cried as the emotional pain outdid the physical. We smiled realising how fast we’d been forced to grow up in a matter of a few hours. And we held each other as we realised how much our lives mattered to one another.
Whatever had happened, it was permanent. There was no going back or pretending it never took place. There was only moving on. As we talked and held each other we wondered how many other families and friends had suffered as we had, or even worse. In reality what happened had set us all miles away from normal.
We were finally left with one jam tart and one chocolate frog.
“Speaking of difficult decisions,” said Nora as she picked the jam off the corner of her mouth wiping it on her sleeve, “here,” she unclasped the all too familiar bracelet and handed it over to me, "You left this behind yesterday. Lily found it..."
Her eyes met mine,"I trust by now you know what to do,” she closed my hand over the charms and held it tightly in her own hands.
As had been on every day Nora and I had spent together, she was unquestionably right. I did know what to do. I smiled and nodded.
As chance would have it there was a soft knock on the door.
“I hate to interrupt,” said the apologising voice of Sirius Black as he peeked cautiously into our room, “but we’ve got to get you home before your mother wakes up Cappie…”
I smiled at him and turned back to Nora who smiled encouragingly at me.
I hugged her once more, “I’ll come back soon, I promise”
She laughed her soft chiming laugh, “I’m not going anywhere Cappie. I’ll see you soon”
Sirius did not hear the soft “Good luck” she whispered in my ear.
I smiled as I climbed off the bed.
“Rest well, Nora” Sirius said before closing the door softly.
With a last goodbye and a thank you-hug for Aunt Agatha I allowed Sirius to take me back home.
This time however Sirius apparated straight into my room.
We stood by the open window of my bedroom. Sirius gently released me and my cold toes touched the warm carpet. I smiled and pulled away from his embrace. Looking around, the room was dark, the sun having just set and the lamps not lit. Denver the dog looked up at us from his cosy corner but made no sound. Casper watched me with her lamp like eyes from the cat post while I walked over to the fireplace and added a few logs poking it back to a crackling warm fire that gave some light to the room.
“I really can’t thank you enough,” I started, knowing that Sirius deserved to hear it. I added the last log into the grate and turned to face the still humbly silent Sirius.
His expression worried me and my smile faded. Sirius wore the face of someone who was about to confess a crime he’d never intended to commit. His head hung low with a darkness and guilt I could not understand. I walked quickly towards him.
“Sirius?... What’s wrong?”
He raised his head and looked at me with his solemn gaze, “There’s something I have to tell you”.
Although I was completely sure it wasn’t something that would make me feel better, I swallowed I nodded lightly, encouraging him on.
I didn’t even realise he was inches away from me. Sirius waited, watching me. I knew he was second guessing himself. We hadn’t been this close in a while, but as if no time had passed between us I could read his every motion. His eyes searched me wondering if I was strong enough to hear what he had to say. With every passing second my anticipation amplified.
I held his hand gently “Sirius, wha-”
“You took it off,” he blurted out quietly.
I tried to make sense of it but couldn’t, “I’m sorry?”
“The bracelet, you took it off…”
“Oh…” comprehension dawned on me which I’m sure was evident on my face. Still I couldn’t believe that after all we’d all been though he’d be upset about something that trivial.
“Yeah, umm… Nora and I were at the shop and we were talking and…” I trailed off remembering how less than twelve hours ago Nora and I were discussing about Sirius and I having the conversation I’d been about to initiate, but now it seemed we were heading somewhere else.
“I gave it to her,” I lied.
Sirius looked away from me. I bit my lip not able to appreciate the seriousness centred around a bracelet.
“It’s ok though,” I tried to amend, reaching into my pocket and pulling the bracelet out, but Sirius released my hand.
“I know you have it now”
“I’m sorry,” I said timidly. Even without guilt I still felt some sort of regret. I thought it was seeing how tormented Sirius was by this.
I hung my head and my gaze fell upon my curled toes. I felt him turn back to me. His finger traced along my cheek and held my chin pulling it swiftly up so I would face him again.
“It’s I who should be apologising,” his broken voice whispered quietly.
“I never told you what this really is, Capri.” Sirius took my hand with the bracelet and held it in his. I looked from our hands to his eyes questioningly.
“I don’t understand,” I said truthfully. Sirius smiled slowly.
“This isn’t just a charm bracelet Capri, it’s an actual charm.” He brushed the hair off my face with his fingertips and touched my cheek softly with the back of his hand, “It was a way for me to know you were safe…”
I couldn’t find the right emotion in me, because there were so many. My throat felt like there was a large lump in it I couldn’t get rid of. My heart tightened inside my chest. Its passionate throbbing made it hard for me to breathe freely and my lips parted unknowingly.
“Sirius… I…” I had no words and my voice had vanished with the storm of feelings I felt.
Sirius placed my hand over his heart. I could almost feel it throbbing as mine did. At that moment something in my mind told me I was crossing a line I shouldn’t, but locked in his gaze I couldn’t care.
“How…” I tried to phrase my question just as it came out.
“How does it work?”
“It’s not really clear. I was messing around with magic I learnt from old books at James’ house. I didn’t expect it to work. I gave it to you without thinking much of it… even forgetting I ever tried to charm it. For the longest time I didn’t realise I could sense you”
“Sense me…?” my whisper was close enough he was sure to hear.
Sirius nodded and the corner of his mouth twitched into a soft, barely visible smile.
“I could feel your emotions, when you were so incredibly happy… when you were excited,” his smile grew wider and then faded, “when you were sad and lonely… when you were hurting…”
I bit my lip. It all made sense now, whenever I needed Sirius, he would just magically appear, throwing stones at my bedroom window or knocking on the dormitory door. He always knew me…
“Could…,” I swallowed to not giveaway my trepidation, “Could you hear my thoughts?”
“No… I could only feel what you feel… even that wasn’t as strong as you’d imagine. I had to really learn how to know it was you…”
I didn’t know what to say. It all felt too much to absorb. I had been extremely judgemental about Sirius and there were sides to him I’d never known about. I had been ready to declare Sirius to be a worthless pursuit, but I’d never taken a minute to try to understand him, all of him. My hand clenched tightly around the charmed bracelet upon his heart.
His hands released mine and held my arms instead. I watched as the guilt and regret returned again to his features and I knew, he was about to confess.
“I nearly died today…”
My heart stopped and I stared petrified by the very words he spoke. I could not move or speak, I stared blankly, “It’s because you took off that bracelet.”
“AND YOU DECIDED TO KILL YOURSELF!?” I shouted in anger.
The next instant his arm was around me pressing me against his chest as his hand cupped my mouth silencing me. My glare did not diminish the slightest as he released me warning me with his eyes to not shout again. I wanted to kick him for being so stupid and selfish and idiotic.
“Why?” I hissed the moment his hand was pulled away, “just because I took it off was a good enough reason for you to just snuff it!”
“No!” Sirius whispered urgently, “you didn’t just take it off Capri, you gave it to Nora...”
He waited watching me as the words fell into place with a resounding snap in my head.
I gave the bracelet to Nora… Who almost died.
“I thought it was you,” he croaked, “I couldn’t feel you at all. Fear, Panic, Anger… Nothing. All hell was breaking loose around us and I couldn’t feel your thoughts at all… Of course, I thought it was you”
I pushed the arms that held me restrained in front of him off me simply so I could be released. I walked into his arms, my own instantly circling around his neck tightly holding him close to me. Sirius hugged me as if I was his only breath. To be here together holding and comforting each other was as easy and familiar as breathing. I had so easily lost my mind thinking Nora had died before me… I could only imagine the acute torture of thinking your friend was dead but not knowing where…
“You came for me…” I breathed into his chest.
“Of course… even with all the terrible things going through my head, I felt something. Something I knew could not be mine. I felt, courage… There was nothing at that moment that could give me courage. With that I tore after you, using the charm to find you.” His breath quickened and his words provoked empathy within me as I wondered how far we fall when we lose a loved one.
“I saw you fighting.” he continued, “You and Lily and … I saw… I saw Nora, lying on the floor, unconscious, bleeding... and I was just…”
“- glad it wasn’t me” I finished for him.
Sirius bowed his head in shame against my shoulder. I couldn’t see his eyes but knew they were pained. For the first time I felt his tears on my skin as they trickled down along my back.
“I’m so sorry Capri, I care so much about Nora. It’s just at that moment I saw you and I was just so overwhelmed to see you alive, I just-” Sirius choked not knowing what to say.
“Shhhh” I held him tightly in my arms consoling him. My fingers wove into his hair at the back of his neck and I rubbed my hand gently over his shoulders.
We held each other in silence, my own tears silently wetting his shirt as I regretted every hurtful word I ever spoke to him. I knew only too late how much I meant to him. Just as I grasped full realisation of the fact, he voiced my thoughts.
“I need you… I will always need you… Capri” he spoke into my hair.
My lips pressed gently against the warm skin of his neck and I pulled back from his embrace so I could see his face.
“Its Cappie...” I smiled.
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