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Chapter 9: A Plate Full of Pancakes
Once the dreams had started, she couldn’t make them stop. He walked through her mind again that night.
This time, she was fourteen. She was in her old house, the elaborate manor that had been in the Malfoy family for generations, and she was wearing clothing that would have made her ancestors turn in their graves. Lucy normally hid her small stash of Muggle clothing, most of which had come from Lily, but today she was feeling particularly brave and rebellious and had decided to debut one of her more carefree outfits in front of her parents. Interestingly, her parents had chosen today to meet with Cygnus and Druella Black, the parents of her brother’s bride-to-be.
Lucius was the first one to see her, glaring at her aviator sunglasses and cut-off Beatles t-shirt, though he should have been thankful that she at least thought to cover her midsection with a black tank top. Faded jeans and black boots completed the ensemble. Her hair hung loosely about her shoulders, and behind the glasses she had circled her blue eyes in charcoal liner.
“You should be ashamed—” He began, but she ignored him. He saw the direction she was heading in, and he hissed desperately after her, watching her come dangerously close to the living room. His unsuspecting girlfriend and her parents were enjoying tea in there. “Lucy!”
She stepped carefully around a house elf, traipsing past her mother, who stared at her with an appalled expression. Abraxas Malfoy’s eyes got wider as he watched his daughter approach the door, and he moved in front of the Blacks, as if he were attempting to hide her from their view.
She walked boldly past her parents, treating them just as she had her older brother, and stepped out onto the stoop. There, at the end of the long driveway, her prince awaited her, mounted on a motorbike he was much too young to operate. She walked past bushes and gargoyles, thinking momentarily of poor Narcissa Black, who was composing her future at a ridiculously early age.
She hopped onto the bike, putting her arms around Sirius, and they took off into the evening.
Sirius, who had had years of free time to sleep away while in prison, woke before she did.
His head hurt, noticeably so. He supposed it was because his body wasn’t used to engaging in sexual activity anymore, and they had certainly engaged to the fullest. He chuckled softly, thinking of the slight bruises that were probably materializing under his skin even now.
He stood up, putting on the clothes he’d worn the day before, and he found himself watching her as she slumbered peacefully. A smile graced her lips, but it was difficult to appreciate its beauty in the shadow cast by the prominence of her bones beneath her skin. He frowned, feeling slightly disgusted as his eyes traced along her protruding spine, following it down to her exposed hips. If she were any girl on the street, he would likely feel sorry for her, but he certainly wouldn’t be attracted to her. But this was Lucy, the untamed Slytherin he couldn’t believe he’d fallen for, the only other pureblood he knew who wasn’t aching to join up with the forces of darkness. He’d been so sure they were going to be together forever, and now she looked like she might not see tomorrow. The thought of it caused the air in his lungs to grow shallow, pausing his heartbeat.
He took his frown down the corridor and into the small kitchen, opening the cabinets one by one to see what he could find. He withdrew a box of ready-made pancake mix, pulling some fresh blueberries out of the fridge to sprinkle in with it as it cooked. Next, he poured two glasses of orange juice, not caring that the date on the carton had passed a week ago. He would have liked to add some protein, perhaps some bacon or sausage, even eggs, but he found none of them.
The noise of someone else cooking in her kitchen stirred Lucy at last from her slumber. She stepped slowly down the kitchen, trying to think of something appropriate to say to Sirius as she pulled the sheet close around her naked form. As always, it was freezing cold in her flat.
“Hey.” She said softly, standing in front of the island. “Good morning.”
Sirius paused mid-flip, but he did not look at her, quickly moving the pan to avoid dropping her breakfast onto the floor. “Morning.” He said shortly, his tone between sad and angry. Regretful.
“Making us breakfast?” Lucy smiled, sitting down at the island. “Wow, you learn fast.”
“Making you breakfast.” He corrected, allowing himself a tiny smile.
“You aren’t having any?” Panic rose like a tidal wave in her bony chest.
“Nope.” He set a plate down in front of her, loading it with three blueberry-studded pancakes and scooting her glass of juice closer to her. “Go on, now, eat up, or else you’ll insult my cooking.”
She cut up a baby-sized piece of pancake, taking a small bite and feeling the fresh blueberry burst open in her mouth, flooding her taste buds with its flavor. It was delicious, and she couldn’t hide her satisfaction. A slow smile spread across Sirius’s malnourished features, warming them.
“Well?” He asked expectantly.
“It’s very good, thank you.” She replied, but she pushed the plate a millimeter away from her.
“Then eat more.” He instructed, taking a drink of his orange juice.
“I’m not really hungry.” She said, swallowing the tiny bite that she’d chewed into oblivion.
“No, you’re too full of shit.” He said, and his expression took a turn for the serious. “How long has this been going on?” He demanded, sounding much like her father for a terrifying moment.
“What?” She asked instinctively, used to denying any and all references to her illness.
“You know what.” Sirius said coldly, meeting her eyes. “This is his fault, isn’t it?”
“No.” She said quietly, but her tone had a sharp edge. She had dealt with Sirius insulting Severus for years, and it was even more tiresome now that she had married and separated from the other man. “I didn’t… become like this until after I had already left him.” She explained.
“Then why?” Sirius asked, clearly relieved that Snape had not been the culprit.
“I don’t know.” Lucy folded her arms on the table, feeling herself tear up slightly as she stared at the pancakes, looking very forlorn in their half-finished state. “I had just moved to this new place, and I didn’t know anyone, but I knew I didn’t want to face anyone from home, not after everything that happened. I started working at that diner, but they used Muggle appliances and didn’t talk about magic at all, and I felt so alone. I was clueless. I barely had anything to my name, and I had no money to furnish this place or pay any of the bills I was getting all of a sudden. I—I just wanted to be in control of something, anything. Food seemed easy to me.”
Sirius nodded gravely, watching her as she spoke. “Were you unhappy with your looks?”
“Not really, I guess.” She moved her hands into her lap, distancing herself physically and emotionally from her abandoned breakfast. “I mean, now, I don’t know. It seems like there’s always something I want to fix. Always a way for me to be even more in control of myself.” She stared at the orange juice, wishing it was her usual ice water. Juice still had calories.
“Of course there’s always something. You destroyed yourself, Lucy.” Sirius sighed, taking a small bite of the pancakes. After all, some tiny portion of her meager budget had bought them. “I used to think you were a goddess, even prettier than Lily was. And now there’s not much left.”
Silence fell. Neither of them knew anything to say, and yet the reminder of their conflict still lay between them, Sirius’s failed experiment that neither he nor Lucy had any appetite for anymore.
“The pancakes are really good, Sirius…” Lucy looked at him, feeling ashamed.
“Then eat some more, please.” He looked at her, his eyes begging her along with his voice. “You don’t have to eat them all, okay? Just have a little more. For me. Please.” He pushed them closer.
She nodded, taking another small bite. Fifty or so nibbles later, she’d finished one. A record. Sirius ate the rest, and they downed the orange juice simultaneously, drinking the tension away. Then the two of them cleaned up together, both of their wasted bodies still as skeletal as before.