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Chapter 11: Smiles and Separations
As he stood by the window that looked upon the street outside Lucy’s flat, Sirius couldn’t help but feel grateful that he had found a roof to live under before the winter came.
The snow poured down in a steady drizzle outside, and Sirius felt the cold assault his skin as he pressed his cheek to the glass windowpane and stared out at the unpopulated cobblestone that led into the main part of town. He observed the white flakes as they began to pile up gradually on the ground, covering up the dirty pavement and dingy abandoned buildings with a fresh coat of white, washing them clean of their former ugliness.
He smiled to himself, knowing that some whitewashing was going on inside the apartment as well. At this very moment, his former girlfriend turned unsuspecting flame was standing in the small kitchen, whipping up a handsome breakfast for them both. At least, he hoped she would share in the fruits of her labor. The savory odors of sausage and bacon drifted lazily into his nostrils, and he turned from the wonderland outside, watching Lucy as she sought clean forks.
“So, aside from the pork products, what are we having?” He asked.
She smiled shyly, shaking her head and letting her blonde locks fall into her face. Lucy was still many shades away from the wild teenager he had once known, but a happy expression had graced her malnourished features more often in the last twenty-four hours than it had during the entire rest of the time he’d been with her after his escape. To him, it was a significant improvement. “Turkey.” She said softly, handing him a plate and untarnished silverware.
“Turkey?” Sirius wrinkled his nose slightly, unable to conceal his unpleasant surprise.
“Yes. It’s healthier than pork. They make bacon and sausage with it.” She replied.
“Since when do you care if I’m healthy?” He scoffed, chuckling and gesturing to his partially exposed ribs. “Look at me, Luce, I need all the fat and calories I can get!”
“Don’t worry, you’ll have your fill. I just didn’t feel like making separate orders.” Lucy smirked, turning back to the stove and shoveling a little of each meat item onto her plate, which already held a slice of toast coated in raspberry jelly. At her personal bed and breakfast, everybody ate what they got and liked it. That was final.
“Separate orders?” Sirius looked up hopefully. “You’re going to eat some?”
“Yeah.” Lucy handed him a piece of toast as well, sliding the jelly over to him. “This smells really good, and it’ll be a lot to handle all at once, but I want to give it a try.”
“Good.” Sirius smiled warmly, looking at her with something like adoration in his soft eyes. As a boy, he had loved her best in the throes of intoxication, teasing him relentlessly with her fluttering eyelashes and skimpy outfits. But he saw a new creature before him now. The woman on the outside had deteriorated a little with time, but the teenage girl inside still lit up her eyes, possessing her flesh with careful movements and guarded smiles. He wondered if this shy, modest version of Lucy was a result of her disease, her need for control personified. Perhaps Snivellus had brought it out in her, convincing her that she needed to give up the wild life.
What if I had been a better boyfriend? Could I have changed this? His heart sank a little, but he concealed it behind his ever-present grin, taking a large bite of sausage and finding it to his taste.
“What do you think?” She asked, popping a piece of bacon into her mouth with unusual ease.
“It’s good.” He spoke with his mouth full, chewing thoughtfully. “You like it?”
“Mmm-hmm.” She took a bite of her toast, closing her eyes as she tasted the sweet jelly. It was wonderful, this moment of normalcy. Later, she would think of how the meal would come back to haunt her waistline, adding inches that could have been kept away if she’d only controlled her all-too-human urges, if she’d perhaps settled for a meatless breakfast or toast without jelly. But for now, she could enjoy this moment, and she could enjoy him. She intended to be present for it.
They ate in silence, Sirius cleaning his plate quickly and Lucy proudly finishing every bite of her breakfast in her own time. She put their dishes in the sink, deciding to worry about them later, and opened the refrigerator to retrieve the carton of orange juice for the purpose of refilling their glasses. He watched her bemusedly, shivering slightly as the chill from the fridge hit him gently.
“How long did it take you to get used to all of this Muggle stuff?” He asked, handing her his cup.
“A while, believe me.” Lucy laughed, and the sound was music to his ears. “Working at that diner helped me a lot. I would watch the cook turn on the stove and make things on it, and then I would come home and try it.” She took a sip of her juice. “While that was happening, Casey was training me on my job serving tables, and she showed me how to use a microwave—” She pointed to the white box covered in buttons that sat over by the stove. “—and a toaster—” She gestured to the smaller white box with two slits in the top that was next to the microwave. “—without even realizing that she was doing it.”
“Nicely done.” Sirius nodded approvingly. “You’ve done pretty well for yourself, Luce.”
She smiled at him over the rim of her glass, taking a second sip. As she tasted the juice, she was brought back to her usual mindset, the concern about her figure living quietly in the back of her mind like a parasite, an insect that ate away at her little by little as she went about living her life. It was shocking to think that she hadn’t thought about calories for a full five minutes, having been too busy recounting her transition into life as a Muggle to Sirius. “So,” She said, setting the glass down and smirking at him in a way that hearkened back to her former friskiness. “Speaking of Muggle activities, were you ever actually serious about getting a job around here?”
“Well, I’m always Sirius.” He said, unable to resist, and she rolled her eyes lazily at him. “But not really, to be honest.” He looked sheepishly down at his empty plate as he spoke.
“You could help out around here.” She suggested, leaning back against the counter. “I’ve got bills, you know. Besides, you’re eating me out of house and home.”
“I resent that.” He said, but his smirk betrayed his affection for her. “Look, I’m happy to give you whatever money you need. It’s the least I can do for your kindness. But—”
“Money?” Lucy interrupted. She didn’t understand how he could have a penny to his name. He had been in prison for years, and before that, his family had very neatly disowned him.
“Yeah, my uncle left me a tidy fortune when I moved out. I think he sort of sided with me.” Sirius explained, his voice resembling a casual wave of the hand. “Mum blasted him off the tree as well, of course.” His tone turned a little dark, and his smile faded slightly, but he cleared his throat and continued on. “As I was saying, I don’t have time to get a job. I have to look out for my godson.” He looked back up at her. “Harry is my job now.”
“Godson?” Lucy raised her eyebrows. “You’re Harry’s godfather?”
“Full of questions today, aren’t we?” He gave her a lopsided grin. “Don’t sound so surprised. I was James’s first choice.” He sat up straight, puffing his chest out slightly in a show of pride.
“No, I…” Lucy smiled, staring at her now-empty glass for a moment before putting it in the sink. “I think it’s wonderful.” The volume of her voice dropped slightly as she lost herself in the past.
“He’s great. The perfect combination of James and Lily.” Sirius leaned back in his chair a little, allowing himself to peruse the few precious memories of Harry he had managed to accumulate thus far. “He’s headstrong, of course, but also quite thoughtful. He has her kindness.”
Lucy smiled softly, taking the seat across from him. “He sounds like a nice kid.” She said, but she wasn’t thinking of the boy, not really. She was twenty-one again, reading about Harry’s birth announcement in the Daily Prophet and wishing she could have been the one holding Lily’s free hand as she and James worked together to bring their baby into the world. Sitting at the kitchen table in Severus’s small house, she had tried to imagine Lily with a belly full of growing child, her clothes stretched thin over her form as it gradually expanded outward. It was the second time she cried over Lily during her brief marriage. The first was Lily’s wedding day. The last was the day she finally left him, the day Lily fell to the floor and everything in the world seemed to stop.
“Lucy?” She looked up, realizing that Sirius had spoken to her as she drowned in memories.
“Hmm?” She said, watching as he stood up.
“I was just saying that you reminded me that I’ve got to go meet with Harry. He’s been asking me for help with something at school.” He put on his coat. “I need to go find somewhere with a fireplace.” He looked at her. “I’ll see you later, okay?”
She nodded, offering him a tentative smile as she watched him open the door and step out into the falling snow. She should have worried about him being seen while out and about in wizarding London. Beyond that, she should have asked why Harry was having problems at school, should have shown more concern for the boy she had so desperately wanted to know. But she was too busy thinking about Lily, the girl who’d introduced her to Severus and then tried hopelessly to turn her away from him. The girl who had constantly teased her about Sirius.
She wondered what her old best friend would think of her now, and the tears came once again.