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Chapter 10: Dreams and McGonagall
One month, fourteen days, eight hours, two minutes and fifteen seconds. That’s how long I have until Christmas Break. Until I go home to my uncle, where I know he’s going to end my life. I mean, it feels weird, knowing when you’re going to die. I don’t suggest it to anyone honestly, because then you can count down the days. But then again, knowing, I can do everything I want to do before I die.
A few days after Sirius and I came out with our relationship, James and Lily came out with theirs. They said it was too hard to hide and they didn’t feel like it anymore. Of course, we ragged on them a bit, just because the love struck James and the I-hate-you-Potter Lillian were together. The whole school was in shock actually. I could practically feel the girls of Hogwarts’ hearts dying because now both Sirius and James were taken.
The one angriest about James and Lily’s new found relationship though was Snape. Everyone knew Snape was in love with Lily (well, except Lily of course) and they used to be best friends. That is… until he called her a Mudblood. They haven’t spoken since. Anyways, James ended up in the hospital wing the day everyone found out. And then Sirius and I ended up in detention later that night, for hexing Snivellus back. I mean, we couldn’t let him get away with putting Prongs in the hospital wing and only getting a measly detention for it.
Though my eating had become quite a lot better, one day I couldn’t seem to keep anything down at all. It felt like my stomach was painfully full. I went to Poppy of course.
“Okay Poppy, what’s wrong with me?” I asked, in a sort of hopeful tone; didn’t want to take the bad news too hard.
“Well, it seems as though the cancer has grown large enough that digesting food is going to be a problem. You need to eat a little bit at meals and little bits whenever you’re hungry. I’ve doubled your pain potion.” She looked at me, a sad, dreadful look on her face.
“Poppy, don’t look at me like that.” I said, jokingly scolding her.
“Like what dear?” She smiled, wiping her tear filled eyes quickly.
“Like I’m dying.” I hopped off the bed, thanked her and left.
I’ve already lost enough weight honestly. I could actually gain a few more pounds. I went from a nice one hundred and forty pounds to one hundred and ten in less than two months. I shook my head. This was a disaster.
Today was a Quidditch match and because the game was starting soon the corridors were empty. It was also for this reason that I booked it towards the trail to the Pitch, because I promised Lily, Peter and Remus I’d go watch a game with them.
I made my way down the trail and up the stairs to the Gryffindor stand seating and saw Lily. She gave me a big smile and waved me over, jumping up and down.
“Hey Lils,” I grinned at her obvious excitement.
“We worried you had gotten lost!” She grinned, giving me a nudge. Remus and Peter smiled at me.
They were all bundled up in their Outdoor cloaks because, well it was November and the days were getting colder and frostier. I (stupidly) forgot mine, and I crossed my arms to warm me up.
Once the game started (with a wink from Sirius beforehand and a roll of the eyes from James) the commentators started up.
“And that’s the start of the game of Gryffindor versus Ravenclaw! This is Gryffindor’s third game into the season, with only one win under their belt since the replacement of the extraordinary Trina Cassis as beater. We all wonder what James Potter, Gryffindor captain, was thinking there, because it wasn’t the smartest move honestly. Trina was rumored to be first in line for playing with the Holyhead Harpies before the cut.”
I looked at Lily and she gave me a sad glance. I looked at James as he flew by, searching for the snitch. He wouldn’t hear anything, because I knew how focused he was during a game. The same kind of focus that I had honestly. We could be hit by a truck and still be playing the game.
The game continued, Sirius doing awesome as usual. About half way through one of our Chasers was hit by a bludger from a Ravenclaw beater and was knocked out. This gave us a disadvantage, and soon they were up 60-50.
“James Potter has spotted the snitch!”
Every head in the place whipped around to look at James, who was zooming around the right hand corner, his eyes set firmly on the golden ball in front of him.
Everyone held their breath in anticipation but suddenly a gasp of shock broke the place, as a Ravenclaw beater had a Bludger coming right for him, and he was aiming straight for James. The bat made connection and we all waited for the inevitable clunk of the bludger making contact with James when suddenly Sirius was in front of the bludger, hitting it back. The bludger slammed into the surprised beater, knocking him off his broom and falling to the ground.
“JAMES POTTER HAS CAUGHT THE SNITCH! GRYFFINDOR WINS 200 – 60!”
There was uproar so loud you could barely hear the Slytherins booing. The team dropped from their brooms and came into a massive group hug.
Later, Sirius and I were making out in the Room of Requirement (which had turned into a nice little living area, complete with couch, bed, and kitchen… it was basically a small apartment in one room). We thought it more polite to the guys and Lils and all of Hogwarts if we made out in the Room of Requirement instead of the Dorm or anywhere else.
“You were really great today.” I said, kissing him.
“Thanks.” He said, smiling.
He looked at me for a minute, and then kissed me deeply. I wrapped my arms around him and he picked me up. With my legs wrapped around him and not breaking our kiss, he carried me over to the couch and laid me down on it, his body on top of mine.
We stayed like that for a while until finally I resurfaced.
“Jesus, I’m getting bloody stubble rash.” I giggle, stroking his slightly stubbly face with my hand. “All the skin is practically off my face by now.”
He grinned goofily and barked a laugh (we all found that really entertaining after Sirius ended up being a dog Animagus. His laugh was very bark like). He leaned in and kissed me deeper, pushing his body into me, my legs around his waist. I moaned.
“Ugh, why do you have to be so bloody irresistible? Don’t do this to me!” I said, breaking our kiss.
Sirius chuckled a bit. “I’m Sirius Black. Come on, how could I not be irresistible?”
I smacked him on the shoulder. “Shut it.”
He ran his hands through my thick, blonde curls. It felt really nice, until I felt a little pull sensation at my scalp, and Sirius gasped.
He had a chunk of my hair in his hand. Little by little my hair had been falling out and James had been continually replacing it, but now here we sat awkwardly, a chunk of said hair in my boyfriend’s hand.
“Tree, Ohmygod. I’m so sorry! I didn’t- I mean- I didn’t mean to pull that hard- it just-“ Sirius looked mortified.
I covered my shock with a grin. “Hey, it’s fine, you didn’t pull that hard at all! My hair hasn’t been the same since the Slytherins put that Hair Remover potion in my shampoo.” I diffused the situation quickly by kissing him to distract him.
He kissed me deeply breathing heavily through his nose. He pushed his hands up my shirt, not going any further than my stomach, just leaving his hands there. His hands felt big and warm: nice. I pulled back again and sighed.
Sirius gave me a grin then stared at my body for a second, my shirt still ridden up to just below my chest. He frowned as he glanced at my hips.
“Christ, your hip bones really stick out now, eh?” He said, like he had just noticed.
I blushed furiously red in embarrassment and slight anger. I sat up suddenly and yanked down my shirt, getting up from the couch and turning my back on him. Tears stung my eyes. Honestly, I knew I was being overly sensitive, but I had looked in the mirror for the past month, watched my hip bones become more and more pronounced and thought the very same thing Sirius said to me. Hearing someone else say it out loud hurt.
“Hey, what are you-“
“ Padfoot, I know they look bad, okay! I know. I’ve just lost all this weight out of nowhere and now all I wish is that I had all my weight back. I mean, I was hot.” I said, ending with a joking, complimentary tone.
There was silence for a moment. Sirius’ breathing was erratic and slowly it got back to normal. He sniffed a bit and then cleared his throat. I heard footsteps and then his arms were wrapped around my waist, interlocking on my stomach. I felt him bury his head in my hair and I closed my eyes as he took in a deep breath in.
I turned in his arms and wrapped my arms around him, laying my head on his shoulder.
“What do I smell like?”
He kissed the side of my head. “You smell like soap. And lilies and vanilla. You smell like you.”
I sighed. “I love you so much.” It was weird, the trivial things he knew about me that I didn’t even know he knew.
“I love you too.” He paused. “You know- didn’t mean it like that. The hip thing- I- it was poorly put. I didn’t mean it the way it sounded.”
“I know. It’s okay.”
After a while (and some more snogging), we concluded that the others would probably worry (okay, maybe not worry about where we were because honestly, who’s kidding who?) about where we were.
We got back to the common room and James was embarrassing (of course).
“Tree, I think your face is bleeding. What did you do? Rub it on the carpet?” He smirked, obviously waiting for my response and hoping it was one he could make fun of.
“You’re losing your touch, you prat, because that wasn’t at all funny.” I said, smiling slightly and flopping down on the couch (kicking James in the face lightly too in the meantime).
“OI! Do you have to sit on the sodding couch like an elephant?!” He yelled, annoyed and straightening his now crooked glasses.
I stuck my tongue out at him and then sat up and moved over so Sirius could sit down.
“Where’s Lily, Prongs?” Sirius asked.
“Upstairs. She was tired and decided to go read.” He gazed dreamily in the direction of the girls Dorm staircase. I shook my head with a smile and reluctantly accepted the invitation Sirius silently gave me to sit in his lap.
“Jesus, reading! It’s our last year here for god’s sake! We should be out doing fun things!” Peter yelled, slapping his palm into his nose.
“You know, Wormtail, you’re absolutely right!” Sirius yelled, jumping up (and knocking me off the couch and onto my ass on the floor. I knew I shouldn’t have sat in his lap.). “Let’s go do a little midnight flying around the Quidditch pitch!”
I looked at Remus instinctively, knowing his fear of heights and it wasn’t going to get any better in the dark. He seemed relaxed though, oddly.
“I don’t think so, Padfoot. Lily doesn’t like flying. I’m pretty sure the last time she was on a broom was first year flying lessons.” James said, sounding disappointed.
Remus smirked triumphantly. I realized now that he knew James would say no because of Lily. I smiled. What a git.
“We could play truth or dare with our little bit of Veritaserum we have left.” Peter suggested, shrugging.
James and Remus looked at each other, then both quickly looked at me.
“Nah, what are we, four?” James shook his head quickly.
I sighed inwardly in relief that the boys had caught on so fast. Me on Veritaserum would be very bad. Though I felt bad, because Peter looked put out.
“No more parties either.” Sirius said sternly and flatly, almost to himself. He put his hand on his chin and rubbed.
“Don’t hurt yourself, Pads. I can almost smell your brain over heating from here.” James said, with a boyish grin.
“Shut up, you tosser.” Sirius said, not breaking character.
“Face it, Padfoot; the Marauders have done everything there is to do at Hogwarts.” James shrugged, looking slightly triumphant but also saddened.
“I thought we would feel more accomplished when this day came, but I can’t say that I do. I feel actually quite sad. And old.” Sirius sat down in a huff on the couch. Though it was quite amusing, seeing him like that, I had to admit I was feeling slightly upset too.
Eventually we moved ourselves up to the Boys Dorm and I laid down in James bed. Once again, Sirius and I were the last ones to fall asleep. He kissed my forehead before smiling, making his way over to his bed and closing his eyes. Seeing this, I closed mine too, and I drifted off.
It was dark. I looked up and around and I realized I was in a forest. Trees were in every direction and I couldn’t see anything. Suddenly, from ahead, there came a faint glow of light. Pushing through the trees, I felt the branches cut my face and hands as I pushed faster through the trees, trying to make it to the light.
Suddenly, I burst into a clearing, where I was shocked to find a person. I moved closer, hesitant but in awe at the person before me. It was me. It looked like I was sleeping, but floating in midair. My hands were tucked under my chin, and I looked utterly peaceful and beautiful. I was in a dress my dad had bought me a few months before the crash. It was a pretty white dress that had a white band of material at the waist. I was wearing my grandmother’s old white lace slippers.
I moved closer, wondering whether I should or not, wondering whether this was a trick. Slowly, I reached out my hand and just as I was about to touch my own face before me, the me lying down flashed open her eyes, and they were terrible. They were red with black, slit like pupils.
The other me sprang to her feet and ran at me, and evil smirk on her face and she wrapped her hands around my neck and because to squeeze. I couldn’t breathe, and I struggled to get her hands off me but I couldn’t. She began to laugh, my laugh. And she squeezed and squeezed and I tried to scream but only gurgles came out and slowly everything was going black, and my last thought was a question: could you die in a dream?
“Wake up Tree!” James whisper yelled over his friend, shaking her.
She was mumbling and twitching slightly, a frown on her pretty face.
“Come on Tree, you’re just having a bad dream.” James still whispered so he wouldn’t wake up the others.
Suddenly she let out an ear piercing scream. James quickly grabbed his wand and threw a muffliato spell at the others, who were sitting up, startled. Suddenly, Trina’s screams cut off and it was silent, James’ ears ringing. But he looked at her, alarmed at the fact that she was holding her breath, and her face was going purple.
James shook her again, yelling this time. “Wake up!”
There was a few seconds that felt long when Tree sat up quickly in bed, gasping for breath, body heaving.
James put his hand on me, which I flinched in surprise at, then began to rub my back.
“S-sorry.” I gasped, looking shaken and scared. “Just a dream.”
“Do you want to tell me about it?” James asked.
I shook my head. “Let’s just go back to sleep.”
I settled back down under the sheets and I willed James to go to sleep. I closed my eyes to feign I was a sleep until I heard James’ breathing change. I knew he’d wake up during the night to check that I was still breathing.
I got up quickly and smoothly from James’ bed and opened the dorm door quietly, slipped down the stairs, and out the portrait hole.
The castle was chilly, me in only my pajama pants and James’ old t-shirt. I cursed myself for not having the time to find the map, so I could be sure not to run into any teachers.
I thought about my cancer for a while. Depressing, right? I was just in one of those moods. I needed to talk to someone who knew more about it. But everyone in the magical community barely knew anything about it.
Sure enough, mid thought, I run into McGonagall.
“Miss Cassis! I hope you have a good, solid reason for being out late tonight.” She said sternly, looking quite funny in her night hat and being angry at the same time. I didn’t laugh though.
“Professor, have you ever known anyone with cancer?”
McGonagall looked startled. “Yes, I have as a matter of fact.”
I couldn’t believe my luck. “Are they okay? Were they magical?”
McGonagall gave me a look I couldn’t decipher and then gestured for me to follow her.
We ended up in her office, with tea and biscuits in front of us. She clasped her hands together and said. “My husband had cancer of the lungs. He was a Muggle.”
My stomach tightened painfully. “That must’ve been awful.”
“It was,” She nodded in agreement. “But he was such a happy upbeat man that it seemed like nothing almost.”
I winced. “Did he die?”
She nodded, looking a little sad, but accepting. “His cancer went away for a while, but then it came back, and it spread to his liver.”
“I’m sorry.” I said, meaning it. I knew somewhat what she went through.
“Thank you. Does someone in your family have cancer, Trina?” She asked, giving me an empathetic look.
I shook my head. “I do.”
Her face went from startled to saddened to questioning in about a millisecond.
“Stage four stomach cancer. I asked Dumbledore not to tell anyone. Of course, James was there with me when I found out, and Remus knows.”
“Stage four.” She said in a quiet, stunned voice. “Are you going through radiation?”
I shook my head. “It wouldn’t have helped, not at this point.”
You could almost see the gears in her head turning, adding two and two together. “How long? If you don’t mind me asking.”
“Couple months now.” I wouldn’t tell her the exact time, even though I knew it. I mean, counting was kind of morbid, no?
McGonagall sat back in her chair and let out a breath.
“I’m sorry for unloading this on you, Professor. Just people in our world don’t seem to know anything about cancer, because magical beings don’t get cancer that often. And it’s different if magical beings get cancer, because our bodies are different somehow, in that respect.”
McGonagall shook her head. I’ve never seen her quiet, this well- not stern. McGonagall had this air about her that made you immediately know that she wasn’t to be double crossed, and no nonsense was permitted. But now, she seemed so human to me in that moment. It suddenly made her real and not “just my professor”. But a person.
“Don’t apologize.” Suddenly, she was stern again, her eyes ablaze. “Knowing you, you’ll fight. Fight until the very last moment. I would expect nothing less from you than to never give up. You are-“ She cleared her throat and blinked furiously. “You’re a great person, and I’ve enjoyed teaching you, though you may be a pain in my arse sometimes.” She chuckled a bit. “You and those boys.” She shook her head. “They’ll be the death of me you know.” She said with small smile.
“Tell me about it.” I said with a grin.
When I snuck back to the Dorm, I snuggled down with Sirius instead of James. I could really care less if James was upset by that in the morning.
I grabbed his arm and draped it around my waist after kissing his shoulder and climbing under the sheets. Poor bloke barely stirred from his sleep. I was facing him and I studied his face for a while.
He really was the best looking boy at Hogwarts. I sounded like one of those smug PTA moms in that moment, but it was true. His skin was perfect and tan with olive undertones. He would always joke, saying he was jealous of how tanned I was, only because I was the palest person at Hogwarts hands down. He had a double curve to his lips and his bottom was only a little fuller than his top. His cheek bones were high to his face, and his jaw line could slice me in half. He had these perfect, storm grey eyes that went lighter when he was extremely happy. His dark, shiny hair hung in his face as he slept, but it was usually pushed out of his face.
I dropped my head under his chin and onto his chest, where I circled his waist with my arm and drifted off to a peaceful, dreamless sleep.