Sirius scowled at Dumbledore’s desk, waiting for the headmaster and Professor Miles to stop talking behind the office door. Snape sat as far away as possible, and was having equally unpleasant facial contortions.
Then, Dumbledore said some parting words to the professor, closed the door behind him, and slowly went to sit at his desk. He steepled his hands in front of his face, which, Sirius noted with worry, had many more lines and scars than he remembered. Even his movements spoke of large burdens, and strees that would only come with… war. That was the cause, Sirius realized. The newly declared war on Voldemort, or You-Know-Who, as the press had taken to calling him.
But this had nothing to do with the problem at hand. “Mr. Snape, if you would be so kind as to wait in the stairway for just a short moment?” After Snape slouched away and closed the door, Dumbledore gravely said, “While I am sure that this disruption was more than fault just your fault, Mr. Black, evidence says that provocation could have come from anyone. Therefore, the only logical and fair move to make here is to give you just one night’s detention with Professor Milles this coming Saturday.”
Sirius restrained himself from standing up and retaliating against this unfair punishment. Almost. “You mean Snape gets off free? What kind of fairness is that? That git said-”
Dumbledore merely held up a hand, and that was enough to stop Sirius in the middle of his rant. “At the sixth level of schooling here at Hogwarts, we teachers begin to hope that the students start to deduce that life is not fair. That you are not children anymore. That especially in the world today, frivolous things such as House rivalries do not matter as much as they did when you were eleven. That you are old enough to understand what is really important.”
Sirius sulked in his chair, successfully rebuked, but still resentful. Dumbledore sighed. “Please send in Mr. Snape. I would like to have a word with him. You are free to go.”
Sirius stood up and swiftly turned his back on the aging professor. Past the door was a smirking Snape, who just strode into the office and purposefully shut the door on Sirius.
Sirius was filled with a surge of unexplained rage. He wanted to smash something, anything. Saturday- the last Hogsmeade visit before Christmas break. And, even more importantly, that was the night of the full moon. He would miss a day of romping around on the grounds with his friends. And then he spotted Snape’s school bag, lying innocently on the ground. With plenty of extra parchment and quills. Sirius grabbed a handful of it with the intent of ripping the entire contents of the bag into shreds. But then he recalled Dumbledore’s words. ‘… especially in the world today, frivolous things such as House rivalries do not matter as much as they did when you were eleven.’ He was right. It was time for the House rivalries to stop being frivolous. He smoothed out the parchment, selected the smallest piece, and wrote down a quick, but carefully calculated message.
The tricky part would be placing it somewhere that Snape would find it, but not know how recently it was delivered, which would also give away Sirius as the author of the note. One place that Sirius would be sure to check before Saturday… of course! Snape’s Potions book! He was rarely seen without it. Sirius grabbed the textbook, opened it, and frowned in distaste. The book was covered in scribbles and nonsense, probably ideas for revenge. Sirius felt the urge to read them, to see if any plots could be turned around on Snape, but he saw the doorknob slowly beginning to twist. Hastily, he shoved the note in the textbook, put it in the bag, and sprinted around the corridor.
“So, how was it, mate?” James inquired anxiously.
Sirius shrugged. “A little weird. I could tell that Dumbledore’s stressed about the war. He gave me this really weird speech. But I got detention with Milles this Saurday!”
James groaned loudly. Milles was known for all-day detentions that left a student exhausted and covered in numerous smelly substances. “So it’s just Peter and me? Against Remus? This is going to be a fun evening.”
“Sorry, mate. I didn’t have much choice in the matter. But more importantly, have you seen Alex?”
James grimaced. “Not exactly. But I did hear quite a few things breaking, and once she screamed for water- the second years got the House Elves for that- but that’s it.”
Sirius bit his lip. “Do you think I should go talk with her?”
“I don’t think so,” James said. “I think she needs someone who can understand her at the moment.”
Sirius laughed grimly. “Then she doesn’t need me, you mean. I couldn’t care less if my family got themselves killed. And I’m sure the feeling’s mutual.”
“What about Lily?” James asked. “I mean, she’s been through that situation, and she’s one of Alex’s best friends.”
Abruptly, Sirius stood up and walked to the other side of the room, where Lily was whispering to Alice. “Lily?” Sirius asked. “I was wondering- you see, you know what it’s like- I just wondered- Alex needs someone to talk to- I don’t know what-”
Lily understood the garbled message. “I was going to do it sometime, and I suppose I’ve waited long enough.” She looked at Sirius, and saw that this was hurting him as well. After all, he had been cut off from Alex in the time that he wanted to be there for her the most. On impulse, Lily reached up and hugged him tightly. After the understandable shock, Sirius allowed himself to be comforted. Lily whispered in his ear, “She’ll need your help when she’s ready to face the world again. Just let me get her ready.”
Up in the sixth year girl dorms, the blinds were drawn and the doors closed. Several mirrors were broken from Alex’s uncontrollable and unpredicted fits of rage. Tissues lay on the floor, some just waded up and thrown around in trancelike behavior, like a snowstorm had just briefly passed by. And in the middle of the war-zone was Alex herself, hidden in layers upon layers on bedding material, silently sitting on her bed. This was how Lily found her. She opened the door and closed it swiftly, before much light could come in. Careful to avoid the shards of glass, she sat on the bed next to Alex. She would let Alex make the fist move towards a conversation.
She didn’t have long to wait. Alex’s voice was a bit muffled from inside her cocoon, but she could still be understood. “How can you stand it? The pain- it hurts so much. How did you ever go back into the world again?”
Lily looked at her tightly clasped hands. “I don’t know. There were times when I just wanted the suffering to be over, for the end of the world to come. But I knew, for some reason, that I would have to move on.”
“Move on!” Alex exclaimed. “How can you say that! I only lost my brother, and I know I’ll never be able to move on! You lost your whole family! Why did you come out of your room at all?”
Lily let Alex’s cutting words pass without flinching. They were made in sadness, not anger. “I knew that they wouldn’t want me to mourn in seclusion for the rest of my life. Would you want anyone to do that for you?”
Alex hesitated. “Well, no…”
Lily continued on. “So I did what I knew they would want me to do. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t think about them everyday, and it doesn’t mean that I don’t cry myself to sleep some nights.”
Alex stuck her head out to look at Lily. “Does it ever stop? Will I ever feel normal again?”
Lily shook her head. “Not at first, but you get used to the pain, and you’ll grow stronger.”
Alex’s voice was almost a whisper. “But it hurts so much.”
And both girls held each other in ways that only those who share the burden of great pain know of, silent tears trickling down faces that have seen too much suffering for their age.
Okay, so this was a bit more heartfelt than other chapters. Did it work? Two other key things have happened. Lily demonstrated that she is warming up to the older Marauders, namely Sirius, and a huge event in Snape’s place was set in motion. Guesses, anyone? It should be a bit obvious.
This chapter’s polls are going to be about the story, since I need more motivation, and I always get some when I know how you guys react to what I write.
I’d like to know what your favorite quote, scene, character, chapter, and chapter title (I have issues with those) is your favorite. This does help my writing style, and influences my ideas (which is a good thing).
There was a lot of symbolism in this chapter. Did anyone catch it? There is also more of it and foreshadowing in the whole story. Can anyone find it? I’d like to know, and an award will go to anyone who tries.
And finally, is this story different from others? How? Is it at all? That’s been bugging me from the beginning.
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