Chapter 10 : Alone with the Gryffindor
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Alone with the Gryffindor
Cat tackled Sirius, knocking him into the floor as soon as he entered his room. “I can’t believe you did that!”
Their joint laughter echoed into the hallway and, with a wave of his hand, he shut the door to his room. Her arms were still wrapped tightly around his neck and, as he stretched his arms up to disengage her, he sensed it…the slight fragrance to her hair as it brushed against his face; the rough fabric of her dress as it scratched into his skin; the slight nervousness in his stomach; and the a silky feeling of confused wanting that rose from below his waist line. It took only a moment for the weight of her body on his to register deep within his mind and he realized he had to move before she felt the change in him. He shifted quickly, struggling out from underneath her and moving her aside. Sliding his back against the wall, he took a steadying breath hoping to calm the embarrassment he felt at his body’s natural reaction to her touch. He watched her closely for some sign that she had noticed but she seemed oblivious.
“Did you see his face when it happened? You should have seen his face! He deserved that and more! Stupid little git. Oh, how I wish Regulus had been underneath there…” she laughed as she pulled herself off the floor and began skipping around the room in glee. But it only took a moment for her to realize he wasn’t joining in.
When he didn’t answer, she quieted. He could feel her eyes on him but he ignored her, concentrating on pulling out a sickly green colored bottle from his cloak.
Her brow furrowed. “Since when do you drink?”
“We deserve a celebration,” he answered forcing a smile. He conjured two glasses for them, beckoning her to sit down beside him. He poured it slowly trying to keep the bubbly liquid from spilling over while trying to force his emotions into submission at the same time. She touched his hand lightly as he handed her the glass.
“You’re uncomfortable. Why?” She asked quietly. “Is this about Lucius and Narcissa?”
Ignoring her, Sirius downed his drink. Unlike what his uncle had offered him earlier that year, the liquid was sweet and settled nicely on his stomach. Taking the bottle in his hand, he struggled off the floor and headed to his closet.
The last thing he wanted to do was talk about Lucius and Narcissa. It was almost impossible for him to care less about their marriage announcement. Except for the effect it had on Regulus, he would’ve been happy to see Narcissa quit Hogwarts and dash off to elope with him. He hadn’t seen his brother this upset since his first owl had died and, like that time, Sirius knew there was nothing he could do to help ease Regulus’ suffering. It did bother him to come back to Grimmauld to find young Regulus drinking and he vowed to talk to him about it…but, in the morning.
“You feel like going out?” he asked abruptly, causing Cat to almost spill her half gone drink.
“What?” She sputtered.
“Out. You want to sneak out for awhile?”
Cat scrambled off the floor and followed him, watching intently as he alternated pulling out his clothes and taking sips of the champagne. “Sirius-"
“Don’t tell me you’re afraid,” he turned a dark look her direction.
“No, it’s just-"
“Don’t want to be alone with the Gryffindor? Is Lucius more to your liking?”
The slight tilt of her head told him he had confused her and her quizzical voice confirmed it. “What?”
“Nevermind.” Sirius brushed passed her, headed for the bathroom with his clothes in hand. Where had that come from? He cursed himself for sounding like a jealous little kid. Why was it he could hide his emotions from everyone except her?
Halfway there his uncle’s words came back to haunt him and he stopped. He whirled around to find her inches from his face. He hesitated…he didn’t realize in his few months at Hogwarts that he’d somehow grown taller than her. He closed his eyes as the scent of mint became overwhelming.
“Sirius, are you all right?” she touched him lightly, causing him to jerk away.
He tried to move away from her but, like usual, Cat wasn’t so easily deterred. She reached her hand out again, more hesitantly this time, as if caressing a frightened puppy. Her fingers barely grazed his chest and Sirius drew in a breath. It was inaudible, he knew it was, but Cat had felt it. His eyes met hers for a brief second and he could see understanding flow over her.
“Oh,” she murmured, drawing her hand away. “I didn’t realize. Why didn’t I realize?” She chastised herself out loud.
She smiled a gentle, patient smile that Sirius had learned to despise. It meant someone was underestimating him…like they were giving a sympathetic look to a child who didn’t understand something. But, for some reason, he chose not to draw away when she reached for him again.
“You’ve grown up more than I thought,” she whispered, taking a step into him, “haven’t you?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said lightly. “If you want to go, go get changed and meet me in the back garden. If not, then, well, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Well, I know what I’m talking about and it doesn’t change anything, Sirius,” she promised with a reassuring smile, “of course I still want to go.”
“Why did you get so mad at me?” he rushed, before he lost his nerve and she had the chance to walk away. “The night of the sorting.”
“I wasn’t mad at you.”
Sirius could see her struggling to remember but he wouldn’t let her move away. To him, it was as if no time had passed…he remembered the look in her eyes as if it was yesterday. To her, though, it seemed as if she could barely remember the night of the sorting at all. His eyes narrowed.
“Cat, what have you been doing while I’ve been gone?”
“Nothing so interesting it deserves a stern look like that,” she countered, taking the bottle out of his hand and taking a drink herself. “Come on, you can tell me all about Hogwarts and I can tell you all about the itching powder I put in Regulus’ underwear.”
Sirius wasn’t sure where he was going to lead her…he just knew he had to get out of Grimmauld. They walked aimlessly for awhile as she told of her exploits at the manor and he described the world of Hogwarts. He rattled on about James and his other roommates but only when he mentioned Lily did he seem to finally catch Cat’s interest. She asked innumerable questions about her and Sirius quickly grew tired of trying to sidestep the more pointed ones. Thankfully, she realized that and steered the conversation onto more approachable topics. He hadn’t noticed how late and how far they had walked until he caught her stifling a yawn as they settled onto a park bench, miles away from Grimmauld. She sank into his lap without pretense, and only the dark thoughts in his mind managed to keep his annoyance in check…were girls always so clingy?, he wondered silently.
“Are you going to keep pretending to talk about things while your brain spins out of control?” she asked quietly. “I hear that’s the first sign of insanity, you know.”
“Talking about things?” Sirius raised an eyebrow in confusion.
“No, avoiding talking about the things you want to say,” Cat murmured. “Tell me, Sirius.”
Sirius bit his lower lip…he wasn’t good at confronting people. He never had been. He could mock them mercilessly but confronting people was more Regulus’ territory. “It’s actually…” he trailed off, the quiver in his voice making him angry at himself. “I mean, I just…”
Cat tightened her grip on his arm, her voice strong. “Stop acting like a kid and speak up.”
Sirius didn’t bristle, didn’t even suck in a breath. Normally he would’ve lashed out at her but the things weighing so heavily on his mind didn’t allow him room to feel vindictive.
“Did you like kissing him? Lucius?” he asked softly, uncertain if he wanted to hear the answer.
Cat shuffled out of his arms, her hand reaching to caress his cheek. The softness in her touch and the shadow over her eyes gave Sirius his answer but he knew she wouldn’t let the question go unanswered…Cat would tell him the truth no matter how much it stung.
He had no right to be angry or jealous. He knew that but he still couldn’t equate how anyone could be so emotional detached to enjoy kissing a Malfoy.
“He’s an ass, Sirius, I know that. He’s filthy and foul-mouthed and thinks he’s the best gift a girl could ever have. I know all those things,” she hesitated.
“But I have a nasty habit of choosing the wrong kind of men to begin with. It’s like I’m too stupid to know better and not smart enough to realize that things can only end badly.”
“You disappeared during the party,” he tried to keep his voice steady. “You’ve kissed him more than once.”
“Yes.” Cat nodded and took hold of his arm. “It has nothing to do with you. Please don’t think it does.”
“It has everything to do with me!” he couldn’t contain his temper any longer. “It was him, Cat. He is the one my father called on the night of the sorting.”
Cat recoiled instantly and her face paled. “H-he did that to you?”
“It doesn’t matter. You can kiss whoever you want.” He mumbled, standing up and moving back the direction they had come.
“Well, yes I can but that’s beside the point.” She hopped up to follow after him. “Why didn’t you say something?”
“Would it have mattered?” Sirius stopped and watched her closely, not liking the answer he saw in her eyes. He turned on his heel and continued walking. “Don’t answer that.”
“What if I want to answer it?” She asked hotly grabbing his arm and pulling him to face her.
Sirius tried to make his anger match hers but failed miserably. Instead, he replaced the hurt on his face with a placid look of indifference. “It doesn’t matter. Nothing matters.”
“Sirius, please,” Cat whispered, slipping her hand into his before he could walk away. “We need to talk about this…about you.”
He hesitated. Since when did anyone want to talk about him? He was confused, hurt, angry, and feeling a tumble of emotions he couldn’t even define. All he wanted to do was crawl into bed and pretend whatever was happening to him wasn’t really happening.
“I won’t force you,” she said quietly, tugging on his arm, “but I really wish you’d stay. I know you are confused and probably feeling things you don’t really even understand right now. I’ve been there, Sirius. I just forget…I forget you aren’t as old as you act and that some things I take at face value you still look for the silver lining.”
“You’re calling me a fool.” He broke free but her words had hit home. He sank back down onto the ground beside her…afraid to hear her condescension but more afraid of continuing to be confused.
“No, not at all.” She sank down opposite him, curling her legs underneath her. “Did you wonder why I followed you tonight? Why I was there watching you and Narcissa?”
Sirius couldn’t resist and gave her a small grin, “because you’re nosey.”
“Well, yes,” she laughed. “But I knew you were curious. You couldn’t understand why Narcissa would be marrying Lucius. I didn’t know why you felt so strongly about him, although I do now, but it’s your nature. You are strong-willed and obstinate and weren’t going to take anyone else’s explanation for it except Narcissa’s. You hold people accountable like no one I’ve ever seen before.” She smiled. “It’s actually quite frightening when you happen to be on the receiving end of a Sirius Black interrogation.”
He nodded distractedly. “But-“
Cat sighed and covered his hand lightly with her own. “It doesn’t explain why I was kissing Lucius,” she said nodding. “I know. You have a lot higher opinion of me than you should, Sirius.”
“Of course I do. Cat, until James came along, you were the only friend I had.”
“Being your friend doesn’t make me a good person. It just means you either don’t know my faults or are willing to look passed them. Either way, you are much too trusting.”
He could see a vague shadow pass over her...similar to the one she’d had on the night of the sorting but this time he understood it. She wasn’t angry with him or even mad at something he’d done. Instead, she was angry because he’d been hurt.
“I never intended to hurt you by kissing him. He was fun to be around. Self centered, egotistical but he just had this presence that pulled everyone to him. Yes, even me.” She added when he grimaced. “And besides, kissing him didn’t hurt you, did it? It’s only because you found out about it.”
“What a twisted way to look at it.”
“It’s the only way to look at it.” She cut him off coldly. “People rarely think about the future Sirius. Who they will hurt, what effect their actions will have on other people. Just because someone gets hurt in the end doesn’t mean it was intentional. People, including myself, are just so damn self absorbed that it’s easier to do what you want than worry about the outcome.”
“You are telling me you’re a bad person.”
“I’m telling you I am trying hard to be the person you and your uncle think I am.” She whispered. “But it’s really really hard and I’m not going to be perfect at it. When I screw up you have to be willing to forgive me for it.” Cat reached forward, touching his cheek softly. “I’m not sorry for kissing someone but I am sorry that it was Lucius. It won’t happen again.”
He searched her dark eyes and, even behind the ever present shadows, he knew she was telling the truth. He hadn’t wanted her to feel bad but he didn’t want her kissing Lucius either. The confusion tumbled in his head and he struggled to try and make any sense of his thoughts. He wouldn’t believe she was a bad person…he was a Black, after all. He couldn’t imagine anything worse than a heritage like that. The idea that she was so unhappy with herself and her actions tore into his soul and his guilt was overpowering. His eyes caught the glint of the moonlight against the ribbons in her hair and he stretched forward to tighten them. He hesitated a pace away from her, his eyes searching for some indication of what made her believe she was unworthy. Her defenses had already gone up, though, and he couldn’t discern a thing.
“Do you want to kiss me, Sirius?” she asked softly and he could feel her breath warm on his face.
He sat back, her directness taken him off guard. “No.”
“No?” She smiled and tilted her head. “Are you certain?”
“No, I mean yes, I’m certain,” he answered stiffly.
Cat smiled. “That’s good enough for me.”
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