Chapter 23 : The Gangster of Love
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I’m such an idiot.
Sirius means the world to me, yet I find myself sucking face with an ex after a dumb fight. I told Quen it was a mistake. He told me he wished it wasn’t, but that he knows me too well to not see that Sirius was more than just a stupid guy to me. I wish Quen could be the one I like because he doesn’t make me crazy the way Sirius does. Yet, somehow, I’d rather have Sirius drive me up a wall than pretend it would work with Quen. I went to him, told him I was sorry, that Quen was nothing and he just stared at the grass near his trainers. He told me it was okay, he told me it was all right, he told me to stop apologizing, he told me with such a hollow look in his eyes. His grey eyes never looked so empty. He just sits in the grass, working a daisy chain with his hood up and dark circles under his eyes when we are together. I don’t think he's been sleeping. When I ask, he says it’s nothing in that quiet tone he talks in these days. At first, I thought it was what happened with Quen, but I think its more than that. I think he's kicking himself for something. I think he did something really bad, something terrible. James says he hasn’t been coming to practice and that he's really worried. James seems to know, but he won’t tell me. Remus is worse. Tanya’s told me that he doesn’t say much except, “Could you pass the quill? Thanks…” Sirius and I just sit next to the lake in silence these days.
“I miss you Sirius.”
His perfect face had lost its luster. His dark hair hung down over his eyes.
“You’re not. I’m not sure where you are, but you left this lifeless shadow of your former self.” I moved closer to him and slid my hand under his chin. I turned his face towards me and brushed the hair away from his eyes. “What’s happened to you?” I said softly as his eyes briefly met mine.
He gently grasped my wrists and pulled my hands away from his face.
“Please.” He released my wrists. “Just let it go…” He looked away again and returned to a link on his daisy chain.
“It’s nothing. Just let it go. I’m not okay right now. I won’t be tomorrow, maybe in a month… I don’t know. Please, just let it go.” He ran his fingers over the tiny white petals.
“You know... once winter comes… the daisies will be gone,” I said softly, looking out on the lake.
“Maybe then…” He didn’t finish.
The whole thing is far too depressing to think about, let alone talk about. But it comes up a lot between Tanya, James, and I.
“At least Sirius still talks,” I said with a sigh. “Remus hasn’t really spoken since, well, the day you and Quen…” I looked away from her, not wanting to bring up the subject again.
“You aren’t blaming me are you?” Laura scowled.
“No, of course not. I’m positive it’s as simple as that. I mean, I’m sure what you did didn’t help. But it can’t be just that.”
“Okay good, because James says that it wasn’t that. He says Remus didn’t know about that until after he sunk into this sad spell. Apparently, some second years very eloquently let him know about me and Quen by talking about it loudly in the Gryffindor common room,” she said irritably.
“Hope they weren’t friends of Naom— Arg!”
I was looking at the ground and hadn’t noticed Patrick exiting one of the fourth floor classrooms. We ran right into each other. It was embarrassing enough that I was knocked backward onto the floor, but we also happened to collide front-to-front. If it were any other boy I wouldn’t mind. But Patrick…
“Sorry,” I mumbled, keeping my face down and picking up the objects he had dropped on the floor.
I froze when I saw what they were. There were about a dozen slides depicting the nether regions of both genders and the internal organs that allow said regions to function.
“What in bloody hell is that, Patrick!” Laura exclaimed. Apparently she also glimpsed the slides and realized what they illustrated.
She picked up one of the slides and squinted. “Is that you?”
He chuckled. “’course not. I’m much bigger than tha’.”
Laura rolled her eyes. “Back to my first question… WHY do you even have these?!”
I got up and handed the remaining eleven slides back to him, eyes still averted toward the ground.
He smirked. “You’ll fin’ out next year alrigh’?” And he walked away.
“Erm…okay…” Laura said confusedly as soon as Patrick was out of sight.
“What was that about?” I asked, shoving the book and quill that had fallen out of my bag back in.
“It’s Patrick. Do you really need to ask?”
Patrick O’Halleran is a mystery to most people. I do not want to say that he knows everything, but he does know just about everything relevant to his gender. He is, well, for lack of a better word, King. James and the Marauders may be the most popular blokes at Hogwarts but Patrick… well, Patrick is that bloke. You know the one. The master. The gangster of love. I’m positive that Patrick was popped shortly after birth. I think maybe it was one of the nurses, but that’s beside the point. Patrick knows women and what makes them tick. He can get just about any girl. I don’t want to make it seem as if he's some sort of manwhore because he is not. He just happens to have knowledge and uses it too. Patrick and his talents are a bit underground. He has a level of ambiguity about him but every bloke knows him and wants to be him. Patrick is a guru so many blokes go to him to learn the trade. He's not exactly popular with the younger girls (that’s James and Sirius’s turf) and most girls don’t understand him. I’d like to say I’m one of the few that does. Patrick considers us on the same page and I have to say that’s a rarity. I think it’s because I don’t feel intimidated or seduced by him. The point is: we’re friends.
“’lo Sex kitty, all righ’?”
Only Patrick says that type of thing. Don’t be thrown off, it’s just a nickname between us. This is what I mean by being on the same page, he knows I'm not offended by that type of thing.
“Oh, hey Trick.”
I was waiting in the courtyard for James, who has turned into my best friend recently. Not that it was my choice… with James you really don’t have a choice.
“Waitin’ for James?”
Patrick knows all.
I’m used to his omnipotent knowledge by now. Five years of friendship can do that.
“Funny tha’ he’s latched on ta you,” Patrick said as he sat down next to me. “But recen’ events can explain tha’.”
“Yes, recent events...”
Whether I wanted it to or not, conversation had reached Sirius. Patrick rested his arm on my shoulder. And by rested I mean actually treated my shoulder as an armrest.
“Tell me Minx, how ‘ave you really been?”
“I’ve been okay. Sirius is always such a handful. Though this isn’t the first time is it? He's always at the extremes.”
Patrick’s brown eyes looked upward in thought. “Tha’ is a good way ta describe Sirius. Always at the extremes.”
His shaggy, dirty blonde hair fell in his eyes slightly. Patrick always had a casual grace about him that was similar to Sirius’s, but, unlike Sirius, Patrick’s was detracted slightly by his accent and also the wave of sudden sexual tension that most girls got from him. However, Patrick had a knowing smirk that always played on his lips that Sirius did not have. It’s funny how knowing the both of them so well can make Sirius look fumbling I'm comparison.
“He doesn’ know at all, not in his head, not yet.”
“He’ll figure it out, Jus’ give him time.”
“How long Patrick? It’s been a year.”
“Hmm.” He fingered his light brown goatee. “I’d give it ’till the end of second term.”
“You can’t rush stupid, Pet,” he said with a small snigger.
Pet. That’s his most common name for me. I actually prefer it. People don’t stare as much when he calls me pet.
He looked at his watch and sighed. “Well Love, looks like I’m off. I ‘ave got an appointment.”
What he does on his appointments, I’m not sure of. But he has many.
He kissed me on the cheek and rushed off. How he gets away with it, I’ll never know.
“Pet?” James snickered. He was standing nearby holding Quidditch gear.
“Oh, bugger off James. This is Patrick we’re talking about.”
We began to walk off towards the pitch and he laughed.
“Actually, I think I like Sex Kitty best.”
I smacked the back of his head.
“Doesn’t Patrick… bother you?”
The Ravenclaw common room was empty aside from Laura, me, and a second year who had fallen asleep over his transfiguration essay on the opposite side of the room. In the past couple of days I had taken to doing my homework in the common room with Laura. I still spend some time with Remus, but he’s depressed all the time. And when you’re with someone who’s depressed all the time, they make you depressed. And when you’re depressed, you can’t get any work done. That sounds really selfish, I know. I feel selfish for not being with Remus in his time of need. I’ve tried to cheer him up and I’ve tried having normal conversation with him, but he just stays the same. Gloomy, moping, looking like the dead.
So I do homework in the common room with Laura.
I was working on a Muggle Studies essay about the development of T.V. and movies. It reminded me of the rather interesting slides Patrick was carrying yesterday.
“He doesn’t even bother you a little?”
“Why? Does he bother you?”
“Maybe a bit.”
Laura rolled her eyes. “It’s not as if the minute you walk into the room he’s gonna trap you in the corner and take advantage of you or anything. He’s a nice guy.”
I shrugged. In the back of my head, I was well aware of that. I had talked to Patrick before… just not for extended periods of time. I supposed I could have had a normal conversation before, but I always made some sort of excuse to leave. Every time it happened, he’d always get the same knowing, amused smile on his face.
Is that so weird? That I get so intimidated by a guy that’s been known to have had so many… encounters?
Apparently the look on my face suggested that I did think he would want to take advantage of me.
“What? Do you not believe me or something?” Laura asked.
“Well, yeah, I believe you, but… are all the rumors about him true?””
She smirked. “Pretty much. That’s why he would never take advantage of you. He’s got plenty of other girls to keep him occupied. And, again, he’s a nice guy. So he probably wouldn’t do that in the first place.”
“How many girls has he…”
“I don’t know. It’s not like we talk about it or anything.”
“Oh okay. That means he hasn’t…”
Her eyes widened in mock offense. “Tanya! Have you no faith in me?”
“Well… I just… I wasn’t sure.”
“Like Sirius would even allow that to happen.”
At first I smiled at the thought of Sirius’ reaction to that situation, but my smile quickly faded. Sirius’ jealousy was the catalyst for whatever situation we were in with the boys. Actually… Laura’s actions sparked jealousy. Was it Laura’s fault or was it Remus’? Could Snape have had anything to do with it?
I really didn’t know what’s going on. I just wanted the old Remus back.
Laura snapped me out of my brief moment of sorrow when she joked, “He’d probably ride up to Patrick on his high horse saying, ‘You shall not pass into this castle!’”
I laughed. “The though of Sirius as a knight…”
“Well, I don’t know about you, but I prefer the thought of Laura as a Black.”
I was suddenly struck by a brilliant idea. “Hey! Did you know that if you married Sirius, you’d be Laura Black-Knight?”
She blinked. There was a silence.
“You know… like black night? As in a night… that’s dark and black…”
Then she replied, “Sometimes I wonder about you, Tanya.”
“Well it’s true. You would be.”
“Have you been hanging out with Peter?”
I was sitting at breakfast with James one Saturday morning. Unlike Tanya and Sirius, who sleep till noon, James and I get up early on Saturdays. Generally, Remus would be with us, but these days all he seems to do is sleep. As if he can’t work up the courage to be awake. Sirius, on the other hand, seems to not be sleeping much, but can’t manage to eat much either, so it’d be useless to come down to eat.
James looked up from his porridge with his mouth half stuffed with mush. I’d be disgusted except for the fact that I too look like that when I eat at home.
“’ey… dun’ oo av’ tree-owts tudahhh?”
“James. Swallow, then speak.”
He gulped down a mass of oats with the grace of a frat boy chugging beer at a kegger.
“Don’t you have try outs today?”
I had totally forgotten.
“I am captain, aren’t I?”
“Yeah, you are.”
“Sorry. You know…recent events…” I sighed deeply.
“Well, when you do hold em can I come?”
James had an attempt at an earnest smile that I saw right through.
“You are not coming so you can get the competitive edge on my team.”
“Oh, come on Laura! Like I would do such a thing.” He had his pratty smirk on.
“Haha right, James.” I then took a bite out of my apple. “You? Never.”
“You invited Sirius.” he said as a cocky retort, but ended up losing face at his own mentioning of Sirius. Sometimes we forget how things are.
“Sirius… well… I thought maybe it’d cheer him up...” I sighed.
“No need to explain… I forgot.” James stared hard into his bowl. It’s funny how fast a lively conversation can take a sudden turn towards the depressing these days. Funny in a sick way, that is.
We were interrupted in our sudden silence to see a morose looking Sirius slink down the stairs. The elephant in the room had decided it was going to start trumpeting or do whatever sad elephants do.
He looked disheveled and dejected as per usual these days. James and I put on a brave face as he sat down next to me.
“Morning Siri,” I said with a weak smile. I ran my fingers through his hair affectionately.
His grey eyes flickered to mine for a moment. He tried to smile. I could see the sides of his mouth trying. But alas, it was too hard for him. James opened his mouth to say something, but found that it was slightly useless. Sirius leaned on me a little and I continued to stroke his hair. Sirius always seems to like that. He’s a bit like a dog in that way. He pulled away after a bit and began to eat something. Once I saw my job was done I went to prepare for tryouts.
“So he came down to eat?” Alex said as we stood on the pitch. We were watching the beaters tryout. Sam and the rest of the team were also watching.
“Yeah, he let me pet him for a while and then pulled away so I left.” I shrugged as a potential beater was knocked in the head with one of the rubber practice bludgers.
“Pet him?” Sam asked with a raised brow.
“Don’t even bother making any further comments on what I do to Sirius when he is sad. I shall be turning a deaf ear.”
I concentrated on the potentials and decided on the strong looking fourth year that was now bouncing the rubber bludger off of the heads of several other participants with his bat. He was wearing an amused, but not cruel smile.
“You, McHale. You’re in!” I yelled at him.
He grinned broadly and landed.
“Who’s next?” Zevin asked as McHale joined the others on the bench.
“Seekers,” I said, still halfway thinking about Sirius.
I glanced over at the group of quick looking kids waiting at the edge of the pitch and then at Alex.
“You should try out Alex,” I said with a vague smirk.
He raised his eyebrows. “Why should I do that?”
Alex wasn’t too in love with the sport of Quidditch; it's not that he hates it, but more or less that he likes football better.
“Because I think you’d be good. Come on, try it. What will it hurt?” I nudged him with my elbow.
“Fine, but only for you Laura,” Alex said, rolling his eyes.
“SEEKERS!” I shouted and I saw them all mount their brooms. One of them was Naomi.
“Hey look, Tanya’s sister is trying out,” Zevin said as Alex mounted my broom. (He doesn’t have his own). Alex glided up to meet the others in the air.
“Your instructions are this: CATCH THE SNITCH!” I released the small golden snitch and watched it become survival of the fastest.
It was obvious that Alex was leading the pack but Naomi closely followed him. Alex sliced through the air and made swift turns effortlessly. I’ve seen him play football before and he is very fast on foot along with being able to dodge and dart like wildfire. Naomi was a having a bit of trouble keeping up. She was very fast, but not as fast as Alex. He then caught the snitch between his thumb and forefinger.
“Al―er… Callaghan! You’re in!”
Alex and the others landed. I called him and Naomi over.
“If we ever need a substitute, we’ll call you okay?”
She nodded and Alex turned to her.
“You did really well Naomi.” He shook her hand.
She nodded at him. Once he had turned away her face fell. She looked disappointed.
The sun was going down.
“Merlin, where’d the day go?” I said as I rubbed my arms for warmth. Alex gave me his sweater.
“Let me see,” Sam started. “Eat breakfast and pet your clinically depressed almost-boyfriend, find Tanya and fret about both of your clinically depressed almost-boyfriends, hang out with Alex and me and fret, lunch, fret, tryouts (with some fret) and more fretting,” he finished, looking sarcastically thoughtful.
“Haha, it’s so great how you poke fun at my tragedy,” I said, pulling on Alex’s sweater. “Thanks Alex,” I added.
Zevin seemed to be tagging along. “Do you have any idea what’s wrong?” he asked as he moved up so he was next to me.
“No,” I sighed.
“So it’s not what happened with Beddingfield then?” Zevin didn’t seem so happy about the event himself.
“No, not to my knowledge.”
I guess Zevin is tolerable, but I’m pretty sure he fancies me, which is a pain. Can’t I just love Sirius in peace? Things are always more complicated than they have to be. Maybe I’m just overdramatic.
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