Chapter 1 : Something Lost
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The sunshine that had lasted the entire day now dipped beneath the trees, leaving only darkness behind. The moon did not dare ruin the night with its sickly glow, nor did any wind rustle the young leaves sprouting from the tree limbs. With an unusual amount of care, James had planned his wedding around the moon cycle so that Remus would be able to come and fully enjoy himself. All I could see out the window were the stars shining brightly above. Maybe the heavens were showing their agreement with Lily’s decision to marry James. Any celestial agreement would help make this day feel more like a wedding and less like the end of the world.
It’s strange how things turn out sometimes, I thought as I watched Lily and James together the evening after their wedding. It could have just as easily been me in his place. She went out with me before she even realized James existed. It’s true that he pined over her for years, but it was not the same with her. James could have been living on the other side of the world for all she noticed of his existence. Some may have thought she hated him, definitely she thought him annoying for all those times he had asked her out, but Lily didn’t hate anyone, not even that dratted sister who called us all freaks. James was just uninteresting, not the type of person she liked. That was what I had believed for a while. And now she was his wife. Who knew fate could take such a turn?
But all those things between Lily and me were done long before James came around. I loved her; at least, that’s what I kept telling myself. There were so many memories going round and round my head, each of them having to do with Lily. All the times we’d been together, all the places we had been. One of these times stood out more than the others, but thinking about it made my heart wrench painfully. I didn’t want to relive that day, for all the happiness it had brought, for all the emotion I at least had felt. With Lily, one could never be certain; she could listen to the problems of everyone in the world without telling a single one of her own. That was just the sort of person she was.
We were in Hogsmeade that day, aimlessly walking through the snow-covered streets in silence. It was a comfortable silence, the kind that the closest of friends share when they have spoken all the words that needed to be said. Every so often, she would stop to greet a friend or acquaintance, but for the most part we were alone with the world continuing on around us. The snow wasn’t too deep, but there was just enough to make the village resemble a community of gingerbread houses covered with thick icing. The townspeople were still smiling at that time, blissfully unaware of the evil that would arise in following years.
I cannot remember exactly how that day came to be, why we were alone and wondering around like we were. It was a weekend in January of our sixth year; that much I know is true. Her friends were somewhere else, as were mine. But at that moment, I didn’t care about anyone or anything else, just the girl walking beside me. I was proud to stand with her, probably the most beautiful girl in all of Hogwarts. To me, she was the most beautiful girl in the world.
The thin, awkward redhead with the bright green eyes had transformed over the years much like a caterpillar changes into a butterfly, or something like that. One moment, she was the same kind-hearted Lily all of us had known throughout our years at Hogwarts. She was smart, yet at the same time had a sense of humour that made her laugh at the smallest of things, whether it was a silly prank or the feeblest joke. She found us Marauders interesting and we saw her as someone to share laughs with. Then came fifth year, in which she appeared looking so different, so mature compared with some of the other girls. She had grown into her tall legs and long arms, as well as filling out in all the right places. Her hair had darkened to auburn, but her temper was still as fiery, as we all knew from that day in fifth year. It was this girl who walked beside me that day, not knowing what was going through my mind.
“Where do you want to walk to?” she asked, her hands playing with a ball of snow.
I shrugged. “It doesn’t matter. Anywhere you’d like.”
She led me through the towering trees, away from the road that led to the train station. It was a familiar place for me in my animagus form, but as a human seeing it was like looking through the world with different eyes. Or perhaps it was just being with Lily that did that.
I turned to look at her, but there was no one walking beside me. Had the entire morning been a dream? I asked myself. Bothering myself to look at the surroundings, I noticed I was in a clearing not too far from the Shrieking Shack where the rest of the Marauders and I had spent so many full moons. The woods around me were silent as though they were devoid of life altogether. Not a bird in the trees or a creature on the ground, and definitely no sign of Lily.
The hairs on the back of my neck were raised, similar to the way my hackles raised in my dog form. Someone was watching me, but whom or where he or she was, I could not discern. There was movement nearby, coming from behind a gigantic tree stump; I spun around, my wand at the ready...
I was hit in the face by something very wet, somewhat hard, and very cold.
Damn the woman. How had I not seen that coming?
Another tirade of snowballs hit various parts of my anatomy before I was able to discover her whereabouts and return fire with a few well-aimed snowballs of my own. One after another the snowballs flew across the clearing. Lily used the stump as cover, while I hid behind a huge tree that towered towards the sky. Never in my life have I experienced a snowball fight such as that one. Peter was terrible at throwing, Remus never liked getting hit, and James always complained when he lost. Lily, on the other hand, could throw nearly as well as I could and laughed just as loud when she was hit as when one of her missiles hit me. Her laughter echoed through the woods, filling them with pure joy as only Lily’s laugh could.
“Do you surrender?” I called after what seemed like hours of intense battling.
“It seemed more like a draw to me, General Black,” came Lily’s reply. “It doesn’t look like either of us won this round.”
Her head was peaking over the tree stump, those green eyes of hers gazing out from beneath the thick hair that had fallen over her face. She must not have been sure that I wouldn’t throw another snowball at her if she left the cover of the stump. I raised my hands to show that they were empty, with not a flake of snow upon them. Slowly, she stood up, looking at me with suspicion.
She had good reason to be so suspicious of my humble self.
It never took me long to learn new spells and tricks. Apparition was no exception to this. Even though I was still too young to obtain the license, there was nothing to stop me from practicing, especially on a nice winter’s day such as this one, was there? A quick turn and pop! I was right beside Lily, pushing her into the snow. Unfortunately for me, Lily was definitely no push over. In fact, she pushed back. Hard. But of course, being the person I am, I managed to pull her down with me. I was not about to let a girl, even one like Lily, boast victory over me, especially in a snowball fight cum snow-wrestling match.
We rolled through the snow, our combined laughter ringing through the clearing. Finally, she stopped fighting and we somehow ended up in a very compromising position. She was lying in the snow beneath me, her hair spread out around her in a fiery blaze. I was lost for words and for practically anything, especially what to do. If I took a chance at that moment, would she appreciate it, or would she hex me to kingdom come? Believe me; Lily could be nasty when she started hexing people, having absolutely no mercy for anyone’s soul.
But at that moment, I pushed the image of an angry Bat-Bogey Hexing Lily out of my mind and moved my head down towards hers. The clearing had once again become deathly quiet; all I could hear the beating of my heart echoing in my ears. I wondered if Lily could hear it too, but quickly I dismissed such a silly, childish thought. Things like that only happened in those trashy romance novels Narcissa always read. What was happening now was much different. Very different.
The entire time, our lips grew closer. Yes, she was not crying out bloody murder or spitting in my face, she was actually going to kiss me back! Was that was I was going to do? Panic swept over me, but it was too late, her lips brushed against mine and I was lost. Lost in that meeting of hearts, that joining of souls, that thing that happens when passion displays victory over everything else. I loved her and there she was showing that she probably loved me back. But (and there’s always a “but”) she was the girl my best friend was besotted with, the girl he practically worshiped. And she was kissing me. I never wanted it to end.
Her hand was caressing my cheek as I gently pulled away.
“Wow,” I gasped while catching my breath. “Where’ve you been practicing?”
“Now what sort of gentleman asks that?” she teased in reply, curling a lock of my hair around her finger.
This was too much for me. I kissed her again, but this time with a deeper passion that flooded my veins with fire. She responded in kind, making my desire for her greater than it ever was before, more than it ever could have been without her acceptance of my emotions. This second kiss lasted longer than the first and created a link between us that could never be broken whatever came between us, even if it were my best friend.
To this day I wonder if I should have continued, if I should have allowed myself to love her and show that love to the world. But I made the choice to let her go. Not that day of the snowball fight, my decision came months later, after Lily and I became closer than I could ever have imagined. Did she realize that as she walked down the aisle towards both James and I? Did she see in her mind what could have happened between us? Something told me that she did, or rather, I prayed to every star in the sky that she did. Had she forgotten me, I don’t know what I would have done.
“You seem so lost in thought, Sirius," she said, coming to stand beside me. Her glittering white dress made a flattering contrast with her hair and eyes. For the slightest instant I imagined that she was mine, that the gold band around her finger showed the devotion between her and me, that James didn’t exist.
“Lily, I -” The words began to spill from my mouth though I knew that speaking them would be the ultimate treachery a person could commit. She stopped me before I could continue, placing her finger upon my lips ever so gently.
“Don’t,” was all she said. “I know what you were going to say, Sirius, and you don’t have to tell me because I already know.”
“But I shouldn’t have let you go,” I managed to say, pushing her hand away. “One stupid mistake and now you’re lost forever.”
With the forces of sheer will guiding me, I turned away from her too look once more at the stars. Their light never faltered, never once vanished. They alone were constant in this ever-changing world of loss and heartbreak.
“You’ll never lose me, Sirius Black,” she said so quietly that even to me it was the barest whisper of voice crossing the void between us. “I’ll always be here for you if you need me.”
“But not in ... not as ...” I couldn’t say the words, those words that had haunted me since the day James told me of their engagement. They were the words I would never be able to speak.
“I hope you’re not planning on stealing my wife, Padfoot,” James said with a sly grin, appearing at my other shoulder. So was this what it was like for those characters I’d seen on a muggle cartoon one day, with the angel on one side and the devil on the other? Perhaps the question I should have asked myself instead was which of the two people beside me was playing each role.
I forced a smile to show on my face. “You know I’d never do that to you, Prongs,” I replied, punching him (not too gently) on the arm. “The Death Eaters would have me before that day came.”
“Sirius, don’t talk like that!” Lily admonished, looking shocked.
James laughed at his wife’s sensitivity. “Well, Lils, you can take it for granted that such an event wouldn’t happen either. Those D.E.’s couldn’t catch Sirius if he had his hands tied behind his back and his wand broken in bits. D’you remember the time when...”
Lily grabbed his arm before he could ramble on. “Boring Sirius to death won’t help either.” She began to lead him off, sending only an apologetic look in my direction. “He’s probably heard all your stories by now, James.” She continued to speak to him as they moved away, distracting him from my glum demeanor.
I couldn’t bear to see where they went or what they did. Instead, I leaned against the window frame, once more gazing out into the darkness. Sometimes, that’s all a person can do: look into the night and wait for morning to come.