Chapter 33 : Confessions of a Broken Heart
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Chapter 33: Confessions of a Broken Heart
During the next week, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was in a frenzy. The entire school (fourth-years and up that is) was abuzz with gossip about the upcoming and ever-near Yuletide Ball. Girls were known to squeal with laughter in the corridors between classes, boys were sweating in anticipation of asking girls out, and it seemed as if it were a life or death situation if one didn't yet have a date for the Ball.
But surprisingly, despite many rumors that were spreading around the school like wildfire, many students still did not have a date. A couple in particular...
Rebecca Potter crawled through the portrait hole to the Gryffindor Common Room that Friday night for her usual study session with Remus Lupin. As she glanced around the common room, she saw that her tall, sandy-haired friend wasn't quite there yet. She walked rather glumly over to their usual table in the corner and flung her bag onto it.
All this hype about the stupid dance was just making her irritated. In her eyes, it was just some dumb mating ritual which gave mindless students the opportunity to humiliate themselves with their embarrassing movements that they thought was called dancing, then sneak off to some remote part of the castle and shag the hell out of each other... or perhaps the reason for her irritation was the fact that Remus had shown absolutely no sign that he was going to ask her or was even thinking about asking her...
The truth was that Rebecca really did like dances. Although she would never admit it, she loved to dance. But her frustration with Remus was almost to a breaking point.
“Hey, Becs! Sorry I'm late.”
“Speak of the devil.”
Remus pulled Rebecca roughly out of her mind-wanderings as he dropped his heavy books on the table with a loud thump.
“Oh, it's alright,” replied Rebecca with a small smile. All her frustrations seemed to float out the window whenever she saw Remus' shy, extremely cute grin. “What kept you?”
“Oh, you know, I had a Prefect's meeting with the other Gryffindor Prefects about our duties for the Yule Ball.” said Remus distractedly as he rummaged through his book-bag. “We're in charge of getting and arranging all of the decorations that Lily wants.”
“Of course,” thought Rebecca as she felt her frustrations seep back into her. “You had to bring up the Ball.”
Suddenly, Remus was knocked head over heels onto his seat as a massive amount of blonde curly hair came sprinting into the common room and collided with Remus and Rebecca's table. Marissa gasped as she tried to regain her breath, grinning at Rebecca from across the table that she leaned on for support. Her cheeks were flushed from running and her eyes were a blazing and shocking orange color from her excitement.
“Guess... what... I just...saw... in... the library,” she panted heavily.
“Uh... Madam Pince?” supplied Remus unhelpfully as he pulled himself upright off his chair with a slight cough.
“Books?” asked Rebecca dead-panned.
Marissa sighed exasperatedly. “No, I noticed those things years ago,” she replied sarcastically. “No, you guys, listen -” her voice dramatically dropped to a whisper. “I just saw Peter Pettigrew in the library... snogging!”
“Wow, Peter snogging a book! He's upgraded from snogging your pre-used tissues, Marissa.” Rebecca chuckled.
Marissa looked appalled, but quickly shook it off as she saw Rebecca and Remus laughing at her. “Ha ha, very funny, Rebecca. No – he was kissing a girl! A Hufflepuff fifth-year to be exact!” Marissa had an expression on her face now that made her look as if Christmas had come early and she had received too many gifts to count.
Rebecca raised her eyes in surprise and Remus grinned slowly as comprehension dawned on his face. “So that's where he's been off to lately... he hasn't been hanging out with us very much anymore, and we've been wondering what he's been up to.”
“Well, at least we know the answer to that burning question that I've been fostering since the third year,” said Rebecca with an evil grin, “He's not gay and doesn't have a burning desire to have Filch's love-child!”
“Ew,” said Marissa and Remus at the exact same time, both with expressions of deep disgust on their faces.
“Anyway,” said Marissa quickly, gaining her rushed and excited demeanor again, “I guess we know who Peter's going with to the ball! I just feel sorry for the poor girl... bad taste in boys...” she shuddered. “But yeah, I just thought you guys would be interested to know! But now I've got to go – you know, spread the word...”
She grinned cheekily and gave them a jaunty wave and sprinted off as fast as she could in her high-heeled lace-ups out of the common room and up to the girls' dormitories.
“Ah, the mighty weight of responsibility from being the school gossip,” said Rebecca as she shook her head, “How does she handle such pressure?”
Remus laughed as he pulled out his eagle-feathered quill and inkwell. “What can I say? The girl has a gift!”
“She's been having a field day like that ever since people started pairing off for the stupid Ball,” muttered Rebecca as she turned back to her Transfiguration book. “She's bloody interested in any and all couples... finds relationships intriguing or something like that. Don't ask me why... mental girl...”
“Hey, who are you going with, Becs?” said Remus out of the blue, suddenly putting his quill down and looking at Rebecca curiously.
Rebecca's heart stopped.
“Here's your chance, Rebecca!” thought Rebecca as her heart started to beat faster and faster as suddenly as it had stopped. “Put yourself out there for once! ... Is it just me or did it get really hot in here all of a sudden?”
Rebecca loosened her tie as she gulped. “Oh, no one,” she replied, trying to keep cool and sound casual about it. “I haven't been asked yet. But it's not a big deal or anything – you know, dances really aren't my thing.”
“Oh yeah, good job, Rebecca,” a voice that sounded strangely like Marissa's sarcastic voice resounded in her mind. “Make him think that you don't even want to go at all! Way to go.”
“Well, maybe I'm just trying to play hard to get!!” Rebecca argued with herself viciously.
Remus grinned at Rebecca. “I'm sure you'll get asked soon,” he said as if he knew that she was just trying to be tough, but actually really wanted to go.
Rebecca blushed. He knew her too well. Well... not well enough to know that she freakin' liked him.
Rebecca suddenly felt a rush of bravery and she breathed in heavily. “Are you going with anyone, Remus?”
She found that she had trouble looking at him, and instead, concentrated solely on her book. She missed the look of surprise on Remus' face.
“Oh... didn't Lily tell you?” For some odd reason, Remus all of a sudden felt very uncomfortable as Rebecca's head shot up to look into his chocolate brown eyes with her piercing hazel ones.
“Tell me what?” she asked as her eyebrows furrowed.
“Well, we're going together to the Ball... she asked me yesterday,” Remus said quietly, surprised that Lily hadn't told Rebecca yet.
“Oh!” Rebecca said as she quickly looked back down at her book, her dark curtain of hair obscuring her face from Remus. “Yeah, er, of course she told me, I just, um, forgot.” She gave a short, little, hollow laugh. “I think it's great! Really.”
Somehow, Remus for some reason didn't believe her. “You know we're just going as friends, right?”
“Why does she care so much anyway?” thought Remus, confused. And why did he all of a sudden have this awful feeling in the pit of his stomach?
“Oh, yeah, I know!” replied Rebecca, still not looking at him. “Honestly, it's great you guys are going – you'll have a great time.”
Remus just stared at Rebecca as she determinedly started highlighting things in her book, not able to get back to his own homework. A wave of awkward silence swept over them and Remus just couldn't understand for the life of him what was going on. Suddenly, Rebecca shut her book closed, stretched her arms and faked a huge yawn.
“Sorry, Remus, but I'm just too tired to study tonight,” she said as she started gathering her stuff, the whole time avoiding his eye. “I'll see you tomorrow, okay?”
She picked up her things and rushed up the girls' staircase, feeling her eyes burning with unshed tears that she refused to let fall.
“How could I be so stupid?” she thought as she slammed her dorm door behind her.
Unbeknown to her, Remus was thinking the exact same thing as a revelation collided with his mind.
Marissa raced through the hallways, stopping occasionally at her “rumor friends” to tell them the new news she'd either seen or heard. At the Entrance Hall, she stopped to talk to with a fifth-year boy and girl from Slytherin, who happened to be talking with Sirius Black.
“Sorry to interrupt, but more news, guys! Turns out that the fancy dress that Camille Johnson's been bragging about is actually being made by Madam Malkins and not that aristocratic store in Italy. Joshua Lambert has actually asked five different girls to the ball and hasn't decided which one he's actually going to take yet, though he's leaning towards the Gryffindor sixth-year. And Aly Spears has had a sudden outbreak and so she's been wearing a scarf all day trying to convince everyone that she's part veela, though, no-one's figured out why. My bet is that she's doped up on that Acne-Be-Gone potion and isn't thinking straight. Oh, and Pettigrew was seen, by yours-truly, in the library, snogging a Hufflepuff!! Now head off and spread the news!”
“We'll talk later, Black,” said the Slytherin boy as the girl nodded and both ran off towards the dungeons, leaving Sirius and Marissa standing in the Entrance Hall.
“You know, Marissa, you never cease to amaze me with your massive rumor network,” Sirius chuckled, giving Marissa a winning grin.
“Well, you know, we're here to keep Hogwarts continuously updated in this desperate time of rumor-need!!” Marissa stated proudly, flipping her hair over her shoulder in mock arrogance. “By the way, what were you doing talking to those two? I didn't think you knew them.”
Sirius turned his gaze towards the dungeon, a faraway look in his eyes. “They come to me every so often to let me know how Regulus is doing.” He turned to Marissa with a bitter laugh. “Even being a disgraced Black carries a little weight in some circles.”
Marissa placed her hand of her friend's shoulder, knowing how hard it was on Sirius to not be able to talk to his brother anymore. That was probably the only thing he regretted with being ordered out of his home last summer, though she wasn't sure if his disinheritance was actually legal, which explained how he was still able to get information from some of the pure-blood families.
“Hey, Marissa, if you're not too busy, do you want to take a walk outside?”
“Are you kidding me? I've got to go help spread the word around. Added to the fact that there might have been some new developments that I need to get updated on by some of my other runners-”
“-And I'm sure they'll be able to handle themselves for twenty minutes by themselves, and by themselves I mean running around with the entire population of Hogwarts.”
Marissa couldn't help but hesitate at Sirius' offer. Ever since they'd broken up at the beginning of the year, Marissa had tried her hardest to never be left alone with Sirius. Not because she didn't trust him, but because she didn't trust herself enough to not break down and beg him to hold her, or kiss her just one more time. And knowing the two of them, that was just asking for trouble as neither one of them could stop with just one kiss.
Sirius, thinking the blonde vixen was still worried about leaving the rumor mill behind, slung his arm around her shoulders and started to lead her towards the giant oak doors. “Oh come on, love, live a little!! After all, it's only damn near past freezing out there! Nothing to worry about!”
Reluctantly, Marissa allowed herself to be led outdoors, thankful that they could both cast warming charms on their clothing to make up for the lack of preparation for their spontaneous outdoor stroll. They walked together in comfortable silence towards the lake, shouting greetings to some of the other students that were enjoying the snowy weather.
It took a little longer to actually get to the lake because of the thick blanket of snow, but after finally succeeding in pushing themselves through the snow drifts, the two Gryffindors quickly conjured two small seats for themselves, as neither one of them was looking forward to getting their uniforms further soaked from sitting in the snow.
Sirius, after settling himself on his wooden chair (with extra fluffy cushions; after all, Blacks always travel in style!), sighed and ran his hand through his hair.
“So, Riss, been asked to the Yule Ball by any blokes yet?”
Marissa nodded. “Yeah, I've gotten a couple of offers, but I haven't figured who I'll actually be going with yet. I guess I'm just worried about them expecting something out of the date other than some flirting and risqué dancing.”
Sirius pondered her words for a moment, before looking out over the lake. “You know, you could go with me instead.”
Marissa couldn't stop herself from gapping incredulously at the dark-haired boy sitting next to her.
“I beg your pardon?”
“Go with me! It makes sense when you think about it.”
“Makes sense?! It makes absolutely no sense at all! I ended our relationship ages ago! Going to the Yule Ball together is just – well, it's just insane, Sirius.”
By now Marissa was leaning away from Sirius, her eyes wide in shock from what she was hearing from her friend.
“Marissa, just think about it. You don't want to end up with some guy who's just wanting to get in your pants at the end of the evening, and we're both good enough friends that we respect each other enough to not go where we're not willing to go.”
“No, Sirius. We may respect each other, but you know we're both incapable of not taking things further with each other!”
Sirius finally turned towards the agitated blonde, silencing her protests with a piercing stare.
“Would that really be so bad?”
Speechless, she was absolutely dumbstruck, staring into his stark gray eyes, which were full of some nameless, intense emotion.
“I can't help myself, Marissa! I haven't been able to get over you, and I know I never will! And let's face it, we've never been able to keep away from each other. You walk into the room and I can't breathe - I can't even think about anything other than you!! The little grin you get when you've started to daydream and thought of something funny; the way you try to balance you pencil on you lip during History of Magic - even the smallest of things you do is engraved into my mind. If I was just 'in lust' with you, I would have moved on to some other girl and forgotten about you. But I know I am incapable of leaving you alone, Marissa!! I could promise to act like 'just friends' and never think about you as more than that, but I know I couldn't actually keep that promise! I'm stuck on you, and there's nothing that I can or will do to stop.”
Marissa finally seemed to regain the use of her voice as she looked down at her snow covered boots. “Sirius, it won't work. We'll just both end up making each other miserable after succumbing to each other!”
Sirius leaned his head down to catch Marissa's eye and put a hand on her clasped hands. “Riss, I swear I won't do anything to make you feel uncomfortable during the Yule Ball-”
She shoved his hand roughly off hers. “And after?!”
“I would never try to take advantage of you, you mean too much to me to deliberately hurt you.”
Marissa, unable to remain sitting, jumped off her small bench in agitation. “I'm more worried about you not meaning to and still ending up hurting me!”
Sirius gapped at how worked up the blonde girl was getting over the conversation until understanding dawned on him. It just made sense when he looked back to his past relationships with Marissa...
“Marissa, what is it that is really scaring you about letting me into your heart?”
The poor girl stopped mid-huff and stared in shock at Sirius, who was looking at her with such tenderness and understanding, a look that she realized she had never actually seen with such naked emotion, that she finally felt the walls she'd built up inside crumble.
“If I let you into my heart, you're just going to end up leaving me, whether you meant to hurt me or not.”
Marissa felt like a chocolate frog was lodged in her throat, and could barely see Sirius due to the sting of tears that she refused to let fall. The silence stretched between the two of them, neither one willing to move, afraid of breaking the oppressing atmosphere.
Suddenly, Sirius sighed and stood up. “I know who left you, Marissa.”
He didn't leave. Not only was he staying, he was actually gently tugging her hand, which had fallen limp down to her sides, to guide her back to sit on her small bench. She could barely comprehend Sirius', soft statement.
The dark-haired boy sighed and rested his elbows on his knee's staring out over the ice of the frozen lake.
“Marissa, I noticed you. I noticed you before I really actually understood why. It was obvious when you came back fifth year that something had happened. Not only from the Prophet's reports, but from the way you acted. Before, during fourth year, you dated, but you never really took any of the guys seriously, including me. But fifth year, it seemed like you dated in desperation. You fell into your relationships like they were the only thing keeping you sane, the one reality you could loose yourself in without totally loosing your connection with the last remaining pieces of your life.”
Marissa could barely breathe, here was a boy she had always assumed to always care far too much with himself to really understand people, other than the same friends he had surrounded himself with since he had walked into Hogwarts, the only place he was finally free from his tyrannical parents.
“I know losing your mum, especially the way she was-”
“Slaughtered? Murdered?” Marissa cut in icily.
Instead of stuttering or becoming defensive, Sirius calmly slid his gaze to glance at her rigid figure out of the corner of his eye before moving to stare back over the lake.
He continued almost as if her scathing comment hadn't even occurred.
“Especially the way she was taken from your family so suddenly and so heartlessly, is a terrible pain in your life that you have never recovered from. And this is coming from a bloke who grew up in a household where cruelty was considered to be an strong and upstanding trait.
“I never knew your mum, Marissa, but I know she wouldn't want her beautiful daughter to deny herself to find herself some true happiness, and not the shallow, empty feelings she's been getting by on.”
Marissa snarled, swinging her arms out, desperately trying to not strike the boy sitting so calmly beside her. “How the bloody hell would you even know what my mum wanted?! You don't know the first thing about her!! It sounds all grand and heroic when you act as if you know exactly what it is that is hurting me! You don't even have the faintest idea why I've taken my mothers murder so hard! She was my best friend, Sirius!! Even more so than Lily and Rebecca!”
Marissa put her face in her hands as tears started to fall rapidly. Her voice started to shake as she quietly continued, “She was always there, I could tell her anything. Mum never once raised her voice at my brother or I, she didn't have to - one look from her and we would apologize for any mistake we'd made, just so that hurt look of hers would disappear and be replaced with her wonderful smile...
“I didn't even get to say goodbye properly... we just kissed her goodnight and told her and dad to 'have fun'!” Marissa's voice became harsh again as she angrily wiped away the tears that were blinding her. “Have fun! Well someone had a fun time, cutting my mother to ribbons and then setting her boy on fire!! Can you imagine how awful it is to not even be able to see even her corpse one last time, because of how mutilated she was! She just went to use the bathroom during the show, the one moment my father couldn't protect her! And they played with her like she was cattle going to the slaughter!! Like she was beneath them! All because she was a muggleborn!
“My mother loved me, and she left me!!! She didn't have to go and use the loo right then, three minutes earlier or later and she would have been safe with my father, away from the danger, and able to Apparate away to safety!! Instead, she went and got herself destroyed! Leaving my father to fight for his life, just to save her body from further mutilation from those, those freaks!!
“I love my father, but ever since that night he's never been able to be the man that he was before. He can't replace my mother, even if by some miracle he did try to understand how Weston and I were feeling! I can't talk to him like I could with my mother. He's so wrapped up from loosing mum that I've had to become Weston's mum! I had to take care of my family, watch us all fall apart, unable to find a way to put anything back together again!!”
Sirius couldn't stop himself from gapping at the irate blonde. “But what does that have to with you not willing to go into a relationship, Marissa?”
“Everything!” Marissa shouted, pushing her hands through her hair and ruthlessly clutching at her locks. “I am messed up Sirius! I know that! Why can't you see that?! And I'll admit to you, I am scared to death of you breaking my heart, and I know that I'm not capable of taking another heartache like that again!”
Sirius quietly pondered her rant, while Marissa continued on, not even waiting for a response
“My mum left me because she was unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, if you ever leave me it'll be because you want to leave me. Don't you see, I can barely handle someone not meaning to hurt me, but I don't think I could ever get over being purposefully or even accidentally hurt by you.”
Her accusations stung, causing Sirius to slightly narrow his eyes at Marissa's statement.
“I know you're hurt Marissa, but it seems like you just don't have enough faith in me. Your using your old pain to try and hide behind so you don't have to admit you're just scared! You're afraid that you won't be enough to keep me, that despite how you feel or act, I'll just leave you in the dust, alone again. You're more afraid of being the reason of being left alone than actually being alone! Marissa, you of all people should know that I know exactly what you're going through! Remember that I have no family! They hate me! They disowned me! I am dead to them and they to me! You at least still have your brother and your father!”
Sirius' stern attitude caused the poor girl to lean back in her chair in surprise, speechless from Sirius' resolute observation. With Marissa silent from his outburst, the dark-haired boy shook his head and continued in a soft, pleading tone.
“Even if you don't want to go to the ball with me, or attempt another relationship, don't you owe it to yourself to at least be honest with yourself?”
The snow continued to fall around the still couple, the wind even halting, as if the world was just waiting for the tall girl to take the final leap of faith.
As she sat in the chill, taking deep, even breaths to calm herself, Marissa thought about what Sirius had said. Was he right? She knew she would never fully get over her mother's death, but maybe she was using her mother as an excuse not to risk her heart. She thought about her mum, how understanding she was, and how she always pushed her to always be honest with herself and her feelings.
'Marissa, when you have the supreme joy of finding someone you want to spend a part of your g with, whether it's just a schoolyard crush or a spouse, cherish it. Appreciate the moments you have with that person, and never hide from who you really are by denying you feelings, you'll just be living a lie, and it will slowly destroy who you are inside.'
Marissa realized she'd been lying to herself for too long, and she wasn't going to shame the memory of her mother any more by denying her true feelings. She needed Sirius. He alone knew her pain and understood her...
“I'll go with you to the Yule Ball.”
Sirius snapped his head towards Marissa, hardly daring to believe what he'd just heard.
At her shy nod, Sirius jumped up off his chair, his excitement and exuberance shining off his face. Marissa was unable to suppress the shiver that ran down her spine at the picture he presented, standing in the falling snow.
Sirius mistaking her shiver to be from the cold, immediately reached out his hand to help Marissa off her bench, waiting for her to accept his hand.
Marissa stared at Sirius' outstretched hand, feeling as if she was standing on a cliff, teetering between some unknown futures. And then she came to a realization, he was always there, hand out, waiting for her to place her hand in his and let him prove to her he could be the man she needed to lean on.
'Oh Sirius, there will only ever be you.'
She smiled, mostly to try and hide the tears that she could no longer hold back and were now falling down her cheeks and leaving a frozen trail for Sirius' gaze to follow.
Placing her hand in his, Marissa allowed herself to be pulled up off her bench and watch as the grinning boy vanished their seats. Perhaps the future wouldn't be so scary now...
The two Gryffindors headed sedately towards the castle, both smiling a bit to themselves.
“You know, now I'm going to have to go and tell all those boys that I can't be their date to the ball, and that's going to take forever!” Marissa said as her huge, flirty grin began to spread on her face.
“Or you could just spread the word through your gossip-mongers that you've made you're decision, and they'll spread the new fast enough!” Sirius teased, nudging the smiling girl with his elbow.
At Marissa's snort of laughter, Sirius grinned and slung his arm around her shoulders, the two of them with their heads thrown back and laughing towards the sky, the seriousness of their earlier conversation leaving them both feeling lightweight and giddy.
As their laughter gradually calmed, Sirius surreptitiously glanced at the blonde girl walking with him. They hadn't been this free with each other in such a long time. It reminded him of the night the girls got drunk and he encountered Marissa in the bathroom after he snuck upstairs. He absently wondered again where the small scar on her chin had come from. Figuring he might as well ask since he had the opportunity rather than just muse about it forever, Sirius casually cleared his throat to gain Marissa's attention.
“Hey Marissa, do you mind if I ask you a question?”
After a second of grinning and giving her friend a weird look, Marissa agreed.
“Where did you get that scar, the small one on your chin?” Sirius softly tapped the faint mark as Marissa raised her eyebrows at the dark-haired boy beside her.
“I got it when I was four - I tripped and fell on a stair.”
“I see... how about you hair - have you ever cut it really short?”
The two Gryffindors continued in the falling snow towards the castle, quietly seeking answers to inconsequential questions to try and understand the other better.
A/N: Missus Padfoot: Good? Bad? Yes? No? Missus Moony: What she's trying to say is, review, please! We'd love it! Missus Padfoot: Oh! And we added ourselves into the "Meet the Author" Forum, so if you guys have any questions for us, just go on our page and click the nice little "click here!" button and ask away! Missus Moony: We won't be updating again until after the seventh book comes out, so we'll see you guys in a couple of weeks! Missus Padfoot: WE ARE SO EXCITED FOR BOOK 7!!!! We can hardly contain ourselves... Both Missus: HAPPY READING!!!!!!!!
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