stunning image by abscae
“Don’t you understand the meaning of ‘alone’?” Eleanor’s words came out in a growl.
He leapt up the tower stairs two at a time, trying to keep up. “You shouldn’t be alone. For all I know, you’ll throw yourself off the tower.”
She let out a strangled laugh. “Wanting to play the hero again, Black?”
“I’m not the heroic type,” he said, his breath heavy.
“Obviously not the athletic type either.” Her voice echoed down the stairway.
He reached out for the hem of her robes, but his fingertips only brushed against the fabric before she had pulled ahead once again.
“I resent that!” he called out.
“Then why can’t you keep up?”
He hesitated in his thoughts and nearly missed the next step. “You want me to catch you?”
“No. You might get squished, remember?”
She burst through the door at the top of the stair and stopped as the sunlight blinded her.
“Ouch!” she cried when he rammed into her back. She fell forward and he caught her at the last moment. “If I jump off the tower, it’ll only be to get away from you.” She brushed imaginary dust off her wrinkled robes as she swept out of his grasp. “Why the hades are you following me, anyway?” She didn’t wait for a reply. “If it’s to express a passion for me, you might as well let me jump.”
He grabbed her arm, his face pale, perhaps with fury. “You won’t jump. You never came here for that.”
“No, I came up here to get away from people.” He didn’t remove his hand, so she added, “That means I don’t want you here because you’re a people.” She paused. “A person.”
Releasing her arm, he strode over to the edge of the battlement. “We’re talking in circles again. It’d be great if you could just admit that maybe there are people in the world who might not want you to do anything drastic.” He looked back at her with a frown.
She crossed her arms. “Thanks for caring. Now go.”
He leaned against the battlement and turned his face to the sun. “It’s a quiet place here.”
“It is when other people aren’t disturbing me.”
“I’m not going to take the hint, you know.”
“Can’t say I didn’t try hard enough,” she said, moving back towards the tower entrance.
He said her name once, and she stopped. She glared at him for a time, then her lower lip began to tremble as emotion caught up with her. As soon as she realised just what that emotion was, she crossed her arms, forming a barrier between her and the infamous Sirius Black.
“I don’t want to talk about it.” She said the words quietly, her voice unsteady.
He shrugged. “Suit yourself.” He leaned against the ancient stones and began to hum. She cringed when he went off-key. It was that silly song again, the ones that the boys, especially the muggle-borns, sang out whenever she passed. Eleanor Rigby. It wasn’t even her name.
“Did you purposely name me after that song, mum?”
Her mother laughed. “Of course not. Anyway, your name is Digby, not Rigby.”
It was as simple as that.
She glanced down at the rocks and grass below. Her head swam at the distance.
He caught her when she swayed. “It’s a long drop.”
She leaned against him, not entirely meaning to. “That’s obvious.”
His arms adjusted around her shoulders. “Now tell me why you came up here.”
Her glasses had gone askew, but she didn’t bother to fix them.
“I hate that song.”
He coughed, evidently to cover his laughter. “All this over a song?”
“They sing it all the time.” She sniffed and swore that she heard the sound echo across the lake. “Each time I walk past, each time the professor calls on me, every bloody time.”
He was much warmer than she expected. Physically, of course. His heart was still like that block of ice she’d found in the school’s kitchen last month. That simile only made her giggle and if she started giggling, she wouldn’t stop anytime soon, so she held her breath to keep it down. He would think her hysterical, mostly in the disturbing kind of way.
“Like, it’s a good song and all, but the lyrics are strange.” She pulled away and stood in front of him, arms spread wide. “Do I look like a batty old lady who keeps faces by the door?”
“No, of course not.”
But he’d replied a moment too soon. Her eyes narrowed.
“But I do look batty?”
She knew her hair had been blown about by the race up the steps, and now the wind tore through it, wreaking havoc with the careful braids she’d wrapped around her head in the popular style. It didn’t have quite the same effect as it did on, for instance, Lily Evans or any of the other girls of that annoying clique.
“I can’t imagine you any other way.”
She made a show of rolling her eyes. “Well I haven’t heard that one before.”
A gust of wind blew against her robes, pushing them hard against the front of her body. She looked at his face as he looked at her and the bulge of her stomach. Her face turned red. She shouldn’t have eaten so much at breakfast. Lily wouldn’t have done something like that.
If he shrugged one more time, she’d have to use Petrificus Totalus on him.
“It’s more than just the song, isn’t it?”
Of course it was! She wouldn’t have run all the bloody way up into the tower otherwise.
She turned away, resting her hands on the battlement. It was cold, or maybe her hands were warm. Her lungs heaved, but she kept herself from gasping like a tired dog. That would not have been a pleasant sight.
“Oh, it’s nothing.” It never was.
The scene that morning in the Great Hall was fleeting in her memory. She was already suppressing it. Another instance in her life that she would wipe off the slate of her existence. She had been eating, which was nothing new, and had heard those girls strolling past. They never walked, but strolled like models in a London fashion show. It was very depressing.
What had happened next? They had sat down around her, their robes neat and pressed, their hair perfectly coiffed, their skin entirely free of blemishes other than a few freckles on Lily’s face. Lily may have sat a bit separate from them, not entirely paying attention to their conversation, but Eleanor grouped her with them, the enemy. Anyway, she was the prettiest of them all. That was bloody obvious enough to tell without James Potter drooling all over the place.
Eleanor was not so lucky in looks. Like every morning, she had rushed that to get out of the lavatory before they chose to invade, hogging the bath, mirror, and room. Her hair was not neat, her clothes were wrinkled (also slightly stained), and there was a string of unnaturally red spots littering her left cheek. Talk about being the ugly duckling.
And then the Marauders arrived. James Potter with his mussed hair and muscled arms. Sirius Black with his suave perfection to which nothing could be compared. Remus Lupin with his shy boyishness and intense gaze. Peter Pettigrew with his blond curls and wide-eyed stares, just barely managing to keep to his friends’ high standards. Some of the girls even spoke of flirting with him just to get a place at the table with his friends. One girl had whispered something unintelligible and giggled in a way that rose the hairs on the back of Eleanor’s neck. She had just wanted them all to go away. She’d have been sure to get indigestion if she stayed there a moment longer.
Of course they had asked why she was leaving so soon and why she never stayed to talk to anyone. Then she had mumbled something and kept walking, bumping into people on the way with her feet tripping over any uneven part of the floor. She swore that she had heard their laughter rippling through the air.
“I saw you leave this morning,” he said out of nowhere. “They don’t mean you any harm.”
“Oh, they can’t help being perfect!” She closed her lips over the last word, as though she did not want to speak it.
He frowned. “Did you really know what they were laughing at?”
“Something about me, I’ll bet,” she muttered.
“It wasn’t. It was about me.”
She laughed. “You? Sirius Black, the most–”
“Don’t say that. I’m not ‘the most’ of anything.”
“All the girls like you.”
“Does that matter?”
“So you don’t.”
“I never said no.”
“You didn’t say yes either.”
“You’re an arrogant bastard.”
That had been more exhausting than the run up the tower stairs.
She leaned back against the battlement, trying to ignore the feeling of nothing but air behind her. With crossed arms, she glared at him over the rims of her spectacles.
“What do you want?”
It was a simple question, to be sure, but it demanded a more complex type of answer.
“I need your help.”
She tried to raise a single eyebrow like one of the professors could when he was sceptical of a student’s bad excuse. Of course, both of hers flew up, creating an expression of surprise rather than disbelief.
“Me? Is this some sort of trick, Black?”
He at least had the courage to look remotely guilty. “Not this time.”
Oh, not this time, eh? How nice of him to say so. She glowered as best as she could.
“Okay, okay, I am sorry about that,” he said, a flush rising up his cheeks.
“Yeah, sure.” Her undergarments were still pinkish in colour. She hated pink.
He positioned his mouth in a way that was probably supposed to make him look innocent. Sirius Black could never be innocent. It was just something that had never found its way into his genes. Rather like how, it was rumoured, no girl had made it into Sirius’ jeans, so to speak.
She giggled, a high-pitched sound that made him frown in a way that mirrored Professor McGonagall’s sternest look of displeasure.
“What’s so funny, Ellie?”
What had he called her?
“Oh, nothing. It’s just the wind,” she said, smoothing back her hair, though it was no use.
He seemed to like shrugging, unless that was just the best reply to her mad rambling.
“You’re the only one that can help, no matter how funny you think it is.” The expression of hurt upon his face appeared genuine. Was that even possible?
She took a closer, assessing glace at his face. Yes, it was genuine hurt. He needed her help, and had actually admitted it aloud. Although they were alone and there was no place for anyone to eavesdrop upon them, she could see that it had cost him some pride to admit a weakness. But what could it be that he wanted from her? Whatever could she give to him?
“The other girls bother me a lot, and I need a way to get them to leave me alone.” He said it so matter-of-factly that she just stared at him with a blank expression, unable to comprehend.
He waved a hand with impatience and tried again. “Will you be my girlfriend?”
Had she indeed jumped off the tower and was now experiencing heaven, or hell? It had to be hell. In heaven, she would be in gorgeous dress robes with the wind dancing through her waving chestnut hair as she looked up at him with a flirtatious smile on her rouge-painted lips....
“I’m sorry that I’ve cornered you like this, but it’s become a rather nasty situation with all those other girls.”
Did he take her silence as fear? Uncertainty? Distrust?
“Why can’t you just say no to them?”
He flushed from, it seemed, head to toe. It made him appear more disarming, and less like the most sought-after male within the walls of Hogwarts. The flush made him human, and that was more disturbing than anything else Eleanor had been through that day. Like the other Gryffindors, he wasn’t supposed to be human – all the courage and honour set them apart from the other houses, and from herself.
“They think something of me that could cause trouble.”
She blinked at his answer. There were always rumours about Sirius Black and the Marauders flying across the school like the owl post. Maybe one of them was true, but which?
Now it was her turn to shrug. “Why should I care? You always get out of trouble.”
He muttered something unintelligible and turned his back on her to gaze out over the lake and mountains that glittered in the afternoon sun. His shoulders were tense, the line of his back ramrod straight – still from his mother’s teachings, though if he knew, he’d slouch more. She watched the way that his hair fell over his collar in a fashionable way. Even the wind could not muss his perfect image. The only imperfect thing about him, was what he was on the inside. A mess. She saw it at that moment for the first time, and understood. She understood Sirius Black.
“I’ll do it.” Had she really said it? Her brain had not moved at the same rate as her lips.
He whipped around, something of relief in his half-crazed eyes.
She nodded, then squeaked when he took her up in an embrace. She fell from his arms and adjusted her glasses, behind which her eyes were like saucers.
“Guess I’ll have to get used to that now.”
He only laughed, but she liked the sound.
Author's Note: Based on my favourite song by the Beatles, and each chapter share titles with other great songs. I'm sorry to say that this won't be that long of a story - ideally five, but perhaps longer if I need to (which is likely).