Chapter 32 : A New Beginning
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It was Christmas Eve. Mrs. Potter had all of us congregated around her piano to sing Christmas carols. I really got into it for some reason. Usually, I hated that sort of thing. But I suppose I was slightly happy that night.
You might ask why... Well, Sirius and I were on speaking terms again. I wasn't being a bitch to him (or anyone else -- that I knew of), and he gladly accepted that.
The thing was: We still weren't "together" again. And I was okay with that. I was too much drama for him, and he was too much drama for me. That is too much drama for just one relationship. Even if he still loved me, I wasn't going to be Sirius Black's girlfriend. Not again. We were friends, much to my dismay.
"Great job, everyone! Now let's try a slower song," announced Mrs. Potter. I smiled as I watched the snowflakes of withering life glide down from the dark gray sky out of the corner of my eye. James walked over to the window and shut the curtains closed. He shivered to explain why.
Mrs. Potter started to press the keys on the piano, and I watched blissfully as her long fingers danced skillfully across the instrument. "Silver Bells?" Mrs. Potter nodded her head to the steady rhythm as Mr. Potter's hand lay gently on her shoulder.
We started to sing. "Silver bells, silver bells. It's Christmas time in the city. Ring-a-ling, hear them ring! Soon, it will be Christmas day!"
I had to admit that I was impressed at how commendable we all sounded. I began to think that maybe I was rending the beauty of the music with my voice. I started to sing more quietly.
We were having an over-all good time, but later that night, we took a large break to have some eggnog. Since I hated the stuff, all that I had to drink was water to quench my thirst.
James and his parents were the only ones who had eggnog, actually. Sirius had water, too. And at that moment, it reminded me about how much Sirius and I actually did have in common, even if it was the little details. My good mood lapsed instantaneously, so I decided to take a seat.
I sat down on the couch, right next to James. Sirius sat down quickly on my other side as I was telling James how gross the stuff he had in his hands was.
"It smells disgusting. Get it away from me," I joked with a growing grin.
"No, it tastes good. Drink too much and you'll get drunk," James winked. "That's why you have to have a sandwich."
"A sandwich?" I questioned, staring strangely at my friend.
"Yes." James set down his eggnog. Sirius placed his water down on the table next to him. "A sandwich."
The two boys leaned into me as closely as possible. They continued to "sandwich" me until I was squashed in the middle of idiot one and idiot two.
"Ah!" I yelled, laughing. "Stop, you gits!"
They kept cramming me in between the two of them until I spilled my water on me. The glass fell to the floor and shattered quickly. Loola and James (the house elf, not the boy) came to clean up the shards so that no one would get hurt. Too bad life isn't like that. I erased those thoughts from my mind as hastily as I could bear.
"Boys, that's enough," Mr. Potter suggested with a large sigh.
I just sat there with a shocked expression. The ice-cold water had splashed into my surprised lap and down my shirt. Ice cubes were in between my legs. I was wearing jeans, but I still felt the freezing sting of the frigid cubes. James and Sirius were giggling like schoolgirls.
Payback was a must.
"You meant to do that!" I said, standing up. I pulled my wand out and averted it to my whole body. "Scourgify water." I was no longer experiencing discomfort out of wetness, but I was still frost-bound.
"We did not!" articulated a mystified Sirius.
"How dare you make such a mental accusation!?" James piped hurriedly.
"How dare you provoke a 'mental accusation,'" I said with a silent chuckle.
"Chill out, you're dry now, aren't you?" James laughed with a closed mouth.
"No thanks to you," I responded. "Hey, what time is it?"
"You're awfully vivacious today," Mrs. Potter smiled. "I like that you're...well, happy. It's almost nine thirty, dear."
"Merlin, it's that late?!" My hand found its way to my head-top in wonderment and anxiety. "Remus is picking me up in--"
"Hello, everyone!" trailed a voice from the fireplace.
It was Remus. He was there to pick me up and take me to my Father's brother's house. I barely saw my own cousin all vacation, so we all decided that I would finish my winter recess at his house.
"Remus!" I ran up to him and wrapped my arm around his neck. I had to stand on my tip-toes in order to keep my arm up there.
"Hey, you. Are you ready to go?" chuckled Moony, gazing down into my eyes. A serious expression lay across the scarred face of Remus. "You look happy."
It was then that I knew my eyes were bright sapphire shade of blue. "Well, I guess I am, then, huh?"
I glanced away from Remus, and my eyes settled upon Sirius and James. It might have been my imagination, or quite possibly the lighting, but Sirius' eyes seemed to glisten as though he was disappointed that it was my time to say good-bye already.
Yeah right. He'll be happy that he won't have to look at me or speak with me anymore.
"Umm, I'll be right back. I have to make a quick trip upstairs. My trunk is up there, so..." I unchained my arm from Remus' neck and relaxed my toes. As amusing as it may sound, standing on them for an extended period of time really kills.
I put a smile back onto my face, momentarily, until I turned around and rushed up the staircase in a tiny yet hasty sprint. I thereupon endured a tug of insecurity. I grew hot and disregarded the burning of my skin.
"Hey, Remus," voiced James lazily. "What did you get Amber for tomorrow?"
"Oh, like I'm going to trust you. You'll blab your head off and still keep talking, just with a slight breeze where your brain used to be." Remus laughed precariously at his joke, his voice weaving in and out in volume.
"I am appalled!"
"No," James snorted. "I understand. I don't trust me, either."
"Shouldn't someone be helping Kris with her trunk and all?" Sirius inquired smoothly, glancing at the faces of everyone in the room.
"I think she has it covered," Mr. Potter proclaimed, taking a gander at the staircase. The others followed suit.
"I decided to just summon the trunk instead of going all the way up," I started, slowly levitating the trunk down the stairs. "Then I used the levitation charm. Not a muscle strained!" I chuckled nervously, speaking quickly and in an undertone.
What's with all the moods tonight? I asked myself inside my mind.
I descended down the last step and walked over to the bunch. Sirius cleared his throat very unsubtly.
"Need some water, Padfoot?" Remus asked, turning his head back to look at Sirius.
James and Sirius set themselves in the center of a fit of uncontrollable laughter at the reminder of water. I glared at them with a small smirk.
"What are you laughing at?" demanded Remus, his face distorting in befuddlement.
Mrs. Potter sighed at her son's immaturity. "Nothing, dearie. It's time for you to leave, is it not? Your father will want to know where you are. He works late, doesn't he?" Mrs. Potter smiled sweetly, preparing to nod her head. It wasn't that she didn't like Remus, she just didn't much approve of him. It may have been considered rude, but not many werewolves were fluently trusted.
"Yes, that's right," Remus said after a long pause. "We ought to get going, Kris."
"Right," I nodded shortly after. I was sort of staring at Sirius, wondering why he had coughed like that. Did he have something to announce, or was I losing it? "Well, thank you for letting me stay here, Mr. and Mrs. Potter. It was really generous of you."
"Not to worry," Mrs. Potter said meekly. "You're welcome here anytime."
"Thank you, I– I appreciate it a lot."
"Ladies first," Mr. Potter said politely. Were they trying to get rid of us Lupins, or was I being paranoid?
"Okay," I vocalized, stepping skeptically into the fireplace. Remus handed the bag of Floo powder to me so that I could grab a handful. Once I had, he stepped away after taking the bag back for himself.
"Number seven, Godric's Hollow!" I shouted, releasing the powder in my hands nimbly. Instantly, I felt the familiar warmth and caressing touch of the cool green flames that gulped me up and carelessly shot me into Remus' small fireplace. Thus, I hit my head on a metal bar-like structure.
"Oww." I grasped my head as I climbed out of the funnel. Glancing around, I noted that it looked exactly the same. The dark carpet and gray walls were blandly capturing my internal conflicts in interior-decorating-mode. If my heart were to design a room at all during that winter recess, it would resemble Remus' living room.
Back at James' place, James and Remus were huddled in a corner near the fireplace, talking. Mr. and Mrs. Potter were buying time before heading to bed by hanging around in the kitchen as their son bid good-bye to Moony.
Sirius had just gotten back from running up the stairs to retrieve a white box with lustrous paper attached to its outside. Sky blue and pastel green seemed to appear when light larruped the paper. A silver ribbon was solicitously tied around the box, validating it shut. The box was neither large nor small. It was, however, very momentous for Sirius to provide Remus with.
"Make sure she gets this," breathed Sirius semi-heavily. "Don't tell her it's from me."
"She'll know," Remus warned. There was a mysterious shimmer in the honey-hazel of his eyes.
"What? No, she won't. Not if you don't tell her."
"She just has a feel for this sort of thing..." Remus sighed, looking up at Padfoot in exasperation.
"What the bloody hell are you talking about, mate?" Sirius chortled, his hand finding its way to Remus's right shoulder.
"Well, come on, who else would get her what you got her?" Remus stated in all logic, gently pressing the box into the pocket of his robes.
"Gifts don't just magically appear under the Christmas tree unless you believe in Santa Claus," calculated James unusually.
Sirius looked dumbstruck. He hadn't thought about that. "Well, if she'll know then there's no point in telling her it's from me, is there, Moony?"
"What did you get her, anyway?" James questioned, biting the arm off of a gingerbread cookie.
"I got her a--"
"Number seven, Godric's Hollow!" Remus disappeared behind the flickering green flames, interrupting the conversation between Padfoot and Prongs.
"Happy Christmas to you too, Moony."
After a long silence, James finally intercalated a response. "I guess now it's just us two again."
Sirius glimpsed up from his shoes and spoke. "I guess so."
I sat in my new bedroom, one that I would live in for only a couple of weeks longer. Actually, we would be back on January third. The room was small and plain, very disharmonious from the room I was staying in at James's home. Remus' house was just as tedious as mine had been, if not more eerie, cold, and empty. It was the opposite of perfection, and it wasn't exactly a welcoming environment to spend Christmas in.
Why am I thinking in paste tense? I caught myself asking. It still IS my house. My own house, in the middle of nowhere, that now belongs to me...
I began to think about what would happen if I lived there. I did go there before my Father's funeral to sort things out, but I didn't spend the night... I'm basically an orphan, but...I'm not. My Mum is still out there somewhere. SHE HAS AN OBLIGATION TO TAKE CARE OF ME. I need her. But she's nowhere near me. She's gone, and I'm not going to waste my time looking for someone who doesn't want me.
I lied to myself. I honestly did want to find her, to meet her and ask her so many questions. They all needed damn good answers. I could feel myself choke at that moment, the violent urge to rupture into tears taking complete control over me. I gave into the desire, my head held down in utter disbelief. I was shedding tears again, despite the invisible vow that I made for myself. Just when I was convinced that I was getting better... The pang of remembrance of my Mother stabbed me in the heart. The blade was everything but blunt.
I had been thinking more about my parents a lot, especially since it was Christmas time. The truth was that even if it wasn't the holidays, I was bound to think about them once in a while. The secret was to not let it get to me...to at least try to think about the good times. I only had one, though. And that was the day my Father said his last words. When he said he loved me.
As I began to dry my eyes, I heard a soft knock on the rotting, wooden door.
"Come in." I quickly fixed my eyes to the door and put a smile on.
"Hey," Remus said. He saw me and frowned. "Black? That's not good."
"What are you talking--"
Remus pointed to the mirror on my bedside table. I took that as a hint to pick it up.
The shade of my eyes was black, and they were slightly swollen from my shower of tears.
I set the mirror down slowly so it wouldn't make a noise or shatter.
I liberated a groan of frustration. "I hate my eyes! There's no hiding anything around you."
"Maybe that's why we're so close," Remus suggested, sitting on my bed. "Tell me, what's up?"
"I don't want to talk about it. It's nothing."
"You've already used that excuse. It didn't work out too well for you, remember?"
"Remus..! This is more complicated than not having any friends in my classes or having bruises all over my back! I can't really identify everything I feel right now, okay?" I looked away from him, studying the paint chipping off of the windowsill. Gray fog and ice kissed the glass, and all I could see was darkness through the window.
"Sure, I understand. I'll just leave you be, then."
I perked my head in Remus' direction. "No, you won't."
"Oh? Why not?"
"I need to forget about this. Let's just go do some...bonding."
"Yeah, you know..." But the truth was, neither of us knew how to bond or where to bond, or even how long the bonding process lasted. Both of us failed to realize that we already were bonding.
Even though he didn't know how or the acute details why, Remus did an amazing job keeping my mind off of my Mother. We went for a walk in a gentle snow after stealing the neighbor's cat. At first, he didn't want to do it, but I told him it would be fun and we'd give it back after our walk.
Of course, it was really dark outside, so we only made it down the street near the cemetery and back to his house.
Remus and I were warming up near the fire in the small living room, still laughing about our good time. Remus was like my only family. Technically, I had my Uncle and Aunt, but they were never around. I never understood how Remus could feel important to them at all. They weren't there for him, just like my Mother was not there for me...
"Some good quality bonding," I smiled then let out a snort of laughter. "All of ten minutes."
"Mmm, yes. I liked the part when the demon next-door-neighbor cat scratched my face, almost as if it thought there were not enough scars." Remus chuckled, his newfound sarcasm shocking me. I laughed with a disbelieving face the entire time.
"Yeah. That was my favorite part."
And we lived happily ever after...if you were to exclude the complexities of the rest of my life.
"What is it?"
"You okay, Remus?" I asked in concern, confusion casting over my features. When he nodded, I started to open the small box. It was Christmas morning, and the beautiful gift was just about my only Christmas present; everyone agreed not to waste their galleons on each other.
"Holy shit," I breathed. My mouth hung ajar, and drool started to ooze out of it revoltingly.
It was a silver-banded ring -- someone knew that I preferred silver to gold. It was not a diamond that decorated the ring so captivatingly, but a large opal of uniqueness sprung out at me instead.
"I love this," I whispered, taking the ring meticulously into my eager hands. "But who gave me it? I didn't see a tag..."
As I slipped the ring onto my right hand's finger, Remus looked into my eyes as his started to sparkle over knowingly.
I gaped. "You can't mean -- Oh, Merlin! Sirius?!"
Remus sighed, pulling me over to the fire once again as the luminous sun began to lighten the room and melt the icy glaze on the scratched window. A crackle erupted as we got closer to the burning flame.
"Kris," Remus began, taking my right hand. The ring fit perfectly, somehow... It just felt too right. "I told Sirius it wasn't a good idea, but he wanted you to have it. Just take it as...the contract of a new beginning."
"Did he say that's what it's for?" I glanced down at my right hand skeptically.
"He said nothing," Remus said earnestly. "He only wants to make you happy."
"Well, it's a bit much, isn't it?" I blurted out, gazing into the dancing flare. My eyes started to gain the flame's warmth, so I looked at the ground alternatively.
"No, it isn't too much. Don't worry about it. Just wear it."
"A new beginning, huh?" I swallowed lightly, raising the finger with my new ring up. "Okay. I guess I can do that. Thank you." I stood up after that and glanced at the ticking wooden clock near the front door. "Gosh, where is your father?"
"He isn't back from work yet," emitted Remus.
"It's been an all-nighter week, hasn't it?" I quizzed, speaking in the softest tone possible for me.
"Yeah. Same with Mum. She's in a different country right now, selling...Merlin-knows-what. They need the pay."
I nodded. "You okay? You seem off."
"No, I'm fine." Remus made it his objective to change the subject suddenly. "I loved my present, thank you. I've always wanted the Advanced Book of Spells."
"Sure," I smiled, tugging at my pajamas. "I had to get some money out of...my bank account. My father left all his money to me, which is not very much, but..."
"Of course. I appreciate it."
There was an instant silence draping over the air, dripping with discomfort. I rolled my eyes at everything.
"How pathetic," I chortled, quietly drinking everything in. "New subject: School. Are you ready for it?"
"I could ask you the same question," Remus said seriously.
I blinked. Eventually, a groan escaped from my mouth as my face met Remus' shoulder.
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