Chapter 34 : There Was Nothing
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"Pass the butter?"
I snapped out of my blank stare as soon as I heard his voice at breakfast that morning. He, who had consumed most of my thoughts, smiled as I turned to look at him sitting next to me.
"Oh, um, sure." I looked down at the butter and knife in front of my plate and slowly handed it to Sirius. "Here."
"Thanks. Are you alright, Kris? You've got this distracted look about you. What's on your mind?" Sirius quickly buttered his toast and began to devour it fully, leaving only breadcrumbs on the corner of his mouth.
"Er, nothing," I said in an absent tone while shaking my head and picking up my fork to try to sell the lie.
But before I could see if it had worked, James yelled into my ear while patting my shoulder once. He did the same to Sirius; James' head was in between ours as he stared into the vibrant, green eyes of Lily, who was across from all three of us.
"Good morning, my good mates!" James beamed continually, hooking Sirius and I around both of our necks with both of his arms.
"Where the bloody hell did you come from, Prongs?!" Sirius was actually quite startled.
"You see, when two people fall in love--"
Sirius hit James square in the chest just before James sat in between Sirius and me. "That's not quite what I meant, git. I thought you were going to fake the flu for one day."
"Who are you calling a git?" James demanded, moving his way to the other side of the table from underneath. "Someone convinced me that I won't graduate if I don't learn anything..." James spoke from under the table, and I closed my legs together. Just in case.
"Are you talking about Remus?" Amber questioned at James as his head peaked out next to Lily's elbow. Amber released a small giggle and allowed Remus to kiss her cheek swiftly. Sirius slid closer to me in order to fill the gap that James created and wrapped his arm around my waist as he forked some scrambled eggs into his mouth.
"...Maybe," James cracked after a short pause in reply to Amber.
"Kris, are you sure nothing is going on up there? You look deprived."
Sirius was such a caring person when he bothered to be. I longed to tell him the truth about how I was totally confused about us, how I wasn't finished dwelling on the black mystery cat with color-changing eyes, and -- more importantly -- my wondering of how he felt about me after everything that had happened from winter recess up until the scene we had created that morning. But I couldn't. It had to wait until we were alone, perhaps walking in the halls or in the Room of Requirement after classes. Nobody else needed to hear what was on my mind, and nobody else should have cared. Still, every one of my friends gave me concerned stares. I smiled forcefully and quickly held my head down. I stared at the large waffle in front of me and focused on the sweet, syrupy fumes that were wafting into my lungs lusciously.
"We'll talk later," I told him, sprinkling some powdered sugar over the waffle.
I could feel my friends' eyes all over me as I wiped the white substance off of my fingers with a napkin. My face grew warm, and I got all sweaty. Most fortunately, I was rescued by the silky voice of Rain Mandira from Hufflepuff; the goddess with the advanced powers and sister to Randilyn from the Gryffindor Quidditch team. It felt weird to think of her as a goddess, especially since I never really did believe in that sort of thing. But anyone related to Dumbledore who says they are divine... Well, you've just got to sort of believe them.
"Hello, Gryffindors," Rain said blissfully. Something seemed off, though. It was easy to see that, behind her pale complexion and soft features, she was hot and bothered, just like me.
"Hi, Rain," Sirius said quickly, making suspicions rise inside of my chest. "Want to sit?
"Oh, no thank you. I just came over here to give this to you all. Please think about it." Rain's big, light blue eyes filled up with urgency and hope. "We need as many people as we can get. Oh, and Kristin, happy late birthday. Sweet sixteen?"
I nodded, eying her.
"I thought so. I am sorry to inform you that I do not have a gift for you. I hope that does not have any affect on your decision to come to this meeting." Rain still didn't hand it -- whatever it was she was going to give us -- over. She merely held it up so that we could read it. "Here. It is to take place in the Transfigurations classroom tomorrow night. I am hoping that Professor McGonagall will not pay any visits."
"What is it for?" James inserted curiously, ripping the parchment from my hands -- right after she gave it to me -- before I could read it for myself.
I read the sheet upside down as James set it on the table.
We are about defense for ourselves and others, should they need it.
"The Hogwarts Association of Protection? Isn't this sort of thing what Aurors are for?" James asked, glancing up at Rain.
"Aurors are not barricaded inside of these walls," Rain pointed out, her hands waving at the walls of the Great Hall. "Who will save us from harm inside of this castle if danger walks into view? No one but ourselves."
"You're right. If You-Know-Who strolls into Hogwarts, Professor Dumbledore will just tell us that it's every man for himself." James spoke in sarcasm and shoved the paper toward Sirius. "I don't know about this, Rain. It looks sort of pointless. You-Know-Who isn't going to come here with your uncle calling the shots."
"Please, just think about it. What if there are older students in here that are being recruited as Death Eaters? What if they try to pull something?"
"She could be on to something, James," said Lily spontaneously. "If a student attacks another student then, well, I don't want it to be me. The only way to assure that is to know how to save myself. Count me in."
All that I could do was watch as everything happened without me. I was still preoccupied with the whole idea of a protection club. Was the world growing that dark? So dark that we couldn't be safe in a school? If not in a school then just where else?
"Excellent!" voiced Rain enthusiastically. "Kristin, are you going to go, as well?"
It appeared that everyone else had already agreed to attend the meeting. Everyone but me. I cringed at my full name before responding with, "Oh, erm... Will there be refreshments? I like fudge brownies every so often."
"I'm only joking," I said flatly, my glass of milk pressed to my lips seconds later. "I suppose I don't have anything better to do, especially since everybody is going to this T.H.A.P. meeting."
Rain exhaled a breath of relief as she blinked and beamed at me. "This is really good. Seven, plus Randilyn, Matthew, Chase, a whole lot of Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws--"
Lily was now bathing in the milk that was warm from being inside of my mouth. I had sprayed it all over her upon hearing two familiar names. Lily's eyes shut tightly as she wiped her face and hair.
"Oh, sorry, Lils." I gasped and then turned to Rain. "Did you say Matt and Chase were going?"
"Yes, I believe they said they were going," blabbed Rain while in befuddlement of my actions.
"Matt Findley and his friend, Chase?" It was like a rush of memories coming back to me. I could re-live the day that I told him that we would make good friends; I could once again encounter the sad, lost, and confused features on his face after I spoke those words. I could also add onto his long-lost pain (not that I confess to ever considering myself -- or lack of myself -- pain-worthy) by showing up at the meeting with a group of friends who knew what had happened. Not to mention I was dating one of them.
"What is wrong, Kristin?" Rain could sense that I was -- for an absence of better words -- freaking out. I sighed sharply and shook my head.
"It's nothing! Stop calling me Kristin and get with the program. I am leaving." So, I rose from the bench, Sirius' arm no longer clasped around me, and shoved my friends' whispers about me out of my senses.
I knew that my rudeness toward Rain would somehow haunt me, as I usually kept those types of thoughts to myself, but I just continued to walk toward the doors of the Great Hall.
I wrinkled my eyebrows together and shook my head angrily, emitting the swiftest sigh. How much could one girl handle? Too many things were noble enough to ponder.
I heard footsteps tapping loudly on the stone floor of the Entrance Hall. When I turned to see who was behind me, my eyes met the worried (yet, undeniably handsome as ever) face of Sirius. His soft, pink lips turned downward while his hands found their way to my own. He sandwiched my left with both of his.
"Kris," spoke Sirius gently, pulling me into him. I let out a fragmented sigh; my breathing was choppy and I could barely collect the air just knowing who I was pressed up against; he was no longer innocent, but he was experienced. And it was a scary thought. He had not lost it with me, but he had lost it with some (and then more, possibly) girl he had used in order to try to flare something in me. "What are you worried about?"
I wanted to speak, but I drowned in his sparkling, gray eyes. I wanted to close my own as he whispered that, when he told me I was worried about something. He knew I was. And it wasn't because we had an unbreakable connection between each other. It was because my eyes were gray, too.
I slowly began to form words as I looked away and tried backing up. "I don't know," I denied, sensing how stupid I sounded.
"I think you do," he muttered, stroking my cheek. Why was he being so nice to me? I wanted to ask him, but it seemed like the wrong path to walk.
"Maybe," I began, staring up at the ceiling with my mouth slightly agape, "I think I'm just worried about everything. I guess you could say I'm being paranoid." I stopped, realizing what I had said and the inquiry to follow it, and added, "I mean, it's really nothing to solve. No mystery here. Just me...being me..."
"Are you sure?" If he felt the need to ask then he knew I was not sure. He could tell I was trying to get him to stop.
I looked down and back at him and, without warning, planted a warm kiss on his cheek. My lips were tingling and I grew hot again, almost as if I was boiling over a cauldron.
"I know you," he said warningly. "Please tell me what the matter is."
"You don't want to know."
"Oh, but I do." Sirius smiled.
If that was what he wanted then I would tell him. "Fine, but don't say I didn't want to say a word."
He nodded and waited for me to continue.
"Well, for one, I know that she saved your life and everything, and she's used to being talked to as if she was a superior figure, and she is Professor Dumbledore's niece -- er, great niece -- but still. I do not like her at all. And don't go thinking it's because she called me Kristin; it has nothing to do with that. It does have to do with you, however."
Sirius' eyes grew wide, and his mouth hung ajar slightly. "Erm..."
"She obviously likes you, and it's bothering me," I continued, shaking my head.
Sirius signed...a breath of relief? I eyed him suspiciously.
"What's with you?" I asked, looking him up and down.
Sirius' mouth shut, and his eyes got wider just before he blinked and relaxed. "Oh, umm, nothing. I just realized I didn't do my Care of Magical Creatures assignment."
Since when does he care about his schoolwork being finished?
I shook it off and continued my rant about divine miss Rain. "I have a question."
Sirius hesitated before speaking. "What?"
"Do you think Rain is pretty?" I sighed, my grip on sanity slipping away slowly.
"Never mind. I already know the answer. Of course you think she's pretty; she is a goddess! She's way prettier than me."
"Quit talking about my girlfriend like that," Sirius said with a wink, grabbing my hand. "Kris, you know I love you. Yes, Rain is a pretty girl, but you are beautiful."
I wanted to thank him, but I was too angry and suspicious still. I nodded instead to acknowledge his words.
It was going to be a long day.
I could see her gray eyes were full of cynicism. If I didn't tell her the truth and she were to find out, she would have hated me... But if I did tell her, she would have been just as upset.
She was always telling James, Remus, Peter, and I to grow up. It was time to respect that.
"Kris," I whispered, sliding my hand through the whole created by her left arm and waist. "I'm sorry."
"For what? You already apologized for everything you've done. That's what I thought, anyway."
I ignored her, which was hard, and I just concentrated on saying what had to be said.
"When we were apart for that small amount of time, I never thought I'd get you back."
"It doesn't matter now. I'm here to stay," Kris said firmly, her hand clasping the top of mine, which lay on her waist.
"No," I caressed her hand with my thumb, "that's not true. I have this...theory."
"The earth is round?"
"No... I mean, yes... But no. Kris, I love you," I sound like a git, just get to the point... "and I think you love me, too. But I think you're going to leave me because... I got around -- if you know what I mean -- with the wrong girl."
Kris paused, and I felt my stomach flip. "What girl, Sirius? It wasn't Lana Lingerie, was it?"
I shook my head and brought back my hand from her waist. I took my time in saying, "I slept with Rain."
That was what I was expecting her to say.
"We weren't together!" I defended, trying to calm her down.
"And now, you're treating Rain like dirt. Is that all you want from me, Sirius? My innocence? Off to the next one type of deal?" Kris eyes flared red with rage and then turned black. "Don't think you're getting any. I'm not letting you. I always thought you were that guy... You're just not going to work. I'm sorry, too."
She walked away, and as she did, I somehow knew it wouldn't be the last of her. Her accusations were very inaccurate and she might realize that.
"He slept with her."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes! He just confessed to me."
"That sounds so unlike him, though, Kris."
"I wouldn't be surprised if James was doing the same thing."
"Really? I would. He's been after me forever, after all -- not to sound boastful."
"That's true. James has had his eye on only one apple... But Sirius? Ugh! He said he wanted me, but he kept himself open to others. Maybe it's just time to quit on him." I poked my dragon-hide-protected finger into the soil of my Pellionus plant as I watched it bob up and down.
"Kris, be careful. If the Pellionus squirts at you when it's still young, you could end up with a face full of pimples," Remus warned with Peter working next to him. James and Sirius were at the opposite end of Greenhouse 6.
"I thought it removed acne?"
"Not if it's still young. It does just the opposite until it grows up."
"Thanks, Moony." I stepped back, clutching the goggles on my face.
"Remember: The more nurtured your Pellionus is while it's a baby plant, the more effective the serum will be," reminded the professor, walking around the room in a chipper mood. She was walking past Padfoot and Prongs, and I couldn't help but smile as I watched James dodge the pale orange liquid emitting from the Pellionus that Sirius had prodded endlessly.
What idiots. I shook my head with a chuckle. Wait, I stopped smiling, I'm not allowed to laugh at them for anything other than cruelty.
. . . . . . . . . . . .
Yeah right. That's not going to happen.
The professor's booming voice resonating off of the glass of the greenhouse tore me away from my thoughts. "Hurry up and pour the goat stomach acid into the soil, now."
There were groans shooting up from every direction by now.
"Oh, come on! Come on! This is Herbology, Year 6! You can handle some acid."
"You can't quit on him; I won't let you." Lily slowly poured the acid into the plant pot in front of her.
"I'm not going to! I was only being dramatic. I need a kiss; a Hershey's Kiss to be exact."
Amber pulled one out of her bag with her gloves still on. She took the wrapper off for me, but I declined. "You might have acid on your gloves or something, and I kind of don't want to die."
Amber frowned, not sure of what to do with the Kiss in her hand. I watched as she threw it behind her back while the professor wasn't looking.
I got him to stop picking on Snape, and I'm going to get him to do what I want. If he loves me, he'll adhere to my desires.
The bell rang fifteen minutes later, and I walked into the castle as its shadow loomed over me. Sirius was walking with James, Remus, and Peter up ahead while Lily hooked arms with James and Remus with Amber.
An idea struck my mind, and blood pumped faster in my body with a mix of adrenaline. I found myself ramming Sirius against a cold, stone wall.
I found myself ramming Sirius against a cold, stone wall and kissing him.
I found myself ramming Sirius against a cold, stone wall and kissing him with enjoyment.
His books fell to the floor in shock as I slid my hands over his upper chest and shoulders, and then through his soft, dark hair. But I ended it, gasping for breath.
"You think you're so irresistible? You're right. But you need to stop giving me reasons to tell you 'it's over.' But here's the deal: I'm in this for real this time. I want it so nothing can pull us down. I'm willing if you are." I looked into his eyes, searching frantically for any flicker of emotion. They were looking through mine, and I felt my heart race faster, waiting for an answer.
"Okay," he nodded, eyes wide.
"I think we'll go far if we keep holding on."
"Yeah," said Sirius, the same airy disbelief in his tone. "I want the same thing. But how will I know that you won't leave me again?"
"'I'll never stray again.'"
"Good, because I--"
The bell. "We're late for Transfigurations."
"Detectives can't wait to get a hold of you; they have a case left unsolved for a few years and they were hoping for your intuition," I cracked, smiling.
"Ha-ha. I'm laughing--"
"No, you're not."
"--on the inside."
"Let's go..." I helped him pick his books up. "You should really carry a bag or something. It's more organized."
"Saying that I dropped my books thus losing my homework is a good excuse, though."
"McGonagall knows much better." I smirked knowingly, reminiscing on the times when Sirius pulled excuses from a Zonko's Joke Shop product.
"She doesn't know we're going to use her classroom tonight for that meeting."
We were about to turn a corner when a black cat with black eyes trotted in front of us out of nowhere.
"Bloody hell, what is that?" Sirius asked, not expecting an answer of any sort.
But I knew exactly what it was. "It's the cat that followed me around last week."
"It looks possessed."
"The eyes change colors, remember? I told you about it in the common room."
"Well, we should leave her alone. It is a 'her,' right?"
I nodded quickly, staring at the cat while wondering why it came back. It began to move away, down another corridor, and I followed it. I could tell it wanted me to. Somehow, I just knew.
Sirius chased after us in a simple sprint.
"Don't let Filch catch us..." I told the cat, not yearning for even more detentions because of her.
"Why are we following her, anyway?" Sirius inquired, scrunching up his eyebrows.
"She wants us to. She wouldn't just come find me and then leave. She's showing me something."
"Kittens?" Sirius said excitedly with sarcasm oozing out of his every pore.
"Padfoot," I smacked him playfully, "Lily thinks this cat is not a cat, if you get my drift."
"--she might be an animagus. Not many normal cats' eyes change colors." I sighed, my footsteps echoing in the abandoned corridor.
"An illegal animagus?"
"I don't know." I shook my head. "It appears as though we're going to the library tonight after that meeting."
"Isn't this the way to the Room of Requirement? Why's she taking us there?"
I stopped in my tracks and watched as the cat dropped a folded bit of parchment onto the floor.
I looked at Sirius, and the cat ran away.
My jaw dropped instantly. "Padfoot," I emphasized, winking (or rather, twitching unattractively), "go chase her!"
Sirius immediately went from tall, handsome boy to big, black dog. He barked and began going after the cat.
All I could do was keep staring at the bit of parchment in front of me. How did I not notice it in her mouth before?
That wasn't important. The important thing was opening that note, if that was what it was. What could it have said?
I leaned over, bending my shaking knees, and reached for the damp, light brown paper.
Unfolding it, I kept wiping my hands on my skirt. It had been in the cat's mouth, after all.
Finally, I got it open. But it was blank. Nothing was written on it. All there was were two light purple leaves embedded in the top corners. They were small, but noticeable.
I turned the parchment over, hopeful, to see if it had any writing on it, but there was nothing. There wasn't even more purple decoration.
I sighed in frustration. "I thought I was on to something."
"You are on something, Miss Lupin. I've just added you onto my detention list."
My eyes widened at the hoarse voice of Argus Filch. I stood up and turned to talk my way out of my punishment for skipping class.
"I have a free period," I lied.
"Is that so? Your time table suggests otherwise."
I bit my lip. "I'm sick." I coughed.
"You are lying to your superior, that's what you are! And what's that you've got in your hand?"
"It's, umm, just a piece of parchment." That was my honest answer as far as I had known.
"Give it to me!" Filch demanded, limping closer to me.
I didn't want to give it to him; what if it really wasn't just a blank foot of parchment?
But I knew I had to, so I loosened my grip on it as he snatched it out of my hands. Filch unfolded it as I prayed that Sirius didn't come back as a dog.
Filch grunted abnormally and faced me. "Come with me. We're going to take a trip to the Headmaster's office."
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