My back connected with the rough stone wall behind me, stealing the breath from my lungs. It would’ve hurt had it been any other circumstance, but the pain in my spine was the last thing on my mind. Once air returned to my lungs, my chest heaved mightily. I struggled to get my pulse under control. There was a nervous lump in my throat, but the pure thrill of it all had somehow managed to calm all my other nerves.
I opened my mouth to whisper something, but I couldn’t utter a single syllable, as a pair of warm lips came crashing down upon mine. At first, I began to struggle, uncertain that this was the wisest thing to do, but once I looked around and saw that there was no one else around, that the corridor was deserted, I foolishly gave into it. No longer reluctant, I gave myself over to the heated kiss, my insides melting lightly when a tongue pushed its way into my mouth.
A pair of hands worked their way up my arms, swept over my shoulders, skittered across the curve of my neck, and came to rest on either side of my cheeks. Almost immediately, my face burned a brilliant shade of red, the heat of my blush warming the hands.
Much to my disappointment, the delicious lips delivering the most tantalizing kiss in what I was sure the entire history of the world, broke away from my mouth. A soft laugh emanated from the person I had been snogging and my cheeks burned yet again.
“Oh Ella,” the familiar warm voice muttered quietly, their hot breath dancing across the wet surface of my lips. The pad of a thumb stroked the length of my cheekbone, causing my eyelids to flutter slightly. “Open up those gorgeous eyes; I hate to see them veiled.”
I knew a command when I heard one and, hesitantly, I obliged the order. My found herself staring into a pair of sparkling gray eyes and my knees began to shake. I tried to open my mouth to speak, but Sirius Black placed a finger over my lips, silencing me.
“Not now, Eleanor,” he muttered, his appearance suddenly altering. The eyes changed color; they were no longer a mischievous shade of gray, but a pair of warm brown eyes. The voice had always changed timbre and the soft smirk on those delicate lips belonged to none other than Remus Lupin. The glint that reside in his eyes didn’t look like something one would expected to see in Remus’s kind eyes; it looked animalistic, in a sense. But the overall effect made my entire body shiver in anticipation. Deliberately stepping closer to me and crushing his chest against mine, he captured my lips in another heart melting-.
A sharp pinch to my arm jolted me from my dream. I picked up my head a little too quickly and ended up smashing the top of my head against Lily’s chin. She let out a short howl of pain, rubbing the point of her chin.
“Sorry,” I muttered under my breath, trying - and failing miserably - to shake off the dream - or was it a nightmare? - that I had just experienced.
“It’s all right,” Lily said, smiling tightly, her brow still furrowed in pain. “I just thought I’d wake you.”
I yawned, sitting up more cautiously than last time, and stretched my limbs over my head. The common room fire was lit and, much to my surprise, still blazing. Why on Earth would the fire in the hearth still be burning as brightly as it had been several hours ago when no one else was conscious?
“What time is it?”
“Seven? Where the hell is everyone?”
“- in the morning,” Lily finished, wincing slightly at my reaction.
It took me a few seconds to digest what she was saying before my eyes widened and I pushed myself away from the table so roughly, my chair clabbered to the cobblestone loudly. “What? Why didn’t anyone wake me up?!”
Lily shrugged her perfectly round shoulders, gesturing helplessly. She thought I blamed her, which I didn’t. If it hadn’t been for her, I would’ve slept through the entire day, most likely.
“Never mind,” I sighed heavily, knowing the exact reason why no one had shaken me awake. “I think I know the reason why.” Shaking my head to myself, I began to gather up all my belongings, shoving various items into my broken satchel. I turned to Lily and smiled as warmly as I could for being in such a foul mood. “Thanks for waking me, Lily. I appreciate it.”
The expression on her face transformed and she smiled. “Not a problem, Eleanor.” She looked at my bag and sighed. Pulling her wand out of her pocket, she pointed it at my satchel and a blue streak of light shot out from the tip of her wand. Merlin, was this girl good at everything? “Here,” she said, “You go upstairs and get changed into a fresh uniform. I’ll pack all your stuff up for you.”
“Really?” I said, smiling for the first time that morning. “Thank you, Lils.”
“Like I said, not a problem,” she beamed at me. “Now hurry along; you don’t want to be late for class, now do you?”
I shook my head before hurrying up the girls’ staircase, wondering what I would do if I didn’t have Lily as a friend.
X - X - X
I had been so concerned about getting to my lessons on time and turning in all my homework that I barely remembered what day it was until the second to last class of the day ended. Hell, it didn’t even hit me until I was already half way to the dungeons. And it probably wouldn’t have registered in my mind if Black and Potter hadn’t pushed past me.
I stopped walking in the middle of the dark corridor, the torchlight flickering eerily against the stone walls. I felt like I was going to be sick all over the floor. My stomach was twisting and turning and my world was spinning. I could feel a wave of nausea looming over my head and, if it hadn’t been for someone running into me, I would’ve thrown up everywhere.
Instead, I just fell flat on my face, my chin colliding roughly with the floor. I could feel my brain rattling in my skull and knew that a mental headache, if not a physical one, was fast approaching. I flipped over onto my back, clutching the lower portion of my face in my hand. No one bothered to help me, merely walked right around me like I was nothing. Which I pretty much was in their eyes. Hell, I would be surprised if they could see me at all, let alone give a damn.
I scoffed to myself in annoyance, wondering when people would get over themselves and actually lend a helping hand to those in need. Shaking my head to myself and barely masking my vexation, I started to push myself up off the floor when a hand shot out for me. I looked up to see that Severus Snape had his hand held out. I glanced from his hooked nose to his hand several times before I slid my hand into his and he hauled me up to my feet.
“Thank you,” I said, hoping that the gratitude showed in my voice.
He nodded curtly, wiping his hand on his fading black school robes before pushing past me and continuing down the hall. I stared after him, at a complete loss for words. For one, I was shocked that a Slytherin would so much as think of helping a Gryffindor like me off her feet and, secondly, it wasn’t just any Slytherin. This was Severus Snape. He never helped anyone, let alone someone as invisible as me.
Still baffled, I followed suit and started toward the classroom at the end of the corridor. Much to my surprise, I was one of the last students to gather in front of the door. Near the front of the line, I could hear Black and Potter laughing loudly, those around them joining in on the snickering. My curiosity was tweaked and I found myself wishing to know what they were talking about.
Or maybe it wasn’t my curiosity, but my insatiable need to know everything that was going on around me. I would be the first to admit that I was a nosy person, but that’s only because I got away - for the most part - with eavesdropping on my fellow classmates without them being none the wiser. Like I’ve said many times before, invisibility sure did have its perks from time to time.
Tucking a strand of hair behind my ear, I waited with the rest of my classmates, wondering when Slughorn would open the damn door and we could get on with the lesson. I wasn’t eager to get into the classroom and do the work, but I just wanted to get this done and over with. The quicker the lesson went, the easier this whole situation would become. I had already taken a vow of silence when it came to this particular class, so even if Black felt the need to strike up a conversation with me, I wasn’t going to let him get to me like he did last time. Make no mistake, I was not going to be charmed by him again. I had let my guard down once and it had been a fatal mistake.
Okay, maybe not a fatal mistake, but it was still a mistake. No one was injured, so it wasn’t fatal, my mentality and ego had taken a bruising. I had believed myself to be immune to Sirius Black’s infamous charms, but I was just like the rest of them, much to my chagrin. How he had managed to get me talking was still beyond me, but it’s not like it mattered, did it? I knew what to expect this time, so therefore, I wouldn’t be fooled again.
Merlin, this plan was foolproof! If Sirius Black thought that he was going to break the ice and get me talking again, oh boy, did he have another thing coming for him. Stupid, egotistical, charming, handsome - NO! Stop it! I couldn’t think like that. I shook my head to myself when I found my eyes were trained on, what else, Black’s perfectly formed arse.
You stop that right this instant, Briggs, Logic exclaimed angrily. You know better than that to act like such a…such a…tart!
Eleanor is not a tart, argued Ego.
Inwardly, I was beaming at Ego.
She’s barely done anything with any blokes to be considered a tart, anyway.
The smile fell off my face abruptly. And here I thought egos were supposed to be make you more confident, not feel like such a pathetic waste of space. Leave it to my ego to get it backward. Circe be damned.
Just because she’s making an observation certainly doesn’t mean that she’s a tart. Besides, she’s right. He does have a rather nice bum, now that I look at it.
Are you kidding me? Look at yourself, Briggs. You’re just like the rest of them. I wouldn’t be surprised if you slipped on your own puddle of drool on your way through the door.
Now you wait just a minute, you should not be berating her. She’s a girl, after all. She’s allowed to admire the scenery. Besides, it’s like Ego said, she was just making an observation.Eeek, that voice sounded eerily like my Aunt Eliza. What the hell was she doing inside of my head?
An observation, you say? What about her dream? How can you explain that?
Er, Logic’s got a point, Ellie.
Indeed she does.
I let out a little growl, stomping my foot on the ground in annoyance. Of course, all the voices in my head would turn against me. Damn Logic! Would needed it anyway? Grinding my teeth in irritation, I suddenly realized that I was angry at non-existent voices inside my head. My face paled slightly and I wondered if I really was going as crazy as I thought I was. I looked around at my peers to see if they had noticed my little outburst, but none of them have, save for one.
And of course, it just had to be Sirius Black who was smirking at me in the most charming way, making my heart skip a beat when he raised a singular dark brow in amusement, those hauntingly beautiful eyes twinkling joyously, like he had just discovered some precious secret. I hated him for being able to raise one eyebrow in such a James Bond-esque way. And for being able to see that embarrassing show of frustration at the voices in my head.
Merlin, Briggs, you are going crazy!
I shook my head to myself, wondering if all these damn voices would ever leave me alone. I silently thanked God that no one was able to hear the raging war that questioned my sanity that was going on in my head between Logic, Ego, and my Aunt about whether I was a tarty girl or not.
Much to my immense relief, the door to the classroom opened and Slughorn made his usual short speech before allowing us entrance. I was the last one through the door. I made my way toward the back of the classroom as quickly as possible, hoping that no one noticed that I was partnered with Sirius Black.
When I reached the table, I saw that he was still wearing his trademark, knee melting smirk. But I was shocked to see that there wasn’t a trace of mocking or laughter in his smirk, and it was just simply that: a smirk. It wasn’t teasing, but rather friendly. I set my bag down on the top of the table before taking my seat on the stool beside him.
“Hi,” he greeted in a pleasant voice. He sounded genuine enough to me.
Without looking at him, I said, “Hello,” back.
“How are you doing today?”
My jaw tightened and I wondered if the rest of the lesson would continue in this vein. I prayed to Merlin that it wouldn’t. “Fine,” I replied shortly. I wasn’t intentionally being rude…
Okay, so I was trying my hardest to be rude, but with good reason. I didn’t want the other students in the classroom to see that I was actually conversing with Black about something other than Potions in fear that they would report back to Lucinda and my life would be over. As pitiful as my existence was, I didn’t exactly plan on ending my life as early as seventeen. That just wasn’t an option in my book.
“I’m doing good,” Sirius said out of the blue. “You know, in case you were wondering.”
“I wasn’t,” I muttered under my breath, feeling more than slightly annoyed, “but thanks for informing me anyway.” I glanced at him out of the corner of my eye to see that he was staring at me with a curious expression on his handsome face.
“Oh, it’s no problem at all,” he replied smoothly. I turned my head in his direction to see that he was smiling.
Shit, he wasn’t supposed to hear that. Goddamn it. Wow, I turned into quite the potty mouth when I retreated into the sanctuary of my own mind, didn’t I? But that’s the question, isn’t it; is my mind really a stable place?
Thankfully, I didn’t have to reply - to myself or to Sirius - , as Professor Slughorn began to prattle on and on about the essays we had turned in the previous class. He kept saying that he was greatly
‘disappointed’ and ‘displeased’ that our essays weren’t up to par, save for the papers submitted by Lily Evans and Severus Snape. My jaw clenched as I remembered the way Snape had wiped his hand on his school robes after helping me up like I had some sort of contagious disease.
People began to shuffle about, pulling their books from their bags and such. I had no idea what Slughorn had said, so I had to watch Sirius out of the corner of my eye to see what he was doing. Unfortunately, he wasn’t doing anything. He leaned back in his chair and propped his feet up on the table. My, someone certainly was self-confident, weren’t they? Following the suit of my classmates, I pulled my book out of my newly repaired bag, thanks to Lily, and flipped open to the index, intending on scanning the small print for a potion that we could brew.
I had been skimming the finely printed text for a little more than thirty seconds before Sirius spoke up, “Did you know your lip is bleeding?”
I was startled by his words and picked my head up, my reading glasses resting on the crook of my nose. “What?”
“Your lip,” Sirius said, putting his chair down on all four legs and removing his feet from the table top. “It’s bleeding.”
I brought my fingers to my lips and felt around. Sure enough, when I pulled my hand away, my fingertips were dotted with a light layer of ruby red blood. “Oh,” I murmured under my breath. “Thanks.”
“For telling me,” I said.
Sirius smiled in his easy way and scooted his stool closer to the table top, finally seeming interested in what we were supposed to be doing. “So,” he began, resting his elbows on the table. “How’d it happen?”
“How’d what happen?” I asked stupidly.
“How d’you get that cut on your lip? Surely you didn’t just bite into your lip without a good reason.” He seemed intensely interested in the words coming from his own mouth and I could see in the depths of his gray eyes that the wheels were turning in his mind. “Did Peeves get you?”
“No,” I said defensively, shaking my head. As if Peeves could scare me…all right, he probably could, but that was beside the point.
“Did a Slytherin sneak up on you?” His tone hardened, as did his facial features.
“No,” I answered. “Someone ran into me and knocked me down to the floor. I guess I hit my chin so hard that I bit into my lip.” Tucking a lock of hair behind my ear, I continued, “And it was actually a Slytherin who helped me up.” My eyes flickered over to where Snape sat over his cauldron, looking positively vexed at the world. I was surprised to find that he didn’t have a partner. I wondered why that was…
“Oh,” muttered Sirius, looking a bit crestfallen. “Well, I’m sorry that someone bumped into you and you had to be helped up by a grimy Slytherin.”
I knew that it was pointless to try to tell him that not all Slytherins were like Lucius Malfoy. I shivered at the name, remembering the general pompous air that surrounded him when he walked down the halls. I could still remember when I was in my second year and he was in his seventh year, I had thought that he was one of the most frightening and imposing people I have ever seen in my life. I could still remember the way he had sneered at me when I accidentally gotten in his way.
Other than that, I really didn’t have a problem with Slytherins. True, they were a rather arrogant bunch, but just because they were overly self-confident in their abilities and their blood status didn’t mean that they were all bad. Lucinda belongs in Slytherin, the bloody cow, I thought blackly to myself.
“It’s not your fault,” I said softly, turning my eyes back to my book.
He didn’t say anything in response, so I figured that he had lost interest in the conversation, let alone the assignment we were supposed to be doing. I could already tell that I was going to be doing the majority of the work, seeing as how he hadn’t even taken his book out of his bag. Why did Potter have to be such a good persuader and get his way all the time? I would be partners with Lily and we would be having fun researching our potion. I wouldn’t be so high strung as I was when I was around Sirius Black and I wouldn’t have to watch what I said. I mean, I would still have to edit a great deal of my thoughts, as some were more…eccentric than others, but that was beyond the point. I did that around everyone, my family included, as it was.
“So,” Black drawled in his warm and sophisticated voice. “Have you come across any possibilities?”
I looked up from my book and shook my head. “No, not yet.”
“Damn,” he swore. “Neither have I.”
My eyes widened slightly and I could imagine how they looked behind my glasses. “You’ve looked?”
Sirius laughed in his bark like way, causing several heads to swivel in our direction. I could feel my cheeks flame up and suddenly, I was reminded on my dream. No, wait, it wasn’t a dream, it was a delusion. I had decided that in my Athrimancy lesson earlier that day when the professor had given us free time to do our homework. After spazzing out the entire time I rushed down the various corridors in hopes of making it to my lesson on time, I came to the conclusion that I hadn’t had that twisted dream where I snogged Sirius Black senseless before Sirius magically morphed into Remus Lupin. I shuddered as I remembered that - in the dream, not in real life - that I had actually enjoyed kissing not only Remus, but Sirius as well.
Sirius was speaking, but I couldn’t make out the words. I was just staring at his lips, reveling in the fact that they actually did look as smooth and inviting as I had imagined them in my dream - uh, I mean delusion. In my delusion.
“You have really nice lips,” I blurted before I could help myself.
Sirius stopped mid-sentence and stared at me in curiosity, his eyes dancing dangerously. “I what?”
“I, er,” I could feel my face going beet red and I pulled at my collar, as my neck as flaming as well. How could I be so bloody stupid? I wish the floor would open up and swallow me whole. That would put me out of this stupid misery that was adolescence. “I said that, um, I couldn’t understand what you said?”
His gaze turned doubtful, but after a few seconds of intense staring, he more or less decided that it wasn’t worth it. The amusement in his eyes died down and he seemed to be accepting my answer. He pushed a hand through his silky locks before he cleared his throat.
“I was saying that I had looked in the book last night with Moony, but we couldn’t find anything. So maybe, you and I could meet in the library after dinner tomorrow night to search for some potions.”
Slightly confused, I asked, “Who’s Moony?”
“Remus,” he supplied, giving a joking roll of his dazzling eyes.
Oh! So that’s why he was in the library last night! He had been searching for the same sort of book that I was. We had both been in the potions section of the library. I breathed a mental sigh of relief; so he hadn’t been stalking me. It hadn’t occurred to me that our meeting last night could’ve been more than chance until I had returned to the common room to do homework. It was a huge relief to know that he wasn’t my own personal stalker, although it would’ve been nice if someone showed some interest in me now and again.
I snorted out loud.
“What’d I say?” Sirius questioned.
“Nothing,” I amended quickly. “I just thought of something funny.”
“All right,” he said slowly, as though he was trying to understand what was so funny. Thank Merlin he wasn’t a skilled Legimens. That would really suck, wouldn’t it? Lord, everyone would know that I was insane. “So, how about it?”
Biting my lip, and immediately regretting it, as a white hot lick of pain shot through my jaw, as well as my mouth, I pondered the possibility. Lucinda couldn’t get mad at me since it was school related. I would just have to be weary of what I said. Not that it was that hard for me to do…okay, so maybe it was. Especially around Sirius. I felt like I was lying to him just sitting here. Even though he wasn’t my friend, nor my acquaintance, by any means, I knew something that would cause potential hurt to him when he found out that I knew, or just find out in general. I mean, it was a long stretch to ever think that we would become friends, but we were Potions partners, meaning that we would elevate from a first name basis, which we still hadn’t achieved on my part, as I had refused to give him my name, to something of acquaintances. Besides, I thought that all people deserved to know the truth, but look at me, hiding a huge secret from him simply to save my own hide. What sort of person was I?
“Um,” I closed my eyes very briefly before I nodded my head. “Sure.”
His grin was spectacular. “Excellent,” he exclaimed. Returning to his stool, he leaned it back on two legs and propped his feet back up on the table.
X - X - X
Fifty-five minutes later, the bell rang, signaling the end of class. There was the usual rush of students pushing themselves away from their desks and gathering up their belongings. The noise level, which had been at a manageable level throughout the lesson, increased by a tenfold the second the bell rang and dismissed everyone from class. I was putting my glasses back in their case and packing up all my stuff when I felt Sirius brush past me.
He seemed to notice and looked at me, smiling. He had been smiling almost the whole entire class. Why, I wasn’t sure, but it was a nice sight to behold. I tentatively smiled back as he turned around and started toward the door. Before he exited, he grabbed the doorframe, his smile widening into a arrogant, but insatiably attractive smirk, “See you around, Eleanor.”
And like a thin vapor, he vanished from sight, leaving me utterly dumbfounded.