Waha! Chapter Seven has been cooked up and is ready to be served out to you! I added some song lyrics to the end of this chapter just for something new. I was listening to this song today and it just fit wonderfully. The song is 99.9% Sure by Brian McComa. Yep it’s a country song. Yeah…I like country. I hope you enjoy it and I will see you at the bottom of the page!
Severus Snape did not look up from his book, but his eyes had stopped their rapid movement across the lines of words.
“Um…” Sirius started lamely; glad to see that Snape was keeping his eyes down. What if he looked up and recognized him? What would he say? What could he say that would possibly explain what he was doing? Just for safe measures he gathered some of the strands of his greasy hair and flung it in front of his eyes, hopefully hiding most of his face from view. This was such an odd experience. Sirius usually felt nothing but the purest confidence when around Snape. He was everything Snape was not. He was good looking, well liked, fawned upon, and so on…but now what was he? Zero confidence, that was for sure.
“What are you reading?” Sirius finally decided on, unable to think of another way to spur conversation. Sirius’ heart hammered as Snape looked up and stared right at him. Sirius was so nervous that his right leg began to jiggle. Snape’s black eyes stared right into his but there was no spark of recognition there. The normal amount of hostility that also seemed usually housed in his eyes was also missing.
“What do you want?” Snape asked, looking a bit annoyed. Sirius saw him eyeing the Gryffindor lion on his robes. When Sirius didn’t answer, Snape posed another question. “Who are you?”
Sirius gulped as he darted into his mind searching desperately for a name.
“Jim,” he managed to speak a second later. Jim? Where had that come from? “Who are you?” he asked next just for good measure.
“Severus,” Snape replied curtly. Sirius had never called Snape by his first name…since…probably ever. He had almost forgotten that Snape did indeed have one.
“I don’t think I’ve really seen you around…well ever,” Severus replied, scanning Sirius up and down. Sirius jumped and pulled more hair over his face.
“Well you know,” Sirius answered, thinking rapidly for words, and saying the first thing that came to his mind. “I’m good at being invisible.” He hadn’t meant the comment in any specific way, but for some reason Snape’s eyes softened.
“I understand,” he said, shutting the book, with a grimace on his face.
He understood??! What?! Sirius didn’t even understand himself what he was trying to say.
“Oh?” Sirius managed to sputter.
“Well sure,” Snape continued. “When you’re invisible, you’re safe. I used to strive to be invisible but…certain people…seem bent on bringing me to sight through ridicule.”
Sirius bit at his bottom lip. Snape meant him. He hadn’t fully grasped what Snape was saying, but at that moment a startled look crossed Snape’s face. He looked a bit horrified about what he had just said.
“I have to go,” he said hurriedly, jumping to his feet. “I’ve got things to do.” Sirius wanted desperately to let him leave and end all the awkwardness that was this conversation, but what about the three things Ava had asked him to discover?
Make them up. He would make them up! If he was good at anything, it was lying. He didn’t want to stay around Snape any longer, making him feel all guilty. It wasn’t as if the situation was so one sided. Snape insulted him all the time and would gladly curse Sirius into oblivion if he had the chance. He would simply make up a few facts and present them to Ava, and then finally be released from this disguise.
As uncomfortable as he was with his new look, he felt something else too…a flicker of feeling coming from a place he couldn’t exactly place his finger upon. What was that?
When you’re invisible you’re safe…
Sirius’ thoughts were broken as Snape bid him the shortest goodbye in the history of the world and began to walk away. Sirius, happy with his new plan, walked after him to head back to the meeting room to find Ava.
As Snape headed out the door of the library, he turned and made sure that it stayed open for Sirius…or well Jim.
Sirius murmured a thanks and was about to dart away towards the bathroom, when he heard a voice that made his heart drop into his feet; a voice that normally brought him happiness and confidence. He and Snape had halted at the sound and they both turned to find James and Peter coming down the hall. Sirius’ brain was screaming at him to run away but his feet refused to comply.
“Look at this Wormtail,” James cackled. “Snapey here has a new greasy friend.” Ouch. Okay. It wasn’t as if he had never been insulted by James before. But this was different. James normally was joking when he did it. Now, there was something malicious behind the words. Something that truly was out to hurt him.
Sirius kept his mouth shut in fear that James would recognize his voice. He wouldn’t have known what to say anyway. Instead he concentrated on keeping his gaze to the ground and hair in front of his eyes.
“Leave us alone.” Sirius couldn’t help looking up at this comment. Snape had just defended him…well them. Of course, he didn’t know it was actually Sirius under all that greasy hair, but he was doing something nice. James and Peter laughed.
“What is he? Your boyfriend?”
What was James doing? He had done nothing wrong. He had done nothing to spur any sort of conflict. He was just walking down the hall. James whistled.
“Look at all the pimples on his face! That’s not a pretty sight.” Sirius scrunched up his face as his brain roared with conflict. This was his best friend! His best friend in the whole world! What was he to do?
This time he obeyed his brain and sprinted off down the hall, his arm covering his face from view.
Sirius burst back into the Ancient Ruins classroom, staggered to a desk, and fell into it. He put his head into his hands. He hadn’t cried in so long but he could feel them welling up. His eyes were starting to tingle and he could feel a sort of dull wound in his chest.
He jumped when he heard his name being said. Ava was looking at him, concern etched across her face. Concerned!?!? Oh, now she was concerned. How about before, when she came up with this little plan? This scheme to humiliate him beyond even his imagination. It made him cringe just thinking about what had occurred.
“Are you alright?” she asked, looking a bit frightened. “Are you hurt?”
“How could you do this to me?” he croaked, avoiding her eyes. His hurt was boiling into anger. And he was going to take that anger out on her.
“A good shower will return your appearance to normal,” Ava responded. “Don’t worry about that.”
“You think that’s what I’m worried about!?” Sirius found himself on his feet yelling. “No! I’m talking about the way you humiliated me! The way you hurt me! You’re supposed to be helping me! Not making me feel like…this!” He paused, looking at her terrified face.
He headed for the door, continuing his rant. “You have no right to cook up these painful experiments and make me be your guinea pig! I’m done! I’m done with this whole you helping me thing! And most of all, I’m done with YOU!” He stormed out the door, quivering.
A flicker of feeling was there, deep inside his chest. What was that? Sirius told the feeling to shut up as he closed the door with a resounding slam.
“Well, I think I’m official back to being free on Thursday nights,” Ava whispered glumly to Tom in Transfiguration class the next day. She looked over at Sirius’ desk. He was slumped in his seat looking as though the very life had been sucked out of him. His arms were folded and his mouth was set in neither a frown nor a smile. A firm, straight line was all.
“Why?” Tom mouthed silently to her, because McGonagall was giving them sharp glares from the front of the classroom. Ava smiled at the professor and when she wasn’t looking scribbled the gist of the story onto Tom’s parchment.
Tom looked angry at first, considering that she screwed up the neat order of his notes, but when he read the words, his eyes grew wide.
“He yelled at you?” he wrote back hastily.
“Stormed out, and I don’t think he’s coming back,” she responded, her quill darting along the page.
“Come to Hogsmeade with me tonight?” Tom asked verbally.
“Yes please,” Ava whispered, and ducked her head as McGonagall came over to reprimand them.
“This is nice,” Ava said later that night as she and Tom got a table at the Three Broomsticks. “It feels like we haven’t hung out in ages.” The Three Broomsticks was not as crowded as it normally was, but there were still a fair amount of people there. The fall was being particularly cold this year so the students were already bundled in thick winter coats as well as gear to project their heads and hands.
“I’m pretty sure we hang out everyday,” Tom laughed, unwinding the scarf from around his neck and draping it over the back of his chair with his coat.
“I know,” Ava grinned, removing her earmuffs. “But ever since I started helping…him out I feel like we’ve lost time.”
Tom shrugged and said that it was quite alright so the pair launched into a lengthy conversation, covering everything that the other might have missed. Tom ordered them coffee as their talked evolved. Tom talked about Chris and the fact that he was making progress, at least getting to know him better. And the fact that his parents were still trying to set him up with anything female they possibly could. They discussed the fact that Tom was going to try to grow out a bit of his facial hair, causing Ava to spit up some of her coffee.
Ava launched into new letters she received for the column and a more detailed version of what had occurred with Sirius the other night; begging for any enlightenment as to what she could have done wrong.
“Let’s see,” Tom reasoned gently. “You did make him look completely ridiculous and sent him off to talk to a person that he hates…hmm what did you do wrong?”
Ava smacked him lightly from across the table, accidentally knocking over his cup of coffee along the way. Tom jumped up from the table as the dangerously hot liquid inched towards his edge of the table.
“Nice, real nice,” he said, shaking his head at her in fake disappointment. “First you spit coffee at me, then you spill mine all over. Guess we know who’s buying tonight don’t we?” A waitress scowled at them as she brought over a damp rug and mopped up the brown liquid that was starting to spill over the edge of the table. Once the flood had been stopped, they retook their seats across from one another.
“You know something?” Tom said, fiddling with his napkin and casting his gaze down to the slightly wet table surface.
“What?” Ava asked, offering her half full cup of coffee to Tom.
“I thought you liked him. You know liked him more than…whatever you guys were.”
“Thought I liked who?”
“What?!” If Ava had not just pushed her cup of coffee to Tom, she certainly would have spilled that one too. Tom, her best friend in the world, thought she liked Sirius Black. Jeez! Did he not know her at all? The guy did nothing but cause her problems. And then he had the nerve to ask her for help and then yell at her when she tried to grant his wish? He was annoying and he made her crazy! Siriusssss. Crap! She had to stop saying it like that.
“You really seemed to be enjoying what time you guys spent together,” Tom argued carefully. “And when he had a success you were really happy.”
“I was just plain old happy that the git took my advice,” Ava retorted.
“You were gleeful,” Tom shot back. “And as your best friend I’m just telling you that I saw some sort of spark between you two.”
“You know something Tom?” Ava remarked calmly. “I’ve always thought of you as level headed and always on the ball, but now it’s really clear that you are flat out of your mind.”
“Methinks thou dost protest too much,” Tom joked, winking one of his green eyes at her.
“Shut up, this conversation is over. Can we go?”
Ava put some money, along with a hefty tip for the waitress who had cleaned her spill.
She put her coat back on and adjusted her ear muffs on her head straight.
“Ready?” Tom asked her brightly. She gave him a small glare as he offered her his arm. She folded her arms at him and put her nose in the air.
A spark between her and Sirius Black? Had he forgotten the fact that he just screamed his head off at her the previous night and that he told her that they were done with their little sessions? She probably was never going to speak to him again.
Tom gave her his puppy dog face until she groaned in defeat and took his arm.
When they were outside Ava looked up at the clear night sky. Even with the lights from the village she could see the bright dots of stars forming their patterns and shimmering lights. She took a deep breath and watched as she exhaled as her breath floated away in the cold air. She was about to comment to Tom but noticed that his attention was focused to their left, a ways down the street. There was a rather large group of students gathered there in a circular shape.
“Let’s go check it out,” Tom suggested excitedly, pulling Ava forwards. Ava wanted to protest, she was feeling rather tired anyway. But she allowed Tom to drag her in the direction of the throng of students.
When they reached the outside of the circle, since Ava was tall, she was able to make out the two people standing in the middle, who were shouting violent insults at each other.
James Potter and Severus Snape. Shocking. Couldn’t they just leave each other alone? Unable to push her way any closer to the pair, she simply listened as the insults and the taunting just came pouring out. The circled each other, neither had a wand out…yet. What was the point of this?
James was quick and his insults were smart and biting. Snape’s insults were not exactly up to par and he sometimes stumbled over the words, getting a roaring laugh from most of the crowd.
And then another voice joined the scene; a voice that caused Ava’s heart to leap in surprise. She tried pushing through the crowd again, this time using a bit more force. She broke away from Tom’s arm as she wedged her way through people muttering unheard apologies until there was only one ring of people in front of her.
“Hey Padfoot!” James said happily, putting a chummy arm around his friend. “You’re just in time for the fun. Snivellus wants to duel me, but I’m sure he could dig up a slimy friend for you to take on. Where’s that guy he was with last night? He was a Gryffindor mate! Can you believe that?”
Ava watched Sirius stiffen at the mention of last night.
“What’s with you?” James asked Sirius next. “You’ve been acting weird.”
“Stop this,” Sirius responded numbly. “Let’s just go.” James laughed off the comment but Sirius put a griping hand on his shoulder.
“I’m not kidding, Prongs,” Sirius continued, a good amount of determination in his voice. “I’m not going to do this anymore, and neither should you. We’re good people and we certainly can find better things to do with our time.”
“Who are you and what have you done with my best friend?” James demanded, still hoping it was some sort of joke.
A lump had grown in Ava’s throat as soon as Sirius had begun to speak. What was he doing exactly? She was so confused. Had he had some kind of profound experience? Then why had he come back hollering at her last night?
The next thing she knew Sirius was telling the crowd to leave.
“Show’s over,” he called once or twice before people actually got the message and started to disperse. It was hard to say who looked more dumbfounded, James or Snape.
Once the crowd thinned enough, Ava managed to get back over to Tom still looking over her shoulder. Sirius and James had moved away from Snape and other Slytherins that had gathered for the “show” and were in deep conversation.
“Were you responsible for that?” Tom asked instantly, his eyes wide. “I think you just might have been.”
“We don’t know that,” Ava answered sharply, her cheeks reddened with cold. “I don’t even know what happened to him. He didn’t want to talk about it, and he seemed pretty mad. Oh Merlin save me, he’s coming over! Maybe I can lose him if I run.”
She turned to go, but Tom caught her arm and held her firmly in place.
“I need to talk to you,” Sirius said, as Ava turned back to face him. His face was also red from the cold. “Alone.” When he added the last part Tom unhooked his arm from Ava’s and quickly walked away.
Ava grabbed at one of her curls in agitation. There was no way out of this. Was he going to yell at her some more? They walked for a bit before anyone started to talk. Ava fiddled with her mittens in the awkward silence, but it had been his request to talk to her.
They reached the end of a road where there was a bench and a few large trees. Sirius sat first and Ava sank to the seat next to him.
“Look, I’m sorry,” he started right away, hunching over slightly. “I shouldn’t have snapped at you the way I did last night, but I was going through something really strange last night.”
“I’m sorry I hurt you,” Ava tried to jump in, but Sirius motioned at her to stop.
“I can’t believe…that’s…what I do to people…bully them.” he said wistfully, choking on most of the words. “And my best friend…my best friend in the entire world. I would die for him…and…he…couldn’t even recognize me last night.”
“Maybe he was only seeing what he wanted to see,” Ava responded, “Very few people take the time to see past the external into what is on the inside. The fact that you were with Snape, was enough for him to assume everything about you. I’m sorry Sirius, I didn’t mean for James to see you last night. I just wanted you to be able to see to the inside of someone you wouldn’t take time for otherwise. And I’m not saying that Snape is totally innocent or anything, he judges people too, but maybe if you gave him a chance he would give you one…”
She trailed off here after speaking all of this rather quickly.
“I’m sorry,” she repeated. “Maybe this whole thing was a bad idea.”
“You know after last night, I would have agreed with you,” Sirius admitted, now leaning back and staring up at the tree branches overhanging the bench. “I was so convinced that what I was feeling was pain, just the hurt of the realization of reality. But there was some other feeling that was there too. It wasn’t very strong but it was there. It took me all day to figure out what it was, but I think I’ve got it now.” Ava was staring at Sirius in fascination and listening to what he said so intently.
“Well?” she prompted.
“It was…” Sirius answered, turning to look at her right in the eye. “For the first time in my life…I felt…I felt…a wonderful sense of, freedom. For once I wasn’t worried about what others thought of me! It was as if I was wearing a mask that protected me from everyone else. I could do anything and not have to worry about my reputation or if someone was watching. I could be ME without consequence!”
He was very excited, in fact he was beaming. When he had spoken these words he had been darting around near the bench, waving his hands in his enthusiasm.
“Don’t you see Sirius?” Ava called to him. “That’s what it is supposed to feel like all the time. You’re not supposed to market yourself to the rest of the world and change to fit their desires! You are supposed to be you and wait until you find people that desire you for you and don’t want you to be anything less that what you are.”
Sirius laughed happily and pulled Ava to her feet and gathered her into a tight hug. He held her tight around the shoulders, but felt no response from her arms touching him. He quickly let go and Ava wouldn’t meet his eye right away.
Sirius muttered an apology and shoved his hands into his pockets. Ava felt a bit guilty. Why didn’t she just hug him back? He had looked a bit disappointed. Don’t be silly. Why would Sirius Black care if she hugged him or not?
“But how are things with you and James?” she said quickly.
“I don’t think he gets it yet, but I think we’re okay. I’ve still got some explaining to do,” he replied, smiling at her. “Do you think we could get together next Thursday?”
“I think I can make that,” Ava smiled back.
She heard Tom’s voice in her head. Shut up Tom. There was no spark.
“I don’t know!” Ava grinned. “You can’t plan something spontaneous. That’s not fair. The thing about living in today’s world, is that it teaches us to ignore our initial instincts. They tell us to wait and think about what we say and do before doing it. Analyze our actions before we present them to the world. Everybody probably will always do this to some degree, but doing some spontaneous things can help us better to hold onto those instincts and remind us what its like to follow them.”
It was Thursday night and Sirius once again found himself in the old Ancient Ruins classroom with Ava Carmile. And he was feeling quite good about it.
Tonight he and Ava were talking about spontaneity, and how initial reactions and thoughts can be ways to reveal deep things inside.
“But you won’t get mad at what I do?” Sirius found himself asking, suddenly becoming fascinated with the table surface. Why did he just ask that?
“You know why,” his brain answered back.
“I guess not,” Ava answered. “Just don’t kill anybody or something like that.” She expected that Sirius would laugh or at least smile at the joke, but nothing. “Just do it for you, whatever it is.”
Ava was about to turn away from Sirius but the next thing he knew he had leaned forward and kissed her.
You don't know what you do to me
You changed around the scenery
And now everything is new to me
But it looks just right,yeah it looks just right
Whoa, it's strange but it's beautiful
Yeah, and I know where I am
Oh, I've never been here before
I've never been loved like this
Never been tumblin',stumblin' over the words that get tangled inside of me
I've never been moved this way
Nobody's ever made me say
Ninety-nine point nine percent sure I've never been here before.*******
I know what you’re thinking. Oh snap, she did it again! What is it with this girl and the cliffhangers? Grrrrr. Well don’t decapitate me for then I would not be able to write another chapter! You guys continue to rock my socks off and if you’re reading this I thank you!!!! As always, feedback of any sorts, (as long as its nice…negative is fine as long as you do it nicely) is greatly appreciated.