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What It Is To Burn by SnitchSnatcher
Chapter 23 : Rock Lobster
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 48


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My lips burned as I watched Remus walk away. He told me that he needed to meet James in one of the passageways so they could start getting things together for the party before the Feast. He had given me a quick kiss on the cheek before we parted, which had made me to flush a brilliant shade of red. When he was halfway down the corridor, he came jogging back to me and we kissed for a good five minutes, leaving me in my current state of lightheadedness and breathlessness.

As I walked up the staircase toward Gryffindor Tower, however, the lightheadedness slowly started to dissipate. For some strange reason, my stomach started to feel heavy like a lead cannon had been dropped inside. Not only did it feel like I had ate too much Christmas ham and I was about to keel over from all the extra weight, but the acid within my stomach began to churn uncomfortably.

However, it wasn’t the oddness of my stomach’s behavior that was annoying me. What irked me the most about the entire situation is why I couldn’t figure out for the life of me why I would be feeling this way. I hadn’t eaten anything that would’ve given me a stomachache. At lunch, I’d ordered a basket of chips at the Three Broomsticks, but that was it. Maybe I shouldn’t have drank all that butterbeer after all. I knew that it wasn’t good for my stomach, but it was just so damn good!

Shouldn’t I be feeling happy for myself? Shouldn’t I be gliding down the halls, spinning around in circles, and breaking out into song on the spot? I mean, that’s how it worked in the fairytales. . . right?

Whenever I was little girl, and I would go over to my Muggle babysitter’s house, she’d always take me to the cinema so I could watch a film. It was wondrous, and all the princesses seemed to live such wonderful lives. They were always dancing around with their little furry animal friends, randomly breaking out into song about. . .well, anything, to be honest with you. Most of the time, their songs were about the wonders of love, although at the moment, I’m not so sure those feelings were all that wonderful, not if I was going to feel as though I would vomit at any given moment after every single kiss.

But I knew that generally wasn’t the way one was supposed to feel about a snog.

So why in the name of Houdini was I feeling this way? Like someone had just socked me in the stomach while wearing brass knuckles, leaving me utterly breathless, but not in a good way? I could feel angry tears pooling in my eyes, and I tried to push them away. But the harder I pushed, the more insistent they were upon staying.

Gah, I hated being emotional! I hated emotions! What was the use of them when you couldn’t even figure out why you were experiencing them? I felt as though the answer was right underneath my nose, as though it were right on the tip of my bloody tongue, but I just couldn’t grasp it. The solution was out of my reach. That in itself was more maddening than anything else at the moment.

“Why are you crying, miss?” the Fat Lady asked once I reached her.

I glared up at her. “I’m not crying,” I murmured defensively.

“Then why are your cheeks wet?” she shot back, lifting her nose at me. “Honestly, the impertinence of today’s youth. Back in my day. . .”

While the Fat Lady rambled, I quickly dragged the sleeves of my shirt across my cheeks, wiping away any and all signs of tears that may have been spilt. My stomach clenched in anger and I unknowingly stomped my foot on the ground in my irritation.

“What do you want?” the Fat Lady questioned snappishly.

“Entrance, that’s what,” I replied testily, suddenly in a foul mood.

“Password?”

“Schnicklefritz,” I supplied.

The Fat Lady rolled her eyes, sighing heavily. “Oh, all right. I suppose I could let you in, since you did provide the appropriate password. . .” She swung open and I scurried into the common room, which was packed to the brim with anxious people, all wearing various expressions of excitement. I suppose it had something to do with the impending party.

Almost as soon as my feet touched the carpet, a hand clamped down around my wrist and I was being dragged toward the staircase.

“What the bloody hell?!”

Once I saw that it was Lily who was doing the dragging, I immediately clamped my mouth shut tightly and didn’t fight against her tug. I simply marched behind her like a diligent little soldier. We traipsed up the stairs in a hurry, although I didn’t see what all the rush was about; we still had another hour until the Feast started and after that, the Halloween party didn’t start until nine o’clock.

Lily all but kicked down the door and when I stepped into the dorm, it was oddly empty. She shut the door behind me and whirled around, her complexion whiter than bone and her emerald eyes wide.

“Lily, what’s wrong?” I exclaimed, worried.

“I don’t know how to tell him,” she said hurriedly. “I tried to talk to him earlier today, but I couldn’t do it; I’ve been trying to talk to him about it for weeks on end, but I always chicken out a moment too soon. I couldn’t muster the courage and now I feel like an idiot. Maybe I’ll just get trashed tonight and hope that something good happens, yeah? That’s always the way to go.”

“Lily. . .?”

She nodded to herself, bringing her hand up to her mouth, gnawing on her thumbnail. “Right, I’ll just get drunk as humanly possible without getting alcohol poisoning, and just hope for the best! That surely is a fool proof plan.”

“Lils?”

“But what if he reacts badly? Then what I am going to do?” She pushed her hands into her hair, which made her look a little more than slightly possessed. Maybe it was a good thing she was planning on dressing up as the Devil for Halloween. “Oh Merlin, I couldn’t even imagine how embarrassing that would be. Being rejected by him of all people?”

“LILY!” I shouted.

“What?” she snapped waspishly, her emerald eyes narrowing as her brow came together in a hard line.

“You’re rambling like a lunatic!” I exclaimed.

“Rambling like a lunatic?” she parroted, a look of mild offensive crossing her pretty features. “I’m not rambling about anything. I have no idea what you’re talking about, Eleanor.” She crossed her arms over her chest.

All I could do was stare at her in surprise. “Uh, Lily, you’re kind of freaking me out.”

Suddenly, she scoffed and shook her head. “Of course that doesn’t mean I fancy him! Where on Earth did you get such a preposterous idea?”

Oh Circe, this was bad. She was going crazy. Here I thought I was going to be the first one to loose my grip on reality and end up in St. Mungo’s loony bin, but apparently, I was wrong. It seemed as though it was going to be Lily in the ward, all by her lonesome self on Christmas morning, handing out dead daisies to the Healers who came to administer her medication.

I couldn’t let that happen to Lily!

Grabbing her by the shoulders, I gave her a firm shake. Her emerald eyes found mine at once. “No, Lily, you really are ranting and raving about things I’m not even sure I want to know about, to be quite honest with you. And the only reason why I’m taking interest is because, well, let’s face it, you’re the best friend I’ve got and I’m really worried about you. So,” I took a deep breath, my lungs feeling utterly exhausted. I wondered how she had ranted for so long without fainting. “Mind telling me what the hell you were talking about?”

Her round green eyes gazed into mine and, for some strange reason that I couldn’t explain, they glazed over with tears. Tears? Just moments ago, I thought she was going to throttle me for suggesting that she was going insane, and now, she was about to cry?! What the hell?!

She blinked once, almost owlishly, and whispered, “I’m really your best friend?”

Releasing a heavy sigh, I nodded. “Yes, you are, Lily, but that’s beside the point. The point of the matter is that we need to get to the bottom of-,”

She lunged at me, then, wrapping me up in a warm, friendly hug that threatened to squeeze all life out of my body. It hurt, to say the very least, and I wondered where she had gotten the strength to hug so tightly. I returned the hug halfheartedly, patting her somewhat awkwardly on the shoulder. I found myself completely unsure of what had just conspired and if I really wanted to know the truth behind her odd psychotic freak out.

Lily pulled back from the hug, a grin on her face. “Thanks, Eleanor. I really needed that. You’ve helped me so much just now!”

I licked my lips once before saying as slowly as possible to make sure she didn’t miss a single syllable I spoke, “What the hell are you talking about?”

She laughed, tossing her curtain of red hair over her shoulder in her casually elegant way. Damn her and having long flowing hair. I absentmindedly brushed my hand over my own shoulder where my own hair used to lie. Before Lucinda the Terrible stuck gum in it and I had to get it all whacked off.

“Lily, are you sure you’re all right?”

“Don’t worry about me, Eleanor dear,” she said, patting my cheek in a very maternal fashion. “I’ve got everything sorted out now, thanks to you. So, how about we make our way downstairs for some dinner and while we walk, you can tell me all about your date with Remus. Okay?”

I grabbed an old jumper off the foot of my bed and pulled it over my head, nodding once my head had poked through the hole at the top of the jumper. “Sure, I guess that’ll work.”

She grinned at me again and we started down the stairs, and I wondered if it was smart to walk down a windy flight of stairs with someone who may or may not be off their rocker.

X - - X

Dinner went exactly how I thought it would. Remus sat beside me, glancing at me out of the corner of his eye and smiling widely. I had tried my hardest to smile as brightly as I could in return, but for some reason, the left side of my mouth wasn’t cooperating, so it probably looked as though I was having a severe stroke, or something of the sort. Luckily, he didn’t seem to notice and we all tucked into our meals, exchanging a few loud laughs every now and then.

However, I wasn’t the only one acting out of character. Just as I thought, Lily was stiff in her seat, her arms pressed tightly against her side, as though she were trying to shy as far away as possible from James, who was shoveling food into his mouth at an impressive rate. When I had asked where the fire was, he informed me that the party wasn’t completely set up yet, and that he and Sirius were heading up to the common room while Remus finished getting the rest of the supplies from wherever it was they got their supply; he failed to mention that bit of information to me.

Speaking of Sirius, I had the hardest time not looking at him all throughout dinner. He seemed to be acting normally, what with the mega watt smile on his face and loud, slightly obnoxious laughter spreading through the entire Great Hall like a contagious fever. They were just small glances, the looks I was sending Sirius. In fact, they were much like the ones that Remus had been shooting my way all through dinner, eyelashes heavy and eyes discreet.

I’d thought I was being discreet, but when Sirius made eye contact with me, I’d dropped my spoon onto my lap, beef stew drenching my legs and scalding the skin of my thighs. I’d leapt up from the table, my actions mirrored by Lily and Alice.

“Are you all right?” Alice had squeaked nervously, practically scrambling over the top of the table to come to my aid. It was sweet of her, really, it was, but if I had been in extreme pain, I would’ve been crying my eyes out. I hardly had any tolerance for pain.

They asked me this question several times, their voices growing more frantic by each moment. I reassured them that I wasn’t severely injured, but Lily insisted that we go up to the dorm to make sure it hadn’t left any damage as well as change into our costumes. Unfortunately, I had missed Dumbledore’s Halloween speech, which was something I always looked forward to each and every year; that man’s a genius, I tell you. Pure and intangible genius.

I sighed at my reflection, fussing with my hair once more. At the moment, I was standing in front of the bathroom mirror, wondering if my costume was an ingenious idea or one of the stupidest things I had ever conceived in my overactive mind. After all, the yellow tape looked quite ridiculous when it was draped over the human form. I, of course, was no exception to this rule, but this was what I had to deal with. I mean, it was my stupid idea.

“Merlin, Eleanor,” I grumbled to my reflection in a low voice. “You surely know how to pick them.”

I halfheartedly played with my hair, knowing that it wasn’t going to get any better or worse than it was now. Unless, of course, Lucinda was downstairs and dressed in the sluttiest outfit she could manage, which was a distinct possibility, given the person we were talking about. And by we, of course I mean the voices in my head and I.

My conscience and I were very well acquainted, but you already know that. For some reason, the Voice wasn’t present, which was a bit creepy and unsettling at the same time. I mean, who would get me out of trouble when I was up to my neck in utter shite?

I sighed for what seemed like the umpteenth time. The question wasn’t whether or not I had enough guts to walk down the stairs and into the common room, but if it was entirely necessary for me to go in the first place. Perhaps for one night, my invisibility would be to my advantage.


But you’re not invisible anymore, dearest Ella.


Ahh, Voice. I was wondering when you were going to show up. Somehow, it seemed that the Voice had impeccable timing, but that might’ve been because it was all in my head and I made up the Voice in the first place on a subconscious level as a way to comfort myself in awkward or unsettling situations, including but not limited to ones like today when I was snogging Remus or when I was sitting within close proximity to Sirius and started having not-so-friendly thoughts.

The Voice was right. In a matter of three and a half weeks, I had managed to not only make a few new friends, but I had started to shed the figurative Cloak of Invisibility, which is really symbolic to my insecurity and uncertainty, as well. So it really didn’t matter if I didn’t want to go because people would be expecting me to show up.


Especially Remus.
Yes, that was the part that frightened me the most. My stomach did a flip at the thought, but I wasn’t entirely positive if it was a good flip. Yeah, Remus was going to be there, probably looking dashing in whatever costume he adorned, but Sirius would be present as well. And we all know what happened when I was around both Remus and Sirius. Need I remind you of the Quidditch match?

. . .

Yeah, I didn’t think I did.

A knock on the door scared me out of my wits. “Eleanor,” called Alice’s voice from the other side of the wooden barrier. “Are you almost done in there? It’s nearly nine o’clock and we need to start heading downstairs.”

“Y-yeah,” I stuttered, swallowing the lump that had formed in my throat before casting one last look in the mirror. I looked like a complete and total idiot, but it had been my choice to dress up like this, so I had come to terms with moments ago, I would have to live with it. “Just give me a minute to make a few last touches, all right?”

More like a few moments not to vomit all over my shoes.

“All right,” Alice said. “But do try to hurry up!”

I rolled my eyes to myself and knowing that Alice wouldn’t stop wrapping her knuckles against the door until I came out, opened the door and stepped into the room, where I was greeted by all four of my roommates who were dressed in their costumes.

“Oh Merlin, I look ridiculous,” I moaned, backing into the bathroom. I tried to shut the door, but Alice wedged her foot in between the frame and the door, and grabbed my wrist.

“Not so fast, miss,” she said, giving my arm a sharp tug. “Get out here right now and let us have a look at you.”

An odd sort of petrified noise escaped me before I could stop it as Alice dragged me back into the room. I felt awkward as I stood before them, as though I was on trial for a crime. Which was what this outfit should be, a crime. Merlin, I was so stupid.

Lily was the first to speak. “Erm, Ella?” she asked cautiously, her expression apprehensively. “Why are you all wrapped up in yellow caution tape?”

“It’s part of my costume,” I murmured, my cheeks burning as I lowered my gaze to my feet.

“Part of your costume?” Leanne repeated dubiously. “And just what the bleeding hell are you supposed to be?” Beside her, Marlene snickered into the fluffy sleeve of her princess gown.

“Oh,” Alice exclaimed suddenly, scaring the hell out of all three of us. “I get it!”

“You do?” Lily and I asked at the same time. We glanced at each other and smiled.

“It’s so obvious, isn’t it?” Alice continued as though we hadn’t interrupted her, flipping her curtain of blonde hair over her shoulder. “You’re a disaster, aren’t you?”

My shoulders sagged as my hopes of someone actually knowing my costume quickly fled. I sighed once again, and turned toward the door. “Let’s just go to the party, okay?”

X - - X

We had been at the party for the better part of a half hour and there was still no sign of Remus. I chewed the inside of my cheek nervously as I took another gander around the room. Everyone else was milling about, chattering happily and laughing heartily as the radio played in the corner. The song that was filtering through the speakers was completely foreign to me, but I bobbed my head along to the beat all the same. It was a distraction at best, and that’s what I needed at the moment.

When we had first descended the staircase, we had been greeted by all four of the Marauders, all of which were dressed as various knights of King Arthur’s Round Table. They all looked as equally ridiculous as the next, so of course Marlene couldn’t resist snapping a photograph of the quartet in front of the fireplace, their fists raised and mouths opened in a shout.

It had been good fun. . .until Peter made an inquiry about my costume. Suddenly, the entire room’s attention (which was a grand total of seven people) shifted toward me and they gawked at me. I shifted uncomfortably in my spot and mumbled what my costume was supposed to be under my breath. Sirius was the only one who caught on, and laughed heartily.

“That’s mighty clever,” he had said, still laughing. “A walking accident. How very fitting.”

Then he had ruffled my hair and gave me a short bop on the head before squeezing through the gathering crowd to go off on Marauder’s business. We all knew he was waiting at the portrait hole for his bloody, cheating girlfriend. Although, I was almost entirely certain that I was the only one who knew about that last little bit.

I rolled my eyes after him and turned my attention back toward everyone else. They were all smiling at me, and James spoke first, “Merlin, you look ridiculous.”

I scoffed, offended. “Well, thanks James,” I’d replied sarcastically.

“I didn’t mean it like that,” he’d said quickly. “What I meant is that it’s so ridiculous, it’s ingenious. I mean, honestly, you have to be pretty damn clever to wrap yourself up in caution tape and say that you’re a walking accident.”

I’d raised my eyebrows at him skeptically. “You’re not mocking me, are you?”

“Of course not,” he’d returned smoothly, smiling genuinely at me. “Why would I mock you? You’re a friend. I don’t mock my mates unless it’s Sirius, Peter, or Remus. Speaking of Remus, we still need to get the rest of the stuff from the passageway. So, if you’ll excuse us. . .”

Placing his hand on my shoulder, he’d gently stepped around me and crossed the room to Remus, who was standing in front of a table with Lily, chatting amiably. When James had approached the pair and began to address Remus, I noticed that Lily had turned her back on the two boys and hurried over to where Alice was talking with some younger students, most likely about how wonderful her Frank was.

Then, it clicked. Oh Mother of Merlin and Circe above, Lily fancied James! That’s what her psychotic rant was about up in our dormitory. She wasn’t losing her marbles, she just couldn’t cope with her feelings for James because then, she would be going against everything she had ever said to him in the six and a half years they had known each other!

I leaned against the armchair that was strategically placed behind me and sighed softly. Well, I never thought I’d see the day when Lily actually admitted to herself that she had something for James. Everyone had always known she did, but she refused to admit it to herself. I began to wonder what had triggered this sudden realization when I felt someone come to stand beside me.

“What’re you thinking about?” Sirius asked somberly.

I didn’t answer the question, rather asked one of my own. I absentmindedly placed my hand on his arm and asked, “What’s wrong?”

We both glanced down at my hand at the same moment, but instead of removing it, I kept it there and met his gaze. I repeated my question more adamantly. Sirius sighed.

“Lucy’s not here yet,” he answered. “And she promised that she would come this time around.”

“This time around?”

“Yeah,” he moved his arm to fold over his chest and my hand fell back to my side. “She didn’t come to last year’s party because she had ‘too much homework’ or something of the sort to do.”

I stared at the fire, unable to meet his eyes. I knew that she wasn’t studying, that she was most likely holed up in a broom closet with Amos Diggory and sucking the poor bloke’s face off with her perfect plump lips.

He shook his head to himself and sighed once more. “I’m just sick of it, you know? I know that her studies are very important to her and all, but you’d think that she could make some time for me. I try to make time for her, but she can’t return the favor? I mean, can’t she just put the books aside for once to spend some quality time together?”

I didn’t say anything, but I nodded my head. I knew that I should’ve told him right then and there what was going on, the piece of knowledge I had known since before we started becoming friends, if that’s what one could even call us, but I didn’t. No, I remained silent, my lips pursed as I stared off into the burning fire.

“I’m sorry,” I muttered, my voice sounding pathetic.

“For what?” He chuckled without mirth. “You have no reason to be sorry. You showed up to the party, didn’t you, which is more than Lucinda can say.” He sounded bitter and I could understand why he would be. “I’m going to get something to drink,” he said suddenly. “Do you want anything?”

I considered for a moment, but shook my head. “No, I’m fine.”

“You sure? We have a full stock of Madam Rosemerta’s finest butterbeer, and James and Remus are going to get the fire whiskey,” he said, his voice highly persuasive and his smile making my knees knock together obnoxiously.

I bobbed my head. “I’m sure.”

He smiled tightly at me, his gray eyes glinting oddly before he slinked past me toward the table that was littered with all the snack foods and candies that one could imagine. I found myself staring after him wistfully, wishing that he would’ve stuck around to talk to me a little bit longer. It felt as though I hadn’t talked to Sirius in a good while, and for some reason, that upset me. But then I remembered that tomorrow night we were supposed to meet to work on our potion and I brightened as much as I could.

I scanned the room once more and felt my chest deflating as the air rushed out of my lungs. I felt as pathetic as one could possibly get, standing all by myself while all my mates were laughing and having a good time. I spotted James next to Sirius at the refreshment table. There was a group of students surrounding them and I realized that they were the members of the Gryffindor Quidditch team. I couldn’t help but smile as they all tilted their heads back in laughter at something that James had said; he was a very funny bloke when he chose to be, which was almost all the time.

Then I realized something. James and Remus had left together, so why wasn’t Remus in the common room with all the other Gryffindors just yet? Shouldn’t he have returned at the same time that James had? Unless they had gotten into trouble and Remus had been caught, but even if that was the case, I know that James wouldn’t have left his mate behind to take the heat all for himself. Besides, it’s like Alice said the night she had been cutting my hair; the Marauders had obtained permission from Dumbledore to throw this party anyway. I’m sure he had told them that fire whiskey wasn’t allowed, but that was beside the point.

I decided to wait a few more minutes before jumping to conclusions, but when I glanced down at my wrist watch and saw that it was already a little after ten thirty, I decided that I’d had enough with all this stupid waiting.

I pushed my way through the throng of students toward the refreshment table, where James and Sirius were still standing with the Quidditch team, laughing and jabbing at one another all in good humor.

“Yay,” James shouted, throwing his arm around my shoulder. “Ellie has come to join us!” His breath smelt faintly of alcohol and his eyes were a little glassy behind his spectacles, but I knew that he wasn’t drunk. Not yet, anyway.

“Indeed I have,” I said, laughing as I patted his hand. I removed his arm from my shoulder.

Sirius grabbed my elbow then and addressed the team in front of him. He, too, smelt of alcohol, although the scent was much stronger on him than James. “You all know Eleanor, right?”

All five of the students in front of me stared at me as though I had sprouted three heads. “No,” they all said slowly.

“Well,” Sirius began, his voice slightly haughty. “This is Eleanor Briggs, only the most amazing person that no one’s ever heard of.” He ruffled my hair against and I pushed his hand off my head, annoyed.

“Anyway, this is the team,” James said. “This is Caradoc Dearborn and Henry Lincoln, they’re our Beaters, and magnificent ones at that. Clara Morris and Jason Hawthorne are Chasers along with me, and this little slighter you see here is Ryan Hensworth. He’s a fast little bastard, aren’t you?”

Ryan, a thin looking boy with pale skin and wide brown eyes nodded his head, smiling widely. “That I am. Not even James here can catch me, and he’s the best flyer on the team.”

“Oy,” Sirius injected. “What about me? I’m a fair flyer myself.”

We all chose to ignore him as each of the players shook my hand, smiling at me in welcome.

Caradoc stared at me a little bit longer than necessary, although it wasn’t in the creepy sort of way. His penetrating bright green eyes were staring into my eyes, and making me feel uncomfortable. He let go of my hand and reached behind him, producing a small shot glass full of fire whiskey.

“What’s this?” I asked as he shoved the glass into the hand he had just shook.

“It looks like you could use a little pick me up,” he replied, smiling slightly as he tossed back a shot of his own. He winced and shook his head, coughing. “I’m still not used to the stuff, but it’s good.”

I stared at him skeptically. “I’m sure it is.” I sighed and looked at the amber liquid in the small glass in my hand. What else did I have to lose? Remus hadn’t shown up yet, and I doubt that he would, now that it was going on eleven at night.

I shrugged my shoulders and muttered, “Here goes nothing.” Tossing back my head, I swallowed the fire whiskey in one huge gulp, and it burned as it made its way down my throat. I gasped and licked my lips, blinking the tears out of my eyes. “Merlin, that’s horrible.”

Caradoc laughed. “Want another?”

I took the proffered glass from his hand and knocked back another shot, wincing and gasping just as I had before.

X - - X

Two and a half hours later. . .


“And then. . .and then the porter said to the pig, get the fuck out!” Caradoc gasped, tears leaking out of the corners of his eyes.

Everyone laughed and I felt my breathing becoming strained, so l leaned against Sirius for support. He latched onto my arm with his hand and pressed his cheek into the top of my head, both of our bodies shaking as we laughed together.

To put it simply, we were all airlocked.

For the last part of an hour, we had been swapping stories and telling the most ridiculous jokes, most of which were perverted and came from the Beaters of the Gryffindor Quidditch team. It was hard to determine which one was worse, Caradoc or Henry. It took a few shots of fire whiskey for Henry to loosen up and start letting loose all the terribly perverted jokes that he had, but they were funny as hell.

I reached for another shot of fire whiskey, but Sirius grabbed my hand, shaking his head. “No, you don’t need anymore.”

“Says the bloke that’s been drinking since the very beginning of the party,” I snorted, trying to push myself up to my feet, and failing miserably. I fell back onto my bum, nearly knocking heads with Sirius.

“Eleanor,” Sirius said, sighing. “We need to get you up to bed.”

“But you can’t come up the stairs,” I pointed out, literally pointing my finger at his face. “Otherwise, that alarm thingy will start blaring and we’ll all come bouncing down.”

He sent me a look of pure annoyance; he seemed to have sobered up. “Regardless, you need to stop drinking, otherwise you’ll have a massive hangover tomorrow,” he replied. “And no one likes taking a hangover potion.”

I shrugged my shoulders, my hands held out to my sides, palms up. “I wouldn’t know; I’ve never been drunk before.” I giggled.

Sirius rolled his eyes. “I couldn’t tell.”

He rose to his feet quite steadily and wrapped my arm around his shoulder, hoisting me to my feet. I felt like a mushy pile of . . .mush as he held me up, my legs impossible to gather underneath me. We started to walk toward the staircase when Lily came into view.

“Do you happen to know where James is?” she asked Sirius, her brow furrowed. She too seemed to be completely sober. Was I the only drunk person present? A loud bout of laughter told me that I wasn’t alone, and that there were much more drunk people than sober present in the common room.

“Over by the fire,” he replied, pointing toward the group gathered around the coffee table, which was slowly starting to dissipate as the party quieted down.

She nodded her head as she pushed herself to her tiptoes to make sure that Sirius was right. She must’ve spotted him because she turned her gaze back toward me and frowned. “You look. . .” she trailed off and looked at Sirius. “Are you taking her upstairs?”

“Trying to,” Sirius said. “But she doesn’t seem to want to go.”

“I can hear you, you know.”

“And that’s lovely,” said Sirius. He rolled his eyes and turned back to Lily. “Anyway, she just pointed out that I won’t be able to bring her upstairs, so I was thinking that-.”

“You could take her up to your dorm until she sobers up a bit?” Lily supplied.

Sirius nodded. “That was my intention.”

Emerald eyes found my face and I giggled, leaning against Sirius heavily as my legs trembled underneath me.

“That’s fine,” she finally said. “Just don’t. . .well, you know. But I know you better than that, and as slimy as I call you,” she smiled to herself. “I know you’re not that sort of bloke.” She offered one last glance at me before flouncing off toward the fire.

Sirius started to lead me toward the stairs, but I shook my head, my hand on his arm. “No, just wait. I wanna see what happens.”

He stared down at me, his aristocratic nose looking especially handsome as he did so. I went as far as reaching up to tap the ball of his nose, and he laughed, much to my surprise. “Nothing’s going to happened - oh Merlin above, they’re snogging.”

Sure enough, there was Lily and James in front of the fire place, snogging one another in front of all the drunken common room to see. Normally, I would’ve been slightly revolt by the sight of two people sucking that much face, but it was Lily and James, and as odd as it sounds, it was sort of adorable.

I smiled up at Sirius triumphantly. “See, I told you.”

He laughed, shaking his head to himself and draping my arm over his shoulder again; I hadn’t even realized that it had slipped. “Let’s just get you to bed all in one piece, yeah?”

Halfway up the boys’ staircase, I vomited all over my shoes, groaning as we stopped so I could catch my breath. Sirius patted my back soothingly, and after a few moments, we started back up the stairs. We reached the seventh year boys’ dorm without many problems, and he walked me over to his bed.

I sat down and slumped forward, my forehead pressed against his. “I’m sorry,” I groaned. “I didn’t mean to throw up on your shoes.”

“Oh, don’t worry,” he said, smiling at me in the dark of the room. “You didn’t get hardly any on my shoes.” He started to unwrap the yellow caution tape from around my body, laughing. “What in the name of Agrippa gave you the idea to wrap yourself in caution tape and call yourself a walking accident?”

“I was trying to impress you,” I answered, yawning as my forehead slipped from his, my head lolling back as he lifted up my left arm to get the tape off. “I mean, not really impress you, but just show you that I could be funny, too.”

Two hands gripped my face and I found myself staring into Sirius’s stormy gray eyes. “You have pretty eyes,” I giggling, smiling.

“You were trying to impress me?” he questioned, ignoring my previous remark.

“Yep,” I nodded my head deeply and almost fell forward. “Did it work?”

He laughed and sighed. “You’re mental, Ellie.” He wadded the yellow tape up into a ball, throwing it into the darkness behind him. “You don’t need to dress up as a walking accident to make me think you’re funny.” A look of slight revulsion crossed over his handsome features as he quickly untied my vomit drenched shoes and pulled them off my feet, tossing them to the floor. “I’ve always thought you were funny. Clumsy and insanely peculiar at times, but funny all the same.”

Sirius helped me into a standing position and let me lean against him, my face pressed into the crook of his neck. I inhaled and my knees started to knock together again. Merlin, did he smell delicious. If he were food, I would take a huge bite out of him.

Once he was done pulling back the blankets, he tried to stand me up as straight as possible, but my legs kept wobbling beneath me and I held onto him by his arms tightly. “I don’t want to go to sleep.”

“But you need to,” Sirius said, sitting me down on the bed. “Do you want another shirt to sleep in or will the jumper you’re wearing be okay?”

I shrugged my shoulders. “It doesn’t matter to me,” I yawned, and I laid down on the bed, stuffing the pillow underneath my head and fluffing it up. It smelt like his skin did, and I subconsciously inhaled as I felt the blankets being pulled up my legs.

“Well, good night,” Sirius said, rising to his feet. Before he could walk away, I grabbed his hand and he stopped, turning toward me. “What is it?”

“Do you know why I decided to drink?” I asked.

He shook his head. “No, I didn’t. Why did you decide to start drinking tonight?”

“Because Remus wasn’t there,” I said softly, nuzzling deeper into the comfortable bed.

“I’m sure Remus was there, Ellie,” Sirius returned. “I may not have seen him, but he was most likely talking to Alice or someone in the corner. And you were over with the Quidditch team, and Remus doesn’t really get along with them. Well, not Caradoc at least. He thinks Cary’s a little bit annoying, and I really can’t say that I blame-,”

“We snogged, you know,” I stated in a matter-of-factly voice.

“You and Caradoc?” he inquired, his eyes wide.

I snorted, squeezing his hand. “Of course not. I meant Remus and I.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, when we were coming back from the trip today. I just kissed him. Just like that.” I tried to snap, but it didn’t work, so I clapped my hands together instead.

“That’s nice,” Sirius said, his voice hollow. “Well, I’m happy for you. Remus has fancied you for a while now.”

“You don’t sound happy,” I remarked. “You sound sad. Is it because Lucinda didn’t show up?” When he didn’t respond, I added, “She’s a slag, you know.”

“Eleanor!” he exclaimed, leaping up from his seat next to me on his bed. “She’s not a slag!”

“All right, all right,” I said hurriedly, my words slurring together as my eyelids began to prickle painfully with sleep. “She may not be a slag, but she’s stupid.”

“And why is that?”

“Because she’d rather do her bloody homework than spend time with you,” I sighed, letting my eyes close and snuggling deeper into the blankets, which were a great deal softer than mine, I noted. “She’d have to be m-m-m-mental not to spend time with you,” I yawned.

“D’you like spending time with me?” Sirius asked, his hot breath dancing across my cheeks as I realized he had knelt down in front of me and his face was centimeters from mine. Even still, I didn’t open my eyes, rather basked in the scent of his breath and the way it felt on my skin.

Unfortunately for Sirius, he wouldn’t know the answer to his own question, as the calming scent of his breath, the warmth it provided against my cheeks, and the gentleness in his voice had lulled me to sleep.


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