Chapter 35 : The Morning After
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I laughed and stroked her hair. "It'll pass," I assured her, though I had no personal experience with being hung over and sick. I had been holding her hair for her because she had come running back into the bathroom just as I had exited after my morning chores. She almost knocked me over in her mad pursuit of the toilet. Obviously the sickness she had been experiencing for the better part of the night had not waned.
"Ooh," she moaned. "Do you have to yell?"
"Yell?" I laughed. "How's this?" I lowered my voice to a whisper.
"Worse," she said miserably. "Thanks for taking care of me but I think I'm OK on my own now," she said grumpily.
I chuckled to myself as I left. Well, there was one person who wasn't going to play drinking games again for a very long time. She'd had a long night in the bathroom. And no one else had even been awake for it. They were all still passed out, too. I tip-toed back and dressed for the day. I needed to get some work done, but first my stomach was crying out to be fed.
James was already in the Great Hall. "What are you doing here?" I asked, apparently being unintentionally rude. I was just shocked to see him so awake.
"Good morning to you too, Sunshine," James retorted, leaning his head on his hand. Actually, it looked more like his arm on the table was the only thing holding him vertical.
I laughed. "Sorry, it's just… I was expecting to see you in a state more similar to the one your lovely girlfriend is currently in."
James winced. "Do you have to yell?"
"You two are made for each other," I concluded, creating a breakfast plate for myself.
"Morning," Remus greeted.
"Morning," I said in response, nodding at him.
Remus looked down at James and a knowing smile appeared on his lips. "Try coffee, it worked last time," Remus reminded his mate after giving him a once-over. James was in bad shape, but at least he was up. Remus reached over and poured a cup of coffee for James and wafted it in front of him. James's face promptly lost all color.
"I'm going to be sick," he announced. He jumped up and knocked into a first year. After apologizing under his breath, James ran from the Hall, clutching his stomach in one hand and mouth in the other.
"Apparently that wasn't the best idea," Remus mused aloud as he set the mug aside. "So how are you this morning, Lore? I trust you got more sleep than James did. He spent almost all night in the WC."
"They really are meant for each other," I repeated. "Lily did the exact same thing."
Remus frowned, unconvinced. "So… because they both got sick after drinking far too much, they're meant to be?" Remus cracked a smile. "Lore, that makes no sense."
Well, when he put it like that it did sound stupid. "Just go with it," I urged with a laugh. "You do have to admit, it's just another thing on the long list of reasons they go so well together."
"I guess I can give you that," Remus assented.
"Guess who?" instructed Sirius, covering my eyes from behind. He had put on a horrible French accent to cover his identity. Not that it worked…
"The Pope?" I guessed, referring to our conversation from the night before.
"Sirius, stop. You know I don't like it when people touch my eyes."
The hands dropped and I turned to stare right up at Henry. Oops. "Oh, sorry! You sounded exactly like Sirius when he tries to imitate the Pink Panther."
"Is that a band?" Henry frowned. He sat next to me, but faced me.
"No it's a muggle movie we saw… You know what? Never mind. Good morning," I greeted with a really quick peck on his mouth. I felt the need to set aside my 'No PDA' rule in order to make it up to him for calling him Sirius. He obviously wasn't happy about that. And nor should he have been.
"Good morning. Hello Remus," he smiled and I turned to see Remus looking between us curiously.
"Good morning, Henry."
"So how was the party?" Henry asked us both. "I see you're not too badly hung over, either of you."
"Not too badly," Remus joked, cracking a smile. I laughed but Henry didn't get the joke.
In the spirit of trying to make things work with Henry, I explained to him. "We don't really drink at all," I smiled. I really did need to involve Henry more in my life if I was committed to making it work.
"Oh," Henry said.
"Anyway… What did you do last night? How was your losing party? I asked, changing the subject. I purposely reminded him of a private joke of ours.
Henry chuckled. "It was good. Would have been better with you."
"Well I was busy avoiding the dance party and admiring the decorations," I turned to Remus. I had been feeling like we were ignoring him.
"Oh yeah, how'd that end up?" Henry asked pleasantly.
"It was great. Sirius deserves most, if not all, the credit, though."
"Well I guess because he didn't come to Hogsmeade, he had more time," Henry reasoned. "Listen, I've got to go but I'll see you later. Library at two?" he asked. It was our common meeting time. It was a comfortable habit. "Nice seeing you, Remus."
"You too," Remus waved and picked his spoon up to start on his oatmeal.
Henry walked off and I bit my lip. Was it going to work? I had been trying and it only kind of worked. But I wasn't going to give up that easily. I was going to put a little more effort in.
"He did sort of sound like Sirius," Remus remarked slyly.
"I know! You don't think Henry took that badly, do you?"
"As well as can be expected of the boyfriend who tries to surprise his girlfriend but she mistakes him for her friend who repeatedly threatens him."
"That was complicated… but right. Should I have apologized more?
Remus shrugged. "No sense in worrying about it now," he pointed out. "Just be careful not to do it again. We tend not to appreciate being mixed up with other blokes."
"Noted," I replied solemnly.
After breakfast I went back to the eerily empty tower. It was like a graveyard, marking the death of a great party. I climbed the stairs two at a time and reached the girl's dorm. As I opened the door, a stampede of girls exited. I looked around in confusion—since when did everyone leave the dorm at once?
I saw Gretchen and Lily on a bed. Gretchen was heaving sobs as Lily attempted to comfort her. Apparently Gretchen had thrown everyone else out of the room so she could break down with Lily because Natalie Dormer whispered on her way out, "She's in a right bitchy mood." Amanda Lewis nodded her agreement. Somehow I knew they weren't talking about Lily.
All right, confession time. I had never really gotten over Gretchen dating Sirius. I mean, it had been about their happiness and I had tried to ignore them but Gretchen practically dangled him in front of me. On purpose because she knew I liked him. When I was around, she got touchy and possessive of him. It was unkind and thoughtless of her. Gretchen had also begun to be extremely cold to me, and I didn't feel like I deserved it. What, exactly, was my crime? More like, what was her problem? Take that, Sirius! I could think poorly of other people. But only if they deserved it and had exhausted the benefit of the doubt.
I hurried over to the bed and mass of sobbing Gretchen. "What happened?" I asked, putting on my concerned voice.
"He… Broke… Up… With… Me," wailed Gretchen, pausing between each word to hyperventilate and sob. It all seemed extremely melodramatic, but I made a sympathetic face and set my hand on her shoulder.
"Just now?" I asked softly.
She shrugged my hand off and glared at me. "Yes! God!" she brought her hands to cover her face and sobbed with a new vengeance.
I let it go. She was very upset and some people took it out on others. Most people did, actually. "I'm so sorry," I said in attempt to console her.
"It was so sudden," she wailed. "H-he just… he just… It was awful!"
I bit my lip as Lily patted her back, "What did he say?"
"H-he said that it wasn't working. He said we didn't have anything in common and he didn't want to pretend anymore."
"What?" I gasped. That was harsh, even for a player as notorious as Sirius.
"Well," she sniffed. "He also said I wasn't good enough for him."
"That's terrible! I'm sure he didn't mean it," I protested. He couldn't have.
"Oh sure, defend him!" she exclaimed sarcastically. "You would," she added contemptuously, glaring at me.
That was mean. I frowned and stood. "What does that mean?"
"Never mind," she sighed. "I'm sorry."
I sighed too and turned. I was going to get to the bottom of this. Marching down the stairs, I saw he wasn't in the common room so I marched right back up the twin staircase and knocked on the boy's dorm. "Sirius! Sirius Black, you come out here right now!"
He appeared a second later, not from the dorm, but from the bathroom door to the right of where I was standing. He was clad in nothing more than a towel. He held a tooth brush in his right hand and was shirtless and wet. "Easy, Love. Don't want to wake everyone else. What can I do for you?" he grinned, crossed his arms over his chest (flexing his bicep muscles in the process), and leaned against the door pane.
I forced myself to look away. And swallow the drool. Goddamn him and his beauty! "You have some explaining to do," I pointed at him.
"Moi?" he asked innocently, raising his eyebrows, still grinning.
"Yes, you. What on earth did you say to Gretchen? She's in the girl's dorm, sobbing to Lily-"
"Woah, woah," Sirius uncrossed his arms and held them out to stop me. "What do you mean she's sobbing in the dorm?" his smile had dropped.
"Exactly what I said," I retorted, crossing my arms.
"Why is she sobbing now?" Sirius looked extremely confused.
"Because you broke up with her, you git!"
"Last night," he frowned.
"Yeah! You- wait… what?" I faltered.
"I broke up with her last night. Before we talked. That's why I wanted to leave the party. I wasn't really in a partying mood."
I had to lean against the wall now. "Wait, so you broke up with her last night?" I processed. Why was she acting like it had just happened? "Wait, before we talked?" I frowned and hit him on the chest. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"Ow!" Sirius rubbed where I had hit. "Well, it really wasn't any of your business at the time, now was it?" he asked flippantly with a cheeky smile. He shoved the toothbrush into his mouth and retreated into the bathroom.
"Oh no you don't!" I said, opening the door and following. Then I realized I was in the boy's bathroom and quickly stepped right back out. I settled instead for opening the door a smidge and talking through the crack to him. He wasn't off the hook yet. "What about the things you said to her? Like she wasn't good enough and you didn't want to keep pretending with her?"
"OK, just to set the record straight, I said I was sorry but I didn't want to see her anymore because I didn't feel the same and it wasn't fair to either of us for me to pretend differently," Sirius had appeared at the door again and was talking through a mouth of toothpaste. "But it doesn't surprise me she said that. Girls like to feel victimized after a break up. I'm OK with being the scapegoat."
Now I was confused. So not only had Gretchen lied about when Sirius had broken up with her, but also about what Sirius had said to her. Why? Sirius hadn't been mean at all! Was she looking for pity she didn't think she'd have gotten the night of the party?
I thought back to the scene I had witnessed in the girl's dorm. No, it was all about getting attention, namely Lily's. Gretchen was obviously trying to get Lily to notice her again and the easiest way to do that was to have a crisis. How manipulative!
But now what was I going to do? I had to tell Lily that Gretchen was lying to her, didn't I? Or maybe I didn't. It didn't hurt me that Gretchen was milking the situation for attention from her best friend. It was a little hurtful how she was treating me, but I had no problem avoiding her. Oh dear, how awkward would things get? Would I be allowed to eat with the marauders and talk with them without her freaking out at me that I was on Sirius's side? Well, I didn't care. She wasn't nice to me. And the marauders were.
So I wouldn't tell Lily, but I wasn't going to act like I didn't know if she tried to call me on anything.
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