Chapter 42 : The Deal, Part II
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"He said he wanted me. And he kissed me, and then when I talked to him last night, he kept asking me if I liked him and I had to keep avoiding the question because I don't want to lie about how I feel anymore-"
"Wait, he told you he liked you and you rejected him?!" Lily interjected.
"He didn't tell me he liked me. He said he wanted me, so I told him that I didn't want to be with him. I don't want to be used and I don't want to get hurt by him, Lils. I like him so much; I don't think I'd be able to bear it if he just dumped me after a few days like all the other girls he's been with. I couldn't take it."
Lily's expression of disbelief changed to one of sympathetic understanding. "To some extent I guess you're right to protect yourself. But on the other hand, how can you ever really experience life without taking any chances?" she pointed out honestly.
I knew I could always count on her to be honest—even if it wasn't really something I wanted to hear. Obviously Lily believed that there was still some chance Sirius really was interested in a honest-to-goodness relationship. Her and James's opinions differed drastically on this subject.
"Anyway, I told him I didn't want to be with him and I've been avoiding him since last night. I don't know what I'm going to do for these last couple days," I sighed. There were only a couple of days left until we went away for the summer. Only a couple of days before we packed everything up and said good-bye to each other for months.
"Oh you won't have to wait for him long. Here he comes," Lily pointed towards the doors as the Marauders all strolled into the dining hall.
Sirius caught my eye and I stood to leave. Lily wordlessly followed my lead. However, instead of letting me pass, Sirius grabbed my arm and pulled me gently out into the hallway. James had apparently pulled Lily aside too, because she wasn't there to come to my aid.
"Sirius-" I began.
"No, let me this time. You said you didn't want to be with me and I think I know why. I don't want you to think I'm the same old Sirius, afraid of commitment. Lore, for you I think I'm finally ready for a relationship. Remus told me I should make the gesture and tell you how I feel, so here it is. I like you and I want you to be my girlfriend. Permanent and real."
It should have been so easy to just accept that for face value and go on and be happy, but my doubt was swirling in my head like memories in a pensieve. "You have no idea how long I've wished to hear you say something like that. But it's so… sudden," I began slowly. "I've spent the past few years completely invisible to you and now you're all of the sudden telling me you're ready to completely change yourself for me? Come on, even you have to admit it sounds a bit far fetched." I crossed my arms. "And another thing. If you liked me so long, why didn't you say something before now? Why wait until Henry and I were broken up? You've never done that before that I can remember," I laughed a little to try to mask my feelings.
"I didn't make a move all this time because you seemed happy with Henry. Well, that and I'm trying to be a better person. Apparently good people don't kiss other blokes' girlfriends."
"Maybe," I was skeptical. "But that doesn't explain why you only started talking to me when I got attractive, and you only started wanting me when I started to go out with Henry. These are shallow emotions, and it was just about… wanting what you couldn't have. And now that you can, you only think you still want me. Sirius, I don't- I can't be hurt by you again."
Sirius rubbed his nose as he thought. "Well… I could try to defend myself but you're right. I'll admit that I was rather shallow at first, but it's not like that anymore. You're right to say I only noticed you after this summer, but it's not the exterior that interests me as much now. Sure your looks are why I got to know you, but that's just it—I got to know you. And I love the inside." Sirius smiled ruefully, "Besides, can you honestly sit there and tell me that my looks had nothing to do with why you started liking me?" He grinned, knowing he had me there.
My resolve was starting to crack, but I made myself hard again. I searched for an argument—any last argument. "What about Henry?" I could always go back to that. "You only wanted to date me because I was dating someone else. That feeling will go away."
"Maybe you're right about that too… maybe it was about wanting what I couldn't have."
"What?" I had not been expecting him to agree with me about that. It seemed counter intuitive.
"Maybe I did really start to… like you when you started to like someone else, but it's not a crime and it doesn't make my feelings any less sincere now. Maybe Henry was the catalyst—he was the one that made me realize the full extent of how I feel about you, but the change in me is still there. I don't want anyone else."
"For now," I insisted.
Sirius shook his head. "Forever."
It was my turn to shake my head. "Forever is an unfeasibly long time. You can't know that things aren't going to change. You have no way of knowing that," I insisted desperately, trying to get through to him. If he kept on the way he was, he'd surely wear me down and I would give in and believe him.
"But I do."
I sighed. "Sirius, how can I believe that you're ready for something this big?"
"Because I'm telling you you're different. I can feel it," Sirius caught my hand and squeezed it in his own larger one.
"It's not enough. I wish it were, but it isn't. I've spent too long watching you break hearts to believe you, I'm sorry," I said, reclaiming my hand. I really was sorry, but I still couldn't be sure Sirius understood what he was promising. After all, he had broken hearts before, even if he hadn't meant to.
Sirius sighed in frustration and ran a hand through his hair. He took a few paces away from me, turned back to say something, but evidently changed his mind and continued pacing for a bit. He finally stopped and walked back towards me. "So you need something more? I can do more. How about I make you a deal?"
"A deal?" Now I was really confused.
"I want to show you I'm ready to be committed. I want to show you that no one else matters but you, so how about if I promise to wait for you? Until you're ready to believe me? You name a date—however long off you want. But at the end of that time, if I've managed to hold out and stay away from all other girls, you have to go out with me, at least once," Sirius proposed, looking right into my eyes.
"Wait, no one else?" I was having a hard time not gaping. "Like… No more flings with girls?"
"No more girls. You're it, Lore."
"So, you hold out for whatever date I name? That's the deal?" Sirius was willing to give up girls for me? I was starting to think that he was really ready to change for me!
"What if I choose some date years from now?"
Sirius's resolve was obviously very strong because he merely smiled and kissed my hand. "You won't," he said confidently. "You're not evil—you don't want to see me suffer that long," he grinned.
I bit my lip and couldn't keep from smiling. I thought for a minute—I wanted something far enough away so that it wouldn't be easy, but close enough so that it wouldn't be unbearable for him. "All right. If you can hold out until the start of the next school year, I'll do it."
Sirius tried not to let the pain show on his face when I named the date. That meant no girls over the summer for him. Obviously he had expected me to break far earlier than that. He put on a brave smile and nodded his head. "Next year it is then. You'll see, Lore. You'll see that I really mean it," he grinned again and hugged me. Then he happily made his way over to the table and left me in the wake of his sort of uncharacteristic sweetness.
Lily came running over and laid a hand on my shoulder. "What happened?"
"I- he- he said…" I didn't know quite how to put words to it. It was amazing. Sirius was really… well, serious about this.
"What happened, Lore?" Lily repeated patiently, reminding me that I still hadn't answered the question.
"He's going to wait for me," I replied simply, almost not believing the words coming from my mouth. "I told him I was afraid of him hurting me like all those other girls, so he told me he wanted to show me I mean more to him than that. He's promised to stay off all other girls until next year to show me how serious he is."
"Aw!" cooed Lily. "He really said that? Do you know how hard that's going to be for a guy like Sirius?" she continued. "My God, Lore, he's really got it bad for you! No girls for three months? Wow. What have you done to him?" Lily grinned at me.
Wow. Yeah, wow. "I don't understand. Why me? Why pick me? I mean, I'm nothing special."
"That's not true," Lily shook her head. "That's old Lorelei talking. You are special and now, apparently you're the talk of the school too," Lily grinned.
I turned and saw that a group of girls, maybe fifth years, were standing in a group and whispering. They looked up at me every so often, and then back at Sirius. "Oh, you'll go down in history, Lore, as the one that finally made Sirius Black settle down." Lily was obviously very excited for me.
But I didn't know how comfortable I was with everyone talking about me. My personal life wasn't up for debate. I nodded in agreement with whatever Lily was saying, but on the inside I was still questioning it. Was it worth it to be with Sirius if I was going to be the subject of idle gossip?
It didn't take me long to answer that, "yes."
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