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The Burn-Out Heart by Rose Wilts
Chapter 5 : Chapter 5- James's Proposition
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 11

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Seventh year at Hogwarts was tough. Before long I found myself just as snowed under as everyone else. Halloween was fast approaching and I had three essays, one exam and one practical I had to finish or prepare for. It was times like these I wished I had the excuse of ‘I’m only a human!’ Still, I plowed on diligently. Studying by night and most free time of day. It was a tiring life, but at least it took my mind off other things.

Jasper had been finding it a lot easier than me. He already felt at home at Hogwarts. He, unlike me had no unwanted admirers. We had quickly made up after our fight and agreed to both do what we thought was right. However, we had never gone into detail about just what ‘right’ was.

I talked to Elise, Anna, Greta and Lucy. They were lovely girls, friendly and open. I went to them sometimes, when I was fed up with Jasper, but most of the time I stuck to myself. I was still a fan of the ‘invisible’ plan.

Jasper had made friends already with the Ravenclaw boys, in particular Hayden, Taylor and Matt, who made up most of the Quidditch team. However, that wasn’t what I was worried about. It now seemed that Jasper was not only friends with a bunch of rowdy jocks, but he had also been spending a lot of time with James Potter. The betrayal made my blood boil.

So much for being inconspicuous.

It had annoyed me for a while. It seemed to me that he was allowed to do whatever he wanted while I had all of these limitations placed on me over past mistakes. However, deep down I knew it was smart.
Yet, we had sworn, sworn to stick to ourselves and he had broken that. It angered me a little that he didn’t seem to care, to notice that I was growing upset. He was too involved in his own life to notice me. I wasn’t used to that.

But now I saw that it was the best thing for us, even if I didn’t want to.

Sirius and I spoke often, in history of magic, in potions, even occasionally in the corridors. But our conversations were always short-lived with a forced politeness to them. I tried to keep things short but I so often found myself caught up in his smile, in his eyes, in his strange, quirky words…

“Oh for god’s sake!” I bellowed slamming my book down on the desk. It skidded across the polished wood and fell off the other side. “If I have to read one more word about bloody bezoars I swear I’ll scream!” I pounded my fist on the desk passionately and Jasper looked up.

“Oi watch it!” He complained. “I was drawing.”

“Drawing?” I laughed at him, amused. “Drawing what?” I snatched the paper out from under his hand, too irritated to bother with good-manners. It was a rough sketch of three players riding broomsticks tossing a Quaffle between them. He had enchanted it so it moved; the third man always dropped it. I chuckled and handed the paper back, apologizing for my lack of manners.

I closed my book and stuffed my ink and quills into my bag. I had done enough for tonight; it was nothing that couldn’t be done tomorrow.

“Are you going to try-out for the Quidditch team?” I asked casually, leaning back against the chair behind me from my seat on the floor. I was fully aware of my brother’s passion for the sport and his friendship with the team. It would surprise me if he didn’t even given our ‘avoid being noticed’ predicament.

Jasper considered my question for a moment, his expression was understandably torn. His brow creased further when at last he answered.

“Try-outs are this weekend, early morning before the feast.” He said. I had read it on the notice board earlier today and knew was referring to the Halloween feast.

“Well then go for it!” I urged, please to see life flooding back into his face. “Promise me you will.” He considered this for a moment.

“It’s settled then!” Jasper announced, his mood so obviously lifting. “I’ll try-out.”
He grinned and packed his own bag with a cheery, but slightly less proper cry of ‘Stuff homework!’ I grinned, my own mood lifted with Jasper’s. Seeing him happy made me pleased though it was rare that my brother was ever disheartened.
He got to his feet and slung his bag over his shoulder.

“Well, I think I’ll take these up to the dormitory, and then I’m off.”

“What?” I demanded rising to my feet also. “Go where? It’s ten O’clock in the evening!” I was positive in my belief he would have no answer, but to my surprise he laughed.

“Oh! Didn’t I tell you?”

I scowled, and he realized his mistake becoming suddenly sheepish.

“James and Remus wanted to show me this place, some room that changes or something, anyway, I said I’d go.”

I did not speak for a while though Jasper gave me ample time, when at last I did it was after taking a deep breath. Jasper and the marauders. Jasper and Sirius. Perhaps that was the hardest bit? It couldn’t sink in.

“And how do you expect to get through the castle unseen with teachers patrolling?” I asked, feeling smart.

Jasper grinned roguishly and in a flash he was gone, I barely had time to look over my shoulder towards the boys dormitory stairs before he was back again, not even slightly puffed. His eyes shone darkly and his tone was dry and amused.

“Tallulah darling, you forget what we are.”

And with another whip of air, he was gone.

I had taken a leaf out of Jasper’s book and used what I was to my advantage.
I was lying on my back, staring up at the sky. Cool air blew softly around me and I closed my eyes, thinking hard on what I was about to negotiate with myself.

I was in the astronomy tower and completely alone.

The coldness of the stone floor did not bother me. I lay still while the evening breeze ruffled my clothing and hair. I closed my eyes and sighed. This was tough. It would be the hardest thing I’d ever had to face, to live with, in my life I decided. So I might as well start learning to deal with it now.

Jasper’s words had struck something in me. He had said them before, Merlin, I had said them, but never could I remember them to have so much meaning to me.

“Tallulah darling, you forget what we are.”

Was he implying another message, or were his words purely all in good fun? I wasn’t so sure. Perhaps, it was possible that he meant I was straying from my path, that I had forgotten who I was. But wasn’t that good? Wasn’t that what we had set out to do? I had no idea. I rose to my feet.

For God’s sake, how could I fail to remember what we were? Being part dragon was not something easily forgotten!

A Duaaon. That was the correct term, at least amongst my family; we were the only ones of our kind.

It had happened years ago, my great-great-great-great-great grandfather had been an experimenter for the Romanian ministry of magic. He had never been very good at his job. He was overshadowed, and overpowered by fellow employees. My grandfather did not like settling for second best and grew tired of this.

He sought an experiment, so wild, so dangerous and amazing that no man could ever match its like again. He was so hungry for power that nothing could get in his way, not even a risk to his own life.

After months of testing, trials and waiting it was ready.

It was then great-great-great-great-great grandfather Zellar inserted dragon blood, infused with dragon venom into his veins.

It pained him, to say the least, for twelve hours of his life he was in agony. Twelve hours of his life were spent in torture. His mind was ripped apart and rebuilt as he was forced to relive his very worst memories. His average mind was now replaced with the keen intellect and fiery instincts of the dragon. All of his senses were heightened, his vision maximized and smell sharpened and sensitized. He would find out later that he could call on these at any time, all he had to do was think the request in his head and the sense would come with ease. 

He did not know it then, but when he was at last able to make sense of what he had become he would realize that his physical abilities too had been enhanced.
He was agile, very agile, speedy and lithe to the point of absurdity. Strength and endurance too had been improved, he found he could suffer large amounts of hurt and feel no pain. The skin that covered his body, while soft to touch and pale to the eyes was thick and strong. Just as the hide of a dragon.
And his eyes. His eyes too had changed, perhaps the most noticeable difference of all. They were no longer brown, but clear light gold. That was perhaps the marking trait of our kind. We all had remarkable nonhuman coloured eyes. A signal to our dangerousness.

He was pleased with his work, very pleased indeed.

No one would be able to penetrate his steely pretence now, not unless he desired them too. He was forced to reflect on what he had done, how deeply wrong it was. But that was not something he cared for. In his eyes he saw perfection and that was all he wanted.

After twelve long hours, it was over.

What he hadn’t counted on was the difficulty of being able to control the fiery passions of a dragon. It was harder than he could have ever imagined, one tiny little flare of emotion could cause his whole hand to erupt into flames. No, he had not counted on this at all.

Not once, in all his research had it occurred to him that the fierce protective instincts and tenacious qualities dragons possessed would play some part in this new life he had chosen.

It was fortunate, I guess that self control and resistance is an acquired art.

The condition was then passed down through the generations, the polluted blood flowed in each of our veins. While not immortal, us duaaon live for unnaturally long times. Age had never really shown on my parents' faces.

We learnt to control the vehement rages and intense coldness of the dragon, even if it was only just. We found that it was easier to live as normal people if we accepted what we were and knew our limitations.

Infact we had gained more than control, we had almost achieved complete power.

With the click of a finger we could summon flame or radiate heat through our palms.
Our enhanced abilities could be called on whenever we needed them. Yes, they came in very handy indeed. In the early stages of my life, that hardest part for me was hiding. Having to suppress who and what I truly was. Over the years Jasper and I became very good at it. We could rely on each other to keep ourselves in check.
It was simple for us to stay unnoticed; no one dared to bother us.

So Jasper and I lived happily in Romania with our parents. No one new what we were, though some, I think suspected we were different. There was one… one who knew.

We lived a triple life, playing the part of wizard and witch, muggle and Duaaon. It never seemed hard to us until a few years ago.

I sighed and sank once more to the ground. I didn’t want to think about that. It was hard even now. I’d pushed myself far enough tonight, and I’d still hardly made any progress, just reflecting over that much had almost pushed me to my limits. It had never been so difficult before.

I closed my eyes and rubbed my temples. Just then I heard voices carrying up the stairs. Voices I recognized.

I rushed and hid behind a thick stone pillar, just as the Marauders and Jasper strode around the corner.

They were laughing loudly, clinging onto each other for support. It surprised me to see that Jasper appeared to be getting on with Sirius.

James sighed happily and plunked onto the floor, gesturing for the others to do the same. Remus and Jasper fell to the ground, clutching their sides. Peter fell to the ground in a fit of laughter, his face shining with pleasure. Sirius appeared to be almost fully recovered, though a slight smile remained intact on his perfect lips. He flopped smoothly onto the ground.

I tried my best to tear my eyes away from him, but my attempts were futile. It was only because James spoke that I was somehow distracted.

“How about the look on Filch’s face?” He demanded, lapsing back into a fit of silent laughter. “I swear I’ve never seen anything funnier in my life.”

Remus had stopped laughing and said “We really shouldn’t have done that.” He was trying to reprimand them, but it was only half-hearted, especially after he said- “But I’m so glad we did.”

There was short silence and I turned my focus back to Sirius, he was sitting facing me, but his eyes were fixed on Jasper. He looked thoughtful and appraising.
I wanted so desperately to know what was going through his head.

“That was a nice touch with the baron impersonation there Wiley.” He commented his voice low and brimming with compliments.

Jasper grinned, but it did not reach his eyes. Maybe I was wrong about him being warmer towards Sirius. Perhaps this was part of his plan, to get to know Sirius, to find out what he was really like?

This remark from Sirius set off another torrent of chatter and discussion, but I was not listening. I tuned out of their conversation, but remained watching Sirius, admiring how normal he seemed amongst the company of those he trusted. I felt a little offended knowing that he had been holding back on me. Then I realized that I had been holding back on him.

After more mindless chatter that seemed to have no particular pattern or flow, one by one the boys left. Jasper was embraced in a man-hug by James, and sent off with a cry of- “You served us well, Jasper old pal!” I could hear him chuckling down the stairs. Remus and Peter left together, still laughing and supporting each other.

I waited in silence until the only two remaining people were James and Sirius.
They leant against the low wall of the tower. The night air whipped both of their hair.

“I like him.” James said. Sirius didn’t have to ask who, and nor did I. I watched carefully for Sirius reaction. He seemed to be deep in thought. After a moments deliberation he sighed.

“Yes, so do I.” This surprised me. I felt my eyebrows disappear up into my fringe.
“But can we trust him?”

James laughed hollowly. “What do we have to hide from him? Everyone knows all about the marauders.” I had never expected to see this darker, serious side to James.

“Moony.” Sirius pointed out, though I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. “That’s what I mean.”

“Ah. Our best kept secret. Yes, you’re right. Though of course, we don’t have to tell him. It’s not like we’re going to induct him into the marauders. He has other friends you know.” Sirius shrugged, his dark hair falling into his eyes.

“Invite him tomorrow.” Sirius said suddenly. James chuckled.

“Now why didn’t I think of that?” He laughed. I could practically hear Sirius roll his eyes.

“Because you were too busy trying to figure out which suit Lily will be most impressed by.” He answered succinctly. James laughed again.

“Well I’m sorry, but I wanted to look at least a little presentable.”

“So we’re inviting him?” Sirius persisted, ignoring James who was now pretending to smooth a skirt.

“Yes, I’ll do it tomorrow, because it seems that’s all I’m ever doing. Asking people to this party of ours.” My ears pricked. A party hey? Hmmm… Sirius ignored his complaints again, but was forced to listen when James asked-

“And you? I don’t suppose you’ve asked anyone? You always do give your invitations too exclusively.” Sirius grinned wryly.

“Only the best for Sirius Black.” He murmured. My blood boiled.

“Well apparently that’s no one we’ve encountered so far in life.” James muttered back quietly. I wasn’t sure if he meant for Sirius to hear, but I did. I was surprised by how unjustifiably mad I felt. They fell back into hush but once again it was short lived, and just like before it was James who broke the silence.

“What about Jasper’s sister? Luna, or whatever it was he called her.”

“Lulah.” Sirius said, rolling the word off the tip of his tongue. My heart fluttered, but I forced myself to remain still. “Lulah, that’s her name.” Though it was dark, I could see James smirking visibly. “And, er, what about this Lulah? Is she nice? I’ve seen her around the school. She’s certainly nice looking.” James nudged Sirius in the ribs and wiggled his eyebrows but got no reaction. He tried a different approach.

“Or do you find it too disconcerting that Jasper and she are identical twins?”
Sirius sighed.

“No, it’s not that. She’s nice.”

James positively beamed. “Ah! There we go! Why don’t you ask her then?”

My heart was pounding, I was sure they would be able to hear it. I clenched my hands into fists and held my breath, with eyes squeezed tight shut I waited.
I could sense that Sirius was struggling with himself. I opened my eye a smidgen, he was staring into the blackness where I stood. His back was to James and I saw that James looked stunned by his friend’s obvious lack of confidence.

“Maybe. I mean, I guess… but she’s- she doesn’t…” He trailed off lamely. I was stunned to an absolute standstill. I couldn’t even feel my heart beating any more. James punched him, but not hard.

“Pull your head in Black. What’s up?”

Sirius grumbled something and shifted away from James. He crossed his arms and glared angrily out into the night, his eyes were a troubled stormy grey.

James walked up behind him and put a brotherly arm around Sirius. I hadn’t realized they were so close, but that’s exactly what they were to each other. Brothers.

“C’mon Padfoot, seriously man, what’s wrong? I reckon she’s bound to say yes.” He looked genuinely concerned for his friend’s well-being. One side of Sirius’s heavenly face lifted in a half-smile. He was obviously heartened by James’s words.

“Yeah,” He said, straightening up, ready to leave. “You never know, maybe I will ask her.”

Then he turned and started to lead James back down the stairs. James grinned and clapped him on the back.

“That’s m’boy!” He crowed, ruffling Sirius’s hair. “You’ll see, I’ll be right!”

“You never know.” He whispered and then was gone, disappearing down the stairs with James Potter.

Once I was certain they had left I collapsed to the floor. My body felt strangely empty and drained. I was light-headed, but this was not from exhaustion. 

Sirius Black was going to ask me to a party. 

Sirius Black was mine. He was what I wanted. 

A/N: Wow, Lulah's an absolute nutter hey? Haha, Edited. All 'good' :) Woo, I'm feeling happy. Care to review?

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