Chapter 44 : All The Right Reasons
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But that's really what Sirius had become. I felt so comfortable around him and I guess it helped that he was doing anything he could to prove himself to me. He was just so much sweeter than anyone had ever realized. Especially me.
I leaned in for the inevitable hug and breathed in his unique scent. I wanted to just close my eyes and breathe him in forever, but I could hear my dad calling out to me. Just as I pulled away, he caught me by surprise and brushed my lips with his ever so lightly. "For luck," he explained when I looked at him with wide-eyed shock.
"Luck?" I laughed.
"Well, I'm going to need something to keep me going all summer," he winked.
"Right," I continued to laugh and picked my bags back up. "See you, Sirius."
"See you," he returned with the same broad smile on his face he'd adopted when he realized he was getting away scot-free with kissing me.
"So how are you, Lore-bug?" my dad hugged me sideways and kissed the top of my head. He took my suitcases and we walked a short distance from others so we could safely apparate. "How was school?" he asked as soon as we were both standing in front of the house in one piece.
It took me a minute to collect myself and refill my lungs with air. Apparition took it out of me. When I was OK again, I grinned, happy to see my dad again. "I'm great. School was… so different. I learned lots and lots though," I chuckled. Lots about everything imaginable. It was really a year of growing for me.
"That's good. Mum and I were pleased to hear you passed your apparation test. Makes things much easier, eh?" he asked.
Once we were in the house and away from the prying eyes of muggles, my dad sent my bags to my room and unpacked for me with that convenient charm he wouldn't teach me. He said unpacking at school was something to be done by hand. I'd given up trying to understand why. "Much easier. I just have to get used to the disorientation afterwards."
"That's normal," my dad assured me. We walked into the kitchen to help my mother with dinner.
"What is? Oh, welcome home, Lore," my mother hugged me tightly. "We missed you. Dear, would you make a salad?" she asked, not missing a beat. She went back to marinating the meat.
"School was great," I anticipated her question. "I made a lot of really great friends. And speaking of that, there's going to be a party in June and they've invited me."
My mother made a delighted noise and looked at my father. "Friends? Parties? That is different. Are you sure you're our Lorelei White?"
"The very same," I promised.
"Where is it? When is it?" my father asked protectively.
"At James Potter's house. And it's the first Friday in June."
"That's all right with me, as long as you don't miss any work. Your job starts on Monday, you know," my mother reminded me firmly.
I knew, and she knew that I knew. But she had to remind me because she was my mother. "All right, Mum. So, can I go, Dad?" I knew I had to clear it with him before I had the official go-ahead.
"I guess it's all right with me. You'll apparate?"
"And you'll be home when?"
"Well, I could apparate home afterwards, but Lily is spending the night so I was thinking about doing that as well."
"And will his parents be there all night?" my father asked.
I nodded. "Yes, the Potters will be there the whole time." I had known it would be the deal breaking factor, so I had made sure. The Potters would be there, but they were fairly hands-off, especially when it came to parties being thrown by their son and his friends. I doubted I'd see them all night.
"All right, you can go. And you can spend the night there with Lily," my dad agreed reluctantly. I could tell he preferred it when I had been a recluse. The thought made me chuckle—when I was keeping to myself he didn't have to worry about me.
It was the longest two weeks of my life. I started my job and was thoroughly occupied all day, but it seemed like an eternity away from my friends. It was odd, the feeling of missing people. I had spent so long alone it never occurred to me that I could really miss the company of others. And it was only two weeks!
When the day finally arrived, Lily apparated to my house first so we could get ready. I imagined it would look much like right before a Hogsmeade day. And sure enough, after Lily was introduced to my parents and we retreated back to my room, clothes were strewn everywhere, my dresser was a mess of make-up products, and shoes covered the floor.
I held one of the last choices to my body. It was a blue dress that Farrah had given to me saying it would compliment my eyes and pale skin. I'd never worn it because it seemed so obvious. It was bright blue, after all.
But when I held it up, Lily squealed in excitement. "Oh, yes. Definitely that one."
"This one? But it's so…"
"Blue," I finished, sending her an unsure look.
"Trust me, it's going to be perfect." Lily herself looked stunning in a chocolate colored halter dress. I guess it really was in my best interest to trust her. Girls like Farrah and Lily knew more about this sort of thing than I did. I stepped into my walk-in closet and pulled the dress over my head.
I looked at myself and had to admit, it did look good. The brightness made me feel a little self-conscious, but that would go away. When I stepped out, Lily's face lit up and she began clapping. "It looks amazing, really, Lore."
"It does look kind of good, doesn't it?" I looked in the mirror on the back of my closet door and pulled at the hem at the bottom. I wished it was an inch or two longer, but the color really was good for me. It made me look almost… royal.
As if reading my thoughts, Lily giggled. "You need a tiara or something."
"Absolutely not," I flatly refused. "But we can try the mascara, if you want," I offered instead.
"OK. So, who do you think will be there?" she asked casually as she collected the contents of her make up kit.
"You mean, other than us? I thought it was just us…"
"Oh no, the Potter Party is the big party at the start of the summer. Everyone knows about it."
My face visibly paled. I had really thought it was just us. "Oh crap."
"What, you didn't know? Oh, well… yeah. Don't worry though, it'll just be mostly Gryffindor people you already know. It'll be like a Quidditch after party," she assured me.
That comforted me a little.
"All right, ready for the mascara?"
Thirty minutes, twenty eight bobby pins, and several poked eyes later, Lily and I were finally ready. My mum wanted to take pictures, but I argued that we were late (which we weren't). Lily grabbed my hand and we were off. We arrived seconds later in front of the Potter's house. It was a tall, majestic, old building with far too many rooms for the number of inhabitants.
The walls boasted brick and ivy vines. Even the front doors seemed pompous, made of mahogany with enormous, intricate door-knockers shaped of bronze. It was all so overwhelming. I had to sit and put my head between my knees. The combination of both the apparation and the realization of my own inadequacy was a bit much.
"Is this place huge or what?" Lily asked in awe.
"How did you know how to get here if you'd never been here before?" I asked in a low voice, jealous that apparating seemed to have no effect on Lily.
"From pictures. That's how I got to your house too. If I look at the picture, I can get there."
I was impressed. For a novice apparater, that was really good. "Oh," I responded lamely and was finally able to stand again. "OK, I'm ready."
"I hope we're not too early."
"Me too," I agreed. I checked my watch again. It was only 9:40 and the party started at 10:00.
I lifted the decorative knocker and before I could let it fall, a house elf opened the door. He was dressed in a suit and someone, I was pretty sure it started with S and ended with irius, had put a party hat on him. The small, brightly colored cone looked absolutely absurd on his disproportionately large head.
"Come in. Masters have been expecting you." The house elf took our bags, snapped his knobby fingers and they disappeared into a room somewhere, I assumed.
Loud music and chattering was emanating from the floor below us, where I assumed the party was going on. I checked my watch again. "We aren't late, are we?"
The house elf nodded his head solemnly; well, as solemnly as he could with the party hat on. "The party began at 9:00, Miss."
Lily and I exchanged glances. "He told us 10:00," Lily was indignant.
"This way, please," the house elf interrupted, ignoring Lily's ire. He led us to the basement steps and we cautiously made our way down without him.
When I reached the landing, I was immediately met with a chorus of, "Lore!" James rushed over and snapped a hat on my head. He offered the other one to Lily, a compliment on the tip of his tongue, but she hit him with her purse.
"10:00? James Potter," she sounded mad.
"I knew you'd get here ridiculously early. No one comes on time to a party! And look at it this way, now everyone thinks your fashionably late," he protested.
Lily's anger faded and she rolled her eyes. I had to give James credit, he knew Lily very well. After all, we had been 20 minutes early to the party.
I left the two of them kissing and making up. I removed the hat from my head and scanned the crowd for Sirius. The basement was a vast place with an entire dance floor, couches in two corners and a secluded area in the final corner where I assumed had been designated "make out" area. I was going to give up trying to find Sirius when suddenly there was a cup in front of my face and Sirius's arm was around my waste. I looked over at him and smiled. I took a hesitant sip and sound that it was punch—laced with firewhiskey. I almost coughed.
"Hi Lore," he said in a low voice, right next to my ear. "That is… a really great dress," he purred. He'd obviously already had a bit to drink. It made me want to sigh, I preferred un-intoxicated Sirius.
"Thanks," I blushed. I tried to hand him the cup back but he wouldn't take it.
"Cut loose, White. Just once have a little fun, please?" he grinned.
I bit my lip and after a few more seconds of indecision, I took another sip. One drink wouldn't be the death of me. It burned less this time because I was expecting it.
"There's a good girl." He grinned at me. "I missed you," he pulled me a bit closer.
"I missed you too," I breathed. It was the complete truth. "So how has our deal been working out for you?"
"Hardest two weeks of my life."
I chuckled and took another sip. "It was your idea," I reminded him lightly with a huge smile.
"I know, I wasn't complaining. You asked," he reminded me. "Anyway, let's dance."
I put my cup down on a nearby table and left the party hat with it. Sirius was still wearing his, I noticed. It didn't look quite as ridiculous as the house elf's had, but it still was such a sharp contrast to his dark hair that it looked funny. He could pull it off though, I realized with a bit of jealousy. Sirius could get away with wearing nothing but a paper bag and a sombrero.
The dance floor was packed with lots of Gryffindors, the occasional Ravenclaw and a spattering of Hufflepuffs. Sirius chose a spot for us on the edge of the floor so we could still talk.
I closed my eyes and let Sirius guide me, since I knew he was going to do it anyway and I wasn't much good at dancing to begin with. He placed his hands at a very gentlemanly level on my back and let me lean against him. He smelled so good, despite all the other bodies packed into the basement.
As much as I was enjoying myself just being with him, he and I needed to talk eventually. Time away from Sirius had put questions into my head, and lots of them. After a few songs, I backed away from him and smiled, hoping he would get the idea. He did, obviously—because he was Sirius.
"Do you want to go somewhere quieter?" he yelled over the music. I nodded.
He took my hand and led me up the stairs into the much quieter first floor. There, we found a vacant room that I assumed was the living room. I sat on the middle cushion and he sat on the arm.
"So, you've been good?" I asked.
"The best," he held up two fingers. "You can even ask James. I haven't even looked- well, maybe I've looked, but I certainly have not touched. And I didn't even want to," he smiled down at me serenely.
He was too much for me. I looked down at my hands and bit my lip. How could it be true? How could I have managed to land someone so… amazing? He was everything I wanted and more, but there were some things I didn't… that I couldn't fathom.
He noticed my odd silence and his smile widened. I couldn't keep the smile off my face as he slid off the couch arm onto the cushions next to me. I took a deep breath and faced him and the question that had been bugging me. "Sirius, why me? I mean, I know you like me but why? I'm nothing special," I looked back down at my hands.
"We don't chose what makes us happy, Lore," Sirius said solemnly, quoting me.
"I know… it's just, what is it? Because I have to admit that I'm kind of afraid, since you only started talking to me this year when I got back from summer break and I looked so different and all and-."
"You were afraid it's superficial?" Sirius guessed.
"Yeah… I'm sorry because I know it's not… I mean, I think I know…"
To my surprise, Sirius just chuckled and grinned at me. "It's not because of that. It's because you're smart and observant and… you're honest with me. You tell it like it is, and I can really respect you. You're the only one other than James that calls me out on my bullshit. You treat me like a person, like someone with thoughts and opinions, not just a 'cute arse'," he imitated a girl with a ridiculous high pitched voice. I giggled in spite of myself. "I'm serious, though," he continued. "No one, other than my mates, has really done that. You're different; you are something special. You're straightforward, but kind at the same time. You really care about other people selflessly."
"But you don't even know me that well-" I continued.
"I do," Sirius cut me off.
"How? How could you possibl-"
"You don't eat tomatoes." Sirius cut me off again, looking down at his hands.
"What?" I was surprised.
"You don't eat tomatoes. You always smell like this one flower that I don't know the name of, but every time I smell it I think of you. You always forgot your book for Transfiguration on purpose because it was so heavy. You never take off that necklace that Farrah gave you for your thirteenth birthday, but you wear a long enough chain so that you can hide it under your shirts. You smile easily and you're quick to laugh. You have a scar right above your top lip that makes you self-conscious, but it shouldn't because it's cute. Your birthday is August 21st. You told me once that you want to be a healer because it's the one way you think you can stop the pain of the world. So you're caring and quirky and funny and challenging," Sirius paused and looked between my eyes. "And you have the prettiest eyes."
I gulped. How could he know all these things about me? I was sure I hadn't told him about any of these things, apart from the bit about why I wanted to be a healer. How did he know all this? He had just noticed these things? "Y-you-"
"I notice things. I do know you," he insisted. "And I like you," he and I smiled at the same time. "Despite the fact that you don't eat tomatoes and they're practically my favorite."
I laughed. "You're amazing, you know that?"
"Of course, but go on," Sirius laughed.
"You try and act all aloof and cool, but you're just this amazingly sweet, insightful person. Does anyone other than me see this side of you?" I asked, tilting my head.
"No, thank God. My reputation would be trashed," Sirius raised his eyebrows at me and grabbed my hand. "Listen, during summer break I want you to make sure you're ready for this. I know we said three months, but if you're still not ready I think I can wait a little longer… although I don't think I'll like it very much."
Three months? Screw that, I was ready now! "OK," was all I was capable of saying. I felt lame.
Sirius Black might have been the perfect man.
He got up to leave but as he was still holding my hand, I used him to lift myself up off the couch with him. "Wait," I said. Impulsively, I pulled him back in. I kissed him this time. It may have technically been our third kiss, but it should have been the first kiss. It was soft and sweet but then turned a more passionate when Sirius got over the initial surprise. He cupped my cheek in one hand and pulled me closer with the other. It nearly took my breath away—I was finally kissing Sirius Black, I mean really kissing him!
"Oops! Sorry to interrupt!" Lily blurted out jovially. I pulled away from Sirius and put a hand to my mouth, an automatic reaction to being caught snogging.
Lily was holding hands with James and smiling at me knowingly. She let go of James' hand with a meaningful look and ran out of the living room, dragging me along. I was a bit disappointed to be pulled away from Sirius and the look on his face practically made me burst out in laughter. He looked about ready to murder Lily, but she ignored him and continued dragging me behind her. "See you in a bit, boys!" she called. "I've got to talk to Lore."
"So?" she prompted when we were alone. She had dragged me into the bathroom and was fixing some smudges of make up under my eyes.
"So what?" I bit my lip and both ignored her pointed question and tried not to flinch at the fact that her fingers were dangerously close to my eyes.
"Last I heard he was swearing off the female sex for you and now you're together?"
"Not officially. He has to keep his promise over the break and I'm having James watch him while Sirius is here."
"But then you'll be together?"
"If he keeps his promise," I agreed.
"Oh he will. So why were you kissing him again?" Lily asked, helping me pack my bag since apparently she had already finished. "Doesn't seem like your style of saying good-bye," she laughed.
"He was being so sweet. You know what he said to me? He told me that I'm different and special and then he went on to tell me how much he's noticed about me—like I don't eat tomatoes, I smell like flowers, and I always wear this necklace from Farrah."
"Well that's either adorable or slightly creepy."
"I chose to find it adorable," I smiled.
"Well then it's adorable," Lily consented.
A bit later, when Lily was done grilling me, we reemerged and grabbed our sleeping bags and found a spot in the living room. Sirius was still sitting in his spot on the couch. He grinned at me when I came in. "Hey."
"I'll be back in a bit," Lily said slyly, taking her cue.
I sat back down next to Sirius and he wrapped his arm around me.
"So try not to pounce on me, next time. I wasn't ready."
"Pounce?" I snorted. "I do not pounce."
"Well whatever it was. Give me a little time to prepare myself, all right?" he chuckled, leaning over and cupping my jaw in his other hand. Now I understood why he had placed his other arm behind me, because it now served to pull me close and keep me there. I sighed contentedly as his lips touched mine gently.
"So you don't mind waiting?" I whispered when I pulled back.
He shook his head again. Pulling me even closer, he kissed me deeper this time, like he had a lot of bottled up emotion and had been waiting for a long time. I could taste the hunger in his kiss. Sirius was so intense that it kind of enveloped me and wouldn't let me go.
"I can do it, Lore. I'll do it for you."
And he didn't say it, but the look in his eyes gave him away. Anything for you.
A/N- Well, it's been quite a ride, eh? I want to thank absolutely EVERYONE who has read, all those who have reviewed and especially everyone who has stuck with me from the very beginning. Thank you so much everyone. Thank you thank you thank you.
The next story will start soon, I promise. I just need to take a break from this all. I've got a summer job, so I don't have much time for writing. But fear not! Lore and Sirius's epic love story is not over!