Chapter 23 : Best Friends and Lovers
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“My God, that exam was torturous,” I whined one afternoon to Regulus as we walked outside of the school. I was holding onto his arm as I stared up at the sky. I had always been fascinated by how big blue it was and how the clouds moved and formed shapes. It was silly really.
Dad and I, on days like this during the summer, would lie outside, on the grass, in the back yard and just look up at the sky and I didn’t feel so stupid because he liked looking up at it too. It had been a little bit over a month since dad passed away and about the same time I hadn’t spoken to my family. I wasn’t as upset as I was when I found out that they lied to me, but I just wasn’t ready to face any of them. I spent more time laughing, now, then I did crying because being at school, away from home, made it so much easier to forget what had happened and I didn’t like remembering. I didn’t need to break down anymore, or put strain on my friends and Regulus. It was better this way, though not very healthy. I won’t lie to myself.
I turned my attention back to Regulus and wondered if he had even heard me complaining about my exam. He’d been acting a bit odd the last couple of days, maybe it had been longer. I wasn’t sure when it began, but I had been noticing it a lot recently. “Hey,” I said, trying to get his attention.
“Hmm?” Was all he said to acknowledge that I had spoken. He was staring off at something somewhere in front of him. I tried to follow his gaze, but found he was just staring off into space.
“Regulus,” I tried catching his attention, squeezing his arm a little to get a reaction. “Are you all right?”
“Fine,” he said, turning his head slightly to look at me and then back to where he was looking at before.
I could feel myself frowning a little with faint annoyance at being ignored. “Are you sure?” I asked, pressing my cheek against his arm in a comforting matter. “You seem a bit off,” I told him. You’ve been acting off a while now, I added silently. “Did I do something wrong?” I couldn’t really tell why I asked that. Perhaps in the back of my mind, I knew I had done something wrong and was trying to figure out what.
“What do you mean?” He asked, stopping and pulling his arm out of my grip.
I stood, feeling a little confused by his sudden change of tone. Okay, I though, it was now or never. I didn’t want this hanging over us forever. “Well, I don’t know,” I began, eyes darting back and forth nervously. I hated being nervous, which Regulus often made me feel, and I hated confrontation even more, but I knew I had to bring it out into the open if I wanted to resolve whatever is was he was upset about. “You’ve been acting sort of distant lately, like you’re mind’s miles away and I can’t help feeling like…I don’t know…maybe you don’t want me anymore? Is that it?”
Instead of comforting me, denying that there wasn’t anything wrong with our relationship, he just stood in front of me, face hardened a bit by my words. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”
I narrowed my eyes, head titled to the side a little. “I’m sorry,” I blinked. “What?”
“You and Sirius,” he said and I fought the urge to groan. Please, no. I thought to myself. No, no, no. “People have been coming up to me, telling that they’ve seen you and him walking around school at night--”
“Have you been sending people to spy on me?” I asked, defensively, arms crossed over my chest now. He was accusing me of cheating on him, boy did he have something else coming. He didn’t say anything and I was beginning to wonder. “It’s not what you think, you know?” I had no idea he was the jealous type, but apparently I was wrong and this conversation wasn’t going the way I hoped it would.
“Oh, and what am I suppose to think?” He asked, rhetorically. “I’m not stupid, Murphy--”
“Well, then maybe you should stop acting like you are!”
He went on as if I hadn’t interrupted him at all, “I know that Sirius was the love of your life before I came along. I know. Maybe he is for all I know and I’m just the rebound.”
My mouth fell open in shock, but I quickly recovered. “Hey,” I nearly shouted, fed up with his allegations and poked him in the chest with my finger. “Sirius is my best friend, like it or not. You asked me to be your girlfriend, it wasn’t the other way around. I was against the idea, if you remember. You wormed your way --”
His brows shot up and he was looking a me with a mixture of amusement and anger. It was a strange mixture and if I hadn’t been upset with him, I might have laughed. “So, is that all I am to you- a worm?” He asked, cutting me off before I could finish.
I pressed a hand to my forehead and closed my eyes for a second, the feeling of frustration was creeping up on me and I didn’t want to say anything stupid. “Damnit, Regulus,” I said, giving him a pleading look. “I didn’t mean it like that. Please don’t twist my words around.”
He shook his head, taking what I had said before to heart. He took a step back away from me, “I don’t need to do any twisting, Murphy,” he said and the look he was giving me nearly broke my heart. “It’s how you feel. There’s no need to apologize. After all, I’m just a worm.”
“No, you’re not,” I told him, trying to keep my voice at an average tone. I really didn’t want to start yelling. I didn’t want this to escalate. I didn’t want to fight with him, but he was making things extremely difficult for me. “What’s gotten into you?” I asked, voice dropping just a bit to show him that I didn’t want to argue. Regulus and I hardly fought, it was strange. I understood that he was feeling a bit intimated by the relationship Sirius and I shared. We were best friends. “I do love Sirius,” I said, taking a step towards him when I saw the look in his eyes. There was so much betrayal. I pressed my hand against his cheek. “But not the way I love you. The two loves are very different. Do you understand?” I asked, trying to catch his eye, but he wouldn’t look at me.
Eventually, he did look at me but he had moved his face away from my touch and opened his mouth like he wanted to say something, but shook his head instead and walked away without even a glance back.
“Regulus,” I called out when I found my voice. I fought really hard with myself not to run after him. “Regulus, please don’t this. Please, don’t walk away from me!” I shouted, trying to cover up the fact that my voice was breaking. I wasn’t going to allow myself to cry over this. It was just a stupid spat. It was nothing to cry over. “Regulus!” I shouted once more and he was out of my sight.
I rubbed my forehead in frustration and noticed that several people had began to stare. Regulus had once jokingly said that we were like a celebrity couple and would probably go down in history as being the only Gryffindor and Slytherin couple, that we knew of. I could just imagine the rumors that were going to start up over this. Shaking my head, I turned around and head back into the school.
This fight was incredibly stupid, I found myself thinking again. I just couldn’t understand it. So what if Sirius and I were friends again. He had Holly and I didn’t love him the way I love Regulus, but if he was going to be stupid about the whole thing fine.
By the time I realized where I was going, I was already standing in front of the Gryffindor entrance. I muttered the password and walked through the threshold into the Common Room and headed straight for the girls dorm, but faltered a it when I heard Peter’s voice.
“Hey, Murphy!” He greeted, happily like he always did and I just didn’t have the heart to find it annoying. Peter was Peter and he was always happy, despite the way he was treated sometimes. “You’re just in time.”
I didn’t stop to talk to any of them. I just wanted to get to my room. I really needed to be alone.
“Murphy,” it was Remus who spoke this time. He sounded concern like always. “Are you all right?”
I sighed. “I don’t want to talk about it,” I told him, picking up speed.
I heard some movement from behind me and someone grabbing my hand. “Murph--” Sirius
I snatched my hand away from his, a lot roughly than I had intended, and turned around to face him. “I said I didn’t want to talk about it!” And ran all the way upstairs, slamming the door behind me. Sometimes I found it was a lot easier being mad than it was being sad. There was too much crying when sadness was involved, of course there were also tears when being mad because of the frustration it comes with, but I had better control over being angry. At least, that was what I liked to tell myself.
I threw myself on to my bed and buried my face in a pillow.
I just couldn’t understand how it had gotten to this point. I had been so certain that Regulus had known just how much he meant to me. I would have told him that I loved him, if I hadn’t meant it. I had already chosen him over my friends once, I wouldn’t do it again. Everything was so close to going back to the way it used to be before my dad died, before Regulus and I got together. Nobody was treating me like a piece of china, fragile and easily broken. They treated me like Murph the Smurph, the girl who ran with the big boys. I just couldn’t understand and I didn’t know how long I asked myself that question, but when my stomach began to grumble, I decided it was time for me to eat.
Sitting up, I wiped my face with the back of my hand, even though I hadn’t really cried.
When I got down to the Common Room, everyone had gone, from what I could see and I was silently thankful for it. I didn’t want anyone asking question. I made a beeline for the exit, hoping the guys had saved me a seat.
“Murphy?” I nearly jumped out of my skin at the sound of my name and turned to where the source of the voice was coming from. It was Sirius, still in his robes, lying down on the couch, hands behind his head. I placed a hand over my chest and glared at him, to which he laughed at. Apparently, I wasn’t very intimidating. “Did I scared you?”
“No,” I told him, voice laced with exaggerated sarcasm I made sure he wouldn’t miss. “I just about pissed myself because I had to use to the bathroom really badly.”
“Good to know,” he chuckled a bit, crinkling his nose.
I rolled my eyes. “What are you still doing down here anyway?” I asked him as I steadied my breathing. I was easily scared and still wondered whether or not people actually played that game I had mentioned before about scaring me to death. This only fueled that question. “Why aren’t you at dinner?”
“Could ask you the same thing,” he said, sitting up.
“Wasn’t hungry,” I lied, crossing my arms over my chest.
“Liar,” he laughed. “I can hear your stomach growling from here,” he said, pointing at me. I placed a hand over my treacherous stomach. “Want to tell me the real reason you were in a huff earlier?”
I didn’t say anything for the longest time. I didn’t want Sirius to get involved, but he already was, I supposed. At least, to his brother he was. “Regulus,” I finally said, breaking the silence.
He nodded his head in understanding. “Do you want to talk about it?” He asked and I shrugged, knowing even if I said no, he’d somehow get me to talk. “Okay, we’ll walk and talk. You’re stomach’s getting louder by the minute, might cause an earthquake if we don’t take care of it soon,” he joked and I smacked him playfully.
I think he was waiting for me to begin, but when he saw that I wasn’t going to, he asked, “What happened?” And I told him everything. Well, not everything. I managed to get around Regulus accusing me of still loving the older brother the way I used to. I just told him that he had been upset about how much time he and I had been spending. “So he’s jealous, is that it?” He asked, sounding surprised. I nodded. “Never really pegged him for the jealous type.”
“Yeah, neither did I,” I agreed and then nudged him a bit, playfully. “That’s suppose to be your job.”
He went really silent for a bit and I worried that I had gone a bit too far. If I had said it before all this had happened, he might have taken it as a joke, but now I wasn’t so sure. Maybe he’d get defensive. Perhaps he wasn’t ready to joke around that way, I thought, but then he nudged me back, I stumbled a bit because he caught me off guard. I chocked a bit on my laughter.
“Can’t blame the guy for being jealous though,” he said, holding his chin out in mock arrogance. Or, at least, I hoped it was. I’d hate to have to knock him down a few pegs. Actually no, I wouldn’t. He turned back to me, smiling that dazzling smile of his and said, “I am a handsome bloke,” and then added a wink.
“Yeah, whatever,” I snorted in a very un-lady like fashion and turned my head away to hide the blush creeping to my face. Sirius was handsome, I wouldn’t deny that, but I couldn’t let him know that I thought that. It would give him free reign to tease me with. I could already him singing, ‘you think I’m handsome, you want to marry me, love me, kiss me…’ blah!
“You all right?” I heard him asking. “You look like you just smelled something awful.”
“Yeah,” I said, thinking on my toes. “Your ego.”
“Ooh,” he said, placing his hand over his heart, grabbing a fistful of his shirt. “You burn me with your sarcasm.” He smiled and then turned serious. “But, really. If you want me to talk to Regulus, about this whole situation, I will. I don’t want to come in between you two anymore than I already have.”
I smiled, appreciatively. “Thanks, but no. This is something I have to handle.”
“You sure?” I nodded, “Okay.” He said and I felt a lot better than I did before.
“So, how’s Holly?” I asked, trying to keep the conversation going. That and I was really curious about her. I hadn’t seen her a lot lately and I felt really bad for the way I had treated her during the feud between Sirius and I.
“She’s good,” he said, shoving his hand through his pockets. “Can’t get enough of me,” he added with a wide smile, and I rolled my eyes. “She’s spending some time with her friends, said she missed hanging out with them”
“That’s good,” I told him. “So everything’s good between you two? She’s not upset with me, is she?” I asked a little nervously. “For what I said…?”
“No, no,” he shook his head. “She sort of understood that you didn’t mean what you said to her. She was just caught in the crossfire…”
“I’ll have to apologize to her soon. I feel really bad.”
“I’m sure she’d appreciate that.”
By the time the conversation was over, we had already reached the Great Hall and I was starving. My poor stomach had been growling all the way downstairs. We both walked in together, laughing and being stupid, the way we use to be and immediately spotted the guys. Thankfully they had saved us out seats and food.
While I sat, speaking to Lily, I felt eyes on me and when I looked up I saw Regulus.
I’m not sure how long we stared but we snapped out of it when Snape, who had been sitting next to him, leaned over and whispered something to him. Regulus looked away from me and for a while he went back to eating and talking, but then he stood from seat and walked out of the Great Hall. I fought the urge to follow him. He needed space and I was going to give him that.
I looked away from his retreating form and found Sirius was looking at me. I forced a smile on my lips, which he returned. Only, it didn’t reach his eyes like it usually did.