Chapter 5 : Recovery
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I remembered every one. Each reason written invisibly across the lines that interrupted the skin of my forearm. The cuts were like, mementos, carrying the memory with me so I would never forget. Sometimes I’m happy for them, to remember the evils of my life. But sometimes I wish I could just forget.
The first was ages old. Nearly invisible now, and close enough to the bend of my elbow to go unnoticeable of it weren’t for the other ones surrounding it. I cut that one when I was only young. The Christmas that I had returned home to my mother’s fury that I had been sorted into Gryffindor. I had noted that night that my blood was red like my house color. I concluded that I had been born to be in Gryffindor unfortunately.
Nearby that cut, about a half inch closer to my wrist, another shiny white scar, one I inflicted years later. The night of my fourteen birthday, which everyone but Regulus forgot. That day I had told my mother that I loved her. I said to myself that if she said it back, I could forgive her for forgetting. She didn’t say it back. I felt worst with myself because of how I yelled at Regulus to leave me alone later that night, when he had only been trying to give me the gift he had saved up for me. That stupid carved stone wizard chess set that I had been admiring for over a year. I found it outside my door when I had gone in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, a happy birthday note on top.
After that was the tiny one, inflicted with the tip of a quill, making it not so much a cut, but more like a tear. I had locked myself in the boy’s lavatory that morning to rip at my skin for blood after I had been informed about the abandonment of my favourite cousin Andromeda, for marrying a muggle. I would never get to see her in her wedding dress like I had been so exciting for when receiving the wedding invitation a few days previous.
The next was during the night I ran away, in the shadows of the Potter’s bathroom. That scar was still pink; I had cut deep that night. I had to stuff a facecloth in my mouth just to keep myself from making noise when I cried.
After that was the one from a few days before, after my row with Regulus, still healing and slightly red in some places, tender to the touch as I trailed my finger tip over it.
And most recent, the cut still fresh, ready to bleed again if I moved my arm the wrong way. That one was from that morning when I heard the rumour. Regulus was set to be marked on his birthday this summer coming.
Soon enough I wouldn’t be the only Black hiding his forearms.
I sucked in a breath and pulled my sleeve down over my chilled arm, repositioning myself with my arms wrapped around my knees and my head resting on them carefully as I felt her presence approaching. Lily was always so easy to sense, not just because it was practically silent on the ground today, but because she simply brought life everywhere she went. It was almost as if the woods became more real as she walked through them towards me.
“Hey Sparky.” She said lightly, Her long red hair danced like a flame when a breeze flew by, around her red lips and striking green eyes. She looked like a woodland elf, or mother nature herself.
Placing a hand on my shoulder for a split moment to balance herself, she lifted a leg up and over the fallen log I was sitting on, settling on it next to me. I wondered if she knew how much her touch comforted me, brought me back to reality.
“Hey.” I replied, smiling gently at her nickname for me, thought up a few days ago when we had went over the Canis Major constellation in Astronomy; the great dog of the sky, with Sirius shining brightly within it. If she only knew how accurate the nickname really was.
“Why are you out here all by your lonesome?” she questions, simply. I knew she was prying, but somehow she managed to make it seem completely innocent. I wondered for a moment if Remus had sent her to retrieve me. No, that was foolish. That was only my wish. He didn’t rely on me that much.
“No reason. Just wanted some air I guess.” I replied just as simply. I always felt strange around Lily. It’s hard to explain, but, I felt like I didn’t have to hide so much from her, because Lily wasn’t looking for a joke all the time. Lily understood that I was sombre sometimes, that I wasn’t always the show that I put on for the world, and she was alright with that I think. I still didn’t want to show her how depressed I really was, but I also didn’t have to act the opposite to fool her. She was fine with sombre.
“I know the feeling. Sometimes James can be so stifling.” She sighed, implying the boy was a pest to handle, although there was a smile on her lips.
“He loves you.” I stated, seeing her blush as she bowed her head slightly, her hair falling from behind her ear in a curtain of silk. I only wish I had someone to love like he loved her.
“I know. I love him too. Sometime I feel like that’s the only thing keeping us together.” She chuckled lightly. To joke so simply about love, she was more like me then I gave her credit for.
“Ophelia was asking about you again today.” She commented, off handily, and I was sure it was more to get my reaction on the subject of her relentless friend more than anything. I rolled my eyes as always.
“When is she not?” I asked sarcastically, getting a chuckle from my company as she tucked her hair back.
“Well you can’t blame the girl for trying can you?” Lily asked with a grin, and I shrugged in reply. I guess not. I mean, I had always lived by the motto ‘you’re only a loser if you don’t try.’ And I wasn’t going to deny the fact that I rather enjoyed knowing that I had someone so devoted to getting my attention. The only problem with that was that I would eventually have to hurt the girl’s feelings.
“I guess. I mean, it’s not that she bad or anything. She’s just, not what I’m looking for right now.” I replied, then bit my tongue as I reviewed those words in my head. I couldn’t have said ‘she’s not my type’, or ‘I’m not looking for a relationship’, but instead I had to go imply that I had my eyes set on someone. Which I did, but I shouldn’t be going and telling people that. Especially when it was this person.
but I just had to go give Lily something to pick at.
“Oh really? So what are you looking for?” Her tone perked up into teasing interests as she turned my way slightly and poked her finger into my shoulder, grinning widely when I rolled my eyes.
“It doesn’t matter because I can’t have them anyway.” I explained, being careful with my words this time, hoping she wouldn’t pull to much information for that, and making sure I used the word ‘them’. She pouted, and I knew she was going to continue to prod until she got what she wanted.
“Why not? I would think you could have any bloody girl you wanted Mr. Black.” I smirked again at her underlined compliment before shrugging.
“Let’s just say that they’re, off limits.” Extremely, completely, totally, fully off limits, I comment in my head. The demons replied with a growl of annoyance, but I forced a sly smile in her direction nonetheless. She didn’t send it back. Instead she fell silent for a moment, letting her head bow slightly again, and I couldn’t help but sense the awkwardness flowing into the air that had been so fresh a moment before. I frowned in her direction, watching her lift her eyes, a serious tone taken over her evergreen gaze.
“Sirius, I, I didn’t know... If I had I wouldn’t have joked around with you so much. I thought, the way you acted was just, playful. I thought you knew my feelings for James.” I frowned further at her as she rambled, completely confused, before I saw the pain in her eyes and I connected my words. Someone I couldn’t have. Someone off limits. Oh Merlin.
“Oh... Lily. I, I didn’t mean you. Not that, you’re not my type or anything. You’re very beautiful and smart and brilliant, but, you and James are meant for each other and I would never get in the way of that. Besides, after everything, you’re like my sister. I don’t see you any other way.” I had taken her hand mid-way through my words to keep her from running away like I thought she might with all my stupid rambled words that could possibly be insulting her if she took them the wrong way.
But once I got the nerve to actually face her gaze, she was smiling, and I felt a wave of relief hit me when she lunged forward and wrapped arms around my neck. Happy again? Sometimes I wondered about this one. She could be so normal at times, and then other times she was such a girl.
“Oh Sirius, James is so lucky to have you. You’re such an amazing friend.” She said into my shoulder as she hugged me, myself barely having enough time to reacting before she pulled away, just because I was so shocked by the movement. She sat back up and then buried her face in her hands for a moment in embarrassment.
“I’m so foolish, I don’t even know why I thought that. I guess I just thought, seeing as how you are with girls. But he’s so lucky that you’re so faithful to him. Like you would ever consider...” I smiled at her rambling, touching her shoulder gently to snap her out of it.
“Lily. He might be lucky to have me but he’s also lucky to have you. You’re devoted to him also, and you honestly have no idea how much better, how much happier you’ve made him.“ I rubbed a hand over her shoulder carefully, friendly, and she smiled gratefully in returned, still red from embarrassment.
“Knowing that I’ve made him as happy as he’s made me is wonderful.” She replied, nodding to finalize it, before turning her eyes to the lake in front of us, letting another silence fall over the conversation for a moment as she dwelled in her head. She had a lovely gloss over her eyes, and flush on her face and I smiled when I realized the look. That was love written on her features. I let her be alone in her mind for a brief period before speaking, wanting to fill the silent and doing so with the first thing that came to my mind.
“What’s it like?” I asked her, surprising myself that I had let the small thought escape onto my lips. Why was I asking? Why did I need to know? She didn’t even take a second to wonder why I asked.
“Love? It’s like, the warmth of the sun on a cold day. When the air temperature is freezing and the wind is blowing hard. Then everything stills for a moment and you feel the sun’s rays on your skin, like an embrace. Love is like that. Sometimes you can’t feel it, sometimes you don’t know it’s there, but it always is, and then you feel it and it warms you all over.” She smiled absentmindedly as she spoke, staring off onto the mirror flat surface of the lake. Her eyes shined amazingly.
“I don’t think I’ve ever felt that.” I replied honestly, bitterly. She chuckled.
“You wouldn’t think. You don’t really notice it in passing. Often your mind is too preoccupied to really reminisce on fleeting moments of love. But now that you’re aware of how it feels, you’ll be aware of those moments when you get them. And began to long for them.” She left her lips slightly parted as another breeze blew by, and as it did she sucked in a silent breath, inhaling the wind. She did this often I noticed, a quirk, and I let my lip twitch upward slightly at her strangeness. How someone seemingly so prefect could be so eccentric. It bewildered me.
“Looking back, the first time I really remember feeling love, was when you first smiled at me.” Her eyes still closed, she didn’t see my reaction. The confliction in my face as sudden as her words. I bit my lip, not knowing what to say. What did she mean? What was she implying? Why was she implying it? After what I had just told her, what I had just corrected.
“Lily I-.” She cut me off when she smiled.
“That was years ago Sirius. I love James, just like I said. You are no different from a sibling for me either. But I think, my mind knew that one day we would love each other, even if it wasn’t the type of love I thought first at the time.” She finally opened her eyes again, and they were smiling brightly, the look of a burden lifted.
“Don’t tell him though. You know how he gets.” She added, before leaning over to kiss my cheek, patting my hand with hers and moving to leave.
“And don’t stay out here too long. You’ll catch a cold.”
Everyone had a secret. Mine was my mind and it’s evil. Remus’ was his body and its unpreventable transformation, and Lily’s. Lily’s was her heart. Her secret was that she loved me. I smiled. It was a comfort, to know that a girl like that had loved me. Someone as thoroughly beautiful as her, inside and out, had thought me worthy enough to be loved.
Remus’ eyes pulled up quickly when I walked back into the common room. My face was still flushed from the cool air outside despite my long walk from the kitchen, where I had stopped for a bowl of soup for him, so he didn’t notice the heat that crawled up my neck when I got his attention so quickly.
He smiled when I held out the cup of warm liquid. His irises, still rimmed with gold even though it was quickly fading away, managed gratefulness for my food offering even though the rest of him seemed thoroughly tired. He looked so sick, shaking slightly as he held the cup with both hands in his weakened state, and yet he was still prefect despite the fact that his hair was stringer then usually and his face was vacant of all color except the dark circles under his eyes.
“Where were you? Lily said she saw you outside.” James was only too ready to be obviously prying now that I was taking my zip up jumper off and settling down with them. As he said Lily’s name he pointed slightly off in the corner, where the red headed girl sat with a friend working on an assignment together. She lifted her eyes at her name, then smiled and gave me a slight wave when she noticed me. I tilted my lips in her direction, a smile at the secrets of our conversation.
I sat before replying to James, perching myself on the arm of the large lounger that Remus was curled up in, perpendicular to the sofa that James was lounging on and the spot on the floor by of the coffee table where Peter sat in front of what I assumed was homework. There was no logical explanation for why I choose there, other than the fact that there was really no available seats that would have me this much in the center of the conversation, nor have me this close to Remus, which was always necessary for me when he was in this state. Perhaps it was the dog in me acting, standing guard over him while he was vulnerable. Whatever it was, I always felt the most comfortable at his side.
I let my hand mess in Remus hair gently when he glanced at me, my way of brushing off his look of thanks for the food, as well as the almost unnoticeable curiosity he had towards my decided place of sitting.
“I was outside. It’s really nice out this evening, I just wanted a walk.” I explained, simply, never showing them the slightest inkling that I had heard the rumours. I knew they wouldn’t mention it if they thought I hadn’t heard, and that was the way I wanted it.
“You missed the beginning of my story.” Peter said, finishing up a sentence on his work as he said this before letting his quill sit back in his ink and starting a story out his unfortunate happenings in Potions class that day.
When Peter had restarted his story Remus had moved in the chair, turning slightly to be facing both James and Peter more, but also making it so that he was leaning ever so slightly against me. His shoulder blade burned against my side and I couldn’t help but become slightly foggy after the moment, so aware of him and so aware of how he didn’t even notice my physical reactions to his touch.
I don’t remember the details of the story. Something about another blunder of Peter’s that ended up making him almost ruin his potion, only to have Lily’s expertise save him in the last moment and how lucky he was to be in her Potions block. Perhaps I would have remembered better if I hadn’t been so distracted. So distracted by the smiles on my friends faces and the touch of a body next to me, and the comfort of a cozy common room.
Maybe if I had just been paying attention I wouldn’t have been caught so off guard when Remus left his head up to glance at me with his tired, beautiful eyes, a wide grin on his face, checking to see if I was as amused as him. A fleeting moment and my stomach clenched into a knot, my throat dried up, and my skin tingled warm all over. I forced myself to smile when I realized how dazed I had probably looked, and once he was pleased he turned back to Peter, still telling his story.
My eyes went to Lily instead of returning to Peter, where she was already looking my way. And I knew she knew. She turned her lips up and I understood.
That was the moment, so small and insignificant, but longed to feel once more as I sat there. I had felt love.
Remus was not having a very good recovery time, and it was frustrating for me to see how self pitying he was being. Usually he was a little sad until he started going back to classes, but in most cases the school work was enough to distract him from his self pity and bring him back to his usual persona. Unfortunately it wasn’t the case this time. It didn’t help with how many times we kept reminding him of how bad his last transformation had went.
We had all tried to keep our injuries from that night from him, but within a few days he had taken notice to them. First it was James, when the boy had rolled his sleeve up a little too high during dinner and revealed the large scrape down his arm from his bicep to just past his elbow. When Remus had asked about it he didn’t clue in right away that it was his doing, but the silence from all three of us that followed the question made his eyes fall.
“It’s not a big deal Remus, just a scratch, nothing I can’t handle.” James said cheerfully, honestly, but I knew that the damage had already been done. Remus nodded careful and returned his eyes to his food, but not before I could see the sadness in them.
Next Remus caught sight of the bruise across Peter’s ribs. I’m sure that neither James nor Peter realized that Remus noticed, consider he went right back to changing into his uniform like the rest of us without saying anything, but I saw the annoyance take over his features. The disappointment with himself.
After a few days of class where this sombre attitude of Remus’ continued, I decided that it was about time to get rid of it. I was getting sick not being around the Remus that joked around and laughed with us. We needed to get that Remus back.
We were all lounging under our usually tree, Remus laying with his head propped against a tree root, Peter leaning back on his hands to Remus’s right, James cross-legged with a textbook set in his lap across from them, and me laying on the ground on my stomach, the four of us taking advantage of the last few days of autumn by spending as much time outside as possible. I decided it was the perfect time to initiate a game of Truth, and bring back the playful side of Remus that we had lost.
“So, James, gotten to third with Lily yet?” I smirked at him when he looked up from his work at his name, watching his face flush when he heard the question and realized what I was setting in motion. Our games of Truth never really got formal, we didn’t have set rules and we didn’t even have to tell the truth if we didn’t want to, but the unwritten rule was that you did, or you thought of a humorous way of turning the question around if you didn’t want to answer it. I more often than not didn’t tell the truth during our games, not because I didn’t want to, but because the things I thought up were far funnier than the actually reality of the answer.
“Maybe.” James replied, still blushing furiously, Remus and Peter chuckling slightly as they realized that a game had began as well.
“Maybe? Do you know what third base is James?” I asked teasingly, and he shot a glare at me.
“Yes I know what third base is.” He grumbled, and I knew he hated that I had singled him out but when I sent him a look carefully I knew he understood my intentions behind the beginning of the game.
“And yes. I have. Happy?” he spat at me, and I grinned wide.
“How was it?” I smirked, laughing while covering my head when he threw his book at me.
“What’s third?” Peter asked carefully after a moment, his turn to blush as we all turned to him with disbelieving looks on our faces. Remus chuckled (the sound of it bringing a wider grin onto my face as I realized that my plan was working) and leaned up towards Peter, cupping his hand slightly and whispering something in the boy’s ear, which caused him to turned redder and the three of us to laugh again.
“You’re one to talk though Sirius. Have you even gone that far with a girl?” James fired the question right back at me, and I smirked, not even pausing to think as I replied while rolling over to lay on my back.
“Once.” I stated, and caught him gapping slightly. I had surprised him. He thought I told him everything.
“When? With you?”
“Last year. With one of Narcissa’s girlfriends from Durmstrang at our Christmas Eve party. She thought I was going to become a Death Eater, and I had had too much to drink with the help Roddy. Bellatrix’s boyfriend.” I explained, smirking when they were all slightly speechless. I glanced at Remus and he looked a little sick. I frowned.
“In other words, you were taken advantage of?” James asked, smirking, and I laughed.
“I wouldn’t go that far. I would have probably allowed it even if I was sober.” I replied, winking.
“What about you Peter. How far have you gone?” I grinned at him, innocent, expected a confession that he had never even kissed a girl, but he blushed once more.
“Second.” He muttered, and we all dropped our jaws.
“What?!” James was a little too astounded, and I threw his book back at him for his tone.
“Who?” I said, implying that I was correcting James rude outburst while James rubbed the side of his head where I had managed to come in contact with the hardcover.
“Olivia Kurt.” He mumbled under his breath, and I smiled wide. Olivia was a small girl in Hufflepuff, who had dark hair and a cute face. Defiantly not a bad choice for Peter, and someone even I would consider if the opportunity presented itself.
“Way to go.” I said approvingly, knowing that this would make Peter’s day, and catching him trying his hardest not to grin wide.
There was only one of us left to admit, and after we all stopped chuckling, James, Peter and I all turned our eyes to Remus.
“Oh come on. Two of you already know who for me.” He said seriously, glancing at me and James, and when he realized that neither of us were catching on, he gave me a significant look. Once I read the look in his eyes I realized quickly his intent behind those words, and snorted under my breath.
“Aw, Moony! If I would have known that I was your first makeout session I would have at least made it a bit more special.” He was quite a good actor. He had fooled me for a second there, but once I caught on I was only too happy to realized that I had my old Remus back, and I praised him for his return by rolling towards him, then catching his waist in my arms and pulling him into me. He was laughing even before I allowed myself to bury my nose into his neck, his hands struggling to push me away, their strength demising a little as he started laughing harder when I blew a raspberry into his collar. I really shouldn’t have done it, his skin was amazing to touch with my lips, but I had allowed myself to do it anyway, and I almost regretted it.
Luckily James had finally caught on and was there to save the day.
“You guys know that Peter has no idea what you’re talking about and I think he’s having a moment right now.” The idea of Peter’s obilviousness popped into my head right at his name, and I pulled my head up to see a completely confused and little disturbed look on his face before I fell over laughing with Remus again.
It was almost better then James’ reaction.
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