Chapter 1 : But As the World
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The rating is for oblique, blink-and-you'll-miss-'em references to sex.
DISCLAIMER: 'tisn't mine. I'm just playing in JK Rowling's pond.
Written for The Beatles and the Bard challenge on MetamorFic_Moon on Livejournal
I hold the world but as the world...
A stage where every man must play a part,
And mine a sad one.
The Merchant of Venice (act 1, scene 1, lines 77-79)
I fell in love with her on a Saturday afternoon.
It was a series of ordinary events that led to a not so ordinary conclusion. She stumbled, as she so often did, and I reached out to help, as I so often did, and somewhere in the middle of it, I kept her from hitting the ground. From her half-suspended position, my arms around her middle, she looked up at me, slightly startled, as if completely taken aback to find herself in someone’s arms instead of on the floor. “My hero,” she said, a little breathless.
I fell in love with her in that moment, and I’ve been in love with her ever since.
There were girls when I was in school, dates taken and hands held and kisses stolen at midnight on top of the Astronomy Tower. There were girls, but not many of them and nothing that grew to be serious because I deliberately held myself apart.
We all have our parts to play.
Before starting at Hogwarts, I had made a solemn vow to myself that no one would ever be put in danger because of what I was. I would keep it, I determined, by not forming any attachments. If I let no one get close to me, then I would hurt no one if my secret was discovered. And I would not have to suffer through the pain of losing horrified and disgusted friends when they discovered what I was. It was what I had to do, and I was determined to do, no matter what.
I hadn’t counted on the Marauders.
James and Sirius and Peter made themselves my friends because they wouldn’t take no for an answer. I broke my solemn vow three times over, and a fourth when Lily came into the picture, and that’s why the dates happened, and that’s also why nothing became serious. I broke off every relationship long before it could get to that point. I had been lucky four times. I did not believe I could be so lucky again.
I lost them all, though, all four in one night, and that night, it became clear to me. I had cheated Fate and my oath too long, and so events forced me back to the life I was meant to lead, a lonely one.
We all have our parts to play.
When Sirius came back into my life twelve years later, he did has he had done before. He brought others with him. I found myself caught, once more, in the world he tried to create for himself, a world in which I was constantly unable to hold myself apart. So I revised my role. Friendly to all, close to none. None but him, for he needed me to be the friend I had once been.
He seemed so often to be trying to keep alive the world of the past, to be the person he had been before, regardless of the fact that he could never be that person again. He had seen too much and been through too much, as had we all. And I asked him why, why he was trying so hard to recreate what had long since broken and disappeared.
“I hold the world but as the world, Moony,” he said to me, three-quarters drunk and waxing poetic. “A stage where every man must play a part.”
The world as but the world, where every man must play a part. We all have a part to play. And mine’s a sad one. We all have our parts to play.
He didn’t make that easy. I knew my role in the world, I knew the part I had be assigned. I had known it since I was a young child. But he didn’t make it easy. He never had. Because he brought people with him into my life. He brought Dumbledore and he brought the Order. And he brought her.
I fell in love with her on a Saturday afternoon, and no one knew it but me. And him. He had watched it happen, and he knew what it meant. He knew that I loved her, and he couldn’t understand why I refused to do anything about it. He tried to tell me that she liked me, that she’d be more than open to a date or five. He missed the point, and that was a long argument and a longer night.
He asked me why, why not be with her for whatever length of time, if I loved her. And I threw his own words back at him. “Because I hold the world but as the world, Sirius, a stage where every man must play a part! And mine’s a sad one!”
He called me cowardly, he called me ridiculous, he called me idiotic and stubborn. And when I told him that it was wrong for someone like me to be in love with someone like her in the time in which we lived, he called me blind. “Being in love is never wrong,” he said.
“Being in love is often wrong,” I corrected. “And it is only romantics and idealists who say otherwise, and those who live in the middle of a war should know that sometimes that’s just the way it is.”
“And sometimes two people in love is the only thing that’s right in the middle of a war,” he shot back at me.
But I held fast and I held firm, and by the time the next day dawned, not only had I not given an inch to him, I had convinced him to keep silent on the matter. And though it was hard to be around her and be in love with her and ignore the fact that I was, I had lived with what was hard before, and I knew I would manage.
But then we lost him.
He had been the world to me because he had brought the world to me, and he had meant just as much to her, and he had become so much a permanent fixture in both our lives that neither of us really knew how to live without him there.
The night that he died, the world was wrong with an intensity never known before. And we were like two people lost at sea who somehow managed to find one another, and as we clung to one another, I became aware of the fact that, as he had said, loving her truly was the only right thing in that world that had gone so suddenly so wrong.
We all have our parts to play, but that night I laid mine aside.
Together, that night, we strove to fight back the wrongness in the only way two people so terribly lost could. We came together, we clung together, we strove to move as one, hoping it would hurt less than being apart, as two. I buried myself in her so I wouldn’t find myself buried by the world. I focused on the pounding of our bodies so I wouldn’t have to focus on the pounding of my heart. I drove myself to the point where I had to scream her name so I wouldn’t find myself weeping his. We used each other until exhaustion drove away the numbness he had left and physical pain kept us from feeling the emotional.
We all have our parts to play. I lost sight of mine that night. I let her slip into my life, and I knew there was no way to go back.
And I sat there, on the edge of the bed in that unfamiliar room, as the first rays of the sun found their way past the blinds in the window. I sat with my head in my hands, still not able to believe what I had done, what I had allowed myself to do. That morning, the world was still wrong, but instead of helping, what I’d done had only made it more wrong because waking up next to her was the most right thing I had ever felt in my life.
I knew I had to leave, and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I knew I had to do it. I had to cut myself away from her, not because too much had been done to go back, but because too much had been said. And I cursed myself and my foolishness. I could have made it all stand purely as physical comfort and a one-time thing if only I had never said the things I did, nor heard them said in return.
And so, as the early morning light began to pattern the worn carpet, I slipped silently from her bed, dressed, and prepared to walk out of her life.
I hadn’t counted on the fact that she would miss my presence, that she would awaken when I left her room and follow me. I hadn’t counted on the fact that she would wait until my hand was on her doorknob to call out from behind me and ask me where I thought I was going.
I didn’t even look at her as I told her I was leaving, or as I told her that I didn’t intend to come back.
I could hear her anger and pain and confusion as she asked me then what the hell was going on. I delivered, then, my voice emotionless but my heart reeling, the answer I had been rehearsing in my head since the day had dawned.
“I am too old, too poor, and too dangerous for you, and I need to be gone from your life.”
“You weren’t too old, too poor, or too dangerous last night!” she spat at me, and I burned with shame at the implications in her voice.
“Things look different in the light of day,” I told her. “Last night can never happen again.”
“So last night was a mistake?” she demanded, and it seemed to me that I heard three voices ask that question – hers, mine, and one I had thought I would never hear again – and it also seemed to me that far more awaited the answer than just the two of us in the room.
It would be easy to suppose that I was warring with myself at that point, that a great battle was being fought between my head and my heart. But this would be untrue. There was no battle. I had already silenced my heart. I needed only to silence hers.
“Yes,” was my answer, and believing that to be the end of things, I turned the handle of the door.
But then she was there, her hand clasped firmly around my wrist, preventing me from leaving. But even though feeling her skin against mine once more awoke memories in my flesh, even though having her so close did prompt my heart to give one last, faint protest, I did not meet her eyes.
“I love you,” she said, fiercely, angrily, her grip against my wrist tightening painfully. “And I know you love me, because you looked into my eyes last night and told me so. And now you’re just going to leave? Going to walk out that door and pretend that it never happened or that it doesn’t matter?”
I did what I had to then. I looked from her hand to her face, I held her eyes in a cold and level gaze, and said, “If that’s what it takes.” And then, while she was too stunned and shattered to move or react, I removed her hand from mine, opened the door, and disappeared.
I fell in love with her on a Saturday afternoon. I broke her heart on a Sunday morning.
We all have our parts to play.