Another chapter here! And I think this is the longest one yet! Yay!
I have to warn you though, when I was writing this I was watching ‘Atonement’. And that film, although utterly beautiful, fantastic, and just all around perfect, makes me cry like a baby. The first time I watched it I wept! And then when the film finished I started watching some fan-made videos on youtube... so yeh, this is gonna be pretty depressing. I apologize.
On another note, isn’t James McAvoy just the bomb? He is so... fantastically wonderful! And his accent... melts... Anyway, back to the story.
I entered the Great Hall, and was greatly impressed by the decoration and overall ambiance. The ceiling looked like the night sky, hundreds of start flickering brightly. The house tables had been removed to make room for a dance floor, but there were smaller circular tables taking up half of the room, a a long rectangular table hosting refreshments and what not.
The room was a whirl of dancing, laughing, and happy people. All enjoying themselves. Carefree, and young, who, for this night, worried about nothing. They hid behind their masks, each with the ability for tonight to be whoever they wanted to be.
I suppose it was fitting that I wore no proper mask, for I wore a mask everyday anyway. I could have laughed at the symbolic nature of it all if I found it at all humorous.
“Miss. Bennet,” I jumped at the kind voice suddenly beside me. I turned to see the headmaster, Professor Dumbledore, standing beside me, wearing a dark red mask, and matching dress robes. “It is amazing is it not?” he said, looking up at the ceiling.
“An illusion. Nothing more.” I said flippantly.
“Ah, but illusions intrigue us like nothing else.” he said, smiling, “We want to see how they work, how they trick us. We all want to know what makes the illusion tick, do we not? Do you not agree, Miss. Bennet?” He gave me no time to answer, “Yet, deep down we do not want to know what is behind the illusion. We do not want to see the truth. See the reality behind the beauty of the illusion. We are comfortable with the illusion...”
He waved his hand at the ceiling again, and my eyes trailed up. The illusion flickered for a second, the night sky disappearing, replaced for a few moments by the old, worn ceiling of the Great Hall that we rarely saw. It was a quick lapse that no one else would have noticed unless they looked carefully enough.
“Sometimes we refuse to look past the illusion because it is the easy path Miss. Bennet, and then there are those of us that just have to look a little deeper. We just have to break through the illusion, and see the reality behind things. Even if it is a little less beautiful.”
He smiled down at me, “Enjoy your night, Miss Bennet. Don’t get into any trouble.”
“Of course, Professor.” I said uneasily, feeling rather uncomfortable with his insightfulness.
I shook my head, deciding to forget Dumbledore and his strange ways, as my eyes trailed across the room again. I saw Lily at a table with Diggory, Dorcas Meadowes, and Remus Lupin. Two tables to the left of them sat the Slytherins. Bellatrix in a Slytherin green gown with gaudy silver jewelry, her mask a untarnished silver with green detail. Quentin, Lucius, Severus, and Evan all wore black dress robes (like most the of boys, I noticed. None of them showed any kind of originality) with matching silver masks. I internally grimaced when Bellatrix saw me looking and beckoned me over. I took a deep breath- well as deep as I could while in the confines of the dress- and strode towards the tables, my gait strong, and aloof.
“You’ve finally decided to join us then.” Bellatrix said when I reached their table.
“I was ambushed by Dumbledore.”
“What did the old mud-blood lover have to say to you?” Quentin asked, his eyes narrowing suspiciously.
“Something about the ceiling...” I shook my head, “I really didn’t understand what he was saying.”
“I’m counting the days till he is removed from his post.” Lucius said, “It can’t come soon enough.”
I frowned, confused, “When? I haven’t heard about this.”
“Its inevitable.” Evan said, “Once the Dark Lord takes power people like Dumbledore will be...disposed of.”
I kept my face passive, although on the inside I was in full blown panic mode. Voldemort had some kind of plan in mind, a plan that would most probably change the wizarding world forever. This is not good. Not good at all.
“Your dress is wonderful.” Bellatrix said, her eyes filled with blazing jealousy, ripping me from the thoughts swirling through my mind at that moment.
“Mother chose it for me.” I answered. “Yours is beautiful too, Bellatrix.”
She smiled her small thin smile, and then turned to Quentin, “Shall we go dance?”
“I suppose. It is a ball.” Quentin said, taking her hand and leading her into the throng of dancing couples.
“I need a drink.” I said quickly before Malfoy could ask me to dance, “I’ll be back in a moment.”
I moved as quickly as I could away from them and towards the refreshment table, away from their prying eyes. My heart was beating furiously, as I attempted to think of a way to stay away from Lucius for most of the night. I’d rather not have his hands coming anywhere near me at any point this evening if I could help it.
I got myself a small glass of butterbeer, wishing there was something stronger. Where was the damn firewhiskey when you needed it?!
I allowed my eyes to surreptitiously trail back over to their table. Malfoy was standing with Rosier, and 2 Slytherin girls I barely recognized.
Thank Merlin for whores.
“Isabella.” I froze, recognizing Sirius’ voice immediately.
I slowly turned around, suspicious of his motives. My eyes immediately searched for Bellatrix, or my brothers roaming eyes.
“Don’t worry.” Sirius said, “You could be talking to anyone of your numerous admirers. I’m wearing a mask, remember.”
“What do you want?” I asked.
“Dance with me.” he said. He wasn’t asking. He was telling me. I found it strangely appealing.
“Why on earth should I dance with you, Sirius?”
Hurt flashed through his eyes, as he stiffened, before masking the emotions conveyed so easily in his eyes, and smirking.
“Because its either me, or him.” He jerked his head in Malfoy’s direction, who was currently still flirting with the Slytherin whore.
He put his hand out, and I stared at it doubtfully. What was he up to?
I placed my hand in his, and he led me through the dancing couples, into the centre of the dance floor. He gently, and either with reluctance, or caution, placed his right hand on my hip, while his other took my right hand in his.
“I see that you remember how to dance.” I said dryly.
“I may have been disowned, Isabella, but it doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten how to act like a proper pureblood when I have to.” He said.
“Isabella.” I repeated, “Why are you calling me Isabella?”
“That’s your name.” he said simply.
“But you call me Bella. Or Bennet...”
“Well, I called you Bella when we were friends. And Bennet... That’s what I call your brother, so it’ll just get confusing.”
When we were friends. That utterance caused more pain than I’d care to admit to anyone, even myself.
I unintentionally stiffened, but then forced myself to relax again. “Why are you doing this, Sirius?” I asked, keeping my voice even.
“Do I need a reason?” he asked, his tone mirroring my own. His right hand moved to my lower back and pulled my body closer to his, as close as the dress would allow. The tension between us was palatable.
“We haven’t spoken civilly to one another in years Sirius.” I said shortly, “The last few times we have conversed we’ve ended up arguing.”
“And who’s fault is that?” He snapped, quickly losing the calm facade. “All I’m doing is trying to help you...”
“Help me?” I retorted through gritted teeth, “What you’ve been doing is not helping me, Sirius. In fact, it is making this harder. You think flaunting your freedom helps me? You think repeatedly claiming that I could be happy helps me? No. No, it doesn’t. And the sooner you accept that, and accept that it can never be like it was, the sooner we can both move on with our lives.”
I refused to look in his eyes, and so turned away from him, and rushed through the throng of people towards the doors. At that moment I didn’t care about Malfoy. I didn’t care about anything. Without really saying anything Sirius had brought a rise in me again, goaded me into losing my temper. How could he have such control over my emotions? How dare he use my... attachment, however old it may be, to him to his advantage!
Once out of the Great Hall I turned down a random corridor, not really caring where I was heading. Merlin! He hadn’t even said anything that bad, yet I was reacting like a prepubescent, juvenile child. He made me so mad. Irrationally so. Before coming to this damn school I'd been an expert at hiding my emotions, bottling my anger, or my sadness. But ever since he waltzed back into my life the hypothetical bottle had been smashed, and I was left picking up the pieces.
I stopped, ripping off the damn mask and throwing it to the ground. I leant against the cold corridor wall, standing in the darkness, trying to calm my agitated heart.
Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! He was going to ruin everything. Once Malfoy realised I’d left he would probably decide to inform my brother of my friendship with Lily. I couldn’t let them hurt Lily. I couldn’t let her be dragged into this. She was the first person in years to be genuinely nice to me, to genuinely want to be my friend. If they even attempt to hurt her...
I heard footsteps then, and my eyes opened to find Malfoy leaning against the wall next to me.
“You left.” he said. I couldn’t quite put my finger on the tone. It wasn’t directly angry, yet it wasn’t exactly the epitome of calm either.
“I...needed some fresh air.” I answered cooly, “I was feeling faint.”
His lips set in a thin line, he searched my eyes for any traces of a lie.
“Your not a very good liar Isabella.” he hissed before walking towards me, reaching me in 2 long strides, and pushing me hard against the wall.
“Get your hands off me.” I spat venomously, struggling to free myself from Malfoy’s grasp.
I was too weak, pinned against the wall by his strong body. Perhaps if I weren’t in this damn dress I’d be able to fight, free myself. But I was trapped.
I hadn’t expected him to follow me.
I didn’t even know he’d seen me leave the Great Hall.
Had he seen me dancing with Sirius?
It was possible. But even if he had seen me dancing with someone he might not have known it was Sirius. He was wearing a mask after all, and Lucius was nowhere near us.
I shouldn’t have left the Great Hall. Stupid Bella, you needed to be in a public place.
“I don’t think so Isabella.” He hissed, his lips so sickeningly close to my ear, that I could feel his warm, putrid breath. He pushed me harder into the wall, restricting my ability to breathe even more. “You don’t know what you do to people, do you? You’re such a tease.” He hissed, moving one hand around my neck, the other hovering around my waist.
“If you get your filthy hands off me right now I may not tell my brother about this.” I said, gritting my teeth against the insult ready to pounce from my lips.
“I hold all the cards here Isabella,” He murmured, “You’ve built up this charade, and they all believe you- mostly. I believed you. And then you started associating with that mudblood...and its rather obvious that you have differing views on appropriate friends.”
He moved a cold finger slowly down my cheek, down my neck, and towards the top of my corset. “But I’m willing to... conveniently forget about this... for something in return.”
“Never.” I spat, “I would never degrade myself in that way.”
He didn’t seem happy about this. He grabbed hold of my neck again, pulled me away from the wall slightly and then smashed my head back. I let out a yelp of agony as my head came into contact with the hard stone of the wall. I felt the blood slowly seeping from the wound he’d inflicted on me. I shut my mouth, biting my bottom lip to prevent anymore signs of weakness from erupting from my mouth.
My stubbornness pushed through the fear.
I indignantly kept my head held high, and lifted my knee up swiftly to kick him in the groin. I couldn’t do it as hard as I would have liked due to the mountains of fabric, but it did its job somewhat.
But it only seemed to make him angrier.
He took a step back, and removed his wand from his his robes.
“Crucio.” He muttered powerfully.
Immediately pain seeped its way through my whole body. My legs gave way and I fell to the ground, a mess of material.
I didn’t want to scream, I refused to give him the satisfaction. I bit my lip, hard, trying to swallow back the whimpers. The flames of pain burned through my veins, ignited by his cruelty. I felt myself slowly drifting from consciousness. I fought against the darkness that was attempting to consume me.
Suddenly, a curse of some kind hit Malfoy’s shoulder directly and he was thrown a few feet through the air, and away from me. His spell broken, the intensity of the pain diminished, yet shadows remained.
I lay there unmoving. All sounds around me were muffled. All I could hear was the sound of my own heartbeat, my eyes closed tightly to keep back the tears.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
The fast, yet loathsomely familiar, beat of my heart kept me from breaking down completely. I was unable to catch my breath, as a shot of pain in my chest increased in size and intensity.
“Bella... Bella, speak to me please.” Came a overly panicked voice.
I recognised the voice, but I could not force myself to open my eyes and confirm my suspicions.
I knew that if I opened my eyes I would cry. And I didn’t know if I’d be able to stop.
He picked me up bridal style easily, and I let him, too tired to fight it, too tired to be stubbornly independent.
Look where that has gotten me.
“Bella...” Sirius whispered, looping my arms around his neck. “Speak to me.”
His voice was bordering on hysterical.
My head hurt. Really hurt. I hadn’t really noticed the pain before, but now...
“I’m taking you to the hospital wing.”
That woke me up.
“No.” I said weakly, keeping my eyes closed, “Please.”
“I think your head is bleeding.”
He didn’t say anything, he just kept walking. I didn’t know where he was going.
But I felt safe.
At that moment that was all that mattered.
He carried me somewhere, and set me down on a comfortable bed.
“Its ok now Bella, you can open your eyes.”
“Where am I?” I asked quietly, my eyes remaining stubbornly shut.
“Its called the Room of Requirement. It can be whatever you want it to be.” He said quietly. I felt him moving some of my hair from my face, his warm fingers grazing my cheek and calming me down.
“Why won’t you open your eyes?” He whispered.
“If I open my eyes I’ll cry.” I admitted quietly, “And I won’t be able to stop.”
I felt him stiffen, as the bed shifted, and take a deep, supposedly calming, breath.
“I’m going to check you over, ok?” He whispered, softly.
I nodded, “I think I’ve hurt my head. He... pushed it against the...”
I bit back a sob, biting my bottom lip so hard it would probably bleed.
He gently pushed me onto my side, and dragged his fingers across the back of my head.
“There’s a gash.” He muttered. “I’m going to kill him.”
“No...” I began.
“I am not just going to leave it and let him...”
“They’re looking for an excuse to kill you Sirius.” I said, my voice still weak.
“I don’t care. He can’t do this to you and get away with it. I won’t let him. He used an unforgivable curse on you, Bella.”
“Leave it.” I ordered gently.
He moved me back onto my back, and was silent for a few moments, before I felt his hand lightly caressing my neck.
“Your neck is bruised.” He mumbled.
“I think... my back...” I began.
“Can you turn onto your stomach?” he asked.
I rolled, with some help, and quite a bite of pain, onto my stomach.
“I’m just... going to undo the ties...”
He seemed flustered. I had never known Sirius Black to be flustered.
He undid the corset ties, and I immediately felt my physical ability to breathe increase. He freed my back, and I heard a sharp intake of breath.
“Its red... Its going to bruise badly.” He muttered this, trying to contain the anger in his tone.
“There should be some clothes... somewhere.” He then said, “I’ll just go look.”
I felt him get off the bed, and I moved onto my side again, curling up into a ball, a mess of material.
I wanted to open my eyes. But I felt the tears preparing to spill. I felt them waiting on the edges, ready.
“I found some sweats...” He said, returning to my side.
I sat up slowly, crossing my arms across my chest to keep the dress up.
“You’re going to have to open your eyes.” he said quietly. “You can cry Bell... It’s only natural. I’m not going to judge you.”
He put a comforting hand on my cheek.
“Look at me. Please...”
I took a deep breath, and let my eyes open.
He smiled at me, but it was a forced smile. I saw a unconditional anger behind his eyes.
The tears started spilling from my eyes. I looked away from him, hating that I was being so weak.
“Bella. Bell.” he whispered my name, “Please look at me.”
His hand was still on my cheek, his thumb wiping away the tears.
I slowly allowed my eyes to drift up to look at his face.
“I promise...” he whispered, “I promise that I will not let him, or anyone else hurt you.” I tried to look away, burnt by the intensity of his gaze, but he wouldn’t let me, “Whatever it takes... whatever, I will protect you. From your brother, from your father, from Malfoy, even from Voldemort himself... I won’t let them hurt you.”
And I believed him.
Or at least I wanted to.
He stared at me, and I found myself putting my hand over his on my cheek.
“You’ll get hurt.”
“I can look after myself.” he shrugged.
“Don’t worry about me.”
“You’re worrying about me.”
“That’s my job.” He said, smiling wistfully.
He opened his mouth to speak, but then shut it again.
He leant forward until our noses were touching as he stared into my eyes. He hesitated, possibly searching for something in my eyes.
I was the one who took it one step further. I was the one who did something neither of us expected.
I placed my hands on his cheeks, holding his face firmly, and then kissed him. He seemed shocked at first, but then his arms went around my waist and he deepened the kiss. His tongue lightly caressed my lips, gently demanding access, and I allowed it.
All I wanted right then was him.
And that wanting scared me. That physical need was such a strange feeling for me. Everything between Sirius and I was extreme. We were never just... normal. It was either uncontrollable anger, or... this. There was never any in-between.
I just wanted to forget, and this was an easy way to forget.
But then he stopped. “Bella... you don’t want to do this.”
“Yes I do.” I retorted irrationally.
“No. You’re upset. And emotional, and you really don’t want to...”
“I know what I want Sirius.” I snapped. “Unless its not what you...”
“No, I want this more than you’d think. And if you were in a state to actually make the decision then I would most definitely not be saying no.”
“Please Bell, don’t.” His voice sounded strained. “You’re not in the right mind...”
“I’m never in the right mind.” I muttered, “I’m always playing the game. Always acting. What if this is who I really am? Just a cheap whore?”
“Don’t say that.” He said, his voice quiet, yet strong.
“Why not? I don’t know who I am. No one knows who I am. I could be anything. Anyone.”
I was beginning to get hysterical. “I’ve been pretending for so long that I don’t know who I am anymore. I’m just the girl in the mirror. A stranger. And I hate myself. I hate what they’ve made me. I’m worse than them.”
“No.” Sirius said, capturing my face in his hands and forcing me to look at him. “No. You are not worse than them. You have a conscience. You are kind, and beautiful.”
“Beauty is only skin deep.” I snapped. "Bellatrix is beautiful, and we can see how cruel she is."
He ignored me, “You are not like them, please believe me when I say this. I would not be trying so damn hard to save you if I believed you were at all like them. I couldn’t love you if I thought that.”
Everything froze when he uttered those words. The air seemed to thicken around me as those words were etched into my brain.
“I can’t... you can’t... you can’t love me.” I said, shaking my head. “No. This makes everything... I can’t handle this...” I stood up, holding my dress up. “Not with everything...”
I couldn’t breathe again. The walls were closing in one me. I needed to leave. I needed fresh air. I just needed something. It felt like everything had slowed, like I was surrounded by water. I was trying to move quickly, but the resistance stopped me.
I looked frantically around the room and saw a black cloak hanging on the wall, I went over and grabbed it.
“I need to go...I can’t be here...” I said, wrapping the cloak around me, while expertly keeping my dress up. I rushed towards the door, but was stopped when Sirius grabbed hold of my wrist, forcing me to turn around. “Please...” I whispered, “Let me go.”
“I can’t.” He said, his voice pained. His eyes pleaded with me to stay.
What was there for me to say? How could you respond to something like this?
“I can’t do this right now.”
“You won’t just be able to ignore it Bella. I know that you feel something...”
“How can you know how I feel, when I have no idea myself?” I inquired quietly.
I then pulled my arm from his grasp and walked out.
I wasn’t strong enough to face the truth in his words. Yet.
Wowzers... This chapter took me ages to write, seriously. I rewrote it like 5 times, and I'm still not completely happy with it. But I knew that if I waited till it was perfect I would NEVER finish it. So, here you go! My favorite part of the chapter was actually the part with Dumbledore. I know thats weird. But its just so.. insightful into Bella's character. But, yeh, I also liked the bit with Sirius! lol. But I have to tell you, I'm not good with kissing scenes, so I didn't go into detail, and decided to go more with the emotions than the actual actions lol. Oh, and I have another story up now called 'Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous', its a next generation fic, and is a lot lighter than this story!
Reviews are love!