Chapter 8 : Chapter 8- A Cauldronful of Passion
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A stared after him in a slightly stunned silence. Every nerve in my body tingled with what might have been anticipation. I was suddenly eager to get to potions class. I cursed silently that it was in second period.
That was Lucy; she took a deep breath after each word so show her astonishment. “Sirius Black was…flirting!”
I spun around to stare at her in disbelief.
Anna, Lucy, Great and even Elise all started at me in awe. It was as though I had just fought of a lion with one hand tied behind my back.
“What?” I asked incredulously. “Sirius doesn’t flirt, even I know that!”
Greta nodded her head excitedly. “But that’s what makes it so amazing!”
I couldn’t think of any comeback. Was it true? Had he really been flirting? It seemed to be almost normal behavior for him now. He was certainly much more open than he had been at the start of the year. It was plain he had a certain charm.
“Whatever,” I muttered, feeling the blush forming on my face. “We better get to class or McGonagall will have our necks.”
I glanced nervously down the corridor which was now almost completely void of students, teachers and ghosts alike.
All four of the girls accompanying me seemed to snap out of a dreamy reverie. A look of near panic painted each of their faces. I started to laugh.
“C’mon, let’s go.”
We slung out bags across our shoulders and started to run down the corridor. At full speed for them, just a jog for me.
If transfiguration hadn’t been such an attention-demanding subject and Professor McGonagall the terminator, I would have had no hope of distracting myself till potions whatsoever.
I sat in between Elise and Anna, fidgeting with the hem of my school skirt, suddenly more aware and nervous about how I presented than every before. So this is vanity…I mused in between bursts of blind panic.
I smoothed my black school skirt, evening out the wide uniform pleats. I rolled up my white blouse sleeves evenly to my elbows and made sure the buttons were done up high enough.
I looked down at my tights and concluded there was nothing I could do to better them, but when the Professor (or anyone else for that matter) was not looking I bent down and polished my shoes with my wand. After a small spell, my black, leather flats were impeccably clean. With an almost satisfied sigh I sat back up.
Oh bugger, McGonagall was talking to me.
“Would you care to answer this question?” They eyes of the entire class were fixed on me, waiting.
Bless my uncanny hearing, bless it! For once I was relieved that I heard much more than was considered humanly possible.
While bending down I had heard her ask us for the incantation to transfigure rock to water.
“Augmentirei,” I said clearly, “not to be confused with Augumenti, the water summoning charm.”
The professor nodded her lips still in a thin line. For a second I thought she might
“Very good Wiley. I can see you at least have been listening.” She shot a glare at a one of Jasper’s teammates Hayden who had apparently failed to successfully answer the question moments before.
She turned back the board writing instruction and incantations on the board. The rest of the lesson passed in much the same fashion.
I had dumped Anna, Elise, Great and Lucy somewhere in the charms corridor, claiming that I had forgotten something from my dormitory.
While they hurried off down the stairs to the dungeons to their regular potions class, I rushed off to the second floor bathroom, to check my reflection in the mirror.
I hadn’t told them this of course, because I suspected they would know why. Because I was nervous about seeing Sirius of course.
I slipped soundlessly and speedily through the corridors until I reached the bathroom where I wrenched open the doors and bolted inside. I flung my bag down on the floor which was semi-flooded and hastened over across to a mirror.
My hair was in a loose French braid down my back. It was a little messy, wisps of hair were coming out every now and then, but I knew I would not have the time to redo it.
I assessed my reflection from every angle, fussing over my straight nose and wide eyes. Wasn’t there any way to make them less conspicuous? If there was, I wanted to know it.
Finally I came to the conclusion there was nothing more to do. I couldn’t think of anything anyway.
Full of jittery nerves I made my way back out the bathroom door and down the numerous flights of stairs leading to the dungeons.
I was running late.
When I arrived outside the classroom doors the class had already filed in and taken their seats.
“Ah, Miss Wiley, how charitable of you to join us.”
Professor Slughorn sounded disapproving, but once again was clearly struggling with the concept of telling off a star pupil. He peered with what I assume he imagined was a stern expression at me over his book.
“Sorry sir,” I said, “I-er-forgot my book.”
He continued to look stern. “Well take a seat; we’re doing something special today.”
At this a ripple of interested mutterings passed through the class. Slughorn looked smug, and could plainly no longer restrain himself from telling the class what their exciting new project would be.
“That’s right!” He announced as I slid into my usual seat, between Sirius and Snape, across from Lily. “Today we are making a very special potion, one which does not forge love, but creates the illusion of passion.”
Everyone in the room sat up straighter and another mummer of enthusiasm passed about.
“Can anyone tell me what it is called?”
Of course Lily could. She raised her hand before anyone else had a chance to think.
“It’s a simple name, perhaps so no confusions are made as to what it actually does,” She started, “It’s called ‘Essence of Lust’.”
Wolf whistles and sniggers were heard at this. Slughorn beamed fondly at Lily and ignored the outburst.
“Right again, as always!” He gushed, and began to magically write instructions on the board.
“Your instructions are on page 93 of your books, ingredients in the store cupboard and if you need any further help, come to me.”
With those words the class set to work.
I rose from my seat at once and pushed it aside. I flipped through the pages of ‘Advanced potion making volume II’. There it was. I ran my finger down the list of ingredients and started to walk towards the store cupboard.
Someone grabbed my hand.
It was Sirius. I shivered at his touch, and he smiled unevenly at me. Subconsciously I gave in to him.
“Let me get it.” He offered, his eyes dancing with chivalry. “I insist.”
I rolled my eyes playfully at him and smiled back.
“Oh, well, if you…insist.”
I slipped my hand from his and skipped back to the desk where Lily was waiting.
A wide smirk was plastered across her face, her expression all-knowing.
“Were you just holding hands with Sirius?” She asked casually, but leaning forward across the table and dropping her voice to a whisper.
I grinned, unable to conceal my glee, but when I spoke; it was with a little composure.
“Well, he grabbed my hand, but technically yes.”
Lily looked smug and lent closer. “Do you like him?” She asked. “I mean he is…very good-looking.” She was smirking in my face, a smirk almost identical to that of James Potter’s. I wonder if she realized.
I didn’t know quite how to respond to this question. I mean, did I? Of course I did. But the question was, should anyone know? Did Sirius even know? I wasn’t sure if he did and quite frankly I didn’t like the idea of him finding out.
“Did you miss me?”
He was back. Back with two piles of potions ingredients, plopping down into a seat next to me and drawing it just a little bit closer.
I could see Lily starting to speculate. Her eyebrows were in danger of disappearing into her hairline.
I turned to face Sirius. He hadn’t paused to hear my answer. He was now busying himself rolling up his long white school shirt sleeves to his elbows and putting his cauldron on the flame.
He stopped when he felt my eyes on his face. He turned to face me, staring at me through his thick dark lashes. His expression was a mixture torn between indecision and curiosity. He smiled softly at him, and although my palms tingled I smiled back too.
“Did you forget something?” I asked. He smiled crookedly shaking his head so his hair fell into his eyes.
“No, no. I was just … thinking. There’s a lot of stuff I still have to do.”
I didn’t realize what kind of ‘stuff’ he was talking about until Lily spoke up. I trusted her to keep rational conversation flowing between us all.
“Oh, you mean for the party do you?” She asked her eyes glittering with withheld excitement. “I would’ve thought you had all of that sorted out now? I heard you’d narrowed down the guest list this year.” Lily laughed.
I sat up straighter. I still remembered what I had sworn to myself three days earlier. No Party. However, sitting here in the dungeons with sweet aromas and soft heat encasing me, and Sirius Black’s beautiful face next to mine I wasn’t holding so firm on that.
Sirius threw a sideway glance at me. I wondered if he was angry with Lily for bringing it up in front of me. I wondered if he was hoping I’d ask him about it. That way it would be easier for him to ask me. But instead I just sat there, pretending to read the potion instructions.
“Yeah, there are only thirty or so people this time. Mainly just the seventh years, y’know?” Sirius muttered, nodding. “I didn’t like it so much with all the people last year. And it’ll be better for Moony.” He glanced at Lily here, and she nodded understandingly. I felt that I was missing something. “We’ve almost sorted it out, but you know us. There are still a few loose ends that we- that I need to tie up.”
I noticed the emphasis he’d put on I. I smiled secretly, watching them from the corner of my eye. Sirius grinned very suddenly.
“You’ll be very pleased to know James has found a very appealing suit to impress you with.” Lily flushed and smiled.
“I can barely conceal my happiness.” She laughed, but I knew she meant it.
I smiled and began to add the powdered unicorn horn to my potion. It turned an almost florescent shade of pink.
“Disgusting.” I muttered, making a face into it’s depths. The colour was making me feel sick. Sirius poked his head over my shoulder and chuckled.
“That’s revolting.” He agreed. “At least I’m past it.” He chuckled stirring his own potion, one step ahead of me his potion had now toned down to a bright, but pale red. I grimaced before speaking.
“Well, I guess pink is okay.” I started; he stopped his work to listen to what I had to say. “But it’s too … sickly for me.” I stuck out my tongue and pretended to vomit into the cauldron. This action earned a laugh.
“And it wouldn’t match your eyes.” From across the table I saw Lily smile at his remark. I smiled too, surprised by his observation.
“I thought guys weren’t supposed to know that kind of stuff.” I laughed, and he laughed a little too.
“And I thought girls were meant to like pink.”
I hit him with a book and continued stirring. He laughed and turned back to his potion. Lily watched on, looking every part the satisfied matchmaker.
The end of the lesson arrived very quickly. It had been the best potions lesson I had had since starting at Hogwarts.
Perhaps best of all, Sirius had almost seemed normal. Like a normal human male. He wasn’t rude, or perverted. Only a little bit arrogant, but for the most part polite and kind. Most definitely funny and of course, absurdly good-looking.
It was the free period before lunch. So instead of doing homework as I should have I went out to the ground and flopped down under a tree. With a contended sigh I closed my eyes and attempted to empty my mind of all thought. It didn’t work. Instead Sirius Black’s smiling face filled my thoughts.
Either my mind had preserved his voice so perfectly now that I could hear him speaking my name or...or…
My eyes snapped back open and he was there, his expression serious and agitated as he stared down at me. He smiled rather softly and gestured to the patch of grass besides me.
“Mind if I join you?”
“Not at all.” I whispered, watching as he dropped smoothly into the spot beside me.
We stared at each other for a long time, wondering what the other was about to say and who would get the ball rolling. His dark eyes bored into my own fiery ones. They seemed to my trying to pluck some truth from my mind.
After a while he spoke. He fidgeted with his tie for a brief second before turning to flash a nervous smile at me.
“Lulah,” He said very quietly. “I’m sorry for being so forward, but I need to know something, before I do anything else…I think it would be smart to ask…” I waited for him to continue on. His hand was resting temptingly close to my own.
He looked up at me again, through his lashes. His eyes weren’t so anxious anymore. Instead they were intense, burning fire.
“I’d like to know if you like me.”
This certainly took me back. I didn’t know what I had expected him to ask me, but it wasn’t this. He continued on now in a rush, his voice flowing out of his mouth like honey. He did not wait for my reply, but nor did I give it.
“I think- well I’m not sure. But I’m fairly positive you don’t really like me. You’re so withdrawn and careful around me, and I was wondering, is that just me? Is it because of me, Lulah?”
He had scrambled around in his position to face me. He was tantalizingly close to me; I could feel his breath on my face as he waited for my reply.
What a foolish boy! How could he think I didn’t like him? Of all the idiocy I’d heard in my life, this one topped the list. And then I did something that surprised us both. I reached out and took his hand.
“I don’t dislike you.”
I wondered if he could feel how hot my hands were. I wondered if I might just spontaneously self-combust at that very moment.
He looked down at our entwined hands as though he were a toddler inspecting some interesting new discovery, wondering how it could have possibly happened. He brushed his thumb and fingers lightly, delicately across the back of my hand. His touch burned my skin. He was being careful; perhaps he was trying not to scare me away.
“I don’t dislike you.” I whispered again, this time with more conviction. I tore my gaze away from our hands to meet his eyes. They were wide and full of confusion and wonder.
“You amaze me.” He murmured, shaking his head. He drew his hand away, my own hand flopped pathetically back to my side.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, worried that I had pushed the line.
“How can you distract me so easily?” He laughed. “You still didn’t really my question.” He was completely serious once more. “Is there someone else?”
My eyes widened. “Pardon?” I asked.
“Tell me who.”
“No - what?” I still wasn’t sure what he was on about. I was still busy processing his previous words.
“Who? Andrew? Michael? Remus?”
“No, not Remus.” I said a little too quickly, only because I recalled their conversation from that morning. He seemed to take that as a confirmation.
His glorious face turned hard and impassive again. The only thing that gave his real feelings away, as usual, was his eyes.
“Sirius-really…” I took a deep breath. I had to tell him how I really felt, or else I never would.
He looked over at me with angry, hostile eyes. I suddenly lost my nerve. “Yes?” He drawled. And suddenly he was back to his old self. Haughty, arrogant, egotistical. I wondered if it was his defense mechanism too.
“You are so frustrating!” I burst out, venting my anger right at him. “You and your goddamned mood swings.” I could feel the grass withering under my legs. “Do you draw your personality out of a hat every day? Or is it just me? You seem normal enough with everyone else, heck, you even have friends. What is it, please, don’t hesitate to tell me.”
He was furious, livid even, I could tell that much, but when he spoke his voice was low and smooth. Somehow that managed to make him seem even more intimidating.
“Don’t you dare lecture me. You have no idea what it’s like, I thought maybe you’d be different than everyone else, in fact I thought I knew you were different. I trusted that you wouldn’t make assumptions, believe the lies-”
“What lies? What assumptions? I’ve never assumed anything about you. You know why? Cause no one talks about you. They’re scared shitless, Sirius. I have a pretty damn good idea why too.
Maybe if you actually talked to me instead of throwing me cryptic little comments every now and then and changing your mind in the next five seconds- then maybe I wouldn’t have to assume anything at all!”
I started to pack my bag angrily, daring him to stop me. He didn’t, he just looked over me with sad eyes. I couldn’t explain why I was so angry. I think for the most part it was because it had all been going so well. There was beauty in my life again, and then he had to go and kill him. I wasn’t really that mad at him. Just disappointed in myself. Jasper had been right. Sirius was bad for me.
I heaved my bag over my shoulder and turned to go.
He said, his voice was stunted. I turned to face him. If I wasn’t so mad at him, maybe I would. He was, after all, so irresistibly compelling.
“I’m sorry Sirius. I really do like you, you know, but not like this.”
And with that I turned and walked back up to the castle.
I rested in my dormitory, with the hangings drawn around my bed. After meeting Anna in the hall and telling her I was skipping lunch I ran straight back to the Ravenclaw common room which was completely empty.
Somehow, Sirius had managed to breach my normally strong emotional barrier again. I wondered miserably if there was a fault in my system, if maybe, after so many years of the condition being passed down from generation to generation something wrong had gone wrong.
Was it just that I was weak, or was it that I was the first to feel this way? I supposed that mum and dad and all my relatives for that matter had never had such pressure to remain inconspicuous when they were falling in love.
And yes, falling in love. I thought that might be what was happening to me, though all of the ideologies of love I’d had so much hadn’t had so much fighting. So then again, maybe I had just fallen in lust…yes, that summed it up better. So not love after all.
With a sigh I took my hair pins out. They were digging, most uncomfortably into my head. As I reached over to put them on my bedside table I noticed a note sitting there.
I picked it up and another note fell off the top of it. I picked it up off the floor and read it. It said-
Lulah, I know you’re still mad at me, and I don’t really blame you. You don’t have to believe me, but I’m sorry. Will you please start talking to me again? I miss you.
P.S I was given this note to pass on to you. Its previous holder seemed very upset. Whatever did you do to him?
With shaking hands and a pounding heart I picked up the second note. It was written on a piece of clean parchment in a slanting, loopy hand.
I don’t really know what to say. I could write you a big letter about how much of a jerk I am, but that’d just be wallowing. I’m so sorry for what I did to you. I never meant to be so angry and rude. I guess you could say it was a slight overreaction.
As you may have noticed, a get a little over the top sometimes, but I swear I didn’t come down there just to abuse you.
You see, I didn’t mean for any of that to happen this afternoon. I actually came down there to ask you something. I’m not sure if you know, but the Marauders are having a party on Halloween night and I was wondering if you’d like to come. Please say you do, or I’ll never forgive myself for being so terrible to you.
With enough sincerity to end world hunger
And the disturbing thing was I already knew my answer.
AN: Hello, completely nicely edited chapter! Once again, you know the drill ;) PLEASE review!
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