Chapter 24 : I Can't Breathe When I'm Around Her
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I can't breathe when I'm around her
I'll wait here everyday, in case she'll scratch the surface
She'll never notice
-the academy Is...
"Yo! Pete! How’s it hanging?" Sirius bounded up to Peter, who had just walked in through James’ front door.
There was one week until school started again, and Peter had finally been relinquished from the clutches of his over-protective mother.
Peter’s face reddened and he looked down. "Bloody mum, always driving me crazy."
"Don’t sweat it, Pete," James said, and threw his arm around Peter’s shoulder. "We’ve all got parental issues at one point or another.
I glanced at Sirius and saw a dark look cross his face. Anna narrowed her eyes in Sirius’ direction, and hopped up from the armchair she was sitting on to whisper something in Sirius’ ear. They had a hushed conversation for a few moments before Anna grabbed his wrist and dragged him out of the room.
"How long do you give them ‘till they start shagging?" I asked with a smirk.
"Seven minutes," Peter said.
I burst out laughing. "No. I meant it more as a ‘how long will it take for Anna to start liking him, and then, how long will Sirius be able to pretend that he doesn’t actually like her?’"
James nodded sagely, put poor Peter just looked confused, and I realized that he had been missing during several enlightening moments over the holidays. "Ah, there are some things we should perhaps fill you in on. . ."
"Well, now that that’s taken care of." Anna reentered the room looking quite satisfied, and Sirius looked decidedly less glum.
I closed my eyes, willing myself patience. "I will refrain from making awkward sexual jokes, I will refrain from making awkward sexual jokes," I repeated under my breath.
"Say something, Moony?" Sirius asked, raising his eyebrow’s daringly.
"Nothing, dear Padfoot," I assured him.
We sat in silence for a bit. James and Peter were on opposite ends of the couch and I sat on an armchair across from them. Sirius and Anna sat together on the smaller couch, and I couldn’t help but notice that they were sitting rather close. I gave a slight smirk.
"Supper’s ready, dears," Mrs. Potter poked her head into the room and smiled. "You lot hungry?"
Anna jumped up with a grin. "Always, Mrs. Potter."
She sped out after the older woman, chatting away.
"Damn," Sirius said, rolling his eyes. "I swear if that girl had no one else to talk to she’d probably start blabbering on to trees."
James shrugged. "Nah, she just talks to herself instead; probably has lots of self - reflecting time, that one."
He seemed ready to go on, but Peter interrupted, quick to catch up. "So, Sirius. I heard you might fancy a certain someone."
Sirius looked from Peter, to James, to myself. "I might . . .
There was silence and we all looked skeptical.
"Okay, I absolutely bloody do."
We were all shocked to speechlessness. I couldn’t speak for Peter or James, but I had certainly not expected him to come to terms with it so quickly.
"You know," James teased. "That you’re practically in love with a boy?"
"Nuh-uh," Peter cut in, defended Sirius’ sexual orientation before he could. "She got the long hair and all the girl . . . bits and stuff."
Sirius let out a short, tense, bark-like laugh. "Okay, Conversation over now," he burst out, beginning to head into the kitchen for dinner. I noticed how similar he was to James in the way he ran a hand through his hair, until he shook out his hair in a manner much like someone else. I grinned.
"You know," I told Sirius conversationally. "Anna does the same thing with her hair."
Sirius gave a slight frown of confusion and looked inquisitively at me. "Huh?"
"You know," I continued. "She mucks it all up with her hand then shakes her head out."
Sirius groaned. "I don’t want to talk about this," he claimed, and quickly fled past us. In an undertone only I could hear he quickly said to me, "Remus, I need to talk to you later."
I gave a discreet nod as Sirius continued his fast-paced escape to the kitchen.
Dinner was a hilarious affair. Mr. and Mrs. Potter sat next to each other, and across from James. "So we can keep an eye on him," Mrs. Potter explained.
Anna sat in between me and Sirius; I sat next to James, and Peter was on James’ other side.
"Pass the butter, please," Anna said, she was reaching her hand for it, but couldn’t quite reach. Sirius grabbed it and handed it to her; their hands briefly touched and he convulsed.
Anna gave him a funny look. "Alright there, Sirius? Wouldn’t want you have a seizure on us now."
He nodded. "Er, yes, it was a . . . Sneeze! I sneezed!"
I decided not to mention that he forgot the ‘achoo.’
We continued with light banter all around the table, until, about fifteen minutes into the main course, Mrs. Potter smiled, put down her fork and said, "So, who has a special someone?"
Anna snorted, James’ eyes glazed over, and Sirius was so shocked that he began to choke on his turkey. This, of course, caused me to laugh. I purposefully knocked my knife under the table so I could finish my laugh-attack away from everyone.
Anna was patting Sirius on the back. "Man, this is just about the smoothest you’ve ever been. I wish your fan club could’ve seen this."
However, Mrs. Potter was not about to be deterred. "Anyone?"
James smiled. It was remarkably similar to his mum’s. "Well, you know me, mum. I’ve still got Lily on the brain. Except that, now, she doesn’t hate my guts!"
Mrs. Potter congratulated her son, while Mr. Potter tried to cover his laughter behind his hand.
"Anna had two special someones this year," I said. As much as I loved to see Sirius squirm, there would be a problem if we couldn’t distract Mrs. Potter from asking him.
"Well, I’d hardly call them special," Anna said, in a voice so nonchalant, that it didn’t leave any doubt that she was telling the complete and entire truth. "But, yes, I did date two guys."
"And what happened to those guys, Anna?" I asked. I averted my eyes from hers; I was sure that she’d kill me later, but at the moment, all I was thinking about was keeping the conversation from drifting to Sirius.
"Well, I found that I didn’t like those guys as much as I thought I did. But, I just, you know, don’t talk to one of them anymore; the other one moved to Antarctica."
Mrs. Potter was obviously amused. Whether by the story, or by our antics, I couldn’t tell.
And then, she rounded on me. Sirius was going to have to be very, very, very, grateful. "What about you, Remus?"
I quickly searched my mind for an answer that didn’t include the words ‘I usually just sleep around.’ "Well, you see, I-"
"Oh, he doesn’t really have someone special. He just sl-" I had my hand over Anna’s mouth so quickly that it probably looked like I had slapped her. Her eyes were boring into mine, but I didn’t take my hand away, even when she bit me.
It all seemed well and fine until Anna licked my hand. Now, that was not something I could take. (Though I’m sure Sirius wouldn’t have minded . . .)
"You licked me!" I cried, jumping up from my seat.
"You had your hand over my mouth!" she yelled back.
"Well you were going to say something very idiotic and incriminating!"
"Well you - you - you. . ."
"Oh, shut up," Anna sat back down and continued eating. Anyone else of course, would have stormed away - not Anna.
I furiously wiped the spot on my hand where she had licked me and then began to eat again, myself.
I chanced a look up at Mr. and Mrs. Potter; both had very amused and amazed looks on their face. "So, who’d like dessert?"
I heard a knock on the door and knew it was Sirius. "Come in."
He walked silently over the pale, off-white carpet, before sitting himself down next to me. (Two boys can do that sort of thing when they’re sexually comfortable enough, you know.)
I waited for Sirius to start, but he seemed at a loss for words. He just sat there, staring at the floor.
"Why didn’t you ask Prongs for help?" I began, trying to make him talk. While it was common knowledge that we were all best mates, everyone knew James and Sirius shared a bond deeper than the rest of us. They were closer than brothers.
Again, Sirius didn’t speak. Finally, he sighed and said, "Because Anastasia doesn’t up and tell Prongs all the problems she tells you. Why doesn’t she tell all of us?"
I shrugged. "Because she’s Anna; I’ve long since given up trying to understand her."
He sat and played with the edge of the blanket, then, he looked up at me. I visibly recoiled from his gaze. There was something there, something so strong and painful, that it gave me the feeling of pure torment. I tried to convince myself that it wasn’t a reflection of what Sirius was feeling at the moment.
Godric, where is Anna when you need her?
"Why have I just figured it out now?"
I didn’t need Sirius to tell me that he’d come to full realization that he liked Anna, that much I could deduce on my own.
There he goes again - asking me questions I don’t bloody know the answer to, I grumbled inside my head. It was something he had always done, ever since First year.
I heaved a sigh of acceptance. They always thought I was smarter than I was. He really ought have been paying me for all the psychiatric work I was doing lately. "Well, when did you start to notice?"
"‘Dunno," he mumbled. "It must’ve been the day after full moon. She’d just come home from Stephen’s and . . ." He trailed off and didn’t seem to have plans for continuing.
"You can’t leave me in the dark, Sirius."
"We almost kissed," he admitted. "Well, at least, I thought we did. I doubt Anastasia even realized it; she’s so fucking oblivious to everything." I nodded, rolling my eyes. Yeah, that was Anna.
Sirius continued, throwing his hands up in the air in exasperation. "I don’t even know what it was! One minute we were wrestling and taking the mickey out of each other, and the next, I was leaning in for the kiss. Anastasia probably thought I was going to bite her nose off or something like that."
She would think that, I thought.
"I just don’t know, Remus. One minute, she’s Anastasia - our friend who barely counts as a girl - the next, she’s got this bloody gorgeous, long hair, those eyes that could make me do whatever she wanted just as much as an imperius curse, and this unstoppable personality. Not that she hasn’t always had the last one, but . . ."
Sirius groaned and ran his hands through his hair. Again.
"Dammit! What is this, Remus?!"
I nodded sagely. If I had a beard, I would have stroked it. "It’s love, my dear boy." I said simply.
Sirius made an indistinct noise and shook his head. I could hardly blame the poor bloke. I mean, he had just figured out that he liked her, had no clue why, and there I was to help confuse him even more.
"Sorry. Not such a helpful comment?"
Sirius made another protesting noise. He was quiet for a bit before he mumbled something I couldn’t quite make out.
"Didn’t quite catch that," I prodded him.
He sighed, and looked away from me, staring resolutely out the window. "There’s, uh . . . Lots of sexual tension."
And, in a truly me-like fashion, all of the facts I knew came rushing together to help out a fellow Marauder in need. This needed to be dealt with. I was already imagining the consequences. "Only on your part, mate. Just try to forget about it, Padfoot. Anna will not be coddled, flirted with, or tolerate you jumping every time you come within seven feet of her."
I suddenly came to a conclusion. "Yes. The best thing you can do is go on with life as you normally do and pretend you don’t feel this towards her whatsoever."
When he and I had finally soaked it all in, we were sitting in silence once more. I decided to give him one last piece of advice before I kicked him out; I was quite tired. All this mental coaching was hard work.
"Well Sirius, I’ll say one last thing. Unfortunately for you, you’ve just gone and done something really, really stupid. You’ve fallen in love with just about the only girl who won’t fall back. All those lists that girls make about what would send them head of heels; all the things you’ve been trained to know by heart, will not apply here."
Sirius looked up at me. He appeared to be paying rapt attention.
"On the bright side, however," I said, hoping to lift his spirits a little, "You have also got someone incredibly easier to work with than the rest of the bloody girls around here." I grumbled, thinking of my own past experiences with the opposite sex. "Fact is, the only thing Anna wants out of life is fun, and we already know that you can give that to her."
Sirius nodded, and seemed to get the point that the conversation was over. He embraced me in a quick man-hug (after all, sexual confidence only goes so far before it becomes weird no matter what) and left. Before he closed the door, I yelled after him for good measure, "And when I say fun, I don’t mean it like that!"
A/N: Again, I'm so terribly sorry for the long wait I had between chapters 23 and 24. Hopefully, this quick update made up for it. :D
A/N2: Much love to my beta-like, editor, idea bouncer - wheresmyedward. Whom, without, I would have never written a dinner part to this chapter.
A/N3: Just a question, any TAI fans out there? Their new song just came out, and I knew the lyrics would be completely perfect. Sorry, couldn't help it. :D
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