I was walking up a long gravel drive. Either side was lined with tall, dark pine trees. The stately entrance was pretty much all for show, though it wasn’t as if the Wileys ever had any visitors to show it to. Beside me walked the most perfect creature I had ever seen.
His hair glistened ebony in the sun light, and his faultless face was smooth and untroubled. He looked so serene and calm; he also looked too beautiful to be real.
Perhaps one of the most bizarre things about the moment was that I was holding hands with him, and every now and then as we walked, side by side he would kiss my hair or tell me he loved me.
We made casual conversation as we walked closer to our destination, all the while punctuated with laughter and contented sighs, until finally, we reached the front door of my house.
Two stories high it loomed before us, oozing grandeur and fine taste. The boy next to me however seemed unruffled as he made his way up the steps and knocked three times on the heavy, golden knocker.
We waited only a moment before the door was yanked open and the smiling faces of my family greeted me.
My mum beamed at me, seeming to burst with happiness when she saw the boy next to me. My father invited him in at once and shook his hand in a welcoming gesture. My brother, Jasper greeted the boy like an old friend, and without waiting for me to shut the door, or make some greeting of my own, began to lead him into the living room.
I laughed at my family. They’d always been like this. So eager to meet people and make friends, yet so unwilling to put anyone in danger. Whenever a guest did appear at our door we put on our finest show, however as I entered the familiar room, I couldn’t help but feel that this wasn’t a show. My parents were sincerely and wholly at ease around this boy.
Everybody laughed at some quip Jasper had made, me included. The boy looked up and smiled at me, took my hand and pulled me onto the long couch beside him. As my parents watched I thought they might very well die from satisfaction.
“It was really nice of you to invite me today Mrs. Wiley.” He stared to say, addressing my mother. “It’ll be wonderful to get to know you all, though Lulah’s told me a lot already.”
My mother’s emerald eyes glistened fondly. I could tell that she was already taken with this boy.
“Oh Sirius, it’s no problem. It’s fantastic that you could make it. Please though, call me Rosalind.” She smiled down at him, and the gesture did not seem condescending.
Sirius, I mused. That was funny, something about that name seemed out of place in this scenario.
“I’ll go and check if the dinner is ready shall I?” My father asked pleasantly. Jasper nodded enthusiastically, and mum rolled her eyes.
“I better go too; Evander won’t have a clue what he’s doing.”
Both of them disappeared in a flash. I started at the spot where they had been, alarmed. What were they thinking? Sirius didn’t know about us, he didn’t know what we could do.
I whipped around to face him, but he was sitting looking amused at my reaction. He looked completely tranquil, not the slightest bit ruffled. I wondered vaguely what this was all about. What the heck was happening?
Jasper was loping around the large room now, pulling the drapes and switching off lights, all with inhuman speed of course. I eyed him disbelievingly. What game was he playing at? Then he turned to wink at both Sirius and I.
“Just to create a little mood.” He announced, and with a flourish pulled a bunch of candles form his pocket and set the on the coffee table.
After a quick grin he snapped his thumb and forefinger together and a tongue of fire erupted from the tip. He lit each candle and blew out the flame on his hand like a cowboy in bag muggle Western films.
I was truly worried now. What was going on?
I turned again to face Sirius, I was prepared to see him livid with shock, but to my surprise he was laughing and shaking his head.
“Seriously, you could have so much fun with that Jasper.” He chuckled. “Imagine the tricks you could pull on Filch!”
Jasper barked with laughter and left the room, a short cry of ‘Be back soon!’ echoing behind him.
It was now that Sirius turned to me, still smiling.
“You have a fantastic family Lulah.” He said, he pulled me closer to him and cuddled me to his chest. I struggled out from his grip; there were things I still needed to straighten out. I took a deep breath and looked into his heavenly face. His lips were dipped up in a confused sort of smile.
“I don’t understand. How do you know?” He continued to look baffled so I decided to be frank.
“We’re monsters, don’t you care?”
He chuckled and pulled me back into him arms, stroking my hair.
“Monster or not, you’re still my Lulah and that’s good enough for me.”
I grimaced, discontent with his answer. I opened my mouth to protest, but a long, chilling scream from the kitchen cut me off.
I froze, so did Sirius his arms locked protectively around me. All was quiet. Slowly I began to tremble. It was happening all over again. This could not be happening.
“Please, please no. Don’t hurt him, not Evander!”
I leapt to my feet at the sound of my mother’s voice, easily flinging Sirius arms from me.
“Stay here.” I pleaded with him, staring deep into his wide, dark eyes. “I can’t lose you too. Please.”
And then I was running. As I ran pieces of my turned to flame. My hair, my hands, my eyes.
I launched myself into the kitchen. No one was there. The room was empty but I was positive the voices had came form here. I circled on the spot, my heart pounding and my breath held. Flames licked freely from my body, I glowed like an ember.
I collapsed to the floor, clutching my heart. Mum, dad, and Jasper jumped from behind the counter, laughing at their cruel joke. Their faces seemed twisted somehow, not normal.
“You-you-you.” I spluttered taking deep gasps of air and calming my senses. Slowly I cooled down, the fire died away.
Dad cast an anxious eye over me, I don’t think he’d seen my really lose it before. He approached me, his face still seeming warped.
“Don’t worry Tallie.” He hushed, using the name only he called me. “There was never any danger here.” He patted my back soothingly. There was a crunch from the doorway.
“But there is now.”
I spun on the spot, my heart had stopped dead. He was standing there in there half in shadow, a mocking smile playing at his lips and Sirius Black’s dead body lying at his feet.
I gasped back into real life, my body shaking and tears streaming down my face. I was sobbing uncontrollably though the saltwater turned to steam the moment it touched my boiling skin.
Tongues of flames had almost replaced my hair entirely; the pupils of my eyes were wide and dilated. I breathed unevenly in and out, the breath coming in jagged rasps.
“Lulah? What, what’s wrong?”
I wheeled around in my position, to upset to bother with normal human speed. Although he was running across the lawns towards me I could still make out clearly that his grey eyes widened in alarm. I hissed at him, it had all came flashing back to me.
Mum and dad were dead; they had been for a while now. Jasper was alive and Sirius Black was also. In fact he was sitting right beside me, oblivious to the peril I was putting him in. He shouldn’t be here! He shouldn’t be seeing any of this!
“Please Sirius.” I begged, my voice shaking. “Go back inside. Go back up to the castle. Find Jasper.”
He stopped running and halted entirely about six meters away from me. His glorious scent filled my nostrils; I dug my nails into the earth. Closing my eyes tight shut I focused hard on trying to calm myself. It helped a little. I opened my eyes again. He had not moved, but could I blame him?
His brow pulled together, his eyes were two dark, worried pools. His skin had whitened. I wondered what I must look like.
“Lulah? Please, what happened? I need to know if you’re okay.”
Sirius took a tentative step forward, holding his arms out as if to show me he bore no weapons. Silly boy! It was not I who should be afraid of him! He should be running for his life.
“Tell me if you’re okay!” He repeated again, his voice ringing with authority. It was almost impossible to resist.
I looked wildly around at the sunny, green grounds around me. It was ridiculous that I should not be okay on a day like this, but I was not. There was something deeply wrong with me, and if I wasn’t careful Sirius was going to find out. I backed up, my eyes trained on his sentient form; I walked in a crouch on all fours.
“You’re burning up, your hair is on fire, but this does not bother you? What’s wrong?”
He almost yelled the last word; I could tell he was near loosing the calm pretence entirely. I realized what had happened now. It was my free period. I had fallen asleep out in the sun. Sirius had come and found me, probably wondering why I wasn’t going to lunch. And now he was very close to being hurt. I needed Jasper, I needed him here. I focused exceptionally hard on his face in my mind. I hoped desperately he would get the message.
Sirius shifted closer to me a still hand outstretched. My innate instinct, brought on by tainted blood was to lash out at him with all my strength. I rocked forward on my heels, already in the crouch. I teetered back and forward, growls rumbling deep in the back of my throat. I knew what I must look like now. Probably something close to the night I’d looked when mum and dad had died.
Like a monster, a savage. Nostrils flaring and pupils slits, and eyes, burning bright as fire.
I growled again, louder but with a pleading edge. Sirius faltered, all remaining colour drained from his face, he was weakened by shock. I shifted closer to him; the fire that was my hair had died down a little now.
“Let me help you.”
He pressed his voice soft and wary. He reached out a hand again, rising to his feet and when I looked up into his round, sincere gaze I saw the fiend that I was.
I looked up, wrenching my gaze from Sirius’s earnest eyes. Jasper was bolting across the grounds towards me. He was running too fast for a human, but Sirius had not looked away from my quivering form.
“Jasper, please, help me be calm.” I begged, and he was by my side faster than was possible. Neither Sirius nor Jasper paid attention to the other; both males’ attention was fixed on me.
Jasper knelt down before me staring into my eyes. At once I was soothed. We didn’t know why it worked this way, the same thing had happened for my father and his brother, both of whom had shared the condition. My father could always calm Uncle Leon with one stare of his violet eyes into the auburn. Our best guess was that it had something to do this the sibling bonds we shared. There was nothing more comforting that being with your family and knowing that you were loved.
After a moment I could breathe normally again. I reached up a hand and brushed my hair. The fire was all out, only my heavy breath and flickering eyes were left as a reminder of the terror of before.
“What happened?” Jasper demanded, but I cut in, looking around his body to see Sirius. He still had not moved from his position but was staring at Jasper and I, his expression cold. I shivered.
“Not now Jasper.” I said. “There are other things that have to be seen to first.” Jasper nodded, he understood the dismissal. Suddenly he was gone.
Still Sirius did not move. I began to feel worried, what was wrong?
“Please Sirius,” I whispered, sitting properly on the grass. I pressed my hands over my eyes, and prayed that none of this had happened, that this was just another part of the dream from which I was yet to wake. But of course it was happening and I needed to address the problem, even if it killed me.
“Please,” I said again, “I can’t bear to let myself hurt you.”
“I won’t let you hurt me.” He spoke for the first time in minutes. The sound was almost a monotone.
“You may not have realized, but I’m slightly more capable of injuring someone than yourself.” I growled through my teeth. I pinched my nose between my thumb and forefinger and focused again on steadying my breathing. I had to stay calm!
“So I noticed.” He said tersely.
“Sirius,” I begged. “I don’t mean physically, though of course,” I paused and swallowed, “I could easily kill you now if I wanted.”
Sadness flashed across his face and I hurried on.
“No, I mean emotionally, because what just happened then, what you saw, well, it’s time I explained a lot. It’s time I explained everything.”
At last he frowned; I couldn’t place any of the numerous emotions that swam behind his eyes.
“I don’t understand.” He finally admitted softly, but still with little emotion. “Would you care to help me?” For a second it seemed that he almost smiled.
I sighed in resignation. I think all along I knew this moment was going to come sooner than I’d planned. I’d never be truly ready for it, and perhaps neither would he, but it was time I explained everything.
I moved to sit with deliberate slowness before him and took his hands. He did not return the grip quite so strongly, but I held his seemingly icy cool hands between my burning palms nonetheless. My breathing was regular once more and all the fire was gone from my body. All that was left was shame. Tear tracks stained my cheeks, and Sirius reached to brush them away, carefully, gently. Heat coursed through my body, and my eyes flashed warning. I was still unstable, very unstable. I clenched my jaw.
“Please, give me a moment.” I asked, through tight teeth. He drew his hands away from me and folded them in his lap, waiting patiently, his expression concerned.
After a moment I smiled. That was easier to overcome than I’d expected. I reached over and took his hands again.
I braced myself and took a breath. I looked up into his face, he was watching me waiting. I had to do this now.
“I’m so sorry Sirius, but there is something about me you must understand.”
So then, after so many years of lying, of hiding the truth, I launched into the story of my creation.
He listened raptly, taking all of it in silently. I sometimes wondered what was going through his mind, but I feared that if I stopped to ask I may not be able to start again. So I plowed on. By the time I had finished lunch was long over and we were both missing classes. It was funny, funny how all of that seemed so insignificant now.
“I’ve been lying about it my whole life, but now you know. That’s that and I am what I am, there’s no changing it.” As I said this, my voice was steady but the inside of my body felt like a blast-ended skrewt had just erupted.
I stared deep into his eyes. His face was completely still. He had not moved the whole time I told my story, like he had just shut down. The expression in his eyes was unfathomable; I wondered what was brewing beneath the calm.
I held my breath waiting. If Sirius turned to me and said he never wanted to see me again, then I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to stop myself from losing it and killing him there and then.
At last he moved. His expression still had not changed. He looked into my eyes and I into his. Slowly, deftly he reached up and brushed his fingers across my lips.
Without one change in expression, one change in tone he spoke to me.
“I’m sorry. I can’t do this.”
And then he stood up and walked away, back towards the castle leaving the hollow shell of Tallulah Eve Wiley behind him.
A/N: Oh no! Gasp, what's going to happen?!? Please don't hate me too much. Does everything make sense? Did you like it? Please review my little darlings. That review box loves being fed. Thanks!
Write a Review The Burn-Out Heart: Chapter 14- Truths