Chapter 15 : Chapter 15- The Ghost of a Smile
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Things would be better this way I tired to assure myself, but my heart refused to believe it. I battled with my conscience, begging for justification to find me, but no such assurance came.
Sirius Black had walked out of my life just as quickly as he had come and I was left behind, stitching together the wounds that I had created.
Was this the way it was meant to unfold? Had I purposely been dealt this crappy hand in life, and had I honestly believed with all my heart that he would understand?
No, I had not. But I had hoped.
Weeks passed and we did not speak. I saw him at lunch, in the corridors, in class.
It was harder than I’d expected to pretend like I didn’t care. It wasn’t like losing mum and dad, it was a different ball game all together because mum and dad were dead.
It wasn’t as though I could feel the waves of heat roll of their bodies as we sat in potions together or hear their voices echoing through the grounds as they tossed a quaffle with their friends. I didn’t have to put up with the feeling of Mum’s eyes on the back of my head as she stared at me across the great hall or have Dad’s scent fill my lungs every time I walked into history of magic.
I had known this wouldn’t be easy, but I’d never expected anything this hard.
Scarcely anybody spoke to me anymore. Not my Ravenclaw friends and not even Jasper.
I suspected they were all scared of me, afraid of what had happened before and worried that I would sink into the same semi-depression as I had then.
Yet again, nothing was the same as it had been the last time. I didn’t want to avoid Sirius Black, I just wanted him.
I could remember the way his strong, warm arms felt locked around my body and the way his hands seemed like silk against my skin. I knew how his ebony hair fell into his eyes when he laughed and the way he twisted his body when he was embarrassed. I wanted to hear him speak to me again, to hear him say he loved me and that everything would be all right, but no such comforts came my way.
I couldn’t’ seek comfort anywhere.
The Marauders looked at me, but they didn’t talk either. I wondered what he had told them. Their expressions gave nothing away either. Sadness, disappointment, sympathy; they were all too mixed together to even matter at all.
I wanted to go up to them, to ask them how he was, because we all knew that I was too afraid to ask him myself.
But he was always with them, like a guard, regret and sorrow etched into the faint lines of his face.
Yes, weeks passed and soon I did not see him at all. For the second time that year I stopped going to classes altogether.
“Please, Lulah, let us help. You can trust us; we’re your friends. Whatever it is we can sort it out together!”
It had tormented me to turn down their offers, so see the confusion and hurt on their faces, but Anna, Greta, Lucy and Elise were better off without me. And besides, being a monster wasn’t something easily ‘sorted out’, not matter how great friends you were.
Jasper’s efforts had been even more painful to ignore. He had written me letter’s, spoken to me on the rare occasion I escaped the dormitory for food and even tried to push his way into my mind, but I didn’t want him dragged into this as well.
He had finally started to find his feet here and I wasn’t about to have him ruin his life just because I had ruined mine.
No, I was in this on my own. Completely on my own.
He smiled at me, poking his head out from behind the trees. The air around his face had a shimmery green quality, the whole scene did. It was unreal, but it was beautiful and so was he.
“C’mon Lulah, just a few more steps and I’ll take you back. A few more...”
I stumbled forward, an action so out of character, yet so appropriate, because somehow it reflected my pain. The little stumble in my heart as he moved a few steps away from me again, laughing as he sprung to hide behind the next tree.
“You’re going to have to do better than that.” He taunted, the movement of the canopy leaves wreaking havoc with the shadows of his face. “I don’t think you’ll ever be good enough for me at this rate.” He laughed again, colder, harder and skipped away, further into the forest his bell-like voice ringing through the trees.
Something was rocking me, pulling me and tugging at the folds of my clothes. I moaned. It happened the same every night. I shrugged away from the invisible hands, making my way blindly through the undergrowth.
I tried to follow the sound of his peals of bitter laughter, but I wasn’t good enough. I never would be.
“Come back!” I cried, feeling the broken, frustrated tears well up in my eyes. “Please come back to me, don’t go.”
I balled my hands into fists, trying to fight the tears; but they were too much. I could feel myself burning up again and I bet if I opened my eyes steam would be rising from my cheeks where the water touched my skin.
I collapsed to the ground; dry, tormented sobs racked my body. The invisible hands tugged at my clothes, prodding me and shaking me. I noticed a change; it was gentler than other nights. Perhaps this was the turning point? Closure at last.
More shoving and warmth. There was the feeling of a hand being pressed against the side of my body, rolling me over and onto my back.
This was stranger still. Usually the hands had destroyed me or something by now.
Soft, strong fingers traced the outline of my face and a long encountered, but not forgotten scent filled my lungs...
There was a soft thump as Sirius Black threw his body on top of mine and wrapped a hand tightly around my mouth.
“Shhh.” He hissed angrily, his eyes flashing even in the dark. “Do you want to get me killed?”
Both of us froze. Lucy Winchester was awake.
I was hyper aware of his body against mine. I could feel the hard contours of his chest pressed against my own and the steady thrum of his heart. His hand over my mouth was soft and clean. I could smell the soap and water on his skin. The legs and torso that covered my own shook slightly. I realized with a shock that it was still snowing outside and remembered without effort that Sirius hated the cold.
Soft moonlight filtered through the gap in my hangings, but even without the weak glow I could figure out his features. The sharp, rounded panes of his face and straight line of his nose. The curve and dip of his mouth and the curls of hair at the nape of his neck.
I gave myself a little shake. I was still dreaming.
“Lulah, are you awake?”
For the second time Lucy’s voice echoed through the dormitory. I felt Sirius tense as he waited for me to reply, but I did not. Instead I waited an immeasurable amount of time until at last I heard her heartbeat slow and the steady rhythm of her breathing again. It was okay, she was sleeping once more.
Awkwardly, carefully, Sirius extricated himself from my limbs. He drew back as far as the bed’s posts would allow him to and crossed his legs facing me.
I sat upright, crossing my legs as well and looking at him head on. I felt my body subconsciously wincing away from him. My wounds were reopening on their own.
We sat in silence.
“Would you like to go for a walk?”
I started at him, shocked; but his expression gave away nothing. He looked at me levelly awaiting my response.
“s-sure.” I muttered. I pulled back the hangings and slipped my feet out onto the cold floor. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Sirius shivering as his feet pressed onto the icy ground also. He stooped down and picked up a broomstick.
So that was how he had gotten up here.
He lead the way down the staircase, mounting the broom and drifting downstairs silently ahead of me.
We stopped in the common room. It must have been very early in the morning. The fire had burnt low, almost extinguishing itself entirely, but sunshine did not yet penetrate the window panes.
“Wait a moment.” He said, springing lithely up the boy’s dormitory stairs and out of sight.
I blinked after him, the happenings still catching up with me, my mind far behind in the race against them.
We hadn’t spoken in what was almost a month and now…now I didn’t know what was happening.
I checked my reflection in a mirror mounted on the common room wall. I was pale and puffy eyed. Tear tracks still glistened on my skin. So I had been crying in my sleep. I wondered, partially embarrassed, how long he had been watching me before he chose to wake me.
Then suddenly he was back. For the first time in a long while I appreciated again how light he was on his feet, especially for a human. I almost never heard him coming. Or perhaps that was due to the fact I was almost always engaged in some day dream about him to notice when at last he came.
He looked at me mildly, again not giving anything away. My nails dug into my palms as I balled my hands into fists. What was going on?
“C’mon, let’s go. There’s something I want to show you.”
And then he slipped away, wordlessly once more while I followed behind. I noticed he’d covered himself with his heavy tailored coat and that he was still dressed in his pajamas- navy flannel pants and a tight white t-shirt.
Even now I could still appreciate that.
In his hands he was holding some shimmering fabric and a piece of parchment. I wondered what it was but gave up after long because so far tonight, wondering had gotten my no where.
I fell into stride next to him as we strode up the astronomy tower stairs. He would never cease to amaze me. It was snowing outside and Sirius Black had never been one to tolerate the cold and then, as if to surprise me again he veered sharply off to the left, ducking into a passageway I never new existed.
I found myself in a room. Nothing impressive, mainly an old disused classroom. There were a few desks and chairs scattered here and there and a large black board at the front of the room. Old books and loose sheets of parchment dotted the floor and decorated the walls and a thin film of dust settled over everything.
I stood in the doorway, not knowing what do to or what I was expected to.
Sirius dumped the fabric on one of the desks and muttered something at the parchment, tapping it with his wand and scanning it briefly. After a moment he appeared satisfied and placed all of his things on the desk with the material.
He turned to face me, to really face me for the first time in weeks. He was thinner and gaunter than I’d first noticed, but on the whole, nothing much had changed. His dark eyes were still shadowed by his thick brow. The dim light threw his face into more shadow, and sharp contrast.
He looked at me, wringing his hands subconsciously but breathing steadily.
“How- How are you?” He asked softly after a moment, his voice cracking slightly as he spoke. My barriers broke.
I wanted to tell him how I was. How sorry I was that I had hurt him and that I had ruined everything for us. But I couldn’t.
“I’m good.” I answered simply, keeping my tone level. “How are you?”
He narrowed his eyes at me slightly, disbelievingly.
“I’m good too.”
There was another moment’s awkward silence, but thoughts of leaving never crossed my mind.
I closed my eyes softly as he spoke my name.
“There’s something…there’s something I’d like to show you, and tell you.” I looked up at him, a little intrigued by the change in his tone.
“Will you bear with me?” The ghost of a smile flickered across his face as he said it, the lights behind his eyes brightening a little.
“Of course.” I sat myself on one of the spare desks, bringing my knees up to my chest and tucking my jaw over them.
Slowly he began to unbutton his coat, his fingers fumbling a little with the buttons. I stiffened, my body went rigid. What was he doing?
I could see the goosebumps rising on his arms and chest as he tugged his t-shirt off over his head.
“Sirius- stop!” I jumped to my feet and picked his coat from the floor. I handed it to him wordlessly and he slid into it, looking confused.
“Whatever it is, it can wait. There’s something I’d like to say to you first.”
I took a deep breath praying that it would all come out right.
“I know that this will never quite cover the extent of damage I’ve done to our relationship, but for what it’s worth, I’m sorry. You see-“
He cut me off, placing a finger to my mouth, his eyes ablaze.
“How dare you apologize?” He growled his expression fierce. “It wasn’t you who walked out on the most amazing person he’d ever met right when they needed him most.” He grabbed my hands roughly, clinging to them, trying to communicate something I wasn’t yet grasping.
“Lulah, I said I couldn’t do this, but it came out the wrong way. When I said it, I meant that I couldn’t do this to you. You deserve someone who can take care of you, not someone who just makes things worse.
I know that this is working up to be one of the lamest, corniest, apologies ever uttered, but you do; you deserve far better than me. I can’t give you what you need- I can only give you more lies, and more pain. I-“
“You stupid, stupid boy!” I burst out, cutting him of, pulling back and thumping him on the chest. He released me; his expression was hurt but expectant. That made me even sadder still.
“How could you think, that even for a moment that you were the bad guy here?” I almost laughed as I saw clearly now how it had been for him. I understood his intentions perfectly and loved him all the more.
“You really never have been in a relationship before, have you?”
He looked up, tearing his eyes from the ground.
“I only thought that, after all that’s happened to you and after all you have to go through, you wouldn’t want…wouldn’t want…”
“Wouldn’t want a boyfriend who was good enough to shield me from something he thought might upset me? Oh Sirius, please don’t think that. I’m the one who should have shielded you. I never should have ever gotten you involved with all of this-“
But now it was my turn to be cut off.
“I love you.”
This was the last thing I had expected. I began to laugh. The noise sounded almost off after the power of the moment, so I laughed louder still. I was positively howling by the time he joined in too.
“What?” He chuckled. “I just said I loved you, what’s so funny? I really was quite serious you know.”
I stopped laughing. “Really?” He didn’t laugh any more either. He reached out to take me in his arms, making sure it was all right with me first. I was happy to oblige and almost positive I could handle it. Willingly I allowed him to fold his arms around me.
“Of course I was you bizarre girl. With all of my love, from the bottom of my heart.”
I pulled away slightly, utterly lost for words. If this was a joke it was a cruel one.
“Even after everything I’ve told you, even now that you know what I am. Aren’t you afraid? Are you insane?”
He smiled and said, “Oh, there’s no question as to my sanity, no, I need to phrase this in a way that you’ll understand.”
I let him think, still frozen in my disbelieving state. At last he smiled.
“Lulah,” He brushed his fingers across my cheek and started into my eyes, “I love you, not only for who you are, for all that you are…but…for who I am when I am with you.”
This was the point where my heart melted, and I wasn’t even sure if that was possible. Finally I recovered, Sirius looked a little smug.
“And you honestly don’t care that you could be permanently injured at any moment while in my presence?” I questioned, still doubtful.
“You are Tallulah Eve Wiley, the first girl I’ve ever loved and the only girl I ever will love and that all that matters to me.”
And at last I was almost content with his answer for the time being. Carefully I reached up and pressed my lips to his.
“Oh,” He said suddenly. “By the way, I’m an animagus.”
Then the laughter started again.
A/N: Wow, long time no update. *slaps self* I hope I don't dissapoint.
This chapter may at first seem a little angsty to you, but think about it. You're Lulah- you're born with this deadly, hindering condition, you've lied and hidden yor whole life. The one time you don't hold back, it's the downfall of your parents. You've gone into a near depression and then finally you meet this guy. An amazing guy, way beyond your dreams who happens to love you back too. And then suddenly, when you finally realise you can't hide from him any more, he leaves too. I'd be pretty cut up :P Thanks.
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