Chapter 16 : The Tunnel
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I was sitting on the couch in the Heads’ dorm flipping through my Charms book and twirling my wand around absentmindedly with my left hand. Dinner had ended a while ago and since I had spent the whole day with the Clique I decided that I needed some peace and quiet before going out with Sirius.
The portrait hole swung open then—so much for peace and quiet—and I heard two sets of footsteps enter. I looked up from my book to see James towing Holly by the hand. She was giggling about something and he had a goofy smile plastered on his face.
“Oh!” Holly gasped, noticing me on the couch. “Hi, Lily. We didn’t see you there.”
I gave her a vacant stare and turned the corner of my lips up into what I hoped was a smile. Stupid, Hufflepuff, blond, Barbie—
“I thought you were, uh, studying with Sirius tonight?” James asked distractedly as Holly played with his fingers.
“He’s coming by in a little bit. I told him the password, I hope that’s ok. The Clique knows too,” I said quickly, hoping he was too distracted by Holly to notice that I gave our password to all of our friends.
“Huh? Oh, that’s fine,” he said, not paying attention to me at all. Holly was tugging on his arm, pulling him towards his room and he obediently followed, closing the door behind him.
I wrinkled my nose and jumped off the couch, unable to sit still any longer. I started pacing, wrapping my arms wrapped around my stomach to stop the uneasy feeling that came every time I saw James and Holly together.
The portrait hole swung open again and I sighed in relief as Sirius entered, a large bag slung over his shoulder.
“Hi, Sirius!” I said, my voice saturated with my already obvious relief.
“Wow, you seem really glad to see me,” Sirius said, dropping his bag on the couch and raising his eyebrows at me.
“James and Holly just came in,” I explained, wrinkling my nose in disgust again.
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” Sirius said patting my on the shoulder in sympathy. “I actually need to talk to Prongs real quick. Do you think it’s safe to go in?”
I glanced toward Potter’s door and back to Sirius.
“I have no clue…” I said honestly. “I don’t actually know what goes on in there. And I really don’t want to find out.”
Sirius took a deep breath and crossed the room to James’s door, knocking swiftly and loudly. He quickly slapped his right hand over his eyes as if he were expecting James to answer the door naked. The door opened a crack and Potter’s face appeared.
“What?” James hissed at his friend. Obviously he was in the middle of something…
“Sorry to bother you,” Sirius said, offended, with still with his hand over his eyes.. “But can I ask you for a huge favor?”
Potter deliberated for a moment before nodding. “Of course. Whatever you want, mate. For god’s sake, Sirius, I’m not naked.”
Sirius dropped his hand and bent forward to whisper something to Potter. I couldn’t hear from my place in front of the sofa but I watched as James’s eyes narrowed in confusion. His gaze flickered to me and back to Sirius so quickly I couldn’t be sure it actually happened.
“Why do you need it?” Potter asked, his voice still a whisper but I caught the words this time.
“I’ll tell you later,” Sirius whispered, and James’s eyes flickered to my face again.
James was silent for a moment, thinking. His eyes started roaming towards me again but he caught himself and instead he nodded to Sirius. “Sure, hold on just a minute.”
He disappeared into his room briefly and came back, sticking a canvas bag through the crack.
“Just make sure I get it back at some point,” Potter muttered and closed the door.
Sirius strode back to the couch and tucked the canvas bag into his bigger backpack.
“What’s that?” I asked curiously, eying the bag as it disappeared into Sirius’s.
“I’ll show you later,” he said quickly, swinging the bag onto one shoulder. “Shall we?”
I nodded, still eying his bag.
“Should I bring anything? A bag, I mean? You know, for the butterbeer?” I asked.
“Nah,” Sirius said, adjusting the bag on his shoulder. “I have everything we’ll need.”
We walked out of the dorm and Sirius led me down to the third floor, stopping in front of an ugly statue of a humpbacked witch that I had never noticed before. Sirius looked around us quickly and, making sure we were alone, he took out his wand.
“Dissendium,” Sirius muttered, tapping his wand on the hump of the witch. I watched in amazement as a passageway materialized before my eyes. After six years in the magical world, stuff like this still didn’t cease to amaze me. I doubted whether I’d ever get used to it.
Sirius tugged on the sleeve of my shirt, pulling me behind him into the passageway as it quickly started to close.
It was pitch black in the small passage after the door closed and I illuminated my wand immediately.
“Where are we, Sirius? I had no idea about this passageway,” I said, gazing around me at the cobwebs covering the small stone tunnel we were in.
“P-Pippa knows about this one, I’m surprised she didn’t tell you,” Sirius said as we started moving forward. I didn’t miss the way his voice stumbled around Pippa’s name.
“Me too,” I mused, concentrating on not tripping on the loose stone beneath my feet. I was trying not to brush against any of the cobwebs but after a few steps of struggling, I gave up and let them tangle into my hair and clothes. “Where will this take us?”
“To Honeydukes. I figured we could sneak out pretty easily and go to the Hog’s Head. They don’t get much business so they won’t miss a crate of butterbeer,” Sirius explained.
I didn’t respond. I didn’t like the idea of stealing, but I would do anything to make Pippa happy and if this was what she needed in order to get the books out, then that’s what I’d do.
“So can you tell me now about Penley?” Sirius asked, trying to sound casual but I could hear the burning curiosity in his voice.
I winced at the mention of Chris, my head spinning at the memories of our strange conversation last night. Could it have only been last night? It seemed like ages ago now.
“Well, Sirius. I told you that we broke up right?” I started, pulling on a strand of my long red hair. “It didn’t exactly end well. He was really mad actually. I won’t repeat the things he said—they were really bad—but he took it really hard. Harder than I thought he would, to be honest. It was hard for me too, to hurt him like that. Especially when the whole point of breaking up with him was because I didn’t want to end up hurting him if—“
“if what?” Sirius interrupted, his curiosity getting the better of him.
I sighed. What was the point of keeping this from Sirius? I trusted him as one of my best friends now. After all, I’d told the Clique all this anyways. I felt bad keeping it from Sirius.
“If I ended up,” I swallowed hard, “falling for Potter.”
Sirius stopped abruptly and spun around to face me. “Are you serious?
“Maybe a little,” I said wincing.
“Merlin’s beard,” he breathed. “You broke up with Chris to be with James?”
“Well, not exactly,” I explained, visibly flinching at his assumption. “I still didn’t know how I felt about Potter at that point. It was only a few weeks after we kissed and that kind of set it off, I guess. It was enough to make me question Chris, at least. I didn’t want to hurt Chris by staying with him when I had feelings for someone else. But I also didn’t want to hurt Potter, and in effect, the rest of the Marauders too. I guess I ended up kind of hurting everyone.”
“No one blames you, Lily,” Sirius said softly, placing a comforting hand on my shoulder. “We figured it would be hard for you, too. But when we only heard was James’s side of things, it was hard to sympathize with you.”
“I figured,” I sighed. “Well, I tried not to think about it all summer, and I only talked with the Clique about it once or twice. Anyways, I thought if I tried to be nice to him when we got back to school, things would settle themselves and I would be able to figure out if I liked him or not.”
“And? Do you?” Sirius prodded. We were still stopped in the tunnel and I poked him in the back to get him moving again.
“Well, I was trying to be nice to him at first and then I found out that he was dating Holly and it pushed me over the edge a little,” I admitted. “So I was a bit cold to him after that and he was being such a git to me and we got into a fight during our first night of patrol. He told me he had given up on me,” I said sadly.
“He what?!?” Sirius stopped without warning again and I ran into him. He spun around to face me, his silver eyes wild.
“He said he spent weeks trying to figure out what happened that night before school let out and then he finally just gave up,” I said evenly, trying to control my voice so Sirius wouldn’t hear how much I was actually hurt by this.
He shook his head in disbelief. “Lily, there’s no way he’s given up on you. He’s as crazy about you as ever. I mean the way he was looking at you tonight at dinner proves it, let alone the thousands of other times he stares at you during class.”
“He’s with Holly, Sirius,” I said, trying hard not to believe what he just told me. “So I talked to the Clique about it again, and I told them exactly how I was feeling about this and—“
“And?” Sirius prodded again.
I glared at him for a moment before hesitantly continuing. “And I think I may be falling for him…”
“Damn,” Sirius smiled, his silver eyes twinkling. “Never thought I’d hear you say that, Evans.”
“Please don’t say anything to him, Sirius. He can’t know that I like him, even if it’s just a little,” I said seriously, staring straight into Sirius’s exuberant eyes.
“Why the hell not? You have no idea how happy he’d be if he found out you like him,” Sirius turned and began walking again.
“He’s with Holly,” I reminded him. “But there’s something else I need to tell you.”
“I’m listening,” Sirius said, not looking back.
I took a deep breath and launched into the story of what happened last night with Chris. Sirius listened without interruption for once until I was finished and he let out a string of curses, making me start.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Sirius growled angrily. “So he’s completely ok with just being friends with you?”
“Sirius, calm down,” I said quickly. “He was still upset and you know, I still do have some feelings for him. I couldn’t hurt him by saying that I didn’t want to be friends, even if I don’t think it’s the best idea.”
“Hmm,” Sirius murmured. “You know, Lily. ‘Just friends’ sometimes means different things for guys and girls.”
I let out an impatient sigh as Sirius continued. “Just promise me you’ll be careful ok? He was pretty upset the other morning. I really doubt he’s calmed down as much as he appeared.”
“What are you trying to say?” I asked, confused.
“I’m just saying… watch out for yourself. He might be trying to play you,” Sirius said carefully, gauging my reaction. I stiffened slightly but shrugged it off and continued with what happened this morning.
“Well anyways, this morning James and I kind of agreed to try to be friends,” I concluded.
Sirius stopped walking too and turned around to face me again.
“What?” I asked as he looked at me with a huge grin on his face.
“This is all going to be way too hard to keep from James,” he said shaking his head as he chuckled.
“Sirius, don’t you dare,” I warned him, pointing my glowing wand at his face.
“No worries,” he said still chuckling as he turned to keep walking.
“This is a serious problem, though!” I exclaimed as I followed him. “I can’t like Potter. I swore to myself when I was eleven that I never would!”
“Lily, that was six years ago,” Sirius said and I could hear that he was amused by this.
“But still, this goes against all my normal standards,” I complained uselessly.
“So what? Your old standards didn’t work out too well for you,” Sirius pointed out.
“That’s true,” I muttered, gazing down at my feet again to watch my step.
“You don’t know how lucky you are, Lily,” Sirius said, as the path started to ascend. “If I had someone who liked me half as much as James likes you…”
I cleared my throat a little, but kept my eyes down.
“What?” Sirius asked, turning his head slightly to see me while he kept walking up the slight incline.
“Nothing,” I said, keeping my voice void of any emotion. Pippa might literally kill me if I ever said anything to Sirius.
“Hmm, I don’t believe you,” Sirius said, obviously trying to keep his voice casual.
“Really, Sirius, I was just clearing my throat,” I said innocently.
He glanced back at me skeptically but turned back around because we’d reached the end of the tunnel. Above us was a wooden trap door with weak rays of light leaking through the cracks.
Sirius swung the backpack from his shoulder and pulled the canvas bag out from inside it. I leaned forward anxiously, curious to see what Sirius had borrowed from Potter. He pulled out along silvery cloak. I reached forward to touch it and it felt like liquid beneath my fingers.
“Is this—“ I began but Sirius interrupted me again.
“An invisibility cloak,” he finished for me as I watched the folds of shimmering material fall to the ground.
“Incredible,” I breathed, running the fabric over in my hands. “I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s Potter’s?”
“He inherited it from his father,” Sirius explained as he shoved his backpack into my outstretched hands. “I’ll go up first and put the cloak on. Then toss me the bag, and I’ll help you up.”
I nodded and Sirius cracked the trapdoor letting dusty, low light filter through the crack. When he saw that no one was in the store room, he carefully opened the door the rest of the way and hoisted himself up. I waited for a few seconds as he put the cloak on and he signaled for me to toss him the bag. I saw him reach both hands down just above the trap door for me to grab onto and I took his hands in mine. His grip was strong and I was surprised that he was able to pull me easily through the square hole. He threw one side of the cloak around me and we had to stand very close to each other for the cloak to cover the both of us. I guessed that it was normally meant for only one person to use at a time.
“Okay,” Sirius breathed as he hooked the bag on his shoulder again. “It’s pretty late, so most things should be closed. But it’s also a Saturday night so the bars will be open. We’ll have to be careful outside that we don’t bump into anyone.”
I nodded in understanding and we started walking slowly, carefully towards the door.
A/N: Hey everyone! Yay chapter 16! Ok so I'm having massive writers block right now trying to connect some future chapters, so it might be a little bit longer before I post some more... but I'm working on it, I swear! Don't forget to review!
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