Chapter 16 : Breaking and Epiphany
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((Disclaimer: You get the point right? I’m not J.K. Rowling. I don’t own her super awesome series about a teenage wizard.))
For the next week, I kept a sharp eye on April and Sirius. It was rather sickening, really. It reminded me of when I was still dating. I was quite disgusted by it, but that just gave me more incentive to take her out of the picture. I mean, who wants to see them snogging and grabbing and whatever else they decide they feel like doing to each other in the middle of breakfast?
I’d given a lot of thought to how to catch Sirius’ attention, but... let’s just say what I’d come up with wasn’t the brightest. But I had to start somewhere, right?
Anyways, it had been a week. I was talking with Lily at the Gryffindor table when James and Sirius joined us. To my delight, Sirius’ girlfriend wasn’t with him.
“I think Patton’s staring at you again... oh, James! Sirius, there you—“
“Who’s staring at—“
“Good morning, Sirius!” I interrupted Sirius brightly. To my own surprise, my facial muscles didn’t betray me. The other three, soon joined by Remus and Pete, gaped at me in shock.
“Er, morning?” Sirius finally responded as he took the seat across from me. “In a good mood today, are you?”
“Yup! Toast?” I offered, holding out the platter of toasted bread. His countenance arranged itself to a bedazzled expression as he took a piece.
I continued to smile cheerily as I offered the plate to the others, all of whom continued to gawk at me like morons. Finally, I rolled my eyes and set the plate down, returning my focus to Lily. I figured it wouldn’t be wise to give too much attention to him right away. Then he might think I’m desperate.
“So who’s Lexing staring at, Lils?”
It took Lily a second to realize that I was speaking to her, during which everyone stared at me while I stared at Lily with an innocent grin. “Er, he’s staring at you. With obvious libidinous intent, too.” She suddenly shook her head. “Yes, I recognize the look. It’s the same one Potter gives me all through Potions.”
“Ah, no wonder he’s got a T,” I responded thoughtfully, a reply that caused Lily, Peter, Remus, and, to my astonishment, Sirius to snort with laughter. James scowled at me.
“I do not have a T. I have an E, and I’m working on getting it up to O, for your information!”
“I have a P in Potions...” Peter said balefully. “I need a tutor...”
“You need a tutor in everything, Wormtail,” Sirius pointed out.
“Nuh-uh!” Peter denied. “I have an E in Charms!”
I groaned. “I have an A, barely!” Lily gasped and Sirius laughed.
“I never thought I’d see the day when someone would have a grade worse than Wormtail’s!”
“That’s terrible! Why didn’t you tell me you were nearly failing Charms! I’d be more than happy to help you out! With my help—“
“Ah, that’s why I wasn’t going to mention it...” I mumbled, as if suddenly reminded, under my breath while Lily continued to tell me how much she would help me improve.
“We’ll get that A right up to an O, or so help me—“
“Siri-Honey! My Cuddly-Puppy!” This time it was April who interrupted Lily’s harangue, nearly to my relief, except that now I wanted to hurl. I turned to shake my head at Sirius.
“’Siri-Honey?’ ‘Cuddly-Puppy?’ You can’t be serious.”
“Well,” he replied smugly as April appeared from nowhere to latch onto his arm, “that is my name.”
I could feel the now-usual spat of aggravation and jealousy coming on. This was the new norm for my breakfast, and, as I said before, it rather repulsed me. It clearly was the same for the other four, as Lily looked like she was going to puke, James seemed ready to strangle Sirius, and Remus was looking rather pale.
“Ugh,” Lily groaned, as Sirius and April instantly went into lip-lock. “Lexing is still staring! It’s really staring to piss me off!”
I sighed as James and Peter started craning for a look at the culprit and Sirius surfaced to get a gander himself. “I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone this obsessed.”
“It’s getting kind of creepy...” Lily admitted. James, having finally spotted Patton around the middle of the Hufflepuff table, glared at him. Sirius didn’t seem to be able to locate him, as April was busily trying to recapture his attention.
“Dunno why he’d be interested,” he muttered, now attempting, delightfully, I might add, to push his girlfriend off him. April, though, was putting up an awful good fight.
“Do you think I should flip him off?”
“Yes!” James and Sirius snapped simultaneously as Lily hissed, “No!” Peter shrugged and Remus shook his head slightly.
“Yes,” James repeated, though Lily gave him the death Look, “you should! He’s being... well, how do I put this. He’s being a twat and he’s staring. I can understand if he still likes you, but he should at least be a man about it and ask you out again! Instead of sitting there, undressing you with his eyes,” he growled dangerously, turning back to scowl at him.
“No!” Lily scolded. “He’s being like James, and at least he isn’t over here badgering you! Trust me, staring is easily better than being asked out again; and as for the ‘undressing you with his eyes,’ he’s being a typical bloke. Isn’t that right, Mr. I’m-Average Sirius?”
Sirius jumped at being addressed, giving April an advantage and enabling her to wind herself around him again, a sight that was almost pissing me off more than the fact that Patton was eyeing me.
“Er, no. You don’t, er, ‘undress’ a girl with your eyes until you’ve been rejected by her at least five times or if you’ve gone on a date with her. If I remember correctly, she’s only rejected him twice.”
Lily and I both snorted skeptically. Sirius glared at us. “Oh, please! Don’t tell me you’ve never pictured a girl naked that you haven’t gone out with,” I accused, raising my brows at him.
“Well, I can get any girl I want, so I really don’t think it matters.”
April made an indignant noise and nearly elbowed Peter in the eye as she moved back to scowl at Sirius. “Cuddly-Puppy! Why would you say that?” she whined.
He merely glanced at her then glared at me, as if it was my fault that he’d spoken. Well, maybe it was partially my fault...
I ignored the brief feeling of guilt as I grinned at him. “Sure you can, but I think you’re forgetting about one thing.”
“I’m kind of a girl, and I’m immune to your... wants.”
“You’re kind of a girl?”
I rolled my eyes. “I am a girl, and you sure as hell can’t get me just because you want me.”
“Excuse me! I’m his girlfriend!”
“I could if I wanted you. All I’d have to do is turn on a little charm,” he murmured, leaning around his girlfriend to smile at me seductively. I snorted, but inside, I think I melted. It was sickening.
“Yeah, right. I think you’re losing your touch, ‘Cuddly-Puppy.’”
“Don’t call him that!” April snapped.
“I’ll call him whatever the hell I want to,” I retorted.
“Not my boyfriend, you won’t! You’ll call him Black, and that’s all you’ll call him, you hear me! He’s mine, damn it! MINE!”
I stared at her with wide eyes, a little surprised that April, prefect April June, was such an over-possessive girlfriend, and that she had just yelled at me. I was a little amused to see that Sirius seemed just as alarmed as me.
“Right...” I said, turning back to my toast and realizing that I had no butter. “Fuck, Sirius, will you—“
“BLACK!” April yelled at me. My appetite was swallowed by fury, something that Lily seemed to notice.
“Calm down, Ar; just ignore her,” Lily muttered, leaning towards me over the table. Somehow, her soothing calmed my temper marginally, miraculously.
Closing my eyes, I said through gritted teeth, “Black, will you hand me the butter?” Sirius obliged with a nervous look as April clung to his right arm, and as I spread the butter across the toast, I decided that April was easily one of the worst ever of Sirius’ girlfriends. All the more reason to get rid of her.
Why did my life seem to revolve around Charms class? Charms this, Charms that. How irritating.
Even though Lily and I left before them, the Marauders somehow got to class at the same time as us; they always did that, though Merlin only knew how. The way was irrelevant, however; the fact was rather important. I had a feeling that this Charms class would be the same as last week’s lesson: I’d have to sit and watch while Sirius and April made out in front of me like they were in a broom cupboard while Flitwick wasn’t paying attention to them. Merlin’s pants, just what sort of prefect was this girl? Mira didn’t go around basically shagging her boyfriends in the hallways; Lily certainly didn’t either. I thought prefects were supposed to be role models? Oh, but that would be scary... a bunch of crazy Lilys, traitorous Miras, and slutty Aprils all over Hogwarts.
But anyways, I’d already had enough of April’s and Sirius’ crap this morning, and I was not going through another Charms lesson distracted by the sloppy sounds of kissing, especially since I sucked at Charms anyways. No way. Sirius and April were now sitting in a single seat: April was on his lap, snogging away, her blonde curls falling over his shoulder. The other chair, the one next to Sirius, was free.
“Lily, sit with James,” I ordered. Lily scowled at me.
I smiled at her reassuringly. “Because I’m going to sit right there,” I clarified, gesturing at the seat next to Sirius. That just seemed to confuse poor Lily more.
“But that’s April's seat...”
I shrugged. “Not today.” And I walked forward and sat down. Lily walked past me, and I heard James say, “Lily-kins! Are you gonna—Ouch! ...Oh, shit.” Which seemed an odd thing for him to say, but I let it slide as I put my bag on the ground next to me.
Nothing happened in the next few minutes, except that I relaxed myself and lounged back in the chair, awed by how observant the two were when they were snogging. It wasn’t until Professor Flitwick called, “All right, class, settle down!” that they became aware of me.
Sirius didn’t seem to know what to say, strange because he’d usually just insult me and tell me to get out of the damned chair.
April, however, was not happy. “What the hell do you think you’re doing, Gaunt?” she barked, her look turning dark.
“Uh, sitting here,” I answered with a ‘duh’ sort of look.
“That’s my seat!”
“Really? ‘Cause I don’t see your name on it.”
April's nostrils flared. “Artemis Gaunt, you get out of that seat right now!” I rolled my eyes at her and lounged further into the chair.
I thought she might hit me now, but she didn’t. Her expression was murderous, but she seemed more worried. I suddenly realized why she was a prefect: she kept her grades up, she was typically polite where it mattered, and she was afraid to make trouble. Whirling around, she stalked up to Flitwick’s desk.
“Professor,” she sniffed proudly, “Artemis Gaunt refuses to get out of my seat.”
Next to me, Sirius snorted. It might have been because my mouth was now hanging open in shock. She was telling on me? James was laughing, and I could hear Lily telling him to shut up. Remus and Peter, sitting in front of Sirius and I, were chuckling as well.
“Well,” Professor Flitwick started, looking around at me, “I wasn’t aware that I had assigned seats.”
April looked scandalized. “Well, sir, you haven’t, but that’s my seat...”
“I suppose that if you want an assigned seat that much, I’d be happy to give it to you. Everybody up! I’m assigning seats!”
There were boos and catcalls at April as the rest of the class stood and collected at the front of the room.
“All right, starting at the front, Miss June and Mr. Pettigrew; next desk...” I smiled in amusement as Flitwick began listing students. This was better than I could have hoped!
“You know, we’re going to end up together,” Sirius hissed in my ear, and I jumped because I hadn’t noticed him next to me. “Or maybe you did this on purpose. Still think I’m losing my touch?” He smirked as Flitwick sat Lily and James next to each other.
“Losing your touch and gaining a few pounds in ego,” I replied, rolling my eyes at him. Sirius shook his head at me as if in exasperation.
“Mr. Lupin and Miss Chambers, right in the center, if you please.”
“Say what you want, Artemis, we both know I’m right.” I shivered at the sound of my name coming from his lips.
“Yeah right, I was just starting to feel nauseous from you and June. All that public display of affection is making me sick.”
“I see; I’ll remember that for lunch, then,” Sirius said thoughtfully as, unsurprisingly, Flitwick sat us together in the back corner. “Damn, he used it as an excuse to split up the Marauders,” he muttered as he fell into his seat. And he had a point. The Marauders were more separate than they’d been in six years. Meanwhile, April was sending me death glares from the front corner of the room. I made a face back, to which Sirius commented sarcastically, “How mature.”
There was no chance to make a biting comment as Flitwick began telling us about the Animation Charm we would be learning. Finally, after half an hour, he set us to work trying to bring small dolls to life.
“Ugh, this is going to be impossible!” I groaned as Flitwick set a small green-eyed, brown-haired doll in a green princess dress in front of me.
“Just do your best, Miss Gaunt,” he said before handing Sirius an identical doll, only male and dressed in a green breeches and a black tunic. Sirius made a face at it as Flitwick walked away.
We sighed simultaneously and drew out our wands. Already, our classmates were cursing, their charms doing absolutely nothing.
“Animus,” Sirius said, glaring at his doll in focus. Nothing happened. He shrugged and looked at me expectantly. I grumbled a little, but that wasn’t going to help me any; so I turned to the doll.
“Animus,” I repeated after Sirius. Nothing. “How did I even get into this class?” I asked myself, mimicking the pout on my dolls face.
“Don’t ask me. Animus.”
“It’s not like I even really need it. Animus.”
“I don’t get you,” Sirius said ponderously, after another fifteen tries (yes, I was counting). “You’re pretty good at transfiguration, and Defense, but you can’t figure out Charms for the life of you. Animus!”
I ground my teeth together. “If I could figure out why, I wouldn’t have an A. Animus.”
“Right. Animus!” The doll twitched slightly, hardly enough to notice.
“Ah, very good, Mr. Black, you’re showing improvement!” Professor Flitwick commented, applauding his attempt. “Your turn, Miss Gaunt.”
I stopped the groan of frustration that I dearly wished to release, and instead prodded at the doll. “Animus!”
“Still nothing, I see. Not to worry, dear, you’ll get the hang of it.” The bell rang at that point, lucky for me as I started swearing at him under my breath and the sound covered my voice. Sirius laughed as he put his wand back into his pocket.
“Sod off,” I moaned, putting away my own wand. “Lily! Why can’t I do it?” I cried as Lily came to a halt next to the desk. She scowled at me.
“I can’t believe you got me sat next to that prat!” she exclaimed, completely ignoring my question. “And now I have to sit next to him every Charms lesson!”
I rolled my eyes at her. “I didn’t do anything! It was all April! She’s the one who went and tattled! Your girlfriend’s such a pussy, Sirius,” I added as a side note. Sirius sighed.
“So I’ve noticed.”
“Poor Pete!” I said, shaking my head as I stood up and smirking at the feeling of satisfaction in my stomach. “I can’t imagine having to sit next to her!”
Sirius shrugged. “At least she’s a good kisser.” I gagged at him and he sniggered. “You act like a first year, Artemis.”
“Well, at least I don’t snog anything that moves.”
“You move, and I wouldn’t snog you.” I felt that disappointed pang again; I couldn’t imagine how I managed to hide it, but I did.
“That’s a relief.” Sirius just smiled haughtily and followed April out the door. I scowled after him and folded my arms across my chest.
“You know, Lily,” James said, bringing me out of a reverie, “if I didn’t know any better, I might say our Artemis was, dare I say it, jealous.”
I snorted before Lily could respond. “Oh please! Just because I got sick of him and June snogging in front of me doesn’t mean that I’m jealous!”
“Of course not,” James yielded, but I could hear the sarcastic bite behind it. Lily had a funny sort of grin playing on her lips, and Remus and Peter were giving me pitying looks.
“GAH!” I yelled frustratedly, snatching up my satchel and storming out of the classroom. Lily somehow managed to keep up with me, still smiling. “Stop looking at me like that, Lils! I am not jealous!”
“At first I believed you, but now...” She laughed at my expression.
“Fine,” I snapped at her, “if you’re going to be that way, how was your walk with James? Didn’t do any snogging, did you?”
Lily turned pink. “No! Of course not! We walked, and we talked a bit, but there was absolutely no contact at all!”
“Right,” I responded in the same tone James had used on me. Lily glowered and refused to speak to me for the rest of break. As we sat down in Transfiguration, however, I said, “So do you think there ever will be contact between you two? Snogging and stuff?”
“Are you kidding? I’d rather kiss a two-headed hippogriff!”
“But you two are getting on so well!”
“Admittedly, yes, we’re better than we used to be, but still! Honestly! Me and James?”
I sighed and shook my head. “And yet you all think I’m in love with Sirius!”
“That’s a valid point, I suppose. But you know, you and Sirius are better than you used to be as well. You don’t argue nearly as much, and you certainly don’t seem as hateful towards him. Not to mention, you’re actually calling him by his first name now!”
“So what? You’re calling James by his first name.”
Lily scowled. “Touché. Really, though. Are you jealous?”
I opened my mouth to say “No, of course not!” But nothing came out. Lily stared at me as I furrowed my brows, trying to force the words out with no luck at all. Finally, I conceded defeat to whatever force would not allow me to say no, and shrugged and sighed. “I dunno,” I said finally. “I mean, I’m not, but I am...” I paused and looked at her in horror. “Oh, Morgana, what the bloody hell’s wrong with me?”
She seemed too stunned by what I’d told her to reply. Instead she watched in numb disbelief as I began running my hands through my hair wildly and wondering what on earth my problem was. Was I actually starting to like—No! No, no, no, nonononono! I could not like Sirius. No way!
Lily flinched and looked around as if she had awoken from a trance. James had sauntered up and straddled the chair of the desk in front of us.
“L-Lily-Flower?” she repeated while James was looking at me worriedly. “What happened to Lily-kins?”
“I decided I needed more than one nickname. I worked on that one forever,” he confessed, though he continued to watch me pull my hair in distress. “What do you think of it?”
“What’s up with her?” Peter asked as he took the seat next to James; he ultimately provided Lily the opportunity to ignore James’ question while everyone turned their attention to me.
“What is up with her?” Remus repeated as he took a seat across the aisle from me.
“Er, well...” Lily started, looking at me nervously. A split-second’s eye contact and a barely perceptible shake of the head, and Lily seemed to understand that what we were talking about was private. “She forgot about, erm, the... Potions essay. You know, the one due tomorrow.”
“Oh...” Remus said slowly. “Well... she can copy mine, if she’d like.” James, Lily, and Peter looked scandalized.
“But Moony!” Peter cried. “You don’t let me copy!”
“That’s cheating!” Lily chastised. “I’m ashamed to call you a prefect!”
I sighed and released my hair. “That’s fine, Remus. Thank you, though. I’ll just have to do it all tonight...” I lied. I’d finished that essay the night before, but they didn’t have to know that. Peter and James shrugged, but Remus still looked suspicious.
“Are you sure? You can—“
“All right, everybody face front!” Professor McGonagall called as she entered her classroom. Reluctantly, the Marauders turned forward; Lily gave me one last glance before following the suit. That was when I noticed something: it was something that made my stomach twist painfully.
April and Sirius were noticeably absent.
Lunch that day was a rather somber affair. Lily kept shooting me anxious glances, now joined by Remus and occasionally James. Peter seemed happily oblivious as he ate shepherd’s pie. Sirius was still MIA.
I poked angrily at my own shepherd’s pie, not bothering to eat. Why in the hell was I so upset? It wasn’t as if I positively liked Sirius. I really couldn’t stand him! Everything he did was meant to rankle me. And it wasn’t as if I cared about him; what he did with his girlfriends, be it shagging, snogging, or ditching them, was definitely none of my business.
But I continued to be irritated as the day wore on and there was still no sign of Sirius. He didn’t show in Herbology. He wasn’t in the common room during break. He certainly wasn’t in the library, James insisted that he wasn’t in the kitchens or in the dungeons, and I didn’t see him at all on the frosty grounds.
The only good thing was that, at dinner, I spotted April. Her back was to me, but I could definitely tell that it was April; her hair, done always in the elaborate curls that I took such joy in destroying, was easily recognizable. The fact that she wasn’t with Sirius managed to cheer me up slightly. I was really becoming irritated with being irritated anyways. The voice seemed to like it though, especially when I snapped at my friends, wouldn’t eat my food, or became inexplicably pissy with my teachers (even earning a detention from Professor Aurelia... I really don’t think she liked me much). Lily and Remus were still glaring at me suspiciously as we sat down in the Gryffindor common room, another thing that I was getting rather frustrated with. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore.
“I’m going for a walk,” I stated acidly, rising from the armchair I had been occupying and storming out of the portrait hole. I could feel their eyes following my back as I went.
“Stupid bloody tossers,” I growled as I stomped down the corridor. “Nosy little buggers. Bleeding twits...”
I was glad to not run into anyone as I crossed the entrance hall and exited the castle. I was still mumbling under my breath as I struck a path towards the lake; the waxing moon was already up, stars speckling the sky. Reaching the shore, I folded my arms across my chest.
Bloody hell, it was freezing. I hadn’t thought to grab my jacket; it figured I wouldn’t have, when I was so distracted. But I was tired of sitting around, letting meaningless irritation eat away at me. I would rather stand out here and freeze my arse off.
I think I stood out there near to half an hour. And then I heard whining. I turned around to look at the same black dog as before. His gray eyes were looking at me piteously, he was sniffing his way towards me, and when he finally reached me I patted his head. He, however, continued whining.
“Oh, stuff it,” I commanded, squatting to look him in the eyes. “At least it’s not bloody raining this time, mate; and you aren’t gonna trick me this time! I’m not going in just because... you ... look at me like that! You stop that!” I ordered as the dog turned his gray eyes to meet mine, begging me silently. “I’m not going back in; least, I’m not going back in right now. I’ll go in when I get too cold, I promise you.” The dog seemed to glare at me, so I was surprised when he suddenly barked and jumped on me, licking my face. I laughed, even though the ground made me colder than I had been standing there. “Silly dog,” I giggled, almost girlishly, “I’m not going in just because you try to maul me!”
He looked at me like he was amazed, then... bit me.
“Ow!” I yelped, but it didn’t really hurt. It seemed more like a warning nip than an angry bite. “Don’t do that!” I whined at him, flicking his wet nose. “You can’t make me go! And now that I’m on the ground, I don’t really feel like getting up.” I crossed my legs stubbornly.
The dog almost seemed to sigh. I was a bit astounded, really, when he plopped down next to me, pressing his warm, furry, black body against my arm. For some reason... I felt rather embarrassed. I dunno why, but I did. Regardless, I began scratching the dog behind his ears, slipping into a reverie. I believe I was in said reverie for a total of... oh, say, five seconds, before the dog’s whimpering cut into my thoughts of where the bloody hell Sirius was.
“What is it, boy?” I asked, almost exasperatedly. “You know,” I interrupted myself, “it’s getting rather old. Calling you ‘boy’ and ‘mate’ all the time. But I don’t know your name...” The dog looked at me as if it were trying to telepathically communicate its given name, but it was obviously not possible, as no strange voice erupted in my mind to enlighten me (though the usual voice laughed coldly at me for talking to an “inferior being”). “Well, there’s only one thing for it. I’ll just have to make one up myself...” I cast around for a seemingly appropriate name. Before I came up with one, I sneezed; the sound echoed over the grounds, along with the dog’s surprised bark. He looked up at me with those cloudy eyes and started sniffing my face. “Aha, that’s it!” I said, laughing. “Well, now, Snuffles, I think someone’s talking about me!”
My laughter died off gradually as my thoughts returned to Sirius. I sighed as the dog put his head in my lap and whined again.
“What is it?” He looked at me with knowing eyes, and I said, “Oh, Snuffles, you can tell I’m upset, huh?” I half expected him to nod, but, of course, that would have been ridiculous. He was only a dog, after all. I stroked his fur, turning my gaze to the lake with a frown. “It’s stupid really. Very stupid. I don’t even get it, to be honest. I mean, they think that I’m jealous of that bloody tart. I’m not! I’m definitely not jealous!” I paused and glared at the frigid water. “I can’t be jealous; I shouldn’t even think of him at all! But for some reason... these past two weeks! Ever since Quidditch! I just don’t get it! Why now? He hasn’t changed any, damn it! He’s still the same bloody dick head he’s always been! So why, in the name of all things magical, am I jealous of that slag?”
Snuffles was quite obviously confused by my outburst, but really, it felt good to get it out.
He’s bewitching you... the voice supplied in a low tone. He wants to snare you, the same way you do him; but he wants to do it to hurt you...
“Bewitching me?” I repeated, and now poor Snuffles looked extremely baffled, if a dog could look extremely baffled. I paused in my stroking to ponder the possibility. Was Sirius Black trying to do the same thing to me as Melanie wanted me to do to him, only he was one step further? “Bewitching me...” I snorted, and Snuffles growled. “What a load of tosh! As if he was smart enough for that. No, I don’t think he’s bewitching me, charming me, any of that like. But then what the hell—“
Snuffles and I both jumped as the clock tower began chiming, signaling to all students nine o’clock and curfew.
“Shit! I have to get back to the common room! You stay out of trouble, Snuffles, you hear!” I ordered, giving the black dog one last pat on the head before sprinting up the lawns back to the castle.
Sirius barely managed to make it back to the common room undetected. He was rather distracted as he snuck up the corridors, trying to take the quickest way to Gryffindor Tower, and he was nearly found by two prefects and one teacher. He made it, though, and clearly Artemis had as well; she was near to the girls’ staircase, looking guiltily away from Lily as the latter most probably lectured her for being back after curfew. Sirius ignored the entirety of the common room, including an insane Melanie as she beckoned to him from close to the fire, instead heading for the boys’ stairs, hoping dearly for a hot shower and a friendly chat with his fellow Marauders, and perhaps with Wes and Jon as well.
When he entered the seventh dormitory, the other five guys were not yet there; presumably, they were still downstairs, doing homework or flirting with girls or just goofing off like they usually did. But Sirius didn’t really mind. He could shower first. After all, this was an important thing, this conversation that he wanted to have with the other guys. It was better that he brainstormed all possible questions first. Sirius smiled as he took off his shirt, throwing it haphazardly onto the floor next to the rest of his dirty laundry. He gathered the things he would need afterward, and then headed for the bathroom. Placing his articles on a shelf, he traced the thin white scar that his mother had given him as he fled from his house the summer before, but that wasn’t what was on his mind.
Soon, Sirius was nude, and he turned on the water, full on hot, so that it scalded his flesh, but hey, “no pain, no gain,” right? And Sirius hardly felt it anyway, so absorbed was he in his thoughts. Finally, he was clean in body, and he was ready in mind; he ended the stream of water from the showerhead and dried and dressed himself.
This time, all five guys were in the dormitory
“Hello, mate,” James greeted, digging through his trunk for some odd reason. “Where’ve you been all day?”
“Been off celebrating the fact that he’s single again, no doubt,” Wes said as he lounged back in his bed. “Bed her already, Sirius?”
Sirius rolled his eyes. “Mind your own business, Wes.”
“Were you, then?” Peter piped up. “Out celebrating? I saw April at dinner, she looked absolutely horrible.”
“You could see her tears all the way from where we were seating,” Remus added. “Though obviously Artemis didn’t see them...”
This caught Sirius’ attention. “What does April have to do with Artemis?” Jon and Wes shrugged, but the other three Marauders shared a glance.
“Nothing at all, Pads!” James exclaimed.
“Don’t mind me, I’m exhausted!” Remus shouted.
“She wasn’t upset at all!” Peter yelped. James and Remus glared at him, but Sirius just smiled, filing away that information for later use.
“Speaking of Artemis,” he said, hoping to turn the conversation his way, “Any of you chaps happen to know who she fancies?”
James quite nearly said, “You,” but he stopped himself at a look from Remus. “Er, no idea, mate; I heard she’s off fancying at the moment.”
“Yeah, she hasn’t had a proper boyfriend since the beginning of the year,” Wes said thoughtfully.
“She’s never had a proper boyfriend,” Jon clarified, “as she’s dumped them all after the first date for trying to push her to shag.”
“But it’s mid-November!” Peter exclaimed. “Can people live that long without having a, er, partner?”
The other five shrugged.
“Why do you ask, anyways, Padfoot?” Remus asked, as no one was able to answer Peter’s question.
“Oh, well,” he said, ready to spew out the excuse he’d planned during his shower. “I just heard her saying to Lily in the hallways that she was jealous of some slag and that... she... shouldn’t...” Sirius wasn’t even aware that his mouth was hanging open as everything clicked in his mind. Everything was suddenly clear to him. Artemis upset... some tart she was jealous of... someone she definitely shouldn’t like...
“Er, Sirius?” James said, giving his best friend a concerned look. “You alright?”
Sirius shook his head, and then nodded frantically. “Yeah, yeah, I just... I’ve just thought of something.”
“What were you saying?” Peter asked, scooting nervously on his bed to edge further away from Sirius. “Artemis said she shouldn’t what?”
“Never mind,” Sirius said, shaking his head again. “It doesn’t matter; I just wanted something to tease her with, but... never mind.”
And he refused to talk any more on the subject. In his mind though, one thing kept repeating.
It was impossible. It had to be impossible.
But was it?
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