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Chapter 41 : Needing
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Um... you know, I used to love Junie B Jones. And those are the ads coming up now. It's kind of crazy, isn't it? Reader becomes the writer. WILD PHILOSOPHICAL STUFF. Anyways, love you all, stay safe, etc
Scarlett woke up.
This really was not something to be especially troubled or surprised by; though Scarlett was notorious for getting little sleep throughout the night she was equally known for stealing naps throughout the day. Waking up was something so silly and common that it did not seem significant enough for Scarlett to notice. It hardly merited a form of recognition.
The unusual thing about Scarlett's return to consciousness was where she woke up and, more importantly, what clothes were on her body.
A robe covered most of her back and side, though her arms were not in her sleeves and the robe itself was suspiciously wrinkled in a way that surely was not appropriate for school. Socks, gray and plain, were the only article of clothing that offered sufficient warmth, and Scarlett had no clue where her shoes had gone, no less the rest of her outfit.
As for where she was, she really didn't know. She was warm, and her bones were lazy, feeling no urge or desire to move. Her eyelids refused to open, and Scarlett almost fell to the temptation of staying wherever she was forever. It was comfortable and nice.
However, she had a creeping feeling that slithered up her spine that told her that once her eyes opened she would not be quite as content. Actually, every sense besides her now overwhelming curiosity told her to stay right where she was, because she was happy. And consequence didn't have to be looked at when she was so peaceful. Consequence could wait. Everything could wait.
But Scarlett was becoming too curious for her own good. She was becoming outrageously impulsive, it seemed, and though she always wanted to keep her eyes shut she was learning that eventually her eyes would have to open. No matter what decision there was, it always had to be confronted, because that was life. And even though Scarlett still feared it—absolutely detested confrontation and consequence—the curiosity Sirius ignited was overpowering.
So, impulsively, Scarlett opened her eyes, expecting the worst. They opened blearily, every other nerve fighting for her to bloody stop and forget about it, but still they opened, quickly observing the surroundings as the battle of consequence raged on.
Scarlett was overtaken when she saw, exactly, where she was.
Few rays of sun could break through the canopy of leaves and branches, but the ones that did illuminated the scene around her perfectly. She could see her shoes thrown haphazardly nearby opposing trees, and she could see where she had slept, one robe still clinging onto her body to protect her from the snow.
She could also see who she had slept with.
Who she had slept with.
She hugged the robe around her as tightly as she could, covering any inappropriate parts of her body as she put her arms in the sleeves. She stood up, and hesitantly, watching as her socks met the snow and became freezing and wet. Groaning quietly to herself, she put a hand through her hair but failed miserably; her hand got caught in knots as soon as it tried to comb through. Not good.
Not good, Scarlett thought, panicked. Not good, not good, not good—
Scarlett groaned loudly this time, walking around and looking for her missing clothes. She shook her head at the boy, deliberately avoiding his gaze—or anything about him—as she tied her shoes. "No," she said, but it was shaky. "We are not going through this again. We are not—I am not making the same mistake again."
"Mistake?" Sirius asked curiously, watching Scarlett as she stood and looked for another article of clothing. "You know, you won't be able to get anything on with your shoes," he noted idly.
"Fuck," Scarlett muttered, untying her shoes again.
"Yes," Sirius said triumphantly. "But mistake? Have you really gone guilty on me five minutes after you wake up? Am I going to have to convince you to forget about it again?" He smirked. "It's going to be hard to top last time, but..." His smirk turned into a mischievous grin. "I'm up to it if you are."
Ignoring the flush of her cheeks, Scarlett grabbed her underwear and bit out, "Aren't you going to get dressed?"
"I'm enjoying myself," Sirius explained. "Unlike you."
"Do you take pleasure in this?" Scarlett asked angrily, dressing as subtly as possible while looking around the outlook for other bits of clothing. "Do you take pleasure in me making mistakes? Do you take pleasure in me completely ruining my future? Ruining everything that I've worked for?"
"I'm sorry, but if that's what you call it, then yes," Sirius replied. "I don't think you're ruining anything. I think you're just saving yourself from something you weren't keen on doing in the first place. Let's be honest, if you really thought you were ruining something then you wouldn't have been with me."
Scarlett groaned, putting her hand to her head. This was why she feared consequence. "I can't stand this," she confessed, feeling slightly sick. "Sirius, I—I... I can't," she said, her voice losing volume with every syllable. "I can't do this."
"It's kind of hard to say you can't," Sirius snapped, the first tones of irritation settling in his voice, "when you already did."
"I can't handle this," she said, and she laughed weakly as she pulled on her slacks. "I can't handle any of it. I can't handle you. I can't keep... losing my identity, my future, because of you. Everything is bloody splitting and I don't know what to do. I'm caught and I'm going to have to choose but I can't. I can't."
Sirius definitely looked irritated now. Standing up and wrapping his robe around him, he said, "You have to. You can't just walk away as if it meant nothing. You can't just tell me that you're making a mistake and then leave. You have to face this. You can't just keep running away from it."
"I have to!" Scarlett yelled desperately. "I'm sorry, Sirius. I—I'm so... I want... I want you," she admitted, finding her blouse and beginning to button it while she remembered when Sirius had wanted her enough to take it off of her. "I want you and I fancy you so bloody much, but I need to stay away. I need to be a part of my society... I need to be with Theodore."
"But you don't want to," Sirius processed, though anger still lined his face as if it was ready to explode. "You don't want to..." A venomous undertone entered his voice as he said, "Do you?"
Scarlett sighed. "I don't want to hurt Theodore," she said.
"That's not what I asked," Sirius replied, taking a step towards her; though they were arguing her stomach still erupted in butterflies. "Do you want to be with him?"
"I made a promise," Scarlett responded, deliberately evading the question, "to stay with him." She held up her ring; it glittered in the sunlight. "'Always and forever.'"
"That's still not what I asked," Sirius said, impatient. "Do you want to be with him?"
There was one second of silence where all Scarlett and Sirius did was stare at each other. The sun shone on both of their faces, shining on even in the face of consequence. However, that was the only thing that made an appearance; any animals that were in the forest were quiet.
Just for that one second.
Finally, when everything broke, Scarlett responded. "No," she said. "But I do care about him."
Sirius shook his head as Scarlett sighed and began to put on her shoes again. "I'm so sorry, Sirius," she muttered. "I can't do this to him."
"You can't do it to him," Sirius said, his voice heavily ironic, "but you don't seem to be guilty about doing all of this to me."
Scarlett blinked. "What have I done to you?" she asked incredulously. "I've—I've bloody cheated on my fiancé. I'm getting married in seventeen days. It'd break his heart if he knew, and you're wondering what I did to you? The only thing I did to you was give you my virginity. I've bloody bent all the rules just to be around you, and you're wondering what I've done to you? Tell me what I've done. Tell me about all the other mistakes I've made. What have I ever done to you, Sirius? What makes you think that you have the right to be angry?"
Sirius laughed angrily. "The right to be angry?" he asked sarcastically. "Are you surprised that I'm angry? What the hell did you think I'd do? Laugh it off?"
"Answer the question," Scarlett snarled.
"You have no idea," Sirius breathed, taking a step closer to her so that they were impossibly close, almost as close as they had been the night before. "You have no idea what you've done to me. You have no idea—" and his voice became a low murmur that was whispered harshly into her ear, making her shiver— "you have no idea what it's like to wake up and have someone you fancy tell you that she'd rather be with someone she doesn't even like. You have no fucking idea what it's like to hear her say that she doesn't want to hurt him but she has no problem hurting you. Hell, she doesn't even know she has."
Breathing deeply, Scarlett hissed, "You should be happy. I gave you what you wanted."
"You thought I just wanted to have sex with you?" Sirius asked. "You thought that was the only reason I came here?"
"Why else?" Scarlett asked, leaning in closer to him so that their noses were almost touching. "Why else would you have wanted to be here?"
Sirius groaned, shaking his head and putting his hand through his hair. "You!" he yelled. "I'm here for you!" He noted their close proximity then; for a moment, he lost his composure as he looked at her. However, he regained his anger fairly quickly, his fists unclenching to comb through his disarrayed hair. "And I can't bloody stand it when you do things like that!"
"Like what?" Scarlett said sharply.
"You lead me on!" Sirius shouted bluntly. "You yell at me one day, you tell me you're getting married one day, and then the next you don't have any problem being with me! You mention your wedding so fucking much, you talk about Theodore so much, but the next day you act like you don't give a shit! About anything! You ignore whatever you've done the night before and pretend it's all a clean slate! You avoid it! You fucking run from it! And you say I'm taking your identity because you know, and you're just too afraid to admit, that whatever that bloody ring represents has never been your identity! But none of that matters because in the end all you're going to do about it is run away and pretend it never happened!"
"When have I ever done that?" she argued; the truth bit at her uncomfortably.
"Tell me this, then," Sirius said intensely. "What happened when you came late and Tenereus was there? Why were you sick? Why was the centaur there and what the hell does he know that he's not telling me? Why wouldn't you talk about any of it the day after? Because you wanted to run away from it? Pretend it never happened?"
"I don't know!" Scarlett screamed, feeling exhausted and angry and worn out. "I don't know, Sirius!"
"You don't want to know," Sirius guessed. "Am I right?"
Scarlett put her hand over her face and groaned. "Maybe I don't like knowing things that could hurt me, and maybe I don't want to talk about it! Not everyone is as brave as you are, Sirius!"
"There's a big difference between being brave and being a coward," Sirius said. "You don't have to be brave all the time, but you..." He shook his head as if he was ashamed. "You don't even try to be brave. You couldn't stand the idea of having beliefs that others don't want you to have. Of changing your mind or even making a bloody choice—you'd rather just cower away from everything."
The words stung Scarlett. They came to her ears and scorched them and they pricked every part of her like a needle. The word coward rang in her head immediately, repeating itself like a mantra, and, frustrated, Scarlett grimaced.
"I can't believe you would do this to me," she said finally. "I can't believe you."
"You can't believe me?" Sirius asked, skeptical. "You can't believe me?" When Scarlett made no indication of denying it, Sirius scowled. "You're insufferable," Sirius said. "I'm not coming tonight."
As Sirius walked away, Scarlett knew that she should've told him to never come back there again. She knew that she should have told him to leave her alone so she could stop this, even though it had gone too far. It had gone so far.
When Scarlett had come to the outlook the previous night, she had told herself that it was only a kiss. No matter what, when the inevitable confrontation came with Theodore, she could tell him that it was only a kiss.
But now it was something else... it might have always been.
And, what was more, every second that passed it became harder and harder to dismiss it. It became harder and harder to run away from, like Sirius had claimed her to do. It became harder and harder to avoid, because it was becoming a part of her. Everything about Sirius was poisonous, and it was confusing as much as it was overpowering. What she wanted was Sirius and what she needed was Theodore... right?
It should have been that easy, that black-and-white. It should have been easy to set aside what she wanted and forget about it, like a bad craving. It should have been easy for Scarlett to tell Sirius to stay away from her so she could heal herself. It should have been so simple for Scarlett to do what she was meant to do, to serve her purpose.
It should have been easy, but it wasn't. Want was melting into need and need was melting into want and Theodore and Sirius could not be so easily separated.
She should have told him to leave forever, but she didn't want to and, what was more terrifying, she almost needed to refrain. She should have told him to never speak to her again, but all Scarlett could do is stare at the space where he left and want him back even more.
When she arrived back at the school it was past lunchtime.
It was Theodore's free period, and, like Scarlett had suspected, she found him in the library, poring over an ancient, endless book. He appeared to not notice her when she arrived, but when she stepped closer to him, he took in her appearance in one look and returned to the tome without a word.
"Are you mad?" Scarlett asked, and Theodore looked up from his book then, sighing.
"Where were you?" he asked shortly.
"Tenereus's," she replied, just as bluntly.
"You missed Astronomy," he pointed out. "You missed Charms and Transfiguration. This isn't even the first time you've skipped class."
"I'm sorry," Scarlett said. "I fell asleep."
"Maybe you should leave Tenereus's earlier," Theodore said, annoyed.
"What the hell is wrong with you?" Scarlett asked, still riled.
"I'm worried about you," Theodore said, "but you can't seem to give a shit, can you? You've been gone all week, you haven't talked to me since I gave you that ring, and you've missed classes when we have exams soon. You haven't even cared about graduating. All you're focusing on is that bloody centaur and it's hurting you. But it doesn't seem to matter to you."
"You know it's important to me."
"It's too important," Theodore said. "You can't just keep doing the things you want to do. You need to graduate, Scarlett. You need to sleep more because you need to stop missing classes. Just because you want to be there every night doesn't mean you can be. You can't always get what you want."
With an irritated sigh, Theodore placed a bookmark where he was reading, closed his book, grabbed it and left without allowing her another word.
You can't always get what you want, Scarlett thought, but what if you don't even know what you want? What if you can't even tell the difference between what you should do and what you want to do? What if they're the same thing? What if they're not? And what about the consequences?
What if...what if you don't know what to do?
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