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Chapter 16 : Chapter sixteen: It's never easy this way
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And one part of this chapter was really hard to write. I had to choose between writing McGonagall or Dumbledore (=hard or harder), and of course I chose McGonagall. I’m not used to formal English, but at least I tried...
The chapter title is from Kurt Nilsen's (norwegian singer) song Never Easy. It's a great song.
It was past midnight when I finally felt brave enough to go back to the common room. I expected it to be empty, but realized that all of my friends had waited up for me. Remus, James, Lily, Alisha and even Peter were there.
Lily ran up to me and threw her arms around me.
“Thank god you’re back. We were so worried about you.”
She led me to the couch and I sat down. The others were looking at me carefully, as if they were afraid I would break down. I could see lots of emotions in their eyes; sadness, pity, confusion, anger… I had a lot to explain.
“So…” I began. “Did any of you perhaps happen to be outside the great hall tonight?”
I was surprised of how casual I managed to sound. My voice didn’t sound quivery at all. In fact, it sounded as if I could have talked about just anything. I looked at my friends and saw that they were shaking their heads.
“We came there right after you had left. Some fifth years ran up to us and told us that you were fighting. They also told us what had happened, but we’re not sure if it’s true” James said and frowned.
“Do you think you can tell us about it?” Lily asked carefully. “I mean, we totally understand if you don’t want to…”
“No, it’s okay” I said, cutting her off. “I guess I’ll just have to start from the beginning, right?”
They nodded faintly and I took a deep breath. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to tell the whole story, but these were my best friends. It would be okay. I pushed away my fears and began talking. I told them about the arguments, the suspicion; everything. I didn’t leave out anything.
As I was talking I felt tears prickling in my eyes, but I forced myself to keep them from falling. I had cried enough about this.
When I finished they were all staring at me, the shock clear in their faces. I could see tears making their way down on Lily’s cheek.
I waited for them to say something, but it seemed like they had lost their abilities to speak. After a while though, Lily was able to say something.
“I’m so terribly sorry Sophia. How could he do this to you? All of this is just so unfair… I’m not sure what to say actually.”
I reached my arm out and patted her on the shoulder. “It’s okay Lily; I’m just glad that you’re here for me.”
Remus, who had been looking completely gobsmacked, finally managed to say something. “This is just unbelievable. This kind of stuff just doesn’t happen.”
I laughed shortly. “Apparently, it does.”
“By the way, have you seen Sirius?” James suddenly asked, looking at me.
“Er… no. Haven’t you guys seen him?” I answered; surprised that he asked me about that.
“No, he disappeared right after he beat Zach up. He brought the map with him too. Haven’t seen him since dinner” James explained.
I was surprised even though I shouldn’t be. I had predicted that Sirius would react like that but I didn’t think that he would beat Zach up when it was me that he was angry with. Perhaps he hated us both now.
“Er yeah… Zach was standing in the crowd and Sirius caught sight of him. He started screaming at him and then he beat him up. I think he actually broke Zach’s nose” Alisha told me.
“Yeah, he probably would’ve killed him if professor Sprout hadn’t arrived” Peter added. “Not that she caught him though; he ran away faster than you can say ‘cheese’…”
“And we haven’t seen him since” Remus finished.
“Oh” I managed to say. I didn’t want to talk about Sirius. I was too hurt and confused. I couldn’t even decide if I was angry or sad with him for Merlin’s sake! I had to change the topic.
“So where were you… you know, when it happened?”
“We were on our way back to the common room, but Sirius stayed behind. He was acting kinda weird, and I guess we know why now” Peter told me.
No one answered but everybody was probably thinking the same thing; we definitely knew why he had been acting weird. I couldn’t believe that Mandy had told him. Why had she talked to him, of all people? Shouldn’t she have talked to James, the captain?
Alisha, who had been quiet till now, suddenly gave a frustrated cry. “That GIT! I can’t believe he did that!”
“Tell me about it” James muttered darkly.
“He’s an idiot – a complete idiot. I just can’t believe him!” she continued, not even seeming to notice James’ comment.
“You’re absolutely right!” James said. “I just want to kick his ass!”
“Yes, me too! I just…” she began in a loud voice, but broke off. “Hang on… Who are you talking about?” she said quieter, looking at James suspiciously.
“Zach of course! That bloody git” James explained, before realizing what she meant. “Wait a second… Weren’t you talking about him too?”
“No!” She yelled. “I was talking about-“
And at that exact moment, the portrait opened. Alisha stopped mid sentence and jerked her neck to see who was entering.
“YOU” she shrieked and got up. “YOU SELFISH ABHORRENT OAFISH SON OF A BITCH! WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?”
It wasn’t hard to guess who she was talking to. I turned around and saw that, indeed, it was Sirius who had entered the common room. He was looking miserable, shocked and terrified. And on top of that, he had a black eye.
Alisha was running towards him, and he probably realized that she was going to launch at him, so he started running too.
“STOP RUNNING YOU ABOMINATE RUTHLESS DICKHEAD!”
Remus and Lily had stood up too, and were trying to stop Alisha from killing Sirius.
“Calm down Alisha!” Lily said loudly. “You’re waking the entire tower!”
Alisha just kept on running. It was like a cat chasing a rat. Sirius was running for his life, trying to run around couches and tables to prevent Alisha from getting to him. I would have laughed if I wasn’t so shocked.
“I BLOODY WON’T CALM DOWN!”
James and Remus were running around, desperately trying to catch the furious girl. She was really fast though, and there were always furniture in the way.
“SIRIUS YOU ABJECT COWARD! STOP RUNNING OR I’LL HEX YOU!”
At this, Sirius yelped and ran even faster. Other students had started to wake up, and there were several of them standing in their pyjamas, watching the scene.
Alisha had brought out her wand and started to cast spells all over the room. I had to throw myself on the floor to avoid one. Lily, Remus, James and Peter had also sought protection. Now there was no one who could stop Alisha.
I had never seen her so furious. She had totally lost control. I almost felt sorry for Sirius. But I was too disappointed in him to even care. He got what he deserved, that git.
“YOU INSUFFERABLE GIT! HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO HER?”
I peeked up from the floor and immediately caught sight of Sirius. He looked absolutely miserable. His whole expression was pained. I looked around and saw that the common room looked like a war zone. Several pieces of furniture were knocked over.
“I’VE HAD ENOUGH! STOP IT! BOTH OF YOU, OR I’LL GIVE YOU DETENTION FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR!”
Lily had stopped hiding and was standing near the staircase, looking furious. Both Alisha and Sirius stopped dead in their tracks. An angry Lily was not good.
Surprisingly though, Lily calmed down. She straightened her clothes and her hair. As soon as she looked away, Alisha launched herself at Sirius. She hit him in the chest and pulled his hair. Sirius screamed.
“FOR FUCK’S SAKE JUST STOP IT! I SWEAR I’LL-“ Lily screamed, but was cut off by a well-known voice; a voice belonging to a person you did not want to upset.
“What ON EARTH is going on in here?!”
I was standing outside Professor McGonagall’s office, waiting for my turn to go inside. Alisha and Sirius were in there now, and I could hear fragments of the conversation.
“Fighting like children… in the middle of the night… waking the entire tower… irresponsible… childish behaviour…. I will not accept it!”
I only heard faint answers. They were probably too scared to defend themselves.
“both of you… detention for a month… another week for you Mr. Black… fist fighting… never happen again… understand?”
I realized that their conversation was coming to an end. I really didn’t want to talk to McGonagall. She of all people would not understand how I felt. I mean, could you even find a stricter person? She was close to not having feelings, for Merlin’s sake.
Suddenly the door opened, and a defeated looking Alisha came out, closely followed by Sirius. I met Sirius’ eyes, and at a moment it looked like he was going to talk to me. Alisha must have noticed it too, because she positioned herself in front of me in a style that clearly said ‘stay the hell away from her’.
Sirius looked at her for a moment as if he was thinking about ignoring her, but then he turned around and started walking down the corridor. Alisha gave me a small smile that looked more like a grimace before walking after him, keeping a distance of at least three metres.
I realized that McGonagall was waiting for me so I walked into her office.
“Miss Crawford, have a seat” she said, and gestured towards on of the two chairs in front of her desk.
As soon as I was sitting, she continued. “I spoke to the headmaster earlier today, and he told me about a certain occurrence that took place this Friday. Apparently, a sixth year old boy in Ravenclaw has assaulted you. Am I correct?”
I nodded. She sounded like a police inquiring a criminal, but I guess it was just part of her strict personality. She suddenly looked a bit embarrassed, as if she didn’t know what to say.
“I am terribly sorry that you had to go through such a thing, Miss Crawford, and I promise you that he will face the consequences for what he has done.”
I felt a bit surprised. Did she actually show a bit of emotion? “Er… thanks, Professor.”
“However, I do hope you understand that it would have been better if you had come to me in the first place. It is my responsibility to make sure that the student receives a punishment, after all.”
“Er…yeah. What kind of punishment are we talking about here, Professor?”
“Mr Carter will be suspended for a month, and then he will have detention four times a week for the rest of the year.”
The punishment was fair enough. I didn’t have to see him for a month, and he would have to go through a lot of detentions. I had never thought he would get expelled, because you probably had to mess up really badly to face expulsion.
McGonagall continued talking to me for a while about ‘the situation’, as she called it. I was excused from the next day’s lessons, but I told her I rather just wanted to go. Lying in bed all day wouldn’t make anything better.
She also made me promise to go see the nurse. Apparently, Madame Pomfrey had insisted that I would pay her a visit, even though I was sure that I didn’t have any serious injuries.
After a while, the Professor let me go and I started heading back to the tower. Hopefully everybody would have gone to sleep now. I was exhausted and really didn’t feel like talking to someone.
As I was walking I realized that I hadn’t been feeling as miserable as I had thought I would. There had been so much going on, so I hadn’t had the time to think about things. But as I was walking, the feelings came back on me.
Sure it felt good that my friends knew. With their help, facing the whole school would be a lot easier. But I had no idea when or if I was going to be able to forgive Sirius. Just thinking about what he had done made the tears sting in my eyes.
I decided not to think about it and pushed the thoughts away. I was too tired; it would have to wait. Besides, I didn’t have any idea to what I would do, so mulling about it would just be worthless.
The dorm was quiet when I got there; something I was very thankful for. I quickly pulled my clothes off and crawled up in my warm, cosy bed.
The next day was pure torture. I had to go to the hospital wing, where Madame Pomfrey gave me a long lecture for not coming to her earlier. My injuries weren’t dangerous, which I already knew, so I could leave early.
Staying in the hospital with the slightly mad nurse would have been paradise compared to facing the whole school, though. Everybody knew what had happened, and everybody stared and whispered as I walked past them.
Alisha was at my side like a bodyguard. She glared at the staring students and even told some of them to “piss off before she hexed them”. I was so thankful for her support, even if she was a bit aggressive.
All of my friends were there for me, but Alisha was the one who helped me the most. She made me realize that it wasn’t that bad. Sure, the whole school was talking about me but I could cope with it. I was strong enough to go through it. Besides, my problem with Sirius was more important than what the school thought about me.
Still, the day was hard to go through. The teachers were giving me pity looks just like I had predicted, and they weren’t the only ones. Almost all of the students were giving me looks that clearly said ‘poor girl’. Even the younger ones were looking at me like that!
But my friends helped me go through the day. The team supported me too, and many people from other houses came up to me talked to me. It seemed like many more than I thought actually cared about me.
Adam, Joshua and Tim stopped me when I was on my way to eat dinner. They wanted to talk to me alone, and Alisha gave them a look that clearly said ‘hurt her and I’ll hurt you’ before she left.
I didn’t know what they were going to say. They were Zach’s best friends, after all, and had been since first year as far as I knew.
But I didn’t have to worry. They were even more shocked than I was that he could do that to someone. He had never done anything like it before and they had no idea why he had done it now. They told me that they didn’t know if they were going to forgive him or not.
I understood them. I didn’t know if I would forget James if he assaulted a girl. It’s impossible to beat someone up by mistake, and especially someone you like.
It felt good to have them on my side, even if it only was for the moment. They would have a month to figure out whether they would forgive him or not. But I was glad that they supported me and that they thought he was an idiot too.
Another thing that made my day much easier was Sirius lack of presence. He didn’t show up at any of our classes. He wasn’t at lunch or dinner either. In fact, I didn’t see him all day.
I couldn’t help but wonder where he was, but I didn’t want to ask anyone. Luckily, I overheard Remus asking James if he could check the map and see if Sirius still was in the dormitory.
I couldn’t understand why he was hiding in his dorm. He wasn’t the one who had been humiliated in front of the whole school, so it couldn’t be because of embarrassment. And he hadn’t seemed ashamed of what he had done, so it couldn’t be because of guilt either.
His absence kept nagging me all day. I didn’t want to think about him and I definitely didn’t want to care about him but I couldn’t help it. I thought about him all day, and I caught myself thinking about many of our memories, missing him. I wanted to rewind time so badly, and go back and fix things. I just wanted things to be the way they had been in the beginning of my sixth year.
But things were different now, and there was no way that I could forgive Sirius. I wasn’t even sure if I would ever be able to forgive him. Time would have to tell.
I was sitting in the common room in front of the fire with James. All the others had gone to bed. He was sitting with his clipboard, working on strategies while I was staring into the fire. The common room was completely empty except for the two of us, and I enjoyed the silence.
It was late, but I was too distressed to be able to sleep. I had focused so much on Sirius that I almost had forgotten about Zach, but now the images came creeping again. I saw his face, filled with anger but I forced myself to push it away. It was time to move on. Sure, it had only been a couple of days, but I didn’t have the energy to dwell on what had happened anymore.
It was time to focus on the presence and the future. It would hopefully make it easier to move on. The only problem was Sirius… He couldn’t hide in his dorm forever. I would have to face him sooner or later.
I stared into the fire, thinking about it. How was it going to work? We had the same classes, the same friends and we played on the same team. Avoiding him would be impossible.
“Things are going to be weird now, aren’t they?”
I was surprised at the sound of my own voice. I hadn’t intended to say it out loud, but the words came out anyway.
James looked up from his clipboard, looking surprised too. “Huh?” he said, before realizing what I had said. “Oh.”
He looked thoughtful, as if he didn’t know what to say. I waited patiently until he found the right words.
“Yeah, it’s going to be really weird. You’re my best friend, Sophia, but so is Sirius. And even though I think he’s a complete idiot for doing what he’s done towards you, I can’t abandon him. He’s like a brother to me, and I can’t do that to him. He needs me and-“
“James! Calm down” I said, cutting him off. “I’m not asking you to choose between me and Sirius. I could never do that to you. I just… I don’t know. I don’t want our group to be… divided, like this” I said, having troubles finding the right words.
James looked at me sadly. “Me neither. Look, I understand if you can’t forgive Sirius yet, but is it impossible for you to talk to him? I mean, are you going to avoid him completely…?” He asked carefully.
I looked down at the clipboard in his hand and realized how much he would suffer from this. He was probably the one who would have the hardest time. Not only would he have to be in the middle of a conflict between two of his best friends, he would also have to try to make these two cooperate at the quidditch practises.
I hadn’t thought about it earlier, but he probably felt really torn. I immediately felt really guilty for putting him in this situation.
“I’m so sorry James. I didn’t want to do this to you. You shouldn’t have to go through this, standing between your friends. I wish I could do something about it, but I can’t. I’m not ready to forgive Sirius. I’m sorry.”
He rubbed my back soothingly. “It’s okay Sophia; it’s not your fault. I can handle it. It’s not right to forgive him if you’re not ready. I understand completely. We’ll manage, okay? Everything will be okay.”
His words calmed me down a little. It was typical James to be so optimistic no matter what the problem was. And he was probably right; everything would be okay sometime… hopefully.
“I can’t promise you anything, but I’ll try to make it work. We have to make the practises work” I said and gave him a small smile. “Wouldn’t want to miss the chance of winning the cup, now would we?
He smiled back. “Of course not.”
None of us said anything else. James turned back to his clipboard and I continued to stare into the fire. James had a way to make me feel better; he could always lighten my mood. He was so caring; always looking out for the ones he held close. I couldn’t need him more than I did right now, and he was there for me without question.
“Thanks, by the way… For being there for me.”
He looked up from his clipboard and smiled. Then we both went back to what we did before.
Soo… Many of you wanted Zach to be expelled, and I thought about it at first. But you know, when you get expelled from Hogwarts they break your wand and everything, so I thought it was a bit too cruel. I’m still not sure if I should have expelled him or not.
And Sirius beat up Zach! Yay! I actually added that when some of you requested it, so that was all for you!
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