Chapter 4 : Chapter 4
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It was mocking him, laughing at him, telling him he didn’t dare. And James highly agreed with it. He didn’t dare rise from the staircase, go forward and knock on the door. He was afraid. When the door was closed, he could still imagine that nothing was wrong. But had it first been opened, he couldn’t pretend anymore. The fact that even his best friend had given up on him and left him would be laughing him in the face. Tormenting him even more than the closed door. Therefore it was better to keep it closed.
Rubbing his face shortly he got up, going straight for the door, but he stopped, hand stretched out. He couldn’t do it. He bit hard together and took yet another step forward. He had to.
With fright he suddenly realised he could hear someone on the other side of the door. And before he could leap away, the door opened. The young man on the other side stopped dead seeing James. James’ hand slowly dropped and he stared back at his (maybe) best friend who looked just as stunned as James.
After several long seconds Sirius breathed out. “James,” he said.
“I need help,” James said.
Sirius threw his jacket back in the apartment and looked at James. “Yeah, you do. Come in.”
And James did as told. He realised he didn’t care he showed weakness. Friends were there to help and Sirius had been the person that had been there every time James had needed anything. Sirius and Lily were the only one who had ever seen James in such a weak state he couldn’t contain it and keep it in him. They were the only one who had seen him on the edge, breaking ever so slightly. They were also the only ones who had seen him get it together again. And James knew he needed that help again. That kind of help only Sirius could provide. Lily was out of the question for the moment.
Without speaking Sirius slowly walked into the living room where he sat down, looking at James. Carefully, James sat down too. The silence was tense. Sirius was staring at James and James felt too bad to be looking back. Did Sirius want him there or was he only letting him in on pity?
“I hit Lily,” James finally said, looking up.
Sirius didn’t seem surprised. He was frowning though, but his eyes showed no hint of judgement.
“I hit Lily,” James said again, now looking into his hands, “because she didn’t want to give me my bottle. I didn’t realise it before she was on the floor. I’ve never seen her like that. She was scared of me.” He rubbed his temples. “Sirius, she was scared. Of me.”
“I don’t know what you want me to say,” Sirius said and cleared his throat. “You refused our help when we offered it, you didn’t talk to us for months, and now you suddenly feel bad for it? What is going on inside that head of yours?” Now the judgement and disapproval was shown in his voice and eyes.
“I was too damn proud to let you help me,” James muttered angrily. “You should have known that!”
“But would that have stopped you for wanting to do it on your own?”
James didn’t have an answer to that. He didn’t want to satisfy Sirius with that. Instead he buried his face in his hands, sighing loudly. “Look,” he muttered. “I need your help. I need it now, and the reason I’m asking you is because I know you can help me.”
“That must be so hard to say,” Sirius bit but he was somewhat smiling.
“So what are your plans?”
James swallowed. “I need to stop drinking. I need to get back up, get a job and get my life in order.”
“That’s a little much to ask for, don’t you think?” He raised a hand to indicate James should keep quiet. “But answer me this first... When did you hit Lily and why?”
James swallowed. Here came the hard part. He did not want to relive those scenes in the house, hell, he didn’t even want to think about it. It made him sick.
“She was at my house just this morning.” He looked at Sirius, but he didn’t seem surprised by this fact. “She would help me cleaning and she took my bottle of rum. And I hit her, shoved her.” The thought brought a wave of bitterness with it.
“Yeah, but why?” Sirius looked urgently at James.
“Because she took my bottle,” he said, “and I wanted it back.”
Sirius rubbed his temples. “You’re not answering my question. I know you wanted your bottle back, but was it necessary to hit Lily for it? Were you mad at her? Think about it, James.”
James leaned forward, burying his face in his hands, thinking. Why did he hit Lily? Because he wanted that fucking bottle. Because he couldn’t live without that bottle. But that wasn’t Sirius’ question. He asked to Lily. No, James wasn’t mad at her. Annoyed, yes, but mad, no. He couldn’t be mad at her. He wanted Lily to be there. He wanted her around so they could be together.
But he had not liked her to be there, that he couldn’t deny. He hadn’t wanted her help because she shouldn’t see what mess he was. She shouldn’t see how weak he was. He was supposed to be the person who could overcome everything. She had even said so. She had believed in him and he let her down. Shown her he wasn’t strong enough. He hadn’t wanted that. He had a desperate need for Lily to see him as that strong guy she had been with in their happy. The one who could overcome everything. The one who would let no one step on him. The one who would get back at everyone who had pushed him down.
And suddenly he realised it.
“I wanted to prove to her I wasn’t weak,” he said. “I was weak in her eyes and I couldn’t have that.” He rubbed his forehead. “Damn.”
For the first time since James had gotten there, Sirius smiled. “Yes?”
James nodded. “She made me feel weak, invading my privacy, and I couldn’t let her believe that. I had to be strong and...”
“And you hit her to prove that,” Sirius said with a nod. “It’s actually understandable.” James looked at him with scepticism. “Understandable, not acceptable. There’s a difference.”
James sighed. “So what am I doing now?”
“What do you think?”
He shook his head. “I don’t know. I can’t ever look at Lily again after this.”
“Prongs, don’t be so hard on yourself.” He sent James a careful smile. “We’ll get to Lily after we’ve gotten to you. So now we need to get to the drinking part. Why do you think that is?”
James raised an eyebrow. “Easy. It all comes back to that accident.”
Sirius nodded. “Correct. Everyone could guess that. And what do you want to do about that?”
James frowned, leaning back. That was a hard question. What was there really to do? He loved playing Quidditch and he hadn’t done that in over half a year. He was sure that was the reason, but what he could do about it, he didn’t know.
“Prongs...” James looked at Sirius. “You need to find something else that makes you at least as happy as Quidditch.”
“It’s not just the Quidditch,” James confessed.
James sighed deeply. “It’s the feeling of being incapable to do anything right. Quidditch was what I was good at. Without that, I have nothing.”
Sirius laughed. “We both know that’s a lie. Come on, Prongs, you’ve never been this modest in your life before.”
“Fine.” James took a deep breath, smiling. “I guess I’m good at other things... I always loved magic.”
“Wow, that’s strange,” Sirius replied dryly.
James glared at him. “I mean. I always love doing it. I loved fighting battles with the Slytherins and hexing people. Hey, I should have been a Death Eater.”
“We’re not welcome there,” Sirius said with a grin.
James was suddenly overwhelmed by a sudden feeling at that sentence. There was a ‘we’ and Sirius was talking to him. Their friendship hadn’t been lost. It made him happy, and he suddenly realised he had been missing this. Just talking to his old friend was much better than drinking himself senseless on some random bar.
“Let’s do something together,” he said suddenly. “We haven’t seen each other in so long time. Let’s do something wild.”
Sirius’ face light up in a second and the glint of ideas for mischief was in his eyes. “I think that’s a brilliant idea, Prongs.”
“So, Mister Padfoot. You have an idea?”
Sirius stroked his chin. “I have for later tonight. Besides, I have a few things I need to get in order today.”
James suddenly remembered. “Yeah, me too. I really should get cleaned at home.” He licked his lips slowly. “Do you think Lily will be gone when I get back?”
After a few seconds he shrugged. “Go find out.”
James nodded and then slowly got up. “I’ll see you later?”
“Yeah. We’ll talk about the being good at something later.”
James didn’t bother exiting the apartment before disapparating. The crack resounded through the house and he slowly moved from the hall into the kitchen. The broken bottle was still shattered over the floor under the wall he’d thrown it against. Everything was as when he’d left. Except Lily’s jacket. She was gone. James sat down on a chair, sighing loudly.
Of course she would be gone. Who’d want to hang out at a violent man’s house, afraid he’s just hit her again when he got home? No, Lily’s actions were completely understandable, and James didn’t blame her. He felt sorry for her, and for a few seconds he let pity overtake him again.
Then he got up and walked towards his bedroom. Lily’s work should not be for nothing. With a loud sigh, he began cleaning. The bottles vanished, the clothes gathered in a pile in the middle of the room, the curtains were pulled aside, things got back in their right place and dust and other kinds of dirt were vanished too.
Then he moved onto the kitchen. It was worst there. Or it had been before Lily had gotten there. She had washed the plates with dried and too old food on. She had washed the floor and removed everything from it. She had taken care of everything. The only thing James was to do was clean up the broken bottle and wash the wall.
It was a tiresome work, and before he’d made his way to the living room, James was in serious need for a bottle of something. A beer would do too... He licked his lips at the thought. It was very tempting and he forgot about cleaning for a second.
There were still bottles in the living room, he knew. Not rum, but beers and maybe a bottle of vodka. He had already dropped his wand and was on the way towards the living room when he stopped himself.
“No,” he muttered. He couldn’t do it.
But there was something that kept pulling in him. The warm sensation of the liquid running down his throat. The careless feeling it brought.
He hit his fist against the wall. He had to think of something else. And he did. He thought of what he knew would help. Lily’s face. The scared shadow on it only hours earlier. The feeling that brought made him turn and pick up his wand again. He had to get this done, because if he couldn’t do a simply task like stop drinking for a minute whilst cleaning, how would he be able to stop for good?
He could overcome this. Lily had believed in him. Sirius believed in him. He could do it.
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