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Chapter 7 : Alter-Egos;
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Have a happy reading :]
I woke up today with a jolt of energy. For the past five hours since school started, I had been on a caffeine outburst. Except, one minor element was missing - I didn’t consume any sugar. Which was strange. Maybe I was paranoid to the point where I felt I had to be alert, or something like that. I’m not going to lie, I did think about that. But then another part of me was excited to start a new day, and I had no idea why. I mean my life isn’t exactly pearls and diamonds at the moment. Maybe it was a mixture of both.
“I think Remus is trying to kill me.”
Subtle Klara interrupts my train of thought.
“What makes you think that?” I ask skeptically, raising my eyebrow.
She looks around at the other students in the library before leaning over the desk we’re sharing. “Because for the past couple of days, I’ve been getting these weird looks from him. I swear, I saw him seething on the way over here.”
I blink about seven times in a row. “Klara. That’s ridiculous.”
“It’s not!” she insists.
“There’s no reason for him to hate you. Are you sure you’re okay in the head?”
“I am very well capable of speaking the English language, thanks,” she responds dryly. “But for real, I don’t think he likes me. He’s always glaring and, see- look!” I follow her eyes to Remus Lupin, who is in the corner of the library in a small plushy chair staring directly at us.
“He doesn’t seem annoyed, I think he’s just looking at us.”
“No, he’s definitely glaring.”
I take a look at Remus again. He looks harmless.
“Oh, you’re right. He’s absolutely menacing.” I roll my eyes. At the rate this is going, I’m never going to finish my Potions essay. Whether I’m energized or not, I can’t afford to pull an all-nighter and stay up until 3 am again doing homework.
“Remus has been glaring daggers at me all day, whether you believe me or not,” Klara defends, pulling her books closer to her.
“You ever thought that maybe he’s just… Hm, I don’t know, just looking at you? His looks are hardly the evil glares you’re taking them as. Stop looking for the negative, jeez.”
I hold a hand up. “Ah, ah, ah…” I sing-song. “Stop jumping to conclusions like you always do. If it bothers you that much that he’s staring, then just go up to him and ask him what his problem is, if he even has a problem.”
“Ah-ha! So you think he has a problem with me?” Klara pushes.
Are you kidding? What is up her butt today? She’s never cared about getting looks from people, let alone Remus Lupin. Why does she care so much? I never thought looking at another person was as big of a deal as she’s making it to be. She just automatically assumes that Remus is staring at her because he hates her. It doesn’t make an ounce of sense. Especially since we’re working with him and his friends. She hasn’t done anything wrong - at least nothing that I now of. If she doesn’t stop with these sudden nervous looks behind her shoulder, she’s going to grow a phobia against people. She needs to relax; Remus is not going to sock her in the back of the head with a 2,000 page text book. Klara is turning into the Queen of Hyperbole with these rants, I mean honestly.
“Maybe he’s staring at you because…he’s figuring you out?” I guess. “I don’t know. He’s looking at you like he’s in a trance, like he’s deeply thinking.”
“Hmm…” She ponders.
“Maybe he’s deeply thinking about you,” I whisper.
She gets red in the face and opens up her Care of Magical Creatures book without a sound.
My jaw drops at her sheepish reaction, and I try not to giggle.
Klara sneaks a glance at Remus and he’s still giving her a long hard look. She squeaks and continues reading. “Don’t be ridiculous,” she mutters.
We go back to working on our coursework. I smirk into my essay and Klara kicks me in the shins under the table.
On my way to Astronomy, I contemplate how the week’s been treating me.
To be honest, it hasn’t been bad at all. The plan of ruining my ex’s life is going smoothly, and even though Sirius and I haven’t showed any PDA, we’re tempted to. We like to…tease our audience? I guess that’s the right term. I felt completely scandalized every time Sirius would talk right into my mouth. I’d get red very fast, but surprisingly, I didn’t run away. I’ve kept up my façade and damn it, I’m good. It’s like this is all coming scarily natural to me. Acting like I’m in a relationship, and acting a bit risqué/provocative is apparently turning into my forte! Because I’ve got everyone fooled! No, I’m sorry, I meant: Sirius and I have got everyone fooled.
He’s great at this. Keep up a kind of mask, playing with people. He has a talent, Sirius Black does. Not that it’s his job to ruin people’s relationships, because he’s not some sort of man whore. At least, I hope not. Sirius is just good at, like he said, deceiving his audience. He doesn’t strike me as the type to really double-cross someone in a relationship. He may be a playboy, but I don’t think he breaks up people’s relationships, nor would he ever be unfaithful in one of his own. There’s something about him…something about him that’s true.
And that’s the different between him and Amos.
I’ve also realized that a lot of the things I’ve liked about Amos, and about guys in general, have changed. I used to love blondes. The light hair and adorable blue/hazel eyes…they’d get me every time. Swoop me off my feet. And I’m not a hard girl to please, I’m a wet blanket and even I know that. Any kind of guy has my respect when I first say hello. I don’t have strict standards. But even so, it’s always been the blonde guy in the room that would always get my attention. But that’s changed. I don’t know if it’s because I had been with Amos for so long that I was thirsty for a change of scenery, or because of Sirius Black in my life, but I don’t really like blondes anymore.
I’m tired of the light blue eyes and the swirly gray irises that would lift me up in the clouds. The shocking green yet brown eyes, like the ones that Sirius has, are more my taste now. There’s something about eyes so shocking and yet subtle… I can’t point it out, even for myself. But the brown hair and dark eyes thing is really working out for me. Quite a gorgeous combination, when you think about it. In Sirius’s case, it depends on what day it is, because his eyes change color. I noticed that when the sun was out, his eyes turned more brown. And the night before that, his eyes seemed green in the low light.
Not that it’s important that I’m spending nights with Sirius in rooms with low lighting.
I hope this isn’t a trend, my sudden shift in taste. It’s not a trend, is it? Maybe it’s just refreshing. Because really, when you’re with the same guy for a long time and you are no longer with him in the end…you realize what else you missed out on. Er, wait that sounds harsh. Not exactly ‘what you missed out on’, but just certain things that you weren’t available to discover jump out at you. You notice things that you never noticed before, and you reevaluate your tastes a bit. Whether it’s with a guy, or the same red heels you keep wearing for a month.
When that guy, or pair of shoes, rather, don’t fit anymore - you’re next pair of black heels open your eyes to bigger things.
Sometimes, a girl really needs that. With or without a guy. At least, I think they do. I know I do. I never thought about the different things in a relationship that I wanted until I ended things with Amos. I really thought we’d be together until the end of term, and eventually move in together a couple months later. But I’m happy that I stood up to him.
I think the reason I let him jump all over those other girls was insecurity. I was in denial, and I should have listened to what the other girls were saying. Klara never believed any of it, because she never witnessed those affairs herself, and she was supportive of me. Whether or not she had a bad feeling about Amos Diggory when we dated, she kept it to herself; she stood by me because he made me happy.
But it’s not about being happy. Or the other person making you happy.
In the end you realize that statements like that are all about YOU, YOU, YOU. They’re selfish. You should be with someone for more than reasons like ‘they make me happy’ because it’s about how you feel about the other person, not how they make only YOU feel. You understand me, right? I hope I’m making sense.
All this crap has been in the back of my mind since day one, but this is one of the few times were I’ve actually given it a good thought. It’s healthy, I mean, in some sense. This is the kind of stuff I’d always avoid when I was with my ex boyfriend because I thought it was unnecessary, but this whole experience has taught me that I shouldn’t just adjust for someone else. I shouldn’t settle for that type of person just because they like me back and they promise the world to me. I thought there was no problem up front visibly, so I dropped all the problems going on, on the inside of the relationship.
Amos Diggory is the world’s worst boyfriend, count on that.
I may have changed a bit, too. Yes, I’ve said it - I may have changed for the better. Well, I’m not sure if I’ve fully changed, but the ‘Six Ways’ plan has really injected me with some damn confidence, because I’d never have been able to do this if I didn’t have an ego boost. Surprisingly, it’s becoming more and more easy to pretend everything. This is one of the greatest lies of the universe, being pulled right here at Hogwarts, and I’m a part of it! Could you have ever imagined?
The view from the corridor windows tell me that it’s a bit stormy out, but the shining sun is still up. I put more of a pep to my step. Astronomy is one of my favorite classes, and it’s suddenly sparked my interest. I don’t know why, but it reminds me of something…during class, I feel like I’m forgetting an inside joke or something, and my mind remembers, but I don’t. Is that weird? There’s a connection to Astronomy that I keep forgetting about. Oh, well. It’s at the tip of my tongue- it’ll come to me eventually.
I turn the corner to the Astronomy tower.
“Oof.” I run smack dab into someone’s chest, my forehead colliding with their shoulder.
“Oh, my bad,” a cool voice drawls. It’s a guy. And not just any guy.
That House uniform.
The way he’s grabbing my shoulders to steady himself.
“Amos,” I gasp, my voice almost hitching between my breaths.
It takes him a while to really soak me all in. Amos looks confused, and his eyebrows crinkle together in a way that I used to find adorable. “Natalie?”
His puzzled-ness is ironic, because the last time I checked, we knew each other. I’m looking at him, expecting…well I don’t know what, but definitely not this. Amos is in front of me, but his head is somewhere else.
“I-I haven’t seen you in weeks-”
Oh, right. That would do it. I forgot about the reality of me being literally unreachable to him, as part of the plan. A few weeks of isolation kinda does that to a person.
“Er, I’ve been busy,” I rush out quickly, moving my shoulders out of his grasp.
“Things have been so crazy,” he beings to tell me, “and my life has become so hectic, and wow, I mean- you look really nice today-”
“Amos,” I put a hand up, “I’m going to be late to class.”
He looks sullen for a moment, and at that second I feel like ramming my shoe up his arse.
…Where did that thought come from!?
“Well no one’s talking to me, and everyone’s been acting weird. Do you think people are acting weird? Everyone in Hufflepuff is ignoring me and I don’t understand,” he says, and ruffles his hair. “And I haven’t even kissed a girl in two weeks…”
All the while he’s telling me this, it’s as if he’s speaking to himself. My ex boyfriend is talking to me as if I’m his conscience, or he thinks I’m a stranger or something. I feel slightly insignificant to him. Because it doesn’t feel like he’s all ‘there’ together. At least not mentally. Sure, he knows who I am, but the significance of me in his life has changed. He isn’t there totally, in the head, to realize that it’s me - his ex girlfriend. All the stuff he’s done to me, the arguing…this is just plain weird. And I honestly never thought my first encounter with said ex, after initiating said plan to destroy him, would be this awkward.
It’s the twilight zone, I swear.
“Sorry, I’m busy right now.” And I dash out of that hallway, my heels click-clacking against the ground as quickly as possible. I stop right before entering the door to Astronomy class, and I lean against the wall. I huff and regain my posture, thinking about what I just went through back there. I almost laugh at the randomness of it all. I handled that quite well, I must say. I smirk, thinking about how I probably would have never been able to do anything like that if it wasn’t for Klara and Sirius.
I’m such a bad ass!
When I told Klara Isaacs at lunch about my day, the situation with Amos came up…
“No!” Klara exclaims with a radiant grin. “I can’t believe it!”
“Yes!” I respond, with the same amount of excitement.
“HAH!” She bellows, almost sticking her fork into the table. “Take that, Diggory! You, you dung beetle!”
“Shhh,” I hush hurriedly, taking the fork out of her hands. I can’t help but laugh in return, though. She’s more ecstatic than I am. And there’s really nothing to be excited about.
“Why are you shushing me as if there’s nothing to be excited about?” She asks, reading my mind.
Breaking a slice of bread in my hands, I dip it in my tomato soup. “Well,” I gurgle, taking a bite, “Is nof lie I slap ‘im in de faze…”
Klara’s expression turns flat. “The amount of incomprehensible syllables that have just come out of your mouth scares me,” she says.
I gulp down quickly, scratching my throat in the process. “Sorry,” I finally say, gasping for air. “I haven’t eaten a thing all day. But yeah, what I was saying was: It’s not like I slapped him in the face or anything of that sort.” Although… I could have.
“Psh!” My best friends waves off. “You’re words must have been enough of a slap in the face. So what did you say to him?”
I look down timidly. "Eh, it wasn’t like I yelled at him. In fact, I sort of dodged him."
“You didn’t even kick him in the groin?”
“Klara,” I pronounce strongly. “Give me a break.”
“Not even a little kick?” She raises two of her fingers together in the gesture of holding something tiny.
My expression turns into one of a mother. Preferrably mine.“ No, I did no such thing.” I stand up straight, raising my nose at the thought of misbehaving. I did nothing wild or vengeful to Amos in that hallway.
But I could have.
“You are just too polite, Natalie,” she shakes her head, sticking her fork in her peas.
“What would you suggest I do to him? Shank him? With what, per se?” I ask, intrigued at her study of the arts of destroying boys.
“With a shanking knife,” is her obvious reply.
Is she right? Am I too nice, or too polite, or whatever? Maybe I am. But it’s the way I’ve always been. It’s weird, I’ve come to a lot of realizations lately, and I can even say I’ve witnessed a small change in myself. Perhaps I should try being bad just a little bit. Being nice hasn’t gotten me anywhere, except heartbroken and walked over…
Now that’s a voice I’ve learned to recognize.
I turn around to Sirius Black, whose face is hovering above mine. His elbow is prompted up on the table next to me.
“Sirius,” I smile. “I haven’t see you all day.”
“Natalie, you’re looking radiant today. How about we show off those good looks of yours, yeah?” He asks me, a bit rushed.
I stare at him. “What are you playing at?” I mumble slowly, as if it’s a guessing game.
He smirks in response. “Come on,” he chuckles, taking my hand. I rise from my seat and he immediately pulls me away from the Hufflepuff with a few strong steps.
“Er- Sirius, what’s going on?” I ask, pulling back slightly.
He just nods his head. “Don’t worry about it,” Sirius assures me. Wherever he’s planning on taking me, I’m ashamed to say I probably didn’t have a chance on saying no in the first place. But I just want to know what he’s up to.
“See, when you say that, I worry,” I point out.
Klara leans back from her seat and turns her face to us. “Oh, go have fun, Natalie,” she eye rolls.
I purse my lips and turn around. “Fine. But if what we’re doing’s illegal, I’m not gonna be a part of it.”
Sirius Black turns his head to the side, with that whimsical supplicated expression, and says, “You’re cute sometimes.”
“Enough chat, we’ve got heads to turn,” Sirius finishes, leaving me awestruck in complete silence. He is just too much for me.
With a final pull of my hand, we’re off in a fast paced walked out of the Great Hall. The amount of eyes watching over us is surprisingly satisfying. It’s as if everything’s in slow motion, and every clack of our shoes turns another pair of heads our way. My hair billows past me as I watch each table pass me by. All the people at the Hufflepuff table, hell - even some Slytherins - are aggressively staring at us, mouths wide open, all physical movement suspended.
Damn, this is liberating!
A slight glance further up my table connects me to a group of eyes. The eyes of Amos Diggory’s mates, who’ve seated themselves about five metres away from where my ex boyfriend is sitting (and he’s sitting at the end of the table, by himself). Amos looks mad, mumbling incoherencies into his palms. He doesn’t even notice me walk by him. But his mates… his mates take a nice long look at me.
Sirius tugs at my fingers, and I am hooked by his enticing irises within seconds. He’s so close. “The looks on their faces,” Sirius whispers in laughter, before leaving the hall with me in his grasp.
And for the first time in a while, I let a boy lead me out of a room, knowing full well I have trust in him.
Sirius tilts his head to the side, examining me. “So I’ve been thinking…”
“What?” My heart quickens its pace just a bit, only because I’m a tad anxious. He’s led me to the astronomy tower in the middle of lunch. The sun is shining and we’re sitting on the balcony, soaking up the rays of light.
“I want to know more about you. I’ve actually wanted to know more about you for quite some time now. I guess you could say I was kind of intimidated…but I want to know. Which is why I lead you up here. I know that we already got to know each other on a friendlier level the last time we were here, but…”
I’m taken aback. Did I really think this would happen? Never in my wildest thoughts had I imagined Sirius sitting me down to have some sort of heart to heart talk about my life- TWICE!
“I- I don’t know…why would you want to- wait, why?” I ask, completely perplexed. “Didn't we already ask each other questions in conversation the last time?”
He laughs nervously, scratching his head. “The guys would think I’m a total mush ball for saying this, but I feel intrigued by you. Like there’s something about you that I need to discover. I want to know more about you. I want you to want to share things with me, without them being the answers to my questions. Do you get what I mean?”
“That’s why you snatched me away from Klara?” I blurt out, without realization. I snap my mouth shut at once. “Sorry, that didn’t sound too friendly.”
“It’s okay,” he chuckles. “Not exactly the kind of illegal behavior you were expecting, huh, Natalie?”
“I just wanted to steal you away for a bit,” he shrugs.
Somehow, those words hit home with me, and I take a seat against the outside wall to hide my blush. I try to get his words out of my head before speaking again. “Why did you say we were going on an expedition of all sorts?”
“Getting into your head is indeed very adventurous, don’t you think?” He smirks.
“You tricked me?” It comes out calm and simple. Maybe because I don’t care at all that he set me up. I don’t mind, do I?
“Details…” he trails off. “Those aren’t important.” He takes a seat next to me and loosens his tie.
“So you’ve ambushed me up here for interrogation
,” I tell him, raising my eyebrows in question, like my mother. A smile finds its way onto my lips. He wanted to spend quality time together.
I stare into his face and notice how quickly his eyes have changed. His eyes are kind, but they’ve just gotten wider. As if he’s excited for what’s to come. Expectancy, I think? I exhale and look down at my crossed arms, and lean my head against the marble wall.
“You know, you’re something, Sirius Black.”
“Tis something I already know, darling,” he comments, biting back a smile. “But you’re a character yourself, too,” he reminds me, tapping my knee. “The last time we asked each other questions it was a pointless game with unnecessary facts. I want to know the real you. From your own words, not from formed answers that are responses to my questions. It was fun, of course. But now that we have to really become a couple, I want to be able to see you.”
Nervousness hitches in my throat. Why do I feel like I’m being uplifted? Sirius didn’t even say that much, just words explaining why he wants talk to me, and yet I think I can feel the heat rising in my cheeks again. My chest hurts. Oh, I really do hate myself.
“I can really see potential in you, Natalie. You’re the type of person I’d really like to get to know. I can see you being my friend. Can’t you?”
“Yes,” I squeak. “But Sirius, you never had to do this. You know, be this polite with me. It’s just part of the plan. Like you’re job, really. And I don’t want you to think that I expect you to do everything a boyfriend is supposed to do. I don’t expect you to pay for me like you did in Hogsmeade, and you didn’t have to share you’re secret spot with me. I mean, this balcony is yours. This spot is yours-”
He puts a finger on my lips, silencing me. “Rubbish,” Sirius says softly. “I signed up for this. And it isn’t an obligation. I’m glad to do it.”
I try to speak again but he interrupts.
“Hush, woman,” Sirius calmly speaks.
“Oh, don’t do that!” Sirius puts his head in his hands. “Damn you,” he mumbles. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t suppose to hear that.
I stick out my tongue. “Anyway, where were we?” Feeling confident, I rest my head on his shoulder.
“You were telling me all about you.”
“Right…what do you want to know.”
“Really,” I say skeptically.
“Affirmative. And I promise after this, I’ll share whatever you want to know about me. Think of this as using the other ten questions we didn’t use last time. You saved yours, right?” Sirius looks down at my face. He asks it as if they are objects that I've kept safe in my pocket.
I bite my lip. “Of course.”
“Good. The only difference is that now, it’s not a game. Just tell me what you want to tell me.”
This is all very strange, the way we’re up here like this. We’re changing. It’s funny how once you meet a person and spend more time with them, they soon turn into an important person in your life. We weren’t even friends. Hell, the only thing I thought we’d be were acquaintances. Maybe friends… but this type of friendship? Sirius is requesting that we become more personal. And even though there’s something inside me that feels at home with Sirius Black, there’s always going to be a worry in the back of my mind. So how do I explain that to him?
“I’m a little weirded out by all of this,” I tell him honestly. “I’m used to be pushed and shoved. My feelings were never meant to be taken for accord, and I guess I never got used to have a pretend boyfriend like you that’s been so generous to me. I can tell that you’re different, but there’s always this worry at the back of my brain. Waiting for something to go wrong. And I know that it may be too early to say this, but I trust you. Maybe not fully. But I trust you enough to open up.”
“I understand.” Sirius Black’s voice practically melts me.
“You are very easy to talk to. I think I appreciate that a little too much. You actually want to know things about me, and I’m comfortable enough around you to do just that. Show you things, and tell you things, and it’s all very strange. But at the same time, it’s a risk I think I need to take.”
“If you think it’s a risk, then why? Not to sound demanding, but why force yourself?”
“It’s complicated,” I start shaking my head. “Not worth talking about. It’s stupid, really.”
“Ah, ah, ah,” Sirius sing-songs.
“Fine,” I sigh. “So I’ve always been a wet blanket, right? Well this is giving me a chance to step out of my world for a second. There’s a risk in every part of the plan, including you. But I’m learning to push it back. I just need to do something reckless. I feel like I’ve been holding myself back too long. It’s my last year here, and I feel like I’ve wasted away half of it.”
“Are you ashamed of being a quiet girl? To be honest, I don’t think you’re a wet blanket. Some people are just different than others,” Sirius reasons.
“No, see, it’s not that. It’s not that I’m ashamed of being a quiet person. I’m quiet by nature, and I don’t think I can help that. But sometimes a change of scenery can help you realize there’s more to life, I guess. Every other person has to do things their way, why not try one of them? If a party girl, for instance, always parties, then that means I have the ability to do that. I just choose not to. But one day, if I woke up, wanting to go out dancing and drinking firewhiskey out the bottle…I should be allowed to, shouldn’t I?” I question, hoping Sirius Black is understanding where I’m coming from. I look up at him hopefully, and he looks completely entertained.
“You damn well should,” he jokes. “I get what you mean now. Some things are just worth taking the risk.”
And then he does something that makes me want to bite off my bottom lip. He reaches over and laces his hands through mine.
“There’s this urge to just do something reckless, but because you’re not used to it, you’re afraid to try it. And you don’t know how. All you know is that you need to do it,” he finishes for me.
“That’s exactly it,” I say, impressed. “I never thought I’d need to break out. Be the wild one. But because of this whole plan, and the whole ‘pretend that we’re dating’ situation, it’s getting easier to just tune into my alter ego. It’s kind of fun.”
“I do get a rise out of knowing you have an alter ego, not gonna lie.”
“Oh, shut it,” I slap him lightly.
“Hey,” he laughs. “I’m just saying. It’s an interesting idea. I think that if I had an alter ego, he’s be a loner. Like a schoolboy nerd. With glasses. But like, cool glasses. Kind of like Superman in disguise, but everyone thinks he’s just a plain old dude.”
“What would his name be?” I chuckle at the thought of Sirius Black ripping off his shirt to find him in a Superman costume.
I try not to laugh out loud.
“Go head, laugh! You wish yours was a cool as mine,” he defends.
“Mine would have an exotic name, although Arnold is a plain name that suit’s a plain alter ego. So I can see your reasons for choosing that one. What kind of exotic names are there? My alter ego is confident, yet mysterious.” I’m really having fun with this! How much of a dork am I? Merlin.
“Candy Sunrise,” Sirius utters fruitfully.
“That sounds like a stripper name!” I purse my lips.
“Reminds me of horror movies…”
“Shaquisha?“ Sirius throws out on a whim.
“You’re horrible at this.”
“Hm…exotic, somewhat European, wild and sassy…not too common…”
“Think!” I urge, feeling like a child, but having too much fun to care.
“How about… Francesca? I used to go to Italy for vacation when I was younger. It’s a common name there, but not anywhere else. Especially here.”
I consider his choice. And it’s very good. “I like it! Francesca it is.” I smile, and relax myself a bit more. He moves to the side so I can rest my head in his lap. I’d usually be too intimidated to do such a thing, but it’s different this time. And what’s weird is that he initiated it.
Perhaps he cares more about me being comfortable than him?
Oh, stupid me. Here I am reading into things again. I have to stop doing that!
“So what’s Francesca like?” Sirius asks, his voice mesmerizing me as I look up at his chiseled face.
The sun lights an aura around him. My eyes can’t look away.
“She’s everything I’m not,” I say simply.
“I’m not sure I like her then.”
I could have gasped, if it wasn’t for my brain being too slow to process what he had said. I made myself double check his statement so much that I forgot to react. So I sort of… froze.
“She’s more than that. She’s fearless. Francesca is everything and everyone and everywhere I’ve wanted to be. Francesca isn’t quiet all the time. She doesn’t let people step on her. She has a, well- dare I say, she has a bullshit detector.” I feel weird saying that word. Gods, I’m such a pansy! It’s just a curse word. Just because I said it out loud instead of in my head doesn’t mean I’m a crude person.
“What’s Arnold like?” I ask, getting my mind off the subject.
“He’s…not as outgoing. Scratch that, he’s a bit less outgoing than me. I’m not social all the time. I like being by myself as well. But Arnold’s a legitimate loner. He doesn’t feel the need to trust anyone. Arnold doesn’t disappoint those around him because he isn’t that involved. He’s less foolish than me. Arnold’s more responsible. And he’s everything I should have been.” Sirius is no longer looking at me; his face has gone soft and he’s staring off into the shrubbery growing on the side of the balcony. Eyes squinting off the rays of the sun, Sirius Black’s expression changes to one of guilt.
“Why do you say that?” I murmur, afraid of dipping into his personal issues.
“Because I’m kind of a disappointment, if you can’t tell,” he laughs sardonically.
Him? A disappointment?
“How do you reckon that?” I’m too shocked to show expression on my face, not that he’s looking my way. His face is still watching the side of the balcony.
Sirius Black can’t be a disappointment. At least not to anyone here. Not at Hogwarts. He’s loved by everyone. Honestly, everyone! Far as I know, he’s brave and honest and funny. He has good marks and pays attention in class. Although his tomfoolery gets him in trouble, the professors still secretly find him entertaining. To know Sirius is to love Sirius. He’s too charming and charismatic to disappoint someone. He always knows what to say. How can he say that?
“You know how I said I wasn’t that close with my family?”
My silence urges him to go on.
“Well I… I kind of ran away from home on my sixteenth birthday. The noble house of Black wasn’t all that noble when it came to trust between family members. They didn’t trust me because I was a Gryffindor. And I didn’t trust them, because, well they just treated me like dirt when I came home after First Year. I loathed them. I wanted to be the eldest son that they had always wanted. But I just wasn’t enough. So I ran off, because I disagreed with how they treated me and those I chose to befriend. Because of their views on people, and how they should be treated. Because of the importance that looks had on them. Well…looks can be deceiving.”
I gasped. “Sirius…I had no idea. I mean, I heard things- everyone’s heard things. But I never knew that. I’m so sorry.”
The corner of his mouth rises ever so slightly, as he gazes down at me. He starts playing with my hair. “It's okay. It was something I had to do. Sometimes I still hate myself for it. Because all I wanted was acceptance, and I feel like I could have changed my House sorting. Even if I know I couldn’t- I still make myself believe it could have been different.”
“It’s like a self-hating thing,” I realize.
“A bit, yeah. I hope I’m not sounding like too much of a masochist, because I take full responsibility of my actions. I just-”
I intervene with the tug of his tie. He bites his cheek. “Sirius, it’s okay. I’m not judging you. I think it’s a brave thing you did. Don’t dislike yourself because you don’t think you’re good enough for your family. If anything, your family isn’t good enough for you. We aren’t even best mates, and I feel like you are just better off without them- without even having to know them. Those kinds of people, no matter who they are, can ruin you.”
I can tell he’s touched by what I’ve said, but he tries not to show it. Too bad his eyes give it way.
“But I can ruin myself,” he says gloomily.
This is a side of him I haven’t seen. I never thought he’d ever be this delicate, but he is. And the greatest part is that, unlike Amos, he’s okay with opening up to me.
“Hey,” I say strongly, “If your family is as bigot and as evil and you’re making them out to be, then I’m glad you’ve left them. Because that means that you’re the opposite of them.”
“You don’t give yourself enough credit,” I remark. I didn’t know that he blamed himself for not being good enough; for his family, nonetheless! In fact, all of this is very hard to grasp. But I appreciate his openness.
“You speak so highly of me.” Sirius smirks, but it’s a sad one. “I’m not a complete angel, you know.”
“I surely hope you’re not.”
He immediately turns his head lower towards me, as if he’s trying to read my eyes. His gaze is intense but enchanting all the same. We stay like that for what feels like five minutes, but in reality it probably lasted fifteen seconds. Something in the back on of my conscience is asking: What’s gotten into me?! But I ignore it, because it’s about time I stop living in my head. Especially in front of people like him.
“Come on,” he begins suddenly. “Lunch is almost over. We’ll be late for our next class if we don’t start heading down.”
He gently lifts me up and I’m happy to oblige.
“Thank you for- uh, thank you. For listening,” Sirius mumbles squeamishly.
Sirius Black does not get squeamish!
A boost of Merlin knows what makes me take his hand and give him the biggest close-lipped smile ever. “I like talking with you.”
This just so happens to take him aback a tiny bit. “Right,” Sirius mutters surprisingly. But his timid-ness immediately falters and he shakes it off.
“After you,” he announces, giving my hand a nice squeeze, and using his other arm to guide me in front of him. Ever so the gentleman.
“Thank you,” I curtsy.
I’m giddy for the rest of the day.
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