Chapter 2 : II
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Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters.
Through Binns’s endless droning, Claire heard the sound of a soft cough pierce the silence of the third year students. She turned her head to the source of the noise, a movement that passed unnoticed by her sleeping classmates, and caught the almost negligible stirring of a napping Sirius Black. He appeared to her a small tuft of wavy black hair, peeking through his arms, folded over his face.
Forgetting the cough, Claire watched him curiously. She wondered about the rumours circulating about him and his family, if they were true, the nature of the animosity between him and his brother, why the Slytherins disliked him more than the other Gryffindors.
She detected the shift of his arms and her eyes quickly darted to the clock above the door threshold. She felt his inspecting eyes on her and the burning of her cheeks.
He carefully creaked open the door, quietly stepping into the room, hoping not to get caught in the Hospital Wing after visiting hours. Tiptoeing cautiously towards her bed, the only bed currently occupied, thinking that he should have borrowed James’s Cloak. His footsteps seemed to echo all around the vast corridor, somehow magnified in the night-time. Suddenly, there was an external creaking and Sirius stopped, knowing that he had been spotted.
In the darkness, a soft voice called out to him. “Sirius?”
Sirius relaxed and walked over to where he knew Claire lay, watching him strangely. Looking over her bedside, by the light of a nearby candle, he could see that she had seen better days. Her face was unnaturally pale, paler than he had ever seen it, accented by the redness of her nose and the darkness rimming her eyes.
“Just thought I might come in and check up on you,” he said, smiling at her.
“At half twelve?” She raised her eyebrows quizzically.
“Well, with detentions lined up, when else am I going to get a chance?”
There was a pregnant pause before she spoke again.
“Why are you visiting me, anyway?”
Sirius frowned slightly, somewhat stung by her implication. He briefly considered leaving.
“Well, I know how lonely it is being in the Hospital Wing, and I thought you might like some company.”
Sirius caught her avert her eyes for a moment.
“Thanks, that’s nice of you.” She sniffled.
“How are you feeling?” he asked.
“Like I’ve been hit over the head with a piano,” she replied, miserably. “I can’t fall asleep because it’s impossible to breathe.”
A silence fell over the pair, broken only by Claire’s sniffling. In the corner of his eye, Sirius caught her hand trembling violently, which he took in his own, hoping to still its tremors. He felt a fire simmering beneath the surface of her skin.
“You should probably go back to Gryffindor tower before they catch you,” she said, pulling her hand from his. Sirius detected reluctance in her voice.
“Yeah. I hope you feel better,” he said, kindly.
With a warm smile, he left her side and quietly exited the room.
“Sirius! Hey Sirius!”
The sound of her heels against the floors echoed around the near-empty corridor as she chased after Sirius. He turned around to look at her just when she came to a halt.
“Woodhouse says you have the library’s only copy of Enchanting Enchantments,” she said breathlessly.
“Yeah, do you need it?”
“I only wanted to look something up, so I was hoping I could take a quick look at it,” Claire said as the pair continued to walk towards Gryffindor Tower. She clutched her books tightly. “Do you still have it?”
“I don’t have it with me, it’s up in our dormitory,” he said, turning a corner. “If you want it, I’ll give it to you right now.”
They walked in an uninterrupted silence. Sirius readjusted the strap of his book bag. Claire tucked a strand of dark hair behind her ear, but it fell back into place.
“What d’you need it for?” Sirius asked, casually.
Claire grinned to herself roguishly. “I figured that if that wretched Thomas bothers me again, I’ll just make sure that it’s the last time,” she replied, a smile in her voice.
“Why, what are you using it for?”
“Well, there’s a Gryffindor-Slytherin match coming up – I reckon it’ll be difficult to ride a broom with boils in unfortunate places.”
Claire laughed gaily.
Claire burst into the common room through the portrait hole and, as it appeared to Sirius, was nursing her right hand, wincing painfully. She quickly made for one of the side tables and sat down by herself, turning her back to him. Excusing himself from his company, Sirius rose and quietly walked over to her and seated himself in the chair to her right. She jerked her head up in surprise.
“Oh, you scared me,” she said, sighing in relief.
“It’s what I do,” he replied, a lazy smile spreading on his face. “What’s wrong with your hand?”
She looked down, avoiding his gaze. “Nothing, just got it banged up a bit.”
“Can I see it?”
Claire looked up to meet his eyes and he could see her searching his for an ulterior motive. Surrendering, she placed her hand on the table in front of him.
Sirius frowned. Though it was too soon to be sure, he was able to guess that she had very severely injured her hand. A deep purple tint had bloomed along her knuckles, swelling so that her hand looked soft and plump. There was a shallow cut on each of her fingers that he could tell from experience would sting angrily. From her reluctance to move even her fingers, Sirius deduced that either she was in great pain or that her range of motion was quite limited. He touched her bruise gently, hoping not to hurt her.
“What happened?” he asked in a low voice, looking up at her.
Claire pursed her lips and waited a moment before answering. “Deverell Terfel.”
Sirius’s eyes grew wide and he was certain that his blood would soon begin to boil beneath his skin. “He hit you?” He struggled to control his voice.
“No, no,” she amended, hastily. “Well, actually, sort of. But this was because I hit him.” She motioned towards her beat-up hand.
“He actually hit you? That filthy-”
“Don’t worry about it, it’s not like he slapped me or punched me or anything. He thought he’d be smart with me, so he was all up in my face and pushing me against this wall,” she explained, scathingly. “Then he started grabbing at my face, trying to make me look at him while he was yelling at me or whatever.”
Sirius clenched his jaw.
“Anyway, I was not about to let this idiot push me around so I just sucker-punched him. A lot. I reckon I may have even broken his nose.”
“That must have been quite a sight.” He grinned slightly in spite of himself.
She smiled smugly. “I’m pretty certain he won’t be bothering me again. Or be playing in the next Quidditch match – I may have seriously messed up his face, not that it could have gotten much worse.”
Sirius laughed. “So then why’d you date him?”
“Honestly, I don’t really know,” she said, thoughtfully. “Maybe it’s the Quidditch. Those are some pretty sexy robes, I must say.”
Sirius hesitated. “Why’d he get angry with you?”
Claire pursed her lips again, looking away. “I’d really rather not say.”
He raised a curious eyebrow. “Embarrassing?”
“You could say that.”
“Never mind, forget I even asked,” he said, rising from his seat. “But I reckon we should get Pomfrey to take care of that in the hospital wing.”
“Here, let me,” said Lily kindly, as she leaned forward to pour Claire a goblet of pumpkin juice after watching her struggle with her right hand.
“Thanks,” said Claire, gratefully. “Pomfrey said that she could help with the pain, but the swelling would have to go down on its own. I wonder if this is what people with fat hands feel like.”
Lily sent her a reprimanding look.
“You still haven’t exactly told me how you hurt your hand,” she mentioned nonchalantly, but Claire caught her hint.
“It’s not that big of a deal,” she replied. “I’ll tell you in Charms.”
As Claire gulped down her juice greedily, she sensed soft laughing and sniggering fill the Hall around her. She looked up at Lily, a question ready on her lips, but found that she had fixed her eyes on the entrance of the Great Hall, fighting to suppress a mischievous smile. Turning around, Claire saw a large purple figure humbly walking towards the Ravenclaw table. Upon further inspection, she recognized the blob to be none other than Deverell Terfel.
She smiled evilly as she recognized that the vivid violet of his hair, skin, and robes could not camouflage the dark indigo of his nose, left eye, and left cheek. Claire deduced that his once upturned and twisted (counter-clockwise, if she recalled correctly) nose had been magically set back into place, a detail that had almost gone undetected under the great inflation of half of his face. He did not look human.
Though admiring her own handiwork, she had not overlooked that of another fellow student. As Lily looked back at her nosily, Claire smiled knowingly.
Sirius leaned forward, reaching for the pitcher of pumpkin juice when a dark figure walked past his line of vision. He looked up to see Claire walking away from him and towards the girls in their year, taking a seat next to Henrietta Merryweather. The light shining from the heavens that filtered through the height of the Great Hall caught on the defined features of her face and illuminated her rosy complexion. She ran her hand through her dark hair, though it looked reddish in the light of the morning sun, brushing it away from her face before she grabbed a piece of toast and placed it on her plate.
“She’s a looker, eh?”
“What?” Sirius, still hovering over the table, reaching for the pumpkin juice, looked back to a devilish-looking James.
“James. She’s a looker.”
“What does that have to do with anything?”
“Well, when you’ve been perving on some girl for twenty minutes straight, I like to comment.” He grinned.
“I wasn’t perving on her,” snapped Sirius, sitting back in his seat.
“Then what was that?” James raised his eyebrows.
“I’m not allowed to look at someone who walks by me?”
James’s smile widened.
“Stop harassing me,” Sirius said, flustered. “I don’t harass you about Evans.”
“That’s because I’m considerably more subtle when I perv on Evans than you are with James.”
It was long after the Great Hall had emptied that Sirius realized he had not denied James’s initial statement.
“Good morning, ladies,” greeted James brightly, as he and his three usual companions all together took their seats at the Gryffindor table next to the fourth-year girls. His greeting yielded no reply.
“Why so glum?” asked Sirius, grinning. He noted that Claire did not stir.
“It may have something to do with the midnight rape in our dormitory last night,” replied Claire derisively.
The Gryffindor boys sniggered.
“That hardly constitutes as rape,” said James calmly. “Maybe harassment,” he added as an afterthought.
“Besides, I reckon you did us worse than we did you,” said Sirius. “Poor Pete still hasn’t got the feeling in his lower half back.”
“Dorcas has an impressive amount of upper body strength. I’ve never seen Peter fly so far,” said Remus, smiling, “which was hardly deserved.”
“I only brushed your tit,” said Peter, indifferently.
Peter’s comment was met with silence. Simultaneously, the girls slowly turned their heads to face the boys, their eyes piercing savagely into their hearts. The Hall grew silent and cold, they felt as if all the good feelings had gone from the world. The boys did not speak for the remainder of the meal.
It was lunch and the Great Hall was bustling with activity. Claire sat alone, peacefully eating her potatoes and chicken, silently observing her fellow fifth years. Henrietta Merryweather sat a few seats away on her left, chatting cheerfully with her sixth-year Ravenclaw boyfriend, Marcus MacFarlan. Father down the Gryffindor table, Claire spotted James Potter joking flirtatiously with a giggling fourth year. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Lily Evans, who had sat alone to cram some extra exam preparation, looking over at James enviously. Claire smirked knowingly. Just as she reached forward for her pumpkin juice, someone slipped into the seat next to her and whispered, “Pathetic, aren’t they?”
Claire looked up and caught Sirius’s playful grey eyes.
“James and Evans, of course,” he replied, piling his plate with chicken.
“What makes you say that?” Claire knew exactly what Sirius was talking about, but made no intention of exposing what she knew about her friend’s feelings.
“Well, James is damn well arse-over-tits for that girl,” he explained, taking a hearty gulp of juice from his goblet. “And Evans refuses to acknowledge her growing attraction to him.”
Claire eyes him suspiciously. “Let’s say I believed you. What exactly do you plan to do about it?”
“Get them together, of course.”
“Fat chance. Lily’s still furious over what he did to Snape on the third floor the other day.”
“She’ll have to get over it.”
Claire frowned. :What do you plan to get out of this?”
“I want James to be happy,” he said matter-of-factly.
Claire stared at him, taken aback. Sirius smiled.
“Actually, yeah. I mean, I knew you lot were friend, but I just though you formed a club or a gang out of convenience or something.”
“There’s a lot you don’t know about us, James. There’s a lot you don’t know about me.”
“Is that a good thing or a bad thing?” she asked, cocking her head to the side.
“Dunno,” he answered.
With that, he dabbed his napkin at his lips, rose from his seat, and walked out of the Hall, leaving Claire to ponder what exactly he meant.
Author's Note: I've made a couple of additions to this chapter, and there's a chance I may add more int he future. I'm currently at work on chapter three. Please leave a review! And thanks for dropping by!
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