Chapter 35 : End
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Laying it out in front of me on the pillow, I began to flip through each page. Pages and pages filled with my handwriting, telling a story – our story. After a few minutes of ruffling through the pages, I ended at the last word-filled page.
My fingers rested in between the pages, waiting for me to collect my thoughts and turn the page to write more. Slowly rereading the words, I realized something that made my hand withdraw from the paper.
"You're writing?" I heard Sirius's sleepy voice next to me as he stirred.
I didn't turn to look at him, instead I kept my eyes on the journal, deep in thought. Sirius was patient – he didn't say anything as I stared down at my story. Finally, I responded, softly, "It's coming to an end."
Sirius kissed me lightly on my cheek. "Mmm?" he voiced his question.
I ran my finger down the dried ink on the page. "My story. It's ending," I explained, looking over each word.
After yawning, Sirius leaned forward, looking more closely at my journal laid out in front of me. "How is it ending?"
I paused, remembering the plot. "Sebastian and Anne are running away together. Society doesn't want them to be together. I just need to finish the last scene and it's done." I hadn't been paying much attention to my novel. I didn't even know I was close to being finished until I ran through my ideas and noticed there was only one big scene left.
And then nothing. Their story would be told.
With a sigh, I grabbed an ink bottle and quill and slowly began to write the last scene. Sebasian and Anne meeting each other. Not enough time to say goodbye to their families. Going away together...
As the words came naturally to me, I tried to slow myself down. This would be the last time I would ever get to get into the minds of these characters. It would be the last time I would get this close to them. They wouldn't exist anymore in my ideas – but forever to be written down for everyone to see.
I couldn't get the last words – the conclusion to the tale. Instead, I let it at an open ending for now. I still had time to go back and change it.
Sirius was still watching me, propped up on one elbow. When I pushed the journal away, I turned to see him with raised eyebrows. "Are you done?" he asked, a note of surprise in his voice.
"Not entirely," I responded. "I can't get the ending right." The ending of a book had to be one of the most interesting parts of a book. I just couldn't end with something mediocre.
It was Easter vacation – two whole days off of work. Neither one of us had to leave for work. Sirius thought this was brilliant, moving closer to me and holding me close.
"Guys aren't supposed to like to cuddle," I mentioned to him jokingly.
He just chuckled into my hair. "You're special," he said. I sighed to myself; this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Just lie here with Sirius and not have to worry about anything. This was what I wanted.
I must have drifted off to sleep because my eyes were opening and the light in the room had changed. My mind was still fuzzy and spinning slightly. Stretching out, I expected to hit Sirius next to me. But my arms came into contact with emptiness.
Turning over, I saw that he wasn't next to me. He must have already gotten up. I checked the bathroom first but the door was open and the lights were off. Then I checked the living room and kitchen but he wasn't in there either.
No note, no anything telling me where he was. He wouldn't just leave without telling me first.
What if something happened when I was asleep? No, if someone had came in then I would have heard them, right? But what if Sirius was called into the Order and something had happened to him?
I wasn't going to worry, no, I couldn't worry. Today was supposed to be a stress-free day. Collapsing into the chair behind me, I tried to calm myself down.
Everything was fine. He just went out to visit James and Lily or something. Maybe buy something to eat. But why wouldn't he tell me? Why would he leave and not even give me a warning?
Checking the time, I realized that I slept away most of the day; it was already seven. How long had Sirius been gone?
As soon as that last thought entered my head, a crack only a few yards away startled me and I looked over to see Sirius standing there.
"Ivy," Sirius said, sounding surprised. "You're awake."
Slowly, I stood up shakily. "Where were you?" I asked, watching as he looked away from me.
"Oh," he hesitated, casually shrugging. "Nowhere important."
I blinked. "You didn't leave a note or anything."
"I thought you'd still be sleeping," Sirius said, looking at me as if he was worried for some unknown reason. But why would he be worried about me? He was the one that went out without notice in the middle of a war.
"Why did you go out?" I questioned softly. "You know it's not safe."
He just stared unblinkingly at me. "There was something I had to get."
Brushing my hair out of my face, I paused before saying, "You still could have told me. I was worried about you."
He moved past me. "Sorry then. I'll give you minute to minute instructions where I'll be next time."
The way he said it was very sarcastic. I didn't know if he fed up or what – but his tone made me cringe. "It's just...my dreams, you know," I tried to explain myself to him.
He sat down on the couch across from me. "Yeah," he answered shortly. He never wanted to know anything more about them and my only guess was that he wasn't interested. He frustrated me a little – I wanted him to know everything about me.
There was an awkward silence in which I sat back down in the chair and looked down at my shaking hands. "Do you want to tell anyone?" Sirius suddenly asked, breaking the silence.
I looked up at him. "About my dreams?" I asked, confused.
"No," he shook his head. "The engagement."
Biting my lip, I wondered why he had brought this up. Did Remus say anything to him? I still didn't know if Remus had heard my outburst in St. Mungo's. "Now?"
He didn't respond to that question. "Are you sure this is what you want?" he said instead.
I didn't know why he was questioning it. Just because I didn't want to tell the whole world? "I don't like people fawning over me. It's not that I don't want to marry you." Looking up into his eyes, I saw doubt. He didn't believe me. "You don't believe me?" I asked, hurt that he would think such a thing.
He began shaking his head, opening his mouth to say something. But just the emotion in his eyes said it all. He still didn't believe me – trust me when I said I loved him.
My mind was going into overload and I couldn't think straight. I needed to get out – just for awhile. "I'm gonna – um...I'll be right back."
I apparated away before he could stop me. I just needed some time alone – a couple hours, maybe more. Just enough to clear my mind. I wasn't mad; I was just confused. I needed time to sort through my thoughts.
Though as I hurried away, I couldn't help but think that I just should have told him that I loved him.
Staring at the door in front of me, I hesitated, wondering if this was the right thing to do. No, doing the right thing would be going back to Sirius and telling him how I really felt. But I didn't know how I felt. And I had to talk to somebody.
I knocked loudly and waited. About a half of a minute passed and I teetered back and forth on my feet. There was no one home...
Just as I was about to turn away, the door opened suddenly, filling the porch with light. "Ivy, what are you doing here?"
He was surprised to see me. I couldn't blame him. "Remus..." I said, struggling to take in a deep breath. My mind went blank and I couldn't remember what I was going to say to him. Instead, I just stood there, rocking back and forth on my feet, eyes wide.
"Let's go inside," he said, opening the door wider and letting me pass. I was trembling as I sat down on his couch and I knew he was noticing. The way he was looking at me with startled eyes said everything.
It had been awhile since I had seen him (since Dorcas's death) and the dark circles under his eyes darker than I remembered told me that he wasn't sleeping. I watched him intently, watched the way his eyes bore into mine and waited for me to say something, anything. Worry and anxiety was etched into his features, but also confusion.
If I didn't know why I was here, then he definitely wouldn't.
"Are you okay?" he said softly, leaning forward a bit.
I stared at him, biting my lip and then looking down at the floor. Was I okay? Nothing was wrong really – I had just overreacted. Ran away, like I always did. Typical Ivy. Nothing to get worked up over.
Maybe it was the war causing me to stress out. Sirius didn't deserve my freak-out. All I had to do was go back and tell him sorry and everything would be fine.
But I didn't want to go back. I didn't want to face him – not just yet. I wanted time to get my thoughts together. I wanted to be able to think for once. Just think clearly.
There was the sound of footsteps and then I looked up to find a cup of tea in front of my face. Looking up at Remus, I gave him a gracious smile. "Thank you," I said, taking the cup out of his hands.
He didn't stare at me this time, just looked out of the window, drinking his tea slowly. I watched him, cautiously sipping at my tea, as I wondered what he could possibly be thinking.
"Remus," I spoke suddenly, catching his attention. "I-"
I didn't know what to say. Did I have to tell him everything? What was I supposed to say? What could I say? My head was beginning to hurt. Setting my cup down, I thought about what Sirius had asked me. He wanted to tell everyone about our engagement.
What if I...just told Remus?
Looking up at the person sitting across from me, I saw him watching me patiently. He would understand. He had to understand and he knew that... But what if he already knew?
With a hammering heart, I managed to ask, "Did you hear what I said in St. Mungo's?"
There was a heavy silence as Remus did even react to what I said. I couldn't tell what he was thinking. "What did you say?"
He didn't know. "I-uh...had a fight with the lady working at the desk. She wouldn't let me see Sirius..." I paused, trying to calm my beating heart with slow, even breaths. "And...I got frustrated with her and yelled that I wanted to see my fiancé." I stared down at my tea in front of me, not ready to see Remus's reaction. "I thought you...um, might have heard." I was biting down so hard on my lip that I was surprised it wasn't already bleeding.
"So, he proposed?" I heard Remus ask. His voice was even, no sign of emotion whatsoever.
I nodded, surprised to feel as though I could breathe again. Actually, telling someone felt...okay. It hadn't been as bad as I thought it would be. Remus finally knew and I didn't have to worry about it anymore. I could have sighed in relief.
"When?" I glanced up to see Remus asking the question with a look of surprise on his face. He probably didn't see it coming.
"After James and Lily's wedding," I answered, and I knew what he was going to ask, so I continued, "It was my idea to not tell anyone. And tonight, Sirius asked me again if I wanted to keep it a secret or not...and I think he believes that...I don't love him or something. So, I just left. Ran away like the coward I am."
"You're not a coward," Remus said immediately. "You just needed some time to think." Of course he would know exactly what was going through my mind.
I started shaking my head. "I can't deal with this war. It's controlling my life; ruining everything. I just...can't go on anymore."
"You're not just getting married to Sirius because of the war, are you?" Remus asked softly, as if saying those words would hurt me.
"No," I responded automatically. "I love him...I really do. We haven't even set a date; it's not like we're rushing through this." I paused and then whispered, "I want to get married to him." There was no question about it. The thought, at first scary, was beginning to grow on me.
Remus looked down at his tea. "Then tell him that."
Such an easy notion. However, I just didn't have the strength to go back and say it. I just needed some time alone first.
And then Remus was getting up, heading over to the dark hallway on the right. I watched him curiously as he brought back sheets and pillows.
"What are you doing?" I asked as he set everything down next to me.
He smiled at me softly. "You're welcome to spend the night and figure out everything tomorrow. For now, get some sleep," he answered.
I didn't know what to say; it was almost as if he was in my head, knowing my every thought. How else would he know that I wanted to stay?
"Thank you," I said for the second time that night, giving him a small smile.
As I made a bed for me on the couch, I noticed how Remus never questioned the engagement. Instead, he just accepted it, almost too easily. Maybe Remus was waiting to say something. Or maybe he really did think that it was a good idea.
"Sweet dreams," Remus said to me before heading off to bed.
I almost called him back, remembering the nightmares. I could tell him about them in detail and maybe someone would finally understand. But, instead, I let him head off to sleep, and tried to convince myself that no nightmare was going to come.
It was just wishful thinking. Rather than a peaceful dream, I got familiar flashes of green light and malicious laughter, causing me to wake up in a cold sweat. I sat upright, breathing heavily and waiting for the panic to subside.
But it didn't. My breathing was frantic and-
Oh god, a shadow was moving outside, right out of the window. Kicking off my sheets, I bolted down the hallway, stumbling over my own feet and finally reached the only door on my right.
Pushing it open, I made my way inside, closing the door behind me loudly. I backed up against it, trying to catch my breath and something stirred in front of me.
"Ivy-" the familiar voice questioned before I could scream. "What are you doing in here?"
I didn't care if he took it the wrong way. I just needed someone with me. "Can I sleep with you?"
It was too dark in the room to see his expression. "Uh..." his breathy answer finally came at last. "You-"
He didn't know what I was asking. My whole body was shaking as I said, "I had a bad dream and I just-"
"Of course," Remus's voice cut me off and there was a shuffle of blankets moving. Slowly, I moved away from the door and next to the bed, finally coming into contact with the vacant side.
Slipping under the covers, I felt Remus turn away from me and move to the very edge of the bed. But I didn't care; as long as he was there, next to me, I was content. Curling myself in his covers, I enjoyed the feel of someone next to me.
I could finally sleep.
My eyes snapped open at his voice. Turning over, I found that I wasn't hearing things. No, Remus was gone and Sirius was on the bed next to me.
"Sirius?" I asked, blinking my eyes a few times. It wouldn't surprise me that I was just seeing things.
He grinned. "Good morning," he said softly, leaning forward to give me a kiss on the forehead. I waited for the contact but felt nothing.
Nothing at all. But I could have sworn that his lips were...
"What were you thinking?!" And then I was laying back down on the bed, opening my eyes for the second time. The loud outburst ripped me from the dream and brought me back down to reality. Who was yelling?
I moved up slightly to see Remus talking to someone with messy dark hair...James. Remus looked uneasy, trying to get a word in as James gestured wildly with his hands and continued yelling.
"What am I supposed to think when I walk in on you two in bed together?" James was currently shouting.
Remus sighed in exasperation. "That maybe I'm a gentleman and wouldn't do anything with my friend's girlfriend?"
I just stared at the conflict in front of me, partially relieved that it wasn't Sirius who found us. But would James go running to tell Sirius?
No, Sirius would trust me. He knew that I wouldn't actually sleep with Remus. I was smarter than that.
"Well, you two did look quite comfy this morning-"
Remus was very patient with the way James was yelling about me. Inside, my heart was pounding. If I just stayed quiet, then James wouldn't notice I was awake...
"That doesn't mean anything," Remus argued. "I'm not stupid. I know there's boundaries and I would never let things get out of hand. Yes, the war is causing people to do crazy things, but I wouldn't take advantage of Ivy."
James still wasn't convinced. I could tell by the way his arms were flailing about. "But there's history between you two, and this was just too good of a chance-"
My eyes widened as Remus actually laughed. "It never crossed my mind-" And then there was a silence in which James crossed his arms across his chest, probably glaring at Remus. "Even if it did," Remus added to James's reaction, "-it still doesn't mean anything."
I meant to just move a little bit, but the bed had other ideas. It let out a loud squeak, causing both James and Remus to look around and notice me. James was glaring daggers in my direction, making me scramble out of the bed.
"I'm just going to...uh, take a walk. Clear my head," I said slowly, backing away from the angry James in front of me. "You two, um, just talk it out for awhile."
Grabbing my robes, I quickly made my way out of the door and out of the inferno. I was safe, at least for now. At least James didn't have the time to start yelling at me.
It was quite chilly outside and I wrapped my arms around me for warmth, walking aimlessly down the cobbled street.
Sirius was probably worried to death about me by now. I hadn't told him how long I would be gone and he probably thought something awful had happened to me. I knew how awful it felt to worry about someone you loved and immediately felt guilty. All I did was put Sirius through the exact feelings that I dealt with. That wasn't right. He probably had enough to worry about with the Order. He didn't need any more worry from me.
This whole running away thing – why did I have to do it? Why couldn't I just face my fears and stay and work things out? Why did I have to be such a coward about everything?
No, I wasn't going to be a coward anymore. I would show Sirius that I wanted to stay by his side, even when times would get rough. It was the basis for marriage and if I was going to get married to him, I would have to get over that fear sooner or later.
If Sirius Black wanted to marry me and spend the rest of his life with me, then I wasn't going to hide and hope that no one ever found out. I needed to enjoy it. I was going to enjoy it and I was going to enjoy enjoying it.
Because I had Sirius Black. And no one else did.
No more running. I wasn't going to overreact anymore, I wasn't going to run away at the first sign of trouble, no, I was going to stand there and fight. This was the start of a brand new Ivy Bennett.
I continued walking down the street, following the signs down to my flat. It was nice outside and I didn't want to just apparate home and ignore all the scenery outside. I hadn't been outside for what seemed like months and the fresh air felt like freedom to me. The bitter sting of winter didn't faze me, instead, I only felt warmth as I continued down a small side road, between two large buildings. My flat was only two streets away, surprising me (I had thought my flat was farther away).
A rough shout broke through my thoughts. "Imperio!"
I didn't have time to react. Suddenly, I was frozen, standing in the middle of the alley with someone pointing their wand into my back. My breath stopped and I couldn't think.
Turn around. The voice in my head told me, and without even thinking twice, I turned to meet the eyes of my attacker.
Flashes of that night came back to me just seeing their faces again. Being immobile...drowning...saved...
"It's her," Avery, the one who wasn't pointing his wand at me, sneered, looking at Mulciber triumphantly.
"What do you want with me?" I surprised even myself by asking. My eyes immediately widened after I realized what I had said.
Shut up. Mulciber's voice echoed in my head. My vocal chords weren't working anymore, instead, I just opened my mouth, trying to force sound to come out.
Avery smirked. "There's only one thing we want." Oh god. I couldn't – what – there wasn't – no... "We suspect you can be a great benefit to us." I began to shake my head, but there was that voice again. Stop moving.
Mulciber matched Avery's smirk and I could do was stare helplessly at him as he added, "We want names. We want to know where the Order is, we want to know everyone in it. We just want to know everything you know." He leaned forward until I could feel his breath on my face. "Tell us that and we'll let you go."
They could make me do anything under the Imperius curse. I was victim to anything they wanted. But I had one thing they couldn't get to – my knowledge. "No," I mouthed, my voice still gone.
Avery raised an eyebrow at me. "What?"
"No," I repeated silently, staring back into his frustrated eyes. I wasn't going to let them win – no, my friends were more important to me. I loved them too much to reveal everything. I couldn't bring them into danger.
Avery stared back at me, eyes narrowing. "Mulciber, let her have her voice back." I almost breathed out a sigh of relief at his words, but then he continued, "I want to be able to hear her scream."
I couldn't do anything as he pointed his wand at me. "Crucio!" I expected pain but I didn't expect the blinding, white fire dancing across my skin, jabbing me with needles. Biting my lip so hard that I could taste my blood, I refused to let myself scream. Whimpers escaped my throat and hot tears fell down my cheeks but I didn't open my mouth.
Enough with the silent act. Scream for us. I had nothing left, no willpower to resist the request. Instead, I let out a short scream, crumpling onto the ground in front of me.
And then the pain was gone. "This could all be over if you give us names, right now," Avery growled, kneeling on the ground in front of me and leaning forward, invading my space.
I struggled to take in a breath. "No," I managed to hiss out, shaking my head. He wasn't going to get to them. I wasn't going to let him near my friends...
"Very well. Crucio!" Just in those few seconds, I had forgotten how awful the pain was. I sobbed as I shook violently, my limbs refusing to work on their own, scalded with white-hot pain.
The pain dissipated again as I heard Avery say, in a sing-song voice, "Aw, look at her tears. She's obviously weak." His voice changed back to its normal, hard tone. "Now, give us the names."
I couldn't find my voice. It was gone with the pain. Slowly, I began to shake my head, wincing at the pain it brought. But this was worth it to keep my friends safe. They meant everything to the wizarding world; they had to stay safe. I wasn't anybody.
"Can you make her tell?" Avery was asking Mulciber.
Mulciber frowned, jamming me with his wand. "Only if I had Veritaserum."
Avery didn't like this answer. He snarled at Mulciber and then at me. "Then she's useless. Won't even say a bloody word," he concluded, still pointing his wand at me, a look of pure hatred on his face. "What are we supposed to do with her then?"
Mulciber frowned, not even glancing down at me. "She's not even worth it. Just get rid of her."
I didn't let the gasp escape my lips. Instead, I stared up at them with a hardened gaze, not letting their words have an effect on me.
Avery pretended not to notice. "All you had to do was give us information but you decided to be all courageous and noble. Well, where does that leave you now?"
I narrowed my eyes at him.
He withdrew his wand, and said, through his nasty smirk, "Nowhere." I didn't hear the two words being said, almost as if I blocked them out from my memory. But I saw the green light and-
There was nothing to do – every single day, I was forced to stay inside this hell-hole that I had once called home. The same hell-hole I had hoped I'd never feet a foot in again. And now I couldn't take a step outside without Molly breathing down my back.
Everyone except for me got to venture out to Diagon Alley yesterday. I spent that day cleaning, trying to get my mind off of the fact that they had the freedom I would never receive.
Not as long as that traitor was still out there.
I had managed to get everyone to help me with cleaning today. They were all bored out of their minds, waiting around until tomorrow when Harry would be picked up by the Order. It didn't take much convincing, just a "I'm cleaning out the spare rooms" and they immediately jumped to their feet, ready to do something. They weren't excited about the cleaning, but at least it was something to pass the time.
It was silent work – nobody said a thing as we dusted off long forgotten books and organized boxes full of old memories.
After a few minutes, I stole a glance at everyone, watching them sort through their stuff with blank faces. I stopped on Ginny, who looked quite puzzled as she held something in her hands.
My eyes widened as I realized what she had uncovered. I had no idea how it ended up in here, the spare bedroom, but I was relieved – I thought it was forever gone with the times. The last time I saw it, it was on my bedside table...November 1st, 1981.
I refused myself to think of that fateful day, and instead, focused back on what Ginny held in her hands. She was opening it, reading the cover – and I could see her eyes light up with recognition.
"Laurel Hills?" She looked up at me, puzzlement on her face. "Isn't that the same book that they're selling in Flourish and Blotts? The best-seller?"
I could only nod at her words. Putting down the box in my hand, I made my way over and, without a word, Ginny handed me the journal. I took it from her hands and glanced at the familiar writing.
No one else seemed interested that I had a "best-selling book" stored away in the house. Ginny, however, found this very curious. But I didn't want her to pry. I wanted to look at the journal, touch the journal, read through its pages once again, memorize her handwriting.
"Why do you have the original manuscript?" Ginny's questions began. She wasn't trying to force answers - I could tell by the way she asked gently. She knew it was a complicated subject.
Turning the first page, I found myself staring down at the letter from 'S' to 'I' at the very beginning of the book – the preface to the novel.
Sometimes I wonder why if Sebastian and Anne were able to have their happy ending, why couldn't we have ours? Weren't we supposed to be Sebastian and Anne? Run away together, be together forever?
I guess we'll never get that. I still don't understand why you had to leave so soon – you didn't deserve it. You were just so innocent, so you, I don't understand how anyone could hurt you.
We never had a chance to say goodbye. For months, I just sat awake at night, wondering why I got robbed of just holding you, kissing you goodbye, saying something, anything, to make this separation easier. And then I had an idea.
This journal, your journal, your book is my present to you. I couldn't let your story disappear for no one to see – no, everyone needed to hear Sebastian and Anne's story – our story. So, here it is, getting published for the world to read.
Because I want the world to know my favorite author, Ivy Bennett. You deserve to be heard.
I love you.
'Best-seller', Ginny had said. I had no clue it was a best-seller. It had took me awhile to get Ivy's story published (about a year) and I had never heard anything about its sales. Best-seller, it was a best-seller. People were actually reading her story...
"Sirius?" Ginny asked.
I then realized I never answered her question. As I turned to the end of the book, my lips twitched into a smile, finally stopping at the last page.
"We're going to run," Sebastian said, holding me close, fingers tangled in my hair.
I sighed into his embrace, closing my eyes. "How far?"
He grinned and replied, "That doesn't matter. If you're by my side, then there isn't anything I wouldn't do, anywhere I wouldn't go. You are, and always will be, my everything."
The very last paragraph was written in my handwriting, scrawled out next to Ivy's cursive font.
"I might have known the author," I replied vaguely, never letting the smile fade from my lips as I found myself lost in memories of her.