Author's Note: I'm bad. I know. But...even though I'm only like 98% happy with this chapter, I've decided not to take another month trying to get the other 2% and just post it for you to read...and you can give me feedback whether it needs that additional 2% or if its fine the way it is...deal?
This also happens to be the longest chapter so far...so hopefully the incredible wait for it was at least semi-worth it.
Hope you like it!
Mdm Pomfrey had not been pleased. Not at all.
I suppose if I was the nurse at a school full of insane nutcases like me and the marauders (yeah, that’s right, me and the marauders, not the marauders and I), and having expressedly told my patient to stay in the infirmary and not go work on a paper for DADA class, only to come back and find that bed empty with a little note in Sirius' handwriting saying "She'll be back eventually. Thanks Poppy"…
…I wouldn't be pleased either. Hell, I'd be more than not pleased. I'd be bloody pissed off.
Of course, not that I wasn't as it was. I was furious. With myself. At Sirius. At moronic Slytherins. At blasted McGonagall. At the voices.
But most of all with myself.
How could I have just blurted out my secret like that?! The secret which I had worked so hard to keep secret the past seven years! I just yelled it at him. With no finesse, or sense of volume and completely ignoring the acoustics of the corridor. That just made it all worse—somebody else might have heard it.
And if that was the case, then not only was I screwed, but I was so screwed.
Now, lying in the uncomfortable spring bed in the infirmary (maybe the beds are the matron's way of silent revenge?), staring at the ceiling, I had to figure out a way to bypass Sirius and all of his sure-to-come questions. Which would be difficult considering that detention we were assigned… but at least there was no DADA class tomorrow. That only left Charms and Transfiguration and Potions in which I might run into him.
And as if facing him tomorrow (or rather, today) wouldn't be difficult and awkward enough, we still had the rest of the project to finish, which according to Hackett's predicted timeline, would go all the way until the end of classes before the holidays. Which meant, oh…just about another month of dear old Sirius.
To top it all off, 101 was nowhere to be found. He just disappeared in the chaos of my mind, as half the Voices were hastily trying to hunt down and superglue back together the last bits of my sanity, while the other half were controlling operations on the Sirius front. This included berating myself for giving away my secret, scheming ways to avoid Sirius and/or kill him if he had already spread the word.
But really, 101 was gone. I mean, possibly deNile Inc. already found him and destroyed him, but usually there's this little parade that goes on after something like that happens. And seeing as there was no parade (and there would be one, if 101 were caught), I had to assume that 101 was hiding somewhere, waiting for the perfect moment to strike again. Fine. As long as he was in hiding, or dormant like #99 (aka conscience) usually was, I did not have a problem. All I know is that I didn't want to ever hear that smarmy little voice again.
What was he anyways? I thought I had all the basics covered…I mean there were 100 of them for crying out loud! What other possible emotion/thought process could have been skipped out on for the first 18 years of my life? And where had he come from anyways? He most certainly had not been there when all this started. I remember. I cleaned, and took an inventory. There were definitely only 100 Voices.
Morning came sooner than I expected. Maybe because I fell asleep. I couldn't be sure. If I did sleep, it was one of those light, deeply troubling sleeps where you don't even know if you slept for one minute or ten or two hundred. Nevertheless, it was morning. And it must have been early morning, because the sun doesn't usually stream into the infirmary so stubbornly, blinding everything and everyone in range. It was completely quiet, both in my head and in my physical surroundings, except for the light swoosh of Mdm Pomfrey's robes as she bustled around doing lord knows what. Honestly, there wasn't anybody else in the infirmary except for me. Why is she always so busy, and why must she bustle like that, especially this early in the morning? I mean, aside from just to annoy me and give me more reason to avoid the infirmary. Although, I suppose she did deserve this slight revenge on me for causing that entire ruckus last night. Actually, she did – surprisingly – lay a huge portion of the blame on Sirius (after I got my lecture) and was close to banning him from the infirmary before she remembered she wasn't actually allowed to ban students from the infirmary.
She should have been the school librarian. She and Pince could have had a swell time banning people together.
"Well, Andrea, it seems you're ready to leave," she said monotonely. "This time, with my permission."
Ah, so she still hadn't let go of that. Right, so 'option A: revenge' had been the correct answer. At least she didn't try to feed me any more 'medicines'.
As I made my way out of the hospital, Mdm Pomfrey muttering at me the complete time, I had to come to a decision: how to deal with Sirius now that he knew. Ignoring him seemed like the best way, but realistically, not so practical. After all, we did still have to finish our DADA project. And even if we didn't, Sirius wasn't the type to just give up and let the whole thing drop. No, he would bother me. I bit my lip, seriously hoping he did not tell anybody else or wouldn't make it public knowledge...he wasn't that stupid or vindictive, was he? Surely he must have realized how essential it is for me to keep this secret...?
Wonderful. So on top of dealing with Sirius knowing, I had to find a way to keep him quiet about it.
Doom. Doom, Doom, Doom.
I jumped, Joey's voice catching me completely off guard. When had I gotten back to the Ravenclaw dormitory? Apparently I was sitting by the fire, Joey by my side.
I shrugged in reply to his question while my brain still tried to retrace my route from the infirmary, as if to confirm I really had walked all this way and not been whisked away by some magical wind or carried here on a cloud...
See, the problem was that Sense and Logic and all those other controlling Voices could hardly contain my oh-so-vivid imagination, which had made very close friends with Nonsense.
"Well, at least your head is not exploding," he said with a smile. Little did he know the extent of my head-exploding-ness yesterday (what with all The Voices going crazy), which though not physical and complete with tentacles, created much more havoc than I personally cared for. I opted not to enlighten him about it though. Joey was actually one of my friends who didn't usually run away at the prospect of having a heartfelt-ish talk. That would probably change if he knew what exactly was going on in my mind. "Did you manage to finish that DADA report?"
"Yeah, though I suppose we still need to hand it in to Hackett," I replied, just realizing this added bonus to what was sure to be a great day. If my night-time calculations were correct and today really was what day I thought it was (because honestly, my sense of time and night and day was completely out of whack at this point), and we really didn't have DADA class today, we'd have to go to his office and hand it in personally before he decided to forego the oh-so-generous extension and give us a zero on the report. Confronting Hackett would be bad enough (what with my tendency to call him a drama queen and his to try and kill me), but on top of that, Sirius and I would have to meet. No, scratch meet. Sirius I and would have to confront. So I couldn't just avoid him.
Damn. Well there goes that plan. Luckily for me, avoid and ignore aren't synonyms.
"Eh...you sure you're okay? Only you got this strange face going on..." Joey said, though still reading his book.
Shaking my head, I said, "Yeah I'm fine. Just thinking on how to deal with a certain Sirius Black."
Joey perked up, immediately looking concerned. I couldn't recognize the strange gleam in his eyes. "Why? What did he do? I swear if he hurt you I'm gonna kill him—"
"Whoa, whoa...what? What are you talking about?" I asked, blinking rapidly, as if hoping that would clear my mind and let me in on the origins of Joey's chivalrous proclamation.
His sudden concern died down again, looking pacified once more, but his eyes still retained some of their previous gleam, and his speech was still...weird. "Never mind. He just...well his reputation precedes him, lets say...and well you two have been spending quite a bit of time the past few days...some people have been saying….though I shouldn't have believed…and what you just said sounded like...never mind. Obviously you're smart enough to keep that jerk in his place. Besides, you have that 'all-men-are-evil' vendetta still going on from before so I should have realized..."
I stared, stunned, as he continued to ramble on and on. Where had all of this come from? And from Joey? I would never have expected...and he thought something had happened between Sirius and me. Well he was right, something had happened. But he got the something confused.
Not that I blamed him. Trying to escape a band of Slytherins out to kill because of a prank that involved polyjuice potion, disappearing clothes and the cold outdoors, only to end up stuck in a secret, musky old room and later argue out loud past curfew and receive detention – to the best of my knowledge – didn't usually rank up there as the 'something' that could have happened.
But from what he stuttered out in his hasty explanation, he hadn't been the only one to believe Sirius and I had started something more than a partnership for a class project.
Honestly, when had all of this happened? And why. Why must I deal with annoying, nosy, untruthful people on top of everything else?
"Joey, I appreciate your concern, but really, no worries man. He's just being annoying. And we've been spending a lot of time together because of the damned project."
I shut my mouth quickly, making sure nothing else would blurt out about other reasons we had to spend time together...such as running away and hiding from a mob of slytherins.
"Yeah, of course," he said, with another smile. "You should probably go change – it's almost time for breakfast and then we've got Transfiguration."
I nodded and groaned. Stupid Transfiguration! Damn Gryffindors. Did they really need to know how to transfigure things?!
Sure enough, they did. Because they showed up, as usual, Lily Evans up at the front. Surprisingly though, Sirius was on time to class. I checked my watch. Well damn. He wasn't on time – he was early. And he sat at his table with a smug expression, smiling and waving at me as I entered.
Well no bloody wonder people would be suspicious about us, the way he acted. I ignored him (choosing strategy one for the moment) and claimed a table with Marcie on the opposite end of the classroom.
"Yay! You're back!" she exclaimed. "Without tentacles!"
I nodded, grinning back at her. McGonagall entered a few minutes after, giving me a subtle nod to welcome me back to her class after three days of absence. Or perhaps it wasn't a "welcome back" nod, but—given my history and recent additions to said history – was more of a, 'right, she's back' look. Either way, she didn't seem particularly thrilled about me being back in class. Everybody else seemed pretty good about it though. Apparently I made class more interesting. Too bad it was at my expense. But really, weren't the Marauders created for that reason...?
As the day sped by, I came to a remarkable conclusion. Skipping three days of class was not the best idea in the world, especially for a slacker like me. Transfiguration was awful, and charms and arithmancy were even worse. Sirius tried talking to me in or in between each class, and each time I hurried away to Joey, Kevin or Marcie, or ran to the loo, or hid myself somewhere. Detention tonight would be hard enough without the added bonus of speaking with him in between classes.
"OI! Thorse! Stop being annoying and talk to me already! We need to hand in our report sometime today!" Sirius finally shouted at me as I tried to escape him once more.
"No need to yell, Black," Joey replied for me. "She's not deaf."
"Well she might as well be, the way she's been ignoring me all day."
Joey looked weird. And I didn't like it. He looked like he was being pushed beyond his amazing, almost Vulcan-like emotional control, and was facing an emotional and mental crisis.
"Thanks, Joey. He's right though, we do need to hand in that project."
After a while, he finally nodded back at me. "I'll see you later then?"
"No," I said, before I even realized there had been a question. I was surprised, but Joey just looked startled. Glancing quickly over at Sirius, I noticed he looked amused.
"No?" Joey repeated, as I tried to figure it out. Why wouldn't I see him later?
"That's right – No," Sirius said. He took a dramatic pause, as both Joey and I just stared at him. "Thorse and I have a date."
My heart did something weird as he said that one, small sentence.
It's called a flutter, honey.
I shook my head. The voice was so brief, I didn't even have time to demand to know if it was 101.
"What?" Joey said, stunned, and sounding extremely disbelieving.
I shook my head again, and just realized Sirius' half-lie and what it meant.
Oh. Crap. How had I even been able to forget about that? I've been dreading it all day...how had I not been able to connect the dots of the Q&A session?!
"Don't listen to him. We've got detention, not a date" I replied, stealing another glance at Sirius. I immediately felt angry at him. Not only did he still look amused, but rather smug now as well.
What the hell was his problem?
"Detention?" Joey asked, becoming more startled. He looked at me, and I wondered at his expression and that look in his eyes...what was it, betrayal? "You failed to mention that little detail."
I shrugged. "Just had a lot on my mind, I guess. Sorry."
He just nodded, and after shooting Sirius what seemed like a death-glare, finally smiled at me. "No worries. Things have been a little hectic lately I suppose, what with your head exploding and what not. It's all good."
Joey reached out and ruffled my hair up in his usual way, and I knew things were alright again. But his strange behaviour was worrying me. He gave one final wave, before heading towards the great hall for dinner, leaving me alone with Sirius.
"Looks like he's jealous."
I whipped around.
Sirius shrugged. "Just a thought. We have been spending some time together; I suppose it's only natural..."
"Right. And where is the rest of your crew? Are they not jealous as well?" I inquired, slightly angrily, probably because of the fact that apparently, Joey really did seem jealous. Was that explanation for his behaviour? But why? Why would he be jealous?
And what the hell is up with all these questions today?!
Sirius shrugged again. "Don't got time to be jealous, I figure. Remus is sulking around somewhere, James is planning his next scheme to get Evans to fall for him, and its Pete's turn to listen to it. So, ready to go?"
Inconceivable. I stared at him, suspiciously. As of yet, he made no further inquiry or comment to my confession last night. I couldn't help but wonder why.
"You have the report?" I asked.
Rummaging through his bag, he pulled out our parchment from last night, though the edges were frayed and it looked crumpled and untidy. I sighed. I really did hate handing stuff in when it didn't look right. It wasn't OCD. I just liked making it look nice. But there was no time for that. The sooner this was all over, the sooner I could escape Sirius and his plan, whatever it was (because honestly, I didn't – nay, couldn't – believe that he would just let the whole thing drop, given his behaviour and persistence the past few days). I had to be on my guard.
"What?" he asked, slightly amused again. He must have noticed my eyes narrowing at the sight of him trying to straighten out the parchment. "Don't tell me you want to rewrite it?"
I felt my mouth distinctively try to form the word yes, and I immediately bit my lip. I hadn't even realized it was a question. Was that even supposed to have been a question? It sounded more like a comment. Brilliant. Sirius discovered the joy of asking questions through oh so subtle voice inflections. How screwed was I?
"Well, we don't have time to rewrite it. Maybe if you hadn't been avoiding me all day long, you could have had a chance to make it look pretty."
Ugh. Stupid truth. "Whatever. Let's just go and get this over with."
Sirius just grinned. "Why? Just think of all the good fun we could have if we took our time."
"Its not "we" could have, Black," I muttered. His idea of fun scared me.
I don't think scared is the right word, dear.
I stopped in my tracks. There was no mistaking it this time. 101...really was back.
101...just come out now and I swear I won't hurt you.
Say it out loud, and then I'll believe you. That and your vehement proclamation of how much not-fun you two had last night.
"Why you little...I'll kill you!"
"WHAT?! I didn't do anything!"
"Huh?" I blinked and looked around, surprised to find Sirius staring at me with a slightly worried and frightened expression.
"Who the hell you talking to?"
I blinked again. This was…disorienting. I didn't answer though. I couldn't be sure if I could just pull off "talking to myself" because technically I wasn't talking directly to myself, yet 101 was in some shape or form a part of myself...but either way. Sirius didn't need to know about 101...or the other 100.
I waved my hand dismissively, and started walking again. But Sirius was walking right by me (he always seemed to catch up very fast), grinning a very stupid grin. And I knew why, of course. He knew that I didn't want to answer that question.
"Aww come on, Andy!" Now he was not only grinning like a madman, but radiating such an annoying aura of giddiness it was infuriating. "It's ok to talk to yourself. Denying your craziness can be detrimental to your sanity, however."
You know what, back to strategy one.
I played ignore the idiot all the way to Hackett's office, while Sirius rattled on and on about everything and apparently nothing at the same time, because by the time we got there, I was sure I had never heard Sirius say so much all at once and yet could not remember a single thing he had said. Either way, I didn't have to talk, so I was content.
It didn't last long though.
"Why aren't you talking to me?"
"Because I don't want to." Aiiyah…he was getting good at this whole 'catch-Andy-off-guard-to-get-answers' technique. That did not bode well.
I thought about that one, and decided it was safe to answer, albeit slowly and with a little bit of censorship control. Was it too much and too naïve to hope that if I explained myself a little he'd be more understanding and stop annoying me? "Because you will keep asking questions and it's really not fair that I have to answer truthfully…It's worse because you know it's the truth."
"Is that all?"
"So what else?"
But this time I didn't reply. I didn't actually know the 'what else'. I just knew it was there, and at the moment, would prefer to keep it that way – I had a vague suspicion it had something to do with 101, and I really didn't want to deal with any of that
Sirius cleared his throat. "Well we should probably actually go inside his office and hand our report in, instead of just standing outside his office like this."
I nodded, and raised my fist to knock on the door, but stopped. I opened my mouth, and then closed it, hesitating. Turning to Sirius, and taking a deep breath, I finally said, "Black, since you know of my misfortune, we might as well put it to some good use. Would you mind speaking once we get in there? Only I have this tendency to say things that piss him off and well…we really don't need him any more put off with us, do we?"
He took a moment to contemplate it, before grinning again and knocking. I assumed that it wasn't an evil grin of no-you-go-right-ahead-and-talk-I-rather-do-enjoy-seeing-Hackett-eat-you-alive. Or at least, I sincerely hoped Sirius wasn't as evil as I accused him of being. We entered together after hearing a brief and muted 'come in'.
I never liked Hackett's office. It was cluttered and musky, but his desk was pristine, everything in precisely the right place. He always sat at that desk, with his arms folded neatly on the desktop, and with perfect posture. It was…unnatural. But he always seemed more intimidating in his office. It was like he drew his power from all the mess around him.
"Good evening professor," Sirius started as we approached him. "Thanks again for the extension. Here's our report."
Sirius closed the rest of the distance between us and the desk, and handed him the parchment. Hackett looked at it once over and put it on the pile of other reports to his left.
"Well, see you tomorrow, sir," Sirius finished, starting to back away. Maybe Sirius was sketched out at Hackett's strangeness in the office too. He seemed to want to get away as fast as possible. We were near the door, so close from breaking free, when his voice rang out.
Damn. I turned around, Sirius still by my side. "Yes, sir?"
"I wanted to take this opportunity to inform you that what you said to me last week was uncalled for, rude and insulting. Furthermore I don't appreciate you interrupting my class and making a scene like that. I believe I deserve an apology, I don't recall hearing one from you on your way out the door."
I was stunned, but slightly relieved. For a second I thought he was going to get me for—
"And don't think I didn't notice the way you rearranged my desk last time you had detention in here," he added.
"Well?" he prodded.
I swallowed, and tried my best to concentrate, to think up a way of apologizing, because really, I wasn't sorry.
"I didn't mean to call you a drama queen out loud, sir," I started. "Nor did I intend to disturb your class. I apologize."
Hey, that wasn't half bad...if you just sort of ignored the fact that I called him a drama queen again. A little less directly, but still...
He nodded once, and Sirius left the office. I followed him out immediately, not wanting to spend another second in his office.
It wasn't silent for very long on our way up to McGonagall's office.
"You rearranged his desk?" Sirius asked, looking at me with eyebrows raised, and a look of what I deemed to be half shock and half admiration.
"Pfft, rearrange. All I did was move one quill, like an inch to the left," I answered. "And he noticed! The freak actually noticed."
Sirius laughed, and I couldn't understand if he was laughing at me, or at Hackett. But for some reason, his laughter made me relax a bit. I hadn't even realized how tense I was back there. I smiled at him.
"Why would you even do something like that? Especially when he knew you were in his office."
"Well I…I don't know. It was a spur of the moment type of thing."
He shook his head, but continued laughing as we entered McGonagall's office. She was already waiting for us.
"You're late," she accused, not even stopping to talk. She just marched straight off to wherever we were going.
I rolled my eyes. Clearly, as my sixth sense indicated, we were not late. Sirius must have noticed.
"Are we actually late?" he whispered to me.
I shook my head in response, and felt a grin starting to appear on my face. Sirius smirked.
"Why the rush, professor? You're shipping us off to detention early," Sirius said. "Quite unlike you."
I gawked at him. How did he find the nerve to speak to McGonagall like that…by his own free will?! Sure I usually said some pretty stupid things, and what may have come across as bold and witty was really just the stupid curse going psycho on me.
"I have a previous engagement to attend to," she replied, and my jaw nearly dropped. Not only did she not comment on Sirius' casual speech to her, but she actually replied to it.
"Engagement? You're getting married? Oh wow! How come we weren't invited?"
I would have laughed if I hadn't been in such shock. This is what McGonagall must have felt like yesterday.
"Actually, Mr. Black, I am not getting married, and you'd do best to mind your own business," she answered yet again. Wow. I'm quite sure that if I had been the one to say that, it would be 'detention, Ms. Thorse', and then she'd return to ignoring me. As it was, she did decide to change the subject at least. "You and Ms. Thorse will be cleaning out the Trophies tonight. They haven't been touched in a while."
I looked around, and was surprised to find ourselves at the trophy room. Well, at the large room-closet-storage-like-thing, with all the trophies and plaques and medals and other useless junk that didn't make it into the main display cases on the lower floor.
McGonagall stuck out her hand without a word, and without a word Sirius and I handed in our wands. We had been through this type of procedure too many times to even waste words and time. We could retrieve our wands from her tomorrow in class, provided that the task was finished satisfactorily.
As she left in one direction, I followed Sirius into the room ahead of us, and noticed two buckets filled with soapy water and cloths in front of us. Great. Manual labour. And not just manual labour...cleaning. Ugh. And this would certainly take a while. The dimly lit torches illuminated rusty and dull trophies.
"Well, I guess you start on that side, and I'll take this side," Sirius said after a while, reaching out to get his bucket and cloth. I mirrored his actions with a small nod and started to walk in the opposite direction. Distance was good. This way we wouldn't have to talk. This way he couldn't bug me. Distance was—
I stopped. In front of me was a giant cobweb-spiderweb type thing. In the corner of it I noticed the black spider, waiting to catch its prey.
Distance was not good. Distance meant I'd have to deal with spiders on my own and if there was anything I hated more than a liar, it was a spider. All small and silent and sneaky and disgustingly ugly with their stupid eight legs and eight eyes and deadly fangs injecting venom and—
"Hey, Black…on second thought, maybe we should start on the same side," I called to him. Screw pride. I was a Ravenclaw, not a Gryffindor. I could swallow my pride when I had to. And this…this was definitely a time when I had to. I could not be alone in this creepy old abandoned closet with tons of spiders around me.
"Why?" he called back, his voice sounding far off and echoey. How big was this room? And where did he get to already?
I bit my lip. Apparently, Pride was a hard thing to swallow. I couldn't admit to being afraid of spiders. Was it not enough for him that I already asked to work beside him? Shouldn't that have fed his ego even enough for him to make some snide, witty comment and just agree to it?
There was a pause, and I hoped to all that was good and holy that just this once, he would let the question drop. I closed my eyes and actually prayed.
"Alright, Thorse, I'll make you a deal," he finally said. "You can come work with me on this side of the room, and I'll save you from the big bad creatures of the dark, if you agree to answer my questions. No more of this silent response nonsense."
Oh. Oh dear.
"Answer your questions just for tonight?"
There was no reply at first, and I assumed he was contemplating it. "Yeah, sure. Just for tonight. Deal?"
Just say yes.
All thoughts of spiders and their viciousness disappeared. Sirius' voice faded into the distance again. I barely felt the weight of the bucket I was holding. There was only one thing at the moment, and that was 101.
de Nile Inc. hadn't caught him yet. But they had set up a trap. I saw them closing in.
I'll say yes, 101, but not because you told me to, and not for whatever reason you think it's for either.
Oh please. You're telling me the spiders are the only thing that are pulling you towards him?
I wanted to yell at him, but the ring leader of de Nile Inc. – Little Voice #2 – was signalling me to continue. They were close to actually catching him. It would be worth it.
Yes. Spiders. That is it.
Really? That’s funny, because I could have sworn you actually want him to find out more about you.
And what is that supposed to mean?!
How much more special would he be if he knew your secrets? Be the only one who knew about you?
That is it! Get him NOW!
I watched the ambush. 101 was taken by surprise from every side.
"Thorse? Do we have a deal?"
"Well then get your arse over here," he replied. I couldn't see him, but I could tell by his voice that he was grinning. I walked over, slowly, trying to figure out if de Nile Inc. had finally succeeded. My head was a complete mess, absolute turmoil. Apparently some of the other Voices had sided with 101 and tried to help him escape. I was confused, and angry at 101, but mostly confused. What was he talking about? It made no sense to me at all.
"Welcome to the dark side," Sirius said as I neared him, and this time I could see he was grinning.
"Let's get to work, shall we?" I said, hoping to avoid questions as long as possible.
"In a sec. First you got to tell me what you were afraid of on that side."
I gaped at him, and protested as fiercely as I could. "What? That’s not fair! I mean you already asked that before we made the deal and—"
"The deal states you got to answer my questions," he repeated, crossing his arms over his chest and staring down at me.
"What are you afraid of?"
Say what? I wasn't afraid of them? Oh no, that's right, I just really hated them. I could kill them if I wanted to, but I'd rather avoid the lot of them.
Sirius seemed utterly confused. "I thought you said you can't lie?!"
"I did! I can't!" I yelled back. When had this turned into a shouting match? Then again, why did most of our conversations end up with the volume dialled up? I brought my voice down to an agreeable mezzo forte, and decided to explain further. "You asked the wrong question, alright? I'm not afraid of them. I just really, really, hate them. They creep me out, but I'm not afraid of them…I'd just rather avoid them…"
I gulped. That was my pride being swallowed. "Spiders."
"Spiders?" he asked, sounding amused yet slightly skeptical. I nodded but he only shrugged, and didn't continue to probe. I was relieved, but I knew that would probably be short lived. He'd have more questions.
I started to wipe the trophies, and he did the same. How long would it be before he asked a question? I gave it three seconds…maybe two and a half.
One steamboat, two steamboat, three stea—
"I don't understand though…are you so insistent on others telling the truth because you have to?"
I couldn't help my half smile. "Partly."
"But sometimes, and like right now, you're not telling me the whole truth," he continued.
I thought about that one for a second, a little surprised that he caught on to that as well. Really, his high quality observefullness would be the death of me. "I've learned to, or rather am still experimenting, with versions of full truth or just one word answers."
"So then what's the other part to being all obsessed with truthfulness?"
I didn't answer. I was too busy trying to figure out why he cared so much, and why I was spilling my deepest secrets to him, and whether I should just tell him the rest of it. Or rather, how much I should tell him. After all, I had to give him some sort of reply… 101 was captured, but his words still echoed in my mind. Did I really want him to know my entire secret?
Damn his melodious, silky and persuasive voice! I took a breath and replied.
"If I tell you, you've got to promise not to tell anybody else," I struggled to say, mostly because my mouth was already trying to form the answer to his previous question. "And please, say it like you mean it. Don't lie about it."
"Andrea, I swear to you I won't tell a living soul."
Well, that was good and truthful enough, though this time it was just my mind trying to persuade me it was a lie. "When somebody lies to me…or rather, within hearing range of me…I can tell they're lying."
He looked stunned. "What?"
"I feel something inside, like a signal that tells me they're lying."
There was a pause as he took the information in. My half smile was replaced by a smirk; he was probably realizing all the lies he had ever said with me around. "I remember you saying it causes you pain…what do you mean?"
Bah! Did he have to be so curious! I bit my lip yet again…perhaps I could brave the spiders after all? I looked out into the darkness on the other side of the room, and all at once that overactive imagination of mine kicked into gear.
"It's hard to explain, but it feels something like paper cuts, except on the inside… otherwise I'd probably need a lot of Band-Aids, but like the little cute ones with dinosaurs or the Flintstones on them…" I looked up at him, all of the sudden conscious that I was rambling about muggle things Sirius probably didn't even know about. He seemed amused though.
"Personally, I prefer the ones with Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck," he replied swiftly. I didn't have time to marvel at him. "But do go on…paper cuts, you say?"
"Uh…yeah…they don't really hurt, but they do sting."
"Which is why you cringe so much," he said with a smile.
I nodded. "Sirius, do you think you can ever talk to me without asking so many questions. That's mentally painful."
"Hey, you agreed to it," he answered with a shrug, not even bothering with a statement for future conversations. Bugger. He really had no intention of giving me some peace, did he? "But aside from the pain, why do you hate this whole thing so much?"
I sighed. "Because it doesn't give me a choice. Because sometimes I'd rather be blissfully oblivious to the truth, instead of knowing when somebody lies to me."
There was a pause, and I finally thought he'd let up. I counted three seconds again, but this time there was no question. So I turned my attention half to the rusty trophies I've been doing a pretty crappy job cleaning up, and half to 101 and de Nile Inc., who had just finished a parade in celebration of 101's capture. 101 was in chains, and all the Voices were waiting around, waiting for his verdict.
101, how do you plead?
I have done nothing wrong. My only goal is to show you the truth.
The truth, eh? And what would that be?
That you care for Sirius more than you admit.
I felt my blood boiling, and what must have been my face going very red. My ears felt hot, and my stomach felt as if it was going to turn inside out. Suddenly I was glad it was fairly dark in the room, or else Sirius might have noticed that I was about to explode.
Chuck him into the deepest, darkest, most unstable recesses of my mind and may he rot there and decay! Do you have any last words, 101?!
I'll be back.
He sounded smug, too confident. It made me angrier.
Like hell you will! I'll get 66 to set you on fire if you ever escape! Away with him!
And then the strangest thing happened. As #2 and his crew started to lead 101 away, a full scale riot broke out. And it was worse than ever before. This wasn't just madness and complete chaos, it was organized chaos. It was a war. It was a full out brawl with two opposing sides, and all I could see were limbs and a big cloud of dust encircling the entire battle field. And my head felt as if it would explode again, possibly with tentacles. Without knowing it, I dropped the trophy I was holding and clutched my head, shutting my eyes tight. Was this was a migraine felt like to normal people?
I opened my eyes and suddenly the scene enfolding in my mind and all the Voices disappeared. It was just Sirius in front of me.
"Are you alright? You look as if you're about to tear your hair out…or rip your brain out and smash it with a hammer," he added with a shrug. "Either way, you looked a bit…more unstable than usual. Are you sure you're ok? Maybe we should take you down to the infirmary—"
"I doubt Mdm. Pomfrey would appreciate seeing me again let alone at this time of night. I'm just dealing with a mental crisis."
He just nodded as if he understood. Perhaps he did. I couldn't be sure. But before I had a chance to look back in on the ensuing chaos within my mind, he asked yet another question.
"You know, I was thinking…is it really best that you're keeping this secret? The whole truth thing, I mean."
Didn't even need to think about the answer to that one. "Well yeah! Otherwise people, like you for instance, would be taking advantage of it all the time! Do you know how quickly I can rat on somebody or spill their deepest secrets?! Not to mention my own?"
He stopped asking questions, and it was silent for the rest of the detention, with only the sound of cloths scraping the trophies. The mess in my head had finally been sorted out. 101 was locked away somewhere, and quite a few other Voices (like Sense) that had sided with 101 in the mini-war were either tied up or being closely monitored for any signs of rebellion. I spent time trying to figure out who, or what 101 was, but I came no closer than I had the night before. All I knew was that 101 was a nuisance, and I was better off without him.
The time passed slowly. Once Sirius squashed a spider for me. But other than that, it was possibly one of the most boring and lengthy detentions I had ever endured. The only thing that made it better was knowing that Sirius was also undergoing this torment. Except every time I looked at him, he had this half smile on his face, and I couldn't interpret it at all. It wasn't one of his arrogant smirks, or one of those triumphant grins; it was a genuine, albeit small, smile.
And it bugged me. Why was he smiling? I wanted to ask him, but bit my lip and left the silence undisturbed. I rather not give him more opportunities to pry, seeing as I still had to technically answer any question he asked me. Though it was interesting. All the questions he had asked me were about my Truth curse. That was very interesting. Here he had a perfect moment to ask anything and more than likely get an answer (especially after he killed the first spider; I stuck closer to him after that) and yet he didn't. Maybe he did have a bit of honour. Maybe he really did try to understand me. I shook my head. It was easier not to think about it.
On our way back up, the only sound was our footsteps echoing off the walls. Then, before we were to part for our separate dormitories, Sirius' voice rang out, "Andy, I think its better that I know. And I want to promise you, that if I'm ever around and you're in a tight spot, you can count on me."
I waited for the familiar stinging, but it didn't come. And then I just stared at him. He was being completely serious about it. Pun not intended.
Sirius, apparently, was full of surprises. First, he acts almost normal, and hadn't yet (to the best of my knowledge) spilled my secret to others. Then, he admits to using Band-Aids, and not just any Band-Aids, Mickey Mouse ones. On top of that, he passed up a fairly good chance to get some good blackmail information. And as if any of that wasn't enough, he decides to be chivalrous too.
Oh, and he apparently had the power to set my heart thumping faster and louder than as if I'd been running. Surprising? Extremely.
Great, another 'S' word to add to my ongoing description of him.
"Uh…thanks, Sirius," I said hesitantly, still in shock about his statement, before turning around and walking away.
I hope he didn't hear my heart pounding.
Why is it pounding?! And why do I feel so…ugh, happy about it?!
Did I already mention that?
Author's Note II: So...what do you think? Please review!
Sorry again for the long wait, and thanks to everybody reading and reviewing!
The good news is, that while I was stuck with this chapter, I decided to start the next one. So maybe, if all goes according to plan, I can have that up for you guys within two weeks or so.
Write a Review It's a Kind of Magic: Doomity Doom Doom - Part I