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The Art of Breathing. by AC_rules
Chapter 34 : Disintegrate.
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 49


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A/N - Really, I have absoloutely no excuse. I have completely ignore all you lovely readers for about a month - no chapters, no review responces, no nothing. I'm quite ashamed of myself. After exams were finally over I started abusing my new found freedom and I discovered that as I write to give myself a break from my busy life, when my life is no longer busy I CANNOT write. So that threw me off... then I realised HOW CLOSE the end is and it scared me. I've never finished a story before... soo... that also scared me. Really though, no excuses. Especially considering how long I've had this written (although I did rewrite it). Over the crazy exam period I did start several new stories though, one of which is posted... So if any of you fancy checking out curiosity for me... :) I'm responding to all your reviews I swear. I just have a hell of a back log. I love you all. Enjoy... 

Sometimes it's hard to keep on running
We work so much to keep it going
Don't make me want to give up- Running, No Doubt



There is always a point, after things have been building for a while, when things come back to hit you in the face. Now yesterday was all a great big blur of emotions, crying and confusion, and I didn’t have the slightest clue where I stood anymore. I had been awake most of the night worrying and wondering exactly what was going to happen. Occasionally I had slipped into having strange, vivid dreams that made no sense and left my brain ticking on overtime, but other than that sleep had pretty much eluded me. I would have loved to sleep – slip into a brilliant state of unconsciousness where I could have just forgotten and relished in the comfortableness of ignorance – but of course the world had other ideas.

Lily prodded me awake in a slightly violent way and I found myself sitting up immediately, as if I hadn’t been asleep and merely lying down with my eyes closed for want of something to do. Things came into a clearer focus when I opened my eyes, and I pulled on my uniform without thinking about it. I didn’t have any room in my head for such trivial, stupid things as what I looked like, or the time... it was so full of what the hell Sirius was going to do.

I wanted to know, I really did, but at the same time I was absolutely dreading it.

“Did you sleep well?” I asked, and I found that my voice was shaking slightly. I had a giddy nervousness in my stomach, which wasn’t at all a good thing – it felt like any second it was just going to drop and take all my internal organs with it. Then I’d just be stood there for a few seconds before I collapsed in on myself into a pile of bits and pieces.

“No,” Lily said, sending me a harsh look. I swallowed down the urge to cry and burst into a hysterical apology as to just why I’d been so completely and utterly horrible. I was disgusted with myself. When you’re close enough friends with someone to share about the doubts you have about yourself, it comes with the trust and responsibility that you’d never throw them back at someone. Say, with Sirius (because things always go back to him), given that he’d told me about his attention-loving tendencies, and how much he was ashamed of it,  it would be completely out of order for me to use them against him. I’d pretty much taken our years of friendship, stamped on them, and thrown it into her face.

I couldn’t tell her now though, I couldn’t. I needed to sort them out one at a time or I’d get so stressed and confused and panicked that I’d probably end up in the hospital wing again. I had to know what Sirius was going to do before I could even consider telling Lily. If he took it well then I could ask his advice about how to tell Lily. If it went badly I could probably deduce that letting someone find out by eavesdropping wasn’t the best thing. I needed Sirius on my side before I could tell her. I couldn’t lose them both on the same day.

“You were crying all night,” Lily added, sending me a semi-worried but still frustrated look, which I pretended not to see. I couldn’t talk about it now when in a few seconds we’d be going down to breakfast where Sirius would be. I’d have to face him after that disaster of a wedding. After that kiss, in the rain (thinking about it, how bloody cliché and soppy romantic...), after him sodding off, after me going off with Ryan Peacock laughing, flirting, and drinking cocktails all night. I couldn’t blame him for leaving early; it had probably been for the best anyway... if he’d seen... well.

I kissed Ryan Peacock. For like, a second. It wasn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things and I had much bigger problems to think about, but if Sirius had seen it then it would have hardly helped my cause... It wasn’t like it was my fault! I was upset, stressed, confused and ever so slightly tipsy. I wanted something that would make me feel better, it hadn’t worked though, given that he’d rejected me. It was quite embarrassing actually.

“Sorry,” I replied to Lily, who sighed deeply and turned her back to me to show that she was not happy. Lily was one of a kind and I’d never seen her conduct a full angry-at-everyone mood for more than a day so I was impressed. Normally the James-induced-anger didn’t last through till morning when she’d be up smiling at the sunrise and being positively chirpy until she saw him again when she’d put on a big show of scowling and looking miserable – it was practically an art form. It must be a lot more difficult for her to maintain her anger for an extended period of time. Surely it must be exhausting? I was exhausted just thinking about it.

Then, I could never be Lily, I don’t think my lips could physically smile that much.

She wasn’t smiling now though. She made another noise of discontent before turning her back on me and heading down the stairs. I glanced at myself in the mirror for a second and felt thoroughly detached from myself – as if I was staring at a picture of some dishevelled girl who looked utterly shattered and depressed. It didn’t sound too far from the truth.

I skipped down the first couple of steps and fell into step with Lily. She didn’t actively speed up and instead made almost no acknowledgement of my existence at all. I had a gut feeling that things weren’t boding well for the day ahead and I gritted my teeth in preparation for onslaught that was sure to be heading my way any second...

Sirius was waiting for me.  He was looking up at me with this bright, determined expectancy in his eyes. He hadn’t slept well either, I could tell, and his hair was almost as messy as James’, which was probably induced by tossing and turning and he had dark bruise-like bags underneath his eyes. Still, he managed to hold himself with that regal arrogance that had been drummed into him since he was a child. It was like he knew that he was important, and that superiority made everyone believe that he was as good as he thought he was. At the same time Sirius knew his faults, and Sirius wasn’t perfect in the slightest. He was real and I found every single aspect of him stunning because of it.

I couldn’t lose him. I couldn’t.

Sirius stood up once he saw us and I felt my heart sink and speed up at the same time. Its jumpiness made it difficult to breathe and made me feel weak and fragile – I was suddenly so aware of my bones and my muscles and it felt as though if I tripped over they would all crack and break. I took a deep breath to steady myself. It was only Sirius.

I couldn’t deal with another argument, especially in this new and scary fragile state, but at the time I longed to talk to him about it. About me, dying. I hadn’t talked about it to a real, living, breathing human being for so long that... I wondered if it might make me feel better about it, or worse. It made me feel shaky and unsure of myself but I guess that was something I was going to have to get used to – having someone know made it impossible to forget about my time limit. If they couldn’t forget about it, then I’d be constantly reminded of it.

No one wants that hanging in front of their face constantly.

 “Can you tell Flitwick Mary overslept?” Sirius asked Lily, who nodded and carried on walking without even glancing back at me. I swallowed down the guilt and my gaze met Sirius’.

 “I didn’t oversleep and I’m not going to be late for charms,” I countered, feeling more unsure of myself than I sounded. In one day everything, absolutely everything, had changed. I was now completely vulnerable. There was nothing he didn’t know about me now – he’s seen me naked, seen me crying, seen my family and he knew I was dying. He was the person who knew me best in the whole world and I couldn’t lose him.

 “We’re skipping,” he said simply, and I knew there was no point arguing about it because he’d already decided. Sirius was like that, stubborn. Normally I liked it.

“We need to talk.” My heart did a back flip and I found myself trying to squash the feelings and emotions that were filling me up. I needed to stay in control.

“I need breakfast,” I protested, even though the very idea of eating food at a time like this made me feel unbelievably queasy.

“I got the house elves to bring you some toast,” Sirius said, gesturing to the table where there was indeed a plate of toast. I considered protesting I didn’t want toast, just to be difficult but he knew me too well for that. He’d probably pull out a plate of waffles instead, which he had just in case I was in an uncooperative mood... then it hit me.

He’d already decided. He had that look in his eye of complete stubbornness that meant I was going to have to sit and listen to what he said, whatever it was, and no matter what I said or did it wasn’t going to make a difference. I could start lap-dancing and he’d still recite the same words he’d planned in his head at some point during the night. He’d thought of every single scenario and planned them all out. That was it. Done. Dusted. I just didn’t know what it was yet.

“I thought you were worried about my grades,” I said, sitting down dutifully. I wanted, needed, to prolong the meat of the conversation for a little bit longer so I could quench the sickly dread and nervousness that I was practically drowning in.

“That worry has been significantly lessened by the fact that you’re dying,” Sirius retorted.

“Yeah, they didn’t seem quite so important to me either.”

“Instead you decided to spend your time ruining all your relationships and friendships.”

“No, the ‘ruining’ part is all down to you,” I snapped back, feeling myself beginning to calm. This was back to normal – almost – pointless bickering and getting at each other. I could deal with that and it made me feel so much better to know that things could go back to how they were before, if maybe not the good bit. If we could still argue and try to hurt each other then he might still...

 “Stop it!” Sirius snapped, putting his head in his hands and changing mannerisms to be more serious. My heart sunk. “God, you make it too easy.”

“Not following,” I returned, my voice still holding a fair amount of hostility despite Sirius dropping his own. I didn’t feel hostile at all though. I just wanted Sirius to wrap his arms around me and assure me, untruthfully, that it was all going to be alright. The only annoyance I could find in the situation so far was that since he’d found out that I was dying he had yet to give me a hug. A hug.

Sure, he’d kissed me within an inch of my life, but that was a type of passionate end of argument thing and I suppose it had been sort of comforting, but to be honest all I wanted from him was a hug. It would make me feel so much better for him to show some sign that I might need someone to hold me right now.

“You make it so easy to hate you. I really want to be angry at you and you’re making it so, so easy.” My heart dropped and I gripped the material of my sleeves. That wasn’t good. That wasn’t good at all.

“Why?” I asked, my voice just about holding up against the strain of all the emotions I was bursting with.

“One way or another I have to lose you, and it would be so much easier to do if I could just be angry at you for being such a bitch.”

I gulped, unable to speak. My throat was closing in and I thought if I said anything the tears might start coming. Just hug me dammit Sirius. One hug? Was that a lot to ask for?

Silence fell for a long couple of minutes in which I looked very carefully at the carpet and tried to control myself and my emotions.

 “I want you to know that I do understand,” he continued, and I felt my heart thudding painfully in my chest. It was aching dully anyway, but with each beat a needle-sharp pain shot through my chest. “Look Mary, I’m sorry...” Sirius began, and I felt my stomach drop suddenly, as if I was being dropped from a great height. Falling, falling, falling...  

It didn’t sound like he was apologising for me dying. It wasn’t that kind of apology. It was regretful but firm. It did nothing to stop my vision from blurring suddenly, and I blinked the tears away.

“No,” I protested without meaning to, and I felt my throat constricting and hurting painfully. I bit my lip, trying to stop myself from talking anymore but I couldn’t resist looking at him. Our gaze met again. Tears welled up in my eyes again and it was more difficult to blink them away again.

Sirius, in all his perfection and glory, looked down at his hands and brought one hand up to his chest. It paused there for a second before he rubbed his shoulder with it. Then it dropped. “I am. Honestly I’m sorry,” he said again, and I felt a tear drop onto my cheek. It was the cheek facing away from Sirius so I left it there. “I... I have to lose you and I’m not sure if I can deal with that.” His voice cracked. I pretended I hadn’t noticed.

I was surprised to find eyes were dry again and the rawness of this was disappearing. I looked at my hands for a few seconds and found myself becoming more and more detached from the emotions. I knew I was feeling them, but I couldn’t feel them.  I was upset, a little angry, and more a little heartbroken, but in reality my supply of emotions were dying up.

 “So you’re chickening out?” My voice was stronger this time.

“Not exactly...” he said, still not looking at me. I wished he would. I wanted to look at him properly. “I want to help you but... I can’t be... this involved. It’s just too hard.”

“So you’re breaking up with me,” I supplied, as he seemed unable to say it. My whole body was going numb and I stared right at him hoping that my gaze would be intense enough for him to say ‘fuck it’ and kiss me like his life depended on. The only reaction to my own words was for my stomach to complain a little under the strain of all these suppressed emotions, but then that stopped too.

He didn’t deny it.

“You’re breaking up with me,” I said again, running the words over and over in my brain and trying to make sense of them. It hadn’t sunk it yet. They were just words that didn’t make any sense as I repeated them over and over again in my head. I was glad. I didn’t want him to see me break down and if this was his decision then I couldn’t change it and that was that. Finito. Done. Dusted.

“I still want to be here for you, as a friend,” Sirius said, as if this made the whole thing okay. It didn’t – not even a little bit.

“Oh how generous,” I said sarcastically, and Sirius looked even more guilty and distraught. It made me feel a slight sense of satisfaction, which I decided to focus on. “God. You’re practically a saint.”

“Mary!”

“Save it,” I snapped, standing up. My legs weren’t shaking, but were firm and steady. It was fine. I was fine.

“You need my help,” Sirius said, and it was true enough to stop me from walking out. “And I want to help you – you know I care about you.”

“Then why?” I asked, still hovering between the sofa and the door and feeling nothing but a glorified sense of numbness. I revelled in it.

“What?”

“You heard me. If you care about me then why are you doing this?”

“Self preservation,” Sirius said, and his words were dripping with shame and disgust. It was as if he almost couldn’t believe that he was saying them. “I just can’t, I mean it’s...” He stopped and looked at the floor again. I wanted him to look straight at me while he was breaking my heart; I felt I deserved that much. “You only have to be broken for two months, I get it for the rest of my life and...”

I sat down again. I had a feeling my legs were going to start shaking again in a minute and so far I’d done a reasonable job of not breaking down and begging him to stay with me.

 “And... if I fell in love with you I couldn’t lose you,” Sirius finished.

The whole room went deadly silent and it was my turn not to look at him as those final words began to sink into my brain. I swallowed. That had been just about enough to make it through my numbness and an explosion of pain embraced my heart and squeezed it painfully. I let out a choked noise that didn’t make sense even to me and I was very glad I’d sat down.

 If I fell in love with you.

I took a deep shuddering breath that sounded very loud in the empty common room. Sirius stood up suddenly and took a step away from me. I didn’t look up.

He stood there for a few long seconds. I brought my hand up to my chest and then changed it into a rubbing-shoulder movement like Sirius had done earlier so he didn’t realise how utterly amazed I was at how much that last comment had hurt. It was like he’d just picked up a knife and stabbed me through the centre of my heart. I hadn’t been expecting it – it was sudden, it was painful and god was it shocking.

I’d never experienced something so raw and... intense. I took another deep breath inwards but my throat made another noise that I also couldn’t control.

“I’m going to go to Charms. I’ll... see you later,” Sirius said, his voice sounding panicked, confused and all together a little frightened.

I waited until he’d shut the portrait door behind him. Then I allowed myself to start crying.

***********

Maybe I could find someone else who’d be willing to date me for a couple of months (two to be exact). They wouldn’t have to care about me much. They’d just have to be there. Sirius can’t be that hard to replace right? He’s nothing that special. Maybe if I slept with them they’d stick around.

Although that tactic hadn’t worked well with Sirius, not that that had been the point of that little exercise.

I just needed someone to hold my hand and ‘kiss it better’ for a little bit longer.

Because now I was alone and it was shit scary.

Would someone even want me? Surely someone would want me just for a two month thing? I’m not that hideous right? Or would the whole ‘I’m dying’ thing put people off?

There must be someone. There must be a single male Hufflepuff who’d want to help out a poor, dying girl like me. Hufflepuffs are nice and therefore he’d want to help me out.  He couldn’t be blonde though, that would be horrible. Blondes just aren’t my thing.

Oh forget it, if he’s blonde he’s blonde, it’s not like Hufflepuffs are exactly top of my list either. Niceness? Hardly very me.

Ravenclaws would be too clever to go out with a thicko like me. Slytherins wouldn’t touch me due to my dirty blood, which leaves me with... Gryffindors. I can’t date someone younger (cradle snatcher alert), which leaves... the Marauder’s and the seventh years. Or Frank.

Let’s face the facts. None of the Marauder’s are going to want Sirius’s cast off’s. There are three seventh year Gryffindors. One of them is single – Jeremy Wood. Jeremy Wood who I went on a date with and couldn’t even kiss because it was too weird. Plus he was too hung up on his bitch of an ex.

I bit my finger nails nervously as I realised that my choice is: stay single forever, or date a blonde Hufflepuff (they’re all blonde) who would probably be too ‘nice’ to even touch me because he’d be scared I might bruise.

That’s the thing. I liked the fact that Sirius was an arsehole. It was exciting and, I’m not going to lie, kind of sexy. He was wild and... Passionate.

Now I have two whole months to think about how I ruined my only real relationship and how I may or may not be...

Must it ruin everything?

I looked down at my finger nails and saw the results of the biting I’ve been doing in the past hour. I had yet to touch my potions ingredients and I was too distracted to start now. I’d never bitten my nails before and I only started that when my lip started bleeding because I was biting it too much.

This is what Sirius Black does to you! Why hadn’t I listened to Lily, Rachel and everybody else in the world? Huh? Take some advice for once Mary. Maybe if I’d told them in September I wouldn’t feel like someone had just squeezed out all my insides, put them in a jar, and shoved them down my throat again. It doesn’t make much sense, but that’s how I felt.

I put my hands decidedly on the desk and swore not to bite my fingernails again. As many germs as licking a toilet seat... except more germs are hardly going to make things worse. Maybe a premature death would be a good thing anyway. Easier, definitely. I swallowed and pushed my numbed emotions back down to my stomach and reprimanded myself for being so ungrateful. I could be dead all ready, for Merlin’s sake, and maybe someone was listening to my thoughts and decided to grant that wish. I could walk out of this classroom, fall down the stairs and die (it would probably kill me given my state of frailness. I had bruises from when Sirius dragged me around the dance floor for Merlin’s sake). I should be glad I was alive.

I just wasn’t though.

I picked up my book and began fanning myself with it – I was so hot. It must be all the heat from the cauldrons or something because it had suddenly got very, very hot.

I wish I still sat next to James, because Lily kept sending me dirty looks that made me feel even worse. However after ‘my’ brilliant potion was made sitting next to Lily, she convinced Sluggy that she was a good influence on me and my grades. He agreed, since he had always liked Lily.

You know what I want to do? I want to get completely drunk and sleep with some random person. Why not? It’s not like I can regret it for too long anyway and it would certainly make things more exciting. Then I could always have one up on Sirius knowing that sleeping with some drunken guy was better than sleeping with him. Except you know whoever it was would be shit.

I hoped to Merlin no one could read my mind.

“Are you hot?” Lily asked after a few seconds, and I turned towards her and nodded. Obviously I was hot. Why else would I be fanning myself with my potions text book? For someone supposedly clever her intelligence amazed me. “Oh,” was all she said, raising an eyebrow as if overheating was some strange phenomenon in a room full of burning cauldrons.

Then I saw that she had her coat pulled tight around her and was shivering slightly. I glanced up at the board and read the words ‘freezing solution’. Okay... that was a little weird.

“Oh don’t worry. Hot flushes are completely normal. You’re probably just going into a premature menopause,” James said, and I suddenly realised he was sat on the edge of Lily’s desk. Lily smiled in his direction and James seemed to think his comment was funny but...

Premature menopause...?  Another tick on the list of symptoms.  Bloody hell.

Hey, at least if I slept with a random stranger I wouldn’t have to worry about getting pregnant. I’m infertile. Sixteen years old and completely infertile. Bonus.

“You seen Sirius?” James said, addressing me after a few moments of flirting with Lily (which I blocked out completely. It was probably for the best considering it would just make me feel even lonelier, which would be impressive at this point.).

“No,” I replied, my stomach lurching uncomfortably at his name. Was it just me or was James’s tone colder than normal? Maybe he’d been present when Sirius and Lily had got together and started talking about why I was such a bitch. “Why would I have?” I added icily (well it was supposed to be icily but it probably just made me sound like a constipated bitch).

“You sorted it out with him then?” Lily asked.

“No,” I replied, setting the text book down (ignoring how my skin was burning hot) and flicking through the pages so I didn’t have to look at them.

“You’re still arguing then?” James prompted.

“No,” I said again. I wasn’t sure if I could stand any more questions. “He broke up with me,” I finished, finding the right page and scanning down the section entitled ‘freezing solutions’.

“He broke up with you!?!?” Lily asked, very loudly, at the exact point when the volume in the classroom lulled.

“Oh thanks Lily,” I snapped, as everyone started whispering amongst themselves.

“They probably don’t know who you were talking about,” James assured me, looking doubtful.

“Of course they know!” I retorted. “And you’ve just started a billion rumours all of which probably involve him -” I began, fully prepared for a long ranting session.

“But why?” Lily interrupted (complete with exaggerated sigh) in a hushed whisper. James seemed interested in this mystery and I wondered what to tell them. I was in a vindictive mood and fancied pissing Sirius off as much as possible.

“He slept with me and got bored,” I said, smiling sweetly.  Except, for Lily, that was the conformation that she hadn’t quite got that I had slept with him. Or maybe she’d already known. Who knew?

I stood up and headed for the potions cupboard knowing full well that James and Lily would be whispering hurriedly about this new found gossip. I, however, was going to make a freezing solution.

As it was a double period (oh joy) I still had another hour left to get started on the potion, and it was better than dwelling on anything else.

I grabbed the ingredients off the shelves and walked back to my seat as slowly as possible. I’d just about noted that Sirius wasn’t here (hence why James had asked me where he is) when the door burst open and... in he walked.

I suppose in a past life I was a mass murderer who laughed at dead bodies, put babies in blenders, and kicked lame puppies for pleasure. That would pretty much explain why I’m stuck with this life – karma. Except I don’t think it’s exactly fair that I have to pay for things I don’t even remember. Even if I kidnapped children and ate them I hardly think I deserve this, because after Sirius walked into the classroom several things happened in quick succession.

One, everyone looked from him to me with their eyes wide.

Two, people noted that his appearance was very ruffled and he looked as if he’s just been outside in the wind or in a broom closet with some slut. This assumption by me (and everyone else in the world) was solidified by Sirius saying ‘Sorry I’m late sir, I was... sorting something out,’ which everyone in the world is going to take as one of two things. A) I was a frigid and the thing Sirius had to sort out was his sex drive. B) I was crap in bed and the thing that Sirius was sorting out was his sex drive.

Great.

Then, number three, I dropped one of the jars I had in my hand, which happened to be Mermaid tears. The Jar fell in slow motion and smashed on the floor. I stepped backwards, slipped backwards and...

Four, Sirius somehow managed to get near to me fast enough to catch me before I hit the floor.

Five, we looked at each other and it was one of those mutual I-want-you-but-I-can’t-have-you moments, filled with far too much sexual tension to be at the front of a potions classroom with everyone in the room watching in vague amusement. It wasn’t even the type of sexual tension that leads to a bit of heated snogging. It was the type of I-want-to-rip-your-clothes-off-you-and-fuck-you-sideways type of sexual tension and for a minute, or possibly more, I complete forgot that he was a selfish bastard who’d broken up with me because I was dying and he wanted to save himself heart ache.

Then it hit me again, and I hated him at the same time as l... liked him.

“Don’t touch me,” I snapped, pushing him off me slipping on the Mermaid tears and...

Six, I fell on my arse.

Sirius, obviously annoyed at me for embarrassing him in front of everyone, hadn’t bothered to catch me the second time and instead just said ‘fine,’ walked over to his desk and sat down (note that one of the best ways to get Sirius to be annoyed with you, is too embarrass him in front of people. It seems Sirius quite likes the reputation he has and the respect he earns for it because he is an attention seeking idiot. And I hate him), further solidifying my new image as a frigid or as a desperate whore who was crap in bed. 

Oh, Joy.

*********

I think it’s amazing that when you think your life can’t get any worse, it does. Not only has the breakup between me and Sirius suddenly become public knowledge after the Potions incident because everyone in NEWT potions thought it would be a good idea to spread the word. Now, apparently, everybody thinks I’m a slut, and every single male I’ve walked into in the corridor has made some sort of obscene gesture or asked me to provide them with some sort of sexual favour (most of which aren’t even legal).

Apparently if I’m good enough for Sirius for two whole months then I must be good at something and they all want to find out for themselves, or so it seems. My impression of Hufflepuffs has been shattered by some seventh year blonde prat who asked me if I wanted to ‘shag sometime or whatever.’ Lovely.

Then when I arrived at Transfiguration I saw that everyone had moved seats. Remus was sat next to Sirius. Lily was sitting with Alice (but talking to James). James and Peter were sat together and everybody else in the entire class was sat with someone. That was fine by me.

I went to the back and sat myself down on the only empty desk (with no one sitting at either side) and decided that I could deal with sitting on my own (even though it basically meant that I had now not only lost Sirius but every single friend I ever hard) if it meant I could have some time to think and not have to listen to their incessant questions. I mean, really, considering Lily had been doing her best to completely ignore me she had still managed to ask me if I was okay.

Five times.

Obviously I was not the ‘fine’ I snapped back at her, but I didn’t want her stupidly pretty nose poking into my feelings and what not, when I hadn’t sorted them out for myself. So, really, it was a godsend to be sat on my own.

Until... In walks Marlene McKinnon who takes it upon herself to come and talk to me. Not to sit next to me, just to engage in a brief two minute conversation.

“You still have to tell him,” Marlene said in a hushed whisper. “Or I’ll tell him about why you slept with him.”

“Be my guest,” I said dryly, folding my arms over my chest and staring back at her resolutely. She was not going to make me feel inferior anymore. “And I did tell him,” I added. “What was the crap you said about him being ‘in love with me’? Good one. Almost as good as the one where you slept with him to get back at Regulus which resulted in innocent people dying and the one where you told Amanda and me to go for it with him. Those were my favourites – really witty.”

Marlene swallowed, didn’t say anything, and went to sit next to Nadine Fisher. She stared at the floor for the rest of the lesson and almost made me feel guilty about being such a bitch.

Then, as if things couldn’t get any better, McGonagall called me into her office and decided to also have a little chat with me about my excuse of a life. “I had Mr Black coming to me today to ask for a seating plan change.” Well, that would explain it. “At first he said it was because he had something very important to discuss with Mr Lupin before revealing that he couldn’t sit next to you because you’d broken up. Is this true?”

“No Professor, it’s a practical joke. Don’t you get it? I think it’s hilarious,” I answered dryly. I was shocked at the tone of my voice, which was dark and biting, but I couldn’t stop myself from allowing at least my annoyance and anger to seep through the cracks in my emotion-barrier.

“Your time limit for telling him was up yesterday,” McGonagall reminded me. Funny how yesterday I’d woken up next to Sirius with him trying to kiss me, and today I’d woken up with Sirius trying to dump me. Hilarious in fact. Literally laughing my arse off. So bloody funny my face just fell off.  Ha ha.

“I am aware of that,” I told her, folding my arms over her chest and glaring at her as if she’d actually done something wrong, other than being a nosy cow who was asking me the wrong questions for my mind frame. I should get a sign or something – ‘please don’t piss me off, because I am in a bad mood, and I will murder you.’

“Well then. You have left me with no choice. The headmaster would like to see all the Sixth year Gryffindor’s in his office...”

“All the sixth year Gryffindors?” I asked in horror. All of them? There was no way that they were all going to find out at once like that. I’d die of shock or something. “Sirius already knows,” I blurted out, and she raised an eyebrow.

“And how did he take it?” she asked, and I looked at her pointedly to emphasise her stupidity.

“Brilliant actually,” I answered, smiling at her fakely. It was like my inner bitch had gotten out and she was even worse than I’d realised. “He was a little angry at first actually, and then we had some hot hate sex, which made everything better. Then he decided he wanted to stand by me through it all, got down on one knee and proposed actually – obviously. What else would he do? I mean God, why did I ever doubt him?”

McGonagall ignored my sarcastic outburst primarily because she wanted to win the house cup, though it was looking unlikely currently, given the number of points the Sirius had lost for turning up late and the like. “Are you going to tell the others?”

“Of course I am! Immediately! After Sirius’ great reaction I can’t wait to see what the others will say. Maybe they’ll throw me an ‘I have two months left to live party,’ it’ll be a riot! It’ll be the best damn party I ever go to again in fact.”

“I hardly think that they would -”

“Yes but you hate divination, don’t you professor? Maybe if you’d paid a little more attention in that class instead of something as useless as sodding transfiguration then you could have predicted that the stupid bastard was going to dump me in the name of self- sodding-preservation. However as it stands and given that you were so drastically wrong in your assumptions the first time, I’m not going to take your word for it this. ‘They’ll stand by you,’ yeah right. All that’s going to happen is they’ll all take another step back. Lily will become a friend, Alice will become a mate and everyone else will forget I sodding exist all together and by the time they’ve gotten over themselves I won’t sodding exist so none of it will make a sodding bit of difference.”

“He found out yesterday?” she asked, not even raising an eyebrow at my rant and excessive use of the word ‘sodding’. “Well, considering how long it’s taken you to accept the news, I think you should give him a little more time and credit.”

“Oh fuck off,” I spat angrily, and for the first time since this conversation her eyes flashed.

“I will be talking to the headmaster,” she said, standing up and walking to the door of the classroom with a piece of parchment in her hands. “Good day.”

“Not fucking likely!” I yelled after her, slumping down on the desk, sighing deeply. I didn’t like the way my words had come out now that I thought about it, but it was hardly like I could do anything to change matters. After a few moments of sitting and thinking I stood up and walked to the door of the classroom, unsure if I was glad that it was lunch or not. On the one hand I no longer had to sit through lessons, but the concept of eating lunch in front of everyone wasn’t looking too appealing either.

Then, much to my surprise, Sirius was leaning on the wall outside and looked to be waiting for me. For a second I took in how beautiful he was and took in every amazing detail of his face. I’d never really taken the time to appreciate what I had, and let me tell you it was good.

When you thought about it and compared him to James he was actually a much larger build. In my head they were always the two, who were very similar and almost identical, but they were actually incredibly different. James was quite tall and scrawny, where as Sirius had a lot more muscle to him. James was naturally scruffier too. Sirius was scruffy, but in a planned way designed to make him look cool and rebellious – he’d been raised too pompously to be haphazard. With James everything was very obvious and upfront –he was easy to read but had enough charm to prevent him from being boring. That meant he’d be a brilliant husband, whereas Sirius was too unpredictable and rash. Sirius was stubborn, brooding, and complicated. If you were looking for husband material he was absolutely and completely useless.

Maybe that’s why so many girls ended up pulled into his trap – they thought that somehow they could change him, work him out, and turn him into husband material? Maybe he was just devilishly attractive and mysterious? Maybe it was beyond my levels of comprehension why most picked Sirius over James when James was clearly the much safer option? Hell, I’d chosen Sirius too so it wasn’t like I could talk.

 “Are you going to stand in the door way looking at me all lunch? I can take a picture if you like.”

“Oh would you?” I asked, as he pushed himself off the wall. This was sort of flirting right... was that allowed? Well, I’d like to see him try to stop me. He’d started it anyway.

That was why girls flocked around him like moths to lights. He was charming and made you feel special with his anything goes attitude. Plus he was just Sirius. Everything about him was wonderful and perfect.

“Let’s walk,” Sirius said, and I fell into step beside him, finding myself feeling a lot more comfortable. There was still a great big vat of emotions down in my stomach ready to overflow at any second, but for now the indifferent numbness was happy to take the driver’s seat.“That was an... interesting conversation you had with McGonagall,” Sirius commented, and I felt myself flush as I looked downwards. Although this whole non-feeling-ness was quite alarming in the way that it felt like I was acting the same as I would on any other day when, really, it was the worst day ever.

He’d heard me say all those things. He’d heard me call him ‘that stupid bastard,’ mention him proposing (in a purely sarcastic way, obviously) and he’d heard me swearing at Professor McGonagall. Oh God.

“Mary its fine,” Sirius said, nudging me with his elbow by way of comfort. It was quite effective. “Anyway, I wanted to check to see if you were okay.”

“I’m fantastic.”

“I think you should be honest.” Sirius said lightly (although his words weighed a lot) and his arm brushed against mine for a short second. Why did it have to be now when I became hyper aware of all his movements? It wasn’t fair. It really, really wasn’t.

I didn’t answer. I didn’t think he’d want to hear about my new current state of internal-nothingness and how now, since we were apparently over, it didn’t really feel like that much had changed.

 “What were you doing whilst everyone else was in Potions?” I asked, suddenly remembering.

“I was outside playing Quidditch,” Sirius said. “It was supposed to make me feel better.”

“Well,” I said darkly. Sirius cast his gaze over me in a curious manner, which was prompting for more of an answer, I ignored it and resolutely looked at my shoes (they weren’t very exciting to be honest and I was paying more attention to the way we were walking exactly in step with each other), until Sirius stopped walking and took a step back.  

“You appear to have something you want to say.”

“Could you not have like... made yourself look presentable before you came in? You know, straightened out your uniform and made your hair look a little more flat... before coming in and saying ‘sorry I’m late. I was... sorting something out,” I said, in a bad imitation of his voice.

“Mary McDonald! I never knew you were so crude,” Sirius said, with his eyebrows raised.

“I thought I’d demonstrated that to you quite well actually and that’s what everyone was thinking! Now everyone thinks I’m a frigid who wouldn’t sleep with you, or that I was just really, really crap so now you’re...” I trailed off. This conversation just got awkward.

Is it weird that even though we’ve slept together (twice) I don’t think we’ve ever had a conversation about sex? Well, discounting conversations where I’ve found out about various people he slept with.

“I could tell them that both are wrong if you like?” Sirius suggested, and I felt myself flush slightly. That was a little weird.

“It’s all right, thanks. Only the girls seem to believe that anyway. The boys seem to think that if I’m good enough for you, I’ll be good enough for them.”

“In what way..?” Sirius asked, looking slightly angry. I decided against telling him.

“Ah, jealousy. I was hoping that was still in there somewhere. It makes me feel like you care.”

“Argh, I could do with some of that,” Sirius said, and I stopped walking and looked up at him curiously. He looked away. Interesting.

“I think you should be honest,” I said lightly, repeating his words from earlier. How had Sirius got me to calm down and feel better in twenty seconds flat? When this whole thing was his fault in the first place?

“It...” Sirius stopped, and it looked as if these words were a great effort. “It...it feels like you don’t care,” he said, and his words shocked me so much that I’m sure my mouth dropped open. I don’t care? I don’t care? “I know you’re not the sappy type, but still... and now I know that you’re dying it’s like I’m just... filling in time.”

“Filling in the time?” I asked, gaping at him. Could he be any denser? “Sirius. You have what... eighty more years to live?” Sirius looked uncomfortable at my question. “Say if you found someone who you wanted to spend the next seventy years with that’s a big thing.”

Sirius nodded.

“And say if you founded someone who you wanted to spend a couple of years with in your seventy that’s not so big, is it?” I asked, and Sirius shook his head again. “Now say you have ten years to live. Spending a couple of years with that person has suddenly become a much bigger deal, because that’s like a fifth of your lifetime.”

Sirius nodded again, this time a smaller nod.

“So say if someone had... five months to live and they agreed to go out with someone... that’s a humungous deal. If I didn’t care why would I spend so much of my precious time with you? If I didn’t like you and if I didn’t care about you then why would I have wanted to spend my whole five months with you? That’s my forever Sirius.”

Sirius looked guilty.

I wanted to add if I didn’t really care about you then I’d never have wanted you to be there until the end and if I had thought I could live without you I would have done. Then I realised I was being a sap and that Sirius is nothing but a ‘friend’ to me now anyway.

“Friends hug right?” I asked, and before Sirius could answer I’d thrown my arms around him and was hugging him as tightly as I could manage. He wrapped his arms around me and hugged me back. It made me feel protected and warm and safe. I wondered why we hadn’t hugged more before.

Still, I’d gotten the hug I wanted earlier and I felt my emotions rising to the surface again. At the same time I felt reassured that I did actually have Sirius standing by me in a sense, I hadn’t really lost him.

“Mary, we should go to lunch,” Sirius said softly, and I nodded and detached myself from him. We couldn’t hold hands anymore (can’t believe I’d ever been against that) and it felt awkward to walk along with our arms hanging down by our sides not doing anything. I linked my arm through his instead and decided that this wasn’t too bad.

Then I realised that really I should be beyond mad at him.

But the fact is, I needed him in my life and if ‘just friends’ was all he could manage then we’d be friends. There was no way that I could do this without him.

**********************

“Suck me!” some complete prat yelled at me, as we walked into the Great Hall together. There was a violent increase in the noise as everyone turned to look at us. I was glad Sirius had thought to drop my arm and move a little way away from me (subtly) before we walked in. Still he didn’t look too impressed by the comment (yelled by a fourth year, a bloody fourth year).

“I’m sorry, I choke on small objects,” I jibed back, feeling unperturbed. I’d had much, much worse comments today.

Sirius however was glaring daggers at the kid until...

“Hi Sirius,” a girly, sugary sweet voice said. I didn’t recognise her to be a slut so maybe she was just a wannabe.  She was a youngish Ravenclaw, and even though there was no way Sirius was going to go anywhere near her (unless he wants to be castrated) I still felt a little jealous. Only a little bit.

“Is there something you wanted?” Sirius asked politely. He chose his words badly if you ask me. The next line was so predictable that a monkey could have said it.

“I want you.”

The ‘seductive’ tone of her voice was so overdone and stupid that it made me laugh. She turned to glare at me and I just smiled back.

“Do you have a problem?” I asked her, folding my arms defensively as she stood one hand on her hip and with her (tiny) boobs stuck out.

“Yeah. I don’t like your girlfriend,” she said, turning to Sirius. Really this girl should have her own show or something because her lines were hilarious. I glanced at Sirius, who caught my eye and I could tell that he was also trying not to laugh. “I think you should get a new one.” She continued pouting. I bit my lip to stop myself from laughing any more but when I caught Sirius’ eye again we both started laughing.

I suppose it was quite mean. The girl was obviously still going through puberty, which can be a difficult time for some girls and she had just been slightly humiliated by the guy she fancied in front of the whole hall. Still, was there any need for her to pull her wand out? I think not.

“Look,” I said through my laughter. “You can have him – I’m not his girlfriend,” I said, confirming all the rumours that were flying around the hall. Good. It meant I wouldn’t have anyone asking me about it.

It also showed everyone that despite our changed relationship status we were still on good terms, which might prevent me from some abuse, or just generate more.

**************

Nobody else on the table was talking to me. At first I just thought that they found the whole situation awkward and were trying not to ask the question that was sure to be on everybody’s minds (why have you broken up?). But then, after fifteen minutes of stony silence towards me I decided that was the wrong explanation. They were talking to Sirius after all.

I probably did deserve the silent treatment but that didn’t mean I particularly wanted to deal with it today. After a few more minutes I decided I couldn’t deal with it.

“Look Lily, I’m sorry.”

Her eyes flashed darkly, and I had a feeling that I probably should have done this in private. Or earlier. Or maybe I should have just not pissed her off in the first place. “Honestly I am.”

“But not sorry enough to tell me what’s going on?” she snapped back, and I was taken aback by the iciness in her tone. I hadn’t realised she was so... angry. I just looked at her in mild shock. “Not sorry enough to explain why you did it in the first place? Not good enough.”

I gaped at her.

“You want forgiveness you tell me what the hell is going on.”

“I... I can’t!” I protested, my eyes welling up a little but not enough for anyone to notice.

“Yet you tell him,” she spat, glaring at Sirius. “What good has he ever done you? Nothing, that’s what. He’s just messed you around and acted like his normal shitty self. Yet you tell him. You’re the shittiest friend in the whole god damn world!” she yelled.

“That’s not fair,” Sirius said, looking a little mad about being referred to as ‘shitty’ and ‘him.’

“What’s not fair is that you know what’s been going on when I’ve been wondering for four freaking years!”

I put my head in my hands and tried to block out their voices. “What’s unfair is that you’ve suddenly decided that you’re interested in her when you completely ignored her for five years. What’s unfair is that the second you decide to take in an interest her whole life is about you and no one gives two shits about me.”

“It’s not my fault that you’re an over-controlling-”

“SHUT UP!” Lily yelled, in a way that shut him up completely. I wish I had that power. “And Mary, listen to me. This is about you damn it!”

“Leave her alone. Can’t you see she’s had a bad day? Maybe if you just -”

“She’s always having a bad day!” Lily yelled. “Oh her life’s so tragic but obviously she doesn’t want any help or she’d just tell us what the hell’s up! Except she told you and you’re not even bothering to help! I hate you!”

She took a deep breath. “And I’m so fed up of all this lying! I’m not stupid you know!? I know you’ve been sneaking out with Frank,” she said to Alice (who blushed and had the decency to look guilty).  “And I know there’s something wrong with you! I hate you both! I hate ALL of you!”

I hadn’t even realised that they were both standing up until I looked up and saw Lily standing there shaking with anger and Sirius stood opposite.

Then Lily turned and hurried out of the hall. James was looking after her worriedly and was halfway through standing up to follow her when Sirius glared at him. “If you go after her I will be so mad,” Sirius warned him, which only seemed to strengthen James’s resolve.

“Someone has to go after her,” James said firmly, and scurried off in her direction.

Sirius sat down slowly and wouldn’t look at me.

Congratulations Mary. Now not only does Lily hate everyone (which I think is a little melodramatic but I’m not one to talk), but I may have accidently broken up the Marauders too. I lifted my hands to my head and started massaging my temples. I had a killer headache and none of this was actually helping (surprisingly enough).

“You’re going out with Frank?” Remus asked Alice, and I couldn’t bring myself to look at their expressions.

“Oh shut up,” Alice snapped (sounding very unlike herself). “It’s not really any of your business anymore.” Then I heard her footsteps as she walked off. Frank stood up, glancing at us apologetically and ran after her. I’d forgotten he sat with us.

“Sirius,” I said tentatively. I was a little worried about the way he was staring at his glass of pumpkin juice, especially as it had began to shake a little. Of course my efforts to do some good were rewarded with a death glare and Sirius also walking out of the hall.

“I should...” Remus trailed off, and I nodded and he left too.

Then it was just me and Peter sat there around several full plates.

“What can I say? I have a talent for ruining people’s lives,” I commented dryly, as Peter stared at me with his eyes wide. “Suck it up,” I said, and began tucking back into my dinner, wondering if I should feel something about all the events that had just happened.

I didn’t. I couldn’t feel anything but a vast empty numbness. I couldn’t even bring myself to feel properly sorry for them. I knew I should and I knew I really did, but I couldn’t feel it.  My head was remarkably calm and I wondered if this feeling was another symptom. Or maybe I was just a bitch. Whatever.

At least the roast dinner tasted good.

*********************

“You know who I just ran into?”

My heart sank. As if this whole day couldn’t get any worse then the only person in the world with the power to screw it up. Honestly, I think anyone else in the world that had any input has already ruined it so much that they couldn’t physically do it anymore. Unless Sirius, Lily and all the others spontaneously died I genuinely did not think that this day could get any crappy. It was by far my worst.  “Potter and Lily.”

“Look, Snape, I really don’t understand why this has any relevance to me,” I snapped at him. “Because to be quite frank, I don’t want to hear anything about your miserable existence.”  He looked at me with disgust and disdain. I probably wasn’t helping the situation. “I’ve had a really bad day and if you want to -”

“I’ll tell them,” Snape said, cutting across me. That shut me up. “I’ll tell everyone in the middle of the Great Hall unless you make sure she hates him!” he said, and for the first time he seemed... desperate. Even slimier than before, and a little bit scary (although I was putting the last bit down to the fact that he was single-handedly ruining my life. Or maybe Sirius did that. Or maybe it was all my fault, which was looking increasingly likely).

My eyes widened slightly.

“Sirius already knows. So I don’t care,” I spat violently.

“Does Lily know? Is she going to be happy if you don’t tell her? Is she going to forgive you within the next.... how many months? I’ve forgotten. Please remind me.”

“Two months,” I answered without really meaning to. It had been in the front of my mind too much today. I sighed and leaned back against the wall.

“What do you want me to do?” I asked softly, and Snape seemed to regain his composure.

“Make Lily hate him,” he said, before disappearing off down some corridor.

I let out a long stream of swear words and leant back against the wall for support and wondered if there was any way in hell things could get any worse. Seriously. It was not possible.

I couldn’t do that to Lily. I couldn’t. Not James either... James would probably die. Sirius would never forgive me.

Although it was hardly like Sirius could be much more of an arsehole at this point. So it would be interesting to see what else he could do to show his hate for me to the whole world. Interesting in a sick kind of way.

How bad was it that I was thinking up ways to make Lily hate him already?

Not that any would work considering Lily wouldn’t even talk to me.

If I was going to do this (which I really, really wasn’t) then I’d have to come at it from a more creative angle. Lily wouldn’t listen to anything I say, that was for sure, which made the whole thing a lot more difficult (even though I wasn’t even thinking about actually doing it).

I could change the task slightly and make James hate Lily. James was more likely to listen to me, especially if I said it was about Lily, and then if I could just think of one solid thing that would make him hate her – or at least be so pissed that he’d start yelling at her – then their whole loose friendship would be ruined and it would give me a whole two months to tell her that I was dying and explain properly.

She needed to calm down first and he wasn’t giving me the time to do it. They’d sort themselves out in the end. There was nothing that was going to keep Lily and James apart for ever. Not even Snape, although he certainly had helped things a long a little...

That was it!

Use Snape like he was using me.

If I told James, who was sensitive about the whole Lily-Snape thing anyway, that they’d kissed then he’d be mad. But he’d be even madder if I told him she’d slept with him.

Not that there was any way in hell I was going to do that. That was beyond bitchy. That was downright sick and horrible.

Still... If James’s theory was right, he’d be so mad that he wouldn’t stop to think that it didn’t make any sense and would just find her (easy with the map) and start yelling and accusing her of things. Then she’d get mad that he wouldn’t listen. She’d slap him round the face, refuse to talk to him and cry.

THEN I could step in, comfort her, tell her things could be worse and confess to her that I’m dying (whilst she was crying too hard to talk, as that’s the only way she’d stand by and listen to me) then we’d cry together and she’d say ‘Mary I understand everything and I’m sorry for you. I’ll stand by you through everything.’

Then I’d leave a note in my will (which I need to write – how depressing) about how I did that because Snape was blackmailing me. Then her and James could both bond over hate of me and probably throw burning rubbish at my coffin. Worst that could happen was I’d end up cremated and it was hardly going to bother me considering I’d already be dead. They could hate my memory for as long as they lived. It would probably make it easier for them.

Sirius would hate me too, which would be a bonus. Then he could get over me or whatever (like he was ever under me. He’s too much of a control freak to ever be under me and I can say that from experience, although I really don’t want to think about that - much).

My God. I can’t believe I just spent ten minutes considering that. There had to be another way. I couldn’t dig myself into any more bloody holes.  There had to be another way.

Just tell her. Just tell her...

“Mary! Mary!” Remus yelled, skidding down a corridor and shoving the map in his pocket. He was out of breath and had obviously just run quite a distance.

“Yeah?” I asked dully. A great feeling of nothingness settled over me and I stared at the opposite wall.

“Why were you talking to Snape?”

“Please don’t stalk me,” I answered dryly.

“Sirius wanted to know. He seemed.... worried.”

“Really? Well that’s just lovely.”

“Mary?” Remus prompted. He wasn’t happy with me either.

“We weren’t talking. We were having hot passionate sex against the wall. Sirius has buggered off and I have a thing for black hair, which doesn’t leave many options. Snape is my new boyfriend. Now run along and tell Sirius the news will you – he’ll be so worried.”

“There’s no need to be such a bitch,” Remus said, frowning.

“Who are you? My mother? Oh no. She’s dead,” I said. I found it half funny in a sick and disturbed way. Remus obviously didn’t. “Why are you here? Go comfort Sirius as he tends his broken heart. Losing James must have been a great blow for him...”

“Don’t act as if you understand,” Remus snapped. “I don’t know what you did, but this is hurting him just as much as it’s hurting you and it doesn’t help that you’re making this as difficult as possible. He really liked you, you know?”

“The only thing Sirius likes is sex and you four buffoons.”

“I give up,” Remus said, slightly over dramatically. “Dumbledore wants to see you in his office – now. Sirius is already there, as is your family. The password is Sugar Quill.”

“Dumbledore wants to see me, Sirius, and my family?” I asked disbelievingly. “Why?”

“Probably to sort out your domestics,” Remus said, smiling sarcastically at me.

“Fuck my life,” I said, kicking the wall.

“You’ve done that. Now leave other people’s alone,” Remus said, leaving me alone to walk to Dumbledore’s office. 

A/N - Please review and I will answer. I'm also going to try to update before the queue closes again, as the next couple of chapters are written. Thank you so much for waiting for me to get my arse in gear again. :)  Much Love, Ac xx


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