Chapter 10 : Ch. 9 - The First of September
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Ch. 9 - The First of September
Steam billowed out of the bathroom behind Sirius as he stepped into the hallway, running the towel over his hair and shaking his legs to make his pajama pants stop sticking to his slick skin. Showering before they left for King’s Cross Station in the morning ensured that he’d get to sleep at least ten minutes later than if he showered in the morning. And those ten minutes were precious.
“Again!” came James’ irritated voice from the room right across the hall.
“Really, James? Come on now, I’ve beaten you five times already!” Elaina said with a laugh.
Sirius smirked to himself as he took two steps across the hall and pushed the door to James’ bedroom open. Amid the Quidditch players zooming in and out of their posters, band members rocking out in their posters and clothing strewn about the floor, Elaina and James sat facing one another on James’ bed each holding five cards in their hand. James was looking at Elaina intently over his cards while Elaina met his glare with a smirk in the corner of her mouth.
“Give me two,” James said, taking two cards from his hand and passing them to Elaina. Elaina took the cards and set them beside her, and took two more from another pile and passed them to James.
“I’ll take three,” Elaina said, more to herself as she took three cards from her hand and placed it in the first pile, then took three from the second and placed it back in her hand.
“What are you two doing?” Sirius wondered, stepping further into the room.
“I’m crushing James at poker,” Elaina replied.
“I’m betting four galleons,” the boy said, dumping four galleons in between them, adding to the two that were already there. Then he turned to Sirius with a look on his face that was only really seen during Quidditch season, “She just taught me, I’m determined to beat her at least once.”
Sirius couldn’t help but smile at the smirk on Elaina’s face as she said, “I see your four and raise you six.” Then she turned to Sirius, “Nice shower?”
“Lovely,” he replied and watched as her eyes raked down his body. “See something you like?”
Unfortunately for him and to his slight irritation, Elaina was not a girl to easily blush. Instead she shrugged, “Couldn’t you put some clothes on?”
“Hey, you never realize how nice it is to be half naked until it proves nearly fatal for you to be so, thus I think I’m going to enjoy it,” Sirius replied.
“What?” Elaina wondered.
“Oh, yeah,” James said, wistfully. “Sirius decided it was a good idea to walk back to the castle shirtless one day after Quidditch, he got attacked by a gaggle of girls… quite scary actually, looked like he got into a fight with a large cat.”
“That’s… disturbing,” replied Elaina as she shook her head. Then she focused her attention on James, “Show?”
James smirked, “I hope you’re not going to feel too bad about losing,” he told her. He laid down his cards and grinned bigger, “Flush.”
Elaina threw back her head and laughed, the sound rolling through Sirius and spreading warmth through his body though a chill ran up his spine. Then she sighed and sniffed, “James, a great chaser though you may be, a poker player you are not,” she told him as she laid down her cards. “Full House.”
“What!?” James cried, leaning forward on his hands to get a look at her cards. “Are you fucking kidding me!? Ugh!!”
“Relax,” she said, standing from his bed. “I’m not keeping your money, it was just for fun. I should get to bed anyway - have you two packed, yet?”
Both James and Sirius snorted with laughter. “Of course not,” they replied in unison.
She rolled her eyes, “I know I shouldn’t be surprised, but for some reason I am.” Elaina shook her head and she made for the door, brushing by Sirius. “I’ll see you two in the morning, try not to make us late for the train, yeah?” she called over her shoulder.
The two watched Elaina leave before James turned to gathering up the cards and putting them back in their small cardboard box. Neither boy knew how tomorrow would play out, as far as people who did not directly associate with Elaina all summer were concerned, she was dead. The article The Daily Prophet printed really did make it sound like Elaina had been killed that night alongside her parents. Then again, maybe it was better that way so Elaina could go through the summer as comfortably as she possibly could, without being more of a target for anyone wishing to do her harm.
But tomorrow could have been considered her “coming out”. It would be the first time Elaina would face a crowd that would recognize her, and then realize she had been alive the entire summer after all. Sirius couldn’t help but wonder what people would whisper to themselves when they thought Elaina could not hear. He also found himself wondering how Elaina would handle it. She was a pureblood after all, Elaina was accustomed to having eyes on her, being judged; would the death of her parents have taken away her ability to handle a situation the grace of her blood-status called her to?
“How do you think it’s gonna go, Prongs?” Sirius asked.
James shrugged and pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “Not sure. Half of me expects it to go smoothly, like always. The other half expects a disaster,” he finished with a half-hearted smile.
Sirius nodded, “Myself as well. Do you think she’s ready to go back?”
At this, James laughed. “I think she’s ready to get the hell out of this house, I don’t think it matters where she goes at this point.” Then he sighed and looked around the mess that was his bedroom, “Should probably start packing, huh?”
Sirius chuckled, “Might be a good idea considering we are leaving in the morning.”
James groaned and flailed his arms like a child, “I hate packing.”
“I should go pack too. I’ll see you in the morning,” Sirius said turning and waving to James over his shoulder.
“For Merlin’s sake! I thought I told you not to make us late!” was Sirius’ alarmingly shrill wake-up call the next morning.
Groggily, he rolled over, pressing his knuckles into his eyes. When he opened them he hissed and slammed them shut immediately, being met with several colored spots on the insides of his eyelids. He was vaguely aware that over Elaina’s agitated shouts, his alarm clock was blaring.
“By the time I come back in here, you better be up and dressed or so help me…” she didn’t finish her threat as she strode from the room, slamming the door shut behind her. In the next room, Sirius heard James’ door burst open followed by “James! Get up right now you prat! We have to leave in half an hour!”
Sirius reached out and turned off the alarm and then groaned, flopping his head back on his pillow unsure how the fact that they had to leave in half an hour had made them late. He tried to ignore his irritation at being woken up in such an unkind manner, writing it off as Elaina’s nerves for returning to the real world. He forced his neck to one side, then the other working out the cricks and sighing in relief when it cracked.
Finally, he sat up swinging his long legs over the edge of the bed in one swift motion. Sitting there, he pushed his fists against his spine and arched his back then twisted from one side to the other. Sirius slid off his pajama pants and folded them before putting them in his trunk and picked up a pair of jeans. He couldn’t help it that he still folded everything in his trunk, whereas James just shoved everything in it and then sat on it to shut it when it overflowed; it was one of the things his parents had managed to successfully beat into him.
On his way to the bathroom Sirius picked up a Hobgoblins band t-shirt and threw it over his shoulder. He stood before the sink and splashed water on his face and then proceeded to run his wet hands through his hair to tame his bed head that left his hair sticking up in a none too attractive manner on just one side of his head. Then he stared down his reflection. The edges of his eyes were red, the only sign of an interrupted sleep, the rest of the planes of his face were smooth and unbothered. Sirius thanked Merlin that he thought to shave the night before; he really didn’t need McGonagall harassing him about his stubble. He turned his head, the light catching a delicate scar that ran along his cheek - a gift from one of his mother’s rings after he spoke out of turn at a party.
He stared intently at his reflection, meeting his own eyes. Sirius contemplated what this new year would hold for him and his friends. The brewing war in the wizarding world had finally touched their lives with Elaina’s appearance and tragic story. How many others would be returning this year with tales of missing or dead family members? … How many would not return at all?
James and Sirius had several tests and assessments set up throughout the year due to the fact that they planned to be Aurors after graduation and it was because of this they were both taking several N.E.W.T level courses. Remus wasn’t sure what he wanted to do knowing that his lycanthropy would hinder him in any field he wanted to go into but for now he kept the façade that he wanted to be an Auror as well. Lily, Sirius knew, was aiming for a Ministry job hoping to spread tolerance and acceptance of muggles in the wizarding world. And Peter… well, to be honest, Sirius wasn’t sure what Peter wanted to do, it never got brought up.
Sirius’ reflection went blurry as his eyes clouded over, remembering the conversation Dumbledore had with him and his friends before they broke for summer. Dumbledore was starting a group to fight Voldemort and his followers covertly, using resources both inside the Ministry and outside it, and asked Sirius and his friends if they would be interested in joining after graduation. Sirius knew James had wanted to accept immediately, but before he could Dumbledore raised his hand and stopped him.
“There are dark times ahead, of that I am certain. This is not a decision to be made with haste; I implore you, think your decision through to the fullest extent - if you never saw yourself getting married and having children of your own, think of what would happen if you did and how this decision would affect them… Many will fight and many will die; many have fought and many have already died. Voldemort and his Death Eaters are not going to go away simply because the Ministry will not acknowledge him as a threat just yet, so others must step forward and do so. Mark my words, Voldemort will leave his scorch mark on our world and history - we decide how big that mark will be.”
With a sigh and Dumbledore’s speech echoing in his head, Sirius turned from his reflection and left the bathroom just as Elaina was exiting James’ bedroom. Beyond the door he could hear James mumbling darkly to himself. Elaina sighed irritably and fixed him with a cold look, “I have no idea how Maryann does this all the time, the woman is a saint.”
Sirius laughed, “That she is.”
“You two have time for a quick breakfast before we have to leave,” Elaina told him. Then she turned, the flowing fabric of her dark purple skirt fanning out around her knees and leaving Sirius standing in the hallway momentarily trying to find a way to bottle and manufacture Elaina’s soft, dream-like scent because if he did no girl would have a lonely night again. Ever.
“… Padfoot, are you all right, mate? You look… stunned,” James said, coming out of his room, dragging his trunk by one end.
Sirius shook his head, “Yeah, I’m fine. I’ll see you downstairs.”
Sirius left his trunk in the foyer along with James and Elaina’s before heading into the kitchen. James was hounding down his pancakes and Elaina was watching with a mortified look on her face, holding a cup of coffee. Sirius chuckled as he poured himself a cup of coffee as well and stood next to Elaina.
“Nathan’s bringing a car to take us to King’s Cross,” Elaina told him, finally looking away from James. “You should really eat, you know.”
He shook his head, “I’m not really that hungry, I’ll get something from the trolley on the train.”
But Elaina didn’t seem to hear him, she was staring off looking lost in her own thoughts. Sirius could practically see the gears turning in her head as she thought. The worry and uneasiness was bright in her eyes - he hadn’t seen her this stressed out the entire summer.
“Everything will be okay, ‘Laina,” Sirius told her and couldn’t help but smile when he saw some of the nervous energy leave her body.
“Yeah…” she trailed off, turning around and pouring the rest of her coffee down the drain.
Mrs. Potter waltzed into the kitchen as Elaina was rinsing out her cup. “Well come on everyone, we don’t want you to be late!”
James, Elaina and Sirius climbed into the backseat of the seemingly small car, but in the backseat there was the perfect amount of room for the three. Mr. and Mrs. Potter occupied the front seat. It wasn’t a very long car ride, but it was made to seem much longer because the car was silent, everyone choosing to stay in their own heads. Sirius couldn’t help but wonder if James was now thinking of Dumbledore’s request like he did looking into the mirror earlier.
Suddenly, Sirius found himself asking, “Elaina, what do you want to do after you graduate?”
Beside him, Elaina shrugged. “I wanted to be a Healer, but more focused toward Sports Healing. I’m in all the N.E.W.T classes for it and was taking private lessons with Madam Pompfrey every Tuesday and Thursday with a couple others after my last class.”
“Wanted?” James questioned. “You changed your mind?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t made up my mind yet…”
Sirius took Elaina trailing off as the end of the conversation and turned his head back to the window. He watched London’s buildings pass and the muggles going to and fro unaware that a wizarding school was starting its term today. After a couple more minutes the car came to a stop and everyone climbed out taking in King’s Cross station. Mr. Potter went and found a couple trolleys and before they knew it, James, Sirius and Elaina were passing through the barrier that divided King’s Cross Station and Platform 9¾ staring at the scarlet steam engine that was the Hogwart’s Express. Mr. and Mrs. Potter took their trolleys and steered them toward the baggage car leaving them with their trunks they would take on the train.
“And you were worried we were gonna be late,” James scoffed, as he put his arm around Elaina’s shoulders.
She rolled her eyes, “Yeah. You sure showed me.”
James ignored her. “I’m gonna go find Lils.”
“You have to wonder how anything else fits in his head with all his thoughts about Lily,” Sirius sighed, watching his best friend search for his girlfriend.
Elaina laughed, “Don’t be jealous just because he’s in love.”
“I’m not jealous, believe me,” Sirius muttered. “I’m gonna go find Remus, are you okay for a couple minutes?”
“Yes, Sirius, I’ll be fine. I am a big girl,” she said.
Sirius walked away, leaving Elaina standing by herself in the crowd of people. He could hear people whispering and watched as they glanced in Elaina’s direction and more than once he heard her name on their voices. Out of the corner of his eye Sirius watched Elaina and it seemed that she too noticed that people were talking about her from the way she glanced around and even cast a glare at more than one person, but she looked as composed as ever.
He turned and smiled at his friend, spreading out his arms to embrace him. “Good man, just who I was looking for!”
Remus laughed as he patted his friend’s back and took a step back. “How was the rest of your summer?”
“Uneventful for the most part,” Sirius replied. Then he noticed that James was waltzing over to them as well. “Find Lily?”
“Oh yeah, but she’s helping the first years,” he replied. Then he turned to Remus and followed Sirius’ actions of embracing him like a brother, “Good to see you, man!”
“Good to see you too, Prongs,” Remus replied. Then he took a step back, “So do I need to get my eyes checked or did you two show up with Elaina Cochran? I thought she was dead.”
James and Sirius looked at one another, sharing a look of minor alarm because they had momentarily forgotten about Elaina. Sirius turned around, his eyes looking for Elaina and he found her and felt his heart leap into his throat. Elaina was standing in conversation with his cousins Bella and Narcissa, along with a few of Elaina’s “friends” from Slytherin. And from the look that was on Elaina’s face, the conversation was not going too well. Bella wore a sinister smirk on her face as she leaned in toward Elaina whose hands were fisted at her sides.
Just as Sirius took a small step to come to her rescue, he watched as his favorite cousin Andromeda came up beside Elaina and placed her hand on the older girl’s fist. Andromeda’s eyes were narrowed as she looked at her older sister and Sirius could see her mouth move, but could not make out what she was saying. Bella, who rarely ever backed down from a fight merely chose to spit at Elaina’s feet before turning and walking away, her entourage following her. But Elaina took a step forward, grabbing one of them by the wrist, a boy in their year named Evan Rosier. The boy stopped, turning toward her as she spoke and Sirius couldn’t help but see the spark of affection in Evan’s eyes as he regarded her. However, when she finished speaking, the affection was snuffed out as he spoke and then tore his arm from her grip and stalked off.
“No, she’s been alive the whole summer and… living with us,” James told him.
“Really?” Remus said, clearly shocked.
“Yeah, the night her parents were killed, Dumbledore showed up and brought her with him and my parents took her in,” James replied. He ran a hand through his hair at the unpleasant memory, “Merlin, I remember how beat up she looked. I still have no idea how she survived.”
They all turned their attention to Elaina then, sharing a hug with Andromeda before the latter walked off somewhere leaving Elaina to stand there again. She was looking at her feet with her eyebrows furrowed. Her dark hair fell down her back in mismatched waves and twists. Everything about her in that moment would have looked picture perfect if it were not for the sadness Sirius could see in her eyes.
“Well, she looks good… considering…” Remus trailed off.
“Considering that only a matter of weeks ago her entire family was murdered?” Sirius said looking incredulously between Remus and James. He shook his head and passed between his two friends to help Elaina, who was now looking quite lost, carry her things onto the train.
Just as James and Remus made to follow, they heard their names being called. Turning, they were met with the smiling face of their last friend, Peter. James smiled and embraced the much shorter boy, “Finally! We’re complete again!”
Alright, we're off to Hogwart's finally!!
Wondering what happened between Elaina and her former friends? About her connection with Evan? Well... you should be :P
Next chapter we're going back to Elaina's POV for the train ride and feast and of course the boys will be playing a prank :)
Thank you everyone that has added this story to their favorites list, and for those of you who have taken the time to review. At the time of this chapter's submission to the validation queue (on Oct. 18, 2010), I would like to thank: Jen872, Mandy430, Jay, sniffandscratch182, Sorcha15, Jenny, iluv2eatcarbs, thrufirewithoutaburn, marauders lover, and aidanlynchrox for leaving me wonderful reviews for the last two chapters! :)
Send me some love! And I'll see you next chapter!
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