Chapter 5 : Finches
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“So does he talk?”
Leah jumped, an inky dot smearing over the length of her Charms assignment. Gina stood before her, grinning in eager anticipation of the conversation she was sure awaited her.
A laugh escaped Leah’s lips as she corked her ink bottle and stowed away her supplies. She worked to form her answer as he two girls made their way out of the library and down an adjacent hallway. “You know... I’ve been asked that question by two other girls. It’s funny because we all know the answer, right?”
“Well we can never really know, I guess." The girl faltered. "I mean, what? Is his heart made of steel? Is he impervious to all emotion?”
Before Leah could offer an answer, however, she felt an arm around her shoulder and another voice cut in. “Obviously.”
It was Gina’s turn to jump. Her footsteps became shuffled for a moment before she managed to compose herself and play it off like it was a misstep rather than an attempt to divert direction down a nearby corridor.
It was not too often they found themselves in the presence of James Potter.
James, like the other “he” they had been speaking of, carried himself in a confident manner: straight back, pointed toes, level chin. The difference was that while Sirius moved as if he might shatter if he relaxed a muscle, James was as loose as an elastic band. He bounced when he walked (a little more so now that he was dating Lily Evans). He was quick to smile and even quicker to add a word into conversations around him.
Leah grinned, ignoring her friend. “Good to see you’re recooperating well after that nasty Go Fish tournament. I’m sorry about the money you lost.”
James squeezed her shoulder. “Not a problem. I’ve already got it back.” He rumpled the pocket of his robes and she could hear the distinct sound of coins slipping around.
They both paused, as neither had planned the conversation past that point and it was hard to draw up a subject without making it obvious that they were changing the subject.
“So...Leah,” James began, removing his arm only to brush the hair out of his face. “About once every two weeks or so I am obliged to introduce myself to a different girl as the ‘designated best friend’ of Sirius Black. So, this here, um…” He stopped and held out his hand. “Hello. I am the designated best friend of Sirius Black. I am here to offer limited advice, but I will not be held responsible for potential results of said advice. Nor am I here as a shoulder to cry on. Good day.” He stood awkwardly, a cheesy half-smile imprinted on his face.
Leah thought for a moment. “I guess there’s no comfortable way to present that information…”
“Nope.” Another pause. “But at least it’s out in the open.”
She began to laugh. The entire situation was far past ridiculous - and it had only been several days. “Why do you have to do that? Why can’t everything just be normal?”
Still laughing, she continued to walk away, Gina in tow, but James caught up with them. “Years of experience has taught me to get it out early instead of being trapped in the middle about seven days down the road.”
“Seven days isn’t very long,” Gina piped up.
“The midpoint of each relationship is normally seven days. It takes about seven days for the girlfriend to realize she is in no way special.” James paused to give Leah a pointed look, which didn’t work well with his glasses getting in the way. “There are normally three days after that in which said girlfriend tries to flaunt herself some more in order to salvage the situation. And then it takes four days for her to get over her pride and end the relationship.” He gave a toothy smile. “And here we are.”
“You don’t speak very highly of your friend.”
“He’s the best man I know.”
A slight smile tugged at Leah’s lips. “Then we agree. You think he’s decent. I think he’s decent. Therefore, our business is done here.” She hurried away before he could get a word in and they quickly lost sight of him as the crowds became more dense.
“This isn’t very realistic,” said Gina as they moved amongst the other students. “This isn’t something that happens in real life. You don’t date people who you hate.”
“Who said anything about hating him?”
“Fine. You don’t date people who can’t stand you.”
“He has done nothing to suggest he can’t stand me.”
Gina smirked. “If nothing means not bothering to make eye contact, ignoring you, and walking away when you’re in the vicinity...then yeah, looks like you two will be the best of mates.”
Leah halted. “He walks away when I’m coming?”
“You haven’t noticed?”
“How could I if he was already gone?”
“Oh, well then, yes, I suppose so. When we were set to meet in the Great Hall this morning I saw him and Remus talking together, but when he saw you coming down the staircase he bolted.”
“Just turned on his heal and fled.”
“Are you sure he just wasn’t running late for something?”
“Sure had good timing if he was.” Gina was surprised to see that her friend was grinning from ear to ear. “Surely this is bad news?”
“Of course not! It means he didn’t want to have an awkward encounter with me, meaning he felt awkward before, meaning he actually felt awkward, meaning I’m finally getting under his skin!”
Leah was beside herself. “No, don’t you see? It’s working. This is what I needed to see.”
“So you’re going to break up with him now?”
Now it was Gina who was grinning. “Weren’t you just going to see some emotion or something and then get it over with?”
Leah faltered. “I guess that’s part of it, but I mainly want him to dump me first.”
Realizing the absurdity of the statement, Gina threw back her head and laughed. “You’re nuts.”
“So what have your old girlfriends been like?”
She had obviously startled him. Upon the end of her conversation with Gina, Leah had made it her mission to seek out the subject of their discussion, finally succeeding in finding him sitting alone in the nearly empty Great Hall.
Leah didn’t know what was between them, if anything. In fact, she was sure there was nothing. That being said, however, she wasn’t going to tread lightly. What was he going to do if she offended him? There was nothing he could do.
Sirius looked up long enough to register who it was who sat in front of him and then turned back to the last minute Transfiguration work he was scribbling. “You’ve met them.”
“Yes, but not in the same context.”
He didn’t respond, intent on writing. Leah thought about what Gina said. This wasn’t realistic. No one really acted like this.
“You know,” she began, mustering the courage to forget about what he must think of her, “I’ve been getting quite a few inquiries about our outing on Saturday.”
She exhaled and continued, “I think there’s a misconception about you floating around this castle.”
Sirius began tapping his foot as he wrote. He didn’t look up. There was no indication that he was hearing anything she said, but she pressed on, “They think you don’t talk, but I know this isn’t right.”
She was, of course, referring to the game she had witnessed between he and his mates. Though there were many interhouse friendships at Hogwarts, she rarely crossed paths with the four boys who called themselves Marauders. She heard of their exploits and occasionally shared a class with the Gryffindors, but she had never been close with any of them. Therefore, she had never been in a position to watch how the four friends operated exclusively, and Saturday’s event had proven to be quite insightful. Sirius did talk. He even laughed - throwing his head back and positively howling at something James had said about Professor Flitwick. He stamped his feet and threw his cards at his mates when he lost.
He never, however, included Leah in his merrymaking. His friends were nice to her, including her in conversation and she was quite taken to them, but things between her and Sirius remained the same.
It had been odd because her knowledge of the Pretty Boy had been limited to this quiet, brooding young soul who everyone was in love with - not a friend who could clown around and try to cheat at a child’s card game.
Sirius’s quill halted and he glanced up. He almost appeared amused. “How observant of you. You must be feeling special.”
His quip stung, but she was pleased to hear him responding. “Just as special as any other girl who has sat here.”
He turned back to his work, as if ignoring her would make her go away. His interest, it appeared, was short lived.
“Why are you so rude?”
He finished the length of one scroll and moved onto the next.
“Why don’t you like girls?”
His writing became more hasty, droplets of ink landing on the table.
“Doesn’t it bother you that everyone is afraid of you?”
Upon finishing the last sentence, Sirius quickly rolled up the parchment and stowed his school supplies away.
She sighed and tried once more. “I’m sitting by you at the Quidditch match on Saturday. Get excited.”
Sirius swung his school bag onto one shoulder and stood up. He looked down at her. “Is this some kind of game for you?”
His eyes were so narrow she could hardly see the color beneath. His mouth pointed downwards and he looked weary. She hadn’t noticed the sallow tint to his skin, the excessive gray in the skin beneath his eyes, nor his general unkemptness until that moment he chose to look at her. For one ephemeral moment she allowed herself to believe she was the cause for all his distress, but it was thoughts like that which ensured the destruction of all of Sirius’s past girlfriends. She couldn’t let herself enter that chasm.
Leah smiled widely. “Yes, but isn’t it for you, too?”
Well, um, this is awkward. I left the site because I was too busy and just didn't have any direction with what I wanted.
Basically what happened was it was late at night and I needed a distraction from my homework - so I came on here to check things out. And...man, there were just some nice reviews. I mean, GOD you guys are nice - even though I don't deserve it. So then I felt guilty. So I thought, okay, I'll just open up the file and see if anything comes to me. And it did.
For the chapter, I'm not too proud of it. I feel like it's awkward and in desperate need of work. It's been over a year since the last part of this..and, well, I haven't really kept up with Fan Fiction or fluffy stories. So, I write differently now but I tried to do what I used to do on this site for this chapter, but it just doesn't feel right. I'm really into characterization now - and if you know what I'm talking about then you know this story really has none. So I feel bad but I'm too lazy to go back and correct. So, I think what I'm trying to say is: If you liked the story before then I think you'll like it in the future. If you're looking for something deeper, don't get your hopes up. Maybe check back to see if I publish anything in ten years, which isn't likely because I'm a science major. Yeah, I know...what?
I don't expect my old fans to have kept with me. If you have, I thank you kindly.
I'm looking for major criticism and ideas. If you find typos, PLEASE tell me because my spell check is broken.
As for updates - I don't want to say anything because, just so you know, I'm in for a killer semester starting next week.
Wow, does this make any sense? I'm sorry it's all jumbled. I wanted to get in all this info without looking like some self indulgent has-been who writes outrageously long author's notes. I guess it's too late for that, huh?