Chapter 24 : Spit on a Stranger...
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Friday February 27th, 7:32 am
The date on my calender was circled, reminding me that it was my cousin Kayla's birthday. I stared at the date and tried to replace the day with my cousin's birthday but the only thought that was coming to mind was the fact that today marked the first week since Sirius and I had broken up. I felt like doing nothing today except crawling into bed like I wanted to do everyday and trying to forget what had happened. Since Sirius and I had broken up I had lost the motivation to do anything. At times it was literally painful not having him around. Every time I would look at him my chest would ache and breathing became a motion that I would have to remind myself to do.
I finally laid back down in bed, figuring it was alright to skip classes just for this one day and I could suffer through detention. No sooner had my head hit the pillow when I was interrupted from going back to sleep by a bedraggled looking Lily.
“You have to talk to Sirius,” she demanded. “I don't know what happened but you have to fix things, not just between you two but with the other Marauders as well.”
“I can't fix it,” I responded hoping that would be the end of the conversation.
“Bullocks you can't fix it,” Lily practically yelled. “I don't think you understand, this doesn't just affect you it affects me as well. I hardly see James anymore and if I do his mind is always somewhere else. He's not the same without Sirius, he's still going through the same motions in life but without any heart in it. I can't even remember the last time he made a lewd comment towards me. He's not the same James, and you're acting exactly how he is. You've got to fix this, Avery.”
“I told you, I can't fix it. I'm sure James and Sirius will restore things soon enough.”
“Not soon enough for me, Avery please,” Lily begged.
“Haven't I done enough for you, Lily? I break up with James for you and now you want me to fix something that can't be fixed? Even if I wanted to he wouldn't have be back,” the last words stung me, realizing they were true. Even if I wanted Sirius back at this point I couldn't, I'd hurt him by not helping him and there was no way either of us could forgive each other.
“Oh please,” Lily said with an eye roll. “James told me you two were faking the romance.”
“He did?” I asked in surprise.
“Of course,” Lily said matter-of-factly. “There are no secrets between us, he tells me everything.”`
“Well good for you guys,” I said sounding more bitter than I meant it to be. “But I can't help you, you're just going to have to figure this one out on your own.”
Lily stood up from my bed, her face sour. “You know, you can't feel sorry for yourself when you're doing nothing to fix it. At some point you're going to have to rejoin society and face the world.”
“I went unnoticed for six years at this school, I think I can do it again for another four months.”
Lily gave me one last agitated look but decided to give up badgering me and picked up her schoolbag before noisily leaving the room and slamming the door firmly behind her. I flipped onto my back and stared up at the top of my four poster bed. Silence enveloped me and I was left with nothing but my thoughts, thoughts I had been desperately trying to avoid for the past week but now they seemed to haunt and take over me. It was if they came out from the corner most of my mind and slowly made themselves present in that moment.
All I could think about was Sirius. His name replayed in my head like a broken record set on repeat. There was no coherent thought behind the name, just his general presence and memories of him. Memories of us caused my chest to seize and I thought it was going to explode. I sucked in a breath in hopes of steadying myself but my efforts seemed futile. Tears streaked out of the corner of my eye, some hitting the pillow without a sound, while others trailed down my neck.
I allowed myself in that moment to miss him, miss us. Sirius had meant more to be me than anyone ever had, I never thought I could love someone that strongly and purely. I never thought I would have a need for someone, both physically and emotionally. It was like Sirius brought out everything good in me, everything that I locked away when I chose a life of seclusion. A simple smile from him would make my day, I never thought I would have such a strong reaction to something as simple as a smile.
I wish I had told him more how much he meant to me when we were together. He never failed to tell me everyday how beautiful he thought I was, and how he thought I was perfect. I wish I had told him more often how much I cared for him, how much he changed me. I don't know why I didn't tell him everyday, I should have. I know his insecurities and the part they play a big part in his life. Sometimes in the most silent of moments I can almost hear his thoughts when it's about his family, it goes to his rejection. You would never think Sirius Black, one of the most sought after boys in the school, would fear rejection but it's a constant fear that plagues him and I failed to express how much I needed him.
I can't do this, I can't stay alone forever. I thought that staying alone and to myself was easy, and at times it was, but there is so much to gain from being with people. Surrounding yourself with people who you love and love you back. Friendship, a foreign concept to me only six months ago, now is one of the most important things to me and I'm messing it all up.
Right. It's about time I make changes.
I sit up from my bed and swing my legs over the edge, pushing myself off of the mattress and walking into the bathroom. I splashed some cold water on my face to get rid of the red blotching that has covered it. I then get into my school uniform and write a quick birthday letter to my cousin Kayla. I stuffed it in my backpack to send to her later and head downstairs. The common room is deserted and I realize everyone is in class. I sigh and realize my brilliant plan of making amends with people is put to a minor halt. I figure I can use this time now to send the letter to Kayla.
When I exited the doors and reached the outside I realize it's started to warm up slightly and raise up my face up to the sun, letting it warm it. The weather improved my mood dramatically and a small smile fell on my lips. Once I entered the owlery the smell of poop hit my nose and I grimaced.
I've always hated going to the owlery. The owls are never very friendly and more often than not I find poop in my hair. This occasion is no different as one owl swoops from it's pedestal and skims the top of my head.
“Damn owls,” I curse under my breath. I search around looking for a calm tentative owl and eventually find an unassuming one curled in the corner of the room. I hold out my arm for it to climb onto and it inspects my arm curiously. “It's okay owl, I'm not going to make you into my dinner. I'm sure you're infested with a lot of diseases and if I were to eat you I would probably die or throw up. Either way it's a lose lose situation for the both of us. So why don't you crawl onto my arm and make things easy.”
I realize I sound like a complete nutter but my coaxing seemed to work and the owl stepped onto my arm, firmly planting it's claws into my skin. It then obediently stuck out one leg and I tied my note to it. “Take this to Kayla Muze.” The owl gives a small hoot and flew away, leaving scratch marks on my arm. I watch it fly off and turn around.
In the doorway Regulus Black is standing with an amused smile on my face as he looks at me. I am so shocked that I trip over my own feet and land face first on the ground, my body now covered in owl poop, feathers, and other substances that I would rather not know the origin of. As I stand up I don't bother brushing myself off and quickly grab my wand from my pocket.
“What do you want Regulus,” I spit, trying to sound threatening.
A ghost of a smile appears on his face as he holds up his hands, “I come in peace.” I look at him trying to figure him out. He fishes in his pocket and produces his wand. I immediately tighten my grip and point my wand at him. He bends down and sets his wand on the ground, rolling it away from him. “I'm unarmed.”
I lower my wand slightly but don't release it's hold. “I'll keep my wand on me, if you don't mind.”
Regulus shakes his head, “acceptable, as long as you don't use it on me.”
“What is it you want Regulus?” I ask wondering why he's here. I see no letter in his hands and he doesn't look like he's going to use an owl.
The mirth in his eyes vanishes and his face becomes stony. “It's about my brother.”
“What about him?” I ask trying to make my voice sound indifferent but failing.
“I'm worried about him.”
“You're what?” I asked shocked at what Regulus was saying. From what Sirius had told me he and Regulus had never been on good terms. The only time they ever interacted was if there was a fight going on.
“I hardly see him anymore, and if I do he looks...well he almost looks dead, like a zombie. He just walks around, doesn't talk, doesn't try to pick fights with us anymore. In fact, the other day Snape was hexing Sirius and he just stood there and did nothing.”
I outwardly cringed from the memory. “Why do you care?”
“I don't,” Regulus said quickly. He paused for a moment and collected himself. “He can run away, ignore our family, get blasted from our family tree and be hated by every pureblood family but he's still my brother.” For the first time I see a hint of civility in the otherwise cold and cruel Regulus Black. He reminds me so much of Sirius in this moment. Vulnerable and caring for those other than himself. For the first time I see a resemblance in the two, besides the obvious physical appearance. Which, I notice with a hint of sadness, they look strongly alike and for a moment I let myself think I'm talking to Sirius again.
“You more than anyone should understand what has happened and why he's become alienated,” I said not letting my guard down in front of Regulus.
Regulus nodded in understanding, “I get it, he was a complete tosser. I don't know what exactly happened that night, Severus hasn't been allowed to say anything. I'm sure whatever he did was bad but can't you see he realizes how big of a mistake he's made? You should know better than anyone that he can get a bit carried away sometimes.”
“Why are you defending him?” I asked, not entirely convinced this wasn't some sort of joke or setup.
“I still care for him,” Regulus said in a quiet voice. “I would never admit this to him, and if you ever repeat this to him or anyone I'll hex you until the sun goes down, but I've always admired him. How he stood up for himself and left when he knew he couldn't live at home anymore. It wasn't easy for him, he's always been protective of me, not anymore though.” He said almost regretfully. “You wouldn't know it but he looked out for me as a kid and for that I feel like I owe him. That's why I'm here telling you to forgive him. Don't think I didn't see how he was when he was with you. I've never seen him so happy before. Even when you weren't talking to him he would look at you, watch how you interact with other people and just smile. I've never seen anyone so happy in my life. He loved you, he still loves you.”
“I don't know if I could ever trust him again,” I said not knowing why I was opening up to Regulus.
Regulus nodded and remained silent for a few moments before sucking in a breath and speaking again. “Like I said, I do not know the full extent of what he did and I know he can be reckless but I think that you should give him another chance.”
Regulus looked at me intensely and for a few minutes we just stood in the owlery, staring at each other with a new understanding. The moment faded and his eyes became hardened and without another word he stalked out of the owlery and left me by myself as if nothing had happened.
“Have you read the Daily Prophet today?” Cassi asked me during dinner.
I had made a new habit of eating meals with Cassi. After the first Transfiguration class we had together we quickly became friends. I was surprised I had never met her before. She was bold and loud, honest but not cruel. She stuck by me when she hardly knew me. I couldn't understand why or how she had come into my life but I was glad she did. She had other friends aside from me however, and I envied them when I watched them interact. They all had a history together that I would never have nor share with them.
“No,” I said through a mouthful of potatoes.
Cassi rolled her eyes as she flipped open the newspaper. “You should really try and keep up on current events,” she chided.
“Why, what's going on now?”
“They're saying Voldemort has gained control of all the Dementors from Azkaban. He's sending them into towns and having them attack people.” Cassi's eyes further scanned the paper and she outwardly cringed. “They're saying seven people have received the Dementor's Kiss already.”
“How awful,” I said as I read over Cassi's shoulder. My eyes flicked over to James, Remus and Peter who were eating dinner and chatting amongst themselves. I then looked at Sirius who was sitting at the end of the table by himself playing with his food. I felt a sharp pain in my chest when I realized these were the sorts of things they would be fighting against. The fear of their safety gripped me like it did everyday and I shuddered.
“I wanted to become a writer you know,” Cassi said absentmindedly as she folded up her newspaper and set it aside. “But there's more important things for me to do now. It's a scary world we're growing up in but I want to fight.”
“You plan on fighting Voldemort as well?” I asked with a sinking feeling in my stomach. It seemed everyone around me was determined to go and fight for our world and here I am doing nothing to contribute.
“Whatever I can do,” Cassi nodded enthusiastically. “Don't you want to help? Don't you want to defeat him for our future, for our possible kid's future?”
“I do but I wouldn't know how to help. I feel useless.”
“Don't say that,” Cassi said quickly. “You exceed in almost all of your classes, and you're particularly good at doing shield's, almost no one is able to break through yours.”
I shrugged and absentmindedly ran my finger on the rim of my cup. “It's just hard finding my place in the war. I feel like everyone,” everyone meaning the Marauders, “know's what they want to do. They are determined to fight and I don't feel good enough to fight, or maybe I'm just afraid of what will happen if I do fight.”
Cassi opened her mouth to respond but was cut off by Peter who showed up at our table and sat down in front of us, looking slightly nervous. “Sorry to interrupt,” he said directing the question at me. “I was just wondering when exactly your making your speech about that bird. I know you invited all of us and I would like to go, if you wanted me to.”
I couldn't help but smile, Peter and I weren't the best of friends but he could be sweet sometimes without expecting it. “It's Saturday March 5th, and of course the offer still stands.”
“What is your speech?” Cassi asked, I forgot I had never told her about the Venislew project. I looked over at Cassi to respond and noticed that her cheeks were slightly flushed now and she was fidgeting nervously with her hair while her eyes switched between Peter and I.
“It's a project I did for class, I'll tell you about it later. I don't think I've introduced you two before. Peter Pettigrew this is Cassi Ames, my unpaid bodyguard.”
Cassi let out a high pitched laugh and swatted me with the back of her hand. Her gesture was odd and I couldn't understand why she seemed so giggly.
“Nice to meet you,” Peter said courteously. “Anyway, Remus and I are probably going to come, I don't know about James though and Sirius...”
“I understand,” I said cutting him off immediately. I hated when people talked about Sirius and tried to avoid the topic altogether. The run in with his brother today was enough Sirius talk for a lifetime as far as I was concerned.
“Alright well I've got to go. Good seeing you Avery, and nice meeting you Cassi.” Peter gave one last curt nod before he left the table.
As soon as Peter was out of hearing distance I turned to Cassi and declared, “what the bloody hell was that about?”
“What do you mean?” Cassi asked casually as she popped a grape into her mouth.
“That whole giggling swatting me thing.”
Cassi took her time chewing the grape. After she took her five minutes to chew that one grape she turned towards me, her cheeks a light shade of pink. “Alright, don't give me cheek about this but I've always sort of fancied Peter.”
“What,” I couldn't help but splutter. This was a surprise to me. It's not that Peter isn't a nice bloke and he's got his fair share of good looks but compared to the other Marauders he's always paled in comparison.
“I know I know, he isn't exactly the most obvious choice but he's sweet and unassuming. He's not as loud or arrogant as the other Marauders. No offense,” she quickly added. “Do you know if he's available?”
“As far as I know he hasn't shown interest in any other women, I can talk to Remus about it for you if you want me to.”
Cassi blushed even more and shook her blonde hair so that it fell over her shoulders and shielded her face. “That's so embarrassing,” she said.
“It's not a big deal, and Remus can keep a secret better than anyone I know.”
Cassi paused for a few moments as she thought it over, “oh alright. But if this get's back to Peter that I was asking around for him I'll never forgive you.”
“I'll take my chances,”I responded with a smile.
Cassi and I finished the rest of our dinner and were packing up to leave when a boy stopped in front of us, looking at me and Cassi nervously.
“Can we help you?” Cassi demanded.
“Oh, right,” the boy said in a daze as if he forgot why he was there in the first place. “I was actually hoping I could talk to Avery alone, if that's alright.”
I looked at Cassi oddly, not quite sure what this boy wanted from me. I had never seen him before in my life and I was surprised to find he wanted to talk to me. “Sure,” I responded.
Cassi cast a warning glance at the boy and he stood shuffling awkwardly on his feet for a few moments before speaking up. “I don't think you know me, I'm Patrick Taylor, sixth year Ravenclaw. I was just wondering if er-you would fancy going with me to the next Hogsmeade trip.”
To say I was shocked would be an understatement. I felt like I had been knocked on my ass and a boulder had been placed on my chest. I stood awkwardly in my spot for a moment a tense silence passed between us and Patrick's nerves rising with each passing moment. Before I could control what I was going to say I blurted out, “I'm a lesbian,” and promptly made my exit.
The implications of my actions hit me once I left the Great Hall. News of my split with Sirius had just started dying down and now I'm sure by tomorrow there will be hundreds of rumors going on about my affairs with women.
I walked quickly to the dorm room, cursing under my breath keeping my head down in case the rumor had already started spreading. I made it to the portrait in record time and quickly blurted out the password, climbing inside. I was so busy keeping my head down that I almost collided into someone who was trying to exit the common room. I looked up and stopped breathing for a moment as Sirius stood only a foot in front of me. It was the closet he had been to me in a long time, he was so close that if I wanted to I could reach out and touch him.
We stood staring at each other for a few moments and I found that the anger and resentment I had held for him was slowly ebbing away. After the crazy day I'd had all I wanted to do was have him hold me and kiss me on the top of my head, or let me rest the side of my face in the palm of his hand. Unfortunately none of this was possible and once again reality came crushing down on me.
I forced my lips into a smile, wanting to see him smile once more. If I couldn't hold him or touch him then maybe his once comforting smile could be a temporary buffer. I was disappointed when he didn't return the gesture and instead brushed past me as if he hadn't seen me.
A/N: So here you go! I don't really like this chapter, it's kind of a filler but there's a lot that's going to happen in the next few chapters so hold tight!
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