Chapter 9 : The London Inquisition
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The London Inquisition
"Excuse me?" the woman at the front desk asked while blinking furiously at Sirius, clearly taken aback.
His charming smile faltered slightly but he quickly masked it by adding a wink into his ridiculous act and turning up his grin another 500 watts. "Did you not hear me correctly, sweetie?" He made an approach to grab her hand but she had reflexes quicker than he anticipated and was able to avoid his grasp. "The room should be under Dumbledore."
The pretty blonde frowned and crossed her arms across her slender frame. "Look, I know you probably think this is simply hilarious but let's cut the bull shit, okay? There's no room here booked under that fake ass name and we don't have any rooms available - and we're packed this weekend." She sent a cold, appraising look over the two of us. "And certainly not for two greasy teens that want nothing better than to go upstairs and shag the brains out of each other. So, I suggest you go find a cheap motel where you can rent by every hour it takes you to fuck the shit out of each other or I'm going to call security."
"Okay, now you're just being ugly...figuratively speaking of course," he added, dropping a wink her way. I gagged...and it rather looked like the woman working the desk was suppressing her own reflex.
I also figured that this situation had gone on long enough and decided to bring it to a crashing halt. Honestly, Sirius Black was so thick sometimes. First thing when we stepped into the lobby, he waltzed right on up to the front desk when he saw the attractive woman working it. Then he just blurts out the name of our headmaster, as if that wouldn't attract unwanted attention.
I make a great point of stepping forward and pushing Sirius out of the way.
"Excuse him," - I glanced down to catch a glimpse of her name tag - "Melinda. He's not the brightest bulb in the box...not even the second brightest, or the third for that matter. Oh, stop growling at me, Sirius. Anyway, his mind has always been a bit addled, poor...cousin of mine. Likes to think that his little friends are real. Always been a bit messed up in the mind. Anyway, my aunt and uncle...his parents...are supposed to be meeting us. Our flights got a bit screwed up and we somehow got booked on different planes. We got in before them blah, blah, blah. But they told us to come ahead and check in rather than waiting for them." I took a breath from my long winded tale.
From the corner of my eye, I could see Sirius taking a hint and conversing with a potted plant. He even went so far as to grasp at one of the leaves and shake it as if he were meeting an idol. I saw Melinda's eyes sweep over him and sensed pity from her. "The name's Marshelle. M-A-R-S-H-E-L-L-E."
Melinda looked skeptical but flipped through her log and nodded as she found my name. "Very good, very good. Room 918. Elevators are right around the corner there. Have a lovely night and thank you for choosing Manson's Hotel and Suites London," she chirped. Worry slid over her. "And, if it wouldn't be too much to ask, can you please not report me for that? I mean, working these late night hours, I get a ton of creeps in here and, you know, a girl can't be too careful. And my apologies for claiming that you two just wanted to sneak off. It was highly inappropriate and unprofessional."
I gave a tight smile and nodded before walking off to grab my loony cousin.
"Come on now," I said much too loudly, mainly for the benefit of Melinda. "Let's go up to our room. Say goodbye to your friend."
And Sirius, ever melodramatic, planted a sloppy kiss on the leaf he was clutching just minutes before. I rolled my eyes.
"Was that last bit really necessary?" I hissed to him when we were out of the range of Melinda's ears. "Did you really need to lay it on that thick?"
Sirius, however, ignored my comments and shook off the hand that I had placed on his elbow while he was playing the role of the disturbed cousin. Another smirk fell upon his face but his lips held something of pride. "You, Elaina Marshelle, are not what you seem to be. You just played the shit out of that twit."
"I simply didn't try to hit on her or give her what seems like an obviously fake name," I sniffed. If there's one thing I can actually pride myself in, it's my ability to avoid topics that make me uncomfortable.
Annoyance began to hum within Sirius but he held it back with much restrain. "I meant pulling the whole cousin thing out of your ass. That was actually pretty impressive."
I felt a grin touch my own lips. "For a Soulsucker, right?" escaped before I could stop it. I stopped dead, realizing what I just said.
"Er. Right." Sirius then seemed to realize yet again who he was talking to and reassembled his defenses to keep me out. He jabbed the button to the elevator, making it light up orange. There was the soft, muffled sound of the metal box coming down to meet us. But, apparently, it wasn't fast enough for a certain Marauder who insisted on continuously hitting the button. Which annoyed me to no end.
"You know," I started, voice cold, "that doesn't make it come down any faster."
He sneered at me in a way that spoke legions. You don't know that, his eyes told me. He gave it button one last press, this time I'm sure just to spite me, and almost as soon as he took his finger off, the elevator gave ding and the doors slide gracefully open.
He sent me a told-you-so look and slung his leather bag over his shoulder as he sauntered into the compartment. With a heavy sigh, I followed him.
There was a soft knock at my door, however, such an action was immediately cancelled out by the fact that Sirius simply pushed in the door without waiting for so much as a response from me. Luckily, while I was sprawled out over my tackily covered bed, I was fully clothed and doing nothing more embarrassing than flicking through the channels on the television provided in the suite.
Sirius stood in the French double-doorway that separated my room from the living room area. On the opposite side of the latter was a mirror of my room that Sirius had claimed as his own. Each was equipped with a queen sized bed in the typically hideous comforter that could be found on most hotel beds, a rather large telly, a bathroom of its own, and various other pieces of furniture such as arm chairs and dressers.
I didn't even try to speculate how Dumbledore knew ahead of time that he should book a room with two beds and all together rather isolated living quarters. Most of the time, my room consisted of a single bed and a pull out couch if I was lucky.
I raised a single eyebrow at the boy standing in the entry way to my room. I also made a mental note to keep that door locked in the future. "Can I help you?"
He was nervous. Sirius Black was nervous. Where was that boy that was chatting up the hotel worker at the front desk earlier? Well, apparently he was standing right in front of me, chewing his lip like a little third year going in for their first kiss.
"Will you go out with me?"
My brows flew up. Of course, I knew that wasn't the meaning that he was going for because a horrible sense of shock and regret (I assumed at his wording) washed over him.
"Oh, Merlin. That's not what I meant," he moaned, confirming my thoughts. "What I really meant was: 'would you go on a walk with me'? Purely as..." I saw his mouth try to form the word "friends" but he reconsidered and I was thankful because that's exactly the last thing that both of us acknowledged the other as. "As whatever it is that we are," he concluded.
"And the purpose of doing such would be...?"
"Being in public so that neither of us tries to jump the other?"
I stared blankly at him.
"Merlin, it was a joke, Marshelle."
"Oh, I'm well aware, Black. I can sense those things, remember? I just didn't laugh because it wasn't very funny."
He gave a wry smile. "Well, humour does seem to be a rather relative thing these days, now doesn't it?"
I frowned. Though the words themselves sounds like a simple observation, the lilting tones behind them suggested cruel taunting. I couldn't help but to think that wasn't really anyway to talk to someone that you wanted to come with you. It didn't exactly give off the most inviting or welcoming feel.
"You know what else seems to be rather relative these days? Manners."
Now if was his turn for downward lips. "Look, that wasn't exactly what I meant."
"Really? You seem to be saying a lot of things that you 'don't mean'. Perhaps you should invest a little in thinking before you speak. You could probably save yourself a lot of humiliation."
"Are you always like this? I really don't remember you being like this?"
I scoffed. "Really, Black? Really? I don't expect you pay attention to anything other than your latest squeeze, your mates, and your broomstick. Correct me if I'm wrong."
"Yes. Yes, you are wrong. Because right now, I'm paying attention to you. There are things that we need to talk about...to work out."
I would never admit it to anyone, but I was actually kind of impressed. I didn't trust myself with opening my mouth. Instead I simply nodded dumbly.
The streets of London always gave off a foreboding to me. They didn't hold the lure and comfort some people said they found in the city. For me, it was the cold, hard place that I was forced to come to sate my darkest temptations and appetites. A place of displeasure and bustling city folk that were unknowingly going to become my next meal.
And that was just generally speaking. Add Sirius Black to that and it was a regular stroll through Hell.
He, on the other side of things, seemed to be completely and utterly unaffected by the bleakness of London. Rather, he seemed at home...as though there were nowhere else he'd like to be than walking down the street...unless, of course, said street was an attractive female and the walking would be groping where his feet were replaced by hands. But other than that....
Honestly, the only thing that was really making this whole experience somewhat bearable was that the moment we walked into our room at the hotel, I had engaged myself in a nice, hot shower. In all seriousness, that's the best part of going on these trips to London - hotels never run out of hot water. Not that Hogwarts does...if you time when you bathe correctly. But the fact that my skin and hair were now considerably less greasy seemed to help my mood. And it looked as though Sirius had followed in suit, seeing as how his long, dark locks no longer appeared to be gazing at Severus Snape's slimy head for styling advice.
But things were not only uncomfortable for me, I could sense. Sirius, for once, did not seem oblivious to the tangible awkwardness of a situation.
"Right. Well then, Marshelle. Start talking."
I stared at him, suddenly transported back to a few days ago when he'd corner me in that broom closet demanding exactly the same thing. Start talking.
"I don't know where to start. I don't know where you want me to. If anything, I should be asking you to start talking," I sniffed haughtily.
He turned his light eyes on me and shrugged. "Sounds reasonable enough to me. Shoot." I blinked in disbelief. I hadn't really expected him to be so...flexible in this demand. I opened my mouth to speak but found that no words came out.
He raised an eyebrow while slight bewilderment and annoyance ran through him. "Wait. You mean, you wanted to question me first but had no idea what to ask?"
I frowned at him, a response finally formulating itself in my mind. "Why were you following me that day?"
He cared only enough to give me a sidelong look and a short response of: "Which day?"
I stopped walking immediately and gaped at him. "You're...you're kidding. There's been more than one day in which you've followed me? I can't believe you!"
"Now, now. I never said that, did I?"
The sides of my lips turned down. "You implied it."
"I didn't imply anything. You inferred it."
"Just answer the damn question. No...wait. Actually, first I want to know why you weren't at Hogsmeade that day. I know you left to go. But you came back. Why? And how, for that matter?"
He gave a deep sigh and ruffled the back of his hair. "Honestly? You want an honest answer, yes?" He didn't wait for me to respond. "I came back to the school for more money. Only, Filch won't let you go back to Hogsmeade once you leave.... So, I snuck back into the castle. There...there are secret passageways all of the school. It's riddled with them. Well, they don't just lead from one corridor to another either though. Some of them - like the one I used - lead to places out of school grounds. This one leads to the cellar of Honeydukes. Behind the statue of the one-eyed witch."
I nodded as though I understood this completely. "But you were also...well, I couldn't see you. Even after I did a revealing charm."
"You wouldn't. Invisibility cloaks are impervious to such things."
"In-invisibility cloak?" I choked out. "But...but those are extremely rare!"
Sirius laughed. "Never underestimate the wealth and power of the Potter family."
"It's his, then? James's, I mean."
"'Course. We couldn't get away with half the things we do in the school without it." He gave another sly grin. "I suppose Remus told you a lot, but he didn't tell 'everything' as he said. You don't know about smaller things."
"Now, back to the question of why you were following me." I pretended that I hadn't heard the latter part of his response.
He gave another unruly turn of his mouth. "I didn't trust you. Gallivanting around the castle and whatnot. And it's a good thing I did too. Got to see you making plans with Slytherins, didn't I?" I opened my mouth to protest but he swung his head back and forth and placed his index finger to his lips in the universal sign to be quiet. "Don't worry. I'll ask you plenty about it when my turn comes round."
Which was something I would not be holding my breath for. "Next question," I started briskly. "You've obviously made it clear that you don't like me. Or trust me. And that you think I was making plans with the Slytherins. So why did you fight with...for me that day?"
Sirius fell quite and focused his eyes on the cluster of people walking by us. He licked his lips and I felt him feel...lost.
"Would you believe me if I said that I honestly didn't know?"
I gave him a pointed look. "You aren't getting off that easily, Black. You had to have been thinking about something."
He rubbed his jaw thoughtfully. "Well..maybe that I wanted an excuse to kick some Slytherin ass. Also that I'm fairly sure that you wouldn't be able to hold your own in a duel." I wanted to protest that, but I had the sneaking suspicion that he was right. "Other than that, your guess is as good as mine. Impulse, perhaps? Gryffindor chivalry? I don't know."
"What about your brother? What's his name...Regulus?"
His face turned to ice. "What about him?"
"Well...I mean, he is your brother. You kinda just beat him up as though you didn't care."
"Because I didn't...I don't," he replied simply, keeping his eyes staring straight ahead.
Pretending that family ties just didn't exist was something I couldn't wrap my head around. I'd grown up an only child, what with being a half-dementor bastard and all, and it didn't exactly seem like there were any siblings in my immediate future. A family was something I couldn't ever have. My grandparents spurned my mother (who seemed quite set on being single for the rest of her days due to how much she got her life screwed up by men) and I wasn't exactly jumping up and down to meet the monster that sired me. Oh. And might I mention that even if I can find someone that would want to settle down and live life with me, I would never be ever to give them children? Half-breeds can't reproduce. I'm like a fucking mule.
I frowned. "Well that's just stupid. He's your brother. Doesn't that mean anything? I mean, I know your family kinda fucked you over and everything, but still. You don't care at all?"
"I stopped caring when my mother blew by face off the family tapestry."
I blinked once. What did that even mean? Some kind of pure-blood ritual? A figure of speech? If so, it was one I'd never heard before.
"Uh. Right. Yeah. I hate it when that happens," I laughed awkwardly. He sent me a bemused look and I could tell that he knew I really had no idea what he was talking about.
"Anyway, I'm not living with them anymore. So 'family' is pretty generous. We're really only connected by blood at this point. No tender feelings here."
"So says you. I love it. And my current housing situation is far more pleasant than that stuffy old house."
My imagination ran wild with thoughts of his housing situation. All varied but revolved around a central thought of a swanky apartment with a gorgeous girl in fancy lingerie sprawled artfully over a richly adorned piece of furniture.
All of which were also dispelled when he continued: "Merlin, I love living with James. He's like the brother I always wanted but Regulus wasn't man enough to be." And I suddenly got a mental image of James Potter in full on undergarments complete with frilled garters and sheer thigh highs. Lovely.
Not knowing exactly how to respond, a reverted to more questions. "Okay, then, Black. Here's the big question that's on everyone's mind: why did you come with me?"
He gave me his full attention with his next look. It was an odd mixture of emotions that I was only able to really read because of my extra sense. First, he looked at me as though the answer was perfectly obvious. Then there was a little bit of embarrassment. And then torment.
"I should think the answer to that one was rather easy, Elaina Marshelle. Guilt. Simply and purely."
I gave a snort. "I find that one hard to believe, Sirius Black," I said even though every bone in my body told me that it fit with the feelings I'd been sensing from him lately.
"Well I don't see why. I nearly killed you. And even though I didn't mean to, I can't help but thinking that it all happened from my own ignorance. Sure, that's probably not something that you parade around - feeling emotions and whatever. But I didn't even try." He frowned to himself. "And if that 's not enough, all the years that we've been terrible to you....y-you could feel that. Bloody hell, of course you could feel it. But just you more than most people would.
"And I'm the only one who hadn't accepted you." He turned his head toward me and studied my face. "If this whole 'friendship' thing is going to work out, I need to know more about you. I can't just jump into this kind of thing...no matter what you think about me."
I walked along with him in silence. I wasn't quite really sure what to make out of his most recent confession. He felt guilty. But he wasn't really guilty for all the ways he'd tormented me other the years as if I was a Slytherin. No, he felt guilty because he realized the extent of my range of emotions. Which he didn't even know about until he almost killed me. So...he felt guilty for causing me to feel more than necessary. He wasn't truly sorry for his actions. I tried to ignore the tears prickling at my eyes and told myself that I didn't care...I shouldn't care.
A dark laugh then came from the way of Sirius. "Everyone keeps comparing your situation to Remus's. But, really, they're nothing alike. I mean, if you look at it, we all became friends with Remus first year. We were best mates with him for nearly three years before we found out about his condition and even then it was hard. But we'd known him and it was apparent that he wouldn't hurt us. You...we don't know you. And while you might not prance around singing about your parentage as people seem to think, you don't really make an effort to prove them wrong. Everything about you screams that something is up...and it makes people not understand you. And people fear what they don't understand."
"Perhaps people just aren't looking closely enough. Things aren't always what they seem. If you open your mind a bit, you can see that. For example, what to you put in a roaster?"
Sirius stared at me as if I'd grown two heads. "Excuse me? What does that have to do with anything?"
"Just answer the damn question," I said with a roll of my eyes.
"Fine. Er, I guess people put roasts in roasters."
"Good. Now what do people put in toasters?"
"Toast," he said slowly, as if I were dim witted.
I grinned, however. He'd fallen right into my plan. "Don't be ridiculous, people put bread in toasters. See? Not always what you think. Same with me.”
"I can't but feel as if that metaphor was quite a stretch..."
I only sneered at him.
"Okay," he started with an eager clap of his hands. "If you're all done, I guess it's my turn to begin the questioning. Let's go back to the basics: tell me about your mother and father."
There was less hesitation this time as I told my story and I couldn't help but thinking that it was because I'd already told it once to Remus. It somehow made it easier and I found myself thinking more clearly and speaking more confidently. And, more than anything, it surprised me how easily Sirius was able to relate to my mother's situation.
I felt compassion and empathy come soaring off of him when I explained the difficult situation that she had been placed in with her pure-blood family. The way her family had kicked her out and simply left her. It dawned on me that while I might be most alike Remus of all the Marauders, Sirius was comparable to my mother. Which, understandably, suddenly made him seem like a bigger person in my eyes. There was now something oddly admirable about Sirius Black. And I wasn't really sure how I felt about that.
"I see," he answered my story with a pained expression. "And...what traits did you gain from your...father?" A silent thrill went through me. Sirius no longer felt comfortable referring to the thing that impregnated my mother as my father. But, for lack of a better word, that's what he called it.
"My ability to read emotions, the need to eat happy emotions, and my cold skin," I ticked off on my fingers. "That I know of anyway," I continued to joke weakly. However, Sirius didn't appreciate my humour and shifted awkwardly.
"What's this about eating emotions?" He looked almost afraid to be asking.
"I mean, surely you must know a little about it after that fiasco in the infirmary."
"I'd like to hear it again, if you don't mind. And I think that perhaps you are a tad more levelheaded at the moment."
I gave a wan smile. "Emotions, in their entirety, are more pronounced and defined for me. I'm more aware of them. I'm more susceptible to them. I have a greater need for them. I've been able to know what people are feeling for as long as I can remember. But, I didn't really need them until I was a little older. Perhaps ten or so. I didn't realize what it was at first...no one did really. I was dark and moody all the time. So, I'd go out and wander off to the park or something. And...once I was there...around all those cheerful emotions...I lost control. I didn't know what was happening that first time. Can you imagine?" A bleak feeling had settled around us and my insides felt as though they were made of ice. "I just went around taking and taking. I didn't know what I was doing. But it made me feel better, so I didn't care. It was terrible...so terrible. And I loved it."
I bit my cheek nervously and looked up at Sirius through tear blurred eyes. "I-I didn't mean to. I swear on Merlin's grave. Please...please believe me."
His face was hard and passive. I should have known. Only Sirius Black could be so judgmental and hypocritical.
"What are the logistics of it?" he demanded.
"I-I'm not even sure myself. It comes to me like instinct. But when I pass by someone that has an emotion that I need, I sort of just open myself up to them. And it happens. I'm not sure how. Perhaps I should show you?"
He pursed his lips. "Later, maybe," he said it with the disinterest that made me think that later would be a long way into the future. "How do you think it worked with Remus, then? You know, when he kissed you."
My face flushed and I was suddenly aware of the extremes in my emotions at the moment. On the one hand, I had tears threatening to spill out. And on the other, I was about to die from embarrassment.
"I supposed it might be equated to being force fed emotions?" I looked to him for confirmation.
He nodded briefly. "Yes, I guess that makes sense. How often does this happen?"
"Depends on how stressed I am, really. I go to London or sometimes just Hogsmeade. But Dumbledore thinks that the farther away I am, the better. Also, when I come back from a trip, he likes me absolutely swollen with emotions."
He seemed cold and distant. His questions were short and straight to the point, which made me almost wish that he would lead up to them more. I wondered if I had scared him even more with my tale of emotion consumption. But he said that he needed to know these things. He wanted to know them. How could I lie to him?
"You're mad. And afraid. You don't know what to think," I told him with furrowed brows. "I understand. And I'm terribly sorry. I shouldn't have told you this. Really, I shouldn't have. I mean, I know you asked, but you couldn't have really wanted to know everything. Merlin, I'm so stupid."
His lips pressed into a thin line, but he looked as if he were fighting a smile. "Perhaps you are. But honestly, Marshelle, I would rather know all the gory details than not know anything at all. You told me that I fear you because I don't understand. So now I'm trying to understand and you still think the same thing."
"I...I don't understand. Most people would be petrified. They would want nothing to do with me," I stammered weakly.
"Well, Marshelle, if you haven't noticed by now, I'm not most people. And I'm not really sure what to think right now, okay? But I'm trying. I'm trying just as much as you. And that's what this whole trip is, you know? I'm going to know more about you. And I'm going to judge you not based on your genetics, but on you."
I couldn't help but feel like that wasn't a very comforting statement. At least people knew what to expect from my heritage. Even I wasn't sure about myself. But I nodded numbly because this was progress with him, right? At least, I sincerely hoped so.
"Now. Tell me about the Slytherins. I suspect this will be a very interesting recollection."
"Everything that happened you know. You were there for the entire ordeal," I sniffed. He frowned and I could tell that he didn't like this response, however, he didn't seem to argue it either.
"Have they ever corner you before?" His face looked quite severe.
"But they obviously want something now..." he said more to himself than me as he rubbed his chin in thought.
"What do you think it means?" I asked.
He moved his gaze to me and frowned slightly. "I honestly have no idea. But, rest assured, the other Marauders and I will look into it immediately," he continued, suddenly business like. "In fact, I might have them start looking into things now. We can help more when we get back."
"Yes. Yes, of course." I tried to hid my grin at the thought. And I rather liked the way he'd started to group me in with the other Marauders. As though I actually meant something to them and, in turn, to him. The thought actually made me giddy.
"Of course," he said stiffly, "this, by no means, constitutes that I think that you had no part in whatever it is. We'll have to look into that as well. Though, I think, that it might be just me on that part. You really have the rest of them eating out of your palm at the moment."
I couldn't think of anything to respond to that and thus opted for just keeping my mouth closed.
We walked in silence for a bit longer. We turned a corner and came to a rather posh part of the city. I stared in awe at the beautiful architecture and people, thinking about how much I stood out. Sirius, of course, looked exactly like he belonged and completely at home amongst the wealth and grandeur. I got the impression that no matter how he despised his family, he would never feel exactly out of place around locations that were gilded.
"Sirius?" He grunted in response. "I just wanted to say thank you."
His shock was so severe that he actually stopped walking to turn and stare at me. "I...what?"
"Thank you. For...this. For everything."
"But...I've been so cruel to you. And I'm not even sure if I really like you or anything yet."
I smiled at his genuine confusion. "Yes, perhaps. But the fact that you're even trying speaks legions. So, thank you."
"Er. Right, then. You're welcome?"
I nodded and continued walking. He shook his head and then came after me.
"One last question, Marshelle," he stated.
"What's there to do for fun around here?" he replied with a wicked grin.
Well? What do you think? I know it took me forever to get a good update in, but does this nice long chapter make up for it? Did you get the answers you wanted?
Anything you want to point out, feel free to! I love hearing back from you guys!
Okay, in this chapter image we have Lily Evans. In reality, she's a model. I'm not sure what her name is, but I saw her online modeling some Burberry jacket.
Thanks for reading, please leave a review!
~The Forgotten Muse
P. S. Looking for another good Marauders story? Check out my collaboration with serenade in the story Miss Marauder. :D
EDIT 4-29-2011: I just went through and changed some minor errors. Like a couple times I put "to" instead of "do". Thanks to everyone that caught them!
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