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Chapter 2 : 2. Escapism
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“She’s been like this since we left the hospital,” I heard Sienna murmur from inside.
“Can you blame her?” Sirius’ familiar voice said, and I heard him make his way towards me. He sat down next to me on the stairs, and carefully wrapped his arm around my shoulders. “Hey, there…”
“Hello,” I whispered, clearing my throat and smiled forcefully.
“You don’t have to smile if you don’t want to,” Sirius sighed, kissing my shoulder. “Won’t you come inside? It’s getting chilly out here.”
“No, it’s not,” I said, lifting up my bottle of Firewhiskey meaningfully.
“Well, for my sake, then?” he tried. “I mean, let’s be honest – I have to carry you home once you’re done, you know.”
“You don’t have much faith in me, do you?” I muttered, taking another sip.
“No, not as a heavy drinker,” Sirius commented. “Your mother—“
“Don’t mention my mother,” I said shortly, glaring at the dark sky.
“Sirius, just… go away, leave me alone… I’ll be right inside…” I said, shrugging his arm off. “Please?” I added, more warmly, as I turned my head to look at him.
“Fine,” Sirius said after a short moment of hesitation. “Kiss?” he said, tilting his head to the side.
“Sure,” I said, leaning in to kiss him. Just as I was about to pull away, he grabbed my face in his warm hands, and kept me there, making the kiss last longer. When we finally parted, I raised my eyebrows at him. “What was that about?” I said, as he still cradled my face.
He shrugged, as his soft thumb brushed against my cheek. “Just felt like it,” he said easily, and kissed my nose quickly. “I love you.”
“Mm-hmm,” I said with a small smile, as he stood up and left.
I sat still for what seemed like an hour. Then, finally, I stood up, fully aware of what I had to do. I walked stiffly back inside, and made my way towards dad’s study. I didn’t even bother to knock, and just entered.
“Hello, mama,” I said, as I closed the door behind me. “We need to talk.”
Mama turned from the window, her face blank. I watched her for a few seconds, until I narrowed my eyes, and shook my head slowly. “All this time… you knew.”
“Yes,” she said shortly, as if we were talking about the weather. “Of course I knew.”
“And… you didn’t tell me?” I said quietly. “Why?”
“Unnecessary details,” mama said, and I felt my nostrils flare as the words sunk in.
“But you saw it necessary to tell me about dad’s affair with some woman, though!? What’s wrong with you!?”
“The affair was never real!” mama hissed, looking at me in pity. “Susan, you’re so naďve – just like Richard… the whole thing was a lie.”
I staggered a little, but quickly took support of the wall. I shook my head, trying to clear things up.
“W-what?” I stammered, blinking rapidly. “But you… you told me—“
“Oh please,” mama said, her eyes wide. “Richard never even glanced another woman – it was all a lie, a lie both of us agreed to tell you once your suspicions started to grow…”
“But…but I never suspected— mama! What are you blabbering about!?”
“I needed you,” mama said calmly, her eyes moving swiftly to the bottle in my hand. “I needed you to trust me, to be on my side… and you would only be on my side if you had a reason to hate your father,” she said, infuriating me with her casual tone. “Well, the man you thought was your father, anyway…”
“How could you?” I demanded, staring at her. “How could you do that to your own daughter!?”
“Because I couldn’t watch you ruin your life anymore because of that good for nothing Sirius Black!” she snapped, her eyes suddenly blazing.
“He is a good guy, and you know it!” I shot back, my cheeks suddenly hot. “I… I don’t… I can’t understand what kind of person would—“
“Because you’re my daughter, Susan, whether you liked it or not!” mama interrupted loudly, taking a step towards me.
“No,” I said, shaking my head at her. “I am no longer your daughter, you don’t get to twist with my mind anymore,” I told her, putting down my bottle on the table. “This is the last time we’ll talk… Morticia.”
“Don’t be silly, Susan,” mama said, giving a small smile. “I’m your mother.”
“Goodbye,” I said, turning my back to her.
“SUSAN!” I heard her call after me, as I hurried out of the room. “SUSAN, COME BACK HERE!”
I hurried down the stairs, and ran right into Sirius who gave me a startled look. “Susie!” he called, as he stopped me. “What—“
“Let’s just go,” I said hastily, and took his hand. “I want to go home.”
And for once, Sirius didn’t ask any questions.
“Are you asleep?” Sirius whispered.
I stared up at the ceiling, and sighed. “Yes,” I said.
“Susie,” he sighed, and rolled on his side to get a better look at me. “Come on… talk.”
I glared at him in the dark, and narrowed my eyes. “Sirius, I don’t want to talk.”
“But you have to talk, or you know what will happen!” Sirius said loudly, making me cringe at his tone. “You’ll only end up bottling it all inside, and then you’ll do something incredibly stupid, and get hurt, Susie!”
“Did you just have a tone with me?” I asked dumbfounded.
“Yes,” Sirius said with a completely blank face. “And you totally deserved a tone, woman.”
“You’re one annoying bastard, Sirius Black,” I said, and narrowed my eyes at him. “And I hate you.”
“Aww, you know you love me!” Sirius said, and kissed my forehead. “We’ll talk in the morning – that’s how much I can give in.”
I huffed, and turned my back to him. “Fine, we’ll talk.”
“Lily Evans is pregnant!?”
I watched Sirius’ face of utter disbelief over the breakfast table, slowly sipping on my coffee.
“It’s Potter now, actually,” I said with a shrug. “But yeah, she’s pregnant.”
“And this is what made you all… all…” Sirius stammered, gaping at me.
I watched the crumbs of crackers decorate the corner of his mouth, and I felt a small thud of affection towards this ridiculously adorable man. Okay, so I didn’t tell him the real reason, but he didn’t know that! And anyway, it was always better the less Sirius knew.
“Yeah,” I said, shrugging again. “Touchy subject.”
What a lie.
“Susie,” Sirius said, walking around the table. “I’m… I’m…”
“Yeah,” I said, shrugging again. Sirius wrapped his arms around me from behind, and kissed my shoulder. “Are you done with those?” I asked, cutting off the silence, as I nodded towards the crackers I had used to distract Sirius with, all sprawled across the table.
“Yeah, I—“ Sirius began, but fell silent as he watched me pounce for them over the table, happily chewing them. “You little monster…” Sirius muttered, massaging my stiff shoulders. “So, what’s your schedule today?”
I shoved another cracker in my mouth, playing for time. I shrugged, slowly brushing off invisible crumbs from my lap. “I… don’t know,” I finally said, shaking my head. “I might go meet with Rita Skeeter again, and convince her I’m a great writer, a—“
“Real ray of sunshine, with great work morale and warm heart?” Sirius finished, as he took our empty cups and walked over to the sink. “You totally demolished the place, what makes you think she’ll hire you again?”
I glared at him, pursing my lips tightly. “Well, I’m sorry I haven’t dazzled you with my divine grace, Mr Black,” I said stiffly, watching an amused grin cross Sirius’ face.
“Oh, make no mistake, Susie Q,” Sirius said, leaning down so that he was on my level. “You dazzled me from the very beginning – other people are just totally blinded by it.”
I rolled my eyes, and pushed him gently away as I stood up. “You’re so full of crap,” I snorted, grabbing my coat as I walked towards the door.
“But it’s the best crap in the world, and you love it, admit it!” Sirius called after me.
“See you later!” I called over my shoulder, rolling my eyes again as I heard him chuckle.
I cringed, as I felt the cold September air greet me on the busy street of London. The dingy flat we lived in was located in the very centre of London, down an alley, barely noticeable by people. The building was old and abandoned, but with some magic, we had managed to fix it up – and now it was our home, and had been for the last three years.
As I walked down the alley, I couldn’t help but reminisce. It was September, after all. There were students at Hogwarts who were living their lives to the fullest, totally unaware of the world outside, and just enjoying life. I myself had been very much against the mere idea of adjusting to Hogwarts, and I hated to admit the fact that the bloody place had started to grow on me, and before I knew it, I had to say goodbye to it – did that even make any sense?
My thoughts were quickly scattered all around the place, as I saw the blonde woman sit behind a desk through a dirty shop window. I glanced swiftly at the shop’s name - Wedding & Funeral - before entering.
“Welcome, how can I—“ the woman began, but as she looked up, she fell silent, and a smirk crossed her pointy face. “Ah, Susan Quency!”
“Rita Skeeter,” I said pleasantly, and nodded. “Hullo.”
Rita Skeeter was a few years older than me, so that apparently gave her the right to be patronizing. Apparently, she had been the main – and only! – publisher of Hogwarts Gossip during her time at Hogwarts. It hadn’t been a successful paper due to its inability to get the facts straight. However, she had somehow managed to become a part of a larger paper after Hogwarts, The Daily Prophet, and it was through her that I had got my first ever job in journalism. I wrote the crime section reporting on the more or less mysterious disappearances that had occurred recently.
That is, of course, until I demolished the entire place due to a simple misunderstanding, including a few beauty potions gone wrong.
“Are you here for a wedding or funeral?” she asked in a sweet tone, making me grimace. “Oh, sorry the pun!” she said, smiling brightly.
She wasn’t sorry at all – we both knew it.
“You know why I’m here,” I said, sitting down. “I need a job. You need someone to write those articles for you. You need me. Why don’t we help each other out, eh?”
Rita stared at me, narrowing her eyes. “I don’t need you, Quency,” she snarled, and leaned back in her chair. “What makes you think—“
“The number of readers has dropped again, right?” I cut off, smiling. “You’re getting letters from readers, demanding you to let me write the section, right?”
Rita continued to give me a sour look, clearly not willing to admit the cold facts.
“Admit it, Skeet,” I said, tilting my head to the side. “The tiny fire incident aside, I was a great—“
“How can I put the fire incident aside!?” Rita shot vehemently. “YOU CAUSED THE ENTIRE OFFICE TO EXPLODE!”
“We had to relocate, since the building was totally and utterly beyond repair, Susan,” she went on, hyperventilating, as I looked around at the shop – it clearly the front cover of the office, that was probably in the backroom.
The old office had been pretty cool; it had been a old basement flat located on a side alley.
“I love what you’ve done with the place, though,” I cut in, smiling. “Really.”
“This is not a joke!” she screeched. “Do you think I enjoy dealing with Muggles who actually think we do flowers for weddings and funerals!?”
“That actually happens?” I marvelled, and blinked. “Wow, Skeet.”
“Just get out of my sight,” Rita sighed. “I need another month before I can face you again.
I stood up and watched her rub her wrinkled forehead. “I’ll come back tomorrow with new ways to annoy you to take me back, Skeet!”
“STOP CALLING ME SKEET!”
“Buh-bye!” I said, and waved before I left. As I closed the door, I could’ve sworn I heard her use some very bad words, as she crashed something.
Oh, the blissful sound of people going bonkers because of me!
I grinned to myself, as I slowly walked down the street, deep in thought. When I finally looked up, I felt myself come to a halt, as I met a pair of ice cold eyes in the crowd, staring at me.
I felt time stop, as I swallowed slowly.
A/N: I swear I had a small heart attack when hpff was down xD Then I got all "THIS IS A SIGN THAT I SHOULDNT CONTINUE!" and I swore I would post the next chapter ASAP - and then hpff was up again, and I was all "...well, damn it!", but THEN, it went down again. But now it's up, and thanks to me being a good TA, I get to post WHATEVER xD ...well, within the limits of the rules and terms of hpff, of course ^_^ ENJOY!
- Lily xxx
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