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Invisible Magic by LuckySeven
Chapter 3 : Under Control
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 9

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“Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is.... A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in.” ~C.S. Lewis



The next morning was gloomy, mostly because we had to wake up at the crack of dawn. 



As promised, none of the other Gryffindors seemed curious about our meeting with Dumbledore. 



Grimacing, I sat down beside Lily at the breakfast table, wanting nothing more than to crawl back up to Gryffindor tower and into my warm, cozy bed. 



James had other ideas.



“Lin, can I talk to you?” He asked, with a look on his face telling me that I wanted to say ‘no‘ and go back to my breakfast.



“Depends. Are you going to try to talk me out of….joining, since Sirius failed so spectacularly? Or have you decided not to waste your time?” I asked, pouring myself some coffee and adding copious amounts of cream and sugar.



He smiled and picked up my steaming cup, taking a sip and wrinkling his nose. “Silly, Lin. I’m not going to try to convince you. I’m going to succeed.”



He placed the offending drink back on the table and poured his own cup, adding only a single cream and two sugars, shaking his head in the process.



I snorted lightly at his low sugar tolerance and began buttering my toast. “Always the modest one, you are. Why did Sirius try?”



It was like I hadn‘t spoken. “Lin, it’s too dangerous-”



“I don’t care. And I think that I know a little more about danger than you do.” I said, glancing at the table for more things to do nonchalantly without actually eating. I couldn’t argue with my mouth full of toast.



He shook his head, and sipped the new coffee, grimacing at what was probably a burnt tongue. “I care. What about me? And that‘s why I‘m so afraid for you. You‘ve been through too much already.”



I blinked, feeling sorry that I hadn‘t thought about him or our parents. But I felt the same way about him. And he wasn’t going to be getting talked out of it.



For something to do, I took his coffee out of his hands and performed a cooling charm, so that it was at drinking temperature. 



He took it back with a wink. 



“What about you?” I asked, stalling as the post arrived.



“I‘m…different.” He pointed out, looking worried, sipping his drink quite trustingly, despite my growing motive to silence him. 



I nodded, accepting that. He was practically a walking fire hazard. “Yes, but not in any way that makes a difference here.”



James groaned. “Lin, please? For my sanity?”



I opened my mouth to ask what the others were thinking and to add an aside about his misplaced sanity, when someone put their hands over my eyes, making me jump and nearly jinx the offender.



Instead, I forced a smile. 



“Hmmm. Who is this?” I teased, a light edge in my voice.



There was a chuckle from right behind me. “Figures,” The voice said in mock sorrow, “I’m gone for three days and you forget all about me.” 



I grinned and stood, turning to look at my boyfriend, Andrew Johnson. 



He leaned in and gave me a quick kiss. “How are you this morning?”



I smiled. “Good.”



He smirked, and ruffled my hair, forcing me to contain my annoyance at the contact. “I’m going to get some breakfast. I’ll see you in class.”



I nodded and sat back down, blinking at Sirius who was now sitting across from me, glaring and Andrew’s retreating figure, and at anything else that dared to enter his line of vision. 



“Careful,” I stage whispered to him, “Your face might get stuck like that. Only Myrtle will talk to you. And she‘s a suicidal ghost.”



He turned the full force of his glare on me, but it seemed to melt away before I felt the urge to wince. He didn’t speak. 



James had gone silent, which he did as a rule when Andrew turned up. It looked like I wouldn’t be getting anything else out of him this morning, which was fine by me. 



Realizing that I could either let them ruin my day early, or leave, I chose the latter option and stood, arranging my long black hair and throwing my bag over my shoulder.



“You aren’t leaving on my account, Lindsey?” Sirius teased, still looking at Andrew. His flat look was retreating back to the  glare.



More mood swings. I was quickly learning to think of Sirius as two people. One was rude and angry for a reason that I didn‘t want to think about. The other was more like the old Sirius, but sadder and more reserved. Both versions were tense and secretive.



“As always, you astound me with your powers of observation, Sirius.” I deadpanned, turning to James. “I’ll see you in class. And…I‘m still thinking about it.”



Lily looked up at me with a small smirk from her conversation with Ana and I grinned back at them both before turning away, leaving everyone at the table except Sirius smiling.




* * * *



I realized that there was another, more pleasant explanation for the mood swings half way through charms. 



Sirius didn’t have any of his ‘girlfriends’ around him.



Had he run out of eligible candidates? I had often wondered how large the dating pool really was, and how long it would take him to wade through them all. It wasn’t that he was picky, it was just that there weren’t really that many females to choose from once all of the younger girls, Slytherins, past girlfriends of the other three guys, and myself were winnowed out of the equation. 



I smiled slightly at the possible explanation for his erratic behavior. 



Sirius’s dating habits had always confused me. He was a complicated character, but this was something unto itself. 



Sirius Black was seen by all as a prankster. He was the flirt, the clown, the shameless one who always had a line to insult or charm on the tip of his tongue. This was his cover. He never really dated, but he was never really single either. He used the mask to hide who he really was, though I was now certain that the mask was rather preferable to what lay underneath. 



Under his mask, Sirius Black had a damaged soul that had been made harder than stone by a life that I couldn‘t understand. Always looking over his shoulder, he saw things that nobody else wanted to.  He was a manipulator, someone who belonged in dark mansions, controlling people with strings woven out of money and blackmail. Sirius was a weapon and he knew it. He also knew that he was dangerous. And handsome. These things led to a certain arrogance, a lack of ability to be personal, and an odd carefulness that few people ever truly recognized because he hid it so well.



But none of that added up to the ladykiller that stood across the room. In fact, it should have added up to someone who didn’t date at all. At least not publicly. 



And I couldn’t ask why. 



“Lindsey?” Andrew asked, making me look away from Sirius and down at the meal that I was supposed to be making with magic, then at his bemused face. 



“Yes?” I responded, still thinking about Sirius.



“What are you thinking about?” 



I smiled. “About how terrible I am at cooking.”



He laughed . “I’m sure you’ll figure it out before you have a family to feed.”



“Probably, I’ll make my house elves do it, if it comes to that.” I said absently, looking at James now. Family. How far would he go to talk me out of joining? No…the question was how far I’d allow him to go. He wouldn’t quit until I ended it.



And speaking of family, did I dare to start one? Could I really subject children to the evil in this world? Thinking of my past was enough to force an answer into my mind. Thinking about my future made me wonder if my own parents had made a mistake. 



He frowned. “Why?”



I shrugged, only paying enough attention to him to stay somewhat involved in the conversation. “Cooking is one of their jobs. Especially when there isn’t anyone else to do it.”



Andrew raised an eyebrow. 



The more attention I gave this conversation, the less I liked it. “Because Aurors work insane hours. I’ll hardly be home. And when I am, I won’t be wanting to do housework.” There was a warning in my voice that he didn’t seem to recognize.



He frowned. “You want to work?”



I rolled my eyes, trying to push down the sudden anger that exploded in my mind. “This is the part where you say ‘Oh, that‘s wonderful, sweetheart‘! And drop it. Honestly, what do you think I want to do?”






“Yeah. Oh.” I muttered, putting down my wand carefully. I didn’t trust myself at the moment. 



Taking a shaky breath, I decided that ignoring him would be the best option at this point. Of course I wanted to work! I had better grades than he did. I was smarter than him, and more capable. He was a great guy, but I had the best job skills. Was I going to sit at home while he got a job? His nerve was astounding. 



Out of genuine fury, I decided that Andrew and I were done talking today. 



If James or S-…If James knew what Andrew was aiming for, he’d probably try to beat him with a broomstick. 



“Lin, my darling sister!” 



I turned to look up at James, who was grinning ear to ear and following my lead in ignoring Andrew with . His smile faded a little when he got a good look at my face. He, at least, knew how angry I was. 



“Yes, James, my darling brother?” I responded with plastic cheer, prompting him back to whatever cheerful news he had.



He smirked. “Quidditch practice.”



I started grinning too, despite my abruptly foul mood. “When?”



“Tonight. We don’t have to replace anyone. Remus‘s hand has even healed.”



“Only just? Wow. I didn’t realize that it was that bad.” I said, feeling rather sorry for Remus. 



James shrugged. “Yeah, we were all surprised. Who would have guessed that scarab beetles could explode like that?”



I giggled to myself. “Well, I think it was less to do with the beetles and more-…” With a guilty glance at Andrew, I bit my lip and winked at James, who snickered. 



There were certain things that just shouldn’t be reiterated in public.



The proximity of our Professor made James wink back at me in parting.



I smiled as he all but skipped away, and watched him have the same exchange with another member of the 




“You guys don’t give anyone else a chance.” Andrew pouted. 



I decided that ignoring him completely would be taking it a little far, mostly because James had put me in a better mood. “Why?”



“You literally practice year ‘round.” He pointed out, sounding accusatory. 



If we were being accused, then we were quite guilty. Even over the summer we had most of the quidditch team out at our house and we practiced. In the dead of winter, we even bundled up and flew around a little, just to keep in shape. 



“Nobody is stopping Ravenclaw from doing the same.” I told him with a vindictive grin. I abruptly felt petty for needling him on purpose, but it didn’t stop me.



He grunted.  



I smirked, wondering why he couldn‘t tell that I was angry with him. The more he spoke, the worse it got. “Today, I will do things you won’t, so tomorrow I can do things that you can’t.” 



“Nice quote.” He grumbled, suddenly grouchy. 



Well, that made two of us.



I wasn’t inclined to pull him out of his sulking, so when the bell rang, I stood and stretched before being pulled unceremoniously from the room by Ana. 



“Do you not like your boyfriend?” She hissed, once we were out of earshot of any Ravenclaws.



“I like him just fine. Most of the time.” I said calmly, pushing away my anger. Ana had done nothing 




“Well, from my vantage point behind you, I can disagree. I heard you two.” She said, raising an eyebrow.



I shrugged, “He’s annoying, sometimes…most of the time.”



Ana chuckled. “You should be nicer to him or break things off, dear. You both deserve better.”



Ana was one of those girls who believed in fairy tales. She felt certain that everyone had a perfect match. I couldn’t condemn her for that belief. I used to share it. 



I shrugged again and she groaned. “You are just like a boy. Worse!”



Her theatrics made me frown. Andrew was…complicated. I honestly didn’t understand why we were still together. Was it worth it? I didn’t know. 



“It could be much worse.” I responded, walking away, toward the Transfiguration Department. 



“I disagree.” Lily huffed, catching up to us.



“Oh, James.” I intoned, sighing. “What has the poor fool done now?”



Lily blinked. “James? Um…nothing. Actually, well….never mind.”



She turned away, though I couldn’t fathom where she thought she was going. I looped two fingers through a strap on her bag, jerking her short body to a stop. “Lily?”



She groaned. “Just forget about it.”



I crossed my arms, making it clear that I was waiting. 



“Fine!” She huffed. “Remus and James…even Sirius, are all trying to keep us from joining, right?” 



“Yep.” I said, wondering if that was all, hoping it wasn’t. 



“Well…it’s because they…they like us.”



I stared at her, wondering if she was being purposefully dense. “Obviously.”



She looked flabbergasted. “What?”



I rolled my eyes. “Is there anything else?”



She opened and closed her mouth like a fish. “Lin….Sirius….he….you?” 



I laughed and started walking, finally understanding her shock. “No. James likes you. Remus likes Ana. Sirius wouldn‘t recognize a realistic human emotion if it walked up to him and poked him in the eye. In fact, if it got too close, he‘d probably try to curse it.”



“I think that-”



“You think that Sirius, the guy who betrayed my friendship and who goes out of his way to annoy me, cares for me? He doesn‘t understand that kind of feeling. Sometimes I wonder if he even…He‘s just very confused.” I said with a forced laugh.



“I worry about you two. The way he-…you…It seems like-….” Lily wilted, and gave up. “I didn’t think James cared as much as he seems to.”



“And you just figured it out?” I asked with a small smile, thankful for the subject change.






“You have the booksmarts. And I have the street smarts. Ana is our go-to girl. Between the three of us, we can take over the world.” I commented lightly, looking curiously at Ana, who was frowning at me.



“Lin, why does Remus care?” She asked, looking almost reluctant.



I looked back at her, knowing the answer and knowing that I had to lie. 



Everyone thought that the Marauders were just the cool kids. Well, nearly everyone did. Lily tended to get in the way of my blanket generalizations.



The truth was that Marauder was synonymous with ‘liar’. And being close to them made me a liar too, at least when it came to Remus.



Each Marauder had a secret, something that they couldn’t let the world see. Remus’s was the worst, or so I thought at the time. What was I supposed to say?



I would be as truthful as possible. Ana deserved it. “Remus isn‘t good for you. Or, he doesn‘t think that he is. He thinks that he‘s dangerous.” They all were, in their own way. Except Peter. But he was their innocent point. They needed him. And that made him dangerous to them.



Ana frowned. “You know. You know everything! And you don’t tell.”



I looked back at her with apologies in my eyes. “Everyone has a secret, Ana. I can’t just hand them out like chocolate-chip cookies.”



“But you know everyone’s secrets! Have you ever noticed that?” Ana said, frustrated. 



I sighed. If that were true, I would understand all of the breadcrumbs that Sirius seemed to be dropping lately.



The warning bell tolled. 



“Come on,” Lily said quietly, “We’re going to be late.”



* * * *



Quidditch practice was what kept me sane. 



The sport wasn’t my life, but I loved it. 



The rest of the team was already in the air. James was a chaser, along with myself and Sirius. Somehow, we always knew how to keep our differences off of the field. Remus was the keeper, though he was often replaced by Angie Twens because of his furry problem. Mark and Chris Rintfrew were our beaters, and a little fourth year, Natalie Winthrop, was our seeker. 



We were the best team in the school, hands down. There was a benefit to being a team that hadn’t replaced a member in two years. We didn’t have to learn anything new. We just had to get better at what we were already good at. 



I kicked off and shot into the air, relishing the feeling of the wind in my face, glad that I had braided my hair this morning. 



We had a pretty laid-back practice, until I started feeling competitive with Sirius. He kept adding embellishments to his catches and throws, glancing at me as he did so. 



After he threw me a curve ball with the quaffle, I caught it, then tossed it into the air and let it drop, winking at Lily and Ana, who had taken their homework into the stands to watch us. 



Then, just as James began to ask me if I was daft, I dove, ignoring several frantic shouts of varying vulgarity telling me not to be stupid. 



I had done this hundreds of times, and I knew that the dive would give me no trouble, though I had never waited this long before going after the ball before. 



Diving was exhilarating. I sped toward the ground-and certain injury-with an unparalleled speed. Just as I caught the ball and turned the broom away from the ground, still a solid twenty or thirty feet in the air, something hit my shoulder, and I was flung sideways.



A scream tore free from my throat as my arms waved wildly searching for something, anything to grab onto. 



Unfortunately, I did find something. And I pulled it down with me. 



Then, with pain and painfully abrupt finality, my fall ended. Something hard hit my back, then something heavy landed on top of me. I gasped and blinked to find myself on the ground, struggling to find the air. Where had it gone? What had happened? 



I looked around in confusion, wondering what in the world had hit me, then up at Sirius, who I had somehow pulled down with me.



Then, I groaned and blinked as the sound turned back on. “Lin? Lindsey!” 



Sirius was now leaning over me, looking pale. “Lindsey…”



His eyes bored into mine. If I hadn’t been in some much pain, the moment may have been awkward. 



“What do you want?” I managed, grimacing when pain blossomed in my right shoulder. 



He was breathing like he’d just run a mile and he looked like he was in just as much pain as I was as he rolled off of me. “Tell me you’re okay?”



I blinked. “Yeah…I mean. No. Umm….Why….you? What…about….you?” It was impossible to breath, or to speak. My eyes started watering. 



Everything was happening too fast. I closed my eyes when things started spinning. 



“Lindsey! Sirius! Are you okay?…Lindsey?” I heard James from far off. 



“Sirius!” was James exasperated? Panicked?



“I‘m…let’s get her to the hospital wing.” Sirius’s voice was close. His voice even more taut than usual. He’d gone from a wire stretched too tightly to one that was a milimeter from snapping. 



I groaned as I was lifted from the ground. 



“What hit me?” I managed, not opening my eyes. My shoulder and my side hurt. Everything was confused. I had pulled mostly out of the dive, right?



“The bludger. And Sirius. ” Lily said, somewhere on my left. “Honestly, you are worse than Jame-…Potter, sometimes.”



“You were lucky that it didn’t hit you until you were out of that dive. What were you thinking?” I heard James again, on my right. He sounded angry.



On my right? Wasn’t he carrying me?



“James, why don’t we yell at her after she’s healed. She’ll remember it better.” Sirius managed, sounding breathless. 



From above me?



“Sirius, why are you carrying her? You are obviously hurt.” Lily asked, sounding exasperated. 



“I’ve had worse.” Sirius said, not making any sense. 



“Sirius?” I asked. It was getting harder to breathe. 



I opened my eyes, but everything was blurry from a film of tears. I was hurting more by the second. 



He didn’t answer. 



I didn’t remember shutting my eyes. In fact, I didn’t remember much of anything after my question. But 

when I opened my eyes again, I was in the hospital wing.



James was leaning against the wall, staring at me. 



I grimaced, knowing what came next. “James,” I began, marveling at the lack of pain. I just felt light 




He just stared. 



“Look, I know that was stupid.” I began again, sighing dizzily. 



He didn’t even blink.



“Are you just going to-?”



He pushed off from the wall, making me jump, and came to stand beside my bed, his eyes on fire. “You will not do anything like that again, Lindsey Marie Potter. Do you hear me?”



There was something strangely impressive about James’s anger. He didn’t normally get upset, so when he went to the effort of getting angry, he went all out. He looked oddly tall, his face was set in lines of weary anger. He was still in his muddy quidditch robes, but he looked like a judge, sent to pass judgment. Moments like these reminded me that James was as dangerous as Sirius, in his own way. 



I suddenly felt very small.



He seethed. “You could have broken your neck. If you don’t care about yourself, at least think of everyone else. How do you think I’d have felt? Mum? Dad? Remus? Lily? Ana? Peter? Sirius?”



He put an odd amount of emphasis on Sirius’s name. 



“Sirius doesn’t-” I attempted. 



James shook his head dangerously. “Don’t change the subject.”



I grimaced, knowing that he would be more rational later. I could question him then.



He sighed, deflating slightly, but still looking fierce. 



“I’m sorry, James. Is Sirius okay?” 



He smiled a half smile, his eyes still alight. “He‘s…he‘s had worse. Madam Pomfrey will have him healed in a trice. And despite four broken ribs and a completely trashed shoulder…you will be fine. That’s all that matters. Never. Do. That. Again. Do you understand?”



I nodded, feeling chastised, noticing the half lie when he talked about Sirius. These lies frustrated me. Everything he said was true, he just didn’t elaborate properly. Satisfied, he kissed my forehead. “I will see you at dinner.”



I watched him leave, knowing that he was going to be overprotective for a few days at the least. His words from now and earlier haunted me. What about our parents? 



What about everyone I cared about? Did I dare risk them? Did I dare risk me, for their sake?



The problem was that they were already in danger, just by living in this world. By being blood traitors and muggleborns.  But could I stand to elevate that? Surely, if I did not help, they would be more endangered, anyway. 



My thoughts took me in circles. Was it really a question of risking them now or later? Did I have a 




I closed my eyes and let myself fall asleep again. 



My last thought was about being carried to the hospital wing by Sirius Black.



* * * *




Sirius Black



I was sitting up in my hospital bed, doing my homework. The action hurt, but it was worth it. I wanted to look nonchalant. If James knew that I’d carried Lindsey up here while I was that injured…



Part of me was thrilled that I’d been able to do at least one thing for her, the other part of me was furious at my carelessness.



I avoided talking to my three friends as they sat around me in tense silence. The axe was about to fall. 



“Padfoot, I think you’re losing it.” James said quietly, breaking the silence. 



“I’m fine.” I said quietly, staring at my charms essay. Maybe he would drop it. It was the first day back and we already had a pile of homework. It was a good distraction.



“No. You’re not.” Remus pointed out from his chair on my left. 



“I am fine.” I repeated tensely, tossing my homework to the floor by James, who sat on my right, and rubbing my eyes. I had to stay calm. I had to forget about all of it. 



I had chosen this path years ago, not understanding the pain that I would face, not thinking about the sacrifices I would have to make. Unfortunately, there are some decisions that can’t be changed. There were certain things that I could never have. A life with Lindsey Potter was one of them. 



The thought made me close my eyes. My eyes were the only thing that could truly give me away. My face was trained. My eyes were real. 



“Mate, it’s been getting worse ever since you saw her with Johnson this summer.” James argued.



Andrew Johnson. Was it irrational to hate him? Was it irrational to be angry at James, when he was only doing what I had ordered, no, almost begged him to do?



I didn’t respond. I could feel anger, the anger that had been plaguing me all summer, rising again. I didn’t like anger-or any other passionate emotion, really. It was a loss of control. And in my life, control was everything. 



“Padfoot, we need to straighten this-”



I cut him off with icy calm. I couldn‘t get angry. Loss of control was weakness. “No, we don’t. Everything is fine. I have it under control. She‘s dating Johnson, she barely knows me anymore…everything is the way I‘ve planned it to be. Everything.” 



And how I hated myself for it. 



“You didn’t see the look on your face when-”



“I can’t help that. And…and neither did she. At least, if she did, she doesn’t remember.” I cut Remus off with a scowl. Why couldn’t they just leave me alone? They didn’t understand what this felt like. 



I reminded myself that they couldn’t understand. I wasn’t being fair. They didn’t know the whole truth. They only understood half of what kept me from the kind of life that others took for granted. That was another part of my plan. I was using everyone around me. Every day it was getting easier to lie and harder to deal with the consequences.



My plan was half logic and half necessity. It was getting harder to follow every moment. Some days, I wanted to go to Dumbledore and quit. But that wasn’t an option. Not anymore.



“You can help it. You of all people, Padfoot. She saw. She asked why you were carrying her. When she fell, you looked like…” James shook his head. “You can’t-”



Something deep inside of me twisted, breaking through years of walls that I had built to prevent outbursts. I hadn’t snapped. But I could feel the cracks beginning to form. Nothing mattered more than my anger. Not now. The words escaped before I could even sensor them. 



“Of course I can’t! Never! Well I do. I am. I can’t help it, okay? But don’t worry. I won’t do anything about it. I’m going to sit right here and let Andrew Johnson take everything, because if I so much as look at her the wrong way, she dies!” I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, already regretting the lapse. How could I be expected to play my part if I couldn’t handle myself here?



I had to keep my voice down. Lindsey was just across the room, hidden behind a curtain. Hopefully she was still asleep. If she heard this…



Part of me wanted her to hear. That was the part of me that let things slip, praying that she would catch on and talk me out of it all. But after the way I’d behaved in my efforts to drive her away…she wouldn’t be surprised to discover what I was becoming. And she wouldn’t want me anyway. Not after what I’d become. 



How could she?



Remus stepped in to play peacemaker, in a very low whisper. “Sirius, I know it’s hard. But you are losing control. And it’s starting to get obvious that you care about her. You can not pull any more stunts like that. No more checking on her, no more trying to protect her, no more looking at her like…like-”



“Like what, Moony?” I snapped. 



“Like she’s water, and you’re dying of thirst!” James hissed.



“Well, maybe I am" I whispered under my breath, ignoring their shock.  Frowning, I took another deep breath, ignoring their surprised looks. Control. I needed control. 



“I’m sorry, Sirius. But I‘m looking out for her, just like you. And right now, you‘re too involved.” James said. 



I bit my tongue for a moment, forcing my gaze away from James, to the ever-silent Peter, who flinched under my scrutiny, then onto Remus, who met my steely gaze with concern, finally, I spoke. “Too involved? I don’t talk with her, I don’t sit next to her. I have absolutely nothing to do with her. And I’m too involved?” My voice was far from angry. It sounded rather dead, which was my intention.



“Yes. You can’t keep trying to protect her.” James said, too used to that voice to be worried by it, like had once been.



It was too much. The control that I’d halfway regained shattered.  “I can’t protect her? Protecting her is all I ever do! It’s all I have left, Prongs. I‘m standing between her and-”



“That was a bad choice of words.” Remus said, placating me quietly. “James meant that you can’t keep acting like you did today with the accident, or trying to convince her not to join The Order of the Pheonix.”



I shook my head and looked at James. “I can’t stop myself, Prongs. I couldn’t. She fell, and…It was…I thought….I thought….” I shuddered, unable to vocalize the horror. “I was over there before I knew what I was doing. Which didn’t work out. And then…I just had to get her to Madam Pomfrey. I had to do it. No one else. And The Order…I can’t let her die. I have to keep her safe. It’s…”



James looked at me for a long moment. “You love my sister.”



It was a revelation. No, it was a condemnation. 



Unbidden, my fathers voice whispered in my ear. Love isn’t real, son. It’s a word that the weak people of this world cling to in ignorance. They treat it with reverence, like some kind of invisible magic that only they can see. We know better. Love isn’t real, but hate and fear are. Hate and fear are stronger. We will use them while they wear their hearts on their sleeves. We will destroy their foolish love. And then we will own them. 



The ramblings of a madman, certainly. But a brilliant one. It was hard to ignore his voice, ingrained far beyond any normal human instinct. 



I just picked up my charms book, ignoring his accusation, ignoring the always unhappy little voice that was screaming in the back of my mind. James didn’t understand that I wasn’t allowed to love, that I couldn‘t love.



Admitting that I was dying to break that rule would do no good. Thinking about it made my head swim. My thoughts went involuntarily back to my childhood, to the things that I had done, to the ever-present words of my father, and most importantly to the things I would do in the coming months. No, I couldn’t love. I wasn’t capable of it, not really. Love was like trust. And trust meant death. For both of us. 



I had to keep her safe. “I don't know what love is supposed to be. I know it's real. But it's a tool. A weakness.  Either way, I have no interest in it. It won’t happen again. Just…James, Remus, Peter, please do what I can’t?” 



Why did they look at me that way? Surely, they were not so naive...but then, I couldn't hear the bleakness in my own voice.



Even though it would make it harder, I needed them to do it. Someone had to save her from this world. It just couldn’t be me.



With worried eyes and wary voices, they agreed to keep me from the happiness that was dangling cruelly, just outside my grasp.



This was going to hurt.




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