I am really sorry you had to take over my shift. I know how appreciated those few days off are when you are an intern. That, among other reasons, was why I had to get away for a couple of months.
Don’t panic! I haven’t had a nervous breakdown and dropped out of the programme (yet), I just wasn’t happy all alone in my apartment, living just for the job. So, I asked to be transferred to St. Mary’s in Florida. This way I can still be close to my family and well... people are just nicer here. Plus, the weather’s hotter out here, as are the men, which somehow seems to make me happier even though I’ve currently sworn off dating man all together. ;)
I am sorry I didn’t tell you about this sooner, but I acted quite impulsively, even for me! As I said, don’t panic, they’re taking good care of me here. You have been nothing but a great friend to me, and I wish I could’ve stayed close to you, but some circumstances made that rather impossible.
This letter may sound a bit depressed, which I’m not! I just don’t really know what I want right now with my life and the hospital and everything. I hope I figure it all out soon.
I love you, and hope to see you soon!
Lily was shocked as she reread the letter, trying to make sense of all the cryptic sentences. It was all so sudden. Why did she have to leave? Lisa was her only girlfriend inside St. Mungo’s. They talked about everything to each other, and most of all, they liked to whine about how horrible their life could be. Then why didn’t Lily know Lisa had been unhappy?
“Lisa left!” Lily yelled at Sirius, who was watching the news on the television with a beer in his hand. He looked up stoically as Lily sat down next to him. “I can’t believe it. She just left! Without telling me. She says she doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life right now.”
“She was never as passionate about the Healer training as you were.” Sirius commented. Lily barely listened.
“Why is she suddenly unhappy here?” Lily continued her rant.
“She was never really happy, not after we left Hogwarts.” Sirius said wisely.
“Certain circumstances... among other reasons. What was she keeping from me?” Lily mused.
“Things you didn’t want to hear.” Sirius replied, once again expecting Lily to just ignore him. Unfortunately , she had somehow only pretended not to listen.
“What things? How come you know all of this? When did you become so perceptive, Mr. Black?” Lily questioned him angrily. Sirius sighed and got up slowly to get a new beer.
“She told me.” He explained, but this wasn’t what Lily wanted to hear, either.
“What? Why did she tell you and not me?” Lily called after him, wondering when Sirius and Lisa had gotten so close.
“Well, sometimes it’s hard to talk about your failures to someone who never fails.” Sirius reasoned, raising his eyebrows at her, before turning around and heading for the kitchen. Lily got up and followed him.
“That’s just ridiculous. Lisa and I always laugh at our own failures.” Lily snapped back at him. Although if she agreed with Sirius’ theory of Lily never failing, they would only be laughing with Lisa’s failures, which had been sort of the case.
“Some things are serious, even with Lisa.” There was a sad and tired tone in his voice. He kept his back turned to Lily while he took another bottle of beer from the fridge, trying to appear indifferent, but Lily noticed something else.
“Sirius.” She said sternly, and Sirius turned around immediately, recognising that tone. “What have you done? Why did Lisa really leave?”
Lily wasn’t fussing over why Lisa left without a goodbye anymore, she was dead serious now, and wanted the truth from Sirius.
He sighed and rubbed his eyes wearily. Lily sat down at the kitchen table and Sirius mirrored her actions. She waited patiently for him to speak up, while he prolonged the silence by eating some leftover ice-cream they’d had for dessert.
“Lisa is in love with me.” Sirius said eventually, before taking a large swig of beer.
Lily just sat there, trying to figure out how that had happened without her knowing. Her brain started thinking of all the different scenarios that could possibly be so bad to drive away someone as strong and confident as Lisa.
“Did you cheat on her?” Lily asked, getting angrier with Sirius every time she thought of a different scenario.
“We were never together!” He retorted immediately.
“Then what did you do to her?” Lily asked, frowning. Sirius got up angrily.
“Why do you assume it’s me that did something wrong? Why can’t it be Lisa who messed up? Although she’d never admit to that...” Sirius yelled and left the kitchen mid-sentence.
Lily stayed inside the kitchen to let Sirius cool down and to take in all the new information.
So, Lisa had run away from Sirius? To get over him, Lily assumed, although Sirius had just told her not to assume. She had to get answers from him, but Lily didn’t like that. She’d much preferred to talk to Lisa, to hear the miserable side of the story. Once again, Lily reminded herself that maybe Lisa wasn't just the victim here.
And so, to get her facts straight, Lily got up and entered the sitting room where Sirius had turned off the television and was lying stretched out on the couch. Lily sat beside him, putting his feet in her lap.
“What happened?” Lily asked, trying to sound as neutral as possible. She squeezed his foot, sending him the message that she would not judge.
“Lisa fell in love... And I never anticipated that. I know it might sound cruel but I never asked for it.” Sirius started to explain. Lily knew what the rules were when it came to the occasional girl he took home with him to spend the night. He somehow knew how to pick the ones that weren’t looking for a relationship. Apparantly, he had guessed wrong with Lisa, but when?
“Why has she never told me?” Lily muttered. “Why didn’t you ever tell me?”
“You’re as protective of me as I am of you. If she told you about her feelings right when she started developing them, you would tell her to try to forget them, knowing I wouldn't be able to love someone again for a long time. You would tell her things she didn’t want to hear. As you would equally tell me things I wanted to ignore, if I’d told you. It was cowardice, I’d say.” Sirius explained. Lily didn’t really understand. It sounded like this was going on for a long time. But Lisa had been in a quite serious relationship with a muggle up ‘till a couple of months ago.
“When?” Lily asked.
“A long time ago.” Sirius said vaguely, but Lily gave him a look, telling him to elaborate. “Almost exactly a year ago, we slept together.”
Lily’s jaw literally dropped. A year ago?
“We only ever slept together once, and she was the first girl I slept with after Sam...” He stopped there, covering his eyes with his left hand.
There was a whole novella going on between Lily’s two best friends and she didn’t even know about it! How thick could she get?
“She... I-I don’t know. I guess she thought it made her special... like she would be the one who could make me get over Sam.” Sirius sighed again, not knowing how to explain.
“And was she? Is she?” Lily asked, never before having imagined her two friends as a couple. Lisa did deserve a good person in her life. But Sirius meant so much to Lily, and she couldn’t deny the feeling that Lisa just wasn’t good enough for him. Then again, was anybody?
“No! Of course not,” Sirius replied, suddenly pushing himself out of the couch with a frustrated sigh. Lily kept quiet while he paced keeping his back turned toward her. “It was... horrible. I was so disgusted with myself and... completely not ready yet. It was like my first time all over again; sleeping with Tess, when I wanted it to be Sam.”
“What?” Lily shrieked dramatically. “You had sex for the first time with Tess?! The most insufferable person to have ever walked the grounds of Hogwarts?”
Sirius turned around and rolled his eyes at Lily’s reaction.
“She was easy and I was full of raging hormones!” Sirius replied, shrugging as if it was normal. “Isn’t that the story of every boy’s first time?”
“Not James’s.” Lily said smartly, knowing she was his first time.
“Yeah well, James was... in love.” Sirius reasoned. Lily hid the small smile on her mouth when she heard that.
“You were in love with Sam too.” She replied quickly.
“It happened in fifth year, I was far from acknowledging my love for her then.” He shrugged again and sat back down next to Lily.
There was a long silence. Their small talk had finished and now they were back to the painful subject... Lisa, or rather: Sam.
“Lisa knew I wasn’t ready yet; not ready for sex, and certainly not ready for a new relationship, so she moved on, or so I thought. She met Tom, had a relationship, was happy, for all I cared. But when she found out I was sleeping around a bit –which you told her, of course-...”Sirius looked pointedly at Lily.
“Well, if you’d told me?!” Lily replied.
“When she found out about the occasional sleepover, she came back to me... expecting that I was ready for a relationship with her. That came completely out of the blue! I mean, I hadn’t thought of us or that night in a very long time. How was I supposed to know that she still had feelings for me?”
It was clear that he had already had this discussion a lot of times with himself... or with Lisa.
“Anyway, she had broken up with Tom by then, deluding herself into thinking I wanted to be with her.” Sirius sighed. “Then came a whole series of arguments, proclaiming that I was just scared of losing my freedom, and that I didn’t remember how good it is to be in a relationship because the only one I ever was in ended badly. Then everything started to revolve more and more around Sam, saying that I didn’t want to be with her because I didn’t want to get over Sam, or that I was afraid to be happy again, to be reminded of her... The list of arguments that Lisa had was endless.”
Lily was speechless. Every argument seemed possible when it came to Sirius. She had given up trying to figure out Sirius’ relationship with Sam a long time ago. Lisa hadn’t apparently.
“Anyway, that one time we had sex did set Lisa apart from all the other girls, but not really in a positive way. I couldn’t move or breath or think once it had happened. Lisa disappeared immediately after, and luckily I was drunk enough to just fall asleep instantly. But the next day was hell, and no hangover potion could help me.
“She was nothing like Sam... and everything she did reminded me of how much better and more beautiful Sam was. And then images started to mingle, and I felt so dirty, so guilty, like I had cheated on her and was cheating on her every time I couldn’t remember a small detail or...” Sirius seemed at a loss of words to explain how he felt back then.
Lily sat closer next to him, clutching his arm and putting her head on his shoulder, but Sirius pushed her away immediately and got up again.
“Anyway, it’s not my fault! Lisa messed up! She was imagining things that weren’t there. I made that mistake once, but I never implied that I’d want to make that mistake again. That’s where Lisa messed up! And that’s why she left! Because she has finally realised that! I think.” Sirius rambled on, keeping his back to Lily again.
After hearing everything, Lily couldn’t help but feel that she still didn’t know what Sirius was feeling. Was he ever going to fall in love again? Was he going to sleep around until he was too old to do it anymore? Didn’t sleeping with those girls hurt just as much as sleeping with Lisa?
“Then why do you keep sleeping around, when it hurts so much?” Lily asked after a long while. Sirius turned around and sat back down next to Lily.
“I just want to prove to myself that Sam isn’t the only girl out there. But then again I need those girls to disappear immediately so they wouldn’t see the miserable side of me once they’ve left.” Sirius explained solemnly. “And yes, I am twice as miserable after, than I was before those girls, but I think I like it... Those girls bring back Sam to me so much that it hurts. But at least she’s there again, more real and palpable than at any other moment. That’s real to me, and not that dulling, constantly nagging pain I feel all through the day, reminding me that missing Sam in my life is becoming a habit. And yet it won’t completely go away and it’s driving me crazy!”
“But that’s losing someone you love, Sirius! It never goes away.” Lily explained. Sirius looked her in the eye with the saddest look Lily had ever seen, as if what she had said was incredibly cruel. “But that shows you love her. That dull pain will always linger somewhere in the back of your mind, and it will resurface some times when you’re suddenly being reminded of her. You don’t have to feel that real, strong pain constantly to prove to Sam you love her.”
Sirius nodded, clenching his jaw as he looked down at his own hands.
“A heart is big enough to love more than one person, Sirius. A heart can heal... if you let it. Those girls will only reopen old wounds instead of letting them heal. Yes there will always be scars, but the way you're acting now will only make those scars bigger, harder to heal. Instead of making Sam take over your entire heart, you should let her have her part and make room for someone else. Or at least the possibility of someone else.” Lily looked up at Sirius, seeing the utter despair on his face as if Lily’s words were hurting him. But he had to hear this.
“Lily...” She could hear the tears in his voice. “I don’t want to. I don’t think I can.”
Tears were truly falling down his cheek and Lily felt her eyes go moist as well. She had never seen him cry before.
Lily placed a loving hand on his cheek and he lowered his head onto her lap, where she stroked his hair methodically. They were silent for a very long while, until Sirius fell asleep. Yet Lily continued stroking his hair, while she put the television back on.
She watched a two-hour love drama and cried her eyes out, until she felt completely drained of tears. It reminded her of what her father used to say; that a person sometimes had to cry, just for act of crying.
She tried to remember which quote he had used back in the day. Lily knew she used to know the quote by heart. Completely wrapped up in searching her memory, she had missed the end of her movie, not that she minded. Now that she had cried, she was getting annoyed by the whining of the protagonist of the sob-story.
She took Sirius’ head from her lap en carefully placed it on one of the pillows of the couch. After putting a small blanket on top of him she stared at him, when suddenly the quote came back to her.
You know that a good, long session of weeping can often make you feel better, even if your circumstances have not changed one bit.
And yet, she hoped this talk had changed something for Sirius.