Chapter 10 : A Steaming Cup of Awkward
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A Steaming Cup of Awkward
I can't exactly pretend that I didn't see this coming. When Sirius said he wanted to do something "fun" I should have known that our definitions of such would be on the two opposing ends of the spectrum. Of course, I didn’t frequent parks and art museums because I fancied myself particularly thoughtful or enlightened, but rather for the reason that people typically left you alone at them. No one thought of striking up a meaningful conversation with a girl as she studied a Monet.
However, it seemed that with Sirius around, the female art students, arms filled with sketch books and pencils, were far more interested in studying him than the works of the old masters. With a clenched jaw, I tried to separate myself from him but he seemed keen on staying close, whining about how dull this was.
“Honestly, Black!” I snapped as quietly yet fiercely as possible. “If you want to do something more interesting go chat up those girls! Merlin knows that they’re waiting for you to make a move. And I bloody swear that if you bring them over to me-”
“But I have no interest in Muggle girls,” he hissed to me.
I blinked wildly, taken aback. I hadn’t taken Sirius as the type after all he had told me about his family. Not being interested in Muggle girls seemed to be something that only someone concentrated on blood superiority would say. I was also slightly surprised that Sirius had a type of girl that he didn’t like.
“I didn’t mean it like that!” he said in a rush. “I just meant that it’s harder to impress Muggle girls. I can’t talk to them about Quidditch or duelling or magic or anything even remotely interesting….”
I snorted and rolled my eyes. “You’re kidding, right? Those girls don’t care!” He gave me a blank look. I sighed. “Sirius. You’re a male in an art museum. A very attractive male in an art museum-”
He smirked. “You think I’m attractive.”
“I was simply stating a fact, not a personal opinion,” I sneered. “Anyway, they don’t care what you say. You being here is enough for them. Go. Go mingle.”
He grudgingly started walking away. “And don’t bring me into this, Black!” I called after him. With another sigh, I turned away from the giggling girls and made my way over to a Cezanne. Even with the added distance between us, the lust coming from the girls was sticky, potent, and made me gag. I knew that it was impossible for honey to spoil, but a sour version of the sweet amber liquid was all I could equate lust to. I tried to study the colours of the painting in front of me. I worked on ignoring the smooth words of Sirius and the shrill laughter of the girls.
“So,” he drawled out. “Would you be willing to sketch a picture of me?” I tried to keep myself from vomiting as a willowy red head responded coyly about only being interested in using him as an anatomy model.
I quickly scampered to a Degas, hoping to finally be out of range. If it didn’t work, there was a Manet a few feet away and, as a last resort, a small Renoir on the complete opposite side of the room. I sincerely hoped that it wouldn’t come to the latter.
But, of course, it did. It seemed that as the conversation went further, the louder the stupid twats got. I somewhat regretted sending him off with the girls. The only high point was that he was now no longer attached to my arm and complaining of boredom.
I eyed him and the giggling females. I was quite tempted to leave the Impressionistic room and move to a different art movement entirely. However, something told me that if I let Sirius out of my sight, I probably wouldn’t be seeing him until later tonight, at the earliest.
Or I could pull him away. I could get him away from those girls and we could do something else. Perhaps we could find some common ground. I didn’t like to think of it, but there was something else that bothered me about the girls besides their annoying laughter. Which was actually quite odd if you thought about it. I mean, I knew Sirius had been with other girls that I was familiar with at Hogwarts. And far more than I’d ever wanted to see, as in the case with Felicity Pagenaud. I’d witnessed him sneak off with that girl on the train to London and flirt shamelessly the woman at the front desk of our hotel and neither had eaten away at me like this.
I shook off all the thoughts as I made my way over to him and the new Muggle faction of his fan club. Both Sirius and his sluts looked at me warily.
“Who’s that?” one of them demanded. It was the same girl who’d mentioned studying his anatomy earlier. Sirius and I stared at each other. What were we to each other? Friends? I didn’t quite think so. Acquaintances? Perhaps. The only thing that I could really think of was classmates.
“That’s…she’s my cousin.” The girls around him immediately stopped bristling and their protective emotions settled back to the sickening lust.
Cousin. That was a new one and rather unexpected. But I could play along with it. Cousins often times had awkward relationships, right? And as long as becoming a member of the Black family didn’t mean that I had to marry one of my now numerous cousins, I was okay with it.
And we looked enough alike to pass as cousins. Sure, my dark hair was more of a brown to his black, and his eyes grey while mine were blue, but the colourings were close enough. As for other features, my long hair blurred my jaw line and the curve of our noses was similar enough. It was a passable disguise.
“Yes, cousin,” I grinned all too widely. “Let us go now. We have other places to be.” The small crowd stared at me. Then the girls all turned looks toward Sirius and he simply shrugged with a dashing smile.
“Looks like I have to be off, ladies.”
“Well, at least give us your telephone number,” said a wisp of a woman with bleached hair.
“A what?” Sirius asked, truly confused. Fuck.
“Oh, we do not have one. New-fangled device that they are and all,” I covered. But not very well it seemed as they gave me a blank look. Oh dear. When was that Muggle tool invented? “Well, we really must be off.”
And before the shrews could let out another response, I was dragging him out of the Impressionistic Room and then out of the museum.
“You’re a terrible actress, you know that, right?”
I sniffed. “Yes, perhaps. But at least I know what a telephone is. Honestly, even people that don’t take Muggle Studies are aware of what those are!”
He chose not to respond and fired another question at me. “Where are you taking us?”
“Well, you said you wanted to do something else, didn’t you?” He nodded. I took a deep breath. “How would you like to meet my mother?”
I turned to Sirius and quickly wet my lips. "There's something I should tell you."
His gaze turned to me and there was a more than slightly wary look upon his strong features. I felt similar emotions radiating off his skin.
We stood in the narrow hallway that led up to the door of my mother’s apartment, which made them much more concentrated. Of course, it would rather seem that the apartment was partially mine as well, considering the fact that I lived there during summers and some holidays.
I raised my hand as though I was going to grasp Sirius’s arm. However, my courage only took me halfway to the position where I would be touching him. Unable to move anymore forward, my arm hung awkwardly in the air and caused both of our gazes to fix studiously upon it. Both of us wondering what the limb with a mind of its own would do.
I let out a mental sigh of relief when my arm finally fell limply back to my side. Sirius cleared his throat a bit too loudly. “You were saying…?”
“My mother,” I croaked. “You should know beforehand that we’re very…similar.”
“You mean personality wise? Because I don’t know if I could handle two of you,” he grinned wickedly.
I sent him a withering look. “Gee, thanks.” I sighed deeply and ran a hand through my hair. “You know that line that guys use when a mother and daughter are out together? ‘ Oh, you two must be sisters.’”
Sirius grinned roguishly. “Sure. Great line. Use it all the time. Makes you get in good with parental units as well as the hot daughter.”
I suppressed an eye roll. “Yeah. Well, it doesn’t usually hold true, ya know? There are subtle differences in the face. Perhaps even wrinkles and other age lines on the mother that betray how much older she is.”
He nodded impatiently, a frown marring his face. “Sure, sure. I just don’t see where this is going,” said Sirius.
“Well, here’s the thing. We do look alike enough to actually be sisters. And she’s only thirty-four….”
“Okay, so you have a hot mom. What’s the big deal?”
“We look nearly exactly alike. I have none of my father’s visible genes so I’ve gotten all of my mother’s genes. Hence, I look just like her.”
Sirius shrugged. “I still don’t see the problem or need for forewarning.”
I frowned again. He wouldn’t realize how very wrong he was until it was staring him in the face, I decided. Not until he saw the two of us standing near each other would he truly appreciate and wish he had heeded the warning I’d given. He would wish that he’d listened to me to keep from looking like an utter prat.
But fine. Let him be. Maybe it would show Sirius Black that he didn’t always know everything. He should listen to people more than his own arrogant personality. I smiled to myself as I imagined him having to admit that I was right. Of course, in my mind, it included a lot of him grovelling on the ground for forgiveness and admitting that I, Elaina Marshelle, was far superior to him and that he would forever listen to me for the rest of his life.
Yeah. Right. I had more of a chance of Merlin coming back to life and dancing the jig with McGonagall.
I fished the key to the apartment out of my pocket a slid it easily into the lock. It stuck a bit but eventually the mechanisms gave way and the bolt clicked away. I sent one last look at Sirius, whom was shifting restlessly from foot to foot, before pushing the heavy door open, leading with shoulder.
“Mum?” I asked, wandering into the home. “Are you here?”
“Elaina? I’m in the kitchen!”
I smiled despite myself and managed my way around the door, Sirius following close behind. He swung the door close and looked at me with raised brows.
I rounded a corner and found my mother running a wet rag over the tacky counter cover. My eyes widened and faint horror rounded through me. Oh, Merlin. Was my mother really cleaning the Muggle way? In front of Sirius Black?
“Mum!” I hissed. “What are you doing? You can use magic to do that!”
“Oh, don’t be silly, Elaina. I don’t see the point when I can do it the Muggle was just as easily.” My mother finally looked up from her embarrassing work and blew the hair out of her face. “Besides, sweetie, it’s a habit.”
There was the sharp intake of breath and the air was suddenly tingled with shock and astonishment. It took me a heartbeat to realize that the emotions were those of both my mother and Sirius.
I gave a Marauder worthy smirk at Sirius’s reaction. He should have listened to me. He would have been prepared then. Prepared for exactly just how similar my mother and I were.
She was a mirror of me. Or rather, I was a mirror of her. There were subtle differences of course, but those came only from her age being a double of my own. Her hips were rounder and more shapely than my own. There were fine lines around her eyes and slight bags underneath. And her face was devoid of the roundness of youth.
But other than that, we were the same. Royal blue eyes and dark hair with a slight wave to it. The same fine brows and perky nose. The long face, full lips, and flushed cheeks. She really could be my sister. She still had a young appearance if you could get past the sad and haunted look that oft clouded her eyes.
“Hello,” Mum said amiably, if not a little shell shocked. “I’m Ophelia Marshelle.” She stuck out her hand over the counter. Sirius grasped it and gave a light shake as he stated his own name.
I studied her closely for a reaction at his pure-blood surname but I only felt a slight sense of wariness and her eyes tightened only a fraction.
“Do either of you want a cuppa? I was just about to put the kettle on.”
“I’d be glad for one, Ms Marshelle,” Sirius said politely.
“Oh, please. Call me Ophelia. Elaina?”
“Sure, Mum. I’ll have some.”
As she turned to fill the kettle with water, Sirius grabbed my arm forcefully. “I’m afraid I have to use the loo. Excuse me, Ophelia. I’ll be back in a jiffy. Elaina? Show me the way?”
“Uh, sure?” Though my answer did me little good as Sirius dragged me through my own house to the small bathroom we passed on the way in.
“Why didn’t you warn me?” he bit once we were out of range and near the door of the lavatory.
“I suppose you don’t recall because you have a hard time listening to anyone, but I did warn you. You waved it off completely.”
Sirius regarded me again but simply shook his head. His face and the air around him contorted in confusion and disbelief. “I just…you…the resemblance is uncanny.”
“Yes,” I said bitterly. “I suppose that’s what happens when you only really have one set of genes making up your being. Everything seems to be exactly the same.”
He continued to stare, eyes wide and shockingly bright. “I thought there was something wrong with me,” he whispered in a horrified voice. “If you took an aging potion, you would literally be your mother. For a moment there, I honestly thought that I’d stepped through some sort of time portal.”
There was a feeling of fear that was starting to settle around him. I stiffened. Always the constant reminder that I was different. Thank you, Sirius Black, for making my life feel like an utter shit hole yet again.
“I’ll just leave you alone here for a bit then. Collect your thoughts,” I stiffly replied. Sirius didn’t even seem to notice that I was sending icy vibes towards him or that I was walking away.
With a clenched jaw of my own, I stopped just outside of the entryway of the kitchen. After a few calming breaths – enough to properly smooth out my features enough that my mother wouldn’t question me – I re-entered the room. My mother had fixed the kettle on the stove and the burner it sat on glowed an eerie red. She, however, leaned upon the newly scourged counter with an expectant look and quizzical brows.
“So,” she stretched the word out to new lengths and I inwardly cringed. “Who’s that?”
“Sirius Black. Merlin, Mum, he did introduce himself.” If I ever had a resume to write, I could include my talent of twisting questions better suited to me. I’m sure I could get hired by someone. A law firm, a shady business, perhaps even a drug dealer….
I was given a stern look. “Mum, he’s just-” I paused to think of a word that would be accurate enough but not alarm my mother “-a friend.” Why wasn’t some term for people that could be perfectly amiable with each other one moment and then want to rip each other to pieces the next? A name for people that were nearly forced together by a contract between mutual friends.
Mum’s brows went up farther. Oh dear Lord, she believed my hesitation was a signal of something more rather than something less. “Uh-huh. He’s cute,” she said pointedly.
I wanted to object and say that while Sirius Black was many things, he was not, in fact, cute. Cute was what you used to describe kittens. Or a new top that you’re about to buy. Adjectives for Sirius were more along the lines of drop dead gorgeous, dashing, handsome, dapper, Adonis, hell!, even pretty would be better suited than cute.
But I didn’t say any of those things. I just gave a noncommittal sound and a head bob that could have been taken any number of ways. Thankfully, the tea kettle gave a loud whistle that saved me from elaborating.
“You know, darling,” Mum turned and began fixing three cups, ladling a more than healthy helping of honey into her own. “You can tell me anything. If you and Sirius are-”
“Mum!” I exclaimed. “We’re really just friends!”
“But…he came to London with you. You’ve never come with anyone….” She had a certain wounded tone to her voice that made my heart ache.
I couldn’t very well give her the true answer. “Oh yes, you see he almost killed me, so to make up for it, he decided to come to London out of guilt and get to know me for real!” Yeah, that would go over well. And then it hit me. She really didn’t know. Which meant that Dumbledore hadn’t told her. Dumbledore hadn’t told my mother that I was almost killed because of another student. And for that, I wasn’t sure if the headmaster was now my favourite person in the world…or if it was incredibly suspicious that he hadn’t.
“He, um, he has family in the area as well.”
“Oh. Well that’s nice. Is he going to visit them as well?” Her voice tightened.
No. “Um…maybe. I dunno, Mum. They don’t exactly get along all that well sometimes. I suppose it just depends on how amicable they feel….”
“The Blacks, huh? I knew them. You know…when I was younger. They weren’t good people, Elaina.” She gave one of those stern, motherly looks.
Alarms went off in my head. “He’s different, Mum. I swear. I mean, he wouldn’t be here if he wasn’t. He knows about me, Mum. About…well, you know. He’s best friends with James Potter. A Potter, Mum. And he’s a Gryffindor! Not a Slytherin. He’s…well, he’s not exactly a nice person but he’s not bad either.”
My mother put on a deep concentration as she moved the cup of her sweet tea to her lips. “Elaina,” she began slowly, “do you…like Sirius?”
“Well, yeah, Mum.”
She gave a small smile. “No, sweetie. I mean ‘like’ as in the way that a woman likes a man.”
But thank Merlin that Sirius chose that exact moment to return to the room.
“Sirius, darling, how do you take your tea?”
“As is, thank you,” he said pleasantly. He gave me a sidelong look that sent shivers down my back. Had he heard our conversation? I mean, the apartment wasn’t exactly sound proof. How hard would it be to hear around a corner or two?
My fingers curled around my own mug so tightly that they turned white. Had I just dug myself into a hole by talking to my mother in my own house? And…did I like Sirius? Would it even matter if I liked Sirius? It’s not like he would ever make a move on me.
“Sirius, you were in the bathroom for quite some time. Is everything all right?”
“Oh, perfect, Ophelia. I was just powdering my nose,” he grinned. Mum gave an awkward jittery laugh as though she wasn’t sure if she believed him or not. I snorted into my tea.
“It was a joke. I was actually just milling around your home. I hope you don’t mind, but the décor is simply amazing.”
And then Sirius Black was schmoozing my mother right in front of me. They talked about Hogwarts and family. The pure-bloods that looked like they had a stick permanently shoved up their asses that they’d met at various parties (of course, they were significantly older when Sirius had met them). They tried to include me in the conversation, but I wasn’t exactly being sociable. My responses were short and mainly consisted of indistinguishable sounds and grunts. My mind was far from the kitchen that contained my mother and Sirius.
Did I like Sirius? Was there some secret unrequited love there? Or was my mother simply reading into things?
Well, here ya go! Chapter Ten of Demented which makes this - drum roll, please! - my longest story ever! Yay!
Soooo, in this chapter I've finally added the romance element. But what do you think? Does Elaina really like Sirius? Or does Ophelia just have an overly active, romantic imagination. I would love to hear your thoughts!
And speaking of Ophelia, this chapter image is of her. Obviously, I wasn't able to find someone older that looked exactly like Nicole Linkletter, but I think Jill Flint does a pretty good job. And as I was browsing for pictures of her, I stumbled across her age. The lovely lady is perfect for my thirty-four year old character, but how old is she in real life? Forty-three! Wow! She ages well!
Love you guys!
~The Forgotten Muse
My darlings! As promised, here is a preview for Chapter 11. I usually don't do this kind of thing, but I want you to know that I am writing. If you're American like me, I hope you have a nice Thanksgiving :)
Sirius looked up from the menu he was flicking through and gave me a hard expression. “Look. I understand that you’re really sensitive about your…condition…but you can’t just stop living life because of it. Deal with it. Deal with it and then live a normal life. Take precautions, make plans. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice everything.”
My defences immediately went up. “Oh. You mean much like you’ve dealt with your family issues?”
His jaw tightened and eyes flashed back down to the menu which he then gave a furious flip of the page. I dug my nails into my palm and felt as though I should start slamming my head against the table.
“Right. Sorry. I…I really didn’t mean that. It’s just…I can tell, you know?”
He didn’t look up but responded stiffly, “Tell what?”
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