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Chapter 12 : Diverging Roads
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“Gee, you can almost see civilization from here.” Sirius said with a smirk, taking a swig of the dark ale in his pint glass.
Lucy swatted him lightly on the arm, gazing out at the view of the barren streets below, the gentle autumn breeze sending her blonde hair flying out behind her. She leaned forward slightly in her chair, peering over the edge of her flat building’s roof to look at the two-toned leaves that tumbled down from the trees and came to rest on the pavement below. The air was still somewhat warm, but the light wind made her glad that she’d thrown a sweater on before heading up here with him. It had been his idea to come up here and wile away the evening with her, and she was enjoying sipping from her bottle of light beer and taking in the late September weather.
He glanced over at her, scooting his chair over closer to her and lightly draping his arm affectionately around her shoulders. “Did I ever ask you how work was today?”
“No.” She replied cheekily, and then she shrugged. “But there’s not much to say. It was the same as always. We always get the usual handful of people coming in, but it’s quiet otherwise.” Her blue eyes, bereft of much of their normal sadness, met his grey ones. “Where were you at lunch, anyway?”
“I met up with Remus.” Sirius said, choosing not to describe his day further. In truth, he had spent the day checking into the problems that were rapidly arising within the Ministry, just like every other member of the Order of the Phoenix. He couldn’t do much from Grimmauld Place, but he did help organize leads and divide them between his fellows while Dumbledore was busy at Hogwarts. He and Remus had worked on it together over fish and chips during lunch that day.
“Have you told him about me?” Lucy asked, taking another drink from her bottle.
“No.” Sirius said. “Do you want me to?”
“No, it’s all right.” She looked back down at the street. “You could bring him over sometime if you wanted, though.”
“Maybe I will.” Sirius smiled gently at her. “Speaking of lunch, how did you do without me?”
“Not so well.” Lucy admitted, gripping her bottle with both hands. “I got an egg salad sandwich, but I took too big of a bite the first time, and I sort of panicked. I couldn’t finish it.” She bit her lip. “Casey did offer me a bit of bread pudding right before closing, though. I ate half of it.”
“Good.” Sirius nodded. “It’s not a big thing. You just had a rough day. Try again tomorrow.”
Lucy smiled half-heartedly at him, laying her head on his shoulder gently. She had never known this side of him when they were students. He was either a jokester, partying until he dropped, or he was comically, overtly romantic. He was being genuinely sweet to her now, and she liked it.
“Listen, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about the house.” He leaned forward a little bit, accidentally forcing her to move her head. “I’ve had Kreacher working overtime to clean, and Remus and I have sort of fixed it up, you know, with all of the spare time left over from our collective lack of a real job.” He grinned at her. “It looks half-decent now, but it’s a little big for just me and Remus. I’d love it if you wanted to move in.”
Lucy blinked at him, setting her beer down on the concrete roof. “Sirius…”
“Come on, don’t shoot me down. Just think about it.” He said, looking at her hopefully. “We could really do this. You and me. We could have something real again.”
Lucy snorted slightly. “Again? I hardly call what we had before real. One or both of us was pissed out of our minds pretty much the entire time we were together.”
“Yeah, but I cared about you.” Sirius said, his expression dampening a bit. “Didn’t you care about me?”
“Of course I did.” Lucy replied, sighing. “I just don’t think we should rush into anything.”
“How is this rushing?” Sirius almost laughed. “You and I have been doing whatever it is that we’re doing for almost two years now. Is it so strange to think about us being together?”
“Why can’t we be together here?” Lucy countered. “Don’t you like it here?”
“I mean, it’s not bad.” Sirius shrugged.
“How many people have recognized you and threatened to turn you in to the authorities since you moved in with me?” She continued, unabated. “We can hide out here together, Sirius.”
“Lucy, you’re fooling yourself.” Sirius shook his head, his grin fading. “I found your wand once when I cut myself cooking and looked for a bandage in the bathroom cabinet. It looks like you haven’t touched it in years. It’s collecting dust in there while you play house with your electricity and your Muggle job and your—” He paused, trying to remember the word, miming a large box with his hands.
“Microwave.” Lucy filled in for him.
“Yes, microwave.” He sighed. “Do you even remember how to cast a spell anymore?”
“Of course I do.” She said, sounding somewhat offended. “I mean, I still use magic when I have to, sometimes even just because I want to. But I like my Muggle life, even if it’s all a fraud.” She crossed her arms over her chest, inhaling the crisp air. “I like going to work at the diner and talking to my boss about mundane Muggle things. I like using my Muggle money to pay my bills. I like cooking with my hands instead of my wand. I like reading my Muggle books.” She faltered slightly, recalling that most of the books rightfully belonged to her estranged husband. “Out here, no one talks about blood purity and Death Eaters. It’s wonderful, Sirius.”
He stared at her in wonder, seeing every painful moment of her life etched in her expression. For a moment, he thought that it must be quite pleasant to live in ignorance of the senseless murders that took place down back alleys in wizarding London, to never have to come upon a house lit up by the sinister green tinge of a fresh Dark Mark, stinking with the smell of blood and dead flesh. But then he thought of Harry, the godson he was just beginning to get to know, and Remus and everyone working alongside him in the Order. He thought of all the fun he’d had discovering his magical talents with James and his friends at his side. He could never abandon that which he adored so very much, not even for the only girl for whom he’d ever felt anything real.
“Besides, that ale is brewed locally here.” Lucy was saying, and he caught the end of her statement as he emerged from his reverie. She gestured to his empty glass. “You like it?”
“Huh?” He asked, and he followed her pointed finger. “Oh, yeah, it’s good.”
“Here, I’ll get you some more.” She smiled sadly at him, standing up and taking the glass and her now-empty bottle down the stairs that led to her door.
As Sirius watched her escape, imagining her pausing in her flat to shed a tear or two, he clasped his hands together, staring over the edge of the roof at the leaves that continued to fall. He regretted bringing it up now, having unintentionally brought pain to a woman who was already wounded to the core. The thought reminded him of Snape, and he closed his eyes tightly, hating the idea of her retreating from him as she put their twice-failed relationship behind her. He couldn’t lose her again. If that meant he needed to stop talking about her moving in, so be it.
If only he’d left it at that.
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