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Chapter 16 : Benefit of a Friend
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Dear Mr Black,
This letter is to inform you that after the abrupt end of term in November, Hogwarts and the town of Hogsmeade have undergone thorough investigation by the Ministry of Magic. After much consideration of the students’ safety and with added security measures, we are pleased to inform you that Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is prepared to reopen for the spring term on the 5th of January.
Should you accept to resume your position in the School, please be aware that the Hogwarts Express leaves Platform 9 3/4, King’s Cross Station at 11.00 am on the 5th of January. Ticket is enclosed. Please report to your Head of House upon arrival.
Students of third year and below now require parental permission to continue team sports including Quidditch. Please have a parent or guardian sign the permission form enclosed.
Students please note that visits to Hogsmeade village for third years and above are temporarily discontinued. Classes will commence on Tuesday, January 6th as per previous term’s time table.
We wish that the remainder of your holidays are pleasant and hope to see you at the Welcoming Feast.
Professor M. McGonagall
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
I’d read the letter three times already. It was such a relief to know that Hogwarts was reopened. We never really thought about it but once the letter arrived it became apparent that there might have been a chance Hogwarts would have stayed closed for longer, maybe even a year. It was good to know we were going back soon. Next to the Potters, Hogwarts was my second home. I missed it.
The brilliant blue flames flickered within the jar at the centre of the hearthrug throwing indistinct shadows onto the wood planked walls.
James and I lay opposite each other on the wooden floor of his tree-house. We worked quietly in the light cast by the flames, scratching several diagrams of floor plans of Hogwarts onto pieces of parchment.
It started as a joke during our second year. James had gotten tired of ending up in detention every other week owing to either Filch or Snape’s abnormally large nose finding itself into our business. Thus we’d come up with a plan to create a map, that showed us the position of all who we needed to avoid.
As we began to research and add to the map we made, we discovered that there was more to Hogwarts than what met the eye. When it was hard to connect rooms together on the map it became clear we had stumbled upon a hidden passage. As our interest grew on our new project we pushed ourselves to discover the secrets Hogwarts had carefully kept all these years. Soon we found new and interesting paths that not only led around and about the castle but also outside, especially and most conveniently, Hogsmeade.
By Christmas last year we had nearly perfected the map, but there were still a few rumours that we chased.
Rooms that dissappeared, walls that moved and led to new passageways and tunnels that led outside the castle. Although at first it sounded ridiculous, after all that we had learnt after keen observation of Hogwarts’ secret passages it was at least worth a try to discover. However, despite searching diligently we found no records of its existence in the history of Hogwarts or any mention in the castle’s architectural manuscripts.
And so we still searched for the ‘missing pieces’ in an apparently complete puzzle.
“Think he’ll come around soon?”
James’ voice made my mind surface from my thoughts.
“Hmm?” I asked vaguely as I tried to make out his shadow immediately behind the jar of flames.
“Remus,” He said shortly and I sighed.
Since the full moon, none of us had heard from Remus. Peter wrote to us that he had tried to visit his old house but no one was home. He avoided us and no one could avoid a person better than Remus. Our only hope was to wait for him to come to terms with the full moon and return to us.
Our attempts to make our friend feel less isolated had backfired in a way we had not expected.
“He’ll come around,” I said hopefully. “Once he sees we’re ok with it and that we can handle it. It’ll be fine…”
James did not comment but adjusted his glasses and returned to work.
I wanted to change the subject. Thinking that we might have caused more harm than good by doing something Remus specifically asked us never to do was a little too much to digest all at once.
“So how’s Evans?”
“What? How would I know?” James tried to brush the question off with a less-than-interested tone while he pushed himself up on his elbow and looked at me intently as if trying to make out how much I knew.
It was entertaining to see James squirm on a hook at any cost and nothing got that boy more twisted than wily Little Red.
I couldn’t help but smirk back, “Saw an envelope on your desk the other day…” I said vaguely, “Pretty sure that exact same handwriting was on Lily Evans’ potions essay we copied a while back!”
James rolled his eyes, “Weird that you remember her handwriting, don’t you think?”
“Oh come on now, don’t be jealous pretty boy! You know she’s not my type,”
James pretended to choke on his tongue as he laughed out loud, “Woman, is your type!”
I threw a quill at him and missed.
“Well?” I prompted refusing to change the subject. James picked at the vane on the end of his quill. He was never more vulnerable than he was when his feelings for Lily surfaced.
“It was just a thank you note, you know… for helping them out that day” he rolled his eyes.
“She’s quite a catch huh?”
“She’s good a girl as any I suppose, but definitely not the only worthy girl on the planet!” James flipped his parchment over with a hard face.
It was rare to find a moment James admitted he was taken with Evans, but as Remus often pointed out to his face, James would invariably push that aside with a comment such as this.
I turned onto my back, folding my arms behind my head, “Remember second year,” I asked with a fond memory, “I dared you to talk to Lily Evans and tell her you liked her? And what did you do? Went up to the girl and said, ‘Lily Evans, I will kiss you before the year is over! Just thought you should know.’” I laughed again as the expression on the 12 year old girl’s face came back to me.
“Yes, thank you,” James said sourly, “think her slap managed to unhinge my jaw for a while.”
“She’s got spunk! you’ve got to give her that!”
James said nothing.
I sat up as a thought that had been mulling around in my head surfaced.
“In all seriousness,” I turned to him and he looked up at the change in tone of my voice, “That day, at Hogsmeade, you came running to me because you knew I could find a way to get to Capri.” I hesitated for a second but pressed on, “Did you truly come because of her…?”
James narrowed his eyes as he tried to understand what I meant, “She’s my friend too, Sirius.”
“I know… I know. But I won’t judge you if you say otherwise” I said honestly.
James closed his book with a snap, “What are you talking about?” his tone was edgy now, a drastic change. He was suddenly defensive, “This may surprise you Sirius, but you’re not the only one who cares about Capri!”
“I’m just saying-”
“What?!” his voice rose, “What else would I be doing there?” he asked as if I was accusing him.
I looked at the fire wondering if it was right to show him something he was blind to. Or should I let him find out for himself?
“Saving someone you loved,” I answered finally facing him, “same as me,” and myself.
It was hard going back and trying not to think about what would happen when we got there. Things would have surely changed, but to what extent?
My head bumped against the window and woke me up again. The continuous rhythm of the train was the only sound that filled the compartment. Nora, Emma, Lily and Kate were all fast asleep leaning against each other or the window. Kate’s head bobbed slowly with the motion of the train with her legs slung over her truck which had no room upon the luggage racks.
I looked out the window. The sky was a dark grey. It was near nightfall and the passing trees and moors were shades of deep grey too. My fingers fumbled a little on the sleeve of my jumper as I pulled it back to check the time. Nearly six-thirty.
I was hungry and the lunch trolley had not come by as usual, or I had missed it while I slept.
Hoping to find it somewhere along the corridors I got up slowly trying not to disturb the girls and stepped out of the compartment shutting the door quietly as I headed down the corridor.
It was different. People always ran along these corridors chasing each other, laughing, playing around or just chatting up with friends they’d spent the holiday apart. But the corridors today were empty and silent. No one left their compartments and except for a few prefects patrolling every now and then there was no sound. To me, even the lamps seemed dimmer. My hand slid over my jean pocket ensuring me that my wand was in place.
I passed Compartment 6 and headed down the corridor when I heard the door slid open behind me.
Shocked, I jumped a foot in the air and staggered back. I whipped around reaching for my wand at the same time in panic. That, coupled with the motion of the train made me successfully lose my balance and fall. Just as my arms flayed about trying to hold onto something before I hit the floor a hand gripped my wrist and jerked me forward. I reeled head first, colliding hard against a warm solid chest wall before me. My hands clenched the shirt fabric tightly to brace myself. After I’d taken a second to recover I pushed myself off the offender’s chest and looked up.
Irritated at the smug look upon his face and not finding the humiliation particularly funny I gave an exasperated sigh, “Sirius!”
His eyes twinkled with mischief. Urrgh! I couldn’t believe he got me!
I jabbed him under the ribs, and he pretended to wince painfully but didn’t bother to hide his smirk.
“You nearly gave me a heart-attack!” I accused him.
“I almost forgot how adorable you are when you get your knickers in a twist!” he searched my eyes, smiled and raised a hand to gently brush back the hair that was in my eyes. Still pissed off and a little self-conscious at almost falling to the ground, I instinctively slapped his hand away
barely noticing him cringe the slightest or look away as he swallowed down something he’d been about to say. His other hand abruptly released my waist. I hadn’t even noticed him holding me until he did so.
He said nothing but stood before me shoving his hands deep into his pockets and avoiding my eyes. I bit my lip, immediately beginning to regret having treated him so harshly and as my embarrassment disappeared I realised I might have hurt him unintentionally.
“How’s Nora?” he cut across me.
I swallowed my apology, “She’s good. Sleeping…”
“Right,” Sirius smiled politely.
I knew his eyes so well that I could tell his smile wasn’t true. Realising this perhaps he broke our gaze and stared at his watch. “We should be there soon,” he commented.
It was uncomfortable and I had no clue what do but change the subject.
“Hey, where are James and Peter?” I asked him.
“Usual” he replied shortly.
I nodded. The boys often occupied the last compartment on the train. It was behind that which the food was stored and the compartment was more private with no corridor running though. Remus however must dutifully be patrolling along the train.
“I’ll see you at the feast,” Sirius said turning to open the door.
“Ok. Sirius, just… stop!” I blurted out, not really thinking it though.
“What?” he asked reproachfully spinning back. He was too close to me. I could feel his exasperated huff graze my cheek.
I groaned, “Look, this can’t keep happening. This is not us ok. We can’t be walking on egg shells around each other all the time. We’re friends for God’s sake, best friends! We shouldn’t act otherwise…”
His shoulders sagged as he exhaled deeply. With even such a simple gesture it was clear he agreed. Up close he looked tired and weary.
I took a rather brave step forward lessening the drift between us, encouraged when he did not back away. The train rattled on.
He had grown even more somehow, I could tell since his shoulders were reaching close to the top of my head. My eyes studied his face, realising it had been a long time since I had last done so. His perpetual lustrous eyes forever owned me.
Sirius watched me carefully as my eyes glided over his face taking in a few small scars here and there, many of them not too old. His chin seemed to display a bare hint of stubble. I smiled to myself thinking it became him.
“What is it?” Sirius tilted his head to the side.
I smiled shaking my head, “Nothing. Your hair’s grown...” I studied how his sleek hair fell behind his collar now.
His hand immediately reached to the back of his neck grasping a few stands between his fingers,
“Do you hate it?” he asked in a voice so honest and vulnerable I was sure my bones turned soft. It was an innocent question, somewhat like a child asking if something he’d done displeased me.
“Of course not!” I said truthfully and smiled reassuringly.
I looked into his eyes and he believed me, finally smiling back at me.
I wanted us to be us again. With everything that had happened over the course of four months (although it seemed like a year had gone by already) I realised we had stretched very much apart. But as I looked at Sirius now and saw the way he looked back at me, I was positive we could find our way back. My hand reached out naturally and I ran my fingers into the ends of his smooth hair curling them in my fist as I pulled down gently.
His lower lip pulled back slowly and I knew he was biting on it. The lightest blush coloured his face throwing his cheek bones into sharp relief. I felt a soft smirk touch my lips. I would have given anything in the world to know what he was thinking at that moment. My pride suddenly wondered if, after all this time, he could feel even a trace of the self-consciousness I felt when I was around him.
What if he did...? Would it matter? My conscience surfaced in time.
“There you are!” my heart stopped and I dropped my hand immediately to my side.
“I’ve been looking all over for you,” said Peter’s voice. As I turned I realised he was talking to Sirius. I felt the heat rise behind my ears, colouring my face and wondered if Sirius noticed it too.
“Err… yeah I got caught up at the bathroom, long line.”
My heartbeat rose further in guilt wondering why Sirius had chosen to lie. Did it mean something?
No. Of course it doesn’t! Just because you…
Doesn’t mean he…
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
I wanted to hit my head repeatedly with the heel of my hand.
“Hey Capp,” Peter turned to me with an enthusiastic bright smile.
“Oh… H-hey” I tried to smile back as normally as I could. With a swift movement of my hand, I let my hair fall over my shoulder to cover the sides of my face so as to not reveal the tomato-red of my cheeks. Really Capri?
“Good holiday, Capp?”
“Mmhmm” I answered Peter carefully, since he had always had a knack for detecting tension… of any kind. Not that there was any!
“James wants to talk to you, Sirius. Cappie, why don’t you come with?”
“Oh no, it’s ok. I was just looking for the lunch trolley, I should get back,”
“I’m afraid the lunch trolley isn’t operating today Capp. But you’re in luck, we bought a lot of food at Kings Cross and we have so much to spare,” how could anyone say no to that eager, clueless, bright-eyed face. Dammit.
“Sure…” I said in a defeated voice, “I’d love to.”
We sat in the last compartment with James and Peter. Sirius chose to sit next to me for some reason but resorted to avoiding meeting my gaze. I felt uncomfortable and strangely guilty. I hated the feeling and began to fidget a little under the pressure.
When my restless jerking leg began to annoy Sirius he held my knee suddenly under the table causing me to freeze and drop the half eaten pumpkin pasty in my hand.
Sirius however, ignored it and returned to the Prophet he was reading. James and Peter if they noticed didn’t let it on. I gulped down on my packet of juice quietly before turning the collective attention to a less uncomfortable topic.
Half curious and half suspecting I questioned the boys about what had happened over Christmas at my house. They were much more informed about Regulus and his agenda than I had predicted.
“So let me get this straight,” I pushed myself up on my seat after leaning in and listening to all of them while the world outside the train got steadily darker, “Regulus did join these “Death Eaters”?” I made quotation marks in mid-air to translate that I wasn’t really sure what it meant.
James nodded with a solemn expression.
“And just to prove to your mum that he’s better than you?” I asked turning to Sirius disbelievingly.
“Trust me, that doesn’t even scratch the surface of the stupid things he’s done for that family.”
“You’re family has issues!” I said boldly, irritated by the lack of interest Sirius was showing for the wellbeing of his own brother. I knew they hated each other since he was sorted into Gryffindor and Sirius had counted on his brother standing by him but Regulus along with the rest of his family shunned him. Still I thought Sirius would care more.
He said nothing but exchange a weak chuckle with Peter.
“He’s just a child!” I turned to James.
“We can try and help,” James offered half-heartedly, “but Cappie, you what he’s like. He hates us just as much as Snivellus and the rest of those sodding Slytherins!”
I gave up. I still believed that Regulus was being misled but they were right, he would never listen to us.
“So why did the Death Eaters ask him to steal… what was it?”
“A locket,” said Sirius folding the Prophet and finally tossing it aside.
“A locket? Really?”
“It’s supposed to be very powerful” James defended.
I sighed, “I would say ‘Unlikely’, but this is magic after all.”
“The worst of its kind,” said Sirius looking out the window. Something in his voice made me look up at him realising that although he never voiced it, in some ways it was he did still care about his brother.
“Whatever it was, it was worth trying to silence three lives,” I said turning to James and Peter with a shudder. Sirius cleared his throat and turned back to us.
“Everything is under control. Don’t worry,” he said finally looking at me after a long time.
“I somehow doubt it Sirius,” I said in a quiet voice, “I think this is beyond you and your brother. I mean honestly if they tried so hard the first time and acted so erratic when they failed, you don’t think it’s likely they’d try again!?”
“If it was in the shop, it was destroyed in the fire,” Sirius said confidently and looked out the window past me.
“But can fire destroy something supposedly so powerful?”
“Fiend fire can,” said Peter. I nodded remembering Professor Flitwick explain it to us a while back.
“That’s the thing though,” said James.
“The shopkeeper, he swears he never had it!”
“Does he know why they were after it?”
“Not sure,” said James pondering seriously, “but he knew enough not to keep it in his shop. He thinks it might have been cursed” his tone made it clear he did not believe it.
I wondered what could possibly possess four young school boys to risk everything to steal it.
It was as if Sirius read my mind when he spoke next to me.
“They say the locket belonged to Salazar Slytherin”
My eyes widened, “The Salazar Slytherin?”
“The one and only”
It must be a unique item for sure. Anyone would want to get their hands on it, but now it
made sense that the Slytherins had gone after it.
I thought about it though trying to make sense out of it. “Why didn’t the Death Eaters just steal it themselves? Why send young school boys to do it?”
Sirius stretched in his seat and let his arm rest along the seat behind me. I fidgeted a bit once more and caught a small smirk playing on his mouth. In reply I scowled at him but he didn’t notice.
“Well they would have had to go through a lot more hassle to get to Hogsmeade undetected.”
“Dumbledore and the ministry have people all around Hogwarts and Hogsmeade on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary,” James explained when I looked confused.
“Dumbledore’s knows about all this?” I asked in an excited whisper unable to stop my curiosity.
James and Peter nodded.
“So of course they asked the idiot new recruits who are dying to prove themselves to fetch the locket for them,” Sirius pulled a disgusted face.
“Why though? Why do you suppose they are all so loyal to this person, the Dark Lord? I mean from what I’ve heard most of them haven’t even met him!” I countered.
“It’s obvious isn’t it?” Sirius said with an air of maddening superiority and I just stared back at him with a raised eyebrow.
“He’s got a slice of heaven, and he’s giving a taste of it to anyone who’s willing to bring him what he wants.”
“What kind of stuff could he have to be able to call the loyalty of so many people?”
“Wealth, prosperity … The good life” shrugged Peter.
“Power… the kind that’s never been reached or explored, the kind that can’t be bought. The kind that can’t be defeated” Sirius said solemnly.
“Immortality…” said James with a grim face.
At long last the train began to slow. We were finally back. For me, I was at my true home, Hogwarts. The dim lamps brightened and everyone began to collect their things ready to get off the train after the long journey.
I poked Sirius awake and the weight of his head lifted off my shoulder. However once he’d gotten his bearings he surprised me by suddenly jumping up as if a jolt of lightning ran through him. He violently shook James awake before walking right past me without so much a sideways look to wake Peter.
Feeling very awkward and slightly hurt at being treated like an insect, I simply got up, told James I’d see him at the feast and left without a second glance at the last compartment.
I didn’t know what had gotten into Sirius since our earlier meeting in the corridor, but I wasn’t about to get into it now in the crowded train.
I shut the compartment door behind me and headed along the train.
People were loud as they began to pack their things into their luggage. Owls screeched at the loud yapping everyone created and cats ran here and there as I fled as fast as I could back to my compartment. When I reached it I could feel my eyes stinging and knew I was tearing up. I brushed the moisture roughly away with my sleeve.
Hell no. It isn’t worth it. HE isn’t worth it.
With a long breath to steady myself I wrenched the door open.
“Hey where were you? Are we nearly there?” Nora asked me as she spotted my arrival.
“Tried to find the lunch trolley. Yeah I think we’re about to reach Hogsmeade,” I answered shortly earning a concerned look. I tried to look busy and ignore the attention.
Lily was helping Kate straighten out the back of her robes. Emma had changed halfway and stood in the middle of the compartment in stockings, knee-length skirt and bra as she tried to pull her fully-fastened shirt over her head.
I got up on the seat and pulled down my trunk from its rack and changed quickly into my school robes. The train lurched to a stop just as I put on my last button. I slammed the trunk closed and slid the lock into place. Leaving our luggage behind we began to file out of our compartments and onto the station amid all the rush looking forward to returning to Hogwarts Castle.
Tired from the long train ride we slept well into the morning and so were late than usual when we headed down for breakfast.
Unfortunately that meant going all the way down the stairs with the Gryffindor boys.
I tried very hard not to exhale impatiently as Sirius fell into step beside me.
“Hey Capp,” he said as he rummaged in his bag for something.
“Morning,” I said monotonously simply to convey I wasn’t really interested in talking to him.
We were almost near the doors of the Great Hall.
“Listen, umm… I’ve got to talk to you about something,” Sirius eyed Nora next to me as if trying to convey something to her but I stopped in my tracks forcing him to a standstill in front of me.
The group moved ahead, including Nora.
“I’m actually not in the mood to talk right now, Sirius.” I didn’t know where my anger sprang from but my glare made him tense.
“Wait, you’re mad at me?” he sounded completely surprised! How could anyone be so dense?!
“No,” I looked away and pulled on my bag as it slipped off my shoulder.
“What did I do?” Sirius demanded.
“I said ‘No, I’m not mad at you!’” I walked around him.
“Capri, talk to me, please…” He held my wrist trying to stop me.
There was desperation in his voice, but for the first time I didn’t care. I pulled my hand free, threw the Great hall doors wide open and walked in. Finding a place next to Nora and Lily I began to eat my breakfast quietly with the rest of the group.
Sirius however didn’t let it go. All morning he kept pestering me, trying to get me to tell him why I was mad. All morning I spent my time pretending Sirius’s constant nagging was an irksome fly.
While he insisted we sit together at Potions and tried to figure out what went wrong with our “Let’s be friends again” bargain, the rest of the class animatedly discussed the new masked guards that patrolled outside the castle now. Each student was asked to walk over a circle with several unusual markings when we entered Hogwarts. It was supposed to detect any weapons being brought to school. Students also wondered aloud what Hogsmeade now looked like and when we would be allowed to visit again.
For the third time Professor Slughorn called the class to order.
I cut the dried figs on my table carefully into even squares.
“You’re giving me the silent treatment? Really? I thought we were past this!” Sirius whispered across the table jabbing his knife into the wood angrily.
I quietly added the figs to the simmering cauldron and picked the ginger root and knife off the table. Once I’d added two slices of it, I had to marinate the rat spleen in bubo tuber pus, since Sirius did nothing but sit and stare.
I didn’t even look at him. I wasn’t sure why I was this angry, but I knew I’d do something wildly out of proportion if I faced him. I had always been a little short-tempered, especially with people I cared about. And as I recently discovered apparently I wasn’t good at handling rejection or being cast aside either. Nora was the only one who avoided the flames because she was just calm itself. Sirius on the other hand had been blowing my fuse since first year.
Every time lately when I think he’s changed or back to the boy I was best friends with, he’d do something that intentionally or unintentionally hurt me and spoiled it all. It had never been this difficult before… What changed?
I reached over to grab the scales but Sirius caught my hand. His hands were cold and his touch made me lose the strict control over my actions and I stared into his pained eyes, knowing he would make me forgive him just with those eyes. Despite his strong hands his grip was gentle, as if he was afraid he would break my hand. My fingers spontaneously released the scales and rested around his hand.
“I’m sorry… Capri… I-”
“It’s not you,” the sudden realisation made me feel twice as guilt-stricken as Sirius probably felt, “I’m just having a lousy day,” I lied and pulled my hand out of his, “Sorry I took it out on you, ok?” I looked away from him and I could tell he didn’t believe me.
Too bad, it really wasn’t all him. I may have led him on just a bit, both of us not even knowing it.
The thought scared me more.
The fact that Sirius ignored me for the millisecond that passed in a flash had made me so angry, and hurt. I had no right to feel that way about a friend. He was just a friend.
Jason was my boyfriend. How would he feel if he knew half the things in my head, my stupid childish crush on my best friend which still hadn’t disappeared…?
My throat closed suddenly as the guilt choked me. What if Peter hadn’t walked in at that time…?
“Did you say something rude?”
“Did you say she looked fat? Cos they hate that!”
“Heaven’s sake, Peter! No! I did not say she looked fat!”
“I’m just saying!”
“Oh sod it! You’re no help at all!”
Peter and I slid into our usual seats at the back of the DADA class. Usually I liked to just nod off if a teacher wasn’t around, but my mind was swimming. I was thinking about Capri.
Although I pretended not to know, I knew exactly why Capri pushed me away from her.
It was something I’d waited a very long time to see in her…
“Morning class!” Professor Warrack entered shutting the door quietly, “I hope you all had a good break because I will probably run you ragged this term. I bet most of you will wish this class was optional when we get to OWLs!”
There was a collective groan from the class. What a way to greet the New Year.
“Page 357, if you please. Bones start reading aloud,”
I pushed the book onto the table folded my arms across it and tried to get some shut eye, a difficult task with Peter’s quill scratching an inch from my ear.
After the bell rang, Remus and I headed alone to the common room as James went to meet Dumbledore and Peter was called for by McGonagall.
“Hey, umm… you’re ok aren’t you?” I asked Remus. We hadn’t really talked about the full moon at all since we met him briefly on the train. Remus looked his best, with the peaky-ness gone and the colour returning to his face, his eyes bright as usual and without that significant withered look about him.
“I’m fine, Sirius.” He smiled at me and slapped me on the shoulder, “Since when do you worry so much?”
I laughed, “Well to be honest, my lack of concern has put me in a few difficult positions,”
Remus laughed and nodded in an understanding gesture, “Well, as I recall, it was you who said if you wished, you could change your position at any time, it only mattered what was on top of you!”
I grinned slightly embarrassed that I’d shared that with him. “Remus, these are things you were supposed to put though one ear and out the other!”
Remus laughed and slung his arm around my shoulder, “Ahhh, I see! Try to be more specific about that next time, eh old boy?”
We trudged up the stairs to Gryffindor tower for our first free period.
“So, what really happened?” Remus asked closing the dormitory door behind him.
I slumped onto my bed, unusually worn out. Remus put his bag on the end of the bed, pulled off his robes and slung them over the bedpost before reclining comfortably on his bed.
“Take your time,” Remus said when I didn’t respond.
I pulled the black ring out of my finger, twisting it around the tips of my fingers. I couldn’t feel a damn thing. I had noticed Capri had discarded the bracelet again. She seemed to be taking out every argument we had on the bracelet.
Remus waited patiently, while I mused over my own thoughts. He was the only person I could confess anything and everything to, knowing he’d at least try to understand.
“I almost kissed her on the train…” I blurted out the truth that had been wrestling inside me.
Remus sat bolt upright, “You tried to kiss her?” Of course he knew I was talking about Capri.
I sat up slowly. As the truth left me, its weight began to sink deeper into me.
“I was going to, but I didn’t…”
“How did she take it?”
“She doesn’t know…”
“What? You didn’t lean-”
“No, Peter walked in and…” I looked at my hands. A part of me believed that it was a Godsend that Peter broke us apart. But a part of me also yearned for that moment to have completed…
The worst part was that I wasn’t sure which part of me I was ashamed of.
Remus looked at me empathetically. I wished he would be scornful, James would have been, but Remus understood. It had been him who showed me how much I cared about Capri when I denied it vehemently.
“It can’t happen, Sirius.” Remus said gently in a quiet voice.
“You’ll both just burn each other with guilt,”
“I know, trust me. I know.”
I let myself drop back into the pillows. There was so much I wished to change if I could, but doing so would hurt people I cared about. All I could do now was bury it.
The days passed seamlessly. Capri and I hardly talked, she avoided me as much as she could and I decided to stop pursuing and give her space. Soon the weekend was upon us and James was in high spirits as usual. We were both standing around a table in the corner of the common room which James had chalked a Quidditch pitch on. He was moving the models of the players creating new strategies by prodding the little copper players with his wand. His brow wrinkled deep in thought. He hardly noticed my pre occupied state.
Over by the fireplace Capri sat with the girls, Kate and Nora discussing something apparently very humorous. Capri held her tummy as she laughed hardest. I unknowingly smiled as I watched her.
“Oy!” James slapped the back of my head with his hand, “You listening to me? I’m having an epiphany here!”
“Sorry,” I smiled to myself turning back to his make shift game plan. James turned over his shoulder to see what had caught my attention. “Oh Merlin! Tell me it’s not true!”
I said nothing.
“Get outta here! You’re heads not in this anyway,” James chased me away.
I stood there wondering if I should say anything. I couldn’t pretend anymore so I guess I figured I owed it to our friendship to tell her.
Having made up my mind I took a step towards the girls only to be stopped by a hand on my chest.
“You sure about this?” Remus asked. I secretly wondered how he could have so many eyes to know everything.
“I know what I’m doing,” I nodded.
With a short understanding nod, Remus allowed me to pass.
I reached the back of the couch where Cappie sat with the girls by the fire. Without warning I grabbed her wrist causing her to sharply turn towards me. Even though it wasn’t meant for me the shadow of the laughter she had upon her face made my heart pound.
“We need to talk,” I said urgently looking directly at her.
Her face fell at once, her expression replaced by shock. Her face burned with a fiery blush and I wanted to hope naively that it was my doing.
“Umm,” she got up suddenly and tried to pull her sweater down with her free hand, “Can we not do this right now?,” she asked imploringly, her gaze trying to communicate something that was lost in translation.
“We must,” I said in a rough voice.
It had to be done. It had to be said.
She stiffened suddenly at the sound of my voice. I stared ahead not knowing how to face her, how she was going to take the words I had to say to her.
Nora got up instantly, “It’s ok Capp, I was just about to head to the library” I smiled wanting to thank Nora silently but she didn’t meet my eyes as she walked away.
I held her wrist tighter in my hand and without a second thought I dragged her wordlessly out of the portrait hole and down the staircase toward the landing. At the bottom of the stairs I took a sharp left turn. Halfway along the corridor I paused and pulled back a green tapestry of centaurs to reveal a narrow passageway I’d used often to get to Professor Slughorn’s office quickly, during anytime we’d needed supplies for Polyjuice Potion.
The passageway was dark and Capri gave a barely audible whimper as I pulled her forcefully into it. I let the green material drop from my hand and the tapestry fell back into place, consuming both of us in complete darkness.
“Lumos” my wand tip lit up with a bright light inches from her face. She squinted against the brightness before her eyes could adjust. When she looked back at me her eyes glowed in the wand light.
She had backed against the wall. Her lips trembled softly as I watched, her eyes searching mine. She was afraid…
“What do you want Sirius?” she asked softly, her voice breaking upon my name.
“I need you to know…”
“Know why…” I corrected.
She gave an exasperated sigh looking away. Her slender arms folded across her chest forcing some distance between us. The temper that flared often was part of her charm, a fact that had always pulled me to her. I smiled softly but then became serious.
“But firstly,” I looked down at her folded arms and let my finger trace softly over her bare wrist, “you have to stop taking out every argument we have on the bracelet. It’s not f-“
“Fair?” she hissed. It was a sound I’d been accustomed to over the years of our friendship and I tensed immediately.
“Really Sirius? You’re going to talk to me about fair? I’m NOT taking it out on the bracelet, it’s just not fair for you to be picking at my emotions just so you know whether or not to apologise! Pay attention to the people you care about and figure it out like normal people! For heaven’s sakes!” she was almost yelling at me but inside I knew she was somehow fighting to the urge not to weep in front of me.
It was something she hated about her emotional self, something I loved about her dearly.
I waited for a long moment, her eyes never returned to meet mine.
“I lied to you,” I said softly.
At that moment as I predicted her gaze locked on mine once more as she waited.
“I know exactly why you are mad at me, but it does surprise me.” I said quietly.
Her brow furrowed a little, “I’m lost, Sirius. Really lost, here.”
She shook her dark hair out of her eyes and I wanted desperately to touch her. I wanted to let my fingers trap in her hair, to pull her close and…
I shook my head to dislodge the thought. My determination was cracking, my strength breaking. I could feel my willpower diminish in her presence.
“Capri,” I could only hope she could hear the words I didn’t say in my voice, “I can’t be the guy you want me to be…” Her face fell so suddenly I wanted to reach out and cup her face in my hands. “I want to! Believe me, I do! But I just… can’t!” The words began to gush, “We can be friends but… You want us to be us again, we can’t. I used to hold you, carry you around on my shoulder when you annoyed me. I’ve wrestled and pinned you to the floor several times in your own bedroom. I’ve kissed you goodnight, slept beside you while you were sick, held you in my arms when you were cold, told you it’ll never change-”
“Stop!” tears were brimming in her eyes, “just… s-stop… please! W-why are you saying all this?” she stuttered.
“Because we both know, I can’t be that guy around you anymore…”
Capri clenched her jaws slowly and nodded solemnly. Even as her distraught self when she was this close to me I was powerless. She owned me… and she didn’t even know it.
She swallowed slowly and composed herself with a deep breath, “I’m so sorry Sirius, I just never realised the nightmare I was putting you through. I’m truly sorry,” Her hand touched my cheek. "I understand,"Warm and tender, my eyes closed involuntarily. I held her hand and pulled her forward straightening up. I barely her the small sniffle she gace before looking down.
“One more thing, before we go back, you need to know…” She stared back at me motionless, the greenish hue of her hazel eyes ruled over me and I leaned forward slightly, “I stopped myself… I walked away for your benefit, not mine…”
Extremely sorry for the delay guys! Busy busy busy! Its extra long to make up for it :) Thanks for reading guys. Lemme know what you think :)
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