Chapter 12 : Strong
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“Jared!” Mrs. Potter called to her husband. “Jared, get my healing kit! Bring it over here, hurry!”
Mr. Potter dashed into the living room, looking confused. When he saw Sirius laying on the ground, he gasped and ran up the stairs, probably to Mrs. Potter's office.
Once he came back with the healing kit, Mrs. Potter was all business. She poured some kind of potion onto a washcloth and dabbed at Sirius's wounds. When she took out her wand, she passed it over his body and began muttering spells under her breath.
I looked round at my friends. Lily was sickly pale and shaking; James had an arm around her, a tortured look on his face, and his eyes never left Sirius; Remus and Peter were both somber, looking at the ground. I knew what my face looked like: neutral. I didn't look sad, I didn't look angry, I didn't look hurt, or upset, or sick. I was closed off, as always. But inside, I was a mess.
Get a grip, I told myself harshly. It's just Black. He'll be fine. But what if he's not? said a voice in the back of my mind. What if they can't fix him? What if those dark curses used on him are irreversible?
I turned away from Sirius's body and gripped the edge of the couch for support. It's his own fault, I thought. But that's his family, I argued with myself. How is it his fault when his family is the one that did it? He shouldn't have gone back. He had to do it, for himself. I knew that feeling all too well.
"Do you think it's okay to move him?" Mr. Potter's voice broke into my reverie.
"It's hard to say." Mrs. Potter frowned. "I'll do the best I can here. We'll bring him upstairs when he's more stable." She looked up at James and Lily, and her face softened. "James, bring the girls upstairs. They don't need to see this."
James nodded. Without taking his arm from around Lily, he guided her towards the stairs. Remus and Peter went next, and I followed behind. Alone.
This was usually where Sirius would fall into step with me and start an argument about something ridiculous. That's how it was for a while now; James was trying to get Lily to warm up to him, so they were always together. And Remus was usually with Lo, or entertaining Peter. So Sirius and I gravitated towards each other, since there was no one else. We'd formed an odd sort of love/hate friendship with each other, because we understood what it was like to have no one. But now he wasn't beside me, making jokes or pulling my hair. He wasn't there to smirk at me, or call me ugly. It was just me.
Was I going crazy or did I miss Sirius? I shook my head and followed the rest of the group up the stairs and into James's bedroom.
"What's going to happen now?" Lily hiccuped softly.
"I don't know, love," said James, running a hand through his hair. He turned away from her, looking straight into my eyes. "My mum will fix him up the best she can. I'm sure he'll be alright. Sirius is strong." I just shrugged. Why was he telling me? I didn't care.
"There's nothing left to do but wait," said Remus gently. We all nodded in agreement, sitting in various spots around James's room.
I sighed heavily, trying to accept James's last statement. Sirius is strong. Sirius is strong. Sirius is strong. Sirius is strong...
If you've been reading this, you should know by now that I have zero patience. That's why, an hour after we decided to wait, I was pacing the room, mumbling to myself. That's why I snapped at anyone who asked me if I wanted a drink, or offered me their seat. My hair was bright red at random intervals, but more often than not, it was it's regular shade of dark brown. I just couldn't focus on morphing right now. I didn't have the energy, not when I was worried sick – I mean, getting bored of just sitting there doing nothing.
Finally, Mrs. Potter came into the room. She smiled at all of us and nodded at James's unspoken question. "Sirius is going to be just fine. He's a little beat up, but still as crazy as ever. You can go in and see him now."
Lily and I decided to let the boys go first, since Sirius was like their brother. We waited in the hallway, outside Sirius's room. It wasn't long before James opened the door and told us to come in.
Sirius was sitting up in bed, grinning like the moron he was. It was as if he didn't even notice the bruises and gashes that covered his skin. Some of them were a bit gruesome looking, but Mrs. Potter said they'd heal just fine.
"Hey, Lily," said Sirius when she reached his bed. I hung back a bit, trying to control my thoughts. They had been buzzing around for an hour and a half, but I was finally getting them in order so I could talk straight.
"How are you feeling?" Lily asked hesitantly.
"I'm fine." Sirius grinned. "Just a few scratches, that's all." He looked over at me and grinned some more. "And I'm sure you've got something to say."
"Who, me?" I asked innocently as I stepped up to the bed. "Never." He raised an eyebrow at me skeptically. I sighed. "Oh, alright. You shouldn't have gone back." My voice had turned soft and, before I knew what I was doing, I leaned down to brush the hair out of his eyes.
He looked shocked, but didn't protest. "I know," he sighed. "I just had to try." He looked up, his eyes pleading with me. "I had to go back one last time. I hope you, of all people will, understand."
"I do understand," I murmured. I suddenly realized that my hand was resting on his cheek almost...affectionately. I let my hand drop quickly and swallowed hard, looking everywhere but at Sirius.
It's just because he's hurt, I told myself firmly. He's upset about his family and you understand what that's like...you understand where he's coming from. That's all. It means nothing.
"So what happened?" I asked, taking a step back, my voice returning to normal. "How did you...how did this happen?"
Sirius sighed again. "Regulus tricked me. The hag never wanted to see me after all. When I got there, she decided to 'teach me a lesson' for 'besmircing the house of her fathers.' Eventually Regulus joined in. I managed to grab some Floo powder while they were too busy throwing curses at me."
"I – "
"I know, I know," he grumbled. "You told me so. You don't need to say it."
"I was going to say I'm sorry," I lied, smirking.
"Sure." He snorted. "I know what you were going to say. And, well..." He cleared his throat discreetly and lowered his voice. "You were right."
"I'm sorry, what was that?" I said, putting a hand to my ear.
"I said...you were right."
"One more time, I didn't quite catch that," I teased.
"I hate you," he sighed. "Violetta Isabelle McKinnon, I'd like to take this time to say, with all of my honor and gratitude, that you were one hundred percent right."
"That's better." I grinned.
The next day was Christmas, and although Sirius had gotten the crap beat out of him the day before, everyone still managed to be in a cheerful mood. He was able to get up and move around in the morning, and by late afternoon he was good as new. Well, almost. I suspected it hurt him a bit to move too fast, and when James threw a snowball at him, I saw him wince. The bruises on his body had faded with help from some of Mrs. Potter's healing potions, and the scratches were mending nicely. All in all, he seemed fine.
I woke up early that morning, excited to give Lily her present. I had mailed Lo's out a couple of days before we left Hogwarts, so it would get to her mum's in time for Christmas.
I tip-toed into the hall and snuck into Lily's room. As soon as the door shut behind me, I got a running start and jumped on her bed.
"Lily!" I crowed happily. "Wake up! Wake up, wake up! It's Christmas!"
"Whaaa?" she moaned groggily. Lily sat up in bed, spitting red hair out of her mouth.
"Letta," she whined. "It's so early. And I was in the middle of the best dream I've ever had."
"Was it about me, Lilykins?" James barged into the room with Remus, Peter and Sirius at his heels.
"We heard you shrieking," said Sirius, grinning.
"I hope I didn't wake your parents, James." I frowned.
"Nah, it's okay. They're on the second floor." James shrugged carelessly before gesturing towards the door. "Come on, the presents are in the living room!"
I ran back to my room, quickly grabbing my friends' gifts, and hurried back downstairs to where they were waiting for me.
"I want you to open your presents first!" I said happily, humming a tune to myself.
"Well, aren't you chipper this morning?" Sirius chuckled.
I shrugged. "I love giving gifts." He looked at me strangely – not as if he disagreed, but as if he was surprised I felt that way. I explained further. "I love watching people open their presents. To me, that's the best part. I love seeing their faces, even if they don't like it." Sirius nodded, still staring at me oddly. I shook it off and handed Lily her present. "Here, Lily, this one's yours."
I watched her tear the wrapping off and squeal with delight. "Letta! Thank you so much! I love them!" I grinned when I saw her hold up the boots I knew she wanted. I also gave her some gold earrings, because Lily definitely lacked in the accessories department.
"You're next, James." I handed him the present. When he opened it up, he just stared. He mouth was hanging open a little.
"Letta...thanks! Wow!" He was obviously pleased with the broomstick servicing kit I'd bought him. "This must have cost a fortune, even my parents wouldn't get me one!" I just shrugged. Money wasn't really an issue for me; I had the inheritance gold from both of my parents.
"Remus, this is for you," I said excitedly. When he opened up the Wizard Chess set I'd bought him, he got up and gave me a hug. Now, I'm not usually one for affection, but Remus and I had become a lot closer since he told us about his furry little problem, as James called it. He told me I'd helped him a lot.
"Peter...I'm really sorry, kid, but I didn't exactly know what to get you..."I trailed off, handing him the basket full of Honeyduke's candy.
"Don't worry, Letta, I love it!" He grinned. I should have known.
Then I turned to Sirius. I don't know why, but I was a tad bit nervous to give him his present. Oh, just give it to him. If he doesn't like it, I'll keep it. "Here, Sirius. I wasn't sure what to get you, either, but I hope you like it. I thought it was pretty cool and...well, I thought of you when I saw it. I thought about all of you, actually," I said, looking at James, Peter and Remus.
I handed him the box. When he lifted the lid, he gave me a puzzled look. "A knife? You thought of me while buying a knife? Isn't that a little...psychotic?"
I laughed. "No, stupid. It's not just any knife; it can unlock any door and undo any knot. You just have to swipe it against whatever you're trying to unlock. I figured you could use it for your pranks."
"Wow," said Sirius, looking at the knife excitedly now. "That is cool. Thank you, Letta." He looked at me and I returned his grateful smile.
"Now, it's time for your presents!" James crowed. "Lily, I know you hate me and everything, but I wanted to get you something special."
Lily blushed when he handed her the velvet jewlery box with a charm bracelet inside. "Thank you, James." And then, she did something completely unexpected. She hugged him. I thought James was going to wet himself.
"Letta, we got you something cool, too," said Remus. "It was practically made for you."
"Yeah," said James, recovering from the shock of Lily's hug. "We all pitched in and bought it for you, but Sirius payed the most. Plus, he picked it out."
Sirius shrugged. "I think you'll like it." He grabbed my hand and pulled me into the dining room, with the rest of the group following along.
There, beside the table, was a levitated...thing. It looked like a large, sturdy gym bag that was just...hanging by magic.
"Er, thanks guys...what is it?"
Sirius laughed. "It's called a punching bag. Muggles use it when they're feeling violent, or if they want to work out. You can hit it as hard as you want and it won't break, since it's filled with sand. You've just got to wear these gloves so you don't hurt yourself." He tossed me a pair of black dragon hide gloves that I caught with ease.
I just stood there, speechless. Then, getting excited all over again, I kicked the punching bag with all my might. It swayed a little, but didn't break. Laughing, I started punching and kicking it as hard as I could, dancing around the dining room.
Breathlessly, I turned to the boys. "Thank you so much!" I gave them each a hug, even Sirius. When he leaned down to hug me, I whispered in his ear, "especially you."
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