Chapter 10 : Exploding Snap
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It was a Wednesday afternoon, and I am sat, feeling quite disgruntled, in double Charms class, near the back of the room. When I hear my name, I snap my head up in surprise. It’s Lancaster’s silvery gaze that I see above me. I grimace before puling myself together and offering an innocently toned, “Yes Professor?”
“Is it me or have you been neglecting to pay attention? I expect everyone to be on their best behavior at all times in my classroom.” He scolds. I frown and mutter an apology. He is such an asshat.
To be fair, I had just been staring out the sunlit golden window for the past quarter of an hour. But still.
It isn’t like me to nod off during a lesson or not give a professor the utmost respect. But since Lancaster had started teaching, I just couldn’t be comfortable in his class. Something about him irked and disturbed me. I look furtively around me, trying to gage other student’s thoughts. They all look perfectly content (if not slightly bored at worst). Was I really the only one who notices?
I meet Marigold’s glance, who is seated near to the front, of course, as she always was in this class. I swear she had the highest grade of us all by now. I had opted out of sitting so close, as to avoid situations like this.
She raises her eyebrows at me but I just shrug.
As Lancaster continues on, I sigh and try to pay attention. And then I remember why it was I had started to look out the window in the first place. Him.
He was directly in front of me, his dark haired head looming unavoidably ahead, perfectly obstructing my view. He was leaning backwards on the legs of his chair, looking thoroughly bored and unamused. It was as if he was trying to annoy me, looking so careless. He hadn’t even turned around when I had been reprimanded. In a way, I kind of wish he had.
We had already served two of our detentions with Clarke in his Auror office, helping to categorize paperwork and it really wasn’t all too bad. Clarke was good humored and it felt more like hanging out than punishment. Sirius and I, however, had so far managed to avoid saying any direct words to one another in those detention sessions and it only served to make me more angry with him.
“Now class,” Professor Lancaster’s shrill voice breaks me from my stony glare at the back of Sirius’s head.
“We will be practicing and honing the Patronus Charm for the remaining time,”
If his entire lecture before this hadn’t caught my attention, this certainly does. The Patronus Charm was one of my favorites to conjur. We barely ever get the chance to use it, save for our own experimentation. I had only once, for a flicker of a moment, been able to cast a corporeal one.
“Wands at the ready, students!” Lancaster commands, taking out his own shiny ebony wand. He holds it out, pointing the tip diagonally towards the ceiling, and gesturing for us to do the same.
There is some shuffling as people take out their wands from inside their pockets and robes. I grab my long willow wand and hold it out in front of me, copying Lancaster’s movement. He meets my eye when I do this and gives me a smile. I do not return it.
I glance up ahead towards Marigold, who is poised and at the ready. I can almost hear the “Look at me! Praise me!” her posture is practically screaming towards him.
“Now, as I’m sure most of you remember, in order for the Patronus to take its strongest form, one must focus their mind on a single happy moment before uttering the incantation, Expecto Patronum.” Lancaster explains.
There is silence as most of the class attempts to do this. I scramble for a moment and search my mind. What was my happiest moment? Perhaps before last week, I might have drawn on fun memories with my friends at Hogwarts. But now those memories remind me of Sirius. And something tells me that won’t produce the strongest Patronus at the moment….
Instead, I focus on the feeling I got when I finally opened my Hogwarts acceptance letter. That fuzzy warm feeling comes back to me and I try to grab hold of it with the fibers of my mind. I close my eyes and envision the cream parchment envelope and the careful emerald script scrawled across the page…
I mutter Expecto patronum under my breath. I feel the warmth spread and suddenly there is a silvery form descending from my wand tip.
It hovers about for a moment before taking the form of a large fruit bat. I smile proudly as it flits around the class.
I see that I am one of the first students to succeed and look up at Lancaster expectantly. Surely now he would see the effort I’m putting in his class, right? Wrong.
Of course, he has missed my momentary brilliance and is instead distracted by a large Patronus bounding near the front of the room. My disappointment causes my poor Patronus to fizzle out and dissipate, and my shoulders slump as I watch the large Patronus still causing a ruckus. It is a large, shaggy dog, and I wonder who the git is who’s stealing my thunder. I gaze wildly around the room. And that’s when Lancaster exclaims, “Well done, Mr. Black!”
Of course it’s bloody Sirius’s Patronus.
Sirius is smirking smugly, his wand lazily held out in front of him as he directs his mutt. I give the back of his head a seething glare.
From the front of the class, I see that Marigold too looks enviously over at him, with his strong Patronus. She apparently is struggling with her own, which has only taken the form of a pathetic fluttering orb thus far.
“Professor, I’m having difficulty,” she pouts up as Lancaster strolls by. “I need to find a really happy thought…”
I roll my eyes as I focus back on my memory, squinting my eyes closed in concentration. I mutter the incantation again, and my little bat friend returns, taking a swoop around the room in triumph before coming back to rest on my shoulder. I watch as more and more students finally conjure their own. I see a hopping frog, a silvery stallion galloping (quite intimidating) towards me, and even a small dragonfly.
“So your Patronus is a bat?”
I start and my Patronus disappears suddenly in a cloud of silver mist as I hear his voice. I look up and meet Sirius’s eager gray eyes turned back towards me.
I compose myself. “Yes,” I mutter dully. “And yours is a dog.”
“How have I never known?” he raises an eyebrow at me as he leans back in his seat, still carelessly directing his dog around the room. “The form of your Patronus?”
“I guess there’s a lot you don’t know about me,” I answer tersely. I close my eyes and refocus on conjuring back my bat.
The bat pops back into life in a glowing cloud and goes back to flying in circles above my head.
“Bats symbolize rebirth, you know,” Sirius says after a moment, clearly ignoring my statement.
“I guess so.” I say flatly. “And dogs represent loyalty.” I stare pointedly at him at this, but he seems unfazed. Sirius’s dog jumps over near my Patronus and without missing a second, the bat swats the dog’s snout with one of its wings. I smile like a proud parent.
But before Sirius can respond, Lancaster calls us back to attention. But I hardly process what he’s saying. Sirius slowly straightens back up in his desk and turns back around. I stare out the window again, feeling more and more irked.
Once the lesson is finished, I gather my things and walk to meet up with Marigold, making sure to very carefully ignore Sirius, in case he tried to talk to me again.
“Library?” I ask when she spots me. I have some serious studying to do. We had midterm N.E.W.T. practice exams next week and I knew I wouldn’t have any time to waste.
Marigold groans as she indolently shrugs her rucksack over her shoulder. “Ugh but Rora, we’ve been practically living there lately. Might we just pop over to the Common Room or Owlry or courtyard or somewhere, ANYWHERE, that’s not the library?”
I scowl. “I know, believe me, but pre-N.E.W.T.’s are coming up. We’ve got to get ahead while we can!”
Just as she’s about to retort with some excuse or brilliant plan that will undoubtedly save us from the horrible plight of studying, I hear a shrill voice behind me.
“Oh, Miss Mockinglow, please see me over here for a moment before you head off…” It’s Lancaster’s voice.
I freeze and turn around, a bit miffed and startled. He is looking over to me with what I assume is meant to be a concerning but friendly gaze, but all I see is an uncomfortable intrigue.
I silently walk over to him, unsure of what’s to happen. As he guides me over to the corner, away from the bustling of students leaving out the door, I glance quickly back at Marigold. She just shrugs, looking a bit confused.
“Yes?” I ask once we’ve become secluded from the noise on the other side of the chalkboard.
“Miss Mockinglow,” he starts, not breaching his glance from mine. “I must confess that I have become very disappointed in you lately,” His tone is somewhat condescending. I furrow my brow. There is a moment of silence and I realize it’s probably my turn t speak.
“I…uh…what do you mean?” I ask.
“You are a very bright young lady, Aurora,” he says carefully, his eyes still not breaking from mine. I feel a certain kind of discomfort again, as I do every time he stares at me. As though he is closely examining me, like a viewer into a cage.
“I could tell you had potential as soon as I saw you,” he continues, now choosing to gaze out the window as if in some form of nostalgia, as if he had known me many years ago. When it was really only two months ago. Really.
As he continues, I slowly tune out his words and instead focus on his robes. I had never quite noticed them before. His trimly tied bowtie, sharp tweed cloak and delicately brushed light hair. Like a suavely dressed business elite, not a professor.
“…and with your father’s pure bloodline…” he finally trails off. This snaps me back to his lecture.
Was it really necessary to pint out my bloodline, again? Especially given the current political climate. And the war, not to mention.
I shift on my feet and look down. “I’m…sorry?” I half question, half apologize. “But I’m not that great at Charms. It’s never been my strong suit.” This was only half true. But an excuse was an excuse. I didn’t feel like sucking up to this bloke, at any rate.
“Well, suffice it to say. I will be very…let down…if you continue this way, Miss Mockinglow,” he says slowly, as though treading carefully wit his words. I wonder what he has to hide. “I do hope you choose to put more effort in this course form here on out.” And with that he nods me goodbye, indicating I am free to leave and I am turning back as quickly as is polite, headed straight back towards Marigold.
As we exit the classroom, I hiss at her. “What in Merlin’s name is he playing at?”
“I don’t understand…he seems to really hate you, calling you out like that again and again,” Marigold says slowly.
“No….I don’t think he hates me. I think he likes me. Too much.” I shiver. The thought disturbs me.
“Hmph,” Marigold says, her voice containing an unmistakable edge of contempt.
“Oh please not like that,” I sharply murmur. “I just mean…I think he fancies me a prodigy or some other codswallop. But…um, no thank you.”
“Well in any case, I would stop being snarky with him or else your grades will be at risk…” Marigold advises.
“I’m hardly being snarky,” I snap defensively as we round the corner towards the Great Hall for dinner. “I just don’t feel like kissing up to him….unlike someone I know.”
Marigold just rolls her eyes and ignores it as we go back up the common room. “I saw you talking to Sirius, by the way…”
“Don’t get too excited,” I warn her dryly. “It wasn’t much in the way of productive.”
“Well, it’s a start.”
“Oh stop Rora. You two can’t carry on like this forever.”
“Watch me,” I mutter darkly.
When we enter the Common Room, we find Emmeline and Peter sitting by the fire and Marigold quickly joins them. But I instead say nothing in the form of greeting and immediately take to the dormitory stairs, wanting nothing more than to be alone. I plop down face first on my bed once I reach my room. I feel underneath my pillow until my hand grasps around the cold glass bottle I know it stowed safely underneath. I take it out and hold it above me, examining the shimmering cloud held within. It flows smoothly and quite gracefully with each gentle turn of the bottle. I uncork it slightly, just for a small sniff of the heavenly scent it holds. I close my eyes for a moment, letting the light breeze from my open window sooth my jitters.
I think about Sirius. About our short conversation in class. What was he doing? He certainly seemed like he was trying to open up a conversation with me again.
But I don’t get it. First he seems hurt at my anger, then mad at me for ignoring him, now he’s acting like nothing’s wrong at all and wants to be my friend again? All in the span of a week.
When I open my eyes again, the light from the vile is catching the golden rays of the midday sun that filter through the window in strips across the rich wooden flooring. I sigh heavily, still feeling the weight of the stress of everything on my chest. I shove the vile back under my pillow and roll over on my back, staring straight up at the ceiling.
I can’t take this. I need to get out. So I jump up, grab my cloak and scarf and my backpack and head out the door.
“Where you off to so fast?” I hear Emmeline inquire as I stalk past them towards the portrait hole.
“Grounds. For a walk. I need fresh air,” I explain without looking at them. “See you later.”
I hardly pay attention to my path as I trudge across the scarlet-carpeted corridors, down the marble staircases and out the courtyard arches onto the grounds. The sun is low on the horizon, casting an orange glow onto the tips of the trees and the shimmering Lake. I head straight for the forest, where I know of a lookout spot that is quiet and secluded. I had a few hours until my next detention and my Astronomy lesson at the tower after that, and I planned to stay away from anyone in the meantime.
Once I reach it, having been scratched and dirtied by brambles and mud, I find myself hardly caring as I sit down and nestle myself in a bed of ferns underneath one of the many towering trees of the Forbidden Forest.
I let out a long breath and set down my bag. Whoever said this year would be our best was clearly mistaken.
I gaze out ahead of me. The icy November wind has let up slightly, with only a soft covering of rainy-looking clouds sweeping over the mountains and lake in front of me. Still, I shiver slightly in my woolen cloak and scarf as a light breeze lifts the strands of my hair up.
I lip my chapped lips and rub my frozen hands together. I take out my wand and cast a quick warming spell on them, recoiling slightly at the immediate tingle it causes.
Still clutching my wand in my hand, I stare at it curiously for a moment before muttering, Expecto Patronum.
My fruit bat Patronus springs from my wandtip, as if no time had passed between earlier this afternoon and now. He flits up and down and around the wide trunks of the trees and for a moment disappears behind a bush. It was like he had a mind of his own.
“Rora! Aurora!” I hear my name coming from behind me.
“Who…” I whisper to myself. And then I see the form of a boy with messy hair stepping over the uneven ground towards me.
“Oh, hey James.”
He grins at me and asks, while disentangling his foot from a particularly thistly bush as he nears me, “What brings you out here?
“I should ask you the same question,” I point out, returning his smile as he strides over and plops himself down beside me in the ferns.
“I stopped by Hagrid’s for tea, and spotted your Patronus.” He explains, indicating the silvery fruit bat now perched curiously next to me. I had almost forgotten about it in my surprise.
“Oh.” I say. Though I know it’s not James’s fault, I am a bit annoyed. I had intended to be alone out here to think. And seeing James was only yet another reminder of Sirius. It seems that even in the Forbidden Forest, I couldn’t escape much.
After a moment, he says slowly, “So I just wanted to say thank you…” He reddens in the face. James Potter, blushing?
“For what?” I ask. I couldn’t recall me doing anything but complicate anything for the Marauders as of late.
“For…being there for me the other night. When Lily and I…” he trails off.
“Oh,” I say, recalling the night in the kitchens when I nursed his broken heart with chocolate and encouraging words. “Well, it was nothing. And you were equally there for me,”
He smiles warmly.
“It’s just…difficult.” He goes on. “She’s difficult. I’m difficult. We’re difficult.”
I shrug. It was true, really. “Everything’s difficult. Especially right now.” I agree with another heavy sigh.
“I just wish I knew how to handle her, y’know?” James begins carefully. “She’s addicting. I know she hesitated for what I’d done to Snape,” he hisses his name. “but I’m really trying to show her that’s not me anymore. I’ve grown since last year, really.”
I nod, though I am not positive he has. Was it not just the other week him and Sirius had thrown sparkling fireworks during dinner? That he had gotten into a fist fight?
“And then at the party…” He puts his head in his hands . “I know we rushed into things, but I am in love with her…I don’t know what to do.”
“I’m not exactly an expert on the subject of love right now, if you haven’t noticed…” I say with a weak smirk. “I’m failing on all fronts.”
“Rora…you aren’t though. You and Sirius…you get on so well. It’ll be easy to sort out.” James says offhandedly, as if we had only had a minor row over who got the last sip of pumpkin juice at dinner.
“But it hasn’t been easy.” I say. I can feel my throat catch up under the weight of the emotional distress that I’ve been keeping bottled up within me for the last week. “If we really were so great of friends, why doesn’t he seem sorry for what he did? He’s carrying on like he did nothing wrong,”
James sets his hazel eyes intently on me now. “Oh, how wrong you are about that.”
“What do you mean?”
“He cares. Trust me. It’s just that Sirius is very good at playing these things off. He doesn’t let on when he’s upset,”
“Well then how come he hasn’t apologized so things can just actually go back to normal?” I demand angrily, mostly at the universe.
“Someone once told me when I asked for romance advice to just talk, remember?” He looks purposefully over at me, one dark brow raised in amusement. I look away guiltily.”
“Right. Well maybe it’s easier said then done…”
“Always is, but that’s no excuse.” James says lightly.
“Okay, Mr. Love Expert!” I tease gently.
He scoffs. “Please Rora. I am doing the best I can. You are underestimating the wrath of a certain ginger-haired Head Girl.”
“Maybe, but you’ve never dealt with an arrogant, ego-centric playboy have you?”
“Wrong, because that certain arrogant, ego-centric mindfuck playboy happens to be my best friend. Which is probably worse.”
“I doubt it.”
“You’d be surprised.”
We laugh together for a moment.
“And for the record, Sirius is far from a playboy,” James says seriously. “He puts on that air, but he is as lovesick of a puppy as any of us,”
“Still arrogant though,” I mutter.
“Yeah, can’t argue with you there,” James agrees, and we laugh again.
“Well,” He says after several minutes of silent thought as we stare out onto the glinting surface of the lake. “I should probably head back. Coming?”
“Yeah, let’s go,” And he takes my hand and helps me up and we head back together.
Once we enter the Common Room, I see that Emmeline, Remus, Marigold and Peter are still sat around a coffee table. When they spot us, Emmeline shouts, “Hey, we’re going to start a game of Exploding Snap. Wanna join?”
I shrug and hesitate for a moment. Well, may as well take my mind off everything, right? “Sure, why not.”
It does help take my mind off everything. It’s actually quite fun. We’ve teamed ourselves up, girls versus boys. I actually laugh and return to something resembling a carefree state for the first time in what feels like forever.
“Ooh, match! Get it Ems!” Marigold squeals as two matching cards are overturned in the building pile. Both her and Remus dive to push their hands down before the card explodes. Emmeline manages to wedge hers below Remus’, gaining our team one point and ensuring the safety against the sparking pop.
“Hah! Take that!” Emmeline gloats, as I give her a high five.
Remus smirks and lays out a new set. “Next time you won’t be so lucky,” he says with a faux ominous tone. But Emmeline is poised and at the ready, her back straight and her hand at attention.
“Let’s go chaps, we’re tied up now. “ Her eyes haven’t left the downturned cards. I ready myself as well, half knowing Emmeline will probably beat me to it anyway.
Remus quickly overturns each pile, and we all sit tensely, waiting for two of the card’s symbols to match up so we can claim it. A fish, a raven, a whale, a beetle…
The next card is overturned. Marigold lunges for the card, shrieking “MATCH! MATCH!!”
But she’s wrong, that’s a raven not an eagle, which is the one we’re looking out for. Emmeline screeches, “NO STOP YOU TWAT IT’S A RAVEN!!” but it’s too late; Marigold has plopped her hand down upon the incorrect card. There is a split second of complete silence as we wait, and then the whole pile explodes with a deafening ‘SNAP’ into a ball of fire. We all erupt in giggles and laughs in surprise and fall back, shielding ourselves form the ashes and sparks.
“You dolt!” I tease, as Marigold lays back, half in laughter and half in confusion.
“But it was an eagle!”
“A raven!” Emmeline shouts at her. “Not the same!”
We all laugh more as Emmeline uses her wand to reset the deck.
“Wait, let’s not start another hand, it’s nearly dinner time,” Marigold says, checking her wristwatch.
“Excellent, I’m hungry,” Peter says, hopping up immediately. Him and Marigold make to head down beore Emmeline snaps, “Oi! You lot going to help clean up or what?”
“No, you lot can go ahead, I’ll clean up,” remus assures them. I stay behind to help him, waving them off.
“Thanks Rora,” Remus says with a smile to me. I just smile back with a nod of the head.
After a minute of silently collecting the cards, Remus carefully asks, “So, how are you?”
I stop for a split second. How was I? Well, that was a question wasn’t it.
“I’m…fine.” I say, not meeting his gaze. “Just loaded down with studies, y’know.”
“Mmhm…” he says, before carefully continuing, “And you’ve talked to Sirius?”
I let out a short breath. How many times would this come up today?
“I don’t want to talk to Sirius,” I say, which was sort of a lie.
“Well you should.”
“Why?” I ask unhelpfully.
“You need to. For both your sakes.”
I look up to him in annoyance, seeing him staring knowingly at me with those tired hazel eyes. It’s impossible to blame Remus. He’s the most good-natured out of all of us. “But Remus-“
“Come on Aurora. I know you’re avoiding him. We all notice.”
I say nothing. Even though I had a feeling they all sensed it (I mean, really, how could you not?) but it was almost embarrassing to have it pointed out to me. I thought everyone would just accept it and get over it. But apparently not.
“It’s not that easy, it’s his responsibility to apologize, he’s being difficult-“
“And you’re not?” he interjects. This stumps me. It was kind of true, I guess. But still, what was I expected to do? Go over and confess my stupid schoolgirl crush and that I got my little sensitive feelings hurt? No thank you.
“I’m doing my best,” I say, shoving the last of the cards in the box.
“Well, I think that you can work things out. He cares about you.”
“I’m not sure what he wants anymore,” I mutter to myself.
“Well, I’m his best mate. And I can tell you that I know you two can be friends again. I know both of you better than either of you know yourself,” He smirks at me. I raise a brow at him.
“Oh, do you?” But I smirk right back.
“Yes. Trust me.”
“I do, Remus. I trust you.” I say.
“Well good. Because we’re all getting bloody tired of having you two moody rainclouds around,”
I give a sharp laugh. “Well so sorry to be such an inconvenience to you.”
“Anyways, c’mon,” Remus says as we finish our cleaning. “Let’s go to dinner. I have a chicken leg with my name on it.”
* * *
Later that evening, once I have returned from my Astronomy lesson, my fingers sore from positioning the telescopes and smeared with ink, I find my friends gathered in the Common Room, sans Sirius and James.
My detention with Sirius had gone much the same as the previous ones, us silently shuffling papers and occasionally chatting with Clarke about one thing or another. It seems Sirius’s failed attempt at conversation in class had given him the hint, and I was becoming numbed to it now, really, us ignoring one another.
“Rora, mind giving me a hand with this equation?” Remus asks me from one of the writing tables near the corner, holding out his Arthimancy homework. I crane my neck over to get a look at it.
“Substitute the variable there….and don’t forget the Xavier Principle, that calculation there is off because you haven’t accounted for it….” I mutter after giving it a glance. Remus immediately pours over his scrawled calculations and crosses out and fixes the errors.
“Blimey, I wouldn’t have even noticed…thanks,” he says gratefully. I just give a short nod. I was used to being the resident tutor when it came to maths around here by now. I take a seat on the squishy red sofa by the hearth, sighing in exhaustion. My Astronomy teacher had taken no prisoners with our work tonight, having such high standards for us seventh year N.E.W.T. students.
“So Rora,” Marigold scoots over to me, her bouncy blonde curls tied up into a knot above her head. “What are we doing for the Christmas holidays?”
“Party, I expect?” I’m not sure why she’s asking me this. It was usually up to the Marauders to plan out the yearly party, usually held over break at James’ parents enormous tudor in Godric’s Hollow. “Right Remus?”
“Hmm?” He snaps out of his focus on his math problem. “Oh yeah…James is planning it, naturally.”
“See,” I say, making to return to my textbook. Marigold looks unsatisfied with this answer.
But before she gets a chance to prod more information out of us, the Portrait Hole opens with a bang. It was Sirius . I quickly look down. I can feel the burning sensation of everyone’s eyes on me. I know they’re watching, waiting for me to say something to him. To invite him over, even.
I make eye contact with Remus, and he nods his head in encouragement. Emmeline is beside him, raising a brow at me. But my tongue seems to freeze, and I say nothing. I watch him deliberately not look over at us, headed for the boys’ dormitory staircase.
I cover up my face with a book, any book, to shield it from my friends’ view. I cannot deal with this right now, especially being in such a foul mood already.
But before even another minute goes by, I hear the aggressive slam of a book on the table. “Alright, that’s it! For the love of Godric Gryffindor, I am tired of this. You two are driving me absolutely mad.”
And suddenly someone has grabbed my wrist, disentangling me from my book, and is dragging me across the room. I realize that it’s Emmeline, her raven hair flowing up and down as she forces me up. She drags me over to Sirius, who has only just barely started to ascend the steps and, with her free hand, grabs his shoulder and pulls him vehemently backwards.
“What—what the bloody hell are you doing?” Sirius exclaims, trying to fight here off. But she somehow manages to manacle the both of us and pulls us towards the portrait hole.
“Em, what are you doing-“ I yell, trying to claw her hands from around my wrist.
But Emmeline’s grasp, whether from anger or pure willpower, holds strong as she drags us forth down the corridor.
“Seriously Ems, stop this-” I beg. I exchange a nervously panicked look with Sirius. Both of us have abandoned our ignoring to share in the bizarre moment, it seems.
“Let us go, Ems, seriously,” Sirius pleads darkly. But she isn’t listening. She was sure bloody stronger than her skinny doelike frame would have suggested.
“I need an empty room, I need an empty room….” I hear her hurriedly whisper to herself as we walk (or stumble and thrash about, more like) down the hall.
Then, as if out of thin air, there is a large wooden door in front of a long expansive stone wall. She opens it, take a quick look around, and nods as if she is approving it. And chucks us through.
I stumble forth and have to catch myself on one of the large stone pillars.
I turn back around to see Emmeline standing in the doorway with her arms crossed. Before closing the door, she looks straight at us commandingly and practically orders, “You. Both. Talk. Now.” and with that she slams the door. I hear a loud and ominous thud and click. The lock.
Sirius immediately tries to turn the handle, but it’s no use. We’re locked in. I don’t know what enchantments she used on the other side of the door, but it’s surely not budging.
“Emmeline! Let us out!” I shout. All I hear is a muffled reply of “Not until you two prats talk it out!” followed by footsteps sounding more and more distant.
“She really is leaving us here,” I hear Sirius mutter behind me.
I turn slowly back around. There really isn’t any avoiding it now. He’s standing there, his face angry and bemused simultaneously. He’s pursed one corner of his mouth. His long dark hair, disheveled from the struggle, falls over his eyes. He stares back at me expectantly.
“So. Sirius.” I say hesitantly. I am not prepared for this in the slightest.
“Aurora.” he replies, his voice noticeably casual in comparison.
There is an awkward silence as we stand there in the sunlit expansive stone room, completely alone and at a loss for words.
“So you want to explain yourself?” I say finally, crossing my arms. Might as well get straight to it.
“Explain what?” He answers nonchalantly, as if he had no idea why I had been avoiding him.
“Why you’ve done my head in all year?”
“Rora-“ He attempts to come towards me, his arm outstretched for mine. But I jerk away.
I take a deep breath. “I want to know how you really feel.”
“What do you mean?” he asks lazily. It’s like he’s trying to be difficult.
I try to form a coherent explanation. But my mind is in a state of shock that this moment is even happening.
“You made it seem, at the Shack party, like you…wanted me.” I start hesitantly, not meeting his gaze. “And then…” My voice is slow, and tangled. I can’t seem to achieve rationality.
“Then what?” He interrupts impatiently.
“You go and snog other girl as if…” I can feel my throat swelling up. Why was this so damned difficult to say? This isn’t coming out right.
“…as if you don’t care about me….as if I don’t matter.” I mutter pathetically. Not exactly the angle I would have planned for.
“Rora, that’s not what happened-“ He answers firmly, a certain tone of pleading in his voice.
“Really? Then what, from your point of view, happened?” I say. I can begin to feel that edge of anger build in my stomach.
He seems at a loss for words, biting his lip.
“You bloody kissed me, you twat!” I’m suddenly shouting now. Hot tears are pooling and threatening to pour if I’m not careful. The frustrations and tension of the past week is starting to collect and surface. “You kissed me and then I turn around for a few minutes and you’re snogging Marlene? Really?”
“That’s not how it happened, I-"
“That’s exactly how it happened!”
I’m so angry. Angry at him for everything. For making me believe he thought more of me. Of us. For leading me on. For embarrassing me. For squashing my heart and splitting it. For ruining our friendship.
“Rora, listen to me. I was just drunk and fooling around. I never said…I never meant-“
He stops mid sentence. But it’s too late; the hurts already been done.
“So you were just fooling around with me then?” I snap. “It meant nothing to you?”
There is a silent moment. I can tell his frustration is building, but I just want to disappear into the floor.
“You don’t even know what you do to people, do you?” I say after another minute, my voice barely above a whisper. I fear my hands will start to tremble with how overwhelmed and angry I am.
He lets out a growling sigh and throws his hands up, hooking his arms behind his head as he turns around in frustration. “And what does that mean? “
“It means that here you are, acting like you never did anything to make me feel this way, when you were hinting and flirting all year.” My voice rises. “But I’m done I can’t deal with this if you’re going to be so stupid-“
This seems to set him off. He’s turned quickly back around, his face riddled with anger and shock. “Stupid? Flirting? Me?” He practically shouts at me. “Don’t act like you haven’t been doing the same thing, Rora.”
“I have not been flirting. If anything, it’s only in response to what you’ve been doing to me!” I yell back.
“What? Rora, this is hardly just my fault! If you hadn’t-”
“Hadn’t what?” I demand, suddenly finding my guts. “Hadn’t thought like a NORMAL person that maybe since you kissed me and flirted that MAYBE you liked me more than a friend? Am I the crazy one here?”
At this he let’s out a sort of strangled growl of irritation and sits down on the ledge near the window, his head in his hands.
I cross my arms again and turn away, staring at the ceiling and willing my eyes to stay dry.
We’ve never fought like this, ever. It’s like we’re behaving like two completely different people. I was so unprepared for this conversation. It’s not fair. This isn’t how it was supposed to go.
“Look, I just, I can’t-” I try to start. But it’s not use, my voice has finally cracked and I feel the warm moisture grow in my eyes. I try to hide my face but Sirius has noticed. He immediately gets up and comes to me.
He gently takes my hands from my face. Though I am still overcome with anger, I let him. He slowly takes my chin in his hand and guides my face towards him, so I have no choice but to stare at him.
And before I can even stop him or figure out what’s going on, he fiercely and roughly kisses me.
I don’t even have time to react, to punch or slap him. He’s locked his arms around my waist and is pulling me closer. Something seems to erupt from inside me. My rational thoughts have flown out the window. I don’t stop him.
I can feel his tongue, his warm lips, he hand at the small of my back. The smell of his hair, the warmth of his body. Closer than I’ve ever been to him.
I take strangled breaths in between our kisses as he gently pushes me back so we’re squeezed against the wall.
I grab my hands onto his dark locks that have fallen over his brows and closed eyes. I pull his face even closer to mine. I can feel him smirk beneath my kiss but I don’t open my eyes. I want to focus on the taste. The touch. The smell of this moment.
There is a crash behind us. We jerk apart, as if electrified by a curse.
Lily and James have erupted through the doorway, gued together in a ferocisous embrace. They freeze when they notice the pair of us sharing an equally ferocious embrace.
“Oh,” James stumbles, clearly surprised at the room being occupied. “Sirius! Aurora?”
Sirius immediately puts me down and backs away. “We were just talking,”
“Yes, I can see that…” James stares pointedly at me, a smirk playing on his lips. Lily’s eyes are wider than I’ve ever seen, looking as equally embarrassed as I feel. I want to disappear into the floor. I can feel the hot rush of blood filling my cheeks.
“Sorry, we’ll go…” I mutter, eyes downcast, removing my arms from Sirius.
“Yes, off you go. It’s nearly nightfall and you two know better than to be out of your Common Room with the curfew in effect,” James agrees, putting on the airs of Head Boy.
“Oh and does that exclude you two, then?” Sirius says, raising a brow. Lily flushes.
“We’re just, um, inspecting the rooms on our rounds,” she tries to explain, rather lamely.
“Well, we’ll leave you to it, then,” Sirius takes the opportunity to leave and brusquely walks out the now open door.
“Yes, goodnight,” I say awkwardly as I hurry out, not looking behind me.
But when I look left and right outside the doorway, I find Sirius has disappeared almost completely.
As I desperately rush towards the Common Room, I feel a strange sensation come over me. It was somewhere between relief and confusion.
“What the bloody hell is wrong with you?” are the first words I utter (or rather practically shout) at Emmeline when I enter our dorm room.
Emmeline and Marigold look up, taken aback at this unusual spurt from me. Marigold is sitting at her desk, fixing her hair. She turns around frantically at my shout, quite comically, her arms still above her, with two hairpins stuck between her swollen lips.
“What?” Marigold asks though the pins.
But my eyes are trained on Emmeline, who is sitting on her bed, nonchalantly reading through her notebook as if she had not only a quarter of an hour pervious forcibly kidnapped her two best friends. “So how’d it go?” she asks casually, not looking up.
I feel my anger coming back full force. “Why did you do that, Em?” I demand. “That was not okay.”
Emmeline looks up with a raised brow towards me. “Because if I didn’t, you two sure as bloody hell wouldn’t.”
I scoff. “I wasn’t ready, it was too soon-“
“It’s been over a week, Rora,” she says firmly. “It was time, whether you liked it or not.”
“Wait what happened?” Marigold interjects, clearly upset at not begin let in on the secret. She lets her hair down and scuttles over to us.
I look back over at her and say with mock chipperness, “Oh nothing, I just was forcibly confined with Sirius Black in a room in which we shouted, yelled, fought and snogged only to be broken apart by Lily and James.”
Emmeline’s head snaps back towards me at this. “Wait, you two snogged?”
“Yes, right after we took turns shouting at one another,” I say exasperatedly.
“Just snogged? No passionate makeup shag?” Marigold looks disappointed almost, ignoring the fighting part of my explanation. I am too flustered to be irked at this, like I probably usually would be.
“No, Marigold. No shagging. Because luckily for me, Lily and James showed up,” I say sarcastically. I still can’t even believe the last fifteen minutes even happened.
“Wait what? Explain!” Marigold squeals.
“One minute we were shouting and then the next he damn near bloody captures me and we’re kissing. I don’t get it.” I say with a shrug. “I don’t even think I realized what happened. I sure wasn’t expecting to kiss-“
“Did you object?” Emmeline asks carefully.
“Well…not exactly.” I recall how I practically flung myself at him.
“How did it go from fighting to snogging?” Marigold exclaims in confusion.
“I don’t even know!” I have now started to develop a splitting headache. This was all too much. I fling myself backwards on my bed and close my eyes.
“Rora, wait. Did you and Sirius end on good terms?” Emmeline prods further.
This snaps me back up. “Good terms? Um, what do you think? He disappeared before I could even process what was happening-“
“Rora!” Emmeline says with an unmistakably reprimanding tone. “You are impossible. So all that was for nothing? You haven’t resolved anything?
I give her an incredulous look. “No, Emmeline. We haven’t. Because that’s not how normal people go about resolving problems!”
Emmeline narrows her eyes at me. “Well, we’ll just have to try harder next time.
“There will be no next time,” I warn her. “Let me handle it, okay?”
Emmeline gives a sharp laugh. “Except you can’t. That’s what I’m here for.”
I scoff at this and turn back around on my side and pull the covers over my head. “Whatever. Goodnight. I’m going to sleep and hoping that when I wake up, this will have all been some terrible nightmare.”
“Oh, if I had been the one snogging Sirius Black I certainly wouldn’t call it a nightmare-“ I hear Marigold tease with a giggle.
I roll my eyes and practically shout, “Goodnight, Marigold."
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