Chapter 18 : Beacon of Hope
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Lyrics- Lupe Fiasco, Letting Go.
I'd been up since three in the morning. Everything had to be just perfect today.
I triple checked everything until Lily told me go to bed before she put a Full Body-bind on me.
My excitement kept me up most of the night and though fell asleep last, I awoke even before dawn.
Smiling to myself I crept quietly out of bed. I then pressed a hand firmly on Kate’s mouth before waking her because she has a tendency to yell out loud.
As I was saying.
“Shhh! Wake up!” I whispered.
She rolled her eyes at me at which point I removed the hand and headed over to Emma and Lily’s beds prodding them awake in turn. We all pulled our wrapped and discreetly hidden presents from under our beds and within our trunks. I pulled out a pocket lighter and lit the small candles on the cake Lily held onto.
“Ready?” I mouthed at Emma who nodded vigorously making her blonde curls bounce around and grinned pointing her wand up. There was a loud bang and Nora jumped sitting bolt upright on her bed.
“WHAT! Wha' happened? Wha’s goin’on!?” Nora asked in a flustered groggy voice.
“SURPRISE!!!” We all yelled.
“Oh Christ!” Nora who was always so graceful and polite flopped back into her pillows with a groan. We all laughed and scrambled up onto her bed.
“Happy Birthday Nora!” I grinned.
“Happy would be at ten!” she said but smiled and pushed herself up onto her elbows. “Couldn’t let a girl have her beauty sleep on her birthday could ya?”
“Oh come on! You love it!” Lily kneeled in front of her holding out the cake and Nora laughed nodding in agreement.
“Ok, make a wish!”
Nora smiled and looked around at us, the candlelight making her face glow and her eyes brighten. She squeezed her eyes shut for a second then blew out the candles. All of us cheered and hugged her. I felt that a perfect moment to silently thank anyone watching over us for saving Nora that day.
We spent the rest of the morning tearing out presents, eating cake, having group hugs and taking endless pictures. I got her a pretty silver bracelet and matching earrings, Kate got her a really cute pair of panda bedslippers that changed colour to match her PJs, Emma had bought her an expensive golden ostrich feather quill and Lily very practically gifted Nora with a few choice muggle music records.
Today was Nora’s birthday and I was going to make sure it was the best birthday she’d had.
Nora hugged me as everyone climbed out of bed and began to get dressed for breakfast.
“Thank you so much! You know you guys are the best present I could get, right?” she said to the room at large. We grinned and formed another group hug.
“Sonorus” I said pointing my wand at my throat, instantly my voice was magnified ten-fold.
I was looking down from the landing of the girl’s dormitory staircase. All our happy helpers were gathered in the middle of the Gryffindor common room looking up at me.
“Alright people listen up! We have exactly two hours to set everything up before we need to head off to our classes!”
Nora was tutoring in the library, along with Lily who agreed to buy us as much time as she could.
James, Sirius and Stephan were retrieving the decorations from wherever they stashed it to keep it away from Nora’s sharp eyes. The rest of the Gryffindor house had been kindly requested (and when that didn’t work, blackmailed or bullied) to help us set up the room for what will be the best ‘Birthday Bash’ Hogwarts had seen in years.
“Alright! You all know what to do! LET’S MOVE IT!”
There was a scramble as people quickly scurried about trying to look busy.
Getting permission was the hard part. McGonagall had been very reluctant the moment Emma let slip the word ‘party’ which I had been so carefully avoiding! However with a little pleading and persuasion and an oath on good behaviour, she finally agreed.
Next, we had to hide everything! Dresses, decorations, presents, balloons, everything! Yes, balloons because it’s never a birthday party unless there is something that you can pop!
The common room was magically expanded to fit the crowd we invited for the party. After all, this was more than just a birthday party. It would be the first celebration since the Hogsmeade fiasco and we really wanted to bring the Houses together.
Jesse Jackson cleaned up the fireplace nicely with a single wave of his wand. Another wave and the mantelpiece was lined with gold and silver ribbons.
“Nice work, Jackson!” I called. He gave me salute.
Yep, I’m captain of this ship!
I didn’t really have a theme. Nora liked, Silver, Gold, and pale pink, so I just went with those. We first decided on taking down the Gryffindor banners and getting rid of the carpets but since the place would look drained of colour we let them be.
Emma came up the stairs as people began to busy themselves with cleaning and rearranging the furniture.
“Hey, you need any help?”
“Quietus” I pointed my wand at my throat again, “Any word from the band?”
“Yep, they sent a note about an hour ago saying they’ve left Kings Cross, they’ll reach here by night fall”
“Relax Capp, it’s going to be great!”
“Yeah… I just want it to be perfect, you know? For her…”
She put her arm around my shoulder, “You’re a pretty damn good friend, Waltham!”
I laughed, “Thanks!”
Just then the portrait swung open and everyone froze.
“It’s just us!” Announced Peter, as he and Remus entered each carrying two stacked boxes.
“By the way Cappie, you might want to keep a lookout there just in case you need an early warning!”
“Right!” I leaned over the banister, “You! Freckles! What’s your name?” I pointed at a short stout first year.
“Excellent, go stand outside, soldier. Let us know if you see Nora anywhere near this floor!”
The first year scrambled outside and closed the portrait-door.
“Ok! I got balloons. Who wants to help me set up?” Peter broadcasted loudly and gained much volunteers!
Stephan and Remus both shot their hands up.
“You can’t burst them!” I yelled down reading their minds immediately.
“Kill joy!” All three of them retorted. I simply stuck my tongue out at them.
“What’s next?” asked Emma looking around.
I opened my folder and checked.
“Oh gosh! You have a folder?” Emma laughed.
“What? It’s impossible to keep all the details in my head!” I said defensively.
I rolled my eyes, “Food’s coming in at seven. The House Elves will bring up the cake then. James said he’ll handle the stuff from Honeydukes, which should be in anytime now. The band… decorations… Do you think we invited everyone we knew?”
“Cappie, calm down. We did the invites weeks ago!”
“Ok…” I said watching Kate, Stephan and Peter inflate red, pink and silver balloons with their wands.
You just gotta love magic!
“Why don’t you go help Kate over there?” I suggested to Emma who smiled and jumped down the stairs at once.
Telling her to help Stephan would have been too obvious, especially judging by how Stephan just let loose a fully inflated balloon without tying it as she approached causing it to zoom across the room.
I decided to help too and headed down the stairs over to Remus who was unpacking his two boxes. Inside were several golden glass baubles of different sizes.
“Quite the match-maker, aren’t you Waltham?” Remus smiled slyly at me.
He raised an eyebrow towards Emma and Stephan having a race on who could inflate their balloon faster. I smiled at them both who were nearly purple in the face.
“They just don’t get that they are perfect for each other!”
“Oh imagine that!” Remus said grinning sarcastically.
I narrowed my eyes at him playfully, “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing… nothing at all,” he said despite his smile and picked up two of the glass baubles. “Want to help me with this?”
“Sure!” I picked up my wand and together we charmed the glass baubles up into the high ceiling of the tower and positioned them around each other where they hung suspended, revolving beautifully like golden moons.
“Testing…” announced Remus. He then pointed his wand at the glass orbs “Illuminare!”
To several cheers one of the glass orbs began to glow with a blight warm golden light. It looked spectacular. Together Remus and I lit up the rest of them.
By the end of two hours the common room was unrecognizable and beautifully decorated. The red, pink and silver balloons were tied with gold streamers. There were charms put on several lamps to create vibrant coloured spots of light on the make-shift dance floor at the centre. The round tables were set up next to the boy’s dormitory staircase, on the other side buffet tables were set up for the food. All in all it looked ready for a spectacular party.
At 12 noon, I grabbed Nora’s books from our dormitory and came down to go to lunch. When I opened the door I found myself face to face with Sirius.
We hadn’t talked much since the ‘Incident’ which led to an argument with me and Jason resulting in Jason and I being on the rocks for a while. We hadn’t fully patched things up yet. In fact Jason was adamant and ‘too busy’ to come to the party tonight.
“Hey there, Captain… Cappie!”
“Weasel,” I acknowledged.
Sirius and I bore into each other’s eyes for a long moment. I couldn’t believe he still had to nerve to talk to me. He most likely still believes I will just let him walk all over me. Son of a-
“Well, not that this staring contest isn’t fun, but I’m going inside!” James declared from behind him and walked past us carrying a large box labelled ‘Honeydukes’.
I gave Sirius a mean stink-eye.
“You screw up anything, and-”
“You’ll have my head on a platter, I understand” nodded Sirius.
He passed his own box over to a second year and leaned against the frame blocking my path.
“Get out of the way, Black” I said in a bored voice.
“You know we really shouldn’t fight like this. People might think there are unresolved feelings between us.” Sirius smirked at me.
I smiled at him, “You know what, Sirius? You just go ahead and make your jokes. I really couldn’t care less, you know why? ” I slapped my folder against his chest, “Because I don’t buy it.”
“Buy what, exactly?” he asked running a hand to push back the strands of hair falling into his eyes.
“You say this is the real you? I don’t buy it. Somewhere in there…” I gestured in his general direction, “is the guy I grew up with as my best friend, he’s not immature or conceited or arrogant like the person before me right now… and he certainly doesn’t sabotage a good thing when he has it!” I hissed pushing him roughly aside, walking out of the door and slamming the portrait on his face.
Miraculously, I kept Nora away from the common room for the rest of the day claiming someone had let off a stink bomb in there and I only just managed to escape with our bags before it spread.
We sat through a rather uneventful Magical Languages class and learned about Mermish sonnets. Then we proceeded to Potions where Kate pulled Nora over to her cauldron since she’d forgotten her book amid the party planning chaos and I was left to set up alone.
Of course, not all my lucky stars were in my favour and I looked up just in time as Sirius slumped into the seat next to me. I gritted my teeth but otherwise tried to ignore his presence completely.
“Begin!” Slughorn said after he had written up all the instructions. I got up immediately leaving Sirius behind and headed over to the potions cupboard.
“Hornet Stings…” I slid my finger over the labelled jars looking for the appropriate one when a hand appeared in front of me. The bottle in his hand was of course Hornet Stings.
Recognising it even without looking up at the owner I picked the bottle roughly out of the hand and turned away. Sirius grabbed my wrist and pulled me back.
“This is getting old!” I snapped in an undertone as several other students left with their ingredients leaving us alone in the secluded room.
He tilted his head to the side his silver eyes searching mine. There was a time he could get away with anything by giving me that look. No more…
In the dim light of the large potion’s supply room his pupils were dilated. He released my wrist gently and it made me stay rather than leave immediately.
He was struggling to say something and I was curious, after everything he’s blurted out what could possibly have him so tongue tied?
Sirius looked away from me, his nails picking absently at the wood of one of the shelves.
“What did you mean by that...” he finally asked me in a quiet soft voice, “that I sabotage things…?”
Whatever I was expecting, that wasn’t it.
I debated watching him as he looked away almost afraid of my answer.
“I meant…” I began, “Well, you ought to have noticed by now, you just… ruin it sometimes.” My voice was tired, of years spent being the sensible one in our long-gone friendship.
Sirius turned his eyes to me. I instantly felt terrible, acid churned in my stomach. He looked as if I just confirmed his worst fears.
“I’m sorry…” I said not even knowing what I was sorry for.
I just hated when Sirius looked like that. He’s Sirius, sadness never suited him. I just knew him always as this happy and smiling kid.
But every time I talk to him lately, one of us ends up hurt, angry, broken or in tears. It’s just such a horrible twist to what was once the best friendship I ever had…
I turned away from him and walked back to class and he let me go.
“Ok people! Listen up,” James said loudly next to me calling everyone’s attention. In his hands he had the nifty little map of Hogwarts that he had christened, ‘The Marauder’s Map’.
A large crowd had gathered all dressed up to the nines in the magically expanded common room. The password had been given to all those invited to the party which included the entire Gryffindor House for obvious reasons. Tomorrow the password would be changed to bring the security back to the common room.
“Ok! Nora’s five minutes away, everybody move away from the door and gather over here!” James said over the babble of the crowd.
Excited whispers broke out as everyone rushed around positioning themselves.
I quickly looked over the room. Emma and Kate were lighting the candles on the huge birthday cake baked by the Hogwarts house elves. On the buffet tables all manner of food from fairy cakes to sausage rolls sat on trays and platters amidst mountains of Honeydukes sweets.
The balloons floated softly in layers some grazing the high ceiling some reaching just above our heads, others wavering in between, catching the spots of colour thrown by the lights. I had to admit everything looked quite lovely.
Remus popped up beside me smoothening out his black tie. As always he was the best dressed out of all four of us. James picked a navy-blue dress-shirt and added a white tie for good measure. I swear in a few decades our kids will look back and laugh at our sense of fashion. So instead I went classic and after raking through James’, Remus’ and my own closet, I settled for a white long sleeved button down shirt and simple black pants, rolled my sleeves up to my elbows and came downstairs. It wasn’t like I had anyone to impress anyway.
“Three minutes! Peter, kill the lights!”
Everyone fell silent and Peter waved his wand around the room. The lights dimmed and went out leaving us all in complete darkness.
Capri and Lily were accompanying Nora back. They took the dresses they were going to wear with them and I overheard they planned to change in the Prefect’s Bathroom. What lie they were telling Nora to get her into a dress and back here, I had no clue.
Soon I could hear voices outside the portrait hole.
“Wattlebird,” said Nora’s voice and the portrait hole opened quietly.
This was the moment we were supposed the turn on the lamps and yell ‘Surprise!’
Nora’s dark silhouette entered followed by two others.
“Why is it so damn dark in here?”
The lights came on suddenly bathing the room in golden light.
“SURPRISE!” everyone yelled loudly. Everyone but me.
“Oh my God!” Nora yelped in shock and then laughed hugging Lily and Cappie tightly and proceeding to hug the people at the front. She blew out the candles of the huge cake in one long breath as people sang the lame happy birthday song.
I still hadn’t moved a muscle. My throat had closed instantly as my eyes fell upon Capri. I’d never seen her like this before.
Dark lashes framed her hazel eyes, her usually pink lips were painted red. Her soft dark hair hung carefree around her bare shoulders. The red dress she wore clung tightly to her slender figure, flaring out below her waist. I felt like someone had dissected free will from my being. It was all I could do not to walk over to her and kiss her right then.
“Sirius,” Remus said quietly knocking me out of my delusions.
I blinked quickly and my eyes turned to Nora, the birthday girl, fast approaching us through the crowd all hugging her and wishing her a wonderful birthday celebration. Her eyes were permanently crinkled with her signature smile. She looked lovely in her pale pink flowing dress that fell below her knees. Locks of her brown hair fell from the bun it was pulled up into.
Remus stepped forward and gave her a warm hug and a kiss on the cheek.
“Happy Birthday, Nora!”
“Thank you!” she said sincerely, “This is too much! It’s… beautiful!” Nora looked around in awe as the music began to play and people began to indulge in festivities. There were flashes of light as a dozen or so pictures were taken of the birthday girl with her friends.
“Sirius!” Nora exclaimed flinging her arms around my neck.
“Hey! Happy birthday love,” I said quietly in her ear, “do you like it?” I asked gesturing to the room.
“I love it!” she assured me and I smiled at her delightful grin, “I had no idea!” she exclaimed making me laugh.
“Thank you so much!” she was still grinning.
“It was all her!” I said pointing over her shoulder at the vision in red.
Cappie blushed and laughed, “That’s the lie of the century! The entire house helped.”
Nora hugged her best friend once more, seemingly overwhelmed. “You all are amazing! I’m the luckiest girl on earth!”
Nora put her arms around both me and Capri and I pulled Remus in as the camera flash flared again.
“Hi everyone!” said a magnified voice and everyone turned to the corner where the band was set up, “I understand there is a birthday girl here tonight?”
There was chorus of cheering from the crowd.
“Oh my Gosh! Is that?” Nora exclaimed.
“Yes!” Cappie laughed at her excited best-friend.
“Max Monroe!” Nora cried gleefully her eyes widening incredulously.
Remus and I couldn’t help but laugh.
“Happy Birthday, Nora! This one is for you!” Max Monroe said and the band started playing.
“Cappie! Oh my God! You got the Newcastle Newts to play! I love you! Have I said that already!? I can’t believe this!” Nora said tightening her arms around Cappie’s neck.
“I think she could use some punch,” Remus offered hiding his smile.
“I agree! Come on Nora!” Lily said dragging Nora over to the table. Nora was almost pink in the face, still smiling ecstatically. James looked crestfallen as Lily left him hanging mid-sentence. I shook my head at his misfortune. Poor sod.
The Newcastle Newts were playing ‘Seven Silver Moons’. I watched the people swaying about on to the dance floor with the rest of the crowd gathering around Nora, the centre of attraction tonight. Not to everyone of course. My eyes were desperately trying to look anywhere but to my side where Capri was standing adjusting her dress.
I will die tonight. I just know it.
“Remus! Stop being a bore and come on!” Emma pulled Remus by the hand. Remus looked to me for help, he hated dancing. Unable to think of anything fast enough I simply shrugged.
Capri raised her hand and brushed her hair back. Her bangles rattled next to my ear. I stopped pretending to watch the crowd nodding my head to the music and finally turned to her.
“You look great,” I said swiftly and then began to overthink that simple statement a hundred different ways.
She looked up at me, surprise evident in her face. Her hazel eyes searched my face, possibly for sincerity. Who could blame her? I’d been an unmitigated arse the previous week. But the corner of her mouth pulled up.
“You clean up pretty well too,” she said her smile widening.
“Thanks.” I said shortly returning my gaze to the crowd.
My mind was still with the girl I couldn’t have. Every slight movement she made registered in my head, every time her fingers twirled her ring, every time her eyes wondered, head tilted, lips pressed together, eyelids fluttered. It was driving me insane. I turned my eyes forcefully to James who was dancing with Giselle.
It was a minute before I saw a girl moving through the crowd toward me.
She wore a short glittering blue dress and smiled warmly at me. I wasn’t really in the mood to dance but I knew I wouldn’t have any escape from her.
“Hey you!” she said boldly wrapping her hand around my wrist, “Come on, don’t stand there like a statue, let’s dance!”
I sighed and let her lead me over to the dance floor where couples were already moving around to the music.
I placed my hand on her waist and Tess put both her arms around my neck. This was not something I was looking forward to but I tried my best to look enthusiastic as we danced.
“What’s wrong?” she asked me suddenly making me look at her.
Her wavy black hair fell past shoulders. When we were dating she had it cut short. Her dark eyes searched mine, then I remembered I had to answer.
“Nothing,” I said shortly looking away.
Capri had vanished from where I’d left her.
Let her go. You sabotage good things remember? And you barely have another chance left with her…
The song ended and moved on to another sickeningly sweet love song without missing a beat. Tess pulled herself closer to me. It was now simply uncomfortable but I knew it would hurt her if I ended the dance mid-song. She was a good girl but I just didn’t feel that way anymore…
“You’re a million miles away,” she said quietly in my ear but I heard her clearly over the music.
“I’m sorry,” I replied turning to her.
“Are you?” she asked calling my attention sharply.
“What do you mean?”
She smirked showing a tiny dimple. “She’s really pretty. I see why you like her…”
“What are you talking about?” I asked stopping suddenly in the middle of the dance floor.
She almost grinned pointing at my face, “I know this too well to ignore it.”
“You’re in love with a girl who doesn’t love you back,” she said simply tilting her head.
I swallowed and looked around frazzled, “Errr… what?”
“Sirius, I’ve been you… I’ve been the girl in love with a guy who’s clearly not into her anymore. I know what it looks like…” she said quietly with a hard smile and I knew she was talking about us.
I gave her an apologetic smile and she returned it leaning back to me.
“Welcome to the other side of the door, Mr. Black”
“Thanks.” I replied gloomily.
Tess laughed against my shoulder, “I had my suspicions on Waltham, guess I was right!”
“That obvious, huh?”
“Not really, you put up a good act. And you’re best friends, or were, I don’t really know what’s going on with that… so it’s hard to tell, you know. But I can…”
“She’s got a boyfriend and we’re not really friends,” I summed up for her.
She pulled her head away from my shoulder and the coloured lights passed over her grinning face.
“Well then you have nothing to lose, do you?”
“Show her what she’s missing!”
I burst out laughing, “No way!”
She rolled her eyes, “Wuss!”
“Excuse me? I’m Sirius Black!”
“Yeah, not the Black I knew!” she smirked.
I leaned back from her raising my eyebrows. She laughed at my expression.
“What do you propose?” I asked folding my arms across my chest.
“Steal the attention, you’re good at that!” she said with a simple shrug as if it was obvious.
Before I could think it through, Tess dragged me by the hand toward the band. She stepped up boldly toward them and whispered something in the bass player’s ear. He returned her smile and nodded.
“Never mind, come on!” she snapped dragging me over to the table where James was downing a shot of Firewhiskey.
“Already broke out the Odgen’s?” I asked him eyeing his glass.
“Yep, this is the one girl that never says ‘No’!” he said broodingly looking at Lily twirling happily with Jeremiah of Ravenclaw. What the fuck is with these Ravenclaws?
“Christ! What is wrong with you two?” Tess exclaimed loudly. Both of us recoiled from her fearfully.
“Drink! You’re obviously going to need it!” she said thrusting several shot glasses at each of us. We both immediately downed them. They burned my throat all the way to my stomach but then I felt incredible warmth spreading through my body.
“Ok. Now what?” asked James stupidly making me laugh.
“Now go act like the hell-raisers you are not the pansies you’ve become!” Tess barked at us.
James jumped on me pretending to be very scared, “Geez! What’s with you Torez?”
Tess rolled her eyes and stepped toward James, pulled his glasses down, loosened the tie around his neck and ruffled his hair. Then she turned to me pulled open my top two shirt buttons and pushed my hair back raking her fingers through it. It felt good, I tried to ignore it.
“Why are you helping us?” I asked pulling her hand down and looking at her eyes directly. I was slightly uninhibited by the fifth glass of Firewhiskey.
Tess smiled, “It’ll feel good to have you both owe me one.”
James and I looked at each other and shrugged.
Barely an hour (or that’s what it felt like) had gone by after James and I had our world transformed thanks to Tess Torez.
The band was playing a series of fastbeat popular songs and the beat of the drums magically magnified over the room began to drive more and more people toward the centre of the room where everyone began jumping up or grinding against each other. And in the heart of it all was the two of us.
James and I had two girls on each arm and all of us had formed a weird circle dancing as a group and screaming out random lyrics of the songs, laughing hysterically in our partially alcohol induced state. The lights were dimmed and the charmed disco lights threw patches of colour everywhere. I remember telling James repeatedly over the music that we’ll be known as the ‘Age of Disco Lights’!
Camera flashes burst from every angle until there were permanent blind spots behind my eyelids. Still, I didn’t care. The whiskey began to numb my nerves. I felt generally better dancing with a few girls I hardly ever talked to. After all, mingling was the point of parties, right?
We were all having a good time. The lights illuminated the sugar crazed crowd in patches of colour all moving to the rhythm and dancing to the beats of the changing songs. People began popping several balloons which released a surprising load of glittering confetti on the crowd to many cheers.
Kate went crazy after a few Firewhiskeys. She was always a lightweight. She laughed like mad jumping up and down next to me. I couldn’t help but laugh with her as we danced. The song changed and she twirled away from me and swapped partners with Nora who took my hand and twirled into me instead.
I laughed and swayed to the rhythm wrapping my arm around her waist.
“Having fun?” I asked her over the loud music.
“So much!” she yelled back and giggled loudly as I twirled her out and pulled her back again.
“BEST. BIRTHDAY. EVER!” she yelled loudly.
Nora put her arms around me and hugged me tightly her face sobering up from her fit of laughter.
“Thank you!” she said softly in my ear.
I tilted my head questioningly. She wasn’t thanking me for the party. Her eyes were more serious.
“For saving me,” she said still hugging me tightly, “I wasn’t ready to…. Thank you!”
I pulled back from her and held her face in my hands, “We would never let anything happen to any of you!”
I kissed her forehead and she smiled easily. I hugged her tightly once more and then led her off the dance floor over to the seats.
Both of us spotted too late that Capri was sitting at the table we were heading over to. Too late to turn back. She waved at Nora grinning.
My feet refused to move so Nora literally dragged me forward. She pushed me into the seat next to Capri and I sank passively into the chair.
“I’m going to get some champagne and… cake for us. You guys talk!” Nora scurried away despite my pathetic noise of protest, leaving me staring helplessly after her.
I cleared my throat and looked down. Since when did it get this awkward to be around Cappie?
My eyes instead fell on her crossed legs. The hem of her red dress ended showing an inch or so of skin above the knee. Her foot dangled against her leg, the velvet red toe of her shoe tipping back and forth with the tune of the song.
How can she consume my thoughts so fast? I was barely next to her for a couple of minutes and I couldn’t bring myself think about anything else but her. This isn’t fair!
“Looked like you were having fun out there,” she said softly.
Conversation. Thank you!
That was brilliant Sirius, you really showed your vocabulary skills there!
“You too,” I added not even knowing if she’d been anywhere near the dance floor.
“Yeah, but I quickly learned these things weren’t made for dancing! Should’ve come in plimsolls!” she indicated her red heels.
I laughed, there’s the Capri I know. I looked up at her. Her eyes were smiling at me even though her mouth only hinted at it. I knew then that I would remember how beautiful she looked tonight for a long time.
“You look beautiful,” I said before I could stop myself.
She bit her lip biting back her grin. Shit.
“Two compliments in one night! You making up for lost time, Black?” she smiled.
“Something like that,” I said returning her smile. At that moment a bright violet ray glided over her face illuminating her in a whole different light. No one was taking it easy on me tonight.
“Where’s Jason? I didn’t see him,” I asked in a quiet voice, mostly to remind myself aloud to not be an idiot.
Her face fell instantly, “Umm… he’s not coming,”
I sighed heavily, “It’s because of me isn’t it?”
She shook her head with the lightest of smiles, “No… it’s because of a fight we had… which was because of you.”
“Right…” I fidgeted with the black ring on my finger. I hadn’t felt anything since we got back to Hogwarts. “I wish I was sorry,” I said again in my uninhibited state.
Automatically I winced, waiting for her to lash out angrily, us to argue and the party to end horribly. But instead Capri laughed! Her derisive laugh caught me off guard.
“I really don’t get it. Why do you hate him so much?”
I fell silent.
“Is it the Quidditch, his friends, the smarts, the money?”
“Because you have all that too! In excess!”
I stayed silent looking at the dancing buzzed kids.
“What is it?” Capri pressed on.
I sighed again, “I don’t like how he treats you.”
“He treats me a lot better than you have, Sirius!” she said her anger finally making an appearance, “He treats me well! He loves and respects me-”
“He treats you like a bank account!” I said abruptly again.
I really shouldn’t drink. Ever!
Capri laughed out loud, “What the hell does that mean?”
I dropped my head into my hands and she pulled my arm away. “What does it mean?!”
“It means he invests in you and one day he’ll come to collect his favours!” I got up. “Where’s that champagne?”
“Oh my God! You. Are. Ridiculous!” Capri said getting up too.
“Fine. Whatever you say,” I left her and carved my way through the thick crowd all dancing and loudly screaming the lyrics of a particularly popular song.
“Sirius come on! Dance with me!” I couldn’t even locate the voice that spoke my name among the crowd chanting with the band.
There were more flashes of light as several dozen snapshots were taken of the crowd.
“Forget it, this dance is taken!” said a voice behind me and I turned sharply and found myself looking into those brilliant hazel eyes. She slipped her hand into mine and I held it tightly. Capri moved into my arms, her waist finding its place between my hands. It felt perfect. She looked amazing….
I was completely defenceless.
As we danced her smile stretched, “You’ve got glitter on your face.”
She laughed and tried to brush away the dust off my cheek with the back of her hand.
“No idea how that happened,” I smiled back.
“Mmm, I bet” she laughed again. I stared at her for a long moment watching her so happy, after what seemed like ages.
“I’m sorry about what I said… It was rude…” I shook my head at a loss for words.
She smiled, “You’re always sorry about something,”
“Yeah, so much for the new me.”
“Like I said, I like the old you. Always did…”
We moved silently to the music as it gradually turned back to a slower song.
As I looked at her she looked like the Cappie I’d always known. My best friend. Sweet, buoyant and carefree… I missed her so much. I wished that everything would immediately resolve and we could stay away from all the complications in our lives, just together, in the moment. My hand moved of its own accord and I gently brushed her hair back behind her ear. Her eyes closed slowly.
“I’m sorry about what I said earlier. At Potions…” she said softly.
“Yeah… I’m sorry too.” My fingers ran into her hair, sliding down the soft silk and finally resting on the small of her back.
“Don’t be…” she said.
Her voice had changed and it made me look at her curiously. She blushed and turned away putting her head against my neck. Her bare shoulders nestled against my chest.
I felt her hand at the nape of my neck clutching the ends of my hair. I let my hand wander over to her waist.
She turned her face back to me but didn’t raise her head off my chest as she looked into my eyes. She looked adorable peeking up at me through her dark lashes.
I swallowed nervously.
“Can I ask you something…?”
She closed her eyes slowly. “Sirius, please don’t ruin it…”
I waited debating if I should say what I was thinking. Or should I heed her for once and let the moment pass? After a long moment I realised I had very little left to lose and I was desperate enough to risk it.
Moment of truth...
“Do you think… do you think we keep pushing each other away because we’re too scared of what might happen if we get too close?”
Her eyes opened rapidly and she looked up at me suddenly in shock. Her lips parted and I wondered if I’d just wrecked everything, again.
“Capri!” a voice called through the crowd and we both looked suddenly towards it.
Damn it! Really?
“Jason! You came!” Capri released my hand and detangled from my embrace immediately moving into the crowd. In her absence where her contact left me stung as I stood there alone in the whirlwind of colour and music around me.
“So then she said ‘That’s ok James, just pretend you’re a Professor! No one will know a thing!’” James was saying to a laughing crowd, “Let me tell you last time I ever sneaked her out of the castle for beers!”
James picked up the glass of champagne, “But aside from rule-breaking, you can count on Nora for anything else in the world! She is one of my closest friends and I know all of us will be friends long after our Hogwarts years because of Nora. She’s the glue, always has been. To Nora!”
We all raised our glasses. I put my arm around Nora and she leaned happily against me.
The day had gone perfectly. I couldn’t have hoped for better. Nora couldn’t stop grinning, everyone had a good time and I really felt like people had truly put the Hogsmeade event behind them and come together to enjoy the evening.
James stepped down from the band stage and patted Sirius’ shoulder as he walked forward and took his place. I felt myself chewing on the inside of my cheek as I watched him walk over to the stage. He looked really good tonight. No one could pull off black and white like he did. Sirius was to give the last speech. He looked slightly nervous running his hand through his hair, it made me smile.
Jason squeezed my hand gently. I suddenly remembered my bearings and turned to him with a reassuring smile. We both turned back to Sirius as he cleared his throat.
“Well umm… everyone’s listed all the great things about Nora and honestly I don’t have to say how great she is to anyone who’s been to Hogwarts, you all know it.” There was a murmur of agreement among the crowd. Many heads beamed at Nora who blushed visibly.
“I consider her a very close friend.” Sirius said with a wink at Nora. She smiled warmly at him.
“So… umm… well, as you all know this isn’t just any party to celebrate a birthday. This is a wonderful way to bring everyone together from all houses after all we’ve been through in the last couple of months.
Because together we can not only survive this but we can overcome it, we can live our lives and be stronger and braver as we look to our future… if anyone doubts that, I urge you to look at this girl right here. She is your example… She’s our beacon of hope.”
“Happy birthday, Nora!” Sirius raised his glass and I followed along with everyone else. Nora’s eyes were crinkled as usual with her beamed at Sirius and nodded in appreciation.
Sirius made his way down the stage and Nora let go of my hand gently and moved forward to hug him.
Jason used that moment to pull me towards him, “Can we talk somewhere? I’ve got something important to tell you!” he looked excited, his pale green eyes alight.
I looked curiously at his expression, “Sure, let’s go…”
Everyone was hugging and wishing Nora before they left so I thought I’d have enough time to talk to Jason before anybody noticed I was missing.
All the same I told Kate that I was stepping out for a bit and I’d be back soon as I led Jason quietly toward the portrait hole. Looking over my shoulder I saw Sirius watching me but I couldn’t allow myself to think about him anymore. It wasn’t right… So I turned away and led Jason outside.
The halls were very cold and I suddenly shivered. Jason did not have a coat on so he simply pulled me close and ran his hands along my arms as we walked quickly to the Prefect’s Common Room. His arms around me felt good, as if the heated argument we had earlier hadn’t happened at all.
With him upset and angry I couldn’t really enjoy the party as much as I wished, but I put up a good front for Nora.
Once inside and in front of the burning fire I felt much better. I’d been here on few occasions. Jason and I had spent an entire rainy evening here together on the couch next to the fire ending up snogging until Mia walked in on us. That was slightly embarrassing. I shook the memory out of my head and settled into the sofa.
Jason immediately sat beside me taking my hands in his.
“You look fantastic,” he said softly. I smiled at him our previous feuds diminishing. His hand gently caressed my cheek and he leaned forward and kissed me softly. The arguments we had hours ago seemed years away, too distant to bother us.
“Listen,” we both said together and then laughed.
“You go first…” I said.
“Ok…” He smiled, “I just wanted to say… I’m sorry. Capri, I’m sorry for the stupid row we had, I’m sorry for my stubbornness, for not showing up for the party.” Jason sighed and looked down, “I don’t want to fight with you…”
I smiled at him. It was all I needed to hear. “I’m sorry too…”
I shifted closer to him and put my arms around his neck. His arms circled around my waist and pulled me closer to him. I rested my head against his shoulder, he nuzzled into my neck. I felt his lips kiss my neck softly and I blushed into his shirt.
“You know, if I had seen you in this dress earlier I would have instantly changed my mind,” he said softly making my laugh.
I pulled back looking into his eyes. Jason played with my hair running a finger along my collarbone. My skin tingled at the touch.
“What did you want to tell me?” I asked pulling his wandering eyes back to mine.
“Oh yes,” he said lighting up and I instantly knew his news was exciting, “A letter came for me today from the Ministry!”
“The Ministry?” I asked curiously.
“Remember that internship I was telling you about at the Department of International Cooperation?”
“Well, I applied for it and I just heard back… I got in!”
My jaw dropped open, “Are you serious!?”
Jason nodded with a beaming smile on his face. I hugged him tightly, “Jason I’m so proud of you! Congratulations!”
“Thank you,” he said breathlessly and then continued to gush, “I need a favour from you though. There’s this formal dinner and dance organised by the ministry, and umm, well it’s sort of a big deal. I need you to come with me, you know, to show I’m serious about it…”
I laughed at his excitement, he was like a kid on Christmas Eve.
“What? It’s a really big deal!” he insisted “The Minister of Magic himself will be there!”
“Ohhh…” I said patronizingly unable to hide my grin.
Jason rolled his eyes at me. I got up slowly still smirking and wandered over to the fireplace with my back turned to him.
“So, you need me to attend this with you, huh?”
I turned swiftly around and narrowed my eyes at him playfully, “Well mister, you should have thought about that before you ditched me today!”
Jason let out a long breath through his nose.
“Dammit Capri!” he got up suddenly, no longer smiling or laughing or remotely amused. My smile faded instantly too.
“I knew you were going to be like this!”
I was too shocked by his sudden shift in attitude to say anything. Instead I just stared at him wide-eyed.
“I just apologised!” he cried, “Why can’t you let it go? Why can’t you just stop this stupid fighting and act like a grown up for once!”
If possible my eyebrows travelled further up my forehead at this. But it was my anger flaring up that gave me words again. Before I could think rationally my mouth had opened.
“Wait a minute. Is that why you apologised?”
There was a short pause, “No…”
The hesitancy told me everything I needed to hear. I clenched my jaws.
“Don’t!” I said clearly though gritted teeth, holding up a hand to stop his words, “I don’t want to hear a word of it. And you can be damn sure of one thing Jason, I’m not going to your bloody dinner!”
“Look, you’re overreacting!”
“Overreacting!? Are you seriously that mentally handicapped you don’t understand why I’m this angry right now!?”
“Fine, let’s just be honest then. I was going to apologise to you genuinely. I came to the party to do just that. But when I get there I see you with HIM. It just seems that no matter what, when we have a bit of a spat you go running back to him! Is he really what you want? Am I just a fool here?”
“Oh Merlin!” my head was beginning to hurt at this point, “Jason, I can’t keep having this fight with you. I’m with you, I chose you. Sirius has been a big part of my life for the past five years but I chose to cut him out of my life because I trusted you! After everything you dare accuse me of ‘running back to him’? It was you that I ran to! It was him I left behind!”
Warm tears of frustration and anger streamed down my face.
“And stop deflecting like a pathetic child! You used me, Jason! You wanted me there with you at that Ball or dinner or whatever! And that is the only reason you apologised to me today! Don’t even deny it!
There's always an agenda with you! Getting Mia to be friends with me and getting me to tutor her so you can spy on me? Having a Ravenclaw birthday bash on the same day as Stephan’s birthday so you can pull me out of the party before I ‘got drunk and did something stupid’?
Getting James and Sirius thrown in detention for a prank? Yes, I know it was you! I just thought you might have actually had a reason… now? I’m pretty sure it was just to make us forfeit the pitch for Quidditch practice!”
Jason stared at me with a cold expression I’d never seen on him before. He had nothing and I knew it. He couldn’t contradict any of it. So he stared mutinously and I could tell he almost wished I’d never opened my mouth.
“You really need to grow up!” he said in a firm voice, no doubt in an attempt to shut me up.
Too bad for him, I’m a Gryffindor. I was angry and fearless, and at this point there was nothing that could stop me.
“STOP ACTING LIKE YOU’RE BETTER THAN ME, YOU PRICK! HOW DARE YOU!”
I sensed I was crossing over to words that would cause permanent damage to our relationship. But at that point I couldn’t care. I was hurt, I felt betrayed and all I could think about was that small almost insignificant part of my brain that saw this coming, the part that was right all along.
The man in front of me was horrible. He wasn’t a man, he was a child, a spoilt child throwing the worst tantrum. I hated him. I loathed him.
The row that followed wasn’t one of our worst. It was the worst. We both relived every single argument we had ever had. About us, about me, about him, about Sirius and about everything in our lives that clashed.
I was screaming at him, tears rolling down my cheeks. He was yelling back standing six feet apart spitting in rage. The sheer wrath we allowed ourselves to unleash upon each other made us understand, maybe at the exact same moment, that we were beyond repair.
I stood there suddenly in a wordless silence, staring at him staring back at me his fists balled by his sides.
My vision was hazy because no matter how much I hated it I couldn’t stop crying. I blinked rapidly and the tears rolled away. His clear green eyes had never held anything but laughter and love as he looked at me before, but now they were blazing fire, angry, unforgiving.
I wondered how much of what I’d seen in them was real.
In an instant I pulled myself tall and swiftly walked past him out of the Prefect’s Common Room into the deserted hallways. I didn’t wait for him but began to walk back to Gryffindor tower. He never came after me.
The castle was cold and I had goose bumps all over me by the time I reached the Portrait. The Fat Lady was sleeping soundly and I sincerely hoped everyone inside had gone to bed already as I prodded her awake.
“What in the world? For the love of Merlin, why can’t you just- Oh!… my dear, what happened?”
I swallowed. I couldn’t handle concern. Not right now.
I could feel myself breaking inside. I tried to smile but instead felt the dried tear-tracks on my face.
“It-it’s nothing, I’m fine…”
“Are you sure, dear?”
“Yes, umm… Wattlebird,”
The Fat Lady sighed and the portrait swung forward. I stepped into the dim common room quietly but my heart immediately sank as I heard James’ voice by the fire.
“Steph, you seemed to be having a good time, I saw you with the Baker twins, nice!”
“Oh Merlin! I don’t even remember that!” Stephan grimaced.
“Haha, you need to ease up on the Odgen’s, Steph!” Emma laughed.
I knew at some point I’d have to emerge from the safe darkness of the archway where I stood, but I still stood there hoping naively they would miss my presence in the shadows.
“Hey!” Kate’s voice called out to me, “I thought you might not make it back tonight!” her amused voice said suggestively.
“Cappie! You’re back! How did it go with Jason?” Nora asked innocently.
They all turned toward me, from the armchairs around the fireplace. Sirius sat between Remus and Kate. His face was unreadable. His eyes did not meet mine as readily. Instead he stared at the fire determinedly as I stepped forward into the dim light.
“Cappie?” Lily was the first to notice as she straightened up from her armchair, “What’s wrong…?”
Before my heart had a chance to even beat once more, Sirius’s anguished eyes flitted rapidly to mine. I looked away. I couldn’t handle concern…especially not his.
I wasn’t strong enough just yet.
I opened my mouth, but words failed me. I’d never felt like doing so many things at one moment. Scream, cry, yell, curse, blame, run … I was coming apart at the seams.
“Cappie…?” his voice was impossibly quiet and yet I heard it. The selfless concern he gave me when I was in need, was so clear in his voice it made me ache. I felt again the pain of what just happened a hundredfold. I looked into his eyes and blinked away the fresh tears that kept coming no matter how hard I tried to stop them.
“I think we broke up,” I finally managed to choke out. Shock uniformly stung their faces amid the strangulated silence.
I felt myself finally crumble, just as I was about to hit the floor his arms gripped me tight holding me against him. My head rested limp against his shoulder, numb tears still flowing down my face…
Things are getting outta control
Feels like I'm running out of soul
You are getting too heavy to hold
Think I'll be letting you go…
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