Chapter 13 : The Want of a Woman
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The Want of a Woman
One of the things we'd promised to my mother before she bade us her farewells was that we would meet up with her for dinner later that evening. For now, this was a good excuse not to be attending the party that Ivan's friend was hosting. Perhaps I would simply sit around with my mother and mull over school and life with a Butterbeer or a nice cup of tea. Sirius could then happily spend his time doing body shots, or bonging cheap beer, or whatever is was that actually occurred at Muggle parties.
At least, I presumed that the party Ivan had referred us to was being hosted by a Muggle. Although, there wasn't really any clarification on that part. However, I figured that it probably didn't matter. The gist of the party would be the same - a bunch of teenagers and twenty-somethings getting drunk.
Secretly, perhaps, I was hoping that should I maybe somehow end up there, it would be full of Muggles. That way there would be absolutely no way of running into anyone that would know the not-so-secret topic of my paternal genes. It was quite possible that should this be a wizarding party, that there would be some witch that was present at Hogwarts during the great reveal that happened during my second year. There was a greater chance that someone would know about me, and my chances at being normal would be completely ruined.
At the realization of this point, I found myself using it as another excuse not to go to the soiree. What if there was someone there that wasn't as ignorant as Ivan about the situation of my parents? I don't think I could deal with having Ivan look at me as if I were some sort of monster. After all, I was only just getting Remus and Sirius to do the same. I couldn't say anything about James and Peter, however. There were still signs of nervousness and slight apprehension in their demeanours and eyes. Such lurking feelings didnât hold the same weight as the trust the other half of the Marauders now put in me.
Thinking of Remus, James, and Peter reminded me that while Sirius and I were having the time of our lives in London (ha!), they and the rest of Hogwarts were still going about their daily business. There were still classes and homework for them. Although, perhaps more accurately for the Marauders, Quidditch practice and pranks.
Upon bringing the topic of his best mates up to Sirius, he revealed to me that he had been conversing with them for nearly the entire time we had been on this journey.
"W-what?" I sputtered, looking up from fastening my shoes around my feet. "I don't understand how that is even possible!"
Sirius regarded me only in passing as he turned his gaze back to the television in our hotel room. "Honestly, Elaina, are you aware that you are a witch or not? There's plenty of ways - owls, enchanted mirrors, Floo, the possibilities are endless." He poured the last bit of tea he was nursing into his mouth. "But, if you must know exactly, it's the mirrors."
"Hm. Are they well? The boys, I mean, Not the mirrors."
"Obviously," he said with a simpering look. "Well, the only one I've really seen is James, since he has the other match to my mirror. But he claims the other two are fine. I imagine things might start getting a bit rough for Moony within the couple weeks or so though. Full moon's coming."
I nodded thoughtfully. "Understandable. And I'll make sure that I'm better in time for you to get back to Remus. I shouldn't keep you apart when it's more than apparent that he needs you more than I ever will."
An unidentifiable frown presented itself upon Sirius's lips, but before I could look any further into the movement or the feelings streaming through him, everything was brushed away with a simple wave of his hand. "Don't worry about it so much. I mean, yes, I like being there for Remus, but if it comes down to it, I know that Prongs and Wormtail can take care of him. There have been times where one of us was unavailable before this."
I looked at him stubbornly. "Do you honestly expect me to force you to be away from one of your very best friends during the time when he needs you the most? Exactly what kind of person do you take me to be, Sirius Black?"
He examined me coolly, but did not grace my question with a response. "If that is what you want," he said stiffly.
My mouth curved downward at his lack of emotion but nodded at his words. It wasn't as though I was putting myself out by planning an early return to Hogwarts, but he could have at least been a little bit thankful for the actions I was taking.
In a despite attempt to keep conversation going, I brought up another topic that was pulling at my mind. "Have you looked into my alleged involvement with the Slytherins as well?" Sirius lifted an eyebrow. "Not," I hurried to add, "that I actually had been meeting with them."
"If you're asking if I had Prongs, Wormtail, and Moony look into it, then the answer is yes. However, I think now we're going to be keeping a closer eye on what the Slytherins could possibly want with you, rather than if you're scheming together. After recent events, it rather seems to me as if you were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. I don't believe that you would fraternize with them. You've proven yourself better than that."
I refused to accept the compliment that was strung onto the end of his speech. Twas an exceedingly stupid observation, given that first and foremost, Sirius had only known me well for a matter of days. Secondly, everything that happened between us was circumstantial at best.
People say that the future is frightening. I disagree. The future is what you make of it. The past is where the fear should lie. Not, however, in the sense that the past is truly terrifying in the events that have occurred. But rather the alternate paths that could have been taken. Everything affects the future. What if the boy that had been courting my mother all those years ago hadnât been sent to Azkaban? Thus, my mother would not have been accosted by the beast that is my father. Would I have been born in a natural way? Would I be raised in the ways of Dark Wizards? Would I even exist?
That didn't seem to be something that Sirius easily grasped though. He wrongly thought the best of me automatically. But didn't he see that this newly budding friendship was purely the result of Remus approaching me with words of comfort and belonging? What if it had been someone else that had gotten to me first? What if it had been the Slytherins that offered me tender affections? Would I have accepted them? Would I be loathing all the Marauders at this very moment? Whom would I be sitting in London with? Severus Snape? Regulus Black?
I shuddered at the outcomes, trying to push them into the back of my mind. Sirius didn't need to know about such concerns and it certainly didn't do me any good to dwell upon them. If he wanted to believe me to be as saintly as possible in the offspring of a Dementor, then let him. I was in no position to try and convince him of my less than stellar personal beliefs on alternative paths.
"Come on," I said, standing up abruptly in a final attempt to deter my thoughts. "Time to go to back to my mother's."
"Brilliant. I rather like that woman, you know?"
"I'm well aware. Keep that in check, though. I'd rather not end up with you for a step-father."
He was still laughing as we Disapparated.
There was something about holding hands with Sirius Black that felt simply empowering. We still decided to do side-along Apparation even though we both knew exactly where my mother's house was now. It was simply for reassurance that we both arrived in the same place, but I still felt my heart leap as his Quidditch worn hand grabbed mine. It was silly, obviously, but I wondered briefly if this was the same feeling that Arina, or Felicity, or any of the other girls Sirius was with felt all over their bodies when he touched them. If it was, then I could easily see how they always seemed to be so sexy and confident - it was almost as though Sirius conducted some of his own magnetic aura through his hands and into whomever was lucky enough to be directly connected to him.
We were barely in my mother's living room for more than a few seconds before he let my hand free all to soon. My chest felt tight and my digits still tingled. The former, I attributed to the travel through space I had just accomplished. I licked my lips and hurried to find my mother. I simply needed to be away from Sirius. If his touch was able to procure feelings of indestruction and attractiveness, the lack of it makes a sort of void.
I wanted nothing more than to go back and grasp at him again, but I instead listened for the voice of my mother. In such a small apartment, it wasn't hard and I heard her laugh at once. She must have been talking on the telephone with one of her friends.
Pushing aside lingering feelings of Sirius's warmth, I plastered on a grin and walked through the open doorway. Inside, I did find my mother, but she was not cradling a phone to her cheek as she mixed furiously at a bowl of something. She was standing poised over a chopping board, demonstrating to a man next to her how to properly dice an onion. He had an identical stance and step up, but his holding on the knife was loose and his pile of the vegetable was sitting pathetically and messily in the corner. He weakly tried to slice into the onion, which just sent my mother further into a fit of laughter.
I blinked wildly at the sight of him, but then realised what must have been happening. This was one of my mother's neighbours and she was teaching him how to cook. The poor bloke probably was incapable of figuring out how to properly chop vegetables on his own.
"Hi, Mum," I said casually, surveying the man that was surely hoping to improve his culinary skills with my restaurant tied mother. "Sir." I inclined my head slightly towards him.
A flush rushed to my mothers checks and I was overwhelmed by tender feelings mixed with mild embarrassment. I had hoped that it came from Sirius as he entered the room behind me, but the directional was all wrong. Not to mention the fact that he didn't bring such feelings to the table. From what I could tell, he was able to see what was happening and easily assess the situation and react accordingly. His understanding of what was happening was obvious and I envied his knowledge.
"Elaina, Sirius, how are you?" she said shiftily as she set down her knife.
"I'm fine, Ophelia. And yourself?" Sirius responded, polite and amiable as always when trying to impress.
Before my mother can open her mouth to respond, I cut in. "Mum," I begin icily. "Why don't we make all the introductions before asking about how we're fairing?"
My mother had a weak smile of her face as she motioned towards Sirius and me. "This is obviously my lovely daughter, Elaina. And Sirius, her...friend."
Typically, I would have reacted to the emphasis and undertones that my mother put on Sirius's relationship to me, but I couldn't bring myself to do anything else than keep stony faced and wait for the story on exactly who this strange man was.
"And, this is Daniel Fitzstephen. My...fiance."
I didn't notice if this Daniel character had any response. My world suddenly went soundless and nothing seemed real. It was as though I were watching a television show on mute. Everything kept happening around me, but I was unable to do anything about it.
Sirius sent me a worried look, but hurried over to shake Daniel's hand. I followed in suit with a mechanical grin and stiff movements. The presence of his palm in mine didn't even register.
Looking at him closer, I found that there wasn't even anything remarkable about this figure. He had thick blonde hair that might have been greying around the sides, but it was hard to tell due to the light colour. In contrast, his eyes were so dark that they seemed nearly black. They were surrounded by the wrinkles of forgotten smiles, as was his thin-lipped mouth. He wore a pair of wire glasses, not unsimilar to James's. His physic was that of a middle aged man and I thought that he might be around forty.
Despite the fact that I was shocked and completely caught off guard that my mother had a man in her life, much less a fiance, I couldn't help but notice that he was in no way fit to be with my mother. He was a completely average looking male specimen, whilst my mother was, well, quite beautiful. He didn't seem to be all that amazing either. I mean, he didn't even know how to semi-properly chop an onion! I wondered if he was even a wizard.
At some point, after murmured hellos, my mother and Daniel went back to chopping and Sirius pulled up a bar stool along the island and made polite conversation with the pair. Only once my mother turned to dump the diced onion into a skillet did Sirius turn to me with a concerned look. He gave a forced smile, and waved me over to the seat next to him. I moved slowly, but I came to him.
His lips moved and his emotions sang of worry, but I still couldn't bring my ears to work. I didn't know what he asked, but I assumed it was something along the lines of asking about my well being. I shook my head wildly because I couldn't imagine anything being okay right now.
He inclined his head towards the door, as though he knew that I couldn't understand words right now. Without waiting for a response, he grabbed my hand and led me away from the kitchen. Once in the living room, he held me close to his chest.
I didn't cry. Crying would make it all seem real. I simply held onto Sirius and let his strength flow into me. There was a comfort in his arms that I doubted could be found in many other places. His hands ran over my arms, my hair, and my back. Each stroke brought me back closer to the Earth below my feet. I managed to move enough to wrap him in a hug of my own. Slowly, ever so slowly, my ears seemed to unclog and I became aware of the soothing sounds that Sirius was making.
After taking a final deep breath, I pushed away from Sirius and looked him in the eyes. His grey eyes were pushed together with worry and I was touched by his concern. "Are you okay?"
I didn't speak but gave a half-hearted shrug and a weak smile.
"You'll be fine. I'll get you through this."
"You don't need to do this for me."
He turned his penetrating gaze on me again. "Except I do. Friends do things for each other."
With no honest response, I just nodded and let him lead me back into the kitchen. When we reached the location, my mother looked up from her current task of setting the table and gave me a sly look. I frowned and ignored her. If she wanted to know what was or wasn't going on with Sirius and me, perhaps she should have thought about that before she didn't tell me shit about her fiance.
"So what are you two crazy kids up to tonight?" Daniel asked. It was the first time I could remember hearing his voice and it was far deeper than I would have imagined given his physical appearance.
"Well," Sirius began as he pulled out a seat and sat down. "I was planning on going to a party that a buddy of mine is throwing." I somehow managed to repress a snort at Sirius referring to Ivan as a "buddy".
"And you, Elaina?" my mother asked as she tossed a salad.
"I don't know."
Mum gave an untranslatable noise and continued to set the table with Daniel. I glared at her and tried my best not to spit out wicked names at them both. Being in my catatonic state was almost better than being this perpetually angry and scorned person. I silently cursed Sirius for bringing me back.
Once we were all sitting down and spooning a lukewarm soup into our mouths, my mother decided that it was the perfect time to drop yet another bomb on me.
"Elaina, there's actually something else I need to tell you. There is a reason why Daniel and I are getting married. We're not rushing into this for no reason."
I looked up from the amber liquid that was in my bowl and stared blankly at Mum. I waited for her to just tell me what was happening, but she just oozed happiness and reeked slightly of nerves as she grabbed Daniel's hand. I put down my spoon because I figured that I wasn't going to like whatever was making them so terribly elated.
"Well, you see...I'm pregnant!"
Merlin's mother fucking beard. Not only did this mean that my mother now had a man in her life, but it also meant that they had been partaking in...coitus. And that was a thought that I did not need in my life. But this also meant that there would be a family now. Something new. Something that didn't include me in its idyllic picture.
"W-wow, Ophelia! That's fantastic!" Sirius exclaimed with a not so subtle kick to me under that table. "Mmmm. Wow." I added sourly. Mum's smile faltered a bit.
"Have the Healers been able to tell you the sex yet?" The s-word filled my head with entirely unneeded and unwanted images of my mother and her fiance in the process of creating the little miracle in her uterus.
"It's a boy and a girl!"
Hermaphrodite, huh? Better change that "little miracle" to "little freak". That seemed to be the only kid of child my mother was capable of having. If I weren't infertile, I would make the mental note to never have children and face the risk of passing on that terrible gene.
"Twins!" Daniel smiled.
Oh. That changed things drastically. Their perfect life certainly didn't have room for a half-dementor freak now. Which brought up a new topic....
"Are you even a wizard?"
It was rudely blunt, but I couldn't stop myself from asking Daniel this all too revealing question. I hoped that my mother had disclosed the situation already of the magical world to him if he was a Muggle and they were getting married and having children. Otherwise this could be rather awkward.
Daniel looked at me calmly. "I am. I went to Hogwarts."
"And what house were you in?" I snapped.
"Hufflepuff," he said proudly as his chest swelled. This snort, I couldn't repress. How typical that he would be rocking the yellow and black. I could practically smell it on him.
Luckily, it seemed that the only one that heard my rudeness was Sirius. But as I felt the disappointment seeping from the seat next to me, it certainly didn't feel that way. As Daniel reached over to place a hand on my mother's pregnant - although not showing at only three months, I'd learned - belly, Sirius turned and whispered to me.
"You really, really need to eat something happy. But don't you dare do it from them. Calm down and shut up. You're ruining tonight."
The conversation for the rest of the night passed in a blur that I couldn't bring myself to care much about. Sirius held it up well enough for the both of us as he was his typical charming self while I just kept my bitter silence like he'd advised. By the end of the night, it was a surprise that my mother wasn't begging to adopt Sirius and make him my replacement too.
After an agonizing dinner, the end finally came and I could tell that my mother was disheartened. She began clearing the table and motioned for me to help her clear the table.
"Elaina, sweetie, are you going to stay with us tonight?" she asked, as she placed the dirty dishes in the sink.
I turned abruptly and fixed my eyes on the man who thought he was going to become my father. He was sitting at the table still, chatting with Sirius about Quidditch.
Us. Not "me" but "us". No. There was none of that. This was not their apartment. This was mine and my mother's. There was no room for him in this equation. No room for the two little siblings that were growing within my mother's stomach.
I had always believed that I'd wanted a family. Turns out I didn't, not the way I thought at least. I wanted to start out with something normal. A normal man to have helped with my conception. I didn't need this guy to come stumbling into the picture nearly eighteen years after the original call for someone.
The family I dreamed of did not contain a step-father and half-siblings. My mother and I had been perfectly happy together for all our lives. Sure, things had been tough for us, but we made it through. We always did.
My mother went nearly twenty years without a serious relationship. She didn't need him to support her. And though I had sat stunned for the entirety of dinner, head full of her intentions of marrying and bearing his children, nothing she said really sunk in until she utter that phrase to me. And by then it had become all too much.
The comfort and safety I wished to keep intact by staying away from Ivan's party was now the last thing on my mind. I wanted to be reckless. I wanted to rebel. I wanted to do something dangerous and make bad decisions. I didn't want to sit there politely and pretend that I was happy for my mother and the man she was calling her fiance.
"No. As Sirius stated earlier, we have a previous engagement."
Yo, homies. Here I am! With a brand new chapter that I think is a pretty good length. I'm so, so sorry that this took about 2 months longer than expected, but I was having computer problems and I was just able to get my documents back by chance about a week ago. So after doing some minor edits and changes, you have chapter 13!
BTWs, if any of you were wondering, Greece was GREAT. I had the time of my life, met some great people, AND got college credit for it all. So I'm more than half-way done with my minor in Greek now!
You guys are awesome. And nominations for Dobby's are happening on the forums right now, so if you really like this story, show it some love! Nothing would make me happier. :)
~The Forgotten Muse
EDIT 5-18-2013: Updated to post chapter image.
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