Chapter 6 : Leverage
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Sirius shoots an irritated look at the small hand-mirror on the desk beside him, which, rather than reflecting back the scene in front of it, is displaying an image of James’ and Remus’ faces. He half-wishes he hadn’t brought the mirror with him – watching James and Remus relaxing in their dormitory, practically gorging themselves on toffees, is making him green with envy. Oh, no, wait. That’s the fumes from the slimy green seed-pods Sirius has been sorting for the past half hour.
“Yeah, well,” grumbles Sirius, grabbing a handful of seed-pods from one bin and sorting the spoiled ones from the good ones. “Like I said, he provoked me.”
“You still haven’t told us what was he said,” squeaks Peter in the background.
“Yeah – what did he say?” says Remus.
Sirius shook his head, reaching deep down into the bucket for another handful of seed-pods. His left arm was coated in grayish-yellow slime from the elbow down. He would probably smell like these putrid bloody pods for the rest of the week. Well, at least he hadn’t been stuck in detention with Regulus. McGonagall had probably arranged that on purpose, known that if she put the two Black brothers in the same room for an hour every Saturday, at least one of them would be dead in three weeks.
“Was it about your family?” asks Remus when Sirius doesn’t say anything.
Sirius glances over at the mirror, and then looks back down at the bucket of seed-pods.
“No,” he says stonily. “It was about Aislin.”
In the background, Peter groans out loud. James and Remus shoot him irritated looks. Over the past couple of months James, Remus, and Peter have all gotten a bit confused an annoyed at times by Sirius’ off-again, on-again feelings for Aislin. But for the most part, James and Remus have been sympathetic.
“I always thought he might not have approved,” says Remus knowingly. “You know, because she’s a Half-Blood.”
“It wasn’t that,” says Sirius, dropping a seed-pod onto the table and crushing it under his fist, feeling a savage satisfaction as its slime squirts out onto his arms and chest. He grinds the pod into a pulp with the palm of his hand. “He was joking around about, you know. Shagging her. Saying I hadn’t done my job right, so did I mind if he stepped in.”
Remus winces with distaste, and James grimaces.
“I don’t get it,” says Peter, “stepped into what? What job?”
Everyone rolls their eyes.
“Well, he didn’t mean anything by it,” says Remus in a voice that’s meant to be calming, though it quivers slightly. “He was just trying to provoke you.”
“I know that,” says Sirius. “I dunno why I went berserk like I did. Guess I was a bit on edge after watching that git Scrimgeour make a move on her. I told you he was looking at her funny.”
Just the thought of Scrimgeour’s smug smile makes Sirius want to hex someone – or, even better, sink his fist into their face like he had wanted to do to Regulus.
“Well, it definitely didn’t look like she was going for Scrimgeour,” says Remus.
“Yeah, that’s something…” says Sirius, his mind drifting off to a sweet vision of Aislin sending a dozen pumpkins flying into Scrimgeour’s face. He shuts his eyes and shakes his head. “Well, it doesn’t matter. It’s not like I want her. It’s just hard to get used to the idea of her with someone else.”
I think this is the most uncomfortable I’ve ever felt.
I glance over at Corinna, who’s lying sprawled out over the lawn with Andrew Davies placed firmly on top of her body. Now, I’m very confident in my best friend’s snogging abilities, but Davies is another story. He’s squeezing her left arm so tight that I think I can actually see her hand beginning to go from pale cream to pink to red. His mouth opens and shuts rigidly with bad timing, making loud smacking noise against Corinna’s lips. His other hand is pulling her sleek, short hair like he wants to rip out a handful as a souvenir.
We came outside together to sit on the lawn and talk during the afternoon break between classes. Not much talking is actually occurring.
I look around from the book in my lap to the lake, trying to avoid the horrific vision to my left. I tap my feet awkwardly on the ground. I clear my throat. I think the term “third wheel” was actually invented to describe me.
Scanning over the other people sitting around the lake, the sight of a tall, willowy girl with curly, brown hair catches my attention. Lucia Delvino, Ravenclaw, 7th year – possible saboteur of James Potter and other various Quidditch players. My curiosity itches, and then burns out of control. I frankly don’t give a damn about Potter after the way he looked at me last week outside of McGonagall’s office. Still, after the way Matilda talked about her that day over the Halloween feast decorations, I can’t help but be interested.
Without really thinking about what I’m doing (always a good policy), I get up and wander over to Lucia, who’s spread out a blanket over the grass near the edge of the Lake, and seems to be concentrating on the large book in her hands.
“Er…Hi, Lucia,” I say, trying to make my voice sound light and cheery.
Lucia looks up, and for a moment I wonder if I’ve been turned to stone by her gaze. The girl is a bloody basilisk. I’ve never seen her up close before, but now that I’m staring right into her eyes, I can’t help but be amazed by their intimidating power. They’re large, round, and the most matte tone of brown I’ve ever seen, not reflecting anything around them.
She stares at me blankly with her creepy basilisk eyes. “Yes?”
“I noticed you were reading…er…” I try to inconspicuously glance at the cover of her book, but can’t read the cover from far away. “Er…a book. I thought it looked interesting.”
Wow, what a smooth cover. I should be a fucking detective.
“What are you talking about?” she says, in a flat but pretty voice, her eyes fixed on mine. Clearly, this girl has a totally whacked social code – she seems to think it’s normal to try to reduce people to quivering pulp with her eyes.
“Well, you just looked so wrapped up in that book, I couldn’t help but wonder…” I say pathetically. “What is it you’re reading?”
She stares at me blankly.
I feel extremely uncomfortable, but she doesn’t seem to notice at all – see what I mean about a twisted social code? I could drop to the floor screaming and she wouldn’t notice a thing. She’d just keep watching me with those big scary eyes, like some kind of mad scientist watching his lab subject. Or a hawk watching its prey.
Actually, I think hawks have very small eyes, so that’s not the best example. But you get it: freaky intense unblinking stare.
“It’s from the Restricted Section,” she says finally, turning back to the book, “you won’t be able to get it.”
I keep standing there, waiting for her to look back up, but she’s completely absorbed in the book again. It’s like I don’t even exist… This girl is freaking weird. I can totally see her hexing tough Quidditch players into oblivion without blinking an eyelid, and walking calmly away as they’re whisked off to the Hospital Wing by panicking friends who don’t understand what just happened.
I walk away – not back to Corinna and Davies, but back up to the castle, to the library. I’m hoping I can figure out a way to get my paws on a record of the books checked out of the Restricted Section. I don’t know why, but I have a weird feeling about Lucia Delvino. And I’m not doing this for James Potter. I don’t give a damn about that overinflated buffoon. I’m doing this to satisfy my own voracious curiosity, and because I don’t have anything better to do.
It’s official: I’m Batman.*
Lurking around like a troll in the library, I observe that Madame Pince keeps a load of record books in her desk. I’m hoping one of these books will contain the Restricted Section record. Now, the question is: how to get to those books?
All throughout my evening classes, I think it over. I don’t even notice when Jules Dumont accidentally transfigures his thumb into a live scorpion during Transfiguration, leading the class to burst into an uproar. My best bet is to cause some kind of a distraction that will get Madame Pince to scurry a long way away from her desk in the library. I’ll need at least twenty minutes to go through each of the large record books and, hopefully, find Lucia Delvino’s name in one of them.
But how can I cause enough chaos to keep Madame Pince away from her weird book lair for twenty minutes or more?
I’ll probably need somebody to help me out, and I don’t want to ask Corinna. In Potions, I try to think like somebody who’s used to getting what they want from whoever they want – in other words, I try to think like a Marauder. I turn and look over at the Marauders, who are sitting at the back of the classroom and screwing around as usual. It royally pisses me off that these clowns are going to do nothing but throw dead beetles at each other for the entire class period, and yet their potion will be perfect by the end of it.
Sirius looks up at me, his dark eyes unreadable from across the hazy classroom, and I turn back around quickly.
My mind is racing. A smile spreads across my face.
How do the Marauders get whatever they want from whoever they want?
Scrimgeour’s eyes light up. “Really? You want to come with me this weekend?”
I nod, glancing up and down the table of Hufflepuffs. They all look more or less the same, with bright, vapid smiles and mouths full of food. A couple of them are glancing at Scrimgeour and I, no doubt wondering what the hell an antisocial pumpkin-throwing lunatic like me is doing at their table of amnesty and friendship and crap. They’re probably scared to death of me.
“I realized I didn’t really give you much of a chance before,” I say with a shy smile and a flutter of my eyelashes. I seem to have discovered a talent at acting. “You seem really interesting.”
Scrimgeour grins with satisfaction, looking more smug and catlike than ever. “Well, you’ve made a good choice. I’ll show you a good time.”
I smile – and my smile grows even wider as I look up and, once again, meet the charcoal gray eyes of Sirius Black. Sirius is trailing slightly behind his friends as the lot of them walk over to the Gryffindor table for dinner. He doesn’t even seem to realize how slow he’s walking as he watches Scrimgeour and I. I wink sarcastically at him, which seems to bring him to his senses. His eyes narrow, and he speeds up to catch up with the Marauders.
Scrimgeour, who saw the whole thing, smiles arrogantly. “Well, it’s nice to know that I’m going out with a girl who’s sought after by the most popular blokes in the castle.”
I frown, realizing that he said blokes, plural, but decide that it must have been a simple mistake.
“It’s nice for me to know that I’m going out with the most attractive bloke in the castle,” I say with a giggle that sounds conspicuously fake, even to me. I felt smug at first when Sirius walked by, but now, for some reason, my vicious satisfaction is fading into something more like…disgust?
I eat dinner with Scrimgeour, channeling the slutty spirit of Matilda Swenson to give me the energy to flirt continually with the revolting bastard. His self-worship could seriously not be clearer. I bet he has a little altar to himself in his dormitory, complete with close up photos of his face, and some baby teeth. All hail Scrimgeour!
Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit. But the point is, I don’t like him much.
I let him walk me up to Ravenclaw tower after dinner. The entire time, he treats me to an impromptu monologue about the world according to Rufus Scrimgeour, some of which has clearly been taken straight out of textbooks. I seriously want to stab this guy.
At the entrance to the Ravenclaw common room, Scrimgeour pulls me aside, gripping my wrist with one large hand and drawing me up against the corridor wall. Slowly and deliberately, he reaches up and runs a hand through my hair, tucking a loose strand behind my ear. The move is so cliché, I feel like laughing.
“I’m really enjoying getting to know you, Aislin,” he says in a rough voice, his face far too close to mine.
At a total loss for words, I smile, blinking blithely up at him. I’m trying to act cool and calm and everything, but my heart feels like its swelling up and growing heavy in my chest. When Sirius used to kiss me, my heart felt all fluttery and light, like a butterfly. Now, it feels like a lead weight. I haven’t kissed anyone since…
The memory of that kiss comes flooding back into my mind like a tidal wave. I feel it rising in my brain, pervading all of my sense. Sirius’ voice, soft in the dark corridor. His hands, his lips, so insistent against mine. So desperate. What was he trying to tell me with that kiss?
“I’ll see you this Saturday, Rufus,” I whisper, kissing him on the cheek and slipping away from him down the corridor.
Sirius wasn’t trying to tell me anything when he kissed me, I tell myself angrily as I lie awake in my bed later that night. He was just fucking horny. It didn’t mean anything… I never meant anything to him…
Wooo, Sirius POV! Hope you enjoyed the chapter! :) The next chapter will be jam-packed full of action! SO GET EXCITED.
*Disclaimer: I don't own Batman! DC Comics does.