Chapter 29 : Star-crossed
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What a wretched month October was, at least that’s what Sirius thought. In his younger years, he loved the month. The autumn air, the perfect quidditch weather and most of all it was the lead up to Halloween. A marauder’s favorite holiday, besides April Fool’s Day of course. But now, the month was completely dreadful to him. The golden colors meant beauty before death. Sirius could not even enjoy the weather because he couldn’t take a step outside his new prison walls. Actually, his childhood home was technically his first stretch of prison when he was a young student. However, everything comes full circle. Sirius was no longer allowed to leave after his little excursion to King’s Cross to see Harry off to Hogwarts. Lucius Malfoy had recognized Sirius’s animagi form and in typical Malfoy fashion, he ruined everything. But most of all, Halloween was no longer a cause for celebration. For 14 years, October 31st had become a day of mourning. He had lost two of the most important people to him and in return paid for a crime he didn’t commit. October was a terrible month.
Adding to Sirius’s misery was the fact that the old, dreary house that was once full of playing, conversing and actual people was now once again silent and absolutely repugnant. All the kids had gone back to Hogwarts and Remus had started to go on more missions for the Order. Of course there was still Order meetings. But those provided none of the social welfare that Sirius needed. It only caused him to feel insignificant. During the first war he could actually help. He was no longer a soldier.
As his relationship with Shay went, that was an entirely different monster. He saw her at the occasional Order meeting but she was always all business, no time for play. How could Sirius blame her? She was leading a triple life. One as a mother and wife, another as an auror and another as a member of a highly elite and highly dangerous organization of wizards and witches. Shay had no time for Sirius. Or at least that’s what he wanted her to believe.
The sun was completely blinding and earth shattering. Why did it decide to rise so soon after Sirius had gone to sleep? Why did Sirius let himself fall asleep to begin with? He couldn’t remember pieces of the night. He did, however, remember the most important part. At least he wasn’t surprised by finding Shay in his bed, her arms wrapped around him as if she was afraid he would vanish before her. Sirius had dreamt of this moment for a long time. He wasn’t prepared for it to actually come true.
“Quit moving,” Shay mumbled with morning grogginess, “I’m not ready to get up yet.”
Sirius looked down at her and let out a small sigh. Even with bed head and bags under her eyes from drinking, she was still so beautiful to him. Cerebral, astonishing, utterly unattainable and downright sinful.
“I have to use the loo.”
Shay released him and rolled away, seeming to try and fall back asleep. Sirius maneuvered his way gently out of bed. He quietly padded across the plush carpet of his room and the hallway and was glad to find that the bathroom was unoccupied at the moment. He swiftly shut the door and turned the faucet on. He bent over the sink and splashed cold water on his face. It helped shake off the previous night and made his conflicted mind straighten up.
How could I, was all he thought. At that moment, Sirius thought of himself as a truly terrible man.
“Come back to bed,” Shay grumbled as Sirius reentered his room.
Her eyes were still shut and the blankets were wrapped tightly around her body. Sirius ignored her demand and sat at his desk, instead watching her from his seat.
When she didn’t hear any movement, Shay opened her eyes.
“What’s wrong?” she asked and perched herself upon her elbows.
“You shouldn’t have slept here,” Sirius said bluntly and stroked his stubble covered chin nervously.
Shay knitted her eyebrows together in confusion and spoke up.
“You shouldn’t worry about that. I’ll just send a message to Jude stating that I had to go into work early.”
“So you can lie to him that easily?” Sirius asked sharply.
Shay was taken aback again. She sat up in bed and kicked her legs over the side.
“I don’t understand why you’re concerning yourself with it. Isn’t this what you wanted?”
Sirius shrugged and stood from his chair. He paced over to the window and focused his attention outside.
“Answer me, Sirius,” Shay called softly.
He couldn’t. He couldn’t do this but he had to.
Sirius felt Shay’s grasp on his forearm and she pulled with all her force, whipping him around to face her.
“I said answer me,” she said in no more than a whisper.
She couldn’t help the hurt that had already crept into her eyes.
“I thought it was. I was sorely mistaken,” Sirius said as plainly as he could.
Shay’s hand dropped from him instantly as if he had caught fire before her eyes.
“Why are you doing this? You pursued this for months. I just gave you what you wanted.”
She couldn’t hide the quiver in her voice.
“At the price of your own family? Did you stop to think about Jayme?” Sirius questioned.
He was having a hard time maintaining eye contact with her. But he had to make Shay believe what he was saying.
“You’re her real father, Sirius,” Shay retorted and turned away from him.
It was all too much.
“We both know that Jude is the more suitable parent. I could be a fugitive forever. She deserves better than that.”
“You said you loved me,” she reminded him and leaned against the door to support the ever-increasing shake of her legs.
Sirius couldn’t answer her. He went back to staring out the window.
Shay took in a sharp breath. Her eyes, flooded with tears of heartbreak, narrowed with anger as he ignored her.
“How can you not justify what happen?” Shay questioned angrily.
“How can you justify it?” Sirius asked back, with more emotion than he intended to.
The two of them stood there, on opposite sides of Sirius’s childhood bedroom. Two star-crossed lovers that figured out that maybe they were never meant to be.
“You don’t have to do this,” Shay suddenly pleaded.
She had broken their unsaid rule. She had peered into his thoughts.
“I know what you’re trying to do. You’re trying to set me free. You see yourself as a burden, you see yourself as toxic. You’re not, Sirius. You won’t be my downfall,” Shay explained and inched closer to him.
He stood stoic. He would not break.
She reached up and caressed the side of his face, mirroring the night they had before.
“I love you,” Shay impressed with so much emotion that her body heat rose.
Sirius almost lost his battle and fell into the hand that apparently loved him so dearly. The hand that he loved too much to watch it come crumbling down.
“You’re not welcome here anymore. Not unless it’s for Order business,” Sirius informed impassively as he took her hand and placed it back at her side.
Shay slowly shook her head in disbelief as she took a step back from him.
“Kingsley wanted me to stop by on Friday. So I guess I’ll see you then,” she said, her voice hardening with every word.
Before Sirius could blink, she was gone.
“Once again, Black, you prove yourself to be utterly useless,” Severus drawled as a few of the Order members sat around the table at 12 Grimmauld Drive.
Sirius’s jaw clenched and his face reddened a little.
“Come on, Snape. That’s just completely counterproductive,” Tonks defended her cousin.
“Of course the two black sheep of the most ancient and noble House of Black would defend one another,” Severus spat out.
Tonks’ hair turned a fire shade of red, Kingsley cleared his throat to show his discomfort and Shay rolled her eyes with heavy exaggeration.
“What’s up your arse today?” Shay asked from her chair.
She was seemingly uninterested and was casually leaning back in her chair.
“Do none of you realize what I risk on a daily basis?” Severus snapped and slammed his fists on the table, “The sacrifices I make are completely over-looked while you all sit here and make excuses for a man that can do nothing but turn himself into a flea-ridden dog.”
Sirius shot up from his own chair to stand face-to-face with Snape.
“The only reason you’re here is because of Dumbledore. Do you honestly think that any of us believe that you’re truly loyal?”
Severus looked as if he could breathe fire, he would have at just that moment.
“The same could be said about you,” Snape quipped.
“I’m glad to see you two can still take the mickey out of each other after all these years,” Shay commented with a smirk.
“Are we entertaining you?” Severus questioned and both he and Sirius placed their attention on her.
“Well, I came here for a meeting but the show is quite compelling,” Shay said with a sarcastic smile.
“You’re more than welcome to leave if you have some where more important to be,” Sirius barked and Shay couldn’t help but laugh and once again roll her eyes at his impatience with her.
“You’re more than welcome to get a shave and a haircut but nobody’s pressuring you to do that,” Shay joked with a menacing smile.
She had a hard time taking anything he said at the moment seriously.
“Look,” Shay huffed and leaned forward in her seat, “I can see where Severus is coming from. Harry can get himself and a lot of other kids into a whole mess of trouble with this under-age Order thing he’s trying to pull off. On the other hand it’s a very honorable and selfless thing Harry is doing. From what Jayme has told me, Umbridge isn’t teaching these kids a damn thing. In my opinion, she’s putting a death sentence on every Hogwarts student.”
“Has Jayme joined?” Sirius asked quickly.
“I asked her not to, however I can’t control what she does at school. I think she’s too young to join something like that. I told her anything that she’s not taught by Umbridge, I will teach her myself.”
Sirius looked disappointed while Severus looked pleased.
“You would have joined at her age,” Sirius accused.
“Of course I would have. I also had two parents that could have cared less about what I did,” Shay explained.
“Sirius, do you think that Mr. and Mrs. Potter would have let James join something like that at his age?” they heard a voice ask from the door.
It was Remus, who looked quite haggard from a bout with the full moon. Shay, Sirius and Kingsley gave him a welcoming smile and Tonks hair changed to an electric sky blue. Snape just scowled at him.
“I’m glad to see that you all can hold down the fort while I’m gone,” Remus joked and took a seat next to Tonks.
“It’s been so long. Are you hungry, Remus? You’re looking a bit pale,” Tonks forgot about the conversation at hand and fussed over the man she was beginning to love.
“I’m fine, I’m fine,” he reassured, “It was just a very long trip. At least I made it back in time for the full moon.”
“Where were you and Emmeline this time?” Shay asked.
“We were in Armenia for the past few weeks. We actually made some headway there. So what’s this I hear about Harry?” Remus asked, intrigued about the conversation he missed.
“Mundungus has informed us that Harry, Hermione and Ron have started their own Order. I believe they’re calling it Dumbledore’s Army,” Kingsley explained with a small smile at the name they chose.
“I’m not surprised at all. Does Albus know?”
“Yes. He hasn’t commented on it. I think he wants to see it play out,” Severus added and finally took his seat.
“Has anyone talked to Harry about this?” Remus asked but he directed his glance at Sirius.
“I told him it was a good idea,” Sirius admitted with a shrug.
“Of course you did,” Shay scoffed.
Remus looked between the two of them before continuing.
“Do Arthur and Molly know?”
“Arthur does. He asked us not to tell Molly yet. Ron, Fred, George and Ginny all joined. Not to mention Harry and Hermione,” Tonks explained.
“Well, we can’t stop them but I’m quite sure Umbridge eventually will,” Remus reasoned.
“And it will get them all expelled,” Snape informed, trying to seem as unconcerned as possible.
“No. As long as Dumbledore is at Hogwarts, they’re all safe,” Shay said with the final word.
“So what’s going on now between the two of you?” Remus asked Shay as they walked away from the kitchen.
“Between who?” Shay asked, playing coy as possible.
Remus let out heavy sigh, “You and Sirius.”
“There’s nothing going on between Sirius and I,” Shay responded a little too quickly.
“Even before I left, you two seemed to take a turn for the worse. Did something happen that one night?”
Shay scoffed and at looked as if she had a bad taste in her mouth.
“Remus… I’m only going to say this once. There is absolutely nothing going on between me and Sirius Black. On top of the fact that I’m married, that man has given me nothing but a headache, heartache and a ring,” Shay rambled until her face suddenly dropped in realization.
“And two children,” Remus added, oblivious to the fact that Shay was far away in thought.
“Yea, that too,” she responded robotically.
Remus gave her an odd look and opened his mouth to speak again.
“I have to go, Remus. I’m so happy you’re back. I’ll owl you later this week for dinner,” Shay said quickly and before Remus could get a word in edgewise, she was gone.
“Where is it?” Shay grumbled to herself.
She was angry that it took her this long to realize what she needed to fix things. How could she be so stupid as to forget about what had meant so much to the both of them.
She had to find the ring that Sirius’s had given her.
All those years ago after the discovery of Sirius’s supposed betrayal and ultimate arrest, Shay had banished her ring from sight. Unfortunately, she had no idea where it ended up. While she was sure that it resided in the house that she and Sirius used to share, it could have been anywhere in the abandoned hillside cottage.
The house hadn’t seen a soul in years. Shay had never been able to return after Sirius had been imprisoned in Azkaban. In her mind, the bad memories just overshadowed the good.
She didn’t know where to start. It wasn’t on the fireplace mantle that held pictures of fresh-faced lovers and their young son. The faces in the pictures turned annoyed as she lifted each frame to check behind. She gave the old memories an apologetic look and walked away from the fireplace.
The kitchen had a stale smell to it. Shay opened the fridge to find a toxic wasteland of petrified food and mold. She shut it quickly and moved onto the cupboards and drawers. None were promising.
The next stop was her old bedroom. It was dusty and depleted. The quilt on the bed could barely be called a quilt anymore. Sirius still had clothes in the drawers of the dresser and an old issue of Quidditch Weekly on the nightstand. While Shay didn’t find the ring, she did find another piece of jewelry that was dear to her heart. It was the locket that Sirius had given her on her 19th birthday. She opened the delicate silver locket and found that she still remembered the day they took the picture. She smiled lightly; softly squeezed the locket shut and decided to place it around her neck. It felt right.
There was only one more place she had left to check. Before her was the door to Cillian’s bedroom. She hadn’t been in there since the night she and Sirius had come home to find their son murdered by death eaters. Her hand was gripping the doorknob tightly while she was trying to decide if she was ready to enter. She reasoned that after 15 years maybe it was time to take another step forward in an impossible healing process.
It wasn’t what she expected. The last time she was in the room, it was completely destroyed. This room was organized. It wasn’t exactly the way it was while Cillian was still alive. The furniture was pushed towards the walls, leaving a large empty space in the middle of the room. There really was no sign that unspeakable actions had occurred there and that somewhat spooked Shay. She felt as if she was in a museum and nothing was meant to be touched. She didn’t like it one bit. Maybe she wasn’t as ready as she thought.
“Accio ring,” she spoke softly but nothing happened.
She figured it wouldn’t work. She should have figured her whole plan wouldn’t work. She felt defeated. Shay walked over to the closet and pushed the door open. Nothing was hanging from it but she suddenly gave a loud shout when her eyes trailed down to the floor. Lying there was a motionless body surrounded by blood, eyes void of life. It was her daughter. Shay’s breath was caught in her throat and she whipped away from the scene. She had to remember that Jayme was safe at Hogwarts. What she was seeing wasn’t real.
“Riddikulus,” Shay cried and the body contorted.
Suddenly the boggart disguised as Jayme was up dancing around and laughing. Shay released a large breath and closed her eyes tightly, trying to shut out what she had just seen. She opened her eyes to find that the boggart had taken a new shape. This time Shay saw herself, however she had aged greatly and looked frail and pathetic. She had outlived her loved ones and was completely alone.
“Riddikulus,” she said again and the old woman was suddenly dressed in a grass skirt, doing a hula dance.
With another wave of her hand, the boggart was gone and Shay’s mind was made up. She couldn’t be alone, not if she had anything to do with it.
“I need to talk to you,” Shay commanded as she abruptly entered Sirius’s room.
Sirius, who was lounging on his bed, shot up and looked extremely alarmed.
“Merlin, hasn’t anyone ever taught you how to knock?” he asked fiercely.
“I just need you to listen,” Shay continued and started to pace in front of Sirius.
He thought that there was a strong possibility she had finally lost her marbles.
“Do you realize what time it is?” Sirius asked as he watched her move back and forth before himself.
“You can’t do what you’re doing,” Shay continued on, completely ignoring Sirius’s question. “It’s not fair. You came back to me, you pursued me, you said you loved me. You can’t suddenly say it was all rubbish and leave me left open like that. I won’t let you do that to me, Sirius.”
She stopped pacing and stood directly in front of him. He could see that she was visibly upset.
“You’re wearing it,” was all he responded with.
Shay pursed her lips and furrowed her eyebrows. “Wearing what?” she asked sharply.
Shay fondled the silver heart between her thumb and forefinger. She had almost forgotten that she put it on.
“I found it. I was at the cottage.”
She heard Sirius take in a sharp inhale.
“I was looking for the ring,” she answered quietly.
Sirius let out a heavy sigh, “You shouldn’t be doing that. If you don’t recall, you already have a ring on you’re finger.”
“I don’t understand why you’re so concerned with my marriage now. You sure didn’t care this summer,” Shay huffed.
“That was before I got to know Jayme. I can’t do that to her. I can’t break up her family,” Sirius explained and scratched the back on his neck, showing his discomfort with the conversation.
“And what about that night?” Shay asked in a whisper.
She seemed embarrassed to ask him about it.
“We let the alcohol get the best of us.”
“Look,” Shay pleaded and got down on her knees before Sirius and placed her hands on his forearms, holding him in place. “I’ll admit that I never thought you’d return to my life. I did have to move on and I do love Jude. He has been a fantastic father to Jayme, but our relationship is complicated as hell right now. But now here you are and here I am admitting that I love you. It’s always been you, even when I would have given everything for it not to have been.”
Sirius stared at her with glistening eyes. He never imagined that she would have been so persistent. He had only asked for one night and she was ready to give him a lifetime.
He got up from his place on the bed and strode across the room to his desk. Shay got up and watched him open a drawer, rummage for a bit, slammed it shut and turned around with something enclosed in his fist. He walked up to Shay and signaled for her to turn around. She complied and felt his strong, calloused hands on the back of her neck. She felt him undo her necklace and quickly clasp it back together. As he did that, she felt an added weight to the chain and lowered her gaze to find the culprit. There it was. The engagement ring Sirius had given her years before.
“How?” was all she could get out.
“It’s one of the first things I did after I escaped. I guess I beat you to it,” Sirius explained.
Shay felt him inches away from herself. His breath was making her skin tingle on the crook of her neck while he gently skimmed the tops of her shoulders.
“I’m sorry about what I’ve done this summer. I’m a selfish and careless man. But I can’t love you Shay. I though I could,” Sirius admitted.
She turned to face him but buried her head in his chest and wrapped her arms around his slim body. He couldn’t help but secure her in place with his own embrace.
“You say this, except you’re holding on to me like you know love,” Shay said softly and Sirius’s breath got caught in his throat.
The two of them stood there, embracing each other, for a while. It was intoxicating to be that close.
“What are we going to do?” Sirius whispered into her hair.
“Take it slow. We have all the time in the world.”
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