Chapter 11 : If we hold on to each other, we'll be better than before.
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“I’m not saying anything! You’re the one that’s -”
“Seriously, be quiet! Someone’ll hear -”
“It’s not funny! Stop giggling -”
“I do not giggle -”
I was in the middle of an indignant protest at the mere thought that I might do something so pathetic as giggle, when a hand was roughly thrown across my mouth which made me giggle – laugh... maturely – all the more.
But it was muffled enough for me to hear the footsteps and the low rumble of conversation getting quieter and quieter as they moved on.
They, by the way, being the prefects. Probably my good-for-nothing-likely-next-Head-Boy-pal.
Actually, that’s a lie. I knew for a fact that Ray was patrolling the lower floors tonight. In fact, it was pretty much his fault that we were here. Not that he knew that.
I should explain.
My whereabouts? It’s embarrassing to admit. Oh, alright, a broom cupboard. Alright, laugh all you bloody well want. It’s even more cringe-worthy to admit whom exactly was my companion.
Although not all that surprising.
Sirius Black. This time, I dare admit it. My boyfriend. Or something. Maybe.
But, in my defence, we were not here for an inappropriate rendezvous of any kind. Nope. And, possibly more impressively, we were not here due to any disguising of the nature of our relationship, nor of any pretence that said relationship does not exist at all.
We were here to spy. On an unsuspecting girl.
That doesn’t sound much better.
I should explain.
So there I was. With my boyfriend. I mean, it’s not like we actually made that official. I mean not immediately. There wasn’t a shout-shout-sob-sob-I-love-you-be-my-boyfriend moment. Just the shouting and sobbing, mainly. Before I could get my brain to function.
We stayed for a while. In the changing rooms. Romantic (foul-smelling) setting and all. It was kind of awkward, almost. Which was weird. I kind of thought that after all that chaos, just plain standing would be a breeze. But it wasn’t.
And I was exhausted.
It was actually a fair while before he even said anything in response to my confession. For a while I considered legging it again. Just for old time’s sake.
But not seriously. It was just a fleeting thought. And my body didn’t even do anything stupid without my permission, for a chance.
I just stayed there, in his arms. Quite calm.
It was weird.
After holding his breath for a bit, he let it all out. It sounded a little... well, not panicky... but not exactly calm.
It reminded me of who he was. Not who he was now, but who he was before... well. Before me. The Sirius Black who’d replace girl with girl with girl... not stopping to care or consider her feelings. Just in it for his own fun, his own distraction.
That was the Sirius I’d expect to panic at the thought of love. And for a moment it brought back my old insecurities. From that early time that I couldn’t quite trust him. Couldn’t quite give him a chance. And from the more recent time after the summer, where I was sure he was about to bounce back from me and go back to his old ways.
I had a moment of absolutely certain belief that I’d been right – that we’d finally gone too far and he’d realised what he’d gotten himself in to. A moment that seemed to choke me to the point that I was sure I couldn’t breathe even if I tried.
I couldn’t go through that. Not now. After all this.
But that’s all it was. A moment. Before he spoke.
“Do you mean it?” His voice was low, gruff almost. But there was a childlike vulnerability that let me breathe again.
Of course. This was who he was now. The old Sirius had been left behind almost a year ago now. Maybe longer, if what everyone else seemed to think was true. Maybe the new Sirius had always been in there somewhere. Or maybe not. Maybe he’d changed when he decided it was worth the risk to show me how he felt. Maybe it was when I decided to give him a chance. I didn’t know.
This Sirius cared so much it hurt. Hurt him and me, sometimes. And he’d spent the last few months believing it was just him that had cared that much all along.
He was mine, and I didn’t want him to hurt anymore.
“Of course I mean it, you idiot.”
Well, there was not wanting to hurt him anymore and there was changing my personality altogether. Let’s not go too far.
A worry that I hadn’t even noticed disappeared from his eyes as I tried to repress a stupid, dorky grin and he pulled he to him, half laughing half sighing with relief.
“I’ve wanted to hear that for so long, Dee. You don’t... I wanted to tell you a million times. But I didn’t want to creep you out and you’re... well...”
“Pathetic?” I supplied.
He grinned. Not contradicting me, I noticed.
Then I noticed that that worry, that slight tension in his eyes, hadn’t entirely gone.
“You do believe me. Don’t you?” I stepped back out of his arms, just holding lightly onto one of his hands. I didn’t want to completely let go in case he disappeared and I’d imagined it all in the depths of my insanity. You never know.
His grin faded again. But he squeezed my fingers. It was beat before he answered. “Yes. I do, I just... I don’t know, it’s just hard to put this together. I mean I’ve spent this whole term thinking you could just turn around and... replace me. And that you thought there was nothing wrong with doing that and then expecting us to all go back to how things were before. I’ve spent all this time telling myself I was stupid to think you were... who I thought you were.”
I can’t say it didn’t hurt. A little. Partly him saying it. Partly kicking myself for not realising what it looked like.
“So you’ve built me up to be the bad guy.” I forced a small, pathetic smile.
He shrugged uncomfortably. “I thought you were the bad guy. Part of me still loved you and the other part would do anything to forget I ever had. When I’ve been listening to that part for so long it’s just kind of hard to believe this is happening.”
“But you want it to. Right?”
The smile returned and the worry faded a little. Just a little. “I’ve always wanted it. I just... don’t... know what to do with it now that I’ve got it.”
Well I could relate to that. Just like he was having a hard time piecing together Debbie that loved him with She-Devil Debbie, I was having a hard time believing that he wasn’t going to retreat back into cold, stone mask Sirius at any given moment.
“Don’t let it fuck everything up again?” I suggested in a mutter, wondering how in hell I was going to avoid doing so when I’d prove so inadequate it in recent months.
His smile stretched into that Sirius-smirk that I had almost forgotten, and I was engulfed in wave of relief and affection that for some reason made me want to cry.
“I won’t let you if you won’t let me.” He countered.
“Deal.” I mumbled, as he pulled me in to his chest for the second time. If only either of us could believe that would work. As Lily put it, we were two of the most socially incompetent people around. Life just didn’t go smoothly for people like that.
I had the feeling that neither of us were going to forget this torn feeling in a hurry.
“It’s not going to be easy.” I said, light-heartedly.
Sirius’ sigh was less light-hearted. “No.” He swallowed. “But this is the closest I’ve been to... happy. For a long time.”
Another feeling like I’d been punched in the gut. I wasn’t an idiot. I knew that this... that we weren’t perfect. That nothing as going to feel perfect right now, if ever.
But I wanted it to be. I wanted us to be happy. For real.
It just seemed so hard.
“Do you remember after your last match against Slytherin, last year?” He said, all of a sudden.
Duh. Like I could forget. The night of my greatest sporting victory (anticlimactic though it was), the night we were finally getting all the secrecy off our chests. The night my heart was broken.
I most certainly had mixed feelings about that night.
“What about it.” I could hear those mixed feelings coming across in my short response. Which meant that he could hear them too.
“I mean right after. When we went up to your common room for the party. To tell everyone everything.” He paused, maybe waiting for confirmation.
So I nodded, thinking back to that night. The run-in with Avery and his minions. Sirius rescuing me. Being sarcastic to Freddie. Freddie’s fury. My nausea seeing Sirius’ blood on Freddie’s knuckles.
“When we were in the common room. Waiting for Lily to find James or something like that. It was crowded and hot and I’m pretty sure I was still dizzy from your brothers intervention.” He grinned, apparently less nauseated by the memory than me.
It only reminded me of what had happened after that. After Freddie had caught us together, punching him for the second time. After we’d frantically attempted damage control on Freddie, James and Lily’s reactions. After we’d gotten back to the common room. Marlene...
“What about it.” I repeated, shortly again, no matter how much I tried not to be.
He shrugged. “I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s because it turned into the worst night of my life, or because of how scared I was of how they were going to react, or because of the relief of getting it all out in the open. Being there with you, and knowing we were... I don’t know. Knowing we were going to do it properly. That it was worth the stress of going through with telling everyone.” He shrugged again. “That might be the happiest I’ve been. Ever.”
I thought about it. The nerves. The nausea. The certainty that we would go through with it because it would be worth it, to be able to be a public, normal couple. The giddiness we felt, as we waiting, putting it off as long as we could to hold on to that feeling. Was that love? Did I love him even then? I don’t know if I’d let myself. Or whether I did unintentionally.
Whatever it was. He was right. We were giddy with happiness.
I’d never thought about it before. I hadn’t thought back to that feeling before, unable to separate it in my mind from the agony of the events after.
“We had hope.” I said, half to myself. “We just felt like everything would work out because...”
“Because it was us.”
It felt so fleeting, that moment. So brief. I wish it had lasted longer so that I could hold on to it now. But maybe that was why it felt so good. Or...
“Because it was before all the bad stuff happened.” I said, meeting his eyes. The regret in them looked more painful than the traces of betrayal I still felt. Was that what made it ok? That his regret was greater than my feelings of betrayal?
Whatever. It had all happened already, and there was nothing to be done about it. We’d given it the chance to tear us apart and it hadn’t managed. We could still do this.
“Do you think we can feel like that again?” He asked, looking down at our intertwined hands instead of at me.
“Maybe not.” I mused. Sirius’s face fell. “But I don’t know if we want to,” I added. It didn’t appear to help much. “We know now. We didn’t know then how bad things could get. We were pretty stupid.” Pretty cocky. “But we know now.”
He gave a small smile. “So, what, we appreciate it more?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. We’re just not as naive, maybe.” For now, anyway. I’m pretty sure something else earth-shattering was likely to happen before Christmas, as the rate we’d been going.
He rested his chin on my head as he considered that. It felt weird that I couldn’t see his face. I didn’t know if he was put off by that. Or if he was even taking it seriously. People seem to find it quite difficult to take me seriously.
After a few long moment he exhaled, moved back and gently touched a finger under my chin so I’d meet his eyes. The gesture was so familiar I felt my eyes prickle. I was far too highly strung for this.
“So. Better than before?” He asked, sounding like he was half joking. But he’d thought about it.
“Maybe.” I leaned into his palm and his hand moved from my chin to my cheek. Even this made me feel better than I had in months. I could almost believe myself.
“It won’t be easy.” He echoed my own words.
“For us? Or for others?” I asked, thinking of the poor reactions last time. Thinking of the Slytherins. Thinking of Sirius’ ‘chat’ with Regulus.
Sirius sighed. “I wasn’t even thinking of that.” For a moment it was like he was looking through me, off thinking in his own space, before he snapped out of it. “But I know one or two people who will be ecstatic.”
I pictured a certain redheaded Evans and a certain bespectacled Potter. Their reactions would be the polar opposite they had been last time.
But equally overwhelming, if my suspicions were correct.
“Come on then. Let’s go face the music.”
That was now three weeks ago. James and Lily had managed to stop beaming at us like we were their toddler prodigies that had finally learnt to play nice. Londy had conquered her mixed feelings on my betraying feminism/forgiving my true love and was now prone to knowing smirks a couple of dozen times a day. Freddie had been delighted to hear it – whether he genuinely was or was just trying to be, I didn’t really care right now – when I’d written to tell him. Apparently Ro asked if I’d inform Sirius just how much he’d suffer if he screwed anything up again.
Even the Slytherins hadn’t shown any antagonism. Not that I was aware of, anyway. And I had been bracing myself for it. In the privacy of the Gryffindor or Ravenclaw common room, Sirius and I had been free to be ourselves. In lessons or in the Great Hall, thought we weren’t actively hiding anything, we were maybe just a little more restrained. I know I’d been sneaking little side glances over to that side of the hall way too often. But nothing had come of it.
I’d mentioned it to Sirius, wondering if we should be more nervous because of it, but he brushed it off.
“What can they do?” He shrugged, “They’re not worth worrying about. Don’t even bother thinking about them.”
He’d thrown an arm around my shoulders and just the subject just a touch too abruptly.
But he’d been right. So far, anyway. And we’d been... good. For the most part.
Sure, I still had those moments when I was approaching him where my gut twisted and I was absolutely certain that he was going to turn around with the cold, stone mask on.
Sure, he sometimes got that expression on his face that was so transparent you could virtually see the cogs turning as he reminded himself that I wasn’t the she-devil.
But that was fine. All it took was a smile, a kiss, a touch...
A reminder, really. Of where we were now.
It worked. The more time went by, the more we believed it might be ok.
Except from... well. There was one little part that Sirius was having trouble with.
“Of course I trust you.” He’d grumbled, irritably, when once I snapped just little too abruptly at his glares in the general vicinity of the Hufflepuff table.
“Then why are you acting like a crazy person?” I muttered back, when he didn’t cease the glaring, just redirected it to his plate.
“I can’t help it. I spent the last three months hating the guy, what do you expect?”
Much like he’d hated me.
“You don’t give me that evil look, do you?”
“That’s different.” He mumbled, petulantly.
He sighed and gave another brief scowl over to the other side of the room. “You don’t think he was glad when you... kissed him? You don’t think he wanted it just a little bit?”
I almost laughed. “Not in the slightest. Believe me. He views it, in his words, as a ‘narrow escape’.” It was true. He’d been a good sport, of course. But hadn’t hidden the fact that it had utterly terrified him. Not even to spare my feelings. Toad.
Sirius eyes narrowed in suspicion. “Of course he’d say that.”
“Oh for the love of... Look, do you want to ask him yourself?”
“No!” Sirius said, defensively. Then looked up apprehensively at me before scowling. “Don’t say anything to him.”
Oh sure, because there I was about to pop over for that chat. Because it wouldn’t be equally humiliating for me or anything.
I sighed. “Do I have to prove it to you? How am I supposed to do that...?” I trailed off, my eyes fixed on a brown shiny head swinging as a pretty brunette swung herself onto the bench next to Ray.
That was it.
“I can do it.” I announced to Sirius. Under my breath of course.
He was a bit bewildered by my turnabout. People really need to start keeping up with my train of thought. “Um. Ok...”
“Do you see that girl next to him? The pretty one.” I asked, averting my head ‘subtly’ away. It might have looked vaguely like I was smelling my own armpit but these things are necessary sometimes.
“No, Dee. All I can see are the backs of various heads.”
“Oh.” I frowned. At my arm pit. “Well, hang on... I’ll try something... GINA.”
I immediately hid my head further into arm pit, neck pain or no neck pain, while Sirius jumped in panic.
“Is she looking?” I hissed, still not looking, while Sirius fumbled with his knife and fork in an effort to appear nonchalant.
“Well, yeah, along with every other living creature in the room. An insane person just screamed her name, what do you expect?” He hissed right back.
After a few more moments I deemed it safe to emerge into the real world again. I shook back my hair glanced airily about the room. Everyone back to their own business. Good to see.
“Pretty, right?” I said, conversationally.
Sirius hadn’t quite calmed down. “Sure. What’s your point?”
“And they’d make a cute couple?” I prompted, nodding in the direction of the slightly scruffy blond head and shiny brunette. She really did have the shiniest hair. It was almost suspiciously perfect.
Sirius groaned. “Really? You’re going there? You are not good at this stuff. It’s been seven years and James and Lily only just don’t hate each other. Don’t put anyone else through that.”
“That’s the beauty of it!” I pounded my fork on the table to drill in my point. “They already like each other!”
“Really?” He was sceptical. “He actually told you that?”
Sirius rolled his eyes. “Enough said.”
“No! Look, he might not have actually said it... and I don’t know if he actually knows it himself yet...”
Sirius didn’t cease the eye rolling.
I glared and folded my arms. “I just know it. I’ve seen her talking to him. She’s so... nice and... shiny.” Damn hair. “What’s not to like? And she likes him. She’s...”
“Nice?” Sirius supplied, a little too innocently.
“You don’t believe me.” I narrowed my eyes. “I can do this, you know.”
Our eyes met, mine determined and his... still sceptical. For a while. It was some kind of battle of the eyes. It was annoying. His scepticism didn’t even waver. How could he not think I could do this? Just because I was so crap at the romance thing myself, didn’t mean I couldn’t see it in others.
He was the one that caved first, sighing and taking my hand. Squeezing it in more of a resigned than romantic way.
“Fine. Tell me your idiotic plan so I can make it better.”
I was a little taken aback by his giving in like that. It didn’t seem in character. I raised my eyebrows.
He smiled, stopping just short of sarcasm. “If you’re in, I’m in.”
I smirked, smugly.
One of the perks of this whole love thing.
“This is stupid.” Sirius was sat on an upturned bucket, lolling against the wall by this point. “It’s been hours and they’ve walked this way twice. Once talking about homework.” He sounded disgusted. “Not a budding romance. You’ve got this one wrong, Dee.”
“I have not.” I was still stood at the door, looking out every now and then at any vague sound I heard. Surely they had to be heading back this way soon. It was nearly curfew and they had to pass down this way to get to their common room.
“They were talking about school work. There’s no hope.”
“Don’t be such a pig.” I didn’t turn around. “It’s not about what they say, it’s how they say it.”
Sirius snorted. “Right.”
I glared, over my shoulder.
He grinned, a wicked gleam coming into his eyes. “I mean, right.” Suddenly his voice was lower, smoother, and his arms reached out around my waist. “Of course you’re right...” His hands snaked around, one flat against my ribs and one tugging on my hip to draw me back to him.
“Stop it.” I told him, prudishly, but unable to stop myself smirking. I wondered if he could feel my breathing catch and my heart rate increase as his hand travelled that direction...
“You don’t mean that.”He’d pulled me back onto his lap now, his lips against my neck.
My back arched and my head fell back onto his shoulder, involuntarily. “Stop it.” This time it was more half-hearted.
“Say it again,” He murmured, his lips fluttering against the pulse in my throat, “And I will.”
Suddenly my mouth decided it couldn’t function at all, perfectly preoccupied with the fire he was tracing through my shirt when...
He was the one that paused, just for a moment. Just long enough for my brain to emerge, reluctantly, from that blissful haze to hear them. Voices.
I was up and out of his lap in a second. “Did you hear that?” I leaned toward the crack between the door and the wall, turning my head in an attempt to see further down the hall.
Sirius groaned, almost growling under his breath. “Seriously?” He demanded. “Get back here.”
“Shhh.” I reprimanded, hearing the footsteps approach. “They’ll hear.”
“I’ll keep you quiet...” His hand slipped into mine and he pulled me back towards him, obviously not willing to let go of the moment.
I probably would have let him if I hadn’t had a moment of clarity, one particular voice coming into focus. I stopped dead. “Is that...?”
Then he heard it too. Barked a brief laugh before I shut him up with a palm to the mouth.
“Shut it!” I hissed, holding him back against the wall. The laughter on his face didn’t disappear, but at least he kept it quiet.
“It’s only James and Lily.” He hissed right back, between bouts of laughter at my face. “What’re they going to do, give us detention?”
“No.” I muttered, under my breath, still not removing my hand from his face. “But I don’t fancy the old explanation with my best mate about precisely what we were doing in a broom cupboard.”
“Like she hasn’t heard it all already in great detail...” Sirius scoffed under his breath.
“No actually, she hasn’t.”
He raised his eyebrows. “You mean, you haven’t told her -”
“I am not talking about that to Lily Evans!” I had to remind myself to keep my voice down. It threatened to increase in pitch. God, I could imagine her face if I’d brought about the subject, and it wasn’t pretty. Well, about as un-pretty as she could get.
James and Lily were close now. I could hear what they were actually saying. I gave Sirius a death stare and removed my hand so I could get back to my post at the door.
They were still out of sight.
“You did not!” Lily sounded disbelieving. But rather than the full dismissive voice I was used to her using to put James in his place, this had a hint of... something. Laughter. Or playfulness.
“Why the surprise?” James demanded. “What are you implying, Evans?”
“Nothing, nothing.” Lily chuckled, then was silent for a few seconds. “You did not.” The disbelief was back in her tone.
“I did too! Why is that so hard to believe? Thought you were the only one capable of an Outstanding, did you?”
Lily laughed. “No, believe me, I recognise how crap I am at Defence.” By crap, she merely meant extremely good, just not the best. Overachiever. “I just thought Debbie, maybe... or even Sirius, would be top...”
“Not after the stunt at the beginning of the year.” James reminded her. Were we never to forget that? “Surely you’ve seen Dawlish’s face when they come into class together joined at the hip. He doesn’t know what to think. I’m sure he’s half convinced it was all an elaborate joke they were playing on him...”
“So you’re top by default?” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It sounded like Lily Evans was...teasing James Potter. Lily Evans did not tease. She tore to shreds. This is new.
James laughed, good-naturedly. “I’ll take it.”
“No,” Lily mused. “You do deserve it, actually. You’ve been trying harder. I’ve seen it.”
James seemed surprised. “You have?”
“Sure. I’m not blind. You’ve changed. Don’t think I haven’t noticed.”
I could feel my mouth hanging open. I probably could have dribbled and not noticed. My brain was whirring at full-speed trying to comprehend this turn of events. Sure, I’d noticed that Lily and James were way more civil recently. But this? This easy-going chatting, laughing, teasing? When had they achieved this?
I wondered briefly if I’d been so self-obsessed that I just hadn’t noticed, but I felt Sirius at my back, glanced up and saw his jaw hanging open too.
It wasn’t just me. This wasn’t the Lily and James everyone else saw. This was... new.
James didn’t say anything in reply. They were still just out of sight, this was so annoying...
“Why the surprise?” Lily echoed his words from just a minute ago, and I could hear the smile in her voice.
“I.. don’t know. Guess I didn’t think my changing was on Lily Evans radar.”
“Of course it is.” Lily seemed taken aback. “We’re friends. Right?”
If my jaw could have dropped any lower without dislocating, it would have.
James let out a little laugh. “Right.” He sounded good. Nonchalant. Barely a hint of longing. He had changed, I realised. Guess I was one that hadn’t been paying too close attention. None of the shamelessly flirting, teasing, informing her with great confidence that she would be his.
When had that stopped? I couldn’t even pinpoint it.
This James was a whole lot more... subtle. A person to be taken seriously.
Maybe that was why I hadn’t noticed. I’d always taken him seriously. He was my friend. His behaviour towards me hadn’t changed. But his behaviour towards Lily, towards school, towards leadership... was that what had changed?
“Well then.” It sounded like she’d shrugged. “Of course I’d notice my friend changing. It’s been... for the better. After all.”
There was a brief pause. I couldn’t even hear footsteps anymore. For the love of God, had they really stopped just outside of my zone of vision? Typical.
“But is it enough?” James’ voice was quieter now. Lacking the playful tone.
“Wh... what?” Lily stumbled over the word but saved herself. Sounding carefully confused.
“You know what I mean.”
Oh God. He was doing this. I felt his apprehension as if it were my own. He was putting himself out there. Different to before. This wasn’t something playful that you could brush off.
And Lily knew that. “James...” She sounded sort of pleading. I could picture her brows knitted coming together and her perfect ivory forehead creasing up. She didn’t want him to bring this up.
Again, this was new. This was not a Lily Evans brush off with a withering look.
She... she cared.
“Is it enough?” He repeated, his tone carefully casual.
“James, please don’t -”
“I’m not trying to ruin anything,” He added, as if he knew her argument. As if they’d had this discussion before? Impossible. “I promise I’m not. It’s not an ultimatum.”
I couldn’t help but sneak a sideways glance at Sirius at that point. James Potter clearly had a better idea of how to handle a girl delicately that the Sirius Black of last June. All or nothing... bloody idiot.
He was relating all too clearly to his best mate to pay attention to me, though. In the anxiety in his face I could almost picture James’.
“Then what?” Lily’s voice was barely a whisper.
“Just...” James paused. “I’m not bugging you anymore. But I haven’t stopped. And I won’t. I’m not saying I’ll wait forever or anything, because this...” I could only presume he was referring to their new... friendship. “...is hard. I don’t think I can wait forever.”
“Then... why?” Lily asked. I could hear that it upset her to hear that their... whatever it was... hurt him. Ice queen at times, Lily Evans, but softie at heart.
“I don’t know. I think I kind of reached the end of my tether last year. Maybe I would have given up. But then...”
“But then I kissed you.” I winced at the regret in Lily’s voice, knowing how it would sound to James.
“Right.” He took it in his stride, his voice not faltering. “And I know what you said. I know you said you didn’t mean it. At the time. And I’m sure you didn’t. But since then it’s like... I felt like maybe it started to.... mean something. To you.” He paused, as if for a confirmation or denial. He didn’t get one. “So I thought I might have a shot... a long one... after all.”
Lily didn’t say anything. I strained to see just past that impossible angle, but of course I couldn’t. She must have been close. I could hear her swallow. But she didn’t say anything.
“So do I?” James asked, after a moments silence. Lily said nothing again. I wondered how she was avoiding it. I wondered if James’ Look was the same to her as Sirius’ was to me. “Tell me I’m wrong. Tell me I’m wrong and I’ll leave you alone. I promise.”
It was sounding more like an ultimatum now, no matter how much James – sweet, strong, silly James – tried to keep it as gentle as possible.
“I can’t.” Lily said, her voice now slightly louder than a whisper.
Now James swallowed. “You can’t what?”
“I can’t ask you to leave me alone. I don’t... want that.” She sounded sad still. Why did she sound sad? I was holding my breath in confusion and anticipation. “But I can’t ask you to wait around, either. Not if it’s as hard as you say.”
Well that was clear, Evans. Well done. About as clear as mud. And she said we were bad at this.
I held my breath still – probably blue in the face by now – waiting to hear James.
To my surprise, he chuckled. “It’s been six years, Evans. I’m pretty used to hard.”
She let out a small laugh, sounding almost closer to a sob, though her voice was strong and smooth. No tears or snuffling involved. She was better at dealing with this than me, I’d give her that. “You’re an idiot if you stay.”
“Of course I am. But I will.”
“I hoped you’d say that.” I could hear her smile again. Though she still sounded a little despairing.
“But you’ll think about it?”
Lily must have nodded, because he continued. “No pressure. I said not forever but I can’t leave if you don’t want me to.”
“You’d be a fool to stay.”
“If I was a good person maybe I would be able to ask you to leave. If it helped.” Lily said, doubtfully.
“In that case I’m glad you’re a terrible person.”
“And I’m glad you’re a fool.”
“You can head back now. I’ll check up downstairs. You think about it.”
Lily must have nodded again, and neither of them voiced an actual goodbye. I just heard two sets of footsteps pattering quietly away. Each of them paused, briefly, before turning a corner and disappearing from earshot.
I managed to breathe again and unfreeze my vital organs.
I turned to Sirius, his eyes mirroring the shock in my own.
“What -” I started, but we both started to speak at the same time.
“What. The. Fuck.” He finished.
That just about summed it up.
A.N. ARGH. Major formatting issues. I'm sorry if the formatting appears as though it was done by a drunk. I'm having a technophobe moment. I will come around to editing it when I have calmed myself!
Ok, apologies for the delay AGAIN - I can't promise that I'll now be super regular but I've rediscovered my writing bug so I'm hoping it's here to stay! Thanks a million to the readers that have stuck around during my dry spell :) receiving a review to hear you're still there every now and then really is a boost!
I'd love to hear what you think about this one - the James/Lily thing may seem a bit out of the blue. This is my fault, for being a slack updater. If you go back and have a wee recap over the last bunch of chapters it might flow a little better as there are some little hints every now and then. Give it a go!
Another thing I'd like to hear about it where you see, or would like to see, the story going. I have a couple of options, and I know that the 'endings' to these Sirius/OC stories all have their limits. I've not fully decided myself where to go, but I'd love your feedback.
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