Chapter 3 : Fathomless
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Still January 16, 1981
It was later that evening, and I stood, lingering, in the doorway of the Potters' living room, unsure of where to go or what to do. I guessed that I should probably leave some point soon, though there was always the issue of announcing that to the rest of the party, all of whom were so immersed in their own conversations right now that I found it too nerve-racking to speak up.
Instead, at the sound of what seemed to be a cry from upstairs, I carefully put down my wine glass and made my way up the staircase, pausing on the landing before peering through a half-open doorway. Inside was what appeared to be the little baby's nursery - it was sparsely decorated, obviously a work in progress, but comforting-looking all the same. The baby boy was awake in his cot, sitting up with big fat tears rolling down his cheeks. I cooed despite myself, rushing forwards and lifting him into my arms. Babies were one of my weaknesses. "It's alright, sweetheart," I murmured, stroking his soft tufts of jet black hair until his wails quietened down. It was only at the sound of a clearing throat that I realised there was someone else here, standing in the doorway, and I turned slowly to face them. It was Lily. "I'm sorry, he was just crying and I thought that - "
"Don't apologise," she interrupted, sending me a warm smile and coming further into the room and pulling the young boy from my arms. His face lit up when he saw her, a smile so endearing and beautiful gracing his lips that I felt like melting into a puddle onto the floor. "Thanks for helping out. James is a great father and all, but he only really enjoys doing fun things with Harry. He leaves all of the bad things like nappies and feeding and late night crying up to me." Some mothers would have minded that, but the look of complete and utter adoration on Lily's face - whether it for James or for the baby, Harry - told me otherwise. She clearly was a family woman. "So, uh, now that we're alone, you gonna tell me the answer to that question I so graciously helped you avoid earlier this evening?"
I laughed lightly, looking down at the patterned carpet as if it were the most interesting thing in the world. "Thank you for doing that," I said. "But there was a reason I didn't answer it." I looked down at the floor, fighting back memories of the things that I'd promised. It hurt to be here now, talking with wizards again, amongst magic. It went against everything I'd been trying to force myself to believe in for the last couple of years.
Her hand came down to rest on my shoulder, thumb stroking soothingly for a couple of moments. "It's alright. I understand." She paused, laughing slightly, her face lighting up with a beautiful glow which I was sure mine could never possess. "I was just being nosey."
I went back downstairs after that, leaving Lily to feed Harry and send him back to sleep. Something about my chat with her had made me feel better, and so for that reason I picked up my wine glass from the living room, noticing Sirius' absence and guessing that he must have been in the kitchen. The kitchen was warm and well-lit like before, still smelling of Lily's casserole. Sirius stood at the sink, glass of wine in his hand as he gazed out of the window. I approached him quietly, butterflies rising up in my stomach before I could help myself. "Hey," I began. He didn't turn, raising the glass to his lips and taking a sip.
"I thought you'd gone without saying goodbye, Vance," he said. I watched the characteristic smirk that rose to his lips in his reflection in the window, a smile falling onto my lips as an echo as I came to stand beside him.
"Never," I told him, placing my glass down on the counter and joining him in his survey of the garden outside. "Look, I... I just wanted to tell you that I'm really glad that you found me today and asked me to come here." I played with the stem of my glass, a heat rising to my face. I didn't want to look at him. "I don't know what I would have done if I'd been stuck in that mundane muggle life any longer."
I felt a shift in his person and looked up instinctively, velvet brown eyes meeting with his own fathomless grey ones. "Why were you living that way, Vance?" he asked me, eyes searching mine for an answer. I looked down, breaking our eye contact. "Hey." He placed a single finger beneath my chin, tilting my head back up so that I had no choice but to look at him again. "You can tell me."
"I can't. I don't want to." I shook my head, pushing his hand away from my face and stepping back from the counter. "I don't want to." Why did everyone want to know? What was so compelling about me, about my life, that made them want to know more?
He grabbed my arm, bringing me back closer to him. "Fine. It's fine. But you left for a reason, Emmeline, and if it's something that one of us can help you with then you have to tell us." His words touched me, purely because no one had reached out to me in that way for a long time. I had been on my own for so many years that I'd become used to being independent. But just because I was used to it didn't mean that I liked it.
"Thank you, Sirius," I said, mind inadvertently flashing back to the night I'd sworn never to come into contact with magic again. The fact that I was here showed for a fact why I hadn't been put into Hufflepuff - my loyalty was tenuous. "But there's nothing any of you guys can do." What were they going to do, go back in time and force me to never make that promise? I didn't think so.
His finger found the bottom of my chin again, and he tilted my face even further upwards so that I was staring completely into his eyes. Fathomless, dark and stormy grey, like a thunderstorm waiting to happen. They were terrifyingly beautiful and deep, easy to get lost in. Dangerous. "How come I never noticed you before?" he asked, voice soft and quiet. I couldn't tell if he was talking to me or himself, but the simple question left my heart racing in a way that it hadn't for a long, long time.
"Sirius?" I jumped at the sound of a voice, stepping backwards quickly as Remus entered the room. He sent the two of us a puzzled look, not saying anything, and I looked down at the floor, too terrified to look up at Sirius after what had just happened. What had just happened? I didn't even know. The only thing that I could think of where those eyes. That finger underneath my chin. "Dumbledore's here."
Sirius stopped slouching immediately, shoulders tensing. He didn't say anything to me as we followed Remus out into the hall before entering the crowded living room where Dumbledore stood, a tall, powerful figure amongst everybody else. He didn't look much different from when I'd last seen him at school, really. His beard was longer, and I thought that he may have attained a new pair of glasses, but everything else was the same. He still had that old, wise look to him, one that made me believe he was purely omniscient even if he actually wasn't. Dumbledore was a man that looked as if he had waged every war and won it. He looked as if he had been victorious in terrible, terrible debates and gone through more trials than any other man could in their entire life. Something about it all made him seem... invincible. I didn't think I would live to see him die.
Tonight he looked serious and grave, the usual twinkling in his eyes sadly absent. He waited until Sirius and I were in the room and the door was closed before finally speaking. "Thank you all for accepting me at such short notice," he said, looking around as he spoke. When his eyes flicked to me I suddenly felt much smaller, a heat rising to my neck, and I looked away, unable to stop myself. When I looked back he'd turned to look at someone else. "Voldemort - " We all flinched, even the braver of us like Sirius and James. " - is trying to reason with the giants. He's breaking through." He surveyed us all seriously over his half-moon spectacles, hands clasped together and held behind his back. "There was an attack today on a group of muggles just a few hundred miles north of here. We think giants may have been responsible."
"What does this mean? Are they are a serious threat?" Frank Longbottom asked, placing his wine glass down on the table beside him, looking grim.
"I believe so. We need to keep an eye on them - that means flying over the few of their lairs that we know of." He produced a piece of paper from the depths of his robes, handing it to a man standing at the edge of the room. I had to do a double-take, for he had a strap-on eye that caught me off guard, almost making me gasp aloud in surprise. "I've given Alastor the list of locations of lairs that we know, and I trust he will set up a rota." The man with the fake eye nodded, tucking the piece of paper away in his robe pocket. "And now I really must get back to the school - business to attend to. Have a nice rest of the evening." He gave a small, tight smile before breezing past us and out of the living room. I could feel his inquisitive blue eyes on me as he went and shifted uncomfortably from where I stood.
It was getting far too late now, and my eyelids drooped. I knew that I had to leave soon - apparition seemed like a really bad idea when I was this tired and this intoxicated by alcohol, though. It was for that reason, after signing up to a spot with Marlene and Sirius on the rota for flying over a place in the south of Ireland, that I found the former and asked her for a lodging for the night. "Marl, uh, I know this is bad of me to ask, but..." I shifted uncomfortably, exchanging my wand from one hand to another in an effort to control my nervousness. "Can I stay with you tonight?" Staying with another person was a good way of getting out of apparition - I had no idea where Marlene lived, so it was therefore inevitable that we'd have to do side-along apparition in order to get back.
She sent me a warm smile, finding my arm and squeezing it happily. "Of course! Oh gosh, Line, we have so much to catch up on!"
We stayed for a little while longer, Marlene saying her goodbyes whilst I stood awkwardly beside her and trying hard not too act too much like a clingy child that just wanted to go home (even if that was, in essentials, what I was). She took me home using side-along apparition as I'd hoped, and, looking up at the block of flats that she called her home after we arrived there, I was suddenly reminded of all of the things I'd missed out on. I had been her best friend - we were meant to continue on together, even after school, or at the very least stay in contact. Instead I'd ran away, all because of a stupid promise I'd made to him - a promise that even after signing up onto that rota I still couldn't quite shake.
Maybe it was time to forget about my past, that promise. But I needed something to pull me away from it all. Perhaps Marlene could help with that. My stomach turned, and, following my old best friend up the stairs, I thought back to that moment with Sirius in the kitchen. Perhaps Sirius could help, too.
A/N: The reviews I've gotten so far have been very encouraging, so I hope this chapter doesn't disappoint! Please review with anything that you enjoyed/any criticisms, as a writer I thrive off it all. And please add to favourites, too, if you like it! With Summer here I should be able to update more regularly.
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