Chapter 12 : Prisons, Parties and Bruises
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"The hell wassat for, Charles?" I asked, my words slurring.
"You were mumbling about someone and I don't think you would want anyone else to hear that."
"What was I mumbling?" I asked, sitting straight up. "What was I mumbling?" I asked again, even more urgently.
She gave me a coy smile as a shadow passed over us. I looked up and groaned.
"Meaver, Ace," Black said stiffly.
"Oh shut up Charlie," I said as she raised her eyebrow suggestively at me.
Black furrowed his brow. "I'm missing something, aren't I?"
I sighed. "Aren't you always?" I asked, tapping his head as he sat down.
He glared at me but I shrugged it off. I looked at my nails, picking at the dirt underneath them. An uncomfortable silence fell over us as he began to play with the laces of his sneakers.
"What are you doing here Black?" Charlie asked. Her voice seemed harsh but I heard the actual question lying underneath.
I wouldn't say he blushed, but Black definitely coloured. "I needed to make sure she was okay."
I felt my cheeks burn as I looked at the ground. Thankfully, Carter and Cami were pretending to ignore us a few feet away, and the rest of the Hogwarts students were nowhere near.
"You don't have to check up on me," I hissed.
"But I wanted to."
"Well what if I didn't want you to?"
"And why wouldn't you want that?"
"Because you promised me it would be okay and it wasn't!" My voice rose an octave and I saw Lily glance over.
"Just because I said something," Black said quietly, "doesn't make it true."
"No," I hissed back at him, "but when that's the only words you can hear, you tend to hope they come true."
Our conversation died down and the awkward silence came back again. I looked around the room, taking in all the details. In one corner, the other three fourths of the marauders were leaned in close to each other, gossiping like the fifth year Hufflepuffs. In another, Lily and Kendra were tending to a man who seemed unconscious, while other people were sitting near them, huddled together.
A woman who appeared to be the unconscious man's wife was crying, but still seemed to be helping Kendra and Lily. Carter and Cami were sitting in silence, awkwardly glancing about the room. Carter seemed to be increasingly distracted by the small white lines that crisscrossed on Cami's arm and I stifled a giggle. Knowing Cami, she was probably putting them in his line of sight on purpose. Looking back at Charlie and Black, I saw Charlie's gaze fixed on Carter.
"You can go talk to him," I said quietly to her. Her head jerked back to me, a faint blush spreading over her cheeks. "You don't need to stay with me. The company's not much to be desired for, but I won't be alone."
"Are you sure?" She asked hesitantly.
I gave her a smile in response. She returned it gratefully and left, leaving me alone with Black. I saw him look at me from the corner of my eye but I kept my head down, embarrassment clouding my head.
"I'm sorry I was so harsh," I whispered.
"Why were you?"
I looked at him. His eyes were dark and stormy.
"I don't know. All I remember is you telling me it was going to be okay, and all I could do was believe you. All I wanted to do was believe you. And then you stopped trying…"
I looked at him, my eyes swimming with tears. He looked startled.
"What do you mean I stopped trying?"
I sighed. "From what I could tell, you just stopped telling me it was going to be okay. You stopped fighting."
"What do you mean?" He asked urgently. "I never stopped trying to get them to stop."
"Yes you did. It kept hurting but your words stopped. You stopped fighting. I could hear you laugh."
"I never laughed." The tears were running down my face now. "I never laughed," he repeated.
I didn't respond, just looked away. Suddenly, I felt a hand on my arm. I looked back and he had a sad look on his face.
"You died. You died back there. They let me go and I tried to restart your heart but it wasn't enough. Bella tried to torture your body and I snapped. I rushed her, but by that time I heard strange coughing from you. I don't know how, but she restarted your heart with the curse. That was why I was laughing."
"I don't care," I said harshly. "You promised me it was going to be okay."
"Are you kidding? We were captured by death eaters. How were we supposed to get out of there without a scratch?"
"I don't know. How did you?"
His face paled and he didn't respond. His hand dropped from my arm and I shifted away from him.
"Exactly. And by the way, who the hell is Bella? Friend of yours? Family, even?" His already pale face paled even more if that was possible and I snorted. "Figures. An arsehat like you had to have some dirty little secret."
"Everyone has skeletons in their closet," he said dangerously. "No need to ask what yours is."
He looked over at Cami who was absentmindedly running her fingers down the scars that ran from her elbow to her wrist, crossing over the smaller ones that circled those small wrists. I felt my face flush in anger and shot him a glare. Trying to stand up, I stumbled and he shot up to catch me. I tried to wrench my arm out of his grasp although it left prickles of pain in my shoulder and elbow as his large hand stayed wrapped tightly around my wrist. His eyes were still dark, staring at me, daring me to say something. I didn't turn away as we both stood there, daring the other to break eye contact first. Finally, I looked away.
"Those scars aren't mine to be haunted by," I whispered. "They don't mean a thing to me."
"And yet, my family haunts me. Don't say a thing about them ever again, you idiotic bint."
I glared at him and finally pulled my arm out of his grasp. "It would appear we have that in common."
With that I walked off and headed over to Cami, Charlie and Carter. They gave me tentative smiles as a welcome but I didn't return them. Sitting down, I lay my head against Cami's shoulder. She wrapped an arm around my waist and began stroking my hair like she used to when we were young.
"Hush, 'Dria. We'll get out of here soon," she said, the familiar phrase from our childhood hitting me hard.
"Do you promise?" I asked quietly.
She sighed. "Until my last breath."
I snuggled closer to her, our backs against a wall. As Carter and Charlie talked and laughed right next to us, I slowly traced the white marks on my sister's arms until I drifted off.
I drifted in and out of a dreamless sleep for hours. Once I managed to glance over at Black, who was staring at me, but he quickly dropped his head, his hands tightening into fists. When I finally decided that it was probably time for me to wake up, I straightened up. My back groaned with displeasure as I slowly stretched. All my muscles were sore, my joints even more so. As I tried to stand up, I kept one hand against the wall, my legs shaking under my weight. I took one step and winced in agony as pain shot up my calf and danced along my knee.
Charlie gave me a wary look through lidded eyes but let me pass without asking what I was doing. As I slowly made my way to the other side of the room, I saw three fourths of the marauders look up and watch me. Three guesses who wasn't. As I neared the group of people I didn't know, I saw the man who had been unconscious lying next to his wife. She had bags under her eyes and didn't seem to want to sleep. I limped over and sat down a little further than I should have for easy conversation.
"What happened?" I asked quietly.
She sniffed, tightening her grip on a light blue handkerchief. "Tortured."
I nodded. "Is he going to be okay?"
"I think so. He seems to be getting better."
"How do you know?" I asked. "You don't look like a Healer."
She gave a slight laugh. "I'm not. I'm a doctor. A surgeon actually. Do you…"
"Yeah, I know what surgeons are. My father's a muggle. So is your husband a muggle too?" She nodded sadly. "Then you must have someone here who's either magical or hurt."
"My daughter," she hiccoughed. "And both actually."
"That's terrible. What happened to her?"
"We were attacked a year ago by the same people that are out there. They tortured Greg and me and then I saw Annabelle get hit by some sort of purple light. But right around that time, these people rescued us. They took us here. Annabelle had to stay though, they told me. We visit all the time. We were supposed to visit today…"
"Annabelle? Little girl, curious, pretty brazen?"
"That's my Annabelle," she said, smiling.
I sighed happily. "She's okay. Don't worry. I saw her a little while ago."
"Yeah, she is."
The woman began crying, although I hoped it was from happiness. She thanked me quietly and I nodded, standing up shakily to walk back over to Charlie, Carter and Cami. As I passed the marauders, I looked straight at him, my gaze burning, but he didn't look up. Lupin gave me a harsh look but I just flipped my hair and walked away, the limp prominent. If that's how he was going to act, let him do so.
I wasn't about to give him the satisfaction of running after him to apologize – even if I did know I went too far. It was common knowledge that Black wasn't on best terms with his family. But even so, dragging my own family into the mix was also a little far. Black be damned. I wasn't about to apologize.
I had been picking at my nails when a large crash reverberated around the room. I sat straight up from my huddled state, my eyes picking out everyone in the room. My gaze crossed Black's but I quickly glanced away, my cheeks burning. Cami woke up from her sleep, a confused look across her face. She grasped at my arm, her words jumbled as she struggled to shake off the sleep.
"I don't know Cami, I don't know," I whispered.
She huddled closer to me, her fingers absentmindedly stroking the scars along her wrists. I put my hands over her wrists, keeping her fingers from grazing the puckered one running down it. She paled as she realized what she was doing and nodded. I held her close as she shivered, the sounds of spells hitting walls and screeched curses coming from the one door. It was a familiar position to us, although it was also unfamiliar.
Usually, she was the one holding me, but I knew her heart and mind were racing faster than she could keep up with, her heart rate skyrocketing. Trying to soothe her, I let her fingernails dig into my shoulder, the tips piercing the skin there. As we sat there, a small whimper came from my left and I saw Charlie huddling next to Carter. He had wrapped his arms around her and I smiled at the sight of them.
Until recently, I had just seen them as my best friend and my quidditch captain/best guy friend. But now that I picked up on the glances, the awkward movement to keep from touching each other too much, it was surprising I hadn't known sooner. Of course, I'm a nutter, so that might've been part of it. As the room shuddered from the noises on the other side of the door, I saw Potter, Black and Lupin stand up, fists clenched and up. I tried hissing at them, cursing at them to get down in case the door went flying, but suddenly it went quiet and my voice trailed off.
A clicking could be heard from the locking mechanism and Cami's nails dug into my shoulder even more. I winced as I felt blood trickle out, but my immediate attention was directed at the door. A shudder came from the lock and the door burst open, hitting Potter in the shoulder. He twirled around only to fall over from the impact, but Lupin and Black jumped on the intruders. Sharp screams were heard and muttered spells were uttered, and when the lights cleared, I saw an older wizard standing over Black and Lupin's unconscious forms. A handful of other witches and wizards formed ranks behind him as he smiled at us.
"Heard you needed a rescuer."
It had been a week and a half since the aurors rescued us from the death eaters. Dumbledore had wanted me to stay in St. Mungo's after being tortured, but I was adamant that I had to leave. Nothing like going to the hospital only to stay there after getting hurt, in the hospital, to make you look like a tosser. Of course, the healers weren't happy about it, but since Cami was technically my 'legal guardian' (for a few months anyways), they couldn't keep me there.
One of the nurses had given me a cane after seeing my limp, which made me feel breakable. As I walked around the Hogwarts hallways, the clack of the cane made me wince as people's gaze was drawn to me. Ever since the attack on St. Mungo's, the marauders, Lily, Carter, Kendra, Charlie and I were being hounded for the story. I didn't say much, but Black had been going on and on about how he singlehandedly delivered us from the grasps of the death eaters
Total bollucks. The tosser couldn't even function without his wand. But ever since the attack, he hadn't looked at me once without glaring. I didn't take it personally, but it stung. Perhaps I shouldn't have gone so far. But then again, he had no qualms about poking at Cami's scars. I still had his trousers and jumper, laundered and folded in my trunk, although I was too chicken to give them back to him. I had gotten used to wearing the jumper when it got cold in my dorm as I didn't have one as warm as his.
It made me feel strange, but his scent still lingered and it reassured me as I lay up some nights, letting my hands drift along the paths of bruises that wound around my legs. One day, as I was walking to Charms, I felt an arm pull me to the side of the corridor. My legs giving out on me, I fell into my offender's arms, lifting my head to see familiar grey eyes. Cursing, I stood up, leaning on my cane.
"Sorry," Black said, not seeming the least bit sorry. "Forgot about… that."
"The cane? Yeah, I wish I could too…"
Our conversation (if you could call it that) dwindled off and I looked around at the students giving us wary looks.
"So the party," he finally said.
"Your victory party. For quidditch," he clarified as I gave him a mystified glance.
"Anyways, it's tomorrow night at nine."
I looked at him incredulously. "I'm walking with a cane, I was tortured a week or so ago after having a procedure to heal my skull, and you think I want to go to a party tomorrow?" He looked down, his shoulders slumping. "I'll be there by ten, the rest of the team in tow. Tell Potter he better keep the drinks coming, though."
I wouldn't call it happiness, but Black's face lit up. I rolled my eyes and turned, limping away with my cane.
I held my breath, the smell of alcohol and cigarettes making me nauseous. I was sitting on a couch in some room on the seventh floor. I had never been in it, but considering I wasn't much of a party girl, that wasn't surprising. As I sat, I nursed a drink that Potter had given me the second I walked in along with the rest of the Ravenclaw players. Someone sat down beside me and I recognized Amelia. Her flawless makeup was smudged, her eyeliner running down her face.
"Amelia!" I exclaimed. "What happened?"
"I kissed Sirius Black and I think I became his girlfriend," the younger girl hiccoughed.
"Isn't that a good thing? I mean, you think he's fit, don't you?"
She nodded, more tears overflowing. "Yeah, but I overheard him telling someone that I was the fourth girl he started 'dating' tonight."
My blood started boiling as Amelia's green eyes teared up again. I reassured her that if she didn't want to be Sirius Black's girlfriend, she didn't have to be, but her hysterics were enough to get me to send her back to the common room with another Ravenclaw fifth year. Steaming, I grabbed my cane – that I had charmed to make it flash different colours depending on my mood – and walked around the party, trying to find the idiot in question. As I neared Lupin, he swiftly stepped in front of me and grabbed my shoulders.
"You look like you're about to murder someone. Perhaps this isn't the best time to go looking for an unnamed third party," he said.
I glared at him. "This unnamed party just made out with a fifth year and told her he wanted to be her boyfriend."
Lupin's mouth curled up at the corner. "Jealous, Lexi?"
"Hardly," I sniffed. "He has also been overheard saying that she was the fourth girl tonight."
Lupin tensed. He looked around, his eyes focusing on one corner of the room that I couldn't see courtesy of the dancing people in my way. He made to leave, but I stopped him.
"You are not getting to yell at him without me present. I am going to rip him a new one. Make him suffer."
Lupin sighed. "Lexi, give me five minutes. Five, that's it. Go sit down and I'll send him over. If he won't, I give you full permission to hex him for a week, and I'll take the blame every time."
I mulled over the proposition before finally agreeing. Crossing back over to sit on the couch, I closed my eyes as my head began spinning until I felt someone drop down beside me.
"Look Black," I said harshly, without opening my eyes, "you can't just hook up with some fifth year and expect it to go over swiftly. You're lucky I'm handicapped at the moment, or I'd kick you so hard you would never be able to have children." I heard a familiar chuckle and I gasped as my eyes flew open to see Amo – er Diggory – sitting next to me. "What are you doing here?" I asked icily.
"Well," he said bashfully, "I wanted to talk to you about… us."
I stiffened but rolled my eyes nonetheless. "Last time I checked, you tried to beat me senseless, which to me doesn't constitute an 'us.'"
Diggory's eyes narrowed. "I don't know what you and the Evans minx have been saying to people, but I didn't beat you."
"The bruise you left on her face seemed to say otherwise," a cruel voice spat out.
I glanced up to see Black, his grey eyes blazing with fury. Looking back at Diggory, I crossed my arms in defiance.
"And what is this? You've hooked up with Sirius Black?" Diggory asked scathingly.
Black snorted. "I wish. She's much too good for me."
"Yeah, I know," Diggory sneered.
"Much too good for you too," I said, staring daggers at him.
"Really? Because it didn't seem that way when I broke up with you."
I laughed, the harsh sound scaring me a little. "Right, because breaking up with someone then getting back together, only to be broken up with by the aforementioned person and consistently try and ask her out again means you are so much better than me, the aforementioned aforementioned-person."
Diggory gave me a cold look but Black smirked. "Now," Black said dangerously, "I'm going to have to ask you to leave, or this conversation will be held later, where no one will be around to stop me from knocking the living daylights out of you."
"Yeah, as if you could."
I looked at Black and quickly stood, wobbling but keeping my balance as I grasped his arm. My touch seemed to have jolted him back to the reality of where we were. He looked at me, at my pleading face, and grabbed Diggory by the arm, shoving him out of the room. My hand was still clamped tightly around his (muscular) arm and I stumbled after them, my walking cane forgotten. As soon as Black stepped out of the door, he flung Diggory to the ground.
"This was supposed to be a joyous event," he said darkly.
"You know the meaning of the word joyous?" I asked incredulously.
Black gave me a withering look. "I have seen a book every once in a while. I just don't read them." I nodded and he turned his glare back on Diggory. "As for you, you can either leave, or take the other option."
"And the other option is…"
I sighed, knowing what would come next. I slowly took my hand off Black's arm and I saw his patented smirk return.
Then he punched Diggory in the face.
I gasped, my hands flying up to my mouth. I knew he was going to do it, but the visual of Diggory falling to the ground, blood spilling from his nose, was surprising. But almost as soon as he hit the ground, Diggory was up again, his fists up. Of course, neither decided that a wand might be a good idea to have out, but then again, testosterone, right?
I backed up as Diggory charged Black, knocking him into the wall beside me. I let out a small screech as Black almost hit me, jumping out of the way at the last possible moment. Diggory punched Black in the face and I put my hands over my mouth again, stifling a gasp, but I didn't need to worry. Black retaliated, knocking Diggory back onto the floor and punching him when he stood back up again. I saw both their eyes flash dangerously and threw myself in between them.
"Stop it, now!" I screeched shrilly. "No need to act like toddlers. Diggory," I said, relishing in his surprise at my use of his last name, "you need to go. Black, calm the fuck down."
My hands were on each of their chests, keeping them at bay. Black was glaring at Diggory, his lip split and a cut above his eyebrow leaving blood trails down his face. Diggory had blood gushing from his nose and from a gash at his hairline. I saw a black eye forming and tried to keep down my triumphant smile at Black's obvious victory.
"Why should I be the one to leave?" Diggory snarled.
"Because," I said simply, "out of both of you, I like him more, as hard as that is to believe."
Diggory glowered but stepped back, letting my hand fall through thin air. His eyes darkened as he saw Black take my wrist and position himself so that if Diggory did attack us, he was in front of me. He was about to say something but I cut him off.
"Go Diggory. Leave now, before the rest of the idiotic Gryffindors get here. I can't stop more than one of them at a time."
He pursed his lips but swiftly turned, stalking away down the corridor. I let myself relax, turning around and putting a hand on my forehead. Merlin, Diggory was just such an arsehat. I felt Black's hand on my shoulder and I looked up at him.
"Sorry my ex-boyfriend is such a prat," I said, giving him a small smile.
He smirked at me. "Nothing I couldn't handle."
I laughed. "It looked to me like he got a few good punches in himself. Your lip is bleeding you know. And your eyebrow."
Black swore rather loudly and I dragged him away from the party room door, making him sit down as I pulled out my wand. Tapping the edge of his eyebrow, I muttered a healing spell. The wound instantly closed up but the blood remained. I did the same to his lip and then sat down in front of him, conjuring a tissue to dab at the fresh and congealed blood. He winced as I fluttered around his eye.
"Well, you unlucky bastard, it seems he clocked you in the eye," I said. "How's it feel having a black eye, Black?"
He smiled at my word play and winced as I intentionally jabbed him near the eye again.
"Oi, watch where you're jabbing your grubby little fingers, woman!" He roared and I giggled.
"Well don't get into fist fights and I won't feel compelled to poke your bruises."
"And why would you do that anyways?"
"Because I like bruises."
He gave me a strange look. "You like bruises?"
"Well, yeah. It's kind of cool that your veins can burst without your skin ripping."
He shook his head, chuckling. "I swear, you are the weirdest girl I have ever met."
"Oi, watch who you're insulting there, man!" I said, imitating him.
He smirked at me. "I can insult you better than that Ace."
"Oh really? I'd like to hear that."
"I'd slap you but I don't want to get slag all over my hand."
"Ooh, good one."
"I see you're wearing clothes. Isn't that a little different from your work uniform?"
"Ouch, I'm wounded."
"If you were any smarter, you might actually beat a rock at Rock, Paper, Scissors."
"Your mother is a prostitute."
I tensed. Black seemed to notice and his easy smirk fell.
"I'm sorry. I didn't realize…"
"Didn't realize what?" I asked harshly.
"Well, something's up with your parents, since they didn't go see you in St. Mungo's, and now you're acting like Moony – er, Remus – when I've gone and mentioned your mum. And his is dead, so…"
"My mum left my dad when I was little. She left Cami and I with him." I sighed, feeling something tightening in my chest. "My dad was an abusive drunk."
The silence that fell hurt my ears. Black stared at me as I felt tears spring to my eyes. Looking anywhere but at him, I quickly wiped them away.
"I'm sorry…" He finally said, letting the last word drift off into a whisper.
"Don't be," I said. "What did you say? We all have skeletons in our closet? That's one of mine."
He stared at me, his eyes darting all over my face. "My family wants to disown me," he finally blurted out.
I finally looked at him. "Why?"
"'Cause I'm a Gryffindor."
"Well that's stupid."
"Well, that's my family."
"Well fuck them!"
"Yeah, that's not high up on my list, considering… well, incest."
I laughed. "No you numpty! Argh, you're being an idiot."
He smirked. "Yeah, I am aren't I?"
We smiled at each other, sitting in the corridor, until the door to the party opened and a gaggle of fourth year Gryffindor girls tumbled out. They walked past us and tittered when Siri – Black! – turned his gaze on them. When they finally skirted around the corner at the end of the corridor, Black (!) turned to look at me again, but I just looked back at the party room door.
"You should go back, have fun with your friends. It's your party after all," I said, tilting my chin to point at the door. "I'm going to head out now anyways. Only so much partying, you know?"
"Not important. They can survive one night without me. And anyways," he continued, looking pointedly at me, "this party was technically for you and your team for beating us. If you don't go back to have fun, why should I?"
"Because you planned this?"
"Oh pish posh. We had this planned for months. All we really had to do was change the decorations from red to blue and put Ravenclaw instead of Gryffindor."
I raised my eyebrow at him in an attempt at an 'excuse me' face. "Okay, one, did you really just say the words pish and posh together, in a sentence?" When he nodded cheekily, I continued. "Two, that's a little full of yourself, expecting you'd beat us. Three, I've never been one for parties, and anyways, I'm getting tired."
Black smirked again. "Well, when we heard that you weren't seeker anymore, we obviously thought we'd win. We didn't expect that little shrimp to actually catch the fucking snitch."
I felt my cheeks colour. "Wow. That's a little harsh, don't you think?"
I rolled my eyes, but couldn't stop the smile creeping onto my face. "Fine. But I really am tired. I'm going to go back to my dormitory. Thanks for keeping me company."
Black gave me a mischievous grin. I didn't like that. He nodded his head in acknowledgement of my thanks but quickly stood up, holding out his hand to help me. I took it and he pulled me up as if I was a rag doll. Catching myself on the wall, I tried to pull my hand out of his grasp but he didn't let me. I looked at him, a little scared, and saw his grin. As fast as lightning, he picked me up by the waist and threw me over his shoulder.
"Black!" I shrieked. "Let me down from here!"
"But you're a cripple. And I couldn't possibly let a cripple limp back to her dormitory without at least some form of transportation."
"I am perfectly capable of getting back to my common room on my own. If you do not let me down now, I will curse you into oblivion. I will personally make sure you will never have any bastard children. I will shave your fucking head!"
But of course, my threats fell on empty ears as he giggled like an infant, running down corridors in the direction of Ravenclaw Tower. I didn't know how he knew how to get there, but knowing his reputation, maybe I shouldn't be too curious. After another minute of cursing and threatening, I let myself go limp, resigning to this horrible means of transportation. Hey, said the little voice in my head, at least he has a mighty fit bum. I shook my head a little, and by the time the little voice was quiet, Black had dropped me at the door of the Ravenclaw common room.
"Erm, thanks," I said slowly.
He smirked. Damn his smirk!
"I feel like I'm forgetting something," I said. "Have you done anything in the last hour to piss me off."
I frowned. "Fine. I'm yelling at you tomorrow. And anyways, how am I going to get my cane back?"
"Oh, I have my ways," he promised, winking.
I crossed my arms. "Fine. But just so you know, if I don't have it at the foot of my bed, with a slice of treacle tart, by tomorrow morning, I will hex something off that I am absolutely certain you want attached."
"Okay, fair enough."
I smiled. "Thanks Sirius. For that whole Diggory debacle."
"No problem. See you tomorrow then? I'll be eagerly awaiting our yelling match."
I smirked. "Nine o'clock sharp in the Great Hall sound good to you?"
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