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Chapter 14 : Ghost Town
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This place is coming like a ghost town
Bands don’t play no more
Too much fighting on the dancefloor
~ Ghost Town ~ The Specials ~
I somehow managed to put what I did to the back of my mind. Sirius and I avoided each other as much as possible, and in Ancient Runes our conversations were short and about the work. I still had horrifying moments, usually right before I went to sleep, when I felt the guilt crush me. When I finally got to sleep, these feelings seemed to trigger the old nightmare, which I’d been getting less frequently lately. The same cold, inhumane gaze from within that mask. The same memory of the same pain from the Cruciatus Curse. If someone tortures you enough, you will go insane. I knew this because my mind had been damaged by own stint of torture. I was lucky to have been saved when I was.
I hung onto this gratitude because it made me feel better about something. And it wasn’t hard to be happy with Remus. He was so sweet, and began to really open up to me. He told me about his moods- how sometimes he just felt terrible. I even found it easier to talk to him about the kidnapping than anyone else. I trusted Remus, and he trusted me. Maybe wrongly, but I had to be grateful for it all the same.
November brought colder weather, with rain and harsh winds nearly every day. This made Remus and I’s regular trips to the meadow a bit painful. He would conjure up a small fire in a jar and we would huddle around it, chatting and giggling. Sometimes, he’d try and kiss me. I found ways round it though. I couldn’t face it, and he soon stopped trying so often, holding my hand instead. I felt safe when I was with him. Overwhelmingly safe.
It was double Ancient Runes on Thursday that I dreaded. This was the one time Sirius and I had to sit side by side for two solid hours- nobody can avoid talking for that long. Three weeks in a row, we’d sat beside each other, trying not to look at each other. When I took my seat beside him, and he turned to look at me with those grey eyes of his, I felt myself holding my breath.
“Hey.” He greeted me. He wasn’t looking sharply away though, as had become our common practise.
“Hi.” I responded, feeling my heart speed up.
“Did you hear about the Leonard’s?” He asked. I shook my head. “David Leonard’s parents and little sister were found dead in the early hours. The Dark Mark was hovering over their house.”
“That’s horrible!” I squeaked, feeling a pang for David. The Dark Mark meant everyone inside that building was dead. That was becoming clearer everyday. More and more students were being affected by Voldemort and his supporter’s everyday. This explained why I hadn’t seen David at breakfast; the routine was, the head of house would summon them early in the morning to Dumbledore’s office, where the news would be broken. Then usually the student went home for a while to see what was left of their family. They’d stay for the funeral and then return to school, looking depressed and haunted.
“If you see Perry, tell her I’m sorry. She told me she was close to his family.” I nodded. Come to think of it, I hadn’t seen Perry, either. I supposed this was why. How had I not noticed my best friend wasn’t there with me this morning at the Ravenclaw table? I felt like I was losing my grip. Sirius surveyed me for a moment. “It’s getting hard to keep up with all of this, isn’t it?”
“Yes… This school is like a ghost town these past few days. So many kids…”
“It’s been quiet since Halloween.” Sirius said, and I felt my stomach twist when he said ‘Halloween’. “It seems Voldemort-“ I cringed on the name “-got into the holiday spirit.” He paused. “You know Dumbledore tells us fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself. And you have an inkling of what we’re facing.”
“That’s why it freaks me out.” I muttered.
“No courage.” He tutted.
“Such a Gryffindor thing to say.”
“Look, Erin, are we ever going to talk about what happened?” He came out with this with a gust of a sigh carrying the words. I looked around at him. He looked angry.
“What does that have to do with anything?” I hissed, looking around, but nobody in class was listening. It was supposed to be independent studying today so people were chatting more than usual, mainly about the Leonard’s though.
“Talking about it being quiet. We barely speak anymore.”
“I thought it was for the best that we spend less time together.” I really didn’t want to think about this, let alone talk about it.
“I understand that, but that doesn’t mean we can’t talk. We made a mistake, but we can still be friends, you know.” He exhaled exasperatedly.
“Can we?” I questioned, then sighed too. “I’m sorry, Sirius. I’ve just felt a bit… awkward.”
“Then don’t. You’re Remus’ girlfriend, and I’m his best mate, we’re going to see each other a lot, if we don’t even talk it’s just going to look weird.” He pointed out. I thought about this, then gave in.
“You’re right. But things are looking better now, so we have to lay some ground rules down, okay?”
“Fine by me. I suggest rule number one should be no physical contact.” He agreed immediately.
“Definitely. And rule number two… no alcohol.” I added.
“Can’t make any promises. But number three… we can’t be alone together.” He went a bit pink at the last part, and I got the nasty sensation of something sharp jumping up into my throat. That sounded like… but no, alcohol was entirely to blame for what happened.
“Agreed.” I said. He offered his hand and I went to shake it, but then he pulled back.
“Hey, no physical contact, remember?” He joked, and I laughed in spite of myself.
I made my priority to see Perry and check that she was okay at lunch; she had met David’s parent’s years ago and usually visited him during the summer as they lived only a town away from each other, so they were well acquainted. I found her sitting alone at the end of the Ravenclaw Tower. The Grey Lady was hovering nearby, but as usual she didn’t say anything, just gazed at us coolly.
“Oh Merlin, Sirius told me. I don’t know how I didn’t hear before that. Are you okay?” I asked Perry, sitting down opposite her. She focused her eyes on me for a minute, then nodded.
“I’m okay. A bit shocked, but…” She shrugged. “David’s devastated.”
“I feel for him.” I said.
“Something needs to be done, Erin. We can’t let them do this to people- nice people like David’s family don’t deserve this!”
“Nobody does.” I said quietly. I thought of the Order of the Phoenix, but I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone about that.
“I saw Remus not long ago.” Perry said, apparently not wanting to talk about this any longer. “He’s such a nice person. You’re so lucky.”
“I thought you and David were back on.” I admitted.
“No, he wants to just be friends… and I think it’s better that way, really.” I was very surprised to hear this. Before I could ask, Perry continued, “I love that boy to bits, but we don’t want the same things. And he’s one of the best friends I could ask for, why ruin that?” Perry was growing up- we all were. It took her saying this for me to realise it though- and my conversation with Sirius. We all had to be willing to accept some things if we wanted to change others.
A/N: I'm just going to keep updating as often as the queue allows until this is all up as I have finished writing it in real time! I hope you liked this chapter. Please leave a review!
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