Chapter 25 : You're So Vain
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And thanks to the wonderful internet, here is a translation for you:
Che cazzo stai dicendo? (Italian) – What the hell are you talking about?
“You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you.” – Carly Simon, 1972
Sirius Black’s right hand tightened around his bat. When the approaching bludger was finally in range, he swung his arm and the ball sailed through the air, almost knocking Josephine Hill off her broom.
“Waaaaah!” she cried. “Bloody hell, Sirius, this is supposed to be a leisurely Friday practice, not the real thing!”
“Sorry, Joey,” the Seventh Year laughed as he forced his broom to slow down.
“Don’t say you’re sorry!” Geoffrey Wood called from the goalpost. “I like seeing that swing of yours. Makes me believe we can win the Cup this year.”
“Oi!” James barked as he threw a ball to Charles Bigsby. “What did I tell you lot? We are not discussing the Cup when we still have a lot more Quidditch to play. Now get back to it!”
The three Gryffindors rolled their eyes, groaned, and eventually listened to their captain. Bigsby, however, continued the conversation.
“Oh come off it,” he retorted as he caught James’ pass. “We’re already in the record books – we scored 500 points our opening game!”
“And we have two more before the end of the season,” the captain shouted. “Anything can happen. We can’t count our chickens before they hatch!”
“Why is he using so many Muggle metaphors all of a sudden?” Wood asked incredulously after he successfully blocked Bigsby’s lukewarm attempt to score.
“Picked ‘em up from Lily,” Sirius said with a snort. The second bludger raced towards him and he lazily swung his arm to bat it away; the ball cruised through the air until it hit the other Gryffindor beater’s bat. The pureblood let out a sluggish sigh shortly afterwards. The sun was starting its descent towards the horizon and Sirius smiled as he watched the sky begin to change colors. It was so beautiful and –
“Fucking hell!” the Beater yelped as an object crashed into his torso.
Sirius prepared for the worst and clutched his chest as he tried to fight off the oncoming pain since he had learned from an early age that bludger encounters were never trouble-free. However, he soon realized that both magical balls were on the other side of the pitch after he cautiously opened his left eye and peeked around … which meant that the tiny black owl in front of him must have caused his earlier scare.
“Awwww, look!” Sirius cooed and his face lit up with enthusiasm. The rest of the team carried on with their practice as he chose to focus on the undersized bird. “Come here little buddy! I won’t hurt ya!”
He grinned and stroked the back of its neck and the bird flapped its wings happily.
“What have you got there?” he asked his new friend when he spied a small scroll of tied to its leg. Sirius balanced the black creature on his palm as he used his other hand to jiggle the parchment free and unravel the message.
Gone ‘till Monday. Don’t wait up for me.
The boy reread the note several times as the bird hopped off his hand and joyfully flew off into the blushing pink sky. He slowly processed the unexpected news and once it finally sunk it, his earlier buoyancy morphed into a protective worry.
“Gone for the weekend? And all I get is a bloody little note?” Sirius growled. He crumpled the scroll between his fingers and his face turned a light shade of red.
“Padfoot?” James questioned after he skidded to a stop.
“I’m going to punch something,” he fumed as he shoved the paper into his best friend’s hands.
“Now I think that’s a bit of an overreaction, mate -”
James rolled his eyes and steadied his glasses as his eyes moved back and forth across the scroll.
“So you won’t see her until Monday. That’s a problem because …”
“I don’t know where she is!” Sirius confessed with desperation. “She could be in the Castle or she could be in fucking Switzerland for all we know. James, she just decided to pack up and leave for a few days and now she’s out there alone. Give me the Map.”
“I guess there’s no stopping you then,” James sighed. “It’s in my bag.”
“Thanks,” Sirius said hastily and then slapped his best friend on the back before flying away. When he finally reached solid ground, he broke into a dead sprint as he continued to worry about his girlfriend’s whereabouts. Once he retrieved the Map, Sirius ran off towards the snowy Castle, dipped into the shadows, and muttered the password. When the parchment slowly started to change, he scanned the contents for Gemma’s dot.
It was nowhere to be found.
“Where are you, where are you?” Sirius muttered uneasily. “Gemma, don’t do this to me!”
He quickly scanned the Map again, scouring the entire unfolded piece of parchment until his eyes focused on the Great Hall. Maybe someone’s marker was overlapping her and she would finally turn up, he told himself. Yet, Gemma was still absent and Sirius ran a nervous hand through his hair. His eyes shot back to the Great Hall and apprehensively watched the crowd of students, hoping to find a hidden indicator.
Sure enough, when Lizzie Richardson moseyed away from the Hufflepuff table, Sirius saw a new dot labeled “Giovanni Costa”; he didn’t bother to change out of his Quidditch robes and galloped towards the Castle with a determined look on his face. When he finally entered the Great Hall, he found his target quite easily. Sirius swiftly barged over to the Italian Seventh Year and picked him up off the bench by his purple jumper.
“Where is she.”
It was not a question; it was a demand.
“Woah there, mate,” Gio cautioned. “Che cazzo stai dicendo?”
“You know I don’t speak Italian!”
“I asked you what the fuck you’re talking about,” Gio snapped, matching the Gryffindor’s dour expression.
“Tell me where she is, Costa,” Sirius responded icily. After he started to channel his animagus, he suddenly realized that their outburst had caught the attention of most of the students around them; in fact, half the Hall was quietly speculating why the handsome Marauder was picking a fight with the bohemian guitarist.
“Let’s not do this here,” the Hufflepuff muttered darkly when he too began to notice the commotion they’d caused.
After growling impatiently, Sirius sharply turned on his heel and trailed behind Gio as they exited the Great Hall towards the Second Floor. After sticking his head inside a random door, he motioned for Sirius to join him inside the spare room.
“Now what on Merlin’s magical earth are you on about?”
“Gemma. I need to know where she is.”
“And you think I keep track of that girl every minute of every day?” Gio laughed. “I haven’t seen her since Wednesday.”
“She sent me this,” Sirius said bluntly and shoved the scroll into the boy’s hands. His eyes narrowed as he watched the Hufflepuff read the Seer’s loopy handwriting.
“Fuuuuuuck,” Gio moaned as he dramatically rolled his eyes. “She’s doing it again.”
“Doing what?” Sirius insisted.
“Gemma likes to be on the move,” the Seventh Year explained. “When she has something she can’t get off her mind, she likes to vanish to clear her head.” His words wormed their way in Sirius’ ears and began to pacify his fuming temper.
“She does this,” Sirius said after he felt his rapid heart slowly begin to calm down. “This is normal?”
“Well,” Gio grimaced as he scratched the back of his neck, “sort of. When she needs space, she floats away … but normally she’s only gone for a couple of hours. Not a whole weekend.”
A split second later, Sirius’ irritation returned.
“What is it then?” he gasped with desperation. “What can possibly be on her mind that’s so disruptive? She’s been perfectly happy around me …” His mentality suddenly took a green-eyed turn and he held nothing back as he shoved Gio against the wall. “What did you do to her, you bastard? Did you upset her?”
“No!” the boy managed to choke out.
“You must have!” Sirius barked. “So what was it? Did you mock her? Did you fill her head with little lies?” The Gryffindor snarled and his thoughts turned even more desperate and irrational. “Did she reject your advances?”
He leaned forward to look deeper into Gio’s eyes and failed to notice anything else.
“Let me go,” the Hufflepuff wheezed as he slyly touched the tip of his wand to his attacker’s neck, “or I will make you.” The threat jarred Sirius and he stumbled backwards, looking down at his hands with a horrified expression.
“You need to get a hold of yourself, Black,” Gio said through his teeth, “or I will revert back to my Neapolitan roots.” When Sirius gulped with remorse, their spat slowly started to wind down and Gio’s curled lip softened as he pocketed his wand.
“I’m sorry, I’m being completely mental,” he apologized as he hunched forward with immense guilt written all over his face. “I just hate it when she’s not around me; I feel like my skin is on fire. I always think the worst is going to happen – because honestly, after all these Muggle attacks, who wouldn’t?”
“Mate,” Gio said with a small, lighthearted smile, “you don’t have to tell me. I worry about her, too. But I will tell you this … when Gemma runs away, she always comes back. You’ll see her on Monday, I promise.”
“But what if I don’t?” he cried.
“Sirius,” the Italian said as he put a hand on his shoulder, “I’m going to give you a little advice – you can try all you want, but some Hippogriffs aren’t meant to be fenced in. You have to let them wander and trust they’ll come back.”
“I – I can’t. There’s no possible way I can sit in the Castle and be ok with this. She’s everything to me, Gio. If I ever lost her - if someone in my extended family found her just walking around … ”
Sirius couldn’t finish his thought; his fear was too great.
“Can’t you find her on that little map of yours?” Gio said with a raised brow. “Then you can ask her where’s she going and stop being such a git.”
“She’s not here,” he confessed.
“What about that room you two always go to? The Room of Relaxation -”
“Requirement,” Sirius corrected. “Oh, perfect! Gio, you’re fantastic.” He moved to exit the room but before he could fly out the door, the Italian caught him arm.
“Before you go,” he said, “there’s something you should know. You’ll never have to worry about Gemma and me … because …” He looked down at the ground and continued with an aloof sigh. “… Well, because I don’t actually fancy women. But that doesn’t leave this room, you got it?”
“I won’t tell a soul,” he grinned before racing out of the room.
However, after pacing and forth, Sirius opened the Room of Requirement to find that the thing he needed the most was, again, nowhere to be found. He slid to the floor in desperation but suddenly remembered that Gemma had a secret hideaway room. Maybe there was a clue there; it was a long shot but he was willing to try anything. Minutes later, Sirius impulsively flung open the door to the spare Divination Classroom and entered her private sanctuary.
The sight before him took his breath away.
The room was no longer an efflorescent retreat, but instead, a gigantic schizophrenic mess. The Seer had pinned hundreds of scraps, notes, and hand drawn pictures – Remus cuddling Marianne in the Hospital Wing, a boy with long blonde hair, a snake slithering through the grass with “REMEMBER THIS” written next to it – across every single wall. Despite the massive confusion, there seemed to be three major clusters that spanned across the entire ceiling. The first was a small town being attacked by wisps of black, followed by several research papers about metallic potions and a picture of a random coastline with a surfboard.
She had even connected everything with different colored pieces of yarn to draw conclusions. By hand.
And that’s when everything finally started to make sense to Sirius. Gemma never slept because she was worried, not because she drank too much coffee. She’d never completed any of her homework, as shown by the half finished assignments that littered the floor, and had decided to give into her manic delusions instead. Her perpetual happiness was not normal behavior. It was a restless obsession gone awry.
“Fuck,” he swore when he plucked a scrap off the wall. “She’s gone absolutely bonkers.”
Sirius gingerly looked down and inspected the drawing in his hands; it was a simple sketch of the wild scenery outside their Valentine’s Day bungalow. The happy memory caused his frown to grow exponentially, but as he raised his eyes, he spied the same image pinned to the wall in front him. The pureblood did a quick spin and counted 5 other drawings with the exact same scenery. When he found a 6th, he ripped it off and flipped it over.
GO BACK HERE.
Sirius knew there was a large possibility that Gemma was nowhere near the deserted campsite but he didn’t care. His desperation controlled his actions and he sprinted out of the private room towards one of the hidden Hogsmeade passageways. He couldn’t sit still and pretend nothing was wrong; it just wasn’t in his nature.
He had to keep looking for her.
Just after the sun dipped below the horizon line, Sirius emerged from the tunnel and sneakily made his way through the alleyways until he reached the outskirts of the sleepy little town. When he passed the last building, he strained his eyes as he did quick search of the wilderness. And that’s when he saw it – a small orange flame in the distance.
The Gryffindor sprinted over the cold ground as adrenaline and hope pulsed through him. Although his breaths became ragged and forced, he pushed on … because failure simply wasn’t an outcome he would accept. Just after he reached the top of the hill, his dedication finally paid off and he saw the outline of a small dirty tent next to the frozen lake. The firelight flickered across the large sheet of ice but also illuminated the face of his missing girlfriend as she paced back and forth next to the warm flames.
Sirius felt something more than relief; he felt liberated. However, his reprieve caused him to falter backwards and step on a nearby twig. The subsequent snap! caught Gemma’s attention and her face blanched when she met his stare.
“Shit,” she swore. “Shit, shit, shit.”
“Gemma,” Sirius said breathlessly as he crossed towards her, “what are you doing here?”
“I could ask you the same question,” the Hufflepuff challenged as she stuck her chin out defiantly. Her earlier fear had quickly morphed into a defensive stubbornness.
“Oh no, no, no,” he growled as his annoyance finally started to show. “I’m not the one who has to justify their actions. You’re pacing in the middle of the woods.”
“I’m camping,” she muttered darkly, “not pacing. I told you I’d be gone, didn’t I?”
“And that’s exactly why I’m here!” he exclaimed as he threw his hands in the air. “Gemma, you can’t just leave without telling anyone - there’s a war going on out there! And for the record, sending a note does not count as telling me.”
“I was going to come back on Monday,” she retorted.
“Gemma,” he pleaded, “just tell me what’s going on.”
“I DON’T KNOW!” the girl wailed desperately as she finally stopped pacing. She continued to act uncharacteristically absurd and fear gathered in the pit of his stomach. “Alright? I have no bloody clue what’s going on, Sirius! Nothing makes sense anymore – up is down, black is white, everything’s fucked. So I can’t be in the Castle right now. It’s suffocating me.”
The emphasized word sliced through his thoughts and ripped his heart in two.
“Can’t I help you?” Sirius asked frantically. “You don’t have to do this alone, Gemma.”
“Yes, I do,” she snapped. “I see the future, remember?”
“But,” the Seventh Year begged, “there has to be something I can do. Please, just come back to the Castle and we can talk things out.”
“No,” the nomad proclaimed. “I’m not going back until Monday.”
“Then I’ll stay with you.”
“… But,” Sirius said just about a whisper, “don’t you remember? The day we started dating? You said you would never leave me again …”
“YOU!” she said through her teeth. “Merlin, everything’s always about you, isn’t it? Can’t you see that this is fucking bigger than you?”
Her voice cracked on the last word, but Sirius barely noticed. He couldn’t think straight; he was too flabbergasted.
“I’ve seen things,” Gemma confessed wildly. “In one specific dream, I saw horrible and wonderful things. I saw them clear as day but I didn’t know it until I had a strong sense of déjà vu. So a bad thing happened and I didn’t stop it. But is it my fault? Am I responsible for everyone else’s pain? Or am I just part of the big timeline in the sky? I don’t know. All I can do is place all the evidence in front of me and analyze the clues, just like The Dream Oracle says.”
Her exclamation elicited a conditioned, fearful response. Why didn’t he understand anything she was saying? He suddenly remembered his earlier trip to her personal paradise, and more specifically, her massive delusion of grandeur … so was her vague confession even true?
“Do you want to know what my biggest fear is?” she cried as she continued her rant. “Uncertainty. And right now, everything around me is uncertain and I can’t stop thinking about it. I will always obsess about the future. It’s in my DNA. I’ve tried to fight it for a long time Sirius, but I can’t anymore. This is my escape. I need this.”
Sirius felt the oxygen rush out of his lungs; tiny buzzing stars darted across his field of vision. He didn’t understand any of her nonspecific explanations and it was almost as if someone had erected an invisible barrier between them. It was like they were trying to communicate while speaking two different languages. And it scared him beyong belief … because the one thing that terrified Sirius the most was separation from the ones he loved.
The Gryffindor was used to severance, as he had bravely escaped from his elitist pureblood family at the young age of sixteen, but after he had taken refuge with the Potters, he couldn’t bare to be alone. Ever since that fateful night, Sirius always needed someone by him - someone to subconsciously remind him that there was good in the world and that he had made the right decision to fight against his family and the rising evil tide.
But with Gemma, it was something even more than that. The rest of the Marauders supported him every way they could, but his relationship with Gemma offered a different kind of love. Her presence constantly comforted his separation anxiety, but more importantly, her vivacious personality soothed every part of his damaged heart. She showed him a freedom he had never known possible. And she did it without even trying; it was just the way she expressed her love and affection.
Yet, as he looked into her chaotic eyes, he realized that all of it was teetering on the brink of destruction.
“Please,” he whimpered, “don’t leave me.”
Once the desperate words left his mouth, Gemma’s twitching suddenly ceased and he watched all of her nervous energy pour out her fingertips. When she exhaled one last deep breath, the normal twinkle returned to her eyes and for the first time since the Valentine’s Day attack, the Seer was her old self.
“I won’t,” she whispered evenly. “I’ll pack up my things and go back to the Castle.”
Sirius felt his heart explode with joy.
“But,” Gemma cut in, “I meant what I said. I need some space.”
His euphoria instantly vanished.
“Sirius,” she pleaded as she grabbed his arms, “hear me out. Something is happening – something I can’t control and I’m driving myself crazy to try and understand it. This isn’t healthy for me. I need my escape. I’ll stay inside so you’ll always be able to find me on the Map, but …”
Her lips curled upwards into a small smile.
“… I need go to my happy place. Without any distractions from you, Gio, or anyone else.”
The pureblood gulped and nodded, feeling slightly better that he was not the only one she was avoiding. But he still felt like a dog without its favorite bone.
“Alright,” he promised gently, giving into Gio’s earlier advice, “I’ll give you space.”
“Thank you,” she muttered before she embraced him fully and placed a kiss on his forehead. A couple of tears finally escaped his lashes and Gemma frowned sharply as she brushed them away. “I’m sorry … about all of this. I really am.”
“I know,” Sirius lamented mournfully. And with that, he threw Gemma one last look, took a deep breath, and headed back to the Castle with an extremely heavy heart.
Author’s note: sorry for the delay with this chapter, I had some major writer’s block towards the end. But now everything is back on track! Wahoo!
So the next chapter is James’ party and I’ll tell you now, it’s rather Moffat inspired. But that’s all I’m going to say XD
Thank you to everyone who’s reviewed. You have no idea how much I appreciate it!!
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