Chapter 19 : Phil, Picnics and Screams in the Corridor
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“So where are we going and what are we doing?” I asked suspiciously.
Sirius just smirked and waggled his eyebrows. I frowned. I didn’t like this not knowing. It was cold out, I had just been through the worst reserve tryout ever and people were staring at Sirius and me as we walked down the path to Hogsmeade. I had kept a considerable amount of distance between us, but I guess it didn’t matter how much space was between two people.
Others would talk if it was a date and one party was the infamously sexy Sirius Black. Er, the infamous Sirius Black. It didn’t even matter that I had made it clear to the Sirius Black Fan Club that morning that I had no interest in actually dating him (their president, Ramona Harnett, had cornered me in the hallway before breakfast and threatened to bald me if I was actually going through with the ‘relationship’).
We had just walked past The Three Broomsticks when Sirius finally spoke up.
“The stares and whispers are something, aren’t they?” He asked quietly as he gave a curt nod to two girls who were conversing in hushed whispers that were walking past. He rolled his eyes as they giggled and blushed. “It’s like this all the time. I’m really sorry.”
I shrugged. “Not technically your fault.”
He gave me a grateful smile. As we continued walking, I began to tense up as we reached Madame Puddifoot’s. I gave Sirius an incredulous look.
“Madame Puddifoot’s? What possessed you to pick this place?”
“Trust me, it’s not what it seems.”
“It seems like a place that ate Valentine’s Day and spit it back out in the form of hanging Cupids and Heart shaped cups.”
“Well, yeah. But we’re not here for that. Trust me, we aren’t staying.”
I sighed and walked in as Sirius held open the door. As soon as the door slowly shut, the smell of roses and freesias and lilies and every other flower you can think of, bombarded my nose. I sneezed three times before Sirius ushered me towards a door labeled ‘Kitchen.’ I quickly ran in, wheezing, trying to get fresh air.
As I took one step into the kitchen though, I bumped into someone and would’ve fallen over had Sirius not caught me. Looking up, I saw a very handsome guy with a picnic basket. Like, very handsome. So handsome I was slightly pissed off at Sirius for being my – shudder – date.
“Hey Phil,” Sirius said, taking the basket from the very hot guy and handing him a small bag.
The hot boy smiled. “Hey Sirius. Who’s the lady friend?”
I almost fell over again. Even his voice was sexy. But as I felt Sirius’s hand on the small of my back, I remembered who I was with.
“This is Lexi. The girl I may have put in St. Mungo’s,” Sirius said cheerfully.
Bastard. Sending me into surgery is nothing to be happy about. But as ‘Phil’ took my hand and kissed it, I forgot about everything else.
“Pleasure to meet you, Lexi.”
“The pleasure’s all mine,” I giggled, not taking my hand out of his.
Oh shit! I giggled. Like someone who would be in Sirius’s Fan Club. But with his pretty blue eyes and his tousled blonde hair, I almost didn’t care that I sounded like a bint. Sirius did, I guess, because he pressed his hand to my back and uttered a goodbye to Phil.
Just as I was about to turn around and leave, Phil winked at me and I felt butterflies in my stomach. As Sirius grabbed my hand and dragged me out of Madame Puddifoot’s, I sighed contentedly.
“Who’s Phil and where did you meet him?” I asked, giggling. Again.
“He’s one of James’s distant cousin’s ex. But since he’s a good chef, we marauders have always kept in touch, just in case we needed him. He’s also 21 and has a longer list of exes than I do.”
“Well he is gorgeous! If he’s only five years older, why haven’t I ever heard of him?” I asked dreamily.
“You probably have. Alvarek Phillips? He’s tried to date your sister, I bet. Ravenclaw, not too into quidditch, snogged every girl in his year, charmed Dumbledore’s beard to change colours during the Welcome Back feast when we were in second year,” Sirius said harshly.
“That was him?” I asked incredulously. “Oh Merlin! Now I have to go back and talk to him. Do you think he’d give me pointers?”
“He’d give you something all right,” Sirius muttered pointedly.
I rolled my eyes. “Fine, let’s just get this over with.” He huffed and kept walking, letting me having to run to catch up. “Look, I’m sorry I’m not all that into this, but I promise that starting now, I will try.”
“Thank you,” Sirius said, a little disgruntled.
I let a deep breath out and looked around the Hogsmeade streets as we made our way back up to Hogwarts. A little bit of snow covered the ground and as we continued our walk, I realized he still hadn’t let go of my hand. And I was strangely okay with that. But as we neared the castle, I glanced over at him.
“Sirius, where are we going?” I asked suspiciously.
I did not want to be seen on a date with Sirius Black in Hogwarts. That would completely ruin me. Because people would believe that I voluntarily took some of my weekend time to hang out with him. Not that he had asked me on a date and I reluctantly agreed after he promised that he would leave me alone afterwards.
Which was what was happening and what I told the rest of Hogwarts. But as we neared the quidditch pitch, I relaxed a little. No one was ever on the quidditch pitch during Hogsmeade weekends. Well, no one except the Ravenclaw quidditch team who had needed to find a reserve chaser – thanks Amelia! – but as I was free from quidditch, the Ravenclaw team definitely wasn’t there.
Sirius dragged me onto the quidditch pitch, careful to avoid the extremely icy or muddy parts. As we neared the middle of the pitch, I saw a small patch where the snow seemed to be avoiding the grass. Dry and smooth, Sirius brought me over to the patch and then pulled a purple blanket out of the basket. Laying it on the dry patch, he sat down. I stayed standing, staring down at him.
“Did you seriously drag me all around Hogsmeade just to bring me back to the quidditch pitch for a picnic? And what’s with the blanket? Purple? Really?”
“What’s wrong with purple?” He frowned, reaching up and grabbing my hand.
I smirked. “Sorry, just thought a manly man like you wouldn’t dream of being seen with a purple picnic blanket.”
He smirked and raised an eyebrow at me. “Manly man, am I?”
“Oh, I guess you’re right,” I said deviously, taking his other hand and smirking at him from my standing position. “You couldn’t possibly be a manly man. The purple makes sense now.”
He pouted. “I am too a manly man!”
“I’m sorry, Sirius, but you really aren’t,” I laughed, raising one eyebrow coyly.
He looked me right in the eye and smiled and I felt my stomach flop. Faster than I could process, he pulled me down on top of him and then flipped over so that he was straddling me, my hands pinned to my sides. I frowned and he smirked.
“I think this proves I’m a manly man,” he said, leaning closer and pressing his nose against mine, not breaking eye contact.
I felt all my muscles tighten and my smile fell. Lowering my eyes and breaking the eye contact myself, I felt Sirius let go of my hands and rolling off of me. Closing my eyes and sighing, I sat up and looked over at him. Trying to make things less awkward, he was now rummaging through the picnic basket. That only made things more awkward. He pulled out a small jar of brown something or other – I stared at that a little cautiously – and a carton of strawberries. Turning to me, he smiled awkwardly.
“Strawberries and chocolate fondue?”
I smiled. “Lose the strawberries and you’ve got yourself a deal.”
“I still can’t believe you got me Smarties,” I gushed, popping one of the candies into my mouth. “When I yelled at you in St. Mungo’s, I didn’t think you’d actually listen.”
He frowned. “Why not?”
Shrugging, I said, “Well it hasn’t been since this year that you’ve actually expressed an interest in me. I still have a suspicion that you aren’t being entirely honest about why you tried to ‘get to know me.’”
“Ace, you are a pretty, interesting, smart, funny, surprisingly pessimistic and sarcastic girl that can hit a bludger almost as well as I can and can sure as hell stay on a broom better.”
I laughed. “Yeah, too bad I don’t have your impossibly hard skull or I would be the complete package; no trips to St. Mungo’s included.”
He smiled. “Sorry about that. Again.”
I shrugged. “Shit happens. And anyways, if I hadn’t gone to St. Mungo’s, how else would I have gotten the amazing jumper I have stashed in my room?”
“I’m sure you would’ve found a way. You can be very persuasive, Ace.”
I stiffened and his joking face fell.
“Oh shit! Sorry! Bloody hell, why do I keep doing this? I’m really not good at this.” He glanced at me out of the corner of his eye and smiled sheepishly. “Usually this situation is reversed. I take a girl out on a date and then we get plastered and then we, you know…”
I nodded stiffly. “I know your reputation, Sirius. If I was scared about it, I wouldn’t have agreed to this date, even if you did coerce the agreement out of me.”
He smiled and I let the corners of my mouth flip up a little bit. While I did feel extremely awkward around him, I also felt extremely comfortable. Stealing another finger-full of chocolate fondue – there were no spoons – I openly smiled at him.
“So tryouts…” He started, raising an eyebrow.
“Oh Merlin! Don’t even get me started! Half the people there just wanted to ask if it was true that Charlie had Lupin’s illegitimate child over the Christmas holidays. Apparently, someone started a rumour that she was pregnant.”
I stared pointedly at Sirius and he blanched.
“I swear, I didn’t!”
I stayed silent, raising an eyebrow.
“I didn’t! I wouldn’t do that! I swear on my life!”
“I know. I just wanted to make you squirm.”
“Devilish girl, Ace.”
I smirked. “Takes one to know one!”
“So you’re saying I’m devilish.” He seemed to ponder it for a moment. “I concur. I have been known to pull very devious pranks.”
“I meant devilish girl, but whatever…”
I shrieked as he growled and launched himself at me, rolling us around onto the wet snow. I shrieked again as we rolled onto some snow and the iciness crept along the edges of my coat. As he tried to stay on top of me, I smirked and shifted my weight, successfully flipping us so that now I was straddling him, his arms pinned to his sides.
“What’s that about being a manly man?” I teased, not making a move to get off.
Suddenly I felt self-conscious as I saw his awestruck eyes travel over me. Standing up and walking back over to the dry blanket, I sat down and popped another smartie into my mouth. Sirius soon joined me.
“Are you trying not to lead me on?” He asked, fiddling with the edge of the blanket.
I almost choked on the smartie as I started in surprise. “What? No! It’s not – It’s just – I just – Could we just… I don’t know…”
He raised an eyebrow at me. “What’s not to know?”
“Well, for starters, I still have this strange suspicion about your reason for asking me on this date. I honestly don’t believe that you just wanted to ‘clear your conscience.’”
He shrugged. “There might have been another reason…”
I felt my stomach roll and a metallic taste filled my mouth. This was it. He was going to tell me he never really had an interest in me. He shagged me and then decided this was the easiest way to let me down. He was going to tell me not to pine over him; to let it go.
“It was a bet.”
I felt my heart drop and tears prickled in my eyes as I processed the words. It wasn’t even that he thought I was pretty or smart or funny or interesting. I was just some contest between him and his friends, the other marauders most likely. Out of all the possibilities, I felt that this must’ve been the worst. I glanced away but almost as soon as I moved my head, I felt his hand on my shoulder.
“Damn, that came out wrong. Okay, asking you out was a bet. I’d been gushing about you to James, Remus and Peter and they’d been getting tired of it.” I looked back at him and he smiled. “I won 30 galleons off of James because he bet me I wouldn’t be able to pluck up the courage within a month.”
I smiled shakily. “James bet you 30 galleons? Just to ask me out?”
“Well, kind of.” He smirked. “Ten were to ask you out, ten were for you to say yes and ten was from me betting him I could get you to say yes before Lily ever says yes to him.”
“Well then, I think you owe me 5 galleons,” I said, shrugging off his hand and reaching into the picnic basket to grab another handful of smarties. He gave me a quizzical look. “Without me saying yes, you wouldn’t have gotten ten of those galleons.”
He smiled hesitantly. “Are you sure I should be paying you? Doesn’t that give off the wrong impression?”
I smiled and handed him a few candies. “What do you mean? We are just two acquaintances getting to know each other after one of us sent the other one of us to St. Mungo’s – and no, I’ll never let that go – and then crashed at her flat for a little while over the Christmas holidays. If we get money out of said occasion, why shouldn’t we split it?”
He smiled and chucked a smartie at me. “I knew I liked you for a reason.”
“What? My gorgeous face and bubbly personality weren’t enough?” I teased. “You just needed a logical thinker as well?”
“Gorgeous? Check. Bubbly personality? Maybe not. Logical thinker? I’m going to say definitely. Also add in the fact that you don’t put up with my bullshit.”
I raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”
“Like, if I told you I was going out with another girl after we’d been in a relationship for a few weeks, you wouldn’t yell at me but forgive me, or even be slightly okay with it. I’m betting that you’d hex me and then leave me out here, paralyzed and doomed to freeze to death.”
I pursed my lips. “You’re not wrong.”
He smiled. “And you don’t feed my big ego.”
“What’s there to feed?” I laughed half-heartedly. “You’re a decent quidditch player, your looks are slightly above average and you can’t charm your way out of a lavatory. Seriously, I don’t think you’re that awesome.” He started giggling and I frowned at him. “What? You really aren’t!”
“No, it’s not that. You said seriously! And I’m Sirius!”
As he dissolved into a fit of laughter, I rolled my eyes and stood up.
“Well, it’s been good. The date was – surprisingly – very nice. But I think I’m going to go.”
That sobered him up a bit. “What? Why?”
I smiled awkwardly. “Well, it’s been two hours and I’m getting a little tired of the picnic on the quidditch field. I spend most of my time either dreaming about being on one or actually being on one, so it gets kind of boring after a while. Also, I still have some homework that needs to be done, so I think I’ll just go do that.”
“Oh come on Ace! Stay with me a little longer?”
I shook my head. “I really can’t. It’s been fun though.”
“So fun we should do it again?”
I smiled coyly. “What, pray tell, are you asking me, Mr. Black?”
His eyes clouded over for a moment at my use of his last name, but they quickly returned to normal, their twinkle alight.
“Ms. Ace,” – I frowned at that – “would you do me the honour of agreeing to accompany me on what we shall deem a second date?”
My frown lifted and I let the corners of my lips turn up slightly. “I think I might. Tell me the plan next time we see each other and I’ll decide.”
He smiled and stood up to face me. I realized just how tall he was as he came closer.
“Then, Ace, would you do me the honour of a proper goodbye?”
I pursed my lips and stuck out my hand, grabbing his and shaking it. He frowned and I smirked.
“’Tis proper,” I said, playing with our formal game.
He finally smiled. “So ‘tis. Now m’lady, I must be off towards the classroom commonly refered to as DADA. There are some matters I must speak of with our dearest professor. And I expect you to be returning to your second home: the library?”
I nodded. “Feel free not to join me.”
“Oh, I won’t. Libraries scare me.” I raised an eyebrow at him. “Not all libraries. Just the ones with Madame Pince.”
I giggled and nodded. “She scares me too sometimes. But anyways, I’ll be off. See you later?”
He nodded. “Cross my heart!”
Amelia and I were walking down to the library when I heard the scream. High-pitched and feminine, it scratched at my eardrums, pounding in my head. I looked over at Amelia whose face was slack with surprise. She looked over at me and we both began to sprint towards the continuous scream.
The walls passed in a blur as we ran down stairs and hallways, our steps reverberating around the quiet halls. For a weekend, there was hardly anyone in the corridors. But as we blew past people, they followed us, jerked out of their reverie by the sight of us sprinting along. When we finally found our way to the dungeons, the screaming stopped.
We halted immediately at the sight of a group of people already grouped together at the end of the corridor. Grabbing Amelia’s arm, I skirted along the edges of the small group until I found a spot to weasel my way to the front to see what was happening. But as soon as I was able to get a glance at what was happening, someone stepped in front of me. I looked up to see Regulus Black, his face stony.
“You don’t want to see this, Lexi. I know how much he means to you, no matter how much you deny it.”
I looked at Amelia. He couldn’t mean… That couldn’t mean… I pushed past Regulus and gasped as I saw the sight before me.
Professor McLaren was lying on the floor in a pool of blood, her limbs splayed in broken patterns. A trickle of blood was running down from her mouth and I felt my stomach turn as I realized that one of her eyes was open, staring up at the ceiling, unblinking.
But then I looked past her and saw a large figure, hunched over and lying in the fetal position. Wild black hair and a familiarity about it drove me to slowly make my way over, dropping to my knees and placing my hand on the figure’s shoulder.
A harsh breath made me jerk back, but as the figure slowly unclenched his muscles and let his head roll back to stare at me with pained eyes that rolled back into his head as he began to convulse, his mouth foaming. I began to scream, grabbing Sirius’s face and trying to keep his head still as he shook and jerked about.
“HELP ME!” I shrieked, feeling tears roll down my cheeks. “SOMEONE GET DUMBLDORE! HELP ME!”
I heard mutters from the crowd surrounding the scene, but no one seemed to be doing anything. I looked over my shoulder and sure enough, most were standing there, staring at the scene in raptured horror. Amelia had her hands cupping her mouth, crying at what she saw.
Regulus had his arms around her and glancing around to make sure no one else saw, he began to rub at one of his eyes. I couldn’t feel angry at him though. Amelia had told me that Regulus still wasn’t completely assimilated with all the creepy Slytherins, and that any kind of interaction with his brother, any Gryffindor or a muggleborn that didn’t end in a hex or the utterance of horrible words and threats was reason for them to make him even more of an outcast.
And Amelia, though tough at quidditch, was not good with this sort of thing. But everyone else was staring, paralyzed by the sight and doing nothing, had no reason to just stand there.
“Please…” I whispered, my voice breaking. “I need help. He needs help.”
Suddenly, a great commotion started at the outer edge of the crowd and Professor McGonagall pushed through. She took one look at the broken body of Professor McLaren and then at the seizing Sirius and clapped a hand over her mouth. I had never seen her so terrified. She locked eyes with me and hurried over, keeping her cloak away from the pool of blood under my Defense Against the Dark Arts professor as she did.
“Miss James,” she said shakily, “what happened?”
I sniffed, feeling the tears rush down my face. “We… we… we were on a date, you see. I left because I still had some homework to finish and he told me he’d try and see me later after he… He was going to talk to Professor… to Professor… he was going to go talk to her about something.” I took a shaky breath and turned back to Sirius who was still seizing. “And then I heard the screaming and ran down and I saw the crowd and I pushed through and I saw Sirius and he started convulsing and I didn’t know what to do and… and… and…”
I dissolved into tears as Sirius’s head struggled in my grasp. It was all I could do to keep him from braining himself on the floor. I felt McGonagall place a hand on my shoulder as I wept. After a few seconds, she had another student ear me away and hold onto me as she levitated Sirius and had Professor Flitwick – who had arrived with her, I just hadn’t noticed – do the same to Professor McLaren.
As I broke down and fought against the person holding onto me, I finally managed to get myself free and ran after my professors. As I caught up to them, McGonagall gave me a disapproving look but I didn’t care. As we walked down to the Hospital Wing, I heard a cry from behind us and I turned.
Potter, Lupin and Pettigrew were running down the corridor. They all looked terrified and when they finally reached me, they started to stare at their friend’s prone body hovering in the air a few feet in front of McGonagall.
“What happened?” Lupin said, glancing from me to Sirius’s jerking body.
I shrugged, wrapping my arms around myself in an attempt to metaphorically keep myself together. “I heard screams and when I got there, the professor and Sirius were on the ground. I don’t think McLaren’s going to make it, and Sirius… he’s been having seizures.”
Lupin nodded and put a hand around my shoulders, his arm strong and sturdy. Potter came around to my other side and threaded his arm around my waist.
“How did the date go?” Potter asked, squeezing my waist.
I glared at him. “Potter, you honestly think I want to talk about that now?”
He shrugged, his black hair falling into his eyes. His brown eyes were worried behind his black round glasses and his mouth was stretched thin in a displeased line.
“Just trying to distract you.”
I sighed and leaned into him. “Thank you. The date was nice. Fine. Average. I agreed to another.” I glanced at Potter who smiled a little. “You’ve got to tell him to amp it up next time. A picnic on the quidditch pitch? Not a very interesting date.”
“What is then?” Potter asked, turning to look at me.
I felt more tears run down my face and I sniffled. “Not something involving the Hogwarts quidditch pitch, and definitely not fruit or vegetables. And definitely not Madame Puddifoot’s!”
Lupin laughed. “I told him not to bring you there, even if it was just to get the basket. Told him it might scare you off prematurely.”
I finally smiled. “He should’ve listened. It very nearly did.”
We finally reached the Hospital Wing and McGonagall gave us a look. We understood what she meant and we waited outside as she brought Sirius in behind Flitwick and McLaren and closed the door. I wiggled out of the boys’ holds and sat down, my back against the wall. Potter sat down next to me and Pettigrew on the other side, Lupin next to him. I rested my head against Pettigrew’s shoulder.
“I don’t know why I like him, but it’s scary. It’s scary to think of what will happen to him. What’s wrong with me?”
“Nothing’s wrong with you,” Pettigrew said. “You’re a sixteen year old girl, hung up on a seventeen year old boy and vice versa. You found your DADA professor lying in a pool of her own blood and then the guy you went out with not three hours ago lying a few feet away, seizing uncontrollably. It’s not because there’s something wrong with you that you’re scared of what will happen to Sirius. It’s because you’re in shock and you have feelings for the boy.”
I laughed a few throaty times. “Thanks Peter.”
He wrapped his arm around my shoulder and Potter grabbed my hand as I dissolved into more tears. As I shook and let the boys next to me comfort me, I felt something deep in the pit of my stomach well up. Something had happened. Something – or more accurately someone – had attacked Professor McLaren and Sirius, and I didn’t know who it was or what their motive was.
Frightful as that may be, I also didn’t know whether either one of them were going to survive. It was almost glaring obvious that McLaren wasn’t, but the convulsing that Sirius had developed at my touch made me wonder if maybe he wouldn’t pull through either. We remained in our spot on the floor for a couple of minutes before McGonagall opened the door to the Hospital Wing
“You four should not be going in, but I’ve talked to Madame Pomfrey,” she said, sighing distractedly. “I’ve contacted the headmaster. He’s currently out, but when he returns he will check on our patients in there.”
“Patients?” I asked, hopefully.
“Yes, both Professor MacLaren and Mr. Black are expected to survive with minimal actual damage. Please be careful when you enter though, because their conditions are still very delicate.”
We nodded and I stood up, tiptoeing into the Hospital Wing. Sirius’s prone form was in the second to last bed and I all but forgot about not making noise as I flew over. I stared down at his peaceful face and felt my eyes water in relief. He was okay. I dropped into the chair beside the hospital cot and sighed, the tightness in my chest disappearing. As I looked over at the foot of his bed, I saw James, Remus and Peter staring at me.
“He’s okay!” I said to them, turning back to Sirius. “He’s okay…”
My eyes felt like sandpaper and my mouth had the distinct taste of rust. I felt like James had run me over with his broomstick, clipping my head in the process. I groaned as I began to crawl out of unconsciousness and almost as soon as I had opened my eyes, I felt one hand slap me and another slam into my mouth to keep me from yelling out.
I opened my eyes completely and sat up, grappling with the arms that were on me. As I wrestled with my assailant, I heard the telltale squeak of a girl and I stopped. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I saw that I was holding the wrists of one Alexandra James. She was glaring at me but her eyes betrayed the relief she felt.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” I hissed, smirking at her.
She continued glaring and wrenched her wrists out of my grasp. “I swear to Merlin, Sirius Black, if you scare me like that again, I’ll kill you myself.”
I blinked, surprised at her response. “Um, Ace, I’m sorry but what do you mean?”
“You almost died!” She hissed, her nostrils flaring. “What the hell happened?”
I looked down, embarrassed at my answer. “I don’t remember. All I do remember is finding Professor McLaren and talking to her, then walking down to the dungeons since she wanted to bring my particular predicament up with Slughorn. That’s it. Then it goes black. After that, all I remember is your face, your hands on my cheeks, your voice.” I flushed and felt a rush of happiness as I saw that she did as well. “Then McGonagall and Pomfrey talking about how they found me and what sort of condition I was in, but that was jerky and faded quickly. Then, I woke up just now to you slapping me awake and trying to suffocate me.”
“I wasn’t trying to suffocate you! I didn’t want them to wake up. So we could talk.” She whined quietly, turning away to look back at other hospital cots.
I glanced back over her shoulder and saw the shapes of James, Peter and Remus in other hospital cots. I smiled at the fact that my friends weren’t going to leave me in my state of need. But as I looked back at Lexi, my smile fell. She looked absolutely murderous.
“You said you wanted to talk?” I asked in a coy voice.
Her nostrils flared. “If you do something incredibly stupid one more time, I’ll flay you Black. I’ll chop off your fucking head and I’ll display it on a stick for the whole fucking Great Hall to see. So tread lightly arsehat.”
With that she got up off my hospital cot and walked out of the Hospital Wing. My head was spinning. I had absolutely no idea what any of that meant. Although that was nothing new. Whenever Lexi talked, I just kind of heard big words and complex terms.
She made me feel like a second year and it wasn’t even her fault. I just felt so different around her. As I sighed and fell back onto the cot – wincing as my body groaned with pain – I heard a noise from one of the cots where my friends were. Looking over, I saw Remus walking over.
“You awake for all that, Moony?” I asked suspiciously.
He smiled shyly. “I haven’t gone to sleep since you got here. Neither has she. And believe me, it’s been hard. You’ve been in here for two days now.”
I blinked. “You didn’t have to do that, mate.”
“I couldn’t help it,” he shrugged. “You kept slipping in and out of babbling states of semi-consciousness. I was worried.”
“Aw, Moony. You bugger! You do love me, don’t you?”
He smirked at me. “I’m not the only one who stayed up. And I’m definitely not the one who stayed in a chair, not even bothering to try and get some sleep.”
I blinked. “If she did that, why is she so mad at me for something I didn’t even do?”
Remus smiled. “It’s because you scared her. She was a wreck. Couldn’t stop crying for at least three hours and kept muttering about what an idiot you were for making her care for you.” I smiled at that; it definitely sounded like Lexi. “But Sirius,” Remus continued and I looked him straight in the eye, giving him my undivided attention, “she really does care for you. Don’t hurt her for the sake of this bet, okay?”
I nodded, feeling a knot in my stomach. “Remus, I can promise you this is no longer just for a bet.”
“I thought so,” he said, nodding. “Peter and James don’t believe me and I don’t think they ever will. But I knew it was more than that.”
“When?” I asked, honestly curious.
“The moment you told me you slept with her. I realized you had told me first, which normally doesn’t happen. You’re much closer to James than to me when it comes to that sort of stuff. I realized you weren’t in this just for the bet anymore. You were in it for the long run.”
I smiled at my friend, feeling my face flame up. “Remus, I think I really am.”