Chapter 26 : Don't Stop Me Now
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Also, I have to give the credit where credit is due - 13 year old girl comment James makes was inspired by the user lucyinthesky after they called Sirius the same thing in a review. The artists/songs/lyrics mentioned in this chapter are not mine either - Curtis Mayfield sings "Superfly".
Lastly, a whole bunch of feelz are about to come your way. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
“I am a sex machine ready to reload, like an atom bomb about to oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, explode!” – Queen, 1978
The dormitory door flew open and slammed shut after an angry black mess tore down the stairs; the remaining three Marauders stood in silence and the earlier tension slowly flooded out of the room.
“Well,” Peter Pettigrew remarked with a sigh, “that certainly went well.”
“Whatever,” James growled as he straightened the black bow tie of his tuxedo. “If he wants to sulk, then we should let him.”
“Prongs,” Remus added quietly, “I know he’s been acting like a -”
“Moony,” the birthday boy cut in, “drop it.” He nervously spun his fake Walther PPK gun around his finger to try and hide his distress, but Peter saw a guilty look flash across his face. “Now let’s be off, mates! That firewhiskey isn’t going to drink itself!”
Before they could protest, the Head Boy shot out of the Seventh Year male dormitory and Peter and Remus had no choice but to sprint to keep up with him. Once they reached the Fifth Floor and passed the entrance to the Prefects’ Bathroom, the three boys hurried around one last corner before arriving at their destination. Yet, just before they entered the Music Classroom, Peter saw James silently pull himself together in order to push the earlier fight out of his mind.
“Frank, good to see you - and Alice, don’t you look lovely! Thanks Wood, Lily suggested I dress like him since we share the same name, didn’t think many of the magical folk would get it, though.”
As James continued to make his way around the room, Peter couldn’t help but admire Lily's attention to detail. The Head Girl had very convincingly charmed and transfigured the small room to look like a small Muggle city pub, complete with a wooden bar, darts, billiards, and a jukebox in the corner. As the Rolling Stones blared from the speakers, groups of costumed guests smoked hand-rolled cigarettes, laughed while they drank their cocktails, and danced to the Muggle rock and roll music. The party was still in its infancy, but Peter didn’t expect the crowd to grow, since James had insisted on an intimate affair instead of a blow out bash.
The devious Gryffindor quickly broke away from his friends and snaked through the throng of people to find his girlfriend. When he finally reached her side, Peter bobbed up and down and barely contained his giddiness.
“You’re never going to guess what just happened.”
“What, dear?” Aeryn asked softly. Peter failed to notice her indifference and began to recount the recent drama.
“Well, as you know, Gemma’s still in her own little world and avoiding Sirius. And it’s driving him crazy. I mean, I’ve never seen him like this – he’s twitchy beyond belief and Merlin, he’s starting to smoke more cigarettes than she does. And that’s saying something. So we finally had an intervention of sorts … you know, to wake him up and tell him he’s being a selfish git, but he didn’t take it well. At all. James told him he had to be patient, because it seemed like she was going through something major and just needed a little more time, but he just yelled ‘I DID MY WAITING! 7 DAYS OF IT!’ and stormed out of the room.”
The Marauder sighed dramatically.
“I think he’s taking the Castle gossip too personally. Everyone’s speculating that she cheated on him with Gio - since Sirius publically threatened the bloke and dragged him out of the Great Hall last week - but for fuck’s sake, he knows all of it isn’t true.”
The words stopped tumbling out of his mouth, but Aeryn didn’t continue the conversation. Instead, the girl tapped her foot to the music and idly stuck out her tongue as she surveyed the crowd. Peter felt his elation morph into confusion. Why wasn’t she listening to him? Where was the Aeryn he knew, the girl who secretly reveled in the Castle’s hottest gossip?
“Will he show up then?”
“Will Sirius show up tonight,” she repeated, showing that she had been listening, even if she wasn’t directly paying attention to him.
“I dunno,” Peter admitted as he scratched the back of his head. “I hope he does, but you never know. He would skip James’ party just because he’s having a thrombo.”
Aeryn lazily raised her brows in agreement, but continued to act like a space cadet for the next couple of minutes. He tried to entice her with other tidbits and rumors, but not even Miranda’s Fletcher’s latest tumble down the Hogwarts staircase could grab her attention. The girl was simply elsewhere.
However, when the door swung open and a couple of Ravenclaws joined the party, Peter watched his girlfriend’s face light up with delight – an expression usually reserved just for him. He followed her gaze and saw Cora McKnight, dressed in a large red monstrosity, waving from across the room.
Peter’s mood darkened. In accordance to the party rules, the girl had dressed as something that started with the same letter of her first name: a core. More specifically, an apple core, fashioned in the same color as Aeryn’s three-dimensional fruit costume. His girlfriend also reveled in their likeness and squealed lightly.
“Did you two plan to match?” he asked in a puzzled tone.
“Yeah,” she answered with a grin. “Cora found a spell to make us look exactly like apples. Well I’m the apple. She’s the core.”
“But I thought we were supposed to match,” Peter countered as he looked down at his green shirt. “You know, as an apple and a pear.”
“We still do,” the girl snorted.
“It was very last minute,” Aeryn teased lightheartedly. “Cora didn’t have any ideas so I told her she could match with me. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go thank her for the Comfort Charms she attached to my shoes – be back in a second!”
As his girlfriend’s red heels clacked across the wooden floorboards, the Marauder felt his jaw drop slightly … but his astonishment faded into a warped sense of jealousy as he shoved his hand in his pocket and mimicked his girlfriend’s voice in his head. Cora this, Cora that. Oh my, Peter, did you see her amazing grab against Slytherin last week? And did you know that powdered burbur root helps soothe itchy skin? Cora told me that. She’s brilliant. She finished her Potions assignment in one hour exactly. Can you believe that? Just brilliant.
Despite his multiple defections with Luciana, Peter apprehensively forced a cigarette into his mouth and huff tensely. It seemed that Cora was the only person Aeryn cared about these days; Peter and the Marauders were merely an afterthought.
And he didn’t like it – not one bit.
Meanwhile, Remus Lupin sighed, ran a shaking hand through his hair, and tried not to think about the upcoming Full Moon as he ostracized himself in an unoccupied corner. The werewolf failed miserably, however, when Lily suddenly appeared, sat down in a vacant chair, and put a plateful of birthday cake in front of him. The sweet chocolaty scent tickled his nostrils and Remus desperately restrained himself from stuffing the entire slice in his mouth.
“Eat,” the Head Girl insisted as she pushed the plate closer to him.
Unable to contain himself any longer, Remus pounced on the dessert and devoured it within seconds. When he finally came up for air and took a deep breath, he noticed that he had smeared chocolate all over his Roman toga and swore softly. Lily laughed before casting a few cleaning spells under her breath.
“There, good as new.”
“Thanks,” the boy muttered with a slight grin as he wiped his mouth. “How’s James doing?”
“Quite well, all things considered.” She threw a glance over her shoulder; the birthday boy was busy socializing with the rest of the Gryffindor Quidditch team, playfully yelling about his character’s trademark Aston Martin. “I do hope Sirius shows, though.”
“Me too,” Remus admitted.
The noise level settled down as the jukebox flipped to another request and the two Gryffindors absorbed their earlier conversation in silence. However, when a new tune echoed throughout the room, the party picked up again and Remus found himself staring at the empty plate.
“It’s pretty bad this time, huh?” Lily teased as she levitated over another piece of cake.
“It’s not really something I can control,” Remus groaned, sinking his fork into the chocolaty goodness.
“Well you shouldn’t turn around then,” she said with a knowing smile. “You’ll completely lose it.”
The werewolf gave her a look that said something like “Well, aren’t you being cheeky?” and chose to ignore her advice. However, when he twisted round in his chair and caught sight of Marianne as she entered the room, his fork fell to the floor with a loud clang!
“Told you,” Lily taunted.
Remus barely heard her voice; he was too entranced. The Ravenclaw wore dark blue Roman style clothing, white cords holding her draping silhouette in place, and shifted a long skinny pike to her other hand as she greeted someone with a hug. However, it was the red Phrygian cap atop her head that finally gave her costume away; she was Marianne, the female personification of liberty and reason and national emblem of the Muggle French Republic.
“Merlin, she’s clever,” the Head Girl laughed.
“I think it’s the first time I’ve ever seen her wear a color other than black,” Remus remarked breathlessly.
“Blue suits her,” Lily grinned. “Red too – well, actually, the whole tricolor look is quite lovely.” She plucked a fork out of thin air, reached over, and stuck it in the cake. “Alright Romeo, no need to entertain me any longer. Go to your Juliet.”
“I can’t,” Remus croaked as he snapped his head away from the door.
“What do you mean you can’t.”
“It would look odd,” he pointed out, his hand tightly gripping the table’s edge, “if she walked in and then right back out. She has to socialize.” He began to grind his teeth in an attempt to quell his insane desire. “We agreed to meet at 10:30.”
“Well I guess that means you have exactly one hour to summarize your feelings on the Death-Cap Draught,” Lily responded. She noticed his confused expression and began to explain, a smile tugging on her lips. “Judging by the way you inhaled that cake, you’re going to need some help distracting your furry little friend.”
Remus smiled appreciatively and launched into a long-winded explanation of the poisonous effects of the dark potion. The pair continued to bicker back and forth about brewing techniques, but Marianne never left Remus’ thoughts; the academic conversation barely deterred his salacious cravings. Once an hour passed, he thanked Lily for her kindness, sprinted out of the party, and threw open the door to the Room of Requirement. Marianne was waiting for him on their favorite plantation island beach.
An unfamiliar sexual appetite flooded through Remus’ body, making him unable to focus on anything other than his tingling manhood. The werewolf staggered towards her and swiftly gave into his feral urges without a word. He wrapped his arms around her and devoured her lips with his own, his tongue swirling around with an eager and desperate passion, and Marianne was just as enthusiastic. As the waves lapped at their feet, her fervor spurned him on.
Both pairs of hands explored till their heart’s content and strategic knots quickly became undone. Marianne’s fingers dove under his toga, wandering south with every scorching caress … but suddenly, his human side roared to life when she touched him intimately. A jolt of painful lightning flashed across the back of his eyelids and the subsequent mental thunder echoed through his skull. He jumped back immediately - stumbling in the sand - and desperately gasped for air. The sexual energy between them quickly evaporated.
“Remus?” she questioned. “Are you alright?”
“No,” he choked, wallowing in his self-induced cerebral torture.
“What is it?” She lightly placed a hand to his cheek. “I know I was playing a little rough, but it just felt right -”
“Do you realize what we’re about to do, Marianne?” the boy asserted as he grabbed her shoulders. “We are about to make love … and possibly make something else. If something happened, if you became p-pregnant -”
“Is that where your mind automatically goes?” she lamented. “You see sex as an act of procreation and not something for pleasure?”
“I have to,” he cried. “Any offspring of mine has a chance of genetically inheriting my lycanthropy. I could never do that to anyone. I have to … to remain a virgin. It’s the only way to prevent passing on my curse.”
“It’s not,” the girl frowned sharply. “There are birth control potions.”
“But they aren’t 100% effective.”
“So we try another method. There are charms -”
“Marianne,” Remus pleaded, “I’m sorry, I can’t. I shouldn’t have let it go this far – I’m just not r-ready.”
The Ravenclaw inhaled deeply and exhaled slowly. Her saw a number of emotions – desire, hurt, compassion, stubbornness – flash across her face, but she eventually collected herself and gave him a quick peck on the lips.
“Alright,” she conceded, “I don’t mind slowing things down and waiting. I must confess, I don’t really know what I’m doing – I’m quite new to all of this.”
Remus smiled appreciatively and cradled her in his arms after placing a kiss on the top of her head. As the sky began to blush a shade of pink, the secret lovers sighed, embraced tighter, and watched the fiery sun set over the turquoise Caribbean waters. For one second, however, Marianne wriggled out of his grasp and looked him straight in the eyes.
“Please know that I’m not trying to pressure you … I just want to love you completely - emotionally and physically. So if you change your mind, if you decide you want to, I’m ready.”
The werewolf silently nodded his head and kissed her timidly to say thank you, desperately fighting his continuous primal urge to pick up where they left off. Instead of attacking him eagerly as she had done before, Marianne smiled into his lips and gradually deepened the kiss as the hot tropical day faded into a cool night.
“Great party, man!”
“It was a blast! Nice music selection.”
“Can’t wait for the next one!”
“Thanks, mates. Now be sure to get home safe,” James Potter slurred as he shook his finger. “Don’t want anyone in charge to catch you out of bed!”
The last of the party guests drunkenly doubled up with laughter and attempted to quiet themselves as they stumbled into the hallway. James spun around on his heel, almost falling over in the process, and saw Frank and Alice snickering behind their hands. The birthday boy grinned - completely ignoring their looks of amusement - and engulfed them both into a big group hug.
“I love you guys. Do you know that?” he drawled lazily. “I love you.”
“We know,” Frank laughed as he slapped him on the back, “believe me we know. Happy birthday, you drunken bastard.”
“Take care, James,” Alice said as she gave him a goodbye kiss on the cheek.
As the two Gryffindors moseyed back to the Tower, the jukebox reached the end of its current request and silence fell over the room. When another record flipped over, “Superfly” began to play, slinking out of the speakers with every note, and an inebriated confidence washed over the Head Boy when he zeroed in on his girlfriend, who was delicately cleaning a couple of glasses behind the main wooden bar. He smirked when she turned around and noticed him sitting on the barstool across from her.
“What can I get you, Mr. Bond?” Lily joked. She wiped her hands on the blue apron she wore over her white, hand-sewn lily petal skirt.
“A martini,” James oozed suavely.
“Any particular way?” she asked, barely containing her smile as their impromptu role-play continued.
“Stirred,” he grinned as he brimmed with self-confidence, “not shaken. Wait no, shit, other way ‘round.”
Lily broke character and let out a barking laugh in response to his mistake, but still poured a couple of ingredients into a martini shaker. As she agitated the object back and forth, James couldn’t help but watch her shimmying breasts and when she caught him staring, Lily rolled her eyes good-humoredly. After she finished, she poured the drink into a triangular glass and slid it towards him. The Head Boy picked up the martini and mimicked his disguise for the evening the best he could.
“Merlin, this is good!” James exclaimed once the drink touched his lips. He coughed, realizing his slip up. “I mean, just like it normally tastes … since I order this all the time.” He took another large gulp, partly to prove his point and partly to keep drinking the icy cool mixture. “So do you work here most nights?”
“I do,” Lily tittered.
“Excellent,” James smirked before chugging his martini again, “because I need some information on the owner of this place - Dr. Yes. What’s so funny?”
“Nothing, nothing,” she gasped between laughs, “keep going.”
“As I said,” he continued sternly after he cleared his throat, “I’m looking for Dr. Yes. I’ve been sent here to Russia with love from MI16, on the behalf of my boss, N -”
Lily couldn’t help but break down completely as she slapped her knee with glee; her peels of laughter continued until tears started gather in her bright green eyes. When she finally collected herself, the lioness shook her head, circumvented the bar, and sat on his lap. His mistakes had ruined their playful role-play, but James still smiled at his fortune and stared up at her lovingly.
“So did you have a good time tonight?” Lily asked as she pushed some of his messy jet-black hair out of his face. Her jovial mood slowly bubbled away and she replaced it with sincere compassion.
“I did,” he grinned as he wrapped his arms around her waist, ignoring her apparent change.
“Even though Sirius never came?” she asked honestly.
James’ smile immediately turned upside down; his best friend’s tantrum was something he had been pushing out of his mind the entire night and now it was back to torment him. He turned away from her gaze and as he fixated on a flickering candle across the room, his lip wobbled emotionally. Lily cooed softly, snuggled against him, and kissed his temple. He closed his eyes, his sobriety starting to overcome his intoxication.
“It’s frustrating,” James finally admitted, “because I know exactly why he’s doing it. He may have run away from his family, but he still misses them. Correction. He misses … that comfort you feel when you’re around other people who have been there your entire life and have seen everything you’ve done. He wants that feeling of belonging.”
“A rebel’s curse,” Lily interjected softly.
“I suppose you could call it that,” he sighed. “Well whatever it is, it’s making him latch onto Gemma like his life depends on it … because apparently she’s the only one who can give him that comfort he craves, not the Marauders. Don’t get me wrong, I love them together, I really do. She’s amazing and just a beautiful human being … but the whole situation is making him act like a possessive, 13-year-old girl. They go back and forth - her running away and him chasing after her – and it’s not healthy.”
He groaned, titled his head back, and then caught her gaze once more.
“Something has to change, Lily.”
“Something will,” she reassured.
“Yeah,” James responded, “and that’s what scares me.” He grimaced and looked down at his shiny black dress shoes. Yet, as soon as he started to feel sorry for himself, his girlfriend hit him in the shoulder. He yelped in surprise and Lily cracked a smile.
“This is not your fault, James Potter,” she warned playfully as she wagged a finger in his face. “Not in the slightest. You tried to tell him the truth but he didn’t listen. You are not to blame yourself for his stubbornness.” Lily’s expression slowly turned serious as she placed her hands on his cheeks. “I know this is hard for you but you’re a loyal friend, never forget that. You did the right thing by confronting him about his behavior – just like you did with Remus, might I add - but now it’s time to let him figure it out by himself.”
“I know,” James huffed, “but he’s my best mate. He’s my brother. I don’t want him to do anything stupid.”
Upon seeing his fresh tears, Lily empathetically let out a sob of heartbreak and wrapped her arms around his shoulders. Together, they shared James’ tremendous emotional burden as another song finished and silence washed over the room. James looked up from the crook of Lily’s neck, expecting another tune to blast out of the speakers, but sadly, the jukebox had finally reached its last request. He exhaled softly, admitting defeat, and returned his head to his girlfriend’s shoulder.
Sirius Black’s eyes slowly fluttered open as he grumbled. However, when the bright morning light passed through his pupils, the pureblood cringed, rolled over onto his other side, and collided with another human. Out of instinct, he wrapped his arm around the person’s waist and snuggled closer, hoping that his intense hangover would vanish into thin air.
He nestled his face against the warm shoulder next to him, still not opening his eyes, and expected to smell the familiar scent of cigarettes and cinnamon that usually woke him up in the morning. Yet, when he took a large sniff, he detected a faintly familiar woodsy perfume instead. The Gryffindor cautiously opened one eye and noticed that the shoulder was missing the signature freckle constellation he was so used to tracing with his fingertips; in fact, the several strands of long hair that obscured his vision were not blonde, as he had been expecting, but dark brown. Confused, Sirius slowly rubbed his eyes, lifted his head, and scrutinized the feminine form next to him.
He soon found out that his companion was not Gemma, as he had hoped, but instead, his old flame Rose Smythe. Sirius clutched his chest; his thoughts went blank.
“Oh fuck,” he said with extreme horror. “Fuck, fuck, fuck.”
The boy wiggled and kicked his legs as he pushed himself away from the busty brunette and settled on the other side of her Ravenclaw dormitory bed. His pulse began to race with extreme alarm and trepidation and he waded through the hazy memories from the night before; James had confronted him about his snarky attitude and he’d drunkenly taken the halls to try and find someone else to spend his time with, ending up with Rose after he’d found her in the kitchens. He remembered doing all of it - even the dirty details – in a state of complete loneliness and desperation, making him unable to chalk it up as a blacked out mistake.
Rose huffed in her sleep and curled around her lavish body pillow, unaware of his discovery. He blinked back tears as he continued to descend into a state of utter terror; his mind screamed for him run and never look back but his body refused to cooperate. Suddenly, the Seventh Year dormitory door creaked open - signaling the entrance of another student - and Sirius thanked his lucky stars that they had shut the bed curtains the night before. He dove under the dark blue covers and fell completely silent, noting that the one pair of footsteps had increased to two.
“Oi!” he heard a familiar female voice snap. “I said you could steal some of my tea, not my clothes! Put that back!”
Sirius racked his brain, quickly running through the names of all the Seventh Year Ravenclaws he knew, as the other girl presumably put the item of clothing back in the closet. It wasn’t obviously wasn’t Rose, Marianne, Marlene –
“Oh they leave their fortress sometimes, Gio. I’ve seen you around some Ravenclaw get togethers ... Well not the night of - but definitely the next morning.”
"Out of my dormitory!"
Sirius’ heart just about exploded when he finally put two and two together; Kaia Montgomery, one of his girlfriend’s best mates, was meters away from him. His teeth clamped down on his tongue to stop himself from swearing profusely.
“I said put that back, you silly girl!” pestered the funkadelic Ravenclaw. “That’s my favorite shirt.”
“Well no wonder,” her friend finally drawled. Blood filled his mouth as he sliced open his tongue. He would have recognized that voice anywhere. “It makes your tits look fantastic.”
“No,” he said just above a whisper. “No, you can’t be here right now.”
“Gemma,” Kaia warned, “put it back.”
“Fine,” the Hufflepuff groaned. As he heard the two girls settle onto Kaia’s bed across the room, Sirius’ brain abruptly stopped working. One by one, his systems began to shut off, like a Muggle television set being powered down for the evening, and he froze, unable to do or say anything. How could this be happening right now? He was already feeling miserable, why did Merlin have to make the stars align and punish him even more?
“So how are you doing, love?”
His mind quickly began to thaw as he found himself yearning for the answer to Kaia’s question; for the past week, he’d been agonizing about her mental health, wondering if she was going just as crazy as he was over their forced separation.
“Huh? Oh, you know, fine.”
“Don’t bullshit me, Gemma Rawnsley. I know you’re lying.”
“Pffft, fuck off … oh alright, stop looking at me like that!” He could hear the smile in her voice. “I’ve been doing a lot of Muggle yoga and it seems to help. Lets me clear my mind from all the craziness.”
“So you’re doing better without the boyfriend.”
“God, no – it’s been the loneliest week of my life. But I needed to unwind my mind, man. I’ve never been that deranged before. I was insane – a fucking looney! And once Sirius confronted me for running away, I finally realized that my emotions were out of control. And it scared the ever-loving shit out of me!”
“I know, honey. I saw ya.”
“I feel guilty, though. A week is a long time and I know he’s been constantly thinking about me because his necklace won’t stop sparkling … but I don’t know how I would have calibrated back to normal without a week of withdrawal, Kaia. There was no other way.”
Hot tears rolled down Sirius’ cheeks, like freshly melted snow trickling down a mountain slope. The two major mistakes in his life – launching the Cruciatus Curse at his brother in a fit of rage and nearly killing Severus by revealing the entrance to the Shrieking Shack - were always provoked by mutual hatred. But neither of them were his fault. Regulus deserved to feel the pain, because he was a stupid little boy who blindly followed the heard. Severus’ obsession with the Dark Arts warranted his little prank. Besides, he never thought the oddball would actually investigate his mystic clue.
But this …
Gemma didn’t deserve this. She was the loveliest, most vivacious human being he had ever met. She deserved better.
“So go find him. Tell him all of this.”
“I’m going to today.”
Sirius clenched his eyes shut and noiselessly wrenched open his mouth, screaming without a voice to match his pain. However, his fortune continued to nose-dive even further into oblivion as his bed companion began to stir.
“Siiiiiiiiiirus! Where did you go, you fantastic lover, you?”
Without delay, a thundering pair of feet skidded to a stop at the edge of Rose’s bed and Sirius gulped with shame when Gemma ripped back the curtains to reveal his horrendous misdeed. The Hufflepuff’s serene, fresh face burst into topsy-turvy look of surprise and she quickly plunged into hysteria when she processed the situation. Sirius watched her bawl endlessly, sniveling and whimpering with each breath. This was it. This was the moment of pain he was destined to feel. And he knew he deserved it.
All of it.
“I’m sorry,” he gasped. “I’m so sorry.”
“Fuck you, Black,” Gemma sobbed from behind her shaking hands. “Fuck you. I never want to see you again!”
She immediately fled to the door, her blonde hair shooting out behind her, and for the first time in his life, Sirius didn’t chase after her.
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