Thank you for all the lovely reviews I got on the previous chapter. Really made me happy, so, as a reward to you, my amazing readers, here's the next chapter!!! I worked hard to have it done as soon as possible and I am quite happy with how things are developing.
Hope you like it too!
We get to see a bit more of Nate in this chapter... let me know what you think of our new friend. I personally like him almost as much as I adore Sirius (although Black will always have a special place in my heart!).
DISCLAIMER: Any mentions to real places, streets, or of shops, restaurants or cafeterias are only to give the story more realism. I do not claim to own or have come up with any of these names - they belong to their rightful owners and my only intention is to make the story enjoyable for my readers for entertainment purposes ONLY.
Mentions of real books, movies, songs or the likes are also friendly additions to help the story flow correctly.
I do not own any of the characters here used, the Harry Potter world belongs to JK Rowling.
-“I still can’t believe you agreed to taking your friends to Winter Wonderland”- my dad chuckled and took a sip from his steaming cup of tea. I rolled my eyes at him.
-“What was I supposed to do? Lily is the only one who knows of the muggle world and, it would be too evil even for me to leaver her alone with them lot”- I said, lighting my cigarette.
-“I am glad you have found this group of people, though. I think you’ll agree with me that Hogwarts was a good idea, after all”- he smiled.
-“Hmmmm, well, yes. You were right, I suppose. Although I’ve had some pretty bad moments too”- I reminded him.
-“Your doctor said it would happen. Getting better would also mean getting worse, at times”- he sighed, putting down his cup.
-“Do you think you should go see your therapist this holiday?”
-“I was thinking about it when I got home, but I’m not sure. I mean, you’ve seen me now… I’m… almost normal. Scarily so”- I shrugged. He laughed.
-“You are anything but normal, Naomi. But I agree, I can see you’re almost totally recovered… how are you sleeping?”-he asked.
-“I have managed to sleep twice or three times without sleeping potion, but I wasn’t alone”- I informed him.
-“So this Sirius Black can keep your nightmares away for you? That’s impressive. I’ll buy him a nice Christmas present”- he joked. I laughed.
-“Not every time, though… I think I am better but not fully recovered. In fact, I wonder if I’ll ever be. But I don’t know about the therapist”- I bit my lip lightly. There was a new reason why I didn’t want to see my doctor. I could not tell him anything about Nate. I couldn’t tell anyone anything about Nate. And the only rule at the therapist’s room was to tell the truth, no matter how horrible, disturbing or nerve wrecking it was.
-“How about we wait until after Christmas Eve and then see how you’re feeling? Maybe you can wait and have an appointment during Easter break instead?”- he suggested. I smiled at him. The best dad in the world let me tell you.
-“I think that’s brilliant!”- I agreed.
Dad had arrived the day before, just as expected. We had spent the whole day together; doing stuff we liked to do. It had been wonderful and it had helped me get some rest from all the stress I had been dealing with this past semester. Somehow, I had managed to push the Nate subject off my mind for enough time to relax a little. Today, however, dad had to go back to the real world. Christmas Eve wasn’t until Friday, which meant that he had two days of work ahead. I wasn’t bothered because I had plans anyway. We were going to have lunch somewhere “muggle” before heading to Winter Wonderland to spend the afternoon and evening there. Since it was a Wednesday, I was hoping it wouldn’t be too crowded.
A house elf came in the living room, where dad and I were finishing our breakfast.
-“Miss, there is someone on the phone for you. A girl friend of yours, Lily”- Mita informed me.
-“I’ll take it here, dad can listen to whatever we have to talk about and I haven’t finished my coffee”- I said. Mita nodded.
-“Very well Miss”- she disappeared with a pop and came back running with a wireless telephone on her hand. I suppressed a fit of laughter as I remembered how extremely challenging it had been to teach them what a phone was and how to use it.
-“Thanks Mita, you may go”- I dismissed her and put the phone to my ear –“Hey, Lily?”
-“Hello Naomi! How are you? How’s your father?”
-“Yeah, great. Everything is good. What’s up?”
-“I wanted to discuss with you our plans for today, you know…”- her voice trailed off and I finished for her.
-“We can’t leave anything to chance, I know. James is well nice but he can get overly excited and the last thing we need is trouble with the Ministry for exposure of our world to a bunch of Londoners”- I said. I heard her chuckle.
-“Exactly. And since you’re the only one who’s ever ventured beyond the magical boundaries, I need your help”- she said. I smirked and motioned for dad to light a cigarette for me.
-“What are you thinking we should do for lunch? Are you gonna go all cliché on them?”
-“Well, it is a bunch of teenage boys we’re talking about and Winter Wonderland is in Hyde Park”- she said.
-“So you’re thinking Hard Rock Café, aren’t you?”
-“Yes. Dinner is easier, since we’ll probably be too full from eating here and there in the park… what do you think?”
-“It’s a pretty good idea, actually. And it is very mugglish. Also, I think Sirius will absolutely love the Hard Rock Café”- I admitted. Lily had some good ideas from time to time.
-“Awesome, settled then. Will we meet you there or will you come to The Potters?”- she asked me. I glanced at dad, evaluating the situation. I had to come up with a lie he wouldn’t pick up on.
-“I’ll meet you guys there, I need to swing by Marcus’ office to discuss something about lights, I think he said”- dad didn’t look my way, meaning he was either not listening or not suspicious. Knowing him, it was the latter. He was always listening.
-“Oh, okay, well then we’ll see you in front of the Café at around 1230? Is that good?”
-“Yeah, sure. If I’m late, please do go inside and I’ll look for you. Merlin knows Marcus has a habit of stalling me”- I lied. Half lied, actually. Marcus didn’t but Nate sure had a way of making me run late.
I was wearing a pair of very tight navy blue leggings, camel high-heeled boots and a beige see-through blouse under a furry vest and my coat. It was freezing in London but I refused to look like any other mundane. My hair was up in a high ponytail and I had chosen to apply a light coat of make up, focus on my eyes. I was fully aware of the fact that if I wasn’t meeting Nate that morning I would have probably skipped the make up, but it didn’t bother me. I was angry with him for being immune to me, and I wasn’t gonna stop trying until I made things right. Nate had to want me, just like everybody else, even if I didn’t want him and never would.
-“Interesting place you chose to meet me”- he said for a greeting when I walked in the Starbucks and approached him. He was sat at one of the small round tables for two.
-“I like the coffee”- I said, leaving my coat on the chair opposite him and turning towards the counter.
-“I’ll get it, sit”- he stood as he said it and I turned around again, surprised.
-“I thought you had no idea how to be a gentleman”
-“You were wrong”- he said it almost brutally, as if he knew it was probably the first time in my life someone dared to say those three words to me. I stared at him, again at a loss for words.
-“What coffee do you want?”- he asked when I didn’t say anything. I was still staring at him, and I knew my eyes were on fire. I had never, ever, been humiliated like this in my life. Of course, a part of me rationalized, this wasn’t humiliation. Not even close to it. But for Naomi Ivy it was, and I couldn’t let it go.
-“Skinny latte”- I spat, sitting down on my chair and looking away from him. He didn’t add anything but walked over to the counter and ordered instead.
The turmoil of thoughts running through my head was exasperating. What was it about Nate that made me feel so vulnerable? I was never the one to stay silent, I always had a remark to make, a bitchy comeback or something to say back. Always. Even to Sirius Black, the one man who could make me nervous in the world, I knew what to say. But Nate was different. Nate irradiated a kind of power that was a mystery to me and, as much as I despised the boy, I was intrigued by what he was offering me. It was the only reason I wanted to meet him this morning. I wanted to know more. I wanted to wear that layer of danger that topped his skin. A power so subtle yet so unnerving that not even I could overcome or, at least, block it.
-“If you keep thinking that hard your head will explode. Not that I have any particular affection for your head but it would be a shame to ruin this place. I see why you like the coffee”- Nate’s voice interrupted me. I looked up to see him taking a seat opposite me and offering me the cup of latte he had gotten me.
-“Don’t worry, unlike you, I have more than one brain cell. Thinking takes no effort for me, but I feel your pain”- I replied. He smirked. He seemed to like it when I was mean to him. He was odd. I reached for my cup and took it from his hand, brushing my fingers with his accidentally for a split second. He was cold but the touch felt electric.
-“Well, this time you wanted to see me so, go ahead, what do you want?”- he asked me. I focused.
-“I want to know more. If I’m going to make this decision I wanna make sure you’re not lying, hiding or withholding information from me”- I said. He leaned forward.
-“I can’t tell you more. I can tell you that there is more, but I won’t say another word. You need to decide based on the knowledge you already have. Only if you agree to join and go through the initiation, will you be told everything”- he whispered. I hadn’t noticed it but my body had also leaned forward unconsciously. So much our foreheads were almost touching.
-“I can’t decide on something like this if I’m lacking information”- I murmured. His eyes found mine and I allowed him to see. I could feel him, trying to get into my head and, for some reason; I didn’t feel like fighting him off. After a few seconds, he spoke again.
-“You’ve already made your choice”- his lips turned into a smile but his eyes didn’t leave mine.
-“But I won’t say it until you tell me more. And if I don’t say it, it doesn’t matter what I think or what you know”- I held his stare, defiant. We were so close I could feel the heat of his body and the scent of his leather jacket mixed with the aftershave he must have used this morning.
-“I’ll give you one question, whatever you want to ask, I’ll answer. But only one. And you can’t tell anyone I agreed to this or we’ll be both severely punished”- his tone was low and serious. I had no doubt he meant everything he said. I got the feeling that Nate seldom lied, and I liked that.
-“I know you are trusting me, but know that I am also trusting you by not telling anyone. Not even my dad. So we’re even. I won’t tell, just like I haven’t, and you’ll be honest in your answer to my question”- I said. He nodded lightly and one lock of his hair escaped from behind his ear and brushed my cheek lightly. It was soft as a feather.
-“I’ll be honest. You have my word”- I nodded and took a moment to think about what I wanted to ask. Nate had been right, I had already decided I was going to join the Wardens and he had given me enough information on his first visit for me to make this decision. I wanted more purely because I always wanted more and because I wanted to see if I could get Nate to break the rules. I wasn’t expecting him to, which had caught me off guard. Again.
There were a million things I could ask, but a part of me knew that they would be answered in due time regardless. There was nothing they would not tell me, for me to be a fully functional Warden they had to share everything. It was a rule of the fellowship, the free flow of information. I closed my eyes and did one of the exercises I always practiced with my therapist when he wanted me to know what I really was thinking about. I realized I shouldn’t have done it the moment my lips parted, but it was too late and the question came out anyway.
-“Will you be my sygn?”- silence fell like a wall between us but, fortunately, he wasn’t freaked out enough to move away. He stayed very still, looking at me. I could see that, behind his mask of coldness and apathy, he was shocked. It then occurred to me that he had been a Warden for a long time, so the chances he already had a sygn were pretty high.
-“Why do you want me to be your sygn?”- he asked quietly.
-“I don’t know”- I guessed that honesty was the only way forward, after how royally I had screwed this up. If I didn’t see Nate ever again, it would be too soon.
-“I gave you a chance to ask anything you wanted about the Wardens… and you asked me if I wanted to be your sygn, and you don’t know why?”
-“I don’t know why. I didn’t even know I wanted you to be, I didn’t know it was going to be that question!”- I said, almost hissing. He tilted his head a little to the side.
-“Insight. That’s how it came up?”
-“Yes. I was taught how to insight when I was little by my therapist, and since I couldn’t pick a question, I used it. That’s what came up. So I don’t know”- I explained. He seemed to think about it deeply for a minute or so. I waited, in tension. He still owed me an answer, regardless the question.
-“Yes, I will be your sygn”- he answered.
I was about to have a heart attack. I meant it. I had seen more bikes in half an hour than I had in my entire life. Lily had come pick us up from the Potters’ and she had taken us on a bus. It was a muggle bus, with muggle ticket machines and muggle money and all. It was all very cool. James had almost pissed himself with excitement when he had realized the bus spoke to us, telling us which stop was coming next. It was all quite hilarious, and people looked funny at us but we didn’t care.
Lily guided us across a huge street called Piccadilly, I think, to the entrance of a place called Hard Rock Café. Rhea, who had gone out to muggle London with Lily more often, was comfortable walking with her and barely looked around. James and I, however, had to do huge efforts not to scream like little girls every time we saw something awesome which was every half-second.
-“We’re here. Naomi should join us any minute”- Lily announced. I looked around, seeing no signs of my girlfriend, I asked for the tenth time why she hadn’t joined us earlier.
-“Tell me again where she was?”- I asked Lily.
-“She had a meeting with Marcus!”- Rhea replied for her. Red nodded.
-“And you are positively sure this Marcus person poses no threat”- I said. I had never in my life been the jealous type. Never, ever, felt anything even remotely close to jealousy. Until I met Naomi. Now, every single man was a walking threat that should be annihilated if they so much as looked at her for too long.
-“Sirius, calm down. Marcus is gay”- Lily told me, again.
-“Yeah, he’s a party planner man… no straight guy would have that job!”- Padfoot said. I looked at him. He had a valid point.
-“Well, yeah, you might be right. Unless he plans really cool parties. I mean, I would do party planning if it was awesome crazy wild parties”- I retorted.
-“Marcus is as gay as gay can get, and I love him for it”- Naomi’s voice cut in and I felt my heart go hysterical. Skipping a beat, slowing down and racing all at the same time. One of these days I was going to drop dead and it’d be because of the ridiculous way my body had of reacting to her.
-“Good… I guess?”- I said, smiling towards her. She smiled back and came closer to me. Her soft lips on mine washed away any previous worries and paranoia about Marcus and I hugged her hello. She smelled of her shampoo and expensive perfume.
-“Well, if you two are done with the PDA we can go in and get a table. I’m starving”- Rhea joked. Naomi slipped out of my hug and went to say hi to the girls as they joined the queue to enter the restaurant.
I had forgotten how nice Winter Wonderland actually was. I used to love it when, as a child, my mother brought me here. I hadn’t been back for ages, and I was kind of glad that I had decided to come with James and them lot. Of course, that feeling disappeared the moment we walked in the park and James had a fit of hysteria upon seeing a rollercoaster.
We spent the day following him around, making sure he didn’t pass out from excitement and getting on every single ride available several times. I’ll admit it was fun but by dinnertime I was exhausted and irritated.
-“I am starving. I want to eat something!”- Rhea said. I nodded, eating would mean sitting down and I sure as hell could use a chair.
-“Yeah, I agree. What do you guys feel like having?”- Lily added.
-“I don’t know, what do muggles eat for dinner here?”- Sirius asked. James nodded enthusiastically. I sighed.
-“Anything. It depends, that’s why there’s so many options. Any of these will give you the full on muggle experience, so just pick one!”- I snapped. Sirius smiled and pulled me close to him, hugging me.
-“Not too happy, are we?”- he teased.
-“I’m about to murder someone”- I muttered. He kissed my forehead and turned to James.
-“Since we had burgers for lunch I’d say we should go to one of the Taverns we’ve seen and get a proper meal”- he suggested.
-“I’m in”- Rhea agreed.
-“Good, agreed, let’s go”- Lily took James’ arm and guided us to the closest Tavern. We found a table rather quickly, thank Merlin, and sat. My legs were killing me.
-“I loved it! I absolutely loved it”- James was still talking about our “outing” the following day. We were all sitting in the Potters’ living room, cup of tea (coffee in my case) in hand and the fire burning in the chimney. It was a very nice pre-Christmas afternoon: snow had surprised us that dawn and the day was wet and grey. I snuggled up closer to Sirius on the couch we were sharing and he put his arm over my shoulders. I liked the feeling.
-“We know you loved it James, you’ve told us a zillion times”- I replied. Rhea chuckled. Mark had joined us that afternoon too and was sitting with her.
-“So, will we go again?”- Sirius asked. I elbowed him lightly but he ignored me.
-“Hmmm… maybe we could do something else?”- Lily suggested. I glared at her.
-“What are you thinking?”- Rhea sat up, interested.
-“Maybe a movie?”- I rolled my eyes. This was James Potter and Sirius Black going to a cinema they were talking about. What a great idea.
-“I don’t think they can handle it”- I said.
-“Well, I see a better chance of them behaving at a movie theater than anywhere else. Besides, we can always pick a really late showing so there’ll be less people”- she replied. I sighed.
-“Whatever”- I took a sip of my coffee and looked into the fire. They kept talking about movies and cinemas and muggles but I let my mind wander way away from that room. There was something wrong, I could feel it and it was nagging and frustrating not knowing what it was.
I did not start to pay attention to the conversation again until they began to plan Christmas Eve. They wanted to spend it together, and apparently Remus and Peter were joining them. I knew they were going to ask me next so I braced myself.
-“So, Naomi, will you and your dad join us too?”- Rhea asked, smiling sweetly at me. I felt Sirius tense lightly next to me, but he didn’t say anything.
-“I haven’t spoken with dad about Christmas Eve yet”- I replied.
-“What do you normally do?”- Lily asked, curious.
-“We have dinner together, sit by the fire with whatever dessert we’re having and smoke”- I explained. It wasn’t entirely true. We did that; yes, but then we had a sort of family ritual. Christmas was very important to my mother and it was the only night that we spoke about her and kept her memory alive with us. We always sing a song that she taught dad when they first started dating and we ask her, wherever she is, to wait for us. Of course, there was no way I was telling them about this.
-“It sounds nice…”- Mark said tentatively.
-“Nice but lonely, that’s how it sounds”- Rhea added. I shot her a murderous look. I knew she meant no harm, she had no idea what this night meant to us, but I was still allowed to hate her momentarily for being so annoying about it.
-“I said I’ll ask dad, but I can’t promise anything. We happen to like nice and lonely”- I replied. I did notice my tone was a lot icier than it should have been but I couldn’t care less. Rhea looked upset but didn’t push the subject further.
-“Let us know if you’re coming. I’m sure my dad would be happy to have yours over, I hear they’ve become good friends”- James said happily. I sighed; it was impossible to stay mad at this lot when they were so keen to create a joyful atmosphere.
-“Sure, I’ll speak to him tonight… which reminds me I should probably get going. He’ll be tired so if I wanna catch him for dinner it should be early”- I said, untangling myself from Sirius embrace and sitting straight on the couch.
-“I’ll walk you”- Sirius offered. I nodded and said my good byes to everyone else.
Since we had been occupying the living room all afternoon, the Potters had connected their auxiliary chimney to the floo-network instead. It allowed Mr. Potter to come and go without bothering us and without us interrupting his busy schedule. Sirius walked me to the room where it was, and kissed me passionately. I smiled against his lips when we broke the kiss to breathe.
-“You’re hiding something from me”- he said. It wasn’t a question, but I answered anyway.
-“Maybe. I’m hiding a lot of things from everyone, Sirius”- I replied.
-“I don’t like it”- he said, softly. I caressed his cheek with my fingers before burring my hand in his hair.
-“You know me. You knew me. Why is this now an issue?”- I asked him, looking into his eyes.
-“There is something different. I guess, there’s too much I don’t know… too much you still haven’t told me”- he murmured. I put both my hands on the sides of his face, and smiled at him.
-“I have told you all you need to know. I’m happy to be with you, and I’m working real hard for this to work”- I said.
-“Yes, I know, it’s just…”
-“You want more”- I understood him. But I needed him to understand me, too.
-“Yes. I feel like I’m all in and you’re still keeping some aces in your pocket, just in case. I don’t want to feel like that with you, Naomi. I want to feel you’re free falling and trusting me to catch you. Because I will”- he said. I smiled at him.
-“It may not look like it, Sirius. But I am. I am trusting you with my feelings. And these are the first real feelings I have ever had, so that’s a pretty heavy burden for you to carry. I need some more time, though. There are things I can’t tell you yet, things that are mine and mine alone and you’ll never know. But that doesn’t mean anything”- I whispered. He looked into my eyes intently.
-“If you need time, I’ll give it to you. Just promise me you will tell me everything, eventually. Whenever you’re ready”- he got closer to me, so close I was wrapped by the heat of his body. I felt goose bumps running all over my skin.
-“I will tell you, when I’m ready”- I assured him. We kissed, slowly, as if sealing the promise that I would find a way to let go of my fears and let him in. Eventually.
-“I was thinking that maybe it would be nice to spend a day together, just us. Would you like that?”- he asked, smiling against my lips.
-“Of course I’d like that. What do you have in mind?”- I replied, happy that for once I did not have to pretend to like a plan.
-“Nothing in particular, I just want to spend some time with you. Maybe there is something you’d like to do?”- he said. I smiled.
-“Have you ever been to a muggle theatre?”- I asked him. He shook his head.
-“No, but I’d like to. I went to a wizarding show once with the Potters and loved it, would be interesting to see what muggles can do”- he agreed. I kissed him lightly on the cheek.
-“Great, we’ll go after Christmas. I’ll book us some nice tickets and a restaurant for dinner”- I already knew what I wanted to go watch and was secretly delighted Sirius had accepted to come to the muggle theatre with me. It was one thing I absolutely loved, musicals in particular.
-“Just let me know what time and where I have to be, and I’ll be there”- he was very obviously very happy that I had not only agreed to go on a date with him but also planned it all for him, taking that burden off his shoulders.
-“I should get going now, if I’m gonna talk to dad”- I told him.
-“Do you think you’ll join us tomorrow night? Be honest, if you think it’s a lost cause it’s okay. I still understand the importance of family traditions”- I looked at him, fighting the sad smile that wanted to come to my lips. It moved me, that he cared so much about me he’d be okay with being the only one without their girlfriend tomorrow night.
-“I don’t know, Sirius. We do have some pretty important and solemn traditions for Christmas Eve. There is a pretty good chance we will feel better if we just do it our way… I’m thinking of inviting everyone over for a Christmas day Brunch to make up for us missing dinner. Do you think it’s a good idea?”- I did not want to lie to him. Not about this. I felt bad enough already lying about Nate. One thing was omitting truths, like I did with my mother issues, and a very different one was outright lying which is what the Wardens had forced me to do.
-“I understand, and I think it is a great idea, actually. Would you invite our parents too?”
-“Of course. I would imagine that Mrs. Potter would be too tired after hosting dinner to prepare any decent food on the actual Christmas day so it’d be great if we could come all to my place and just enjoy brunch there, exchange gifts and that”- I explained. He beamed at me.
-“I totally agree. It is a very good solution; you’ll spend the night with your father but still be with us for Christmas. I’ll let the others know; yes?”- he seemed happy, which made me feel a lot better. Truth be told, I had never actually really planned on asking dad if we were going to come. I did want to talk to him so I could arrange our Christmas Eve but I had always intended to have it home. Mother deserved that and a lot more. Some traditions were not meant to be broken.
-“Lovely! I’ll send you guys an owl sometime tomorrow with an official invitation and the time you should be arriving at my penthouse, plus the name so you floo there easily”- I gave him a quick peck on the lips and stepped into the chimney, grabbing a handful of powder.
-“Sleep tight”- he smiled. I smiled back and flooed away.
I was lying on my bed. There were no lights on, no sounds other than the light wind moving my curtains. The moon shone in an unusually clear sky. It was late, sometime between two and four in the morning, I wasn’t sure. I was still wearing my dress, a dark green knee length dress that hugged my curves and had a very elegant boat neck. I was also wearing my shoes, a pair of black Louboutin stilettos and my make up. I couldn’t sleep.
-“A cigarette could help”- I did not move upon hearing his voice. Somehow, a part of me knew that I would see him tonight, but that was not the cause of my insomnia.
-“I ran out”- I whispered, still not moving. I was staring at the ceiling and did not know where in the room he was, but I imagined he would be close to the balcony.
-“I figured, so I brought you some”- his tone was not the usual mocking, defying, arrogant self. Instead, it was controlled as if trying not to upset me: something he was almost as good as Sirius at.
-“That is way too nice. What do you want?”- I tried to make my remark sound threatening, sardonic or even a little bitchy but I was unable. My voice sounded just the way I felt, empty and tired.
-“Nothing. Just for you to smoke a few and relax so you can sleep”
-“Because you’re one of us now, even if we haven’t began training or done initiation”- he replied. I shut my eyes and took a deep breath, but still refused to move. I found it was easier to talk to him if I wasn’t looking at him.
-“So you’ve told The Council I agreed?”
-“Yes. And I told them we’ll say the oath together”- he informed me. I felt a shiver run down my spine.
-“I still don’t know why you said yes”- in fact, he had left right after agreeing to my unexpected demand and I had not seen or heard from him since that morning, almost three days ago.
-“I still don’t know why you asked”- his voice regained some of its natural defiance, something I realized I liked. He didn’t pity me, he wasn’t afraid of me and he didn’t worship me. To him I was just like any other girl in the world and, even though my proudest part hated him for that, a secret side of me was surprisingly happy that I had to keep up no status quo around him. Maybe that’s why I wanted him to be my sygn.
-“You don’t treat me different”- I blurted.
-“I don’t, you’re right”- he stated. I waited for him to say something else, but he remained silent.
-“How much do you know about me?”- I asked, curious and slightly afraid at the same time.
-“I know more about you than anyone else beside yourself or your father. I even know your nickname”- he told me. He said it as if it was just any other fact, as if it wasn’t a big deal at all.
-“Glace”- he said. I had to turn to look his way. My neck cried in pain from so many hours immobile in the same position but I ignored it. I did not get up but I could now see he was standing on the edge of the bed, a lot closer than I would have guessed.
-“You’re joking. That was child’s play”- I said, rolling my eyes.
-“You have changed, though. I was told you were cold as ice, hence the name”
-“I have changed”- I confirmed.
-“I would guess that’s why The Council waited until now to recruit you”- he said, more to himself. I wanted him to elaborate on that.
-“What do you mean?”
-“They’ve known about you and your father forever, I would say you caught their attention probably after… well, you know”- he looked, for the first time since I had met him, uncomfortable.
I looked at him, unable to speak. He knew about my mother, and he knew I didn’t deal well with it. Suddenly, it didn’t matter how he knew, or that I had refused to tell anyone about it. All that mattered was that this boy in front of me knew… and it did not make it worse. Sure, it didn’t make it better, but it did not break me down like when Remus mentioned her or like so many times before that. I sat on the bed, still staring intently at him. He did not move or say anything else, respecting my pain and mourning and waiting for me to feel ready to say or do something else. It struck me then that The Wardens must be used to death and to mourning their loved ones. That was probably why he was… he felt good. Like it was okay to be broken instead of that I had to be fixed.
-“Nobody knows”- I said in a very low voice.
-“I know, I won’t tell, of course”
-“But you know. You know and you’ve brought it up. Carefully, but you have”
-“But I’m still okay”- I whispered. He came towards me and sat on the bed next to me. I felt his arm around my shoulder as he pulled my head on to his chest.
-“You are not okay. But that’s all right, nobody is okay all the time and you have been for far too long”- his voice caressed me gently and, with that same gentleness, I felt it unlock the box where I had put everything. Everything I should have felt for Merlin knows how many years. And it burst out open.
I don’t know how long I cried for. I do know that Nate didn’t move or say a word, he just held me. I know that I did not go into a panic attack; I did not feel sick or dizzy. I was just sad and I wanted to cry it out. By the time I felt slightly better, I was physically exhausted. I took a deep breath and looked up at Nate, who asked me without words if I was ready and he could let go of me. I nodded.
-“I could really use that cigarette now”- I said. My voice did not sound like my own, and I realized that I probably looked horrible. Worse, my nose was surely red and my eyes puffy. And, for once, I did not care.
-“Good, I’m also up for one”- he said, standing up and smiling.
-“I won’t apologize”- I said.
-“I don’t want you to”- his tone was hard and serious. There was nothing else to add. I stood, too, and walked outside onto the terrace. I put my arms on the cold stone and looked over London. Beautiful, gigantic, mysterious London.
-“It is a majestic city”- he agreed with me. I took the cigarette he was offering me.
-“Will I ever get to introduce you to my dad? To my friends?”- I asked him. He chuckled; letting his blond curls fall backwards. I watched them, thinking distractedly that they were like pure liquid gold flowing from the sun.
-“Inevitably. We’ll have to spend an awful amount of time together; you need to complete training as soon as possible. Although I would advise we keep me a secret for as long as we can”- he said.
-“I hate lying to dad”
-“I know but you have no choice. You can’t tell Sirius, either”- he warned me.
-“I don’t like lying to him, either. But I know he wouldn’t let me join or else he’d want in, so I tell myself I’m protecting him and it is easier to come up with the lies. Dad, though, wouldn’t try to stop me”- I explained.
-“Sirius loves you”- Nate said. I looked at him, a little startled.
-“You say it like it’s a bad thing”- I inquired.
-“It’ll be his doom”- he announced.
-“Well, thanks for the compliment”- I retorted, a little irritated now.
-“I don’t mean you’ll be his doom. I mean the way he feels about people will be his doom. He loves too much, not only you but his friends, too”
-“I don’t see how that’s a bad thing”- I insisted.
-“It isn’t, until you make stupid choices and rushed decisions and end up dead or badly injured”- he told me.
-“I take it the Wardens don’t love a lot, do they?”
-“They do, but understand the risk it brings along”- I noticed he said they, and a different kind of sadness washed over me. It struck me that, maybe, I wasn’t the only broken one. I studied Nate’s features as he smoked quietly, staring into the abyss. I was perfectly aware that he was the most handsome man I had seen in my entire life. Not even Sirius could compete with his looks. He was striking, one of those you think only exist in magazines thanks to some miraculous works of lighting by the photographers.
-“He fixed me, Nate”- I whispered.
-“I know, and that’s why I respect your relationship with him and what I told The Council”- he said. I looked at him, confused.
-“What do you mean?”
-“If it wasn’t you, if Sirius hadn’t been the reason we can recruit you in the first place, you’d be asked to break it up. Relationships aren’t good for a new Warden and we usually aren’t allowed to date until we’ve achieved a certain degree within our ranks. Of course, we are usually recruited when children so your case was special from the beginning”- he explained.
-“You asked The Council to let me stay with Sirius?”
-“And they agreed?”
-“Of course they did. I asked them to”- he retorted. I smiled.
-“Thanks Nate, I appreciate that. I don’t wanna lose Sirius, I’ll lie to him but I don’t wanna lose him”- I said, lighting another cigarette and feeling a lot better than a few hours ago.
-“You won’t lose him because of me or the Wardens, don’t worry”- he reassured me. I took a smoke from my cigarette and faced London again.
Despite how little I had slept, I felt surprisingly well the following morning. I had a whole day to prepare for my date with Sirius, which I was well aware, and slightly uncomfortably so, was the first real one. I took a day off party planning, scheming and being my usual busy self and hid away in my favourite urban spa in London. I was used to making the most out of both worlds, I would always admit that muggle ladies knew how to beautify themselves a lot better than witches did.