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Chapter 21 : Already Gone
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“I can’t believe you have detention again tonight.” Mary commented as the Gryffindor girls got ready for their last day of classes before the weekend. “I’ve never been in detention.”
“You’re lucky. It’s boring.” Aubrey remarked, clipping sparkly earrings in.
“Yeah but at least Sirius will be in there with you.” Mary said, grinning. “So it won’t be too bad. Sirius can make anything fun.”
Aubrey shrugged, reaching for her favorite pair of flats. “Yeah, it could be worse I suppose.”
“And you got detention for skipping class? For when you walked out of Binns?” Lily questioned.
Aubrey just nodded, adjusting her stockings. She hadn’t told anyone the real reason she had left in the middle of class.
“Why’d you leave again?” Lily asked, sharing a look with Mary. “we thought maybe you were crying.” She said tentatively.
“Oh, no.” Aubrey answered quickly. “I ah, didn’t feel well.” She lied. She didn’t know why she didn’t just admit that she’d been crying but she didn’t want to see the sad look in Lily’s eyes.
“Well it was pretty romantic that Sirius ran after you like that.” Mary said.
“Romantic?” Aubrey repeated dubiously. “I don’t think so, he was just checking on me.”
“well that was nice of him to do that for you. He just laughed that time I threw up in Care of Magical Creatures.” Mary recalled.
“Wasn’t that in 3rd year?” Aubrey looked to Lily, who just rolled her eyes. “Of course he laughed, he was a 13 year old boy. He still acts like a 13 year old boy most of the time.”
“Still.” Mary insisted. “He was very concerned about you, Aubrey.”
Aubrey set her shoe down and fixed her friend with a stare. “Mary.”
“What?” She asked innocently.
“I know what you’re getting at and it’s not like that between Sirius and I. Honestly, we’re just friends.” Aubrey insisted.
“Uh huh.” Mary agreed, smiling in a know-it-all manner.
“Mary!” Aubrey said exasperated.
“What? The whole school thinks the two of you are an item, you should know. It’s not just me.” Mary told her.
“Well then the whole school is stupid.” Aubrey retorted.
“But if everyone thinks-“
“Remember last year when everyone thought that you hooked up with Marcus Avery?” Aubrey reminded.
“But I didn’t!” Mary shrieked indignantly.
“I know you didn’t.” Aubrey said consolingly. “I’m just trying to say that just because the whole school thinks something doesn’t necessarily make it true.”
Mary thought about this for a second. “So you and Sirius aren’t really together?” She asked, still a bit hopeful.
“No.” Aubrey said firmly.
“Well then,” Mary said, fluffing her hair and looking in the mirror. “I think it’s about time for you to get back out there.”
Lily looked up in alarm, shaking her head behind Aubrey’s back, but Mary wasn’t looking.
“What?” Aubrey asked in surprise.
“It’s been over a month since you and Sebastian broke up and except for your friend Sirius, you haven’t even talked to any boys. What about Remus? He seems kind of your type, and he’s a super sweetheart. Or that Eric guy you sat next to the other day! He was into you and he’s definitely your type, Ravenclaw, smart, cute.”
“Really?” Aubrey asked dubiously.
“Definitely.” Mary encouraged. “You should talk to him, flirt a little.” She wiggled her eyebrows suggestively. Across the room, Lily dropped her head into her hands.
“I don’t know Mare,” Aubrey said uncertainly. “I don’t know if I’m really ready to date again yet…”
“You are.” Mary insisted. “And even if you’re not, a nice fling will at least make you feel better.”
Aubrey made a face. “I’ll think about it.” She conceded.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
“Well, you survived another night of detention.” Sirius commented as they left Brandy’s classroom.
“So I did.” Aubrey remarked, flexing her hand. “I’m not sure my fingers did though. Honestly, can’t she come up with something other than lines?”
“Don’t say that. Once, McGonagall had us scrub the floor of the Great Hall, no magic allowed.” Sirius told her, shuddering.
“Yes, but you probably deserved that.” Aubrey teased.
Sirius knocked her shoulder lightly with his. “Hilarious.” He glanced over at her as they descended the stairs. “You doing okay?”
She rolled her eyes. “Will you quit asking me that? I’m fine. I cried, okay? That doesn’t mean I’m about to burst into tears at any moment. So quit looking at me like that, keep your handkerchief in your pocket.”
“Seriously Daniels, there are times that I would like to throttle you.” Sirius said mildly. “And most girls would think it was romantic that I carry a handkerchief.”
“Well, I’m not most girls.” She remarked, grinning. “I just think it’s hilarious.”
“Clearly.” He muttered. “Anyway, are you up for some fun?”
“What kind of fun?” She asked suspiciously.
“The boys and I have been planning a bonfire in the Forbidden Forest all week, a bit of pre-Halloween fun. Want to head out there?” He asked, pausing at the bottom of the staircase.
“The Forbidden Forest?” She repeated dubiously. Unlike some of her rule breaking classmates, she had never ventured past the tree line.
“Yes, you know, that great big bit of woods that surrounds most of the castle.”
“I know what it is, you snarky little git. It’s just…it’s forbidden.”
“Hence the name.” Sirius pointed out. She glared at him. “Don’t worry Daniels, I won’t let anything happen to you. Besides, you can’t go your whole Hogwarts career without a trip to the Forbidden Forest. It’ll be fun.” He smiled winningly at her.
“Hm, you’d think they’d call it the Fun Forest then.” Aubrey mused.
Sirius rolled his eyes. “Very witty. Are you coming or not?”
She sighed. “Of course I’m coming. It’s not like I have anything else to do anyways.”
“So glad you could make time for us in your busy schedule.” Sirius drawled, heading down the staircase towards a side door out of the castle.
They bickered good naturedly as they left the castle and snuck down the side lawn. It was dark already and the moon was half full, laying on it’s side above the spires of the castle.
Sirius didn’t even pause as he stepped from the lawn into the treeline of the Forest. Aubrey, however, halted, eyeing the tall dark trees in front of her. He must have realized that she was no longer next to him because he stopped and turned around. “Daniels?” He called.
She surveyed him standing inside of the shadow of the Forest. Her eyes darted around nervously. “Are you certain it’s safe? I mean, it is Forbidden for a reason. Dumbledore wouldn’t make it a rule unless there was a reason.”
“He’s also the same person who planted your precious Welting Willow.” Sirius reminded.
“Whomping Willow.” She corrected, rolling her eyes.
“Whatever. Now come on! Are you a Gryffindor or not?”
“It’s not that I’m scared necessarily, but this officially marks my turn of a rule abiding student to a rule breaker.” She pointed out.
“Yes, and the dark side is so much more fun.” Sirius cajoled, grinning wickedly. “Besides, you’ve been landing yourself in detention all year already for breaking the rules. What’s one more?”
Aubrey threw her hands in the air and stomped in after him. “Lumos.” She muttered, igniting the tip of her wand to cast some light in the dark. “If we get caught in here and I end up with another detention, I will kill you.” She told him.
“Noted.” Sirius said, smiling as they set off deeper into the Forest. “How about this, if we get caught, which I can assure you that we won’t, I will stand atop our table in the Great Hall and announce that the Princess knows all that I am but her humble servant.”
“And a giant prat.” Aubrey added, smiling happily. “It’s a deal. Do you know where we’re going, by the way?” She asked, looking around. Everything looked the same to her, each tree seemed to blend into the next.
“Let’s just say that I have spent my fair time in the Fun Forest.” His eyes twinkled in the light of their wands. “I know my way around.”
“I’m not sure if that makes me feel better or not.” She admitted. “But I suppose I will have to trust you.” She looked over her shoulder, she wasn’t even sure she could find her way back from the way they had come. There was no clear path back through the trees.
“It’s good of you to admit that. Your life will be so much easier when you do.” He agreed sagely.
Aubrey rolled her eyes at his back, following him under a low hanging branch, casting her eyes around to try and discern if anything was hiding in the dark. She wished that she felt as calm as Sirius looked. Wasn’t she a Gryffindor? Wasn’t she supposed to be brave in these types of situations?
“And here we are!” Sirius announced, stepping into a small clearing.
Aubrey looked around with interest. The trees created a natural rounded clearing and the boys had built up a tower of wood that was burning with magical blue flames that gave off heat but wasn’t actually burning the wood. Which was probably smart considering they were in the middle of a highly flammable forest. There were logs, or enlarged sticks she suspected, staged around the fire for seating. It looked wonderful.
Sirius stepped forward to talk to Remus, slapping him on the back in greeting, but she hung back at the edge of the clearing. She looked at the people that were here already. Lily was sitting on James lap, his dark head was bent to hear whatever it was she was telling him, his hands resting comfortably at her waist. Mary was giggling at something 6th year Quidditch Beater Liam Norton was saying and Betsy was flat out snogging Tom Callahan at the other end of the clearing. Even Peter had brought a date, he was holding hands with Angela Whipple, and nodding at whatever she was chattering about.
All of a sudden, looking at all those couples around her, Aubrey felt very alone. A year ago, that would have been her, sneaking a kiss with Sebastian. But now she was here alone, single. What was she doing here? This was obviously a couples outing and she didn’t belong.
Sirius turned from where he was talking to Remus and waved her over. She shook her head back at him, she couldn’t stay here. She saw him frown but she didn’t wait to see if he would try and stop her. He probably had a member of his fan club waiting somewhere that he was going to start snogging at any minute.
The thought was enough to turn her stomach and her feet. She turned, pushing her way back into the forest, crashing through the undergrowth. She took great gasps of the cool night air, her eyes felt hot, and she bit down on her bottom lip to keep it from trembling. She absolutely hated crying, and once this week had been enough.
Now that the initial shock and anger of Sebastian breaking up with her had started to pass, she was starting to just feel sad. And seeing couples all around her just made her feel all the more alone.
“Aubrey!” She heard distantly behind her, but she kept going, pushing low hanging branches out of her way. Sirius could go back to the party and she could go back to her room.
“Aubrey!” She heard Sirius, closer now, sounding exasperated. “Will you stop for a minute?”
She ignored him, breaking into a run. She hurried up a small incline that she couldn’t remember if they had come down on their way in. She caught her foot against a root and went tumbling to the ground, skidding her hands against the ground.
She lay there for a second, the wind knocked out of her, until Sirius crouched next to her. “Merlin’s beard, Aubrey, are you okay?” He asked, pulling her gently into a sitting position.
“I’m fine.” She muttered, brushing at the dirt stuck to the knees of her jeans. She could feel him watching her.
“Where are you going in such a hurry?” He asked as she caught her breath.
“Back to the castle.” She told him, not meeting his eyes and reaching for her wand, half buried in the leaves next to her.
“Well then you’re going the wrong way.” He told her quietly. She looked away, rubbing her stinging palms together. He sighed. “Why are you going?”
“It’s couples central in there!” She exclaimed. “And in case you failed to notice, I’m alone. So you can let go of my arm, point me in the direction of the damn castle, and back to whatever giggling girl you have waiting there.”
“I’m not following.” Sirius said.
“Let go of my arm.” Aubrey snapped.
He did, leaning back to observe her, still kneeling in the dirt next to her. “Care to explain why you’re having a hissy fit right now?”
She picked a piece of rock out of her palm. “I don’t want to hang around a bunch of couples all night and be reminded that I’ve been dumped.”
“You hang around James and Lily all the time so I don’t know-“
“Yes but tonight there’s Lily and James, and Mary and what’s his name, Betsy and who’s ever face she’s sucking, and Peter and Angela stupid Whipple! All of those couples just make me feel very alone.” She sniffed.
“Aubrey,” Sirius sighed.
“I’m not crying!” She snapped.
“Didn’t say that you were.” He muttered, holding his hands up in defense. “But I just want to point out that you won’ t the only single one there. Remus and I will be there as well.”
“Don’t tell me you’re matchmaking as well.” She grumbled.
“Trying to set me up with Remus. Lily and Mary were talking about matchmaking me with him.” Aubrey clarified darkly. “I don’t want to be set up.”
“Remus.” Sirius repeated in a flat voice. “Remus Lupin, my best mate.”
“How many Remus’ do you know?” Aubrey asked back. “And like I said, I’m not interested in being set up. So if you could just point me in the direction back to the school, I’d like to leave.”
“The school’s that way.” Sirius told her, pointing east of the way she had been previously going. “And if you want to go back, I’ll walk you back up to the castle. Because you were right, it’s not safe to be in here by yourself. But I think you should come back to the party.”
She pushed herself to her feet and took a few steps towards where he had indicated the castle was. “Aubrey,” He stood up behind her. “We can go back, and you can go to bed feeling hurt and angry, that’s one option. Or you can come back with me to the party and try and have a good time. I promise you that no one is trying to match make you. But you’ve got to start letting go of some of this anger or you’re never going to be happy. And that’s not fair to you. It’s not fair to give Sebastian that much power over your happiness.”
She stared at him for a minute before sighing and coming back towards him. “I hate it when you’re right.” She muttered, stopping in front of him and looking up at him.
He smiled. “Really? Because I love when you admit that I’m right.” He held out a hand for her to take. “Ready to go back?”
She rolled her eyes, but she was smiling. They started back towards the bonfire in silence. Aubrey glanced up at his face, she couldn’t help but notice how handsome he was, his mouth was full and still slightly smiling. “I drive you mental, don’t I?” She guessed.
“Every day.” He grinned.
She gripped his hand tighter. “I did warn you that being my friend wasn’t going to be easy.” She reminded, feeling slightly bad that Sirius had to work through all of her issues with her.
He squeezed her hand back. “No one ever said you were a liar.”
She sighed, wrapping her other hand around their clasped ones. She didn’t know why exactly, but she liked holding hands with Sirius. She shouldn’t, because it was sort of crossing that friend line, but she couldn’t help herself. “Well I am sorry for being such a basket case, and I appreciate that you’ve been there for me.”
He smiled, looking down at their clasped hands. “That’s what I’m here for.”
Up ahead, Remus was coming down the path towards them. “There you guys are. I was starting to worry.” He told them as they got closer. “Where’d you run off to?”
Aubrey released Sirius’ hand as they reached him, something that made him frown. “Oh, I’m sorry. I lost an earring on the way in and had to go back and get it.” She lied.
“Oh.” Remus looked at Sirius, who just shrugged. “Well, I’m glad that you were able to find it.” He looked between them, suddenly frowning. “Aubrey, you’re bleeding.”
“Oh!” She looked down in surprise, noting that the knee of her jean had torn open, she must have skinned her knee in her tumble. “I fell, actually, as we were looking for my earring. Pretty embarrassing.”
“Here, I know I quick healing spell.” Remus offered, going to crouch down.
“I’ll get it, Moony.” Sirius said quickly, kneeling down and touching his wand to her broken skin. “Here, I’ll even fix your jeans.”
Aubrey felt quick heat on her skin and then it felt better. She watched with fascination as her jeans mended themselves. “Thanks Sirius.” She said gratefully.
“It’s no problem.” Sirius smiled up at her before getting to his feet. “I should have noticed before, I’m sorry, Aubrey.”
Remus was looking at him a bit queerly.
Aubrey just shrugged. “I didn’t even notice.” She admitted. “But thank you for patching me up.”
“Well,” Remus said after a bit of an awkward silence. “Tell me you guys are coming back to the party. Everyone is coupling up and I’m feeling like the odd man out.”
Sirius looked pointedly at Aubrey who ignored him. “That depends, is Angela Whipple still giggling at everything that Peter is saying?” She asked.
“Well yes, but she always does that.” Remus replied, grinning. Aubrey turned to look pointedly at Sirius now, who was just shaking his head. “Do you want me to leave you guys alone? You look like you’re having some sort of silent conversation.”
“No.” Aubrey said, smiling. “But if we were, just know that I won.” Sirius rolled his eyes. “We’re ready to go back now. I want to sit next to the fire, I’m getting cold.”
They walked back to the clearing where things were pretty much as she had left them. “There you are.” Lily said as they rejoined the group. “Where’ve the three of you been?” She asked curiously.
“Lost earring.” Sirius answered, straddling one of the tree trunks and patting the spot next to him for Aubrey. “Don’t
worry though, all is well.”
“Funny,” James remarked grinning. “I don’t remember you wearing an earring earlier, Sirius.”
Aubrey laughed. “You might want to consider getting one, Sirius, it might improve your look.” She teased.
“Please, let’s not jest.” Sirius scoffed. “As if my looks needed any improving.”
It turned out to be one of the best nights Aubrey had had in a long time. Betsy and her date never did come up for air, and Mary and hers snuck off into the trees, but the boys kept them laughing all night and for the first time in a long time, she felt like part of the group. This is what she had been missing out on when she had been glued to Sebastian’s side. She’d missed having friends.
As they snuck back into the school in the late hours of the night, perhaps even the early hours of the morning, Aubrey stopped suddenly to give Sirius a quick hug around the middle. “Thank you.” She told him,smiling. “For making me come back.”
He blinked down at her in surprise. ”Welcome.” He said, in an oddly hoarse voice.
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