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Behind the Sketches by JamesandLily4ever
Chapter 7 : Impressions
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 1


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Disclaimer: this universe belongs to J.K. Rowling.

Chapter 7: Impressions

November became a weighty month filled with practicals and topical essays. I found it to be a breeze, but I halted whenever I had to contend with the upcoming transfiguration practical: to transform some aspect of ourselves out of everyday objects.

“I have not yet specified what your NEWT level project will be, but if you do well in your practical, then you will do well with your project in the next half of this course,” she told us during the last week of the month.

I asked what she meant by transforming an aspect of ourselves, and she answered, “You will display a virtue, principle, or characteristic of your personality or character through the use of transfiguration. The concept is yours to provide. If you feel underprepared, visit Students United in the library; a couple of your peers provide tutoring for this NEWT level course.”

“Good to know,” Sirius said, idly flipping through his Transfiguration textbook. “I suppose that you’ve gone to see them, haven’t you?”

I opened my mouth to reply, and I felt heat rise up my face when I swallowed and answered, “Yes.”

I have nothing to be ashamed about.

“That’s good. Evans talks about her projects all the time, and I only wondered what that was about,” he replied as he sat back in his chair. “Are they any good? I’ve only gone once when she and her friends started it last year, I think.”

“Yes, they are quite good,” I said, making little stars next to Movement and Texture.

Perhaps I could make my project about what I wanted my profession to be. Of course, I was very sure that being a business owner wasn’t part of it, but… I did want to do something amazing for myself, especially with what I had learned so far.

“Do you have any ideas about what you could do for your practical?” I asked in turn.

He whipped back his hair from his face. “Yes. I’m thinking about transfiguring a miniature wolf out of silver.”

I raised my eyebrows at that. Could that have anything to do with his easygoing nature? I wondered if that would be up for discussion, but I knew it could feel intrusive.

“Are you resilient or are you fierce?” I thought aloud, suddenly curious beyond my own reckoning. “What does the wolf represent?”

“Being resilient, I suppose. Overcoming adversity, most surely,” he replied, suddenly catching my eyes as I glanced back at him. His gray eyes held a cloudy sky and I couldn’t look away. “What about yours? What do you have in mind?”

I looked away and said, “Something creative. I’m thinking about making a wooden grove and a river out of everyday objects. I just haven’t figured out what objects… and whether they will be used metaphorically or literally.”

I wanted to ask McGonagall about that since most of our Transfiguration spell casting had been literal.

“I hadn’t thought about that,” Sirius pondered aloud, “That would be interesting to see.”

I smiled and agreed, “Yes, it would be.”

I resolved to ask during class and raised my hand. McGonagall echoed Sirius’ words and she opened the restrictions for it, “It will be open to interpretation so long as you transfigure your vision from something tangible – as I mentioned, everyday objects.”

I nodded and grinned. Open to interpretation was a good thing.

Sirius continued to wait for me after each Transfiguration class. Sometimes we talked for a few minutes and continued in silence, but this time around, we talked from beginning to end.

“We never got to talk about your profession,” he started, and I was glad for it because I didn’t know what we could talk about.

I laughed and then asked, “My profession?” My heart beat faster and I smiled. “I don’t really have one, but I am planning to make my own.”

“How so?” he asked, amused.

We walked up the usual corridor that lead to the moving staircases.

My throat caught. I wanted to tell him that I wanted to start my own business. I wanted to freely say that I wanted to create moving paintings and photographs, and other décor that involved motion. I wanted so very badly to tell someone, tell anyone, what I planned to do with my life.

But I didn’t know if anyone would praise me or tease me for dreaming of doing something different. I didn’t even know how my parents would react. I mean, even my brother, Maurice, had gone out to pursue an athletic career. Quidditch was a career. That in itself was plausible even though I found it annoyingly ridiculous that it was even considered a career when it was a sport.

I felt ill prepared to speak just then. Completely naked and desperate to cover myself completely and say nothing… give no indication as to who I was entirely.

“I am planning it… I haven’t done it yet,” I said instead, “But I really want to do something of my own that is my own.”

He was silent after that, and so was I. Maybe he was waiting for me to explain myself, but I couldn’t.

“I hope that goes well for you, whatever it might be,” he replied, tastefully respectful.

He will defame you, and you will fall into disrepute. Snape’s voice echoed in my head. I shook my head of it. How could Sirius do that if he was keeping his distance meanwhile he was being amiable and kind?

We walked alongside each other all the way to Charms class.

“Wait,” he said, a short walk away from the door.

I glanced toward him, and I waited.

He was so handsome with his slightly opened pink lips and his bobbing Adam’s apple.

He brushed his hair back from his face and said, “I know this may seem too soon to mention, but—”

I blinked and my heart stopped. I felt a sudden chill embrace the back of my head as I waited. I could not say anything or think about anything.

“I really enjoy your company,” he continued. “I hope that we can talk more after our winter holidays are over.”

I nodded and kept my jaw clenched. I didn’t know what I could have said after that.

“Well,” he finished and smiled tiredly. “That was all I wanted to say.”

“I… I appreciate that. I would like that also,” I replied hastily, rocking on the balls of my feet. I held my clammy hands together since I didn’t know what to do with my hands. I patted down my skirt afterward because it was too much.

I think the same of you as well! My elation spread as if a tide of lukewarm water had crashed right over my insides.

He seemed like he was going to say more, and I backed away, suddenly overcome with the self-conscientious fear that maybe I was wasting his time… and I let myself be taken by it.

“Well, I have to go now! I have class, I’m sorry,” I blurted matter-of-factly.

He smiled and nodded. “Yes, yes, true. I have… a study session to get to! Of course, of course.”

I waved and mentioned, “See you at dinner!”

He waved and then we turned to our separate directions. I wondered if he felt as relieved as I did after that.

~*~

“He what?” Emma asked during Charms.

I simply returned to charming a couple of ribbons to revolve around each other. I had to initiate the movement with a little circular turn of my wand after using Wingardium-Leviosa.

“He told me that he appreciates my company,” I told her again, in my own words. “He also seemed so nervous when he said so.”

“I wonder what both of you are getting yourselves into,” Emma said, adjusting her ribbons so that they were all equally vertical and neatly spaced apart. “You don’t even know how a relationship begins—”

I know,” I sighed, suddenly sad at myself for being so young and ill-prepared… unwanted. I kept in mind that I also felt offended. “What I don’t know is if this is going to become a relationship. I doubt that it will be. I actually like staying friends with him.”

I hadn’t daydreamed about kissing him ever since he started talking to me. The thought just jumped out of the window and left me like a blubbering know-nothing in his presence. I wondered how I could have ever thought about kissing him when talking to him was more of a dangerous task.

“Are you even friends? Has that transpired already? How can you even tell with things like that?” Emma wondered. “Actually… don’t answer that. It’s a very gray area until someone says that they just want to be friends.”

Suddenly, I remembered how he was about to say something else before I cut in. Was he going to tell me how he felt?

“That would have been helpful,” I replied as I sat down and watched my floating ribbons.

They were all at a diagonal and somewhat closely spread apart. Everyone’s levitating ribbons reminded me of kites hovering about in the wind. The only thing we were missing was being outside.

Emma agreed with me as she glanced every so often in Mark’s direction. Mark, being the one to focus on his work 95% of the time (the missing 5% being his meals), kept on, completely oblivious to her sudden… dare I call it fawning?

“Have you told him yet?” I said, hoping that I had lowered my voice enough for her to be the only one to hear.

A red tint appeared in her cheeks and she gushed, “Goodness, no. It would be too much for him… too much for me. We’ve been friends for so long that even if I did have feelings, he wouldn’t even see them for what they were. I should tell him, though. I was so close to telling him just the other day… and the day before that… oh, God, it’s so terribly difficult.”

“Surely you’ve been skirting around being direct. Why don’t you just say it?” I apprehended her with a knowing look.

She blanched as soon as she had blushed. “I can’t. I just… I can’t.”

“Alright, then, I’ll leave you to that, and I’ll wait for something to materialize itself with Sirius. Maybe I’ll even ask him to tell me what he’s doing outright,” I said.

It seemed like a good idea in contrast to what was happening with Emma and Mark.

Would Sirius ever tell me what it was he was playing at? Would he think of me as one of those demented twelve-to-thirteen-year-old girls who hovered like priestesses who prayed for the attention of an unconquerable god?

I sincerely hoped for the best.

Emma patted my arm and said, “Alright, you’re on. If you can do that, then I’ll try my best with mine.”

I grinned despite how my left cheek twitched and how my stomach turned.

~*~

In Potions, Slughorn had us all create advanced recipes for the hospital wing. Snape was creating them a degree less quickly than the other potions he had created before, but they were still coming out on time with Lily’s creations. I had an inkling that she was also involved in the same line of research as Snape’s… except that Snape was a bit more forthcoming; he always seemed to be a step ahead.

True to his word, winter brought the end of the whole commotion he had orchestrated with his potion-making. He did, however, continue with smaller improvements. This time he told me what he was going to change and why… and I found it all intriguing and ridiculous.

It was ridiculous because I couldn’t figure out why or how a sixteen-year-old boy was capable of coming up with shortcuts in a subject that was hundreds of years older than us.

And then I figured out the intriguing part of it.

Just as easily as most of us were off studying further into subjects recommended for our respective professions—whatever those might be—there was a great chasm of possibility in the midst of our periods of study. Indeed, there were those of us who studied beyond the surface material of whatever our calling was.

Snape was following his calling and I stood back in awe as he showed me what he had discovered from his research… or at least a portion of it. I hoped it was a portion of it. I shrank back inside of myself, slightly stark in disbelief.

“Please don’t tell me more than is necessary… your findings are yours and yours alone,” I told him once when he was in the habit of telling me why it was less common to excrete liquids from roots than slicing them.

This was standard in our own house. We valued academic honesty like no other house did. If we could help each other study, then good. If someone’s wit excelled in some material or other, they became a tutor (much like the girls in Students United) or they became infamous among us. Sometimes the ambition in itself was too much, but the bottom line was that we did our best not to tread the gray area… the largest gray area known to all of us was revealing our own creations.

If anyone did, it was because it was a declaration that there was a silent pact of trust between both parties. That trust thickened the thin bond of new friendships or budding relationships. Of course, this didn’t apply to lowly gossip. No, this was intellectual property, and we Ravenclaws valued the sanctity of knowledge. To take it a step further, we prized those of us who never used that knowledge for their own gain. If they did the opposite of that, well… they were ostracized for it.

He might have found that rude, but I hoped that he was intelligent enough to know that he was in the right. I also didn’t want to lean in too far into what I considered to be a classmate-to-classmate partnership.

The inter-house unity projects were indefinite, but… would they continue after our sixth year was over?

Would I get to work with him again?

My mind turned. Why would that be so important to consider? If the projects continue, then… we would all be shuffled around again. That thought put my mind to rest. Logic was a good shield, the best one I could protect myself with. I burrowed my eyebrows at how sad I felt at the thought, though.

“Are you done with the lacewings?” he said as he narrowed his eyes suspiciously at me.

I smiled slightly despite myself, finished grinding the dried lacewings, and added the crumbs into a small dish. He took it and sprinkled the crushed lacewings into the cauldron.

All the while, my mind drifted back to what he had explained before. I figured that slicing roots saved more time than taking their liquids the other way around… which would enhance potions in other aspects besides those found in our textbook.

Our textbook. What a time-saving load of hodgepodge.

“Stop staring at the phials, they aren’t going to fill themselves,” he hissed.

I held back the sudden urge to glare at him and glared at the glass phials instead. “I was not staring at anything, much less the phials.”

At least we talked more than usual now.

He laughed.

The sound was like new charcoal splitting onto a blank page. It held the promise of a smooth baritone.

I stopped myself before I went further, and I turned to fill the phials one by one.

~*~

Gregory and I exchanged notes for our current project: how to cultivate a spring of belladonna with monkshood (with supporting theories by known Herbologists who say it is possible).

“We can just place both beside each other and see which one survives without killing the other…?” I asked, eyeing the wide, rectangular pot we were going to use. I switched my spade into my right hand. “I’m just not sure that these plants could learn to live with each other. They’re not sisters… or closely related cousins, you know?”

“True,” he replied. “Technically they’re very… very distant cousins… They could be members of two rivaling houses, almost.”

We stood in silence. My mind automatically drifted to Sev—Snape. Suddenly all I wanted to do was go to my table on the second floor in the library and not see or hear anyone at all. Ohmygoodness, what is wrong with me?

“It’s not likely. They’ll both obscure the other from sunlight… Maybe we need to be less ambitious and just choose something else… Like bowtruckles?” he wondered as he leaned against the table. He probably saw me frown because he said, “There’s nothing wrong with the little guys. They’ll tend the plant and create a home of it. Better yet, the belladonna will protect them too! What do you think?”

“Agh, fine. You’re too good a Hufflepuff to be too ambitious,” I replied, my mouth suddenly too dry.

This had been my idea of a challenge in the least challenging class I had.

He laughed and grabbed a quill to make adjustments on our shared sheet of parchment. “Just you wait! It’s going to get top marks.”

I sighed and threw a couple of oranges at our Venus fly traps of doom. After a month or so, the buds had opened into salivating purses. It was feeding time and one of us had to catch the magical saliva.

“Your turn, Hufflepuff,” I told him. “Go be the seeker you always wanted to be.”

“Just keep the oranges coming and you’ll get a third of the galleons the apothecary gives us,” Gregory joked as he grabbed a bucket and lunged under the green monster of a plant we had.

I laughed and tossed the oranges up into the air before throwing them at the waiting plant. “Why don’t we just switch places? I can’t let you be the only one putting your life in danger!”

Professor Sprout walked up to the archway of the greenhouse and clapped her hands twice, “That’s a good lad, Mister Boot! Keep those oranges coming, Miss McGain!”

She left and I laughed. “That’s it, I’ll do the saliva-catching next time. I want to be called a good lass.”

“Keep the oranges coming; I’m the only one here who deserves Hufflepuff pride in this greenhouse,” he yelled.

I huffed, but he kept the bucket steady.

~*~

Later on that day, just before dinner, I received an owl from Professor Sinistra for NEWT Astronomy.

My dear students,

Classes are canceled until the new year. In spite of this terrible weather and my equally terrible health, I write to you with the stars in mind.


I let out a deep breath. Included in the letter were precise instructions on what assignments were due for class once we returned from holiday. The main assignment was to use our telescopes the day of the winter solstice and to map the major stars. I had no qualms about that since my family didn’t really stay up on the 21st of December, but it was exciting to think about the warm mug of hot cocoa and marshmallows that I would prepare for myself alongside a blanket and a blue flame in a jar just in case the cold was a bit too crisp that night. I took note of the assignment in my class notes and then tucked the letter away. Thus, I was free that Friday after Herbology.

What do I do that night? I wondered. I knew that we all had to go to the train station at Hogsmeade the day after, but the night before… Perhaps I could sleep earlier in order to sleep in? I thought about writing to my parents, but I knew that they would write the day of. I thought about reading and sparing myself the company of others until Christmas arrived, but I couldn’t focus on the page in front of me.

I put away my class planner and I ventured out of the dormitory and down the stairwell. The rest of my housemates were either in the Common Room, in their dormitories, or somewhere else. I ducked from an oncoming paper broomstick and narrowed my eyes to slits down over the rail at the group of second years who were all bent over a broad and leather-bound Charms textbook. They visibly gulped and returned to their huddle around the ankle-thick tome. I instantly grinned and continued down the stairs.

There were familiars creeping over the sofa and the hearth. A tabby cat rested on Emma’s lap, sleeping soundly as she read. I quietly waved in her direction when she yawned and she waved back before succumbing to her book’s pages once more.

I crept out of the tower and made my trek down to the library.

Perhaps there was another way in from the seventh floor? I set aside the thought for another time… maybe once I had a study period. Maybe I could remove Herbology from my timetable during my seventh year? There was so much I could do with understanding plants after this N.E.W.T. course was over… and I could easily research into it. I had enough experience as it was.

Going this way and that, I pranced down the moving staircases. It was all second-thought until I stepped into the silent walls of the library.

I needed a book to read since Nostradamus’ Prophecies only extended so far… I carried on like the Grey Lady, guiding myself so smoothly between the bookcases that I didn’t make a sound.

It was heartwarming to know that there were books written about every little imaginable thing. There were studies by third century scholars who had begun to look deeper into Magic. It was all supplementary reading for Arithmancy and the study of ancient runes. I flipped through the manuscript and set it back into its place in the Historical Archives section (which wasn’t as forbidden as the Forbidden Section, thank Merlin).

I reconsidered the Charms area.

Perhaps I could develop my made-up profession. I could collect ideas and get started? It was so close to the winter holidays, though, but… knowing myself, perhaps my parents wouldn’t mind a thing. I pressed my lips together and took a deep breath.

Yes, I could do it.

I took a couple of books off the shelf and gleaned their contents.

Movement… Flat surfaces… Dimensions… Illusion...

I ended up leaving with three books. I could have left with ten, but there wasn’t enough room in my trunk for extra books. At least in this way I wouldn’t have to worry about my book allowance. I had something to read in case things went awry at home.

Sometimes family reunions were harmonious and sometimes they were hectic. I wondered if I’d have to share my room with Claude and if Maurice would play Quidditch with his practice Quaffle and hoops against the other side of my bedroom wall. I sighed and brushed back my hair.

Maybe I can bear it all if I have something to read and a project to work on. It was a basic supposition of faith I had in myself.

One thing about daily life at home was that I had to share space with my parents and seclude myself with my books until I could see my friends the week before school started again. I had two weeks to go par to par with Claude and the rest of our extended family. That included our grandparents and a couple of aunts and uncles… and some cousins. Of course, that depended on whether or not we were hosting Christmas dinner at our house. It was highly likely that we would, but it was always nice to be open to the realm of possibility.

Maybe this time Aunt Glenda had decided to invite us to her home in the magical wilderness of Norway where she created her handmade magical instruments. Maybe Uncle Bartholomew wanted everyone to enjoy Egypt for a couple of weeks just because it would be too cold for him to be with us in England.

A shuffle of parchment brought me back to the library where I was standing by the window and staring out at the Black Lake and where it entered the Forbidden Forest. I glanced behind me at the tables and their lamps. Only about two students were there on the first floor in the aisle between the Charms section and the Historical Archives. One was a studious fourth year and the other was a stunning Sirius Black, lounging back in his chair like he was there to nap not to read.

I stood by him in an instant.

“Hello there,” I said, a smile already pulling at the corner of my mouth.

“What the—” He jerked upright, suddenly pale.

I sat down in front of him and held my three books on my lap. “What brings you here?” I arched an eyebrow.

He calmed down just as quickly and his coloring returned to its slightly peachy tan.

“Nothing…” he started.

I raised my eyebrows as if to say… Are you sure about that?

“Bloody hell, well, yes, I decided to come here to enjoy the peace and quiet. Pardon me if that’s all too unbelievable—” he went on, his emotions flitting on his face from calm to anxious, and to calm again.

I grinned, “It isn’t unbelievable, but it would be a great help to get some kind of context—”

“My, my…” he said, and then he slumped back in his chair. “Your curiosity has no boundaries, does it?”

“It does… I practice its boundaries every day because a Ravenclaw can’t know everything. Sometimes we have to leave bits and pieces so that the problem can solve itself in a timely manner. This works for all of us, even those of us who want to talk first and not define what it is that we are later.”

“You little Ravenclaw!” he said as he sat up and stared me right in the eyes with a playful squint to his very gray eyes. “You want to know what we are?”

I breathed in deeply through my nose, and then I figured why not?

“Yes, it would help get a lot of displeased young women to stop surveilling me at all hours…” I explained as I gave the room a sweep.

True enough, there were a couple of younger girls sitting at a table a couple of seats down and they hid their faces behind their copy of the Daily Prophet.

I looked back at Sirius and continued, “So, what do you say?”

He paused for a moment and I swore that his eyes glanced down before he began again, “Would that be enough to get them off your trail?”

“I believe so, yes,” I answered.

My heart thudded so hard beneath my sternum. I wondered if I was going to faint if it went any faster. I also just couldn’t help to sit at the edge of my seat from the anticipation. He was finally going to tell me! My hands and feet became damp and sticky, and I tried to sit back as my stomach twisted and turned.

He leaned forward and wet his lips slightly, and I swore that I lost the air in my lungs for just a moment.

He glanced at the girls and then he told me, “I regret to inform you that we are friends.”

I bit my lip to avoid gaping, even as his lips became that sweet smile I had seen on the train to Hogwarts. I withheld myself, the portion that had become so easily consumed in a daydream, as I stared into his glinting gray eyes.

“Is that all there is to it, then?” I asked, suddenly comfortably unaware of the girls sitting far behind us.

He furrowed his eyebrows. “What do you mean?”

“Friendship,” I replied, calm beyond reckoning.

I felt utterly safe and withdrawn at the same time. Empty and a fool. It also seemed that I wasn’t even there… like I had become a ghost that was sitting beside me. I had suddenly stepped into an alternate universe.

What was this love for his features if not only his features? What was this love of his self if only for the idea of who he was? Was it love at all? What was love?

It was too confusing for me to understand why it was that I no longer wished to know how he kissed or how he felt. It just felt wrong all of a sudden. My stomach ached and my eyes were so incredibly heavy in my face. I could feel the weight of my tears like a river against a dam.

There was nothing to do but admire him from afar, and that would be enough for me. I mean, it had to be. I wasn’t a demented girl to think that I could force him to be something he wasn’t — what was he even?

I needed time to understand what I thought and why I had thought it that way.

Just finish this as quickly as you’re able to.

“If you mean the sudden interest… yes.” he replied, also suddenly forgetful of his secret fan club. “To be honest…” He looked away suddenly and sighed. “I just really don’t want to be in a relationship right now. I could pretend to be as lovesick as Romeo, to be in love with the next girl with substance, but… this heart, this heart of mine—” I could have never imagined him to be such a prima donna, but now I did as he pressed his palm to his chest. “It needs time. I need time.”

Yes, we both did, but who was she who had taken that certainty away from him?

I couldn’t help but feel annoyed by the thought of this girl who I didn’t know a thing about.

He glanced at me again, his eyes suddenly saddened. I nodded, a meek young girl, a nobody, who was there to only listen and to understand. There was so much I did not understand, but I was glad that the bits and pieces had come together in a concise manner.

“It’s rare to meet someone who listens without inflicting judgment. Especially a girl who understands these things, these emotions,” he continued. “I hadn’t understood what it was that they were until just recently.” He paused again and he asked, “Have you ever been in love, Abigail?”

I covered my mouth as I thought to ponder about it, but I answered anyway, “Oh, I’m sorry, no.”

Love was a mystery to me. No one had ever gotten this close, and that didn’t count Mark and Emma. Perhaps that was what Sirius had just revealed to me. I didn’t know what love was.

For all I knew, he had been a crush that evaporated just as quickly as the truth materialized itself.

Or maybe somewhere deep down inside of myself, I knew that I would never attain someone like him… even if I was this close.

“I hope you find it and that it does not hurt you… and that you are careful to tend it before it tears your heart out,” he began an unfinished story on a broken record just like that.

I went back to my dormitory after we had talked. I glanced at Emma and I told her everything as quietly and as calmly as I could.

Was there anything more devastating in the world than losing the impression of something I had imagined, and then seeing it become so false in reality? The thought of him, so sublime and sweet, had easily crumpled like paper and left a bitter aftertaste.

I hugged her for what seemed like forever, and then we went to sleep in our own beds and I cried into my pillow. I knew what I had lost, but I had no way of knowing what it was that I had gained.

~*~

A/n:

I got in too deep… Maybe this might have been too much. I went to a coffeehouse today and I added a little more to this xD I think I have an idea on where to go from here, and there will be parts of the older version incorporated into this failed romance. I think I might’ve just killed the mood, but she is sixteen… going on seventeen. :) Things can only get better from here.

Yayyy… life.

Apologies and cookies,
Meli


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