Chapter 14 : A Rather Large Black Dog
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I was trying to look around to see who my attacker was but I was beginning to see stars. There were sparks and shots flying over my head but no one seemed to notice that I was in serious trouble. I tried in vein to pry the invisible hands that were crushing my windpipe off of me. But my fingers were losing feeling. I was dying. All I could think was of all the things I had survived, all the things that had happened to me in my short life, I was going to die at a goddamn, drama filled, school dance. My hands fell away from my throat, stars appearing in front of my eyes. And then I felt hands, one underneath my neck, one under my knees and I was being lifted in an all too familiar way. I was carried from the Great Hall, my body hanging limply, completely deprived of oxygen.
“Finite Incantatem!” Sirius was yelling pointing his wand a my neck, “Oh fuck! Finite Incantatem!” he screamed again and I felt the pressure release slightly and I sucked in some breath. We were sitting on the ground but he was holding me to his chest, his legs open around me, panic evident on his face. “Yves, say something! Are you ok?” His eyes were wild as he searched me for any injuries. His one hand gripped my arm almost painfully.
I pushed myself away from him just as streams of people began to flee the hall.
“Who is responsible for this?” Professor McGonagall boomed from somewhere inside the hall obviously using her favourite amplifying charm.
“Can you run?” Sirius asked, already on his feet. He handed me my wand. Somehow, he had managed to grab it despite the commotion. James ran past holding Lily’s hand and moments later Mary was dragging Remus out of the hall looking decidedly worse for ware, smoking a little. I stood and ran with the rest of my house. Once in the dorm, there was a huge commotion, obviously everyone wanted to discuss what had happened.
“Alright everyone, to bed, now! McGonagall is going to be in here at any moment.” That was a total room clearer.
I stood in the middle of our little group trying to process what had happened to me. Someone had tried to kill me again. I touched my hands to my neck; it was tender and would most definitely be bruised in the morning. I felt absolutely crushed. I felt a hand on my back, strong and almost possessive. I knew it was Sirius. I could always tell when he was around, let alone when he was touching me, there was electricity in his touch that was unmistakable.
“Good work Remus!” Sirius said but instead of the high five he was expecting from his half burnt buddy I slapped him hard in the face.
His eyes flared wide but he set his jaw and didn’t say anything.
“How could you do that?” I screamed at him. “Why would you do it? Why do you always have to make everything miserable for me Sirius? Why? Why did you feel compelled to humiliate me again? Your words mean nothing. You say you didn’t mean to hurt me, you say you wont hurt me again and then you pull this crap!”
I didn’t mean for it to happen but the tears ran down my cheeks and suddenly I was crying for all the other things Sirius had said and done to me, I was crying for all the other people who had hurt me, and I cried for all the times I wanted something innocent, something precious, and it became corrupt and ugly.
“Yves… I didn’t mean for it to play out like that.” He said softly, holding out his arms to touch me. His eyes were on fire. I had never seen him look like that.
“Don’t pull that. If you hadn’t then you wouldn’t have planned to give me this crap to piss Severus off.” I said pulling the necklace off my neck and throwing it at him. “Like I’m some cheap trick, a joke for you and your friends to laugh at. You used me! For what? To get back at someone you are having a pathetic school boy feud with.”
“Yves please! No, listen! Please!” He said, walking after me as I tried to go up the stairs to the dorm.
The tears were rolling humiliatingly down my face now and The Marauders, Mary, Lily, Alice and Frank were all watching what should have been a private argument.
“Thank you for helping me tonight.” I said, my voice flat even to my ears. I was exhausted. “But please Sirius, just let me go.” I said pathetically, completely defeated. I felt like an object, a thing to be used for someone else’s gain. I was disgraced, disillusioned and ruined.
The morning was a sober one. Everyone had taken to sleeping in late but I needed to get out of the castle, I was so agitated. I put on some running shoes, leggings and a tracksuit top fully aware that the air would be biting cold as the weather had taken a turn for the worst. I made my way out of the castle without encountering a single person. A thick fog hung over the grounds but I braced myself and began to run. I made my way down past the Herbology classrooms, towards Hagrid’s Hut, and skirted the Forbidden Forest itching to go inside. I made my way to the lake where I sat on the dock for a moment to catch my breath. The water was black as night and still, but I knew better than to believe the things just below the water were still. I closed my eyes and absorbed my surroundings. I could feel tears burning in my throat but I swallowed them down. Soon everyone would be leaving for the Christmas holidays and I would be left here alone, no family to go home to. I heard a rustling of leaves and looked up to see a shape just visible in the darkness of the forest. It stepped closer, nearing the light and I saw a black wolf, its eyes trained on me. I stood hurriedly and took my wand out. It trotted toward the water and dipped his head to drink. His yellow eyes were fixed on me but I didn’t feel threatened for some insane reason. I looked a little closer; it wasn’t a wolf, rather, a very large black dog. Still watching me with its intelligent eyes, it dipped its snout into the water and flung some into the air playfully a few times before trotting off down the shore. I put my wand away and watched it retreat into the forest before I stood to run back the way I had come. This time, feeling slightly lighter, the run was easier and I pushed harder and harder with each step, feeling my muscles burn in the best way. As I reached the Herbology classroom I heard angry voices so I slowed down, trying to make as little noise as possible. The last thing I needed was to be drawn into something else.
“If Sirius hadn’t…” I heard a frustrated voice say softly and I stopped dead in my tracks.
“He is becoming impatient…” said the other voice.
“Yes, well we would have had her if it wasn’t…”
“Yes, but the fact remains the same, we don’t have her.” Was that Severus? I leaned in to listen more closely when I accidentally knocked a pot from one of the shelves. I turned to run and collided with Sirius who had obviously been standing right behind me.
“Who’s there?” boomed one of the voices and in a moment, Sirius had pulled me from where we had stood, around a corner and underneath something, an invisibility cloak. He put his hand over my mouth and a finger to his lips to indicate that I should keep quiet. He was less than an inch away from my face, his eyes intense, his body casually pressed against mine. I saw a tall weedy looking Slytherin boy peek around the corner and look right past us before turning away, footsteps disappearing rapidly. Sirius had moved his hand but we stayed hidden and silent for a little while longer to make sure the coast was clear. All the while he looked deep into my eyes. His forehead was crumpled, his eyes looked sad. There were distinct marks from the clash the night before on his eyebrow where he had hit the ground. It looked like it had been healed but by an amateur. There was stubble covering his face. I hadn’t noticed before how full his beard would be if it were to grow out.
He pulled the cloak off eventually and stuffed it into his pocket hastily before he went scouting around the corner.
“They’ve gone.” He said coming back to me.
“Who was that guy?” I asked. Something felt wrong about the whole episode.
“That was Mulciber, a particularly hateful bastard. Did you see who he was talking to?”
“No, I knocked the pot over before I could actually get a look.” I didn’t want to tell him that I thought it was Severus.
“Oh.” He said looking disappointed.
“What were they talking about?”
“I was hoping you could tell me,” he said walking over to me. He looked awkward; his hands in his pockets, his eyes averted all of a sudden. “I got her just after you did.”
“What were you doing out so early?” I asked more to make conversation than anything else.
“I went for a run.” He said and I looked at his shoes, which were leather and pointed and I scoffed.
“Yeah, sure Sirius.” I said turning my back to him. It was stupid to think he would actually give me a straight answer.
“Wait… They’re probably waiting for someone to come back into the castle. They know they were overheard, just not by who. Let’s go for a walk, you can go back after that.”
“I really don’t want to walk with you.” I said resolutely.
“Ok, we can sit then.”
“Sirius, please.” I said, the tears burning in my throat, threatening to spill from my eyes.
“Look, I know what you said last,” he crossed the distance between us and managed to look me in the eye, “but I have some things I need to tell you, some you’re not going to believe, but I’m hoping that you will and I’m hoping that you’ll give me one more chance and if nothing else hear me out. I know I’ve hurt you, and if I do it again today, I will never bother you again.”
I studied him for a moment. His long, dishevelled hair was messy, framing his face as usual but his face was more severe than I had ever seen it. He had lost weight since the last time I had actually had the chance to look at him. There were blue marks below his eyes indicating a chronic lack of sleep.
“Where do you want to walk to?” I said surprising even myself. Whatever happened from here on out was my fault. I was choosing to trust Sirius again despite my better judgement.
“Uh… I hadn’t thought that far… I thought you’d say no.” He said running his hands through his hair, a smile playing on his mouth.
“What about by the lake? There’s a little dock there, its peaceful. I saw a huge dog there earlier…”
He laughed a throaty laugh, “Ok, let’s go spot the dog.”
We sat together on the dock looking out at the water, the giant squid had awoken and broke the surface of the black water, sending waves and ripples radiating out as far as we could see. I watched the side of Sirius’ face, realising that we were actually alone for the first time in a long time. He didn’t seem tense but leaned back on his elbows, legs outstretched, staring into the distance. He wore his trademark black jeans, black V-Neck and scruffy leather jacket.
“Are you staying here for Christmas?” he asked staring out at the water, the wind lifting tendrils of his hair gently.
“Yeah… I, uh… I don’t have anywhere to go.” I said realising that it sounded a little bit pathetic.
“I wish I didn’t have to go home but Mother,” he said with distain, “says that Bellatrix will be joining us for Christmas and it’s important I attend.”
“Sounds as though you’d rather not.”
“Yeah, I’d much rather make out with a dementor and, you know, that’s quite severe…” I laughed lightly into the breeze. It was cold despite the sun, there would be snow any day now.
“What did you want to talk about?” I asked taking the plunge.
“Uh… Firstly, I’d like to apologise for the stunt with the necklace. I thought for sure when you saw it that you’d know it was from me and not wear it.” He said shaking his head, coming to sit cross-legged in front of me.
“How was I supposed to know it was from you?” I asked feeling a bit dim like I had last night.
He pulled it from his pocket and placed it in my hands. I looked at it again, the seemingly random assortment of blue and white diamante. It still looked like a random assortment.
“Canis Major.” He said helping me along.
Canis Major? I looked at it again. And there it was, the clear stones were in the shape of the constellation in the deep blue of the night sky. There, in the centre was of course, the Dog Star, Sirius.
“I thought…” he began but trailed off when I looked at him. I waited for him but he waited for me, unsure whether to continue.
“I thought you’d go to the dance with me. I was going to ask you, but I was waiting for the necklace to be made…” He said shaking his head slightly, “I didn’t make it in time. I was in the owlery and when I came out Marlene had asked me to go with her and I told her no. I gave her a head start and, while I was actually being gentlemanly, Snape was asking you to the dance…” He trailed off. My stomach went cold.
“You had this made for me?” I asked lamely, the tragedy of the entire thing dawning on me.
“Yeah… In hindsight it’s perhaps a little bit arrogant to think you’d wear my name around your neck albeit subtly. I know you’re not that kind of girl… I just got caught up planning it. And then I couldn’t not give it to you so I asked Mary to give it to you. She didn’t want to but Remus asked her nicely. And I didn’t mean what I said about you last night either. I didn’t mean that you were easy or anything like that.”
“Then why did you?”
“Ah… I, uh crap this is difficult… I hated seeing you with him,” he said with distain, “I hated even more the way he danced with you, and then to make it even worse, I hated that you were enjoying it and that he was making you happy it instead of me. I was so enraged and I just ran my mouth off trying to get him angry so you’d see who he really is, not who he pretends to be around you… but it’s not an excuse and I am desperately sorry.”
“Sirius… you’re, uh, surprising.” I said looking at him earnestly.
“Um… explain please?” He said looking at me wide eyed.
“I never thought I would hear you say anything like that ever.”
“Yeah, well…” he said looking uncomfortable.
“No, you misunderstand me, I mean that it’s actually nice. I do actually like you as a person, and if you had asked me I would have gone with you.” I said giving his hand a squeeze.
“Really?” He looked like the little boy I knew again, excitement bubbling within him.
He looked off into the distance and after a long while he said, “It’s ok, we’ll get another chance.” He looked confident in his statement. It was more than simple arrogance.
“So, do you want to know what I was doing out here?” He asked, his smile loaded with mischief.
“What were you doing out here Sirius?” I asked indulgently.
“I was following you around, of course, but then I saw Snape and Mulciber and I followed them to the Herbology Class but then I saw you, and, well, I didn’t hear anything. I hoped you saw Snape with Mulciber, but… don’t look at me like that,” He said to my face of disapproval at him following Snape around, “He’s been following me around since we got back to school this year, ratting me out whenever he gets the chance, cursing James and I, and the worst, reporting back to my family about what I do at Hogwarts.”
“What? Really?” I asked shocked.
“Yeah, it’s been awful. But that’s besides the point, tell me what you heard them say?”
“Because he’s planning something, that’s why. I’ve been following him around too and he’s always having clandestine meetings in odd places, at odd times…”
“You’re a stalker.”
“Yeah, totally.” He said smiling his most crooked, seductive smile. I laughed at his brazenness.
After a while of discussing, Sirius somehow made me agree to report any weird Snape behaviour. I told him outright that I wouldn’t spy for him but if I noticed something odd, I’d speak to him. We walked back to the castle after a long while outside.
I walked a little way in front of him and before we got into the castle I turned to make sure he was still behind me, only to catch him staring at my butt. I stopped walking to give him a reproving eye.
“I’m ravenous,” He said slowly drawing his eyes from my behind to my face, his smile seductive, “lets go to the kitchens…” I flushed.
He vaulted up the stairs to walk next to me.
“So were friends now?” He asked smiling in that way that made my insides warm. I was positively dying! Most girls at Hogwarts would die to be considered by Sirius and here he was waging a war with Severus, planning to spend time with me… I know after the way he treated me that the last thing I should be is flattered but somehow, inside, I still was.
“Yeah, were friends.”
“Excellent.” He said rubbing his hands together greedily, “we can do activities.”
I just laughed as he led me down to the passageways to a portrait, his hands brushing against mine occasionally. We were greeted by a flurry of activity inside the kitchens, house elves busying themselves with dinner preparations.
“Hi guys!” Sirius boomed, obviously he had been here before.
“Mr Black!” They yelled excitedly back.
“We’re hungry. You think you can help us out?”
We were ushered over to a small square table, pressed into the corner of the kitchen. There were four chairs, Sirius offered me the one with the best view, before taking the one next to me.
All of a sudden there was a loud snap and two pitchers of Butterbeer appeared in front of us.
“Come here often?” Sirius said leaning in seductively.
“No, but I have a feeling you do.” I said taking a sip, the beer almost instantaneously heating my cold body.
“Yeah, I miss a lot of meal times.”
“I noticed. What’s up with that?”
“I have errands to run.” He said vaguely.
“You’re also a terrific liar.” I said not upset, rather amused.
“Why yes, yes I am.” He said as a pizza floated down onto the table.
“Pizza!” I said excited. At Beauxbatons we ate pizza all the time. I hadn’t realised how much I missed home until I put a slice to my mouth.
“A favourite of yours?” He said eyes bright watching me stuff my face.
“Not really but this is great and I haven’t had for such a long time.”
We ate our own private feast, the house elves very excited to have guests. Eventually, when I thought Sirius would have to roll me out of the kitchen, we left amid sonorous pleas for us to return soon.
“That was the best meal I’ve ever had.” I said rubbing my belly.
“Yeah, they’re the best. They just want us to be happy and they’re convinced food does the trick. I mean, they’re not wrong, not at all.” Sirius, like all boys his age, could eat more than their body weight in food.
“What do you want to do now?”
“I think I could nap.” I said, feeling very sleepy.
“No!” He said a little too loudly and a little too quickly.
“Why?” I moaned. “I’m so full and so sleepy.”
“Because I’m bored and you won’t be a good friend if you leave me to my own devices, really, if you think about it, I’m making you a better friend.”
“Ok, ok,” I said laughing at his bravado, “what do you want to do?”
“Let’s play exploding snap.”
We went back to the dormitory and found The Marauders and the girls.
“James,” I said walking straight up to him, “I’m sorry about last night.”
He stood up and gave me a bear hug before saying, “It was a damn good shot Vee. We’d better watch out for you.”
Sirius and I played a few games of exploding snap before we all decided to play charades. I sat next to Sirius on a large comfortable couch, feeling a little sleepy. He moved closer, as though he could read my mind and I rested my head on his shoulder before falling soundly asleep.
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