Chapter 19 : The Whomping Willow
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Severus and I parted ways where the paths to our respective dormitories diverged. I was a little disappointed that he didn’t try to kiss me but we had had such a perfect day, I didn’t want to let that spoil it. I rushed into the Common Room eagerly looking around for the girls. They were sitting in a corner far away from The Marauders. Walking over I noticed that Lily’s eyes were a bit redder than usual and the skin around her eyes was a little blotchy.
“Lily?” I said sliding into an empty sofa, “What’s the matter?”
“It’s James.” Mary answered for her, disappointment plain on her features.
“He’s such a pillock. Really, I don’t even know why I bother.” Lily said trying to sound nonchalant but failing miserably.
“What did he do?” It was obviously something bad for Mary to be upset with James. She was always on his side trying to get them together.
“He kept going on and on about Severus and I told him to stop, that I didn’t want to listen to him bad mouth my friend but he just wouldn’t shut up.” I could see the tears brimming in her eyes and Alice put a reassuring hand on her back. “He kept on saying that the only reason you were going out with Severus was to spite Sirius. So we had a screaming match in the middle of The Three Broomsticks.”
“I’m so sorry Lily.” I said sympathetically. While she and James were not technically dating, they were closer than they had ever been and they were basically on the cusp of being together so this was a complete disaster.
“So,” I heard the gravel voice from behind me before I could respond to Lily any further, “you are dating him.”
Adrenaline pumped through my veins the moment I recognised his voice. I stood to face him immediately, braver than I had felt in a long while.
“I have said this before Sirius, it has nothing to do with you.”
James, Peter and a very sick, very pale looking Remus stood behind him. James came forward, his face uncharacteristically severe, and grabbed the back of Sirius’s arm.
“We do not have time for this.” He said to Sirius, his voice full of menace. “Pads- come on!”
Sirius’s body tightened, coiling itself for an attack. Instead he spoke slowly and calmly.
“Go without me James. I have to finish this. I will be there as soon as I am done.” His eyes didn’t move from mine for a second. “This is not the place for this conversation Yves. Please will you come with me?” This was Sirius’s version of asking nicely. I eyed him, readying myself for another decimation but Severus had given me something of myself back. I felt stronger, like I could handle him.
Without a word, I walked past him and James and straight out the portrait hole. I went straight down the stairs aware of many pairs of feet behind mine. I stood aside when I thought we had ventured far enough from the common room not to be heard and Peter, Remus and a stern looking James continued in the other direction. Sirius brought his attention back to me when he was sure, like me that they were out of earshot. He shoved his hands in his pockets, his dishevelled hair looking delicious as always but that’s about where it ended. The rest of him looked haggard, blue rings circled his eyes, his skin pallid. He looked furious and quite unlike himself. But I couldn’t let myself get caught up thinking about him like that.
He was surveying me just as I was him, but his eyes froze at the necklace I wore proudly around my neck where his used to hang. I steeled myself, ready for the onslaught.
“You’re with him?” He asked tentatively, his voice much lower than I would have expected, “I didn’t really believe you the other night when you said you were. But I saw you with him today…” He let the sentence hang open ended.
“Sirius, I’ve said before, this really has nothing to do with you.” I kept my voice low and level even though my heart was thumping in my ears and I could feel my hands shaking.
“You’re not wearing my necklace.” He said his eyes boring into mine intensely.
“I didn’t think it was appropriate. I will give it back to you.”
“I told you before. It always belonged to you. I don’t want it back. But I would like if you wore it.”
“I can’t wear it Sirius.” I said quietly.
“You can and I wish you would instead of…” He trailed off quietly keeping his temper in check.
“You still haven’t answered my question.” He said eventually stepping forward after I said nothing to his previous comment.
“We are not officially dating but…”
“So you lied?” My temper flaring in my stomach.
“No I didn’t. I just…”
“You’re not with him?” He interrupted taking a step closer.
“Not yet.” I said refusing to step away.
“Why would you want to be with him Yves?” He said seductively.
“When you could be with me?” He was inside my bubble again and my brain stuttered. He took my chin and angled my head so I could look up at him. He was less than an inch from my lips. He had closed the distance. All I had to do was lean in and it would all be over. He placed a hand on my waist possessively and was pulling me closer.
“Because I think I love him.” I said shocking myself right out of my stupor. Was that true? Did I love Severus? I wasn’t sure. I absolutely should not have said anything to Sirius though regardless of how I felt.
Sirius’s eyes flared and he stumbled back, clutching his shirt like I had winded him. As it so often happened, time seemed to stop while he looked at me, his eyes wide, and his mouth slightly open. He looked like a little boy, innocent, something to be protected. And here I was breaking things inside him because I was broken. It wasn’t fair regardless of what I happened between us. And I wanted to tell him that it wasn’t fair, that I shouldn’t try to hurt him, that he shouldn’t let me. But before I could formulate the words, he turned and ran from me, quicker than I could have imagined. And before I knew what I was doing I was running after him.
I ran after him but he was too fast but I was determined I would catch him. I had a feeling I knew where he was going so I made my way to the main entrance but along the way I heard voices; gravel. I followed them.
“Look Severus…” Oh my god, I ran a little quicker, “she told me about you two. No wait, don’t go.” Sirius’s voice was gentler than I expected, “I just want her to be happy and, even though it’s hard for me to say this and even harder to do this, I, uh fuck,” He paused and run his hand through his hair agitatedly, “I want to extend an olive branch.” Severus was looking at him suspiciously. What was Sirius saying? He just wanted me to be happy?
“I don’t trust you Black.” He said, his eyes narrowed, watching him with open dislike.
“Yeah, I wouldn’t either.” He said a little humour in his voice. “After all we’ve done to each other. But… I fucked up over Christmas, I’m sure she told you?” He said uncharacteristically vulnerable.
“Believe it of not Black, you’re not actually a typical topic of conversation. We do have better things to do than talk about how you continually fuck up.” He smiled seductively. The taunt was open and malicious but I couldn’t exactly hold it against Sev.
“I’m sure you do.” Why was he being so cool about this? Now I was becoming suspicious. “Look Severus, so you know that I’m being genuine… I know you’ve been following us around trying to figure out what we’ve been up to. So… Uh god, the guys are going to kill me, but if you want, you can come with and I’ll show you. I’m on my way there now.”
Sirius had told me that Severus had taken to following The Marauders around. I also knew that Sirius’s hatred of Severus ran deeper than the relationship we had developed.
Severus measured Sirius, his eyes narrowed but he must have been convinced by something because he gave a simple nod.
“Good.” There was something in his voice, something imperceptible; I wouldn’t have noticed it if I wasn’t so attuned to him. It sounded so unlike him, wrong in an indescribable way. “Come with me.”
I just made it around a corner and out of sight before they walked past me, Severus trailing a little way behind. This just spelled disaster.
The grounds were lit up spectacularly by a full moon. Even though they were a distance in front of me, I could see Sirius and Severus clearly. I followed them, careful not to be seen when we reached the Whomping Willow. I had tried to stay away from the tree as much as possible before tonight. I had seen just how temperamental it could be if provoked. Tonight it was coiled in its usual way, gnarled and twisted. During the day it was beautiful; lit up by the moonlight it just looked sinister.
I crept closer trying to hear what they were saying.
“… There’s a notch just there? Do you see it?” Sirius asked Severus and he nodded. “If you take a stick and touch it to the notch the tree stops moving.”
“Only a fool would believe something like that from the mouth of you Black.” Severus said backing away.
“No, I’m serious. There’s a passage down there we discovered that leads to an empty house. We’ve made it a club house of sorts.” There was still something unnerving about Sirius’s tone. He sounded almost too sincere, too eager.
“I don’t believe you.” Severus said warily.
“Look, I’ll show you.” He picked up a stick from the ground and began to move lithely, running toward the tree. Just as expected, the Whomping Willow responded by thrashing it’s enormous branches into the ground like a giant mace. Sirius dodged them with ease and, ducking under a particularly low branch, skid straight toward the notch and pressed it with the stick. The Whomping Willow stilled immediately and wrapped itself up tightly.
Sirius laughed obviously full of adrenalin. It was plain by the way he moved that he had done that many times before.
“See, I told you. Come on, let’s go down.” Sirius said holding open a make shift door that seemingly led into the underground passage, “Go first, it’s quite heavy.”
Severus made his way over hurriedly and began to awkwardly climb down into the space under the door.
The wind picked up and I something that sounded like a howl. Was that a wolf? It couldn’t be. It sounded wrong. My body reacted immediately, hair standing on end. I heard it again. The sound wasn’t being carried by the wind as I previously thought; it was coming from the open door. There was something down there. I caught a glimpse of Sirius’s face. He was looking straight at me his face lit by the moonlight. He knew I was there all along. And finally I saw what I heard wrong in his voice. His face was darker than it had ever been, full of malice, his eyes black.
“Sirius?” A voice boomed from the opposite direction. It was James. He walked cautiously out of the shadows. “What are you doing?” There was no humour in his voice.
“Leave us James.”
“Us?” He had obviously just arrived. He walked forward quickly and peered down the hole. “Sirius!” He screamed outraged.
“James!” Sirius’s voice was pure warning.
“Snape! Get out of there!” He roared.
“Get off it Potter! I know about your little secret now.” The sound was getting louder now and the animal part of my brain was telling me to run. Whatever was down there was more than I was ready to handle.
“You don’t know anything! Get out of there now!”
“James!” Sirius threatened. His wand was out but James was a fraction quicker.
“Expelliarmus.” He shouted and Sirius’s wand went flying but instead of worrying about it he turned to Severus, his face twisting maniacally in the moonlight. He began shutting the door and I started running, my heart beating in my ears. Didn’t they know that there was something down there? It wasn’t safe. James was screaming at Sirius, his wand raised, orange sparks erupted from the tip and Sirius was flung several feet from the door. James rushed forward and flung the door open but Severus was nowhere to be seen. He yelled “Lumos” and descended into the ground. I reached the hole at the same time as Sirius. James was screaming for Sirius, pleading for him to help. All he did was stare down into the hole darkly. I couldn’t just stand by while James and Severus were down there. Something was coming.
I started forward but his arm shot out and grabbed mine.
“You can’t go down there.”
“Sirius! Please! They need help!” I begged, I couldn’t get to my wand. “There is something down there!”
“I know.” He said simply. He was trying to kill Severus. My stomach flipped and I suddenly felt sick. I couldn’t get away from him; he was way too quick for me, way too strong. He was going to let them both die if I didn’t snap him out of it. Sirius may have been many things but he wasn’t murderer.
I stepped forward; ignoring the iron grip he had on my arm, and put a hand to his face and pulled it towards my own and whispered his name. His pupils dilated and in a moment, his expression melted and he became Sirius again.
“James.” Was all he said before nearly tearing the door off its hinge. I peered inside. James was dragging Severus who was unconscious. His face was full of panic and he looked between Sirius’s outstretched hand and his face for little more than a moment before taking it and hoisting himself out of the hole. They both pulled Severus out, his robes full of sand, before dumping his limp body unceremoniously on the ground and shutting the door. I hadn’t noticed before but there was a latch and a lock. James waved his wand over it and it glowed red before locking itself. It was just in time too. There was a loud thump on the door and some uncontrolled thrashing, the sound of snapping jaws and clinking teeth. A sound very like an extraordinarily large rabid dog was issuing from the hole. We watched in silence, making sure the door would hold. Eventually the creature on the other side stopped and stalked back down the tunnel.
“Sirius.” James said inflamed. “What the fuck were you thinking?”
Sirius didn’t answer; instead he looked at me with a completely unreadable expression. “You could have killed him!”
“I wanted to.” He said still looking at me, the darkness returning.
“Merlin Sirius! You put us all in danger tonight!” That seemed to penetrate the fog around him.
“I didn’t mean to put you all in danger, just…” He said trailing off.
“And now you’ve blown our secret.” James said kicking a stone in anger. “Sometimes I don’t know just how different you are from your family.”
“Don’t say that!” Sirius roared. “I’m nothing like them!”
“Well then act like it! You think you’re the only one suffering? Imagine what this would have done to Remus? To me? To Yves? You had better get over yourself Sirius, mate, you’re on the edge.”
Sirius looked at me, something occurring to him. He seemed to be functioning in some kind of haze.
“Yves…” He said, stretching his arm out to touch me but I stepped back, stumbling a little. I couldn’t be around him.
“Yves- we have to get out of here. I Stupefied Snape- He’ll be alright, but we need to get out of here. It’s not safe.”
I didn’t want to go with them but I needed to make sure Severus was alright. James conjured a floating stretcher and, without any help from Sirius, hoisted Severus onto it.
“Come now!” He barked at the both of us, authority thick in his voice. But Sirius didn’t move, he continued to stare at me.
I walked after James and Sirius followed me robotically.
“James,” I asked after a while, “where is Remus?”
Instead of answering, he shook his head and continued to walk in front of me.
“Remus is down there.” Sirius said from beside me.
I couldn’t help but look at him, “Why is he down there?”
“We’ve been trying to help him… He’s…” He ran both hands through his hair, his face dropping, “Remus is a werewolf Yves.”
I sucked in breath. There were few things worse than being a werewolf in the magical world. I had so many questions about it but Sirius wasn’t the person who was meant to tell me, they weren’t his questions to answer. My heart ached for him. The premeditation of Sirius’s act also occurred to me in that moment.
I turned from him, determined that this would be the last time. Sirius Black was dangerous. If he could use one of his friends in the worst possible: to kill someone and place his best friend in danger like that… I had been looking out for Voldemort but I should have been looking out for Sirius.
I waited for Severus just outside the hospital. Being Stupefied was something that Madam Pomfrey could fix without so much as a moments hesitation. Madam Pomfrey was nothing if not through. Dumbledore left the hospital wing looking thunderous before I was allowed to go in. He lay in the bed looking perfectly find but was under strict orders to not leave move before the morning. His face was contorted into a scowl when I walked into the room.
“Yves.” He said stiffly.
“Severus.” I said unable to gauge how he was feeling considering what had just happened to him.
“What are you doing here?” He asked in a voice uncharacteristically harsh.
“I came to make sure you were ok.” I said a little put out.
“I thought you wouldn’t bother.” He said looking away, the scowl etching deeper into his forehead.
“Why would you think that?” I asked more than a little puzzled.
“Because Yves, let’s not pretend you have more feelings for me than you do for those ingrates who did this to me.”
“I don’t know what you mean.” I said positively confused.
“The last few times something has happened concerning Sirius, you’ve gone off with them instead of staying with me. You always choose Sirius before me. Let’s not pretend that because he tried to kill me now it’s any different.” I sucked in breath, hurt washing over me.
“Severus, that’s not true.” I said my heart breaking a little.
“Of course it’s true. After dance lessons, when he attacked me in the passage and after the dance… You always go with him. So go to him. I don’t need you anyway.” He said sounding disappointed and hurt.
I thought about what he was saying for a long time before I responded. I realised that we were at a crossroads and I had to make a choice. In the end it was simple.
“I guess I have. And that was a mistake. But I won’t do that again. I’m here for you Severus. I don’t want to have anything to do with any of them any longer.”
He measured me for a while before he spoke, his dark eyes surveying my face for hesitation or deception.
“Dumbledore told me what happened, what you told him. Lupin is a Werewolf and James tried to save me. And you. You were there.” He said it in a listless sort of way. He sounded defeated.
“Yes. That’s more or less what happened.” When I had told Dumbledore, James and I had conveniently left out the darkness that we both saw in Sirius. Despite what ha had done, we both tried to protect him.
“Yves… Being with you… I love it, I love being with you… But… There is just so much in the way…” he looked away. I felt my throat constrict. He had given me so much of myself back after what had happened with Sirius and now I realised that I was going to lose him too. I looked down, trying to hide my eyes.
“I understand. After everything you’ve been through… I understand. I love being with you too Severus, more than I can say. Being with you… It’s… You’ve saved me.” I stood to leave. I had to get out of there. My heart was shattering but I couldn’t let him see me cry. But nonetheless- he had to know how I felt, what he did for me.
I walked to the door, willing myself not to turn when I felt hands on my hips. He spun me around and slid his arms around me.
“You miss understand Yves. I mean there is so much to overcome… you and I- it’s never going to easy. But I want you. I need you. I will not let you go.”
I stood in his arms completely thunderstruck. I dared not breathe. I couldn’t be hearing right. Not after everything that had happened, after everything I had done.
He steeled his arms around me, his hands like anchors on my hips, and put his forehead against mine.
“Say something.” He breathed, nudging me with his nose. The sensation was so overwhelming, I lifted my lips to his, opening my mouth for him.
He brushed his lips against mine and I could feel a smile forming. I lifted my arms and put them around his shoulders and grabbed a fist full of his hair.
“Yves.” He said softly, running his lips across my skin and into my neck where he was breathing in the scent of my skin.
“Yes?” Was all I could manage to say.
“Are you saying yes?” He said making his way up to my lips again. My body was on fire; his touch was electrifying my entire body.
“Yes.” It was barely more than a whisper but he heard it.
He slid a hand up into my hair, the other he slid further down and pressed my entire body closer to his but he pulled his face away from mine to look in my eyes.
He was smiling a most wicked smile.
“You…” He said before words failed him, “I knew you would say yes.” And he lowered his lips to mine, gently at first before he opened his mouth and pulled my body even closer to his. I couldn’t help but respond. It was more than I had hoped for. My entire body melted into his, I clutched his hair and pulled him as close as I could. Before long he put both hands on my bottom and lifted me up. I wrapped my legs around him and he backed up to a bed and sat down. I straddled him, kissing him until I ran out of breath and we both pulled apart but kept our bodies pressed together.
“From the moment I saw you I knew I had to kiss you; that it was going to be better than I could ever fathom, but god, Yves… That was…” I didn’t let him finish. Instead I pulled him into another breathless kiss feeling myself fall for him. I didn’t stand a chance.
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