Chapter 21 : Rumours
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Oh what a terrible thought
'Cause I've lived without you once before
We don't, we don't have to do this again
Please don't, please don't make me start this again
Oh my love
Your beauty will consume me in the end
It was only ever you
It was only ever you
It feels like a lifetime
Oh god I don't think I could do two
Afterlife~ Nothing But Thieves
I did manage to get about two hours sleep before it became impossible to keep my eyes closed for one more minute. Mary was prone to waking up early, and, unlike normal people, found it impossible to entertain herself for more than a few minutes before she began sighing loudly to herself, rustling the blankets and walking around the room, stomping her feet. I don’t think she did it consciously but she always made so much noise all of us eventually ended waking up. I rolled over exhausted.
“Lord Mary! The one morning I actually need to sleep late.” I said uncharacteristically grumpily.
“Oh good! You’re up!” She said happily. “Oh and look, so is Lily.” Lily was glaring at her while Alice covered her head with her blanket.
“So…” Mary said leadingly coming to sit at the edge of my bed in her blue pyjamas.
“So what?” I said punching my pillows aggressively to fluff them.
“So what she asks?” She said scoffing at me. “What did Sirius have to say?”
I looked at Mary waiting there eagerly and Lily and Alice sitting in their cots waiting for me. There were so many parts of the story that weren’t mine to tell. What happened to Severus, what Sirius did, what Remus was. I didn’t have a right to tell those parts of the story. So instead I tried to craftily skip around those parts I couldn’t tell. I don’t think the girls noticed they were way too caught up in the love triangle to notice the holes in the story. I did also leave out the part about Sirius telling me he loved me. I wasn’t ready to dissect that particular aspect of the story. Besides, it felt far too intimate to just go blurting out carelessly. Especially after I had spent what little sleep I had dreaming about him.
After a lengthy conversation we all went to breakfast but I was still beyond moody. I was trying to keep it together because the girls didn’t deserve my temper but I was seriously sleep deprived and seriously confused. I knew I couldn’t be with Sirius, not after what he had done but those things he had said and how I felt when he said them, when he held me in his arms... The feeling of sadness from the night before hadn’t dissipated but rather magnified dangerously. I was so happy when I was with Severus before but now I was unsure. I knew rationally which would be the best choice to make but there was something inside me saying that there may be something more to look out for.
I let the girls walk into the Great Hall before me for breakfast when I felt a strong hand clasp my arm. I turned to see Sirius, his face severe. My heart started to beat erratically and I felt a little hot under the collar.
“Yves.” he said, his voice grave.
“Sirius.” I said trying to be nonchalant.
“Something has happened. Someone has been telling your secrets.”
“What are you talking about?” My stomach tightened uncomfortably.
“Don’t look around love,” He said stepping a little closer, “everyone is staring at you. Come with me.”
“What secret Sirius?” I asked in a whisper before I decided what to do.
“Everyone knows your parents are Death Eaters. I heard some First Year Hufflepuff’s talking about it when I came down this morning. I thought that somehow it was just them but then I heard others.” His face was solemn. By the way he was speaking, I couldn’t for a moment believe that it was he who had broken my trust.
“I would suggest you take your hands off of my girl Black,” said a familiar voice slickly, “lest you want to try again what you tried last night?” Severus came into view beside me and slid his hand into mine, “I can assure you, this time I will be prepared.” He was slightly taller than Sirius, not nearly as muscular, but there was something so venomous about him in that moment that I wouldn’t have liked Sirius’s chances were there to be a fight.
Sirius’s face went blank as he stared at Severus’s hand in mine and it took him a long while to speak.
“Someone is trying to hurt Yves.” He said dragging his eyes up to Severus’s face. “You need to get her out of here please.”
Severus looked down at me and I gave him the hint of a nod confirming that Sirius was not lying and he immediately turned to leave. I followed, not sure what else to do with myself.
“Oh, by the way Snape,” Sirius said behind me before we both turned, me because of his tone, Severus to make sure he wasn’t attacked from behind, “I’d like for you to spread the word: I have a warning for you all,” his mouth was twisting into an unnerving grin, “you can tell the little birds that I’m fucking coming for them. You may have Yves and I may not be her choice but that doesn’t mean that I’m still not going to be there every step of the way making sure she is alright. I’m going to be behind every fucking corner, in every fucking shadow. You can tell the little birds that if I catch them, not even Voldemort will be able to help them.”
Severus considered Sirius for what felt like the longest tensest minutes of my life before his face broke into it’s own sinister grin.
“Are you threatening me Black?” Severus said, his voice pure hatred.
“Yes of course. Why would I bother doing anything else?” Sirius said looking disquieting. He spun on his heel and walked back into the Great Hall before screaming into the sea of curious faces that had been watching the entire exchange, “You want to see what the progeny of Death Eaters look like? Look right fucking here…”
What the hell was going on? There was obviously something going on between Sirius and Severus that I wasn’t quite aware of. This was the second time I had heard the term little bird. I went with Severus but there was something disturbing going on.
“I can’t actually stand the audacity of him.” Severus vented when we were out of earshot.
“I am so sorry about that Sev.” I said taking his hand to try calm him down but it was as though Sirius had poisoned him. I could slowly see it burning within him. He reminded me of something I had seen in my mother when I was a child. I had to remind myself that the same poison that infected my family wasn’t going to infect everyone I met.
The next week was rough. Everywhere I went, whispers followed and eyes either bored into me or averted completely. But no one had the chance to say or do anything significant. The Marauders were seemingly everywhere I was. If it wasn’t James and Peter conveniently waiting for Lily and I outside of Arithmancy, then there was a very tired and drawn looking Remus sitting next to me in Defence Against the Dark Arts. Sirius seemed to keep to his promise of being a shadow. Although he left me alone I caught him looking at me every chance he got, not only that, he seemed to be in all places at once. Apparently the girls were also under strict instructions not to leave me alone because I couldn’t get a moment alone the entire week. On Saturday I did manage to flee from all of them to spend the day in the grounds with Severus. We hadn’t gotten too much time alone with my posse following me around all hours of the day and the teachers piling on the homework in preparations for exams.
Severus had organised a cosy picnic for the both of us. After we finished eating, we lay and watched the clouds speaking about nothing. Severus propped himself up on his elbow to lean over me, and gave me a most welcomed kiss that I could feel in my toes. My body felt warm and relaxed. All too soon he ended the kiss and sat up. I followed not ready for the moment to be over but then I looked out over the grounds and I saw Sirius sitting in the distance, alone, obviously a on sentinel duty. Severus had spotted him too and I felt the distaste emanate from him unconsciously.
“Oh for heavens sake!” I said standing up, “This is becoming ridiculous! I’m going to tell him to bugger off.”
“Yves, don’t.” He said taking my hand, “That’s exactly what he wants. He wants you to go to him. We can do this instead…” he said pulling me onto his lap before kissing me deeply. After an eternity, I came up for air and I thought Sirius would have left. But he was still there. The cruelty of what we had just done wasn’t lost on me. I really did need to speak to him to get him to back off. I knew it would be nearly impossible but I had to try- it wasn’t fair on either of us.
I left Severus after our picnic to walk back up to the dormitory to get things and go to the library when I heard footsteps behind me. I turned to see Sirius climbing the stairs a little way behind me looking at the floor.
“Sirius.” I said my frustration bubbling over. “This has to stop, you have to stop following us around.” I said as he caught up to me but then, as usual, he didn’t stop until he was too close.
“I’m not following him around. I’m following you around.” He said before he lowered his face to mine, our lips almost touching.
“You have to stop.” I said weakly unable to look away from his lips.
“No.” was all he said before slipping past me to walk ahead of me.
I called after him but he just carried on walking, just far enough away for me to know he was there, but not too close for me to physically assault him which I did want to do quite a lot these days. I had to be honest though, with everyone looking out for me I was feeling safer than I had the entire time I had been at Hogwarts. And no one bothered me about the Death Eater parent’s thing. And even though I thought it would ruin my relationship with Severus, it didn’t seem to be having too much of a negative impact. For the most part, Severus and I seemed to be getting closer more quickly than I anticipated but I wasn’t complaining.
The following week I was walking to Potions, excited to spend the lesson with Severus when I walked past a group of Slytherins loitering around in the corridor.
“Hey Fleury,” One of them called and, like an idiot, I turned. They were giggling stupidly. “Someone told that you’re a bit of a muggle lover. Or was it. I can’t remember exactly what they said but I know it had something to do with muggles…” One of them said, he was the weedy boy, Mulciber, I had seen out in the grounds by the Herbology class months ago… with Severus. I froze not sure what to do. Did they know? Did Severus know? He had the most malicious grin on his face.
“Just because you’re all make-believe Death Eaters doesn’t mean we all share your sentiments.” Said familiar voice from behind me. Remus. Thank god.
The weedy boy took a confident step forward, very sure of himself. I looked around, the other Marauders were nowhere in sight. I wasn’t afraid of a fight but we were plainly outnumbered. He walked right up to Remus, matching him in height but not in stature. While Remus looked tattered and worn from his shoes right down to his very soul, this boy was shiny and new. He surveyed Remus as though he was nothing better than an insect. Remus, meanwhile, smirked at the boy, not shifting his eyes for a second. He was always the most underrated of the Marauders next to Peter. One often forgot that he was an accomplished wizard, level headed and fiercely intelligent. I saw in that moment just how much he had in common with James and Sirius. They may have stolen all of the shine from him, but I knew anyone would be a fool to underestimate him.
The boy finally finished surveying him and lifted his face to level up with Remus.
“Woof.” Was all he said and all hell broke loose. Remus, completely forgetting that there was such a thing as magic, rammed his fist into Mulciber’s face. He fell to the ground, Remus flew on top of him, pummelling him with his fists. I looked up just in time to see a short, plump girl raise her wand at Remus. But I was quicker, I shot out a hex and suddenly her knees were reversed and she smashed her face into the ground. There was a sharp sound like breaking teeth and a dull groan that followed. A boy from a year above me got his own back. Blue sparks shot from his wand and collided with my chest. I was thrown against the wall and sunk to the ground. But I would be damned if they were going to get the better of either Remus or I. So long as I could think, I could fight. I pointed my wand and the ground started to shift, turning into quicksand. The more they struggled, the deeper they sank. It gave me just enough time to stand up before Mulciber slashed out with his wand, Remus staggering back, his arm squirting blood everywhere. Mulciber’s face had been pummelled, he was bleeding and the swelling was almost instantaneous. Even though Remus had been injured, it didn’t deter him. He pulled his wand out and started to lift it.
“Remus! No!” I yelled, starting to run. Mulciber posed no threat; he could hardly hold his own wand.
Out of nowhere, Sirius skidded in front of Remus and his wand blocking the way. I deflected a few hexes from the sinking Slytherins that were aimed at Sirius. They obviously knew that he posed the greatest threat to their leader.
“Moony, my brother,” he said in a calm voice, “you are more than this.” Remus looked like he was snapped to attention and focussed on Sirius immediately, “You are the best of us.” Sirius continued, pushing his wand down. “Get out of here. I’ll clean it up.”
Remus, looking a little stunned started to speak, “Padfoot, they know.” To anyone standing around it would have been an innocuous sentence. But to both Sirius and I, it was far more serious. Remus turned, leaving Sirius and I on scene. Sirius watched him go before rounding on Mulciber.
Someone shot off a jinx at Sirius but he deflected it without so much as breaking concentration. He was completely focussed on what was happening around him now.
“What is it that happened here?” He asked Mulciber in a low voice.
“Do not speak to me you blood traitor.” Mulciber said, spraying blood all over Sirius’s shirt. I saw his knuckles turn white in anger.
“Please,” he said sounding unconcerned, “like you have a choice in whether I talk to you or not you piece of shit. But you’re right, this isn’t the time or the place for this particular conversation but trust me, I will find a time.”
Professor Slughorn chose that moment to stumble upon the scene and in his absentminded way managed to wash over everything as though nothing was the matter.
While everyone was trying to cover up his or her involvement, I saw Severus standing a little way away, his face impassive.
It dawned on me that the question wasn’t whether someone in Slytherin knew what I had done and had told Severus. The question was who had told the Slytherin’s about Remus. There were only three people at Hogwarts who knew about Remus other than the Marauders: Dumbledore, Severus and myself. I was immediately overcome with anger. Out of everything that had happened to each of us, Sirius, Severus and myself, the only one who was actually, mostly, innocent in the entire endeavour, was Remus. I saw just how good he had been struggling though his lycanthrope without so much as a slip. There wasn’t one day when he took his temper out on anyone. There wasn’t a single moment when he treated Mary with anything other than reverence, when he wasn’t level headed and a perfect gentleman, even when he didn’t need to be.
I marched straight over to Severus; he had been staring at someone else and didn’t notice me approaching.
His eyes went wide when he recognised that I was right under his nose.
“You told them.” I said whispering but my voice sounded broken and mangled to my ears. My temper had completely snapped. I had been on the edge for weeks.
“Yves, you’re bleeding.” He said lifting a hand to my face but I hit it away.
“I trusted you. After everything that happened, after how we’ve seen how people play on others weaknesses, you have done the same. It is completely hateful Severus.”
“What are you talking about?” He said playing dumb which made my temper swell again.
“Remus.” Was all I said and his eyes became slits but he didn’t try to deny it. “You know how many times someone has done to me what you just did to him? How many times have you experienced that kind of cruelty?” He seemed to be considering my words and they must have made an impact because he made to come closer.
I cut him off. “I can’t trust you.” I said, realising that there was also a good chance that Mulciber knew what Voldemort had made me do. And there was a good chance that Severus knew it too. And for how long had he known? The implications of the information were such a deluge I didn’t hear what else anyone was saying. I started to walk. I needed air.
I wasn’t sure exactly how I got there, but I ended up at the dock. I sat down, trying to compose myself and stared at the water. There were black clouds on the horizon. There was a storm brewing.
I took a deep breath, filling my lungs with petrichor when the tears started to slip from my eyes. I started to cry, big gulping sobs. I needed some relief, some kind of solace, and some kind of peace. I hugged my knees, rocking myself slightly. I wasn’t sure how long I had been sitting like that but I felt a presence near me. I looked up to see Sirius sitting next to me, but as far away from he as he could get.
“I wasn’t sure what to do.” He said after I had watched him look out at the water for a long time, lightening in the distance. “I didn’t want to interrupt but I couldn’t leave you out here on your own. But I knew you would be so angry with me if I tried to comfort you hence...” he said waving at the distance between us.
“When did it all get so messed up?” I asked him vaguely. I knew he couldn’t answer that question. And even though I asked, I knew exactly the moment everything had become messed up for me.
“Oh love,” He began, turning his face to look at my own. “I think we both know the answer to that question.” As always we were on the same page. I had noticed the moniker and thought it had been an accident but here it was again.
“Something dreadful is coming isn’t it?” I asked. We all knew Voldemort was out there trying to gain support. People were beginning to disappear. Muggles were dying all over the continent. There were whispers in the hallways, murmurs of unspeakable horrors. But we all knew that at some point we would have to face him, each and every one of us. We couldn’t hide at Hogwarts forever. Today we had all seen the division, those with Voldemort and those against. I wasn’t about to stand by idly. I had the feeling neither would Sirius.
“I think it is.” He said continuing to look out over the horizon. “But we have something to cling to.”
“We do?” I said hopeful. I would need something, anything, to stave off the darkness, the sadness…
“Of course we do my love. We have chosen the light.” He said focussing on me intimately, “we cling to the light because it makes us who we are.”
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