Chapter 2 : Blinded
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“Hello Sirius! What did you think of that exam then?”
The blonde Ravenclaw girl that I often noticed passing my way came up to me and questioned me for the fifth time that week about my Newt exams in her best deep, seductive voice to gain my undivided attention: it didn’t work. I could feel Remus’ eyes boring into my back as I smiled politely and told her, with a nonchalant shrug, that it could go either way and I wasn’t all that bothered, what ever happened. I frowned at her excited expression on her face, and wondered why on earth she insisted on bothering me when there were so many others she could be asking. Remus had claimed she was infatuated with me, but I failed to see why, when I didn’t find her remotely attractive or interesting. She left me with a smile on her pretty face, and Remus came over to join me, his lanky frame shaking with glee, as he laughed at me in a quiet chuckle to himself.
“You just don’t get it, do you?” he smirked, and then shook his head at my confused face.
“What? I was polite. I don’t even know the girl!”
He rolled his eyes and looked at me in a disbelieving sort of way, as if I really should know what he was about to say.
“Most blokes would give their right arm for a chance to date Sabine, but you! Oh no! Far too busy, unless it’s offered on a plate. Just too much effort for you, isn’t it Sirius?” He grinned at me some more through his sandy coloured hair as he said “ I don’t understand how you can be so familiar with women and yet so clueless at the same time.”
I grinned and flicked another Bertie Botts bean into my wide-open mouth as I lean casually against the wall of the Great Hall. My reputation with the opposite sex was well known, if a little misunderstood. If I found a girl interesting enough and attractive I would give her all the time in the world, but I refused to be drawn into someone’s tangled web like James had been with Lily: commitment and I did not sit well together. But I was no cad: always polite and kind and always the perfect gentleman, unless I was not required to be so, and then, well, who was I to refuse? Remus looked at me, still annoyed as I pondered and smirked and so I thought I would try to help him out a little.
“I’ll get you a date with her if you want me to, Moony. What did you say her name was again?”
“Who’s this you’re trying to set our Moony up with then, Padfoot?”
James swaggered out of the Great Hall to where we had been waiting for the rest of our gang, and punched me playfully on the arm. I shrugged my shoulders.
“That blonde one from Ravenclaw that Rellie is always going on about. Sienna, isn’t it?” I asked Remus.
James laughed at me, and raised his eyebrows in mock surprise.
“Not Sabine Peterson? Bloody hell Padfoot, you want to keep her for yourself not pass her to old Moony! She’s gorgeous!”
He didn’t see Lily creeping up from behind him.
“Gorgeous? I hope you’ re talking about me, James Potter.”
She slid her arms around his waist from behind and he turned towards her, kissing her softly on the lips, much to my utter disgust. James couldn’t hide his guilt from Lily, and as Remus and I grinned to one another, marvelling at his pained expression, I decided to add to his plight.
“Actually Lily, he was talking about Sabine Peterson.”
I grinned triumphantly as James mouthed ‘Thanks’ and Remus squirmed as Lily’s anger welled up to a crescendo, and she withdrew form her embrace.
“Oh her! What on earth do you all see in her? Actually don’t answer that, I really don’t want to know. You should hear what Rellie says about her when she annoys her. She said last week she was a ‘ stuck up cow with no taste and no knickers’”
Lily’s impression of Arella sent me into fits of barking laughter and as I eyed my companions I saw they were both suppressing fits of laughter too. James could hold his emotion no longer and he burst out laughing at the still scowling Lily.
“Yeah, that’s why she’s making eyes at Padfoot! No taste!”
“No knickers?” repeated Remus, frowning and blushing as James ruffled his sandy hair and made it just as messy as his own. I had to smile at the reddened cheeks of my embarrassed friend. He was so bookish and insular I couldn’t even remember a time he had even been kissed, though the girls seemed to like him, as he was such a gentle soul. He often complained that he was the agony uncle for my exes, but I think he exaggerated a little. But his solitary ways were his way of dealing with his lycanthropy, and we all made sure that he was never made to feel lonely in other ways, though Lily and Arella did not accompany us at full moon. Full moon was a time that Arella feared greatly: though she was a distant relation of Remus’ and loved him dearly, she had never gotten over her fear of werewolves since they were attacked as children, and Remus had received the bite. James had often thought that if she could overcome that fear within, they would have made a good couple, and Lily had tried several times to match-make the two of them, but they would not hear of it, and there was a small part of me that was glad they felt that way. We already had one golden couple, and another was more than I could cope with.
As I dodged a swing from the ever playful James, we noticed that Lily had back tracked her way into the Hall again, and as she went in Peter came out and James grabbed his arm to stop him from walking straight past us.
“Where’s Lily gone to now, Wormtail?”
Peter sighed and looked towards us, weighing up his words as he spoke.
“Arella and Severus had a bit of a row in there. It wasn’t very pleasant and he was out of order. I thought she was going to hex him at one point but then all the rest of that Slytherin gang joined in and she got upset. I think Lily’s gone to sort her out.”
My anger swelled up inside me, running through my veins and making my heartbeat quicken with the sound of Snape’s name. Ever since I had found Arella and Severus the evening after the prank I had pulled on him I had hated Snape with such a passion, which was even more than I did before. I will never forget that look in his eyes as he attempted to hurt her with the Cruciatus curse, thinking she had helped me in the prank, even though she had told him the truth time after time. He could not see beyond his anger. She had been his loyal and devoted girlfriend of nearly three years, despite our pleading with her to come to her senses, and the thanks she got was to be hurt and betrayed by him. And even then, after he had hurt her so, she refused to let all the rest of our group know what had gone on; I was the only one who knew the truth. Soon after their row, the girl I had known for so long became a shadow of her former self, burying herself in books and her Quidditch captaincy, which she took very seriously. She spent more time with Remus in those dark days, and leaned on him rather than me. Her days for the pranks and dares had seemed to be over, and I had tried to bring the old Arella back, despite James saying she had brought it all on herself.
James and Arella rarely saw eye to eye, partly because of their ingrained Quidditch rivalry and partly because she had dated the Slytherin who annoyed and irritated James more than any other pupil at Hogwarts. He had no sympathy for her, but I, on the other hand, could not bear to see her in so much pain and I had made every effort to heal her wounds.
Not that I ever dated her or even fancied her. She was a friend and nothing more, but I cannot deny she had a quality about her that stirred something within me: a connection that I couldn’t explain but we were, in essence true friends. She mystified me, on occasion controlled me and her laughter was so infectious it made me smile just to remember. She was game for a dare again now, and often sneaked around the corridors with me, heading for the Potions store cupboard and stealing ingredients or swapping labels on the bottles for a laugh. With James and Lily spending as much time as they could alone together she had become my fellow mischief-maker, and, for her daredevil spirit and cunning nature, I adored her. Even when she had dated him I stayed close to her and Snape hated me for it. The feeling was mutual, and as Arella came through those doors I headed behind her to find him and give him a piece of my mind, but was held back by a large pair of hands placed on my broad shoulders: Remus.
“Leave it, Padfoot. She won’t tell me what went on between them, but I know she’s told you everything and I think that just makes you a little too involved. If anyone should talk to him it should be me, not you. And even then I’ll only do it if she wants me to.”
So rare was it for Remus to step in I did as he asked and took a step back, Part of me was ready to pounce onto the greasy Slytherin as he chatted to his loathsome friends, and the other part drawn back to Remus. It was so like him to prevent a confrontation and become the calm and considerate diplomat, even with Snape. Of course I knew what he had meant: if I waded in with both feet it could make things a whole lot worse for Arella and none of us wanted that. But it took every single sinew in my body to hold me back that day and ignore what I felt about that Slytherin in my heart. I swung around to where the girls had been and saw Lily walk along the corridor to the Gryffindor common room with Arella, as although Arella was a true Ravenclaw she spent much of her free time with us in the Gryffindor common room, as long as the right people were around. Remus appeared to read my mind as I took a step forward.
“I’d leave them for a bit, Padfoot. I think they may need a bit of a girlie chat for a while. She’ll be all right, and I’ll go and check on her in a minute. You stay with James and keep him out of the way for a while.”
I shrugged my shoulders and gritted my teeth with frustration and glanced towards James, who was currently avoiding my gaze on purpose. He glanced upwards in my direction, thinking my line of sight was elsewhere, and pressed his lips together as if suppressing his words. As Remus left us he stepped over to me, his hand placed on my shoulder as a sign of our friendship.
“She’s as much to blame as he is mate, you have to see that. We all told her when she first went out with him what a mistake she was making but she ignored us then and she’ll probably ignore us now. She made her bed…literally.”
Now it was my turn to avoid his gaze, and I watched the sunlight playing on the stained glass window of the Great Hall, making delicate, flittering patterns like tiny butterflies on the cool stone floor beneath my feet, but somehow there fairy-like dance just served to remind me of her. Desperate for my undivided attention, James nudged me with his elbow, knocking me sideways, and when I turned to look upon his face he was grinning wickedly and I knew by the look in his eye he had a plan.
“Course, just because I don’t agree with Arella, it doesn’t mean we can’t give old Snivellus a bit of advice on how to behave with women, does it? Whatever she’s done, he shouldn’t have made her cry, right?”
I stared straight into his eyes and patted my best friend on the back in total agreement, unable to contain my delight.
“Prongs, you amaze me with your genius and wisdom sometimes, my friend.”
I held out my hand in a grand gesture and with a sweep of my arm said, “ Please, lead the way and let the fun commence.”
But after a thorough search of the grounds we discovered that Severus had gone to Hogsmeade with his obnoxious Slytherin friends and deliciously tempting though it was, James had second thoughts about confronting him in public: Lily had more of an influence on him than I had realised, and so we had to return to the common room dejected and downhearted. However, as we entered the room I could tell the mood had lifted, and Arella was teasing Remus about finding a date for the final ball we would ever attend at Hogwarts. She glanced at me and winked mischievously as she sat down just behind Remus, and squeezed his arm, though he refused to be a part of their conversation and hid behind his copy of the Daily Prophet to avoid their gaze.
“So, do you want me to put in a good word for you with Hestia then, Remus? I think she needs some romance in her life and you are Mr Romantic, aren’t you? You are the most loving, romantic male here.”
As James headed towards Lily, hand outstretched to pull her closer to him, he coughed to gain our attention, grinning wickedly at Lily as he spoke.
“Remus is not the most romantic male here! That would be me, wouldn’t it Lily?”
Lily smiled, and touched his cheek affectionately, pinching a fold of his skin between her fingers and thumb.
“Of course you are dear, but Remus is just a little bit more..erm…”
James looked indignant as Remus peered out of from behind his newspaper and grinned, half embarrassed and half bemused. James frowned at Lily, releasing her from her grasp in mock fury.
“Well?” he demanded.
“Tactful, polite, gentlemanly….need I go on?” she grinned at his reddening face and winked.
“I’m all of those!”
Arella scoffed. “When are you ever tactful, James Potter? And polite for that matter?”
I joined in the conversation, bemused by James’ irritated expression.
“They’re right, you know! You’re bloody awful, you are!” and I laughed as I placed both hands behind my head and leaned back into the old cherry-coloured leather chair. Arella crumpled with laughter as she viewed my arrogance and threw a cushion in my direction which I caught single handedly.
“You’re just as bad, you old devil, if not worse!”
“What? I’m always the perfect gentleman and a romantic fool when I date a lady!”
It was James’ turn to pour scorn upon my words.
“Yeah, but when was the last time you dated a lady?”
I grabbed the cushion on my lap and hurled it in his direction, but he ducked and it hit Peter instead, who had been observing quietly in the corner of the room, alone and attentive as usual. I stood up and placed my hands upon my hips, flicking my hair back from my face and played my mocking part well.
“Are you saying that I am a cad, James Potter? The worst sort of man who has his wicked way with young women and casts them aside? I am more than capable of behaving myself with a woman and I have dated several ladies too, thank you!”
I held my wand out and placed it with one flick of a wrist underneath his chin, pointing my nose skywards in mock disdain.
“I challenge you, Sire, that I will prove my worth at the ball with my intended victim…erm…date”
James threw his head back with laughter, pushed away the wand from his chin, and patted my back with a single blow.
“You’ve changed your tune! You said the ball was far too dull for you to attend. And which one out of the little black book will be attending then? Arabella, Morwenna, Cymbaline…?”
I have no idea why I said her name, but hers was the first I thought of as I spoke to James that day. “Arella”
Even Peter stopped laughing as I spoke her name. James looked as stunned as I had ever seen him, as did Arella, whose eyes were now as wide as owls, and her mouth wide open in shock, so much so that she failed to answer. Prongs went to answer with some clever remark but Lily decided to give him a look of “You dare” as if anticipating a slight aimed at Arella. I winked suggestively at the still stunned brunette, and she opened and closed her mouth as if still attempting to work out some suitable reply but getting no satisfactory answers.
“Sirius, what on earth are you on about? You haven’t asked me to the ball, and since when have I been in that little black book of yours, and what makes you think I would go with you? I wasn’t going to bother this year.”
I walked slowly towards her and as I reached her feet, placed neatly together as she sat on the window seat, I got down on my knees, clasped her hands in mine, and kissed them while holding her gaze constantly. It was very theatrical.
“Will you do me the honour of accompanying me to the ball, my lady? We shall have a good time and laugh together in the face of Sir Severus Snape.”
She leaned forwards, her warm breath playing on my skin, creating a sensation within me that I did not understand and looked into my eyes, squinting her own as if searching within my very soul to see the truth.
“Why should I trust you, Sirius Black? You’re up to something, I bet.”
“Because I promise you that I will wash away your woes and show you a very good time. I promise you I will not disappoint you nor allow you to come to any harm, my lady Ravenclaw. And I’ll buy you any extra drinks for the private party here we’ll have afterwards of the alcoholic kind.”
She smiled a slow, seductive smile at me and though we knew it was just a simple game, there was a small flickering flame inside my heart as she said “Then of course I will accept your kind invitation, Sire. But only for the promise of fire whisky, you understand.”
The moment was ruined by a cushion hurtling its way towards my head, thrown by James of course, and laughter from Remus, who had folded his newspaper, too intrigued by our performance. His bemused look turned to his cousin and his face looked as if he had just eaten a slice of lemon.
“Are you really going with him, Rellie?”
She tossed back her raven hair to get a better look at Remus. “Yeah! Why not? He may be just the tonic I need right now, Remus, besides which he knows if he tries anything funny with me I’ll make sure he can never go on a romantic date ever again.”
Remus laughed and nodded towards me as I looked on in horror.
“True, true, but he’s not a man to be trusted. I mean this is Sirius we are talking about.”
“Yeah, but don’t worry Remus. I know how to handle him; he’ll be putty in my hands.”
She raised her eyebrows at me and as she reached forwards she planted the sweetest kiss upon my forehead and squeezed both my cheeks. Lily smiled at us both and then frowned as she glanced across the room.
“So if you two have dates, what about Remus and Peter?”
“Remus has Hestia. I’m sure I’ll be able to sort that one out”
“Do I get a say in this?” questioned Remus.
“No!” shouted Lily and Arella together, laughing like two giggly schoolgirls.
Remus huffed and sank further into his chair, now outnumbered in the conversation and feeling distinctly uncomfortable to have his love life discussed so. Peter piped up in his familiar squeaky voice.
“Oh, well…I …I already asked Fenella.”
I glanced across at James, who was mirroring the expression on my face, and then we both turned to Peter in unison, open mouthed and eyes wide with shock. I spoke slowly, to ensure he understood my every word.
“Please tell me you don’t mean Fenella Fuggle, Peter!”
He shrugged, and squirmed in his seat.
“Is there another Fenella? I…I ..know she’s…she’s”
“Yeah! A Slytherin, you prat!” James couldn’t control his anger at the news.” What the hell were you thinking of, dating one of that lot?”
“She’s very nice once you get to know her.”
Peter’s face grew redder by the minute, but I had to agree with James. This was bad news. The Slytherin group of our year were a bunch of pure blood, Dark Arts loving idiots and we already had Arella date one of them, though at least she had now come to her senses. And here was Wormtail, about to make the same mistake himself. It just couldn’t happen.
“She’s only doing it so they can have a good laugh at you, Wormtail. I bet Severus is chuckling away with them all right now about this. She’s playing you for a fool and you can’t even see it!”
Peter rose from his seat, and everyone turned to stare at him.
“Then…then she wouldn’t be much different to the way you all treat me, would she?”
Leaving us all open-mouthed and astounded by his outburst, Peter left the common room and slammed the door behind him.
I can feel the anger surging through me, but the ever-present force of the Dementors turn my anger to sorrow, regret and despair as I see my error. Why didn’t we see it then; why, when the warning signs were there did we become so blind? He dated a Slytherin, from a family mine knew only too well and though he still hung around with us, joined us as the rat, laughed along with us, was he so loyal, even back then? Admittedly he only dated her for that ball, or did he? Was he seeing her in secret like he had been meeting Voldemort years later? Did he start his deception then?
I must keep my mind but the task is so exhausting and the pain of sorrow grips me. I must hold on to my sanity, or what little of it I have left, but the task grows harder and I feel their presence closer now. I cannot fight it. I can only see the sad memories within the folds of my mind.
They make me realise the full extent of the burden buried deep within my lonely heart. James and Lily are dead, Peter is a traitor, Remus is alone and I…I have to face that in my solitary confinement with only these cold, damp walls for consultation.
And Arella? She is lost. Lost to the man whose dreams of reconciliation were shattered when he saw me hold her in my arms that night at the dance. Before my eyes I saw all hope for him had gone and his anger pulsed through him as I pulled her ever closer, feeling the rise and fall of her breathing as we danced the slow dances in front of him, and, as I caught his eye I kissed her passionately, just to make his world become a mere memory of what could have been. Or was it that I enjoyed the taste of her mouth against mine? I cannot remember: they will not let me remember her.
And yet he would have the last laugh. I feel him laughing now, even though he is far away I see his mocking face and it taunts me. He taunts me and I hear his laughter coming for me down the corridors and yet he is not there; I know he is not there. I must find a way to survive this hell I face or I will slip further into my enforced insanity. I must rest and I must find a way to remember the happier times again. I must remember them all to survive; there has to be away.
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