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Chapter 8 : The Room of Requirement: James
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The Room of Requirement: James
“Sirius?” James’ hushed voice woke Sirius immediately.
“James?” Sirius asked groggily. Shadows dances across the room from the fireplace, allowing him to see a vague outline of James’ figure. The serene atmosphere and feeling of safety made him temporarily forget he was still at Hogwarts. It was only when he tried to sit up and felt the weight of Lily’s sleeping form that Sirius remembered where he was. “What time is it?”
“Late. I got worried when you didn’t come back.”
“Sorry about that.” Sirius struggled out from under Lily, and began tucking the covers back up around her trying not to wake her. Sirius realized how this must look. It had been years since James had caught him in bed with a woman, and Sirius sensed a vague feeling of disapproval. “Did you charm her?”
James nodded. “She won’t hear a thing we say. Come sit by the fire, I brought coffee and Irish whiskey. I knew one or the other would appeal to you.”
Sirius tried to clear his mind as he moved near the fireplace. James’ failure to make a snide remark at finding him with Lily and his need to immediately put her under a charm made Sirius uneasy. James was rarely serious, but when it did come, it encapsulated him in a cloak of darkness that was almost impossible to penetrate.
“It’s been a long time since the two of us have set in front of this fireplace together.” James said sinking into a cushy chair opposite Sirius. “Your night must have been worse than I thought for you to have needed to come back here.”
Sirius didn’t reply but poured himself a cup of coffee then topped it off with a bit of James’ whiskey. The soft crackle from the fire caused him to lose himself in memories from their childhood and pictures of long summer days at the Potter house filled Sirius mind.
“Somehow, I don’t remember the view in my room being quite so interesting.” James remarked as if reading Sirius’ mind. He nodded toward Lily and Sirius followed his gaze. “Have you slept with her, Sirius?”
It wasn’t a question of curiosity but one of profound concern and Sirius reminded himself that this was not a stranger but James…his best friend in the world.
Sirius could see the look of disbelief wash over James and Sirius hesitated. He had never known James not to believe him and the idea that he had somehow put up a wall between the two with regards to Lily bothered him immensely. Sirius watched James ruffle his hair in unease, and Sirius sent him a penetrating gaze. “I have not, James. Believe whatever you like.”
“Why would I not believe you?” James shook his head, but Sirius could still hear the edge in his voice. Sirius watched intently as James took a sip of his coffee and Sirius knew he was attempting to find a way re-phrase his remarks. “I just find the relationship a bit precarious is all.”
The coolness of James’ tone did nothing to settle Sirius’ mind and he wondered what had made James so uncomfortable with his own question. It wasn’t as if they hadn’t talked about girls before and it was odd for James to seem so cautious about bringing up the topic. He followed James’ gaze to Lily and a feeling of awkwardness washed over him. James, of course, was right. This wasn’t any girl…this was Lily.
“So do I.” Sirius murmured finally.
“She’s coming to rely on you, Sirius.” James’ words were thick and heavy with meaning.
Sirius nodded…it was the exact same chilling thought he had had earlier. “I know.”
“Then I assume I don’t need to explain to you the danger of that situation?”
“Which one?” Sirius asked as he poured another cup of coffee for James. “That she will lose me in the end? That she’s putting her own life in danger? That she’s muggle born?”
“Don’t play the sarcastic apathetic Black here, Sirius. I know better.”
“Of course, I’ve thought about it, James.” Sirius muttered. “It’s a new development that I certainly didn’t plan on.”
Sirius knew it must seem odd to James. Sirius had been with many women and none had had the effect on him that Lily seemed to. Before, Sirius had always been able to break off a relationship with them and have no regrets. James had been witness to their fight earlier…Sirius had heard his soft breathing in the hallway and knew he must have grabbed the invisibility cloak in order to eavesdrop on Dumbledore’s news. James would have known it was Sirius’ attempt to break things off and move on. But, mere hours later, James had found him in bed with Lily. The confusion on James’ face was evident.
“Can you walk away?” James asked evenly as he poured more whiskey into his drink.
Sirius glanced to Lily momentarily then returned his gaze to James who seemed to be gulping his coffee in anticipation of Sirius’ response. Sirius’ voice, although steady, was wrought with emotion. “No more than I could from you.”
“That’s a danger to you.”
Sirius felt his hands relax and, for the first time, realized they had been clinched since James’ arrival. It was only natural for James to assume Sirius’ life would be in danger because of his relationship with Lily. But Sirius knew he had no intention of letting his emotions toward Lily make him careless. He smiled James’ direction to help reassure his dear friend. “What would the rest of the world do if they knew just how serious the jovial James Potter could be?”
“The same thing they’d do if they found out self-centered Sirius Black had weaknesses.”
“Weaknesses?” Sirius huffed. “Name one.”
“Your mother, your father, Regulus, a secret desire to protect the innocent while feigning indifference, loyalty to me, the save the world thing, Lily…”
“I said one, James.” Sirius interrupted testily but couldn’t help but grin.
James sat quietly for a moment and Sirius knew he was relishing the moment. Their days at Hogwarts were spent in fun and mischief and now that their years here were ending, it was impossible not to look back on their adventures with fondness. The dark moments they had shared…the moments that had drawn them closer than any of the other marauders…. were moments like these. Moments where the truth was the only thing mattered between them. Sirius’ eyes clouded as he realized how long it had been since they had had to do this. Nothing, since the days he had left his parents’ home, had weighed so heavily on both their minds. And whatever James had come to talk to him about, Sirius knew it was obviously important to him.
“Tell me, James. Before we’re old men and it doesn’t matter anymore.”
“You saw Voldemort tonight. I heard you telling Dumbledore.”
Sirius was surprised at James’ outburst. “It’s not a secret I planned to keep, James. Dumbledore wants secrecy, not me.”
“I’m not worried about that.” Sirius watched James in perplexity, unsure of where such a conversation was coming from. “I’ve heard, of course, about him. My parents talk about him all the time and the things he so desperately wants to achieve in the wizarding world. He doesn’t seem to care about what or who he has to hurt in order to achieve his goals.”
Sirius nodded waiting patiently for James to continue. When he finally did, his voice was so quiet, Sirius had to struggle to hear.
“Sirius, will he be as dangerous as people are saying?”
Sirius wanted to lie. He wanted to protect James from the terror he knew was coming. The memory of the helplessness and loss of control from Voldemort’s touch surged through him again and Sirius could feel his face blanch.
“Sirius,” James reached to touch him but Sirius pulled away afraid that, even now, Voldemort’s power might reach out and hurt James. “Then it’s true,” James whispered. “Everyone will be in danger.”
“More than anyone realizes.”
“Joining the Order…” James began.
“Is a waste of time and energy that could best be spent elsewhere,” Sirius returned. “I don’t need a bunch of old wizards like Dumbledore ordering me around and telling me how to destroy Voldemort.”
“You think you know how to defeat him?” James asked, his temper rising. He plunked his coffee cup down on the table, causing the dark liquid to splash across the floor. “How arrogant can you be?”
“I know what he believes in and how he determines the worth of a wizard.” Sirius explained calmly. Sirius waved his wand to clean up James’ mess before continuing. “There is a difference between knowing what he wants and knowing how to defeat him.”
James eyed him searchingly. “You believe by knowing him you can learn how to defeat him.” It was a statement rather than a question and Sirius didn’t respond. “You can’t do this, Sirius. You can’t try and get close to him.”
“You are being over-dramatic as usual and failing to comprehend the truth of our situation.” Sirius hesitated. “My situation,” he corrected softly.
“You were right the first time.” James corrected him disdainfully.
“This isn’t a school fight, James.”
“We are in this together. I won’t let you think otherwise.”
Sirius was quiet, refusing to lie to James. The moment his brother had joined Voldemort, this became a personal battle for him. Bringing in the other Marauders was just not an option. They all had something to lose, but Sirius? After tonight, Sirius knew he had nothing left to lose. “I dreamed of my mother tonight,” he whispered softly.
Sirius met James questioning gaze only briefly. “I called for her.”
“I know,” James admitted, “I was awake.”
“I didn’t figure your childhood demons were anybody else’s business unless you made it so.” James shrugged. “Besides, I knew you’d talk about it when you wanted to.”
“I wanted to run to her, James. I felt like a ten year old child in my father’s prescence.”
“Was she there?”
“I didn’t see her. But then, she would probably avoid me at all costs anyway.”
“You want to remember her as a kind and loving mother, Sirius. I know that. I even can understand it to some degree.” James said shaking his head. “But she was not that person.”
“Don’t you think I realize that?” Sirius returned angrily. “I know who she is and what she has become. I turned her in to that!”
“You’re a fool if you believe that.”
Sirius could hear the exasperation in James’ voice, but he was unwilling to give in so easily. “I’ve been called worse.”
“Sirius,” James’ voice was a stern whisper, “I know you think you deserted her and Regulus by leaving. That’s just not true. We’ve been through this a hundred times. They made their choice and you made yours. It was no ones fault. You’re blaming yourself for something that was out of your control. Just like my safety or any of the Marauders, for that matter, is.”
Sirius knew they would never agree and thought better than continuing the conversation and risking yet another lecture from James. “Regulus joined Voldemort tonight.”
“What?” James asked incredously. Sirius could see his mind turning with questions and worries. “He’s just a kid,” James sank back into his chair as the news took hold of him.
“An induction ceremony was going on when me and Remus got there.” Sirius shook his head in disgust. “And I wasn’t around to do a damn thing about it. Try having that on your conscience.” Sirius downed his drink and then stood to leave as the bitterness engulfed him again. He refused to take it out on James just because he was here, and Sirius knew that’s exactly where his emotions were taking him. Halfway to the door tiny movements made him turn and he caught a glimpse of Lily. Although she still appeared to be asleep a dark thought overcame him as Sirius remembered that James’ had never been good at doing charms. Shaking off the feeling and blaming it on exhaustion, Sirius asked, “Will you stay here? I’d prefer she not wake up alone.”
“James,” Sirius looked at him meaningfully, “I can’t.”
James nodded, Sirius’ words not lost on him. “What do you want me to tell her?”
“The truth. She was foolish to ever have gotten involved with a character like me.”
“It’s probably the best decision she’s ever made. It’ll change her life forever.” James winked conspiratorially but Sirius wouldn’t return it.
“That’s what I’m afraid of.” Sirius murmured gloomily, avoiding the smile James was sending him.
“Are we still on for our end of term blow out at your place? It is our last chance to see everyone before we go our separate ways.”
“James,” Sirius began to lecture him that now wasn’t exactly the time for a party but then thought better of it. James would hold it with or without his permission anyway. “Yeah. Tell everyone for me, will you?”
“Yeah?” he turned from the doorway.
“I need some answers here that you’re not giving me.” James’ voice was quiet and he began fiddling with his coffee cup rather than look at Sirius.
“I have some things I have to get straight for myself, James. It’s nothing more than that.”
“You’d let me know if it was, though?”
Sirius tried to answer immediately, but quickly realized that his brief hesitation had been noted by James, who glanced at him in unease. “Of course,” Sirius mumbled. “Night, James.”
A/N: Just a note of thanks to all of the members of the HPFF Author Comment group who have been so wonderfully supporting with the writing of the last three chapters. And, of course, special thanks to Noblevyne and Cor_Leonis for all their continued support and guidance throughout this story. You guys are the best!
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