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Chapter 23 : Chapter 23
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“You in there Sirius?”
Remus shifted some of the books aside so he could at least peer at Sirius through the gap. Peter sat down beside him, looking as though he hadn’t slept in a week.
“Is there any point to you going over all of this?” Peter asked groggily. “Don’t you know it all?”
“Can’t hurt to brush up, Peter.”
“Exams are still months off, brush up later,” Peter yawned and leaned back on the chair, Madame Pince glared at him and he straightened up.
Remus was saying nothing, but staring at Sirius pointedly, which would normally serve to irritate Sirius, but knowing Remus’ expressions like he did, he knew it wasn’t a lecture coming. He also knew that Remus would never speak up of his own volition, something that they had all taken advantage of.
“What?” He ventured.
Remus opened his mouth briefly and closed it again before speaking. “James and Lily…I think something’s happened.”
Sirius shook his head and laughed sourly. “Yeah, well, bound to happen some time.” He shrugged and continued to focus on the book, quill scribbling faithfully by his side.
Remus fidgeted nervously and nearly went blue in the face as he struggled to work up the courage to say what was on his mind. “I think…you were mentioned.”
Now Sirius looked up at him, “And?”
Remus shrugged, “I think…I think you really need to speak with James.” Remus mentally smacked himself across the head for being, in Sirius' own words 'a huge sissy pansy girl'.
"James is a big boy, Remus. If he has something to say, he can come say it." Sirius shoved his books toward Peter and strode out of the library without so much as a second glance Remus' direction.
Sirius' couldn't help feel a bit ill as he made his way through the hallways. He hadn't really wanted them to get in a row, had he? The thought puzzled him even more and he frowned. Maybe he should at least go check on James and see if he was all right. The idea made him bristle. James was the one being an arse, after all, he could jolly well come to him and apologize.
His face flushed with newfound anger again, he hurried around the corner only to run in to Lily. As she struggled up from the ground, the girls around her began to pick up the books that had slid out of her bag and scattered across the floor.
"You!" she hissed. "Can't you watch where you're going?"
"Pardon me, I didn't realize I was invading your space, your highness," he managed through gritted teeth while offering her a mock bow.
"Just go find James and leave me be, Sirius. I hope you’ll be very happy together," she said wearily, shoving the last of her scattered books into her bag.
"Do I detect trouble in paradise?" Sirius eyes' glittered dangerously. "Don't tell me you've finally shown your true colours."
Unable to resist the bait, she flew around to face him, finger poised to accuse him of being the worst type of miscreant. "We all know what colours you fly, Black. Finally broadcasting the family pride, are you?”
Sirius clenched his jaw, determined not to lose this verbal sparring match. "Still won't take responsibility for your own, screw ups hm, Lily?" he tisked. "He couldn’t stand you, so of course it’s all my fault.”
"You arrogant, self-righteous-" Her hand was raised as if she was going to slap him but Sirius had already disappeared down the hallway, the soft laughter he left behind infuriating her even more.
Sirius sank onto his bed, his eyes roaming across the room to where James should be sleeping. The room was void of sound; he got up and pushed back the curtains to find an empty bed. He had never been an early riser and it bothered Sirius to think he had left before dawn. Looking closer, he noticed that there wasn’t a wrinkle, and his nightclothes were still laid out where the house elves had placed them the night before. Frowning, he moved across the room and touched the covers. Cold, as he'd expected…James had never come back last night.
A deep furrow appeared on his brow and he grabbed James' cloak from the wardrobe as he set of to find him. That he hadn't even remembered to take it wherever he'd gone off to gave Sirius some ideas as to his mindset.
He'd gotten halfway out of the castle before Lily appeared in his path, alone this time and her green eyes blazing. He tried to brush past her but she has no intention of letting him pass by.
"I don't have time for you now, Evans."
Her eyes narrowed to slits as she advanced on him. "You don’t have time for anyone but yourself. Your stupid, childish irresponsibility are the only thing that’s standing between me and James, you're content to pull him down with you just so you can have him all to yourself, some fantastic friend you are," she spat.
Sirius allowed the hurt to register momentarily on his face before he screwed his face in an ugly manner. "Maybe it's just because you weren't any good in bed," he hissed.
Lily bit down the torrent of obscenities that such a comment inspired. “Don’t you dare, Black. I came up here to talk, just…don’t.”
“Fine,” Sirius replied testily, moving towards a window.
There were a few uneasy minutes of silence.
“You’re an arse, Black, you know that?” Lily burst out.
“What? I…” he spluttered, throwing his hands up in frustration. “Oh bloody hell, yes this is a marvellous talk, Evans. Fine great, I’m an arse, thanks for saying.”
“No, you…you bloody well can’t help getting in your own way. But this time you aren’t just making it hard on yourself, you’re making James miserable and…oh bloody hell, you’re making me miserable.”
Sirius didn’t say anything he just stared out the window; skeletal trees were silhouetted against the grey sky. Winter still had her hooks in the weather.
Lily crossed her arms and waited expectantly, when Sirius didn’t deliver gave an exasperated groan and walked off.
Sirius lingered at the window for a moment longer before taking off; not even bothering with the cloak as he escaped behind the one eyed witch.
He found James slumped in a corner of the Hog’s Head where the sun seemed to shy away, the flickering light of a few pathetic candles was all that stopped Sirius’ from tripping over the overturned chairs and dirty glasses.
“James?” Sirius enquired, leaning down over him. James looked up at him bleary-eyed, his hand was curled around a near empty bottle of Firewhisky. Aberforth was an all right bloke but he never let drowning via alcohol get in the way of making a few sickles. They’d come here and drunk themselves stupid more than a couple of times.
“Sirius?” He slurred, straightening up too quickly and slamming into the wall. “Ow. Whatchoo doing here?”
“Looking for you.”
“Ah. Well, here I am.”
“Yeah.” Well, a deep and meaningful conversation was certainly out of the question at this juncture in time. Sirius felt a pang of guilt as he watched James struggle to stand up; he looked so wretched and muddled at the moment. “Come on, mate, I’ll help you home.”
James gave him a suspicious look. “When did we become friends again?”
“Last week, trust you to forget”, he muttered as he hauled him up and out of the bar. James was too confused and unstable to protest.
Sirius half carried him through Hogsmeade, it took him a good three quarters of an hour to actually lug him back down to the passage into Hogwarts, James may have been as skinny as a rake, but he managed to carry a lot more weight on him than what his build suggested and he had a habit of wandering away, prattling on about teacups and flowers or somesuch.
Sirius spent that forty-five minutes arguing with himself on why he was even here.
Finally, with his remaining strength and his last frayed nerve, Sirius pushed James into the trapdoor in Honeyduke’s cellar.
James slid down the wall, looking very pale, though he had sobered up considerably.
“Thanks Sirius,” he said, his head still felt as though it was going to spin off his neck.
Sirius was busy listening for possible trouble so he didn’t turn around to reply. “No problem.”
“I mean it,” James reiterated doggedly. “God, I’ve been such a prat.”
Sirius gave an ambiguous smile and went to sit down beside him. “You’re not the only one.”
James took off his glasses, pressed the heel of his palm into his eyes and glanced sideways at Sirius. “You didn’t imply that your girlfriend was having obsessive sexual fantasies about your best friend.”
Sirius looked at him in alarm. “That’s how I came up in the argument? Oh Christ, I just figured she was calling me names behind my back or something!” Sirius looked incredibly distressed by this information. “Oh god, James, you are a prat.”
“Thanks,” James said sarcastically and then groaned because the act of rolling one’s eyes is not advisable in his state.
The two of them sat in silence a while longer, backs pressed to that cold, craggy wall. James had been trying to organise his thoughts, because at the moment they were just one loud, messy noise inside his skull. He could remember drinking at least a bottle and half of Firewhisky, but something in the rhythmic pounding of his head told him it was more.
Sirius was generally clueless as to how to approach the entire situation; his anger had been ebbing away as soon as James had started talking to him, leaving only a feeling of guilt mixed with anxiety.
“Can we just say sorry and be done with it?” Sirius blurted.
James had been on the verge of issuing a patently long speech about the value of friendship and was now left, mouth agape.
“Oh thank god, I don’t think I’d ever live down what I was planning to say.”
Sirius snickered. “Something like ‘Sirius, thou art mine blood brother, I have forsaken thee’”.
“Yes, but not so fruity like.” James said, feeling simultaneously relieved, nauseous and awkward.
Sirius smiled to himself and looked down at the ground. “I am, sorry, you know.”
“Yeah, I am too.” James replied; he really hoped they wouldn’t have to speak any more, his masculinity felt vaguely threatened and with all the whisky in his system he was sure he’d start hugging if they got into it any further.
“Reckon you can walk?” Sirius said after a moment, easing both their discomfort.
“I think it’s the standing up part that gets me.”
Sirius stood, up, brushed himself off and offered his outstretched hand to James who took, it, managing not to topple over on his way up.
James made his way slowly to the exit, taking care to remember that it was one foot in front of the other. “Any one out there?”
Sirius gave him a devious leer. “What ever will they think to see the Head Boy smashed off his face? All those innocent young minds you’ll corrupt, Prongs.”
“Oh yes, I’m quite sure this will be a terribly destructive moment in their childhoods, far more fearsome than current events.”
The mirth disappeared from Sirius’s face and he looked back at James, his face peered out at him from the darkness, a grim smile playing on his lips. “Sorry,” he muttered.
The violence of the world outside of Hogwarts had begun to infect the school, not a day went by without news of a disappearance, an attack or a murder. Battle cries were splashed all across the front page of the Daily Prophet and other papers. You couldn’t ignore it these days, or hide behind the walls of Hogwarts, war had arrived on them all, and it was drawing nearer to the time when they’d all have to take more active roles in the fight. It was getting harder to hide from their futures.
Sirius pushed the door open, slipping through. James hesitated a moment, swaying on unsteady feet before following him in to the light.
A/N: Another update that wouldn't have made it without Linda, honestly, were we not seperated by thousands of kilometres I'd be sending her flowers and giant chocolate sculptures of Ralph Fiennes. But as it stands, I'll just have to give Sirius and Lily more scenes together.
Shout out to Jaydah, who has been so helpful in her reviews and such fun to chat with. *proclaims International Jay Day*
And never fear, Lily and James will eventually reunite, I just like torturing James.
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