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The Marauders Kiss by sweetprofanities
Chapter 57 : Denial and isolation.
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 13


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‘How is she?’ James asked placing a hand on Sirius’s forearm, alerting him to their presence. Sirius whipped around from where he was standing, watching Ali in her sedated state in one of the school’s hospital cots.

‘I don’t know what to do.’ Sirius looked at James with trepidation, ‘she was just screaming. We couldn’t calm her down. She just- she just completely broke down and was- screaming out for help. I kept trying to calm her down and hold her but it was like she was dying. Dumbledore did something and she just went limp.’ Sirius was still shaking. Never in his life had he seen anyone shatter like he had just witnessed Ali falling to pieces. He had never been so scared.

Lily had tears in her eyes standing behind James. She had her head downturned and looked like a chastised child. Sirius watched her while James spoke.

‘I don’t know Padfoot, this is heavy. Very heavy. Losing a parent is earth shattering. But losing a parent out of the blue- finding out your mum was murdered- I just don’t know.’ James scooped Lily forward and kept his arm tight around her as she buried her face in his neck.

‘Evans, are you okay?’ Sirius asked. After what he had just been through, he didn’t think he could cope with another person so close to him breaking down.

‘She’s just a bit upset with herself.’ James shook his head.

‘I was crying about my parents to her, James.’ Lily spoke through her tears.

‘How were you supposed to know Lily? You’re being too hard on yourself.’ James stroked her back but she just started to weep into his shirt. James sighed but kept a firm grip on her, rubbing her shoulder.

‘Are you okay?’ He asked Sirius, who seemed transfixed on Lily. Sirius shook himself out of his daze and looked up.

‘I’m- okay.’ He nodded, ‘I’m- what do I do? She’s… her mother is dead.’ Sirius had never felt so lost. His girlfriend had just lost her mother. Her mother was killed trying to save innocent muggles in an attack by death eaters. Dumbledore had said the words so clearly and in that moment Sirius didn’t know how to respond.

At first he just turned to watch Ali. It was like someone had hit her with a stunning spell. She just stood for a second, before stumbling over nothing in particular. She dry retched a few times and Sirius was sure she was going to vomit. But he was frozen against being able to fetch her anything to vomit into. He and Dumbledore just stood, watching on, like pathetic statues. Even Dumbledore seemed immobilised at first.

Eventually he started to explain what had happened. He was trying to relay the facts, like possibly that would have helped her grasp the situation better. She was just standing there, stunned.

When her eyes widened and she started clawing at her own throat, taking fast and strangled breaths, that woke the two of them up pretty quickly. Dumbledore had reached forward to stop her potentially harming herself as she grabbed at her neck. That’s when her knees gave out and she started to collapse and thankfully Sirius launched forth and grabbed her, slowly falling to the ground with her.

‘Sir, what do we do?’ Sirius had asked desperately as Ali started to scream and wail.

‘She’s having an attack, try to calm her. Is there anything you can say to calm her Sirius?’

Sirius felt beyond useless. There was nothing he could do. He felt a pain radiate in his chest watching on as the angel before him screamed out continuously for help. It was as if she had lost a grip on her surroundings completely. Tears were streaming from her eyes and Sirius was sure he had never seen anyone wear a pain so real. It hurt to watch her like that. It burnt.

Dumbledore had taken out his wand and touched it gently to her head and Ali suddenly lost her voice. Mid scream she fizzled out and leant against Sirius for support. Finally Sirius sat there, in the doorway of their headmaster’s office, Ali limp in his arms. He looked down at her face with tears welling in his eyes. Even after being knocked out, she still looked as if she were in pain.

Sirius had just touched his forehead to her own while Dumbledore spoke to him. He explained to take her to the hospital wing and inform Madam Pomfrey to give her something for her nerves. He had to get back to the front lines and to the ministry, apparently he had only returned as a favour to Ali’s father to relay the information and take her to him. Aaliyah was now to be kept at school until she awoke when Dumbledore would arrange for a portkey to take her to her father and brother.

‘Don’t move dear. It’s okay. You just lay there, you rest.’ Madam Pomfrey’s voice startled both Sirius and James from their conversation and they turned around to see the matron making a fuss over Ali’s bed.

Sirius made a move for her and came around to see Ali starting straight ahead at nothing in particular. Her face was blank and unreadable.

‘Ali?’ Sirius murmured, coming around to the side she was laying on. Ali didn’t reply. It seemed as if she hadn’t heard him at all. Her eyes stayed fixated on nothing and she made no attempt at moving.

‘Ali?’ Sirius tried again. No reply. He looked over at Lily and James for some answers. Lily no longer had tears in her eyes and shrugged at him, a little lost. James just seemed to be watching Ali’s shallow breathing. Sirius kneelt down to be closer to Ali’s level. Even though he was situated directly in her field of vision, it felt as if she were staring straight through him.

‘Ali, when you’re ready… let us know and we’ll take you home, okay? Whenever you’re ready.’ He waited for some kind of signal to say she had heard him. But none came. She just stared ahead, unblinking, as passive as someone in a trance. Sirius decided it probably wasn’t best to disturb her, and got back to his feet and looked over to James and Lily. He walked around and they moved a few feet away from the bed to where Madam Pomfrey was brewing up a remedy for her.

‘Is she- will she be alright?’ Sirius asked in a very hushed tone.

Madam Pomfrey looked back at the three of them with a stern lip. ‘She’s in shock.’ She replied and continued to stir her remedy, ‘she needs rest. It might be best if you just leave her with me for a while.’ She nodded to them with a grave smile. All three heads nodded in return, not knowing what else to do. James secured his hand in Lily’s, and wrapped an arm around Sirius and led them to the doors of the hospital wing. For now they would all just have to wait.

*

‘How is she?’ Remus asked the following morning as Sirius came back through the portrait hole looking downtrodden.

‘She just stares. No matter what I say, she just stares blankly ahead.’ Sirius relayed, ‘And it’s not just with me. Her cousins were there, trying to fetch her. To take her to her family. Cousins. I didn’t even know she had cousins here. Let alone ones in our bloody house. But the two of them left together soon after because she refuses to acknowledge anyone.’

Sirius had barely slept the night before. James, Peter, and Remus had all sat around in the common room with him knowing how worried he was. Most of them had fallen asleep on the couches and Lily had woken them up after rounds.

‘Madam Pomfrey still thinks it’s best to leave her be?’ Peter asked. The entire common room seemed to be listening in. Of course news travelled fast around Hogwarts, and it being the holidays still with no classes to distract anyone, and Ali seeming to have become a very popular topic of discussion since she started dating Sirius, it had taken no time at all for the news to spread. Some people had braved the boys and asked how she was, but it was aggravating Sirius.

‘She says she needs time to recover. That she’s not fit to travel.’ Sirius’s voice was even cracking, ‘Her father wrote her a letter, but she won’t read it.’ He waved the letter in his hand around limply.

‘Will they come and get her?’ Lily asked. She hadn’t cried yet this morning, but it was only early. She had been in tears many times yesterday, guilt ridden.

‘They can’t force her anywhere!’ Sirius snapped, ‘if she doesn’t want to move, she doesn’t have to move.’

‘Alright mate, calm down.’ James was the voice of reason among them. Sirius and Lily had lost it, Remus and Peter were out of their element, having never lost anyone so close, and James was holding them all together. ‘She didn’t mean that. Just sit down and relax. We’re all here for you.’

‘Why don’t I go?’ Remus suggested and everyone turned to look at him. Sirius took a seat by him as Remus continued, ‘I’ve known her the longest. Perhaps I could help?’ As he looked around at everyone, Marlene and Lily nodded to him in support.

Sirius sighed, ‘Can’t hurt. She won’t speak to me, so we could all give it a go.’

‘Yeah, just relax Padfoot. You’ll worry yourself to death.’ Peter said but immediately noted his horrendous choice of words. ‘Shit. Sorry.’

They all turned to look at James as he started to chuckle in the background. The entire common room’s inhabitants, full as it was, were silent. But James was amused.

‘James, stop it.’ Lily was looking at him like he’d caught dragon pox.

‘Sorry. It’s just… this situation is fucked. But here’s Wormtail. Screwing up. At least that’ll never change.’ James continued to muffle his laughter. Remus turned to Sirius when a small laugh escaped his breath. Wormtail smiled around at them, and before long they were all absurdly laughing and shaking their heads.

‘You all need sleep.’ Remus smiled as he stood up. He left as the laughter around the room died and made his way down to the hospital wing.

‘Hi Poppy.’ Remus smiled at the matron as she rushed to the door when he entered. There was a partition put up around Ali’s cot now, hiding her from the rest of the inhabitants of the ward.

‘Hello dear, you’re not feeling off still are you?’ she asked looking him over and touching his forehead. Remus smiled at her kindness.

‘No, I’m okay. Moon was five nights ago. Strongest I’ll ever be, at this point.’ He smiled through the lie. ‘I just wondered if I could see Adams?’

‘Oh, I don’t know, dear. She’s not doing very well.’

‘I just wanted to sit with her. Let her know she has someone around?’ Madam Pomfrey seemed to contemplate it for some time. But she gave in.

‘Alright. I can’t say no to my favourite student. But not too long. It’s a very unfortunate thing, losing a mother. I expect she won’t walk away from this without scars.’ Madam Pomfrey looked woeful as she led Remus in and down to the last bed, by her office. He slipped in behind the partitions and Ali was laying with her back to him, still in her clothes from yesterday.

Remus shimmied around until he was in her line of vision and took a seat in the available chair. He wasn’t entirely sure what to say. Sirius was right though. It was as if she hadn’t even noticed him come in. She just stared on ahead as if she were in a coma.

‘Ali?’ Remus’s voice was so low he barely heard it himself, ‘I’m so sorry, Ali.’ He whispered leaning forward. She didn’t move. It was almost as if she were frozen. Remus felt his eyes stinging as tears started to form.

‘Oh, Ali.’ He took in a hitched breath feeling her crushing pain penetrate his being. He moved closer and placed his arms on her bed and his head on his arms, ‘I’m so sorry. I’m here for you. I’m always here for you.’

Even without speaking a word, she had conveyed just how broken she was. It was consuming. Remus felt tears falling from his eyes and hitting his forearms. He just wanted to stay there with her. To provide her with some kind of comfort, even if she was seemingly unresponsive. He knew this is what he would have wanted had he been in her situation. When she decided to talk again, he would have chocolate and hugs for her.

*

‘Ali?’ Lily shuffled in behind the partitions and saw Ali laying there. ‘Ali I hope it’s okay I’m here? I just wanted to see you.’ Lily made her way around but didn’t take a seat. She didn’t feel like she deserved that.

‘Ali…’ Lily felt like she was choking as she tried to hold back her tears. She’d been a mess since yesterday and James was being so lovely about it. He hugged her, and comforted her, and brought her into his arms after she had finished her rounds the night before, and let her cry a puddle on to his shirt just before while he tried to calm Sirius down.

‘I don’t even know what to say to you.’ Lily looked down at her shuffling feet. ‘And I know you hate crying.’ Her teeth started chattering again as she fought her tears, ‘I’m doing my best. And I know you are, too.’ Her tears started to run down her cheeks and she quickly wiped them away.

‘I’m sorry, Ali. I’m so, so sorry.’ She looked down at her from her distant stance and Ali was unmoving. She was still staring directly ahead, nowhere near where Lily stood. But there were tears in her eyes even though her face was still unchanged and impassive.

‘Oh god, now I’m making you cry, too. I’ll go. I’m so sorry. I’m just-’ she stopped herself knowing this would probably have been torture. She wanted more than anything to move forward and slip onto the bed and just envelope the girl before her in a tight hug. But she felt it wasn’t right. Ali needed space. She needed solace in her own thoughts.

‘I’m sorry.’ She couldn’t stop herself. But after that she turned and left the makeshift room and her face contorted into a horrible frown. The tears streamed freely from her eyes and she strode from the hospital wing, furious with herself.

*

‘Ali?’ Peter peeped his head around the partition, having just coerced Madam Pomfrey into finally allowing him in to see her. Remus had stayed down with her most of the day. When he had finally returned, his mood damp, he had taken up a seat by Sirius and they looked like twins of melancholy. Lily had wanted to go down for so long, no one had fought her when she stood next.

Problem was, she returned so soon afterward and in such a fluster, James had to tend to her instead of going down himself. Sirius and Remus were both in a state of existential crisis so Peter slipped out, grabbing something he wanted to give to Ali that she had dropped the day before. It was when Sirius had enveloped her in a bone crushing hug while Peter had looked on.

He came around the bed and saw firsthand what both Sirius and Remus were on about. Ali looked so delicate and beautiful. Peter had always admired her beauty, even before he had spoken to her. He wouldn’t dare tell Sirius of it, but it didn’t mean anything to admire someone. He admired more than just her beauty, too. She was a fierce adversary for them back when they used to play up a lot. When she used to catch them, Peter would always lose his words and blame Sirius.

Ali always believed him innocent. She was kind to those that needed kindness and firm to those that needed guidance. He wanted to help her. But he didn’t know how.

He didn’t speak for a while, he just stood as the bottom of her bed looking on. She looked grief-stricken. No doubt about it. But she also looked so serene and tranquil. Her hair fell in honey coloured ripples behind her back and her knees were pulled up to her body and her arms into her chest.

She was such a tiny girl. She was only just taller than Peter himself. Lily was up there with the boys in her height. Peter felt comfortable with Ali. He sighed looking on at her unmoving form.

‘I wanted to bring you this.’ Peter spoke up, coming around fully now to see her eyes. They had dark circles around them with a hint of redness. She was in pain. He reached out and placed the letter down by her head, swallowing from their closeness.

‘You dropped it when Padfoot pulled you from the room. I thought you might want it…’ He looked down at her for a while. When she didn’t move he bit his lip and made to leave. He turned back at the exit and looked over her once more.

He witnessed one of her arms leave the confines of her foetal position and reach up to grasp the letter. It returned smoothly to her chest with the letter held tight in her dainty hands. Peter smiled and watched her for a time, before stepping out and keeping his back to the exit. He stood there for a long time, just listening to her almost inaudible breathing thanks to the heighted hearing his animagus form gave him.

He even heard the tears as they hit the pillow below her head, although no sobs or sounds of pain at all could be made out.

*

James had managed to get Lily to sleep by allowing her to cry on him while he hugged her, and put her down in his bed. Peter had returned from downstairs with solemn news, Ali still wasn’t speaking. James had travelled downstairs and brought up bits and pieces of food for Peter, Sirius and Remus as they were all forlorn and pathetic, trying to figure out how to help their friend and girlfriend. James had never seen Sirius so panicked.

Once they were fed and almost falling asleep to Sirius discussing all the things he wanted to do to the tyrant that ended Kanika’s life, James slipped out of the portrait hole and made his way down to the hospital wing. When he slipped into the wing, Madam Pomfrey seemed to have fallen asleep at her desk. James vowed to wake her up and get her to bed once he’d seen Ali, he just didn’t want his chance to be thwarted.

He slipped in by the partitions and looked down at Ali. She hadn’t moved. Surely her blood would be pooling in her side and she would be in pain? James shook his head and moved around to come face to face with her. He had wanted to get down to her all day, but things kept coming up that he had to take care of.

‘Hey,’ he whispered and got down to her eye level. True to his word, Sirius was not wrong. She didn’t register him at all even though he was in her direct line of vision. She just stared blankly ahead, ‘I’ve never been that great at personal boundaries, sorry Adams.’

James reached over the bed and slid his hand under her head and moved her. Ali seemed startled at first, but James ignored it and slipped into the bed and put his arms around her, bringing her smaller body up to fit against his own. She was tense and shaking but James brought a hand up and pulled her head to rest under his chin.

‘I know you’re in pain. I know.’ He started to stroke her hair as he pressed his cheek against the top of her head, ‘this is the worst possible feeling you will ever feel. It hurts. You feel like you’ve just lost a part of your very being. Your heart is broken. I know.’ He continued to stroke her hair.

Her shaking calmed down. Her stiffness started to ebb.

‘Your pain… it’s real. You’re right to feel like the world is ending. Don’t think for a second you’re being unjust in feeling lost.’ James thought back to all the wild things that ran through his head when he got the news about his father.

‘It’s okay to be broken. We’re all here for you. I’m here for you.’ James continued to stroke her hair gently. Suddenly her body started to shake again, but it was less jolted than before. Then he heard her breath escaping and knew that she was crying. Her nails dug into the jumper he was wearing and her strangled cries became more and more audible.

‘I know.’ James repeated, continuing on with his repetitive stroking hoping it would convey to her that he was there and he was not going away. One thing that petrified James when he lost his father was the realization that nothing was permanent. Everything ended and he needed to be reassured that the people around him weren’t going to leave like his father had.

‘It hurts.’ It was high pitched, and so full of pain, but it was the first words any of them had heard in almost forty-eight hours.

‘I know it does.’ James felt his eyes glassing over. He could feel the pain transferring into him. He had lost his father just under two months ago and he had not cried. But now, as he lay with this broken girl in his arms, he thought of his father and the grief he had buried.

‘I know.’ He said again and kissed the top of her head before pulling her in tighter. ‘It’s not going to stop hurting any time soon. But you have to keep fighting. You can’t give up.’

‘I don’t want to be alive.’ Ali’s voice was shaky and James was barely holding his own against his tears. He nodded in agreement knowing exactly how she felt. Even if he had managed to hold himself well for his mother’s sake, he had had the same thoughts at night when he thought of his father. It was why he had chosen to stay at school for his birthday. He couldn’t handle seeing the pain in his sweet mother’s eyes at his first birthday without his father there.

A singular tear made first contact with his cheek, ‘I know. But you have to live, Adams. Because there’s a little guy that I reckon is feeling just the same way.’ Tears were falling from his eyes now. He hadn’t known too much about the Adams family, but he knew she had a little brother. He had met her father briefly, her father would need her too, but her brother.

‘You lost your mum. That’s not easy. Your mum is gone and that’s devastating.’ James spoke unevenly with hitched breathing, as Ali continued to cry into his chest, ‘but so did your little brother. And I bet he’s sitting at home with your dad, and he needs his big sister.’

James gripped Ali with all his might and hugged her so closely, as she coughed and spluttered her tears out. He let her continue for a while, glad that she was finally breaking out of her coma-induced state. James had not cried when his father died. People needed him to be strong that day and he was. But today, finally, someone needed him to be honest. Someone needed him to be real. He felt an unbearable wave of anguish wash over him as Ali cried out her pain. It was the first time he allowed his tears to flow when thinking about his father, and it was as if now that it was happening, he couldn’t turn it off.

He tried to continue, ‘Dumbledore has set up a portkey to take you home. Your father has written and said he’s expecting you when you’re ready to travel. Sirius wants to go with you, we all want to be here for you.’ James relayed to her without moving.

‘Would you like to go home?’ He asked, still calmly stroking her hair. He felt Ali nod her head slowly, just twice. He smiled as their tears continued to fall.

‘We’ll take you in the morning.’ James confirmed but didn’t move. He knew Ali wasn’t one for hugs. He usually hugged her to annoy her. It was entertaining. But he knew she needed this. Everyone stepped on eggshells around those that had just lost a parent. It was foreign and frightening to a friend and even a lover. They didn’t know what to say or do. But James felt connected to Ali.

He kept gently pulling his hand over her soft curls and allowed her to continue weeping. She was broken and wounded and she needed closeness. She needed someone to break down her barriers and be there, even if she said she didn’t want it. Or said nothing at all.

And James himself couldn’t turn off his own emotions for the first time in months. They stayed close and Ali eventually tired herself out, falling into a strangled sleep in James’s arms. James didn’t feel like moving her, and allowed his eyes to shut, still holding her tight, and fell asleep soon after. 


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