Chapter 3 : This Is Home
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“Sirius?” My voice was barely a whisper as my eyes ran over his face. I blinked furiously, hoping that he would disappear or it would reveal that my eyes were indeed playing tricks on me. To my misfortune he continued sitting there staring at me, his mind seemed to be going through the same process as mine.
Since we had said goodbye I had hoped that one day I would bump into him again. I had even imagined different ways in which it could have happened, but nothing that I had thought up could have prepared me for this. I had never imagined that he would be all over another girl, or that there would be at least a dozen eyes trained on me as they tried to put the pieces of the puzzle together. That's if they didn't already know.
Alice and Dorcas had put two and two together, the looks on their faces were of understanding as they looked at me. It was never going to be hard for those two to work it out. Especially seeing as they already knew I was head over heels for someone. I just wished this wasn't how they found out. They both raised their eyebrows at one another, as if seeing if they each understood what was going on, before turning their gaze back on me.
Remus was looking at me, his light brown eyes seemed to sympathise with me. His lips turned up at one corner as he gave me an apologetic smile. James must have told him on the train; that was why they kept looking at me!
Marlene was looking at me warily as she draped herself over Sirius more, obviously trying to mark her territory. It just made me want to roll my eyes, which with everyone else's eyes on me probably would not have been the wisest of things to do. Somehow, I managed to keep my mouth shut and prevent my eyes from rolling.
Lily and Peter didn't seem to bothered about what was going on. Peter, who already knew just shrugged and his eyes dropped from me pretty quickly. Lily, on the other hand, was taking in everything that was going on. Her eyes darted from me, to Sirius before landed in Marlene. It was clear that she had no idea what was going on.
James was the only one who hadn't even bothered to look at my direction. Instead, his eyes were focussed on Sirius. His jaw was clenched and his eyebrows were furrowed as he waited to get Sirius' attention.
Not that it was working. Sirius was paying absolutely no attention to James, or anyone else in the room for that matter. He eyes were trained on me, wider than I'd ever seen then, his mouth was hanging open ever so slightly too. If anything was clear, it was that this was the last thing he had expected.
It wasn't long before he regained his composure and his face lost all emotion. His grey eyes turned cold, snatching away the last piece of him that I recognised.
My eyes flickered between Sirius and Marlene before finally landing on their hands that were intertwined together on top of the table. My breath caught in my throat.
It was as though it had only just sunk in, seeing their hands together like that. Suddenly I remember the conversation on the train.
Remus just rolled his eyes. “Of course, trust him to get his leg over before we even get to school!”
They all just laughed it off like it was an everyday occurrence. They weren't shocked that he disappeared with a girl, that he couldn't wait until the evening. Yet there I was, the lump in my throat growing bigger with every passing moment.
Everything that I had felt over the course of the summer was slowly becoming null and void. The more my brain worked to fit everything together, the more I realised it was all bullshit. That the guy I had spent all that time with probably didn't even exist.
Inside my blood was boiling. All I wanted to do was scream at Sirius, find out what he was playing at; but he had no loyalties to me. We had both agreed that we would walk away and go on with our separate lives. It took everything within me to keep myself calm and keep reminding myself that we weren't meant to see each other again.
I forced a small smile onto my face, hoping that it didn't look too much like a grimace.
“Jules.” His low voice sounded bored. “Well isn't this a surprise?” He flashed me a lopsided grin but it never reached his eyes. He pulled his hand away from Marlene's, but snaked his arm around her waist as she nestled into his side.
“Isn't it just?” I grumbled as I tore my eyes away from the couple. I wasn't going to let anyone know just how much this was affecting me; especially not Sirius.
“You two know each other?” I could see Marlene continue to glance between the two of us out of the corner of my eye. She seemed unsure of what to make of the situation.
“Barely. We met briefly over the holidays.” Sirius announced to everyone. “She was dating a friend of mine.”
At those words my eyes shot to him. I couldn't believe my ears. Was he really going to sit there and lie about how we knew each other? Why? Why would he do that?
“Isn't that right, Jules?” He looked at me, encouraging me to agree with him.
For some unknown reason my head started nodding before my brain had even registered what I was doing. At the sight of me agreeing with him, the grin on his face grew wider.
“Please, it's Juliet.” I drew his attention back to me. “Only my friends call me Jules.”
His face dropped slightly but he caught it before anyone else noticed.
For the remainder of the sorting and the feast I found myself trying to avoid looking in the direction of Sirius, focussing instead on pushing my food around on my plate.
I couldn't let my mind stray to Sirius either, which was proving impossible as every second in the same proximity to him and his...Marlene, my heart grew heavier.
Was it really possible to move on that quickly? It had only been two days since I last saw him, and in those two days he had managed to change completely. He was no longer the kind, sweet man I thought he was. Now he was this cold, emotionless womaniser.
No! I wasn't going to sit and mope about him. I wasn't going to be upset over someone that I only knew for a few months. I wasn't going to give him the satisfaction of knowing he got to me.
Holding my head up high, I let my eyes land on Remus who was in the middle of a conversation with James at the time. It wasn't long until his eyes flickered to me and he gave me a warm smile.
“And to think you were worried about not knowing anyone this morning.” The smile on his face grew as he spoke. He piled a second helping of roast beef and potatoes onto his plate.
I breathed out a laugh as I shook my head at him. All it took was that one sentence and it felt like the weight had lifted off my chest. “I'm starting to think it would be a lot easier if I didn't.” I smiled as I pushed the food around my plate.
“Aww, come on. You don't mean that.” James said inbetween shovelling mouthfuls of food into his mouth.
“It is always handy knowing us.” Sirius pointed to him and James.
Just the sound of Sirius' voice was enough to wind me up again. The fact that he could be so arrogant despite everything that was going on just got to me even more.
“I guess I'll be the judge of that.” My voice was distant as I replied to him, keeping my eyes trained on Remus the entire time I was speaking.
It was silent for a moment so I chanced a look at Sirius, finding him looking at me with furrowed eyebrows, his arm still tight around Marlene. I quickly diverted my eyes, letting them land on Alice.
“Sirius?” She mouthed so that no one could here.
I nodded at her, grimacing as I did.
Alice squeezes my hand under the table away from prying eyes. It was just what I needed at that moment in time and I even managed to avoid looking at Sirius for the whole sorting and the feast.
"Come on then Juliet, we best go get you sorted." James turned to me once Remus had left to lead the first years to the common room.
I looked between him and Lily for a moment, trying to decide whether to ask for her to come with my instead. The look Marlene gave her told me it probably wasn't the best of decisions to move in on her friend after everything that had went on in this short amount of time.
Nodding at James I quickly turned to Alice. “Can we keep the whole Sirius thing quite?” I whispered so no one else could hear. “He obviously doesn't want anyone to know.”
Alice nodded at me before sending a warm smile in my direction. “Of course.” She got up and turned to leave with the rest of the group. “Oh, and good luck. Hopefully you end up in Gryffindor.”
I sent her my most genuine smile. At least I had found one person that seemed to not mind about who I knew and how I knew them. The thought of having at least her made everything seem that little bit better.
I felt Sirius' eyes on me as I stood up to follow James but made sue to divert my gaze from him.
“Jules. Err...Juliet?” His voice was soft, but void of any emotion.
With an inward groan I turned to face him. As if it was bad enough that I was actually going to be stuck in the same boarding school as him, he was now going to try and talk to me? After everything?
“How about a catch up in a bit?” He raised an eyebrow at me and the corner of his mouth twitched as if he was trying not to smirk.
Marlene continued to drape herself over him and I couldn't help but roll my eyes at the pair.
“Sure. I'd love to find out what Judas has been up to.” I said, plastering my face with the most sickly, sweet smile I could muster.
“Judas?” For the first time since we had got here he let himself look confused.
“You know, your friend? The one I was dating.” I held his gaze, doing my best to keep all the emotions from my face. Without waiting for a response I turned my back on him and made my way to where James was waiting slightly down the aisle.
Following James as he directed us to the front of the hall where the teachers were still sat, watching over the students as they made their ways to their common rooms.
“Ah, Mister Potter.” A man spoke to James as we reached the desk. His blue eyes twinkled behind his half moon glasses and they instantly made some of my nerves disappear. “I'm happy to see you starting to take you knew duties seriously already.”
“Of course, Sir.” James had a slight smirk on his face. Something about the look on his face made me think that he wasn't taking it as seriously as the old man hoped.
“And Miss Bryce.” He smiled at me, diminishing any remaining nerves I may had had. “It's good to have you here. I've heard so much about you.”
“Let's hope I live up to all the expectations my dad has created for me.” I laughed, and in the process got a laugh out of the professor.
James looked between us as we continued having a brief chat about how my parents were.
“Anyway, Professor McGonagall is waiting for you in the next room.” He pointed towards a single door adjacent to the teachers desk. “Let's see just how much like your father you are, shall we?”
There was something about the headteacher that made me feel at ease. It could be the way his eyes twinkled. Or the fact that I knew he was still in contact with my dad, even though it had been years since my dad went here.
“Oh, Miss Bryce?” Dumbledore's soft voice came from behind us. I turned to face him. “If you need anything Mister Potter will have no problems showing you where my office is.”
I returned his smile. “Thank you, Sir.”
With that James took me through the door, revealing a small room with the same, strict teach er from before. This time she was stood with a stool in front of her. On that stool sat an old ratty hat. The same hat that had been used for the previous sorting in front of the whole school.
“Come and take a seat.” McGonagall said, her voice was sharp and to the point. With brisk movements she lifted the hat up and waited for me to take a seat.
I took a breath and made my way to the stool before taking a seat on it. McGonagall wasted no time in putting the hat on my head.
By this point I had no idea what house I wanted to be in. All of my dad's family had been in Gryffindor, and I wanted to follow in his footsteps. However, that would mean spending loads of time with Sirius. Maybe Hufflepuff wouldn't be so bad?
“Another Bryce!” The hat shouted in my ear. I jumped, my hand shot to my chest. “It's been a while since we've had one of you on my stool. It's a no brainer where you belong. I'm sure we'll see great things from you. Better be, GRYFFINDOR!”
I blew out the breath that I had been holding in and hopped off the stool.
Gryffindor. I was in Gryffindor. My dad would be so proud. I knew that was all he wanted when he sent me here. And the only people I had met were in the same house, so at least it was a start.
“Welcome to Gryffindor, dear. I look forward to seeing great things from you.” McGonagall was like a different person. Her voice was now warm and there was a faint trace of a smile on her face. “I'm sure Mister Potter will know exactly how to find me if you need anything. Now get a move on, both of you. It's past curfew.”
I said goodbye to the teacher as she turned to clear up the sorting hat before making my way back to the great hall with James.
“She's like two different people.” I pointed out as I matched James' leisurely pace.
“You'll get used to Minnie. She's head of our house. She's a real pussy cat at heart.” James chuckled to himself as though something he said was completely funny.
The look on my face must have shown that I didn't get it because he just shook his head at me.
“So, this is the last place I expected to see you.” James messed up his hair as he spoke. Which is saying something as it was pretty much a mess before.
“I think we can both say the same thing.” I shrugged, keeping my eyes on the floor as we made our way towards the common room. “And there was me thinking I'd never see the pair of you again.”
A low chuckle came from James. “You can't get rid of us that easily, Jules.” He bumped into my shoulder.
During our journey I couldn't help but think back to the night Sirius had brought James along to the rock pub we always met up. We'd clicked instantly but it didn't take too long to realise just how close the two boys were. With all their inside jokes it was a surprise that I managed to fit in with the pair of them so easily.
Taking a glance at James, I realised that maybe him being here wasn't actually that bad. Yes, the whole Sirius thing was not my idea of a good time; but from what I had seen James wasn't that bad. Not that I could trust my judge of character all that much.
“I'm starting to see that.” I mumbled, making sure he could hear me.
James let out a simple chuckle but it only lasted a second or two. His eyes drifted down to me as his hand drifted up to his hair. “About Sirius. He's be-”
I raised my hand to stop him from talking, my head shaking as I did. “Please don't, James.” I took a deep breath. “I don't want to hear it. I don't want you making excuses for him.”
“Please, let me finish.” I looked at him, waiting for him to try and say something again but this time he stayed silent, waiting for me to continue. “You and Sirius are close. I get that. And I get that you're just trying to look out for him.” I plopped my thumb in my mouth, nibbling on the nail for a moment. “But this is between me and him. The more people that are involved, the messier it's going to be.” I took a longer pause than necessary. “And I really don't want any additional drama than I'd already get for being the new girl.”
“Okay.” James simply nodded at me. “I'll stay out of it as much as I can, but it's not exactly just between you and Sirius.”
“Marlene.” I sighed out loud as the words hit me. As much as I hated to admit it, James was right.
James didn't say anything for a few steps. “It's complicated.” He seemed fed up as he spoke.
“Just what I was hoping for.” I forced my voice to stay cheery which only caused James to raise my eyebrow at me. “Sarcasm.” I said with an eye roll.
Without any warning James suddenly stopped as he focussed on something at the end of the corridor. As far as I could see though, there was nothing there. Not even straining my eyes showed anything from the direction he was looking.
“I'll meet you outside the common room.” James' voice stopped me from searching the dark corridor. I looked up at him curiously. “I'm sure you want a bit of privacy.” He nodded in the direction he had been looking before.
This time, when I looked down the corridor it was no longer empty. Sirius was now stood, leaning against one of the walls with a smirk on his face.
My breath got caught in my throat and my heart started crashing against my chest. Despite knowing that he had slept with another girl just hours before, I couldn't help but feel a prang of excitement at the prospect of being alone with him. That didn't last long though, and was soon replaced with anticipation. All I wanted was answers, and he was going to give them to me.
I walked beside James as we made our way to Sirius, whose eyes were trained on me the entire time. This time, however, they weren't cold. They were full of all the emotions that I saw every time I saw him before. They were full of adoration, but rather than making me feel like the only girl in the world, they made me cringe. I couldn't comprehend how one person can be so hot and cold without even struggling.
Sirius and James mumbled something to each other before James disappeared the way we came, sending a warm smile my way as he went on his way.
Suddenly the air between the two of us was so thick it seemed to become harder to breath. My mind went completely blank as I reeled to think of the questions I wanted to ask.
“It really is good to see you, Jules.” His voice was warm, nothing like the bored drawl he had spoken to me in before. His eyes were alive, twinkling despite the lack of light. The smirk on his face changed, from cocky and arrogant to warm and loving, the second James' back was to us. It was like he was two completely different people.
“I'm not sure I can say the same.” I replied to hi honestly, as I took in every detail about him again. From the close proximity the scent of his cologne reached my nose, the normal hints of leather and cigarettes mingling with it. It instantly took me back to all the good times we spent together but I quickly snapped myself out of it. “What do you want to talk about, Sirius”?
“I guess I owe you an explanation.” Sirius let out a small sigh as he looked at me. I could see the thoughts floating around in his head. It was as though he didn't know where to start.
I shook my head before I even knew what I was doing. “No, you don't.” I couldn't believe what I was saying myself and the look on Sirius' face told me he was thinking the same thing. “We're not together. Separate lives remember?”
The tension disappeared from Sirius' shoulders as he relaxed at my words. I wasn't sure what he expected but I really didn't want to set the year of to a bad start. If that meant I had to just let this slide for now it was the least I could do. Besides, after everything that I had seen today I really don't know if I would have believed anything he had told me. I wasn't even sure if I wanted to hear anything that would change my opinion of him even more than it already had.
This time it was Sirius who shook his head. “Just hear me out.” He looked at me and I felt myself get lost in those eyes all over again. “Me and Marlene, it's been a benefit thing with her for a while. And then I met you and it changed things for me. But you weren't here. Or you weren't supposed to be here.”
“So you went back to you normal life.” I finished for him.
“I did miss you.” His hand came up to cup my cheek but I took a step back. His shoulders slumped the smallest amount. “The thing is, Jules, I don't do relationships. I don't want to be in one. That's what made everything so great with us.”
I took a deep breath and focussed on a point behind Sirius' head. “I get it, Sirius.” The lie came easily.
In reality, I didn't understand how everything we had got brushed to one side so easily. I didn't understand how the person that was stood in front of me was so different to the guy I had fallen for.
“How about for now we just forget everything and try to be friends?” Sirius' voice was calm, as though none of this had affected him.
My heart was tearing in two as I nodded my answer. Being just friends with Sirius was the last thing I wanted, and I knew it wouldn't be easy to do but it was the only thing I could think to do at that moment. There was obviously so much that I didn't know about the guy I had fallen for and I had to accept that.
Sirius didn't say another word on the matter. It was obvious, that to him, everything was then dealt with. We both started walking to the common room making idle chit chat with each other. Not once did Sirius pry in what actually brought me here. He must have known that the story he knew was all a story to give to nomaj's.
We finally caught up with James, who on seeing us said something to a portrait, causing it to swing open. Without a second thought both boys stepped into the doorway with me just behind them.
The common room was round, cosy and everything was red and gold. The atmosphere seemed to drop as we stepped in, everyone going silent as they noticed me walk in.
“You have got to be kidding me.” Was the only thing I could hear as it became apparent that this was going to be my new home.
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