Chapter 4 : The Start Of An Unexpected Friendship
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It's not like I could just ignore him either. He seemed to be everywhere. In the common room, in every lesson I had, every meal. And wherever Sirius was, there was at least one girl trying to throw herself at him. If it wasn't Marlene, it was some other bimbo giggling at every last thing he said.
This time was no different. There he was, standing next to a petite brunette girl as she laughed at something he had said. She was looking up at him as though he was the only guy in the room, and he was matching her expression as he looked down at her. The charming grin on his face grew wider just moments before he let out a bark of laughter. Sirius took a step closer to the Hufflepuff girl and pressed his hand on her lower back as he pointed out something in front of them.
Despite the ache in my heart that was growing with each passing moment, I couldn't tear my eyes away from them. He looked so happy and in his element. This was his life and I had to start accepting that.
The more I watched him like this, the more I believed that what we had obviously meant nothing to him. The more I believed that, the easier it was for me to dislike him; and if I disliked him it would finally mean I was over him. Right?
"Stop watching him." Alice's voice made me jump, snapping me out of my train of thought. "You're supposed to be helping me." She nodded towards the plant she was transferring to a bigger pot. The smile on her face never faltered one bit.
Alice had taken on the role of taking me under her wing. This didn't just mean showing me around and making sure I settled in alright, she also made sure that I didn't mope after Sirius.
"Sorry." I let out a breathy laugh as I grabbed a handful of dragon dung, dropping it into the pot only for it to splatter all over the pair of us.
The smile on Alice's face was gone as she stared at me, her mouth wide open in shock. There were specks of dung dotted all over her face and hair. When she finally got over her shock Alice scowled at me, causing my composure to break and my laughter to start. My laughter only grew when a handful of the dung hit me in the side of the face. It was then that Alice joined me, her laughter ringing through the air.
"Miss Prewett, Miss Bryce." Professor Sprout's unusually sharp voice interrupted our laughter, drawing the attention of everyone else in the room to us.
The laughter died on my lips as I took in the disappointment written all over the teachers face. There I was, in my third lesson of the school year and I was already done for. What a great first impression I was making on everyone. I couldn't help but sigh as Professor Sprout reached our table.
"I'm really sorry. It was all an accident." I mumbled before giving anyone else the chance to say anything. Professor Sprout just put her hand up to stop me.
"I expect better from you, Miss Prewett. This isn't like you at all." The teacher was looking down at Alice with some sort of sadness in her eyes.
"Sorry, Miss. I slipped." Alice's voice was it's normal self. At the sound of it I turned to look at her to see a sweet smile spread across her face. The smile did it's job and softened the teachers face.
The sight of my friend almost sent me into fits of laughter again so I pressed my fist to my mouth, biting down on it slightly to stifle it. As I dragged my eyes away from Alice, they landed on Sirius. He was leaning against his desk, arms crossed over his chest, watching me with amusement in his eyes and an impressed smirk on his lips. My face dropped at the sight and I instantly avoided looking in his direction.
"And you, Miss Bryce." I turned to face Professor Sprout as she addressed me. The hint of sadness was completely gone and her face was deadpan. "I expected a much better first impression from you. You're father is not going to be pleased."
My stomach dropped at the mention of my father. It was becoming clear that most of the teachers knew who my dad was, and they were setting me on some sort of pedestal because of who he was and what he had told them about me. The thought of that just made me want to be back in America more than anything.
"Sorry, Professor." I grumbled as I stared at the plant on the desk.
"You will both have detention tonight. Be here at half seven tonight."
Professor Sprout spun around on her heal and made her way to the front of the classroom where she continued to watch us both like a hawk.
"Great. Not even here one week and she already hates me." I kept my voice low, not wanting to give her another reason to pull me up in front of the class.
"Which is saying something." Alice giggled. "Prof Sprout doesn't hate anyone." She winked at me, not bothering to keep her voice down. "But unless you want to make things worse we should probably finish sorting this...thing out."
We worked in silence for a moment until my eyes once again drifted to Sirius and the girl he was working closely with.
"Jules?" Alice nudged my shoulder as she spoke.
I let out a small sigh. "How many are there?" I didn't take my eyes off the girl as she threw her head back and let out a laugh at whatever Sirius was saying to her.
Alice turned to look at me with pity in her eyes. "Listen, Jules. I've known Sirius a very long time. And the guy you described to me, well I've never seen that side of him. There are so many great things about him, but he's never been even remotely interested in relationships." She gestured towards Sirius with her hand. "He manages to have a different girl every other week, but he always went back to Marlene in the end."
My eyes drifted over to Marlene who was scowling at Sirius, not bothering to hide how she was feeling. It was written all over her face for everyone to see.
"She's been hung up on him for years but he's never been interested in anything more than a bit of fun. I wouldn't even say that they're friends."
My heart sunk for her as she watched Sirius shamelessly flirt with the Hufflepuff.
"That explains her hospitality." I mused. Despite her inability to even look at me without scowling I still couldn't bring myself to dislike her. Especially since I knew how she felt. Maybe not to the same extent, but it was similar.
"She'll come around." Alice was putting the last of the dragon dung in the pot. "If you really are serious about getting over Sirius." The corner of her mouth turned upwards as she spoke. "She's really not too bad once you get past her attitude."
"I'll be sure to bare that in mind next time she makes her bitchy comments." I gave a humourless laugh.
The whole thing just seemed to be getting more and more complicated. The more I knew about what was going on, the less I wanted to be involved in any of it. The last thing I wanted to do was cause Marlene any more heartache than she had obviously felt because of Sirius.
"Just give her a bit of time. You're both hurting. Maybe you can use that to be there for her?" Alice suggested as she took her gloves off and shoved them in her bag.
"Just because I don't want to be at the receiving end of her wrath, it doesn't mean I'm going to go out of my way to win her over. I'm not bending over backwards just for one person to like me." I explained as I packed my stuff away and left the greenhouse at the end of class.
When we were half way back to the castle an arm wrapped around my shoulders and I instantly tensed up. I knew who it was without having to look.
"You really do stink." Sirius laughed heartily. "But I am somewhat impressed."
I sighed and, despite the sparks that he sent shooting across my whole body, shrugged his arm off me. "And why is that?" I glanced up at him raising a questioning eyebrow.
"I can't believe someone has actually managed to get a detention before me or Prongs." He looked down at me with a huge grin on his face. "I think you two are the only people to beat us."
I couldn't help but raise my eyebrow at him. Out of everything I could have done to try and impress him, it was the one thing that I never would have thought of that did.
"I think you must be the only person who would ever be impressed by that." I couldn't help but laugh.
"Nah, I gotta admit I'm pretty impressed too." James seemed to appear beside Sirius out of nowhere.
Alice let out a delicate chuckle. "Oh, James. You don't count. You two aren't exactly on the same page as most people."
"Of course we're not. We are so much better than most people." Sirius smirked, once again wrapping his arm around me whilst he wrapped his other arm over Alice's shoulder.
Heat spread from his hand, slowly making its way throughout my entire body. I knew I should have been keeping my distance, I needed to make sure I didn't fall for his charm again. Or his smile. Or his eyes. Despite all of this, I found myself staying in my safe place, because, even after everything, Sirius Black was still that. He was still the person I felt safest with, and that wasn't going to go away just because I wanted it to.
It was when Marlene walked past, huffing as she did that I shrank away from Sirius once more. Glancing around as I did, I realised that it wasn't just Marlene watching us. Watching me. No, glaring at me. I suddenly felt uncomfortable under their gaze. As if being the new girl wasn't enough.
"If you say so." Alice sang, the slight twitch of her lips was the only thing that revealed her sarcasm.
"Don't act like it's not true. We know you love us, Prewett." James knocked into her with his shoulder.
"Oh, we're on last name basis now, are we?" Alice put her hand on her heart, feigning horror as she did.
"Only whilst you're pretending you don't love us!" Sirius barked. He took a few large strides ahead before turning around to walk backwards so that he faced us.
With him facing us I couldn't help but take him in. His eyes were dancing with amusement as he looked me up and down. His lips parted in a cheeky smirk, revealing his perfect, white teeth. His tie hung loosely around his neck, the top buttons of his shirt undone, revealing...
Internally scolding myself, I snapped my eyes back onto Sirius' face just in time to notice the twitch in his smile. He hadn't missed it and that just made my cheeks grow hotter.
"As if you'd ever believe me if I told you I didn't love you both." Alice gave in, creating chuckles out of all of us.
"There's the Alice we've grown to love." Sirius took his eyes off me and gave Alice his biggest grin. "But there's actually something I wanted to talk to you both about."
"Of course. How did it not occur to me that you had some ulterior motive to talking to us." Alice reached forward to punch Sirius lightly in the arm. "I should have known since you didn't have anyone stuck to your side."
I felt my smile drop. I knew Alice didn't mean anything by it. She especially didn't mean for it to affect me, but the thought of Sirius constantly with other girls still made my stomach churn.
"Alice, Alice, Alice. I'm not sure I like what you're insinuating." Sirius gave her his cheekiest grin.
"It's not insinuating if it's true."
"Anyway, back to the talk." James threw a glance in my direction as he steered the conversation onto something else. I smiled thankfully at him before setting my attention back to Sirius.
"So, with how you both impressed us. We were thinking you could help us out." Sirius' eyes glimmered mischievously.
"I don't think I'm going to like the sound of this." I finally spoke up, drawing everyone's attention onto me.
"Come on, Jules. It'll be fun." Sirius was still slowly walking backwards at a slow pace.
"I thought I told you it was Juliet."
"I thought we were friends." He dared me to challenge him. And after the agreement we made, I knew there was nothing I could say to stop him from using that name. Even if the sound of it of his tongue sent shivers down my spine. I knew I had to just live with it.
I put my hands up in surrender, causing his grin to grow even wider, if that was even possible.
"So what's this plan you have." Alice spoke as though she had heard it all before.
Sirius flashed her a grin before stopping in front of us, causing us all to stop. He huddled everyone together so that he could whisper his plan to us.
* * * * *
After finally getting the putrid smell of dragon dung out of our hair, Alice, Remus and I settled down in the library to try and catch me up with as much of my work as possible. That in itself was becoming a difficult task. It seemed that I was actually a bit more behind than I had thought possible.
Catching up on my work was only made bearable because it meant there was no chance of bumping into Sirius. Him and James had been banned from the library back in their first year for a prank that went wrong. I was yet to find out details of that.
"These are the basics. It's not that hard." Alice murmured as she rubbed her eyes with her palms.
"Yeah, I'm not too great at Transfiguration. I got the grade by the skin of my teeth." I shrugged as I dropped my head onto the table. "My dad hired me a tutor."
"I think you need him to do the same again." Alice started rooting through the books that were on the table.
"Sirius or James could probably help you." Remus spoke casually, not lifting his eyes from his book. "They are top of the class."
"I don't think so." My head shot up to look at him as I tried to figure out if he was actually being serious. "The last thing I need is to spend any time alone with Sirius."
"Why don't you just drop it?" Alice asked as she handed me a stack of notes to read through.
"I need to pass it to be an aura. I don't want to have to rely on my dad to get me a place." I let out a small sigh. "He got in on his own, I don't want him making any special privileges for me."
"Well in that case, you only have one choice." Remus finally put his book down to look at me. "Sirius or James?"
I grumbled under my breath which caused Alice to laugh at me.
"Juliet, I get why you want to avoid him, but if there is one thing I've learnt about Sirius it's that you can't just cut him out of your life." Remus' voice was soft, his eyes warm and his smile was small. "He has a lot of flaws, but he is fiercely loyal and he'll do anything for the people he cares about. He might not be in your life how you want him to be, but having him in your life is worth it. Besides, he cares about you, he won't let you just ignore him."
My eyebrows shot up at the thought of Sirius talking about me to his friends. My stomach started twisting itself in knots at the thought.
"He's is right." Alice leant back in her chair as she agreed with Remus. "Sirius is rubbish to get romantically involved with, but he's one of the best friends you could ask for."
I glanced up from Alice and scanned the almost empty library as I thought about what the pair of them had said. Thankfully, everyone was still making the most out of the warm weather and studying outside. There were only two other tables occupied, the one beside ours was occupied by a few girls from another house, and there was one boy sat at the other one.
The boy seemed more familiar every time my eyes landed on him, but I couldn't for the life of me figure out where I may have seen him. I found myself staring at him, trying to work it out, when his eyes shot up to meet mine. His grey, emotionless eyes, the exact same I saw on Sirius. Furrowing my brows, I pulled my eyes away from him, looking back down at the piece of parchment I was writing on.
It wasn't until I was entirely sure that he wasn't looking at me until I turned to Alice.
"Who's that?" I whispered as quiet as possible as I indicated who I was talking about with a nod of my head.
Alice turned to look over her shoulder, only looking for a short moment before she turned back to me. "That's Regulus, Sirius' brother." She managed to get her voice even quieter than mine.
"Brother?" I was unable to hide my shock as I turned to look at the boy again. "Sirius never said."
Alice placed her quill down and leant in towards me, leaning her elbows on the table in front of her. "They don't talk to each other." Her voice seemed to get even quieter, if that was even possible.
Curiosity got the better of me. How could Sirius go two months without even mentioning that he had a brother. In fact, he went the whole two months without talking about any of his family. Any time I had asked him about them he'd avoid it.
"Jules, it's not my story to tell." The tone in her voice was final. "Besides, even if I wanted to tell you, I couldn't. I don't know the details. No one does. Sirius keeps his personal life very private. Most of it anyway." She cringed as soon as she had finished speaking, it was as though she had said something she hadn't meant to.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
Alice was shaking her head at me. "Just forget I said-"
A squeal from the table beside us cut Alice off. We both turned to look at the girls at the same time.
"Black?" One of the girls asked, obviously not worrying about keeping her voice quiet.
"How many other Sirius' do you know?" The second girl giggled, the other one following suit shortly after.
The mention of his name peaked my interest, my stomach tying itself in a knot. I couldn't think of more than one reason that two girls would be talking and giggling about someone like that. My heart was suddenly in my throat.
The giggling continued for a good minute before either of the girls spoke again. "When are you meeting him?"
"Tonight, in the astronomy tower."
Remus waved his hand in front of my face drawing my attention back to him. "But dwelling on anything like that isn't going to make anything any easier."
"I think the more I see of this, the less it'll bother me." I mused more to myself then the others.
"Well you chose the right guy to try and get over then. It should be easy enough if you're going by that tactic."
Lily stormed in, looking around before her eyes settled on our table. Her cheeks matched the colour of her hair and her eyebrows furrowed further as she stormed over to us, taking the seat next to me, cutting off any reply I had for Remus.
"What's he done now?" Alice picked up her quill up and wrote something down on a piece of parchment.
Fuming, Lily balled her hands into fists. "He got into the dormitory!" She threw her hands up in the air but she made sure her voice was no louder than a whisper. "And spread rose petals everywhere."
"What do you mean by everywhere?" Remus asked as he looked at the fuming redhead.
"Everywhere." Lily dropped her head into her hands. "There's three inches of them over every surface. And suspended in the air are petals spelling out 'Will you go on a date with me?'"
Alice's head was the next to shoot up and turn to Lily. "Hang on. What do you mean by he got into the dormitory?"
"Well it's not going to be anyone else, is it?" Lily's voice was gradually getting louder, drawing the attention of others at the surrounding tables.
With absolutely no idea who they were talking about, I chose to take a back seat and listen instead. Personally, I didn't think what she was saying seemed that bad. Wouldn't any girl enjoy having a boy go to that sort of effort to get their attention?
"He can't get up the stairs, Lily." Alice pointed out, causing my mind to wonder whether there was anyone in the school who couldn't walk or climb stairs. No one that I had seen came to my mind.
Remus looked away from the girls, suddenly finding his book more interesting again.
Lifting her head up, Lily's eyes narrowed towards Alice. "So he got a girl to do it. Or he found some loophole. I don't know, Lice. All I know is I want it all to stop."
"Potter has been after you for as long as I can remember. He's not just going to stop now." Alice sang with a grin. "Besides, you can't say you don't like the attention."
A sound of recognition escaped from my lips before I could stop it and suddenly both pairs of eyes were boring into me. I could feel my cheeks heat up under their gaze. Embarrassed, I cleared my throat. "Sorry. I just didn't realise who you were on about. Why don't you just tell him to stop? He doesn't seem that unreasonable."
The two girls let out a trill of laughter whilst Remus stayed silent behind his book.
"He's been doing this for the last six years." Alice explained, her eyes dancing as she spoke.
Lily just grimaced. "And he definitely isn't unreasonable. I've tried telling him to stop but the fool won't take no as an answer." She massaged her scalp gently as she looked between Remus and Alice.
"I have to see this." Alice packed up her stuff and went to leave with Lily. "You coming, Jules?"
"I should probably stay and try to understand some of this." I pointed to the notes.
Before the other girls got even a foot away from the table Lily stopped and turned back around. "Come on Remus. I need you to pass on a message to Potter."
"I should have expected that." Remus muttered to me under his breath. He quickly packed his things up and caught up with the girls leaving me on my own to try and focus on my work.
"He really isn't worth your time." A voice came from behind me causing me to jump. I looked up in time to find Regulus pulling up the seat beside me.
"I beg your pardon?" I raised an eyebrow at him.
"Sirius. You really should forget about him." Regulus' voice was gruff and he had Sirius' eyes. Only Regulus' weren't bright with life like his brothers. There was something almost dark about him, but the small small on his face was kind and sweet.
"Did nobody teach you that it's rude to listen in to other peoples conversations?" My voice was raising slightly at the audacity of the boy eavesdropping.
"If you didn't want anyone listening you really should learn to keep your voice down." There was a twinkle in his eye for a split second before it disappeared again.
"That still isn't an excuse to butt in on someone else's business." I grumbled as I packed everything away in my bag.
"Okay, I apologise." He raised his hands up in surrender. "Let me start over. I'm Regulus." He held his hand out for me to shake.
I looked at it dubiously.
"Oh come on, I don't bite." Regulus rolled his eyes.
"Juliet." I gently took his cold hand for a moment before pulling away.
"Oh." Something shone brightly in Regulus' eyes for a moment as realisation sunk in. "You're the girl Sirius met over the holidays? I thought you were supposed to be a muggle?"
My mouth dropped open slightly before I manage to regain my composure. "You know about me?"
"Sirius wrote me a letter telling me all about a muggle he was seeing." Regulus shrugged as if it was no big deal. "I did assume it was a lie so he could get to mother."
My heart sunk. Had the whole 'relationship' just been a reason for him to get one up on his family. The family that it was slowly becoming clear that he didn't talk to. I forced a smile on my face as I look up at Regulus.
"He didn't know I was a witch." I admitted quietly.
"That makes more sense." Regulus thought out loud. "And now he just wants to be friends?" He asked as though he already knew.
I nodded at him and stood up to leave.
"Juliet, my brother is very predictable when it comes to dating." Regulus walked beside me as we made our way out of the library. "He doesn't do it unless there's something in it for him."
"That wasn't why he stuck around." I shook my head not wanting to believe hi when, in fact, everything he was saying was making perfect sense.
"Was it not?" Regulus kept his face neutral so I couldn't tell what he was thinking. "Has he shown any interest in you since he found out you were a witch?"
My heart lurched. "Well, no, but-"
"I'm sorry Juliet. It was only a matter of time before he showed you his true colours." Regulus looked at me with pity in his eyes. "Surely it's better to hear it from me now instead of months down the line?"
"I guess." I mumbled avoiding looking at Sirius younger brother. "I best be off. I have, um." I trailed off.
"I'll see you around, Juliet." He flashed another small smile before he headed off in the direction of the dungeons. I think.
As I walked back to the common room I couldn't stop my mind from drifting back to what Regulus had said. Was he really right about Sirius? Everything he had said would explain why Sirius had been acting the way he did. I thought back to every time Sirius had brushed me off whenever I brought up his family and finally understood why. I was just a pawn in his feud with them.
When I got to the common room I headed straight up to the dormitory, ignoring the calls from Alice and Lily. I couldn't face them right then. I needed to process the fact that the last two months of my life had in fact been a lie.
As soon as I made it to my bed and drew the curtains I finally let the tears fall.
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