Chapter 13 : Back to the Beginning
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You Hate Me
Chapter 13: Back to the Beginning
Sirius could not find Piper.
He assured himself at breakfast she was only avoiding him out of embarrassment. She had snogged him, after all. But Sirius was not used to evasion and he found he did not like it one bit. He would have to give her time, Sirius concluded as he spooned the last of his morning’s breakfast into his mouth.
Potions brought no sign of her. The stool to the right of Severus Snape usually occupied by her was unusually vacant. Even Snivellous suffered from Piper’s unprecedented disappearance; Slughorn only exclaimed twice how precise his potion was compared to the eight or nine he usually received.
Sirius composed a list of Piper’s possible whereabouts in his mind while distractedly reaching for any ingredients within his arm’s length. She wouldn’t be outside, her ears would freeze off…along with other valuable body parts. A gust of wintery wind blew through the dungeon, confirming Sirius’ first veto off the list. No, she wouldn’t be outside. She hates nature and cold weather. Nor would she be in a bathroom stall; that particular hiding spot is far too melodramatic for Piper Redden. She could barely tear up in front of let, let alone the nosy bathroom prowlers.
Mable raised her hand, the leader of the bathroom prowlers. She asked to be excused because she had a feminine issue to attend to. The males of the room covered their faces to hide their blush and the females rolled their eyes. The girls knew Mable was off to see who was resolving a personal issue in the toilets.
Is she in Gryffindor Tower them? Or perhaps the Hospital Wing? Did she have a reaction to the flubber worm goop? Or is she just skiving off lessons? If she is I’ll kill her for putting me through this.
The mystery behind her disappearance quickly became an obsession with Sirius. Fourteen hours had elapsed since Sirius had last seen her.
Lily was less than helpful in Sirius’ campaign.
“I haven’t seen her since this morning. She looked upset when I left for breakfast, but ask me if I care.”
Obliging, Sirius said, “Do you care?”
“No,” Lily said and walked away, hand in hand with Grant Grey. Fingers laced and all.
Without even needing to turn, Sirius pointed his wand behind him. “Petrificus Totalus.”
James had been on the brink of pulling his bangs clean out of his skull from the sight of Lily and Grey; and while it would have been a clever ploy to win their next match against Ravenclaw, and while Sirius commended his friend for his self restraint, Sirius could not let his friend suffer the humiliation of being a sixteen year old with what looked to be a receding hairline.
There are better ways to control anger anyway. I must get James that book Orion bought Walburga. It seemed to help her a lot.
“Are you going to keep pulling your hair out if we let you up? Blink once for ‘yes’ and twice for ‘no’.” Remus scolded teacher-like above the motionless James.
James blinked twice in an exaggerated manner.
“And will you tackle Grey and or curse Grey if we let you up?” Peter inquired, standing over James opposite Remus.
James pondered and decided his enemy was too far away already to curse or tackle, he would be much more comfortable without the full body bind on him, and he would have other, less public, opportunities at retribution. James could settle his feud with Grey on the Quidditch field. They did have a game coming up. He blinked twice.
“And it’s pronounced TOE-MAY-TOE, right, not TOE-MOT-TOE? Right?” Remus said, using James’ incapacitated state to settle a long standing argument between them. It could not be pronounced both ways, they had decided.
James grudgingly blinked once and Remus beamed facetiously.
“I reckon he’s learned his lesson, Paddy. Let the spell off.”
No sooner had Sirius waved his wand than James was on his feet, hollering in a carrying voice, “NOT!” He turned on his hell, crying out, “TOE-MOT-TOE! TOE-MOT-TOE!” Every few seconds.
Remus and Peter chased the bellowing fool, screaming, “TOE-MAY-TOE,” and “CARE-A-MEL not CAR-MEL!”
Sirius later learned the three received detentions from six different professors for disturbing the peace.
Without James, Peter, and Remus to distract him, Sirius’ thoughts turned to Piper once more. Korey would be less helpful than Lily (if that was possible, which Sirius deemed it was not); Raine and Sanaa left the dormitories at six o’ clock to study in the library when it was at its quietest; and, though he would never ask him, Snape didn’t appear to have seen hide nor hair of Sirius’ prey.
What he really needed was a way of knowing everyone’s whereabouts in the school. A living blueprint, if you will. Some sort of magical parchment that, when activated, became the perfect means of finding or avoiding someone. It would show the whole school, secret passages and everything, and the people could be represented by small dots bearing their names on it.
But where would he find something like that?
The bell rang. Sirius weighed Transfiguration and Piper and, though it was a close battle, the former won and Sirius sat though yet another Piperless class.
It had occurred to Sirius that, perhaps, on some level, he had been insensitive since Christmas. Piper was no novice when it came to handling Sirius’ insensitivity. She had been the object of it for six years. Things between them could not change in the span of a week during vacation. People didn’t change, if Sirius was sure of one thing, it was that. He couldn’t become Mr. I-Love-This-World-and-Lets-All-be-Nice-to-Each-Other overnight. Piper couldn’t expect that out of him. So what if he made nothing out of her gloriously wonderful kisses? Sirius had snogged more than one girl who was more than willing to put the experience out of her mind when she knew it would result in no relationship. There was no guilt trip. No disappearances to drive him mad. If it wasn’t embarrassment of the kiss it was anger that drove Piper into hiding. Was it really so unforgivable to neglect her after she so willingly bared her emotions to him? Cry fests weren’t really Sirius’ forte. He didn’t know she could be so emotional. She was hiding to punish him, Sirius concluded. But if he was so uncaring, why did he need to see her so badly?
I just needed to see how well she kissed. If I just get her out of my system I’ll be okay. Piper Rehab. Remus will help me, I’m sure. They’ll have an intervention. After I find her I’ll make sure things go back to normal. It’s how things are supposed to be between us. I hate her. She hates me. People don’t change.
For someone Sirius claimed to know so well, Sirius found Piper infuriatingly hard to find. The castle did not accommodate him. Sirius trekked in a circle on the fourth floor nine times until he realized the suits of armor were moving about to trick him. The staircases and doors were in on Piper’s game. They twisted, turned, disappeared, and reappeared more than Sirius had ever seen. And why, for the love of God, why, was the castle so humongous? Ten thousand Pipers could have easily hidden in its depths and Sirius would be none the wiser.
Don’t think that. One Piper is enough crazy for me to deal with in a lifetime. Ten thousand of them would band together and attack me. She’s going to disembowel me with or without an army of clones, though.
Sirius was a master in the art of controlling his thoughts and emotions. He learned it easily living with his mother and father. It was simple to turn Piper in to an enemy again. He let his anger grow with every step he took. The longer he looked, the more his temper surged. Why was she avoiding him? He should be the one avoiding her! I hate her, I hate her, I hate her. Sirius muttered, mantra-like.
He grunted, remembering Piper’s trickery, returning her to her rightful place as arch nemesis in his mind.
She colored his entire body red.
“Don’t be so angry, Sirius. Besides, red is definitely your color.”
She feigned surrender to throw him off his guard.
“I should have done this six years ago! I’m done, okay. I surrender! That’s what you want, isn’t it? God, you’re sixteen years old, grow up!”
She pretended to drown.
”Sirius Black, you’re my hero.”
She wept her heart’s content in his kitchen over Christmas.
”I hate you, Sirius Black.”
“I hate you too.”
The Kiss. The Kiss ruined everything.
”It wasn’t mistletoe, you prat! It’s holly!”
They ran away together.
”Sirius? I’m sorry.”
“You don’t have anything to be sorry for.”
She fooled him into believing she truly liked him, only to dump him in front of the half the school. Who does that?
Was she really just after destroying his reputation after all?
She’s such a rotten bitch. The memories threw Sirius into a fit of rage. I should have a bitch competition. I’ll put her, Victoria, Korey, and Walburga into a ring and whichever one comes out alive will be the winner. Piper will probably win. The lunatic. She’d win against this Voldemort bloke. If she doesn’t become one of his followers first. She probably will. Look at her family. She was a Dark witch all this time probably. Cozening all of us. I hate her.
Three bodies collided consecutively into Sirius. He was knocked onto the floor by the combined force of the unknown people. A large egg was already forming on Sirius’ seriously overworked brain, contributing to the migraine he was battling down. He crossed the brink of his anger and he screamed.
“Watch where you are fucking running you fucking dipshits!”
“Good to see you too, Pads, but we’ve got a problem.”
Remus, James, and Peter lay like contortionists on the hard stone of the ground. Their limbs twisted in uncomfortable and impossible angles from the crash. Peter was the last to be untangled from the agglomeration. His arms were tied around his back and his leg nearly bent straight back to his head.
Not knowing (or caring) how they flecked into those positions from a pileup, Sirius commented dryly, “You could make a fortune teaching Yoga, Worm.”
“It was a good stretch, but I dunno how I ever got my body to do that.” He lifted his right leg, assisting it with his hands, trying to bend it up again. He shook his head with a pained expression and rubbed his thigh. “But if I fail all my N.E.W.T.s I could always become Master Peter: Yoga Extraordinaire.”
The Marauders were used to Sirius’ short temper when he was frustrated. They had seen him at his best and worst and knew how to slake his anger. IT had been the first time in months Sirius had let his anger get the best of him—his fuse could only be so long. And like a flame, Piper had ignited it and he exploded.
“So what’s your problem?” Sirius asked by way of apology.
“James wants to spy on Grey and Lily, we told him ‘no’, he ran to find you, we followed.” Remus held onto James’ hood, who was nodding.
“And you thought I would want to spy too?” His voice was still laced with dryness; his anger was not mollified completely. Lily reminded him of Piper. “Sorry Prongs, you’re a good mate, but I’m no Peeping Tom.”
“No, I came to find you because you had the Map last.”
“Yeah, you know, ‘I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.’ Have you been confounded or something?” James put a hand to Sirius’ forehead. “Are you feverish? Are you even Padfoot!?” Eyebrows raised, James surveyed Sirius for any abnormalities only an alien would produce.
Sirius gritted his teeth. Here he was prancing about the castle searching for a girl who didn’t want to see him anyway when the answer was in his back pocket all along. He clenched his hands into fists, digging his short nails into his palms. Piper made him forget things. She was a siren to him; and just as the sailors in mythology forgot they were in rocky and perilous areas, Sirius forgot how precarious Piper could be. He would sail willingly into any trap Piper set for him, overlooking any information that could be important to him.
Trance-like, Sirius tapped the map. James waved his hand in front of Sirius’ eyes. “Are you in there, Padfoot?” Sirius disregarded Peter, James and Remus standing next to him. He was searching for one thing, one person. Magnetically, his eyes were drawn to her name.
“Gotcha,” he whispered. “Lily and Grey are in the Trophy Room.” Sirius shoved the map at James and ran around the corner. His quarry was cornered.
She was on the sixth floor in one of the more obscure corridors where the was only a few broom cupboards and unused classrooms. So eerie the corridor was even the most promiscuous of couples traveled there to consummate their relationships. The Marauders had all agreed ROL Number 4: Don’t take dates up to the sixth floor creepy corridor was one of the most important ROLs they had created. Girls were spooked by the collapsing tables, cracked blackboards, and torn apart books. Peeves floated past the doors without even looking inside; he knew there would be no one in there. The Marauders and Piper passed over these doors when executing their prank, knowing it would be a waste of the valuable powder. No one would bother using the classroom to teach in.
Slightly winded, Sirius tapped his wand on the knob of the last door in the hallway. The corridor was dimly lit. Fear and anticipation rose in his chest. She was behind this door. He would finally set things right.
He opened the door.
She didn’t flinch or make any indication she had even recognized Sirius’ presence. She blended in with the dark room lit only by a solitary candle stub. With a perfectly straight spine, she sat on the sturdiest table of the bunch; her feet dangled off. If Sirius couldn’t see her eyes he would have thought she was reading the pages of parchment in her hands, but she was not reading. She stared, unblinking, ahead of her. Only her trembling jaw moved, shaking with an unknown, repressed emotion.
It must have been ten minutes before Piper acknowledged Sirius. Her head turned less than fifteen degrees; she spoke more to herself than to Sirius. “My mother sent me this letter this morning,” She flourished the pages slightly. Piper choked on her words. Tears did not fill her eyes, but it could have only been because she had run out of tears to shed. Her eyes were red and puffy, by the nearly nonexistent light of the candle; Sirius could see the long streaks where the tears had fallen on her cheeks. “It explains how I am a disgrace to the Redden name and how she’s had me…disowned. You’re in here too, you’re mother just had you disowned. I guess my mother took a page out of her book. She’ll take me back if I renounce all of you and then marry one of the McClures. Someone told her that we were ‘involved’ as she puts it, and she’s afraid we’ll make little bastard children.”
“What do you mean?” There it was: her siren call taunting Sirius, making him oblivious as to why he was so angry with her. How could he hate such a frail and delicate creature? He felt the urge to console her, protect her from the obscenities of the world. And he had inadvertently caused her this suffering? Sirius blinked. He had seen Piper’s father’s affectionate smiles at his daughter, he did not miss her mother salivating over what a prize she would be to any man, and he remembered well the giddy reception Piper’s brother gave her. They disowned her?
“Someone saw us together, I don’t know when, but they did and they wrote to my mother, who wrote to me how shameful it is to consort with blood traitors. She says she was going to overlook my ‘crisis’ and forgive me but I’ve,” she read from the parchment, “’gone too far over the edge and are passed forgiveness unless you follow the conditions as follows: cut off all ties you have made, including the courtship of Sirius Black, the disgrace to the Black name, complete the remainder of the next two years with nothing less than the grades a Redden is expected to have, and you enter into matrimony with Alexander McClure after seventh year—he made the offer to your father and I two nights ago and we have accepted.’”
“Oh shit. Piper, this is all my fault.” All he had to do to prevent this disaster would have been as simple as keeping Piper and enemy. He made her a companion and destroyed her future. He was disowned, but it came as no shock, it was going to come eventually (Sirius had been tempted, on occasion, to blast his own name off the tapestry). Now he was a blood traitor and by practicing little discretion he had turned Piper into one as well.
“Don’t say that. How can I blame someone for this when it’s all just my mother being a delusional cow? I’ve always wanted a way out of that life and here it is. Only, I never thought it would involve disownment. But I won’t crawl back to them. I won’t. I’ve suffered so much mistreatment from them they’re kidding themselves if they think I’ll marry McClure.”
“But you love them,” said Sirius simply.
“They, obviously, don’t love me. If they did, they would do it unconditionally and love me no matter what I do. I mean, God, have you ever heard of a family disowning their child for snogging a ‘blood traitor’?”
“You have read ‘Romeo and Juliet’, right?” His joke was lost on Piper. “Look, are you okay with this?”
“No, I’m not okay!” Piper sprung lightly off the table. She stepped toward Sirius, pulling one hand through her unkempt and tangled hair and holding the other over her heart on her heaving chest. “This morning when I got this sodding thing I was worrying about being disowned while Korey fretted what you would think if she wore black and brown in the same ensemble. We live in a different world, Sirius, and it’s all I know and I’m terrified of knowing anything else. I’ve either been here at school being treated like shit or at home being treated like a freaking queen, I don’t know any middle. Sirius, I’m not strong enough to do this. I can’t do this.”
Piper’s face burned red with the effort she made to prevent a fit of tears. “Sirius,” she said his name in a whisper and fell into his body. Her arms wrapped around his back, caressing his shoulder blades and his own performed likewise. She breathed into his neck in soft, shallow gasps. He felt her hair that she rarely wore down and appreciated every strand. His own body became tense, his breathing as ragged as Piper’s.
She released his body from her grasp and a second later she was kissing Sirius with an urgency foreign to him. She needed to feel every part of him against hers. Her mouth on his, his tongue massaging hers. If Sirius had ever been kissed passionately, it paled in comparison to the swell of emotion he felt. She was the moon and every other woman were stars failing to grasp the moon’s beauty. Her taste was addictive. He needed more.
Their robes only intruded on their need to touch, to feel the other. He glided her shirt of, over her head and intricately traced patterns on her chest, neck, and mouth with his lips and tongue. His hands guided her to the table, their mouths never disconnecting on the shirt trip. He hoisted her up and stepped easily into the gap between her legs, which she wrapped around Sirius’ waist. Her hands slipped under his shirt and rested on his strong back and chest. They leaned into each other as if competing for the same space.
It was delicious ecstasy to expel her emotion on Sirius. Her grief propelled her to kiss him with a ferocity she had never encountered. The ghost of his touch brought his name to her lips; the flicker of his tongue encouraged a shudder in her spine and a gasping intake of breath. His touch voided her mind of thoughts better than fire whiskey ever could.
His name brought Sirius back. He recoiled from Piper fluidly. “This isn’t right,” he spluttered. The spirit of a speech he had prepared floated just outside Sirius’ reach. He thought hard.
Piper grazed her lips where Sirius’ mouth had been seconds ago with her fingertips. They were swollen and red. She swallowed the scathing reply her heart was dying to utter and groped for her shirt instead, self conscious, now, of Sirius seeing her in only a bra and unbuttoned jeans.
“You should write to your mum. Tell her you’ve come to your senses and want nothing to do with me. Finish school, marry Alexander, it’ll be better that way.” He donned his cloak as he spoke. “I dunno what kind of life you were hoping for, but I’m not part of the equation.”
“I thought you would understand what I’m going through, Sirius.”
“Well I don’t. I don’t care about you. I never have. You’re just one big laugh to me; this has all been a joke. Boo hoo, you’re parents disowned you, I don’t give a shit. You were just another girl I wanted to see if I could get and,” he picked Piper’s shirt off the ground and threw it to her, “I guess I can.” Sirius’ words burned his vocal chords as he said them. He needed to set things right, and here it was, his opportunity to instill hate into their relationship again.
“I can’t believe you’re rejecting me.” She crossed her arms over her slightly revealed chest, glaring.
“Well if I shagged every desperate whore who threw herself at me I wouldn’t be much of a legend, now, would I?”
A knot of hatred untangled itself in Piper’s mind. It had been dormant too long. “Get out,” a deadly whisper she did not recognize as her own voice penetrated the air. “Get away from me. Get out! Get out! Get out! Get out!” Now shrieking, Piper pointed to the door. She glided off the table, led by the hatred in her mind. She pushed Sirius, punched him, and shoved him until he was in the doorway, out of sight.
She slammed the door in his face.
The sunny and oddly warm winter day did not suit Piper. If she controlled the weather, a blizzard would be roaring outside, and with any luck, it would sweep away the Quidditch team coming in from practice.
The Gryffindor team entered with roars of jubilation. The upcoming game against Ravenclaw had sparked intensity within the team. They practiced longer, ate more, and spent the remainder of their time resting.
Piper had been hurt by Sirius. She had been injured in a way she never imagined. Her heart ached from the words he spat out. He didn’t care about her. She was foolish to have ever thought he did. Piper suspected the last month was an elaborate ploy to prompt Piper’s disownment, he had probably written to Piper’s mother when running away didn’t get the job done. Her blood boiled at the sight of him, flushed from the cold outside, laughing with his mates. She gripped the bench, preventing any rash moves such as launching herself at the prat, knife in hand.
She could not sit through dinner at the same table as him. Her anger had been so palpable the night before even Korey kept her distance. Reconciliation in mind, Lily even prompted Piper to get what was bothering her off her chest. Piper had thrown her hangings shut with vigor and cried herself to sleep—something she had sworn never to do again after Sirius Black had made her cry the first time.
Their paths crossed as Piper exited the hall and Sirius entered, broomstick in hand. Piper desired nothing more than to wrench the broom from his hands and beat him to death with it. However, murder is frowned upon at Hogwarts, and she refrained.
“Still mad at me, Red?”
His carrying voice attracted the attention of the Slytherins. Severus, relieved at Piper’s emergence, moved his hand to his wand, just in case she needed some backup.
She was not looking for confrontation. Her emotions were haywire. And after eating twelve Chocolate Frogs and a pound of Honeydukes fudge, her emotions were no less contained than a tiger would be in a wicker basket. Afraid she was going to burst into tears or strange him, Piper did not stall in her gait.
“Yup, still mad. Oh well, she was a bad snog anyway.” Sirius waited.
Piper rounded on Sirius. The Quidditch team retreated; they wanted none of this new, psychotic looking Piper. They wished she would pull her hair back into its normal bun or ponytail, it only added to her crazed visage. “I am not a bad snog, Black.”
Professor McGonagall saw the advance of Piper Redden and the recoiling of the team. She saw Sirius Black stand his ground and she saw Severus Snape stand in his seat, wand in hand. While she would applaud Piper for attacking Black, she couldn’t have Sprout, Flitwick, or Slughorn remembering her house as the one with the crazy girl who assaulted the star Beater. Not on her watch would that happen.
“Is there a problem here, Black, Redden?”
“Nothing, Professor, Sirius here was just giving the Hall a clinic on how to be an asshole.”
“MISS. REDDEN! Twenty points from Gryffindor for that foul language. From my own house no less.”
“And Piper here was going to sign up for my other class I teach today. It’s called ‘Lean how to be less of a bitch in just four sessions’”
“MR. BLACK! Twenty points from Gryffindor. Stop this right now! What is going on between you two!?” McGonagall searched each face for any trace of an answer.
“Nothing, Professor,” Piper said again.
Professor McGonagall surrendered her search of their countenances. She walked backwards up to the staff table, eyes fixed on her two students.
“So I guess things are back to normal between us, eh, Red?”
“Absolutely,” Piper said with a malice in her eyes Sirius did not like one bit.
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