Chapter 39 : Beautiful Love
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Scarlett was curious.
It stood against everything she thought she believed in, but in all honesty she couldn't be troubled to care. She could feel her initial reaction blossoming within her even as she ran closer and closer, feel the internal cringing like bile in her stomach, feel her fear of the truth crawl up by her.
But, she could also feel the ache go away. She could feel her curiosity feel satisfied, and she could feel her peace of mind coming back. Though the question on her head was an irrelevancy, nothing compared to the feeling she hadn't been able to decipher, she wanted to solve it now. She didn't just need to get rid of the ache—she wanted to.
And it was all because of Sirius.
She stopped abruptly, leaning against an unfamiliar tree and catching her breath. It couldn't have been far; after all, she and Theodore had been going on a walk and had been there within ten to fifteen minutes. At her heavy sprint, she had to have been close.
She could feel it coursing throughout her body, this intuition that curiosity brought. It was the same intuition that bothered to ask the question and the same intuition that demanded an answer. It was what had made her lie smoothly to Theodore and run away far before she was supposed to meet Tenereus so she could solve this mystery.
She could feel the intuition, feel the conviction without logic within her, and it terrified her. It terrified her so much, because this defied everything that she had believed in.
But, she could also feel the adrenaline. She could also feel happy and, yes, maybe a little reckless. She could feel properly now, and she could feel more and more strongly as her careful defenses to avoid consequences and confrontation were demolished.
And it was all because of Sirius.
She slowed to a walk; she could see the glow ahead. Though the snow flew around her intensely, some snowflakes being held in the mess that was her hair, she acted as if she were walking along a beach in the summertime, looking up at what she could see of the sky idly.
She had to leave soon, but before she did she had to solve this.
The tree came into her eyesight immediately; it was impossible to miss. The jewel-like leaves were still there, just as they had been when she had bound with Theodore, and they were still just as astonishingly breathtaking as they were before. Every single leaf had details of its own, and it actually glittered, though snow concealed the details as well as it could. Each color was not dulled in a way that lessened its beauty; on the contrary the subdued shine made it all the more ethereal.
Scarlett took a step closer. When she had been here with Theodore they had merely admired the sight from afar and then they had left. Theodore had not questioned it; he generally did not like to go searching for answers as much as he liked to simply have them. If it had been any other day or any other year, Scarlett wouldn't have, too. She would have thought it was absolutely beautiful but venture nothing more on it because it didn't offer anything suspicious at first glance. Plenty of magical trees were in a magical forest; it was a common fact.
But, when she had been frustrated with her insufferable curiosity the tree had been something she had thought on briefly to pacify her. But when her frustration had vanished and she had begun to feed her curiosity she continued to think about it, more and more, like she was gaining momentum.
She thought it was suspicious, really, and she had all more reason to think so as she stood in front of it with a stern eye. Maybe some of her suspicion had branched from the fact that the tree was magical amidst a group of less impressive trees. Maybe some of it had come from just the mere fact that it was magical in itself.
Yes, it was magical... but how magical was it?
She put her palm on the trunk of the tree, stroking her hand from the highest branch she could reach to where it was right next to the snow. She looked at it for minutes, merely scrutinizing it... and then the tree changed.
It was not subtle; she must have missed it while she was observing the leaves, but she could definitely see a difference now. Where the glow of the tree—coming from the center of the trunk—had before been a beautiful blue, nearly a sapphire, it had now become a deep magenta.
Scarlett's eyebrows furrowed; cautiously, she pulled out her wand and pointed it directly at the tree. "Stupefy," she muttered, watching as the spell hit the tree... and split. It flew around the trunk of the tree before hastily evaporating as if the spell had never been cast at all.
"So you're not affected by spells," Scarlett spoke, curious by the information. "And you're still purple, so you're not going to kill me. You were blue with Theodore and I... but you were blue right before I came here. So, tree... why are you changing color?"
"I don't think it's random," Scarlett told the tree matter-of-factly. "It's based on something... how many people are here? ... how warm I am? ... how intimidating I am? ... the weather? Emotion?"
At the word 'emotion', the deep color the tree took on ceased momentarily and glowed for a second or two. "So you're a mood tree," Scarlett said dryly. "And... it was blue with Theodore and I because we were... relaxed? We were calm?"
"So... what am I now?" she asked herself. "I am confused, but I'm not frustrated." She paused for a second and smiled at the familiarity. "I'm happy. I'm curious. I want to figure out what you're trying to tell me."
The tree glowed again, but brighter and for a longer duration. "I'm curious," Scarlett said determinedly. "That's what I am."
The tree glowed again, but it did not cease, and it was brightest of all. Transfixed, Scarlett eyed the tree again, and, very slowly, the tree responded:
You have proved your worth and discovered this tree's secrets.
Welcome to the outlook of Rowena Eleanor Ravenclaw.
Scarlett was running.
She was not running from something but to someone, and she was running in a way that was so energetic that it might have been the fastest she had ever moved. Her eyes were alight and her chocolate-colored irises sparkled in the moonlight in a way that they never had before.
When she reached the outlook, significantly a greater distance from the way she normally would go, she seemed to realize just how much of a distance it was, her breaths coming out in short bursts. When she had reached the outlook, she reached it while it was occupied, and Sirius looked at her entrance, his eyebrows raised and unsure if he should be concerned or not.
"Scar—" he started, but Scarlett put her hand up as she tried to catch her breath. After a couple of seconds of heavy breathing, she looked up at Sirius eagerly. "Come on," she said, and it was said in a way that made it seem as if Scarlett believed Sirius knew what she was talking about.
"Pardon?" said Sirius, slightly concerned for her sanity, and Scarlett shook her head like he had given a wrong answer, coming up to him and grasping his hand.
"Come on!" she said, and she said it with a wide grin, one that was so happy that Sirius could not help but return it. She abruptly started to sprint, and Sirius matched her pace, taking in the blurry scenery with hints of skepticism and wonderment.
"Where are we going?" Sirius asked over the wind, which whistled in his ears loudly. "What the bloody hell is wrong with you?"
"Don't worry about it!" Scarlett yelled back, and she laughed so that it flew in the breeze like music itself. "Stop worrying so much!"
Sirius let out a bark of laughter. "Look who's talking," he retorted. "What has gotten into you?"
"Curiosity!" was her prompt reply.
At that, the couple continued running. They ran long minutes, jumping over occasional fallen branches and having to sidestep some particularly feisty creatures, but even as they went through the forest's form of an obstacle course their hands did not let go.
Their breathing grew labored, and their footsteps slowed from the sprint they had started with, but they continued to run. "Did you sprint from where we're going to the outlook?" Sirius asked amusedly.
Scarlett nodded; she could not believe she had had enough energy to run the distance, no less do it twice. "I might have," she said vaguely, and she giggled. "It's—I just can't believe it! I can't—I got it!"
"Got what?" Sirius asked. "A weapon? Are you going to kill me now?"
Scarlett laughed with tones of ecstasy that had Sirius furrowing his eyebrows. "Sirius, if I had wanted to kill you, I would have had to enjoy your company a little bit less!"
"Are you smashed?" Sirius asked.
"Nope!" Scarlett assured him. "I'm just completely, and utterly, and deliriously happy!"
Sirius laughed, though it was not heartfelt; his heart was too busy being entirely too stunned by Scarlett. It was as if she had changed overnight—one night she was talking about her cautiousness and her fear of the truth and the next she was laughing in its face. It was a transformation that enthralled him entirely.
"We're going to be there soon," Scarlett informed him, breathing heavily but happily, her sentence coming out in rapid, disorganized bursts of syllables. "Do you have any last words, Sirius Black?"
"So you are going to kill me?" Sirius said, laughing.
"No," Scarlett assured him; she was beaming. "No, you'll just be speechless."
And, looking towards her destination, Scarlett ran a few more steps further and stepped into Rowena Ravenclaw's outlook, in direct view of the tree.
It was beautiful, there was no doubt about that; the leaves glistened beneath the snow that covered them, sparkling as if they were actual gems. It did not actually look real; it looked more than real—it looked absolutely perfect. The snow, falling more and more, obscured her vision, though it also made their feet more prone to slipping.
And, as Scarlett stopped without warning to marvel at the tree, she did not let go of her grip on Sirius's hand, and instead of his body facing the tree he swung so that he was instead directly facing Scarlett.
Scarlett could feel it again.
She had never before really looked Sirius eye-to-eye while they were standing. It made a significant amount of difference on everything; Sirius was much taller than she was, and as his eyes bored down on hers the height difference made her feel slightly intimidated.
She could also feel it, and she could feel it everywhere.
She could feel it in her hand, which was still gripping Sirius's like nothing had happened. She could feel it in her bloodstream, which slowed down but felt as if it was lit on fire. She could even feel it in her euphoria, her utter satisfaction for solving that mystery, and her smile evaporated, her discovery abruptly seeming irrelevant.
They stood in silence for a while, allowing only the snow to make any movement, but they did not make any indication that they were uncomfortable where they were. They hardly blinked, and they hardly breathed, only concentrating on keeping the other's gaze. It was so alike the staring contests that they had had before in the sense that he could feel her, but it was so, so different now, because Scarlett could feel it now. She could feel Sirius staring at her and she could feel herself staring back at him and she could feel how the snow wasn't cold anymore and how she seemed to have lost her ability to move. She could feel it all, and she could feel it vividly burning within her. She could feel her beating heart and she could even feel the blood coursing throughout her body but most of all she could actually feel it, feel it without disguise or denial or obliviousness masking its intensity.
And Sirius could feel it too.
The tree was a dark red behind Sirius but they did not notice it, they did not feel it. All they felt was the one across from them and Sirius took a step closer to Scarlett Devous and, forgetting about the prejudices he was supposed to have against her, forgetting the utter wrongness that felt so, so good, forgetting the consequences, forgetting her so-called perfect match, forgetting it all, he untangled his hand from hers and instead let his arms wrap around her body as he kissed her.
The kiss did not begin hesitantly. It did not begin in a shy and careful way, and it most certainly did not begin in a way that was unsure. The kiss began the exact same way Sirius Black had felt when Scarlett had told him that she and Theodore were together and the exact same way he had felt when she had entered the lake and the exact same way he had held her hand only two nights ago. It started in the way that he had felt every single night he had been with her, staring at her, thinking about her, laughing and arguing and talking to her. It had begun the exact same way Sirius had felt for months and months. And of all things it was not reluctant.
It began restlessly, and passionately, Sirius's force pushing Scarlett's back against a nearby tree. His hands removed themselves from her back and instead roamed her hips, grasping her waist fervently. His body leaned against hers, their stomachs barely touching, and his lips and tongue explored the contours of her mouth without any inhibition.
Oh, how he had wanted this. Sirius had wanted this from the moment he had realized that he fancied Scarlett but he had never been able to. He had only imagined kissing her and only imagined placing his hands on her body the way that he was and only imagined the smell of her hair and the way her body felt on his. He had always imagined it but he had never had it.
But now he did and all he could do was hold her closer to him.
Scarlett did not respond differently. Though she was notorious for over thinking, though she was remembered for logic and caution, she did not seem to display any of those traits and instead pulled Sirius closer. Her elbows rested on his shoulders, and her hands were on the back of his head, her fingers combing through his hair with such intensity that it would have been impossible for her to let go.
She could feel it like Sirius could, as if their heartbeats were matched. The love that she held for Sirius caught like fire and burned through her body, scorching her nerves and her senses and everything and leaving nothing but the glory of love in its wake. She could feel it exactly as much as Sirius could, and she could feel it and give it a proper name. She had felt it for so long but had never even considered the possibility that it was this that caused it. She had never bothered to lurk on the simplicity that she might have fancied Sirius all along.
But now, she wasn't lurking on it. She was it. All she was at that one second was how much she fancied Sirius, and in the end that was what she had been for weeks and months on end. She had constantly thought of him, and she had laughed with him and confided in him in a way that she had never done with anyone else before.
She should have realized so long ago that she did not just trust Sirius. She did not just think he was a breath of fresh air purely because he was a Gryffindor. She did not just think he was good looking, and she most certainly did not just think that they were good friends.
She should have known the truth all along.
But, it didn't matter. It didn't matter that she hadn't realized it now and it didn't matter that Sirius had realized it so much longer than she had. Light flecks of snow flew into her hair, but that didn't matter, either, because nothing did. The silliest irrelevancy like snow didn't matter and the strongest consequence like Theodore didn't matter either.
Sirius turned his head slightly to the side to catch his breath, leaving a trail of kisses on her neck, and Scarlett smiled, though the reality of the situation had not seemed to reach her. Nothing really had, nothing except for Sirius, and as their lips met again Scarlett was sure that it wasn't going to reach her in a long time.
A ship that hurdles towards the shore caught by a ship in the night; love saves one who needs it so tomorrows are bright.
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