I woke up the next morning thankful that it was Sunday. I didn't feel like getting dressed or going out; I just wanted to stay in my pajamas all day, hidden under the covers of my bed. I was managing that quite fine actually, until about three in the afternoon.
Then a soft rapping on my door caused me to roll out of bed and clumsily make my way toward the door.
"Who is it?" I asked before grabbing the doorknob. I knew who it wasn't. He wouldn't just come by after what had happened yesterday.
"It's Lily," an answer came quickly.
"And Mary!" another voice chimed in.
What were they doing here? Confused, I opened the door and caught sight of the two of them smiling at me. Did they know?
"We just came by to see how you were doing," Lily explained and I moved slightly to let the two of them in. I probably looked like a mess but I found that I really didn't care.
Mary suspiciously had a large bag with her. "You're not doing anything today, are you?" she asked even more suspiciously.
I hesitated before answering with an unsure tone, "No?"
Mary closed the door behind her and turned to me with a grin. "Good, because we haven't talking in awhile and Lily and I have decided that we're going to have a girls night."
Blinking, I repeated, "Girls night?"
Lily shrugged. "Really just catching up and spending the day together. So, what do you think?" It was then that she really got a good look at me. "First, you might want to get dressed."
I turned away with a giant sigh and slowly began to trudge my way into the bedroom.
"Ivy, you look awful," Mary pointed out from behind me. "What's wrong?"
All morning I had thought about what I was going to tell people. And I knew exactly what I was going to say. I was so ready to tell everyone. "Well, I-"
Lily was suddenly pushing me back into the bedroom. "No, we're going to be talking later. Right now, you need to get dressed."
Ignoring the way Lily was pushing me around, I followed what she said and went into my bedroom, closing the door behind me. I didn't even want to get dressed; I had no energy to do anything, especially not a "girls night".
Instead, I stood for awhile, staring at everything around me. My robes were over in the other corner. If I could just walk over there...
It took around fifteen minutes to finally get my robes on and my hair into a ponytail. I expected both Mary and Lily to have given up on me by the time I had finished, but they were still there, sitting on my couch when I finally walked out.
"You still look like crap," Mary pointed out the minute I walked into her view. She made a beeline for me, stopping only a few centimeters from my face, staring into my eyes and checking every single feature of my face. Maybe she was reading my mind. Maybe when she was this close, she could read everything that was wrong with me.
I was wrong. "You just need something for those bags under your eyes. More sleep should do you well." She just wanted to give me a "doctor's evaluation". Since she had become a healer, it would probably second nature to her.
She was right – I hadn't slept at all last night. Just thinking about Sirius's words and what he meant kept me up into the early morning. I didn't even know how to decipher his words.
I was supposed to go out and learn? Learn what? Go where? And if he was so adamant about working on a relationship, why did he just leave me like that? Why couldn't we just have talked it out? Worked on our communication?
I tried my best to ignore the questions running through my mind and instead, sat on the couch across from Lily and Mary.
Suddenly, I had remembered what I had heard. "Did James propose yet?" From Lily's letters, she had told me that she had seen the ring that James had stowed away but he hadn't asked her yet. The last letter was two weeks ago and I didn't know if anything had changed.
Lily held up her left hand to show me that there was no ring on her ring finger. "He's been freaking out for months now, trying to get everything perfect. I don't understand – he should have proposed by now so that we could get married as soon as possible. But I don't want to come right out and tell him that I know. Huge dent in his ego."
"You're not going to say anything?" I asked. If he was waiting this long, shouldn't she have said something about it?
Lily just smiled. "I think he's waiting for my birthday. It's a bit far away but he's trying to be romantic about it. We'll have to hurry with the wedding afterward, of course, but I'm fine with waiting. I made him wait for years at school – I can wait a couple months."
Mary almost squealed. "That's adorable."
Then they both looked at me. As though I was supposed to tell them a story next. As if I was supposed to tell them that 'oh, yeah, Sirius and I are getting married too'. A thousand goosebumps appeared on my skin at that idea.
And so I began to ramble. "Oh, well, I-" I had a whole speech planned. Why couldn't I just stick to that? "What does it mean when you say that you haven't had much experience with guys and he says to go and learn?"
I got blank stares in return. Lily was the first to break out of her stupor and say, "What? Did Sirius say that to you?"
I just nodded.
"Oh," Mary said slowly. "I think he wants you to see other people."
See other people? Like date other people? Who? When? How? "No, that can't be right. I can't just date someone else. We just had a fight. A litle, didn't-mean-anything fight."
I explained to them in detail the fight he had had. Lily and Mary were good listeners, leaning in and nodding at all the right parts. When I finished, they exchanged a look and glanced back at me. "He wants you to see other people," they both said in unison.
"Other people?" I squeaked out. "I can't see – I'm not good with guys -"
Mary's eyes then lit up, distracting me from my ramble of an excuse. "There's always-"
Lily caught on and she looked back at me sympathetically, as if I wasn't going to like what she was going to say. "Just one date-" she began to reason.
And before she finished her sentence, I knew whose name she was going to say. And I knew this was going to get even more complicated.
"Please tell me you're joking."
That was his response. I had just asked Remus Lupin on a date and in response, all he did was stare at me and ask if I was joking. He knew why I was asking him or at least, I thought so. Lily said she'd talk to him so I assumed that after the Order meeting, I could meet up with him to discuss it further.
"No?" I responded slowly, wondering what he wanted to hear as an answer.
He continued to look at me and then sighed. "Ivy, I can't just go out on a date with you. It's -"
I knew why he was saying no. I suppose it wasn't a good thing when a friend started dating your exgirlfriend. He was worried that Sirius would maul him to death.
"He wants me to date other people!" I tried to reason, walking in front of him to make sure he wouldn't try to run away.
Remus gave me a dubious look. "He might have said that but I'm positive that he didn't mean for you to date me."
"He didn't specify!" I guess that wasn't the right thing to say because Remus just looked at me strangely. I decided to continue. "Come on, Remus. You're my best guy friend and the only guy that I can talk to without fainting-"
Remus frowned at me. "Don't you think that it's worse to date a friend?"
He just wasn't going to see my way. I had to resort to drastic measures. I knew this wouldn't turn out pretty, but it was the only way. "You know you want to go out with me."
His reaction was a bit surprising. He wrinkled his nose and stopped, looking me in the eye. "You can't use that against me."
"Why not?" I shrugged.
"Because this is going to turn out badly and I don't want to get in the middle between you and Sirius. I've been there before and, trust me, it's not nice."
Even though he was still refusing, his tone was still calm. He wasn't getting frustrated with me just yet. Maybe I had a chance. "You're the only one that knows how to correctly handle a situation like that. You're my only chance I have."
Remus sighed again. "What's Sirius going to do if you don't go out with other people? Honestly, I don't understand this whole thing. He's going to get jealous and will regret this immediately. And I'm not going to be the reason he's jealous."
So, I resorted to my sad face. Remus groaned when he saw it, turning away immediately.
"Please, Remus," I begged, grabbing onto his arm. "Just one date. A couple hours. It won't hurt anything."
"Why don't you just tell
him you went on dates?"
Knowing Sirius, that wouldn't work. He seemed so adamant about me going out that I was sure he was finding ways to watch me. "But I want to go out with you. I miss the late night candy spulurging."
Remus eyed me wearily. I could just tell he was breaking down. His eyes were softening and there wasn't that awful frown on his face anymore.
"Please," I added for effect.
There was a pause and then after a short sigh, he said, "What are you doing tonight?"
I almost squealed. This was going to work out perfectly. I would go on a "date" with Remus, talk like we usually do, and then voila, a date.
We made plans to meet in Diagon Alley to browse through the shops and maybe pick up something to eat. It didn't leave me much time to get ready but I didn't really need to get dressed up. Wrapping myself in a long scarf and placing a comfy, warm hat on my head (I couldn't find my mittens anywhere – I guess I just had to deal with my frozen fingers), I trudged out into the cold weather of early December.
When I arrived, Remus was waiting for me in front of Gringotts with that smile of his. He actually looked like he wanted to be there, which I appreciated. I had momentarily thought that I would have to drag him around all day.
"Hello," he greeted me warmly.
I greeted him in return and we contemplated on which shop to go into first. We quickly decided that we wanted to check out Scribbulus Everchanging Inks.
It was a hesitant gesture but after a few twitches of his hand, he finally reached out and grabbed my hand in his. It felt normal – we had done it so many times before. I was used to the way his hand curled around mine. And I couldn't complain – there was the warmth I was missing.
The whole "date" was...well, strange. Because it wasn't a date – it was Remus and Ivy, spending a day in Diagon Alley. There was no awkwardness or nervousness, just us. I had missed this a lot. It just felt so comfortable – like I could forget that my boyfriend had broke up with me and I was waist deep in problems.
No, it was just us, looking at different ink bottles and parchment, trying to pick the right one. Unscrewing the caps of the bottles and dipping our fingers in the ink, staining them immediately.
Why couldn't it be this easy with Sirius? What were were doing wrong?
"What are you thinking about?" Remus suddenly asked as we shook our robes off of the snow that had begun to fall and stepped inside one of the cafés.
And I just smiled at him. "How amazing you are."
Remus just gave me his half smile, showing me that he was amused. "You're too kind."
With Remus, our conversations were never empty; there was always something there. Were Sirius and I missing that key element?
For some reason, Remus looked completely nervous for the first time that night when we apparated back to my flat. He kept glancing around and twitching his fingers and it was driving me absolutely mad. We were almost done with the date so why was he acting nervous now?
Watching him carefully, I finally questioned him with a quiet "what?"
He was checking his words, taking time to answer. What did he have to say? Did I scare him off with this date? Was he beginning to regret the entire thing? His answer was blurted out quickly. "Are you expecting me to kiss you?"
I blinked. "What?"
Remus shrugged, looking completely at lost for words. "It's just – you wanted me to go on a date with you and I was wondering-"
"No," I cut in. "No, I don't have to kiss you." He let out a very loud sigh of relief. I frowned at him. "Well, I'm glad that's a relief to you," I announced as sarcastically as I could.
That smile appeared on his face. "You know the trouble a kiss would bring. It's not that I repulsed by you, Ivy, I swear."
He put a smile back on my face. "That's a good thing to know." Leaning forward, I quickly gave him a peck on the cheek and whispered, "Thanks Remus. Good night."
"Any time," he responded, saying his goodbyes before apparating to his flat.
I curled up on the couch, wrapping myself in a large blanket. That wasn't the train wreck I had pictured in my mind. Actually, it was quite nice.
The only problem I had was that I still didn't understand how this was supposed to help me learn. Everything that had happened between Remus and I was normal; we always acted like that. I didn't learn a single thing about relationships.
I had my mind made up. Tomorrow, I was going to go see Sirius and tell him that I went on a date with Remus. I was going to tell him that I didn't learn a single thing and I had no clue what I was supposed to get from these dates. I was going to tell him that I missed him. Because I did. I missed him terribly. I missed the laughs and the kisses and the comfort he brought.
He couldn't turn me down after I told him that.
I apparated to the street outside his flat after work the next day. It was freezing, but luckily, I had found my mittens. Trying to hide from the cold in my robes, I made my way down the snow-covered street. The steps leading up to his flat were frozen with ice and it took me a couple minutes to get up them, holding onto the railing for dear life.
And then I knocked on the door, the sound muffled by my mittens. Minutes began to pass and I could hear nothing inside.
He couldn't be at a meeting – Remus had said that they had a meeting early in the morning today. It was now approaching seven and the sun was beginning to set.
Maybe he had gone over James and Lily's (which was actually James's house but Lily was practically living with him anyway). Remus had said that Sirius spent all of his free time over there.
Apparating in front of the small cottage, I made my way across the cobblestone path and to the front door. The lights were all off inside and I was beginning to doubt that anyone was home.
However, after the third knock, the door opened to reveal Lily standing there. She didn't greet me, instead, she said, "He didn't tell you, did he?"
She looked positively worn and it startled me. I had never seen Lily so broken before. I didn't understand what she was talking about. Who told me what? Was Remus supposed to tell me something? Or Sirius? What was this something?
I slowly shook my head.
Lily nodded in understanding, beckoning me inside. We sat in the armchairs in the first room and stared across at each other for a few seconds. I don't even know if I dared to blink.
"James proposed this morning," she finally said, holding up her left hand. I caught the glint of a diamond on her ring finger.
Why was she acting like it was grave news? "Oh, congratulations!" I exclaimed, relieved that it wasn't something awful. Where was James by the way? He was usually lounging on the couch in this room or running around this house doing something.
Lily started twisting the jewel on her finger. I understood immediately – that wasn't all she had to say. "He was planning on waiting until my birthday," she continued in a low voice. "But the Order decided to change the dates of his mission. He left after the meeting today."
Something clicked. "That's not-"
Lily exhaled slowly. "The same one Sirius is on."
That's why he wasn't didn't answer his door. He wasn't home; he had already left on the Order mission. I sat there, trying to let this information sink in.
He was gone – for probably months and there was a chance that he was never coming back. He was out there, fighting the war and risking his life and he didn't have a second to stop by and tell me goodbye. I wasn't important enough for a goodbye. He had just disappeared without my knowledge.
The truth hit me hard. He didn't care about me. It was like I was erased from his priorities. I just didn't have a place in his life.
Christmas wasn't joyous this year. I couldn't even bring myself to spend it with Remus or Lily or even Peter.
Instead, I hid at home, rereading every single book on my shelves.
Mum sent Eleanor over for a couple days after Christmas. She didn't say much, just watched me from her spot on the couch. I knew she wanted to ask what was wrong but I didn't know how to tell her. She was only twelve – she wouldn't understand.
But she knew what questions to ask. "Where's Sirius?" she began one night.
I barely turned to look at her. "Oh, he's working in the war," I answered vaguely.
Eleanor blinked her large eyes. "Is he gone?" I had expected that she would figure it out but that didn't mean she understood. Eleanor only looked at the facts – not the deeper, emotional part of the situation.
"For a bit," I finally told her.
Her mouth formed a silent 'oh' and she looked back down at the couch. Leaning forward, she grabbed one of the Jane Austen novels off the table and accidentally knocked my journal onto the floor.
I just stared at it as she rushed to pick it up. "Oh, sorry." When I didn't say anything, she continued, "Are you still writing this?"
Those words were nothing – meant nothing. Sebastian and Anne had a doomed relationship – why did I even think that two people so different could survive in a relationship with each other?
"No," I said softly, swallowing with difficulty. "I don't think I am."
Eleanor placed the book back down on the table without a word. Curling up under her blanket, she began reading Emma quietly.
Leaning forward slightly, I took my journal in my hands and opened it to the first page. There was my title page, displaying the word 'untitled' in small block letters. I turned the page to see my dedication section, completely devoid of any writing. I would never get to fill out that page...
As I flipped the page, something in the corner of the book caught my eye. Someone had written in it. Who had touched it? Only two people. Eleanor and Sirius.
The familiar, untidy scrawl caused my heart to beat painfully fast and ignoring it, I brought the journal closer to read what the message.
Always live in the moment even when the future looms ahead.
Doesn't that sound wise? It's in one of Remus's quote books (page 34)– don't ask why he has one, I don't even know. He's actually searching for it right now. If he would just look over here...
So, live in the moment, Ivy. Stop worrying about what's going to happen, just enjoy the time you have. You're really awful at that, by the way. Always worrying about something little. Forget about those things – just live.
Live and learn. (Page 2
I stared at the series of scribbles that followed the two. There was a quick note below it.
Remus hit me with a pillow. Sorry. Just because I stole his book...
There was no signature but there didn't even need to be. He must have written this during our time at Hogwarts. Why hadn't I noticed it before?
My eyes darted back up to the word 'learn'. It was like he was waiting for me to find this message. Maybe it hadn't been here before – maybe it was charmed to show up because of the situation we were in.
Learn. Live and learn. He wanted me to live in the moment and learn from that experience – not force myself to do so.
Closing my journal, I set it back down on the table gently.
"I'm going to bed," I told Eleanor.
"Night," she responded automatically, too enthralled with the book to care.
As I pulled back my covers and slipped underneath, the realization that I finally understood hit me.
But it didn't matter. He was still gone.
January 30th was an awful day. It was a Sunday which meant I could stay at home all day. But I wasn't planning on it – it was Lily's birthday.
I apparated over early in the morning to see Lily making breakfast in the kitchen. I stopped awkwardly on the threshold and watched as she quickly went from charming one thing to another without any hesitancy.
She was on autopilot.
"Happy birthday," I said, catching her attention.
Lily finally snapped out of her autopilot mode and looked over at me with tired eyes. She hadn't slept at all. "Thanks." Even her voice was weak.
"Here," I offered, stepping into the kitchen. "I'll make you breakfast. You just sit down and relax."
She didn't even argue. Instead, she collapsed into a chair with a sigh. There was a long silence as I began cooking the bacon she was working on.
Her voice broke the silence suddenly, startling me. "You think they're coming back, right?"
Glancing at her worried expression, there was only one answer. "Of course."
I watched as she ran her fingers through her hair. "I have these doubts, Ivy, and they won't go away. It's driving me mad." Her voice was wavering dangerously. "Tell me I'm stupid. Tell me that they'll come back."
Ignoring every doubt, I managed to say, "They'll come back, promise."
I could only hope I was right.
I couldn't bear to look at the calendar. I didn't need to – I knew what day it was. February 10th. Four days until Valentine's. Twelve days until my birthday.
And Sirius and James still weren't back yet. They had been gone for months now – two whole months. Everyday that passed just kept adding stress to my aching heart. Doubts filled my mind – they weren't coming back, something happened to them, Voldemort killed them, they were getting tortured...
I would never get a chance to tell him that he was right.
The more I thought about it, the more I had to face the facts. He had been right the whole time; I was the one that was wrong. I had never lived in the moment. I wasn't spontaneous.
And I would never be able to live in the moment. I would never get to spend spontaneous moments with Sirius. Because he was gone. And who knew if he was ever coming back.
What if I never heard his laugh again? Never caught a glimpse of that grin? Never heard my name spoken in a whisper from his lips?
The thoughts were plaguing my mind and I knew of only one way to get rid of them. Going to my bedroom, I hid myself under my covers and tried to let sleep overtake me early.
Tossing...turning...no sleep. Wide awake. With a sigh, I rolled over, facing the window. It was pitch black outside and I couldn't even see a shadow on the street. The whole world was asleep and I should have been too.
And then the absolute quiet surrounded me and I fell – fell deep into the silence, letting it cushion me as I -
What was that?! My eyes snapped open at the sudden sound. I glanced outside the window but I was sure I didn't hear it coming from outside. It had came from the room outside my door – the living room.
What if it was – what were they called? - a Death Eater? What if they had found out where I lived because I was affiliated with the Order? They were coming for me because I knew too much.
Grasping my wand in my shaking hand, I held it in front of me as I slipped out of bed, silently making my way toward the bedroom door. I was strong enough to take them...all I had to do was open the door and get them with a curse before they noticed me.
I slowly opened the door and saw the darkness of my living room. It looked as though there was nothing there. Maybe I had imagined the sound...
My heart skipped a beat as I saw a black mass move. Something or someone was there. Slowly moving behind it, I held out my wand.
Suddenly, it turned around, checking me by surprise and causing my wand to jab into the their neck. And they didn't do anything. I could hear their breath, fast-paced and deep, but they just stood there. No curse or anything.
Pulling away slowly, I whispered "lumos
" and the person's face flooded with light.
My breath caught in my throat as I stared at the person I never expected to see again. And he was here. Standing in my living room in the middle of the night, staring back at me with an uneasy smile, as if he didn't know if I was really going to hex him or not.
"How-how are you?" I saw his lips move but I was too distracted by the thought that I was actually hearing his voice again that I didn't hear separate words.
He was looking at me with those eyes – those eyes I thought I'd never see again. So concerned and thoughtful and staring right at me, only me. Those eyes that kept invading my dreams and my thoughts and wouldn't leave me alone. Those eyes that I missed every single moment of the day.
How did I ever live through these past months without seeing me stare at me like that? How did I ever live without him
Worry flashed through his eyes. "You don't look so well," he murmured softly, each word expressing pain. "I knew this was a bad idea. I'll just...go."
And then he was moving away from me and all I could think of was not again. He couldn't leave me again. I needed him. We needed each other.
"No!" I suddenly said louder than I expected. He turned around, clearly shocked at my outburst. I began stumbling and stuttering over my words. "I mean – that's not – just -"
His attention was all on me now and he was just waiting so patiently for me to say something.
The word was whispered. "Stay." It was weak, harder to say than I thought it would be.
Sirius's eyes widened and he opened his mouth to say something, but I wasn't done. I needed to tell him everything now or I was never going to do it.
"I - I don't want you to go. You're right; you were always right and I just couldn't be able to stand seeing you leave again. I don't live in the moment and I don't have the life experiences yet but I want to learn them with you...here...with me." I gulped, catching a breath and trying to calm my frantic heart. "So, will you stay? Stay the night with me. Stay forever...with me..."
I didn't know what he was thinking. I couldn't tell if he was about to reject me or not. Had he moved on? Did he want me anymore?
And then I felt his hands cupping the side of my face and he let out a low chuckle. "Okay," he whispered against my lips, affirming everything I had just said in that one little word. And when he pressed his lips against mine, I didn't have any doubts about this relationship. Because I needed him in my life. I just needed to take that next step. I had to trust him with it.