I trudged down the hall, hands in the pockets of my trousers. I hadn’t expected that things would get so out of hand, but even so, there was still a little part in me that was glad that we had finally laid everything out on the table. At least that was something I could get off my chest, even if it meant an outward confrontation with my best mate.
It took me a while to realize that I had reached the Gryffindor common room, and when I finally looked up, I saw that the Fat Lady was frowning. “Something on your mind, dear?”
I shook my head. “Cornish pixies.” The Fat Lady huffed as she was forced to swing open, evidently displeased with my response.
Kathryn and Daniel were seated on the couch when I entered, engaging in quiet conversation. Or at least, Kathryn was attempting to talk to the guy; he, on the other hand, looked like he was about to fall asleep.
She let out a loud sigh and smacked Daniel on the head. “Come on! Did you listen to a word I said in the past fifteen minutes?”
Daniel grunted. “Mm?”
She ran a hand through her hair, frustrated. I smiled faintly at her expression and seated myself on the armrest next to her. Kathryn looked up in surprise and blinked when she saw me. I read the question in her eyes and decided to ignore it for the time being. Instead, I yanked Daniel up and let him fall onto the couch across from the one he was seated in before. He just smiled gratefully and practically fell into an immediate snore once he hit the cushions.
I slumped down into his spot and grinned. “I think I’d be a more attentive listener.”
Kathryn was assessing me through narrowed eyes. When she didn’t say anything, I tilted my head slightly. “What?”
“Are you okay?” At my blank look, she tapped my arm as if to remind me that she had asked me a question. “The talk, I mean. With James, Remus, Peter, and Lily.”
“It was okay.”
I smirked. “Yes. What else?”
Kathryn shrugged, attempting to make it look like it wasn’t a big deal. “I don’t know. I just thought that considering the current events, your conversation would’ve been more interesting…” She trailed off then, as if realizing that what she was saying was inappropriate.
I felt my smirk widen and I let out a little laugh. “What? Expecting some dirt?”
She flushed. “No, of course not. I was just…interested.”
I contemplated taking up on the pun, but decided to drop it. I was entirely too tired, physically and mentally. Kathryn peered at me strangely, a little worried over my lack of reaction. I closed my eyes and let my head drop onto her shoulder. I felt her tense beneath me and she automatically stiffened like a rock.
I frowned in displeasure, eyes still closed. “Loosen up a little.”
“But…you have your head on my shoulder.”
“And we’re being very intimate right now.”
“If you want to take it that way.”
Kathryn let out a little gurgle of frustration and shifted her shoulder slightly, unfamiliar with the newly added weight. A small part of me considered moving just to make her feel better, but it wasn’t a very big part. “Can’t you lie on a pillow or something?”
In response, I only moved my head to a softer part of her shoulder. “You’re better.”
She was quiet for a while and I took advantage of it. If the situation were right, I was tempted to just let myself fall asleep here and forget about everything that had happened today. Sadly though, Kathryn was too curious for her own good and she spoke up after only about five minutes of peace.
“Are you guys okay now?” she said softly, as if she didn’t want to stir me too much from my slumber.
I felt a few strands of her hair slip from the messy ponytail that she had put it in earlier. “Not really,” I mumbled.
“So you’re still at odds with one another?”
“Pretty much.” I yawned and shifted again. “James just realized that I’m jealous of him.”
Kathryn perked up at that. I could tell that the information intrigued her, and cursed myself silently for letting the information slip in my sleep-induced haze. She turned her head to look at me, and at the same time, brushed her cheek against mine. She tensed again and I groaned in exasperation.
“What’d you just say?”
“Nothing,” I grunted. “Nothing at all.”
She shook her head adamantly. “No. I know you said something important.”
I sighed and grudgingly straightened, already missing the comfortable pillow that Kathryn’s shoulder had provided. She was still and silent, which meant that she was waiting for my answer. “I just…” I scratched my head. “I just told James that I was a little bit jealous of him…that’s all.”
“That’s all?” Her eyes widened. “Merlin, Sirius, you must’ve given him quite a fright!”
My lips twitched. “Maybe.”
She threw herself back against the cushions. “I can’t believe you would tell James something like that.” She clucked her tongue. “The poor guy.”
I started, looking over at her in mild surprise. Poor James?
Kathryn must’ve read the shock on my face because she snorted and crossed her arms. “Don’t you realize that lying to him may be amusing to you but it most certainly is not the least bit entertaining to him?”
My mouth had fully malfunctioned then. Lying? Amusing to me? It took me a good few seconds, but then the answer hit me rather abruptly. Kathryn thought I had lied to James when I told him that I was jealous of him. The bitterness of the truth nearly made me laugh. Perhaps a lifetime of jokes and banter really made it difficult for people to believe the truth when I finally managed to say it.
I smiled humorlessly. “I suppose not.”
Kathryn seemed peeved for a moment, but then her brows furrowed imperceptibly, almost as if she was thinking hard about something. I decided to leave her to her thinking and did a bit of my own. Now that James knew, how would he react? Our relationship couldn’t grow even more strained and confused than it already was, but I also knew that I had successfully made it nearly impossible to straighten out our issues. I grimaced at the thought. It was my big mouth…as always.
By the time I tuned in back to our original conversation, Kathryn was staring at me with impossibly large eyes, eyes so wide that I couldn’t help but gape at the sight of them. Who knew that girl could be so compelling?
“Do you mean to say…you weren’t lying when you told James that?”
I wanted to say something, anything, to deny her suspicions, and insist that I had been lying to him after all. It was habit, but for some reason, I desperately wanted the truth to come out, if only this once.
“What if I wasn’t?”
She leaned forward. “You’re really jealous of James?” Her voice grew quieter. “But how can that be? You’re Sirius Black. You can’t possibly…”
“You and James seem to be heading down the same road.” I smiled wryly. “Is it that unbelievable?”
Kathryn nodded. “Yes,” she said bluntly. “To most of us, you have exactly what James has…maybe even more. You’re popular, good-looking, and surprisingly enough, brilliant. What reason would you have to be jealous?”
I frowned. “That’s not fair. You can’t just judge based on what you know.”
“Maybe, but since I am, I don’t think you have a reason.” She shrugged then. “I guess if you dig into the more minute details, you might say that James has more than you. But you already have more than most people, so I don’t know what you’re complaining about.”
It was the last sentence that did me in. I was complaining? It was amazing how little people generally knew about me. Even Kathryn Abbott, my so-called good friend, was convinced that I was nothing but a whiner, a needy person who didn’t count his blessings. Did I really appear that way to the public?
I stood up abruptly. “Don’t talk about things you don’t understand.”
She glared defiantly up at me. “So you’re calling me ignorant for not counting your blessings?”
“No. Not at all.” Without giving her a better explanation, I turned around and walked out of the common room, practically shoving the portrait open as I left. I heard the Fat Lady give a cry of protest, but I ignored her and made my way down the corridor and headed towards the staircase that led to the Divination classrooms. Somehow, I felt that I needed some fresh air. I was about to take a few steps up the steps when I heard James and Arthur’s voice, and then their footsteps heading down. I turned away without giving my actions must thought and walked past the hall in my attempt to avoid an awkward encounter with James. I didn’t think I had enough energy to go through a third argument in one day.
Still in need of that fresh air, I changed directions and was about to make my way towards the double doors that led to the grounds when I heard Lily’s voice, along with another and more despicable one. My eyes narrowed on impulse and I sidled alongside the wall till I was hidden behind a statue of a random long-dead wizard. Lily and Severus Snape were talking rather quietly amongst themselves, but a simple charm remedied that and I was able to hear their conversation as clearly as if they were standing right next to me.
“…possibly insist that you’re right,” Lily said.
Snape sneered, half his face covered by the greasy pit that he called his hair. “You know me, Lily. I wouldn’t lie if I knew it wasn’t true.” I nearly gagged when I heard that. Lily and Snape?
“I knew you,” she corrected. I gave a silent cheer. “Ever since you began associating with the older Slytherins, you’ve become nasty-tempered and ill-mannered. How can I be sure that what you’re saying is true?”
He let out a dark laugh. “I can’t be any more vile than your good-for-nothing hoard of Gryffindors.” He took a step closer to her and dropped his voice. “I heard you’re getting quite chummy with those filthy Marauders lately.”
Lily flushed under his scrutiny and took a step back to accommodate for the one that he had taken forward. “That’s none of your business, Severus.”
“It is my business if you’re going around accusing me of being worse than Potter and Black and that stupid werew…” His mouth suddenly clamped shut and his eyes widened a fraction, as if he had just realized what he had been close to saying. I would’ve physically launched out at him if Lily hadn’t already known about Remus’s problem.
Even from the distance, I could tell that Lily’s eyes had sharpened drastically, and she suddenly seemed very keen of the information that Snape had apparently said he was so certain about.
“What did you just say?” she asked.
Snape glared. “Nothing.”
“Don’t go all secretive on me now, Severus,” she snapped. “I know about Remus’s condition, but why do you of all people know about it? I certainly doubt the Marauders would willingly offer that information to you.”
“Of course they wouldn’t,” he replied, sounding absolutely revolted by the idea. He had a glazed look to his eyes, and I was willing to bet the entire Black family fortune that he was reliving that night. “I found out through some…unfortunate experiences.”
I was so very attempted to smack my hand against my forehead. Snape really was as mindless as he appeared to be. What a way to dissuade a person’s interest.
Lily, if possible, perked up even more. “What are you talking about? What experiences?”
“I’m afraid I can’t say.”
“You’ve led me this far only to tell me that you won’t say a word?” Much to my surprise, she laughed then, but it sounded pained. “Like you said, Severus, I know you. And if that’s the case, all you’re doing now is stretching out the suspense.”
Snape’s pale lips turned up in a rather sinister-looking grin. “So you still remember.”
“Stop making it sound as if there was a relationship between us. You ruined it a long time ago and I have no interest in reviving it.”
“Of course, Evans,” he sneered. “How could I even think to associate with a Gryffindor prefect?” He leaned down and hissed, “But I’ll have you know that your precious Marauders aren’t as angelic as they proclaim to be. They’re filthy murderers.”
The look of shock on Lily’s face was what finally did me in. She was too smart to listen to any lies that Snape was about to tell her, but if he was even thinking of telling her what had happened that day—even though he had given his word to Dumbledore that he wouldn’t tell another living soul—I was fully prepared to truly commit murder. At least that was the plan, until Kathryn suddenly came into the picture and yanked me back, thereby thwarting my initial plans.
She jerked me around and tightened her grasp on my arm. “Why are you eavesdropping on them?” she demanded.
“I have my reasons,” I snapped. “Now let go.” I attempted to wrench my arm away, but Kathryn held on so tightly that I was beginning to lose feeling in my hand. Annoyed and eager to listen back in on the conversation, I gave up trying to shake her off and moved forward, dragging her with me.
“…Sirius wouldn’t do something like that,” Lily was saying. Her voice sounded frantic. “He may be reckless, but he wouldn’t do something as to compromise someone’s life.”
“He compromised mine!” Snape roared. His face was flushed red from anger, his hands balled into fists at his side. “He tricked me and nearly made me give up my life! You don’t call that attempted murder?”
Lily was struggling for words now. “But what does James or Remus or even Peter have anything to do with all this?”
“They helped him, of course! Those bloody Marauders planned it all and I can’t believe you’re on their side!”
“I stand on no one’s side!” she cried furiously. “I just want the details!”
Snape looked so angry that it wouldn’t have been surprising if he physically lashed out at her. “I just gave you the damn details but you won’t listen to me.”
“You make it nearly impossible to!”
He paused at her sentence. And for a slow, long, agonizing moment, Snape observed Lily with an air of faint incredulity and a dawning sense of triumph. I frowned when I noted the latter emotion. What could Snape possibly be cheering about now?
“You said ‘nearly’,” he told Lily, his voice gloating. “That word implies that you aren’t as adamantly certain of your fellow Gryffindors as you claim.”
Lily crossed her arms and, to her credit, maintained a sense of firmness about her. “Nothing is ever certain in life. That word doesn’t mean anything.” She punctuated that statement with a nod and turned to leave. However, some other thought seemed to strike her and she turned back around to assess the Slytherin. “I will overlook this lack of security on the information. Don’t ever do that again. Rest assured, I will report the incidence to Dumbledore if you dare spread this around.”
And then Lily left, leaving a fuming Snape behind.
I canceled the charm and leaned against the wall, letting everything that I had heard sink into me. So Snape really hadn’t followed Dumbledore’s orders and ensured that no other person learned of the happenings that night. I rolled my eyes and scoffed. What had I expected of a Slytherin anyway?
There was a cough next to me and I noticed rather belatedly that Kathryn was still beside me. And this time, it was guaranteed that she heard more than I had wanted her to. I looked at the wand in her hand and then glanced towards the place where Lily and Snape had been just a few seconds ago.
Kathryn turned to me with her accusation-filled eyes and her hand tightened around her wand. “What was that about, Sirius?”
I cleared my throat and blinked in what I hoped was an innocent way. “What are you talking about?”
“Don’t act ignorant with me, Sirius Black,” she snapped. “I saw what you saw and I heard what you heard.”
I smiled and looped an arm around her shoulders, steering her into the corridor and up towards the Astronomy Tower. I still craved my fresh air. “It’s nothing you need to worry about, all right? Just calm down and come enjoy the fading light with me.”
Kathryn furiously shoved out of my hold, causing me to stumble back a few steps. Her eyes were blazing. “Don’t make me go to Lily. I want to hear the story, and I’d much prefer to hear it from you.” There was a pause, and then she added, “After all, you’re the one who caused everything, right?”
My teeth clenched and I turned away from her, focusing my gaze on the opposite wall. “Don’t meddle, Kathryn.”
“I’m not meddling! I want to know!”
I whirled on her. “Why? Why do you want to know? What does this have to do with you?”
She sucked in a breath and attempted to calm her temper. “You’re my friend, Sirius. And whatever you did ruined your friendship with James, Remus, and Peter.” She took a small step forward. “I want to…”
I looked at her sharply. “What?”
“I want to fix things for you. Help make it right.”
I smiled humorlessly and shook my head. “If I can’t even make it right, I don’t think you can either.”
She shook her head, blonde hair flying wildly about her. “But I can’t just…”
“Kathryn?” A voice interrupted. We turned around and saw Lily standing there, looking rather suspiciously at us. “Sirius?” She frowned. “What are you guys doing here?”
“Nothing,” I said, before Kathryn could speak up. I shot her a glare. “We were just on our way up to the Astronomy Tower actually.”
Lily nodded slowly. “I see…”
“Exactly,” I replied. “So we’ll be going now.” I grabbed Kathryn’s arm, but she jerked away from me. Lily viewed the display with a raised eyebrow. “Come on,” I gritted out.
“No. I want to talk to Lily.”
I felt the frustration surging within me. “Kathryn, don’t.”
She crossed her arms adamantly. “It’s your own fault for not wanting to tell me. I gave you a chance but you shot it down.”
Lily stepped in before I could retort and grabbed Kathryn’s arm, like I had done before, only with less force. “Calm down, will you?” When I huffed, she scowled. “I don’t know why you guys are arguing, but I only want to borrow Kathryn for a while. You guys can go back to your bickering later.”
She dragged Kathryn away before I could get a word in edge-wise and the two of them headed down the corridor, with Kathryn’s loud voice vibrating off the empty hallway. I grumbled under my breath. Who knew what Kathryn was going to get out of Lily? And for that matter…what was Lily going to do with that newfound information?
I headed up the staircases and found the one that lead to the Astronomy Tower. Taking the steps two at a time, I stepped onto the top…only to see a couple that was getting too intimate for a bystander to watch. Annoyed and aggravated, I let out a loud growl, which startled the poor couple.
The guy rearranged his robes and stood up, his hair a wild mess. He narrowed his eyes in the waning light. “Who the hell are you?”
“Does it matter?” I retorted. “If you want to shag at least get to a more private place.”
“It was private until you came and messed things up,” he replied, his voice hissy.
The girl had been silent up till now, but her little gasp of surprise interrupted our conversation. The boy turned to her, confused, but the girl—a Hufflepuff—lifted a finger shakily and pointed it at me. “It’s Sirius Black!”
The boy immediately tensed and took a few steps closer so that he could see me clearly. When he did, his mouth opened and he looked stunned for a few moments. It took the girl’s tug to bring him back to reality and he gulped and took a step back. “Sorry, mate. I uh…I didn’t know it was you.”
I lifted an eyebrow, slightly confused. “And what if you had known?”
“I wouldn’t have taken your space,” he said, his voice a little shaky. He smiled hesitantly. “We’re going to go now though. I uh…I think…” He trailed off in a giggle that sounded highly unmanly. “I think we’ll go find a broom closet or something…you think?”
I cocked my head and opened my mouth, but closed it when I saw a look of fear cross over the boy’s face. He took a few steps back, grabbed the girl, and practically sprinted off the tower, stumbling all the way. I turned back in faint amusement and heard their footsteps recede. A part of me still questioned why the two of them had sounded so alarmed when they realized who I was, but Kathryn’s voice sounded in my mind again.
“To most of us, you have exactly what James has…maybe even more. You’re popular, good-looking, and surprisingly enough, brilliant. What reason would you have to be jealous?”
I blinked in thought. Were those two people scared of me? Or…
“What was that all about?”
I turned around to see Kathryn step up on the landing. At my confused look, she tilted her head back towards the staircase that she had just come up on. “Drew Tyler and Emilia Lawrence.” So that was who those people were. Trust Kathryn to remember their names. “They left in such a hurry.”
I shrugged. “I was angry so I kind of yelled at them.” Just thinking about their terrified expressions made me smile slightly. “Honestly, they’re really wimpy for Fourth Years.”
“Fifth Years,” Kathryn replied, sounding rather annoyed. “And it’s so like you to do something like that. I feel sorry for anyone who gets in your way.”
I rolled my eyes, but immediately stopped when I realized the alarming change in Kathryn’s attitude. Why did she appear so carefree now when she had just been sprouting flames at me a good few minutes ago?
“So what do you want?” I said flatly.
She sounded amused. “Why so guarded suddenly?”
“No reason,” I said off-handedly. “If it’s nothing, then you can go now. I’m busy.”
“Doing what? Stargazing?”
I glared at her. “If you came here to mock me then I don’t want to hear it.”
Kathryn let out a little bubble of laughter and stepped forward, linking her arm through mine. I looked down in shock and then stared at her, eyes wide. Her smile widened and she started pulling me down the Astronomy Tower. “I’m not here to mock you. No need to be so tightly wounded.”
“You really need to get a life,” I retorted.
“Maybe.” She shrugged, amused. “But before that, I need to have a little chat with you.”
Author's Note: Hope you enjoyed this chapter :) There's only a few more left after this, so hang in there! The story is almost over. And for this reason, I'm going to pick the POVs for the next few chapters. It's going to be another run-through of all our main characters, like what I did in the very beginning :)
Thanks for all your wonderful reviews, and please keep them coming :)
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