My scream pierced the roar of the celebrating crowd. She was going to crash, I thought. And then, Sirius was diving after her with a speed I didn’t know brooms could reach. But it wasn’t fast enough. I could see, as he reached for Jo, that it wasn’t physically possible for him to pull both of them back up. To my shock and utter horror, he didn’t even try. He held Jo in his arms and twisted around. His back hit the ground making the most horrible sound I had ever heard.
It was then I realized Sirius was in love with Jocelyn.
Alice and I ran down the stairs of the grades as fast as our feet would carry us. People were shouting and crying. The entire Gryffindor team had landed and was frantically pacing around as Madame Pomfrey and the teachers assessed the damage. James was in shock. He stood there, eyes glued to the spot where Sirius and Jo lay unconscious in a heap of limbs and dark hair.
Jo looked so tiny cradled in Sirius’ arms. I had never really fully grasped just how much bigger than her he was. Despite the fact he was unconscious and a thin thread of blood was running out of his mouth, Sirius was still holding on to her. Jocelyn’s cheek was pressed against his bicep, and if it wasn’t for the horror of the situation, I would have thought they belonged like that – with each other.
Then, I felt awful. Jo was James’ girlfriend, and she would be appalled if I ever told her about my thoughts. I had to support James and stop being silly.
“James” I said. He didn’t move or acknowledge me in any way, I took his hand. “James, let’s make our way to the infirmary. They’re going to bring them there”
He didn’t say anything still. I couldn’t just stand there and let him be in such pain. I hugged him and, after a second or so, he finally reacted.
“She said she was okay,” he whispered, his voice shaking. “I should have known. I should have told her to quit the game”
“It’s not your fault, James”
“He tried to save her. He tried to save her. He risked his life. I can’t... Lily, my best friend and my girlfriend. I can’t...” it broke my heart. It must be awful for James to see two people he loved that badly injured.
It was also shocking to me that James has such trust in Sirius he didn’t see what I saw. I did not have the heart to tell him. First of all, I could be wrong even though I didn’t think I was. And, it wasn’t really my business anyway. Sirius, as far as I knew, hadn’t told anyone how he felt. I wasn’t even sure he knew it himself.
“They will be fine, I’m sure they will be” Alice caught up to us that moment. She was shaking.
“They’re unconscious...” she said, tears running down her face.
Remus and Peter arrived, too. Without a word, Remus hugged Alice. I was going to protest but she buried her face in his shoulder and sobbed quietly whilst he gently stroked her hair, so I let it go. I looked over at Sirius and Jo again and saw the teachers getting ready to move them.
“Let’s go, they’re taking them to the infirmary,” everyone followed quietly.
My eyes were dry and sticky. It hurt a bit when I tried to open them. I was confused. Where was I? I blinked a few times and saw a ceiling. Why was I not in my bed? I looked around and realized with a jolt that I was in the infirmary. Then, the events of the game came back to me. I lifted my hand to examine the damage and heard someone rush over to me. My hand was good as new, thank Merlin.
“How are you feeling, Jo?” a pair of hazel eyes hovered above my face, filled with worry and fear.
“Hi James” I said. My voice was a bit hoarse, but I smiled at him. “I’m okay. What happened?”
“You fainted, you fell off your broom, I thought... I was too far away, nobody was expecting it...” his eyes were wide as he rambled on, not making much sense.
“James, you’re not making sense. Calm down, I’m okay, aren’t I? I can’t feel any pain” I told him softly. He looked at me and shook his head, his face crumbling.
“You could have died. Nobody was paying attention, there was nobody to stop you from crashing,” he said, his voice shaking. I was so confused. Clearly, I hadn’t died, what was the big deal?
“James, what happened?” I grabbed his hand and squeezed it to reassure him. He looked at me intently and I felt my heart expand a little.
“Sirius saved you,” he said, his voice breaking. Wait, what? What did he mean? Sirius… oh. A horrible feeling settled in my gut.
“James,” I said very slowly “tell me Sirius is okay.” He shook his head. “James, what happened? Where is Sirius?”
“He’s been transferred to St. Mungo’s. He’s in intense care,” and then James broke down and started crying. I panicked. I had not seen James cry, ever. Not even when Sirius was attacked in the forest. I felt a wave of nausea and had to bend over the other side of the bed to empty my stomach on the floor.
Madame Pomfrey heard the commotion and rushed over to us. “Miss Silverway, good to see you’re awake. Are you feeling okay?” She eyed the mess I had made and cleaned it up with an elegant flick of her wand.
“Why is Sirius in St Mungo’s?” I asked her, not bothering to answer her question.
“I could not heal him on my own” she said.
“What? What could you not heal?”
Madame Pomfrey looked at James, who was crying silently and still holding my hand and sighed.
“Mr. Black was very brave yesterday” she began. I did not like where this was going. “He used his body to shield you from the crash. You are very lucky to have a teammate that cares so deeply for you. He saved your life”
“I don’t understand. I don’t understand,” I said, weakly. My mind was a whirlwind of thoughts. Sirius was injured, severely so, it seemed. I couldn’t breathe.
“He figured he was stronger and bigger than you, and he had the broom to slow his fall a tiny bit more than you, falling freely, did. He had a higher chance of surviving the crash than you did”
“A bigger chance of surviving? What is she talking about? Is he okay? A higher chance? What? Where is he? I want to see SIRIUS, RIGHT NOW!” I was panicking, and I knew it, but I didn’t care.
I wanted Sirius, I wanted to see him, to know he was okay. I wanted him to pull me close and punch my shoulder, I wanted him to ruffle my hair, to smirk at me, to say something he knew would annoy me just because he was bored and wanted to have an argument for fun. He had to be okay. He had to. James was crying still but looking at me a little funny and I didn’t care either.
All that mattered in the entire world was Sirius and the fact that he was not right next to my bed chastising me for being foolish.
“How is he?” I asked again, holding the sheet of my hospital bed with both hands and gripping it so tightly my knuckles were white.
I looked at James, then at Madame Pomfrey. James was now focused on the nurse, waiting for her next words with a mixture of fear and hope.
“We don’t know yet. I’ll go check with the hospital,” she said, walking away. I stared at James.
“James… Sirius…” he nodded and sat on the bed and hugged me. He didn’t say anything. I didn’t think he could. He stayed like that for what felt like ages until Madame Pomfrey came back.
I braced myself, fully aware that if she didn’t confirm he was okay I would lose it completely.
“He’ll live. I just spoke to the hospital. They were successful. He’ll be back with us tomorrow”
I let out a breath I didn’t know I had been holding. I could feel James do the same. We looked at each other, then at our school nurse. She smiled sweetly.
“You don’t have to worry anymore; your friend will be fine. It was quite a scare he gave everyone, but it’s over now. So, tell me Miss Silverway, do you feel any discomfort or pain?”
“No, I feel totally fine,” I closed my previously broken hand into a fist and tested its strength. “It feels as if I was never broken,” I wanted her to go away. I needed time to process what I was feeling. It was like a wave of relief had washed over me and now I was drowning in joy, and in wanting to see Sirius. I needed to see him, to know he was okay.
“What about your ribs?” the nurse asked me irritably. I realized she’d asked me twice already and I hadn’t replied.
“Mr Black took most of the impact for you, but not all. You had three broken ribs,” James nodded solemnly. He wasn’t crying anymore.
“I wouldn’t have known, so I guess that means I’m fine,” I replied, trying to telepathically communicate to Madame Pomfrey that she could leave now. She nodded, pleased.
“Jo? Jo? Are you awake?” the curtain was pulled back and Lily and Alice rushed to the side of my bed. I sat up. Remus and Peter had come with them, too.
“I’m fine, everything is fine” I reassured them.
“Thank Merlin!” Lily threw her arms around me dramatically. I patted her on the back and noticed that Alice was standing next to Remus. They were standing very close. Interesting.
“Miss Silverway, since you are fully recovered, you are discharged. You and your friends are free to go,” said the nurse, leaving us. James followed her, probably to get further details on Sirius’ condition.
“Alice, what did I miss?”
“Are you joking? You almost died in front of the entire school – points for dramatism, by the way, very impressive – and your first question to me is ‘what did I miss’?” she shook her head, but I could see she was smiling.
“Exactly. I almost died, almost being the operative word here. I’m fine and we’ve been told Sirius is fine, though he won’t be when I get my hands on him, what a moron. I would have killed him if he’d died!”
“Get in line,” murmured Remus. Peter nodded furiously.
“So, Alice, what did I miss?”
“Remus and I had a chat…” she said, smiling and looking at up at him. I stared at Remus.
“I apologized for being an idiot” he said, blushing.
“Well, well, well… nothing like two close friends being involved in a life-threatening accident to reignite the spark of romance” I joked. Everyone laughed.
“We brought you some clothes” Lily said, handing me a bundle of jeans and a sweater.
“Awesome, give me a second and I’ll change” I got off the bed and grimaced when my bare feet hit the cold stone floor. I noticed then at the edge of the hospital bed a series of cards and chocolate boxes. “What are those?”
“Lots of people came to see how you were last night after the game, some came this morning” James said, reappearing through the curtain.
“What people?” I was so confused. Everyone I cared about, minus Sirius, was right there with me. “Do you mean your Ravenclaw friends?”
“They came, but they weren’t the only ones” said Lily. “Here, have a look” she handed me the cards and I ripped one of them open.
“Who the hell is Clarissa Clearwater?” I asked. She had written to wish me a speedy recovery and to tell me she hoped one day someone would love her like Sirius loved me. I closed the card quickly, before anyone could see it.
“A third year Ravenclaw,” said Lily.
“How do you know that?”
“I’m a prefect. I know things,” she replied smugly. I opened another card.
“Ah, look at this, Lewis Moonstone says he offers to carry my books for me for a month to help with my recovery. I like this kid, who is he?”
“He’s a Gryffindor, fourth year”
“Hell yeah, go Lewis!” I joked. There were a big bunch of cards from Gryffindor people who, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, told me how awesome I was and how worried they were for me. A small group of fifth years informed me they were going to speak to the Headmaster about awarding me a honorary trophy for exceptional commitment to winning the quidditch cup. I laughed out loud at that.
“Don’t laugh at them. You guys are heroes,” said Alice.
“Sirius should be getting these, not me. I didn’t do anything,” I shrugged.
“Don’t worry, he’s got a bigger pile. Like yours, but add about a hundred declarations of love,” said Peter, rolling his eyes. I laughed. I took the last four or so cards and scanned through them quickly.
“Right, I’m going to get changed and wash my face, etc. Will be back in a second,” I scuttled off before they could ask any question, bringing the cards with me.
I didn’t think James would appreciate reading about some girls’ interpretation of Sirius’ actions as ‘the most epic act of love they had ever seen’. I totally understood these were probably young girls who didn’t really get friendships with the opposite sex yet, but still, if I could spare James the irritation, I was going to.
I emerged from the bathroom feeling a lot better. With another ‘thank you’ to Madame Pomfrey, we left the infirmary. I linked my hand in James’ and walked with him.
“Hey, do you think we can sneak off somewhere for a while? Just us?” he asked me.
“Yo, you guys, we’ll see you later, okay? We’re… ehm…”
“Don’t need to tell us, we know” said Lily with a cheeky smile. I laughed and waved goodbye at them. We walked for a bit in comfortable silence until James chose a door at random and pushed it open. It was a normal classroom.
I knew what James wanted. He wanted to yell at me for risking my life, for being ‘reckless’. I really, really did not want to hear it. I didn’t want to be reminded of the fact that Sirius could have died because of me. I sat on a desk and grabbed his hands, bringing him close to stand between my legs. I pulled him in for a kiss even though I could tell he was a bit reluctant. He wanted to tell me off, and I wasn’t going to make it easy.
“I’m sorry I worried you” I said when we broke the kiss.
“What am I going to do with you? I am not sure which one of you is crazier. What were you thinking continuing on with a broken hand? Do you know how badly hurt it was?”
“I couldn’t let them win, James. That was a dirty trick” I said, pouting.
“Don’t even try that with me” he said, chuckling. “You can’t do that, Jo. You were hurt and you almost killed yourself”
“I thought I could hold on until the end. I almost did” I replied. “I only feel bad because Sirius got hurt”
“What did I ever do to be cursed with you two in my life?” he joked. “You’re both insane”
“Probably why we make such a good team” I half smiled. “We won the game, didn’t we? I remember Cal catching the snitch”
“Yes, we won. But as much as I love Quidditch, I’d trade every win, every trophy if I never had to fear for both your lives ever again” he said very seriously. I sighed.
“I’m sorry, I really am. I promise I won’t do anything that stupid ever again” I kissed him lightly on the lips. He tried to resist me, but gave in quickly, cupping the back of my head with his hand and pulling me in to deepen the kiss.
“JAMES! Sirius will be back any minute now. Hurry up!” I jumped, startled, at the yelling voices of my two friends coming in through the bathroom door.
“I’m coming!” I stepped out of the bathroom and joined them. We walked down to the common room and met Jocelyn, Alice and Lily.
“Let’s go!” Wormtail said.
I took Jo’s hand and we walked out of the common room with the others. Last night had been quite amazing, she even managed to distract me from how worried I’d been about Padfoot. This morning, however, it’d all come rushing back. So, as we made our way to the infirmary, all the giddiness and general good feelings I’d built up alone in the classroom with Jo the previous day were quickly dissipating. Poppy had told us Padfoot was going to be fully recovered, but I couldn’t believe it until I saw him for myself.
“Don’t worry, James. He’s going to be fine” Jo whispered, squeezing my hand.
“I feel so guilty” I whispered back. She shook her head.
“Don’t. I think I would have done the same for him if it had gone that way. When we’re up in the air, he’s all that matters to me. Well, and the bludgers, of course. It’s the only way to be really good at our job, James. And, having each other’s backs is part of that deal” I felt slightly sick at the idea that Jo might have done something crazy like that for Sirius. I decided to firmly ignore this, no point thinking about what might have been.
Padfoot was, indeed, more than fine. We walked into the infirmary to find him merrily sorting through his cards, chocolate and other sweet boxes like he hadn’t just survived some major magical procedure to put all his bones and damaged internal organs back together.
“I was expecting a welcoming committee,” he told us indignantly. “What does one have to do around here to get his friends to fawn all over him?”
“I am GOING TO KILL YOU!” Jocelyn’s hand slipped from mine and she darted forward, launching herself against Padfoot with all her (tiny) might. We all stood there staring like idiots. I was not expecting that.
“You’re gonna have to try harder, love. Turns out I’m a tough one to kill” he chuckled as she punched his chest repeatedly with both her fists. In an attempt to ignore that she was basically all over him when he was shirtless in bed (albeit a hospital one) I pictured she looked like a demented little sister in a fight with a big brother.
“Don’t you EVER do anything like that again. I do NOT care if I’m in danger, you DO NOT save me at the expense of your OWN LIFE” one minute she was all energy and anger punching him incessantly, the next she deflated and started crying, curled up on Padfoot’s chest. Hadn’t she just confidently declared this was part of ‘having each other’s back’? I’d never understand girls.
Sirius didn’t seem to mind that Jocelyn was sobbing uncontrollably and that her tears were running down his skin. He put an arm around her and for a split second I had the weirdest thought: ‘they look good together’. It vanished so quickly I didn’t even process it.
“You okay?” I got to the edge of his bed and eyed him suspiciously, half expecting him to pass out, or grimace in pain, or something. He looked at me solemnly.
“Yes, captain. I’m fine. Healers at St. Mungo’s really know how to put you back together. Literally” Jocelyn made a strangled noise at that comment and cried harder. Sirius started making circles on her back with his hand and whispered something in her ear with a half-smile. She looked up at him and grinned a little through her sobs. Lily and Alice fidgeted uncomfortably.
“Don’t make a joke of this. Do you have any idea how fucking worried I was? I don’t know which one of you is worse” I said, crossing my arms. Sirius put a hand on Jocelyn’s hair, half stroking it. She was still sobbing albeit more quietly. I was starting to get very angry but I wasn’t sure why. All of a sudden, I wanted to slap Sirius’ hand away from Jo’s hair. But that was stupid and un-called for. He was my best friend, and he had almost died to save my girlfriend. The situation did warrant some dramatics. I was just being paranoid.
“This little pocket rocket won us the Quidditch cup, mate. It was worth it” Padfoot said, grinning.
“We haven’t won it yet!” I said at the same time Moony interjected.
“I don’t think you two realise how serious this was” Remus always the voice of reason. They had to understand these crazy acts had to stop, for the sake of everyone.
“Jo, please help me out here” Sirius said. She lifted herself up and attempted to regain some dignity. She looked extremely cute, tears and all. Sirius gave me a smug look that said ‘I know I’m going to win this’, the same one he gave me every time they teamed up against me during quidditch practice. These two were serious trouble together.
“Jaaaaameeees” Jo said, sweetly. I head a stifled laugh from either Moony or Wormtail, maybe both.
“Not fair” I protested. Padfoot knew exactly what he was doing. There was no way I could even begin to try to be mad at Jo, especially not when she looked like this.
“I was going to keep playing, with or without Sirius’ help” she said, defiant. “As my fellow beater, he knew this, and decided to help me out”
Padfoot grinned wickedly. “See?”
“BUT THAT DID NOT INCLUDE THE LAST PART. What were you thinking? You could have been KILLED!” she shouted at him again, hitting him on the arm and resuming her hysterical crying. I rolled my eyes. I did not have to worry about lecturing Padfoot, it was obvious Jocelyn had taken it upon herself to do just that if she managed to get a grip and stop the crying.
“The deal was you’d levitate me, not attempt a kamikaze move” she choked out eventually.
“A what?” Sirius looked puzzled. He was still stroking her hair. It was damn irritating.
“You don’t need to know” Lily chimed in.
Jo continued her rant, “what if something had happened? What if you weren’t fine? Then what, Sirius, tell me, what would I… what would we do?” Jocelyn looked fierce. Despite the tears, her swollen eyes and lips, the redness of her cheeks and eyes, she was staring him down with an icy glare that would have scared Grindelwald. I quickly decided I never wanted to be on the receiving end of her anger. Ever.
“But I am fine” I looked at my friend, surprised by the gentle tone in his voice. I didn’t even know Sirius could be that gentle with anyone, even less so when being told off publicly. His ego was surely complaining about this. “I am fine, and so are you. It was worth it”
There was a small moment of silence that I couldn’t decide if it was awkward or not before Lily chimed in again. “Anyway, are you ready to go back to the Gryffindor Tower? I’ve spent way too much in this infirmary since the match”
“Yes, ma’am” Jocelyn and Padfoot said at the same time. The level of synchronization these two had was eerie. I scooped Jo up from the bed and marched her out of the infirmary whilst the others helped Sirius with his pile of gifts.
“I am considering banning you from beater practice with Sirius” I told her. She made a sound of protest. “I can’t trust you two. I’ve never met two people with such disregard for their own wellbeing”
“Don’t be a drama queen” she pouted.
“I didn’t just throw myself at back-from-the-dead Sirius, wailing like a banshee” I teased her. She frowned.
“That would have been quite hilarious. Next time, I’ll let you have a go” she smiled at me. I put her down on the floor and leaned in for a kiss.
“Not again, guys. Not again. Enough with the PDA!” shouted Remus as they caught up to us. We broke the kiss and laughed.
The Fat Lady swung aside to let us in and we all crowded the small entrance to the common room. The minute we set foot in it, all hell broke loose. There was loud cheering, followed quickly by chants of “Mad Beaters” and “Gryffindor” and “the cup is coming home”. There was what looked like confetti floating all over the common room, and hordes of people rushing towards us.
One minute I was standing by James, the next I was hoisted up in the air and being passed around the common room like a Rockstar at a concert. I saw Sirius was being subjected to the same treatment, and I realized that people were celebrating us, the Gryffindor beaters. Not just that we were alive, but our performance at the game too. It was nice to feel appreciated after playing half the match with a broken hand, so I decided to just go with it. Sirius saw me looking and grinned like a maniac, clearly enjoying being the centre of so much attention. I laughed.
“Enough guys! Put them down! I really don’t want another trip to the infirmary so soon” I heard James yell. I was gently put on the floor next to Sirius, but the rest of the celebrating kept going.
“Somebody give our heroes a drink!”
“Firewhiskey for Jocelyn” replied Sirius, winking at me.
“Thanks” I mouthed at him. A glass was thrust into my hand. The atmosphere was so vibrant it was hard not to catch the good mood. Before I knew it, I was talking in front of a small crowd of people with Sirius, laughing and watching impressions of our crash. Turns out, once the people involved in an accident are safe and sound, it becomes an epic feat, one that was starting to be greatly exaggerated.
A few hours later, I was ready to go bed. It was a Sunday, after all, and were still expected to attend classes the next day. Lily and Cal were curled up on an armchair in a corner, Remus and Alice had long ago vanished and Peter was chatting to a fifth year by the fireplace. Sirius was surrounded by a bunch of adoring fourth years and was re-telling for the hundredth time what it felt like to precipitate towards almost-certain death in the heroic act of saving a damsel in distress (that would be me). I watched him for a little while, noticing how his eyes twinkled as he explained how he’d realized he wasn’t going to make it back up.
“Were you not afraid?” a fourth-year girl asked him in awe.
“I was terrified” he said, his eyes somehow finding me across the room. “I was terrified it wouldn’t be enough to save her”
My breath caught and I had to look away. The little group of girls were sighing and ‘aaww’ing. Flustered and blushing for only Merlin knows what reason I made my way to James, feeling Sirius’ eyes on me but refusing to look his way again.
“James, I think I’m going to go” I told him quietly.
“I’ll walk you to the staircase” he nodded and took my hand. We stopped at the bottom of the stairs and I kissed him.
“Good night. I’ll see you tomorrow”
“Good night” with one last glance towards Sirius, who looked up at exactly the right time, locking eyes with me briefly, I turned and walked to my room.
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