I was worried she wouldn’t show up. Jocelyn hadn’t exactly been herself the past three weeks, and we had barely seen her. She attended classes but was obviously distracted most of the time, she barely ate anything, sometimes skipping mealtimes altogether and, the past two weekends she’d spent shagging that Hardin idiot. I absolutely hated his guts. It was all I could do not to punch him every time I saw his smug face.
What happened over the summer had made me get over James’ breakup with Jocelyn in a giffy. It wasn’t his fault that I fancied her so much. He didn’t even know it, so I couldn’t be angry at him because their breakup made things harder for me. However, I could be angry at Hardin all I wanted. And boy, was I. It didn’t matter that it was totally irrational, that he didn’t know I liked Jo, or that Jo didn’t like me that way, Hardin or no Hardin. All that mattered was that he had her and I didn’t, and it drove me insane.
“You look like you’re about to murder someone. Should I be worried?” her voice gave me a strong flashback to last year. I turned around and almost fell flat on my bum. There was my Jocelyn, the Jocelyn that didn’t wear make-up or clothes that made me want to catch on fire and burn the world down with her. Yeah, I was being dramatic lately (inside my head, anyway), but my feelings were tormenting me constantly so, sue me.
“Hello! Earth to Sirius” she waved a hand in front of me.
“You’re… ehm… you know. You look good” I said after some hesitation. She shrugged.
“I can’t exactly train in a mini skirt, can I?”
I refrained from commenting I’d like to see her try. Instead, I nodded curtly and gave her her bat. First Quidditch practice of the year was the following week and we’d agreed to meet today to get back into the swing of things. It was our last year, and we were going to defend our title as champions with all we had.
“Ready to kick some ass again this year?” she asked me, grinning mischievously. It was all I could do not to kiss her. When she was like this my heart hurt from wanting.
“Hell yeah” I replied.
Three hours later we made our way back to the common room together. We were joking and laughing like nothing had changed.
“I was worried all that firewhiskey had messed with your balance” I joked.
“It takes more than a few drinks to knock me off my broom” she replied with a smirk.
“Prongs is going to run practice like a military camp” I warned her.
“Tell me something I don’t know. Do I need to remind you of the horrible session he put me through for flirting with Ken?” we both laughed at her impression of James giving orders and pointing and shouting.
I was starting to think she might be on the way back to normal, until we walked into the common room. I noticed her eyes dance around and it took me a second to figure out that she was looking for Alice. When she remembered she wasn’t going to find her, her expression changed, and my Jocelyn was gone again.
“See you later” she didn’t even turn to look at me, she just walked away and up the girls’ staircase.
I was angry. I understood she was hurting but I didn’t get why she had to shut herself off from us in this way. Why she had to turn bitchy and, above all, why she felt it was Hardin she could turn to and not me. It didn’t matter that she was still out of bounds for me, it didn’t matter that I couldn’t touch her even if she wanted me to, all that mattered to me was that when she was in pain she went to him and not me. I punched one of the bed posts and my knuckle burst open. I cursed as the blood stained my sheets.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” Moony walked into our room and lifted an eyebrow at the mess I’d made of my hand.
“Nothing” I growled.
“Right. This doesn’t have anything to do with the fact Jocelyn is in Hardin’s room again, does it?” I am pretty sure I got whiplash from turning to look at him so quickly.
“I just saw them get in there together” he shrugged. I couldn’t believe her. How could she be like… normal, like my Jocelyn for three hours up in the air and now be… with him?
“Whatever, I don’t care”
“Sure you don’t” Remus sat on his bed and pretended to busy himself tidying up his books.
“What is that supposed to mean?” I burst. I didn’t like the small smile that played on his face. I didn’t like it one bit.
“Mate, I’d have to be fucking blind not to notice the way you look at her” he said, rolling his eyes.
“Everyone is looking at her” I pointed out. It was true, and it annoyed the hell out of me. It was those new clothes.
“That’s not what I mean, and you know it” I had a flashback to a similar conversation I had had with Lily last year. No wonder Remus and her were such good mates.
“Look, Padfoot, you can try to deny it all you want but I know how you feel about her”
“Why are you bringing this up Remus? What is the point? Tell me, what is the fucking point? She doesn’t feel the same way. Do you know what she calls me? Best friend. And it pains me, but I can’t even try to change it because I can’t have her, can I? Even if she wanted me, it’d still not be possible” I ran a hand through my hair, feeling as if I was breaking into a million pieces. I didn’t want to tell Moony all these things but now that he had opened Pandora’s box I didn’t seem to be able to stop talking. “She was James’, she was his, not mine and she can never be. It is killing me and I’m trying to ignore it, to be her friend, to pretend that everything is fine and I’m not fucking dying inside. What do you want me to say, Remus? WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO?”
I felt slightly embarrassed at my little outburst, but I couldn’t take it back now, could I?
“I think you should tell James” he said after a while.
“What for? Jocelyn doesn’t feel this way about me anyway. Why would I burden James with this?”
“I think he’d like to help you” he said.
I had to be very cautious where the conversation was going to go next. Moony’s words had sparked a tiny ray of hope, something I had lost completely until then. But turns out he wasn’t done talking, yet.
“I think a war is starting, Sirius. A war in which people will die, just like Alice. We don’t know what’s going to happen when we leave school. I don’t think it’s the time for regrets or ‘what ifs’. If you really fancy Jocelyn, you need to tell James. He won’t mind”
“I don’t fancy her, Moony” I looked straight at him and, for the first time in my entire life, I said “I am in love with her”
Moony came over to me and gave me a hug. I felt odd, I felt tired, like admitting the extent of my feelings for her had taken a massive toll on me.
“The more reason to tell James. And pronto” he insisted.
“I don’t think that’s going to help as much as you think it will” I sighed, sitting down. This was way too much for me.
“Like I said, telling James isn’t going to make Jocelyn return my feelings”
“No, but it’ll give you a chance to try to win her heart”
“What if… what if she just doesn’t want me?” it scared me more than I wanted to admit.
“Then you’ll know. And you won’t wonder, and you’ll move on”
Hardin had earnt himself a detention, which meant I had nothing to do. Well, that wasn’t exactly true. We had had quidditch tryouts to replace Annie, who had graduated last year. We chose a strong and agile fourth year boy who really impressed us with his aim. He hoped he’d score some goals for us in the first game of the year against Slytherin. After tryouts, I had been practicing my dueling skills in that secret room I used to hook up with James in, but it had been three hours and I was frankly exhausted. I knew I was getting a bit skinny, but food didn’t really taste like very much so I had lost interest in it.
The boys were busy too, it was a full moon. I had considered just going with them, but I didn’t think I could handle being in the Shack. It would make me think of Alice and how kind she’d been to Remus when he told her the truth. I had also found myself spending less and less time with Lily and the guys in general. I still considered them my best friends, possibly my only friends, but I just felt the empty space Alice used to occupy like a knife twisting in my gut every time I was around them.
I knew I was a mess. To be totally frank, I was starting to get tired of it, but I didn’t know how to break the vicious cycle because it hurt too much. My first step, when we had arrived at school, had been to stay sober during the week and drink only on the weekends. And whilst I could manage it, by the time Friday arrived I was so overwhelmed with the pain of loss and grief and I couldn’t even think straight. So far that had been my first but also my only step. We were now in early October and I didn’t know what to do.
I waited up all night but she didn’t come back. I knew she wasn’t with Hardin, he’d been in detention and then he’d come back alone. Nobody had gone up or down the stairs after him. It was a few minutes past dawn and I was sick with worry for Jocelyn when James, Sirius and Peter stumbled into the common room.
“Where have you been?” I didn’t even know they had been anywhere.
“Lily!” James squeaked. I had to suppress a laugh. Ever since we had kissed during the bottle game James got nervous around me, even more than he used to. For the first time in my life, it didn’t annoy me.
“James” I said.
“Why are you up so early?” Sirius butted in.
“I’m worried about Jo” I said. That got their attention.
“She’s been gone all night and she’s not with Hardin!” I said before anyone made a rude comment. I knew they didn’t like Hardin, but they shouldn’t judge Jo’s choices.
They exchanged glances and then James came close to me and took my hands in his. My knees felt weak all of a sudden. I had to think about this later, I told myself. If Jo hadn’t turned an emo bitch, I would talk to her about it but this currently wasn’t an option.
“We’ve been meaning to tell you for a while, but we were hoping Jo would be back to normal so we could do it together” my stomach dropped. Was he going to tell me he was sleeping with Jo again?
“Come with us” he said, instead. Utterly confused, I followed them all the way to their room.
Sirius and Peter sat on their beds, and James pulled something out of his trunk.
“We trust you to keep our secrets, Lily” James said solemnly. Out of nowhere, I got the feeling that this was for real. They were going to tell me something important, something that mattered to them.
“I promise” I said. And I meant it.
“This is a map of the school. We made it, it shows everyone in the school, even if they are trying to conceal themselves” he waved a blank piece of parchment in front of me. “And this, this is my invisibility cloak”
He threw the cloak over Sirius and he vanished. I was stunned. I walked over to where Sirius had been and carefully felt the space he had been occupying.
“Lily, if you wanted to feel me up all you had to do was say so” he joked. I jumped a little.
“I do not know the how, all I know is it works. It can’t be charmed, or ‘accio-ed’ or anything” he explained. “It’s a family heirloom”
“This is incredible, James”
“Jo thinks so, too” said Sirius.
“Of course she knows! And she never told me! Traitor” I muttered. They chuckled.
“Come here” James motioned for me to join him, so I did. He spread the blank parchment over the bed and took out his wand. “Point at it, and say ‘I solemnly swear that I am up to no good’” he instructed.
I hesitated for a moment, worried that this was some sort of joke and they were going to laugh at me, but decided to just go with the flow. “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good”
He hadn’t been exaggerating. The entire castle, and the grounds, and everything in it appeared before my eyes, together with dots showing people and their whereabouts. Almost everyone was in their dorms, as you’d expect at this early hour.
“So, this is how you plan and pull so many pranks without being caught” I said, impressed.
“When did you come up with this?”
“We finished it in fifth year” Peter said.
“You know, for such a smart group as to come up with this advanced magic, you sure didn’t think your nicknames through very well. Does Jo also know Remus is a werewolf?” I asked them, casually. Their faces dropped and paled considerably. It was almost comical.
I could tell they were debating between coming clean and coming up with an outrageous lie. James sighed. “She figured it out last year”
“She knew, too. Remus told her, but she had already figured it out. I think even before Jo did” I nodded, unable to reply to them for a moment. A tear fell on my cheek and I whipped it away quickly.
“I’ll talk to him. He has nothing to worry about” I said, regaining my composure. They all smiled at me.
“You lot have some explaining to do. Like where you have been tonight. I hope not with Remus. Surely, you’re not that reckless. I hope you aren’t. But, it can wait. I’m worried about Jo, so… help?”
“Yup” they said in unison.
I didn’t know what had possessed me to walk to Dumbledore’s office at 2 am on a random Wednesday, but here I was. Of course, I didn’t know the password and I wasn’t planning on actually waking him up at this ungodly hour. He was nice, but nobody is that nice. For some reason, just standing near the statue to his office made me feel a bit better. I was about to sit down on the floor outside it when it started moving. I almost had a heart attack.
The statue turned fully, and I took a hesitant step up the stairs, then another, and another until I was in Dumbledore’s office.
“Miss Silverway” he greeted me.
“How did you know?”
“It doesn’t matter how I knew. It matters that you need help but don’t know how to ask for it” he said, motioning for me to sit down.
“I just don’t know if I can be helped” I whispered.
“Grief is a powerful emotion. It reminds us that life can be short and unexpected, it can change in a second, without warning. It hurts. Loss is hard to accept. But life goes on and it is our duty to remember the ones that are no longer with us. Now, how do you think your friend would like to be remembered?”
“She’d be horrified at what I’ve become” I said.
“I think she’d understand. But she’d also encourage you to let go, Jocelyn”
“I don’t know how”
“Step by step. The first is to let the pain in” that reminded me of a quote I had read in one of my novels. ‘The only way out is through’
“I feel like I’m in Hell, professor. And I am here because I felt the pain. I don’t know how I can make it back”
“The descent into hell is always easy, Jocelyn. That’s why it takes strength and courage to stay in the light”
In that moment, as if it was a divine sign, a beautiful phoenix bird came in through the open window and landed on his shoulder. I stared at it, marveling at its beauty. Then, it clicked.
“The Order of Phoenix” I whispered. “You. It’s you”
“I hear you’ve been making enquiries about The Order” he didn’t try to hide it, or deny it.
“I have. I want to join you. I want to fight”
“If you can heal, if you can accept your loss and move on, come to see me and we’ll talk about The Order”
“You are a danger to yourself and to others until you finish grieving, Jocelyn” was all he said. I knew he was right.
It was almost six in the morning when I left Dumbledore’s office. We had talked about Alice for a long time. He’d listened while I told him what a great friend she was, and how she loved romance, and love itself. I spoke, and then I cried. He listened. It was rather cathartic. I sat on a random windowsill facing East to watch the sunrise. The sky turned pink and orange, and for the first time since Alice had died, I felt like I would be okay. It was going to take some time, but I was going to make it. And then, I was going to join the order and help win this war.
I was about to walk back to the common room when the marauders minus Remus but plus Lily came walking down the corridor. I knew I looked like a mess, and my eyes were red and puffy, but I didn’t care. These were my friends. These were Alice’s friends. They shared my pain, even when I didn’t want to share it. The second step was to let them back in.
“Are you okay?” Lily asked me when they reached me.
“No, but I think I will be” I said. They sat around me in silence and we stayed like that for a little while.
Things started getting back to normal for me after my visit to Dumbledore’s office. I started to really accept that Alice was gone and that me being emotionally messed up about it was not the way to get over it. Alice’s last words to me started bouncing around my head often.
“You deserve fireworks” she had said. I knew I’d never get them if I didn’t heal. I had promised her, so I had to. I focused on that and it helped.
Slowly, I went back to running, and to paying a bit of attention during class. I started hanging out with the marauders and Lily again, and I reduced the amount of eyeliner I wore. I had developed a strong liking for it, though, so I didn’t feel like going back to being completely make-up free. I settled for somewhere in the middle and Lily seemed to agree it actually looked good.
A week or so after my chat with Dumbledore I decided I had to stop avoiding him and actually speak to Hardin. That Friday after my beater practice with Sirius I found him in the common room.
“Hey” I greeted him and sat next to him on the sofa. He looked surprised and, I noticed, happy.
“Hey” he smiled.
“I’d like to talk to you”
“For real? Like, actually talk to me?” Ouch.
“Yeah... I’m sorry” I said. There was no point in beating around the bush. He surprised me this time by grabbing my hand.
“I know what happened to your friend. I know you were just trying to cope, and don’t get me wrong I’m happy to oblige but if you are ready to come out the other end I’d like to... well, I’d like to get to know you” he said. “With our clothes on. Maybe not all the time, but you get what I mean” he smiled and wiggles his eyebrows. I laughed.
“I’m not sure where I am at right now, where my head is at. I can’t promise anything”
“I am not asking for promises” he brushed a strand of hair away from my face gently.
“I have to be honest, I had no idea you felt this way” I told him. He smirked.
“At the beginning I didn’t. I thought you were a hot chick, who was looking for fun, so I was all for it” he shrugged. “But there’s something about you that really caught my eye. I think I’m intrigued by the Jocelyn I’ve never met. The one everyone talks about”
“People care about you, you know? And everyone’s been worried. That made me curious, so I asked around. I had no idea you are beater for Gryffindor, for example”
I smiled. “Just you wait until the first game, Sirius and I are invincible”
“So I’ve heard” he looked thoughtful for a minute, then asked “I hear you used to date Potter. I need to ask: isn’t it weird being so close with him still? I know you hang out in a group but he’s your ex”
“We ended it because we were behaving more like friends than a couple, so no. It isn’t weird, James is one of my best friends in the world”
“What about Black?”
“Sirius? He’s like James. Best friend”
“Okay, cool. Just wondered” he smiled. “I thought I was going to have more competition”
“Well, being James’ ex-girlfriend is a bit of a deterrent to a lot of guys. You don’t want to mess with him” I said, laughing. “But jokes aside, I don’t get as much attention as you seem to think I do”
“You’re wrong. Just because you don’t notice it, it doesn’t mean people aren’t paying attention. Almost every guy in this school stops and stares when you walk by”
“You’re exaggerating” I brushed his comments off. That’s what people did around Sirius, and James. Not me.
“Why didn’t you say anything earlier about, you know, us?” I asked him.
He chuckled before answering. “You didn’t want to hear it. And also, not gonna lie, there are worse things than being used for sex by a gorgeous girl. I wasn’t about to scare you off” he wiggled his eyebrows and I laughed.
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