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I woke to a raging inferno. Everything hurt. The pain was such that I felt as if I would never know anything else again. Darkness tugged at my soul, wanting to pull me under. I tried to resist. There was something important I must do. I couldn’t remember what, but it was there. A feeling that I must do; that I must make it. Where? Why?

 

I heard voices around me, but I couldn’t make out the words. None of them sounded familiar.

 

The feeling kept nagging me, cutting through the fire coursing through me. I must save her.

 

“Jo?” I asked. Nothing happened. No sound escaped my lips.

 

The darkness wrapped itself around me, like a blanket. It tempted me with sweet oblivion. I wanted to stay. But the white-hot agony was threatening to tear my sanity to shreds. I gave in.

 

It pulled me under, and for a long time I only knew blissful nothingness.

 

Jocelyn and I had just finished our beater practice. It was a beautiful day, one of those spring afternoons when the sun shines softly and the grass smells of summertime. She took an extra lap in the air for the sheer pleasure of feeling the wind on her face.

 

I watched her from the ground, feeling jealous of the breeze tangling itself in her hair. She landed gracefully, letting go of her broom and running up to me. She jumped, and even though I was surprised, I caught her as she wrapped her legs around my waist.

 

“I love training together,” she said, beaming at me and putting her arms around my neck.

 

I watched in frightened excitement as she flicked her mane back. She caught a bit of my hair in her hand and wrapped it around her finger. My insides did a little shimmy. I tried to remain composed, keeping my hands chastely on her back, and my eyes trained on hers.

 

I would not look at her lips. I would not look… “Jocelyn?” I asked as her eyes dropped down to my mouth.

 

“I love you, Sirius. I love you, so much,” she said. Then, she was kissing me.

 

“Mr Black? Mr Black, can you hear us?”

 

No.

 

I buried my hands in her hair. ‘Fuck you, wind!’ I thought nonsensically. Her lips were soft, but the kiss was hungry. As if she’d wanted this as badly as I had.

 

 “Mr Black, try to open your eyes,” the voice insisted.

 

“He’s not responding. Quick, get the healer,” another voice said. Then, a hand was shaking him. “Mr Black? Mr Black?”

 

I am going to kill someone.

 

“WHAT!”

 

My eyes flew open. I had to grit my teeth to deal with the bitter disappointment as reality came crashing in.

 

“Oh, thank Merlin. How are you feeling?”

 

“You woke me up to ask me how I’m feeling?” I was so going to kill… “Who are you?”

 

“You are in St. Mungo’s, Mr. Black. You had an accident playing Quidditch,” the healer said.

 

Accident. Quidditch. Jocelyn.

 

“Jocelyn!” I said, siting up on the bed.

 

The healer put a hand on my shoulder. “Relax. The girl is fine. Your school nurse took care of her.”

 

“I want to go back to school now,” I said. “I feel fine. I want to see Jo. Take me back to Hogwarts.”

 

It was true. I felt good as new. The raw ache in my gut had nothing to do with any Quidditch injuries whatsoever.

 

They discharged me, and I was taken to a chimney and floo-ed back directly to Madame Pomfrey’s office. She fussed all over me, forcing me to one of the beds in the school infirmary. There was a pile of cards, chocolates and other gifts at the bottom of it.

 

“Where is Jocelyn?”

 

“In her room, I hope. She was discharged yesterday. She is totally fine, Mr. Black. You have nothing to worry about.”

 

“I want to see her. Can I go now?”

 

“I’m afraid not. These are for you, Mr. Black,” she said. “Please, wait here. I’m going to prepare a few tests I want to run,” she gestured to the bed. I climbed on it and she walked away.

 

She returned a short while later with several vials. She made me drink from each of them in turn, making checks and casting spells that I hadn’t heard in my life. It was quite irritating. All I wanted was to see Jo. I had to make sure she was fine. I had to make sure I had saved her.

 

I just wanted her.

 

When Poppy finished her tests, she vanished inside her office to write a report for the hospital. She left me with very strict instructions that I couldn’t go anywhere until she finished. I was beyond myself. Where was Jocelyn? What was she doing? Why wasn’t she here?

 

I glanced at the pile of gifts. I might as well.

 

The cards were all cheesy and ridiculous. I did not need Cecilia Brawley telling me how much she loved me or how awesome I was. I didn’t even know Cecilia.  

 

The chocolates, though, I appreciated. I was sorting them into piles according to their quality when the door to the infirmary opened and my friends finally deigned to check in on me.

 

“I was expecting a welcoming committee,” I said, raising my chin. My eyes found her first, and they stayed there. She looked flustered. “What does one have to do around here to get his friends to fawn all over him?”

 

“I am GOING TO KILL YOU!” Jocelyn darted forwards, sprinting towards me. With a mighty jump, she lunged. She crashed against me, knocking the breath out my chest. My arms closed around her of their own accord. She was okay. She was alive.

 

She was also, apparently, furious at me.

 

She punched my chest with her fists repeatedly, albeit a lot more gently than it looked. I knew she wasn’t really trying to hurt me. Jo packed a mean punch when she wanted to.

 

There were so many things I wanted to say to her. How glad I was she was in one piece, how worried I’d been. That I had never been more terrified in my entire life than when I saw her plummeting to the ground. But what good would that do?

 

Instead, I said, “you’re gonna have to try harder, love. Turns out I’m a tough one to kill.” I forced out a chuckle.

 

“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,” she said. I felt her body slack and gathered her to me so she wouldn’t slip off the bed. She buried her face on my chest and started weeping.

 

My gut wrenched. My entire body felt electric. I could feel every single place where her skin was against mine, and it was maddening. Her shuddering vibrated through me, and I was suddenly very glad I was sat down and covered by blankets from the top down.

I rubbed her back gently, trying to get her to calm down. My hand brushed her hair and I had to resist the urge to bury my hand in it, like I had in my dream. If only.

 

“You okay?” Prongs stood at the edge of the bed, eyeing me suspiciously.

 

“Yes, captain. I’m fine. Healers at St. Mungo’s really know how to put you back together. Literally,” I winked at James, then regretted my joke immediately as Jocelyn made a strangled noise and cried harder.

 

I made circles on her back, gently but firmly. She knotted her arms around me and hugged me, snuggling closer. I bent down towards her. She smelled so good.

 

“I am fine,” I whispered in her ear. “The devil always looks after its own.”

 

She looked up at me. Her eyes, rimmed with tears, looked like diamonds. She grinned weakly. My heart tumbled out of my chest and onto her unknowing hands.

 

I couldn’t resist. I gave in and touched her hair. Just this once, I told myself. Just this once.

 

“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,” James said. He crossed his arms.

 

Jo’s sobs had subdued considerably. I worried she’d soon recover and have no excuse to be cuddled against me anymore.

 

“This little pocket rocket won us the Quidditch cup, mate. It was worth it,” I said, grinning at James.

 

“We haven’t won it yet!” he said, looking rather cross. I frowned. What was he angry about?  

 

“I don’t think you two realise how serious this was,” Remus said. I almost rolled my eyes at him. Of course I knew how serious this was. I was there. I had seen her fall. I knew how serious this was more than any of them would ever understand.

 

I alone had known I’d rather die than let Jocelyn get hurt. I alone knew what it felt like to snatch her out of the reaper’s own hands.

I alone had looked death in the eyes and told it she was mine, and I would fight it with everything I had before I let it take her from me.

 

Instead, I appealed to her for help. “Jo, please help me out here,” I said. I felt her sigh against me. Her breath tickled my skin. A shiver ran down my spine.

 

She lifted herself up and attempted to regain some dignity. I shot James a look. I shouldn’t have. He was my brother, my best friend in the entire world. But in that moment, he was my rival; the only thing standing between me and my happiness. And my happiness had currently – if only momentarily – decided to choose me.  

 

“Jaaaaameeees,” Jo said, sweetly. I head a stifled laugh from either Moony or Wormtail, maybe both.

 

“Not fair,” James protested. I kept my expression neutral.

 

“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.”

 

I felt her lean into me slightly, and my heart skipped a beat. “See?”

 

“BUT THAT DID NOT INCLUDE THE LAST PART. What were you thinking? You could have been KILLED!” she shouted, turning to face me again.

 

She looked so cute I had to resist the urge to grin. She hit me on the arm. Our eyes met for a brief second – grey on blue, like clouds on the sky or ice on the ocean – and something broke inside of her. I didn’t know what. I didn’t understand it. But it happened, and whatever it was, sent Jo back into hysterical sobs.

 

I felt terrible at the giddy feeling that bubbled up in my chest. As long as she was this distraught, she’d stay here. With me.

 

“The deal was you’d levitate me, not attempt a kamikaze move,” she choked out eventually. My hand was caught mid-stroke on her hair. It felt like velvet. I wished I could wrap it around my hand, pull it and…

 

I frowned. “A what?”

 

“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. My heart raced. Could it be? She caught herself just in time, but was she going to say…

There was no point hoping. There was no point wondering. It would only make things harder.

 

“But I am fine,” I said, gently. I pulled her a bit closer with my arm, hoping my friends wouldn’t notice. Her eyes widened slightly, but she didn’t pull away. “I am fine, and so are you. It was worth it.”

 

She stared at me. I stared at her. A wild, rogue thought intruded. What if I just kissed her?

 

“Anyway, are you ready to go back to the Gryffindor Tower? I’ve spent way too much in this infirmary since the match,” Red said. I snapped out of it. What was wrong with me?!

 

“Yes, ma’am,” I said at exactly the same time as Jo did.

 

And then it was over. James scooped Jo up from the bed and marched her out of the infirmary before I could do or say anything. What would I have said, anyway? Don’t take her away from me?

 

Too late for that.

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