Disclaimer: They're not mine. I'm just here to play with them. Like Ken and well, Ken.
Wordcount: 1,250 thereabouts.
Notes: Missing moment from Chapter 22 of The Prisoner of Azkaban. Takes place before Harry says good-bye to Lupin. Comments would be loved.
Owl Post Again
I knew it was over the moment Severus seated himself beside me for breakfast this morning. His eyes bored into mine with a cold, dark fury and even before he reached for the jug of coffee he very loudly inquired to the state of my health after my bout with lycanthropy the evening previous. Something broke inside as I watched the eyes of my colleagues and the few Slytherin students seated at the tables below swivel to face me with unmasked horror.
I swished my wand, books flying off the shelves and into the open trunk lying at my feet. My clothes were already packed and the suitcase stacked near the door. I tried to feel anger towards Severus, but failed. His behavior this morning was nothing less then to be expected from him. Some of us mature as we grow older and some of us…do not. I closed my eyes and pinched the bridge of my nose and attempted to keep the threatening headache at bay.
An unsigned note lay furled on the desk and I’ve done my best to ignore it since it was delivered to me early this morning. However, it has always has been impossible to ignore Sirius Black. Even more impossible to ignore it since I tucked it into my trouser pocket, refusing to allow it out of my sight.
It was a chilled autumn day so long ago, while walking with him through a tunnel of gold and scarlet leaves that I thought what I felt for him might be reciprocated. It wasn’t until he pushed me down into a pile of leaves and fell down beside me that Sirius crawled into my skin until I belonged to him, mind, body and soul. When I breathed then, I breathed him in, and he bent forward to kiss me.
And I was lost.
During his years of confinement in Azkaban, I questioned everything I knew about the man I loved, and for the last ten years I’ve struggled to forget so much. Now, here at Hogwarts once again, where it all began, I’ve learned the truth of Peter’s betrayal, Sirius’ innocence and we’ve come full circle, he and I.
I picked up the note again, even though the words burned a hole into my heart the first time I read them.
How to reply? I dropped the note and drummed my fingers on the wooden surface for a moment before turning back to packing. I was at a loss.
There was so much between us now. So much left unsaid. Accusations and betrayals, dormant for the last twelve years, lingered below the surface of our skins, ready to rise, to strike and maim. Would we have the strength to fight for one another again? In the Shrieking Shack I embraced him last night for the first time in over a decade and thought I could feel every single bone under his skin. There were two men in my arms last night, and the other was the wraith of the man he used to be.
As I knelt down to pull the empty grindylow tank next to my open suitcase, the memory of the first time I laid my head on Sirius’ chest and listened to his heart beat haunted me. We were so damn young! My breath caught in my throat and for a fleeting moment, I can feel his body alongside mine and his long fingers softly playing with my hair.
I was so angry, so heartbroken when I learned of what I thought he’d done. Angry because of the way he treated me before, his silences and his coldness towards me. Leaving me alone and bereft, not understanding why he was pulling away and suspecting me at the same time.
Heartbroken because of what I believed was his betrayal of James, Lily and Harry. While the wizarding world celebrated the downfall of the Dark Lord, I raged in our flat in the worst neighborhood of London, fighting against what I was told to be true and what my heart was telling me was a lie.
It was the first and only time I welcomed the change when it came.
And then as now, lies between us Harry.
This smallest Potter charmed Sirius from the moment James presented him to us, wrapped in his blue blanket and sighing softly in his sleep. I remember how very handsome and proud he was the day James asked him to stand as Harry’s godfather. I thought Sirius would have died to protect Harry! The very idea of Sirius – Sirius bringing harm to the Potters was insane!
But yet…I believed them when they explained what he’d done, not only to the Potters, but to Peter and to all of those poor Muggles.
I believed I was alone.
How could I have ever doubted him? Why did I doubt him?
How was I – how was any of us to know the monster we needed to fear was sitting alongside of us even then?
My footsteps echoed across the wooden floor as I wove my way through the desks of my classroom. I trailed my fingers over the long tables, imagining my classes, the faces of my students as I stood before them. I would have taught here for the rest of my life if allowed. I could have been happy here. But could I be happy again now Sirius was free?
I summoned the map from the last shelf to be cleared and tapped my wand against the brittle parchment, speaking our words written a lifetime ago. Looking down in wonder as it unfurled in my hands, wishing I could reach inside and fall into my fifteen year old self.
Would I be able to see the moment where Peter fell from grace, knowing what I know now? Surely the seeds of his madness were planted long before he became a servant of the Dark Lord.
What would I have done differently if I could?
Now was not the time for regrets, but I’ve always made time for regrets. How could Sirius ask me for forgiveness when it should have been me begging for his?
I glanced down at the map, my lip twitching into a smile as I noticed the small black dot moving towards my office. Harry was on his way.
His father would have wanted him to have this map. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs would have wanted him to have the map. Even him, back then. Even Peter would have recognized Harry as the rightful heir to fruits of our hard work.
I lifted my head at the sound of soft hooting at the window. The owl Sirius used returned for my response. It was so much like his old self to give me time to deliberate before asking for my decision.
How well he knew me still. I grabbed my quill and wrote my response quickly, tying it to the owl’s leg before I changed my mind. There is much I struggle to deny myself, but not this, not any longer.
I love him still.
“If I am pressed to say why I loved him, I feel it can be explained only by replying: "Because it was he; because it was me." --Montaigne