Formerly just "Sirius Black"
|Disclaimer- Most of these characters are not mine. They belong to J. K. Rowling. Any resemblance to real people is entirely coincidental.
I sat outside with a book in the warm sunshine of early fall, my back against a tree. The world could not have been more perfect. I was free from all restraints on that Saturday afternoon. As I was away at school, I had no family near (my siblings did not go to this school; they do not have my talents). That was both good and bad. Mostly good. I didn't really have any friends, just a few good acquaintances, so I was sometimes lonely, but most of the time I was content to be alone with my books. Life was wonderful.
As I was relaxing and reading that day, I had no idea that my perfect, simple existence was about to change completely. It started slowly and had been building for some time, but that was the day the clouds for the coming storm left their hiding place behind the sun and began to gather in front of it.
So. I was reading, immersed completely in my little world of paper and ink, when I heard some people approaching. I looked up, ascertained their identities, then returned to my book. Unfortunately, they didn't want to leave it at that and pass by. Actually, it was only he who really wanted to stop.
"Hi, Katie," said Remus Lupin, a nice, intelligent boy of my own age (they were all my age) with whom I liked to talk about books and classes. One of my good acquaintances.
"Hi," I replied, without looking up.
"Hi, Katie," said Peter Pettigrew, a slimy little creature whom no one generally noticed and who really did not fit in with the rest of his group.
"Hi," I answered.
"Hi, Katie," said the next boy, James Potter.
"Hi," I repeated. James was an athlete with messy hair and a lot of arrogance- but he was nothing, compared to the next one.
"Hey, Kate." Sirius Black. Sirius Black was the most popular and most arrogant person in the entire school. It wasn't the arrogance that bothered me. I could handle arrogance. I was and am arrogant. Pride is no giant fault in my book. It wasn't the practical joking that I hated. I enjoyed orchestrating a good practical joke, if not being the butt of one. I disapproved of his bullying, yes, but that would have only given me reason to feel disdainful toward him. No, what made me absolutely abhor him was that he expected to get what ever he wanted out of people by throwing on a smile and that arrogant charm, and what was worst, he always got it. From everyone, teacher or student, particularly female, but male as well. And the bastard outscored me on nearly every test. I did not like Sirius Black.
"Hi," I said again, maybe slightly more coldly than I had before, and still reading.
Sirius stopped, all the others stopping immediately as well. He was the leader of their little prank-playing group. The others would follow him anywhere.
"That's it?" Sirius asked me, cocking an eyebrow.
"You said hi, I said hi. What more do you want?" I countered, not deigning to look up.
"No, we did not just say hi. We looked at you and we greeted you by name. The least you can do is return the favor."
I didn't say anything. He was obviously in the mood to be a jerk today.
Sirius, of course, noticed that I ignored him. Being ignored really annoyed Sirius. That was probably why I did it.
"Fine," He said. "We're not leaving until you give us all a proper greeting."
Fine, I thought. Maybe I was in a perverse mood, too. What am I saying, maybe?
Remus, who knew us well enough to know that both could be incredibly stubborn, sighed and sat down in the grass to wait. James stood for a while, then began to pace. Peter nervously stood near James. Sirius just stood where he was, hands on his hips, looking down on me with a haughtiness worthy of Peter Pan himself. After probably five minutes or so (well, probably less), Sirius got impatient.
"Alright. If you won't do it of your own volition, I'll make you." Spoiled brat, I thought. His family was rich.
Sirius scanned the area for a suitable victim. His eyes soon alighted on his favorite prey, Severus Snape. He whipped out his wand and hung poor Severus upside down, sending the hem of his robe over his head, in accordance with the law of gravity which states that the hem of a garment must always face the ground.
That got me to look up. I had no particular like of Severus Snape. Indeed, I disliked him more than liked him, but I can't stand random acts of cruelty. Besides, this argument was between me and Sirius and I despised Sirius for bringing an innocent bystander into it.
"Let him go," I demanded, annoyed.
"Not until you greet us properly. In order. No attitude. And let's throw in a handshake as well." He grinned at me with his mocking smile.
I clenched my teeth and swore in my head. Really annoyed.
Sirius decided that I wasn't acting quickly enough. He began to shake Severus up and down.
"Stop it!" I said, almost yelling.
"Well," Sirius said calmly, "Greet us."
I hate you, Sirius Black, I thought. I hate you.
"Hurry up," Sirius said, "Or I'll do something more."
Fine. I walked over to Remus, who stood. "Hello, Remus," I said, trying to force a happy voice and failing dismally. I shook his hand. He gave me an apologetic look. I hate you, Sirius.
I moved to Peter. "Hello, Peter." Handshake. I hate you, Sirius.
Next to James. "Hello, James." Handshake. I hate you, Sirius.
I narrowed my eyes and clenched my teeth harder. One more.
"Hello, Sirius." I hate you beyond belief, Sirius Black. I grabbed his hand and tried to give it a quick shake and let go, but Sirius held on and made the handshake ridiculously slow and retained my hand after it was over. I avoided looking at his face. It would probably put a black mark on my school record if I gouged out his eyes.
"Look at me," Sirius ordered. I reluctantly raised my eyes. I hate you.
"Smile." I forced a strained smile. Die, Sirius Black. Die.
"There, that wasn't so hard, was it?" Sirius smirked.
"Leave me alone," I said tensely, "and let him go,"
"As you command," he said mockingly. He waved his wand and Severus fell on his face, causing a gale of laughter to rise from the general direction of James and Peter.
"I expect you to greet us properly the first time at our next meeting," Sirius smiled, motioned to his cronies, and walked away.
I hate you, Sirius Black, I thought.
The rest of the day passed uneventfully. I stomped up to my room and read there, and eventually I lost most of my anger. I didn't see any of the quartet until late that night (unfortunately, all four boys were in my house), when I and my book were driven out of the dorm by my roommates, who didn't like me to have a light on while they were trying to fall asleep. They didn't notice it after they were asleep, but until then I was stuck. So, I was peacefully sitting in the Gryffindor common room reading in front of the fire. This next part was told to me by Remus long after the event in question, so I've decided to relay it to you, as it was to me, from his point of view:
After studying for a while, I decided to go to the common room to see where Sirius, James, and Peter had gone off to. When I got there, I found James sitting in a chair tossing a ball up and down, Peter close by watching him, and Sirius in another chair, staring, transfixed, across the room. Every so often a smile crossed his face. He seemed to be up to something. You know the look.
"What are you planning?" I asked Sirius. He didn't respond.
I looked at James.
"What's wrong with him?"
James caught the ball and shrugged.
"He's been sitting there for a while, just staring into space. I tried to get his attention, but it didn't work. Maybe you can do something with him."
I shook Sirius' shoulder.
"Hey! What are you thinking about?" Sirius shoved me away, but otherwise ignored me. "Answer me!" I demanded. No answer. I turned to James.
"When did he start doing this?" I asked, gesturing towards Sirius.
James shrugged. "Pretty much as soon as we came down here." James had looked bored, but that expression suddenly left his face, replaced by a knowing grin. "Ah, I know what it is now. Give it up, mate," he said to Sirius, "it'll never happen."
Sirius sighed and sat back. "Maybe that's why it's interesting."
"Come on," James laughed, "Why that one?" Suddenly, it began to dawn on me what, or, more precisely, who, they were talking about.
Sirius shrugged. "Probably because she doesn't like me. More of a challenge," he grinned, "I was getting bored with total control over the opposite sex."
I sighed. "You and your girls. You're going to fail with her, you know."
Sirius looked at up at me sharply, with interest in his face. "What makes you say that?"
"Yes," James said grandly, "You know her better than any of us. Grant us your wisdom."
"Well," I stammered, "she doesn't like you. You said so yourself."
Sirius dismissed the thought with a wave of his hand. "I know she thinks she hates me, but I can change that, I guarantee it."
"I know you have great powers of persuasion, but I don't believe you can succeed with her. Best to leave her alone."
"Ah, sounds like old Moony's got this one staked out as his own," said James mockingly.
"Is that true, Remus?" Sirius asked, a trace of tease in his voice, though I knew he was asking my permission. He would never date someone one for whom one of his friends expressed a desire.
"No," I answered calmly, "I am only trying to save you from the humiliation of rejection."
"Well, don't worry about it," Sirius smirked, "I can handle anything."
I sat down, grinning wryly. "Favor us with your master plan to conquer the unconquerable then, Padfoot."
"Yes," James put in, "instruct us, oh wise teacher. We are your humble and stupid students." He grinned maliciously. Peter behind him was also grinning.
Sirius laughed. "Listen well, my apprentices, for this is the advice of a true master of the art of getting what he wants. There is only one way to deal with a girl like that one. It'll also work on any girl who you aren't sure how to deal with."
"What is that, master?" James asked, genuflecting sarcastically from his seat.
"Surprise her, my dear boy. It's as simple as that. Watch and learn." He stood, and began to walk over to where you sat by the fire.
Back to me (Katie) again. I was oblivious to all of this. I of course knew that Sirius, Peter, Remus, and James were in the room, but I paid them no attention. Therefore, I was quite surprised when Sirius appeared in front of me, threw my book to the ground, put his arms around me (effectively pinning my arms to my sides), and kissed me. When he released me, I only stared wide-eyed, too shocked to do anything. Before I could gather my wits or my book, Sirius and co. were gone up the stairs to their dormitory and I was alone. And I was mad. And confused. But I couldn't do anything about it then, so I went to bed and, after much tossing and turning, fell into a troubled sleep, from which I arose tired and irritable, but thankfully with no memories of the dreams which had disturbed my rest.
It was Sunday, so I did my homework for the next day and then retired to the library to read. After a while, a bell rang, announcing lunch. I grabbed the book I was reading and went to eat. I was hungry.
In the lunch room, I sat in my accustomed place, eating and reading, blissfully unaware of the rest of the world, until somebody, or, four somebodies, sat around me. One of them put his arm around my shoulders. I looked up. Sirius.
"Go away," I said in a falsely sweet voice. Sirius just laughed, and did not remove his arm.
"What kind of a greeting is that?"
Same kind of a greeting you gave me last night, I was tempted to say. But I just pushed his arm off of me and ignored him, going back to my book.
Sirius, of course, did not leave it at that. He replaced his arm and said, "What did I tell you yesterday, outside?"
I ignored him.
"Do I need to use force again to make you greet us properly?" He asked.
I looked at him. "You wouldn't dare." I sneered. "There are teachers everywhere."
"Oh wouldn't I?" I could tell I'd made a big mistake by Sirius' expression and by the way James and Peter leaned forward, laughing in anticipation, and Remus groaned through his laughter, putting his head on his hand and hiding his face. I gulped.
Sirius looked around, but Severus Snape was not in the room. Then an idea must have come to him, for a slow, malevolent grin spread across his face. He leaned in to my ear and said quietly, "If you don't greet all of us properly, I will kiss you, right here in front of everyone."
Go away! I thought violently. I tried to rise, but Sirius apparently had more strength in his one arm than I had in both my arms and legs. Damn!
"Do it," he said, "or I will kiss you, I swear."
I clenched my teeth so hard that my ears rang. "Fine." I hate you, I hate you, I hate you!
"Hello, Remus." I nodded at him, hoping that was sufficient, since the table was too wide to shake hands without getting up. Sirius didn't say anything, so I continued.
"Hello, James," Nod.
"Hello, Peter," Nod.
Once again, at the last and worst. "Hello, Sirius," Nod.
"Very good," Sirius said, then, leaning in and whispering again, "Though it might have been more fun if you had refused."
To my everlasting disgust, I blushed. I shoved his arm off of me again and rose, this time unhampered. I seized my book and walked quickly out of the room, consumed by my anger and embarrassment, the latter only serving to fuel and strengthen the former. I almost ran back to my dorm, cursing Sirius' name in every way I could think of (and some of my own invention). In my room, I threw myself on my bed and drew the curtains around me, even though no one else was there. I wanted to scream from frustration. Why was it against school rules to tie a fellow student to the wall and use him as target practice for, oh, archery, or (yes!) knife throwing?! Or to cast various horrible charms on him? Or curses? Or...no, that's illegal not just by school standards, but by the laws of the Ministry of Magic. I somehow managed to calm down enough to concentrate on my books, and I read in my bed until I was too tired to stay awake any longer.
The next day, I awoke surprisingly energized for having stayed up until the wee hours of the morning, but still annoyed with Sirius. Maybe the restful sleep had put me in a more dangerous mood. It was Monday, so I got my things together for first hour Charms and left.
Charms passed mostly uneventfully. Sirius and his group stayed where they normally sat and acted as they normally did, except for Sirius giving me a broad wink as I passed by on the way to my seat. Then, towards the end of class, I was passed a note, saying that Sirius wanted to meet me after class for a minute.
After Charms, I hurried out of the room and walked quickly in the general direction of my dormitory, trying to put as much distance between myself and Sirius as possible. It didn't keep him away, but I was pleased to note that he was somewhat breathless when he finally caught up to me.
"Hello," he said. I ignored him.
"So, we're back here again," he grabbed my arm, stopping me. "Now. Give me a proper greeting. Or else." He grinned malevolently.
I returned his evil grin, with interest, and whipping out my wand, practiced a spell I had learnt last night while still infuriated. Sirius tried to say something, but no sound came out. I laughed and continued on my way to my dorm, gathered my things for second hour, then on to Divination. As I walked away from Sirius, I heard behind me James' mocking laughter and Remus' quiet chuckle with a triumphant satisfaction.
"You're in a good mood today," Violet, one of my better acquaintances, observed. I just laughed.
My second and third classes flew by. Unfortunately, they were the only ones I didn't share with Sirius. I dreaded the last five classes. In my third class, I sat next to Remus. This was where we first got to know each other. Today, he smiled and passed me a note, reading: :30pm in the Common Room." I narrowed my eyes. Traitor. But, after all, Remus was Sirius' friend, not mine. I scribbled on a spare scrap of paper, "This is from Sirius, isn't it?" and passed the note to Remus under the table.
"Yes," he replied, in the same manner, "He wants to speak with you alone, but you can request the rest of us to be there if you want. I think you should go."
"No way," I wrote back.
"Come on," he coaxed, "What've you got to lose? You can always shut him up with that wonderful mute spell. It took the school nurse to remove it, you know. Don't worry though," Remus digressed," He refused to say who jinxed him. He seemed rather impressed by the timing and execution of it."
Great, that‘s all need, I thought. I chose not to respond to the digression. "What does he want?" I asked.
"You'll have to ask him that yourself," Remus said. "Are you going, or not?"
"I don't know. Is Sirius going to be a cad?"
I wanted to go out of curiosity, to see what Sirius wanted, why he had taken to harassing me lately, but I also didn't want to be anywhere near Sirius. Then I had an idea.
"Alright," I wrote, "I'll go."
"Do you want James, Peter and I there?" Remus asked.
"No," I answered," I think I can handle Sirius just fine on my own." As I scribbled, a nasty grin spread over my face. Remus noticed, and I have no doubt he mentioned it to Sirius when he gave him my answer fourth hour. Thankfully, after receiving my assent to the late night rendezvous, Sirius left me alone for the rest of the day.
At 11:30 that night, I got out of bed, where I'd been trying to read, and went to the top of the stairs that lead from the girls' dorms to the Common Room. Sirius was waiting at the bottom. I sat down at the top of the stairs and waited.
He stared. "Well, aren't you coming downstairs?"
"No," I replied, quite calmly, "You can say what you have to say from there."
"I'm not going to yell up the stairs," he said, half-laughing.
"You don't have to. I can hear you just fine," I replied somewhat petulantly. I was proud of my idea.
Sirius laughed out loud now. "Come on, come down stairs."
"Come down here, or I‘ll make you come down here."
"How are you going to do that? You can't get up the stairs."
"No," Sirius said, "But I can get you down." He then put one foot on the bottom step. This caused the staircase to turn into a slide, as per the spell cast on it to keep boys out of the girls dorms (though for some reason a similar spell was not on the boys' stair). Because I was sitting on the stairs, I slid down, becoming an ignominious heap at Sirius' feet.
"I warned you," he laughed.
I got up, seriously peeved.
"What do you want?" I asked.
"I want you."
I must admit, that was not the answer I was expecting. I paused for half a moment, taken aback, and that was all the opening Sirius needed for his next move. He gathered me into his arms for a long, dizzying kiss, and I was too surprised to protest. Damn Sirius! When he let me go, I was still in a state of shock. I was unaccustomed to kisses. Read that, I had never had a boyfriend (nor wanted one), so I had never been kissed before, except that once, by Sirius himself. Again, another opening for Sirius. He kissed me again, pulling me toward the couch, and suddenly, something inside of me snapped, or melted, and I forgot all thoughts of resisting, simply enjoying the attention and the new experience. He pulled me down to the couch, still kissing me, and then he apparently decided I should have reacted, because he asked me if I was alright. I just stared at him with half-glazed eyes, then closed them and leaned against his chest, sighing. Sirius must have been surprised, but he simply put his arms around me and held me while I cried. Eventually, I fell asleep. Sirius said later that Remus, James, and Peter came down soon after, asking how it was going. This is basically what happened:
"Looks like you've gotten farther than I'd ever have expected," James announced as he came down the stairs.
"I'm surprised as well," Remus said, somewhat admiringly, "You are truly the master."
Peter nodded his agreement.
"Congratulation, Padfoot!" James said loudly, "What'll you do now? Let her down slowly, or dump her all at once?"
"Quiet! You'll wake her!" Sirius admonished. "No, actually, I think I'll keep her a bit longer. This is turning out even more interesting than I had anticipated."
"O-ho! Sirius Black, actually interested in someone?" Remus teased.
"Shut up," Sirius said. "She started crying as soon as I asked her a question, and I want to know why."
"Whatever. I just wouldn't have figured she'd be your type," James remarked, "I'm going to bed. Come on, Peter."
"I'm going to bed too," Remus said, "And so should you."
"I'll be up in a little bit." Sirius replied.
After the trio left, Sirius shook me gently. "Hey, wake up. It's late, and we both have classes tomorrow. We should be in bed."
I blearily opened my eyes and forced myself to sit up. I was very tired for some reason. I suddenly remembered what I had been doing before I fell asleep, and where I had been sleeping. I was ashamed, and looked away as Sirius sat up and stretched next to me. He noticed that I avoided him.
He put his arms around me, pulling me to his side. "It's alright. I'll keep your secret. I want to know more about you. I won't ask you now why you were crying, but I will find out."
"Go away," I said wearily, pulling away and standing up.
"You have to talk to me. You obviously need someone to talk to. I can help you. I promise, I'm as good a listener as I am a talker." He stood up and followed me as I wove my unsteady way toward the girls' side staircase. I almost fell over into a wall, and he caught me, pulling me to him completely and saying quietly into my ear.
"Talk to me. I want to help you."
I pulled away unsteadily and grabbed the banister of the staircase. "Leave me alone," I mumbled. I made my unsteady, sleepy way up the stairs and collapsed on my bed fully clothed, soon lapsing into a deep, dreamless sleep.
Tuesday morning, I awoke irritable and tired. I hoped not to see Sirius, but I knew I'd have to. I couldn't face his charity. It was hard to hate the bastard when he was trying to be helpful, and I needed to hate him. Sirius had somehow awakened feelings I had suppressed for a long time, and I was not happy about it. I hoped he would be back to his normal asshole self.
Sirius did not approach me until after classes, but all during them I caught him looking at me, and it only made me more crabby. When he came to me, I was in the library doing homework, alone, as usual, and Sirius, atypically alone, was still in his helpful mood.
"How are you today?" He asked.
I ignored him.
"Come on, talk to me."
"Go away, Sirius."
"I'm not going to just leave you alone. Someone who suddenly starts crying out of nowhere obviously needs to talk. Keeping your emotions bottled up is unhealthy. Let me be the one you talk to."
"Leave me alone," I said testily, beginning to get really annoyed.
"Why do you hide yourself? Open up to me. You weren‘t shy about accepting my comfort last night..." He left the sentence dangling suggestively, a slight smile forming. Asshole. Just what I'd wanted.
I couldn't take it anymore.
"Leave me alone, you prying bastard!"
Well, that was surprising. I never swore out loud.
"Good, at least you're showing some emotion," Sirius remarked.
I narrowed my eyes. Was there no way to get rid of him? "Go away!" I began to gather up my things, preparatory to taking my own advice. I stood up.
Sirius stood also. "Listen, if you can give me one good, honest reason why you were crying that proves you don't need help, I'll leave you alone forever."
I paused. Tempting. "I was too tired. That was all."
Sirius laughed, a short, sarcastic bark. "Right. Nice try, sweetheart, but that's the oldest one in the book."
I tried again. "I'm serious. This school work is just too much. It's stressing me out."
"Yeah right. The work here is as easy for you as it is for me." He tilted his face up in a superior, looking-down-his-nose sort of expression.
"I don't know, alright?!" I started leaving again.
Sirius stepped in front of me. I stopped. "He lowered his head in order to look in my eyes.
"You will talk to me."
I side-stepped him and hurried out of the library, and Sirius wisely chose not to follow.
I practically ran back to the my dorm, uncharacteristically dropping my books on the floor and then throwing myself on my bed. I tried to fight back the bitter tears that rose to my eyes, but it was no use. Why was I crying? Why did I cry last night? Why the hell wouldn't Sirius leave me be? I was fine until he interfered with my life. I cried for ten minutes or so, venting pent up frustrations from I knew not whence, then I calmed down, dried my tears, and finished my homework. By then it was suppertime, but I wasn't hungry. Besides, I didn't want to risk seeing Sirius again. Oh, he was worse being considerate. He was just as selfish, but didn't realize it. I hated Sirius Black.
I settled down with a good book for a while. About 10:00, one of the other girls tried to get me to go to the Common Room, but I refused. I knew it was just Sirius trying to get me downstairs to talk. I didn't want to talk. I wanted to read and sleep and forget. And, that night, I did.
The next morning, I was tired, but more numb and less angry. I went through the day's classes in a haze, and Sirius left me alone. Remus tried to talk to me third hour, but I was unresponsive. Sweet Remus. He seemed worried. But I was in my dream world, and nothing could touch me.
After classes, I did my homework in the Common Room, not caring whether Sirius was there or not, then I read in my favorite place by the fire, until I started feeling hot. I tried to move, but my body wouldn't respond. I was vaguely worried, but before I could get too concerned, Sirius walked in front of me. He shook me, saying something, but I couldn't hear him, he was far away, and I was in my dream world where nothing could hurt me....
The next thing I remember is waking up in the hospital a week later. I vaguely remember some delirious dreams, in which I was a child and cried out to be protected, but everyone ignored me, until finally someone found me and held me and said everything would be alright, and I knew it would be...
When I woke, Sirius was by my side, watching me. He called over the nurse as soon as he realized I was awake and not delirious.
"You gave us quite a nasty scare," the nurse admonished.
"What's wrong with me?" I asked groggily.
"You caught a dangerous fever, somewhere. I do hope the whole school hasn't caught it. There's not much we can do for it, except let it run its course and try to keep your temperature low enough to prevent brain damage. You won't be back in class for another few days yet, so I suggest you take advantage of this time to rest." The nurse left.
Sirius took my hand. "It's been a week since you fainted. I've been here every day to check on you, but you were always delirious."
"I fainted?" I asked, too tired to protest either his presence or his hold on my hand.
"Yes, and believe me, you scared me. I walked over to talk to you and you were about to fall out of your chair and your eyes were half closed and all glazed and far-away. Your face was flushed; you were burning up. And sitting in front of the fire didn't help. I called the nurse right away." He paused and stroked my face with his free hand, a tender look on his usually proud face. "You're so pale now. Do you feel alright?"
"Tired," I sighed.
"You rest, then," Sirius said, kissing my forehead as I spiraled into a dreamless abyss.
I was not allowed to go back to class until a couple of days after I woke up, but Sirius was with me every day, bringing my homework and Remus, James, and Peter to cheer me up. James was actually quite nice. He greeted me in a somewhat sheepish manner and talked to me a little. Peter fidgeted and stood in the back, watching, as he always did. Remus was all sympathy and assistance. He helped me get my homework done, so I was caught up almost before I was out of the hospital. Sirius sat by me and held my hand, talking to me about things and getting me to talk about myself. Before I could leave the hospital, Sirius had weaseled information out of me about my parents, my brothers, my house, my room, my favorite books and movies...pretty much everything. I was surprised that I talked so much.
I was released from the hospital wing with strict orders not to over do it again ("Try to get more physical exercise.") on Sunday, October 12. When I got out, Sirius and his friends were there to help carry my books back to our house and to help me turn in my back assignments. I was glad of the help, but it was not something I was used to, or something I wanted to continue. Now that I was well, I fully intended to go back to my introverted, antisocial ways. All these people all the time were making me claustrophobic. I wanted to huddle in my bed alone with a good book and withdraw myself from the world again. And I began to do so that very night. I carried my books to my room and stayed there. I didn't go down for supper. I didn't want it. I wanted to stay alone and in my world forever.
Sirius let me get away with doing this type of thing for the first week. He still attended me to and from classes and at meals, but otherwise left me alone. After that first week, however, both he and the school nurse began to get on my case about eating every meal, getting regular exercise, and (from Sirius at least) creeping out of my safe shell to associate with others. It annoyed me a great deal, but I dutifully swallowed meals, walked around the grounds with Sirius, once a day on weekdays and twice on weekends. I sat and listen to him and his friends talk after our homework was done (it was interesting to watch how Sirius still acted like his normal self when he talked to other people, all arrogance and charm, and how he changed completely when he even looked at me; I noted it as an interesting occurrence, when I noted anything outside of myself). But after the day was through, I did as I wished. I read my book, safe in my world, away from everyone. I was happy. The nurse was happy. But Sirius knew something was up. He noticed that though I grew healthy in body, my mind was still sick. He tried constantly to draw me out of my obedient stupor. He asked me questions, and I answered them, but I kept all emotion to myself. When he pulled me into his arms and held me in the Common Room after the work was done, I let him, with no action of protest or approval. When he kissed me goodnight I suffered him patiently and smiled when he wished me pleasant dreams. Then I went into my world for the rest of the night. I knew there was something wrong with me, but I didn't care because I was happy and safe, away from everyone and everything.
We carried on this way until December, Sirius trying to draw me out, but not quite sure how, I doing everything he directed me to do unquestioningly and answering any questions put to me, but still not quite all there. I remember hearing Sirius talking intensely with Remus one night, asking what he should do about me, what was wrong. Remus didn't exactly know, but he thought that I was hiding from something, and all Sirius could do was try to draw me out. He said it was important that I be in the company of others as often as possible, not left alone to burrow deeper within myself. Remus was so smart.
When Christmas holidays arrived, I received word from my family that they were traveling and I would have to stay at Hogwarts this year (and by the way they were glad I'd made a full recovery). I didn't care. I looked forward, in my half-conscious way, to a long stretch alone with my books. Unfortunately, Sirius found out about my parents' plans and got leave from his parents to stay. I think he looked forward to the break as a chance to work exclusively to cure me. I often saw him whispering with Remus during the time just before vacation.
The last night before vacation, Sirius kept me downstairs a long time, after even his friends had gone to bed. James had long since accepted that Sirius wanted me, no longer even teasing him. Remus left us tactfully. Peter didn't really seem to notice or care about anything, but went to bed with James.
"Why are you hiding?" Sirius asked suddenly, his arms around me, his head resting against mine.
"I'm not hiding,' I answered, "I'm with you almost every hour of the day."
"That's not what I mean, and you know it," he persisted, "You never say anything unless you are asked a question, you never respond to anything, you never show any emotion at all! You used to have opinions, and likes and dislikes. Especially dislikes," he said smiling, "Do you remember? I was one of them. You hated me. How do you feel about me now?"
"I don't know," I answered uneasily. These questions invaded my world, and I didn't like it.
"Will you not express an opinion?!" Sirius blazed, sitting up and taking me by the shoulders.
I looked at the empty space over his right shoulder.
"It's not fair to ask me what I think of you. Anyone would answer the same when faced with a question like that."
"I wouldn't," Sirius said, leaning back and calming down a little.
"I don't believe you."
"Ask me then," Sirius challenged, "Ask me what I think of you."
"What do you think of me?" I mouthed mechanically.
Sirius turned me towards him. His eyes were feral, like a wild cat‘s. "I love you. I want to protect you. I want to help you. But I can't do that unless you open yourself up to me. I promise I won't hurt you."
I just looked at him blankly. It was too much for him.
"Oh, God. Please, say something! You'll go insane and take me with you if you continue this way. Please, talk to me!"
I didn't reply. Then Sirius did something unexpected. He threw himself back on the couch and began to cry.
"You just- you just sit there, day after day. I can't get you to respond to a single thing. I'm at my wit's end, my nerves are frayed, and still you just sit there. You were always the one that wouldn't just obey me automatically, and now you do nothing but that! If you aren't given orders, you just sit, staring into space. I can't take it any more! Will you not come out of hiding?!" He turned his head to me, tears streaming down his cheeks, his eyes hurt and wild. Suddenly, somewhere deep inside of me, I couldn't bear to see him that way. I slowly found his hand and squeezed it gently, then stroked it, brought it up to my face, and gave it a feather-light kiss. Sirius cried some more then, but they were tears of joy. I leaned against his shoulder, providing what cold comfort I could. But I was dry-eyed. I wasn't ready to cry yet.
I came downstairs at the normal time, that first morning of Christmas vacation. Sirius was waiting for me. He whirled me around in the air and gave me a big hug and a kiss, saying,
"I'm so glad, so glad you are finally getting better."
I smiled at him, happy, on some level, that he was happy. Then we went for our morning walk. Sirius was full of chatter and I listened, quietly smiling, as a mother listens to an excited child. After a while, he noticed that he was dominating the conversation and began to draw me into it. He asked me hard questions that appealed to my emotions, but I tried my best to answer them, because it made him happy. He asked me these questions all day long, and each one made it easier to open up. At the end of the day, he asked me yesterday's question again.
"How do you feel about me?"
Sirius nodded, accepting that this was my limit for today, and kissed me good night.
The majority of the two weeks was spent in the same manner, question and answer, with more and more of Sirius talking to me and reassuring me, and every night,
"How do you feel about me?"
And I always answered,
"I don't know."
But Sirius was happy enough with the progress of the day and kissed me good night, accepting my limits.
During this time, I spent less time reading in my room at night, more time sleeping. I began to realize a little more of the world around me every day, like waking up very, very slowly from a long sleep. One night, I had a nightmare of the sort which had come off and on since the illness, but I normally dealt with alone. Something a lot like the deliriums I suffered while sick. This night, however, I crept out of bed and into Sirius' dorm. It was empty, like mine. Everyone else was at home. I searched the beds until I found Sirius. I touched his shoulder, and he awoke instantly.
"What is it?" he asked, alarmed.
"I had a nightmare."
Sirius made room for me in his bed and held me, comforting me, saying he would look after me. And I finally knew that I had found my protector, the person who had helped me through the delirium of the fever, the person I searched for in my dreams.
I looked up into Sirius' adoring eyes and said, "I love you, Sirius Black. That's how I feel about you."
And then I cried, warm and safe in Sirius' fond embrace, and, eventually, I fell asleep.