Sitting on my arse and looking pretty. That’s what I’m here for.
According to Sirius at least. Well, his actions more like. Bottom line? He didn’t dance with me for the rest of the night, or even pay me the slightest attention! All I did was sit there at the table, watching as he entertained a gaggle of Slytherin girls like I didn’t even exist. And now here I am, doing exactly what I did the rest of the night. Sitting on my arse on my bed instead.
Brushing the thoughts out of my head, I get up and walk to the full-length mirror, looking myself up and down.
“I mean, I don’t look half-bad tonight,” I say, scrutinizing my appearance. “You’d think I’d be pretty enough to keep one guy on my arm, but noooo, Sirius just has to go off collecting a dozen other girls but me.” I take one more look and then let out a long dragging sigh. “Blimey, why do I even care?”
I’m about to unzip the back of my dress when suddenly a rushing wind blows past my ear. I spin around in place to scan the room. Did I imagine it? Bollocks, I knew that punch was spiked.
But before I can even finish that thought, all the candles in my room go out.
“Alright, Sirius,” I say loudly with my hands on my hips. “If you’re trying to scare me, it’s not going to work. You’re not a very scary person—”
“It’s been so long… You are so beautiful…” whispers a hushed voice from across the room.
“Ew, Sirius, are you kidding me?” I gag mentally and spin around to search the room again, squinting through the darkness. “There are better ways to try and freak me out than these gross ghostly pick-up lines!”
“The young master isn’t here… It’s only you and me… Come with me…”
“The who isn’t here?”
Wait a minute. Now that I think about it… that doesn’t sound like Sirius at all. The voice kind of sounds like an old… man? No way. A pedophile?
Oh, for the love of crap.
“Uhh, yeah, I’m going to have to decline your offer,” I answer cautiously as I begin inching towards the door, “because, y’know, dying a horrible death really isn’t my thing.”
“Come… It’ll just be you… and me… alone together forever…”
“Alright, now that line was just plain messed up!” I mutter frantically as another gust of wind blows past my neck, giving me shivers all up and down my spine. It’s at this point that I realize the breeze isn’t wind at all… but instead very heavy breathing.
I let out a strangled yell and scramble for the door in the dark.
“Y-y-you better keep away from me, you creep!” I warn the ghost as I fumble with the doorknob, my hand slipping off once or twice before I’m actually able to turn it. Why are my palms so bloody sweaty?!
“Don’t run away, girlie… Come back…”
After several attempts, the door finally flings open, but in my hurry to clamber out the door, I trip over the skirt of my dress and, with a loud yelp, tumble into the hallway. I quickly flip myself over on the floor and push myself to my feet. But before I can take another step, a gleaming pale blue light approaches from behind me.
I slowly turn around to face the owner of the unearthly voice in the doorway. A pair of feet float mere centimeters off the ground and as my eyes scan upwards, I finally see it. Its face… its face is…
“AHHH!” I let out an ear-splitting yell and back up so far that I tumble through the door behind me. I feel my back hit the floor and suddenly a soft, golden light fills the hallway, blinding me temporarily.
A door opens to my left and a voice says, “Cecilia? What the bloody hell—”
“AGH! Who are you!” I bellow before turning back to the hallway and… “AGH! The thing’s gone!” I feel someone’s hand on my arm pulling me up and I take one look at him and… “AGH! Why the hell are you shirtless?!”
Sirius slaps a hand over my mouth and hisses, “Stop screaming, you moron! You'll wake up the entire house!”
“Oh yeah, sorry.” I let him steady me on my shaky legs before shrieking again, “Wait, no, there was a bloody RAPIST in my room!”
Sirius looks at me with raised eyebrows. “A… rapist?”
“Yeah, he was saying all these creepily perverted things like, ‘oooh come be alone with me forever…’” I wiggle my fingers in ghostly demonstration. “It was mental! He was totally going to kill me!”
Sirius' eyes widen and then, to my surprise, he lets out a snort. And before I know it, I’m standing there completely baffled as he clutches his stomach, roaring with laughter.
What about this is in any way comical, you insensitive troll?!
After he finally wipes the tears out of his eyes, he puts a hand on my shoulder and says in a pained voice (I say pained because he probably ruptured three internal organs from his giggling fit.), “Cecilia, you've been duped! That was definitely no rapist.”
“Then what kind of twisted creep would pull a dumb prank like that?” I demand aghast.
“Er, yeah, I’m going to have to apologize for him in this case,” Sirius replies, a sheepish grin still plastered on his face. “The maids probably forgot to mention that Jeeves still haunts this side of the house. Yeah, he’s a bit of a perv. Not to mention a major pedophile…”
I raise my eyebrows at the name. “Wait, Jeeves? What is he, like Peeves’ br—”
“Brother or something, yeah, I know what you mean and I have absolutely no clue,” Sirius finishes for me with an all-knowing nod. “Coincidence that two of the ghost world’s biggest creeps have almost identical names? No idea. I just know he used to be a butler at Grimmauld Place some hundred years before.”
“Ohh, I see,” I say understandingly. “Yeah, Jeeves is a fairly common butler name… Wait, not the point!” I shake my head in exasperation. “Now that a bloody ghost is haunting my bedroom, where do you expect me to sleep? In the hall?”
“Uhh…” Sirius ruffles his hair with a stumped look on his face. “Actually I don’t know. The whole house is kind of loaded with overnight guests right now so…”
He shrugs. “I mean, you could just crash here if you want.”
“Here?” I just gape at him incredulously. “In your room? I thought this whole dating thing was just going to be an act! Now you’re carrying it out all the way?” I pause and then gasp in realization. “Wait, did you hire Jeeves to invade my room earlier? YOU PERVERT.”
It’s at this point that I become acutely aware that Sirius isn’t… really wearing any clothes. From the looks of his damp hair and the beads of water running down his chest, I had conveniently stumbled into his room right when he got out of the shower. Thank god for all my tripping and blundering because if I had gotten here a second earlier, he probably wouldn’t even had time to put on pants.
My face immediately flushes at the thought and I curse myself for even thinking that. This is definitely not the time nor place to be imagining… BUNNIES. There, let’s think about that instead. Phew, bloody hell.
“You are so dumb.” Sirius rolls his eyes. “And it’s not that big a deal! My bed is definitely big enough for the both of us no problem.” He points his thumb over his shoulder.
I look around him at his mammoth of a bed and frown. Well, he’s got a point, but… I glower at the playboy with narrowed eyes.
Sirius takes one glance at my expression and then sighs. “Okay, I know what you’re thinking. I promise not to touch you or anything, okay?” He puts up his right hand as if making an oath before giving me an innocent-eyed look. “Satisfied?”
Sirius heaves a dramatic sigh and turns around to gesticulate at each end of the bed. “Okay, fine, if you’re that paranoid about it, then you can just sleep at the head of the bed and I’ll sleep at this end, alright?”
But as he turns around, his bare back reaveals a large mangled scar spanning the length of it. Deep purple and horribly malformed.
“Oh my god, that scar…” I blurt out before I stop myself.
Sirius spins back around. “Hm?”
I slap my hands over my mouth and shake my head. “Sorry! I didn’t mean to be insensi—”
“Oh, this?” Sirius asks before I can finish my hasty apology. He gestures at his back with his thumb and shrugs. “I got this ages ago. Freak accident, you could say.”
“An accident,” I repeat slowly. I move behind him again to gaze at the scar again, a frown on my face. My hand reaches out to touch the disfigured skin.
Although Sirius flinches at my initial touch, he doesn’t move away. “W-what?” he asks hesitantly.
“Nothing,” I mumble, lowering my hand. “I was just thinking that with a scar like that, it must’ve hurt a lot.”
“Not as much as what happened after that,” he answers in a low voice.
I look up at him, taken aback. “What… happened?”
“A month’s worth of detention.”
“Wait a minute, what?”
“I got hurt during a Quidditch match!” Sirius turns back around and grins at me. “I crashed into one of the pillars during a match against Slytherin. Oh, bloody nasty it was. Yeah, giant splintering planks of wood plus me flying at over fifty miles per hour? Not pretty.”
I raise my eyebrows. “And you got detention because…?”
“Both Dolohov and I got detention because we were kind of at the forefront of the brawl, but seriously he was the one who attacked me,” Sirius complains, “so the detention was completely unfair! Massive pain in the arse.”
“Oh, that’s what you meant,” I mutter, slapping my hand to my forehead. “Leave it to you to troll me again. See if I even bother caring about you next time!”
Exasperated, I move to walk back out into the hallway.
“Ah ah, wrong way.” Sirius grabs my shoulders and steers me towards his bathroom instead. “You forget you’re staying here for the night. Jeeves is still in your room, remember?”
“At least try not to sound so pleased about it, pervert.”
“I was kidding!” he replies, rolling his eyes. “Just go mull it over in the bathtub, alright? From the looks of it, I’m guessing Jeeves got you before you got a chance to wash up.” Sirius pushes me into his bathroom and leans against the doorway with his hands on either side of the wall. “You’re not planning on sleeping in that dress with all your pretty make-up on, are you?”
I look down at myself and then back at the smirk on Sirius’ face.
He’s… got a point.
“Alright, fine. I concede,” I sigh, eyeing him warily. “But no peeping, pervert! I wouldn’t put it past you to come strolling in here when I’m changing!”
Sirius lets out a short laugh before nudging the door closed with his foot. “Yeah, yeah, I wouldn’t dream of it.”
The moment the door slams closed I rush over and press my ear to the wood. Silence… save for some rustling in what sounds like rustling in the far corner of the room.
My eyes narrow suspiciously.
He wouldn’t dream of it? Really? For some reason, I highly doubt that. But, well…
I look down at my massive ball gown and let out dragging sigh before slipping the dress off and tossing it on the bathroom counter. Ain’t got much of a choice, do I? I mean, it really has been a long day. Apparated from school, sent away from my own house, went to a garish ball in bloody stilettos, got freaked out by a mad pedophilic ghost, and now I’m here. Completely clothes-less in Sirius Black’s bathroom. Blimey, what any other girl wouldn’t give to be in my position right now.
After playing with the half-dozen bubbling taps in the bathtub, I finally sink into the warm, redolent waters and let my tired body relax as the taps slowly fill the tub with soapy goodness. I have to admit, Grimmauld Place may look dark and ancient, but these bathtubs are definitely a sweet deal. When was the last time I even took a bath anyway? I’d gotten into the habit of showering for so many years that I’ve forgotten how soothing it can feel.
Smiling to myself, I take a huge gulp of air let my body sink under the surface, my skin enveloped in a soft pillow of liquid warmth.
But the moment I let my body go still under the water, something immediately feels different. A chill runs up my spine as I realize… the water isn’t warm anymore. It had morphed into something… something malicious.
It was cold.
It was dark.
It was suffocating.
“Hey, Cecilia? I told the maid down the hall that you’d be in my room in case they went in to check on you. Don’t worry, they aren’t judging you or anything… Are you even listening? Oi, don’t ignore me. Hello?”
I feel my body freeze under the chilling waters. I can’t breath. I can’t think. I try to grab for the surface, but my arms can’t even move. A breath of air just inches away. Inches out of my reach. I feel the image in front of my eyes fade in and out of blackness and then… I see a dark shadow through the cloudy water.
I feel Sirius’ hand grab my arm and yank me out of the water. I break the surface and gasp for air, coughing soapy water out onto the floor. My ears feel water-logged, but I seem to be able to hear Sirius’ yells loud and clear. Well, that’s a good sign… I think.
“What the hell were you doing? You stayed under there for who knows how long!”
I cough several more times before answering hoarsely, “I don’t know what happened. I think I just dozed off or something.”
“Dozed off? You nearly drowned, that’s what happened, you git!” Sirius shouts angrily.
My eyes narrow at him. Now him yelling is getting on my nerves. “Hey, calm down, alright? I’m fine,” I say defensively. “What’s your deal?”
“I was bloody worried about you!” Sirius yells back fiercely. He closes his eyes briefly before continuing in a low voice, “I called you from outside the door, but you didn’t answer so I came in and found you under the…” He takes a deep breath and grips my hand. “Just… don’t do that again. You scared me.”
“A-alright,” I croak, puzzled by his reaction. “I didn’t mean…” I look down awkwardly, avoiding his gaze and focusing instead on the soap bubbles that were starting to pop and disperse across the surface of the water.
Wait a minute.
WAIT A MINUTE.
I look down at myself and then back at Sirius. “YOU BLOODY PERVERT, I THOUGHT I TOLD YOU NOT TO PEEP!”
“Huh? But you were—”
“No buts! Stop looking!” I back away from the edge of the bath and cover my body as best as I can with my slender arms, though with minimal success. “Get out, get out, get out!” I yell, splashing water over his face.
“Alright, alright!” Sirius shouts, blocking his face against the huge splashes of water I was now attacking him with. “Though it’s not like I don’t know what a girl’s body is supposed to look like anyway. Like your curveless body could ever turn me—OW! Okay, okay, I’m leaving!”
My bar of soap whacks him across the head at the speed of a bullet just before he can duck behind the safety of the door.
“And stay out!” I yell at the closed door. “I don't care if I'm half dead next time!”
“You’re going to regret that, you ungrateful git!” Sirius bellows back. “So much for thanking me for saving your bloody life!”
“WELL, THANK YOU!”
“YOU’RE BLOODY WELCOME!”
Evidently, we’ve ceased to care about the sleeping patterns of everyone else in this side of the house.
“Ugh!” I sink back into the bathtub and plop my head down on my arms on the edge of the bathtub in a huff. Why is he so infuriating? Though I suppose he did kind of just save me from certain death… er, the reason for my being in that situation in the first place still unknown to me. What exactly happened just then?
I look back down at the soapy water in bewilderment.
It’s warm again, probably as it always was. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. It’s been so long since I’ve had an episode that I almost forgot I had it. I thought I’d gotten over my fear of water ages ago, but if this relapse is any indication…
There’s just something about Grimmauld Place.
“I’m just tired,” I tell myself firmly before turning the knob to let the bathwater drain. I push myself up out of the tub and grab a fluffy white towel from a rack by the sink. As I towel dry my hair, I notice a neatly folded t-shirt and pair of sweats placed on the counter.
Did Sirius bring me that earlier?
I press the palms of my hands against my eyes and groan. Blimey… maybe I shouldn’t have yelled at him. All he did was be nice to me for once and what do I repay him with? A supremely massive tsunami and a bar of soap. I mean, at least he’s clean…er? But still.
I sigh guiltily. “Alright, I guess I better go apologize to this playboy.”