A Crack in the Ice
“So, are you gonna do it?”
“Stop bothering me.”
“Hey, I already did it. What are you taking your time for?”
“Are you even listening to me?”
“As of now, no.”
I stare fixated at the wall behind Professor McGonagall, continuing to ignore Sirius' tiresome comments.
It’s a warm, late afternoon with the sun setting lazily over the hills, the rays of blood red showering the clouds with a mesmerizing scarlet along the horizon. But I’m not out there, running off into the distance with some paunchy Italian man singing operatically in the background. No, instead I’m stuck in Transfiguration after another crowd of girls shoved me into the seat next to Mr. Playboy for the duration of the class.
I stare at the wooden block placed in front of me.
Supposedly, the lesson today is to transfigure it into a music box, but that doesn’t interest me at all. Admittedly, none of my classes interested me since it turns out that I had learned much farther ahead during my homeschooled days.
“No way… it must be… don't tell me you don't know how to do it!” Sirius' exclamation interrupts my thoughts.
I break out of my daze and spin around in my chair to face him. “That's absurd.”
Sirius raises an amused eyebrow. “Then why have you been rejecting that wooden block for half the period? If you could do it, you would've transfigured it a long time ago.”
That is so not true. Though has it really been half the period already? Amazing… I should zone out more often.
I roll my eyes. “Eat dung, playboy. I was just thinking about some stuff, okay?” I pull out my wand indignantly. “Who says I can't do something as simple as this?”
With a flick of my wand, the block of cedar immediately morphs to form an intricately designed music box. It opens to chime out a lively tune. Blimey, this actually looks nice. Evidently, one of my better ones because I'd hate to reminisce about my first music box. Let's just say it didn't exactly fit in my house.
Sirius nods, impressed at the speed of my transfiguration. “Not bad,” he says as he pulls out his own wand. “But have you ever done something as simple as this?” He waves his wand and in a poof of bright yellow feathers, my music box transforms into a canary and soars out the open window.
“Hey, my music box!” I turn to Sirius in exasperation. “You idiot!”
I'm about to cast a jinx on him when two rulers suddenly whack both of us over the heads. “You both are idiots!” I hear someone snap in a stern voice.
I look up to see Professor McGonagall glaring at us.
“Indeed, a splendid transfiguration, Mr. Black, but unacceptable nonetheless!” she says disapprovingly. “There is absolutely no reason for the both of you to be fooling around in class when you are supposed to be practicing spell work!”
I throw Sirius an exasperated scowl. If only he didn't bother me while I was lost in my thoughts, then we wouldn’t even be in this mess! That annoying insufferable piece of—
“Extra homework!” Professor McGonagall continues, ignoring our now gaping faces. “A two-foot essay on the mechanisms of transfiguring inanimate objects into animals and the potential complications of attempting the transfiguration without the proper theory. Due tomorrow.”
She gives a huff and then strides away.
What does that have to do with today's lesson? And how am I supposed to do this with all the homework from my other classes? And where on earth am I supposed to find this kind of information? And more importantly… why am I being punished too?!
“Oi, are you cross with me? This is partly your fault too. I mean, if you didn't bellow 'you idiot' so loud, then she probably wouldn't have noticed the canary,” Sirius remarks from behind me as we mosey on down the hall to dinner.
“Cross doesn't even begin to cover the half of it, playboy, “ I mutter over my shoulder at him. “But evidently, I'm not nearly cross enough to tune out this REALLY ANNOYING CROWD AROUND US. What are you guys following us for? And shut it!” I yell at the top of my lungs at the two dozen students walking beside us - not including Remus, Lily, and the usual lot, of course.
For about two floors now, this flock of parrots have stalked us with a never-ending babble about how Sirius and I were, what was it? Oh yeah, flirting in class. Does the very loud phrase “you idiot” have any romantic undertones?
But if endless gossiping was bad enough already, it gets even worse the moment we enter the Great Hall. Two girls grab Sirius’ and my shoulders and lead us to a bench. Oh, hell no. Forget all day, no way am I going to sit next to him for dinner too!
“Oi, what the—” sputters Sirius.
“Let go!” I yell at the surprisingly strong brunette dragging me along.
Right, time for drastic measures.
Just before the two girls push me and Sirius down onto the bench, we simultaneously grab Lily and James and shove them unceremoniously between us. It results in both of them positively sprawled over each other, which I have to admit, is pretty comical.
Lily rubs her hip grumpily as she pushes herself up to a proper sitting position. “Blimey, I know you don't like this engagement thing, but you don't have to drag me into it!”
“Oh, Lily,” I say with an exaggerated sigh. “You know I just love you too much. I'm doing this all for your sake.”
She glances from the pointed look on my face to James now sitting eagerly next to her. “Lies…” she mutters as she scoops some salad onto her plate. Though her face is slightly pink.
I just grin back at her.
I'm about to dig in myself when I suddenly hear a familiar voice to my right. A girl's voice, a little higher pitched than my own and a lot more feminine sounding.
I spin around in my seat so fast I almost fall over.
I watch her approach us from the neighboring Ravenclaw table. I look across James and Lily, who also glance up from their plates, as Sirius turns around to see who called his name.
“Ellie?” Sirius nearly chokes on the pasta that he was chewing in his mouth before asking in surprise, “What are you doing here?”
She shuffles her feet, an oddly timid expression for someone so typically peppy and confident.
I narrow my eyes at her as she opens and closes her mouth several times in hesitation. What is she doing here? She doesn’t mean to actually… No way, in the middle of the bloody Great Hall? She’s not going to say it, is she?
“Do you want to get back together?” Ellie blurts out suddenly.
OH GOD, SHE SAID IT.
Sirius blinks several times. “Ellie, I…” he starts before immediately snapping his mouth shut.
“Sirius, I still love you.”
I just stare at the two of them in utter disbelief. Blimey, this scene is unraveling faster than a lame soap opera. Plus, I thought she had a huge screaming match with Sirius and dumped him!
But instead of professing his mutual love for her and taking her hand and running off to celebrate this joyous occasion… Sirius shifts in his seat to glance at me out of the corner of his eye.
My brows furrow in reply as if to say, what?
But Sirius just heaves a sigh and turns back to Ellie. And before I can figure out exactly what he meant by that look, Sirius grabs Ellie’s hand and pulls her right out of the Great Hall.
“Whooaaaaaaaaa,” James says slowly, taking his time to drag the word out of his mouth.
Lily nudges him in the arm. “What're you whoa-ing about?”
“Craaaaaaazy,” he continues, miming an explosion coming out of the sides of his head.
James reluctantly turns his head away from Sirius and Ellie, who had just gone out the doors, and pivots in his seat to face Remus. “I can't believe she came back to him! I thought it was over for good, mate!”
Remus shakes his head from across the table. “I wouldn’t say that. Honestly, this was bound to happen,” he remarks thoughtfully, Peter silently agreeing beside him. “I mean, Ellie was, well… you know.”
James strokes his beardless chin. “Hmmm… yeah, you got a point there.”
“Er…” I raise my eyebrows at their vague conversation. “What point? What do you mean?”
James and Remus exchange awkward looks.
“Well, out of all the years Sirius has been at Hogwarts, Ellie was sort of a, well…” Remus scratches his head.
“Special case,” James finishes. He pushes his plate away so he can prop his chin on his hand. “Blimey, they really had something going. I’d never seen him act that way with another girl before then.” He glances at the look on my face and then says abruptly, “Er, not that he was serious about her! He's never serious about anyone.”
I raise an eyebrow. What was the look on my face?
Lily leans back a little on the bench. “Hmm, now that you mention it, he did seem to be with her longer than his other girlfriends,” she muses. “I was kind of surprised she wasn't just a fling.”
James nods, laughing. “Yeah, right? So unlike him!”
He says something else after that, but for some reason, I’m not exactly listening anymore. No, that’s not right. I was listening, but it’s just that the words sort of went through one ear and out the other. The brief conversation between James, Remus, and Lily just made me realize just how much I don’t know about Sirius Black. Well, I mean, that’s normal. I barely know him. But that’s not what’s baffling to me.
What’s baffling to me is why this entire situation even bugs me.
It doesn’t matter that the entire Great Hall is filled with chattering or that my stomach is still rumbling from hunger, all I can think about is what Sirius and Ellie could possibly be talking about outside. How long are they going to talk for? Are they going to get back together after all? Did he even want to get back together?
LITERALLY WHY DO I EVEN CARE.
I stand up from my seat the bench abruptly, interrupting the others' heated conversation about Sirius' relationships. “Walk,” I mutter as I step over the bench and make my way towards the doors of the Great Hall.
“What, sorry?” Remus stands up himself and calls to my retreating back, “Wait, where you going?”
“I'm going to take a walk!” I call back, not turning my head.
I stride silently down the walkway between the tables and out of the door. I’m about to make a turn towards the main staircase when I realize that Sirius and Ellie might be somewhere near there.
Bloody hell, I really don’t want to bump into them now.
I swivel on my heel and start walking the opposite direction towards the front doors instead. As I step outside, I take a deep breath of the chilly autumn air and begin to walk further across the Grounds aimlessly.
Why do I care?
I want nothing to do with Sirius Black. And why should I? He’s a pompous, irritating arse who likes flirting with girls almost as much as he likes himself. We may be in the same friend group now, but the only kind of deeper relationship I have with the git is this arranged marriage. Just a stupid engagement.
So why does some part of me even feel bothered by this?
It’s not like it means anything. To us at least. He can get all the girls he wants for all I care!
“Maybe I should get myself a random boyfriend or something too,” I mutter to myself as I fall back onto the grass. Wait, how am I supposed to even do that? Who knows what kind of perverted childhood Sirius Black had, but not once in my fifteen years of existence have I ever had even so much as a crush! Who am I kidding?
“What am I doing with my life…”
I close my eyes briefly and I must’ve dozed off or something because soon enough I hear running footsteps on the soft grass.
“Oi, Cecilia!” I open my eyes to see Remus leaning upside down over my head. “Hey, you've been out here for hours. It's getting cold.”
“Oh,” is all I manage to blurt out. Wait, it really is a lot chillier out here than when I first stepped out.
Remus just grins at my terse reply and offers a hand. “C'mon, let's go back to the Common Room.”
I take his hand and let him help me up, nearly stumbling into his arms as I try and find my balance on my feet again. As we walk back towards the castle, I notice that most of the lights in the windows are out. Was I really out here that long? Out of the blue, I abruptly let out a sneeze. Ye-up, that definitely proves that it's cold. Coldness proven.
Remus laughs and puts an arm around my shoulders for warmth. “You're unbelievable, mate. What kind of dummy falls asleep at night, outside, in the middle of bloody autumn? You do remember we're in Scotland, right?”
I half-laugh at his comment myself. “Yeah, I must've lost track of time.”
“That is so like you, Cecilia.”
“What d'you mean by that? Been looking at me more, have you?”
“Hey! I told you, it's not like that!”