The class dragged on as classes tend to. Felicia Greengrass looked at the clock and willed the hand to move.
The bell rang and classes were over for the day. Felicia went over to her locker and deposited all of her essentials which she wouldn't need for another two days. She shut it with a hint of satisfaction.
Finally, it was the weekend.
A familiar infectious laugh caught her attention and she turned towards it naturally, as she had done for almost a year. Sirius Black was surrounded by his friends, and he leant on one of them for support as he gasped for breath. She watched bemusedly as he suddenly caught her eye and he smiled, mirth still reflected in his eyes. Those grey eyes were always the reason her smile got brighter and her heart lighter, inadvertently or otherwise. She did realize however, that this was one path that could never be trod upon. Sirius never did care for anyone but himself. Everyone was kept at arm’s length and she had been a witness to numerous occasions where girls with hearts in their eyes were rebuffed, firmly but gently by this storm of good intentions and wayward emotions.
Sirius was still laughing as he came towards her. “Hey Fel- oh god, I can't breathe -are you still coming for the party on Sunday?”
Sirius loved partying and lived for the weekend. She had never been to any of his wild soirees in all the time she had been at Gregor Academy but lately he had been getting quite good at persuading her.
Sirius saw the indecisive look on her face, the polite way her face shut down just as she was about to say no.
“I have an incentive before you say anything! James just lost the bet and he has to streak down Royce Avenue wearing only his rainbow hat.”
“And I'm so interested in seeing James streak because...?”
Sirius's eye sparkled with glee. This boy was going to be the death of her.
“Lily’s house is on the street and she’s been his crush since forever. And the poor unsuspecting fool doesn't know she lives there.” Sirius grinned madly, saying, “Oh my god, his face, I can see it.” He lost it again and it was a good fifteen minutes until they got out of there. Felicia admitted to being curious to seeing how it would all play out. Everyone in Gregor’s knew about James Potter’s infamous infatuation with Lily Potter and Felicia felt a rush of vindictive pleasure at the thought of James getting his pompous arse handed to him by Lily.
Perhaps it was very understandable why she and Sirius got along so well after all.
Sirius got swarmed by his friends as soon as they reached the parking lot. He promised his 'bros' that he would get the kegs for the party and told them to watch out for the ladies since the girls from Brighton Academy would be making an appearance. After all his mates whooped and hollered, and clapped him on the back, the two unlikely friends walked to his car so that he could retrieve Felicia’s book that he'd borrowed ages ago.
“So, did you read it?” Felicia asked, fingering the pages of her old copy of Wuthering Heights.
“Yeah, course.” He shrugged, in that careless way of his, eyes twinkling mischievously in a way that made it difficult for her to believe him. She swatted him with her copy.
“Sure.' she drawled. 'I believe you. Idiot”
Sirius clutched his chest as though pained and Felicia just rolled her eyes at his theatrics. It always surprised her that she was friends with him, best friends with a jock. It was quite accidental, their friendship, but strong. Oh yeah.
Even if he was a shallow lump of prettyboyness.
She told him that and he just slung his arm around her in a headlock in revenge. They wrestled for a while until she finally pushed him of her. She yelled in mock outrage, her laugh slowly trailing of when she noticed his distracted demeanour. He was looking of in the distance, lost in a memory as his lips curled in a fond smile. She had always wondered about the special person who could induce that kind of smile on Sirius Black’s face. But she never asked.
Knowing him, he might be thinking about the buy-one-get-one-free offer at the neigbourhood Pizza Hut.
Somehow, she couldn’t convince herself this time.
He let go and patted her hair, said he needed to be somewhere. He always needed to be somewhere.
She walked home alone, breathing the damp air of London and enjoying the way that sprinkles of water fell on her face unexpectedly when the air shook the leaves and the leaves deposited yesterday's rain onto the pavement.
Her boots clunked noisily on the sidewalk and she twirled her unopened umbrella in the puddles as she walked.
Ten minutes later, she saw a park on her left. It looked pretty as a picture, this Friday.
On closer inspection she noticed that it was a graveyard and not a park. She looked at her watch and decided that she had nowhere to be and ventured in.
The headstones were laid in a line, flocked by saplings that would eventually grow into strong trees that would age with the soul of the lost lives that lay beside it. Death kept quiet company and in a world rift with chaos, the silence of ghosts was comforting. She walked down the path, reading about a soldier who died for his country, a daughter who was the beloved of her parents, a grandfather who was missed by his wife and family.
She reflected on their lives. On their deaths.
How fleeting every moment could be.
A crunch of leaves distracted her from her thoughts and she noticed that she wasn't alone in the park. A boy stood near a grave, hands in his pocket, feet shuffling in the mud, achingly familiar.
She walked toward him and the boy glanced up, in surprise.
He quickly got over it and grinned at her.
“Hey Fel, come and meet my brother. Yeah Reggie, this is the girl I was telling you about. She's going to be a wicked journalist, no doubt about that. Why just the other day, she told off Evan Rosier for...”
Felicia sat on the ground beside the tomb, unmindful of the dirt. Sirius did the same, after a while. The sun hung high in the sky, and raindrops littered the ground. The world remained the same as Felicia’s heart progressively got heavier.
Sirius told his brother about all the events of last week, including James losing the bet and the streaking that would soon commence. Felicia sat quietly, her heart breaking a little with every word.
Sirius finally seemed to run out of things to say. He looked away and seemed to gather strength from the setting sun. When he spoke to her again, his voice was quiet. Somber. In a way it never had been before.
“Reggie's four years younger than me. He was mute when he was born. But that didn't stop the little devil, did it?' Sirius's mouth pulled up in a fond smirk. 'Oh no, he was quite the spitfire. Always dogging my steps, following me everywhere like he was my own personal poodle.”
“I was quite annoyed at first because who would like to have a younger sibling constantly around all the time, right? But then I got used to him. It was strange when he didn’t follow me around anymore. He got sick and the measles took him.”
Sirius looked down at his hands and smiled bitterly. When he looked back up, his grey eyes were hooded with something unfathomable.
“That's not important though, is it? How he died, I mean. Isn't it more important how he hated peanut flavoured MNM's and how he used to screech when I snuck it into his packet. His hands used to move really fast as he signed to me his displeasure. “Ew, Siri! WHY?” How he laughed, oh man, you should have seen his laugh, especially when I pushed him a bit higher on the swing. I--I...”
Sirius's voice cracked and his hands moved clumsily to paw at his eyes. He didn't speak anymore.
They just sat there in the silence. Felicia felt quite numb, like she didn't know what was real anymore and what wasn't.
Life. Death. It all seemed so pointless. Like it never should have allowed to have been. Either.
The shadows lengthened as the day grew old. Sirius finally got up and went towards the tomb. He bent his head and whispered a few words. A secret between him, the wind and the grave.
They walked back to the road. He chuckled grimly.
"If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger."
Felicia stopped in surprise and looked at him.
“So you did read it.”
Sirius didn't respond. He didn't need to. Sirius Black, she knew. She still had a lot to learn about Siri.
And she was grateful that she had a chance to.
She never ended up going for the party after all. School on Monday was the drab affair it usually was.
She never saw him all day.
When she finally did, a few days into the last week of school, he acted like nothing had changed. He was the same old Sirius with the same harmless flirtations and roughhousing and that’s when she realized that his grief was one that he guarded jealously and wouldn’t let anyone encroach upon. All her thoughts of being there for him and easing his burden a little, vanished into thin air.
He didn’t want that. He never did.
He had been coping with this alone for a long time and until he was ready to share and ready to let go, she wouldn’t be able to help him. So, she went along with his charade of everything being alright, and she didn’t miss his look of gratefulness that didn’t need to be voiced.
They graduated and parted to go their own way. She still remembers their last conversation like it was yesterday.
“I can’t believe it’s all over. We’ve had some good times, haven’t we?” his words were light-hearted but his eyes were soft and fond.
She smiled and pulled him in for a hug.
“The best.” She laid her head on his shoulder and breathed him in and committed the smell of leather and coffee to her memory.
They clung together for an endless minute before she finally let him ago.
James and the others were calling for him, and she pushed him towards them. He looked back at her undecided, opening his mouth to say something but she shook her head.
“No goodbyes, okay? Call me when you take Stanford by storm.” She grinned as he laughed.
“Ivy League’s not for me, Fel…but you will hear from me again.” He looked at her seriously, and she cursed as her heart began hoping again.
“I promise.” With that he was gone, lost in the crowd. She scuffed her sneakers in the sand as she looked at her feet, trying to hide the wet spots on the sand from the tears on her cheek.
Sirius Black was many things but he was never one to break a promise.
The next day, she left the town and the first boy she ever loved and never looked back.
Ten years later, a girl with a heart as big as her dreams would arrive home after a day of book signings and fall into the couch, and switch on the television. She would flip through channels for a while before getting bored and going over to her voice machine to listen to recent messages.
“…uh, hello? Am I doing this right? –distant noise in the background—Yeah, alright. Hi Fel, it’s me. James is being a dickhead as usual. I was just wondering if you’d like to meet up for coffee –more noise—Oh, it’s me Sirius by the way! I dunno if you remember but I…” the machine cuts off.
The girl, or rather woman, stands frozen for a while before a smile breaks through, unseen by anyone.
“Idiot.” She mutters fondly, as she reaches for the receiver to make a call that was ten years in the coming.