February Stars (One Shot)
I could feel the cold air hitting at every inch of my exposed skin, I could barely feel my nose and if it wasn't for the fact that I was holding tightly into the only holding me back from dropping to my death, I wouldn't even register the fact that I had hands.
My breathing was hard and no matter how much time I spend trying to calm myself I just couldn't. I chanted to myself over and over again that it didn't matter. It just didn't.
I wasn't getting worked up about it. Of course I was not.
I found myself all on my own, sitting at the top of the Astronomy Tower late on a cold February night, or early in the morning (I hardly remembered the date, it would have been impossible for me to even know the time) and of course the strange attitude of my friends and family wasn't the only thing that was on my mind, keeping me awake at ridiculous hours, staring at the stars. Thinking about stars. Not thinking about them, or that day, or the fact that I was alive.
I was literally thinking about other things. I just can't remember exactly what they were.
My friends and I had gone back to our dorms after staying up in the Common Room sometime after curfew, and now it must have been past midnight. I don't know what had possessed me to come out in the freezing cold night to do a dash of stargazing, but for whatever reason, I was there. The sky was so clear, I suppose I could hardly resist.
The moon was almost completely full.
And the wind was unforgivably cold, and I could feel it in every inch of my skin.
I have no idea why I remember so clearly that I could see Sirius. Sirius the star, I mean. Not too-intimidating-for-words-Gryffindor-legend-Sirius-bloody-Black.
I had already been sitting there for quite some time counting the stars and trying to trace the constellations with my eyes, when I heard the quiet footsteps clanging on the metal staircase, and I felt my eyes widen and I suddenly tried to look for a way out, but I was froze in place, my hands holding tightly into the metal railing, only my head turned slightly to see the doorway. My mind went blank and my heart was beating loudly against my rib cage, my mouth went dry and I try reaching for my wand only to remember that it was left sitting on my night stand, beside my bed, in the Huffenpuff dorm.
Take it easy Rose, you're in no danger. There's no way they're here.
I turned around, feeling fairly calm somehow. It didn't occur to me that the gentle footsteps sounded nothing like the shuffling, heavy ones of that I've come to associate with Filch. But even without realizing this, I still wasn't worried. Maybe I just didn't care anymore. What would they do to me? Give me detention?
I used to care about that. After all, everyone at some points believes that school is all there is to life. They always tell you that however you do in your exams, or how many detentions you have will impact in your life in the real world. But to be honest that's just a load of horse shit. I've only recently realized this.
The footsteps stopped, and I turned around, barely masking my surprise as I recognize the boy standing in the doorway. Sirius. Sirius the boy, not the star. Sirius, with his guarded face, with his cold grey eyes, with his ruffled-but-tidy black hair, with a long grey coat worn over red striped pyjamas. Just standing there at the top of the steps of the Astronomy Tower, just looking back at me. Bold and intimidating. His perfectly sculpted face was turned to me, expressionless. Hands in pockets. And our eyes met, the wariness in his eyes catched me by surprise. But he didn't look surprised to see me at all.
Just vaguely interested in my existence.
I looked at him, and he looked at me; his deep grey eyes completely fathomless and impossible to read.
I turned around and returned my gaze to the stars. Strangely feeling more surprise than uncomfortable.
Logically, there was no way that he could have possible known that I was up here. He couldn't have followed me because I had been up here for at least an hour or so. And really, why would he follow me? Why would he bother?
He wouldn't. This was impossible. Literally, impossible.
Well, not really, he was here after all. So it had to be possible. Against my better judgement, it had to be possible. It was just very, very highly improbable. The boy was improbable. So improbable, I wasn't even bothered thinking about it. I had already spend enough time thinking about his odd behavior the past few months.
Everything was quiet for a minute, maybe, and then his soft footsteps crossed the room. I still couldn't believe, after years of knowing him, this was the first time that we had actually been alone in a room together.
No, wait, in the Hospital Wing, months ago. But I wasn't conscious at the time.
I felt him beside me, and then he sat down, hanging his long legs over the edge of the highest tower in the castle just like mine, his arms folded over the metal railing that was the only thing separating us from a fairly long drop and death by splat. Here I was again thinking about death. His shoulder lightly touched against mine, his chin rested on top of his folded arms.
I turned to stare at him, and his lips spread slightly into a tight, wary smile as he watched me back, contemplating me as if I was an unpredictable creature that could lash out any minute.
Had it been months before now, and I would have probably blush and look away, I would have been freaking out or I would blurt out the first thing that crossed my head. Instead I copied him, only nodding my head slightly as I watched him, my eyes traveling from his guarded grey eyes to his narrow nose, to his lips and then his jaw. My eyes travel to his hair, it looked perfect as always, only this time it was a bit messed up, as if he had been running his hand through it, in a James Potter manner.
He was the embodiment of calmness, he was just sitting there, looking back at me. It felt good to be finally looked at.
There was a long silence, which felt good. We were just staring at each other, trying to make sense of one another, but it wasn't awkward, just new. Sometimes there's nothing better than sharing a comfortable silence with someone you know also appreciates the profundity of comfortable silences. And somehow I knew that he appreciated it just as much as I did.
I felt like I was seeing the Gryffindor boy for the first time ever, obviously he looked the same, intimidatingly good looking, but there was something different about him. At that moment he wasn't Sirius Black, notorious bad boy, or Sirius Black, James Potter's best friend or even a bloody Marauder. He was just Sirius, the boy that fought beside me that fateful day in Hogsmeade.
I had to look away.
"You're there" I said, nodding vaguely towards the dog-star. I was wondering which one was farther away, the star, shining brightly in the night sky or the boy sitting beside me who looked like was a millions miles away. I stretched my hands, I couldn't feel the tips of my finger anymore and I must admit that brought a tiny smile to my lips. The weather wasn't actually bad considering, you know, February, one of the coldest and most unpredictable months of the year and stuff. But it was still pretty bloody cold.
"Where?" He didn't look confused, somehow he knew what I meant. I gave him the directions to find himself in the night sky, partly because there's nothing more irritating than someone pointing into the sky and saying, 'there!', as if you could actually look at it when it's just pointed to you, and partly because I wanted to see if he could find himself easily. He did.
"The whole House of Black is up there, somewhere" he said thoughtfully. My eyebrows shoot up in surprise, both from the suddenly piece of information he was sharing (everyone knew that Sirius Black just didn't talk about his family) and because I had never meet someone who had all his relatives name after stars.
"What, so you're all named after stars?" I asked. It had never occurred to me before, I didn't even realize Sirius had a brother before a few weeks. To be fair, we weren't even in the same house and I wasn't someone who liked to pry or even be inform about people I didn't talk to. Up until recently Sirius and the rest of his friends were just sort of like a daydream, I knew they were there, I was aware of their existence but I was never conscious of them.
He scratched the side of his face, and I could hear the sound of his nails on his stubble. He was usually more clean-shaven, I couldn't decide if he looked older or not. He nodded briefly still eying the star critically.
"Hm," I said, squinting up at the stars, I take a deep breath, and breath out. " That's kind of weird. I suppose Orion is your dad then?"
From the corner of my eye I saw his face turn towards me and he gave a me a puzzle look before smiling slightly, almost if it pained him to admit being related to him. "Yeah. How did you know that?"
"What, is it seriously?" it was so ridiculous I couldn't help but to snort. I turn to look at Sirius and he only gave me a puzzled look. "Orion is the Hunter. Canis major is his senior Dog" I explain with a grin. Could his parents been more ridiculous?
He continued to stare at me for a few minutes. "They didn't teach us that in Astronomy." he finally said.
"I may have done some background reading." I shrugged tightening my grip on the cold metal again. He laughed and shook his head in bemusement. I was blown away by his laugh, not it the oh-he's-so-cute-I'm-going-to-die way, it was just so pure, rich and strangely sounded like a bark. I couldn't help but to smile back at him. I knew then why he didn't laugh a lot around people that weren't his friends, his kind of laugh only came out when it was really meant, it wasn't forced, it was the purest kind, the one that only came with the feeling of you really enjoying the moment, the joke... Something, anything.
We looked at each other for a second and then we smiled at each other, this time there was no hesitation, no wondering or wariness.
"Think you could guess some more of my relatives?" he asked, his grey eyes shining with laughter.
I looked back out at the sky and grinned. I thought in silence for a minute and then turned to look at him.
"Fuck yes! Great-aunt, yes."
"The most awesome cousin. Also got blasted off the tree, for marrying a Muggle-born. Great man"
"Aha, nope! Come on, don't get sloppy now"
"… Hm, the twins – Castor and Pollux?"
"Pollux was my grandfather," he said. He paused and watched me for a second. "Maternal grandfather."
I nodded, for a second not finding anything strange to it, and then it hit me and I felt my eyes widening as I looked at him. With his eyes already on me Sirius realize when I catched on and he simply nodded back at me.
"They're second cousins." he said. I didn't need for him to explain who he was talking about, I knew he meant his father and mother. I exhaled a little and realize that I didn't know what to say. And suddenly I blurted out
"Jesus fucking Christ, Sirius, you're bloody lucky you turned out so good-looking."
He laughed loudly at my reaction and after a few seconds I join him. It felt good to just laugh at something as ridiculous as his incentious family. And I was laughing because I wanted to, not because I was forced to.
After a few minutes our laugh faded away, leaving behind something strangely familiar to happiness in my chest. Content, that was it. We were left in silence and I realize that I didn't mind it all that much that Sirius, of all people, showed up while I was out here. It was kind of comforting having someone who was as close to them as me that day.
"How are you Rose?" the question might sounded innocent enough to anyone else. But, somehow (don't ask me how, I didn't even know) I knew that he meant it in a whole different level. He was asking about that day. The day.
"Fan-fucking-tastic!" I forced a cheerful smile into my face and even went as far as to giggle. I giggled
My mind was screaming to get the fuck out of there. To get up, explain to Sirius that he had no right to ask me that, and then turn around and leave him behind. But I couldn't, because I really didn't want to get up, and to be fair he was the only one that could ask me a thing about it.
He didn't say anything, he just looked at me and I feel my walls crumble. My face screw into a frown and I couldn't help but to shake my head and look away.
"They took a piece of me that day" I mumble after a few minutes of deadly silence.
Sirius didn't say anything and when I looked back to him (I was ready to venomously told him that I didn't want his pity) I found that he wasn't giving me a pity or confused, or even a condescending look. He looked... like he understood what I meant.
"Madam Pomfrey explain just how much the Dementor's kiss affects the soul of a person, the physical repercussions, it was impossible, but my heart stopped beating for 8 minutes. She doesn't know why, I mean technically, that wasn't supposed to happen, but it did. And when I woke up that day in the Hospital Wing I felt it. In muggle terms, I was dead, for 8 minutes. And I'm I know, I just know, I lost a piece of my soul!" my voice had taken a hysterical edge and I hadn't realize until then that I had angry tears threatening to burst out.
"I'm sorry" I mumbled as I looked away from the boy beside me. I couldn't quite believe myself, I had opened up to someone I've known all my life but actually don't know. For some reason I had decided to shut everyone else out but Sirius, for a reason I don't understand myself, was different.
"It's just, I mean, I-I can't find myself, it's like I'm not me anymore. I rather be dead that live the rest of my life this way. But at the same time I panic every time that I fall asleep, fearing that I'll never wake up. I long for the simplest things to tell me I'm alive, I have to convince myself that my heart it's still beating and that I can feel" my voice was just above a whisper, but everything was so quiet that I knew that Sirius had heard every single word.
We didn't speak for the longest time and I didn't mind it, I liked that Sirius didn't try to comfort me with cheesy or unfelt words. I think (Who am I kidding? I knew) his silent presence made me feel better.
"Here, Moony always says that chocolate can make anyone feel better" Sirius broke the silence handing me what seemed to be a chocolate frog. I took it into my hand giving him a puzzled smile
"Do you just carry these around? In case you run into crazy witches?" I ask teasingly as I took a bite of the enchanted chocolate, Sirius mirrored my actions with a lazy smile and shrug.
"I thought I might need it tonight" he mutter cryptically and I couldn't help but to wonder.
"Why are you here Sirius?" I asked tentatively after a few seconds, Sirius' body tense sightly as I waited in silence. I knew that there was a reason, I just needed him to tell me which was it.
"I come to school here Rose"
"How did you know I would be here?"
"I just did"
"How did you find me?"
"Why did you visit me everyday when I was in the hospital?" I was expecting another short, unsatisfactory answer but instead I was met by silence. He turned towards me and for the first time that night I saw something different in his eyes, he looked exposed.
This was raw feeling... It was vulnerability.
"How could I not? I keep wondering about that day, everything seemed so normal. Prongs had asked Evans out once again and she threw some overused insult. I remember Wormt-Peter and I laughing at James while Remus was shaking his head at us, and then everything turned cold." I saw Sirius shiver and I knew from experience that it wasn't from the cold, he was feeling the coldness that came from those memories.
"I had seen you a couple of times before, I remember your sorting as well, it took the Sorting Hat 10 minutes to make up his mind," there was a ghost of a smile in his lips before it complete bashied. "But that day, I didn't know who was who, everything was blending together. At one moment we were laughing and being idiots and the next one the Dementors were everywhere, people were crying, screaming. And I was froze in place, I couldn't even raise my wand to save myself. Instead you did" he pause and I notice he wasn't looking at me, he was focusing on a spot behind my head, his eyes unfocused, lost in the memory.
"I remember watching you save those fourth years and then screaming at them to get into a safe place, James was trying to do the same but he couldn't cast a Patronus. And when I felt them coming down at me, you were there. You pushed me away and at that moment I woke up, I draw my wand I never felt more determined to fight. And bloody hell did we fight," It was odd hearing my memories being told from someone else's mouth, but I realized that maybe Sirius wasn't seeking me out randomly. He knew I would listen, that I would understand. "But they kept coming back and whenever I felt like I was going to go down someone beside me helped me. I thought it was James, but then I saw him fighting along side with Evans and Remus standing on his own while Peter tried to get people to safety.
And then, as soon as it had started, it was over. I turned around and the first thing I remember seeing was your Hufflepuff robes and my eyes going wide. And before I could say anything else you cried out to me, and before I could make sense of what you were warning me about, you jumped in front of me. You stood between a Dementor and me. You almost died for me... And yet you wonder why I visited you everyday?"
I didn't realize I was crying until a warm tear fell from my cheek to my hand. I didn't understand why it made me cry, I had lived that, I was there. Yet I couldn't come into terms with it, not yet at least.
"I never got to thank you, you know. I had it planned out in my head, you were supposed to leave the Hospital Wing with a few scratches and I would drop by, I would make polite conversation at you and even invite you to Hogsmeade. You were supposed to say yes and after that date we would never cross path again. But when Dumbledore got there with Madam Pomfrey and she started to yell at the Headmaster. You weren't breathing, you were just laying there, in front of me and you looked like you were sleeping." Sirius let out a strangle chuckle and ran a hand through his face as if trying to bring himself back from the memory. I was transfixed in his face, there was something I had never seen in someone else.
"At that moment all I could think about was that you were dying because of me and I didn't even know the color of your eyes, your name I knew. A few Hufflepuff came running your way, screaming your name and I remember wondering why hadn't you hide with them, why did you fight... Why did you save me.
I saw Madam Pomfrey yelling at you to get up, to wake up, as she practice a muggle form of reviving you, I saw you almost slip away a few times. But after 8 long minutes you gasped, opened your eyes and looked straight at me. I never knew you had such dark eyes, they almost look like black you know... After that you were in the Hospital Wing for almost a month, and even though you were in a coma I couldn't help but to come around everyday and talk to you, I needed to see that you were okay. At first it was weird, I mostly watched you. But then I talked to you and even thought you didn't reply I felt better, like you didn't felt as alone as before."
I bit my tongue, I yearn to tell him that I had heard every single thing that he had talk about. I remember thinking that it was a dream, but after everyone pretty much told me that Sirius came around everyday I knew that every word I heard was true.
"And when you woke up, I was in the Hospital Wing that day you know, you were screaming and sobbing and nobody could understand what was wrong. After you got out of there, I barely saw you, you were always in your dorm or in classes. It was like you disappeared for complete, even before you could even appear in my life. I remember trying to catch your eyes in the Great Hall but you would just turn away from me and then I realize that you blamed me."
"No" I didn't bother to hide the emotion in my voice. My head felt like spinning and I suddenly knew why he was there, why he seemed to be everywhere. Why he was seeking me out.
"I would never blame you," he opened his mouth but I rushed out the words before he could say anything else. "I made that decision of jumping in front of the Dementor, you didn't force." I realized why he wouldn't meant my eye, he didn't believe a word I was saying.
Somewhere inside of me, a spark lighted up and it took me a minute to realize that it was anger.
"Sirius Black look at me" I suddenly snapped. He looked up to me confused and I took his cheeks in my hands, my eyes hard and I stared hard into his eyes.
"It was not your fault Sirius. Stop blaming yourself for my actions" I surprised both of us with how soft my voice sounded, yet I was still glaring at him trying to make my words go through him.
"You lost a piece of your soul for me. I might as well kill you Rose, I ended up being everything I hate" he replied bitterly and I felt my own glare softening. This idiotic, sweet boy in front of me wasn't just consumed by guilt. He was being hunt by the ghosts of his past.
"You're not like your family Sirius, you know that... I know that. I knew that when I made the decision that day"
"You have no idea what you're talking about Rose, I have darkness inside of me and I will always have it. I could have pushed you away in the last minute, but I didn't, I was selfish. I acted just like a Black is expected to act"
He was right, to some extent. In reality everyone knew about Black and his family drama, how he was blasted off some ridiculous family tree for not wanting to be Voldemort's lapdog or whatever and how only a year before an uncle of his died and left everything (and I mean everything) to him, making Sirius one of the most rich and young wizards in Britain.
"Sirius, we've all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. At the end of the day that's who we really are. And you have showed me by coming everyday to see me, by seeking me to apologize, by being here tonight that you have more light that you know"
After that we sat in silence for a long time, looking up to the sky. Each in our own thoughts, for my part, I couldn't help but to notice that this was the most relax and close to happy that I've been since the accident, and I knew that it didn't have anything to do with having the cold wind blowing at my face and screaming that I was alive, or the stars shining so brightly that were lighting up the whole sky. It was the mere presence of someone who finally understood that made me feel like I was alive and whole again.
I didn't know how, but Sirius just knew.
"You know, if I ever have a son, I'm going to tell him those exact same words"
I had to take a few seconds to process the words that Sirius had used to break the silence. And finally when I did I turned to him with a small smile on my face. I didn't even register how natural it felt for once.
"And if he ever asked how you came by them just tell him a Hufflepuff told them to you under the february stars when you were stalking them"
The last thing I remember from that night was his rich laugh being blown away by the cold wind of the night.