Disclaimer: I still don't own the Harry Potter universe. As soon as I manage to take over the world, I'll let you know.
A/N: This one's a bit different than the last one. I'm trying out a different style, which I personally like better. There is some drama in this chapter, so if you're terrified of it or just plain hate it, I suggest backing away. As always, rate and review.
**To clarify, the italics are the flashbacks. This is all from Sirius' POV.
Warning: Rated M for mature scenes (AKA sex) and language.
The streets around me hummed with life, and I managed to block out the noise. I always did. In the Muggle world, I had no fear of being recognized by anyone, and freely I roamed the streets late at night when there was nothing better to do. I pulled my robes tightly against me to block out the chilling wind, and somewhere in my mind, I registered someone mocking me. With a flickering ghost of a smile, the jeering was pushed back, unimportant to me. Other thoughts possessed me.
James smiles brilliantly, his head leaning against my chest as he looks up to me with those wide, mischievous eyes. Other girls may have called him gorgeous, but they didn't see him like I did. His glasses frame his eyes in a way no others could, the Common Room's fire dancing within them. He gives me that smile taunting smile as if to say "you can't have me" although we both knew that as soon as we were alone, our bodies will press together as our lips met in sloppy, inexperienced kisses.
I'd had him for three glorious days before I'd lost him to a point he'd never be able to turn on – a promise forgotten in our tears and tentative embraces. Your hair falls between my fingers as I hold you closely to say those three words we'll never mention again. My eyes close and I bite down to avoid tears.
Everyone smiles as you proposed. It is graduation day. The sun's beating down, and we're all dressed in dress robes. Several parents give their children smiles and wave. No one has the energy to wave back with the sun's ferocious heat. Then, you get on one knee. My heart drops in bitter resentment. I know what's coming even though you haven't told me. I can't believe you haven't.
Several people in the crowd cheer. Other girls hold disappointed pouts, and I can't help but mentally snap back, "You never had a chance." Lily will have you. But you were meant for me. My arms were sculpted to hold your body. No one else will ever fit. And although you've convinced yourself otherwise, Lily's arms were never meant to hold you.
"Sirius, I think I do love her." You lie, gritting your teeth. There's pain in your eyes but I ignore it, unable to grasp that you've chosen her over me. "We never had a chance." It's the first time we've brought up that anything ever happened between us. My eyes look into yours for some small spark of hope. But you've made up your mind, and as you see me searching you read me like no one else can and harden them. As I sputter half-formed angered thoughts of abandoned love, you turn and walk away from me. I'll never mention it again.
The wind began to swirl around in, and as I looked up, I realized the midnight sky threatens to shower me in snow. March still held winter's to-the-bone chill. Sighing in defeat, I made up my mind to visit a Wizard Pub. My wand out, I walked into an abandoned abbey. With a loud crack and a sickening tug, I was in Diagon Alley.
There was nothing better than a Firewhiskey to soothe a broken heart. The contents of my mug was gone within three gulps, and I slammed it down against the table with as much force as I could manage. Three drinks so far and I still was able to think clearly. It was amazing how after a while, the body built such a tolerance to alcohol.
But a drunken fit best washed away all my sorrows. Ten years had passed exactly today, but not a day went by where I didn't picture James' hand slowly stroking my face, his lips smiling against mine. And ten years ago, I promised him and myself that we'd end it for good. Ten years ago, I had breathed my last breath. Everything afterward didn't count. I'd always be a dead man.
"This one's on the house, mate." The barmaid set down several shots in front of me, and I gulped them down, the taste bitter and overpowering. My throat burned, and finally my thoughts dulled. The persistent rapping of a dead man's thoughts was muffled behind a protective shield, only to be stored for later.
"James…" Still, my eyes brimmed with tears, which I hastily wiped back. It was unwise to be seen sobbing. If by any means James heard, I doubted I would ever forgive myself. He had long forgotten anything that had ever happened anything between us. Lily was there for him. Lily would always be there for him.
Still, tears freely flowed, as if my face was a faucet opened as I drowned myself in drink after drink. Soon, a blurred figure of someone with jet black hair appeared beside me. All I need was this. "God dammit, why do I have to effin' hallucinate him?" Somehow, a glass of water had crept into my reach, and I downed it as if it were a shot itself. My tears cleared, and James stood next to me, a confused smile on his face.
"Alright, you can disappear now," I told my hallucination. I waved it away, but no movement came from it.
"You honestly want me to?" Did my James figure respond to me or was I crazy? Probably a bit of both… James' hand reached out and lay heavily on top of mine. I snatched my hand back, terrified by how real this all felt.
Closing my eyes, I felt big, messy tears escape down my face. "Dammit, I can't go through this." If James knew how unstable I was, he'd probably feel terrible. Ten years later, I still clung to those fading memories. I had been with a girl from time to time but it was only to make him think I wasn't the same man I had been so long ago. I was fed up with all of my fucking lies.
"Padfoot, what's wrong? Bloody hell, you look like a bleedin' mess." That was not my hallucination.
"Oh," I muttered, peeling my eyes open to the cavern's musty lights, and the blurred figure sitting in front of me. "It's this girl; she left me, and –" I cut off, my throat closing in disgust. It was always lies. It always would be lies. My hands clawed at my eyes, wiping away my tears.
"You're a bloody terrible lair; you know that?" James whispered. "You always have been."
"I don't know what you're talkin' about."
"You think I haven't gone looking for my best mate sometimes? An' where are you? Always out at the pub choking down Firewhiskey. You refuse to tell me anything 'bout, and you expect me to think another girl's ditched you?" His voice had risen to a hysterical shout, and nearly the pub was staring.
"Get an effin' room!" a drunken slur screamed. "Pansies…"
"I'll just leave." I wasn't ready for this talk. I'd never be.
"It's ten years today. You think I'd forgotten?" All harshness dropped from his voice until it was calm and nearly pleading.
"Don't put me through this again, James." My head bowed down and I stared at my feet and waving black cloak. "It's hell. I think about you ever day wishing it were us together. No one ever understands me – I'm just a moody, why should they? But over the years I've managed to pull it together for you, haven't I?"
"Pull it off? I found you drinking as if you were dehydrated. That's not water either."
"Did I come whenever you asked me to go to Hogsmeade together with Lily? I sat through your snoggin' an' was happy for you. An' whenever you called me over to help with the wedding, I didn't hesitate in coming over. An' now that you're about to have a kid with Lily, I'm effin' happy – my best mate's going to be a Father." By the end, my voice had progressed lower and lower until I spat out words with a venomous hiss.
"Siri, you think I don't care?" The steadiness in his voice now only irritated me.
"Don't call me that." Maybe ten years I'd waited to hear him say that, but it wasn't right. He wasn't supposed to do this to Lily. I pulled out my wand as he approached managing a wide-eyed, hurt expression similar to that of a wounded animal's. My wand quivered in my hand.
"You're not really going to do it." Yet I could hear the uncertainty in his voice. But he was right; I could never hurt him. The wand loosely fell with my arm at my side, and I collapsed into a chair.
"At her Mum's house. We got into a bit of a row earlier."
"Over what?" God save me if it were us.
"She wanted chocolate on her jalapenos, and I told her that was absolutely ridiculous." We both laughed, uneven, nervous chokes meant to fill-in the awkward silence.
"Maybe I should just go…" I gave up with a defeated sigh.
"No, I can go." So much for remaining best mates. I watched as he walked away, then went to the man who ran the pub as well as the hotel.
"I'd like a room." Blankly, I stared at him, handing over a total of five galleons. He took it as emotionlessly as I had handed it over, and gave me a key in return. My house was filled with pictures of the Marauders. Why shouldn't I escape in a hotel? I had to hide from the hazel eyes and defined smirk.