Chapter 18 (of 18)
When she woke to warm arms encircling her waist, it took a long few minutes for Willow to remember what had happened the night before. Sirius had come to her, wanting to talk. And she had told him she just wanted to sleep. She had told him to get in bed with her.
She gave a mental sigh, shaking her head at her own silliness. Why even act like you’re mad at someone if you’re going to ask them to jump in bed with you the first time they show up at your door?
The red head jumped slightly, startled by the voice in her ear. She hadn’t even realized that Sirius, too, was awake.
“It would seem that way,” she murmured coolly. “And, so are you, so I guess we can talk now.”
But neither of them said a word. They just laid there, in each other’s arms, without knowing what to say. She wouldn’t apologize for being Severus’ friend and she wouldn’t break off that friendship, either. And he. . . Well, he had even more to deal with than she did. He had viewed the events of her life as seen through the pensieves.
“I watched them, you know.”
She nodded. It was as she had expected. He had jumped at the chance to view her life as it had happened in a dimension he would never truly understand.
“I was a bad person,” she interrupted him, squeezing her eyes shut to stave off tears that had already started to form. “I did horrible, awful things. I abused the trust of people that cared for me. And I have repented over and over again – tried to live a good life. . . But that won’t ever make up for what I did, Siri.”
He sighed, the gust of breath rustling the hairs on the back of her neck, causing her to wiggle deeper into his embrace. An embrace, she was happy to say, that he did not break or move away from.
“I saw. You tried to end the world.”
”That I did. The black magic overtook me, made me into what it wanted. . . They, my friends, tried to ‘fix’ me by dosing me up with good magic – but that just made things worse. Suddenly I could feel the pains and heartaches of the entire world. And all I wanted was for it to end. All of it. The black magic part of me was all like ‘hey – it would end if everyone died’. . . and thus me trying to end the world.”
“Your friends tried to stop you?”
“Long before I got that bad,” She nodded, still not turning to face him. She wouldn’t be able to stand it if he looked at her the way he looked at the Dark Arts users he spoke about or came into contact with at times. “Tara, you might have seen her, she was one of my closest friends. We did magic together. She knew I was getting in too deep. She tried, over and over again, to make me stop. But, once you start, it’s hard to just give it up. I wasn’t that strong.”
She felt him pull her even closer towards him. “You did stop, though. In the end.”
“Yeah – Xander talked me down. He saved the world with just the love in his heart.”
And then he had abandoned her, she reminded herself silently. He had given up on her when she wouldn’t pull herself out of the depths of despair her own actions had put her into. Not that she blamed him. She had brought it on herself, after all. First by getting in over her head with the magic, then by not allowing them to help her when she was falling deeper, and finally by trying to end all life as they knew it.
Yeah, it was just one big old pit that she had dug herself into.
She heard Sirius sigh again, this time it was different. He didn’t have any more question – now he had something to say.
“I can’t pretend that I like this.” He began slowly. “Knowing you did those things. . . that you were a user of the Dark Arts. . . it makes me. . . .”
“Icked out, huh?”
He chuckled. “Yeah ‘icked out’. But. . . Dumbledore wouldn’t let you be here unless he really believed you were a good person underneath it all.”
“You say that about me,” she blurted out, wincing at the harshness of her own words. “Yet you can’t believe it about Severus? Who has done nothing worse than me, and in some ways far, far less.”
“No, Sirius.” She rolled over now, green eyes sparkling with tears. “You can’t tell me not to be friends with him. You can’t try to protect me from all of the things you think are big and bad in this world. Believe me when I say I’m not some maiden in her tower, screaming all ‘help me, help me’ like and waiting for a Prince. I’ve seen bigger, badder things than you can imagine. Hell, I was one of those things. I won’t put up with it. Maybe women in this world like men telling them what to do, protecting them when they don’t really need it – but I’m not from this world and I don’t like it.”
She held her breath, searching his face as her angry tirade ended. His dark eyes met hers steadily, no indication of what he was thinking lurking in their depths.
“Okay,” he nodded after two long minutes that Willow could swear took an hour apiece.
“Okay?” She repeated.
“Yes. I can’t make you do things you don’t want to do. I can’t warn you away from him when the two of you are, as much as I hate to admit it, kindred spirits. And I can’t condemn you when I’ve had these weeks to see you for who you are – not who you were.”
“Really?” Her eyebrows rose straight up to her hairline. “You mean it?”
He laughed, pulling her against his body. “Definitely. Just. . . give me some time to get used to it all. I can’t promise we’ll be right back as good as ever right from the start.”
And she wouldn’t have expected it, she knew. Anything less than ‘working through it’ would have been very un-Sirius like and completely against his nature.
“That’s fine.” She paused. “No more telling me not to be friends with Sev, then, right?”
His face took on a pained expression, mouth opening and closing as though he were fighting himself. “Right.”
Willow laughed, snuggling her face into the crook of his neck. He was holding her so tightly, in a way that she hadn’t been held in a long, long time. For the first time in forever she felt. . . safe. Safe from the world, from the secrets she had hidden and from others.
And, she decided, closing her eyes to doze back off, she liked that feeling.