When she landed in Wessex the following morning she somehow felt it was ominous. She had never visited a single place so many times before, even with him. It wasn't as sunny today and the rolling fields appeared to be more brown than yellow. Wrapping her jumper around her tightly she began to walk up the hill, watching for any hints of movement. At the top she looked down at the cottage but something told her that she should never try to get nearer than this. She turned toward the woods instead, wondering if he would be in the same place as before. It was definitely a pattern, that she had left him at the bridge the last two times, but as she came around the bend in the path she didn't see him at first.
She took in a breath, thinking of calling out to him, when movement in the corner of her eye caught her attention. She turned quickly with a smile to find a dark hair, dark eyed little boy poking out from behind a tree to watch her. And she tried very hard not to let her smile falter when she realized it wasn't him.
'Hello, Regulus,' she said softly, unconsciously bending her knees a little to not appear so imposing. 'I'm looking for Sirius. I'm his friend Jaina.'
She didn't know when Sirius had told Regulus about her but thought it probably wasn't quite yet. He only appeared to be three or four years old.
'Do you know where your brother is?'
Regulus continued to stare at her and then suddenly he pointed toward the bridge. She gave him another smile before heading in that direction when something strange happened. There was a sound, a sort of half yell of fear, and then came the sound of something hitting the water hard.
'Sirius!' she cried without hesitation as she ran forward, stripping her jumper off as she went. She caught sight of his flailing arms near the middle of the river before he disappeared beneath the surface and she crashed into the shallows. The water was freezing and seemed to be pushing her back but she shoved herself forward and dove in as soon as it was deep enough.
Swimming to where she thought she last saw him Georjaina hesitated a moment to see if he would resurface before she dove down again. The water was dark and murky, and she wasn't able to keep her eyes open. She felt around blindly, frantically, having to come to the surface twice for air before she finally got ahold of his shirt. She heaved his small body onto her back and swam for the shore again, her arms and chest burning from the exertion.
As she dragged him onto the muddy shore she looked around for a moment but couldn't see a hint of Regulus so she focused her attention again on Sirius. His skin looked pasty and cold, and his lips were tinted in blue. She rolled him onto his side quickly, absolute panic coursing through her veins as she slapped his back several times but nothing happened. For a moment she wanted to grab at her wand but she reminded herself harshly that it wouldn't be of any help.
He was definitely a little older than the last time she had seen him but his body looked impossibly small and frail as he lay there still. There were tears on her cheeks as she began to compress his chest several times and then she plugged his nose and breathed into his mouth. He'll be alright, she told herself as she continued the laborious pattern. He will be, I've seen him after this moment.
Nearly two minutes passed as she continued to work to get his heart pumping and then she saw his hand rise off the ground on its own accord and he took in a deep, stuttering breath before turning on his side to retch into the grass. Georjaina fell back into the grass, half holding her face as she cried uncontrollably. Sirius rolled onto his back once more and he looked over at her with extraordinarily dark eyes.
'Jaina?' he asked in a raspy voice and she let out a bittersweet laugh as she crawled forward to his side and took his little hand.
'Don't ever do that to me again,' she replied, running her other hand through his wet hair. He nodded as he looked up at her and he frowned when she suddenly pulled her hand back from him; it was sparking.
She looked around them quickly before focusing on his face once more. 'I don't know where your brother went…I saw him just a little bit ago.'
They both looked up when they heard the woman's voice yell out. At the top of the bend was his mother, being led by the hand by Regulus. Georjaina felt her chest tighten as the other woman looked her in the face and then she pushed herself back from Sirius as she felt the ground tilt away from her…
She landed on the floor in her living room, her clothes and hair dripping on the floor boards. She rolled onto her stomach and lay there for a long time, concentrating on breathing and wiping gently at her face. It was a long time before she moved again and when she did she realized she had left her jumper by the side of the river. That had never happened before.
She had showered and gone to bed early the night before, exhausted physically and emotionally from what had happened. But she slept soundly, knowing that he was safe, and hoping that she might get a break before jumping again.
She awoke in the late morning feeling rested but somehow still tired. She dressed quickly again but then took her time with everything else. The face that stared back at her in the mirror was shallow and white, and there were dark circles beneath her eyes. She washed her face with hot water and then went to sit by the window in the living room, opening it a crack to let it some of the cool, fresh air.
In the afternoon she got around to eating something and she spent some time going over the journal, adding in little notes in the margins here and there. She knew she was avoiding writing about the day before but around dinner time she got up the courage to do so, transcribing all the agonizing details as best she could. She recalled how Regulus had looked almost exactly as she had thought he would; very much like Sirius but with something new and different. She knew it was more than just his nose.
Yesterday had been the second time she had encountered Mrs. Black and the look the woman had given her still made her slightly uncomfortable. She sighed deeply when she was done, shutting the journal and folding her hands on upon it as she looked out the window. It was growing dark…
Georjaina frowned as she looked over at the clock. She hadn't made it this late in the day before without jumping and a thrill of panic coursed through her. What if she was done? What if she never saw him again?
She stood quickly and went into the bathroom to splash more water on her face, willing herself to stay calm. Her skin burned as she turned the water as hot as she could possibly stand it and then she stood with a towel pressed to her face for several moments, just breathing…
She dropped the towel when she felt her hand prick and she almost cried in relief. She took in a deep breath, gripping her hands into fists as she closed her eyes, the floor tilting violently beneath her, and she landed upright once more.
She stood for a moment with her eyes still closed, listening to the sounds around her; the breeze drifting through nearby trees, catching the smell of grass as it swirled past her. She opened her eyes and looked upon a dark landscape. But even in the moonlight it was all suddenly familiar and she turned quickly with a gasp before falling back onto the grass in surprise. Hogwarts castle loomed over her, dark and imposing, with its many windows lit for the evening. She felt the tears on her cheeks before she could help it and as she wiped at them gently she suddenly heard the crunch of grass under foot behind her. Standing quickly she turned and thought wildly of her wand…but then she felt the ground drop from beneath her and she panicked, thinking she was jumping again.
'Jaina?' His voice somehow made her panic slow. He was staring at her openly and she took a step back as she covered her mouth with her hands. She hadn't been expecting this; it was Sirius standing before her, she was certain of that, but he was years older than she had ever seen him before. 'What are you doing here?'
'How…how old are you?' she asked, breathless.
'Sixteen. Just today, actually,' he replied with a slight grin but his face fell when she suddenly started crying. He was dressed in his Quidditch kit and he dropped his broom in the grass as he came toward her, reaching out for her arms without a thought. 'What's the matter? Are you hurt?'
She was shaking her head as she seemed to still back away from him but at his touch she stopped. He watched her as she stared up at him, disbelief in her eyes, and then she leaned her face against his chest and he wrapped his arms around her, holding her there.
'What's happened?' he asked quietly after a little bit.
'The last time I saw you…it was the time you fell off the bridge,' she said, her voice strained, and he sighed in understanding.
'I was six then. Obviously you didn't get a chance to ask.'
She closed her eyes for a moment, willing herself to stop crying, and then she slowly extracted herself from his grasp.
'You've never jumped to here before, have you?' he asked when she didn't seem likely to talk and she nodded. He noticed the way she was looking at him and he felt a strange heat rise in his neck. 'And you've never seen me this old before either, I'm guessing?'
'The oldest you've been was eleven,' she replied. 'I don't….I'm just having a hard time excepting that it's you.'
Sirius grinned at her and she felt her chest tighten. 'I had to grow up eventually, didn't I?'
Georjaina breathed out a grateful chuckle and then she managed to turn and look up at the castle once more. She was vaguely aware of him coming to stand beside her.
'You're flourishing here, aren't you?' she asked but he simply looked over at her, his face straight. 'I knew you would. I knew you just needed to be away from home for a little bit.'
There was something dark and brooding about his eyes, and he looked away from her.
'What is it?' She reached out and touched his arm softly.
'You said home. I don't think it's going to be my home much longer,' he sort of grumbled.
'Has it gotten worse?'
'Did you expect it not to?' he asked, looking over at her. She stared into his face for a moment, frowning.
'I'm sorry. I had no idea.'
But he was shaking his head. 'It's alright. My best mate's family has offered me a place to stay, at least for next summer. Maybe I'll live on my own after that.' He reached up and placed his hand over hers. 'Would you still be able to find me then?'
She gave him a soft smile and he pulled her to him, embracing her roughly again. She chuckled as she remembered the last time he had hugged her, when he was just tall enough to wrap his arms comfortably around her waist. Now she could barely see over his shoulder.
'I've missed you. It's been a long time,' he said as he ran one of his hands into her hair. She felt her chest tighten at his touch and she forced herself to slowly pull away again.
'I'm sorry. I wish I could see you more.'
'Me too.' He still had ahold of her hand and she felt like pulling away entirely when he reached up for her hair again. But then suddenly he pulled his fingers back with a sharp intake of breath. Georjaina scowled as she looked down at her sparking hands and she took a few steps back.
'Do you still have my jumper?' she asked suddenly and a grin blossomed on his face.
'Why? You can't have it back.'
She rolled her eyes in frustration but she was smiling all the same.
'Come back soon,' he said after hesitating.
'I'll try,' she replied, taking a few more steps back. 'Happy birthday, Sirius.'
He grinned at her again and she closed her eyes to keep the image in her mind. She landed again on the floor of her living room. Hesitating for a moment, she pulled herself up onto the couch and pulled a pillow onto her lap, hugging it to herself. She was shaking again but she knew it wasn't for the same reason. His grinning face flashed in front of her eyes suddenly and she felt her cheeks burn as she buried her face into the pillow.