Chapter 20

Between the dark, heavily laden treetops of the spreading chestnut trees could be seen the dark blue of the sky, full of stars, all solemn and golden, which extended their radiance unconcernedly into the distance. That was the nature of the stars. and the trees bore their buds and blossoms and scars for everyone to see, and whether it signified pleasure or pain, they accepted the strong will to live. Then the wind comes so swiftly and dashing that it takes the dead autumn leaves with it, and they rise into the juggling air, while the trees bleat and blubber. Then drops fall, big as the thumb the earth itself seems to heave up and cheep in the monsoon rains. It churns and splashes, beats against the treetops, reckless and willful, and suddenly floating forwards, it bucks back and spits forward and pours down upon the green, weak coffee leaves, thumping them down to the earth.

Ines watched with her eyes glazed over. She had been having troubling sleeping for the past month, and often found herself up in the astronomy tower. It was a miracle she hadn't been caught yet, she had to evade some of the Astronomy classes at times but it wasn't anything to stress over. She brought with her charms essay, something she could finish easily. She was quite good at charms, and according to Slughorn, at potions as well. Potions class had become absolutely torturous, Oberon refused to sit anywhere near her. Despite being partners, he found a way to ignore her existence completely. They had worked in silence before this, yet in unison, working with some sort of unspoken bond. Now, they practically made their own individual potions.

She was brought out of her focus by the sound of a door shutting, someone was coming. She grabbed all her stuff and stepped onto the railing of the balcony to climb up onto the ledge of the roof. She had done it a few times before and wasn't as scared as she was the first time. Heights were never an issue for her, being on the Quidditch team and all. But somewhere far inside of her was the fear - the stark, utter, silently screaming terror - that if she got too close to the edge, then something would take over and she would find herself walking to the edge of a clifftop and stepping off into space. It was as if she could not entirely trust herself, and that scared Ines more than the simple fear of falling ever could.

The footsteps were growing louder, this was not the sound of a class of astronomy students. Someone was running up the steps. She scurried to the edge and tried to push herself up onto the roof when she was grabbed around the middle. She toppled to the ground and was met with Sirius' face. "What were you doing!", he said, looking bewildered and breathing heavily. She must have been shaking because he put his arms around her so tightly it hurt. She loved the pain of his attention. It was the pain of safety, of care. "Nothing!" she mumbled, "I thought you were a professor, or a class or something I was trying to hide.". He let go of her, realizing his hands were still gripping her waist. "On the roof?" he asked, chuckling. She laughed grimly and detached herself from him to go to the railing and lean on it. "It was a good idea at the moment" She muttered, trying to cease her thin smile.

Sirius joined her leaning against the railing, and they both stared out at the Forbidden Forest, Hagrid's hut, and the stars above them, then at the walls, then at the floor, then at our feet, afraid to look at each other. He rested a hand on her hip, and her whole body tensed up. That hand moved around her hip, slipping under her shirt to rest on the small of her back. Ines' skin burned where he touched her, and the places that were untouched longed for that heat. Tension, in the long run, is a more dangerous force than any feud known to man, and Ines knew it. She grabbed his hand and untangled it from her, turning to face him. "I can't do this," she whispered, "I can't stand you being like this.". She turned from him. "Like what? It's not like ... not like you've rejected it all the times before.". Neither of them could talk about it, say what they feel and what they've done. "I can't deal with it, on top of everything ... everything that's going on. I-" The tears were starting to fall, and Sirius reached out for her again but she pulled away. "My family is in ruins and everyone knows it. I don't know how you're dealing with all of this because I can't. It's just. I'm expected to marry your brother and then my brother ... won't even look at me. I hate him I really do but I can't help but want to help him, be with him. I feel delusional but I feel like he could still change. That somewhere my brother is in there, we're made identical and if I can do it so can he.".

The tears were falling freely now, streaming down her face like a river. She had spent every night in the astronomy tower pondering her true feelings towards the situation and she felt so good having them said. She found that love has a way of cutting them apart like nothing else, even though it was the thing that was supposed to keep them closer. She looked up at him, his eyes were to the ground and tears were falling. He struggled, trying to go over everything in his head. "I'm sorry," he says, "for that time I kissed you at that party and for that time at the wedding and more than anything for the thousand times that I wanted to and didn't have the guts to.". She steps forward and presses her lips to his, and he responds his lips are on hers, hard and warm and pressing.

The touch is electrifying. This isn't a spark of destruction, but a spark of life. As much as she wanted to pull away, she couldn't. Sirius is a cliff and she throws herself over the edge, not bothering to think of what it could do to them both. The kiss is a broken promise on borrowed time. His touch is faulty fuse struck with the hottest match. Possessing all the potential in the world without an ounce of fulfillment. She pulls away slowly and turns from him. No matter how much she wants to feel him, she cannot. She knows she must keep her eyes ahead, and away from the fire of the boy she cares so much for, and that she must freeze her heart to the one person who insists on setting it ablaze. She pulls all her stuff together and walks out the door, leaving him alone in the tower.