Chapter 39

The time it had taken for her to slow her breathing and dry her tears had left her in darkness. Looking out over the courtyard from the astronomy tower, she realized he had no idea whether it was hysteria or love that left her this way. On top of it all, love for who? Her feelings towards Sirius were strained, nothing she was good at putting into words, especially not to his face as to make whatever it is that they had official. Her feelings towards Oberon were even more confusing, her heart felt one way and her mind felt another and she wasn't sure which was which. She hated him, with heart or mind she didn't know, for being the person he was. A person who terrorized others, fed off of fear, and followed her parents. She had struggled to think about what it was he most likely did, who he followed and worked under. She couldn't put the two pieces together, her other half that she had spent the first eleven years of her life attached at the hip to, and someone spreading evil. They were like two people in one body, a body she had seen injured in the hospital wing bed and walked away from. Yet one that she was unable to hear harsh words about because it still felt as though he was right at her hip and the remarks were directed to her too, she could feel the impact on their shared soul.

She wallowed in her sadness for what felt like hours before she heard anything. She knew it was him immediately, by the sound of his walk, his breathing. She listened as he walked towards her, something in his hand, and let out a deep breath. His shirt was unbuttoned at the top, and he ran a hand through his black hair before he wordlessly slumped against the wall across from Ines and slid to the floor. "What do you want?" She demanded. "A moment of peace and quiet," he snapped, rubbing his temples. She paused, appalled at his words. "From what?". He massaged his pale skin, making the corners of his eyes go up and down, out and in. He sighed. "From this mess."

Ines looked at him now, appalled by his words. "What! Do you mean the mess you made!". He didn't respond which only frustrated her more, she stood up and pushed off the wall, walking towards the railing yet unable to walk out the door. "I can't believe you," she muttered, "It's a shock that you're here and not packing for tomorrow mornings train.". There was a beat of silence in which Ines could hardly focus on the view of the sprawling lands in front of her but rather the breathing behind her, assuring her he was still here. "I haven't been expelled or anything, but I'm pretty sure I'll be serving detention until graduation." His joke wasn't well received. Ines gripped the railing, trying to keep her breathing steady, "I just … why'd you do it?". Another pause, "The prophet, this morning, did you not read it?" She shook her head slightly, listening to the unfurling of the papers that she now knew was the Daily Prophet.

He cleared his throat before reading the article "Victor Avery, head of the Goblin Liason office spoke to our reporters about their award from the Minister for its excellence in 'taking incredible care of the magical economy and the relations between goblins and wizards'. Avery, heard of the department for nearly twenty years, was thrilled. 'I'm overjoyed by this sentiment, especially from someone like the Minister for magic.'. Our reporters then asked about his family, 'All is well, it feels wonderful to have plenty of support from my wonderful wife Agnes. My son is now mid-way through his sixth year at Hogwarts as a Slytherin and is doing quite well.'. Avery had forgone mentioning his daughter, twin to his son, who according to recent rumours is no longer apart of the family due to delinquency, lawlessness, and promiscuity. It is to be assumed she is attending Hogwarts as well."

Ines tried to focus on her breathing as she took in his words, the words the Prophet said, and the words her father didn't. "Regulus was reading it," he said finally, "Bulstrode asked him to read it aloud. He laughed at it, said 'At least everyone knows the truth now'. Ines he-". Ine spun towards him, noticing he was standing now. "But why'd you have to hurt him?!". He took a second, his face heating up with anger. "Why?! You think I'd just let him ridicule you like that? He's lucky I didn't tear all his limbs off, him and all his cronies! To disrespect you like that! I couldn't stand by and let it happen. I know he's your brother and you still care about him in your own screwed way, but I couldn't let him get away with what he did.". Ines gripped her hair, taking a step closer to him, to which he was startled by due to their sudden close proximity. "Why?" She whispered, feeling feeble and tired now.

He grabbed her shoulders and shook her. "Because I love you!" Her mouth fell open. "I love you," he repeated, shaking her again. "I have for years." The only sounds were their breathing. "You're a damned idiot," she breathed, grabbing the front of his button-up. "You're a moron and an ass and a damned idiot." He looked like she had hit him. But she went on and grasped both sides of his face, and then she kissed him. And as her lips met his and he wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her close against him. His mouth was warm and soft, his body wondrously solid against hers, his hair silken as she threaded her fingers through it. Still, she let him guide her, forced herself to remember to breathe as he eased her lips apart with his own. When she felt the brush of his tongue against hers, she was so full of lightning she thought she might die from the rush of it. She wanted more. She wanted all of him. She couldn't hold him tight enough, kiss him fast enough. She pushed him against the wall, and his hands roamed all over her back, her sides, her hips. She wanted to bask in the feeling—wanted to rip off her clothes so she could feel his calloused hands against her bare skin. The intensity of that desire swept her away. Sirius' lips left her mouth to travel along her neck. They grazed a spot beneath her ear and her breath hitched. He took a small step back and saw that Ines' eyes were still bright with those tears he'd caused. One still clung to her cheek. Sirius wiped it away. Another one he found down by her jaw. "I love you, Sirius." Her low-spoken words blended seamlessly with the rhythm of their breathing, but she knew he had heard him when she pressed her lips to his skin once again.