"Don't you think so, Sirius?"
"Hmmm?" Sirius replied, dazed. He had been staring off into space, bored by James' vapid conversation about his chances with Lily, and trying his best to ignore the lingering headache and lethargy that came with what he affectionately called a "bulimic hangover."
James rolled his eyes. "I was just saying that I think we have a good chance at winning the cup this year. Even if we can't find the best people to replace everyone who's left, you and I can surely carry the team to another year of glory!"
Sirius shrugged. "Who said I even want to play quidditch this year?"
Remus, Peter, and James exchange looks, silent for several minutes. Finally, James cleared his throat, obviously uneasy. "Merlin, Sirius... You really must not be well, then."
Sirius rolled his eyes. "We're taking NEWTs this year, James. And seeing as I don't exactly have the Black family to support me or to put in a good word at the Ministry, I figure I should probably focus on doing well so I can support myself once we're out of here."
James studied his friend for a moment, gauging how honest his friend's statement was. "Just think about it at least, Pads. I need you."
Again, Sirius shrugged noncommittally. He looked down at his plate, where he had messily mushed his scrambled eggs around with porridge, creating a lumpy mess.
"Are you going to eat anything or are you just going to sit there and play with you food?" James asked pointedly.
"I suppose I'm not," Sirius replied, hastily standing, before storming off, away from the Great Hall.
Morning classes passed by easily, Herbology followed by a dull Care of Magical Creatures lesson. Sirius made a point of ignoring his friends during lessons, still cross from James' accusatory tone at breakfast. Still, he knew better than to avoid them at lunch. Taking his usual seat next to Peter, he nodded at James, who sat across from him. Food appeared on the table, and Sirius carefully scanned the spread before him. It went without saying that he would have to eat, something. After some hesitation, he helped himself to a serving of lettuce, foregoing any dressing. Too many calories he thought to himself, miserably. They had been back for the term for about two weeks now, and in an effort to quell his friends' fears that his 'condition' was worsening, he had eaten like garbage, and could feel its effect. He was anxious, overly so, because he had been eating more than he felt safe to, and had cut back to purging only when he was certain no one would be able to happen upon him doing so. He could feel the tightness in his jeans, and it frightened him. Later, when he was sure he was alone, he would have to assess the damage, have to make a plan to get back on track. Because this, he thought miserably to himself, is no where near good enough. Moony cleared his throat, obviously in an attempt to get Sirius' attention.
"Aren't you going to eat anything but that?" he questioned, pointing at Sirius' nearly empty plate, save for a few leaves of lettuce.
Sirius quickly reached towards the platter of chicken, dumping a hearty portion onto his plate.
"Sorry, I just got lost in my thoughts."
"What were you thinking about?"
"My meeting with McGonagall."
"What for?" Peter interrupted, confused.
Sirius rolled his eyes. "For career counseling. Time to bloody well figure out what I'm good at so I can start planning what I'm going to do come May."
His friends nodded. "Any ideas on what you'd like to do?" James questioned.
Sirius shrugged. "Dunno. I'd still like to look into Auror training. Who knows if I'll qualify though."
"If any of us could qualify, it's certainly you," Moony replied, staring intently at him.
"What about you, Moons?" Sirius questioned.
Moony sat silently for a while, grimacing. "Given my condition it's highly unlikely I could ever go into that field. I'm meeting with McGonagall myself, later, to figure out what fields I can actually go into, given the restrictions and my having to be registered and all."
Sirius frowned, feeling sorry for his close friend. As hard as he found his life to be at times, Moony still had the worst lot of it. Despite his obvious brilliance and skill, his goddamn lycanthropy barred him from most work. It was times like this where Sirius felt unbearably guilty. After all, he had been born into the aristocratic class. He had grown up with every privilege possible, simply by birthright. He was the one who had to be difficult, had to go against the grain and rebel. Had to reject the life his parents wanted for him, and find his own way. He had no one to blame but himself. His struggles, his problems, were mostly brought upon by himself. Compared to Moony, who was he to complain that his life was hard and he felt out of control? He stabbed at the food on his plate, forcing himself to take a bite. He couldn't promise that he would keep it down, but the least he could do was clear his plate, if only for his friends' sake.
Once he was finished eating, Sirius glanced at his watch. "I better be off, don't want to be late," he explained, standing.
"Good luck," James wished him, standing as well.
Sirius nodded, before turning and heading towards the door. He quickly made his way towards Professor McGonagall's office, hesitating as he reached the third floor lavatory. I could, he thought to himself, but I mustn't. He continued on, marching right into the office he knew quite well. As he was aware that she would probably be a while, Sirius made himself comfortable in one of the armchairs across from her desk, staring into the fireplace. He loved that, watching the flames curl up, hearing the hiss of embers. After several minutes, McGonagall entered. "Ah, Mr. Black. I see you made yourself at home."
"How could I not, when I consider this to practically be my home away from home?"
McGonagall rolled her eyes. "Well, let's get down to business, shall we?"
Sirius nodded, waiting for her to begin.
"You scored well on your OWLs, very impressive. So long as you do well this year, I'm quite certain you could have your choice of any career path you wish."
"What about Auror training?" Sirius questioned.
"I don't see why they wouldn't have you. Have you reached out to the contact I gave you at the end of last term, Alastor Moody?"
Sirius nodded. "He mentioned that they have certain screenings to determine if one qualifies, and I'm concerned that..." he trailed off, unsure of what to say.
"You're concerned that your medical history could be an issue?"
He nodded. "I mean, if it is, I'd like to have something else to fall back on. Or know straight off so I don't get my hopes up."
McGonagall sat quietly for a moment. "What else would possibly interest you?"
"Spell breaking, I s'pose. I could do that."
McGonagall nodded. "Very good. I think that's an excellent backup plan for yourself. And as I'm sure you're aware, your current class schedule fits the criteria for that career path as well, so I do believe you're good to go, Mr. Black," she hesitated, before continuing, "unless you have something else troubling you."
Sirius shook his head. His stomach was turning and he was acutely aware that he was going to be sick, soon.
"Very well, then. Have a good day, Mr. Black."
Sirius mumbled a goodbye, then hastily exited, rushing towards the nearest bathroom.
He didn't even need to help it along, his body expelled the contents from his stomach on it's own accord. Retching from the lingering taste of stomach bile and snot, Sirius breathed heavily through his nose, feeling the warm burning in his chest, feeling the rapid pounding of his heart in his ears. McGonagall had done nothing to quell his fear that his past hospitalization could hold him back from becoming an Auror. And if that was the case, then what was the point of anything? The damage was already done; might as well carry on with it, if there was no hope anyway. At least then he could have his control. Have something in his life that was his, and only his. Thoughts racing, he hurriedly washed his hands before rushing out of the washroom, down the hall, back towards the stairs. He needed to know what damage had been done. He needed to make a plan, to fix it, to fix himself. Cautiously, he entered the hospital wing. He had to be very careful not to draw attention to himself. For once, luck was on his side and the wing appeared empty. Sirius stared towards a lonely corner, where a scale stood. He made his way, hesitating for a moment before stepping on. Clumsily, he fiddled with the dials, until at least the scale settled, leaving him with a number, the answer he so desperately desired. 9st 4. Fuck. The very number made Sirius want to crawl out of his skin. How had this happened? Yes, he had been lax with his rituals and eating patterns over the summer, and the past two weeks upon arrival back at school, but how could he have done this much damage? Sirius always felt safer hovering slightly below the 8st mark. This was unacceptable.
"You're so weak. So pathetic. So disgusting," he mumbled to himself, exiting the wing. Disgusted as he was with himself, he felt relieved that he at least knew the number now. He knew where he was and what he needed to do to get to where he wanted to be. Now he needed to turn all his attention to that. Yes, it would all be alright, as long as he took back control.