Summary: Sirius' POV of the chapter "Love Me Dead" from The Reader. I tried to POV the entire story, and ended up hating it, so I think I'll do one-shots of certain chapters. I'm open to anyone else who wants to give it a go as well, since I don't think I'm very good at it. Send me a message if you want to take a crack at it, or even if you think I should abandon the project altogether. I won't be offended. Sad, but not offended.
Disclaimer: If I owned this, I wouldn't still have my crappy part time job.
I Had Thought Her Mine
Despite the fact that we were at war, living through one of the greatest atrocities of our time, I thought I had a pretty good life. I had the best friends anyone could ask for (one of which had recently gotten married), and a job and hobby that both kept me occupied. I liked chasing down Death Eaters. It brought a thrill to my life that nothing could rival. Which each stroke, each horrible excuse for humanity that was brought in, I felt like I was cleansing the world of the filth I had been born into. I felt that somehow, it justified my existence.
So, as you can see, I had very little to complain about. Everything was well in order. Then he came along, and I realized having little to complain about is having everything to loose.
I should be grateful to him, in a way, and, truth be told, I stopped being angry long ago. He had every right to do what he did, and she to go along with it, and if it hadn't happened, I would never have woken up, never have seen what was right in front of my eyes.
I took her for granted, I suppose. I never questioned a thing, never stopped to think that if I found her attractive, someone else might as well. Someone else might see through the quiet, minding-her-own-business demeanor to the sarcastic tigress within. But he saw, which showed he was a good man, and that made it all the harder.
It started at an Order meeting. Or, I should say, it started after an Order meeting. James and I were talking to Elphias Doge. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed him approach her. She was slouched low in her seat, not inviting company. She had always been a reluctant friend, but she was the kind of person that, once she let you in, stuck to you fiercely. I had worked long and hard for that friendship, and something about the way he was approaching it so casually irked me.
He settled next to her with ease, and I knew immediately what he was after. What I didn't know was if she would go for it. I continued to watch them in my peripheral vision, checking for the telltale signs that an offer had been accepted, or (I fervently hoped) rejected.
I saw her bite her lip, a simple gesture, but one I'd learned meant she was thinking or uncomfortable. She shot a surmising glance in my direction, then looked back at him. They stood up.
I watched them all the way out the door, frozen where I stood, no longer hearing Doge's ravings, important though they no doubt were. She caught my eye, mouthed some form of goodbye, and I couldn't find it in me to respond.
Kara had agreed to a date with Gideon Prewett. Kara had agreed to a date with another guy.
Kara Thrace, the girl I had, to put it bluntly, lusted after for years, but never made a move on.
Of course I'd never made a move. She was Kara. She wasn't someone I could just shag and then move on from. She was too much a part of my life, too interwoven with me and all the people I cared about. Besides, James and Remus would have killed me, and that old codger Tom probably would have helped. But I liked knowing she was there, liked knowing, for know I did, that she felt the same way, though she never said anything about it.
We'd made that agreement the summer after sixth year. We had an understanding.
Now, for the first time since I had known her, she was off with another guy.
And I couldn't understand why it bothered me so much.
The next morning I sat at Remus' kitchen counter, sipping coffee and pretending to read The Prophet. My thoughts were too scattered to actually read it. I was quiet, something unusual for me, and James at least had noticed. Kara probably would have noticed too, if she had been there.
I noticed she was late.
No sooner had I started fumbling to uncomfortable conclusions than she walked in the door, without knocking, of course. If Kara had free reign anywhere, it was Remus' flat. They never said it aloud, but they were pretty much best friends. If I'd had any brains in my head at all, I would have seen that coming from the beginning. She was fierce about him the day she met him.
The first tell-tale sign was her clothes. They were wrinkled and obviously thrown on in a hurry, and I was pretty sure they were the same ones she had worn the night before. The next was the contented, almost smug smile on her face. She was quite happy with herself.
She spotted me, and suddenly didn't look quite so happy.
"Morning. Sorry I'm late."
Part of me wanted to rail at her, to demand how she could have done it. A more sensible part of myself reminded me that I had no reason to ask such a question, so instead I asked, as casually as I could:
"Last night's clothes?"
"Have fun?" I barely squeezed it out, and I knew she saw through it.
She took a seat at the counter as she answered. "I did, actually." At least she was honest. One thing I liked about Kara was, no matter what, she was always honest with me. Even when it was the last thing I wanted to hear. She never lied if she could help it.
That's key to her story, of course: If she could help it.
I ignored her after that, trying to get myself under control. I've never been such a master at my temper before, but I just knew I couldn't take it out on her. No matter which way I spun things, she'd done nothing wrong.
The others came in shortly after, and it was clear they took a different view of the situation. When the doorbell rang, I escaped to answer it. I wanted to avoid this confrontation. Kara and Lily didn't always get along, and I didn't want to sit there, the obvious source of their disagreement.
Remus was a little more of a wild card. He would be torn between two such good friends.
Ironically enough, I knew James would be the smart one and stay out of it.
I arrived back with the doorbell-ringer, Peter, just in time to hear the worst of it.
"Look," Kara was saying, "you all know the situation. Mostly it's that there isn't a situation. What did you expect me to do? Just wait around forever?"
Her accusation was met with guilty silence. That was the problem of course, and it wasn't just them, it was me as well. Without saying so, we had all just assumed she would wait for me. She was so prone to ride things out, without complaint, that we thought my wayward habits would have no effect on her constancy. But there was no arrangement between us, and anything of the sort would have been ludicrous.
If I was honest with myself, I had considered her mine all along.
"That's not fair," she said, her voice hurt.
And that's what got to me. Regardless of my feelings, I knew she was right, and I couldn't stand to see her there, faced with all those accusers, and no one to defend her. It tore at me, but I leapt to her defense.
"You're right, it's not," I said. She stood in front of me, and I watched her back tense. "Kara has the right to do whatever she wants."
The others were looking at me now, save for James, who was watching Kara carefully. I couldn't see her face myself, but I knew from James' expression that she didn't look good.
"I've gotta go," she mumbled, and she turned, not looking at me, careful not to so much as brush against me as she walked past. I resisted the urge to reach out after her, to pull her back into the usually comforting fold of friendship we all shared.
It all felt a little hollow now.
I glared back at the others instead. "Let her be."
Lily was still furious. "Sirius..."
"No," I said, cutting her off. "I mean it. She doesn't deserve that from you."
"So she's right," said Remus softly. "You really don't care?"
"Of course I care!" I growled at him. "It's just..." I sighed, ran a hand through my hair, which was starting to grow long again.
"Why don't you do something, mate?" James asked. I looked up, locking gazes with him a moment, and when I turned away, everyone else had disappeared from the room.
I'm not much for heart-to-heart discussions. They never bring out the best in you, I think. Another thing I liked about Kara, who usually understood what I meant without me saying it. James and I both sat at the counter now, across from each other.
"What am I supposed to do?" I asked him.
"Well," he began practically, "I suppose you have options. You could let it go, see how things are with them. If she's really happy, let it be, and remember there's plenty of girls out there you haven't shagged. You'll get over it. Or, you won't get over it, and you already know it. In that case, you can either wait it out and be miserable, or walk right up to her and snog her until she completely loses her senses."
I chuckled at the last bit, and even as we sat there, not really discussing the matter further, I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do. Later that night, when the dreams came, and I couldn't get the images out of my head, the need grew still greater. I kept seeing him touching her, holding her. His hands traveled up her bare sides, curves I had memorized from the time I accidently walked in on her changing. I'd had many a dream involving those curves, but this was different. His fingers brushed skin they had no right to. His lips made her sigh, and she repaid him in full. Flesh against flesh and all the contact that usually has my blood boiling now riled me up in a different way. I wanted to hold her beneath me and pound all memory of him out of her until I knew, without doubt, that she was no one's but mine.
I didn't do anything like this of course. Instead I tried to give her reassuring glances those few times I saw her, letting her know I was not angry. Not with her, at least. Him I was less kind to.
And for all that, it only lasted two weeks. I grew up more in that single night than in all my years, I think. And Kara... Kara was never the same.
We had a very clearly defined mission, and we mustered ourselves with all the grace and determination of any group of well-trained, idealistic warriors. Those of us who weren't Gryffindors should have been. We were split in to three teams. Mine was to take over if the team Kara was on failed. They did fail, but I only caught a quick glimpse of her, focused on battle. She was a lot braver than she gave herself credit for. Then I was gone with my charges and my orders, knowing she would have backup and not worried, because I knew Remus was among them. He would protect her.
We took the family we were rescuing to the safe house. It took a while to get them all sorted and calmed down, and then the other Order members were arriving in droves, and in the confusion I had a lot to do. I like fighting, it keeps me occupied, and I tend to be quite focused about it. The aftermath, however, can be very annoying.
Every now and then I looked up for signs of my friends. Nothing.
I was momentarily distracted by a question from a member of the rescued family, and when I looked up I saw Remus moving toward me through the crowd.
Good. So they were all back now.
I scanned the crowd, spotted Moody, and Emmeline, then scanned it again. No Kara. Where was Kara?
I looked at Remus, who had reached me, and was now drawing me aside. An internal sort of alarm was ringing in my ears. Something was wrong. He wouldn't be pulling me away like this, to talk out of earshot, if all had gone well.
He finally got me away from the crowd, and my heart was starting to pound audibly. I didn't want to know, but I was going to explode if Remus didn't start explaining at once.
He opened his mouth, and I cut him off.
"Where is she?" I demanded.
Remus sighed, "At your flat."
I closed my eyes in relief, then snapped them open again. Something still wasn't right. Why was she at my flat, instead of here, being useful? Come to think of it, where was Gideon?
James and Lily had joined us, obviously sensing something amiss. Remus was already answering my question, and as he spoke he watched me carefully.
"The Prewetts are dead," he said slowly. "Happened very quickly, according to Mad-Eye."
Lily let out a choked sob.
"They're heroes," Remus continued, his own voice rough.
"Is Kara alright?" James asked hurriedly.
"I found her, struck with an Immobility Charm, under Gideon's body," explained Remus. "Once we had the charm off with her, I took her to Sirius' flat."
The horror settled over all of us, and I didn't even consider that my anger had vanished, that I no longer cared about any of it.
"There's more," I said, barely aware of the words or their source.
"Mad-Eye said it looked like Kara's situation distracted Gideon," said Remus. "He was trying to help her when he fell."
"She'll blame herself," I concluded at once. Remus nodded. "I have to get back," I said. "Will you tell Dumbledore...?"
"Done," said James. "Go."
I didn't even say goodbye. I can't stand it when people need my help and I'm not there to give it.
It's smarter and safer to apparate outside of buildings, but I turned on the spot and reappeared inside my own flat. I crossed the living area in three strides and quietly opened my bedroom door.
Kara lay on the bed, curled into a fetal position, as vulnerable as she had ever looked. I walked over, stopping for a moment to study her still form. Her forehead was creased and her expression pained even in sleep.
I didn't know what else to do. Waking her would only bring conscious memory, which is infinitely worse than dream-memory, and there was nothing I could say to reassure her. I lay down beside her and pulled her into my arms, where she slept on.
She woke once, rolled over to face me, and buried herself in my chest. I just held her tighter, not trusting words, until she slept again.
Reluctant as I was to leave her, I did when the following evening drew near. I planned to just go to her room at the Cauldron and pick up a few of her things. She could stay with me as long as she needed to. I wasn't leaving her alone.
Her little room, a provision of Tom's when she took the position of bartender, was unethically neat. It didn't take me long to find what I was looking for. I grabbed a few necessary items, not shying away from unmentionables. Any sort of forgetfulness on my part would mean she'd have to come back herself. I even snatched a few of her books, ones I'd seen her reading more often than others. I hoped they'd take her mind off what had happened.
Shoving all this in a bag, I apparated back to my flat.
Kara was standing uncertainly in the middle of my living room. I dropped the bag and ran to her, mentally kicking myself for being stupid enough to leave her alone. Lily could have gotten her things.
"Kara! You're awake. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to leave you alone."
Her expression was hollow as I pulled her over to the couch and helped her sit down. I knelt in front of her, somewhat unnecessarily. I didn't need to study her to know what she was thinking. The position was almost a plea, an act of begging. The old fear had returned.
From the moment I had met Kara, she had felt like a breath of wind, a trapped animal. Something caught in an environment it didn't belong in, always trying to escape. I had put special effort into keeping track of her movements, almost irrationally ensuring that she didn't leave. The feeling wore off as time passed, and she became more and more a part of all our lives, but I could feel it return full force now. I knew, even if she did not physically run away, her mind was retreating by the second, forced back by the guilt.
I explained about the clothes, but she made no response. Her eyes were steady as they met mine, calculating. I saw some thought flicker through them, and the abrupt rise of her chest in response. Without thinking, I clutched at her, holding her down. Even as she relaxed under the contact, her eyes hardened.
"You can't help me."
"I know," I said. "But I'm not leaving you alone."
I climbed onto the couch next to her, pulling her once more into my arms. Though she settled against me, I knew she wasn't entirely comfortable with the arrangement. She felt guilty.
"It's not your fault," I told her.
"Isn't not doing something right just as much a sin as doing something wrong?" she asked quietly.
"Not when you can't control what you do."
But nothing I could say would ease that burden. In her place, I would have blamed myself too. Neither of us were made to sit still while others got hurt. I would a thousand times over rather it had been me than anyone else, and she had the added misery of being the cause of Gideon's hesitation.
Fool, I thought. He should have known she can take care of herself.
Yet if he had been the one to survive, and not Kara, I would have killed him myself.
I tightened my hold around her, determined to do whatever it took to snap her out of this.
"Kara, I can't make this better. I can't make the pain go away."
"Don't stress yourself by trying," she said bitterly.
She was trying to make me angry so I'd shove her away like she thought she deserved. That wasn't going to happen.
"I'm not," I said. "Though I wish I could. Kara, just don't...leave me. Don't wither away because you think you don't deserve to live through this. People fail to do enough in war all the time. It's a risk we all take, knowing the person beside us might not be able to come through."
"I couldn't do anything," Kara whimpered. "I couldn't even try."
"Which makes you less to blame than most," I said truthfully.
Her voice cracked. "I shouldn't be here."
There it was again, that inexplicable sense that she didn't quite fit. Even she felt it. Maybe she didn't belong. Maybe she was truly meant to be somewhere else. Maybe she wasn't mine, in any sense, to hold and to protect.
Maybe I didn't give a damn.
"Don't leave," I said, not understanding just how far she'd go to heed my plea. It would take everything she had in her to stick by me, but she'd do it. She'd hold out for me through the long, dark years, be there just the same as ever when I got out of Azkaban. And she'd be stronger, strong even than me.
She'd have to be.