Falling Even More
Desperate for changing
Starving for truth
Closer to where I started
I’m chasing after you
Lifehouse, Hanging By A Moment
Sirius stood at the top of the Astronomy Tower, watching the three
figures below him walk about the Quidditch pitch. He was not worried about
being discovered. The trio was thoroughly engrossed in their conversation – so
much so that they would never even think of looking up to the tower.
A strange clenching feeling gripped Sirius as he watched. It was not the
frustration of being alone – after three years of living as ‘the most dangerous
escaped criminal in wizarding history,’ he was resigned to the long periods of
solitude enforced upon him because Peter Pettigrew was still free. He had even
begun to accept the fact that his name might never be cleared. So it was not
Nor was it envy. True, he had so few chances to spend time with his
godson that he couldn’t understand how his best friend managed to teach a whole
class without being totally distracted every time James’ son walked into the
room, or made a comment, or wrote a paper. Which was yet another reason why he
would never be a Hogwarts professor.
And it wasn’t fear either – along with Dumbledore, and a few other
trusted friends, these three below him were the only ones in the wizarding
world who would always accept him, and never betray him.
And maybe that was the root of what he was feeling. An awareness of how
lucky he was, of how special these people were. The three people closest to
him. The three people who meant the most in his world.
Remus. Harry. Norri.
He smiled wryly as he watched Remus say something to his two companions,
both dressed in Gryffindor robes. If he didn’t know better, he would have
concluded that Harry’s companion was just another seventh year, one of the many
Hogwarts students he was unable to place as children or relatives of friends
But he did know otherwise.
And knowing otherwise meant that he saw past everything that obscured the
truth from the world at large. The Gryffindor scarf, the black robes, the brown
hair scrawled up in a pony tail, the nondescript blue eyes, the small, slightly
high voice. The mannerisms of a mouse. The total incapacity at Quidditch. The
disinterest in Charms. The bizarre attention to a member of the Malfoy family
(that was a spinner, if ever there was one!). All the characteristics of a
fairly average teenage witch in her last year of schooling.
Past all that, Sirius knew, was the real Norri. Tall. Blonde.
Intelligent. Full of integrity – and laughter, and joy, and hope. Hopelessly
disorganised – it was literally a miracle she had managed to stay in control of
her secret life so well; at the beginning he had expected all sorts of
disasters which would reveal her true identity, but none had eventuated. One
mean Quidditch player (Harry didn’t only get his skills from his father’s side
of the family). Boundlessly faithful. And beautiful.
Quite simply, the woman of his dreams. The girl who had stolen his heart
without even knowing it. The girl he had been chasing for more than six years.
Sirius grimaced as he was forced, once again, to face that last fact.
Though his attraction to Norri had not been acknowledged at first, even to
himself, it had been a long time since he had attempted to convince anyone that
he was not interested in Elinor Evans. Though it was also true that he had not
publicly declared his intentions. But who could have done otherwise,
considering the obstacles he had found piled up against him?
First there was the fact that she considered him to be a brother figure –
“Like Remus,” she had said once, unwittingly piercing his soul.
Then there had been Charlie. Sirius had always liked Charlie Weasley, and
when he convinced himself that Norri was in love with the dragon keeper, he had
stoically refrained from pressing his own suit where he was convinced it wasn’t
wanted. He had even taken the news of her engagement without saying anything to
her of his own feelings – though he thought that she had realized something on
that occasion; utter despair could only be contained so much, and he had been
emotionally drained at the time as it was, having just escaped from Azkaban,
exhausted in every sense of the word.
Then Norri had broken off her engagement, shocking everyone from Charlie
to Sirius to Professor Dumbledore and back again. Sirius privately believed
Charlie had never gotten over it. He could quite understand the feeling. But he
was too selfish not to hope that Norri’s actions meant she had realized there
was someone else, someone whose soul was more completely in tune with
hers…someone whose name was Sirius Black.
But Norri hadn’t realized anything – unless one counted her determination
to protect Harry with her own presence in his life as a realization. However,
it certainly wasn’t the blinding flash of light Sirius had been hoping would
The wind blew his hair, reminding him of the months he had been forced to
scrounge England as Padfoot, living outdoors for a whole two years, and Sirius
grinned again. He couldn’t help it – living under a roof helped you to
appreciate the forces of Nature precisely because you didn’t have to deal with
them all the time.
A little like observing other people falling in love rather than doing it
Which is no doubt why Remus is being such a prat about all this, Sirius
thought, taking consolation from the conclusion that Remus didn’t actually know
what he was talking about – he just felt more qualified to advise because he
was detached from the situation. Not all that detached though, Sirius mused,
remembering that Remus had apparently been giving Norri as hard a time as he
had given his best friend. I’ll have to thank Dumbledore again for keeping me
up to speed on the other side of things.
He wondered – not for the first time – about his old Headmaster’s secret
determination to see Norri thrown together with Sirius on as many occasions as
possible. Originally, he had put it down to a concern that if they were not
ideologically united, they would never be able to stand together against
Voldemort. But this latest spate of private indications about Norri’s state of
mind and the relaying of whatever comments she made about Sirius and their
relationship puzzled him.
Could Dumbledore be playing matchmaker? And if so, why?
Sirius shrugged, not willing to allocate more time to solving that
particular problem than was necessary. His priority right now was Norri. But
then again, his priority had always been Norri. From that moment – a whole
world ago, in the dank confines of his cell at Azkaban – when he had first
realized his true feelings for her, he had never looked back. Never felt
tempted or inclined to look elsewhere. Even in the most discouraging moments,
when he didn’t see Norri for months on end, or on the occasions when their
relationship was fraught and stilted (as it had been for the last few months,
thanks to his slip around Remus’ birthday)…even then he knew that she was worth
it. And somehow, he felt compelled to continue in his dogged devotion.
Now there’s a pun, he chuckled softly, ruefully reflecting that he had
little choice about continuing in his attachment to Norri; his emotions didn’t
seem to respond to his otherwise perfect control.
Almost makes me want to be Snape, with his steel control, Sirius thought
– and then his whole expression darkened.
To be Snape….
Sirius swore, remembering what Norri had told him earlier that day – of
her feelings for Snape, her long-standing interest in a man he had never liked.
He had managed to control his reaction to her words only through a rigid
exertion of control. Even now, remembering what she had told him, the
expression on her face when she discussed the Slytherin Head of House…
“It’s not my fault that I’m attracted to him.”
That he would like to believe, though Norri’s assertion that her
attachment to Snape was the same as his own attraction to her had been almost
too much. Thank goodness she didn’t expect a response! he thought, not for the
first time that afternoon. But not having to talk to Norri about the issues she
had raised hadn’t stopped Sirius from churning through them over and over again
for the rest of the day. Throughout the Quidditch match – and after it was
over. He had not been able to forget her words. And the damning conclusions
“…hoping that if I could pretend what happened between
us never took place, we could go back to the way things were before, when I was
young and lonely and you were the best friend I never really had.”
Sirius turned from his vigil on the trio below him, suddenly overcome
with frustration. How was he to continue acting like nothing was wrong, after
what she had told him? She was only interested in him as a friend, another big
brother figure. Another Remus. In many ways, she was still the insecure
teenager who had braved her way into Azkaban – and her lack of confidence had
led her to count on his feelings staying the same as hers had. The fact that
they had not was building a wall between them. Thankfully, their conversation
that day had succeeded in bringing down some of the barriers.
At least we were honest with one another, Sirius thought, then grimaced
as he recalled what he had said to Norri; the honesty he had employed in an
attempt to make her realise how deep his feelings for her really ran.
“I never considered hating him until I saw you give him
the same charm you gave me after Harry was almost killed by Voldemort.”
Why had Norri’s gift been such a turning point?
But, of course, it wasn’t the gift. It was the fact that Sirius had seen
the emotions Miss Elinor Evans had revealed in the giving of the charm.
“I nearly came back and killed him when you touched
him. Touched him as you had never touched me.”
Yes, that was the central issue at hand. Sirius’ doubts, his desperation,
stemmed from that moment. He had nearly lost all hope when Norri had announced
her engagement to Charlie the year before – he remembered that wet, cold night
with a bleak clarity he had once thought could not be surpassed. But Charlie
was a Gryffindor. A Weasley. Someone whom Sirius could respect, even as he
Snape, on the other hand, was everything Sirius despised.
At the time, he had not known that Snape had never been a Death Eater.
That, in his own way, he was as honourable and self-sacrificing as Lily and
James had been. No, at that time, Sirius had been filled with worry for Harry –
who only just escaped with his life after both Voldemort and Barty Crouch had
done their utmost to destroy him. He had been paralysed with fear upon
discovering that Justin had almost captured Norri. He had been forced to make
peace with a man he would not, could not, accept as someone on his side. And
then he had seen that same man embraced by the one person he wanted, but whom
he knew he would never call his own.
“And I swore to myself that I wouldn’t let you see how
I felt. But I have never been good at deception. And I scared you off even
He had done his best – no, his utmost – not to reveal to her the depth of
his feelings. But she had known. How could she not know, when he was unable to
control his anger at her references to Snape, or his frustration that she would
not explain the truth to Charlie?
Then there had come that afternoon in spring – that wonderful afternoon
when she had been relaxed and open for the first time since Elsie Norr had come
to life, when his emotions could no longer be withheld, and he had somehow
believed that she was ready to hear him at last.
But she had run. From him – and from the truth she saw in his eyes.
It had taken months to coax her back into a normal conversation with him.
Those months had been the loneliest in his life, worse by far then Azkaban,
where at least he had known her presence was definitely forthcoming. And now,
at the cost of having peace with her, he had been forced to hear the brutal
truth once more. She had admitted what he had always dreaded hearing.
“I do care for him. I always have – and ironically, the
main reason was because he was in love with my sister and he was so alone at
Sirius groaned. She had been seven years old. Little more than a baby.
While at her big sister’s wedding, surrounded by family and friends, she had
seen a bitter, lonely man – and her heart had gone out to him. And, according
to Norri, her heart had stayed with him ever since. Though if their paths
hadn’t crossed again, her affection would probably have faded away eventually.
What had been the chances that she would actually see a man like Snape again,
anyway? Almost negligible.
Probably the most likely opportunity for a reunion would have been the
night her parents were killed, Sirius thought cynically, then berated himself
for being so unforgiving. He knew, along with everyone else in Dumbledore’s
exalted circle of confidence, that Snape had been acting as a spy since before
Harry was born. Since before Lily was married, in fact. The rumour that Snape
had become a Death Eater because of his fury that Lily Evans had chosen James
Potter instead of him was totally unfounded.
What no one knew, except those who were members of the Order of the
Phoenix, was that Snape had never been a genuine Death Eater. From the very
beginning he had been a spy for Dumbledore. His frustration at failing to save
so many people in the last months of Voldemort’s ascendancy was as strong as
Sirius’ sense of guilt in convincing Lily and James to use Peter Pettigrew as
their Secret Keeper instead of himself.
We’re both blaming ourselves for something over which we didn’t really
have control, Sirius thought, surprised that he was actually in sympathy with
Snape on one issue. I never saw that before - not that I’d ever tell him we’re
actually two of a kind! he promised himself.
But it was something that Norri saw, he realized, once again surprised at
the similarities she had obviously drawn between the two men. He remembered
something else she had told him during their long conversation – something
about why she was so attracted to Snape.
“And then I didn’t see him for years, but he was always
sort of at the back of my mind. A little like you, I suppose, in that I never
stopped thinking about the fact that you weren’t guilty of betraying Lily and
Yes, the similarities Norri drew between himself and Snape were really
quite incredible – not the least because they were much better founded than
anyone else apparently realized. Looking again at the initial reason for
Norri’s interest in Snape, Sirius was forced to acknowledge that it was exactly
the same as her reasons for determinedly visiting him in Azkaban for six years:
he was as bitter and lonely in Azkaban as Snape had been at James and Lily’s
wedding. And Norri’s heart had gone out to him at the age of fifteen, just as
it had gone out to Snape when she was seven.
Sirius thought this over for several moments, his attention still turned
away from the Quidditch field below him. He knew without having to look that
the trio was still there, walking and analysing the game that had taken place.
Norri might not have played Quidditch in more than six years – and as Elsie she
certainly pretended she was pathetic on a broom – but she gave mean commentary
on Harry’s game plans. And Remus was obviously an old hand at contributing
Thinking over the beginnings of his friendship with Norri, Sirius
realised that there were things that the two of them shared that she would never
have developed with Snape. Conversation. Laughter. Trust. And the truth about
who Elsie Norr really was.
Hell, he’d better not know that one! Sirius thought savagely.
He knew from what she’d told him in their conversation that day that she
had never really had an opportunity to share anything with Snape. What was it
she had said again?
“We actually never spoke until the night Justin killed
Bastian. And then I don’t think he realised who I was.”
His hands clenched with pent-up rage at Justin Malfoy. Norri had never
told him the whole truth about the events that surrounded Bastian’s death. At
the time, Sirius himself had still been incarcerated in Azkaban, convinced that
Wormtail was dead, and he was doomed to live out his life in a cell surrounded
by Dementors. And afterwards, Norri had found it too difficult to deal with the
memories her experience evoked.
Memories of Justin.
So she had done her best to forget the entire episode. Not even Remus,
who had been researching in Transylvania at the time, had been told exactly
what had taken place. Charlie hadn’t even known that the Death Eater in
question was Justin – Norri had been afraid that he would go after Draco’s
uncle and get himself killed. Not that Sirius could blame Charlie for that kind
of reaction. He would have done exactly that if he had been free. But then,
there were so many things he would have done if he had been free.
In the end, it had been Remus who told Sirius the truth of Bastian’s
death. Of how close Norri had come to a kind of death herself. And he had only
discovered the story after Elsie Norr had begun her brief tenure as a
Gryffindor student par excellence, thanks to a Christmas present Draco had
received from his uncle containing the same type of weapon that had killed
Bastian. It had been Remus who dragged the truth from Norri, Remus who had
discovered what Justin had planned…Remus who had learnt that Snape had been
Norri’s rescuer that night.
Though it had been Sirius who had given Norri the answer to what she had
always wondered – where Snape had gone after he had rescued her; where he had
disappeared so that she had never had the chance to thank him for what he had
done, or explain who she really was.
“He was keeping me company in Azkaban.”
Once, when he had observed Snape from across in his own cell, Sirius had
reveled in the fact that one of his archenemies was sharing his living death.
At the time, he had still believed that Snape was a Death Eater, and he had
felt a harsh satisfaction that at least one of those responsible for the deaths
of Lily and James was being punished. Apart from the Lestranges and Barty
Crouch, of course, all three of whom he had observed quite closely during the
years of his own incarceration. It had been ironic that his guards often placed
them together, believing them all to be followers of Voldemort.
The truth could not have been more different.
But, in the end, Sirius had not been able to keep from pitying the
Potions master. Whatever he was there for, he certainly spent his time in
agony. And it didn’t appear to have anything to do with the Dementors, either.
For the most part, Snape lived a kind of retreat, not talking to anyone, not
sharing any information about the outside world. Though his parting shot to
Sirius had been trademark in its cruelty.
“I’ll give your regards to Dumbledore then, shall I?” he had asked in a
cold sneer, his eyes glittering horribly as he was walked past Sirius’ cell.
Though to be honest, Sirius supposed that Snape must have been as
convinced of Sirius’ own guilt as he had been of Snape’s. Not that there was
really a standing truce of any kind between the two of them now, though there
probably would have to be one somewhere in the near future. If they were to win
against Voldemort, that is.
Turning back to once again consider the trio on the field, Sirius
wondered what the outcome of the next few months would be. His hands tightened
again as he recalled what the Weasley twins had said about Justin and his
obsession with Norri.
And then there was the suspected attack on Hogwarts, which was due to
take place sometime in February…not to mention his own quest to finally capture
Wormtail and force him to confess his role in the deaths of his best friends.
He smiled, a smile of wry humour mixed with ruefulness, affection…and
hope. Though she had not said it in so many words, Sirius suspected from their
conversation that day that he had more of a chance now than he ever had before.
And there was still time – and many opportunities. Older, sadder and wiser he might
be, but he was still a Marauder. There were still tricks to pull. And cards to
play. And besides, what was that rule they always used in Muggle movies?
The good guy always gets the girl in the end.
Sirius laughed out loud – and turned to go down the stairs to meet his
There is a companion piece to this,
written by the wonderful Aieshya, and told from the perspective of Severus
Snape. Unfortunately, it can't be posted here at the sugarquill. But, for
anyone who's interested, I'm happy to send it to you via email. Alternatively,
it should be up soon under my name at schnoogle.com. Cheers – and Happy New