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Important Legal Jargon: As much as I want to, I do not own anything you recognise in this story.When Wind and Waves Are Fiercest
‘It was a dark and stormy night.’
‘Potter, I’ve had my fill of your “It was a dark and stormy night” stories on the train,’ Sirius said, exasperated. ‘It’s not even scary.’
James blushed and was immensely glad that the night masked the warmth spreading across his face. ‘No, it’s not,’ he said, looking for a way to redeem himself, ‘but I know what will scare you.’
‘And what’s that?’
He looked over Sirius’ shoulder into the deepening shadows and gloom and whispered hastily, ‘Here comes your cousin Bellatrix.’
Sirius jumped higher than James expected for such an obvious lie. It really was too late and too overcast to see very far. And who else but second-year Gryffindors would get locked out of the castle on the first night of the new school year when a storm was threatening to break at any moment?
Certainly, Bellatrix Black would not.
James laughed softly as Sirius said, ‘Don’t think I won’t forget this.’
James considered Sirius a moment before asking, casually, ‘So, have a good holiday? How was Greece?’
Sirius didn’t answer. He just shook his head.
James was a little surprised: Sirius had seemed very gloomy on the train ride and had been very quiet during dinner. He really didn’t know how to act around this low-spirited version of Sirius – Was there really such a thing? he thought – and found himself making nervous conversation before he could stop himself. ‘Well, I’m glad to be back at school.’
‘So that’s why you got us locked out of the castle tonight?’ Sirius asked sardonically.
‘This was your idea,’ James replied, pointedly. If it were up to him, they would be safe and warm in their beds in Gryffindor Tower.
Sirius waved an arm behind him toward the Quidditch pitch. ‘The doxies were my idea.’
‘Are you saying that this is my fault?’
‘Yes,’ Sirius said bluntly.
‘That’s rich, Black. Really rich. I might point out that we wouldn’t be out here at all if it weren’t for you.’
‘You should have known better, Potter.’
‘Don’t you try to blame this on me.’ James walked away from where Sirius was standing by the castle doors. He wanted to run, but held the impulse in check, afraid that Sirius would make fun of him if he did.
‘Hey!’ James heard over his shoulder, but he refused to look back. ‘There’s no need to storm off in a huff like a girl.’
James whirled around. Sirius was laughing at him, and James didn’t like it. ‘Like you would know,’ he retorted meanly.
‘I spent the whole summer in Greece with my cousins,’ Sirius pointed out. ‘They’re all girls.’
‘So that makes you an expert?’
‘More than you, Prince Jamie.’
James fumed at the nickname, which only Sirius used and only when he was bent on vexing James. But James refused to fall into this trap so easily. He picked up his pace and continued walking into the darkness.
A soft ‘Hey!’ came from behind. Sirius was following him and he didn’t sound so testy anymore. ‘Come back!’
‘No!’ James shouted over his shoulder. He was displeased to see that Sirius hadn’t followed him very far, as he imagined Sirius – his best friend – should.
‘I have the Invisibility Cloak,’ Sirius pointed out dispassionately after a few moments.
James turned around, frustrated to no end that Sirius was a Black and annoyingly somehow became more in control the angrier James got.
‘Come on. Life’s too short for holding grudges,’
He surveyed Sirius – as best he could in the gloom – with what he hoped was a detached air. In truth, the hooting and rustling coming from the Forbidden Forest was unnerving him, so he edged back toward Sirius and the castle doors. ‘Too short for holding a grudge against Snape?’ he asked.
‘Well, there’s always time to hold a grudge against Snape… Let’s just say that life’s too short to hold a grudge against each other.’
James didn’t answer, and he didn’t step any closer to Sirius. It was just like Sirius to ignore the fact the he owed him an apology.
‘And, er, let’s say that life’s too short to, er, spend a lot of time apologising,’ Sirius said awkwardly.
‘You only say that because you have a lot to apologise for.’
‘Why waste time apologising when there’s so much we’ve got to do.’ Sirius started flippantly listing anything that came to mind. ‘A werewolf to tame, girls to kiss, Snape to jinx, fun to be had –’
‘Fun, as in what we’re having right now?’ James asked sarcastically.
‘Well, not now. We’re supposed to be asleep.’
‘Since when do you let sleep get in the way of having fun, or jinxing Snape?’
‘Since now. Is that all right with you?’
James stared at Sirius. He was not the same as he had been last June when he stepped off the Hogwarts Express. ‘What happened to you in Greece?’ James finally asked.
‘I – I learnt a few lessons.’
‘Your governess gave you lessons while you were on holiday?’
‘No-o,’ Sirius answered, exasperated.
‘Life lessons, then? That’s … good, I guess, although I don’t see –’ James stopped. The castle doors were opening and he could hear Hagrid humming loudly.
James threw himself on the ground and, a moment later, Sirius dropped down beside him and covered them both with the Invisibility Cloak. They silently stood up and hurried to the doors before they could close behind Hagrid. Loud cracks of far-off thunder masked the creaking of the doors as James and Sirius slipped through them. They didn’t speak until they reached their dormitory and were changing into their pyjamas and laughing quietly at the shock the Slytherin Quidditch team would receive when they had their first practice.
‘Here,’ Sirius whispered as his head came out of his trunk. He pressed a small, hard object into James’ hand.
‘A present from Greece. It reminded me of you.’
James crawled into his four-poster bed and lit his wand so he could take a closer look. It was a small, pewter-cast anchor with a ring attached to the top.
‘How was Greece?’ He searched Sirius’ face; it was much easier to see now with the light from his wand.
‘Greece … was the same, as always. I’m just glad to be back at school, though, because my parents aren’t here trying to run my life into the ground.’
James looked at the anchor in his hands. His own parents never tried to run his life into the ground; they were always very supportive and interested in what was going on in James’ life and the lives of his friends.
He held out the trinket. ‘This reminded you of me?’
‘I – I, er, don’t know what to say.’
‘Potter, life’s too short to say things we already know. Just keep that for your dark and stormy nights.’
With that, Sirius turned over on his bed and soon fell asleep, but James stayed awake for some time, fingering the points of the anchor. He was surprised that Sirius said that it had reminded him of him.
James put it on his bedside table and closed his eyes tightly as the storm finally broke.
Many thanks, as ever, to Chary, my amazing beta reader, and to magicaljules, Miss Sophia, and redlightspecial for helping me make decisions. I would be hopeless without you. The title of this story was inspired by Jeffrey Holland.
I had originally thought that this one-shot would stand alone among my other fics, but the further I got into it, the more I came to know that it is part of the Witnessings and Warnings story arc, no matter how I tried to deny it. It will never rest, I'm afraid.
And finally, this is for Honeybee, a former Seaman, Daughter of Pirates, my very own James: My eggs are just fine!