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Curious Happenings at Number Twelve by Toujours Padfoot
Chapter 14 : Opportunity Knocks
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 10


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gorgeous chapter image by the lovely and talented kaileena_sands @ TDA





It had to be in here somewhere…

Nora blew a few loose strands of hair out of her face, the sweat on her palms making it difficult to pry the black case open. She rattled it in her hand – empty – and threw it aside, now sifting through a rust-colored crate filled with mismatched Wellingtons. Nothing out of the ordinary seemed to be hiding in there, and she plunged her hand into the depths of each boot before giving it up as a bad job.

Kreacher had taken to spending a lot of time in the attic lately, but you’d never know because it was still such a cobwebby mess. Nora scratched her head, the frantic rhythm of her heart beating faster and faster with each wasted minute. She was running out of ideas, and it would really help if she had some kind of clue as to what she was supposed to be looking for. The other-Nora hovered in one corner, shadowy and undulating around the edges, like a figure of smoke. Her silhouette watched Nora’s exploration with paramount, all-consuming fear, so much fear that it truly scared the real Nora.

She felt the dream tugging, trying to fluctuate as natural dream patterns do. The silhouette in the corner breathed raggedly, reaching out and closing the window blinds, flinging the orange curtains together so that the attic was engulfed in a deep fiery essence. Wrenched from the security of daylight, the figure looked more like a dark, haunting phantom, her face shrouded with gaseous swirls of silvery-black mist. She pointed an indistinct finger earnestly at the floor, but Nora backed away. She did not want to communicate with this creature; the horror she felt emitting from it terrified her, and she just wanted it to go away.

The dream tugged again and other-Nora made to grasp it, pull it back into definition, a flood of emotions pouring from her spirit like a tidal wave. Nora clearly felt the full force of other-Nora’s misery, her desperation to impress how much more crucial finding this evasive object was than floating away in any other dreams.

Nora sighed and kneeled on the floor, shining her wandlight underneath an old wardrobe. Something about this action felt familiar, but before she could dwell on it for very long, her consciousness faded out into a different dream at last, and the other-Nora was left all alone in the attic, weeping and frustrated.

In this new dream, Nora found herself once again in the backyard behind Broadford Street. She embraced the sunlight drenching through her skin, the warmth and love and simplicity so much better than cowering in the shadow of a phantom version of herself. Eagerly she looked about for the frame of her mother, who she knew would be standing nearby. When Nora spotted her, she grinned widely and plopped down into the grass, seven years old and entirely carefree.

Petula was humming to herself, pinning the exact same white shirt to the clothesline as she had been in the process of doing during Nora’s last dream, right at the moment everything began to vanish. But as she’d just gotten here, she didn’t see any reason why it would end soon, and relished what she knew would be coming next.

Gideon’s booming laugh echoed within the house. Nora closed her eyes at the sound, committing it to memory; and when she opened them again, Petula was singing her favorite tune by Celestina Warbeck. The cheerful woman took a few steps, her bare feet treading softly over the green grass, and began arranging Nora’s own mustard-yellow Easter pinafore on the line. She’d complained about the itchy lace collar, begging to wear anything else, but Great-Aunt Ingrid had sewn the dress especially for her and wanted to see her in it. Nora had been obliged to don the ghastly thing five times since unwrapping it at Easter, and even in her adult frame of mind, cringed when she saw it.

Now that Nora was an adult, she was free to wonder why Petula didn’t just use a Hot-Air Charm on the laundry to dry it instantly. It reminded Nora of herself. Perhaps it was an inherited trait, doing things the long way like Muggles. She’d always attributed it to being pig-headed, as it was a sure-fire way to irritate Molly when she was growing up, but it appeared as though all the credit went to Petula. She was more like her mother than she thought.

Nora listened to her father for a few precious moments, wishing she wasn’t stuck firmly to the ground so that she could go inside the house and see him. Oh, to lay eyes on his face! It had been so long that Nora couldn’t recall the exact shade of his eyes anymore, and sometimes forgot about certain characteristics, like his gingery beard. Her eyelashes dewing with teardrops, Nora swerved her attention back to her mother.

Petula was attaching an impossibly tiny blue shirt to the line with wooden clothespins, patting the soft fabric gently. In one fluid movement, she brought the supple material to her cheek and let her skin graze against it. From this new angle Nora could see the profile of her mother – smiling serenely – and she found herself mirroring the smile on her own face. Then her eyes travelled downward, registering the swollen abdomen blooming under a pretty coral dress, the same color as Petula’s lips.

Nora was still staring at her mother’s ballooned stomach, astonished, and Petula lovingly, tenderly cradled her arms around the baby-to-be. She gave Nora a secret smile, as though her daughter had caught her in a private moment, and then she winked.

Nora sat straight up in bed, the dawning epiphanies so profound that it had roused her from the dream prematurely.

Otcher.

Archer.

It was not Gideon’s death that made Petula lose her mind, or at least not the most outstanding component as to why. The Death Eaters had taken Petula’s baby from her, and that was what drove her off the deep end. Nora felt great bubbles of shame welling up inside her. How many times had Petula tried to reach through her feeble, magically destroyed mind to say her son’s name? Nora had disregarded it as gibberish nonsense, was even aggravated that it was all she would say, that she screamed it while ripping out her hair, sobbed it into her pillow...and no amount of tranquilizing medicine could make Petula forget – not even being Obliviated. A decade and a half of sitting in St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries had done nothing to diminish her agony.

Petula was trapped inside her own head, the only person left in the world who knew of Archer’s disappearance, and everyone else was going about their daily lives, doing nothing. No one was looking for him because no one knew he existed. It was enough to tip any person over the edge into madness.

Nora leapt from her bed and slung her hair up into a messy ponytail. Still in her pajamas, she flew down the stairs and into the drawing room where Sirius was perusing a copy of the Daily Prophet.

“Otcher,” she breathed as he glanced up at her. “It’s Archer. Oh, Sirius, she’s been trying to tell me all along!”

Sirius looked confused, and Nora launched into a long explanation about the word her mother had been saying for so long, and what it must mean. “Sirius, what if he’s out there somewhere?” she went on excitedly. “A teenage brother…he would be at Hogwarts! He’s bound to be there! I may have even seen him yesterday morning when I went to check on Harry! Or last week – I saw all those students in Hogsmeade…” Her eyes sparkled with renewed energy.

Sirius held both of her hands in his, looking grave. “Nora, love…he was taken by Death Eaters.” When her expression did not change, he softly added, “The chances of him still being alive are not very good.”

Nora chewed her lip. “If they were going to kill him, they would have done it while they were murdering my father and uncle,” she pointed out. “But instead, they took him away. He may have grown up with Death Eaters as adoptive parents, but he’s still my little brother and I think he survived. I’ve got to find him.”

“Don’t get your hopes up,” Sirius gently advised. “And if he is alive, he would have a different name; he wouldn’t have any idea who Archer Prewett is supposed to be. The only thing you have to go on is age and hair color.”

“Write to Harry,” Nora begged. “Ask him if he can think of anyone who meets Archer’s description. The boy would probably come from a Slytherin family, and might even be in Slytherin House himself…” She wrinkled her nose, but decided it was such a triviality that she didn’t really care. It was up to Nora now to find out what became of the only immediate family she had left…the family she never knew she had.

“I’m not sure if I can,” he replied. “Umbridge reads all the owl post, especially anything addressed to Harry Potter.”

“Not all owl post,” she said meaningfully. “Whenever people try to intercept me, I scratch their faces.”

Sirius sighed, looking sorry for her. “I will write to Harry,” he finally decided. “And I sincerely hope you find your brother, safe and happy.”

“I will,” Nora told him, deliriously upbeat. “He’s got to be out there somewhere. Oh, when he finds out! Seeing as how he was raised by Voldemort’s minions, he might not be the nicest person in the world, but I’ve got to save him from their influence before he becomes one of them, too.” She paused, bestowing her most hopeful smile on him. “Do you think that he could come and stay here for his school holidays? Unless you’re wanting to chuck me out anytime soon…I’d have to find a two-bedroom place somewhere, maybe find work in Diagon Alley...”

“No need for that!” Sirius assured her hastily. “Of course Archer is welcome to live here during his school holidays – if he wants to.”

Nora ignored his doubts, plowing on with such a buoyant optimism that it melted Sirius’s heart. “I could take him to see Mum and maybe she would regain some of her sanity again, now that he’s been found.” So overcome with bliss, she threw her arms around Sirius and embraced him. “Isn’t this wonderful?”

“Very much so,” he replied indulgently, unwilling to hinder her joy.

“A teenage boy would like the bedroom on the second landing best,” she said knowingly. “It’s got all those cool wall hangings…he’s going to be so happy here. I just know he’ll love you, too.” She pulled away, doing a pirouette and then spinning from the room; and Sirius was relieved she was gone, relieved that she was too cheerful to notice his reaction. Sirius’s face was frozen in a mask of surprise…very, very pleased surprise, and he didn’t think he would be able to compose himself anytime soon.

I just know he’ll love you, too.

Too.

But which way did she mean? One of the most beautiful elements to Nora was that she loved so shamelessly, and pulled anyone remotely likeable close to her, enveloping them in that love whether Sirius thought they deserved it or not. She gave all of herself to everyone; which made it impossibly frustrating because he couldn’t be sure if her affection for him could ever be remotely romantic. Did anything set him apart from the way she loved Tonks; the way she loved Molly and Ginny and Remus?

The way she loved Severus?

 

*


There was no more denying that something had to be done about the Death Eaters. Even Sirius, who put his face in his hands whenever the old baiting-Greyback idea was mentioned, could no longer downplay what was happening all around them. Most of the disappearances and strange deaths were not found reported in the Daily Prophet, but in The Quibbler, which was fast becoming a more reliable source despite its oddball editor Xenophilius Lovegood.

The air was extraordinarily edgy, every person in the room scrounging around for someone else to look at besides Sirius – who was scowling. Nora, in stark contrast, was leaning forward expectantly, eager to hear more. “So you were saying, Mad-Eye?”

“We’ve already started laying the false trail,” he admitted. “Muriel has been moved to the Burrow for her own safety, and this time tomorrow morning, the Daily Prophet will show that your current residence is Muriel’s house.”

“And how have you done that and still maintained subtlety?” she questioned.

“Apparently you have discovered a litter of White Armenian Kneazles,” Shacklebolt supplied with a smile. “How very fortunate for you, Nora. You found these very valuable, very close-to-extinct animals in the woods behind Muriel’s home, where you’ve been staying for the past month.”

“Month?” Sirius repeated with narrowed eyes. “You started thinking about this a month ago? That means you’ve been planning behind our backs ever since the Death Eaters broke out of Azkaban. What about all that hypocrite rubbish you gave Nora about Dumbledore wanting us to wait?”

“Shh, Sirius,” Nora reproached. “No temper – it’s my birthday.”

He shut up, and although he frowned he felt somewhat amused. Nora had been using that excuse for everything she said or did all day – because today, on February ninth, she was twenty-three.

“And your advertisement in the Daily Prophet will give an address for prospective buyers of these Kneazles,” Remus went on. “They’ll be ungodly expensive – no one’s going to write and ask about them with the price you’re demanding. But if Greyback paid attention to the Daily Prophet while he was in Azkaban, he’ll surely be doing so now.”

“And you ought to appreciate us chipping in for your ad space,” Kingsley mentioned, “because we bought a huge one that will run for the rest of the week. Second page, though. First page would just look suspicious.”

“And you think Greyback will really buy into that?” Tonks inquired. “You’d have to be really thick...”

“He’s an animal,” Remus replied tonelessly, “governed wholly by his desires. He’ll see Nora’s name and address and think it’s his lucky day.”

“Not too bright, that Fenrir,” Moody grunted. Tonks studied Remus, thinking to herself about how he and Greyback were polar opposites, despite their link as werewolves. Here was Remus – calculating, sweet, and with razor-sharp intellect. And then you’ve got Greyback, who attacks everyone he can get his paws on and probably can’t even spell his own name.

“Wait a minute,” Nora said, holding her hand out and looking around as though just now taking notice of her surroundings. “We’re a person short. Where’s Sev?”

Sev?” Sirius blanched. “Did you just call him Sev?”

“Doing Occlumency lessons with Potter,” Minerva supplied. “He told me just as I left that he would be –”

“Has the world gone mad? You did not just say Sev!”

“-unable to make it,” Minerva finished, eyeing her interrupter sternly.

Nora frowned at this, which only further annoyed Sirius, who still looked nauseated by Nora’s use of the word ‘Sev’. The last person who had ever referred to Snivellus as ‘Sev’ was Lily Potter – back when she was Lily Evans, that is, and ages before she ever considered going out with James. After she became disillusioned with Snape, she no longer used the endearing little nickname and Sirius wasn’t sorry to see the back of it. But coming out of Nora’s mouth! It was like poison on her lips. He was still sulking when Remus tried to pry him from his disgruntled reverie.

“Did you hear me? Padfoot?”

Sirius blinked his eyes, abstractly running a hand through his silky hair. “What?”

Remus tried not to laugh, because he knew exactly why his friend had been glaring moodily at the table only two seconds prior. “We were debating where to position ourselves for the ambush,” he said. “Muriel’s got a clearing on her property surrounded by forest that would be perfect for it, but how would we lure him back there?”

“With blood,” Nora stated, as though it was the most obvious thing in the world. “I figure that his instinct will be to come through the front door, because his train of thought isn’t exactly complex and he won’t be watching for foul play. He’ll just be consumed with making the kill, as Remus said, and will walk right through the open door. Since Muriel’s house is really too small and full of junk for any kind of battling, and spells can easily ricochet off of things and hit someone important, we’ll set it up outdoors.”

“Right,” Remus cut in, “But as I said before – how do we draw him out there?”

Nora rolled her eyes. “Like I told you. Blood. I’ll scatter a few tiny drops – just enough for him to capture my scent – that lead right through the open back door into the yard, and then through the thicket to the clearing where I’d be standing. By the time he sees me there, he’ll be so driven with bloodlust that he won’t be worrying about the possibility of it all being a convoluted trap. Greyback will have a one-track mind, and when he moves in…”

“And when he moves in,” Sirius said tersely, “he will attack you.”

“Will not,” she replied defiantly, lifting her jaw. “Because I am going to have bloodstone on me.”

“Bloodstone?” Remus gaped. “How? Where would you get that?”

“I have it already, as a matter of fact,” she sniffed. “Sev –” her eyes darted toward Sirius before finishing, “-erus gave it to me when I visited Hogwarts on Tuesday. Told me he was concerned about Greyback and that this bit of heliotrope will repel werewolves. He also mentioned that if the Order were to go through with the initial scheme of baiting, it would come in useful.”

“So you two have been plotting, have you?” Sirius asked in a testy tone, jerking up straighter in his chair. “Well, that’s just spanking lovely. And did the charming Sev give you the idea for a blood splatter trail as well?”

“Actually,” she replied coolly, twisting towards him with ice in her gaze, “I came up with that one all by myself.”

Sirius had the decorum to drop his eyes and look sheepish, even though his brain was still wracked with envy. Exactly what did Snape and Nora do while she was at Hogwarts? Sure, she was only gone for a couple of hours, but a lot could happen in such a short time period, apparently…

Sev. What a blooming arsehole.

“Sirius!” Remus yelled, sounding exasperated. “Pay attention.”

“Alright, I’m listening,” Sirius responded loudly. “Tell me if I’ve got the gist of it: Nora bleeds all over Muriel’s; we try to get a crazed werewolf to attack her, and then we experiment to see if our spells and a rock do anything to prevent him from turning Nora into a slab of hamburger.”

“You wouldn’t let me become a slab of hamburger,” Nora told him, her expression beginning to thaw. “I trust you.”

“Wish I had that kind of confidence.”

“Can you honestly think of anything else we could do?” Nora asked him sedately. “I’m definitely open to alternatives here, but it just so happens that I’m a key and Greyback is the lock that matches it. It’s so ridiculously easy that we’d be stupid to pass it up.”

“There’s got to be a better way.”

“If there is, mate, it’s not showing itself,” Remus replied. “And meanwhile, innocent people are vanishing from their homes. People are dying.”

Sirius sat back, defeated. Nora fought the urge to roll her eyes at him. Such an overprotective fusspot. “How can we guarantee that Greyback will show up while we’re there?” she asked. “If he thinks I’m living there now, then he could be at Muriel’s already.”

“It’s placed in the ad that you’re not currently at home, but you will be on the fourteenth – next week, and will be available to exchange the kneazles between the hours of one and three to the buyer. We also stated that the sale ends on the thirteenth. This is just a precaution in case anyone does try to buy the nonexistent kneazles, so that one of us will have twenty-four-hours notice to go and Obliviate them.”

“The fourteenth?” Nora mused. “Valentine’s Day.”

Remus looked pensive. “Yes, I suppose it is. Hopefully this year it will be a holiday worth celebrating.”

When the meeting was adjourned, Sirius was still skulking around feeling mutinous, loathing Snape. “That sneaky bastard,” he complained to Buckbeak, who was looking thin in the feathers. “I’ve got one good thing going for me and he tries to steal it away. I need to stop him somehow. Nora has to see me in a different light, but I don’t know how I can go about making that happen.”

Buckbeak grunted.

“I know,” Sirius sighed. “I ought to talk to Hagrid about getting you back in his care. I don’t think anyone will recognize you…” He stopped speaking, tilting his head towards the floor. It sounded like music was playing in the room directly below. Pressing his ear to the rug, Sirius listened intently. “Opportunity knocks,” he whispered with a devious grin.

Nora hummed to herself, organizing books according to subject on the mahogany bookcase. It was a Muggle song that she’d heard a few times before in a shop in London, and knew the chorus pretty well. She liked the upbeat tempo of it, the way it made the evening bright despite the bleak night outside. The sky was dark and snowing, and the only light in the drawing room came from a narrow brick fireplace at one end. It cast a faint glow over the walls, washing the left half of Nora’s body with golden light and throwing the rest into darkness.

Nora reached out and twiddled the dials on the old wireless, turning up the volume. Wherever Sirius was, he could do with a mood adjustment. She twirled a little, wondering about where Kreacher had gotten himself to while concurrently admiring a large opal. The opal had previously served as a stopper on a crystal bottle of some sinister-looking liquid, but she’d taken a liking to it a few months ago and it now sat on one of the shelves. Nora was just about to go looking for Sirius when she turned around and saw him standing in the doorway.

His figure was barely more than a shadow, and as he stepped forward into the light, she opened her mouth to say something trifling but couldn’t find her tongue. Sirius’s enigmatic grey eyes drank in her image, his dark aura pulsing with a slow-burning pleasure. He walked toward her with serious purpose, and wordlessly pulled her to him.

Sirius lifted up one of Nora’s delicate, fair hands. His eyes met hers now, and one corner of his mouth turned up in a wistful smile. Lacing his left hand through her right and sliding the other securely around her narrow waist, Sirius and Nora rotated around the drawing room.

Nora felt him taking charge of the dance, guiding her with expert motions. It all seemed so easy…he just seeped authority over his own movements; his long, sleek body was so devastatingly graceful, so sinuous and lithe, that Nora felt blundering in comparison. She fumbled a step and they both laughed, Sirius pulling her even closer into the warm encompass of his arms. Nora’s lips were at his shoulder and she could smell the sweet fragrance of his skin, feel his silky hair mingling with hers.

She felt heat creeping up her neck, all of her desires bubbling up to the surface. There could be no pushing them back down, not when she was pressed so intimately against his body in this dim room lit only by a small fire; not when his arm was wrapped around her waist, holding her so closely that she almost let out a sigh of contentment. Nora’s eyelids fluttered, feeling her cheek burst into flames where it come in contact with the exposed skin on his neck. The air around them was electrified and alive.

Sirius’s eyes glittered with lust, applauding himself for his nerve and how well it had paid off. Her head was resting on his shoulder now, and he gazed down at the slender curve of her neck, imagining how his lips would travel up the shoulder to her jaw, then down her collarbone…Nora shuddered delicately as though she knew what he was thinking. Sirius mentally explored parts of Nora that were forbidden to him, the ecstasy coursing through his veins like adrenaline.

He pulled away slightly to observe her face, his attention caught on the swell of her lips, so rosy and soft…it took all the strength he had left to resist caressing her mouth with his, to run his hands over her...

Nora’s eyes pierced him with something insatiable, exuding so much want. That couldn’t be right, though. He was just beginning; success takes time. He wasn’t even really trying yet. Sirius did not get the opportunity to really make her knees weak, however, because the song mellowed out into something more fun and friendly, a tune that did not call for inappropriate closeness. His jaw clenched, annoyed, but he smoothed his features into a winning smile when they drifted farther apart and she could see him again. A coolness filled the heated gap between them.

Nora took both his hands in hers and made him do a twirl, which got her smirking. Sirius cocked an eyebrow in response to her amusement and abruptly tilted her back into a surprise dip, savoring her indignant expression and the way her hands flew around his neck to keep from falling. Soon they were taking turns spinning each other, laughing. Sirius shook the dark hair from his eyes and grinned as Nora moved exactly in accordance with the beat of the music, anticipating its every change. “You know this song,” he accused.

Nora smiled unabashedly. “Break My Stride,” she admitted. “I remember this one from several years ago; it was one of my favorite Muggle tunes.”

“I’m rather partial to this song myself,” Sirius replied loftily.

“Ahh, so you know it too. The truth comes out!” Nora teased. “What would Mrs. Black say?”

Sirius deliberately reached out and turned up the volume on the wireless, grinning wickedly. His eyes flashed at Nora. “Now she’s bound to hear. How long do you estimate it will be before she starts screaming her head off?”

Nora shook her head, smiling. “Always the rebel.”

Sirius swiftly pulled her to him for a moment, just fleeting enough to feel like a natural part of the dance. “You bet.”

Nora pretended to glare at him, which was difficult because he was so seductively beautiful; everything illuminated in the flickering dull light. “You held out on me at the New Year’s Ball. You were good then, but here you’re even better.”

“I was using a very inept shell at the time,” he responded. “That bloke was heavy to maneuver.” He paused, surveying her with a witty sparkle in his eyes. “I was hoping you might be steadier on your feet without Snivellus sniffing around, watching like a hawk and getting in the way. No such luck, I guess…”

“I’m allowed to be clumsy,” she sniffed. “It’s my birthday.”

“Is it really?” His eyes widened in mock bewilderment. “I’d almost forgotten! It must have been twenty minutes since you reminded me last.”

“I think I preferred it when you were Cargan Dearborn.”

“Ouch.” Sirius smiled, adopting a superior, haughty look on his features. “But did Dearborn get you a whole stock of Honeydukes’ finest for your birthday? I think not.”

“Oh, Cargan!” Nora sighed dreamily. “If only you were here, trying to get me drunk and dangling mistletoe over my head so that you can kiss me.”

“We don’t always need mistletoe to kiss,” Sirius told her thoughtfully. Nora felt her pulse quicken. There was no Molly here to stop them, nothing to get in the way…

Sirius felt his self-control wavering. Here was Nora, her eyes widening in a promising way, a blush on her cheeks. He yearned for more, but going too fast would be counterproductive to the plan he’d spent all evening devising in his head. Pace yourself, he said internally. This might be progress. Miracles don’t happen overnight. He caught her gaze and lifted Nora’s hand, bending to sweetly kiss it with his lips.

“Goodnight, Nora,” he told her in a soft voice. “And happy birthday.”

He forced himself not to smile until his back was to her, and he quitted the room, leaving her dazed and perceptibly disappointed in his wake. Nora was locked in the same position with her hand extended, the skin on the back of it blazing like a fire. “Damn you, Sirius Black,” she muttered.

Just wait ‘til Tonks gets a load of this, Sirius thought triumphantly to himself while treading the stairs to his bedroom. All Nora needs now is the persuasion of a crazy woman to get the ball rolling. He was so preoccupied that he did not look out over the banister and notice anything unusual.

Severus Snape leaned against the entrance door inside Grimmauld Place, his breathing shallow. He’d come to express his apologies for missing the meeting earlier, and had hoped Nora might invite him to stay for awhile, thought that she’d have been low-spirited by his absence and pleased to see him.

Severus had supposed he’d stay for at least three hours, going over plans for capturing Greyback next week and probably being of more help than any of the others had been. She would be impressed when he told her how complicated it was to brew Veritaserum, which was his major contribution to the plot. After all those visits where Nora came to Hogwarts, he couldn’t help but wonder if some of it was her eagerness to see him, that she enjoyed his company and looked forward to it just as much as he looked forward to hers. He was drawn to her, like a moth to a flame. He’d never dreamed he’d witness this.

He thought he would be rescuing Nora from her unhappiness here by stopping in for awhile, like an oasis. But Severus was not an oasis for Nora and never would be. He was sniffing around, watching like a hawk and getting in the way. How could he be so thick to suppose Black would not get exactly what he wanted? He always seemed to get his way, somehow. It shouldn’t be a shock that he’d already gotten there first. After all, Nora did live in Black’s house. Sirius had all the time in the world to fool Nora into accepting him. And the New Year’s Ball…both of them knowing it was Sirius and not Dearborn, and keeping it to themselves like a private joke. He’d been duped not only by Black, but by her, the woman he coveted; the woman who was supposed to fill his aching emptiness and make him whole again… They probably laughed about it behind his back all the time.

Presently he folded his arms tightly over his chest, willing to contain the pain inside his ribcage, the feeling of everything splitting open…

Nora sauntered out into the hall and he sucked in a sharp breath, but she overlooked his presence just as Black had. She waltzed up the stairs, swaying and smiling to herself. Severus slid to the floor in the darkness of the empty corridor, his heart collapsing like a house of cards. He’d remembered something important that he wanted to tell her, something so much more vital than anything about Veritaserum or Greyback. None if it mattered anymore. She didn’t want him. He was invisible, unworthy, alone….

 


 












A/N The song mentioned called “Break My Stride” is a real song, by the real Matthew Wilder. I revolved most of the characters’ behaviors off of certain songs, in a way. And as this one was the song that inspired my Sirius muse, I couldn’t help but mention it. :)
 


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