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When you have it All by HOLEY like a SAINT

Format: Novel
Chapters: 35
Word Count: 140,419
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong violence, Scenes of a mild sexual nature, Substance abuse, Sensitive topic/issue/theme

Genres: General, Humor, Romance
Characters: Lupin, Snape, James, Lily, Sirius, OC
Pairings: Sirius/OC, James/Lily

First Published: 08/13/2007
Last Chapter: 05/18/2011
Last Updated: 05/18/2011

Summary:
100 000+ Reads!  *banner by me*



My name is Alexandria Edwards. I live at Buckingham Palace, and I’m next in line to the throne of England… I also happen to be a witch. 

After seven years, Alex finally decides to go to Hogwarts. How will she make it through the year trying to balance who she is supposed to be, and who she wants to be, not to mention the marauders...


Chapter 1: Rebel at Court
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Author’s note: The characters in the royal family in this story (including Alex) are not based on any of the current or previous members of the Royal family. They are simply original characters with titles such as King, Princess, etc. No offence meant through my portrayal of them and their lives at Buckingham…it is all my imagination and has to do with my story and not my personal political opinions.





Disclaimer: It’s all JK.R’s… except for Alex, her family, Dev and Adrian, and the plot.

 





The girl jumped on to her bed, looking very delicate and small in comparison to her surroundings. She was hugging a small, black leather notebook. She leaned against her bed, and slowly opened it to the first, clean and crisp page. With a small smile, she carefully started to write:

December 25, 1967

Its finally Christmas Day, and I got the perfect gift from my younger brother, Darcy- this diary. It’s just what I needed: somewhere to write all my thoughts and feelings, since there isn’t anybody around who listens to me. Even with Dev and Adrian, my best friends, we don’t really talk, just goof off mostly and do things somebody like me is not supposed to do. Things like play tag or hide and seek, run around in the rain, and have snowball fights. Ordinary things, right? Then why am I not allowed doing them? Because of one word, one simple word, that complicates my entire life.
Princess.
My name is Alexandria Edwards. I am ten years old. I live at Buckingham Palace, and I’m next in line to the throne of England. 


Alex awoke with a start. She looked around and found herself only half-relieved to be in her room at Buckingham Palace. She groaned as the Big Ben started to chime. Damn that stupid clock!

She slowly got up, and still half asleep walked over to her mirror, and just stared at her reflection. A small smile, not unlike the one she saw in her dream, crept over her face as she realized she had fallen asleep in her gown- her marvelous, royal, expensive, princess gown, now wrinkled and ripped on one side. Her smile slowly changed into a smirk as she took one last glance at herself, before ripping it off of herself.

She walked to her enormous wardrobe on the other side of the room, and picked out a more comfortable outfit: mini-skirt, fitted top, and high heeled boots. She was going out in a while, and she needed to not look like a princess. So slipping on her new outfit, she walked back to her mirror, and checked to see how she looked.

Alexandria Edwards was either envied or hated by the majority of the population, and admired by the few rest. What most would call a gift; she callsa curse- her appearance. Alex was tall, taller than most of the guys she meets at her father’s stupid parties and meetings. She has a slender, proportionate figure, and was slightly muscular, mostly from playing sports she was forced to learn. Her brown, wavy hair fell just above her shoulders, framing her facewonderfully. Her eyes, generally a blue colour, had hints of other colours like green and yellow, which became more dominant on specific days. There was no other way to say it, she was beautiful. And the media loved her even more for it. After acquiring her own fashion style (coupled with the fact that she modeled different lines for charity events, and that she was the rebel princess everyone talked about), Alex became a fashion icon, and no matter where she went, heads turned as she passed by. She gave herself a small nod of approval before turning away.

She jumped onto her bed, and was all of a sudden reminded of her dream. She shook her head, slightly puzzled as to why she would be dreaming of writing in her diary- she hadn’t written in it since last year, really. Nevertheless, she reached under her bed, and took out the dusty notebook. She flipped through some of the pages…

July 21, 1968

It’s my 11th birthday!! And the most amazing thing happened today. I finally know why I don’t exactly fit in. Another word that changes my life: Witch.
I am a witch. I have magic. I just can’t stop saying it.
I can’t wait to start in September. It would be so cool if I'd learn how to blow stuff up or turn people into frogs...these stupid parties wouldn't be so boring then. Or I could cause a diversion and escape when no one's looking! Oh, imagine all the possibilities... 


Alex looked up from her reading. She remembered that day, exactly 7 years ago, when a rather strange looking man paid her a surprise visit. Her life had taken a dramatic twist that day, when she discovered the truth. And muchto Alex’s liking, never twisted back. Professor Dumbledore had arranged to have her home-schooled, for seeing as she was the princess, she could not just up and leave to go study magic. How did he manage to persuade ‘the king’ to agree to it anyways? Alex thought. She slowly came up with a number of possibilities, each more amusing and less likely, until she finally decided that exactly what Dumbledore had told her father would always remain a mystery. All she knew was that he believed her to be home-schooled by some private and prestigious school. Either way, she became a Hogwarts student, and she had learned about potion-making, transfiguration, charms, and herbology, even how to ride a broom, all here- in London. Not at Hogwarts, which year by year, seemed to call to her, to come home; her real home, where she belonged. 

She smiled as she realized that she had actually taken her own 11-year old-self’s advice just last night. She had caused a diversion, which though it ripped her dress, had gotten her away before she died of boredom and kisses to the hand. Flipping a few more pages, she read on…

March 13, 1973

I will be in so much trouble when my father sees the paper. Dev, Adrian and I went out last night, and stupid photographers caught me having some fun at a club. I already saw the front pages…Why do they keep doing this to me? So I like to dance, is that a crime? Even if I do start to "act my part", I doubt the media would stop their torment- they'd probably get a snapshot of me picking my nose at some formal dinner, and voila! A million more papers sold. 


She smiled wryly as she read that last line. Two years hasn’t changed much, as she was still the main attraction for the media in England. She gave herself a moment as she recollected all of the good times she spent out with Dev and Adrian, and knew that by tomorrow morning, there would be one more to add to her already rather long list. Of course, Alex thought, by tomorrow morning there will also be one more thing to add to a list that never stops growing- another smashing headline. Rebel at Court celebrates 18th Birthday Drunk. Ha, they should pay me to make up my own headlines. She shook her head, quietly laughing to herself as she flipped a few more pages. 

January 31, 1974

Darcy found out my secret a couple days ago. He completely freaked out and wouldn’t even listen to me. Now he’s just ignoring me. Maybe he’ll rat me out and my father will disown me. It’s not asking too much, is it? Honestly, it would be doing us both a favour. I can’t stand being royalty anymore. 


At this entry, she frowned as tears started to well up in her eyes. She closed her eyes to keep them in, and the scene flashed before her eyes. Darcy seeing her potion-making, waving her wand around…Darcy catching sight of her closet, usually hidden, full of cauldrons, potion ingredients, textbooks, and her broom, not to mention her owl... Darcy yelling at her as she tried to explain…pushing her away as she tried to come closer…the look on his face as he left the room, leaving Alex alone, sobbing quietly… 

Her eyes snapped open as she forced herself to forget, and accept the fact that Darcy would never accept her. Things would never be the same…

February 14, 1975

The media officially dubbed me “The Rebel at Court”. Dad won’t like that… 

NOTE TO SELF: find way to escape. SOON. Preferably before dear daddy decides to do away with me for good and have me whacked...Hmmm, there's a possibility...fake my own death... 


In a flash her tears disappeared as she was overcome with a giant laughing fit. She had forgotten she had written that. She neared the end of her diary, and she realized she only had one more empty page. As the clock chimed 1:30 (am), she walked over to her desk, picked up her pen and wrote her last entry:

July 21, 1975

It is my 18th birthday. Already I have a feeling it will be a bad one. I’m pretty sure my father is up to something. But frankly, I don’t give a damn any more.

Why? Because I’m leaving. At the end of August I’m leaving London to go to Hogwarts and complete my final year there. Away from this royal rubbish, from the lie I’ve been trying to live for my father’s sake. My hope is I will finally find where I belong, because it’s clearly not at Buckingham. 

I’m in charge of my life from now on, even if that means giving up my title, family, and past. The rest I leave up to fate... 


She leaned back in her chair, letting out a sigh. She had made up her mind, and now she was going to stick to it.

Alexandria Edwards, Princess of England, was finally going to take her place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. 

But for the moment, she had some rebelling to do and headlines to make. So putting away her diary, she grabbed her purse and headed out. Sneaking along the deserted corridors, careful not to make too much noise with her clicking heels, she made her way out of the palace. As soon as she stepped out of the grounds, she was greeted by her two best friends, looking just as identical and smashing as always. 

Dev whistled, “Looking hot, Dria.” 

Adrian grinned as he linked arms with her, “Haven’t we already told you not to dress like that? You make us look bad…underdressed, I mean.” 

Alex laughed, as Dev linked arms on her other side. 

“Alright, where to?” he asked, “Wanna go see the wizard?” 

“Only if I get to be scarecrow,” Adrian responded. 

“Right, he still hasn’t got back to you about that brain, has he?” Alex asked in mock concern, doing her best to keep a straight face. 

“Well, what can I say? I’m hoping today is my lucky day,” Adrian said with a shrug. 

“Me too…” Alex replied. “I’ve tried clicking my heels, and it’s not working!” 

They all laughed, and exclaimed, “To Oz then!” 

“Happy Birthday, by the way,” the twins said. 

“But don’t expect us to pay just because it’s your birthday, Dria,” Dev added. “You’re the rich one here, remember?” 

Alex laughed as she gave them both a small kiss on the cheek, and they started down the street, debating who in their right mind would name a night club Oz.



 




Author's Note:  I know this is a bit of a stretch, but this is just the intro...it'll get better.  Give it a try and please review!

Also thanks to my beta, Deads cooler than Holey.


Chapter 2: Confrontations
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A month had flown by since her birthday, and Alex was now walking down to her father’s study. The time had come at last for her to confront him about leaving for school. She knew, of course, that this would not be an enjoyable discussion, and already had some of her things packed and ready to go. Term started next week, and she would not be spending her last couple days of summer meeting more obnoxious people and putting up with the horrid and hateful media.

She stopped in front of his doors. Taking a deep breath, she knocked and then entered. Closing the door behind her, she turned to face her father. He sat at his desk, looking very formal in his kingly attire, with a pair of golden glasses perched upon his nose.  His short hair was balding in some spots, and the rest, including his beard, was starting to sprout some grey hairs.  Doing her best not to laugh at the sight, Alex slightly bowed her head, paused, and then took a few steps towards him.


“Good evening father,” she said quietly, pausing for a response she knew would not come. “Could I talk to you for a moment?”


“What is it, Alexandria?” her father Stephan answered, making her cringe at the sound of her name, for she actually dreaded being called Alexandria. Without even looking up at her from his papers, he continued, “Can’t you see I am busy?”


“Yes, and I am sorry for interrupting you, but this is rather important.” She silently scowled at her too proper princess-like grammar, and then smiled thinking how she could use all the contractions and slang she wanted as soon as she got out of here.


“Alright. Please make it quick.”


"Well, it’s my last year of study this year, and I really want to do it at school,” she said quickly, waiting for the effect. Aha! He stopped writing. Is he actually going to look at me…? One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three- Amazing! Wow, he must really hate me if it took him that long to just raise his head.


“What do you mean, at school?”


“I want to spend my last year as a regular student, and actually live in the dormitory.”


“Preposterous. You are not going anywhere. You are of age already and it is high time you started acting your part, which does not include you going off to some school half way across the world.”


“But that’s just it- I don’t wannna act.” This time it was her father’s turn to scowl at her improper grammar and un-princess like demeanor. Ignoring the evil death glare she was receiving, Alex continued, “I’m sick and tired of all of this royal nonsense. I just want to be a normal teenager.”


“Alexandria, you are a princess and-”


 “Well I don’t want to be one!” Crap, I better control my anger before I make something explode, which would not be good. He doesn’t need to know that about me just yet.


“-so you will live like one. I will not have you going to some far off place to school with common people. Is it not enough I let you be educated by the school of your choice in the first place?”


“No,” she scoffed.


Her father looked at her murderously, “I do not want to hear anymore of this nonsense. You are staying here and that is final!”


“But why can’t you-”


“I said enough! Why do you have to be such a problem anyways? You never settle on anything and always stir up the worst commotions, including those in the papers and on the news.”


“That’s not my fault! I was just-” 


“Why can you not be more like Darcy? He’s younger than you, for crying out loud, and he’s setting a better example.”


“Honestly, I couldn’t care less. It’s obvious I won’t ever be as good, as perfect Darcy.”


“I will not have you talking to me in such a way!” he yelled as he stood up and slammed his fist onto the table. He paused, “Now, tomorrow there is a formal meeting which I wish you to attend, understood?”


Alex did not answer. She knew she was left with no choice now but to runaway and she was prepared. She slowly nodded her head and started inching her way to the door, making sure to face him the entire time. She didn’t need another problem for being “disrespectful” or some royal rubbish like that.


“You are excused,” her father said, before sitting back down and continuing with his paperwork. 


Alex slowly bowed her head once more. Then door opened behind her without even a creak. With a whispered goodbye, she left her father’s study, and started to walk towards her room, trying to keep herself composed. But as she got closer and closer, Alex couldn’t stand it any longer- she broke into a run, and ignoring the million evil eyes following her, she ran the rest of the way. 


Once there, she took out her wand and started gathering the last of her belongings, throwing them into her trunk. Within a couple minutes she was finished. After checking her room one last time (which took longer than it did to pack), she pointed her wand at her trunk, and it instantly became ten times smaller- small enough to fit into her backpack.


Seeing as she still had an hour or two before it would be best for her to leave, she sat down at her desk, took out some paper and a pen, and began to write a quick note to her parents explaining that she had left for school, omitting the fact that she was a witch and was in fact going to a school for witchcraft. After finishing that one, she scribbled a slightly longer one to Dev and Adrian. They were definitely the only reason why it was hard for her to leave.


Soon, the clock chimed ten thirty, and Alex knew it was time to go- Buckingham’s nightlife was not very active, so she wouldn’t get caught. She grabbed her backpack, left the note to her parents on her desk, and the other she gave to her owl Franz to deliver to her friends. 


She silently crept out of her room, through the already deserted hallways, and out of the palace. Apparition was not possible inside Buckingham grounds- a little safety feature installed by Albus Dumbledore himself- so Alex needed to get just past the gate, which she did. Taking a deep breath, envisioning where she wanted to go, she focused all of her power and thoughts and was about to turn on the spot and disappear when somebody grabbed her arm.


“Darcy! Merlin, you scared me!” Alex yelped, noting her brother’s expression at her use of ‘Merlin’.
“Where are you going?”


“Away.”


“To that school of yours, you mean?” Darcy scoffed, letting go of her arm. She couldn’t help but smile at his appearance, and wondered why the media never ‘attacked’ him. Though she knew she was good looking, in her opinion, Darcy outshone her. He was tall, and had short dark hair with side burns (which no one but him could pull off), and his eyes were a mix between blue and grey- she had always loved looking at them. He was quite athletic, so he was fairly muscular. He always struck people as the dark and mysterious type, and he was, but really he was more shy and polite, usually calm and kept to himself. 


“I need to go Darcy, I just don’t belong here,” Alex pleaded. “I know you can see that, so why can’t you understand?”


“What I can understand is how father is going to look when you don’t show up tomorrow and-”


“I don’t give a damn anymore! Why should I care about him if he doesn’t even try to think about what I want? It’s my life; I’m doing what I want with it.”


"I’m not going to cover for you this time, Alex,” Darcy said, his tone getting darker “All these years I never told mum or dad about what…what you are, but-”


“Well you should have! I never asked you to not tell- if you had it would have spared us all a lot of trouble.”


“You know what? Just go, at least with you gone I don’t have to worry about reading the morning paper,” Darcy snapped.


Alex paled, but did not back down, “And what exactly is that supposed to mean, Mr.-Perfect-prince-charming?”


Darcy winced, “It means you are a bigger problem than you think you are.”


“Well I’m sorry I don’t want to conform.”


“Conform?”


“Yes, conform- to comply with their ridiculous standards, to be like them, to behave in a socially acceptable and expected way,” Alex said getting more and more riled. She gave her brother a quick glance, and sighed, trying to calm herself down. “I’m not cut out for this, Darcy.”


He seemed to consider his wording before he spoke, “You just…rebel…too much.”


“And you don’t ‘rebel’ enough,” Alex said with a huff. “But you prefer to be daddy’s favourite, right?”


At that comment, Darcy’s shoulders stiffened and Alex earned a pointed glare of doom, ensued by a long, tense pause. She knew that was her brother’s breaking point. 


“FINE! Be a stubborn spoiled brat. You always run, so what’s new right? You never change, always being selfish, thinking about yourself, never how your actions affect other people. I shouldn’t even have tried stopping you; it was just a waste of time. Go to your freak school, meet more freaks, and see if I care. In fact, I hope you fall off your broom or get blown to bits and die, at least that way you can’t embarrass and disgrace us anymore!”


Alex took a step back. She had known what was coming, but could never have been prepared for the words which came out of his mouth with such spite and force. 


Fighting back tears, but still standing strong, Alex looked her brother in the eye, “Well, at least now that you’ve finally spoken your mind, you can go back to ignoring me in peace.”


Darcy’s expression seemed to soften as the full blow of what he just said hit him. “Alex, I didn’t…”


“I’m sorry for embarrassing you, and if only you told me earlier, I might have been blown to bits and off your mind a lot sooner. Goodbye, Darcy.” And with a spin and small pop she disapparated, leaving Darcy standing there speechless.


“Brilliant, ruddy brilliant.” He ran a hand through his hair in frustration, and turned back to the palace, “Now what do I do?”



 




 Author’s Note: Thank you for the reviews, they are really appreciated. Just to clarify:


-         this is not based on the movie ‘The Princess Diaries’ even though I used her picture in my banner, (or Pride and Prejudice, for that matter)


-         Darcy is second in line to the throne (if both the King and Alex were to die, and provided Alex doesn’t have any kids…). It’s not a Father-son throne thing in this story, but more of a firstborn matter…(if that makes any sense at all)


if you’re confused about anything please a review and I’ll try to sort it out for you. If you’re not, leave a review anyways!


And of course, a big thanks to my beta…


Hope you enjoyed it, and stay tuned for the next chapter, in which the marauders finally appear.


Chapter 3: Of Dazzling Smiles and Awkward Pauses
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Alex stopped in her tracks. She looked up at the sign that said Platform 9, and then looked to the other sign across the massive stone pillar, which said Platform 10. Her ticket said Platform 9¾. Brilliant. Leave it to Dumbledore to forget to tell me how to get on the damned platform. 


She sighed in frustration and looked around. Though she did not stand out in the crowd, being dressed plainly and with her trunk and other strange belongings shrunk in her backpack, she couldn’t very well just walk up and ask for directionsonto a platform that didn‘t seem to exist. For one, she’d look like a complete idiot, and two, she didn’t want to be recognized as the Princess. She snickered as she imagined the next day’s headlines: “the-princess-who-finally-lost-her-marbles”- the media would have a field day, especially as she just spent the last couple of days in hiding, sort of. The truth was she had disapparated to her own little cottage/house in the country, where she knew nobody would find her, which was important considering her father had declared to the entire country, that she had gone off to school half way across the world.


But now she was on the verge of getting what she always wanted, and she couldn’t get there! She looked around some more, and finally noticed a boy with dark hair (which, Alex noted, looked as if it hadn’t been washed in a while), that curtained his sallow and pale face. She watched as he pushed a trolley with a large trunk and what looked like a toad in a cage. He’s definitely a wizard- no muggle in their right mind would pack into a trunk now-a-days. He just kept walking, right toward the wall. Alex opened her mouth to shout out, but just in that moment he disappeared, right through the wall in between platforms 9 and 10. 


Alex blinked. She had seen magic, but this was just unbelievable. Taking a deep breath, and clutching her ticket tightly, she marched right toward the wall. Closing her eyes and bracing herself, expecting to meet a hard stone wall. Instead, she felt a warm, floating sensation as a new world materialized in front of her on the other side. This side, to her great relief, said “Platform 9¾”. A huge smiled plastered her face as she saw the bright red train, marked The Hogwarts Express.


Walking through the crowds, and trying to take everything that was happening in at once, she made her way towards the closest doors. Handing her ticket to the conductor, she stepped inside and started to walk down the aisle, looking for an empty compartment, as well as looking at all the different witches and wizards around her. She got a few strange looks from time to time, and Alex figured that was either because she was a new face (and not an 11-year old new face at that), or because they recognized her. But just smiling back and getting smiles back in return, she immediately felt a sense of belonging, as if a puppy found its home after being lost a long time.


Finally finding a spot to sit, and she plopped down right next to the window. She leaned her head back and closed her eyes, smiling all the while. It was incredible, what she was feeling, and yet Alex could not find a better word to describe the state she was in than “happy.” Nervous, and excited too obviously, but those two emotions were miniscule compared to the other more potent feeling which was building inside of her with each passing moment. 


As she just sat there, she heard voices near her door. Her eyes fluttered open when the door opened, and she smiled widely- she was looking at two boys who would even give Darcy a run for their money. One was taller, wearing his Hogwarts robes and a badge which read “Prefect”, while the other (only a bit shorter) wore muggle clothes.


“Er…do you mind? Everywhere else is full,” the taller one said. 


“Not at all,” Alex responded, taking in his features. He was tall, and had sandy brown hair. He seemed strong, but did not come off as the muscular, athletic type. His eyes were a warm brown, but they seemed to be hiding a dark secret. He was definitely attractive, but in a more subtle way.  


“Thank you,” he replied, also smiling. Walking into the compartment, they dragged their trunks in and placed them on the racks above, which gave Alex a moment to turn her attention to the other one. Though he was shorter, he was by far the handsomer of the two. His dark hair swept across his face in a somewhat windswept yet elegant-looking style.He looked down; right at her, and Alex felt as if a shockwave just ran through her. His eyes were so grey, yet an electrifying blue at the same time. He smiled, and her former shock at his enthralling eyes disappeared as she became dazzled by his smile. But something about that smile told Alex that he knew exactly what it was doing to her. She smiled back and looked toward the window as the train started moving. She heard the other chuckle lightly, and looked over to see him shake his head and mutter something to the other as they both sat down on the bench opposite of her.


An awkward pause followed as Alex realized that both boys seemed to be studying her now. She shifted in her seat a bit, and turned her head away, not wanting to meet those eyes whose gaze she felt upon her. But tilting her head a bit, she noticed that the taller one seemed to be lost in thought, and Alex could tell by the way he was looking at her what he was about to say.


“Have we met before?”


She smiled lightly, “No, I’m afraid not. I’m new to Hogwarts.”


He merely nodded his head, while the other smiled his breathtaking smile, and stood up. “Well then welcome, m’lady, to the Hogwarts Express. My name is Sirius Black, and I will be your guide for today…and any other day for that matter,” he said in a calm, charismatic voice, as he extended his hand towards her.


Alex reached for it, “Alexandria Edwards, pleased to meet you.”


At which he smiled again, making her melt in her seat. “Pleasure is all mine. And this is my good friend-”


“Remus Lupin,” the other finished, shaking her hand gently. “So where are you from Alexandria?”


“Please, just call me Alex. Anything but that.”


“Alright, so…”


“How about Dria?” Sirius interrupted.


“It’s alright,” Alex replied, with a faint grin on her lips. That was what Dev and Alex called her, and the name brought back numerous memories.


“Or Lexy?” he continued, but the grin vanished as fast as it appeared.


“No. Sorry, but I don’t put up with that one.” The truth was she had put up with it- before Darcy had found out she was a witch and stopped talking to her.


Sensing an awkward silence, Remus spoke up for a third time, “So where are you from?”


“London,” Alex said, trying to get back into her euphoria mode, and not think about the painful …division …between her and Darcy. They used to be so close…


“So how come this is your first year here?” Sirius interjected. Remus shook his head again and a faint smile appeared on his lips. Where pretty girls were involved, it was difficult to make conversation with Sirius around. “You certainly don’t look like a first year.”


“I was actually…home-schooled in magic…amongst other things.”


“Really? How?” Remus stepped in, determined to try and make Sirius mad.


“Well, since I wasn’t able to come to school because of certain…er…family problems…” Alex stumbled over her words, trying not to give away too much.


“By which you mean you’re muggle-born and your parents don’t know you’re a witch?” Remus said a bit too knowingly, making Alex wonder if he actually did know who she was.


“Yeah…”Alex said, trying to continue, “Dumbledore made some exceptions for me. How did you know?”


Remus smiled triumphantly, noting Sirius’ death glare. He had managed to steal the conversation, and was about to answer when Sirius interrupted again, “What are you doing here then?”


“I decided I was coming for 7th year and that was that.”


“Your parents actually let you come?” Sirius asked amazed. 


“Are you kidding? I left. Remember they don’t even know about me,” Alex replied.


“Are you going to go back home?” Remus asked, “I mean, you’ll have to tell them eventually, won’t you? How will your parents take the news?”


Alex sighed, “Not good I imagine. I think I will have to return though- tie up some loose ends and stuff. But I’m not so sure about telling them I’m a witch.”


“Why not? Can’t be that bad can it?” Sirius asked, looking a bit concerned.


“You don’t know my dad. He’d probably burn me at the stake if he could,” she said, laughing. “But honestly, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my brother will rat me out and spare me the trouble. Then hopefully I’ll be disowned within a month.”


“Optimistic one, aren’t you?” Remus supplied with a grin plastered over his face. “I was at-”


But where Remus was, or what he was doing, Alex never found out, because at that moment another tall figure walked into the compartment. He had dark, messy hair and hazel eyes hidden behind glasses. Though not quite as handsome as Sirius, he was attractive and more muscular.


“BLOODY HELL! What is it with that girl!?” he shouted out, clearly frustrated at something. Alex noticed Remus shake his head once more, and Sirius trying, rather poorly, to contain his laughter. The new guy, however, did not seem to notice Alex sitting there, at fist, and continued on with his ranting. “Every single time I try to be nice somehow always ends up like … oh…sorry, I didn’t…er…”


“It’s alright. I’m Alex,” she said, reaching out her hand.


“James Potter,” he said, shaking her hand but still clearly distracted. He kept glancing at the doors nervously.


“What did you do, James?” Remus asked in a voice that hinted at amused.


“Who, me? Nothing!” he replied a little too quickly.


“Then why do I see Miss Evans storming down the aisle to our compartment?”


“Bloody hell! She’s coming here?” James exclaimed, panicking. “Quick! Hide me! Lock the door! Silence her! Do something!”


At that moment the door burst open again, and Alex was now facing the most pretty-angry looking girl she had every seen. Her flushed face clashed with her fiery red hair, but made her bright green eyes stand out even more.


“James Potter! You little, sleazy, arrogant, egoistical pri…” but she stopped short, as she noticed Alex sitting in the corner, “Oh…my…”


“I don’t believe it. Did I finally take your breath away, Evans?” James quipped. There would have been laughter at that remark if it wasn’t for the fact that all eyes were on the staring contest between her and Lily.


Sirius cleared is throat, attempting to break some of the building tension, “Lily Evans, Alex Edwards.”


Alex stretched out her hand for what seemed like the hundredth time within an hour, but Lily just stared at her, with her own hands clasped over her mouth.


“But….but…you can’t be a witch!” Lily cried. Alex lowered her hand and drew a sharp, quick breath. She was certain Lily must have recognized her and was dreading the direction this was going.


“Now, Evans, be nice. Its Alex’s first day at Hogwarts. Aren’t you supposed to be the all positive, welcoming, friendly and helpful prefect Evans we know?” Sirius joked, but was ignored, for Lily was almost in hysterics at the moment.


“This is impossible…You can’t have magic! You’re…you’re the Princess for crying out loud!” Lily screeched. 


Alex paled as a newfound silence engulfed the room, and all heads turned toward her.
 


Author's Note:  Hey guys! So, I hope you liked it.
Thank you to everybody!  This story has already more than 300 reads! I was never expecting that, and it has inspired and motivated me to keep going.
And of course, thank you to Dead's cooler than Holey for an awesome job, as always!
Please leave a review!!


Chapter 4: Knight in Shining Armour
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“Princess?” Sirius asked in shock.


“I thought you looked familiar,” Remus said quietly with a small smile.



“Princess,” Sirius repeated dumbly, “As in royalty?”


“Please…don’t…” Alex started, stumbling over her words. 


But Lily knew no end, “And your father had said you had gone away to school…”


“I have…” Alex interrupted, her eyes starting to fill with unwanted tears. 


“…which is why you weren’t at the ceremony a couple days ago and you were supposed to meet him and now-” Lily continued, seeming to gain momentum as she went on.


“STOP IT!” Alex yelled in frustration. Lily stopped and stared at her with wide eyes along with the three boys. “I left to get away from that! Don’t bring it up…please, any of it.”


Lily’s gaze hardened, “But now England-”


“I don’t care about bloody England!” Alex yelled standing up; too late in realizing she was giving herself away to people she knew less than an hour. Composing herself, she muttered quietly, “Excuse me” as she left the compartment, leaving a very stunned Lily behind.


Another silence overcame the small room as the boys’ eyes darted from the slammed door to Lily.


“Nice going, Evans, you’ve upset the princess,” James said.


“I don’t believe it!” Sirius suddenly exclaimed turning to Lily. “All these years of hearing from you what a stuck-up attention seeking brat this princess is, and she turns out normal- more than that, she turns out to be a witch! What do you have against her?”


“Nothing! It’s just she’s always getting into trouble and…” Lily tried to explain, feeling slightly overwhelmed by their defensiveness.


“Probably not intentionally,” Remus said. “I mean, she’s most likely followed or photographed everywhere she goes, I wouldn’t blame her for trying to get away from that every once in a while and having some fun.”


“Yeah, and it wouldn’t be the first time newspapers made up a bunch of rubbish based on some snapshot that they misread anyways,” Sirius said.


“Even so,” Lily persisted, “She’s a princess! She’s supposed to act like one!”


“Princess or not…she’s still a teenager. She deserves to have some fun,” James said, earning nods from both boys and just a pointed glare from Lily.


“I don’t see her brother doing that!” Lily huffed.


“Probably because he’s too much of a coward to rebel,” Sirius said, knowing full well that Lily, (along with at least half of the muggle-born female population at Hogwarts) was practically in love with the muggle prince.


“He is not! He’s respectable and…” Lily blushed, trying to find words to cover.


“We know Evans, we know,” Remus whispered with a smile. “But then again, he’s not a wizard, is he? Or first born for that matter. He probably never experienced the same amount of attention or stress or problems or pressure or anything like Alex has, hence has never felt the need to…as Sirius put it, rebel.”


Lily gaped. Remus, head boy, the logical one, the one she usually agreed with, was defending Alex too. Turning on her heel, she breathed a quick “Forget it, this is hopeless,” and walked out.


“Hey, don’t spread it around!” Sirius yelled just as the door slammed again.


“Bloody hell, that didn’t go too well, did it?” James said as he slapped a hand over his forehead. “I’m supposed to be getting Evans to fall for me, and now she probably just thinks I’m in love with the princess!”


“It’s not that bad, Prongs,” Remus said, “I mean, this time, you were right and she was wrong so she’ll have to come over to your side eventually…”


“…which means,” Sirius continued, “She’ll realize how brilliant and mature you are for seeing that before she did.”


“You think?” James asked hopefully.


“Sure,” Sirius replied, “And if that doesn’t work, you can just go back to professing your undying love for her, asking her out, and getting slapped every other day.”


James only sighed in reply as he turned his gaze toward the window. Sensing another ‘Evans rant’ coming, Remus quickly stood up and said, “I reckon I should find Alex and tell her to change. We should be at Hogwarts soon,” and left the compartment, before Sirius could even offer to do it himself.

Remus smirked with satisfaction as he heard James start on about how he and Lily were destined for each other, and a deep sigh of frustration on Sirius’ part. Not that he didn’t support his friend, but one couldonly listen to the same speech so many times, and seeing he’s already heard more than enough throughout the past six years, he deserved a break once in a while too. Usually it was Sirius who escaped, Well not this time, Remus thought. Plus, talking to Alex should be fun.


Walking down the aisle of the train, he wondered where she might have gone off to. He was about to check the loo, when he figured Alex wasn’t the type of girl to run to a smelly loo and cry about her problems. No, Alex would be somewhere else. So he kept walking, right to the end of the train, and not having found her anywhere, he tentatively opened the back door of the caboose leading outside.


And there she was, leaning against the railing, looking out to the sunset the train was traveling away from. Deep in thought, she didn’t even hear him come up to her.


“It’s a nice view, isn’t it?” he whispered, as he leaned against the rail next to her.


“Mmmh,” Alex mumbled, in a bit of a daze. Then, as if realizing where she was, she turned to find Remus standing next to her, “Oh, it’s you.”


“No need to sound so enthused about it,” Remus laughed. 


“Sorry,” she mumbled, and Remus noticed how her character changed from when they first met. Bright and seemingly carefree, she was now the complete opposite. But he couldn’t also help but notice how she nevertheless looked just as gorgeous, even when looking depressed. “How did you find me?”


Remus shook his head to snap out of his little reverie, and putting on his best grin, replied, “It’s a sixth sense of mine, finding distraught women and rescuing them from their troubles.”


Alex smiled, “Well aren’t you just an adorable little knight in shining armour?”


“I try,” he replied nonchalantly, shrugging. A comfortable pause was on the verge of settling in, but Remus went on, “Do you want to tell me what’s wrong?”


He found himself surprised to see Alex look up at him, shocked. “You actually want to know?” Alex asked quietly in disbelief, “You’ll…listen?”


“Yeah, of course. Why wouldn’t I?” Remus said, arching his eyebrows.


“I don’t know,” Alex replied, still in shock. “It’s just, no ones ever really asked me that before…and I know it sounds strange, but it’s just a bit bizarre for me, you know? Look at it this way, I’ve known you for about…what’s it been now, 2 hours? And already you’re being a better friend… well, better than my family even.”


Remus opened his mouth to say something, but found that he had no words. He couldn’t even begin to understand the complexity of the beautiful, troubled brunette standing before him. “Look, either way, you’re my friend now, and I’m here for you whenever you need me, alright?”


She looked at him, and he felt himself melt inside at the intensity of the look she was giving him with those astounding eyes. She smiled, and he felt himself, if at all possible, melt even further, especially as she whispered, “thank you”. Her voice rang through his ears, and he would have been content to just stand there and look at her, waiting for her to start talking and to listen to her, But as she looked out toward the sunset again, he realized she wasn’t going to, and was all of the sudden reminded why he had come to find her in the first place.

He cleared his throat, “So…?”

“You’re persistent, aren’t you?” 


“I try,” he answered once again, and seeing her smile at him he felt as if the world stopped turning.


Taking a deep breath, she whispered looking at her hands- not daring enough to meet his eyes, “It’s just that I’m wondering if it was a mistake coming here. Maybe my brother was right…and my dad for that matter. Maybe I should have stayed home.”


“Well, it’s too late now, isn’t it?” he said, and Alex turned to look at him. “What’s done is done; you can’t dwell on whether or not you made the right choice, because you can’t fix that now. But since you’re here, might as well make the most of it, then in time you’ll see if it was a good choice or not. You know, the whole being-optimistic-and--not-sulking spiel."


She couldn’t take her eyes off him, and quite frankly couldn’t believe how much sense he made. She looked into his eyes, and found herself getting lost in their softness. She looked deeper, trying to find the secret he was hiding, and at the same time feeling as if he could see past the princess, really see who she was. As the wind blew some of his hair into his face covering his eyes, she finally averted her gaze, and Remus let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding. “You’re brilliant, Remus”.


He smiled, “I tr-”


“I know, I know,” she laughed.


“So what will it be?”


“I guess I better give it a shot, huh?” Alex said, “Wouldn’t be able to show my face back at Buckingham if I didn’t.”


“Excellent!” Remus answered, ignoring the last part of her statement- that was another mystery for another day. “We better get back then. You need to put your robes on before we get to Hogwarts and…” he stopped as he felt a soft touch on his arm. “Hmmm?”


“Thanks.”


“Anytime,” he replied opening the door and letting her through. “You do owe me one though, now.”


She laughed, “Oh, is that how it works? I thought ‘you’re my friend and you’re here for me anytime’?”


“Well yeah,” he said, noting how her mood clicked back to the way before Lily interrupted, “but nothing’s free.”


“I’ll make sure to keep that in mind the next time you try to be chivalrous and help me out.”


“And I’ll start a tally to make sure you don’t cheat me on the favours,” Remus laughed as Alex gasped, looking very taken aback.


“A princess? Cheat? Why, I never heard of such a thing! How rude!” Alex mocked, sarcasm dripping from each word, “Honestly, don’t you know anything about me?”


“Well sure I do,” Remus said in mock indignation, “You’re rebellious, spontaneous, gorgeous, a spoiled attention seeking brat, gorgeous, a great dancer and singer, did I mention stunningly gorgeous?”


“Yes, but you missed smart, funny, responsible…”


“Responsible?” Remus asked in feigned shock, “honestly…”


Alex shrugged, “It was worth a shot. I must say though, I’m impressed. How do you know all that anyways?”


“Lily Evans. She kept us posted on all your misdoings. She was quite a fan, you know? Practically worshipped you, that is, before you…er…turned bad.”


“I never really ‘turned’ bad, it was more of my ‘bad side’ showing through the last couple of years,” Alex said laughing, feeling unusually at ease.


“Well, at least it made Buckingham interesting,” Remus answered, receiving a playful punch from Alex in return. “Seriously though, don’t mind Lily. She’ll come through eventually. She’s actually a really great person; I reckon she was just a bit surprised to find you sitting there. And if that doesn’t work, you can just bribe her with a personal audience with your brother and all will be forgiven.”


“I’ll hold you to that,” Alex replied smiling, as she re-entered the compartment.



 



 Author’s Note: I’m back! Sorry for the longer than usual wait, but alas, I have unfortunately discovered the joy of midterms…
You guys are great! Thanks to all reviewers and readers. I hope you liked the chapter, it goes out to all Remus fans out there.
And of course, where would I be without my fabulous beta! 


Please review!


ps- If anyone was interested, I’m posting a DM/HG one-shot soon, “By a Fraction”.


Also, I have created a Meet the Author thread at the HPFF Forums, so if you have any questions, comments or whatever, feel free to post it there.


Chapter 5: Alex, the Witch
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“Firs’ years over here!” a loud, booming voice yelled.  

Stepping off the train at the Hogsmeade station, Alex turned to see who was yelling, and she felt her jaw drop.  Standing a couple of meters away from her was the largest man she had ever seen.  A couple of first year students who shyly crowded around him looked like little puppy Chihuahuas next to a fully grown St. Bernard.

Feeling a warm hand take hers, she turned back to see Sirius leading her off the steps, and she realized she had blocked the ‘traffic’ of oncoming students.  He started to lead her away from the giant man and the first years. “But shouldn’t I go with them?  I mean, I know I’m not a first year, but it is my first year here, and I want to go across the lake.”

Sirius stopped and turned to look at her.  Smiling he replied, “See those clouds, Edwards?  In less than five minutes you’ll be thanking me.  Besides, you belong with seventh years, not scrawny little first year brats.” 

Alex shut her mouth and decided to follow him.  He led her through the giant crowd of students right to the front where there were horseless carriages waiting, some already making their way up the road to the castle, which Alex could now see.  Though the faint outline of the enormous castle was barely visible against the slowly darkening sky, the lights shining through every window made it stand out.  She couldn’t help but marvel at its size and grandeur, even from far away.  She was so taken with the sight of her new home that she didn’t notice Sirius suddenly stop, causing her bump into him.  She was about to mutter an apology when she noticed a smirk on his face, one that told her he had done that deliberately.

“Oi!  Sirius! Over here mate!” Alex heard a voice she recognized as James’ call from one of the carriages.

In a split-second they were moving again, and another second later Sirius was helping her up the wobbly step to the carriage, just as it started to rain.  She quickly got inside followed by Sirius, who, though only in the rain for a moment, was already soaked.  He looked at Alex, and she cursed that smile of his as he said, “Told you.”

Alex forced her eyes of him and looked around to see James and a different boy sitting next to him.  The complete opposite of all three boys she met so far, he was short and stubby, looking very unkempt and a bit sinister to boot.  His dark eyes finally found hers and he immediately looked away, squirming in his seat and twitching.  James laughed as he introduced her, “Alex, this is Peter Pettigrew.”

“Hi,” Alex said forcing a smile, though in fact she was thoroughly disgusted by him.  But he only made a sort of grunt in return, and this time it was Sirius’ turn to laugh.  A laugh that sounded strangely like a bark…she thought.

“Don’t mind him, Alex.  He’s a bit scared of girls, especially beautiful ones.”

Suddenly she felt grateful for the dark as she felt her cheeks burn up, which is strange- I never blush.  Not able to find the right answer to such an awkward statement, she finally managed to say, “Is that so?”

“Oh yeah,” Sirius replied without a moment’s hesitation.  “Especially after last year when he asked Audrey Jones out, remember James?  But he was so nervous he wet himself and she started shrieking and yelling at him to get away.”

James joined in Sirius’ laughter, “Yeah that was priceless.  I can’t believe you actually wet yourself, Pete.”

A raspy, embarrassed and bitter voice suddenly spat, “Well if Sirius hadn’t told me to drink all that Firewhisky beforehand, I wouldn’t have. And maybe I would have been able to produce a comprehensible sentence.”

But this only made the other two laugh even harder, and Alex was getting the impression that there was a lot more to the prank played on Peter than firewhisky alone.

“I doubt that Pete,” Sirius said. He opened his mouth to say, Alex was sure, another joke or insult, but taking pity on the boy sitting in front of her, she interrupted. 

“What’s firewhisky?”  It was the first thing that came to mind, and she had said it before she could stop herself.  She mentally slapped herself for asking such a stupid question.  Obviously, firewhisky is whisky…that tastes like fire…

“Um…whisky,” Sirius stated in response.

“I know that.  I meant, what’s firewhisky taste like?” she quickly said, trying to cover, but quite sure her questions were only making the situation worse.

“Like drinking fire, in whisky form,” he said, his tone very amused.

“Kinda self explanatory, isn’t it?” James added, his goofy grin getting wider.

“Right,” Alex finished, and decided to try a different subject.  “Where’s Remus?”

“Well he’s Head Boy, isn’t he?  He probably gets his own carriage to himself with Head Girl,” James replied and Alex cocked her eyebrow at the faint but noticeable ring of jealousy.  

“Nah, he’s probably stuck helping out the first years get on to the boats or wrestling the giant squid, poor devil,” Sirius replied with yet another laugh.

“So are you all in Gryffindor?” Alex started on yet another topic.

“Yes ma’am.  7th year sons of Gryffindor…plus Remus…at your service,” Sirius said with another bow.

“You’ll be in Gryffindor for sure, Alex,” James said enthusiastically, “And then, you can be best friends with Evans!” 

“I take it she’s in Gryffindor too?” Alex asked not bothering to hide her smirk, and taking advantage of the fact that she finally got the upper hand in the conversation.  “Wait, don’t tell me- she’s Head Girl, isn’t she?  And you’ve completely fallen for her?”

“How…” James started, looking shocked, amused and embarrassed at the same time.  “OK, something is not right here.  You’ve known me for like, what, less than 2 hours, Evans for even less, and you already know that?  How?

“James, please,” she replied in a mock know-it-all voice, “I’m a girl.  I can see these kinds of things.  That, and you’re completely obvious and hopeless.”

“Right…” James said, scratching his head. “So if you can ‘see these kinds of things’, tell me, does Evans love me or what?”

“And why should I tell you?” Alex asked coolly.

“Aw come on Alex!  Just this once, break the whole girl code and tell me!  I need to know!”  James practically cried.

“And what, pray tell, will I get in return?  There’s a price on information, you know.”

“What?”  James asked in shock.  "But..but..."

“Just kidding,” Alex replied.  “Look, she doesn’t exactly love you, but I wouldn’t say she hates you either.”

“And that means…?” his expression confused, but his eyes sparkling with hope.

“It means that she's fed up with you, I think.  It seems that whatever you've been doing the past six or however many years isn't working.  So you should stop, give her some space, and try a different tactic."

“A different tactic?” Sirius repeated.  “Like what?”

“I don’t know.  Maybe like being charming and sweet, thoughtful, considerate, reasonable, chivalrous…you know, all that good stuff,” Alex rattled off as many things as she could remember from the romance novels she had read, and was amused to see James’ and Sirius’ faces at what she just said.  She tried to explain herself, “My intuition tells me Lily is a romantic.  If this is in fact true, then she believes love will find her, and she’ll know and accept it when it does.”

“No, that can’t be right,” James responded scratching his head.  “I’ve found her a long time ago, and she still hasn’t accepted it.”

“I said love will find her, not you.  Besides, you’re going about it all wrong.  I’d say you need to just let the course of love run, and then see what happens.”

“And you know all of this how?” Sirius asked.

The carriage suddenly jolted to a stop before Alex could answer, Which is good considering I don’t really have an answer.  Peter opened the door and ran through the heavy rain to the castle doors, followed by James.  Alex stuck her head out and smiled at the magnificent castle, before bolting out with Sirius hot on her heels.

Once inside, she started following everybody else up the steps into what she assumed was the great hall, but was pulled aside by a stern looking woman in emerald green robes.

“Oh, hello Professor McGonagall,” Alex said, recognizing her as the Transfiguration teacher who examined her at the end of each year.

“Good evening, Alex. I am sure you know you have to be sorted first, so you’ll go before the first years alright?”

“Sounds great.”

“Good, follow me then.  The first years will probably be a bit late due to the rain, so we’ll get this over and done with as soon as everybody is settled down,” she said and started to head toward the great hall, with Alex trailing behind her.  She soon stopped in front of great doors, and gave Alex a faint nod of encouragement as they opened.

They started to walk right down the middle of the hall, between four tables.  The hum of students talking and laughing died down as they noticed Alex walking with McGonagall.  A few whispers and gasps were heard, and Alex assumed it was on behalf of the muggle-born population. But she ignored them and instead looked up to see the enchanted ceiling she had read about.  

She didn’t have enough time to completely admire her surroundings because they reached the head table, where she saw Professor Dumbledore, along with some of her other professors.  But what caught Alex’s eye was the stool placed in front of the table, with a tattered and old looking hat upon it.  As she stared at it, Dumbledore stood up and started to speak.

“Welcome back students, to another great year at Hogwarts.  While we wait for the first years to arrive and for the traditional sorting to begin, I am pleased to introduce to you all Alexandria Edwards, who will be joining the 7th year class this year.  I hope you all make her feel welcome.  Now, she needs to be sorted, so I turn it over to Professor McGonagall.”
 
McGonagall nodded her head and stepping up to the stool, she lifted the hat, and Alex moved forward to sit on it.  She then placed the hat on her head, and Alex heard a voice talking, trying to sort her into Slytherin, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, or Hufflepuff house.

The silence in the hall was unbearable.  Everybody was looking at her, and though Alex was used to it, she somehow felt a lot more vulnerable.  By now, she was sure that everybody knew who she was, but it was impossible to think as the hat kept stating her different qualities, strengths and weaknesses.  And what’s with all this destiny rubbish? she vaguely wondered.  When it seemed like an eternity had gone by, the hat finally shouted, “GRYFFINDOR!” 

The silent hall burst into applause, and she could barely hear McGonagall say ‘well done’, as she gave her a gentle push in the direction of the Gryffindor table, just as the first years, looking very wet and terrified, entered the hall.  Alex made her way toward Sirius’ waving hand, and she vaguely noticed some of the girls staring at him with dazed expressions, and at her jealously.  Finally there, she sat down in between him and Remus (who had also just arrived), across from James and Peter, who were both staring at their plates eagerly.  

“Congratulations, Alex,” Remus said.  "And might I say, that you made quite an entrance."  

"Yeah," Sirius interuptted.  "Maybe you should have considered a disguise."

"I considered it, but after all, that would be completely besides the point," she said to him.

Sirius looked a little confused, and Alex sighed, and absentmindedly looked around her.  Is it really that hard to understand?

"You came here to be who you really are, right? No disguises or pretenses or nothing.  Just you- Alex, the witch," Remus whispered into her ear.

Though at first shocked, Alex smiled at him before once again starting to admire her surroundings while the first year sorting dragged on.  She didn’t notice that both boys sitting on either side of her were having troubles keeping their eyes off of her…along with the rest of the male population.  

She closed her eyes and smiled.  Finally, I’m home.  This year is going to be unforgettable. 
 




 Author's Note:  ...
Firstly, sorry for the horrendously long wait.  November went by so fast and I only just realized I hadn't posted since October...
So I hurried to post this chapter (which has not gone through Dead's Cooler than Holey's beta-ing just yet).  I know it's kind of a filler chapter but it was necessary.  I promise the next chapter will be up a lot sooner.
Secondly, thank you to all readers and reviewers! Honestly, I never expected this story to get so much support.  Love you guys!
Please review!

Chapter 6: Double Potions, Double the Fun
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

The potions part in this chapter, with the Draught of Death, is semi-taken from Half Blood Prince. This is the story of how the Half Blood Prince discovered how to manipulate his potion to make it perfect…
 



Alex awoke with a yawn the next morning. She looked at her clock and was not at all surprised to see she still had at least three hours before classes started. She always got up early, and being as nervous and excited as she was for her first day didn’t help at all. So sitting up and pulling her bedside curtains back, she looked around her dorm. The bed next to hers (which belonged to Lily) was already empty, while the other two were still occupied. She raked her memory trying to remember their names, but drew a complete blank, possibly because they only stared at me last night and didn’t say anything, she thought rather wryly, remembering their reaction upon seeing her enter the dorm room. After a second of guilt for forgetting their names, she shrugged it off and headed towards the lavatory. 



Once washed and changed into her school uniform, she grabbed her book bag and went down to the common room. She paused at the bottom to properly admire her new home, as last night it was full of her housemates, who were either trying to sneak inconspicuous glances at her, or being point blank and staring at her.


“Alexandria?” a voice called out timidly from near the fire.


An involuntary shudder ran through Alex as she made her way towards the voice. “Please, Lily. Just call me Alex."


Lily nodded. “You’re up early.”


Alex shrugged as she sat down in a chair opposite from her. “Can’t help it. What about you, morning person too?”


Lily only nodded again, as she looked anywhere but at Alex. A small silence overcame the two of them, until Alex finally broke it, eventhough she wasn't really sure what she was saying.   “Look, Lily, I’m sorry for yelling at you yesterday on the train. I didn’t mean to blow up like that, and I just wanted to apologize if I…er… offended or upset you, or if you’re disappointed in me or something like that.”


Lily’s head snapped up and finally met Alex’s gaze. “No not disappointed. Mostly I was just confused. I mean, one day you’re off at some formal opening of parliament and the next you’re sitting on the Hogwarts express.” She paused for a bit, hesitating, and then continued, “But I thought about it, and all in all I’m glad you’re here…and I’m sorry for being so blunt yesterday and upsetting you.”


Alex smiled and stretched out her arm, “Right then, so we’re all good?”


"For sure,” Lily replied shaking her hand.


“Good, because Remus was saying something about bribing you with a private audience with my brother,” Alex said with a laugh.


“He didn’t!"


“Yeah he did. But honestly, I’m glad it turned out like this, because Darcy and I aren’t on the best of terms right now. Don’t worry though; as soon as we patch things up I’ll let you know when and where.”


Lily blushed, but laughed it off, “Yeah you better.” A loud noise sounded from the boys’ dormitory followed by a series of muffled yells. “We better get down and get some breakfast before those boys come down.”


“Sounds good to me,” Alex said standing up and following Lily out the portrait hole.


***


“Good morning! And welcome to your 7th year advanced potion making class,” Professor Slughorn boomed and smiled at the 10 students sitting in front of him, who, with the exception of one, looked positively disheartened at having double potions first thing in the morning- Alex included. “I am delighted to see so many of you back in my class. Today we will start with a review potion: Draught of Living Death.”


Alex groaned as the instructions appeared on the board with a flick of his wand. All in all, potions was one of her best subjects and she liked it… but not enough to be delighted at the prospect of it first thing, double period, right on the first day. Sitting beside her, Lily was beaming, hardly able to contain her excitement and drinking in every single word Slughorn said like pumpkin juice. Alex risked a glance behind her to see Sirius and James, who both looked like they were still trying to wake up, and Remus and a boy from Ravenclaw behind them, who though a bit more attentive, were also struggling to stay awake. The rest of the 10 students compromised of 3 Slytherins (2 boys and 1 girl) and 1 completely terrified Hufflepuff girl, all of whom were looking at her from the corners of their eyes.


“SO!” Slughorn exclaimed, making Alex jump in her seat, “You all know what to do, but this time you will be making the potion as a pair, and the pair with the best result will win a surprise. Every once in a while you will be required to work with your partner on such an assignment. But before we start, I would like to mix up the pairs- these will be your pairs for the first term, or until I see fit to change them again. Now, lets see…Yes, lets have our head prefects working together- Miss Evans and Mr. Lupin, right up here if you please.”


Alex was forced to move her stuff and take Remus’ place for the time being, while 
Slughorn made the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw move to the second row up front, on one side of Lily and Remus, who sat in the middle in the very first row. “Now… how about Mr. Malfoy, and Miss Black, on the other side if you will.” Two of the Slytherins, the girl, and the tall blonde haired boy (who both looked utterly menacing) gathered up their belongings, and grudgingly moved to the second row, on the other side of Lily and Remus. Meanwhile, Slughorn continued, “So that leaves us with… ahhh.”


He stopped, and seemed to debate for a long time what would be best, and Alex could tell there was some very bad history between James, Sirius and the other boy (who Alex recognized as the one from the train station), by the very tense atmosphere, not to mention the dirty looks exchanged between the three of them. 


“Severus…could you, perhaps…work with…” Slughorn started, though still clearly as confused as he was before. Alex looked at him, at the Severus boy, and then at her two housemates. She slightly raised her hand. “Yes, Miss Edwards?”


"Alex, please,” she said with what she hoped to be her most charming and sweet smile. “Professor, I could work with Severus.”


“Oh?” Slughorn asked in disbelief, knowing that Gryffindor/Slytherin relations were less than friendly. But he quickly changed his tone, as he realized that the bigger problem- placing one of those two with Severus- had been solved. He did not, however, nor did Alex, notice James’ and Sirius’ expressions at Alex’s statement. “Well of course you can. Right then, lets have you two here, and Potter and Black can go over there. Good.”


Severus Snape headed over to her desk- third row centre- still looking like he had before, while James and Sirius moved behind them on the side of the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw. The overall effect was a staggered arrangement, leaving enough room for everybody. Snape dropped his stuff on the table and sat down. Alex sent him a small smile but doubted he would see it, much less return it. With a small sigh, she turned her attention back to Slughorn.


“Alright, you have one and a half hours to complete this potion. Further instructions in your textbooks on page 10. Ingredients are in the cupboard, and…GO!”


Alex was about to get up and get the ingredients, but her partner had already went to get them. So she took out her wand to ignite the fire below their cauldron, but realized that he had already done that as well. She looked over and was surprised to see him coming back already, his arms full of stuff. He placed them carefully on his side of the desk, and immediately started adding things to the cauldron, totally ignoring his new partner.


Alex folded her arms across her chest, “You planning on do this whole thing yourself, partner?"


“I work alone” he said, without even so much as a glance in her direction.


“Funny. I was under the impression that working in pairs meant together, not alone,” Alex shot back.


“Yeah, that is funny. Because I was under the impression that princesses don’t come to Hogwarts.  I guess we’re both wrong.”


“Oh I see. You’re intimidated by me, and of course, seeing as I am royalty, have decided to do everything for me.” Alex saw him turn red with anger, but restrain himself and continue to work on the potion. So leaning back in her chair and putting her feet up on the table, she continued, “Well in that case, watch yourself on those Mandrake roots,  I don’t want you to get injured now—Merlin forbid I would have to do that myself. Actually, you’re going about it all wrong. If you don’t watch yourself this potion will be way below my standards, not to mention Slughorn’s, who will no doubt be disappointed. But then, seeing as your doing it all by yourself, the blame will lie with you, so-” 


But Severus interrupted her, evidently annoyed. Throwing her some Sopophorous Beans, he barely managed to say through tight lips “Chop these up then.”


Alex merely smirked at her effective strategy and got to work, but instead of chopping them up like requested, she took her silver knife and started to crush them with the blunt end.


“What the bloody hell do you think you are doing? You are, like I predicted, messing up our potion!” Snape yelled at her, only seeing her smile that blasted smile of hers, and continue to crush them. She then quickly scooped them up, juice and all, and before he could even try to stop her, she dropped them into the cauldron.


He was about to completely lose his head, but then he saw the potion change to the exact shade of lilac the textbook had described. He looked at her incredulously- he had never been able to achieve that colour, and he brewed this potion many times before.


“Stop gaping, Severus. We need to add those mandrake roots now,” Alex said, smirking at his reaction, and now thoroughly enjoying the lesson.   He quickly added them while Alex started to stir counter-clockwise. Once all the mandrake roots were added, she quickly made one stir clockwise and then back to counter-clockwise, making their potion turn a pale pink. She glanced at her partner, who was now completely bewildered.


She only chuckled and continued to stir, adding a clockwise stir after every 7th counter-clockwise stir. Severus continued to watch in amazement as the potion slowly turned more and more clear, just as the book described.  He looked around to find the other cauldrons full of a purple-pink potion, not unlike his usual result. But what annoyed him most was Alex- just sitting there and stirring, softly humming to herself. How did she know to do that? Even I didn’t know that, and I am supposed to be the best potion-maker at school.


“And times up!” Slughorn announced from the front of the class. “Wand’s down please!”


He began to wander the room, checking the potions, making some comments as he went along. He was last to arrive at Alex’s and Severus’ table. When he did, he clapped his hands and exclaimed, “Yes, the winner! The best Draught of Living Death I have ever seen produced by a student yet! Congratulations, you two!”


Alex smiled, and Severus only gave a slight nod as the rest of the class watched Slughorn display their perfect potion.


“Now, as for the prize, you two are both excused from the essay due by the end of the week on this potion. For the rest of you, I expect a 3½ foot essay on its preparation, uses and effects. Clear up!"


They started to clean up, and Alex turned to Severus, “You’re welcome."


"For?” he drawled.


“For winning us the prize- I bet if I hadn’t worked my magic Lily’s and Remus’ would have won. Theirs was pretty close, you know.”


“Crushing beans and adding a clockwise stir? Some magic,” he said, but already a little more lightly than before.


She only smirked again, “I didn’t see you complaining before. Though like I said, if I had let you do it yourself, it would have been way below my standards. Well Sev, it’s been fun. I’ll talk to you later.”


And with that she turned on her heel, leaving him standing there speechless. He turned around and quickly took out his potions textbook, opened it up to page ten, and added Alex’s embellishments. He packed up his stuff, but was met with two less than enthusiastic faces looking down on him.


“So, Snivelly, how was potions?” said James.


"Not too good I think, since Alex had to save his sorry arse,” Sirius added.


“Jealous, are we, Black? That she got to save mine instead of yours?” Snape replied coldly, “or perhaps that she chose me over you in the first place?”


“No not at all, she clearly chose you out of pity.”


Snape flushed but did not back down, “Don't bother, Black.  We all know that's just what you tell yourself for fear of being rejected.  Noticed she was having a good time?”


Sirius took a step forward, “You just stay away from her, Snivelly. She’s out of your league.”


“Ha. As opposed to you?”


Sirius took another step forward, but his reply was interrupted by Slughorn who told them to get out or get detention. So Sirius and James headed towards the Gryffindor dorm, but as soon as Sirius spotted Alex, he veered off course and made a beeline for her.


“OI! Edwards! Just what do you think you are doing?” he practically yelled at her, taking her aside.


“Well, I was walking towards my next class…” Alex joked.


“You know what I mean.”


“What do you think, then? Obviously I was saving you or James from being paired with him, because there is clearly some bad blood between you three. I thought you would be more grateful for being paired with your best bud.”


“I am, but what good is that when I see you over there all buddy-buddy with Snivellus and-”


“His name is Severus,” Alex said automatically.


“SEE! This is what I mean!” Sirius yelled in frustration, “On a first name basis now?”


“You’re making a big deal out of nothing. We’re on first name basis too, aren’t we, Sirius?” Alex replied.


“Fine. Call him whatever, just don’t be friends with him,” he said.


“Excuse me?” Alex asked in indignation. “Please tell me you aren’t picking my friends for me, because you have no right to do that.”


“He’s in Slytherin, Alex! You’re new here so you probably don’t understand, but Slytherins are bad news.”


Alex sighed, “Look, I need to get going or else I’ll be late for Arithmancy. I’ll talk to you later.”


And before he could even breathe another word, she had already walked away. Sirius shook his head, and headed back towards James, who was sitting in the corridor waiting for him.


"You alright, Padfoot?”


“Prongs, I think its time to actually start off our year.”


James grinned mischievously, “Best idea I’ve heard all morning. What, or should I say, whom, do you have in mind?”


To which Sirius only smirked back, a devilish gleam in his eyes. 



 



Author’s Note: Hey guys!
So, here it is.  Hope you guys liked it, I know I had a lot of fun writing it.
Thanks to all readers and reviewers, just like always.  I really do appreciate it!
Having said that...please review!
Happy Holidays!
ps- this chapter didn't go to my beta either.


Chapter 7: What not to say to a Princess
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

It was finally Friday, and Alex found herself sitting in the Gryffindor common room by the fire, reading one of her favourite books: The Count of Monte Cristo. The Common Room was slowly starting to get more crowded as more students came in from dinner. Lily sat opposite from Alex, reading a giant textbook borrowed from the library and already working on her essay for transfiguration (asssigned less than 3 hours ago). Alex stretched and yawned, and thought about her first week at Hogwarts. It went by quickly and ordinarily enough for her. Going about the castle from class to class and not getting lost or trapped on a moving staircase, making new friends (and actually remembering their names), she felt like she was finally starting to settle in. She had become quite good friends with Lily, and Remus had been right, she was a great person. The only problem was that Lily knew a bit too much about Alex for someone who she was just supposed to have met, but she learned to ignore that, and Lily was quick to catch on to mention as little about Buckingham as possible. Lily was good company, not to mention remarkably brilliant, and Alex found herself grateful for her presence in each of her classes.

And surprisingly, she was starting to get annoyed of Sirius and James, who, as she discovered one afternoon, had their own fan clubs, complete with adoring girls and all. Remus had his fan club too, but they were more of a secret society, whereas the other two were right there out in the open. And the worst thing about it all, was that they actually seemed to enjoy all the attention they were receiving from those girls…well, Remus not so much, considering his fan club wouldn’t exactly be secret if they openly admitted their love for him… but still. Alex could bet that he really did know about it’s existence and did enjoy the subtle attention. And so it was that Alex learned about the Marauders- the four Gryffindor boys (including Peter Pettigrew), who were the talk of the school. They were Hogwarts’ most eligible bachelors (excluding Peter), the pranksters extraordinaire, the epitome of cool and somehow the most brilliant students, after Lily Evans of course.

And she hated to admit it, but Sirius had been right about the Slytherins: they were bad news. And befriending them was not a good idea, if it was at all possible in the first place. They were mean, especially the group of 7th years led by Lucius Malfoy and Bellatrix Black. Her sister, Narcissa, didn’t seem that bad, but she was definitely on their side. And as for Severus Snape…he was a mystery. And Alex repeatedly told herself (though she was not quite sure if she believed it), that he was different, while other Gryffindors, mainly Sirius, repeatedly told her to stay away from them, or she’d get herself into trouble. What a hypocrite! Alex thought, here he is telling me what not to do, and then he goes taunting them, and getting himself into a duel. 

A loud noise snapped Alex out of her thoughts. She looked around, and was not at all surprised to see the Marauders entering the common room, a large group of girls right on their tails. She rolled her eyes and went back to her reading. She was just about to get to the part when Edmond Dante escapes prison, when James’ voice rang through the air.

“Attention! Good evening Gryffindors! James Potter, Quidditch Captain speaking.”

At the mention of quidditch, Alex’s head whipped up.

James continued, “This year we are short a chaser and a beater, so we’re going to have some tryouts tomorrow. Everybody is welcome. Bring your broom. And if you don’t want to try out, come and support those who do! Quidditch pitch, tomorrow at eleven!”

And with that, he left a small notice on the board in the common room, and went to rejoin the rest of the marauders.

Alex leant forward, “Hey, Lily. Are you going to try out?”

“What? For quidditch?” Lily asked in shock.

“Yeah, don’t you like it?”

“I do, but I don’t want to be on the team,” Lily replied. “And even if I did, there haven’t ever been any girls on the team, and I doubt this year will be different.”

This time it was Alex’s turn to be shocked, “No girls?”

Lily nodded and went on reading. Alex fell back onto her chair, and looked at the marauders with an evil eye. Standing up, and leaving her book in her place, she marched over to them.

“Oi, James,” she said.

“Hey Alex, what’s up?” he replied casually.

“What’s up is why there aren’t any girls on the team,” Alex said, folding her arms over her chest.

James looked up and met her eyes. Laughing, he answered, “Well, that’s easy. Girls don’t play quidditch.”

“I think you mean, can’t play quidditch,” Sirius said, joining in James’ laughter.

“Wanna bet?” Alex asked.

“Lets be honest here, Alex,” James started. “There aren’t any girls on the team, any of the teams, simply because the guys are all better.”

“Oh? And you know this how…?” Alex asked, raising her eyebrows. “Have any girls ever tried out for the team?”

“Er…Yes. Yes there were some…?” he replied slowly, scratching his head and looking to Sirius with a pleading glance.

“Look, the point is girls simply don’t stand a chance of making the team, therefore why should they try out?” Sirius explained, leaning back in his chair.

“I resent that kind of thinking,” Alex said. “Can I try out then?”

Their laughing tripled and even Remus chuckled a little. They stopped when they noticed Alex was looking dead serious, clearly not amused.

“You’re actually serious?” James asked, trying to calm down.

“James, we’ve been over this a million times: I’m Sirius,” Sirius said, looking rather…serious.

“Yeah, I am,” Alex continued. “I want to try out, is that a problem? Are there rules that state only guys with inflamed heads can try out or be on the team?”

“Well…no,” James said, a little hesitantly. He took a moment to think about it before answering, “I guess I’ll see you on the pitch tomorrow then, Edwards.”

“Damned right you will,” she spat, and marched back to her place by the fire.

“Prongs! Why the bloody hell did you tell her that for?” Sirius cried in a very dramatic fashion. “Now she’ll probably get clobbered out there, her pretty face will be ruined and her hopes and dreams will be shattered for ever.”

“Well what was I supposed to say?” James asked. “She looked ready to kill if I answered otherwise. Besides, if she wants to try out, she has a right to. It doesn’t really make any difference to us.”

“She seemed pretty adamant about it,” Remus spoke for the first time. “Maybe she can actually play.”

At this the other two just started to laugh again. 

                                                                       ***

Saturday morning came quicker than ever. Getting dressed in some comfortable jogging pants and a sweater, she went downstairs to get some breakfast. Since it was early, the corridors and staircases were mostly empty, as was the great hall. But as she entered it, she was stunned to see 4 boys sitting at the Gryffindor table. She neared them slowly, and was taken aback by their mischievous smiles of innocence as they looked up at her.

“Good morning,” Remus said.

Alex gave him a nod back and tentatively sat down beside him. The other three gave her a smile or nod before hunching over some pieces of parchment and discussing something in hushed tones. She leaned toward Remus, “What’s going on?”

Ignoring the chill that ran down his spine as she spoke into his ear, Remus whispered back, “Can’t exactly tell you. Let’s just say, you’ll be safer not to eat the plum pudding at dinner tonight.”

Sirius smacked him on the upside of his head. “Remus! This is marauders only business!”

“It’s not like it matters. The plum pudding is only going on the Slytherin table anyways,” Remus said, massaging his head.

“Not yet its not,” James interjected, looking up. “Which reminds me, who’s going to go down to the kitchens and handle that?”

“I’ll do it,” Sirius volunteered. “They love me down there.”

Alex stifled a snigger, and quickly stuffed the remainder of her muffin into her mouth to keep herself from making a snide comment. Once she swallowed, she asked, “Can I come?”

“Er…well, the kitchens are a marauder secret…so…I dunno…” Sirius stumbled over his words, a little too purposefully. But Alex knew what he was up to, and no way was she going to fall for his you’ll-have-to-beg-me-to-get-what-you-want act.

“Pfft. I’ll take you there later, Alex,” Remus said.

“Really? Cool,” she said and flashed him a smile before going back to her muffin.

“On the other hand,” Sirius quickly continued, “The kitchens aren’t that much of a secret to begin with. I can take you there…now.”

Alex smirked, “Thanks, but I’d rather go with Remus anyways.”

“Yeah right.”

“No, I actually would,” Alex said. And the truth was, she really did. She felt more comfortable around Remus, and over the past few days they already became good friends. She really liked him…A little too much? Alex asked herself.

Sirius seemed to be struck by lightning, and Alex noted the look on his face before standing up, with a crumpet in hand, “Well, better get going. I’ll see you all in a couple hours on the pitch.”

“Bye,” Remus said, and Alex gave him a small, but very noticeable wink before leaving the four boys to themselves.

As soon as she was out of sight and earshot, Sirius turned on Remus, “What are you playing at, Moony?”

“Nothing, you’re the one who’s acting all strange around her,” Remus replied casually.

“I’m not acting strange at all!”

“Actually, you kind of are mate,” James said, and before Sirius was about to respond, he continued, “Anyways, back to more pressing matters…”

“And why in Merlin’s name would she give you a wink?” Sirius asked, sounding very much flabbergasted.

“Oh, I don’t know, to make you insanely jealous and crazy?” Remus said with a small smile.

“Me? Jealous?” Sirius asked, a little too innocently.

“Padfoot, I assure you there is nothing going on between us. If you want to make a move on her, go right ahead.”

“Now hold on just a second. Who says that was on my mind?” Sirius inquired, but when both Remus and Peter scoffed, he tried a different strategy. “Even if it was, I don’t need your permission. I mean, of course there’s nothing between you two.”

“GOOD! Now that that’s settled, can we please focus here?” James interrupted, starting to get frustrated. “Padfoot- kitchens, now.”

Sirius stood up from the table and disappeared behind the great oak doors of the great hall, leaving the other three to their conspiring.

                                                                      ***

Alex gripped her broom tightly as she made her way down to the pitch with Lily by her side.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Lily asked, looking rather agitated.

“Lily, I’ve already told you, I’ll be fine. I know what I’m doing,” Alex said, starting to get a little bit annoyed of the worrying redhead.

“But what if you get hit by a bludger? Or fall off your broom…or-”

“I’ll be fine. Anyways, it’s a risk I’m willing to take for the sake of equality in terms of athletics,” Alex interrupted, stopping for a second as she realized what she just said and how princess-y it sounded. “They’re being right little chauvinistic sexist pigs, and I have something to prove.”

It was silent for the rest of the walk to the pitch, until they reached the entrance to the stands. Lily stopped and looked at her, and out of nowhere, gave her a hug. “Good luck, Alex. Show them what you got.”

Alex, though shocked, returned the hug, “Um, thanks.”

Lily gave her one last smile before turning towards the stands, and running up them. Alex took a deep breath, and walked onto the pitch. There, in flaming red robes stood the current Gryffindor team, with Sirius and James up in front. To their side stood a small group of Gryffindor students, all with brooms in hand.

“Well, well, nice of you to join us, Miss Edwards,” James said, and all heads immediately turned to look at her, followed by whispers. Alex shook her head and marched right up to the front. “And what position will you be trying out for today?”

“Chaser.”

“Good. Well then if you would please step to this side,” said James motioning to the side where Sirius was standing. “Now then, I think that’s about everybody. So, welcome to all. What we’re going to do is a couple general warm-ups and then we’ll split up the beaters and the chasers, and individually test them. First thing I would like to see, is a test lap around the pitch. So everybody mount your brooms, and when I blow the whistle, off you go. Try to go as fast as you can. Ready…3…2…1…”

The whistle blasted, and Alex kicked off as hard as she could from the ground. She was in the air within a split-second, and on her way around the pitch, which zoomed by her at an incredible speed. Risking a quick glance behind her, she was pleased to see she was ahead of everybody else by quite a distance. Turning back to face forwards, she leant into her broom, and coaxed some more speed out of it. A couple of seconds later, she landed in front of Sirius and James, who both looked completely stunned.

James cleared his throat, “Um…yeah. Nice lap.”

The others soon landed behind her, looking just as shocked, if not a little embarrassed, and James went on to explaining the next task. After a series of quaffle throws, everybody was once again stunned to see Alex come out victorious. A couple more exercises later (out of which Alex came out looking very good indeed), James said it was time to start the individual trials. First were the beater tryouts and after they had chosen a 6th year boy, Alex flew over with the rest of the chaser wannabes to the centre of the pitch, where they were instructed to, one by one, trying to score on their keeper. They each had five shots. And Alex was successful in each one—the only one to do so.

“Alright, that’s it for the chasers. Please wait while the team deliberates,” James said, and then huddled with the rest of the team. Whispering, he said, “So, who’s it going to be? I for one, think Alex was outstanding.”

“James, she’s a girl!” Sirius said. “I mean, sure she’s better than the rest of the guys that tried out, but honestly, how do you expect to win with her on the team? Everybody would target her, just because she’s a girl, and we’d probably be a chaser short most of the time.”

He earned some nods and murmurs of agreement, but James thought otherwise. “Or, everybody will ignore her because she is a girl and can therefore do the least damage, leaving her free to score.”

His statement was met with more murmurs of approval. “Alright then. Does anybody have a problem with Alex? Other than the fact she’s a girl?”

“No,” they all chorused… minus Sirius.

“Right, it’s Alex then,” he said, and ignoring Sirius huff, turned to face the would-be chasers. “We have come to a decision. Alex Edwards, congratulations! As for the rest of you, thank you for trying out and…there’s always next year.”

Some of the boys congratulated Alex, the others just walked away after giving her evil glares of doom.

“So welcome to the team, Alex,” James said, giving her a pat on the back. “We have practices three times a week and I expect you to come to all of them or else…”

“Right,” she replied with a smile.

“Just one question, though. Where did you learn to play like that?” he asked, and the rest of the team leaned in to hear her answer. Evidently, they were all curious as to why a muggle princess was practically a pro quidditch player.

“The country side. What, you didn’t expect me to stay put at Buckingham all year long, did you?” Alex asked. She shrugged, “I had a couple of lessons, and then practice makes perfect.”

A few chuckles were heard, and then the team slowly left the pitch, a couple talking with James still. Sirius walked toward her.

“Well, Edwards, you win. Girls can play quidditch. Just don’t start complaining if you get hurt or you’re tired or you break a nail or some other rubbish like that. You’re one of the guys now, so you’ll have to toughen up.”

“And how do you know I’m not tough already?”

“Please. One, you’re a girl. Two, you’re a spoiled princess,” Sirius counted off on his fingers. But as soon as he mentioned princess, he wished he hadn’t, especially with the word he used before it. Alex was now glaring at him, looking very, very murderous, one hand clenched at her side. He tried to laugh it off, but Alex only walked away, doing her best to keep her mouth shut. “Aw, come on Alex. You know I was only kidding!”

James walked up to Sirius, “Do you think we’re underestimating her a bit?”

“What?”

“Well, if she could play quidditch that well, who knows what else she’s capable of? And now it looks like both of us are on her list. Well, you more than me.”

“What are you getting at, Prongs?” Sirius asked impatiently.

“All I’m saying, is maybe we should tread softly around Miss Edwards,” James said.

“What for?”

“Well, if she is a spoiled princess like you said she was…which by the way wasn’t a very sensible thing to say…she’ll probably snap one day, and then…” he said, as he started waving his arms around frantically. Sirius only looked at him with a raised eyebrow. “Well…you get the point.”

“Whatever you say, mate,” Sirius replied and turned to head back towards the castle. He stopped short, and his eyes narrowed when he saw Alex take Remus’ arm as he lead her back to the castle.

James followed Sirius’ gaze, smirked and said, “I guess she’s getting that tour of the kitchens now…” 

 




Author's Note: Hello!  First off, thanks to all readers and reviewers, as usual.  It really means a lot to me, and yay, this story has 2200+ reads which is great!
Well, I hope you liked this chapter, even though it was sort of in-between-ish, but you know, I need to set the base for things that will start happening very soon...
Also, this chapter went to my beta, Dead's cooler than Holey, who did an awesome job, so *applause*... =)
Oh, last thing to mention before I leave you to reviewing (please review!), I will be scattering some overused cliches throughout the story, because really, which fic is complete without them?  But nothing too corny or bad, I promise, lol.  The two in this chapter were:
1- The girl, the jealous guy and the jealous guy’s best friend.
2- The Sirius-serious pun/joke thing.
Thanks for reading, and hope you stay tuned for the next chapter!
~The Saint~
ps- The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas.  Really good book.  If you've seen the movie, forget about it and read the book instead.

Chapter 8: Slytherins Surprised
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“I never knew house elves were so…generous,” Alex said to Remus in between taking enormous bites of her giant brownie.

“It’s in their nature,” Remus replied. Alex was about to take a step onto the stairs, when Remus grabbed her arm. “Vanishing step, remember?”

“Right,” Alex mumbled with her mouth full as she took a jump to avoid the step. “You’ll have to draw me a map of how to get to the kitchen, Remus, because there’s no way I’ll remember that and I like my midnight snacks.”

“Want to know a secret?” he asked, then leant towards her and whispered into her ear, “I do too.”

Remus laughed, but Alex only looked at him as a faint blush crept onto her cheeks. What the bloody hell is wrong with me? 

Remus looked at her quizzically when she didn’t joke back, and noticed that she all of the sudden became particularly pre-occupied with looking anywhere but at him for the next minute. Apparently, she wasn’t even interested in where she was going, so he took her hand to guide her, as she was about to walk into a wall. She snapped out of it as soon as she felt his warm hand take hers. She smiled, and took another bite of her brownie, letting him lead her. Spending the past couple hours with Remus had really relaxed her, and let her forget about Sirius, and how annoying he was. Determined not to let herself think about pounding Sirius into a pulp for the comment he had made earlier, she instead asked, “So what exactly is going into that plum pudding?”

“Let’s just say it would be less painful not to eat it.”

“How painful?”

“Indescribably,” he replied with a smile.

“Aw come on Remus! It’s only an hour and a bit away! You can tell me!” Alex pleaded.

“You can wait like everybody else then.”

“Well that’s not fair!” Alex moped, shoving the rest of her brownie into her mouth.

“Life’s not fair, Edwards,” a cold voice suddenly snapped at her from the shadows. “For mudbloods, that is.”

“Had a nice lunch with your boyfriend, mudblood?” another, higher voice sneered at her.

“Actually I did,” Alex said before Remus could even open his mouth to reply. “Of course, it would have been much nicer if I hadn’t been plagued by the likes of you on my way back, Black.” Alex brought her hand to her mouth and squeezed her eyes shut, seeming to be sick, but just before Remus could panic, she lifted her hands to her shield her eyes, "Really, maybe you should leave before I’m going to be sick, the sight of you two…it's just…sickening.” Here she inserted a very believable gag, before continuing, “Then again, I’m sure seeing the contents of my lunch on you would be very amusing, especially as you seemed so interested in it.”

“Why you…” Bellatrix started at her, but the other held her back.

“Now now, Bellatrix. Perhaps the mudblood has a point.”

“Lucius-”

“Perhaps we should leave before we get contaminated with the mudblood’s filth,” Malfoy snickered. “After all, if she is going to be sick we can’t afford to watch that, who knows what disease we might catch from this filth.”

Bellatrix gave a high and harsh laugh at his statement, but was soon interrupted by Alex once again.

“Let’s go Remus, before my eardrums explode from that unearthly sound,” Alex said with a smirk, taking the lead this time. After taking a couple steps, she shouted over her shoulder, “By the way, Malfoy, next time you come to ‘terrify’ me, don’t be undressing me with your eyes. It makes you look like a hypocrite, and I doubt that would be good for your image.” She gave him a wink as she looked back and saw him standing there in shock, with Bellatrix glaring at her.

“You wish he would, Mudblood!” she yelled at their retreating backs.

“No, not really, Trixy,” Alex laughed. “Give my regards to your sister! And don’t worry, Lucius, I won’t tell her! This will be between the four of us.”

She pulled a stunned Remus behind her all the way to the Gryffindor common room, feeling generally pleased with herself, until Remus turned on her, “You really shouldn’t have done that, Alex.”

“Remus, please, I know what I’m doing.”

“I’m not sure that you do. You know they’re bad news so why in Merlin’s name would you go and aggravate them like that? Now you’re probably on their hitlist,” Remus said, sounding a little angry.

“I already was anyways. Besides, can’t let you guys have all the fun, can I?”

“Meaning…?”

“Meaning you guys tease and prank them, and ‘aggravate’ them all the time. You sound like a hypocrite telling me not to do that…And like Sirius.”

“Who likes me now?” a voice piped up from near the fire.

“Not me,” Alex mumbled. “Well, it’s been nice talking to you all, and thanks for the tour of the kitchens, Remus, but I have to go to the library.” And with that, she went to get her book bag, and within another couple of seconds, she was on her way, leaving both Remus and Sirius behind.

“What’s her problem?” Sirius asked Remus.

“You,” he replied before plopping down on the seat opposite Sirius.

“Is she still upset?”

“Upset?” Remus repeated. “Nah, she’s more infuriated and annoyed then upset.”

“Maybe I should go talk to her,” Sirius said, standing up.

Remus shook his head, “No, leave her. We just had a run-in with your cousin and Malfoy, and seeing you probably didn’t make it any better.”

“You ran into Bellatrix and Malfoy?” Sirius asked in shock, automatically assuming ‘cousin’ meant Bellatrix and not Narcissa. “Well what happened? Is she alright?”

“She’s more than alright, Padfoot. She handled the whole situation without my help. Though, she did piss them off something dreadful,” Remus said laughing. “She called her Trixy.”

Trixy?! And you just let her go off to the library all by herself? Knowing that they’ll be wanting revenge?!” Sirius accused, yelling. “Bloody hell Moony! I’ll see you at dinner.”

“Padfoot, don’t-!” Remus yelled, but Sirius had already stormed off to the library.

Luckily for Sirius, Alex had stopped by to chat with some other girls from their year (mostly Hufflepuffs and some Ravenclaws), so he didn’t have to run too far to catch up to her. He stopped running, and walked up slowly and casually to the group of girls. As they each stopped talking, one by one, and instead stared over Alex’s shoulder, Alex knew who had to be behind her.

“Good evening ladies,” Sirius said in a voice that was too charming.

Some of the girls mumbled a hello, while others just stared at him with an open mouth, and a few others decided to stare at the ground. Only one decided to act as if he wasn’t there at all.

“So Cathy, are you going to the library?” Alex asked one of the Hufflepuff girls. “Because I really need to get going…”

“Oh…um…no…” Cathy said in a trance like voice as she continued to stare at Sirius.

“Alright. Then I’ll catch you all later,” Alex said as she started towards the library.

“Actually I need to go too,” she heard Sirius say from behind her. And within a couple seconds he was by her side.

“Go away,” Alex said through clenched teeth.

“No. I want to know why you’re avoiding me.”

“Maybe because you’re an arrogant chauvinistic toerag?” Alex scoffed.

“Alex, I already said I’m sorry about what I said before…I didn’t mean it,” Sirius tried to explain.

“That’s what they all say. But if you don’t mean it, then why do you say it?” Alex muttered, getting a sudden flashback to her recent argument with Darcy. They finally reached the library, and Alex put one hand on the door. “And why exactly do you need to go to the library?”

“To study, of course,” Sirius said without a moment’s hesitation, but he didn’t sound as convincing.

Alex turned and met his eyes, and Sirius felt as if she could see right past his lie. He averted his eyes, not being able to stand her scrutinizing gaze. “That’s strange, because I was under the impression that the Marauders don’t need to study, and in fact, do everything in their power to avoid studying, with the possible exception of Remus. Not to mention the fact that you are banned from the library since three days ago. You know, I think you’re here to piss me off even further than you already have. It seems you like to do that a lot.”

“That’s not true.”

“Oh?” Alex said raising an eyebrow. “Well then give me a better excuse for following me here.”

“I followed you here…” Sirius started, but stopped as he debated whether or not it would be best to tell her the truth or make up something else. “…because I heard you, Bellatrix and Malfoy had a bit of a run-in and seeing as they like to play dirty and sneak up on their victims, I didn’t think you should be alone.”

She only blinked at him, before saying, “Is that why the Marauders always travel together, then?”

Sirius shook his head in confusion; her question had caught him totally off-guard.

“Well, for your information, Black, I don’t need a bodyguard or entourage or whatever you want to call it. Thank you for your concern, you’re free to go,” she said, as she pushed the door open and entered the library. She looked at her watch and was disappointed to see she only had about an hour left before dinner, which didn’t leave her with too much study time at all. No thanks to Sirius… 

She looked around the massive library, and started to maneuver through the shelves and tables all the way towards the back, where there were empty tables separated from the rest. As she reached the back, she came to a table that was hidden from view by a large shelf. This table, however, was not empty. She smiled as she pulled up a chair to sit.

“Not sure you want to sit there, Edwards,” a familiar drawling voice said from behind a book.

“I do. If you wouldn’t mind, that is,” Alex replied. When no answer came, she sat down and took out her books. She started to work on the transfiguration essay in silence. The silence wasn’t quite comfortable, but it wasn’t awkward or hostile either. It was a silence that was to be expected when in the presence of Severus Snape.

“How are you so good at potions?” Snape finally asked putting his book down, not able to contain his curiosity any longer. They had had one more potions lesson since the first one, and once again Alex had not only surprised him, but outdid him, Evans and Lupin.

Alex smiled as she looked up from her parchment, “Couldn’t resist asking, could you? Well, I don’t know. I guess I liked to experiment a bit back home, though Slughorn would say it’s talent. A bit of intuition doesn’t hurt.”

Another silence overcame them, but it was soon broken by Snape once again, “I was the best at potions before you came.”

“Sorry then, but you’ll just have to work a bit harder now. You know what they say, ‘A little competition never hurt anyone’…” Alex replied jokingly. Somehow, she found Severus’ company enjoyable.

“Isn’t it ‘a little change never hurt anybody’?” Severus asked.

“Maybe, though it doesn’t make any difference in our situation,” she replied with a shrug, and was surprised to see something that resembled a smile appear on his face. “You, Severus Snape, are a mystery.”

“And what makes you think that you are not?”

“Oh I know I am. There’s no way out on that one, seeing as I’m a princess-rebel-witch-potions-master extraordinaire,” Alex said. “But you on the other hand, you I just don’t get.”

“Because I’m a Slytherin having a civilized conversation with a muggleborn?” he stated with a hint of annoyance.

“Partially.”

“And the other part?”

“That’s part of the mystery, I think.”

“You aren’t making any sense,” Snape said, as he picked up his book again.

Alex laughed, “And that, is part of my mystery. You’ll have to figure me out to see the sense in it.”

“Merlin knows how long that will take,” he muttered.

She smirked, “Depends how much effort you put in.”

Though he didn’t put his book down, Alex could tell he was blushing. She didn’t mean to say it, but it was out before she could stop herself. That’s what happens when you hang around with Dev and Adrian. Deciding to spare him the agony of replying to her rather awkward statement, she packed up her belongings and stood up. “I’ll see you later, Severus. Oh, by the way, you might want to lay off the plum pudding tonight.”

He merely looked up as she started to walk away, and found himself mesmerized by her diminishing figure. 

                                                                        ***

“Huh.”

“What’s up?” Remus asked, looking up from his plate.

“I wonder why Snivellus didn’t eat his plum pudding,” James replied.

“HE DIDN’T?” Sirius exclaimed. “But…why? I thought it was his favourite?”

Alex smirked, but it did not go unnoticed.

“I guess he wasn’t up for indescribable pain,” Remus commented amusedly, as a round of yells arose from the Slytherin table, followed by a wave of laughter erupting around the great hall.

 




Author’s Note: Hello! Well, there you have it. Hope you all liked it.
Nothing much to say, except as always, thanks to everybody who is reading and sticking with the story.
A big thank you to Dead’s Cooler than Holey, who did an awesome job with this chapter.
Please review!
PS- overused cliché: the good, the bad, and the ugly… =)

Chapter 9: Suspicious Behaviour and Ulterior Motives
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The next couple of weeks went by in a flash and the beginning of October was already upon Hogwarts, bringing with it the falling leaves and cool days that had the students wrapped tightly in their cloaks and scarves.

Within the first month, Alex had been quickly established as the most popular girl and the most eligible ‘bachelorette’ of Hogwarts. And on top of that, her grades were high enough to even make Lily work harder to keep her status as top of class. This automatically made her, just like before, either liked, hated or envied. But Alex paid no attention to it; she valued and respected her true friends, was polite to the other friends and was just as mean and spiteful to the rest as they were to her. This also led to her being labeled as a don’t-mess-with-me-if-you-want-to-live-out-the-remainder-of-your-pitiful-life-in-peace kind of girl, which kept most away (especially those who had learned their lesson), except for the Slytherins, and of course, Sirius Black. The only difference between the two was dealing with the situation—the Slytherins she could handle, Sirius Black was another story. A story that had no beginning, middle or end, and confused Alex day by day. Every time she thought she hated him, she would be surprised to find him completely charming and likeable the next day. Then he would openly disapprove of Bellatrix’s and Lucius’ behaviour, but would act no better himself. Thankfully, despite his snide comments about having a girl on the quidditch team, he was mature enough (or possibly smart enough) to know that they had to cooperate and work together if they were to have a chance at the cup. Though more often than not, they would just piss each other off even more during the practice, and as soon as they were off the pitch, they were at it again.

But worst of all, in Alex’s opinion, was his overbearing ‘natural’ tendency to be protective of her, to the point of restraint, which for someone as wild and independent as Alex, was impossible to deal with. And his disapproval of Snape and their semi-friendship drove her up the wall. So Snape had become a type of weapon of revenge against the other—Alex would spend her time with him to annoy Sirius, and Sirius would taunt, prank, or fight with him in return. Of course, Snape had a mind of his own, and being privy to the love-hate-revenge tactic between the two, was determined to stay away from them. The problem was that Alex was his potion’s partner, which made staying away from her difficult, not to mention his internal struggle to extinguish his growing need to be beside her.

So between Sirius and Snape, Alex was happily forced to spend time with either Lily or Remus, the former being more likely, since Remus came as a sort of ‘package deal’ with either James, Peter (whom Alex had gotten to know better, but was very suspicious of), Sirius or the lot of them. But when they were able to be together, Alex found herself growing more and more attached to him, and couldn’t help but think of him as more than a friend on more than one occasion. And though she constantly told herself not to, and tried to push her feelings aside (convinced it was only a crush), it was past her control to stop herself from looking deep into his warm eyes, searching for his secret- for his dark, hidden past. This temptation only increased when Remus, who looked increasingly sick during the past week, had disappeared all together one day. To make things worse, the rest of the Marauders seemed completely exhausted the day after Remus had left to visit his ill mother (or so she was told). Exhausted enough to not even bother her, and fall asleep in class. Though she enjoyed the much deserved peace and quiet, her imagination went wild trying to figure out the mystery of the Marauders- their secret. But she was soon at ease when Remus came back, looking rather worse for wear, but still fine.

Alex stopped, and went to sit on a log near the lake hidden behind some bushes and trees, so that she was hidden from view. She had spent this Sunday morning, as well as every other, taking a jog around the lake. Enjoying the tranquility of the Hogwarts grounds, she watched as the sun rose higher into the bright, cloudless blue sky and bathe her face in warm sunlight. She closed her eyes, and let her mind wander. A minute had not passed when the warm sunlight suddenly vanished from her face, replaced with a cold shadow. She did not need to open her eyes to know who stood before her.

“Go away Sirius.”

“Good morning to you too,” came the brisk reply.

Alex sighed as she realized he was not going to leave anytime soon. “At least move over then, you’re blocking my sunlight.” Sirius opened his mouth, but Alex beat him to it. “Just sit down already.”

She felt him sit down next to him, and was forced to open her eyes, since sitting beside a Marauder blind was never a good thing. Her eyes narrowed as she saw him smirk that infernal smirk of his.  “Well, Black, seeing as you’ve already ruined my morning, your task must be accomplished, so why are you still here?”

“Awww, come on Alex! Why do you always have to be so damned suspicious and cruel?” he asked, actually looking insulted. “I don’t always have an ulterior motive.”

“Is that right?”

“Yeah.”

She eyed him suspiciously and then turned back to face the sun. Soon enough, and completely surprisingly, a comfortable silence overcame them. A silence which previously Alex had only encountered in Remus’ presence: completely relaxed and calm. Though she hated to admit it, it became just as tranquil as before Sirius had arrived. After a couple of minutes, Alex couldn’t stand it any longer. It was just not right, considering it was Sirius Black sitting next to her. Because after all, anytime we 'talk' I either end up yelling at him, or have to keep a torrent of oncoming questions, replies, teases and insults...There's never a silence between us! One or the other always had something to say, and naturally, the other had to respond… It was creepy. She risked a glance at him, who looked deep in thought and very handsome in the sunlight. She had to do a double take as she realized that he was smiling—not smirking, grinning, or whatever else he usually did—just smiling. It was a smile one wears when amused, but it was happy, friendly and tranquil…not to mention adorable…a genuine smile.

“What are you smiling at?” Alex queried, unable to resist.

“Oh, I was just thinking.”

“About….?”

“About how awesome it is that we’re not yelling at each other. You know, our shouting matches are almost enough to top Lily’s and James’. Almost.”

It was in fact true. More than once had a few frightened first years scurried away from the common room as soon as Sirius and Alex were there at the same time.

“Well, it’s not my fault. You are always behind them,” Alex scoffed.

“Yeah, I guess I am…” came the response.

Alex gaped, her jaw dropping a few inches. He admitted to it? Something is definitely not right, he has to be up to something...   “Why are you here, Sirius? Honestly?”

“Honestly, why are you?”

“I’m always here,” Alex replied, starting to feel slightly annoyed.

“So am I,” he said.

“What the bloody hell are you talking about? I’m here almost every day,” she said, her voice along with her anger starting to rise. “This is my spot.”

But Sirius had said the exact same statement, at the exact same time. Their eyes met and it was silent as they both studied the other’s expression. Finally, they couldn’t hold it in any longer, and they both burst out laughing…and they couldn’t stop. It was one of those contagious laughing fits, where if you thought you were calm, the slightest thing would make you start up again. Or hearing the other laugh was enough to make you’re face hurt.

After they were both calm enough, Alex continued, “So this is your spot?”

“Yeah, it has been, ever since year one I think,” Sirius said, taking deep breaths, trying not to erupt into another fit of laughter. “So technically, this is my spot and not yours since I’ve been here longer.”

“Well too bad. It’s mine too now.”

“So its ‘our spot’ now?” Sirius asked wiggling his eyebrows, his voice full of implications.

Alex frowned, but decided not to start an argument now that they were actually getting along better than ever before, with the exception of the first day on the train. Instead she answered, “No, that might send the wrong message.”

Sirius grinned, “Exactly.”

“How about, ‘RIP Sirius’,” Alex retorted, not backing down now that he initiated the verbal duel of wits. “Or rather, ‘BIH’-”

“Both in Heaven?”

“Burn in Hell.”

“Only if you join me, you’re hot enough to.”

“Dammit Sirius!” Alex exclaimed, standing up. “Can’t you just be normal and not hit on any female within a five foot radius?!”

He looked amused as he answered, “But that’s exactly what I’m doing.”

“Forget it. I tried being civil, but that is clearly not the answer,” she huffed and stormed off, but was caught at the arm before she could take more than three steps.

“Alex…You don’t understand. I can’t help myself. Please, don’t be mad. I’m trying to be good. Honestly,” he pleaded, giving her the most adorable and beseeching puppy-eyed face he could muster, and after another pause, Alex caved.

“Try harder, then.” She shrugged her arm out of his grip. “I’m going to get some breakfast.”

“GREAT! Food! Allow me.” He offered her his arm, which though it reminded her of her life in London and brought up a whole stack of mixed emotions she had tried to hide away for the past month, she smiled and took it.

“I never knew you were such a gentleman,” Alex said. “But I’ve decided to give you another chance. Maybe you’re not as bad as I thought you are.”

“Maybe,” was all that he whispered, before starting an animated discussion on the best types of breakfasts, and he seemed to walk faster the closer they got to the great hall…

Soon, it was already lunch, and Alex and Sirius were still in the great hall. Having ate their breakfast and chatted animatedly for almost two hours, they had engaged in an enthralling game of wizard’s chess, and before they knew it, students were coming in for lunch. So as the food popped up in front of them, they randomly grabbed some while continuing their game. Not much time had passed before the rest of the Marauders joined them. James sat down next to Sirius, grinning stupidly and immediately stuffing his face with food. Remus sat down beside Alex, and Peter was…

“Where’s Pete?” Sirius asked, without taking his eyes off the chess board. The game was dangerously close, and one wrong move could result in a checkmate. James shrugged, and grinned some more.

“What’s gotten into you? You’re acting stranger that usual, and believe me, that’s saying something,” Alex commented.

“Let me guess,” Sirius said, his tone implying that this was not the first time a situation like this has come up. “The Hogsmeade notice has been posted and you’re all excited because you’re going to ask Evans…again.”

“She’ll say yes this time. I know it.”

Remus and Sirius shook their heads, but Alex did not refrain from breaking him the truth. “No, she won’t.”

All three heads perked up at her statement, all with different expressions ranging from shocked, surprised, curious, amused and depressed.

“James, remember what I told you on the first day?”

“Ye..ea..ah…” he replied slowly, which of course meant he had forgotten.

“She’s expecting you to do just that. Surprise her. Don’t ask her.”

“Why?”

“Why not?” she answered with a smile that turned into a triumphant smirk. “Knight to E5… and checkmate.”

“WHAT?!” Sirius exclaimed. “I lost? But that’s not fair! I demand a rematch! I was distracted, and-”

“ALEX!” James interrupted, sounding in distress, as if the matter at hand was life and death. “You have to help me! Why shouldn’t I ask her? Won’t that ruin things? I mean, what if she was going to say yes and I totally missed my chance?”

“Why would she have said yes? You haven’t given her any reason to—you’re still the same old annoying James Potter she knows and hates,” Alex explained. “Look at it this way, you don’t lose anything by not asking her since you know she’ll only reject you, but... you can gain everything. It will really make a difference, trust me.”

When she was met by three blank stares, she had to continue her explanation, “Have you ever thought that if you give her some space she might realize she likes you? Perhaps she may feel a bit…empty without you there to yell at, and then she’ll start to reconsider her feelings towards you. You know, kind of like distance is the true test of love, or if you love something, let it go. Or, in Lily’s case…you never know what you have until you lose it.”

“Oh,” was all James mumbled, before turning his attention back to his plate.

“How in Merlin’s name did you think of all that?” Sirius asked in amazement.

“It’s called reading. You should try it one day.”

“So since I’m not asking Lily, should I take a different girl to Hogsmeade? That’ll help right, since I'm trying to make her jealous, yeah?”

“NO!” they all chorused.

“You’re not trying to make her jealous, James. You’re trying to make her realize her life is nothing without you in it. And taking another girl would only spur the hate and prove her thoughts about you,” Alex said, recalling the numerous conversations in which Lily ranted about James.

“And what does she think, exactly?” he asked, a sparkle in his eye.

Luckily, she was saved from shattering his dream by Sirius, who spared no thought to his friend’s feelings. “If you don’t already know that, then you’re truly, really slow. I’m sure the whole school is aware of her strong feelings for you. Too bad they’re all on the negative side.”

Remus gave a small chuckle, and having not spoken in a while, decided to ask Alex if she was going to go to Hogsmeade or not.

“Oh for sure. I haven’t ever been to Hogsmeade, but I have read about it, and it sounds fascinating. I really want to see the shrieking shack too.” At this comment, Alex noticed a round of smirks go round the table, as if they were all sharing an inside joke. Note to self, add ‘suspicious behaviour at the mention of the shrieking shack’ to my list of clues about the Marauder Mystery. “When exactly is the trip?”

“This Saturday.”

“Cool. Yeah I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve heard there’s a pub called The Three Broomsticks and…”

But she never got to finish, because all at once, the three boys started to tell her about everything that Hogsmeade has to offer, and retelling some of their fondest adventures in the little village. Alex started to nibble at her cheesecake while trying to take in what they were all saying. 

                                                               * * *

They had spent the rest of the day inside and out, playing exploding snap and even a small chess tournament between the four of them. Sirius had been determined to beat Alex, but did not get to play her since he lost to Remus in the first round. Instead, he insisted on a single rematch after dinner, to which Alex agreed (the result being a stalemate). After that day, she was once again starting to find his company enjoyable. She smiled to herself, as she recalled the expressions of her housemates as the two of them entered the common room after lunch. All eyes shifted to them, watching them like a ticking bomb, and a collective sigh of relief was heard throughout the room, as they discovered that the ‘bomb’, was no where close to exploding.

Now, a couple of days later, Alex’s ‘friendship’ with Sirius had grown rapidly, and they were almost never out of the other’s sight. What’s more, they didn’t even argue, not once, over the past three days. And though Alex found it very peculiar, she didn’t think on it.

Alex was sitting with Lily by the fire in the common room, talking quietly to each other while Lily multi-tasked. But it was soon 9:30, and Lily had to leave for her nightly patrol of the corridors. So Alex was left to herself, and after about forty minutes of reading The Hound of the Baskervilles (one of her favourite Sherlock Holmes novels), she decided to see where Sirius was, since they were supposed to work on a Defense Against the Dark Arts essay together. She stepped up the stairs to the boys dormitories, and softly crept towards the 7th year room. As she approached, she noticed that the door was ajar, and she heard voices coming from within the room. Just as she was about to knock and enter, she heard what they were talking about: her. Naturally, she decided to listen in on their conversation.

“…I dunno, Padfoot,” James said.

Padfoot?

“Oho, but I do, Prongs,” Sirius replied sounding very confident, eager and pleased about something.

Her face scrunched up in thought. Prongs? Score another two for the mystery folder.
Sirius continued, “You’ll see. I mean, seriously, who can resist my charm?”

“Alex. Incase you haven’t noticed, she’s usually ready to punch your face in.”

“Nah, she’s completely falling for me. I mean yeah, just last week she would likely have killed me on the spot, but now we’re ‘best of friends’. Like I said, by Friday-”

“Which is tomorrow…” James reminded.

“- I’ll have a date to Hogsmeade, and be 15 galleons richer,” Sirius said gleefully.

Alex froze. His words rang in her ears. They made a bet?!

 




Author's Note:  mwahahahahah.  The evil cliffhanger #1 (oh yes, there will be more...eventually)
Any comments, thoughts?
Thanks for reading,
and thanks to Dead's Cooler than Holey for beta-ing this quickly.

Chapter 10: A Waste of Make-up
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Her mind was swirling and a wave of emotions overtook her, and yet, only one thought echoed in her head….

They made a bet?! On me?! 

Automatically, she criticized herself for even giving him another chance, when she had felt, when she had known he could not have been sincere.

He had lied—he did have an ulterior motive. And he wasn’t trying to be good; he was trying to get her to fall for him. She felt nauseous as she realized she had fallen right into his trap—she had believed him, enjoyed his company.

Her head swam and her vision became slightly blurred. She turned away from the door and leaned against the wall, feeling very dizzy. The chatter inside the room stopped, and Alex held her breath, beseeching God, Merlin, or whatever other deity she could think of, for them not to come out and check the staircase. As the conversation recommenced (something about the other half of the bet, which made her face screw up in anger and disgust), she slowly let it out, but did not stay to listen in any longer. Gathering what strength she had left, Alex sprinted down the stairs and out of the common room, ignoring the Fat Lady’s remarks about it being after hours. Whispering Lumos, her wand lit up, and she ran as fast as she could away from the Gryffindor dormitory. She didn’t know where she was going, nor did she care. All she knew was that she had to get away.

You always run, right? 

Darcy’s words echoed in her mind as she kept running through the dark, deserted corridors, hoping she would not get caught by any of the patrolling professors or prefects, Lily or Remus in particular. Up the spiraling steps and through a large oak door, she reached the tallest tower. She stopped once across the threshold, outside in the cool night air. She welcomed the gust of wind which blew into her face. Thunder rumbled in the distance and somewhere even further, lightning flashed in the sky. Alex approached the edge of the tower, leaning against the half-wall. The fierce wind slowly blew the dark storm clouds towards the castle. Looking at the approaching lightning, and taking deep breaths, she was finally calm enough to try and re-evaluate the situation. But no sooner than she thought the name ‘Sirius Black’ than she started to curse him into the oblivion, yelling out loud.

“He can’t just toy with my emotions like this! If he thinks I’ll just be another notch on his bedpost then he has something else coming! HOW DARE HE MAKE A BET LIKE THAT! I’ll show him. No one treats me like that. Not even the ‘almighty, oh so charming and seductive Sirius Black’!” she spat. She continued muttering under her breath, pacing the tower. When she finally felt a little bit calmer, she decided to just watch the lightning. She had always liked to do that.

Leaning against the half wall again, she let the wind blow through her hair, and she watched as the lightning crackled through the sky, and thunder boomed, echoing throughout her body. The storm seemed to be gaining momentum the closer it got to Hogwarts, and it was coming quickly and steadily. Even through the loud thunder, however, she was still able to hear the quiet footsteps behind her.

“You know, students aren’t allowed up here after curfew.”

Not even looking at him, she replied, “But you won’t turn me in, will you, Remus?”

“Depends on why you’re here.”

Alex shrugged, not entirely sure what to answer. Though she always felt like she could be honest with him, this was a different situation. One with many unknowns…Afterall, he was a Marauder…Was he in on the bet? Would he tell James and Sirius she knew? “I like watching the lightning.”

“Not good enough,” Remus answered, sounding a little bit amused. “Now I need a better answer, or its detention.”

A smile tugged at Alex’s lips, but it faded as she said, with as much distaste as she could muster, “Sirius.”

“Ah, of course. Well, that’s a valid reason. What did he do?” Remus asked, this time sounding concerned.

“Nothing really, just something he said,” Alex said, still unsure of how much she could tell him. Then as an afterthought, she added, “Don’t tell him though.”

He nodded solemnly. After a small pause, he said, “You know, Sirius isn’t really as bad as he seems.”

Alex laughed dryly.

“No, really. I mean it. Sometimes he is pig headed and can be a real jerk, but he has his heart in the right place."

That earned Remus a look of doom. “I’m not so sure he even has a heart,” she scoffed. “And why are you defending him? Especially when you just said you know he’s a jerk.”

“I said he can be a jerk,” Remus corrected. “He’s my friend, Alex. He sticks with me when I’m in trouble and I have to do the same for him. Besides, someone has to look out for him if he won’t for himself. Why do you think there isn’t a group dedicated to killing him? Believe there would be more than enough members.”

“Perhaps I should start one then, seeing as he already has a fan club,” Alex retorted. She looked up to the sky, and saw the last bit of clear sky become covered with menacing clouds. She looked at Remus, and lightning reflected in her eyes as she said in an undertone, “There’s a storm coming.”

“I noticed that,” Remus said, catching her double meaning, and a little startled at the utter hate in her voice and the gleam of revenge in her eyes. With the wind blowing her hair into her face, and the overall effect of the thunder and lightning, he did not doubt that she was a force to be reckoned with. Remus couldn’t suppress a shudder as she smirked, completing the entire look of evil vengeful genius out to kill. “Calm down, Alex. I’m sure it’ll be fine.”

“I’m sure it will be too, after I make him pay.”

Her entire body seemed to shake with anger, and Remus hesitated. He was, for the first time, at a loss for what to do. Alex turned away from him, and looked out at the storm again. Slowly, he reached out his hand and touched hers. He felt her jump at his touch, and carefully, as if not to frighten her, he reached across with his other hand and took her shoulder, slowly turning her towards him. Though she did not resist, it seemed she was determined not to look at him. Thunder rumbled in the background, as a few, sparse drops of rain started to fall.

“Alex…” he started, his voice lacking its usual confidence. “Alex, look at me.”

Slowly, she raised her head and their eyes met. His doubts vanished as he looked into her beautiful, troubled eyes, and his expression softened as he realized she was holding back tears. Tears that were not there only a couple of seconds ago. How does her mood change so quickly? Not a minute ago she would have killed him on the spot, and now she’s on the verge of tears? he thought. And what, what could Sirius have done to put her into such a state...? 

“It’s alright to cry,” he said softly, still holding her.

“No, it’s not,” she said, her voice barely audible, but still strong and determined. “There’s no point in crying over someone who won’t cry over me. I’m not wasting any tears.”

Remus pulled her into him, and let her rest her head on his shoulder, slowly stroking her hair in a calming way. Just as the rain started to fall more heavily, he finally felt her body relax. He had to admit though, she was iron-willed: she did not shed a single tear. A couple more minutes passed, and the both of them had not moved, both of their feelings totally jumbled. Remus, standing there, comforting the one girl everybody had their eye on. The girl who makes him realize how lucky he was and truly makes him feel special. And Alex, being held tightly by the one guy she had felt comfortable with from the start, the one who understood her without her explaining herself. The one who made her smile and feel better every time she was down... offering a helping hand. The one she already had feelings for in the first place… 

Slowly, Alex pushed herself away from him, but only enough to be able to look up into his eyes. They were both wet already, and raindrops clung to her eyelashes and lips, and rolled off his nose. Remus looked at her fondly, silently marveling at her beauty and character. She smiled as she whispered, “This day was a total waste of make-up.”

“Not quite,” he said, closing the distance between them and kissing her softly on the lips, his heart acting instead of his mind. When he didn’t feel her respond, he gently pulled away. But Alex, who was at first too shocked that he had initiated the kiss, did not let him leave. She clasped her hands around his neck as she deepened the kiss. The rain pattered around them, and the wind howled around the castle, but they did not feel it. It wasn’t until a crack of lightning and a particularly loud bolt of thunder that they broke away.

“I can’t, Alex,” Remus said, finally regaining control over himself, when Alex had tried to re-initiate the kiss.

“Why?” she asked, sounding hurt and confused.

“I just can’t, I’m sorry…I shouldn’t have done that,” he replied, gently pushing her away.

“Don’t be,” Alex said, letting go of his neck. “After all, someone smart once told me you can’t dwell on whether or not you made the right choice, because you can’t fix that now. Let’s get out of the rain, huh?”

“I’m sorry,” Remus repeated, leading her towards the door.

“For what, Remus? You haven’t done anything wrong.”

“I just feel like I took… advantage of you, or something. You weren’t… in the right state to be kissed…” he stumbled over his words.

“On the contrary, it made me realize how stupid I am to be worrying over Sirius. Don’t be silly,” she said, as Remus mumbled another apology. “You’re not to blame, and really, I should be apologizing to you for making you stand out in that rain.”

“Alex, I am truly sorry. You might not understand it, but we just can’t. Not now, or ever. It’s not right…”

“I may not understand it, but I can respect whatever it is you’re feeling or your reasons are.” He never said he didn’t like me, just that it’s not right, she thought. Another Marauder, another ulterior motive. “Whenever you’re ready to tell me, I promise you right now that there’s no way I’ll think of you any differently.”

He gave her a quizzical look at this, for a second suspicious of her wording…Does she know about me? he wondered. “And what happened right now, that doesn’t change anything between us?”

“Of course not. It was only a kiss.” She made it sound like it was no big deal, but in truth she felt disappointed, and crushed by Remus’ reaction. And he was no fool not to see through her words. Once inside, they took out their wands and dried themselves off, and then lighting them, made their way towards Gryffindor tower, silent most of the way. Soon enough, they were inside the common room, and standing on the landing of the stairwell.

“Don’t mention any of this to Sirius, please,” Alex whispered.

“Don’t worry,” he replied. He opened his mouth to say yet another apology, but Alex put a finger to his lips.

“Not another apology, Remus, or I will never forgive you, and you can be sure to never hear from me again,” she said, sounding dead-serious. When no response came, her voice trembled a little as she added, “Unless, of course…that is what you want?”

“No!” Remus exclaimed. “I’d rather have you as a friend than not at all.”

“Well then no more apologies.” Taking a deep breath, she said “Thank you. You have, once again, saved me. You truly are my knight in shining armour.” When she received only a sad look of apology and sincere friendship, she couldn’t stand it. “Remus, please, please, please smile. It’s a curve that can straighten out a lot of things. I’ll see you in the morning.”

She gave him a small kiss on the cheek, like those she always gave Dev and Adrian, before turning and heading up the stairs to her dormitory, leaving Remus standing there. He sighed, as he realized that may have been his only chance. Even worse, he had hurt her, unintentionally, trying to protect her. But…it’s for the better. 

 



Author's Note:  uh...to all Remus fans out there...don't kill me...
Hope you liked it anyways...let me know what you thought, please!
As always, thanks to all readers, reviewers and of course, Dead's Cooler than Holey.

*Overused Cliche:  Remus goes self-sacrificial and never gets the girl...

Chapter 11: 15 Galleons Worth
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

“ALEX! Alex, wake up! You’ll be late for potions!” Lily yelled into her ear.

“So what…” came the muffled and barely audible response. She turned back onto her side, rolling up into her covers. But Lily was faster. In a swift motion, she had grabbed them and gave a quick tug, causing Alex to fall over on to the floor with a loud thump. “Hey!”

“Good, you’re up. You better be down in five minutes or so help me…” her voice trailed off as she left the girls dormitory.

“Yes, mother,” Alex said, loud enough for Lily to hear, but laughed wryly right after she had said it. Her mother had never taken that tone with her, nor had she even came to wake her up…not once. If anybody ever came to wake her up, it was either Darcy or one of the maids. In fact, if her mother had been anything like Lily had, Alex doubted whether she would have turned out like she did. Truthfully, she had often wondered if there would have been a difference in who she grew up to be if her mother had had more of an influence on her.

Shrugging her thoughts off, she got up and walked to the lavatory, and almost screamed when she saw her reflection in the mirror. Her hair was a complete mess, tangled and frizzy. Her eyes slightly puffy and red, and her nose pink. What little make up she had worn the day before was smudged around her eyes. Not daring to look at herself any longer than necessary in such a state, she quickly started to make herself look presentable. More than presentable, if I’m gonna make Sirius pay… 

Meanwhile, Lily had been stopped by James and Sirius by the portrait whole, both of whom already had had their breakfast and were waiting for Alex (like they had the past couple of days) to leave for class…but this time Remus had already left.

“Where’s Alex?” Sirius inquired.

“Still upstairs. She had a bit of a rough night,” Lily replied. Though she hadn’t spoken with Alex about it (yet), she had heard her come in late and then toss and turn in bed almost all night. “I doubt she got any sleep.”

“Oh?” James said, lifting an eyebrow.

“What happened?” Sirius added.

Lily shrugged. “I don’t really know, except she came in last night really late. I don’t think she was able to fall asleep or something, because after a bit of tossing and turning she lit her wand and decided to read.”

“What?”

“Wuthering Heights, I think. Though I thought she had already finished it, but I guess-“

“No, Evans,” Sirius interrupted. “I mean, what? As in shock, surprise… Why?”

“Well in that case, I don’t know again. Actually, I thought you guys might know since the three of you have been getting along rather well lately,” Lily said, a little disdainfully. She didn’t like this sudden friendship between her new best friend and the Marauders.

“Though that is true, I have no idea,” James said, “Although, Remus came in pretty late last night too…at least, I think he did.”

Lily shook her head, “He was patrolling. Honestly, when I saw her this morning it looked like she had stayed out in the storm last night.”

“I did,” Alex interrupted, as she walked towards them, looking indeed more than presentable, and with no hint of the night before’s activities.

Lily blushed a furious red, quickly mumbled something about being late, and practically leapt out the door. But the other two seemed to be too preoccupied with her appearance to notice Lily’s quick departure.

Sirius cleared his throat. “I brought you some breakfast,” he said, offering her her usual muffin.

“Aw thank you!” she said, raising her voice a bit, and accepting the muffin. “Well then, are we off to Potions or not?”

“Right away, ma’am,” Sirius replied, this time offering her his arm, like he had the past couple of days. Alex glanced at it, and burying her deep and overwhelming desire to chop it off and feed it to a monster from the forbidden forest, accepted it, putting on her best smile. Luckily for her, Sirius and James were much too absorbed in her and their own little plans to notice the gleam of hate in her eyes. Linking arms with James on the other side of her, they were out of the common room and on their way to Potions, chatting away about the upcoming quidditch match between Gryffindor and Ravenclaw, as if nothing had changed.

They made it to potions a bit late, but were soon forgiven after a quick smile and wink from Alex. As they each made their way to their own tables, Alex passed by Remus’ desk, and made sure to give him an even brighter smile and a more obvious wink, glad to find him responding with a smile of his own.

She sat down at her usual seat next to Severus, and cheerfully exclaimed, “Morning!”

“What are you so happy about?” Severus asked in his usual sullen voice, his keen dark eyes not omitting the fact that today she looked particularly gorgeous, and that there was a somewhat different air about her.

She stared up at him and batted her eyelashes, “Because it’s potions, silly! I love potions! Want to know why?”

“Indulge me then,” Snape replied, noticing that behind them, Sirius was already at the edge of his seat.

“One, because we’re partners, and it’s so much fun working together. And two…” Alex broke off, and slowly leaned in towards him, a diabolical smirk on her lips, and whispered into his ear, “…because we get to piss Sirius off. Care to join me?”

Snape was startled that for the first time she openly admitted to getting back at Sirius. Sure he had known he had been a weapon of revenge, but now she was asking for his help in the matter, and she had never done that. Which, he assumed, meant Sirius had done something beyond comprehensible. And if he had hurt her, there was no way he wouldn’t fight with her. Besides, he thought, he has it coming anyways… 


Alex hadn’t moved away, and this time Severus leaned in, an almost identical smirk playing on his lips. “It would be my pleasure,” he whispered, just loud enough so Sirius could hear him, his voice sounding deep and quite unlike his usual self.

“Oh, I know it would,” Alex replied laughing. Risking a glance at the evil creature behind her, she saw James practically holding him back.

“AHEM!” Slughorn coughed. “As I was saying…This is another partner project, as it is especially difficult. You have one and a half hours to complete it, and believe me you need every minute of it, so GO!”

As always, Snape was out of his seat and gathering up the ingredients before the rest of the class. Alex didn’t even budge this time. Instead, she read the instructions on the board.

Amate Me. Hmm, sounds interesting, doesn’t it, Sev?”

“Yes, I daresay it does,” arranging the ingredients around them, ‘accidentally’ brushing across her hand, much to Sirius’ chagrin.

Alex giggled, and continued, “I say, we brew it perfectly, as always, and then test it out?”

“Even more interesting…”

By the end of the class, Sirius was pissed off beyond repair, especially as they had brewn the perfect potion, again, and had been awarded top marks again—Alex’s creative intuition with respect to potion making once again playing a major role. Oh how he’d love to murder Snape right then and there, as Alex and him walked out of class together, chatting away in hushed tones, hints of sexual innuendo scattered throughout their conversation, both now and during class. But, Sirius thought, if I’m to be 15 galleons richer, I can’t let them get to me…After all, today’s the deadline and me beating Snivellus to a pulp would not be to my advantage. And it’s not just a question of money, after all, my reputation and honour are at stake here too. So he grit his teeth, clenched his fist, and decided to bear it.

And it amused Alex all the more as she saw Sirius force himself to stay calm, especially knowing that were it any other day, he’d love to yell at her, and have his turn to make her mad. So, deciding to use that to her advantage (as any vengeful girl would), she quickly said goodbye to Severus, and returned to Sirius, acting more flirty than ever before.

“Hey Siri! Did you have fun in potions, love? Too bad we didn’t get to keep them, I could definitely think of more than a few uses for it,” she said, giving him a wink. Not paying attention to the passing by guys eyeing her greedily, she linked arms with Sirius, and shouted, “To Charms!”

She started to skip down the corridor, Sirius was forced to put on a happy face and follow. Thankfully for him, they were reviewing cheering and tickling charms. He was paired with Alex, as usual. However, her cheering charms were particularly potent today, and her tickling hexes were thrown at him with a bit of a ferocity, so that by the end of the Charms, he was completely cheerful as he walked Alex to her next class, and said with a huge, unnatural smile, “Cheerio! Till lunch, my dear!”

By lunch though, the effects had worn off, and he was in full consciousness aware of the task at hand. He needed to get Alex to say yes, before lunch was over or else he’d lose the bet. So after they had all satisfied their hunger, Sirius deemed it the opportune moment to make his move, not to mention the fact that he had about three minutes left and Alex had suddenly stood up and headed out of the Great Hall.

“Oi, Edwards! Wait!” he called, following her. She stopped, and turned around to face him, slowly and dramatically, for the first time using her previous modeling experience in real life. Sirius halted mid-step, not being able to stop himself from admiring her. In so doing, however, he had lost almost another minute, and it wasn’t until James gave him a nudge forward that he realized time was running short.

“Well?” Alex asked.

“You know Hogsmeade’s this weekend right?” Sirius started, and taking her subtle nod as a response, continued, “Well, would you like to go with me?”

“Go? With you? Why, I’m absolutely shocked. You, Sirius Black, want to go with me? I can’t believe this…” Alex said acting flustered.

“So you’ll go?”

“Go? Of course not.”

“Great! So I guess I’ll…wait. Wait,” he said, just catching on to what she said. And why was she smiling like that? “You said… no?”

“Yeah,” Alex said as if it was the most obvious thing, very much aware of the scene they were making and quite pleased that so many people were there to witness the rejection of the almighty Sirius Black.

“No?” Sirius repeated dumbly.

“No. Nien, nada, niet, non, nie … NO.” 

“But…why?” Sirius asked, crushed, embarrassed and confused.

“Why not? Or is it you thought I would say yes, because you, Sirius Black, the most eligible bachelor of Hogwarts, never gets turned down? Well think again, Black,” Alex snickered, turning on her heel and walking away with as much grace, gusto and charisma as she could muster. Sirius just stood there with his mouth open.

“Sirius? Sirius!” James shouted. “Are you alright?”

“I don’t believe this. She’s not serious. She can’t be… can she?” he asked looking at James.

James took in a breath, and refraining from saying that she couldn’t possibly be serious because he was, said, “I dunno mate, it looked like she was dead serious to me. But on the bright side, you now owe me 15 galleons!”

“What?” Remus interrupted. “Please tell me this was not all because of some stupid bet.”

“Er…” James said, scratching the back of his neck.

“You two are impossible. Did it ever cross your mind that you could have, did, hurt her along the way?”

“What are you babbling about, Remus?” James asked.

“She’s not stupid, you know. She had it figured out,” Remus said, recalling last night.

But Sirius apparently was not listening. “I’m going to go talk to her.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Remus called out, but Sirius was already out the doors of the great hall.

“OI! Sirius! I want my money!” James yelled after him.

“Come on,” Remus said, standing up. “We should probably follow him and make sure she doesn’t kill him.”

Sirius kept running, trying to remember what class Alex had at this time, and finally decided to head towards the Ancient Runes corridor. He slowed down as he noticed her sitting next to an empty classroom, reading her textbook. He was about to go right up to her and demand an explanation for her downright refusal, when he noticed an unnatural smirk on her lips…but one he had seen many times before on the faces of his fellow Marauders, and he knew exactly what it meant. She had planned that? And she enjoyed it? The cogs started to turn inside his head. She had tormented me all morning, especially with Snivellus…all on purpose. He ignored the other voice in his head which was asking why he cared so much about the thought of Alex and Snivellus together in the first place, as well as the third voice which was logically asking how she knew he was going to ask her anyways. Well, we’ll just see who has the last laugh. And as if on cue, Severus Snape came into sight, and within a second, Sirius had him hanging upside down, silenced and immobilized. Not another second later, Alex was up and beside Sirius.

“What the bloody hell do you think you’re doing?” she yelled, and Sirius was actually shocked at the intensity in her voice. “Stop it right now!”

“Or what, Edwards?” he taunted.

She took out her wand, “Or I’ll hex you to oblivion and back again.”

“Ooooh, I’m trembling with fear.”

“What has he done to you to deserve this?” she asked.

Sirius shrugged, “He’s breathing my air.”

“Oh, you own the air now too?” Alex replied, putting her hands on her hips. “You should have told me sooner, and I’d have stopped breathing also.”

Sirius was shocked. This had gone past their everyday quarrels…she had never been so adamant. And never had she taken Snape’s side over his. “You can’t possibly, actually be defending him, can you?” he sputtered.

“I’m not defending him, Black, I’m just totally against you. Let him go,” she commanded, her voice strong and angry.

“Why?”

“Because it’s not right!” she yelled, exasperated.

“Who cares, its fun,” Sirius replied arrogantly.

“I don’t believe you! You’re a filthy hypocrite, did you know that?” Alex shouted, loosing her temper. “You’re so against all the Slytherins but you’re no better than they are! Picking on people just for the heck of it, because you can. You’re just as bad as your cousin and her friends whom you despise so much!”

James and Remus arrived at the scene right when Sirius paled at Alex’s comment, and released Snape as a result of his loss of focus. Remus quickly placed all the necessary counter-courses on Snape, and as soon as he got up, he walked away as fast as possible. Snape had seen Sirius’ face go pale before angry red patches began to appear on his cheeks, and he was no fool to stick around to see the end of it.

“Take that back!” Sirius yelled at Alex, rather childishly he would later admit, but nothing else had come to mind in those couple of seconds.

“NO! It’s true, and you know it is! You walk around this place with your over-inflated head held high thinking you own the place. Well guess what, Sirius Black, you disgust me!” Alex shouted. Now that she had started, she couldn’t stop herself from saying everything she ever thought about him. “You think you’re all that, but you’re not! Let me tell you something, Black. One day this is all gonna come back and kick you hard in the arse for a number of reasons, but especially because girls don’t like being treated like property, picked up one day and thrown away the next, like an old shoe.”

Sirius laughed, “I beg to differ, Edwards. You see, girls throw themselves at me, and they’d give anything for just one night with me.”

“HA! That’s what you think. And don’t you dare, any of you, ever treat me like an inanimate object, and decide ahead of time what I will or won’t do, because-”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Sirius interrupted, “I forgot her majesty can do whatever she pleases. I better watch myself of she’ll get me hanged! Oh no, I’m making her life soooo difficult. What ever shall I do?”

“Watch it, Black,” Alex warned, feeling her anger rising another notch.

“Of course, princess. Here, let me get out of your way…”

“Shut up!”

“Tut, tut. Your royal highness better watch her royal mouth.”

Alex sighed. “Forget it. You’re not worth my time, idiot.”

“Oh, is that it?” Sirius shouted, abandoning his previous tactic. “I’m not worth your time? Is that why you turned me down? Oh, but of course, I forgot you have to be a prince to date a princess.”

“JERK! I turned you down because you’re an insufferable git with an oversized ego. How dare you make a bet like that!?”

“You knew about the bet?” Sirius asked incredulously after his initial shock subsided. “But…how?”

“It doesn’t matter how!” Alex bellowed. “I’m insulted you thought of me on such low terms, and if you thought I’d go out with you, than you don’t know anything about me!”

Sirius shrugged once again, taking up his previous strategy. “What’s there to know? You’re rich, royalty, gorgeous, shallow and a complete stuck up snob. Seems to me you’ve got the whole princess thing down pat.”

“Don’t push your luck, Black.”

“You’re right. I’m not being very understanding, am I?” his words dripping with heavy sarcasm. “I mean, you had just come to Hogwarts, so you don’t get to just snap your fingers and have everything done for you anymore. And I bet you miss all your extravagant parties and fancy clothes, not to mention the formal appearances. And going so long without making a headline…” adding a whistle at the end.

“Is that really what you think my life is like? Merlin, you’re thicker than I thought. If you think it’s so easy to be me, I’d like to see you try. Try to have somebody telling you how to act, what to say, do, wear, eat. Where to go, who to go with, be friends with, even how to bloody walk! All that, since you’re old enough to understand English.” She couldn’t stop herself even though she kept telling herself to, because for the first time, she was expressing all of her deep, hidden feelings in words. And it felt good…

“And on top of that,” she continued, “dealing with being a witch, yet all the while fighting to keep up a good appearance—to not be photographed everywhere you go and have every little mistake or occurrence splashed in the news like it’s entertainment. Once you’ve done all that for 18 years, then tell me if its easy!”

Sirius, Remus and James only stared at her. Sirius seemed to have lost some of his previous momentum, and for a moment was so lost for words and overcome by a strange feeling of mixed guilt and compassion that he considered backing down. But then he remembered his previous anger at her, and cleared his throat, “Here’s some advice for you: don’t wallow in self pity—you’re not the only person in the world with problems, princess, which shouldn’t even be considered problems at all. And you’re here now, aren’t you? So that just proves it can’t be that hard. And though I may be a hypocrite, at least I’m not at walking talking cliché.”

“Excuse me?” Alex asked, raising her eyebrow in shock.

“Yeah, you heard me: walking talking cliché. As in…oh, I’m a princess, but oh I hate it and I want more than what I have and oh its so hard and I just want to be normal,” he said in a high voice, waving his hands around in (apparently) girly motions. "Besides, I can do anything, and I’d bet I’d be better at it than you too. In fact, I bet you’re parents would love me more than you too.”

That seemed to have struck a nerve that was not meant to be struck, and Sirius regretted it the moment he saw her eyes darken, and take on a twisted gleam of hatred.

“I hate you, Sirius Black!” she yelled. “You and you’re overgrown head! I thought you were a decent guy, but you turn out to be an egotistical prick!”

“Well, princess, hate to break it to you, but you’re not all that great yourself. I thought you’d be like they said you were. You know…fun? But you turned out to be a god-awful bitch who can’t deal with her problems and decides to take them out on other people.” 

Alex laughed dryly, “Hark who’s talking! Why don’t you just go and join your cousin Bellatrix and Lucius and their little circle of Death Eaters. Then you’ll all be one happy, evil, terrorizing family.”

“Stop saying that!”

“Aww, is ickle Sirius afraid of the truth?” Alex mocked, turning his own tactic against him.

His face flushed with anger, “This means war, Edwards.”

“Bring it on. I’m not afraid of you, Black.”

“Git.”

“Jerk.”

“Idiot!”

“SADIST!”

“SLUT!”

“BASTARD!!”

I HATE YOU!” they both yelled at the same time, and turned and headed in opposite directions, leaving Remus and James standing in shock.

James shook his head. Turning to Remus, he asked, “The quidditch game is tomorrow. Think they’ll be over this by then?”

Remus sighed, "Not a chance."

James rand a hand through his hair, and sighing said, “Somehow, I don’t think this will end up being worth 15 galleons.” 

His friend gave him a look that made James cringe, before they both ran after Sirius.

 



Author’s Note: Hi! Sorry for the long wait...What with final exams, and the long validation queue…but hopefully it was worth the wait. Oh, and unfortunetly this hasn’t been beta-d yet, so please review with any comments or suggestions, or just to say what you thought of it! Thanks so much for more than 6000 reads! I was never expecting that. 

*overused cliché: THE fight. 

ps- Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte. Really great book. And not really the sappy romance its always made out to be. 

pps- Amate me = love me, in latin =)

Chapter 12: Stuck
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That evening all of Gryffindor house was on tenterhooks as the tension between Alex and Sirius thickened, and the last quidditch practice before the game against Ravenclaw approached. Alex had left the common room early, refusing to wait for the rest of the team to go to the pitch together, seeing as the team included Sirius.

The team made their way towards the pitch, and soon enough they saw a figure zooming around. Sirius huffed, and automatically the rest of the team took a step back, already aware of the violent outbursts of hate against the lady up in the sky, and were careful to not even speak her name nor look her way, as it brought on a series of hexes and curses, and nobody wanted to be the victim, or get caught in the cross-fire for that matter.

Alex flew down as she saw the rest of the team approach. If they hadn’t known about the terrible fight between her and Sirius, nobody would have been able to guess by her appearance and behaviour that it had happened. She, unlike Sirius, seemed as she was every other day. Except, of course, for the fact that she refused to acknowledge Sirius' presence or even come close enough to have to breathe the same air as him.

“Hey guys,” she said brightly. Her tone became pure business like as she turned to James with an expressionless face. “Potter, what’s on the agenda tonight?”

“Er…” James started, at first taken off-guard by her cheeriness, and then by the sudden coldness. “I had thought we should do some exercises separately between the different positions, but considering the circumstances…”

“What circumstances?” Alex asked bluntly.

Sirius scoffed. “Yeah, James, what circumstances? You make it sound like she’s pregnant…’course, I wouldn’t put it past her…”

“If I was, at least you’re not the father,” she shot back, her voice no longer passive, but dark and vicious.

James cleared his throat, “Right, so instead we’ll just all practice together, like a prep match for tomorrow. Let’s go.”

The team kicked off and quickly rose into the air, but Alex stayed behind, as did Sirius. They were both gripping their brooms tightly, and glaring daggers at each other.

“Look, Black, as much as I hate you, I hate to lose even more.”

“For once we agree, Edwards,” Sirius replied.

“So I’ve decided to try and not kill you…while we’re playing,” she spat, and kicked off into the air, followed by Sirius.

The rest of the team was shocked to see them playing so well, and even thought that they may have made up. But their patience with each other seemed to wear thin as the first hour was up. For the millionth time within that first hour, Sirius yelled more criticism and commands to her, and Alex was starting to get fed up. When a wild bludger zoomed towards her, she reflexively ducked, letting it fly right above her. But Sirius, who was right behind her, didn’t have any time to react and it hit him square in the stomach. He doubled over, muttering obscenities. Alex flew by him, a little concerned at the impact. But she didn’t get within 2 feet of him, as the quaffle he was holding hit her right on the side of her head.

“OW!” she yelled. “What the bloody hell was that for?”

“I thought you said you wouldn’t try to kill me.”

“You think I did that on purpose!?”

“Damned right I do!” he yelled back. He noticed her touch her head and slightly wince at the sight of blood on her fingers. “Oh no. You’re bleeding.”

She stared at him, and he noted she looked as evil as an angry veela. She gripped her broom tightly, and flew right into him, causing him to flip around on his broom, barely managing to hold on and not fall to a painful landing. She flew to James, who was already flying towards them, the snitch thrashing about in his hand.

“Sorry, James, but I better go before you’re short two chasers for the game tomorrow,” she said, as she flew down to the ground.

James flew over to Sirius, who looked shocked and furious. “You alright?”

He only huffed, and flew away.

“Um, ok. Good practice guys, we’ll just leave it at that for now,” James said, addressing the rest of the team. Seeing their glum looks of apprehension, he continued, “Listen, as long as we finish tomorrow’s game within an hour, we’ll win. So rest up and have fun at Hogsmeade tomorrow, and we’ll see you here tomorrow at 3:00.”

And with that, he hurried after Sirius, worried that his friend might end up doing something rash, or rather, more rash than usual, he thought.

James hurried up the stairs to the Gryffindor common room, his legs moving but his mind totally blank. He walked towards the boys’ dormitory, but was soon diverted off course when he heard a voice come from the couch by the fire.

“Potter? Potter, what’s going on?” she said. “Alex just stormed by here, and then your friend did too. Did something happen at practice?”

After soaking in a few seconds of bliss at the fact that she was actually talking to him, he replied, “Of course something happened. You weren’t there when they were rowing—worse than us, I tell you. And something like that will not be forgotten within a span of 5 hours.”

“Was it really that bad?” Lily asked, her brow furrowed. “But what happened? I mean, they seemed to be getting along fine the past week…”

James grimaced. He would have loved to tell her the real reason behind their fight, but considering he was still trying to get Lily to fall for him, telling her he had made a bet with Sirius involving him taking, tricking Alex to Hogsmeade was not going to help. “I don’t know, it just happened.”

Lily nodded. “Well, I better go and see if she’s alright, then.”

“Yeah, you probably should. I didn’t really see, but I think her head was bleeding.” Her eyes widened, and James hastened to add, “But I’m sure she’s fine.”

She nodded again and started walking towards the landing between the two stairs, and James followed her.

“Lily?” James asked.

“Mhmm?”

“Are you going to Hogsmeade tomorrow?” he asked.

Her eyes narrowed as she prepared herself for the inevitable question.

James noticed, made a very silent gulp, crossed his fingers in his pockets, and smiled as he said, “Make sure to show Alex around. She was really excited about going. Well, good night then.”

He turned and started to walk up the stairs, but broke into run as he heard muffled yells and evil maniacal laughter coming from his room. Lily just stood there, speechless. For the first time since 5th year, James had not asked her to go to Hogsmeade with him. Instead, he had asked for her to take care of Alex. That’s not like him at all! He’s actually being…nice? She turned and headed up her staircase, still thinking about it.

She entered the room cautiously, prepared to meet a furious Alex, but was surprised to see her lying on her bed, reading…again. She noticed the remnants of a cut on the side of her forehead, and it was not too pretty at all.

“Hey,” Alex said.

“Where are Vivian and Audrey?” Lily asked, trying to determine whether or not it was safe to have a private conversation.

Alex shrugged, “I think they’re in the library.”

“Oh.” Lily hesitated. She had no idea how to deal with a furious, injured princess—one who was practically trained to hide her real feelings. But, she tried to reassure herself, she does slip up now and then… “So…are you alright?”

“Yeah, my head is kind of sore, but other than that…” she replied vaguely, flipping another page. “What about you?”

Lily shook her head, “What about me?”

“I don’t know, you seem a little…confused.”

“I do?”

“Yeah. Well, pre-occupied really. What’s up?” Alex asked, marking her page and putting her book down. Lily noticed the title, Les Miserables.

“Well, nothing really,” Lily started. Maybe if I open up, she will too… “It’s just, Potter. Again,” adding a subtle, though effective, eye-roll.

“What did he do?” she asked, concerned.

“More like what he didn’t do,” Lily replied. Noticing the blank stare on her friend’s face, she continued, “Its weird…he didn’t ask me to Hogsmeade.”

“And… that’s a bad thing…?”

“No, it’s just…not normal. He’s been asking me every year, every trip. It’s like he’s changed or something…”

Alex laughed. Lily’s reaction was exactly what she expected when she told James not to ask her. “You sound like you’re disappointed.”

“NO!” Lily exclaimed, a faint blush creeping up on her cheeks. “I couldn’t care less really. But he also seemed concerned about you, which is even stranger considering he cares for no one but himself.”

“While I hate to admit it, the fact is he’s actually not that bad,” Alex said, trying to put in her promised good words. “For example, he did let me on the team…”

“Only because you deserve it and you’ll help them win.”

Alex sighed, “You know, you are way too pessimistic.”

“So are you going to Hogsmeade tomorrow?” Lily asked, trying to revert the conversation back to Alex.

“Yeah.”

“Mind if I join you then?”

She nodded and picked up her book again, “It’ll be fun.”

Lily opened her mouth to continue, but her other two roommates entered chattering loudly, so she was forced to resign until tomorrow…

Saturday morning came quicker than ever before, and Alex was up, once again, before the rest of her housemates. She got herself ready for Hogsmeade, and went to sit down by the fire. Unfortunately, the person she least wanted to see at that moment was already there. Sticking to her ignore-the-idiot strategy, she silently walked by him, and went to her usual seat, taking out her book. It was silent for a grand total of three minutes, when Alex couldn’t take his staring any longer.

“You know, I was under the impression that you hate me, so if you could stop staring at me…” she muttered loud enough for him to hear.

“Sorry, princess, but I can’t help and admire my perfect aim,” he said, gesturing towards the scratch and bruise on her head.

“Actually you missed,” she scoffed. Before letting Sirius retort, she closed her book and stood, walking dramatically to the portrait whole. She stepped across the threshold, when she felt a warm, fuzzy sensation spread across her head. She shook her head, and out of the corner of her eye, she noticed her hair. It was no longer brown.

She smirked, and took a glance back at Sirius, “Thanks, I was planning to do that for some time now.”

“Don’t be thanking me just yet," Sirius muttered as she stepped out, an evil grin on his lips. “I’m sure you weren’t planning on having it quite like that.”

And sure enough, within a half hour, Alex’s hair had taken quite a beating. It kept changing colours randomly, and the soft yet extreme purple it had started out with seemed positively tame to the bright neon green it was at the time most students were coming in for breakfast. But Sirius’ hex had more in store. After her hair settled down for a clown rainbow colour, it started changing even more. Curls on one side, frizz on the other. Spikes in the back, comb-over on the front. But it wasn’t until Lily suddenly exclaimed at Alex’s slow and dreadful balding, that she had enough sense to leave the great hall. By that time, everybody in the great hall realized she had fallen victim to another prank of the Marauders. And everybody knew why.

Passing Sirius and the other marauders on the way to the infirmary, she shot him a bright smile as she laughed, “Not quite the look I was going for, Black, though it was to be expected. You have no taste or style what-so-ever.”

Remus decided not to mention to his friends Alex’s swift and subtle flick of her wand from inside her robes at Sirius’ plate—he was not going to get mixed up in this. Of course, she was brilliant. Nobody would notice her movement when they were too caught up in her dazzling smile, near baldness and confidence even in such a potentially embarrassing and problematic situation. Alex did not make it to the end of the hall when Sirius suddenly yelled out in pain, causing everybody to turn and look from Alex to him. And all at once a giant chorus of laughter erupted around the hall. True, Alex had not a hair on her head except for the short rainbow spikes at the back, but Sirius…Sirius was no longer human. 

                                                             ***
The rest of the day was over in a blur for Alex as she now made her way down to the library, again. Mdm Pomfrey had regrown Alex’s hair within a couple of seconds, the only catch was that it did not want to change from the colour it had started out with when Sirius had first hexed her. Alex didn’t mind it though, and she even decided to keep it a bit shorter than before. Hogsmeade had turned out just as she had expected it. She loved the joke shop, and the Three Broomsticks’ butterbeer, and the chocolate from the chocolate shop, and the shrieking shack, and everything else that the village had to offer. Spending time with Lily was nice too, but she had kept trying to coax Alex into a conversation detailing the argument and yesterday’s other events. The quidditch match was over within 45 minutes, just as James had predicted. And the reaction to Alex playing as chaser had been exactly what James expected (she was kept as a type of secret weapon, and so nobody except Gryffindor knew of Alex’s marvelous playing). Both she and Sirius had made a handful of scores, and luckily James had caught the snitch before the two of them snapped. Alex had quickly left the pitch, determined not to stay in his presence any longer. He would want to get back at her.

“You think that was funny, Edwards?”

“Yes, I thought it was hilarious.”

“It hurt to change.”

“Did it? But I didn’t really change you; I just showed everybody your true form: jack ass.”

“You better watch your back.” 


Alex laughed to herself as she entered the library, recalling Sirius’s expression. She saw Severus sitting at the table again, and headed towards him. But as she got nearer, she noticed he was not sitting alone. He was sitting with somebody that looked strangely familiar, yet she was sure she had never met him before…

“Hey Sev,” Alex said sitting down. “Mind if I join you?”

“No,” he replied, then doing a double take as he noticed the colour of her hair. “Nice hair.”

“Thank you. Who’s your friend?” she asked.

“Regulus Black,” the boy said.

Alex withheld a scowl. “Another cousin?”

“Not quite,” Regulus replied. He hesitated, as if it hurt him to speak the next word, “Brother.”

Silence. Alex was shocked—she never knew Sirius had a brother, in Slytherin, nor had she ever bothered to ask about any siblings. And now his anger at her mentioning family in their argument became clear—there was definitely some unfinished business between the two. Snape stared at her, and Regulus took a moment to admire Hogwarts’ beauty before hunching over his work again.

“Oh,” Alex finally managed to croak out. “Well I hope you’ve got more sense than he has.”

Snape smirked at her comment. He loved the fact that Sirius and her were arguing because now he didn’t have to withhold any of his insults on account of insulting her by accident.

“What are you guys doing?” Alex asked, trying to lighten the atmosphere.

“I’m helping Regulus with his potions essay,” Snape replied.

“Oh,” Alex said again. “Well then I better leave, I don’t want to interrupt.”

“Rubbish,” Regulus said without looking up. “I heard you were the greatest potion maker.”

“And where did you hear that from?” she inquired.

He smirked, and Alex cringed as she noticed it was the exact same smirk Sirius wore. “Around.”

“What’s the problem then?”

“The problem is Regulus doesn’t want to believe me when I tell him a bezoar will suffice as an antidote for most poisons,” Snape said, clearly disgruntled.

Alex looked from Severus to Regulus, “And why don’t you believe him?”

Regulus looked up and felt himself melt at the sight of her beautiful eyes, but he found his voice as she quickly looked away. He knew he and Sirius looked extremely alike, and given the current situation, he was not at all surprised that she couldn’t bear to look him in the eyes. “It’s not in the textbook.”

“Ah, but it is in the textbook. You just need to know where to look for it,” Alex responded, taking Regulus’ fifth year potions text and flipping it from page 1234 to the first chapter. Laying it down before the two Slytherins, she pointed out the very line. “You see, problem solved.”

Regulus stared at her in amazement, “It is true then.”

“That I’m the best potion maker or that a bezoar will suffice?” Alex said with a smile.

“Option c: all of the above,” he replied.

Alex’s smile widened, “You should listen to Severus. After all, he was the best potion-maker before I came.”

Regulus laughed, and even Snape decided to grace them with a smile. 

                                                             ***
The next two weeks of October were probably the most maddening Alex had ever gone through, though she could not deny parts of it were very amusing. The parts which involved her making Sirius pay for every prank and insult he threw at her. By the end of the first week, the two were not even able to be in the same room together, and quidditch practice had become unimaginably difficult—not just for the two of them, but for the entire team. Eventually, after a particularly nasty spat between them which had caused the keeper a bludger to the head, James threatened them with suspension from the team if they didn’t leave their problems behind them when on the pitch. That silenced them enough to actually get through practice. But classes and break times were an entirely different story. And it only got worse when Sirius had brought up Alex’s family, forcing her to do the same. And speaking of Regulus to Sirius had definitely worsened the situation.

So when Friday came around again, and Professor Gable of Defense Against the Dark Arts had paired the two of them up for duel practice, everybody automatically took three steps (if not more) away from them. Apparently, Professor Gable was completely oblivious to their situation, or otherwise thought making them fight would solve it. Three minutes had not passed when all the dueling pairs were suddenly thrown of their feet and blasted backwards. Slowly and cautiously, they all made their way towards the two squabbling teens, who were now stuck underneath a fallen board.

“Bloody hell, Edwards! What did you do that for?!”

“Me? It’s your fault. Get off me!” Alex yelled, trying to push him off.

“Believe me, princess, I’m trying!” Sirius yelled back, trying to push himself off of her.

“Try harder!”

“Why don’t you try if you’re so brilliant?” he shot back.

“Fine!” Alex yelled back, struggling to take out her wand. “Wingardium Leviosa!”

The board lifted off them, and Sirius quickly stood up while Alex was still balancing the board above them. He took two quick steps towards James and Remus, but was suddenly pulled back, landing on Alex again, causing her to drop the board dangerously close to a group of students (who, entirely coincidentally, happened to be Slytherins).

“You idiot! Get OFF!” Alex yelled, giving him a hard shove. But he didn’t get more than two feet away from her when she was pulled towards him. She tried walking away again, but they were both pulled back to the centre, landing with a loud thump on the ground.

A look of comprehension settled upon both their faces, and they stared at each other with wide eyes.

“No…” Sirius whispered in fear.

Alex tried to run one way, but it didn’t work. Sirius tried the other, and still they were being forced together. Though they swore, huffed and puffed, and no matter how hard they tried to get away, a few laughs from the rest of the class and the amused expression on Professor Gable’s face told them it was in vain. They could not get more than two feet away from each other before being pulled back together again. Yet both of them refused to accept it.

Timidly, Lily spoke up, careful not to set them off on another argument, “Um…guys? Hate to break it to you, but you two are definitely stuck together.”
 


Authors Note: Don’t kill me! I know how horribly cliché it is that they’re stuck…but I swear it’ll all be good in the end.
Thanks to Dead’s Cooler than Holey who did a fantastic job with this so very quickly.
Also thanks to the readers who are actually leaving reviews, especially hjplover who has left reviews for every chapter so far, closely followed by turtle_toes…muchos gracias amigos. Please review, guys! I’d like to know your thoughts, especially as this is my first big story.
In other news, you may have noticed the new banner…let me know how you like it, and if you remember the old one, which one you liked better (please and thanks).

Overused Cliché: STUCK.

ps- Les Miserables; Victor Hugo. Really long, but really good (and not in French ;)

Chapter 13: Potentially Problematic
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“What do you mean you can’t take it off?!” Sirius yelled.

“Control yourself, Mr. Black. It is not my fault you two ended up like this,” Professor McGonagall said. Though she looked serious, her lips twitched too often and her eyes had a sparkle in them that clearly told the two exasperated teens she was amused with the situation. Professor Gable had tried unsuccessfully to break the connection between the two of them, and so they were forced to find Professor McGonagall (which took double the amount of time considering they couldn’t agree where to go and ended up falling too many times to count). “You two will just have to stay like that until either I find a way to break it up, or you two beat me to it.”

“But professor…” Alex pleaded.

“There is nothing I can do Miss Edwards,” she said with a bit of sympathy. “Besides, this seems like the best way for you two to patch things up. I must say, it is a much better way then what I had in mind.”

“You had something in mind?” Sirius asked, taking a small gulp and vaguely wandering what their head of house might have thought of that was worse than their current predicament. For surely, surely, there could not possibly be anything worse than being stuck to your nemesis who happened to be the most beautiful girl in school, not to mention rather vicious.

“Well of course. I couldn’t just let you roam about school terrifying students of all ages and besmirching the name of Gryffindor with your silly fights.”

They stared at her. And they stared some more. Finally, Alex spoke up. “Professor, how exactly will this work? I mean, he can’t come up to my dorm, and I’m not going up to the boys dorm, and…”

Sirius paled, as if the full extent of the situation only hit him now.

“That will be a bit of a problem, but I will talk with Professor Dumbledore and see what we can conjure up. It looks like you two will have to share a room, possibly even a bed, but I’m sure we’ll find-“

“WHAT?!” Alex yelled. “No way in Merlin’s name am I sharing a bed with that, that…creature!”

“Oh come on, I know you want to,” Sirius said with a smirk, grabbing her hand and swinging their arms between them, acting like a bashful little girl. Alex turned around and stabbed her fingernails in his palm. "Ouch!". 

He cringed away (as far as he could, which really wasn't far enough to feel safe), and she smiled.  “On the contrary Black, I know you want to.”

“And why would I want to?” 

"That isn't obvious? Maybe you should ask around a--"

“AHEM!” McGonagall interrupted. “You two may leave now, and Merlin forbid I hear of any more ‘situations’ or I will be forced to take points away from my own house, and prolong the punishment.” 

They quickly stood up and lopsidedly made their way out of her office, muttering to each other all the way. Outside, a group of people (mainly first years), was waiting for them; waiting to see if the rumours were true.

“What the hell are you little brats looking at?” Sirius yelled at them, and they all quickly dispersed into the passing crowd.

“Something quite ridiculous,” a voice from behind them sneered.

Sirius spun around so fast to face the voice that Alex was whirled around and fell to the floor in front of him.

“Dammit Black!”

“Stay on the ground, Mudblood. It’s where you belong…at the bottom,” the same voice said.

“Is it? Well let me let you in on a little secret, Malfoy,” she whispered as she stood up and slowly took two steps towards him (as far as the bond would allow), her voice changed and her walk perfectly entrancing, even in two steps. She stopped in front of him, and smirked as she leaned in a bit closer, and whispered right into his ear,  “I prefer being on top.”

Sirius did a double take as he realized what just happened, what she just said. He hadn’t believed Remus when he had told him about how she handled Malfoy, and had never actually had a chance to see her ‘in action’. But now that he saw her doing it, he was amazed. Malfoy was just standing there, his eyes glinting with lust, staring at her. She had control over him, and all three of them knew it. He felt an odd sensation come over him, and before he could stop himself, he was standing in between the two of them, Alex safely behind him. Sirius noticed Malfoy’s expression change as he realized how he had just been manipulated and embarrassed, and both Sirius and Alex saw him reach for his wand.

“Looking for something?” Alex said mockingly, over Sirius’ shoulder.

Sirius saw Malfoy’s eyes lift up, and he followed his gaze. Turning around, he laughed outright when he saw Alex twirling Malfoy’s wand in between her fingers.

“How dare you steal my wand, you filthy little mudblood!” he yelled, and lifted his hand, as if to strike. But Sirius was faster.

Petrificus Totalus!” 

In a quick flash of light, Malfoy was now lying on the floor, completely frozen; motionless. Except for his eyes. They were darting around from side to side, trying to see what was happening.

Sirius and Alex stared at the body in front of them, and then they looked at each other, both of them in shock at what the other had just done. Finally, Alex just smirked, before dropping his wand right next to his frozen, outstretched hand. They quickly turned on their heels and made their way, slowly, charismatically and silently (without falling) away from the scene of the crime. They arrived at Gryffindor tower and were at once jumped by the rest of the marauders and Lily.

“Are you guys alright?”

“It doesn’t matter; it’s time for dinner and then its quidditch!” James exclaimed.

“Quidditch?” Alex repeated numbly. “QUIDDITCH!”

“Yes, princess. Quidditch—you know, the thing where you fly on brooms…” Sirius said. “Let’s go eat, and then get on the pitch faster.”

He took a step towards the portrait hole.

“Aren’t you forgetting something?” Alex asked, irritated.

“No.”

She stared at him. When after a pause he didn’t seem to understand what she was talking about and just continued to dumbly stare at her, she took a big jump in the opposite direction, and he fell to the floor with a muffled grunt.

“NO!” James yelled, so dramatically Alex was silently surprised he didn’t fall to his knees and stretch out his hands to the heavens. “McGonagall didn’t sort you two out?!”

“Well that is potentially problematic,” Remus supplied.

“Potentially problematic?” James yelled, rounding on him, completely freaking out. “Remus, we have quidditch practice. And a game in a week. How are we supposed to play with these two stuck together?!”

“Calm down James,” Remus said, not being able to suppress a grin. “I’m sure McGonagall will have figured this out in time for the game. Besides, they could always appeal to Dumbledore…”

“Um, how exactly are you two going to…er, spend the night?” Lily asked timidly. “There’s no way he’s coming up to the girls dorm…”

“Don’t worry, Evans. Edwards and I are all ready to share a bed… and board.”

“Forget it Black. We are not sharing a bed,” Alex answered, ignoring the look of amusement on James’ face, sympathy and horror on Lily’s, and Remus’ expression…was just too hard to decipher. Alex looked at him curiously. It seemed like he was torn between two different feelings, and was trying to express a different one to mask the other two. Apparently Remus became aware of his small dilemma, and decided to continue the conversation.

“And where exactly will this bed and board be?”

“No idea,” Alex replied.

“Can we please continue this conversation on our way to the great hall? I’m starving!” Sirius interjected.

“No, you two have to go to the library and find a way to…to…fix this problem!” James said waving his arms around frantically. “We need to win the next quidditch game. It’s against Slytherin. We need to practice!”

“No worries mate. We will win,” Sirius said trying to walk towards the exit, which was difficult considering Alex was not moving. “Besides, if McGonagall couldn’t fix this, I doubt we’d find anything in the library.”

“Hey, genius. Did it not cross your mind that maybe she knows how to do it, but won’t, therefore forcing us to work together, live together…” a shudder ran through her as she spoke the last part. “Drastic times call for drastic measures… I agree with James. We should go to the library.”

“I need food!” Sirius yelled.

“I need to not be stuck to you for the rest of my life!” Alex yelled back.

“FOOD!”   He was not pleading.

“I’m not arguing with you,” Alex stated. “We are going to the library and that is final.”

A tense pause filled the common room as they stared at each other. Everybody in the room had stopped what they were doing to watch the enfolding action, and they all drew a deep breath when Sirius closed the already small distance between them. They were standing only centimeters apart.

“How do you expect me to be of any use if I can’t think because my stomach is growling so loudly?” 

“We’ll put a silencing charm on it.”

He stared at her, and then smirked. Alex took a step back, bewildered at his maniacal expression. But before she could take another step, he had grabbed her around the waist, and in a swift motion hoisted her over his shoulder, and started walking towards the exit, smirking triumphantly.

“Black! Put me down!” Alex yelled after she had regained her voice from the initial shock. “Don’t make me hurt you.”

“Do your worst. I want my dinner.”

She kicked and she screamed, kneed him and hit his back, but he would not let her go. She reached for her wand, but it was not there.

“That’s actually a useful trick, you know? Thanks for that,” Sirius laughed as he walked down the corridor, and she realized he had stolen her wand when he had picked her up—he took advantage of that one split second of her shock, just as she had done with Malfoy.

“Put me down!”

“Not happening.”

“BAH! This is so…so…medieval!” Alex stopped her yelling. If I agree to go to dinner, then I’ll be beat. And if he carries me to dinner like this, I’m still beat, she thought. She shifted a bit, trying to break loose. Damn he’s strong! Is there no way for me to win this time? She stayed silent for a minute or two, contemplating all possible escapes, to no avail. She sighed.

“If you let me down, I promise I’ll go to dinner.”

He stopped. “What?”

“I said I’ll go to dinner. Just put me down…and give me my wand back.”

He thought about it, “How about I’ll give you your wand back after dinner?”

“You’re holding my wand hostage? That’s low…” she took another second to think about it before replying, “Fine. Down.”

Sirius obliged. He watched as she straightened out her clothes, and smoothed down her purple hair. She let out another deep breath before turning to him. “Well? I thought you were hungry?”

He cleared his throat. “Yeah…”

They walked silently the rest of the way, one of the two occasionally tripping. They opened the doors of the great hall, and were met by Professor McGonagall.

“Oh good. You two are here. Follow me,” she stated and walked right by them.

They both groaned but followed. A couple of minutes later, their leader stopped in front of a portrait of a woman dressed in elegant dress robes.

“Patience,” McGonagall said to her (Alex scoffed quietly), and the portrait swung forward.

They all stepped through the threshold, and they found themselves in a small common room decorated in Gryffindor colours. Aside from the couches, fireplace and table, there was also a big bed in the far corner, a door (Alex assumed it was to the loo) across from it, as well as two wardrobes placed beside each other.

“This will be your room until the problem can be resolved,” McGonagall told them. “You will find your belongings have already been moved here. I expect you two to work it out, and nothing inappropriate.”

She turned on her heel and left the two alone. They stood in the middle of the room for a bit, before Sirius turned towards the mystery door.

“And where do you think you are going?” Alex asked, scared to hear the answer.

“I need to go.” He took another step, and stopped, not being able to move another inch. He looked over his shoulder at Alex.

Reluctantly, she walked with him towards the door. He opened it, and inside they saw a small bathroom, but just big enough for two people. Sirius stepped inside and shut the door. Alex leaned against the it, and a second later she felt a strong pull towards the inside. It felt like she was being flattened against the door.

“What the hell are you doing?” she yelled in frustration.

“I can’t reach the toilet!” Sirius replied exasperatedly, trying to run towards it, as if trying to force the bond between them to stretch.

“Stop it! Clearly it’s not working!” Alex commanded as her head repeatedly banged against the door. Realizing what he was doing and what she would have to do, she reached for the door knob with a trembling hand, and slowly she turned it. “I hope you’re decent!”

“Hey!” Sirius yelled. “Get OUT!”

“Oh be quiet. This is the only way. Unless of course, you want to wet yourself then go right ahead.”

He glared at her, and then smirked. ”You sure this isn’t some cheap trick of yours so you can get a glimpse of something?”

“Yes I am sure. I doubt there would be anything interesting to see,” Alex quipped, turning around. “Just get it over with.”

She focused on trying to find a way to make this experience less agonizing as the thing she was attached to went about its business. She would need to find some illusionment, shield or wall spell. Or we can just get unstuck. After a moment or so, she heard the toilet flush, and Sirius stepping over to the sink to wash his hands.

“Alright. Now we can go to dinner.”

“Dinner? After that experience you still prefer to go to dinner than finding away to end this mess?” she asked.

“What can I say, I love food. Besides, you promised. Where would the fun be in letting you off?”

They walked out of their room and once again towards the great hall. Sirius had his hands in his pockets, whistling to himself, and Alex was so completely zoned out, looking at the floor as she walked, she barely heard Sirius speak.

“Hey, who’s that guy walking with Dumbledore?” he asked.

She looked up to see who Sirius was talking about, and her breath caught in her throat. She stopped abruptly, causing him to fall. But she didn’t care. All that mattered was that person walking with Dumbledore towards her.

“Edwards? Alex! Are you alright?” Sirius asked, standing up, noticing her sudden strange behaviour and becoming a little concerned. It was as if she was going into hysteria. Her breaths were quick, her cheeks flushed and her eyes wide, staring at the approaching man. What is it with this girl? Sirius thought, trying to read her expression. Every possible emotion… fear, excitement, panic, confusion, pain, joy…it’s all splashed across her face. “What’s the matter? Who is it?”

She looked at him, but did not reply. She couldn’t reply…she had no words, no voice to say them with… She looked away, and her eyes connected with the blue-grey ones of the man who was quickly closing the distance between them. How…why…What is he doing here?
 


Overused Cliche:  The stranger and the cliffhanger of doom.
(Well, it's more of a technique than a cliche...but still...)

Chapter 14: Of the Unexpected and Unnatural
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Sirius and Alex watched as Dumbledore whispered something to the man before shaking hands and turning around to leave. The other man continued to walk towards the two, while Alex stood as still as stone, and Sirius kept trying to figure out what the hell was going on. He ran out of time.

“Alex…” the man said. “Alex, it’s alright.”

“D…Da…” she stuttered. She closed her eyes, and let out a deep breath. Opening them, she tried again. “Darcy.”

Sirius’ eyes widened. This is Darcy? The Darcy? Alex’s brother, the one who all the muggle girls are in love with… (well, yeah I can see why, he manfully admitted)…What in Merlin’s name is he doing here? 

Apparently Alex was thinking along the same lines. “What are you doing here?”

“I came to visit, obviously,” he said with a crooked smile.

Her eyes narrowed at his smile. “You’re smiling? What’s the matter, Darcy? I would have thought you’d be disappointed to see me not blown to bits yet. Although, I have came pretty close to falling off my broom so that’s a step in the right direction, isn’t it?”

Darcy cringed. He had known she wasn’t going to take his sudden appearance well, but he hadn’t been expecting the spite in her voice. “The truth is…Buckingham is not the same without you.”

“Of course it’s not. It’s completely problem, embarrassment, headline-free…Peaceful,” she stated with a bit of an edge to her voice.

“Peaceful isn’t quite the word I would use…”

“You mean it’s boring, then?” she restated.

“No. Well, sort of,” Darcy said smiling again. “I mean I missed you. I feel awful about what I said, and I really didn’t mean it, Alex. Really, I’m sorry.”

Sirius gaped at the two of them, trying to put together the small pieces of conversation between the siblings. They argued? About what? He raked his memory trying to remember the rare snippets of his and Alex’s conversations including her brother or family. She had said she was waiting for him to rat her out… He blinked. What the hell does that mean?! He had never spared a second thought to it, and now he realized there was more to that sentence than he thought. It wasn’t a joke. She had actually meant it... Well, whatever they argued about, it must have been pretty bad. I haven’t ever seen her in such a state before…It’s not even like how she is when she argues with me. The two boys waited, yet Alex still made no sign of response. So Darcy spoke again, “Lexy…?”

Oh. That’s why she didn’t want me calling her that…he thought, remembering back to their first conversation on the train. He had dibs on that name. 

A million memories came flooding back upon hearing him call her that. And she knew by it that he was truly sorry and that he accepted her for who she really was. She leapt into his arms, and he embraced her warmly.

“I’m sorry, Darcy,” she whispered.

“I am too…”

The bond tugged on Sirius as he watched, and after a minute or so his stomach growled loudly. Alex whipped around to face the source of the noise, and Darcy looked on. The smile on her face vanished as soon as she saw him.

“Oh. It’s you.”

“Yeah. Me,” Sirius replied.

“Sirius Black…Darcy Edwards, my brother,” she introduced the two of them as they shook hands.

“Nice to meet you,” Sirius said, but all he got in return was a nod. “Alright, hate to break up this little reunion, but I am really, really hungry. And if I don’t get food in me by quidditch practice there’s gonna be hell to pay.”

“As if we’re not paying hell already,” Alex retorted.

“Dinner…Great hall. Now,” he commanded.

“Can’t you go by yourself?” Darcy asked. “It’s not as if you two are stuck together.”

He laughed, but quickly stopped as he was met with two very unamused faces.

“Not funny, Darce,” Alex said.

“What, you two are actually stuck together? You can’t be serious.”

“No, I am,” Sirius joked.

“Not funny either, Black.”

“I don’t care—I just want food!” he whined as his stomach rumbled some more.

“Just shut it. We can skip quidditch tonight…” Alex started, but Darcy interrupted at the look of horror on Sirius’ face.

“Come to think of it, I am pretty hungry too.”

“Haha!” Sirius exclaimed. “To dinner. Besides, I still have your wand, and I think you’ll be wanting that back eventually.”

“To kill you with, yes,” Alex said. “Fine. Come on Darcy, the great hall is this way. And while we’re walking, please enlighten me as to how you found this place.”

“Well, it was pretty difficult. And it took some time… I sort of had to go through your stuff…” he paused, as if expecting her to say something about that. “And I found an envelope with the Hogwarts crest. So I figured that was the name of the school and wrote a letter with that address.”

“And what, you just sent it in the post?” Alex asked incredulously. “We use owls, you know.”

“I know. But I didn’t exactly have any options. It worked, though, didn’t it?”

Alex nodded, “Clearly, since here you are. I guess they must have a witch or wizard working at the post office who sorts that out.”

“Probably. So about a week ago I got a response from your headmaster and we set this up.”

“I see. And you got here how? The train?”

“No, the fireplace,” Darcy answered scratching his head. “Can’t remember what it’s called…”

“Floo?” Sirius offered.

“That’s the one,” Darcy confirmed, nodding his head. “Dumbledore had said your fireplace was connected and that there was bound to be some floo powder lying around somewhere.”

“I’m guessing you found it?” Alex said with a smile.

“Yes, mixed in with that dried flower stuff on your mantle. Very ingenious, I always thought it was potpourri.”

“That was the plan. Hey, you didn’t tell—OW!” Alex exclaimed as she tripped and fell to the ground yet again. “Watch it Black! You don’t have to walk so damn bloody fast you know.”

“Well you don’t have to walk so damn bloody slow!” Sirius retorted.

Darcy laughed as he helped his sister from the floor. “And how exactly did this happen?”

“It happened because that idiot over there decided to actually try to blow me to bits.”

“Me? It’s all your fault. Or do you not remember...?” he changed his voice to make it a bit higher. “‘I won’t try to kill you…for now.’ Well congrats, princess. 10 bludgers, 2 quaffles, 1 jackass and a whole bunch of other things later, I still wasn’t dead. But this…this will just about do it.”

“Oh please, as if you aren’t to blame at all,” Alex said, grabbing at a fistful of her hair.

“I like that colour,” Darcy interjected, fearing the rapidly growing heated debate, and knowing his sister well enough to stop her before she gained any momentum. “Looks like the time you and your two friends went to that football game and dyed your hair red. Which reminds me…” He took out a letter from his pocket. “Dev and Adrian came over last month, father nearly had a heart attack when he saw them in the hall. So they came back about a week ago and gave me this to give to you.”

Alex took it, and looked at it fondly, “Thank you.”

“Who are Dev and Adrian?” Sirius asked before he could contain his curiousity. Or is it something else? a voice in his head asked. No, it’s obviously curiousity, the other voice denied. “Do they know you’re a witch?”

“No, they don’t. And they’re my best friends.”

“Guy best friends?” he asked.

“Yes, do you have a problem with that?” Alex replied.

“Yeah. No guy in their right mind would settle for being friends with you,” he said. For a second he panicked as he realized how that had came out, how it sounded like he actually…liked her, so he quickly continued, “It’s too much of a pain, not to mention dangerous. And if they don’t know that, then perhaps I should warn them about the impending danger.”

“Perhaps you should shut it. Save your energy or you won’t be able to make it to the great hall.” She smirked, “And they deal with it quite fine.”

“Alright, that’s enough. I don’t want to be hearing any details of all those secret, and not so secret, come to think of it, escapades the three of you had,” Darcy joked, sensing something resembling jealousy on Sirius’ behalf and not wanting to pass up the opportunity. “Just write back to them, and then send it to me and I’ll pass it along.”

They finally reached the great hall, Darcy and Alex chatting away and Sirius, strangely enough, solemnly quiet. Heading over to the Gryffindor table, they sat down in their usual spots. Alex smiled as she remembered her promise to Lily.

“Hey guys. I want you all to meet my brother, Darcy Edwards.”

Lily’s head popped up from behind the book she was reading. They all took turns shaking hands and introducing themselves. Lily blushed a colour strong enough to rival her hair when Darcy kissed her hand. Alex fought back a laugh—she had known he would do that.

“So what’s going on in London? Newspapers going bankrupt?” Alex asked as she started to help herself to dinner.

“Not yet. They milked your disappearance for all it was worth, and then decided to bring back some of your previous…er, incidents.”

She nodded, “Sounds about right.”

“Previous incidents?” Remus inquired with a smile, “Like what?”

“Oh you know, the usual. Princess caught at nightclub, rebel at court not at court anymore, princess or devil incarnate…” Darcy started to list.

“They resurfaced that?!” Alex exclaimed. “That is just cruel.”

“Devil Incarnate? But that’s my name!” James joked. “You could not have possibly done anything to deserve that name.”

“Ha, says you.”

“Alright then, go on. Prove it. Tell us,” James challenged.

“Er…I really rather not,” Alex said hesitantly, stuffing some bread into her mouth.

“I will,” Darcy volunteered.

“I don’t think you should,” Lily commented, remembering reading that article at breakfast one morning the past summer. “After all, nobody really knows what happened that night except for her.”

“Thank you,” Alex said. “See, the voice of reason has spoken. The mystery of that night will always remain just that.”

“Awww, come on Alex!” Remus pleaded. “At least the short version?”

Alex grinned. “The short version? Alright. There was a party at Buckingham in my honour for my birthday, I crashed it, broke someone’s nose, and went out with my friends instead. Got a bit tipsy and made a commotion.”

“And the ‘Devil Incarnate’ part?” James asked curiously.

“Ah, well that’s the commotion part.”

James frowned, “You’re not going to tell us?”

“Do I look like I’m about to give away prime blackmail information?”

“Don’t worry guys. I’ll owl you all a copy of the story in the paper,” Darcy said.

“Like hell you will,” Alex threatened. “Or you’ll be experiencing some very painful magic.”

They all laughed, and reverted to eating their dinner again. Alex looked around the great hall, and her smile grew wider as she noticed all the girls eying Darcy.

“You know Darcy, I think you made an even more dramatic entrance than I have. You certainly did catch all the girls’ eyes. You should be careful, or one of them might slip you some amortentia, or hex you, then sweep you off your feet and away through yonder window.”

Darcy smirked, “It’s a curse.”

“Hey, that’s my line,” Alex complained, but he only shrugged and continued to eat his dinner. “You know, maybe I should tell them you’re taken?”

“Maybe I should tell them you are,” Darcy quipped.

Alex whipped up to face him, “I so am not!”

Darcy sighed, and whispered, “Look, Alex, part of the reason I came here was to tell you father is up to something.”

“That’s no news to me,” she scoffed.

“Alex, I think he’s serious this time.” He paused, as he watched her expression change, and then continued. “I don’t know anything for sure yet, but I’ll be writing you to keep you up to date.”

“Great, news from home. I’ll be looking forward to that everyday…” she drawled sarcastically. Then feeling a small tug on her side, she turned to face it. She had completely forgotten about Sirius, and about being stuck to him. Probably because he was quiet all dinner, she thought. Which is…unusual. 

“So you guys coming to quidditch practice?” James asked hopefully.

“Yeah I think so,” Alex replied. “I have no idea how this is going to work, though.”

“Quidditch?” Darcy asked, and James eagerly offered a quick explanation. “That should be interesting. Can I come?” Darcy asked.

“I don’t think you want to see this,” Sirius finally said, expressing Alex’s thoughts. “It won’t be pretty.”

“Strangely enough, I agree,” Alex said. “I think it’ll take most of practice for us just to figure out how to fly together without killing ourselves. But if you really wanted to come, maybe you can drop by towards the end.”

“And what should I do till then?” Darcy asked.

“Lily you’re patrolling tonight, right? Well, maybe you could give Darcy a tour of the castle,” she suggested, a small grin tugging at her lips.

“Yeah I would like that,” Darcy answered. “That is of course, if you don’t mind.”

Lily opened and closed her mouth like a fish, and hiding behind her book, she barely managed to say that it wouldn’t be a problem at all.

“Good. Everything is settled then. Off to practice!” James exclaimed after getting over his little jealousy attack. “You have 5 minutes to change and get your stuff. I will see you two on the pitch.”

“5 minutes…?” Sirius asked in surprise looking at Alex, who only shrugged. He stood up and Alex was pulled to her feet also. She swayed for a moment as if about to fall, but this time Sirius caught her. Then, as if in shock at what he had just done, he let go, and Alex fell to the floor.

“Thanks for that,” Alex said angrily, getting up and rubbing the side she fell on. “You know the point of catching some one is so they don’t fall…?”

She gave him a slap on the upside of the head, “Let’s go before James has a heart attack on account of our lateness.”

Sirius followed her without a word. He stared at his hands. Something is going on here… he wondered. Why would I catch her? An hour ago I would have let her fall to the floor and laughed…though of course, I did still let her fall to the floor. But I didn’t laugh! And her reaction…it was barely a reaction at all! No yelling, or hexing…It’s creepy! Not right! He was starting to get agitated by his own thoughts. Are we actually starting to get along…? NO! That is just not possible. He was pulled forward strongly at that point, and barely caught his balance. That’s it! It’s this…this…bond between us. It’s affecting our thoughts. We must be going insane...

He was so caught up in his own little world of thoughts he didn’t even notice them entering their room.

“Oi! Sirius!” Alex yelled, and then stopped. Did I just call him…Sirius

Did she just call me Sirius?


“What is it, princess?”

She shook her head, trying to forget that she just called him by his first name—something she hadn’t done since more than two weeks ago. “I need to change, so turn around and don’t you dare look.”

He obliged without a word. Wait, what? I’m obliging without a word? She just said she’s changing. If I was really me I would look….

…This is getting weird and way too confusing. Of course I am me, and me is I... and since I am me I
am going to look… 

Sirius slowly turned his head, just enough to see her in his periphery. Her back was turned to him. He smirked as he saw her in her bra and sweat pants, pulling on her jumper. He took a moment to admire her curves before her loose jumper covered them up, but it was her voice that brought him back to reality.

“You should have taken a picture, it would’ve lasted longer.”

Her back was still turned to him, so though he could not see her face, he knew she was smirking. With an angry huff, he took a step towards his wardrobe, vaguely wandering why he didn’t change at the same time she did. But this works too… Two can play at that game.

Opening his side of the wardrobe, he took out his usual quidditch attire. Taking a quick peak at Alex, he saw her trying to tie back her short hair. In a flash, his shirt was off, so he was bare chested. But Alex didn’t even spare him a glance. She just kept on looking in the mirror, trying to do something with her in-cooperating hair. Eager for a stab at revenge, he dropped his pants so that he was now only in his boxers. This will make her look for sure.

But it didn’t. After giving up on her hair, she merely told him to hurry up while grabbing her broom from her wardrobe. Angry that his plan didn’t have the least bit of effect on her, he quickly and quite aggressively put on his clothes. But while pulling the shirt through his arms, his hand brushed against something. Someone. Sirius gulped, A very specific part of someone.

“Nice try at being inconspicuous,” Alex said, and he couldn’t tell if she was mad or amused.

“Hey, I didn’t do that on purpose…” Sirius started.

She laughed, “Whatever you say, Black. Can we please go now?”

Anxious not to prolong the awkward scene any further, and taking advantage of her rather easy-going reaction (which he again assumed was because of the bond), he quickly grabbed his broom, and they headed out the door.

They were silent all the way there. How could they not be? When all Sirius could think about was how weird things were getting. Not to mention her astounding figure. And Alex, well she wasn’t too keen on discussion either, seeing as she had just spent the last 5 minutes doing everything in her power to keep her eyes off him, and angrily trying to ban the image of him in his boxers from her mind. Not to mention the slightly disturbing fact that she had called him Sirius and didn’t yell at him…well, not really yell…not once, within the last 2 hours, though she had more than enough reasons and opportunities to bite his head off.

“Well it’s about bloody time!” was the greeting they received when they got to the pitch. “What were you two doing up there?”

Sirius smirked, “One day, when you’re old enough to understand, I’ll tell you all about it.” 

                                                                ***
They stood in front of it, staring at it, contemplating all possible ways of getting through the night without any awkward situations. They were tired, bruised, angry, frustrated, and had been through enough awkward situations within the last couple of hours to last them a lifetime. They didn’t need any more to deal with at the moment.

Quidditch practice had been an absolute disaster. And even that was an understatement. James had taken the rest of the team to one side of the pitch, allowing Sirius and Alex enough space and time to try to figure things out. And that was exactly what they did. They tried. They failed. After spending 2 hours in the cold October air attempting to fly together, they decided to move on to throwing the quaffle, maneuvering, and trying to score, which turned out to be a mistake considering they could barely fly together. Fifteen minutes later, they were slowly making their way up to the infirmary, Alex with a sprained ankle and Sirius with a broken wrist and something that felt to him like a dislocated hip. Though it took them forever to get to the infirmary (even with Darcy’s help), Mdm Pomfrey had their injuries dealt with in ten minutes, though sore bruises still remained. After that ordeal it was time for Darcy to go, and Alex insisted on going to Dumbledore’s office to see him off. After much arguing and yelling, Sirius obliged, but he drew the line when Alex suggested they go to the library.

So after getting changed and washed up, they were ready to go to bed. And that was where they stopped, at being ready—neither of them wanted to make the first move. Neither, in fact, could even think of anything to say that would somehow break the mounting tension and awkwardness, which was in itself quite strange as they both seemed to have a particular talent for clever remarks. Alex pursed her lips, wondering how neither could think of some witty comment. Sirius shifted from foot to foot, making strange faces, looking like he was actually trying to think, and Alex couldn’t help it. She just had to laugh.

“Well,” she said amidst her laughter, “I have decided I want the right side.”

“What?” Sirius said in confusion, but didn’t have time to think as Alex jumped onto the bed and pulled him along.

“OK, two rules,” Alex started once she claimed her side of the bed. She took out her wand and drew a line lengthwise across the bed. “Number one, stay on that side.”

“And number two?”

“STAY ON THAT SIDE! That includes all parts of your body. Oh,” she added as an afterthought, “no snoring.”

“No snoring? How am I supposed to manage that? I can’t control myself in my sleep!”

“Well I’ll just have to kill you then.”

“Won’t silencing me work just as well?” Sirius asked sarcastically, yet at the same time hoping she was joking.

She didn’t answer for she seemed to have just thought of something as Sirius made his way under the covers. She conjured up her own set of blankets and comforters. Sharing a bed was one thing, but sleeping under the same covers was another. Nestling up under them, she turned on her side to face the wall instead of Sirius, and he did the same. Two minutes had not passed when Sirius started to snore loudly.

“Black, you’re snoring.”

He seemed to have not heard her. She elbowed him, and that seemed to work a lot better, for he quieted down. Alex closed her eyes, ready for the wave of exhaustion to wash over her and take her to her dreams. Her eyes were slowly closing and her mind shutting down as sleep came, the end of a day in which too many things had happened.

A loud snore woke her up from her half sleep.

“For crying out loud!” Alex shouted as she gave him a kick. Unfortunately, she had put more force into that kick than she had thought, and Sirius, being already asleep, was practically a limp body. So upon receiving her kick, he tumbled over the side of the bed and fell to the floor with a thud. But the floor was past the limits of the bond, and Alex felt herself being rolled over and pulled down onto the floor. No, not the floor, she thought miserably, as she felt the warm body beneath her.

“Come on, Edwards. I know I’m irresistible but there’s no need for you to just jump on me like that. I would have come back to bed sooner or later,” Sirius said, and though he was half asleep, his smirk did not fail to appear.

Alex got up quickly and thanked Merlin that she was smart enough not to wear her usual nightgown to bed, but regular pajamas instead. “I know you would have come back. Or did you forget who it was beside you?”

“No, princess. How could I have forgotten someone as completely wonderful as you?” Sirius said sarcastically, crawling back onto the bed.

“Yes I am wonderful, aren’t I?” Alex replied, getting rather tired of all the same arguments over and over again. “Please, just go to bed and don’t snore. I’m tired, and I need my beauty sleep, after all. Come to think of it, you do too, right? What, no face cream or night mask? I’m disappointed.”

“Just shut it, Edwards,” he mumbled as his eyes closed and he drifted to sleep, without snoring. Somehow that kick had made him stop. Strange, he wondered amusedly in his sub-consciousness, and all these years Moony and Prongs tried everything to get my snoring to stop, and all I needed was a kick. 

The room became completely silent as the two troubled teens succumbed to their dreams…

Alex’s eyes opened drearily as bright rays of sunlight poured in from the window she was facing. She smiled to herself as she recalled her dream, and yet she couldn’t remember what she had dreamt about, though it was only moments ago. It was fading from her memory, and all she knew was that is had been a good dream, one that involved a mysterious, charming stranger; a stranger that seemed vaguely familiar, however.

She stretched and wondered why her back was so sore. Her first thought was because of quidditch, but as her eyes began to focus on her surroundings, she realized it was because she was on the floor. She yawned and closed her eyes again, before snapping them open again in confusion. I’m on the floor? Slowly she sat up, and even more slowly still, she turned her head, as if scared of what she might see. And sure enough, there was Sirius sleeping on the ground, less than a couple centimeters away from her. Why does he look so adorable and peaceful when he’s sleeping? Wait…WHAT?! Him? Adorable and peaceful? Never! She mentally yelled at herself, and lay back down, trying to pull the covers over her. As her tugging at the covers came of no use, she realized it was because Sirius was sleeping under the same ones, holding onto them tight. She groaned, but had no energy to yell at him this early in the morning. I’m in hell, she thought, as the events of the day before began to replay in her mind, and new images of what this day may be like flooded her mind. A smile flitted across her face as she remembered something Dev had once told her. Well, he was right. People like us do get their come-uppance, and then have hell to pay. 






Author’s Note: So no cliffie this time. Better?
Thanks to everybody! Please review!
ps—this chapter has not been beta-d so if you see any mistakes please let me know. 

Chapter 15: The Debuting Marauder
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“Alright, that is it!” James yelled in frustration, leading Sirius and Alex away from the pitch. “You two are spending the rest of practice trying to find a solution—in the library!” 

“Library?” Sirius asked in surprise.

“But we’re banned, remember?” Alex added, recalling Mdm Pince’s proclamation after a particularly nasty spat between the two of them. “How are we going to get in? Besides, it closes in an hour.”

“There are other ways…” James trailed off, giving Sirius a knowing look.

Sirius seemed to have caught onto whatever unsaid message they had shared, and started to protest. “But…but James! She’s not a Marauder!”

James shrugged. “Desperate times call for desperate measures. The game is in a couple of days and I won’t have the two of you falling off your brooms. Oh, and check the restricted section while you’re at it.”

Alex blinked, totally confused but at the same time excited—was she finally going to discover one of the Marauder secrets that Sirius seemed keen on keeping secret?

“Fine. I’ll see you later then,” Sirius said with a glare at James, but as they started to walk back to the castle, it was soon replaced by a mischievous gleam that clearly told Alex she was in for some kind of adventure. He turned to her, “We need to stop by the boys’ dorm in Gryffindor tower and grab some supplies.”

And off they went, Alex unusually silent, as if careful not to wreck her odds of actually discovering some secrets and going on an adventure, especially as her last adventure had been months ago back in London. Although, she thought, I can’t exactly say life has been boring stuck to this freak. Though the weekend had started out very rough, they had laid down some ground rules and eventually settled into a sort of daily routine. At least now they weren’t arguing every minute… more like every hour, usually when some sort of sacrifice and/or compromise had to be made. Like when Slughorn ordered Snape to work with James so that Sirius and Alex could work together. Or when Alex had realized that this ‘punishment’ would only be prolonged if Sirius kept getting into fights with Snape, and so had regretfully came to the decision to avoid him as much as possible, which was difficult. And when McGonagall still hadn’t found a solution, and Sirius had finally and quite reluctantly complied with Alex’s requests to spend a bit more time in the library, though that didn’t exactly end up too well considering they were now banned. The biggest problem, relatively, that remained was quidditch, and the upcoming game against Slytherin in four days. Their tempers were high during practices (which is saying something) probably partly due to the fact that flying was no longer as easy it used to be; in fact it was more or less a battle to simply stay on the broom. It was no wonder that James couldn’t take anymore—he was practically short two of three chasers for the match on Saturday and there were no substitutes. They had to find a quick fix, because they needed to be at their best for a game against Slytherin, and nobody in Gryffindor would handle defeat very well, especially since it seemed to be at the hands of their own.

They stopped quickly in their room to drop off their brooms and change, and then headed toward Gryffindor tower. Soon enough, they were walking up the stairs to the 7th year room. Sirius slowly opened the door, and Alex withheld a gasp and disapproving remarks at the state their room was in. Though she was never a neat freak, this was just past the point of no return. He led her through the minefield to a trunk next to a bed. He opened it and rummaged through it until he pulled out a silvery cloak and a piece of parchment. Alex, a bit disappointed at the outcome of the big secret, opened her mouth to ask how a cloak and parchment would help them sneak into the library when Sirius put a finger to her mouth, and after an awkward pause in which they both wondered silently about his audacity to do such a thing, he quickly removed it, cleared his throat and spoke.

“Raise your right forefinger.”

“Why?” she asked suspiciously.

“Just do it, and no crossing fingers or toes or eyes or whatever else you can cross, and repeat after me—“

But she quickly interrupted. “And exactly what am I repeating?”

“The Marauders’ Code of Conduct.”

“No kidding, you guys actually have a code?” she asked, quite amused. “And you follow it?”

“Well, yeah. I mean, otherwise the whole school would know exactly what we’re up to all the time, and that wouldn’t be very Marauder-ish would it? Secrecy is key, so repeat after me. I solemnly swear that I am up to no good, and in so doing I swear on the pain of death that this excursion and mischief making, with all items, secret passages and other secrets, will remain secret, never to be discussed unless with another Marauder if and only if in the presence of only a marauder.”

Alex withheld her scoffs and snide remarks as she repeated it, and Sirius seemed content.

“Now can you tell me what—“ she started but was cut off by Sirius.

“I’m getting there! Merlin, you are impatient,” he chided. “Item number one, James’ prized possession: the invisibility cloak.”

Alex gaped as he threw it over himself and disappeared from sight. She reached out tentatively and felt the soft material under her fingertips. She grabbed a fistful and pulled it off of him, and he reappeared before her. “Alright, self explanatory—no more ban. Now what does that do?” she asked, pointing to the parchment in his hand with an avid curiosity. He handed it over, and her curious eyes examined every corner of it, but to no avail, for all she saw was a blank parchment. She looked at it, and then at Sirius, irked by his crooked grin and the strange sparkle in his eyes. There was some secret to this, and not finding it frustrated her.

“And this is supposed to help us into the library…how?” she asked.

He seemed to hesitate, as if debating whether revealing the secret was in fact the best thing to do.

“Oh come on, Sirius! I already took your silly oath, and it’s not like I’m going to yell whatever it is from the rooftops.”

Slowly, he brought his wand to the parchment in her hands, and tapping it once, whispered, “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.”

In an instant, ink began to leak through the blank parchment stretching in every direction. Alex stared at it in fascination, and her excitement rose when she noticed the lettering it was forming, and she read it out loud.

“Messrs Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs—“ Padfoot and Prongs? Where have I heard that before? “—Purveyors of Aids to Mischief Makers are proud to present the Marauder’s Map.”

She stopped short, and Sirius looked at her expectantly.

“The Marauder’s Map?” she repeated.

“Just open it and stop asking so many questions,” Sirius said amusedly.

Cautiously, she opened the folds of the parchment and her eyes widened. Spread in front of her was a map of Hogwarts, with many little dots moving around. As she brought the page closer to her to examine it, she drew a little gasp as she realized the moving dots were teachers and students, all labeled and showing their exact position on the grounds.

“You mean…” she started, still staring at the page.

“Yup. That map is Hogwarts, complete with the whereabouts of everybody, every minute of everyday. You see,” he stepped closer as he pointed to a spot on the map, “there’s Dumbledore pacing in his study, and of course, us, in Gryffindor tower.”

She continued to stare at it, and she couldn’t withhold her praise, “This is amazing. Where did you get it?”

“Get it?” Sirius asked incredulously with a short laugh. “We made it, love.”

Sirius stopped short in shock, but Alex didn’t even notice the endearment bestowed upon her as she struggled to comprehend the three preceding words. They made it? But of course, it is ‘The Marauders’ Map. And in a second she remembered the four names presented on the front of the map, and she quickly flipped to it and stared at that. Sirius did not miss the gesture, and he could just imagine the cogs turning in her head. He gulped. This is what he had feared—her finding out too much.

“Then…” she started again. “Moony, Padfoot and all of them. They’re the Marauders? I mean, it’s you guys?” She took Sirius’ slight paling and no response as a yes, and continued. “Strange names though. How on earth did you come up with them?”

Sirius breathed a sigh of relief. Perhaps she hadn’t found out too much after all. If she didn’t know how the names came about, or what they meant, then she could not possibly know the greatest and best kept secret of the Marauders.

“Hmm, Peter must be Wormtail, right?”

Her question snapped him out of his thoughts. “How…?”

She waved her hand dismissively. “I don’t know. Peter just always seems a little…well, wormy-rodent-like to me.”

“Yeah…” Sirius answered uncertainly.

“And Prongs, well that’ll be either you or James, which makes Remus Moony.”

“He could be Padfoot,” he stated, trying to lead her astray.

“No…” she answered slowly, “no, Remus wouldn’t have such a silly name.”

“It’s not silly!” he exclaimed, and it wasn’t until Alex smirked that he realized he had been tricked—his defensiveness about the name gave it away.

“Well then, Padfoot, should we get going?” she asked, still smirking.

Sirius grabbed the cloak from the floor and stuffed it into his robes, and snatching the map from Alex’s hand, hastily whispered “Mischief managed” before also hiding that into his robes—they needed to get out of Gryffindor tower first.

They walked silently, only interrupted by a few escaped chuckles from Alex, until finally Sirius couldn’t take it anymore. “Just so you know, princess, now that you’ve been inadvertently drawn into the world and secrets of the Marauders, you’ll be getting a name too.”

“Can I pick it?”

“No. But don’t worry, we’ll spare you no embarrassment or trouble in picking it.” He took a couple of glances around him. “Alright, coast is clear.”

In a second he had pulled Alex into a nearby niche and taken out the cloak and map. Wrapping the cloak tightly around them, he smirked as they had to hunch a bit, and huddle together for fear of their feet showing. “Cozy, ain’t it?”

Any other girl would have blushed and started giggling uncontrollably, but not Alex. Nothing he said or insinuated ever made her blush, probably because everything paled when compared with the fact that she shared a bed with him. In fact, most things guys said never had any effect on her except awaken the desire to play along and beat them at their own game (and she usually did). Remus was the exception to that rule…Had been, she told herself, recalling the couple of random blushes on her part, and then the sudden end of that.

She smirked right back at him as she whispered into his ear, “That’s not quite the word I would use.”

Sirius stifled a laugh. Though he enjoyed the effect he had on countless females, he enjoyed a more worthy adversary, and Alex was just that. And even though they still argued and made each other’s lives miserable whenever the opportunity presented itself, it wasn’t beyond him to observe the beginning of some sort of relationship between the two of them. Relationship, he thought wryly, for all of this, what we’re going though, is past friendship, and I doubt we would have been very good ‘friends’ anyways. So it wasn’t friendship, but it wasn’t a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship either. Nevertheless, something was there, and each day he discovered more and more how similar they were, much to his chagrin.

As they kept walking, he glanced down at the map, and felt Alex suddenly pull him to her. Though first surprised at her gesture, he realized she had prevented him from walking through Sir Nick. His thoughts then turned to why she had done that. Surely, it would have been much more amusing to see me walk through a ghost. I wonder if she’s noticed something weird going on too, he vaguely thought as he decided to keep his eyes in front of him and not give Alex another chance to possibly rectify her act of thoughtfulness.

Alex had noticed, though not to the same extent as Sirius. Perhaps it was because she had never been in need of a ‘worthy adversary’ with whom to exchange snide remarks laced with implications or innuendo—she had always had Dev and Adrian, and later the many acquaintances and friends associated with her night-time meanderings and at the expense of her ‘rebel’ title. Of course, if she had thought about it, she would have discovered that joking around with Sirius was a completely different matter, for it lacked the brotherly teasing of Dev and Adrian, but was more than a couple of notches above the friendly banter of other people. But the fact still remained that, though she hated to admit it, she and Sirius got along grandly (when they were both in a good mood), which she had also discovered was because they were alike. And when they didn’t get along and argued instead, it was also because they were alike—stubborn, proud and determined. Though, she told herself in an effort to deny the truth, I may be proud, but he’s just arrogant.

They were soon at the library doors, and they unlocked with a flick of Sirius’ wand. Opening the doors just a bit to sneak in, they crept inside and whispered ‘lumos’ while Sirius shut the giant doors behind them and took off the cloak, stowing it inside his robes. Slowly, they made their way towards the restricted section, grabbing a couple of random books from the shelves as they went and dropping them into a bag Alex had conjured from thin air. Standing in front of the lock on the restricted section, they looked at each other, and each saw a sparkle of excitement in the other’s eyes. It clicked open with another flick of Sirius’ wand. Alex reached out, and slowly pushed open the gate-like door, and they entered noiselessly.

Within a couple of minutes, they managed to find a couple of books they deemed useful, but had to end their search early, as Sirius exclaimed, “Damn it. Flich and Mrs. Norris are on the way. We need to go.”

He grabbed her hand quickly led them towards the doors of the library, and then stopped abruptly. They both stared at the map—Filch was standing on the other side of the doors.

“Alright, now what, mastermind?” Alex asked, feeling the excitement rising.

“Shhh, I’m thinking.”

She obliged, but after a couple of minutes, and Filch still standing outside the doors, she had to intervene. “Does he know we’re in here?”

“I don’t think so,” Sirius replied in hushed tones. “Probably just suspicious or something.”

“You don’t think there was some sort of, er...alarm or something that went off when we sneaked into the restricted section, do you?”

He shook his head, and Alex assumed he had done this enough times to know if there was an alarm or not. She looked at her watch. Curfew was 45 minutes ago.

“Sirius…did you lock the door after we came in?”

He nodded.

“And…and the library doors don’t open with Alohomora, right?” She saw him nod again. “And er, have you ever been caught sneaking into or out of the library before?”

“No.” He glanced at her, and his eyes narrowed suspiciously at the thoughtful grin on her lips and twinkle in her eyes. With a wave of her wand, she conjured two school bags, gave one to him and bade him to hide the books covered with the cloak in there.

“Just trust me, and don’t say anything.”

He seemed to debate for a second, before giving her a nod.

At that moment, they heard Filch say something to his cat, and Alex took the opportunity to act.

“Hello?” she called quietly, but determined. “Is anybody there?”

They heard Filch give a short, harsh laugh.

“Mr. Filch?” she called, her voice taking on a desperate note. “Mr. Filch if that’s you, please open the door. If I have to stay another second in this library I shall scream.”

They heard a rattling of keys, and a click of a lock. He opened the door, and with a look of triumph exclaimed, “Edwards and Black! Caught red handed, out of the dormitories past curfew, sneaking into the library. Oh there’ll be a detention for this.”

Alex only smiled as she stepped out of the library with Sirius behind her. “Thank you so much Mr. Filch. We’ve been stuck in there for Merlin knows how many hours.”

A look of confusion splashed across his face, and Filch spluttered, “Stuck?”

“Yes, stuck sir. Mdm. Pince locked and left the library while we were still inside.”

“But, that’s impossible!” he yelled in indignation. “The library cannot be closed down while there are students inside.

Alex batted her eyelashes at him, and instantly a look of despair overcame her, but somehow it accented her stunning features rather than destroy them. When she spoke, Sirius marveled at the transformation of her voice. “Oh but it did! You see, sir, we were just about to leave the library, but there were some Slytherins standing right in front of the doors, blocking our way, and surely you must know, well you being so clever and all, how they like to pick on me…”

“Slytherins?” Filch asked, his voice softened, and Sirius gaped. Has she struck a soft spot? But looking at her, he realized any man would have reacted in the same way, and gave her credit for inconspicuously complementing him. A tang of sudden jealously swept through him as he saw her act so flirtatiously, with Filch, no less.

“Yes, Slytherins. And I didn’t want to walk by them, I just couldn’t…” she stuttered, taking deep breaths, and Sirius noticed tears starting to well up in her eyes. “We’d get into some kind of fight for certain, and Professor McGonagall had said that if we got into any more fights, we’d…we’d...b-be kicked off the quidditch team!”

“How… how awful…” Filch said.

“And I so love to fly,” she said, looking right at him, her teary eyes dancing with joy. “I couldn’t possibly give that up, not when it’s the last thing keeping me sane and happy. But nobody understands me!” she wailed, unleashing her tears.

“There now,” Filch started, looking both empathetic and a little startled at the crying Alex.

“It’s just so hard! Oh, surely you can understand though! What it’s like to have so much responsibility and nobody appreciates all the hard work you do.” Again with the complements—Pfft, hard work and responsibility my arse, Sirius thought, withholding his laughter as Alex continued her monologue. “Quidditch has become like…like…like my refuge! My rock. I simply couldn’t give it up! So what choice did we have but to wait until they had left. But Sirius didn’t like that idea at all! I had to argue with him to let us wait till they left. And then, as if things weren’t bad enough, the library closed before we got a chance to leave!”

Sirius stared at her with shock and amusement. Damn, he thought, she’s a good liar. He was so wrapped up in his thoughts he didn’t hear what Alex kept saying, but whatever it was, she was winning Filch over. The next thing he knew, Alex had fallen to her knees, her face in her hands, sobbing quietly. He looked at Filch, and saw him completely flabbergasted, trying to say something. He took that as his cue. Slowly, he sank to his knees and put his arm around the quavering girl beside him, and started whispering words of comfort. Looking up at Filch, he began to speak, hoping to Merlin he did not wreck what Alex had worked so hard and convincingly for. “I think she’s just really tired, sir, what with quidditch and schoolwork and everything. She should be alright with a goodnight’s rest.”

Filch opened and closed his mouth like a fish, and then gave a stiff nod.

“Between you and me, sir,” Sirius said, trying to stand Alex up, “she’s really delicate and takes so much of everything to heart, even though she acts tough. A real lady, you know? Like Ashley Wilkes in ‘Gone with the Wind’.”

He did not answer, but only gave a stiff nod and looked at Alex with big, round, empathetic eyes, suddenly taking a quick step backwards when Alex erupted into louder wails as she struggled to keep her act up and not stand up and shout out in a fit of laughter that Ashley Wilkes was a man. Though I have to give him credit for even knowing the book, and thank Merlin Filch hasn’t got enough brains to figure out Sirius’ blunder. 

“Thank you so much, sir, for letting us out of there. I had feared only a couple of more minutes and she was going to faint. She was really afraid of something back there.” He mentally scowled at himself, disgusted for referring to Filch as ‘sir’ for the third time already within the past two minutes when he had spent his entire seven years doing nothing but insulting him and making his life miserable. Nah, not miserable. Exciting! Still, if it weren’t for Alex, there would have been no way Filch could have just forgotten that when he had spent the last seven years putting me in detention.

“Take her to back to your room,” Filch commanded. “And don’t upset her anymore.”

“Of course,” Sirius replied. He turned to Alex and tried again to stand her up, but unfortunately for him, she was playing her part well and would not stand. He sighed, as he scooped her up into his arms, and she wrapped her arms around his neck, openly sobbing into his shoulder. “It’s alright now, Alex. Thanks again, sir.”

Filch picked up his cat and watched the two of them make their way slowly towards their room. And when they were out of sight, he turned and went his own way, still hearing the quiet sobs of the frightened girl and the hushed voice of the boy carrying her.

Sirius kept carrying her, all the way up to their room, to keep the act up just in case Filch had followed them or they ran into some patrolling prefects or professors. And Alex still had her face buried in his shoulder, arms wrapped tightly around his neck and the muffled sounds of her laughter producing the effect of the quiet sobs Filch had heard as they left. Wow, she is a really good liar. And she’s not even that heavy…actually she seems rather fragile…and her body seems to fit perfectly against mine…and…WHAT?! What the hell am I thinking?! 

Once inside their room, Sirius dropped her, and she swiftly landed onto her feet. They took one look at each other, and the door behind them barely closed when they exploded with laughter.

“Well, what a debut—Quite a show you put on back there,” Sirius managed to say through his laughter. “Not at all dramatic.”

“Dramatic?” she asked with a smirk. “No, dramatic would have been the next phase if you hadn’t so graciously decided to carry me all the way home.”

“That was a low trick,” he said, but smiling nevertheless.

“You know, I think I would have killed you if you screwed up.”

“And ruin all your hard work? Never.”

Alex started to laugh again, “Ashley Wilkes is male, Sirius.”

“Is that right?” He shrugged, “Well I didn’t notice, either way though, it makes no difference—both Melanie and Scarlett had more balls than him.” Alex was astounded, because one, that meant he had actually read the book or seen the movie, and two, that was exactly what she had thought when reading the book. He continued, snapping her out of her thoughts, “If I were you I’d be careful though now, Filch looked ready to eat you up. What were you thinking batting your eyelashes like that?” he asked, some of his former jealousy returning.

“Now, Sirius, what kind of a gentleman are you? That’s no way to talk to a lady,” she joked politely with a smile.

He shrugged again, “I see myself as more of a Rhett Butler than a fancy pants gentleman. And besides…” Then putting on a very good imitation of Clark Gable’s Rhett continued, “you miss, are no lady.”

“I’m Scarlett now?”

“Yes, exactly,” he said, dropping his act. “You’re just like her—tricking the old man like that. Which brings me back to my last question: What were you thinking batting your eyelashes like that?!”

“I didn’t do it purposefully. I guess when I act like that it comes naturally,” she replied shrugging, but seeing he did not ease up continued. “Oh calm down, Sirius. It’s not as if I kissed him.”

A short pause followed her last remark, before they both burst into more laughter imagining old Filch’s reaction if she had been more like her usual devilish self instead of acting the damsel in distress.

A good half hour had passed when they remembered about the forgotten ‘borrowed’ books they had gone to such great lengths to retrieve. Alex summoned them to her, and took them out one by one, carefully examining each book. “Well, get to work Black. I can’t find a solution all by myself.”

Sirius picked up a random book and started to flip through it mindlessly, before throwing it away and picking up another. A slap on the upside of the head clearly told him to stop messing around and actually read. He sighed as he plopped down onto the couch by the fire and started to read Horrors of Advanced Human Transfiguration. He glanced at Alex, who was still sitting on the floor, staring at the cover of a book. He focused on the faded title and could just barely make out Most Potente Potions out of the long string of words. He scoffed. Of course she was going to go for the potions book. But why stare at it like that? As if in some sort of transfixed state. He shrugged it off, for he had already learned that there was a lot more to Alex Edwards than met the eye. In fact, he often ventured to believe she had more secrets and some darker mysterious past than he himself. He flipped a page, and was surprised to see a whole page of gruesome diagrams detailing the horrors of animagi transformations gone wrong. So that’s why this book looked familiar. Well I already know exactly what’s in here, so it’ll make no difference if I actually read it or not. Maybe I’ll just take a quick nap instead…

Alex stared at the book for a bit longer, tracing her fingers over the worn cover. She was sure she had never seen or read this book before, yet an incredible feeling of déjà vu washed over her as soon as she had picked it up. She opened it, and slowly started to flip through the pages, so completely absorbed in it, she didn’t even notice Sirius’ soft snoring. 





Author's Note:  Hello!  So, what did you think?  I hope you all enjoyed this chapter because it was super fun to write.
Thanks to Dead's cooler than Holey for the awesome beta work
Please review!

ps--Gone with the Wind.  Margaret Mitchell.  The movie is great, but the book...it's just beyond words.
pps--if you're looking for a short Dramione, you're welcome to check out my new story price to pay.

Chapter 16: Traveling in Twos, in and out of Rooms
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A cold breeze swept through the bright sunlit room and instantly awoke Alex, who had fallen asleep right where she had been the night before: leaned against the couch in front of the fireplace, the potions book still in hand. She blinked a couple of times as if trying to regain her bearings, before stretching and groaning at the pain in her back. Another breeze flew through the room, and Alex vaguely wondered why and how the window was open in the first place, but was quickly distracted by the rusting sound of flipping pages of the book in her lap. When the breeze suddenly died down and the pages stopped flipping, she looked down, her eyes scanning the page in front of her. She gasped, and quickly turned to wake up the sleeping Sirius.

“Sirius! SIRIUS!” she yelled into his ear. When she only got a mumble in return, she pointed her wand at him and said, “Aguamenti.”

A jet of water splashed out of the tip of her wand onto Sirius’ face, who screamed and shot off the couch. “What the bloody hell was that for?!”

“To wake you up, obviously. And that seemed like the most amusing way to do it.”

He glared at her, “Haven’t you ever heard the expression ‘let sleeping dogs lie’?”

“You’re a dog now?” she asked sardonically.

He seemed to be caught off guard for a second, but quickly replied, “I said it’s an expression! What, in Merlin’s name could have been so important to wake me up in such a cruel way at…5:37am on a Wednesday morning?”

“This,” she said, handing the book to him, and pointing to the page. After giving him a minute to read over it, she asked,” And? What do you think?”

“I think you’re insane; ‘course, we already knew that,” he replied, giving the book back to her. “How is that potion going to help us separate?”

“It’s not.”

He blinked.

“It’s going to help us win.” When he looked at her with a blank expression, she continued, “Honestly, didn’t you read it at all? Animus Dixere…Soul—or mind—Speak. It’ll let us get into each other’s minds, and we can hear what the other person is thinking.”

“So…?”

So, if we can hear what we’re thinking, then we can anticipate each other’s moves. That way, you won’t go left when I want to go right.”

He took a moment to absorb the information, and then took the book out of her hands, looking through it with more detail. “This is really complicated, princess. We’d have to nick half these ingredients from Slughorn’s private store, I’ve never even heard of most of the other half—which means they’re probably illegal or rare or dangerous or something—and, it takes a month to brew. We have a grand total of 4 days.”

She waved her hand dismissively. “That can be overcome.”

Without thinking, Sirius hit her over the head with the book. “Are you completely mental?! Sure we can steal some of the stuff, but a month? What are we going to do, stop time while we brew the potion?”

Alex clutched her head and gave him a look of doom, but proceeded to explain anyways, “No, idiot, if you were smart enough you’d see that the reason it takes so long to brew is because of the lacewing flies and nematode roots, but those can be replaced with other things, and we can add some other ingredients that can speed up the whole process anyways.”

“And you’re sure replacing those ingredients won’t affect the potion?” he asked skeptically.

She seemed to hesitate for a moment, but then nodded.

“I still don’t know,” Sirius said after a moment, scratching his face and thinking about the prospect of having Alex in his mind when he held so many secrets. “Have you even thought about how many things could go wrong? And besides, I don’t exactly want you in my head browsing through all my memories and stuff.”

“It’s not legillimency, Sirius, it doesn’t work like that,” she answered impatiently. “If you don’t think it then I won’t hear it. It won’t just give me the power to flip through your mind. And yes, I have thought about what can go wrong, but this is the only thing we’ve got so far, and I say we should at least try.”

Sirius contemplated the whole idea for a couple of moments, before answering, “Alright. Today in potions we’ll nick the ingredients, somehow. And then you have four days to brew it.”

“Well, three really,” she corrected. “I figure we should leave a day in between to actually test it out.”

“Right. But I say we still look for a different solution.”

“Agreed. And where exactly should we brew it? Here?” she asked.

“No, I don’t think that would be a good idea,” he started. “Can you imagine if McGonagall came in here to tell us she found a counter-curse or summat, and saw us brewing an illegal potion from a restricted book we're using without permission with stolen ingredients? No, I think we should brew it somewhere else. Somewhere we can hide it and be sure nobody else will come upon it.”

“Technically it's not illegal, but you know a place like that?” she asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Obviously. I didn’t spend the last seven years studying, you know,” he replied with a smile.

“Let’s go then. I figure we should start now—I have most of the ingredients anyways.”

“Alright, so…what? You have most of the ingredients?” Sirius asked confused.

“Obviously,” Alex answered with a smile. “I didn’t spend the last eight years being a perfect little princess, you know.”

“I doubt most of those ingredients are even sold over-the-counter at apothecaries. Who would sell them to an underage witch? Where?

Her smile grew. “Use your imagination, Sirius…besides, who says I was underage in the first place?”

He laughed, “Alright, alright. Well you having the ingredients does help us out, maybe even spares us a detention. So where exactly is this secret stash of your ingredients hidden? Yes I know it’s hidden, you have more sense to be parading stuff like that.”

This time, her smile disappeared.

“What?” Sirius asked concerned. “What’s the matter?”

She flopped down onto the couch, and put her face into her hands, muttering, “In London.”

In London?!” A silence overcame them, as Sirius fell onto the couch next to her. “London,” he repeated solemnly. They spent a couple of minutes without moving or saying anything, until Sirius said, “By London, you mean your house right?”

She cringed, “Yeah.”

“And by your house, you mean Buckingham Palace?”

She cringed again and nodded.

“Ah. And…er…these would be hidden in your room somewhere?” he asked. She nodded. “And can anybody get into your room?”

“They shouldn’t be able to, though Darcy did…”

He clapped his hands on his legs and then stood up, “Well then princess, it looks like we’re going to Buckingham!”

Alex looked up at him in shock, “What?”

“You heard me. Get up, we’re going now.”

“How exactly?”

He pointed to the fireplace. “You said your room is connected to the floo network, yeah? Well then, what’s the problem?”

“I thought only Dumbledore’s office fireplace was connected,” Alex said, standing up and heading over to the fireplace. She looked up at him, “Are you sure? They won’t know we left? I thought traveling in two’s wasn’t exactly…er, recommended?”

“Let’s keep our finger crossed, shall we?” Sirius replied with a smirk. “Oh, right. Floo powder.”

He took out his wand and summoned a small pouch from his trunk to him. Taking a fistful of ashy powder from it, they stepped into the fireplace. Hesitantly, they grabbed hands. He threw it down and Alex shouted, “Buckingham Palace”.

In a flash of green light they had disappeared from their small common room, and landed all tangled with a thud in the fireplace of a large, grand room decorated majestically.

“Get of me!” Alex yelled from the bottom, trying to push Sirius off her, who appeared to somehow be stuck under her at the same time. “Why do I have to keep saying that?”

But Sirius seemed too caught up in his surroundings to notice anything. He stared around the room, his eyes darting from the large windows with beautiful golden hangings, to the engraved art on the ceiling, to the piano in the corner, to the ornate rug on the floor, the fireplace and intricately carved mantel, the couches and chairs, the paintings, the lights, the mirrors…everything! Alex finally managed to push him off, which brought him back to his senses as he stood up and brushed himself off. “This…is your room?”

“Not exactly. This is like the antechamber, or drawing room…my own little common room for myself. My room, is through that door,” she said, not sounding impressed or happy at all, pointing to a double door on the other side of the room. She started to walk towards it, dragging a stunned Sirius behind her. “We have to be quiet though, or someone might hear us and cause a ruckus.”

When Sirius finally regained enough of his mind to speak, he was rendered speechless once again as they entered Alex’s actual room. This one was even bigger than the last, yet it had a different air about it, decorated in a different way—more spacious, and though just as regal, more relaxed. Against one wall stood a giant four poster bed, with splendid (what he assumed to be silk) blue and green covers and pillows, the hangings off the top cascading down in ripples like a river flowing through a forest. One wall was practically all windows, culminating in the middle with a bay window and seat. Each window had hangings styled in the same colours as the bed, but in a more modern style—not at all like those in the drawing room. These hung straight down, and straight across the top, the two colours overlapping in different ways. As Alex kept walking, he looked out from the windows and marveled at the sight before him. A beautiful, large garden with a large lake and statues stretched out before him, the rising sun enveloping it in a warm red glow, and basking upon his face.

A sudden jerk and muffled yell from Alex told him to keep moving. He took a few more glances around, absorbing everything in awe. On the last side of the room was a large desk, cluttered with papers, pens, books and pictures. He tried to take a peak at them, but Alex kept moving towards a mirror. They stopped abruptly in front of it, and stared at their reflection.

“Where does this go to, your wardrobe?” Sirius asked.

Alex shook her head, and stuck her finger out in the other direction. He looked to where she was pointing and saw another double door, and for a moment wondered what kinds of surprises where hidden there. Just how many fabulous gowns and shoes and things there would be in there, he did not bother to ask, though a strange kind of nagging curiosity overwhelmed him. Instead, he asked, “So this will lead us to your secret laboratory?”

“Exactly. And now that you’re done ogling my room, we can proceed,” she said, and though it was clearly a joke, no smile appeared on her face.

“Well, I couldn’t help but notice the change in decorations.”

She laughed as she took out her wand, “Yeah, I took some liberties with my room. Some. Unfortunately I couldn’t do too much or else I’d be dead. And if you liked that change, you’ll love this one.”

She tapped her wand once on the mirror, whispered something, and instantly the glass melted away, leaving a thin veil in its place and revealing yet another large room. The stepped inside it, and indeed Sirius was once again taken aback by the drastic change. In front of him was a large blackboard, and in the centre one solitary desk. Around the bottom ran a half-shelf full of different books and items.

“This was a closet once,” Alex explained as they walked forward, “but Dumbledore changed it. And then I added things…”

“I can see that,” he replied, and actually saw her smile. Looking around, he saw posters of different muggle bands, some labeled The Beatles, and yet others Queen, Led Zeppelin, Rolling stones, ABBA, Heart...all the walls were covered with music and movie posters, pictures, newspaper clips.   And among all the motionless muggle things were some moving posters and banners of quidditch teams, wizard music groups, and all sorts of things. When he looked closer, he realized that most of the pictures were of Alex and people that looked like those depicted in the posters. Others were of her, Darcy (though these looked a bit dated), and three other guys. He assumed two of them were Dev and Adrian…but who was the third? Wait; hadn’t Darcy said something about her being taken…? He stopped and stared, not caring that they had to return to Hogwarts within an hour. This was a rare chance of figuring out some of the mystery of Alexandria Edwards, and he wasn’t going to pass it up.

Alex sighed and took a step towards him. Pointing to two boys in the picture on either side of her, linked arms and laughing merrily, she said quietly, “This is Dev and Adrian.”

“They’re twins?” She nodded. “When and where was this taken? It looks like you guys were having fun.”

“We were. It was last summer and we decided to do something different. You know, not make headlines and not be the rebels we are for a change, so we went on a trip to Vegas.”

He laughed, “And I’m sure you weren’t being a rebel there at all…Vegas, honestly.” He lightened up more by her smile, and dared to ask the question that was nagging at him since he had laid eyes on a photo of her and the third guy, as Darcy’s random comment replayed in his head. “Who’s this?”

“Michael, a friend of Darcy’s and mine. Except I think he’s somehow, very distantly, related to us.”

“It looks recent…?” he asked cautiously, taking a quick glance at her.

“Yeah, it was sometime in May or June, I don’t remember. He didn’t stop hanging around with me even though Darcy did. He’s my age, and we sorta grew up together, but I don’t know anymore…” she trailed off, scratching her neck, and Sirius looked at her, urging her to continue. “See, he had been acting strangely, like really clingy and especially weird, sometime after that picture had been taken, and it made me avoid him…well I never really liked him that much in the first place, but he had his moments. And you know, things got awkward…I don’t even know why I have this picture up here still.”

“And why is that?”

She laughed dryly, “Remember that ‘Devil Incarnate’ story? Yeah, well his is the nose I broke.”

Sirius joined in her laughter, secretly letting out a breath he didn’t know he was holding. He wasn’t sure what he would have done if her answer had been any different. He gestured to the photos of her and the different music groups, “And all of these?”

“Special guest appearances by me,” she said shrugging. “I guess it improves their image or something if they’re ‘supported’ by me. Either way, the trouble twins and I went to concerts whether or not I was invited. Come on, we have like 45 minutes left,” she said. “Let’s just get those ingredients and get out of this hell hole.”

He followed her across the room towards a tall and closed shelf. Opening it up, he was surprised to see it full of cauldrons and ingredients, all labeled and organized in a perfect way, along with some more dusty books at the bottom. They quickly looked through them all, and packed what they needed into a spare cauldron. Once they had everything they needed, they quickly hurried out of the closet, and Alex resealed the entrance, the glass taking its form once again.

Running through her room and drawing room, closing the doors behind her, they finally reached the fireplace. Alex reached up to the mantle and placed her hand into a bowl of presumably potpourri, and grabbed a handful of powder. They stepped into the fireplace and disappeared once again. When they had rematerialized in their room back at Hogwarts, they were relieved to see that they didn’t have a welcoming party waiting for them.

“Alright,” Sirius said, “Mission completed. Now to actually brew the damned thing...”

“Let’s just get ready for classes, and then you can take me to that ‘secret room’ of yours and get started on it before classes.”

He nodded, and they quickly got ready, and quite efficiently. No arguing or tripping, no curses or hexes or anything. This teamwork was making them get along. They had to unite against a common enemy—each other.

After packing all of their potions things into an extra bag, Sirius was soon leading Alex up to the seventh floor, and had stopped opposite of a tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy. He started to walk one way but Alex was holding him back. “Pace with me!”

“What?” Alex asked confused.

“We need to walk three times back and forth if it’s going to appear!” he commanded.

She obliged in his request and dutifully walked next to him three times. A small gasp escaped her as a door revealed itself on the wall. Sirius grabbed the handle, opened it, and pulled her inside.

This time it was her turn to be astounded. This room was the complete opposite of her rooms back at home. It was lit by torches illuminating the small room in warm light. On one side there was a table surrounded by some couches and chairs, all of which looked extremely comfortable, and shelves of books on the other, and on yet another side something that looked like a mini-kitchen. There was a large desk right in the middle with a cauldron and a fire already burning under it. The walls had some random photos hanging, all of which were moving. She dragged Sirius over to see the pictures, and smiled as she saw the Marauders throughout their seven years splashed across the wall, smiling up and down at her.

“Well, I’m sure you can figure it out, but this is the Lair of the Marauders. It’s where we plan our mastermind schemes and just hang out...and hide too, sometimes. The room…it gives us anything we ask for, except for food, unfortunately…hence the large desk and cauldron in the middle of the room, which I can assure you is not usually there,” he explained with a smile.

“It’s brilliant,” she said softly, as she headed over to the table and Sirius ‘thought-up’ some stools for them to sit on. She immediately took a liking to this room and its cozy atmosphere. It seemed to radiate fun, friendship and trust, and it felt good to be in such a room.

“Alright, potion master, get to work. Breakfast is in 15 minutes and I don’t intend on missing it.”

Alex propped up the book on a stand that had appeared as soon as she thought of it, and started to brew her potion. Soon she was stirring contently as the colours in the cauldron changed just as the book described. Though the silence between them was comfortable, for once, Alex had to break it with a question she had been meaning to ask since they had arrived in Buckingham. “Sirius…”

“Mhhmm?” came the response from the head lying on the desk.

“When we got to my room, what were you thinking?”

He raised himself up and looked at her, “What was I thinking? Well, truthfully, I was in awe. I mean, it’s Buckingham! Sure it’s muggle and it doesn’t mean that much to me, but it’s totally different once you’re there, and you see everything, and it just all looked so wonderful and splendid, and grand and everything had a majestic air to it and…”

He stopped as he noticed her expression, but couldn’t decide what it was. And that was because Alex couldn’t decide what it was—she was torn between feelings of amusement, pride and disgust, misery, and anger. “Why do you hate being a princess so much? Truthfully.”

“It’s bloody annoying, that’s why. Everybody expects something from you but you can’t please everybody even if you do try to. I hate people thinking life is simple for me, and never knowing whether people like you because of who you are, or what you are. The special treatment and not being able to just live my life the way I want to doesn’t help either.” She paused, and looked at him listening to her, really trying to understand, but a bemused and somewhat skeptical expression settled onto his face. Then she remembered his statement of her being a cliché, and she started again, “Do…do you think I’m spoiled?”

He looked at her with his piercing grey-blue eyes, hoping she didn’t expect an honest answer.

“Sirius, please. Just give me an honest answer. I won’t get mad or yell at you or anything…promise.”

He took a breath and started to speak, “I don’t think spoiled is the right word, but I just can’t understand why you can’t realize how lucky you are and appreciate everything, and how can you be miserable and hate that life you have when you have it all.”

She continued to mix the potion, but looked up at him, “I don’t have it all.”

“See, that’s the problem I think. You just aren’t content with what you have and…”

“You’re right, I’m not content with it at all. But, I am grateful and yes, I do know how happy I should be, but that just makes it all worse because I can’t be happy with it. And on top of that, there’s this feeling that everything ‘I have’ is nothing, like it doesn’t mean anything to me. Almost as if I have everything yet nothing. Something is missing, and I feel that I won’t be able get it without losing what I have now. ”

“What’s missing, Alex?” Sirius asked thoughtfully.

“I don’t know what’s missing, Sirius—that’s my problem.” Alex sighed, adding a strand of mint into the cauldron, and throwing in a speck of some ground up scarab beetles. A small cloud of smoke rose into the air from the cauldron. She looked up at him, “Let’s go get some breakfast.”




Author's Note:  Sorry for the wait.  Hopefully next time it won't take as long.  But really, october sucks for school.  Way too many midterms and assignments and labs and projects...
Hope you enjoyed it.  I know its a litle slow, but things really start to pick up starting next chapter.
ps- this chapter isn't beta-d, so if you noticed any mistakes please let me know.

Chapter 17: Animus Dixere
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Author's Note:  Well, because I don't feel like studying for a Monday midterm on a Friday, I'm giving you guys the next chapter instead.  Hope you like it.  Be warned, it's a bit strange later on, but hopefully you can follow the "thought dialogue" alright (if not, please let me know so I can fix it somehow), and also hopefully you'll understand what exactly is going on near the end.  I tried to explain it as best as I could, but again, if it makes no sense please let me know...Yeah, I'm asking you because I didn't get anybody to beta it.
Anywho, hope you enjoy it!









“Huh, that’s strange.”

“What is?” Alex asked, looking up at Lily from her bowl of cereal.

She unfolded the paper she was reading and laid it down in front of them. Pointing at a small article in the bottom corner of a page, she said, “That’s the third disappearance this month.”

Alex scanned over the short article. “Is Voldemort behind this?”

Lily cringed, “Yeah I think so.”

“What would he want to do with Arlene Kenning?”

“Who’s Arlene Kenning?” a voice piped up from beside her.

“A really brilliant witch—potions master, I believe,” Alex replied. “I hope she’s alright. But why would Voldemort take her in the first place?”

Sirius shrugged, “Who knows. Maybe he needed someone to brew him a good hangover potion.”

Booming laughter erupted from next to Sirius, “Good one.”

“But come to think of it,” Lily said, “Weren’t the other disappearances potions masters too?”

Alex’s brow furrowed as she nodded, but her mind wasn’t really quite there. She was thinking about her own potion that was brewing in the Room of Requirement, and which in just 20 minutes would be complete. She gave Sirius a knowing look, and he quickly swallowed up the rest of his toast as they stood up to leave. “See you guys in class.”

They quickly walked up the seven floors and entered the Marauder’s Lair after pacing outside three times. Heading over to the steaming cauldron, she started to add the finishing touches as Sirius plopped down on the couch they had brought near the table. “Hey, Sirius…”

“Yeah?”

“Do you know what’s up with Remus? I didn’t see him at dinner last night, or at breakfast just now. And he’s been looking a little sick…”

There was a slight pause (in which Sirius gulped quietly) and then he answered, “I think he’s fine. His mother is sick again though, and I think he went to visit her.”

“Oh,” Alex said. “Will he be alright?”

“Should be,” he replied quickly and shortly, trying to get off the subject. This sucks though. The full moon is tonight and I won’t be able to go out with them. But I have to stop thinking about it, because pretty soon Alex will be able to hear my thoughts and she can’t know about that…that is, if the damned potion even works. Another small pause overcame them, before Sirius broke it, fearing Alex was deep in thought about Remus and his disappearance and secretly figuring out the biggest secret of the Marauders. “So…Halloween’s tomorrow.”

She nodded.

“Are you excited?” he asked, still trying to carry out his strategy of distraction.

She shrugged.

“Well I heard James planning his Halloween Party in the Gryffindor Common room, though it won’t be till two weeks from now, seeing as McGonagall will be expecting something to happen tomorrow.”

“What kind of party?”

“Oh, just the usual. Music, drinking, dancing, snogging, puking…you know, the whole shebang.”

“Sounds riveting,” Alex replied with as much sarcasm as she could muster while trying not to screw up the potion, which was proving a little difficult with thoughts of Remus sick flying about her head, and Sirius constant comments in her ears.

“You know, I just thought of something. Halloween will be our one week anniversary of hell,” Sirius said.

“It’s only been a week?” She sighed. “Feels like a lifetime. Alright, almost done; this will just be a minute.”

She grabbed some dark ashy powder, and sprinkled it over the top of the solution. It slowly sunk into the thick and murky potion, making hissing noises. Sirius looked on amusedly as clouds of smoke swirled into the air. As the smoke rose higher and higher, Alex threw in one final ingredient, and the room was suddenly filled with a resounding bang. The smoke was sucked back into the cauldron, changing the appearance of the potion to a smooth and viscous pearl white, which looked a lot more appetizing than the previous clumpy green-brown concoction.

Alex slowly lowered her head towards the cauldron, and took a whiff of the potion before her, nodding approvingly before conjuring some cups. Carefully, she ladled just enough into each one, in equal amounts, before handing one to Sirius.

“Is this it?” he asked tentatively, eyeing the potion in hand.

“Almost. It’s still missing something though.”

“And what would that be…?”

Alex grinned as she brought the mug closer to her lips, and then spat into it, turning it into a shade of lilac. With a nod of her head, Sirius spat into the mug he was holding, and the potion transformed into a dark blue. She reached for his, as he understood he was going to be drinking hers and vice versa.

“Clear your mind, Black. I don’t want to be listening in on any things which should remain unheard.” Swirling her mug around a bit, as if about to taste an expensive wine, she said with a grin, “Cheers.”

Sirius raised his glass, before putting it to his lips and downing the entire thing in one go, as Alex did the same. He braced himself, expecting some rough transformation to occur. Instead, he heard a quiet voice say, Stop making faces.

“I’m not making faces!” he defended.

Alex just looked at him and blinked, “I didn’t say you were.”

“Yes, you did. I heard you.”

“Ah, so it works then.”

This time Sirius blinked. What the hell is this one on about? 

“I heard that.”

“I didn’t say anything!”

“Oh don’t be daft, Black!” Alex exclaimed. Don’t you remember what potion you just drank?

Oh yeah… She smirked, satisfied with the result. Damn her and her smirk! Thinking she’s the greatest because she brewed a potion.

You can’t deny I’m not a bloody miracle worker, Black. You said yourself it’s impossible to brew a month potion in three days…And didn’t I tell you to clear your mind?! 

He sighed, This is going to take some getting used to. And why can’t I control and organize my thoughts? 

Because that takes skill,
Alex thought back with a laugh, knowing very well that it was a rhetorical question that she wasn’t even supposed to hear, much less answer.

Shut up. Let’s get to Transfiguration before McGonagall has a fit. 

Alright, alright... don’t get your wand in a knot. And since when are you worried about getting to class on time? 


Since the person I’m stuck to has the power to listen in on my thoughts. 


Alex laughed again as she grabbed her book bag and they headed out to Transfiguration. They were silent most of the way, each experimenting with their new-found abilities, except for a few spare chuckles on Alex’s behalf as Sirius tried to clear his mind.

Transfiguration passed by in a flash, and soon they were headed to History of Magic. As usual, Sirius fell asleep within an instant, leaving Alex to her thoughts and daydreams. She wasn’t usually one to daydream, but History of Magic was an exception.

She thought about Remus. About his sick mother, about his own poor health all of a sudden, of his mysterious disappearance and as always whenever she thought about Remus, that one kiss they shared never failed to flit across her mind, even for at least a second.

But Sirius wasn’t sleeping. Well, he was at first, but silently awoke when Alex’s thoughts and questions about Remus echoed in his mind. He listened to them with an avid and amused interest, all the while trying to make sure he didn’t think anything to alert her of his presence.

Alex sighed. They’re not telling me something…I just know it. Last month, Remus got sick all of a sudden and went to visit his mother too. But why would he get sick so often in the first place? And this must have been going on for the past couple of years too if Lily knew he had went to see his mother…But that still doesn’t make sense! 

She took a moment to copy down the notes on the board. So if Remus has been visiting his mother at least once a month for the past seven years, that means he’s really sick himself…right? Maybe his mother is just some kind of excuse for his medical appointments…? And if he’s sick then maybe that’s why he said he can’t, that we couldn’t...

Sirius’ heart unexpectedly started to beat faster as he heard Alex think about Remus and herself. He wanted to think his own thoughts and ‘interpret’ hers, but how, when she would hear everything? For a second, he felt a pang of guilt hit him as he realized he was practically eavesdropping on a very secret conversation before the Marauder in him shone through, and he returned to listening.

He can’t be sick though, Alex continued, doodling absentmindedly on the corner of her parchment. How could he seriously be sick if he’s fine the rest of the month? I wonder though… does the time he gets sick have anything to do with it? 

She copied down a few more notes, and her eyes went over the doodle she made. Moony, it said, in fancy cursive lettering. Moony. That really is a strange name. Damn the Marauders! Why do they have to be so mysterious anyways?! Sirius smirked to himself at that thought. And why, why do I find them so interesting when they’re (minus Remus) just a bunch of arrogant jerks?! 

His smirk was overcome by a frown as he heard her call him a jerk. We are not jerks!

Silence. Alex slowly looked at Sirius, who gulped as he realized he had given himself away. Well, as long as you know I’m here, I might as well tell you what I think. 

Black! How much did you hear?!
Alex mentally asked, her eyes widening in panic.

Enough to know you had quite a thing for good old Remus, didn’t you? What’s all this about how you two couldn’t? He was grinning madly as he thought the conversation along.

None of your business.

Of course it’s my business, princess. It concerns one of my best friends and particularly nasty piece of work named Alex Edwards… Whoa, you really do have quite an extensive vocabulary, don’t you, princess?
he asked, as she reeled off a particularly vivid line of insults. Lifting his head off the desk, he leaned in towards her and whispered, “I’ll tell you one thing though, don’t be too hard on him. He’s always had a bit of trouble dealing with, well let’s call them romances.”

“And that would be why?” Alex hissed back.

“Why?” he repeated. Because he’s a bloody werewolf, that’s why, he thought before he could stop himself. He paused as he realized what had just happened. “Oh bloody hell…please tell me you didn’t hear that.”

He’s…a werewolf? Alex thought, and all the pieces started falling into place, including the mystery behind his name…Moony. 

Shit. Oh shit. This is not good. Maybe I should just obliviate her?

Don’t even think about it!

Edwards, you can’t tell him you know! And you can’t act any different around him, or-

Don’t be stupid. Why would this change anything between us? You guys are still friends with him, aren’t you? At least now I can understand him a bit better.

Damn this damned potion! I can’t just stop myself from thinking, so how the hell is this supposed to work?!
   As much as he was grinning moment before, he was now wearing a very angry and guilty expression, all traces of his jovial self gone.

Calm down. You’re giving me a headache. Class is over anyways so let’s go get something to eat, and try it out at quidditch, alright?

Is there even an antidote for this thing?

Not that I know of…It should just wear off within a couple of days.

Great, bloody perfect. 


Within a half hour, they were marching down to the pitch, brooms in hand, each carefully diverting every unnecessary thought to avoid it being shared, which was quite difficult considering they both had a lot on their minds at the moment.

They stopped as soon as they were at the edge of the pitch. “Alright, I reckon we should just try to fly together communicating by our thoughts.”

Sirius nodded as they both mounted their brooms and took off, the cold air biting against their faces.

You’re going too slow, Black.

Maybe you’re just going to fast.

Left turn.

What, why?

Just turn left dammit! 


He obliged, and they turned left more synchronized than ever before, for the first time not falling off their brooms at their first turn. They spent the next hour perfecting their system of communication, and soon enough were heading back to the castle, on their way to Defense against the Dark Arts, both rather satisfied with the outcome, forgetting their previous …er, revelations.

                                                                       * * *

“Well princess, congratulations. It worked. We won the game, James isn’t mad at us, and the rest of the Gryffindor house isn’t trying to kill us for losing them so many house points since this tragedy occurred,” Sirius said as he threw his broom into a corner, and plopped down onto the couch in their room, Alex following suit. “Right, so how much longer do you reckon it will be before it starts to wear off?”

“I’m not sure, it didn’t say,” Alex replied. “In the meantime, though, we should get back to finding a real solution to this mess.”

Sirius sighed and ran a hand through his hair. Then, a scene he was not familiar with flashed before his eyes—a girl, standing by the door as she whispered goodbye to someone at a desk. He shook his head as he looked at Alex, “Hey, were you thinking about something?”

“Don’t be stupid, if I was you’d have heard it.”

Right, but I saw something instead, he thought to himself.

Saw what?

Nothing…
He closed his eyes and let his head fall onto the headrest. With another flash another scene enfolded before his eyes—Alex arguing with Darcy, before disapparating into the darkness—and then his eyes snapped open again. What the hell is going on?

What is it?

Before he could think back a reply, he saw before his eyes Remus lean over and softly kiss Alex, as gentle rain fell around them.

This time, however, Alex was fully aware of what was going on inside of Sirius’ mind. She knew what he was seeing, and felt something like a small nagging presence in a part of her mind.

“You…kissed him?” Sirius asked, his voice barely audible and sounding very strange even to his own ears.

“Technically he kissed me, and technically it is none of your business… and get out of my head! How are you doing that?” Alex yelled at him.

“I don’t know! I just keep seeing random dramatic flashes of your life before my eyes,” Sirius said, “and what the bloody hell is going on with my arm?!”

Alex looked at his arm, and drew a gasp of shock. His arm was disappearing, right before their very eyes, becoming invisible and fading away into nothingness. As she looked at it, a wave of foreign thoughts and memories rushed through her mind. Sirius at home, with Regulus…Sirius meeting James and Remus…Sirius running away from home…

She looked at him, her mouth open as he stared back, yelling about his arm disappearing and something about Alex, Dev and Adrian’s infamous midnight outings. Tentatively, she reached out and waved through the air that would have been his arm…there was nothing there. Some part of her wanted to scream, but what came out was a strange type of frightened gurgling-chuckle as she quickly withdrew her hand, clutching it with the other protectively. Alright, let’s just calm down. Something is happening that I can see his memories, which were previously inaccessible unless he thought of them, and vice versa…and he seems to be disap— 

“Calm down?! Calm down?!” Sirius yelled. “My arm is gone! And now my foot is disappearing too!”

Another wave of memories broke over Alex just as he uttered those words, and she was now experiencing moments of Sirius’ life first person, as he was experiencing hers. Except Alex seemed to be aware of what he was seeing, as if feeling him shift through different chapters of her mind and life.

“It’s got to be an aftereffect of the potion,” Alex said, grasping her head as splitting pain started to pierce through it upon watching all these memories, barely even able to think.

“Oh really? And what exactly is it?!” Sirius yelled, somehow still managing to sound sarcastic and mocking even as his legs slowly started to fade into nothingness.

“I don’t know! It seems as if you’re disappearing—“

Really? I didn’t notice… 

Shut up! 
 “—and as you disappear, it’s like your thoughts are pouring into my head…but you’re browsing through my life at the moment…” Alex muttered, trying to patch everything together, “…I think the potion is merging our thoughts or something.”

“Merging our thoughts?! What in Merlin’s name does that mean?!” Sirius exclaimed. As Alex stayed silent, his torso started to disappear. “By all means, please take your time—I seem to be in no danger of disappearing!”

“Well I can’t think clearly with you flipping through my life, and sorry if yours seems to be flashing before my eyes!” Alex yelled, getting frustrated.

“You said it’s an aftereffect of the potion? Then find a way to cancel it!”

“I told you there is no antidote!”

“There has to be some way! Think! You’re the potions master extraordinaire, think!” Sirius shouted, frantically trying to wave his arms around as they slowly disappeared, and more images of Alex (though now quite younger) swam before his eyes…

Alex bit her lip. There has to be some way! Think, Alex think! What initiated this whole process…? Aside from brewing the potion, what started it all? She looked up at Sirius who was now losing his shoulders and neck. She tried to remember the memory of making the potion, but it seemed to be disappearing right along with Sirius. Ash, smoke, Mulberry… Spit! Yeah, we spat into each other’s potions. So we need to swap spit back…?

With a final glance at Sirius’ almost gone body, and without thinking any further, she quickly leaned toward him. Grasping his slowly disappearing head and shutting her eyes, she planted her lips onto his.

Chapter 18: Twist and Shout
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Author's Note: Hello.  Sorry for the wait...I had been planning to post this up last friday but things got hectic and yeah...  Enjoy!

Oh and also, for a part later in the chapter, I include a lot of "muggle" music...this is just based on my own knowledge of which band was active in the 70s, so if there are any hardcore music fans out there, I apologize if the songs I named hadn't come out yet (but the band was there ;)

Warning:  This chapter contains slightly mature content than in previous chapters...nothing offensive, I don't think...but just so you know, I did mean the rating...



Well, shake it up, baby, now, Twist and shout.
Come on and twist a little closer, now, 
And let me know that you're mine.

The Beatles:  Twist and Shout   (from Please Please Me. 1963.)

She was afraid to open her eyes. Afraid to see whom she was kissing (though of course she already knew), because seeing him before her would have made it just unbearable. But she couldn’t resist finding out if her rash decision had had any effect on his predicament. Slowly, she opened one eye to take a peak…

But her eyes drifted shut again as he deepened the kiss, his hands around her waist. It felt…strange, but…good. In fact, if she didn’t know it was Sirius Black in front of her she probably would have never thought it strange at all, but simply wonderful. She lost herself in the moment of passion, as her hands wove themselves up his neck. And then in a flash, she realized what was going on. She, Alex Edwards, was kissing Sirius Black. Sirius Black. She pushed herself away, opening her eyes for the first time. A part of her felt relieved that he was back to normal, no more disappearing limbs. But another part of her felt strangely empty as she stepped further away from him, as if incomplete, and something inside of her was stirring, telling her to go back, but she fought it down. Trying to step back again, she was suddenly stopped by their bond—her escape only took her three steps away from him.

“Sorry about that, but it was the only thing I could think of to stop you from disappearing,” she said, her head held high though inside she was struggling to keep calm.

He smirked, “You mean to say you didn’t kiss me of your own accord, because I am just so irresistible?”

She laughed. “Hell no. You’re welcome by the way.”

“Then thanks, by the way,” he replied, still smirking, though truthfully, on the inside he was just as confused as Alex. “I guess no more sharing of thoughts for us, huh?”

“Not now or ever again.”

An awkward silence overcame them as they both started to think about what exactly the past few minutes had revealed about themselves to the other, and they exchanged a couple of embarrassed and curious glances.

“Sirius, did you run away from home?” Alex asked quietly, thinking about what she had seen, and remembering how touchy Sirius always became whenever anybody had mentioned Regulus or any of his family.

He looked at her, his smirk no longer playing on his lips, “Yeah.”

“Why?” she asked again, shyly.

He hesitated for a moment, before shrugging and giving the simplest reply he could think of, “Life in the ‘Most-Ancient-and-Noble-House-of-Black’ wasn’t all it was made out to be.”

“I can understand that,” Alex said softly, thinking about how there always seemed to be new things that linked the two of them together. After all, wasn’t she the one who kept trying to pound into peoples’ heads that being a princess wasn’t so great at all? Knowing he wouldn’t want to reveal anything else, and not wanting to give him a chance to ask her about anything he might have seen, she stood up and said, “Dinner and then library?”

He nodded and stood up also, “Though, we should probably get through the rest of those books first and then put them back.” 

                                                           * * * 

Things after that whole evening—the sharing of thoughts and memories, not to mention the kiss—seemed to have worked wonders on the two of them. Each seemed to have gained at least a little bit of respect and understanding for the other, so now they were really on their way to becoming good friends...actual friends, that is.  They had progressed in their life together and only argued once or twice a week, three times at most, and were tirelessly working together to find an anticurse. Even quidditch became easier now, though without the help of their little secret. On occasion, things still became a little bit rough when topics that naught to be mentioned were mentioned. But all in all, things were definitely starting to get better.

Remus had came back a couple days later, and Alex gave him a warm hug as soon as she saw him, though careful to make it look like she knew nothing about his lycanthropy. The next week and a bit flew by faster than ever, including another Hogsmeade trip (which Alex spent with the Marauders), and soon enough the rest of the Friday was being spent in and out of classes and the kitchens, helping James with the preparations for his two-week-delayed-Halloween-Bash. As fate would have it, the two of them had to run into Malfoy and his gang during one of these 'James-ordered' reconnaissance trips.  And fifteen minutes later, they were no longer looking forward to a fun-filled party, but a rather tedious detention on McGonagall’s orders (though she didn’t spare the Slytherins none either).

So as the clock ticked closer to ten in the evening, and all the Gryffindors made their way to the common room (including some rather sly first years, who were sent right back up by a stern Lily) , Alex and Sirius had already spent two silent, grueling hours washing the floor in the great hall with no magic. And though they were each regretting their absence from the party, a couple of buckets of soap water, some wet rags, and their previous frustration at one another left them with plenty of entertainment. By the time they had actually finished washing the floor, they were both soaked, and random soap bubbles flew out from their clothes, shoes and hair as they made their way towards Professor McGonagall, who was waiting by the doors with both their wands, and odd expression on her face.

“What are you smiling about?” Sirius asked Alex as they made their way back, still trying to dry himself up.

She shrugged as she did the same, “I don’t really know. I guess the detention wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. And I’m now officially a troublemaker, having received my first detention in 18 years.”

“First detention? That’s impossible…Oh wait, never mind,” he corrected himself as he remembered that Alex had only just come to Hogwarts two months ago. A thought suddenly struck him, and a smirk spread across his lips, “So how was your first time?”

Alex didn’t miss the hint, and immediately replied, “Not bad I suppose, maybe it would have been better if it wasn’t with you.”

He punched the air with one of his hands, “Alright, you lost your detention virginity because of me. And you’re smiling now, so it really couldn’t have been that bad?”

“Yeah, and who was your first time with, James?” she laughed.

“Huh, I can’t really remember, but yeah, I guess it was James,” he replied, as they kept walking along the dimly lit corridor towards Gryffindor tower. “Ugh, bad mental images…Why did you have to say that?”

Alex only laughed again, and as she opened her mouth to snap back a clever reply, she stopped midstep and took a glance behind them. Narrowing her eyes, she scanned the darkness, but saw nothing there. She turned back to Sirius, who was looking at her worriedly.

“Alright…that wasn’t freaky at all.”

“Sorry, I thought I heard something,” Alex replied, starting to walk again.

“I didn’t hear anything—“ but before he could finish, he was lying on the ground, bound in tight ropes which coiled around his body. His fall brought Alex to the floor with a yelp, and before she could even reach for her wand, it flew out of her robes, and right into the outstretched hand of none other than Lucius Malfoy as he emerged from the shadows. His two cronies advanced upon Sirius and took his wand before Alex could even try going for it, bestowing him with a couple of kicks on the way.

“Perhaps, Black, if you were to really listen, you would have heard something. After all, you weren’t the only one with detention tonight,” Malfoy said, as he stored her wand in his robes.

Sirius stared up at him, gagged and bound, as Alex stood up to meet him face to face.

‘It’s past your bedtime, Lucy. Go on back to bed, and dream your sweet dreams, because they’re not coming true anytime soon,” she spat at him, in a soft, yet powerful and condescending voice. No fear was etched onto her determined face, even though both she and Sirius knew the situation was bad as the three Slytherins forced them towards the wall. Cornered, surrounded. They were taking their revenge, not just for the incident from earlier, but for each time so far this year that the both of them had pissed them off…which were numerous.

His eyes glinted at her through the darkness, “On the contrary, I think they will…in some form or other.”

Her face scrunched up in mock confusion, “Hold on a second, aren’t you the guy who keeps calling me a mudblood and insists he wants nothing to do with me for fear of being contaminated? Isn’t it against the rules of scum to talk to me, much less come close to me? Please, why’d you stop now? It was doing me so much good.”

Within the second his eyes narrowed, he had Alex pinned up against the wall, holding her hands above her head, as Sirius struggled at their feet, before he was silenced with a punch to the face. “Listen, mudblood,” he spat through clenched teeth, “I always get what I want, and there is nothing you can do to stop me.”

His face was already too close, and still he leaned in, trying to close the distance between their faces, so Alex instinctively spat onto his face. He took a step back, but still holding her there as she struggled to break free, her eyes darting around the corridor but not daring enough to meet the swollen face of Sirius, who kept his gaze fixed sternly upon her. As Malfoy wiped the spit of his face, he raised his hand and in a swift motion gave the girl before him a slap on the face, though it did little good as a newfound energy seemed to erupt inside her. But keeping her face to the side from the impact of the blow, Malfoy was not able to catch the stone cold look on her face, or the quick flash of red in her eyes.

Instead, he leaned in slowly, and rearranging his hands, took one off of her wrists to turn her face towards him. Ever so slowly, milking every second of it for the pain it was causing his two victims, he closed the distance between them, and fiercely planted his lips upon hers, still holding her face in his one hand.

Sirius started to thrash wildly and tried to scream, but that earned him nothing except a couple more kicks. As soon as Alex felt the cold, stiff lips touch hers, her body immediately and automatically started to protest. She tried to move, but she was pinned tightly beneath Malfoy’s heavy body. Her mind was screaming, but even in her panic, a part of her subconciousness did not fail to note how pleasant Sirius’ lips had been compared to these. Sirius…she thought. Strangely, the name started to calm her down; she was able to think rationally. I won’t lose… 

Slowly, she coaxed her tense body to relax, and slowly, she started to kiss him back. She felt Malfoy’s surprise, but then he kissed back again with a more pronounced hunger. She felt his grip on her wrists loosen, and she carefully moved her hands up his arms, across his face, through his hair and finally clasped them around his neck as she kissed on as passionately as she could considering who it was in front of her. Taking a peak, she saw Mulciber and Rosewood leaning against the other wall, their arms crossed, and grinning stupidly. A quick glance down and she saw two eyes full of shock, jealousy and pain look up at her, and she knew it was her moment to act, as Malfoy’s hand started to work its way down…

Sirius was looking on in bewilderment as Alex kissed Malfoy harder than ever, and gagged as he heard a few moans come from him. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. From his point of view, it actually looked like she was enjoying it… A muffled yelp came from Lucius and Sirius shifted a bit to see what was going on. Then it all became clear. Alex had hold of his lower lip between her teeth, he saw her jaw muscles tighten as another moan came from Malfoy. Yet he didn’t move away, either unsure about what she was doing, or unable to move since her arms were locked tightly around his neck. Within a second, Sirius had risked a quick glance at his two captors and realized that they had no idea what was going on, mistaking Malfoy’s yelps as moans of pleasure. She let go of Malfoy’s lips, and in one fluid motion brought her knee into his groin. As he doubled over in the little room he had between himself and Alex, she brought her knee into his stomach, and then to his face, bringing her hands which were clasped tightly around his neck down as the knee came up. She quickly grasped a fistful of his hair with one hand while she reached inside his robes for her wand with the other.

When Mulciber and Rosewood finally realized something was not quite right, their wands had flown out of their hands towards Alex and Sirius. As Sirius’ bounds became loose and he started to free himself, Mulciber took a step forward, but was stopped by an angry voice.

“Don’t move!” Alex yelled, bringing a bound Malfoy to his knees and pointing her wand underneath his chin, blooding trickling down his face from the nose and mouth. “Don’t move or I swear to god you won’t be able to recognize your precious Lucifer.”

The two of them froze in place, not doubting one word she said seeing Malfoy’s face bloodied up quite badly already, as a cruel laugh resounded. “Don’t listen to her you idiots. Edwards won’t do as she says, too much of a goody goody and too scared.”

But by the time he had finished giving his command, Sirius had already stood up and found his wand, and immediately Malfoy’s two cronies fell to the ground, immobilized. After throwing their wands down the corridor, his attention turned to Alex, who was now looking down at Malfoy with a maniacal expression.  Sirius subconsciously took a step back as he looked at her.  She seemed...different...

“On the contrary, Malfoy. What do I have to be afraid of? You? Professors?” she laughed. “Well thankfully for me, I know you’re not stupid enough to tattle on the big bad princess who hurt you and get yourself kicked out of Hogwarts, on account of a mudblood, no less. Besides, didn’t you know…? I’m a trouble maker.”

His eyes widened in horror and another muffled yell came from him as he felt searing pain erupt from inside his mouth, as if his tongue was being stapled to the roof of his mouth. The pain was replaced with an odd coldness as he realized Sirius must have immobilized him. Alex took a step back before kicking him, making him fall over. Bending down beside him, she whispered, “If you ever come near me again, I’ll make sure you won’t be able to live out the rest of your pitiful life, and believe me when I say I have more than one way of doing that.”

She rose from next to him and started to walk away, Sirius next to her. When they were far enough from the frozen Slytherins, she stopped and leaned against a wall, breathing heavily.

“Alex, are you alright?” he asked cautiously.

“Fine, just a bit worked up,” she answered, her voice trembling a bit and looking down. “Come on, I think we should get you to the infirmary.”

He laughed, “Honestly now, what for? A couple kicks and bruises? I have ways around that. After all, if James, Remus, Peter and I were to go to the infirmary after every scuffle, accident or explosion, we’d have spent our entire school year there.”

Seeing a faint smile appear on her face, he continued in a gentle voice, “You were amazing back there. I’m only sorry I couldn’t help you. Really, you kicked his face in pretty damn good. He’s a bastard and we all know it, so don’t go thinking about him too much.”

“I…it didn’t feel like it was me doing it,” she whispered. “There was this moment, I don’t know, it felt as if something inside of me just took over. It’s like I didn’t have to think about what to do or how to do it, it just happened...”

“I think that’s what happens to a lot of people in those kind of situations. Like instinct, you know?” Sirius responded, trying to calm her down.

She refrained from saying back to him that it was nothing like instinct at all. It had literally felt as if some slumbering thing had awoken inside of her; something powerful that gave her the strength to do what she had done, for though she was certain she had the ability to do everything she just did, she knew for a fact she was not that quick. Nor would she ever have been able to pull off that certain curse which made Malfoy writhe in pain; that was some bit of pretty dark magic. Shaking her head, and deciding to shrug it off for now and pass it off as instinct, Alex looked up, her smile now stretched a bit further. “Hey, Sirius? Are there any secret passages out of the castle?”

“Er…Why exactly?” he asked, noting the growing twinkle in her eyes.

“I need to blow some steam. And the perfect place is in a nightclub in London.”

Sirius only stared at her, at a loss for words, thinking about what she wanted to do. “Are you telling me, you want to sneak out of the castle, off school grounds, apparate to London to go dancing, and be back before morning?”

“I know it sounds crazy, and we could probably get expelled or something, but if it wasn’t too much of a problem, and you think we could pull it off fine, would you come with me?”

A short pause followed as he seemed to contemplate the best possible strategy for such an outing. Finally he said, “Well, seeing as I’m stuck to you, I have decided to grace you with my presence.”

“Really?”

“Sure. I mean, did you actually think I’d pass up a chance to party with England’s number one party girl, in her own environment? No way.”

“In my own environment? What, am I an animal now?”

“Well, they do say ‘party animal’ for a reason, you know.”

She laughed, “Alright then, we need to go change and then we can head out.”

“And lucky for us,” Sirius said as they started to walk with new energy towards their common room, “we still have James’ cloak, and the Marauders Map.”

“Oh, we’ll be missing James’ party…”

“Ha, don’t worry about it Alex. They’re probably all already piss drunk and sleeping on the floor covered in crap,” he scoffed, thinking about James’ previous parties throughout the years. “There’ll be alcohol where we’re going though, yeah?”

“Don’t worry about it, Sirius. I’m sure we’ll find something to drink,” she replied as they entered their room.

She started towards her wardrobe, and opening it with a flourish, sifted through until the back of the closet, where her muggle clothes were hanging neatly, waiting to be worn. Looking through what she took with her from Buckingham at the beginning of the year, and thinking about the weather, she finally pulled out a slightly shorter than knee-length, long-sleeved dress with a straight edged neckline. The sleeves were made of a thin, black sparkly mesh, while the rest of the top portion was a royal blue. A wide, dark blue band sat at the waist, from which a layer of the black mesh cascaded over top the blue of the dress. Bending down to the lower half of the closet, she rummaged through all her shoes until she found the perfect pair of black high heeled strappees. Glancing at Sirius who was already pulling on some nicer pants while taking gulps of a couple potions at once, she took of her uniform, slipped into the dress, and put on the shoes. Looking into the mirror, she took out her wand, and pointing it at her hair, it immediately became windswept, partially curled and wispy. Putting on some make up and earrings, she turned to find Sirius staring at her with his jaw dropped.

“Er…wow, um…Are you sure you want to go like that?” he barely managed to say.

“Yes, I do,” she replied, taking out a knee length red jacket (which had a black belt around the waist, black buttons, and a high, fashionable collar), and putting in on. She added with a smirk, “Unless you have a problem with it?”

“No. No problem,” Sirius said rather quickly, putting on his own jacket and grabbing the map and invisibility cloak. “Just a quick question, though. Aren’t you afraid of being seen? Because as far as I know, muggles who claim they are on the other side of the world don’t show up in London for one night.”

“We’ll be alright. The place where we’re going is really good for that kind of stuff, and the people there will probably be too drunk by now to remember they saw me or you tomorrow morning.”

“Good. Let’s get this party started then, shall we?” He checked the Marauders Map as Alex threw the invisibility cloak over them. “Alright, coast is clear.”

“Oh, hang on,” Alex interrupted as she quickly pointed to her shoes and muttered, “Silencio.

Sirius nodded approval, “Good call. Now let’s go.”

They quietly left their room and Sirius slowly led the two of them to the third floor, and subtly tapping the statue of Odorf-the-unfortunately-never-quite-dead-yet-hobbit on the head, they entered a small tunnel which became lighted by small wall torches as soon as the statue shut behind them. Alex could feel her adrenaline rising as they walked through the passageway, still hidden beneath the cloak, going mostly downhill. About ten rather silent minutes had passed when they finally reached the end of the tunnel.

Stepping out into the cold night air, Alex took a moment to admire the night sky and the beautiful stars, before looking around her. They were just outside the walls of the castle. Giving a smile and nod to Sirius, she stretched out her hand. He cautiously took hold of her arm, and shut his eyes as they spun into oblivion, grasping the invisibility cloak tightly around them.

When he opened them, he found himself in a small street, and heard muffled music coming from somewhere not too far away. Looking to Alex, he saw her glance quickly around before taking the cloak off of them and putting it into her side bag. “Well, here we are. Are you ready?”

“I was born ready,” he answered, and though it was dark, he could have sworn she made a face and rolled her eyes. Still holding her arm, this time she led them down the street, Sirius making comments of amusement at the Muggle block as the music grew slightly louder. Soon enough, she turned towards a doorway with the sign Experiment 626 flashing sporadically in bright neon lights, hanging lopsidedly over the door. “Experiment 626?”

Alex shrugged, “We’ve always wondered what it means, but couldn’t ever quite make a logical enough guess...yet.”

“We…ahh, you mean Dev and Adrian and you?” She nodded. “And how do you know they won’t be here tonight? Or wait…will they be here tonight?”

She knocked on the door. “No, don’t worry. We don’t usually come here, so if they are out tonight, then they’ll most likely be at Oz.”

Before Sirius could even try to ask what the hell all of that meant, and where was Oz, the door opened and a big, nicely dressed man with a grim expression stood before them. For a moment, Sirius wondered if he was about to kill them, but was relieved at the awkward looking smile that replaced his frown upon seeing Alex.

“Miss Alex! I haven’t seen you in ages!” he said enthusiastically as he gave her a quick and rather awkward hug. “Good to see you here again. Are you just back for tonight?”

“Yeah, but hey, you haven’t seen me or him, right Phillip?” she answered with a smile and a wink.

“As always, miss. Go on in,” he said proudly, as if honoured by the very fact that Alex was trusting him to keep his silence. He stood aside as Sirius and Alex passed by him.

After giving their coats to Phillip, Alex led him through the small hallway that led to a big room, with a stage at one end, a giant dance floor filled with people, tables on the sides, and a neat looking bar closest to them. She took him to the bar, where they both took a seat as ABBA’s Does your Mother Know? started to blast from behind them, replacing Queen’s Body Language.

Sirius’ smile widened as he took in the club, taking hold of the drink Alex just ordered for him. He looked around the club some more, and was amazed at how different it was from what he had imagined. Truthfully, the first thought that came to mind when Alex had said ‘nightclub in London’ was something resembling Dirty Dancing. But this, this was different. It was a club alright, but it was filled with spinning bodies and nicely dancing, quick stepping pirouetting couples, hand in hand and on waists and shoulders, mixed in with a couple who were too smashed to move that fast. It was like a real party, except for the fact that everybody was under 25 and there wasn’t enough room on the dance floor to stick in a needle. But he could definitely understand why Alex loved coming here so much. Dancing like that actually looked fun…which was saying something, considering he wasn’t an avid dancer (though he wouldn’t deny he wasn’t good at it).

He was surprised to see very few people had taken notice of Alex, and she was right when she had said most of them would be to drunk to remember anything, though the bartender had greeted her warmly and also promised proudly that mum’s the word. After downing another drink, by which time Alex had already drank three (which surprised him, to say the least), The Beatles’ Twist and Shout started to play, so she took his hand and standing up dragged him to the dance floor, amid the mob of dancing bodies.

“This is one of my favourite songs!” she yelled into his ear as she twirled by him.

And soon enough, he had discovered that almost every song played was one of her favourites, be it ABBA, or Kiss, Rush, Beatles, Elvis, or whatever else they played. And he wasn’t surprised why. They had catchy melodies and a good beat. Though he hadn’t heard much muggle music before, getting into the beat wasn’t too hard at all with Alex by his side. As for the tougher ones like Led Zeppelin, or even the few salsa beats, it was nothing a few drinks couldn’t cure…

So he came to the conclusion either that one, this club always played good music that happened to be all of her favourite songs; two, they did it for Alex seeing as she had decided to honour them by her presence; or three (the one he tended to agree with), she was getting a bit too tipsy to tell the difference.

And he…he was on too much of an adrenaline rush and having too much fun to disagree with her…though the alcohol did help with that. 


 


Chapter 19: The Truth will Out
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Boisterous laughter rang through the silent night.

“Sirius don’t make me laugh anymore, or I’m pretty sure I’ll throw up.”

They were linked arms as they wobbly made their way down the deserted alleyway.

“Ready to go?” she asked.

“Ready…? You’re going to apparate…?” he asked, his words slightly slurred though still managing to convey his trepidation at the prospect of apparating side-by a very drunk princess. Stories of splinching fiascos echoed in his mind as horrible images started to flash before his blurred eyes.

“Yeah, I’m fine.”

“Fine? You can barely stand. You are not fine…”

She paused, “You’re right, I’m not fine. I’m Alex!”

The sound of their laughter still rang in the air even after the small resounding
pop of dissapparition… 


“Should we wake them up?”

“Nah, they look so…peaceful…”

“But McGonagall is expecting them in her office in…20 minutes, and what if she came up here and saw them…like that…”

“Oh fine. Party pooper.”

James and Remus slowly and quietly walked towards the couch in Alex’s and Sirius’ room, where the two of them lay sleeping soundly under a blanket, still in their clothes from the night before. Sirius was on the inner side, his arm draping over Alex who was on the outside, snuggled close to him. Beside them, the table lay knocked over, and their shoes and jackets left a trail from the door to the couch, suggesting they rather had had a bit of trouble getting there.

Remus crouched down and shook Alex’s shoulder gently, while James took a more aggressive approach with Sirius. It took about five minutes to get at least one of them (Alex) to be semi-awake. But semi-awake was all it took, because as soon as she realized Sirius’ arm was draped over her and Remus was looking at her square in the eyes, she yelped and immediately shot up from the couch before promptly falling to the floor. She grabbed her head as the impact of the night’s activity hit her, and everything that had happened came rushing back.

“Wow, nice dress,” James commented as he shook Sirius a bit more, before yelling nonsense syllables into his ear.

Alex blinked a couple times, as if trying to gain her bearings, before accepting Remus’ hand and trying to stand up on rather wobbly legs.

“Wow, really nice dress,” James corrected himself as Alex’s full figure came into his view. She smirked back, but grimaced as another stream of pain shot through her body to her head.

Remus chuckled, “Had a bit too much to drink?”

“No…but I wouldn’t refuse some hangover potion…”

“Get me some too…” came the barely audible response from the couch.

“And why exactly would you guys need hangover potion, if you weren’t at the party?” James asked, partly suspiciously and partly accusatorily, but more so very curiously.

Sirius grinned as he sat up, also gripping his head, “Who said we weren’t at a party?”

“Why weren’t we invited?” James replied.

“Well, you had your own party to host, didn’t you? Besides, getting to London with more than two people could have been a bit—“

London?” Remus repeated, raising an eyebrow. Sirius and Alex exchanged a look and smirk as he summoned his hangover draught from under the bed. Remus and James stared at them in disbelief. “Let me get this straight. You went to detention, then decided to go to London, and came back, all in one night?”

“Pretty much,” Sirius affirmed before taking a swig of the potion.

“Admittedly though, it was a bit more complicated than that,” Alex added as new memories of trying to apparate back to Hogwarts, and sneak back into the castle when they were too drunk to stand straight flew into her head…

... “OW!”

“Be quiet Sirius!”

“Well sorry for putting my toe under your foot!”

“Stop,” she commanded silently, though a bit feebly, as she froze in step.

He stopped and looked around, “What is it?”

Silence overcame them, before an evil, triumphant sounding Meow filled the hall.

“Run!” Sirius half-yelled into her ear as he bolted one way and Alex the other. Falling to the ground and trying to collect themselves (while still very intoxicated and randomly laughing), they finally managed to get up and hobble quickly out of sight… 


She shook her head. “The better question is how you two managed to get in here, and why you’re here anyways—“

“So damned early on a Saturday morning?” Sirius finished, handing the potion over to Alex.

“Early in the morning?” James repeated dumbly. “Are you sure that potion hasn’t expired, or something, Sirius…it’s bloody two in the afternoon.”

Sirius dismissed it with a wave of his hand as he pulled on a clean shirt, “So I got the time wrong…that still doesn’t explain how you two got in here. Neither of us gave you the password…”

“Actually, McGonagall sent us for you two, and hence she gave us the password,” Remus replied.

“McGonagall?” Alex asked, a little apprehensive, automatically thinking about their adventure last night and fearing the worst.

“Yeah, I think she found a fix to this,” Remus said with a smile.

“Really? That is so great! Let’s go Sirius!” Alex said as she started walking towards the door.

“You might want to change first, princess,” Sirius reminded her with a smile. Maybe the potion is a bit expired…? Or can she actually be that preoccupied and happy about the thought of getting rid of me...? What? Of course she’s happy, just like I’m happy…aren’t I? 

“Right.” She turned to her wardrobe and took out some fresh clothes, and then turned back looking expectantly at the three boys. “Do you mind?”

They turned around, but James added, “No fair. Sirius probably saw before anyways. You know mate, as soon as you two get unstuck, you are telling me everything that happened up here, and about your trip last night.”

“No, sorry, but what happened in London stays in London,” Alex chipped in, with a warning glance, interrupted by a small grin, in Sirius’ direction. “All of it, including the before, during and after.”

Sirius understood at once that it wasn’t so much about concealing the outing, but rather the reason for the sudden decision to go to London. Then again, everything that had happened while we were stuck should remain secret, he thought, thinking about their floo-ing to Buckingham, the potion, the kiss…so much had happened, and he really wasn’t too keen on sharing his life with Alex over the past four weeks, even with his best friends. “Yeah, I would say we keep everything to ourselves, right, Alex?”

She smiled and nodded in return, knowing exactly what he meant.

“Oh come on, you guys! That is not fair! When you say it like that, it’s quite clear more than enough happened!” James pleaded.

“So what if it did?” Alex asked, walking towards the boys who got up and headed toward the door. “How was your party though?”

“Nothing on yours. Somehow we all—minus Remus and Lily—ended up on the floor covered in some random stuff…” He trailed off, as if still completely boggled by what exactly went down the night before.

“Please tell me you didn’t screw things up with Lily,” Alex said.

“What? Oh, no, of course not…”

“Good, because last time I talked to her, like really talked to her—bear in mind it was like three weeks ago—I was pretty sure the plan was working. And you wouldn’t want to put not asking her to Hogsmeade these past three trips to waste—”

“It’s working?!” James exclaimed.

Alex looked at him strangely, “Well yeah, didn’t I tell you? Yeah, you not asking her that first time, and I assume all the rest, really made her think.”

“Why didn’t you tell me this before?” James shouted happily.

“Can you really blame me?” Alex asked wryly. “I was a bit pre-occupied with other things.”

But James was no longer listening as the few words of success from Alex sent him into Mrs-Lily-Potter-lalaland, complete with house, garden and miniature Jameses and Lilys. All three collectively sighed, and after a moment of silence interrupted only by the patter of their quick footsteps, Remus finally spoke up, “And what exactly made you two just jump up and go to London?”

Sirius sighed again. He had known his very intuitive and perceptive friend would not miss on the suddenness of the decision, nor the extravagance, because even they had never attempted something as crazy as that. But Alex merely laughed and said, “Well the detention was crappy, and we decided we needed a bit more than James’ party to celebrate our surviving through three weeks of hell.”

Remus looked at her with a look that clearly said you-know-I-don’t-believe-you-but-I-won’t-ask-if-that’s-what-you-want, and the four of them just kept walking, until they finally reached McGonagall’s office. Leaving James and Remus in the hall, the two of them stepped into her office where she was already waiting for them.

“About time. Had you been any later I would have decided to not grant you release after all.”

“Did you really find an anitcurse, Professor?” Alex asked, trying to hide the note of hopefulness from her voice.

“I think I have. Alright, stand still and don’t speak.” She waved her wand around in a figure eight motion before slicing through it vertically, uttering some Latin incantations. When her lips stopped moving, she looked at them expectantly. They took it as a cue to take a few steps away from each other. They were on their 5th step and very hopeful when they suddenly bounced back to the centre again. They tried again, and soon it was obvious that the spell had only lengthened their bond distance. McGonagall looked at the both of them strangely, “I was sure that would work…This is most unusual.”

“So…what now?” Sirius asked.

She pondered for a moment with pursed lips, before replying, “Follow me, we are going to see the headmaster.”

She swiftly marched out the door, her robes billowing behind her, and Sirius and Alex followed, whispering things like why on Earth didn’t they just go see Dumbledore in the first place, and what it’s all supposed to mean anyways.

They soon reached the revolving staircase which led to Dumbledore’s office. They found him sitting at his desk, writing. “Is something the matter, Minerva?” he asked calmly without looking up from his papers.

“I should think so, when the very spell you suggested, headmaster, doesn’t work,” she replied.

He looked up at this, and took a glance at the Professor, before his eyes trailed over Sirius, and finally landed on Alex, where they stayed for a couple moments. Dumbledore stood up, and on his way over to the two teens, asked, “Did it not affect you at all?”

“It allowed us two or three steps further, but unfortunately we are still rather quite stuck, sir,” Alex replied.

He walked around the two of them, staring at nothing in particular between them, asking more questions, “Have you recently been subject to any type of dark magic?”

Sirius laughed, but quieted down upon a stern look from the headmaster, “No, sir.”

“Nor you?” he asked Alex, staring deep into her eyes.

For a split second, Alex hesitated. She wasn’t sure if it was dark magic, but something had definitely happened to her last night, something that made her more powerful…But admitting to that would mean having to explain the Malfoy situation, which she was not enthusiastic about. “Not that I know of, sir.”

But Dumbledore seemed to have caught on to her hesitation and doubts, as always. He didn’t say anything though, only gave her the usual look. He walked around them a bit more, before leaning on the edge of his desk, still staring at the empty space between Sirius and Alex. Finally, he raised himself and took out his wand.

“This will only be a moment. Face each other please. I want the both of you to think about the most recent experience you have had with dark magic, anything, whether you are sure of it or not,” he added with a subtle glance in Alex’s direction, “As well as anything that may have brought the two of you closer together during the past couple of weeks. Close your eyes and don’t speak.”

They each did as they were told. Alex thought of last night for both her scenarios—after all, it was her greatest moment of darkness, magic-wise, and she was quite sure the whole ordeal as well as the partying had brought them closer together. Sirius, meanwhile, focused on a particular moment a couple months ago at home when he was put under the Cruciatus curse, as well as his and Alex’s kiss and last night. Dumbledore kept staring at the empty space, and after a couple of minutes, raised his wand and created a reverse figure eight to the one McGonagall had performed, slicing it vertically as well as horizontally, before muttering an even longer string of incantations. After about five minutes, he lowered his wand, and told them to open their eyes. As they did so, a strange wave washed over the two of them, and they looked at each other with twinkles sparkling in their eyes. They knew it had worked, it had to have worked.

Slowly, they started to walk in separate directions, and when Sirius had reached the doors and Alex the top of the study, they both exclaimed happily and ran back towards the centre. As if forgetting where they were, Alex leaped into his arms as they did a twirl of excitement and laughter. When they released each other, they again took notice of the two professors looking at them fondly, with triumphant and amused faces.

“Thank you sir,” Alex said, and Sirius echoed.

“You’re welcome. Your belongings will be removed from your temporary room and replaced in Gryffindor tower. Now off you go to enjoy the rest of the Saturday.”

They both said thank you once more, both to McGonagall and Dumbledore, before joyfully jumping out of the office and running to Gryffindor tower to share the success with everybody else. They did not know, however, that they left a very bemused and slightly worried Dumbledore in their wake.

They walked, or rather sped walked, back to Gryffindor tower, excited to reveal to the rest of the world that they were finally free. The strange thing was that they were still walking close to each other, as if still restrained by the bond. Though of course both knew in their conscious minds that they were free, it seemed that the distance between them was not on their minds at all.

Before they made it to the common room, they came across Lily. “Hey Lils, where ya going?” Alex asked.

“Library. Need to work on Ancient Runes essay.”

“Good idea, I’ll come with you. See you later Sirius.”

“Yeah,” was all that he replied as they went in separate directions for the first time in three weeks. 

“Where’s Sirius going?” Lily asked. 

Alex shrugged, “Probably on his way to find the rest of the Marauders, but I—“

“Oh my god!” Lily suddenly exclaimed, stopping in the middle of the hallway.

“What?!”

“You’re…you’re free!” Lily shouted happily, hugging Alex. “This is so great! Wow, it feels like I haven’t been able to really talk with you in ages! Well we’ve talked of course, but not really, seeing as Sirius was always around. And the dormitory just wasn’t the same without you, and Merlin, you have to tell me everything. I mean, I can’t even imagine what it was like to live with him. Was he really annoying? How did you survive sharing a bed with him? What about—“

“Lily! Calm down,” Alex said with a light chuckle, and Lily grinned as they continued to walk towards the library. “Sharing a bed was alright in the end, mind you it was bloody torture the first couple of days—ended up sleeping on the floor half the time. Other than that, we’ve promised not to talk about it.”

Lily gave her a look of doom. “But you know Black’s going to be telling all his best mates.”

“No, I don’t think he will be,” she answered with a half-smile, giving Lily the impression that a lot must have happened between the two of them; things that neither will be willing to diverge anytime soon. “So instead, tell me—how’s the Potter situation?”

She groaned. “I think it’s really become a situation now. I really don’t know what’s gotten into him. He’s been acting positively…civilized. He hasn’t asked me to Hogsmeade, not once yet, not really bothering me, not trying to get any kisses, I even saw him helping a first year with something…I just don’t know.”

“Maybe he’s finally left Neverland…or maybe Pan kicked him out,” Alex suggested with a shrug and smile, before they both burst into laughter.

Sirius, in the meantime, was not laughing at all. He found James, Peter and Remus playing cards in the common room, and joined them. But it felt strange not having Alex beside him. Once or twice he actually turned to say something to her, before he realized she wasn’t there, earning laughs from James and Peter (to which he of course joined in), and looks of suspicion and worry from Remus. A very small voice in his head, one that had been starting to speak up ever since his and Alex’s kiss, began telling him there was something more between the two of them. The other voices he commanded promptly told it to shut up. Clearly this would happen to anybody who pretty much just lost their counterpart. In a couple of hours, I’ll be my old self again… 

But that would not be the case, for many hours later, he lay in his bed in the boys’ dormitory, tossing and turning. He just couldn’t fall asleep. His mind was aware of Alex’s absence, but even more so was his body. There was nobody pulling the covers and blankets away from him. No hints of heat radiating towards him. No soft, rhythmic breathing into his ear. No delicate fragrance wafting in through his nostrils. No bond holding him in the confines of his bed (which consequently sent him falling to the floor more than once). And then to top it all off, was the thought that echoed in his mind, that Alex, whom he had seen joking around and laughing merrily only a couple hours ago, didn’t seem affected by his absence at all. First it drove him mad, then it drove him to think why that might be in the first place, and then back to some strange form of anger and envy. Why should she be able to sleep peacefully and I am left here to die, surely some slow and painful death, because I can’t stop thinking about her?! WHY can’t I stop thinking about her anyways? 

He sighed, and looked at his alarm clock. Four in the morning… Bloody perfect. Oh tomorrow will be such a wonderful day… He turned around again, and stared at the canopy above him for about a minute, before deciding this attempt at sleep was not worth it. Silently, he got out of bed and crept towards the door and down the stairs to the common room. But he stopped midway, noticing that the fire was flickering merrily and somebody lay in the couch before it, reading a book. His heart unexpectedly jumped as he realized only one person in Gryffindor would be reading a book at four in the morning. So I’m not the only one who can’t sleep. He smirked, Maybe I am affecting her after all, before turning back to his dormitory. After all, she didn’t need to know he couldn’t sleep either. Yeah, let her puzzle it out, I need sleep…

Of course, being Sirius, he didn’t think about the fact that Alex was sitting perfectly content, reading a book; not tossing and turning in her bed like he had been in his. He hadn’t thought about attributing his insomnia to their long lie in that morning like she had, rather than the lack of a bedmate…

The next morning, Sirius woke up very groggy, his eyes red and bloodshot. He looked at his clock and realized just how early in the morning it was, and wondered if he even got any sleep at all, and why he was up so early in the first place. It was a Sunday morning, definitely not meant for early risings. He glanced around the room and saw his three friends still sleeping soundly. ‘Course they were; they didn’t have to get up this early everyday the past four weeks, he thought miserably, realizing it was Alex’s fault. Why does she have to be a damned morning person?! But that probably means she’s up already. That thought brightened him a bit, and he quickly changed and washed. Running down the stairs, his eyes automatically flashed towards the couch where he had seen her last night…but he couldn’t see her. Walking over, now more calmly just in case somebody was watching, he peered over the couch, and smiled to see her sleeping on the floor, her book marking her place on the couch. Without a second thought, he took out his wand, pointed it at her face and whispered, Aguamenti.

She awoke in an instant with a loud yell, spluttering water. “What the bloody hell?!”

“Good morning, Princess!” Sirius said cheerily.

“Aaargh! I’m gonna ki—“

He held up his hand, “Hey, it’s only fair. What goes around comes around, after all.”

“I had a valid reason then,” she replied bitterly, standing up.

“I do too.”

“Such as…?”

“Breakfast,” he said automatically as his stomach started to growl.

She laughed, “In case you haven’t noticed, Black, we’re not stuck anymore, which means I can’t stop you from getting all the food you want, whenever you want.”

For a second his mood dampened as he realized how very true that was…and he felt almost regretful about it. He continued though, “Where’s the fun in that?”

She gave him a strange look, “You look awful. Had a rough night?”

“Er…sort of…but you’re not looking so hot yourself,” he replied.

“I don’t doubt that. It always happens, though, after every late night like Friday’s. Good thing you woke me up though, I’ll get back into the normal rhythm soon enough…” He froze, thinking about her statement as she kept talking. “If you still wanna wait for me, I’ll be down in like ten minutes…”

He gave a stiff nod, and watched her run up the stairs and away from sight. So it seems she really isn’t having as hard of a time with all of this as I am. But maybe I couldn’t sleep for that same reason also…he thought, comforting himself, not willing to go through the whole ordeal of trying to figure out why that was again. Yeah…yeah, that makes sense. Tonight’ll be better for sure. Sirius sat and stared at the wall for ten minutes, his thoughts jumbled, because for some reason, that small nagging voice wouldn’t let him believe his own reassurances, and it kept asking stupid questions which just kept making the whole thing even more confusing. He didn’t even notice Alex standing in front of him, staring at him, until some of that delicate fragrance of her shampoo he had gotten used to filled his nose.

“You alright, Sirius?” she asked, concerned, knowing Sirius wasn’t one to just stare at a wall.

He looked at her, and at once the battle raging inside his hurting head was silenced. He stood up and smiled, “Fine. Let’s go before I decide to eat you instead.”

She looked relieved to hear him talking again, and laughed as they started to walk, as if nothing had changed.

The Great Hall was almost empty, but they were soon joined by Remus and James, who both looked like they had something mischievous planned. Sirius looked up at them as they sat down, and his eyes narrowed suspiciously.

Remus noticed Sirius’ look as he helped himself to some bread, and said, “We have decided to play a round of The Truth.”

Sirius’ fork dropped and clattered noisily onto his plate. Alex jumped, and looked over.

“Wh-wha-t?” Sirius asked, looking very apprehensive.

“The Truth,” James repeated grinning stupidly, shoveling scrambled eggs onto his plate with one hand and pouring milk into his bowl of cereal with the other.

Sirius paled, as Alex asked, “The truth about what?”

“About whatever,” Remus said with a shrug.

Alex shook her head, “I don’t understand.”

“It’s a game we made up…well, sort of…we just made up the rules…” James started to explain. “Once initiated, everybody involved must tell the truth about whatever the questioner is asking.”

Alex laughed, “Oh is that all? Well why are you looking so scared, Sirius, we don’t have to play.”

He looked at her with wide eyes, “Yes, we do. Those are the rules.”

“And what, something bad is going to happen if I decline?” she asked mockingly, but sobered when she caught Sirius’ solemn nod. “Can somebody please explain!”

Remus seemed to take pity. “You see, Alex, when at least two Marauders initiate the game of truth, the other two must accept.”

“That’s all very well, but I’m not a Marauder.”

“You took an oath, I believe…?” Remus asked with a grin.

“Yeah, but I thought to be a real Marauder you need to have a special name and be inducted by the other members—“

“Talon.”

“Beg your pardon?” Alex asked in shock, turning to Sirius.

Sirius looked up at her very slowly, “Last night. It happened last night, but I swear I didn’t know they were going to pull this. We haven’t played Truth since…”

“And we decided it was about time,” James finished, while Alex gaped, her jaw dropped.

“Hold up…I’m a Marauder now?”

“Well, an honorary Marauder. We judged that you are worthy of the title. After all, none of us had ever tried sneaking out to London and back,” Remus said.

She contemplated the whole situation and how absurd it was—not that she wasn’t at least a little bit thrilled about the prospect of being a Marauder, even if it was just an 'honorary' one. “So…what happens if I don’t play, and how can you be sure I’m telling the truth?”

“The other three decide on a punishment, and you know who’s lying because of this,” James said as he placed a small purple stone on the table. “It will glow if it’s a lie.”

“Where did you get this?” Alex asked, examining it. She hadn’t ever heard of a stone-lie-detector.

“Remus put a charm on it,” James said, as if it was nothing.

“Looks like we really don’t have a choice then, do we, Sirius?” she asked, her eyes twinkling, as Sirius’ head drooped.

“Damned right you don’t,” James answered with a laugh.

“Alright, so each person gets to ask the other one question. Oh, and you have ten seconds to answer or else. I’ll go first,” Remus said. “Alex, why did you decide to go to London on Friday?”

The twinkling in her eyes stopped. Damn. So this is why Sirius was so scared…The Truth really means an interrogation. “I meant what I said yesterday about it, Remus. I needed to blow some steam.”

They all stared at the stone, Alex in particular. There had to be a way to outsmart it by bending the truth a bit. It didn’t glow.

Remus sighed, but gave James a meaningful glance. “Sirius, and why would that be?”

“We had a run-in with Malfoy and his gang after detention,” was all that he answered. He smirked as the stone didn’t glow. He wasn’t lying, after all, just not giving the whole truth, and it wasn’t his problem they weren’t asking detailed questions.

“What happened with Malfoy, Sirius?” Remus asked. Sirius looked up, and risked a glance at Alex, who was for the first time giving Remus a very evil eye.

“He tried to kiss Alex, but she beat him up,” he blurted out, right before his ten seconds were up. Stupid ten second rule…who thought of that anyways?!

Thankfully for him, Remus and James were too busy staring at the two of them, and didn’t notice the faint glow of the stone. Because Malfoy hadn’t just tried, Sirius thought ruefully. He risked another glance at Alex, hoping she wouldn’t be mad at him. But by the way she was looking at their inquisitors, he had a vague notion it wasn’t him she was mad at.

Remus tried to say something, but Alex cut him off, her hands folded over her chest, “Like Sirius said, I beat him up. Nothing to it. Next question.”

James opened his mouth, but Sirius beat him to it. “Remus, why are you so interested in what happened?”

“Because I’m your friend and I was worried.”

“And why did you say we couldn’t?” Alex stepped in, still looking rather pissed. And Sirius knew what she was doing…getting revenge at Remus for nosing into her business. Because she knew why he couldn’t. Whoa, she really can be cruel…no wonder half the school is scared of her… 

This time it was Remus’ turn to pale. James looked at Remus and Alex, and caught on. “Remus, what happened between you two?”

“I’m getting the feeling you’re thinking this wasn’t a very good idea,” Alex said viciously. “And what happened to the ten second rule? Answer the questions.”

“We kissed.”

“Why?” Sirius threw in, determined not to let the opportunity go to waste, even though he had already asked his one allowed question.  But nobody noticed, or if they did, were too preoccupied with Remus' pending answers to comment.

Remus looked ready to kill. “Because she was upset over you and she looked so beautiful standing in the rain and it hurt me to see her hurt.”

Alex’s gaze softened at his reply, and her eyes met his. She was suddenly filled with guilt for making his warm, brown eyes sad. She reached out and took his hand, and softly said, “Remus…you don’t have to answer my question. I said I would listen when you’re ready to tell me. Clearly this is not yet the moment.”

James and Sirius stared at Remus, while Alex went back to eating her bagel. After a minute of silence, Sirius decided Remus wasn’t going to answer, and asked his question. “Alex, who was your first kiss?”

She looked at him, and laughed. “You have one question, and that’s it?”

He shrugged, “I seem to be filled in on most of your life, if you recall.”

“Yes, I do recall,” she answered, still smiling. “Dev.”

Sirius’ jaw dropped. “I thought you said you were just friends?”

“We are, were, always will be. We were just curious, is all,” she said, laughing to herself, thinking about it.

James looked at Sirius, and knew that his best mate had put more thought into that question than it seemed. 

“Alex, who was your best kiss with?” James asked, smirking very mischievously.

“That is not fair,” Alex replied, starting to blush a bit.

“Well?” Remus asked, sounding mildly amused, which made Alex feel at least a bit better.

“Sirius,” she muttered as she put a piece of bread into her mouth.

Sirius smirked, Remus chuckled, and James grinned as he cupped his ear and leaned towards her, “Sorry, didn’t catch that?”

“Oh yes you bloody well did.”

“Well this certainly is unfair, Alex. You’ve let the other two have a go…what about me?” James asked in between spoonfuls of cereal.

“I thought you were trying to win Lily over?” Alex responded, feeling back on stable ground.

“Sure, but to be fair…”

“Alright. If you’re ever in need of a kiss, I promise you one.”

James face brightened. “Right now.”

Alex only laughed, “James you are so unromantic. It has to be the right moment, situation…not at breakfast when there’s bits of cereal stuck to your face.”

Remus chuckled again, “She’s got a point, you know.”

“Says you who’s already kissed her,” James replied, less brightly though still very jokingly, not even bothering to wipe his face. He turned to Sirius, “And why did you get to kiss her?”

“Only one question, mate,” Sirius said with a smirk.

“Which reminds me,” Alex interrupted, “it’s my turn to ask you two questions.” She pondered for a moment, eating her muffin in silence. Then, “Sirius, how many girlfriends have you had?”

Remus quirked his eyebrow—first Sirius with the first kiss-question, now Alex asking about previous girlfriends?

“Three,” he replied quickly and easily enough. She seemed confused for a second, and he added, “Though, I think I’ve been to Hogsmeade with about fifteen…”

Ah. Her eyes suddenly flickered over to the doors of the great hall as she heard the familiar and distinct patter of footsteps getting louder. Perfect… “James, why do you like Lily so much?”

James sighed, and Remus and Sirius stared at her with solemn faces, as if begging the question why she had to ask such a stupid one…But they hadn’t seen the familiar face walking towards them.

“Because she’s brilliant. Really, the only girl for me and I know it.” At this point, Sirius started to make strange faces at him and some sort of subtle  hand signals as Remus shifted in his seat a bit, but James continued. “It’s just everything about her. The way she does things, how she can be really nice and smart and polite, but at the same time the complete opposite…And her eyes…I can’t stop looking into them…”

His voice trailed off, and he was soon staring dreamily at the ceiling, before he felt someone sit down beside him.  He nearly fell off his chair in shock. 

“Good morning, James,” Lily said. 





Author's Note:Please let me know what you think of it!
Thanks for over 13000 reads and all the reviews!  I really appreciate it.

cheers!

ps--If you are looking for more Marauders action, check out my new story:  
It's a Kind of Magic.

Chapter 20: This...is Intervention
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“She called me James...not Potter, but James.  And then she sat down beside me, and I honestly thought she was gonna punch me or something, but then—"

“JAMES! I know!” Sirius yelled, groaning. “It happened three days ago, I’ve heard this story at least 100 times already, and I was there in the first place.”

“What’s got you in a fix?” James asked bewildered, looking a little hurt.

Sirius looked at his friend and immediately felt bad. “Sorry. I’m just tired.”

“Didn’t get much sleep?” James asked, this time with concern. Sirius nodded. “Again? What’s the matter with you?”

“I’m fine. Just can’t get back into the rhythm,” Sirius replied, using Alex’s words a bit scornfully.

James didn’t know what that was supposed to mean, but had more sense than to push his friend too far, especially as Sirius was now rubbing painful-looking circles into his temples…something he never did, along with staring at walls and not sleeping. Really, if he starts not eating, then the intervention will come…

There was a pause in which Sirius just counted down the seconds until the inevitable would happen.

“You know, Alex is really brilliant. She did it on purpose, I’m sure of it. Truthfully I thought I’d kill her right then and there, but then Lily actually talked to me, and…”

Sirius sighed as James recounted the story for the nth time that day already. Why doesn’t Remus have to listen to this? He doesn’t have a splitting headache and other problems to deal with...Then again, I have missed out on this for the past month… He thought he would get back to normal life normally, back to sleeping all night and sleeping in, but that was not the case. Every night since his split from Alex he would either lie awake for hours or wakeup in the middle of the night. It seemed life would never be simple anymore. But really, he didn’t need anyone telling him how brilliant Alex was, especially as his potion didn’t turn out the way it was supposed to for the first time since October. Because Princess just had to go back to Snivellus, he thought bitterly. And she seemed so happy about it too…I wonder just how much she missed him…? 

“…I think I really am going to have to kiss her,” James finished.

“Lily? Bad idea,” Sirius supplied absentmindedly, having no idea what his friend had just spent the entire walk down to the DADA classroom talking about and assuming the obvious.

“No, Alex.”

He jerked up at this, his hands no longer at his temples. Somehow that phrase had jumpstarted his adrenaline. “Why?”

“For being so bloody clever! I tell you, when Lily and I end up together, there’ll be a shrine dedicated to Alex in my closet.”

“And I suppose if word got round, or worse, she saw you, Lily would be impressed? About the kiss, not the shrine!” he spat, admittedly a bit more venomously than he had intended when James looked at him confusedly.

Luckily for him, James was too preoccupied to notice said venom. “Yeah, you’re right.” 

Sirius let out a breath of relief as they entered the classroom. However, it was not past James’ attention span to notice that his friend did brighten up as soon as he saw a certain girl. They headed over to take their seats, as Professor Gable started his class.

“Good afternoon everybody! Today we will continue yesterday’s lesson, but I ask to pair up differently yet again! After all, each opponent is different.”

Sirius turned to James since they hadn’t worked together yet, but found he was—strangely enough—actually working with Lily. He looked for Peter, but he was working with Remus. Obviously Sirius would have worked with Alex, but Professor Gable—perhaps for fear of another fiasco, or possibly because they had been working together for the past month, or maybe just out of spite—did not allow them to work together until next term. But that didn’t stop him from turning to see who she was working with. Probably Snivellus, no doubt, he sniggered. But what he saw was even worse. Definitely worse, because as much as he didn’t like Snape, he knew Alex would never think of him as more than a friend (or at least, he sincerely hoped). But this was unknown. His eyes narrowed as he surveyed the situation, terminator style.

Brad Kythes, seventh year Ravenclaw and beater, had claimed her as his partner. But something was going on, because he had also worked with her in Herbology the day before, and in charms the day before that…

“Mr. Black, you can work with Ms. Lamias,” Professor Gable shouted to him over a bunch of people’s head. Great, the giggly Hufflepuff. Nevertheless, he went to work with her, though his attention wasn’t quite focused. Through out the whole class, Alex’s laughter rang through the air and practically sent knives through Sirius. What could be so damned funny over there?! Though he stared at the clock on the wall, time seemed to be standing still…or even worse, moving backwards. The end of class just didn’t seem like it was coming, and when the bell finally did ring, he anxiously awaited Alex by the door, while she walked out calmly and taking her time, with Brad by her side.

“…and then I actually fell off my broom, can you imagine?” Brad was finishing.

Alex laughed some more and Sirius cringed…it just didn’t seem right to him that Alex was laughing at something he had not said.

“Thankfully you’re alright, though,” Alex said through her laughter. “Really, I shudder to think what would have happened in Herbology the day before if you hadn’t been there.”
Brad seemed to glow with pride at her statement, but Sirius snickered at the slight sarcasm he had gotten used to detecting in her voice. Maybe that meant Alex was just being nice, and hasn’t taken an interest in him after all…But still, the nerve of her for acting so flirtatiously, and even more so for Kythes to be hitting on her when its so obvious she’s my— 

He stopped himself, paling at his own thoughts as his mind started to work out what exactly he was thinking.

“…I’ll see you later then,” Alex said as Brad started on his way to wherever he was going. “Sirius? What’s the matter with you? You look…oh I don’t even know who or what you look like, but it’s definitely not human. Is something the matter?”

Sirius stared at her, but refrained from saying that the matter was he wasn’t sleeping at night while she was flirting with some Ravenclaw. Even if he had thought of something to say, James beat him to it as he jumped in, scooped Alex up into a hug, and twirled her around.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” he kept repeating.

“James…air…I need air,” Alex barely managed to say.

But James didn’t seem like he would relent, and Sirius stepped up, trying to pry him off her, “James…”

He loosened his grip and set her back onto the floor. “Sorry! But can you believe it?! Lily actually decided to work with me! This is good! Never ever has that happened before! So do you think that means I can ask her to Hogsmeade this weekend?”

“Er…” she started, but too preoccupied with James elation, and Sirius’ expression. “I’m not sure. I don’t think so. I’d say give it a bit more time…It’s good that she’s starting to be civil, for lack of a better word, but you don’t want to risk messing it up. Really show her you care to be friends first.”

“You’re right,” James said, nodding thoughtfully. “Alright, I will see you two at quidditch.”

He walked away, not particularly knowing where he was going, but with a very cheery grin.

“You know, you probably shouldn’t have ever helped him. Listening to him now is a lot worse then before,” Sirius said, leading her towards the great hall for dinner. Alex laughed, and he felt strange and happy, as if relieved that he still had it in him to make her laugh. “So what’s with Kythes?”

She shrugged, “He needed a partner, and lo and behold, I seemed to be the first person he came across.”

“All the way from the other side of the room? Somehow I doubt that…”

“Give the guy a break, Sirius. He just wanted to talk to me,” Alex said, raising her eyebrow at the slight tone of something in his voice.

“Right,” was all that he chose to reply, not noticing the slight smirk starting to stretch across her face.

Through out dinner, Sirius made all the right comments in the right places, but he didn’t seem quite there. Remus noticed, as did James, and they exchanged a look as Sirius barely touched his food. Now it was serious. Time for the intervention.

So that night, after quidditch practice, when Sirius had left Alex’s side and trudged up to his dormitory for another sleepless night, his three friends ambushed him as soon as he got through the door. Remus and James grabbed him and sat him down on a chair positioned in the middle.

“Hey! What’s going on? Another game of truth?” Sirius asked half-jokingly.

“No, this is past the The Truth,” James replied flatly. “This is Intervention.”

“Intervention?” he repeated dumbly. “I don’t need an intervention. I mean, I’m fine! Just a bit tired really, and—"

“Not sleeping, nor eating,” Remus finished, emphasizing the last part.

“Not to mention staring at walls,” Peter added.

“What’s going on, Padfoot?” James asked.

“Nothing’s going on. I just can’t get back—"

Remus interrupted, “Don’t give us that ‘back-in-the-rhythm’ bollocks. You not sleeping is one thing, but not eating?”

“Of course I’m eating. You were there at supper, you all saw—"

“Saw you playing with your food and not really eating it,” James said.

Sirius sighed. “Alright, fine. I’ll admit something is wrong, but I’m not sure what it is yet and I would rather work it out on my own first. I appreciate your concern guys, but really, I just need some time and I’ll be back to my usual self again.”

There was a pause, in which Sirius contemplated making a run for his bed, but decided that would be very un-Marauder-ish. So instead, he waited until one of them made a comment. But they seemed too busy giving him scrutinizing glances to do so.

Finally, it was Remus who broke the silence, “It’s Alex, isn’t it?”

Sirius gaped and then tried to cover, “No, what gave you that idea?”

“Oh, I dunno, maybe it’s just that you seem as if you’re going to die, and then as soon as she’s near you, you look alright again,” James suggested innocently with a grin.

“Look, I was stuck to her for a month. Maybe I am taking this a bit hard, but I’ll be alright soon enough,” Sirius tried to explain.

“Then how do you explain not sleeping?” Peter asked.

“You don’t understand. The past month, there was a bond holding me in place. Now I keep falling of the bed and stuff…”

That seemed to suffice, but Remus continued, “And the staring off into space? Not eating?”

“I just have a bit on my mind, is all,” he replied with a shrug. Like that bugger Kythes and why he’s all of the sudden taken an interest in Alex… “Thanks guys, but I swear, when I figure this out and I need to talk to somebody, I’ll let you all know. Now if I could go to bed…I think I might actually get some sleep tonight.”

He stood up from the chair and headed over to the lavatory. Once the door shut, James whispered to Remus, “Think he’s figured out he likes her yet?”

“I think he’s getting pretty close,” Remus answered in hushed tones.

“Do you think Alex likes him back?”

“It’s hard to tell…she’s definitely not going through this like he is. I mean, you saw her with Kythes today. Seemed normal to me,” Remus said. “But then again, she does seem different around Sirius.”

“Yeah…So what do you think about Lily working with me?”

Little did they know that at the exact same moment, Lily and Alex were having their own heart-to-heart. Lily had started it, because Alex was once again not going to bed, and reading instead. The night before she was pretty sure Alex hadn’t turned her lights out till after three in the morning, only to find her napping on the floor the same morning. And of course, Alex took the opportunity to question Lily about her actions towards James.

“And what, you just decided to work with him?” Alex asked. “All I’m saying, Lils, is that I’m thinking there’s something really going on inside that head of yours.”

“And all I’m saying is, you never seem to go to bed anymore,” Lily shot back, trying to steer the conversation back at Alex, which was proving very difficult, because it seemed that Alex had some talent for subtly getting off topic.

“Sure I go to bed, I just read a bit before, is all. I’ve always done that, unlike you who’s never worked with James before…unless forced.”

“I don’t know what came over me, alright? Maybe he’s not such a bad guy afterall,” she said very quietly.

Alex grinned, “’Course he’s not. You just never gave him a chance to show you that. So, do you think he’s going to ask you to Hogsmeade?”

“I don’t know. He hasn’t this year yet, so maybe…”

“And if he did, what would you say?”

Lily looked up from her pillow into Alex’s eyes, “I think I really don’t know. It’s like, a part of me is screaming, ‘Gah! NO! He’s annoying and arrogant and all that…’ and yet there’s this other part of me saying that he’s a good guy.” She paused, and then continued, “Now it’s only fair that you tell me a bit.”

“Knew that was coming,” Alex replied with a laugh. “Alright, I guess it just feels weird going to bed without him…as strange as that may sound. But really, I’m always falling off my bed and stuff…”

“Fine. But if you don’t go to bed before one I’m either taking you to Mdm Pomfrey, or you’re going to tell me exactly what’s on your mind.”

Alex shrugged, and deciding on not telling her that she would have taken the infirmary rather than Lily’s questions, instead said, “Sounds good to me. Good night.” 

                                                              ***

Soon it was Friday afternoon, and Sirius awaited Alex dutifully, though in truth rather annoyed, as she once again parted with Brad after their DADA lesson, in which he kept hitting on her, and Alex shamelessly flirted back…again. But he brightened as soon as she came over to him and linked arms with him, ready to head back to the Gryffindor common room, and even the bags under his eyes seemed to disappear.

“Well that was an interesting lesson,” she giggled.

“Ha, you can say that again.”

“Oh come on Sirius, it’s just a bit of fun.”

“Tell that to Brad, he’s the one who’s—"

“Alex! Wait!” a voice called from behind them. Alex and Sirius both turned around, and saw Brad running after them. Sirius’ eyes narrowed, but Alex looked amused, and her eyes twinkled with excitement. “Sirius.”

Sirius just gave a nod.

“Alex, can I have a word?” he asked, his cheeks slightly flushed.

“Uh…yeah, sure. Excuse me for a bit Sirius, you go on. I’ll see you in the common room,” she said, slipping her arm out of his grip, noting he looked as if he considered tightening his grip and never letting go.

“Sure. I’ll see you later,” he managed to say through clenched teeth, and started on his way back to Gryffindor tower, muttering to himself the whole way, because he knew exactly what Brad wanted to talk to Alex about…alone: Hogsmeade. Which was tomorrow. He slumped down onto the couch in front of the fire, staring at the portrait hole, waiting for when she would come back. Because he would need to talk to her. Oh yes, talk to her, and tell her exactly what kind of good guy Brad was, and that she was out of his league, and she deserved better than that Ravenclaw sap. Wait, this is going too far…I don’t even know if she agreed to it or not. Of course, she’ll say no, because she did say herself that it’s all just for fun, which of course means she doesn’t really like him…right? Sirius sighed and ran his fingers through his hair, resigning himself to just watching the entrance, instead of debating all the possible scenarios.

About ten minutes passed, and his gaze still hadn’t shifted, when she finally appeared, grinning lightly. He was about to stand up, run over to her, shake her shoulders and demand to know what could have taken her so long, before he realized that wouldn’t exactly be playing it cool. Besides, he knew Alex, she would come and tell him. And right on cue, she came and sat down beside him.

“So what did Brad want?” he asked, hoping he didn’t sound too interested.

“Actually, he asked me to Hogsmeade,” she replied straight away, still grinning.

Knew it, that smarmy little bastard. “Oh? Well that’s nice. What did you tell him?” he asked before he could stop himself, hoping he sounded nonchalant.

“What do you think?”

“Well given that he’s a smarmy bastard, I assume you said no.”

She stared at him, a smile tugging at her lips.

Did I really just say that out loud…?

“And I assume you don’t like Brad very much?” she asked, for a moment bewildering Sirius with her playful tone of voice.

Sirius squirmed in his seat, “Er…no, not particularly. Alright, I hate him,” he corrected under her scrutinizing glance. “So what did you say?”

“I said I would love to go.”

“But…”

She blinked, not quite following. “But…nothing. I would love to go.”

“You mean, you’re going with him?”

“Yes, I am,” she said, resuming her light grin.

Dammit. “Why?”

“Why not?”

“You seem to like doing things for lack of a reason not to,” Sirius snapped, recalling that that was her exact answer when he asked her. Granted, she did have reason…
“Well exactly. Brad’s perfectly respectable and cute…why shouldn’t I want to go with him?”

“Because he wants to get into your pants, that’s why.” Bugger. I should just shut up. Why can't I shut up...?!  

“And you think I’m just going to give in? Honestly, Sirius, don’t you know me at all?” Alex asked, laughing, and still wearing that contagious grin. At this point, Sirius thanked his lucky stars Alex wasn’t like every other girl, because any other girl would have been down-right insulted by his blunt comment…he didn’t need another fight with her. “Besides, wasn’t that the exact reason you asked me?”

“That was different…” Sirius started to say, for lack of anything better to say knowing that it was in fact, exactly the same. Well, minus the bet part. “I don’t understand why you’re so…happy.”

“Because I’m going on a date. It means somebody has noticed me.”

“Pfft, as if you need reassurance that you’re being noticed.”

“It’s still nice that somebody actually did something about it, worked up the courage and came to ask me. It feels nice,” Alex continued her playful tone lessening as she started to get frustrated that he didn’t understand, while Sirius just became more and more confused and jealous. “And seeing as I’m already eighteen, I think I would like to experience a date sometime before I get ma-er… old.”

“I don’t see what the big deal is,” Sirius said, “You’re acting as if it’s your first date.”

Alex stared at him, a faint blush rising on her cheeks. She sat up and gathered her bag, “I don’t see what we’re arguing about then.”

“Wait, you mean…no…it can’t, actually, possibly, be your first date…ever?” he spluttered in shock.

“Well what did you expect? I’ve been home schooled for all my life, and I live at Buckingham Palace…Some bloke from down the street won’t just walk up the driveway with flowers, ring the doorbell and say, ‘Hi your majesty, I’m here for your daughter—I really fancy her’,” she said a bit sharply as she stood up.

“But…but…what about all your night-time meanderings?”

“Oh I’ve been enough places, with different people, but it’s never been like this.”

“Well then how did you learn to kiss so well?” Sirius ploughed on, vividly recalling her kiss of deliverance from disappearing into nothing.

She smirked, “You don’t need to go on dates to learn how to kiss.”

He shook his head, deciding to ignore that comment and try to determine why Alex would waste her time with Brad. “I don’t understand. So you’re going on this date because you want to go on a first date?”

“Partly,” she replied as she started on her way towards the stairs leading to the dormitory.

“Well then why don’t we go together instead?” Sirius asked, his mouth running again.

She paused at the foot of the stairs, contemplating his statement. Eventually she simply replied in a light tone, “Well, you didn’t ask me in time.”

She got a glance at him staring at her with wide eyes, grinned, and walked up the winding staircase.

Sirius stared at her, his mouth hanging open. It couldn’t be that simple…could it? And if that was her answer, wouldn’t that mean she wanted to go with him? But if she wanted to go with him, why would she agree to go with Brad? I don’t get it! He groaned and headed up his own staircase to the boys dormitory, muttering the whole way about girls and their bloody confounding conniving ways, before promptly falling face first onto his bed, completely not noticing his other three dorm-mates.

“Er…Paddy? You alright, mate?” James asked concernedly.

“Dandy,” he mumbled into the pillow.

Remus sighed, “What did she do?”

When he didn’t answer, James tried, “Padfoot, what is it?”

“She’s going to Hogsmeade with Brad-what’s-his-face-Ravenclaw,” was just barely audible.

The three boys collectively drew a gasp. Sirius sat up. “I asked her why, and do you know what she said?”

They braced themselves, expecting something terrible, and getting ready to comfort their best mate.

“That she would like to experience a first date sometime before she got old.”

They stared at him. “First date,” Remus repeated, automatically thinking back to their kiss.

“First date?” James asked, thinking how someone like Alex couldn’t have been on a first date yet.

“First date,” Sirius confirmed sadly, vaguely wondering if he should just spare himself days of torture and just end his misery. “And to think, she’s wasting it on him.” 







Author's Note:  ok...so it is a bit filler fluffy...but it'll pick up again next chapter.
Thanks for reading! Please review!

PS---so...anybody here a Twilight fan...?

Chapter 21: The Big Bang
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Author's Note: Here's to end of term 1!! *woot*
Happy Holidays! 






It was Saturday morning, the morning of Hogsmeade. Alex woke up pretty early and got ready for her ‘date’. She promised to meet Brad at ten in front of the fountain in the middle of the village square. Then why was she up so early? She had agreed to meet Severus for a quick trip to the apothecary. She also planned on getting some breakfast. Getting dressed warmly, simply yet nicely, into some black pants and a wooly sweater, she donned her red knee length jacket, grabbed her purse and headed out the girls’ dormitory, whistling to herself as she skipped down the stairs and past the couches.

“I never knew you knew how to whistle,” a voice said from one of the couches, stopping her in her tracks.

“Well surprise,” she said sarcastically with a shrug. “What are you doing up so early?”

He shrugged, “I magically became a morning person.”

“Oh. Er…if that’s my fault…sorry,” Alex replied, feeling a little awkward.

He waved a hand dismissively as he stood up and walked towards her, “You going to Hogsmeade so early?”

“Actually I’m just getting some quick breakfast before I head out. Wanna come?”

“Sure. I doubt they’ll be up anytime soon,” Sirius replied as they started to walk down to the great hall. “But it still is pretty early to be going down to Hogsmeade…you’re not meeting up with Kythes this early are you?”

She laughed, “No, actually I promised Severus some help at the apothecary. I’m not meeting Brad till ten.”

“I see…Look, about what I said yesterday, I didn’t really mean it. That is…I don’t think…er, Brad…would be stupid enough to ask you to Hogsmeade for that, and I don’t think he’s a smarmy git, and you have all the reason to be excited,” he rattled off, trying to say as many things he could remember thinking about during the night before he changed his mind yet again. “…and, and I hope you... have fun.”

“That’s sweet, thank you,” Alex responded, a little bemused at his speech.

“And out of curiosity,” he continued with an odd grin, “Does Brad know you’re meeting up with Snape beforehand?”

“No.”

“And were you planning on telling him?”

“I’m not an idiot, Sirius. What he doesn’t know can’t hurt him,” she said with a sly grin, and he just had to laugh. “Beside, Sev and I are just friends, and he needs help so…yeah.”

A part of Sirius registered what she said and felt relieved to actually hear her say it (though the usual shudder ran down his spine at mention of Sev), and a different part wanted to scream out at her why in hells name was she meeting up with Snivelly? But then again, if she was meeting with Snivellus on the same day of her date with Kythes, and was taking the whole thing so lightly in the first place, then didn’t that mean she wasn’t particularly bent on the idea of spending time with Brad…? 

“And where are you planning on going?” she asked, snapping him out of his thoughts.

He looked at her, and vaguely wondered why she was interested, but replied anyways, “Probably Three Broomsticks, after a stop at Zonko’s and Honeydukes and what not.”

She nodded, “Sounds cool. Make sure, then, that James doesn’t do anything stupid if Lily is around. I think his euphoria may be getting to him.”

“You think?” Sirius asked in mock surprise. “Alex, he’s been repeating the same two stories without cease the whole week. I think it’s past euphoria at this point.”

She chuckled, but they walked the rest of the way silently, and only made a few remarks during the rather quick breakfast before Alex stood up from the table and said goodbye.

“Yeah, see you later,” Sirius replied gloomily. “By the way, you look nice.”

“Thanks,” she said with a really heart-felt smile, and Sirius found himself glad to be sitting down, or he surely would have gone weak at the knees like a girl from some tacky romance. He watched her leave the great hall, and listened to her footsteps die away as his mind started to race again. This is ridiculous…she’s meeting Snivelly and Kythes in the same day? What’s she trying to do to me? He hadn’t ever really been jealous before. Or rather, he had been jealous, but now when he was faced with this the other times seemed completely superficial and trivial. He didn’t like it, this feeling of jealousy. And it definitely did not suit him well. He didn’t even consider the possibility that she wasn’t trying to do anything to him, just trying to live a little. It was, after all, in her style to be impulsive and take any opportunity for an adventure without thinking it completely through… So he was left with two possibilities: one, she was completely oblivious to what she was doing to him and really liked Kythes, or two (thinking of her ‘you-didn’t-ask-in-time’ statement) she knew exactly what she was doing, and was being impossibly cruel, doing it all purposely to see him, Sirius, squirm while she looked on laughing…but on the flip side of that point, not really interested in the Ravenclaw, which soothed his chaotic thoughts at least a little.

When the Marauders finally reached Hogsmeade, it was already past ten o’clock. So everywhere they went, Sirius’ eyes were uncontrollably scanning the area for the sight of her. But no matter where they went, she was nowhere in sight. Not even at the Three Broomsticks, by which time it was already late in the afternoon, and they finally decided to head back to Hogwarts.

“Hey, Black!” a voice from behind him yelled. He turned and saw Brad running up to him. Alone. “Have you seen Alex anywhere?”

“I saw her this morning, but she left for Hogsmeade around eight, I think,” Sirius replied, his eyes narrowing suspiciously. They seemed to do that automatically whenever Kythes was in his range.

“Really?” Brad asked. “Because she didn’t show up.”

“Sorry mate,” Sirius said, not bothering to hide the fact that he really wasn’t. In fact, what he was, was rather pleased. But Alex would not have stood him up…Would she? Unless she only agreed to go with him as a joke and then planned to leave him all alone…? Urgh I’m not even going to try to figure this out…

“I just hope she’s alright,” Brad said. “Apparently there was some explosion at the apothecary this morning, but I doubt—“

Sirius paled. Explosion…Apothecary…Alex…Snape… “What do you mean you doubt she was there? She’s a bloody potion’s prodigy, if you haven’t noticed.”

“I have noticed,” Brad said defensively, a little flushed. “But why would she be there if she was supposed to be meeting me?”

“Her life doesn’t revolve around you, Kythes,” he replied rather sharply. “The point is, she told me this morning she was going there. And though I’m not sure why, I doubt she would ditch you.”

Brad seemed to finally catch on that for whatever reason Alex didn’t show up for their date, it was not because it was all a big joke. He watched Sirius sprint towards the apothecary, followed by Remus, James and Peter. After a moment’s indecision, he decided to follow.

Sirius’ heart was pounding in his throat, and he cursed whoever had built the apothecary for building it so far away. He didn’t hear what the other three were shouting at him…all he knew was that he had to get there soon, before he would die from anxiety. But when he did reach the apothecary, his heart seemed to have stopped beating completely as he just stared at the remains of the building. The other four stopped behind him, and gasping for air, looked at the building with wide eyes. With the exception of the door frame, the entire front wall was now a crumbling ruin, with black burn marks across the stones. Shattered glass lay at their feet. Inside, the counter had scorch marks, as did all the shelves full of ingredients, some of which lay scattered in chaos on the floor. And where he stood, red smears blotched the ground. The owner of the apothecary was talking with some villagers not too far from him, a couple of bruises and scratches visible on his body.

“…not sure what happened. Two youngsters were picking out some ingredients this morning. Well I didn’t really bother to help them, they seemed quite sure of what they were doing, besides I was serving Mrs. Paula from down the street…Yes, well they finished before she had so I just went to ring them out…it turned out only the gentleman was buying ingredients… And then I don’t know what happened, the miss stepped outside the door and then BAM!”

The five boys jumped at his onomatopoeia, and Sirius couldn’t take it any longer. He stepped up to the owner and interrupted, “The young lady…was she rather tall, wearing a red jacket?”

“Yes, I think she was…”

Behind him, he heard James curse and Remus gasp, but he continued in a very weak voice, “Where is she?”

“Well I believe they took her back up to the school, the boy had run for help, see, though he wasn’t in too fit of a condition either. And I tried to take care of her in the meantime,” the owner started, his eyes looking troubled, “but I…well I just hope she made it there alright…she was a very nice young lady, it would be so terrible if she had…well…”

It seemed as if Sirius had lost all feeling in his body. The apothecarian was talking as if…as if she had been on the brink of death…but it just couldn’t be possible. She couldn’t have died, when only this morning she was laughing and smiling at him. His mind froze, and he wasn’t even sure if he was breathing, but he didn’t care. All that mattered right now was Alex. He felt somebody put their hand on his shoulder, and somewhere in the distance he heard Remus ask, “How bad was it?”

The man failed to suppress a look of nausea as he said, “Well she practically stepped right into whatever it was that exploded…She didn’t lose any limbs, thank merlin, but there pieces of wood and glass sticking out every which way, and blood…”

He didn’t seem to be able to finish, and Remus was thankful, because he wasn’t sure he could hear much more, and beside him, Sirius looked ready to collapse. Suddenly, a stone look of determination overcame Sirius, and he took off without warning, running full speed towards the castle, taking a shortcut through the woods instead of waiting for the carriages. James and Peter took off after him, as did Brad. Remus was just about to, when he heard the shop owner continue, “Something strange about that girl, though. I’m not saying, ‘cause she was hurt pretty badly, but you would have imagined the damage to have been much worse. And I swear, she looked ready to pass, but then I swear I saw her eyes turn red. Hell, I’d even swear I saw the gaping hole in her side stop bleeding all of the sudden. And the whole time I was with her, there was this strange feeling in the air, as if…I don’t know. I suppose it was just the after effect of the explosion…”

Remus shook his head and decided to leave that bit to himself, as he started to run back to Hogwarts.

Sirius had tried to run straight into the infirmary, but Professor McGonagall was standing guard outside the doors, almost as if waiting for them.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Black, but you can’t go in to see her,” she said gravely, and automatically he assumed the worst. Her hard expression softened at the look in his eyes. “She’s alright, so don’t be troubled by it. However, she is simply not in the right condition to be visited at the moment.”

“But I need to see her!” he yelled, and McGonagall took a step back. James, Peter, Brad and the just arrived Remus looked at Sirius strangely.

McGonagall opened her mouth, but at that moment, the doors of the infirmary opened, and Dumbledore stepped through them. He smiled warmly, “Ah, friends. How wonderful. She would be glad to see you all here, of course, but as Professor McGonagall said, it would be best to leave her be, for now. But perhaps one of you may keep her company.”

McGonagall looked ready to protest, but Dumbledore just looked at Sirius with that twinkle in his piercing blue eyes, and Sirius stepped forward into the infirmary without a word, without considering the others. It had to be him.

The doors closed behind him silently, and he slowly marched towards the bed with the curtains drawn around them, briefly noticing Snape lying in the bed opposite. He snuck into the curtained area, and took a couple of steps towards her bed, scared of what he would see. To his relief, Alex looked perfectly whole and healthy, sleeping with a faint smile. Granted, there were some scratches and bruises left in a couple of places, and white bandages wrapped around her arm, torso, and head…but she was alive. At last, it seemed that his heart started to beat again, as he sat down in the chair next to her bedside. Leaning back and staring at her face, his mind recommenced its workings.

Sirius didn’t get much time to himself, though, because Dumbledore came back shortly afterwards, wanting to talk to Alex. She was still asleep however, and he didn’t want to wake her. So Sirius took his opportunity.

“Sir? Do you know what exactly happened?” he asked politely.

“Not exactly,” Dumbledore replied with a sigh. “From talking to Alex for a bit, and talking to Severus and the shop owner, I gather that someone attacked her. She said she saw a figure walking away, only a split second before it happened, but she couldn’t remember what he, or she, looked like. It looks like she stepped into some kind of explosive substance.”

“But who would attack Alex?” Sirius asked in shock, before he answered his own question. After all, this was Alex, and even at school, not everybody was her friend…

“These are difficult times, Sirius,” Dumbledore started, his eyes troubled, “And Alex, and in the eyes of some, is not an equal. Strange really, how in one world she’s considered everything, and in another, nothing…It is to her disadvantage, unfortunately, because the Death Eaters would make an excellent point through her.”

Sirius stared at the old Professor with wide eyes. He hadn’t ever considered it, but Dumbledore was of course right. His mind started to swim with images of Alex tortured, or dead, and for no other reason than making an example of her. And if the tough muggle-born princess couldn’t last, how could any other muggle-born?

When he came to his senses, he realized he had been staring at a wall, though he wasn’t sure for how long, and turned to see Dumbledore standing over Alex. He couldn’t quite but a pin on it, but there was something about the way he was looking at her that told him something strange was going on—that Dumbledore knew something neither he nor Alex did. And from what he could read from the professor’s face, which was very little, it was not a good thing, but surely, something that would change everything.

Dumbledore looked up at Sirius, smiled, and left him to even more confusing thoughts.

It was now almost midnight, and he had only left her side to run to the loo, and quickly get some food, though he barely ate it. The whole great hall had been whispering about the explosion, and about the two injured students now lying in the infirmary, and had not given Sirius any relief or comfort. His friends’ questions had not been helpful either and he eventually decided to retreat back to his spot beside Alex’s bed. The voices in his head had finally shut up, but were replaced with a severe migraine, and a rather empty space which just echoed his questions instead of giving some sort of answer. What have I gotten myself into? he asked himself. And why…how did this happen? When did Alex become so important to me? And why am I doing this? I know that she’s fine and that me sitting here is completely pointless, so why am I still here? Still sitting at her side, staring at her face instead of sleeping in my own bed? He sighed, and realized just how much he hated questions, bitterly wondering why there were so many without answers. He ran a hand through his hair and leaned back into his chair—he really didn’t know how much more he could take of this… No girl can be worth this much trouble…

Then Alex stirred restlessly in her sleep, spasms of pain etched into her still face. Sirius sat up right away, found her hand, and grasped it tightly. She relaxed at his touch, and a faint smile replaced the pain in her face.

“Sirius…” she mumbled through her sleep.

He looked at her, not believing his ears. Had she really called for him? Had she felt somebody take her hand through her pain, and assumed it was him? Was it comforting to her to know that he was there beside her?

“I’m here Alex, it’s alright…” he whispered.

Her eyelids fluttered at the sound of his voice, and then opened. Her eyes darted around the room for a moment, trying to acclimatize to the darkness around her, and then traveled slowly over to meet Sirius’ gaze.

“How are you feeling?” he asked gently.

“Like I just blew up,” she managed to say with a grin, though it was obvious every word was painful to utter. “Go to bed, Sirius. I’ll see you tomorrow…”

“I’m not leaving you,” Sirius stated, wincing at her hoarse voice.

She looked at him, right into his eyes. He saw them sparkle in the moonlight, and for once, didn’t feel himself shrinking away from her hard gaze; for once, not afraid that she would see through him. He saw her smile, and in that moment he knew that if any girl was worth all the trouble, sleepless nights and half-eaten meals, it was only Alex. And he would sit here till kingdom come if he had to, but there was no way he would leave the infirmary without her beside him, linked arms and chatting merrily. He had finally figured out the answers to all those questions, though now that he thought about it, it felt as if he had always known. This had just been the moment where the glorious truth had finally exploded on him. He grinned as he told himself, still tightly holding her hand, Because it’s Alex, and I’m in love with her... 

“Sirius…I’m not going anywhere,” she said with another grin.

“I can’t be sure, though, can I?” he replied, trying to joke back, though in truth still caught up with his revelation. "Besides, look what happens when I leave you alone for barely a few hours."

His joke rang with a sincerity and pain that surprised the both of them.

“I think you were right,” she said softly after a pause.

“What?” he asked, confused.

“I don’t think Brad was meant to be my first date,” she explained, trying to contain her laughter for fear of the nurse coming out to check up on them.

Sirius grinned at her, and fervently hoped she meant what he thought she did.

Chapter 22: Complications
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Author's Note:  Thanks so much to everybody reading and reviewing!  Hope you enjoy this (it's pretty long, but I think that makes up for the shortness of the previous chapter).
It starts to get a bit....weird...towards the end so please let me know if anything doesn't make sense.

Happy New Year!

PS- What do you think of the new banner?








The next morning, Alex woke up beside Sirius, and vaguely wondered if everything that had happened had been a dream. But she looked around, and found herself in the infirmary rather than in the Gryffindor dorm. Looking at Sirius, she was glad to finally see him sleeping soundly. Though, how he managed to fall asleep like that is beyond me…He was in fact, half sprawled over the bed and her pillow, and half still sitting in the chair. Well, sitting isn’t really the word for it. But he looks so…serene…peaceful…

Knowing that he had practically sat by her all day and night, she did not wake him up. She sat up and made to get out of bed, but felt his grip on her hand tighten…she hadn’t realized she was still holding his hand.

“I thought you said you weren’t going anywhere…?” Sirius mumbled.

“I think the loo is excusable, and you are supposed to be sleeping,” she said, wearing that grin that always seemed to appear when talking with Sirius. He let go, though somewhat reluctantly, and drifted back to sleep.

On her way back from the toilet, she noticed Severus lying in the bed opposite, and silently crept towards him. He was not asleep, however.

“Good morning,” he muttered.

“Hey Sev, what’s got you in a strop? Feeling alright?” she asked, with the semblance of that grin.

He shrugged, “Alright. You?”

“Well, I’m alive, so I’m gonna say pretty darn good,” she replied half-jokingly, but Severus only grimaced and looked at her with painful eyes. “Oh no…I know that look, and don’t you dare apologize Severus Snape. It was not your fault.”

“Alex…it’s just…” he stammered, “it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t asked you to come with me…you shouldn’t have said yes…it just can’t work because they…I mean…it is my fault…”

Alex looked at him, trying to figure out what he was trying to say, as he continued to ramble in short phrases.

“…what I’m trying to say, is that…that it would be safer…er, better…for you if we…”

She blinked, finally understanding. Putting on a serious face, she asked mockingly, “Are you…breaking up with me?”

He nodded, but winced as she started to laugh. “Alex, this isn’t funny. I’m being completely—" he stopped abruptly, not able to say the last word.

“Serious?” she supplied, still laughing. “But it is funny, because you’re telling me we can’t be friends because of an accident that was not your fault…I know it would have happened either way, I am a bit accident prone…Well let me tell you something, Severus Snape. You can break up with me all you want, but I’ll still be here, and I won’t stop talking to you nor being your potions partner…”

This time it was his turn to look at her while she made her speech. She just didn’t seem to understand. But he felt partially relieved, because he didn’t think he could have parted with her anyways.

“…Well?”

“Er…sorry?” he asked, not sure what she was asking about.

“Do I annoy you?”

He looked confused at her question, but answered, “No.”

“Do you not like talking with me?” she continued.

“No,” he answered again, not sure where she was going with this.

“Do I bring the wrath of Slytherin house upon you?”

“It’s more disapproval than wrath…” Severus said slowly.

“Then look, if that’s too much for you to handle, just tell me straight out and I’ll leave you alone, instead of telling me what’s best for me,” she finished, a bit worked up, clutching her side from the sudden spasm of pain brought on from her tirade. “So?”

He thought about it, weighing the pros and cons of the situation. If he agreed, then at least she would be a bit safer, though he would be less pleased with the arrangement. But she would still be his potions partner, so he would still work with her…but wouldn’t she act different towards him by then? He took long enough to answer that Alex seemed to roughly figure out what was running through his head, and spared him the trouble.

“I’ll see you in potions then,” she said stiffly, standing up and heading back over to her curtained area.

“Is he still there?” Severus called out to her, a trifle disdainfully.

She smirked wickedly, but did not reply as she disappeared behind the curtain. Inside, she found Sirius not sleeping, but lounging in the chair and wearing an amused grin.

“Don’t you think it was a bit too early for that?” he asked.

Letting herself fall onto the bed, she didn’t have a chance to answer as Mdm Pomfrey drew the curtain and bustled towards her.

“You’re still here, are you?” she asked Sirius, annoyed. Nobody had ever been allowed to spend the night with a patient before, and it seemed to irk her that the rule had been bent for Sirius, of all people.

“Yes, I am,” he replied gleefully, “and to warn you, I don’t intend on leaving without her.”

“So you might want to release me,” Alex added with a sweet smile that seemed to radiate an impending doom instead of the usual and normal cheeriness.

The matron glared at the both of them, but went about her business just the same, examining Alex. To her disappointment, Alex seemed a lot healthier than she ought to have been, which meant that she in fact, could be let out. Handing Alex a glass full of some random, colourful liquid, she muttered, “Here, drink this up. As long as you check in with me tonight, you can leave.”

That seemed to encourage Alex to swallow the bitterly disgusting potion faster than usual. Once satisfied that her patient had complied with her request, she headed over towards Severus’ bed.

Alex gathered up her belongings she had with her from the day before, and quickly slipping into some clothes that had been brought up for her, grabbed Sirius’ hand and left the infirmary, just as Severus shouted, “Why can she leave and not me?!”

Sirius seemed to have heard the comment, and it finally struck him as odd that Alex was in such good shape. Sure, magical healing was capable of a lot, but if Snape hadn’t been allowed to leave—Snape, who had been in better condition than Alex in the first place—then what had sped up Alex’s recovery to such an extent?

To his surprise, Alex wasn’t leading him back to the Gryffindor common room, but rather to the great hall. When she felt him give her a strange look, she merely replied, “I’m starving,” and she actually looked it too. In fact, Sirius noted, glancing at her body, It looks like she hadn’t eaten in a while…but she hadn’t looked like this yesterday morning…Something strange really is going on… 

For once, Alex out-ate Sirius at breakfast that morning, for though she had always had an appetite, out-eating a ‘growing boy’ was practically impossible. She was greeted warmly by fellow Gryffindors when they actually came down for breakfast. Lily jumped her and gave her a massive hug, and would have started sobbing onto her shoulder if it hadn’t been for the surprise visit of Alex’s owl Franz, who hadn’t once since the beginning of the term brought her any mail, other than a newspaper every once in a blue moon. Alex seemed to be in shock as she stared at the three letters dropped in front of her.

“Looks like Darcy finally replied,” Sirius commented when Alex hadn’t made any gesture towards opening them.

“Yeah, you’ve finally got mail from home!” Lily exclaimed.

“I’m overjoyed,” Alex finally stated, though sarcasm dripped from her two words.

“Clearly,” Remus said with a small smile, as Alex hesitantly started to sift through them.

“One from Darcy, one from Dev and Adrian—well that’s not so bad really—oh and look, this one from my dad! Now I’m really happy!” she continued.

A pause followed as she just stared at the letter from her father, while her friends stared at her.

“Well…? Are you going to open it?” Remus prodded.

She looked up at him, “Do I have to? I would really rather not.”

“But it’s probably something really important if he’s writing to you,” Lily said, trying to encourage her to open it.

Alex merely scoffed, “Fat chance.”

After another pause, Sirius finally said, “Look, you either open and read it, or I read it for you…to the entire hall.”

“Why do you guys want to know so badly what’s in it anyways?”

James shrugged, “It’s from your father—aren’t you the least bit interested in what he has to say?”

“No, not really…For all I know, he’s probably trying to get me to come home for Christmas.”

“That’s a month away,” Remus said, “And would that be such a bad thing anyways?”

“Well yeah!” Alex practically shouted. They just didn’t seem to understand. She resorted back to staring at the letter, before Sirius’ voice interrupted.

“I’m going to count to three…1…2…”

“Alright, alright! I’ll open it,” Alex said, slowly ripping the sealed envelope open, instead of running the risk of Sirius fulfilling his threat.

Alexandria,

I’m passing this through Darcy since you were so kind as to not leave any method of contacting you when you ran away this past summer. To say I was extremely disappointed in you, especially as you had deliberately disobeyed me, would be an understatement. Nevertheless, what has happened cannot be changed now, so it is the future we must work on.

I am sure that you have not forgotten your duties as Princess, and will therefore return to London for the holidays and attend to them. I have included a schedule of events, so you will be well prepared for each of them.

Stephan Edwards
King of England

*Written as dictated. 


Alex read through the letter, scoffing and laughing wryly at all the right places. She looked at the second paper, her list of events. After taking only a second to glance at it, she crumpled it up, threw it in the air, and set it afire.

The other four looked concerned, and Lily spoke up, “Er…would you mind if I read it, Alex?”

“No, by all means,” she replied, handing the letter to her, and setting her own focus on Darcy’s letter. “Read and see for yourself what I have to put up with.”

She started to open Darcy’s letter, in which she was sure there would be some sort of explanation for her father’s letter, while the other circled around her friends.

“Written as dictated?” Sirius asked after a moment.

“What, you actually expected my father to write to me?” Alex asked in sarcastic shock. “No, I’m assuming his secretary wrote that.”

Remus was the next to comment, “What’s all this about ‘the future we must work on’?”
It was only Sirius who noted the brief, steely glimmer of anger in Alex’s eyes as she shrugged and replied completely nonchalantly, “No clue, but my guess is he’s probably trying to make sure I…er, stay a princess and not do anything stupid again.”

“Not do anything stupid?” James asked with a grin. “Has he met you?”

Alex grinned back, “Doesn’t seem so, does it?”

“He sounds very demanding,” Lily interjected. “I mean, this whole letter—“

“Was just to tell me what to do?” Alex finished.

“He didn’t even ask how you’re doing, or how school is!” Lily said concernedly, “And he signed ‘Stephan Edwards’, not ‘love dad’ or something…”

“Love dad?” Alex repeated before bursting out laughing. “Oh Lily, so naïve and innocent… You’re adorable.”

“So what are you going to do?” Sirius asked.

“Can I have my letter back?” Remus handed it to her, and she immediately ripped it up, and scorched it like she had with the other piece. “Now, for more good news…”

She started to read Darcy’s letter, and after the opening inquiries about school and the ‘sticky-situation’, she paled about half-way through, before her cheeks flushed, becoming angry.

…I think father’s trying it again…maybe you should come back after all, for the holidays at least…
…play along and see how he’ll react…don’t do anything rash…we might be able to talk him out of it if you rebel less…
…write me if you have any ideas… 


After a couple of minutes, she finally put down the letter and stared at the air in front of her.

“Alex…you alright?” Sirius asked, not liking the suddenly sullen Alex.

“Bloody perfect,” she replied, sounding dejected. She looked at her friends’ worried faces, and with a half smile, graced them with the simplest explanation she could think of. “Looks like I have no choice…once again. It seems I will be going home for the holidays after all.”

She tucked Darcy’s letter along with the letter from Dev and Adrian into her pocket, and Remus didn’t miss the gesture.

“Not reading Dev and Adrian’s?” he asked with a sly grin.

“That,” she replied coolly, “is for my eyes only.”

Remus chuckled, and Sirius seemed to once again doubt Alex’s assurances that they were only friends.

“You know, I’ve been wondering,” James said through a mouthful of bagel, “What’s Dev short for anyways?”

“Devlin,” Lily answered before Alex even registered the question, then quickly clasping a hand over her mouth, starting to blush. Alex smirked at her.

“So tell me Lily, who do you like better then, Devlin or Darcy?” she asked, her smirk stretching into a grin as she caught James’ expression from her periphery.

“Alex!” a voice called, and she turned to see Brad speed-walking towards her. Sirius didn’t even bother to suppress his groan, and Lily heaved a sigh of relief from being spared the agony of replying to Alex’s evil question. “Alex! You’re alright, thank Merlin! How’re you feeling?”

He stood in front of her, and seemed to debate whether or not he should hug her. Alex’s lips twitched at his awkwardness and flailing arms which seemed to remind her of the Giant Squid of the Black Lake. “I’m alright. Sorry the trip didn’t work out though.”

“S’alright, we can make up for it next time,” he answered. Sirius looked ready to punch him (though he had noticed Alex’s reply was laced with that playful and mocking tone only she could accomplish), and the other three looked on amusedly, James’ previous shock forgotten as a more entertaining scene started to unfold. Alex, however, was debating what to say, and became stuck amidst a battle between her devilish normal self, and the nice girl she tried to be. She forced her mouth shut, which proved rather difficult, until she thought of something acceptable to say, while Brad kept talking, “…The next trip is in two weeks, so there might be snow, which means it could be a bit cold by then but—"

“I’m not cold-blooded, Brad—I think I’d survive,” she interrupted harshly, and then bit her lip as he looked at her peculiarly. “Sorry, just a bit off.”

He nodded empathetically, as James whispered to Remus, “Not cold-blooded, cold-hearted.”

“The thing is, Brad, I’m a bit superstitious and put a bit of faith into signs and omens and so on,” she started to say after giving James a look of doom (and a kick to the shin), and having finally decided on a version of half-truth, “and well, yesterday’s accident would count as one.”

She gave him a moment to understand what she was talking about, but when no look of comprehension settled on his face, she sighed, and continued in the same tone, “I think it was a sign that I’m not supposed to go out with you.”

He looked stricken, and Alex hastily added in, “You’re a nice guy, Brad, but something about us together just didn’t seem to…to fit in with the universe.”

No, no sarcasm, she reminded herself, as the last part of her comment started to cross the line into the wonderful world of sarcasm. Being preoccupied with that particular train of thoughts, she didn’t notice Sirius’ smirk, who was thinking how he and Alex would fit in perfectly well with the universe. Nor did she notice Brad finally catching on, and his eyes narrowing.

“Have you thought that maybe your accident was a sign that you and somebody else don’t fit?” he asked, his tone getting darker, snapping her out of her thoughts. “Maybe you and Snape shouldn’t have been at the apothecary.”

“It happened after the apothecary, before our date. Hence, it stopped me from you, not him,” she replied right away. His comment hadn’t thrown her off like he had intended it to, but hers did. She half scoffed at his look of shock and rejection, the unmistakable glossing over of his eyes that was a sure indicator she had stricken deeper than he had expected. Frailty thy name is woman…? Sorry Shakespeare; you know I adore you, but I definitely think you made a typo…she thought sardonically.

“Maybe it was supposed to stop you from meeting Black later on,” Brad continued. She had wounded his ego, and now he would go after her vanity. Sirius perked up, and took an even greater interest in the growing argument.

She only laughed, “If the universe hadn’t meant on me befriending Sirius Black, we would not have been stuck together.”

How very true, Sirius thought, as new thoughts of how perfect they were for each other starting to form.

“Befriending? Ha, more like bedding,” he sniped, drawing a few more heads towards them.

Sirius was about to stand up, but Alex caught him by the arm and pulled him back down. He gave her a look of he-had-no-right-to-say-that, but she silenced him with a look of her own. “It’s really immature to take out your jealousy like that, Brad.”

Merlin I love this woman...Sirius thought, admiring the perfect condescending tone she had used.

Brad looked at her in what he hoped was indignation. “Jealous? I’m not jealous, why would I be jealous?”

“You’re digging yourself into a hole, mate,” she said, laughing. “Look, I can sit here and bury you in that hole, as everybody knows I’m quite capable of doing, or you can leave now with whatever shred of dignity you have left.”

“I’m not jealous,” he repeated.

She grinned, “So you chose being buried alive?”

He stared at her keenly, and deciding to play into her game, replied, “I really doubt a thin, spoiled, uppity bitchy princess would pick up a shovel and do the dirty work herself. What are you going to do, order your boyfriend at me? Or has he already paid up in full for the month?”

Again, Sirius was only held down by Alex’s firm grip on his arm. He would’ve have hexed Kythes to hell and back again if it weren’t for the stone cold look in Alex’s eyes, that only a moment before were twinkling with amusement. For a second, Sirius actually considered warning Brad to run and hide before he really did get buried alive, but then realized it would be much more entertaining to watch Alex kick him off his pedestal.

“Fine. First of all, Sirius is not my boyfriend, if he was, I wouldn’t have agreed to go with you, but obviously you’re too stupid to understand something so simple. I agreed to go with you, not because of your overwhelming ability to chat me up—which contrary to your belief, I am not, nor was, madly infatuated with you—but because I happen to be a nice person and didn’t want to let you down. Though if you had been any brighter, you would have caught on that yesterday’s trip would not have gotten you any nearer to my knickers or my bed. I am a princess after all, and I do have my standards. Needless to say, you are quite below them, in more ways than I care to elaborate upon. Come to think of it, I think you’d be below my standards even if I wasn’t a princess.”

She paused for dramatic effect, and took a moment to note the reactions around the table. “In fact, I’m not even sure why you’re in Ravenclaw, because you would also have realized my subtle rejection only a couple of minutes ago, and would not have stayed around picking a fight with me. But since you’re a stubborn, smarmy cocky brat, and are still here right now, I might as well tell you that you are extremely boring, and talking to you is like talking with a three year old. Really, I was quite surprised to see that you didn’t stamp your foot at your repeated statements of how not jealous you are.”

Brad seemed to pale as he realized he really was being buried, and now he had no chance of escaping. He took one last chance, “You seemed perfectly content flirting with me.”

“Granted, I was very amused—I do have a sense of humour, you know—though somewhat disappointed you didn’t pick up my sarcasm,” she replied with a sly smile. “I’ll give you some advice, though, for your next victim, and I suggest somebody shorter than yourself by the way. You’re no Casanova, so don’t act like the girl you’re chatting up should be falling to her knees and thanking whatever deity for the honour of your presence. Also, you should probably shave…those whiskers you’re sprouting aren’t as attractive as you think. I doubt they even qualify under facial hair. Oh, and just so you know, your shite at Herbology and Charms…quidditch too, come to think of it.”

Wow. How does she do that? Sirius wondered in awe. She just has this way of pointing out all your shortcomings—ones that you’ve already probably had pointed out but tactfully ignored—that makes you want to go jump off a cliff. 

Brad seemed either very close to tears, or very close to punching Alex smack in the nose. She seemed to catch on, “Right. So if you’re all done here, I would like to finish my breakfast. See you in Herbology, then!”

And with that, see turned in her spot to face the table and resumed eating her breakfast, as Brad stared at the back of her head. The silence around the table was extraordinary, and Alex just smirked.

“Miss Edwards!” another voice called.

“Great, now what?” Alex muttered, as Professor McGonagall came striding towards her.

“Miss Edwards, glad to see you up and about,” the Professor said, and after Alex muttered a short thank you with a curt nod, she continued. “The Headmaster wishes to speak with you in his office.” 

Alex nodded, and got up from the table, nearly bumping into Brad who was still standing there shell shocked. “Oh, sorry…I didn’t think you’d still be here. You seem particularly slow today, Brad, so I’ll help you out. Your cue to leave the stage was about a minute ago. And now everybody is staring because you just don’t fit in with the change of scene. Go on back to your table like a good boy.”

Even Sirius winced at the uber patronizing tone, but he really had to hand it to her for finishing him off with such…style. He watched her give Brad a gentle shove in the right direction, as she followed McGonagall out the doors of the great hall.

“Remind me,” James said, breaking the mounting silence around him, “to never get on her bad side.” 

“That was barely the half of it, mate,” Sirius said, vividly recalling how nasty she could get. “She went easy on him.”

“Poor bastard. If that were me, I’d be about two steps away from plunging myself into the Black Lake,” James said, shaking his head as he swallowed a spoonful of something. “But, she is talented, I’ll give her that.”

“Talented?” Lily spluttered, still in shock at the scene which had just occurred. James looked up at her, and really hoped he hadn’t said the wrong thing when things were finally starting to work out for him.

Remus saved him, “I agree with James. It’s not easy to win a battle of words as calmly and elegantly as she did, seeing as he called her a bitchy princess and implied something a whole lot worse.”

“What we mean, Evans,” Sirius added, “Is not every girl can reduce a guy to such a catatonic state. It’s like, on a different level from insult…like…complete humiliation and social death…She’s just brilliant, is all, with quite a temper albeit, be brilliant nonetheless. Admittedly though, she is getting better with her temper...”

Lily seemed overwhelmed, but finally nodded and went back to her Charms textbook.

Meanwhile, Alex had entered Dumbledore’s office, getting ready to explain what exactly had happened.

“Good morning, Professor.”

“Good morning, Miss Edwards. Please, have a seat,” Dumbledore said softly as Alex entered his office. “Are you feeling better?”

“Yes, thank you. I seemed to have healed over night,” Alex replied.

Dumbledore nodded, “A rather miraculous recovery. You are quite lucky.”

Alex smiled, waiting for Dumbledore to start talking.

“Do you not wonder why you were able to recover so quickly?”

“No, not really,” she said, shrugging, “though it has crossed my mind. I figure Mdm. Pomfrey outdid herself.”

“Well she did, to be sure. But by all accounts, and please don’t take any offense, you should be dead,” Dumbledore said rather grimly.

Alex stared at him. “None taken, but what exactly do you mean, sir?”

Dumbledore’s sigh echoed throughout the small office. “I mean there is something that was working to save your life, even before Mdm Pomfrey or anybody else was.”

“I’m afraid I don’t understand, sir.”

“Let me start at the beginning. Have you ever heard of Spencer Jinn?” he asked. With a shake of her head, he continued, “His name is really more of a legend than history. It is said that he was an extremely gifted wizard. Well, legend goes that more than a thousand years ago, before Hogwarts even existed, he fought a dark creature of unimaginable power, something between that of a dark wizard and monster that wrought death and destruction wherever it went. But he wasn’t able to completely kill it. Instead, he managed to transform it into an orb of energy. Though it was still dark energy, in that form it was more harmless, unless somebody would come upon it and merge their own soul with it.

“To stop that from happening, he placed a very powerful protective curse upon it, and upon himself. He hid the orb within himself, away from the eyes of those with the desire to become stronger. While the orb lay hidden inside him, he devoted his time to finding a way to completely destroy it. And when he thought he found a way, he discovered he couldn’t withdraw the orb from within himself. He died shortly after, I believe, most likely in the attempt to withdraw it.”

“So, what happened to the orb?” Alex asked, trying to follow along.

“Ah. Well, according to legend, Jinn believed that the only way to withdraw the orb from within the body was by creating a very specific potion—one that was not written down in any book, one that had to be created based on the potion maker’s own instincts. So before he died, he placed another charm on himself and the orb, that it would be passed down throughout time to those born with the gift to create such a potion, with the hope that one might eventually be able to pull out and destroy the darkness hidden within them,” he finished.

“And have any of these people been successful? I mean, assuming the legend is true?” Alex asked again, not exactly sure what the professor was trying to get at.

“It is hard to tell, because nobody really knows who is hiding the orb at any point in time, which I’m sure was part of Jinn’s plan, for that way it could remain hidden and harmless, even if it was never to be destroyed.”

“I see,” she said, thinking it all over.

“However, I do not think it had been destroyed yet. I’m sure you have noticed all the recent disappearances and murders?”

Alex nodded, recalling all the articles in the newspaper.

“I believe those are at the hands of Voldemort. I also believe that he is looking for this orb, as he is targeting some of the most celebrated potion masters. It would seem, though, that he has not yet found it.”

“But what exactly does this have to do with me, sir?”

“You are rather talented at potions, are you not?” he asked with a twinkle in his eyes.

“I’m not bad, I suppose…Wait, you think it’s me?” Alex asked in shock, finally realizing where he was going with it.

“I think it may be a possibility.”

Alex couldn’t help it, she just had to laugh. The idea was so…preposterous. Me? Hiding a dark, powerful object? “I’m sorry, sir. But I think you have made a mistake. It just can’t be me…”

“I must admit, I never gave it a second thought at first, though I have noticed you had a gift for potion making. But then again, so did many others that passed through the halls of this school. When the bond between you and Sirius did not break, it gave me an idea. Now, your accident and quick recovery made me think about it a little harder,” he started to explain, taking a slight pause as if to gather his thoughts. “You see, at each point in time, there is only one who ‘has the gift’, and therefore only one location for the orb. It is a bit of a catch, since because of that very detail, the one chosen to hide the orb cannot die before another is born. Unfortunately, that leaves a very easy way for Voldemort to find that person. All he has to do is attempt murder and see if they survive. And in your case, well like I said, by all accounts, you should have died.”

She took a moment to grasp this new piece of information. “So…what you’re saying is that I recovered so well…no, survived…because I have a dark item stashed inside my body or soul or something…because I’m the one who can potentially brew a freaktastic potion to get rid of it, and since there is no other in the world at the moment who could do that and therefore…er…hold the orb…so the curse kept me alive?”

“In short, yes,” Dumbledore replied with a smile. When Alex still looked disbelieving, he continued, “Have you ever been in a moment of danger, or panic, where you felt something, maybe not physically, stir inside you? Given you an extra, unaccounted for boost of power?”

She didn’t need to think hard about that one—her not too distant encounter with Malfoy had puzzled her enough already. Did he know about that? She gave a quick nod.

“Are you a bit prone to mood swings?” Dumbledore asked.

She nodded again.

“Those would be side effects of the orb. You see, it acts something like an amplifier—it takes whatever you’re feeling, usually the strongest emotions, and, well, amplifies them. Magical prowess included.”

That would explain how she could be so happy one moment, and a complete wreck the next. It would also explain how she managed to kick Malfoy’s arse. Ugh I’m starting to see logic in this…definitely not a good sign…

“It doesn’t take too kindly to certain potions, though,” he continued, “which would explain the little fiasco with the Animus Dixere.

Alex looked up at him in shock. “How d’yo…er, I…what?”

“I must say, I was impressed. You brewed it perfectly in much less than half the time required. Unfortunately, the orb caused a bit of a side effect I think,” he replied, his eyes twinkling again.

Alright…If he knew about that…I’m not even going to bother asking how he knew…maybe he does know about the Malfoy incident? “Er…so…if this…orb…I mean, is there any way to…make sure...that it is me?”

He looked at her warily, “Only one foul-proof way, and I do not intend to go through with it.”

“But then how can you be sure it’s me?” Alex asked, still trying to deny all the evidence pointing to her. “Isn’t it possible that somewhere some baby was born last night or even 30 seconds ago that has ‘the gift’?”

“I can’t be sure, and yes it is possible, but like I said, I would rather not test the hypothesis.”

“Alright…so, say it is me. What do I do?”

He shrugged, and Alex’s jaw dropped. Dumbledore does NOT shrug…ever! 

“It seems to me that you have a choice. You can forget about it—it will eventually be passed on to the next generation. Or you can try to get rid of it, which would of course take quite some time and effort, and could possibly be extremely dangerous,” Dumbledore explained. “However, I did not call you here to tell you what to do. Only to warn you of two things. First, you should be more careful with your emotions now. I believe yesterday’s close call and other recent events have triggered a sort of activation process. If it really is you, then try to be more aware of it, and avoid harnessing it’s power whenever possible, even if it is done subconsciously.”

“Sir, an activation process for what, exactly?” she asked. None of this was sounding good at all.

“Let’s just say you want to avoid close contact with it as much as possible, which means keeping your emotions more controlled as it seems to take its full effect in times of particular stress or danger.” He didn’t let her interrupt, almost as if foreseeing and avoiding her next question. Instead he continued, “Secondly, and far more importantly, when Voldemort hears of your accident, and assuming he already knows you’re a talented potions maker, then you are in danger, even if you do not possess the orb.”

“But how would he know about me and potions?” she asked. “Wait, rephrase: How would he know that I’m good enough at potions that I might be the one?”

Dumbledore sighed, and for a moment looked very tired and sad. “Be wary of whom you place your trust in, Alex.”

Her lips drew into a straight line. Somebody at school had passed on the information, that much was certain, because nobody else knew Alex was a witch, let alone a witch with a knack for potions. He let her have a moment, before continuing, “Well, it is a Sunday afternoon. I think you may want to enjoy whatever you have left of it.”

She stifled a sarcastic laugh. Enjoy? When she was just told she had a dark thing stored in her, called a bitchy spoiled whore, told that she must come home for the holidays and see to her duties, and just barely survived an accident in the first place. Oh I’ll enjoy it alright…At least I still have Dev and Adrian’s letter…lets just hope they’re not writing from the Bastille or the London Tower… 

“Right…” she finally said, standing up.

“If you need to talk, you know where to find me. And I’ll be keeping an eye out,” he told her gently. 

“Thank you, sir,” she said with a nod, as she left the small, round office. 

Walking down the spiral staircase, and through the corridors full of bustling students chatting noisily to one another, she barely managed to respond to all her well-wishers she encountered on the way back to Gryffindor tower. There was just too much on her mind. She needed to vent…This is why I need my night clubs, she thought derisively. Her mind started to wander even more, and she stopped noticing where she was going until she felt herself bump into somebody.

“Damn, sorry Alex,” the boy said, as he started to pick up his books. She bent down and started to help him. “Are you alright?”

“Fine,” she replied absentmindedly, handing him a textbook. “How’ve you been, Regulus?”

He shrugged as he slung his book bag over his shoulder and stood up, “Can’t complain. Ruddy OWLs are driving me insane though.”

“Don’t worry about those. Still have lots of time, and they’re really not as hard as the profs say they are.”

“Yeah? Well, I’m not taking any chances. Heading over to the library right now,” he said with a grin. 

“Don’t work yourself too hard,” she said, catching some of his contagious cheeriness. “If you’re taking a break and want some entertainment, I’d suggest dropping a book into somebody’s bag, and then watch Mdm Pince blow up at them when they thought to leave without checking it out.”

He laughed, “Will do. Can you imagine what would happen if—“ he started, but abruptly cut off as he stared over her shoulder, and his expression changed.

She gave him a strange look before turning around to see what he was looking at. Oh brother…not good.

“Sirius,” Regulus finally croaked out.

“Regulus,” Sirius replied just as formally, as he took a couple of steps towards them. “Wasting your time studying on a Sunday afternoon?”

“Some of us can’t afford to take things as they come,” Regulus replied sharply.

“Rubbish,” Sirius said finally stopping beside Alex, “If I can afford it, so can you.”

“Lay off, Sirius. Going to the library never killed anyone,” Alex said, fearing some sort of brotherly spat. She hadn’t ever seen the two talking, and now that they were, she was a bit worried.

“This doesn’t concern you. Stay out of this, Alex,” Sirius said, his tone colder than he had intended. 

”Don’t mind him,” Regulus said to Alex, noticing her taken aback expression at Sirius’ rough reply. “He doesn’t know when he’s being jerk.”

“Regulus don’t—“ Alex started, but really didn’t know what to say. A tense pause rose between the three of them, as Sirius and Regulus simply had a staring contest, before Regulus decided to blink and turn away.

“See you later, Alex,” he called to her as he started to walk towards the library.

“Yeah, good luck studying!” she yelled back. When she turned to face Sirius, she was for the first time frightened of him. His face was completely void of emotion, except for his flickering eyes that stared after Regulus intently. “Uh…Sirius?”

“What?” he asked, his tone cutting through her.

“Maybe we should go back to the common room…” she said slowly.

When he didn’t make a move, she tried to link her arm through his, but he jerked away, and started to walk back on his own. She stared at him as he disappeared from her sight, completely cut down by his reaction. Why it had such an effect on her she couldn’t be bothered to figure out, because she honestly felt like she would collapse, right then and there, in the middle of the corridor. Her heart was pounding in her throat, and her legs felt like jello. Her mind was screaming a million different questions. Her eyes started to burn, and then tear up as a sudden spasm of pain shot through her body like lightning. How long she stood there, in a near catatonic state she did not know. She could barely recall walking to the wall and sliding down it, until she was sitting on the floor leaning against it. She stared at the wall in front of her, thinking about everything that had happened within a short span of two days.

She sighed, and took out the letter from her friends, hoping that it would restore some of her sanity.

…Bloody hell, Dria, we’re going mental without you here...please tell me you’re coming back for the holidays? Because really…we’re starting to get a little low on cash… 

A faint smile appeared on her solemn face, and as she read on, she noticed the writing change as Adrian took over.

…Too bad you weren’t here on Halloween, Alex. It was really great. We actually dressed up and went trick-o-treating…well, mostly tricking, but we did get a couple of treats, except for those old ladies chasing us down the street… 

...Hey, you didn’t meet anybody there, did you? Well, course, you mentioned your friends, but you know what I mean, yeah? ‘Coz that would completely leave me out in the cold, seeing as Adrian’s got himself another girlfriend. Ha, you should really see this one. Complete airhead. We were getting on the double decker on our way to 626, and you know how we always sit at the top? Yeah, well this chick absolutely refused to ride on the top level…something about no driver… 


The letter continued on and on in the same way, once Dev, once Adrian, and she could practically hear them. Her previous troubles had faded into some corner of her mind, and for the first time since she left London, she suddenly realized just how much she missed them. Especially Dev…he always had a way of calming her down, and however obscure his method was, it usually worked. She shut her eyes, trying to imagine what he would say to her in this particular situation. Probably something along the lines of: sod them all to hell, you’ll pull through this, we’ll deal with that when the time comes, and if that Voldemort bloke comes after you, then get me some popcorn and a bottle of whiskey, ‘coz it’ll be one hell of a show…oh, and possibly some band-aids for Voldie…poor chap, never saw it coming…
Now can we go party? 

“Yes,” Alex said to herself as she got up from the floor, and tucked the letter into her pant pocket. She brushed herself off, and turned to face her new direction, her destination no longer the common room. “Now we can go party.”







Author's Note Cont'd: Alrighty... so obviously Alex had to be special in more than one way, right? ;) 
Please review! I really want to hear your thoughts on this!

Chapter 23: Jealousy Games and the New Inspector Clouseau
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Never understood how she could, mean so little to so many
Why does she mean everything to me? ...
Questioning her good intention, jealousy’s a bad invention

Billy Talent: Pins and Needles



Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock, ti-

“Oh will you shut up already!” Sirius yelled at the clock in the common room. If I ever meet the bastard who invented clocks… 

He had returned to the common room only to find that Alex hadn’t followed him back. And when he tried to find her, he couldn’t. Nobody else had seemed to have seen her anywhere either. And now it was past one in the morning, and that clock had been tick-tocking in his ear since three hours ago. He stood up and started to pace the common room again. Really, this is getting ridiculous. I should just go to bed. Even if she does come in any time soon, what would I say? What would be my excuse for waiting for her? But where is she anyways! 

“Padfoot?” Remus called from the stairs. “You alright? I heard some yelling.”

“Fine. Just that bloody clock.”

“I’m sure she’s alright, Sirius. Just go to bed, we’ll all see her tomorrow morning,” Remus said, trying for the fifth time that night to get his friend to see reason, after the Marauder’s little chat about Sirius’s newly discovered feelings for a certain girl. “Besides, you don’t want to come off as overbearing.”

That seemed to catch his attention. With a resigned sigh, he headed up the stairs towards his dormitory.

Alex, however, was far from coming back to her dorm anytime soon. She had found refuge in the room of requirement, where the room had at least provided her with the familiar walls of Oz, her music blasting out from no particular source, with one small exception—the potions bench in the middle of the dance floor. After she replied to Darcy’s and Dev/Adrian’s letter, she mulled over what Dumbledore had told her, and finally decided to test it out. He had told her that the orb-thing didn’t take too kindly too potions, so she would see what would happen. She brewed up some ‘Hell’s Fire’, which was supposed to give the sensation of literally being burned alive, except from the inside. She had assumed that when Dumbledore had said “certain potions”, he had meant “dark”, or something along those lines…like Animus Dixere, which though it wasn’t completely dark, it wasn’t quite the most innocent spell in the book either. Well, Hell’s Fire was certainly dark. Where she had learned about it she didn’t even remember, but she was sure she knew how to brew it perfectly.

But when she had finally drunk it, she was instead replaced with a feeling of complete numbness, practically frozen in place instead of writhing on the ground in agony. When she finally regained control of her body, she saw her hands had all of the sudden turned red, and skin started peeling, like from a very bad case of frostbite. She hastily left the Room of Requirement, hands in her pockets, as she made her way towards the infirmary, her feet tingling almost painfully with every step, her breathing quick and shallow as every breath she took seemed to burn her throat and lungs. Hah…potentially dangerous he had said, more like damned painful. 

So as she now lay in her bed at the infirmary, her eyes wide open, staring at the ceiling, her hands healed and feet no longer tingling, she debated what she would do about the orb. She was no longer doubtful that it was her, at least for the time being. It is rather strange though…that the potions Mdm Pomfrey gave me work spiffingly and taste bloody awful at that, yet anything that is the least bit dark goes haywire…I wonder if veritaserum would work on me. I should ask Slughorn for some tomorrow. 

Seriously, though. What the hell am I going to do? I don’t even know how I would go about…er…releasing it, not to mention destroying it. I could just leave it…but where’s the fun in that?
On and on, her tired brain kept asking questions, answering only some of them, and rather poorly. Once she ran out of questions about the orb, there were questions about Sirius, and more about home. Why do I get the feeling I’m gonna be staring at this ceiling a lot more than I would prefer to? Slowly her eyes started to drift shut, and she succumbed to the sandman.

Early the next morning, Mdm Pomfrey had once again forced fed her some restoring potion, before letting her out for the day. She went back to Gryffindor tower, washed, changed and grabbed her books, before going to get some breakfast. In the great hall, she was surprised to see Sirius already there. He looks tired…again. I hope he’s not in a foul mood. 

“Morning,” she said softly as she sat down next to him.

“Hi,” he replied, sounding almost angry.

“Are you alright? You sound a bit…off,” Alex told him, as she reached for some bread.

He shrugged, “Fine, just had a rough night again.”

“You know, I can brew you up some sleeping draught, it could help—“ she started to say, before Sirius cut her off.

“What would help is you in your dormitory after curfew.”

She looked at him in shock. Had he really stayed up because of me? “Sorry, I spent the night in the infirmary. I’m alright, just had a bit of a potions mishap.”

“Where were you all afternoon?”

“Room of Requirement, experimenting a bit with potions,” she replied, starting to wonder at his questioning.

“Couldn’t have let us know that, could you? We looked everywhere for you,” he reprimanded, and now Alex was practically choking on her food—Sirius never reprimanded her. It made her feel almost guilty. “You have no idea how worried we all were, especially since you just had an accident, and that spat with Kythes, and news from home that you nearly died reading…”

“Why couldn’t you just check the map?” she asked suspiciously.

“We did, but you weren’t on it,” Sirius replied, making sure to keep saying ‘we’ instead of ‘I’. “We thought you might have sneaked out.”

“I’m sorry for making you worry, but I don’t have to tell you everything I do and when I plan to do it. Besides, you didn’t seem too worried last I saw you. In fact, you seemed quite content with leaving me behind.“

“I thought you were following,” he said shortly.

“I’m not a dog, Sirius, to walk at your heel, especially when you shoved me away like that. You clearly needed time for yourself, and so did I. So I stayed where I was before heading in the opposite direction, and that was that,” she said, with a tone of finality in her voice.

“I’m sorry about that,” he finally said. “I didn’t mean anything by it, I was just a bit rattled.”

“I know.”

“So what did Dumbledore want?” he asked.

“Ah…well…he just wanted to talk to me about some things dealing with restricted potions,” she said, bending the truth a bit, but giving Sirius a meaningful glance all the same. He caught on.

“He knew about it?” Sirius asked in amazement, “You didn’t get in trouble, did you?”

“No, not exactly,” she muttered, and he got the impression that she wasn’t quite telling him everything, but decided to let it go.

Remus joined them at the table then, and after a cheery hello, turned his attention to Alex’s hands, which were still a bit swollen.

“Potions mishap,” she repeated.

“Are you alright?” Remus asked.

She nodded, “Mdm Pomfrey fixed me up.”

The rest of breakfast was eaten in near silence, and soon enough they were heading towards their potions class, albeit a bit early, but Alex had to talk to Slughorn about a certain vial of veritaserum. 

“Good morning, Professor,” she said cheerily.

“Hullo Alex! Good to see my star student alright,” he boomed, with a wide grin.

“Thank you,” she replied with a smile of her own. “I was just wondering, sir, if you have any spare veritaserum I could use?”

He looked at her suspiciously, “What for?”

“Oh, I was just wanting to experiment a bit with it, and of course, I could brew my own, but that would take really long, and there’s always a chance that I messed up. Where as if I had some of yours, I would know its completely perfect. It would be much better to work with…” she rattled in a sweet voice, pleased to see his beaming face at her compliment.

“Well, I think I should have a bit tucked away, it wouldn’t hurt to give you some…for academic reasons, of course,” he added.

“Certainly, sir, academic reasons only!” Alex said right away, as if insulted by the very fact he would accuse her of abusing the prized veritaserum.

“Right, then take your seat, and see me after class,” he said with a wink. She nearly went deaf as he yelled, “Good morning class! Today we will be working on Amortentia. Now who can describe to me the—Yes, Miss Evans?”

Lily started to recount the exact method of preparations and uses as well as effects of overdose as Alex headed back to her seat, Snape sitting next to her, as usual. To Alex, for the first time in Potions class, time seemed to stop. The end of class just wouldn’t come, and she kept tapping her fingers impatiently as the Amortentia stewed, and while she just sat and stared at hers, everybody else was adding the small embellishments described in the textbook. Slughorn seemed to have a knack for picking potions that required either too much work, or none at all—never in the middle. This one happened to be deceiving, as it was described in many steps, and all you really had to do was dump all the ingredients in and let it sit above a simmering fire, maybe stirring it once in a while. So while everyone else (except for Brad Kythes, who didn’t show up to class) went busily about their potions, sneaking Alex odd glances every once in a while, Alex leant back on her stool and thought about her veritaserum. But then, the aroma of her Amortentia, it’s effect tripled by the eight other potions brewing in the room, started to fill her nostrils with each breath she took. Soon enough, she was smelling the sweet scents of a camp fire burning merrily on a cloudless night, Dev and Adrian’s cologne, the shampoo of Sir—

Her eyes widened and her cheeks flushed, and after a resounding crash, she was on the floor, her stool tipped over. After a moment’s silence that could only be heard after such an event, a few chuckles and remarks were sent her way as the class turned back to their potions. Severus offered her a hand up, but Sirius was already beside her, helping her up and placing her stool back. Her face was still flushed, and she didn’t dare look him in the eyes, and only muttered a quiet thank you, before he went back to his own table.

“Smelled something unexpected?” Severus asked her with a smirk.

“No,” she denied, “Just remembered something important.”

His smirk widened, but didn’t continue. Trying to be as subtle as possible, Alex took another sniff of the potion. It was there. Faint, but unmistakably there. But…what?! Why can I smell his shampoo? I don’t…lo-l-love him…his shampoo isn’t even that great in the first place! Her mind struggled bravely with any thoughts of her in love with Sirius, because it was just not possible. Not possible is an understatement! Its bloody ridiculous—more preposterous then the idea of me harbouring a dark object. Then why can I smell him?! But then again, I can smell Dev and Adrian, and I love them as brothers and friends, so clearly Sirius has become just as important as them, and that’s all there is to it. 

She finally seemed satisfied with her conclusion, and subtly ignored the fact that however preposterous the idea of the orb was, it happened to be the truth. When her eyes found the clock for what seemed like the millionth time that day, she was surprised to see it was the end of class already, and Slughorn was ordering everybody to stash their potions in the cupboard to be worked on the next class. When everybody left, and Alex was about to follow the Marauders and Lily out the door, Slughorn called to her. Right, the veritaserum. Forgot about that… 

“Here you are m’dear,” he said, handing her a small vial with clear liquid. “Are you sure you’re alright? You seem a bit dazed?”

“I’m fine, sir, just the Amortentia getting to me,” she replied, and he smiled back. “Thanks.”

And with that, she left the potions classroom, catching up to her friends, who all seemed unusually quiet. Probably the amortentia getting to them too… And she was right. Lily, just like Alex, had been struggling, though much more in vain, with the scent of a certain boy she had sworn to loathe for all eternity. James was obviously forcing his mouth shut for fear of ranting on about how lovely Lily smelled, and how wonderful it was that he could smell her in the first place, because it really did mean that he loved her. Sirius, who had already come (or was coming) to terms with the fact that he was head over heels for Alex, had sat through the lesson letting the aroma fill him and only staring at her, wondering at her obvious impatience. And the best Remus could do in identifying the scent rising from his cauldron, was a mix of home and Hogwarts, and all his friends.

“I tell you Slughorn is absolutely off his rocker,” Alex muttered. “What was he thinking getting nine people to brew nine love potions in the same room?”

“Does make you feel a bit lightheaded, doesn’t it?” Remus asked, agreeing. They all nodded their agreement, and made their way towards their next class. “So what did you get from Slughorn?”

“Do you always have to notice everything, Remus? It gets a bit annoying,” she joked. “Just a bit of veritaserum.”

“Veritaserum!” Lily exclaimed. “He gave you veritaserum?! Why? How? I asked him for some about two weeks ago and he absolutely refused.”

“What did you need veritaserum for?” James asked Lily.

“The prefects were planning a game of Truth or Dare and veritaserum would have been handy,” Remus replied. “But Slughorn refused us, something on account of illegality.”

“Why couldn’t you just use the st—“ Alex started to say to Remus, but James nudged her none too gently in the ribs and gave her a meaningful glance. She thought she saw him mouth ‘marauder secret’ but couldn’t be completely sure.

Lily stared at Alex, waiting for her to explain how the unachievable had been achieved, “And why do you need it?”

“For academic purposes,” Alex replied with a shrug. “You know, experimenting a bit.”

“And that sufficed as an excuse?”

“If you use the right words,” Alex said with a laugh. “Men are fickle, Lily, all you have to do is bat your eyes a few times, give a semi-plausible excuse, insert a compliment or two, and give your assurance that its for academic purposes.”

“Men are not fickle,” James said through his laughter.

“What ever you say, mate, but I figured fickle sounded better than frail,” Alex responded.

“See Lily, all you needed to do was flirt with the old codger and you’d have had your veritaserum,” Sirius said, only half jokingly. He never liked the fact that Alex did stuff like that, and now that he was in love with her, he hated it. Sure, it got them out of trouble with Filch, and generally made life more entertaining, but jealousy really is a bad invention. He didn’t like the way it made him feel, but mostly didn’t like how much control she had over the opposite sex. He gulped, If she could do that to any random guy…how much trouble am I in if she ever decides to ask me for something?

“Flirt?” Lily spluttered, and looked at Alex in indignation.

“Oh don’t exaggerate Sirius,” Alex said. “That wasn’t flirting, that was…um…acting, to er…get what I needed. Besides, it’s not like you don’t do the same thing.”

“Hey, you don’t see me charming old Sluggy,” Sirius defended, raising his arms.

“No, but I’m pretty sure I observed you charming Professor Sinistra just the other day.”

“Here here!” James shouted happily. “And luckily too, at least she gave us the extra two days to study for the test.”

“Two days you didn’t use,” Remus said.

“But two days all the same,” James replied, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. “I mean really, who sets a test for a Friday afternoon?”

“Exactly,” Sirius said. “And in my case, it’s completely different.”

“I don’t see how,” Lily said, and all faces turned to her in astonishment. “Its obvious that both of you are to put it, playing unfair and rather lowly, drawing on sex appeal. So it’s the same.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Alex said, fearing a philosophical right vs. wrong tirade building up inside her friend. “The point is it works, but only if you don’t do it too often. So don’t worry Lily.”

“It’s not fair, though, because I had a perfectly valid reason for wanting the veritaserum and was straight-up about it, and I didn’t get anything. And you—“

“I’m sorry, Lils, but you could have done the exact same thing,” Alex said. “You’re one of his favourites, you’re pretty, and I’d bet you’re eyes could have done all the work even.”

Lily huffed, and listened to Professor McGonagall start the lesson, but they all could tell the subtle compliments Alex sneaked in had done their job.

Sirius spent the whole period contemplating his jealousy and Alex’s apparent lack of, and soon came to the conclusion that jealousy was a tango for two. So devising a plan to make Alex suffer at least a little, and to discover if she in fact had any feelings for him (which he was only suspicious of), as soon as class ended, instead of walking with her as usual, he decided to call out to the one and only Audrey Jones, who was sitting ahead of him. Audrey Jones, one of the most popular and sought after girls in Hogwarts, the talk of the school before Alex had graciously stepped in, but who managed to hold her spot at the top of the social school hierarchy even after. Yes, Sirius thought, she’s perfect for this mission, and the fact that she and the princess don’t get along too grandly shouldn’t hinder the mission at all. Nor the fact that Audrey can’t get over me… 

“Oi! Jones!” Sirius called as Audrey started to leave, following after her.

“What?” she asked with her usual edge, though anybody listening and watching could tell she was pleased she finally got some attention back from the boy she’s been pinning after (along with half the female population of Hogwarts).

Sirius feigned a look of hurt as he clutched his heart, “Ouch. No need to sound so chippy. Where’s the love, huh?”

His eyes shot out quickly to Alex who was gathering her books, Lily beside her, and noticed her back seemed to have stiffened.

“The love is gone, Black,” Audrey bit back, her eyes fiery but a smile starting to spread across her face. “Why? Are you finally starting realize just how much you need me?”

He smirked back, and offered his arm, “I believe we are both heading to charms, no? May I walk you there?”

“Of course,” Audrey practically purred back. “But what about Edwards?”

“What about her?” he responded, seemingly uncaringly but being very cautious and attentive.

It was at this moment that Alex, who was no stranger to jealousy tactics (or at least she assumed that’s what he was trying to do…probably with revenge on his mind for keeping him up all night) decided to step in. “You know, Audrey, we never got along really well, but I’m willing to forgive seeing as you’re doing me a huge favour here.”

Sirius and Audrey just blinked and stared at her. Sirius finally spluttered, “Favour?”

“Yeah, taking him off my back. Enjoy!” she said cheerily and waved goodbye as she joined Lily, Remus and James on their way to charms. Sirius only glared after her, and it wasn’t until a slightly irate Audrey spoke that he snapped back to reality and started on their own way to charms, meeting up with the other 7th year Gryffindor girl, Vivian (Audrey’s best friend), and Sirius took her on the other arm as well.

When the three of them arrived in charms right on time, Sirius laughing as the other two giggled incessantly, he was pleased to see Alex wasn’t as carefree as she was trying to come off as. As he took his seat away from her and beside the two giggling girls, she found herself giving him an evil eye and cursing under her breath, much to Lily’s amusement.

Why am I reacting like this anyways? She thought as Flitwick started to lecture on whatever they were supposed to be learning that day. No, better question: what is he doing? Is he trying to get me jealous or has he finally moved on and stopped tailing me? Or is he just trying, and succeeding, to be extremely annoying? 

“You like him,” Lily whispered to her.

“What?” Alex asked back in shock, turning her face from Sirius’ direction to face Lily.

“Admit it, you’re jealous,” Lily kept on whispering, a smirk starting to appear at the corners of her lips. It hadn’t been past her attention to notice that her best friend spent an awful lot of time with the marauder (considering she just recently got unstuck) and always seemed so elated in his company too (for someone who had sworn to kill him numerous times). She suspected the falling off the stool in potions had something to do with it, and possibly why now Alex was more flustered than usual.

“Ha. Of what, exactly?” Alex whispered back, trying to keep her eyes on Flitwick and the elaborate wand movements instead of Sirius who was leaning dangerously close to Audrey.

“Oh, I dunno, maybe that for the first time in weeks he didn’t walk you to class, and in fact ditched you for none other than Audrey Jones, resident slut?” Lily said quickly and amusedly.

“He can ditch me all he wants. Like I said, all the better for me.”

Lily sensed that the topic was closed, for now, but she would definetly be having a talk later about. After all, Sirius was in obvious agony every time they were apart and though she wasn’t best buds with the marauders, she was getting quite fond of them (especially one of them, a voice in her head put in, though she quickly hushed it) and it did bother her to see him so worked up about it. It just wasn’t…natural…and quite annoying really.

The end of the day had come quick enough, and Alex found herself walking towards the Room of Requirement once more, her thoughts echoing in her head. She had left the Great Hall alone, the small vial of veritaserum clutched in her pocket. Having been quite pleased with herself for getting away from the table alone (Sirius was quite occupied with other matters…four of them, to be precise), she mentally berated herself as soon as she heard the familiar footsteps behind her, for even thinking she could have succeeded without him following her.

“Where you going?” he asked, walking along side of her, hands in his pockets.

“Room of Requirement,” she replied, a bit irritated at his reawakened need to patrol her actions, especially as he had been ditching her all day for other girls he barely knew or talked to.

“Mind if I join you?”

“What, got bored of Audrey and Vivian and Stephanie and Victoria already?” she snapped, really quite angry with him. How dare he follow her after deliberately ignoring and avoiding her all day long?

Sirius smirked triumphantly at her reaction. He shrugged. “Well spending so much time with you has put a bit of a mar on my reputation, so I figured it was time to…’unmar’ it a bit.”

She stopped and stared at him. “So let me get this straight. I marred your reputation? Am I supposed to be detecting sarcasm here? Because all I can detect is idiocy.”

“No sarcasm…I just needed a break from you,” Sirius replied lazily, hands still in pockets, looking at her, though his smirk started to fade as her look became colder.

“You really know when and what to say to screw things up,” she said icily, before turning on her heel and continuing her trek to the Room of Requirement. Sirius followed her soundlessly, not quite sure what to say but certain he wouldn’t leave her now. Some part of her brain registered that he was doing it all on purpose to get exactly this kind of reaction out of her, but it was overruled by the familiar feeling of mixed anger, frustration, hate and excitement only he could induce. Realizing that he wouldn’t leave her alone, (and Dumbledore’s words echoing in the far reaches of her mind), she tried to calm herself down and instead of thinking about him with four girls clustered around him, tried to think of something reasonable to be doing in the Room of Requirement that did not involve the veritaserum as she had planned. She needed to do that alone, and she really didn’t care for his company at the moment. Not when there were all these feelings and thoughts she needed to sort out. The dominant one being the jealousy and anger at him.

“So why are we going there?” he finally asked.

She shrugged again, “I’ve taken a liking to doing my homework there instead of the library. Much more private.”

“Ah yes, the privacy would be helpful,” Sirius replied, waggling his eyebrows, and receiving a punch in the arm from Alex in return. “Gutter mind, Edwards! I clearly meant for when you drink that truth serum.”

“Why would I drink it?” she asked vaguely, hoping he didn’t catch her surprise.

This time he shrugged, “Beats me. But what else could you do with it?”

“Make you drink it instead,” she retorted.

“Somehow I don’t think that qualifies under ‘academic purposes’,” he said with a grin.

Alex didn’t respond as they stopped in front of the wall, and paced three times back and forth, thinking about a place to study. When the door appeared, they entered the room, and Sirius quickly made himself at home on the couch that appeared out of nowhere. “Well?”

She contemplated the whole thing as she surveyed his expression, and finally decided to shove all her other feelings away and concentrate at the task at hand, which would in fact be a lot easier if there was somebody here to ask her questions. “Fine,” Alex said, as he clapped his hands joyfully. “I’m warning you though, no stupid questions, and nothing leaves this room, understand?”

He nodded, and Alex uncorked the small vial, taking a breath, and ignoring the screams of protest inside her mind, she downed its contents.

“Why are you drinking that stuff?” was Sirius’ first question.

‘Why not,” Alex replied fully conscious of what she was saying. Sirius gave her an odd look, as if having been expecting her to tell her exactly why.

“Alright…What did Darcy’s letter say?” he tried again.

“A bunch of bad stuff,” she said.

“Why doesn’t the veritaserum work?”

“Because I’m special.”

Sirius was flabbergasted. He had enough experience with veritaserum to know exactly how it was supposed to affect the drinker, and this was not it. It was only forcing Alex to give a reply…whether what she was saying was the truth or not was a different matter. “What are you not telling me?”

“Things you don’t need to know.”

So she was keeping some sort of secrets from him.

“This is pointless,” he said with a sigh, and stood up. “Maybe I should just go and leave you to your work.”

“No don’t go.”

He looked at her in surprise, and grinned to find her blushing ever so slightly. He sat himself back down. Maybe the veritaserum was working, it just depended on what questions were asked.

“I mean…you can leave if you want to…I’d prefer if you’d stay…” she corrected, her blush reddening.

“What did you smell in your amortentia?”

“Fire, cologne, shampoo,” she replied, cringing a bit.

“Who’s shampoo and cologne?”

“Friends of mine,” she said, utterly grateful that the veritaserum wasn’t working properly, and counting down the seconds till its effect would wear off.

“Why aren’t Dev and Adrian so well received at Buckingham?” he continued, trying to get to the bottom of the guy-best-friends-mystery once and for all.

“Picture told the wrong story.”

This time Sirius cringed as scores of pictures came flying into his mind, and what kind of stories they could have told.

Alex let a sigh of relief escape her as the time for the potion expired. So the truth serum didn’t affect her the same way. Well, at least that’s a way of testing whether the orb is still in me…and no harmful side effects. I will have to brew some more later— 

“What kind of story?” Sirius continued, unaware that she was no longer under the serum’s effects.

“Something along the lines of what everybody says about us now,” she answered nonetheless, curious why most of his questions always came back to Dev and Adrian and her.

“But you didn’t…I mean, it was the wrong story, right?” Sirius muttered, recalling the gossip floating around school about the two of them and their month long life together.

She fought back the urge to laugh. “Yes.”

He looked up at her with shocked eyes.

“Yes as in it was the wrong story, Sirius. Not yes we did,” she explained.

Sirius seemed to catch on that the potion had expired. “Why did you keep answering?”
Alex shrugged, “Believe it or not, your questions about my friends get a bit annoying sometimes, and I would prefer to clear any…doubts…you have right now since we’re already at it.”

“Alright, then explain to me what happened.”

“Well first of all, Dev and Adrian were always a different story at my place, because they are from a different class, I guess. Not to mention that I acted too much like a boy around them—at first—and had way too much fun than a princess ought to, or rather in all the wrong un-princess-y ways. Besides, the three of us were always getting into trouble and apparently there are some people who think they became a bad influence…Though I would argue the opposite…

“Anyways, then we grew up a bit, and rumours started flying. It got worse when we ditched playing in the mud and headed for the night clubs and concerts. Then that picture put the icing on the cake…” At this point, she erupted into bursts of giggles, and Sirius thought he would just about flip out of his skin if she didn’t continue her story. “We went camping one weekend, you see, and well, the picture said one thing, though the truth was it was much warmer to share a sleeping bag.”

Her laughing doubled as Sirius’ jaw dropped. “And this happened when?”

“About two years ago, I think…” she barely managed to reply through her laughter. “Don’t see what the big deal is, Sirius—didn’t we share a bed for more than a month?”

He closed his mouth. She had a point. But still…”And…nothing happened?”

“Do you think we’d still be friends if something did happen?” Alex asked him with a raised eyebrow. “Honestly Sirius, we’re all just friends. If we weren’t, then I’m quite sure I’d have enough to tell them both about all the girls they brought home.”

That seemed to cheer him up a bit, but still one thought remained. “Then why was Dev your first kiss?”

She gave him a peculiar look, as if begging the question why he cared so much in the first place. “Well, it was when Adrian took out some girl on a first date. Truthfully Dev and I were a bit mad that he ditched us for some chit, and when he kept talking about how cool it was and made such a big deal out of their kiss, we decided to see what all the commotion was about.”

He looked at her incredulously, “That’s it?”

“Yep. It lasted all of two or three seconds, after which we hastily split apart and wiped our lips, spitting onto the ground, before bursting out laughing, and solemnly vowing to never kiss again,” she finished, fondly recalling the memory.

“Kiss each other, or in general?” he asked with a semblance of his smirk.

“Well I think when we made the oath we had in mind anybody, but a year or so later that changed…mostly for him,” Alex said with a smile.

“So you were how old?”

“Merlin Sirius what’s the matter with you?” she exclaimed. “By the way you’ve been questioning me all day, I’d bet you’re the next Inspector Clouseau—I’m half expecting to see the Pink Panther jump out from behind the couch.”

“Hey, this morning was valid and now…Well you said you would explain it to me,” he defended, and what the hell is a Pink Panther…?

“Fifteen,” she replied with a huff.

He thought about it all, and finally decided to say, “I think its great you have friends like them, and now that I think about it, I wish I had a girl-best friend too—might have solved a couple unsolved mysteries.”

“Well you have one now,” she said, “So any unsolved mysteries I can solve?”

Sirius looked at her, and after overcoming the short stab at hearing her call herself only his best friend, smirked and said, “Yeah. Why do you lot have to be so damned mysterious in the first place?”

She laughed, “Well don’t think guys aren’t mysterious either.”

“Are we really?” he asked.

“To most girls, yeah.”

“Not to you?”

“Were you not listening to my story? I grew up with Dev and Adrian, enough said.”

This is just not fair, Sirius thought miserably, why does each time she mention them she says it like…like something had to have happened...It’s like she has a talent for making people jealous…Though the whole ‘growing up with them’ thing does of course make sense—that’s why she’s so easy to hang out with. Its like, in her own girly way she’s one of the guys. 

“…With some exceptions, of course,” she added with a smirk, and Sirius groaned as new mental images flashed in his mind. Why’d she have to smirk anyways? That just makes it so much harder for me to not throw myself at her and snog her to kingdom come, and when did I decide not to do anything about liking her? I’m Sirius Black. When I like somebody I go after her, so what is all this rubbish? Why shouldn’t I just kiss her and— 

“Uh…Sirius?”

He snapped out of his thoughts. “Yeah?”

“You alright? Only you got this strange look on your face…again,” she said. “Is everything alright? Do you need to talk about something? Or is there anything I can do to help? Honestly, you’re starting to get me worried.”

He looked at her, and could actually see the concern in her eyes as she stared at him straight on. “I’m fine.”

She took another couple of seconds to stare at him more, before diverting her gaze and saying, “Maybe we ought to get back to the common room, then.”

“Good idea,” he replied standing up. “Can you answer just one more question as we’re walking though? This one is just pure curiosity, I swear.”

She gave him a quizzical look. This one is out of curiosity? Then what the hell where the other ones…? She nodded anyways.

“How did you guys meet?”

He didn’t expect the sideways glance and shifty-eyes from her at such a simple question. The others had been more embarrassing and personal and she just answered, so why was she acting all agitated and starting to blush?

“Er…I can’t say…you’d laugh,” she started to say, staring at the floor.

“I promise I won’t laugh,” he replied, crossing his heart.

Her eyes flashed at him quickly before she said, “I don’t remember.”

“Oh come on, Alex! You can tell me.”

“No, I actually can’t remember,” she explained.

“You can’t remember how you met your best friends?” he asked with a raised eyebrow, before starting to laugh. Then he remembered his promise, and tried to keep his chuckles to a minimum. “How can you not remember?”

“Well it did happen more than a decade ago!” she said heatedly. “Besides, I can’t remember much from when I was a kid anyways, and meeting them was like the strangest thing…it’s all just a blur.”

“What about them?”

“I asked them once about it, last year I think, and after a number of witty remarks about the deadness of my brain cells and so on, they sat down, scratched their heads and muttered a resounding ‘huh’. I tell you it’s like it never happened—like we never met and became friends, but rather as if we just always were.”

“That makes no sense, Alex,” Sirius replied, still convulsing with random spasms of laughter. “You really can’t remember anything?”

She sighed, “I’ve tried, and all I can recall is something to do with a gate—I’m thinking the gate at the entrance to the palace—and something with throwing rocks at each other. They insist that they had to rescue me from the highest room of the tallest tower and slay a fire-breathing dragon, which if I translated correctly, means helping me get off palace grounds…somehow.”

“You would have been what, 7 years old? And sneaking off grounds already?”

“Yeah, something like that. They live down the street a bit, see, so I think they must have been walking down with their mom by Buckingham, and probably caught a glimpse of me trying to jump over the gate, which didn’t end up too well now that I think about it. But yeah, I think they started coming to the gate pretty often after that, Merlin knows why. I can’t recall the reason behind the rock throwing, though.”

She saw Sirius staring at her strangely, as if worried she might have hit her head too hard at some point within the last 24 hours. “It’s completely mental, I tell you, but it’s like there’s a fog that just blurs that out, and once you go in there you get lost and never come out, so I prefer not to and only end up skimming the edges,” Alex said with a smile. “The point is, after we met, I started having some actual fun. You know, playing football, throwing snowballs, running around like pixie’s on crack…all that jazz,” she finished with a smile.

Deciding that this was just another mystery to Alex Edwards, one he hoped would one day be solved (preferably by him), he smiled back, and threw an arm around her shoulders before he registered what he was doing. But she didn’t shrug it off, and they just continued walking side by side towards Gryffindor Tower. “Nightclubs, camping trips, casinos, concerts, booze, dancing…All that jazz indeed.”





Author's Note:  Can you tell I love dialogue? Haha.  So please, by all means, if you feel it needs more description in between all the dialogue, let me know.  I tend to forget about description sometimes ;)
Thanks for reading! Hope you liked this chapter! 


Chapter 24: Of Interruptions and Repeated Phrases
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Author's Note:  Hello again!  So I know we're in February already, but hopefully you can put up with all the Christmas stuff in here (and to come).  
Thanks so much to everybody reading and reviewing!
Cheers!

ps--hooray for dialogue....?  Yes, no?  Too much?  Just right?  Please let me know what you think.  I get carried away sometimes, and I think more so in this chapter than anywhere before.  But I couldn't find a way to add more description in between....









Alex yawned as she stretched, still lying in her bed, her face basked in the warm and deceiving light of the sun. She stood up and wandered over to the window, looking out over the grounds. It was one of those December mornings where you look outside the window, and if it weren’t for the snow blanketing the ground, you’d have thought it was warm outside…Wait, what? SNOW! She turned back to exclaim to her dorm-mates that they finally had snow, only to discover that she was the last one in the room. Strange, I’m usually the first one up…She shrugged and made her way to the lavatory, thinking about her conversation with Dumbledore last night. It had started off simply enough, just making the last arrangements for her early leave to London, but she hadn’t been able to resist asking about the orb…

“Um…sir? I was wondering…well…” she started to say, but found the right words just wouldn’t come. What’s the matter with me anyways? Talking about a dark hidden blob inside of me shouldn’t be this difficult… “Well…about the orb.”

“Yes?”

“Say I decided to do something about it. What would I…I mean, where should I start? How would I even know if what I’m doing is right?”

He smiled at her, “I’m afraid I can’t really answer that, but from what I’ve learned there are two possible outcomes: one, you start to feel sedated and drowsy, and/or two, depending on how active it has been, it may actually feel as if something were trying to drag you away from the potion …” He looked at her warily, “…I’m not sure if this dragging is violent or passive.”

“I don’t understand…why would that happen?”

“Self-preservation?” he said, though the question mark at the end made her understand these were all theories. “I think it would be better for it to exist rather than not at all. But, taking all this into account, I’d suggest to…” 


She shook her head as she made her way down the stairs, noticing the particular rowdiness and fullness of the Gryffindor common room rather early on a Sunday morning. Sure, the restlessness and anticipation for the coming holidays had been growing, but this was over the top—everybody was already there, all chatting about something.

“Look I can’t ask her, alright?” Sirius whispered. “Besides, I’m pretty sure she’s gonna be in London by then.”

“But—"

“Good morning,” she said cheerily as she sat down on the chair opposite from the Marauders, Lily coming over as soon as she spotted her. “What’s all the noise about?”

“There’s going to be a Christmas Ball,” Lily explained immediately quite gleefully, and was shocked to find Alex sigh dejectedly. “What’s the matter?”

“Is it an actual ball? Like, all formal dresses and suits and whatnot, or just a dance? Because, well I thought you ought to know by now, but I really hate those formal ones.”

“Amazing,” James said with amusement, a twinkle of slight admiration in his eyes. “You’re the first girl I’ve met who has ever said that.”

“Yeah, but every other girl dreams about being a princess, at some point or another, so they take this kind of ball as their chance to try and make that dream come true,” Alex explained. “Me…not so much.”

“Well it is a formal ball. So are you going to come to it?” Lily asked.

Alex just barely managed to hold back the ‘No way’ that was begging to be said, and shifted in her seat under Lily’s scrutinizing glance. “Er…well, when is it?”

“December 19—that’s the last Friday before break,” Lily replied.

“I can’t, then. I’m leaving on the 17th.”

“What? Why?” Lily asked, aghast.

“I have things to do in London,” she gritted. She hadn’t told anyone except Sirius that she was leaving early—talking about it was painful and listening to whispers about her early departure would have been even worse.

“Don’t worry, Alex, when we proposed the dance to Dumbledore, he said we could do it on the 16th instead, so we’ll let him know,” Remus said with a wicked grin, as Alex glared at him.

“Well, that doesn’t mean I’ll go to it,” she said coldly.

“Oh come on, Alex. It won’t be that bad, I promise,” James said, a grin on his lips also. “Besides, we haven’t had a ball since ages ago, and this is our last year and it just won’t be the same without you there. Please come?”

Alex switched her glances between James and Remus, whose expressions suggested something was up, before settling on Sirius in between them, who hadn’t said anything yet, but was looking at her intently, waiting for her answer. For a second, a jolt ran through her and her stomach did a strange flopping motion as his blue-grey eyes pierced through her.

“Alright,” she finally decided to say, and stood up. “But just because you said please.”

Sirius looked a bit better, and also stood up. “Breakfast?”

She nodded, and they left the common room, the other three boys right behind them, Lily by her side and already starting a discussion about dresses. She made all the right comments in the right places, but nevertheless, when the mail came, she was glad for the brief interruption. When her owl dropped a rather large letter in front of her, she ripped the envelope open, anxious about Darcy’s reply.

…I did what you asked me to…you’ll never believe what he did… 

“He did what?!” Alex exclaimed, causing Lily to jump beside her, as she went on reading.

...which means he really wants you here…probably trying to get onto your good side (relatively)…

“I can’t believe him!” Alex said, putting the letter down.

“What’s the matter?” James asked.

“Nothing, technically…See, when I wrote back to Darcy last time, I told him to tell father that I would prefer to stay at school with my friends for the holidays. So Darcy did, and lo and behold, you are all cordially invited to The Christmas Eve Ball and a couple of days stay at Buckingham Palace—which is a miracle in itself because he never let any of my friends come over, let alone be invited to the ball.”

She started to hand out the small invites Darcy had included in his package, and then the pause that was building up was suddenly broken by Lily who actually squealed, “The Christmas Eve Ball? No way!”

“Yes way,” Alex said grinning at Lily’s excitement. “See James? Now you not only get to be at one ball, but two. Isn’t it just completely spiffy?”

“Pfft. Who cares about the ball,” he replied. “I’m liking the ‘couple days at Buckingham’ part.”

“So you guys accept?” Alex asked. They all nodded, except for Peter who mumbled something about having other plans. “Well, thanks guys—that might actually make Christmas a bit more tolerable.”

She looked at Sirius, who seemed to be deep in thought. He was in fact, thinking about the whole situation—what exactly was going on at Buckingham between Alex and her father. Then Lily squeaked again, “Oh my god! What am I going to wear?! I don’t have anything that’s suitable for that kind of occasion and goodness knows I can’t really affor—"

“Lily, calm down,” Alex said, grabbing her by the shoulders before the anxious redhead hyperventilated. “You can have one of my dresses.”

Lily stared at her with wide eyes, for a couple of seconds converting back to her Princess-Alexandria-fan girl mode and completely in shock that she would be wearing one of her dresses. When she recovered, she started to mumble, “Thanks Alex, but I don’t think—"

“Miss Evans you are wearing one of my dresses and that is final,” Alex cut her off, putting on a very good McGonagall impression. “Look, if it’s that big of a deal, think of it as my Christmas gift to you…or part of, at least.”

“Gift?” Lily repeated. “You mean…I could keep it?”

“Sure, I’ll even let you take your pick too, but can we please talk about something other than dresses for now?”

Lily nodded, said a quiet but heard thank you, and they all went back to finishing their breakfast.

The week and a half flew by uneventfully, except for the growing excitement about the Christmas Ball, the first whispers about the sudden change of date disregarded and replaced with an almost panic. All around, boys were starting to sneak girls furtive glances, and then look away quickly, before catching them after class to ask them to the ball. Lily had gotten a couple of offers, but turned them all down, much to Alex’s amusement. She knew she was waiting for James to ask her, and he was just buying as much time as he could, afraid of messing up. Alex, on the other hand, had only had one or two boys talk to her, most not even finishing their question. She suspected it was something to do with Sirius, but it wasn’t until one afternoon only a day before the ball that she found out what was going on.

“Is it true you were going to ask Alex to the ball?!” Sirius yelled at some 6th year Hufflepuff.

“N-no…No, of course not,” the frightened kid sputtered.

“Good. Because I’m taking her and if I even see you near her I’ll curse you to oblivion. Get it?”

“Got it.”

“Good man,” Sirius replied, patting him on the back, and letting him run away. Turning on his heel, he almost walked right into Alex, who looked less than pleased. Where did she come from…? I thought she was with Lily. Don’t worry, Sirius, there is no chance she heard you.

“What’s all the fuss about?” she asked.

“Nothing, just putting some lousy 6th year back in line,” he replied nonchalantly.

“Really?” she asked, raising an eyebrow. “Because I could have sworn you were threatening to hex him to oblivion if he even tried talking to me.”

“Me? Threaten somebody? Never,” Sirius said, hoping she didn’t hear his gulp.

“I’m warning you Black. Stop meddling or I’ll make you regret it!” she said angrily, before storming off, leaving Sirius alone. It really didn’t matter how much she enjoyed his company. Nor did the strange shivers that ran down her spine whenever she looked deep into his blue-grey eyes matter either. Some lines were just not meant to be crossed. And he seemed to like crossing them.

“Bloody hell. Maybe I should be more careful,” he said out loud, though mostly to himself.

“You got that right,” James piped up. “It’s horrible to be on her receiving end.”

“Where did you come from?”

“Just over there,” James said with a shrug, pointing to nowhere in particular.

“That helps,” Sirius responded with a not so subtle eye roll, “Any luck with Evans?”

“I haven’t asked her yet, but I really think she will actually say yes,” he said gleefully for the millionth time that week, a wide grin stretching over his face. “I reckon we should probably ask soon, it is tomorrow you know.”

“Yeah,” Sirius said a bit absentmindedly, “I wonder how she’ll take it, now that she’s heard that.”

James shrugged again, “Who knows. But either way, I say we do it by tonight.”

Sirius nodded, and they headed off towards Charms.

A couple of hours later, throughout their last class Arithmancy (which only Lily and Alex took out of the 7th year Gryffindors) Alex was having her own chat with Lily, having thought up of a brilliant plan to get at least a bit of revenge (mostly just a couple laughs) at Sirius.

“Come on Lily! I need your help with this!” she pleaded as they were walking towards their dorm. It wasn’t every day that such a perfect opportunity to play a prank came along.

“I can’t, Alex.”

“But it’s not even going to get you into trouble!”

“It’s not that,” Lily replied, a slight blush rising in her cheeks.

“Let me guess,” Alex said, deciding this was the perfect opportunity to bring up the Potter-Situation which they hadn’t discussed since she had gotten unstuck. “You actually really want to go with him, don’t you?”

Lily nodded ever so slightly, and Alex just grinned. “Gotten to like him?”

“He’s…well, he’s not as bad as I thought he was, and I mean it this time,” Lily said, choosing her words carefully. “And I would want to go with him to this ball…that’s why I’ve—"

“Been turning the other blokes down?” Alex finished, earning another slight nod from her friend. “About time. Good for you.”

Lily smiled, and quickened her step a bit, but Alex caught her by the arm, her plan recalled to life. “Well you can still go with him! But after they figure it out.”

“But what if he won’t ask me anyways?”

“Lily, this is James we’re talking about. I promise you he will ask you, so can you please help?”

She looked thoughtful for a moment, before replying, “I’m sorry, Alex, but I’m not getting involved. It’s a mean trick you have in mind, and do you have to include me anyways?”

“Yes!” Alex almost shouted. “Don’t you see it’s the only way? It’s all in good fun anyways and—"

“I have to go, Alex. Sorry. See you later,” Lily interrupted before waving goodbye and rushing off.

“But Lily!” she shouted after her, but it was no use. Great. Plan B I guess…which is….? 

It was right then that James (who was walking down towards the common room also), without any of his friends by his side, took his opportunity to talk to Alex, having seen Lily practically run away looking quite agitated, wanting to make sure she was alright before he popped the question. But it didn’t help to see Alex worked up either. “What’s got your wand in a knot?”

There was a small pause, in which Alex looked up at James and inwardly smirked. Plan B initiated. “Sirius. Where is that git anyways?”

“Uh…I don’t know,” James said slowly, wondering if this was about Sirius threatening half the male population of Hogwarts and beating up the other half. “Why?”

“I have a few things to say to that bugger,” Alex replied, folding her arms over her chest.

“Such as…?”

“Er…I don’t think you want to hear this…” she said, giving him a quick shifty eyed glance.

“Sure I do. What’s the matter?”

“Um…well, alright. Lily just told me that he asked her to the ball,” she said rather quickly, as if hoping the quicker it was done, the less it would sting.

James blanched, before yelling out, “WHAT?!”

“I know!”

“What…what did she say?” James asked, some colour regaining its place.

“She said yes.”

She said yes?” James repeated.

Alex gave him a sympathetic look, before hurrying on, “Well personally I don’t blame her. The ball is tomorrow, and she kept turning everyone down, waiting for you to ask her…which you have been taking your sweet time doing, by the way…so I reckon she panicked or something…”

James looked completely dumbstruck, and kept repeating disjoint phrases, “He asked…she said yes…waiting for me…”

Alex smirked, and continued in a frustrated tone, “Well of course that puts me on the spot too. I mean, he was threatening everybody, so now I’m dateless and I can’t show up alone—not when I told a few other guys I was already going with someone…you know, as an easy let down…Urgh, is he gonna get it. This time he just crossed the line—“

“Alex?” James interrupted.

“Yeah?” she asked, crossing her fingers behind her back.

“Do you want to come with me?”

She smiled, “Why not.”

“Perfect. I’ll see you later then,” he said rather dejectedly and stormed off somewhere. Alex only grinned evilly and skipped towards the common room. As soon as she entered it, she was ambushed by Sirius.

“Ah, just the woman I was looking for.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah. I’ve been meaning to ask you…” he started, but stopped short at the strange look on her face. “What’s up with you in the first place?”

“Me?” Alex asked innocently. “Nothing.”

“Yes, something is.”

“Maybe it’s the fact that you have been threatening half the male population of Hogwarts?” she quipped, before uttering a dramatic sigh, “Or maybe it’s because James just asked me to the ball.”

“He did what?!

“Calm down Sirius. This is James after all, so naturally I said—"

“No,” he put in, but Alex only grimaced.

“Er…actually I said yes,” she said, looking down at the floor like a properly embarrassed school girl.

“YOU SAID YES?” he repeated, just as James had done, though admittedly much louder.

“Well the ball is tomorrow, and thanks to you, I didn’t have a date. So I took the chance.”

He looked completely flabbergasted. “But…I…what? I was going to ask you!”

“Sorry, Sirius, but you should have asked me sooner, I guess. If you hadn’t been so busy threatening people you might have found some time,” she quipped again, before walking past him and up the stairs to the girls’ dorm, while Sirius stood in the middle of the common room shell-shocked. It wasn’t until a familiar red head walked by him towards the exit that he jerked back to life. This meant war, and all is fair in love and war.

“Lily!” he called after her. She stopped and turned to face him. “Have a date for tomorrow yet?”

She looked shocked at his question, not expecting it to come from the best friend of the guy who’s been pitching after her since forever and one who was supposed to be going with her friend. “No, but I was sorta—“

“Wanna come with me?” he blurted, and when Lily looked absolutely ready to either faint or fall to the ground laughing, he quickly added, “I mean, James is going with Alex, so—“

“James is going with Alex?” she repeated, completely crestfallen and feeling very betrayed, not even thinking about the possibility of Alex rearranging her plan like this. Tears started to build up in her eyes. “But I thought…”

“I know,” Sirius replied, feeling sorry for her. “But in any case, we’re both dateless, so what do you say?”

“I…I guess I could.”

“Great. So—“

“Sorry Sirius, but I need to get going—prefect duty,” Lily said, before turning away and practically running out the room, trying to hold back her tears.

“Right,” he said, before turning back to his place on the couch by the fireplace, trying to completely comprehend what had just happened in the past three minutes, and why. Why would James ask Alex? He stared at the flickering flames, and didn’t even notice Alex come back down the stairs and take up a seat on the opposite side of the room. But then James’ angry voice spoke out from behind him, and he suddenly snapped back to reality.

“OI! Sirius! I have a bone to pick with you!”

Sirius stood up to face him, “With me?”

“Yeah with you. What the bloody hell do you think you’re doing?!” he yelled, and whoever had not gone down to dinner yet turned to look at why the two friends were yelling at each other as it was a rare occurrence.

“I could ask you the very same question! What were you thinking going after my girl?!”

Alex’s sharp ears picked up the emphasis on ‘my girl’ and she felt the familiar swooping sensation in her stomach once again, but quickly dismissed it as she went back to focusing on the scene enfolding before her.

“And you? Everyone knows I like Lily, Sirius! How could you do this to me? It could have been my last chance.”

“Traitor!” Sirius yelled, inching closer to him.

“Back stabber!” James yelled back.

“Lousy fruit!”

“Git!”

“Bugger!” they both yelled as they quickly drew their wands and started a duel, though after about a minute they resorted to the old technique of brawling on the floor, Alex looking on with amusement as a few people started to cheer them on. They finally stopped, looking a little worse for wear, but still just as cute as ever all fired up. Sitting on the floor, they stared at each other; both gasping but on the brink of laughter, before Sirius spoke, “Sorry, mate.”

“Me too,” James replied with a small grin. “Look, I only asked Alex because you asked Lily.”

Sirius’ brows furrowed as he said, “What? How, when I asked Lily after you asked Alex.”

At this point, Alex began to discretely inch towards the portrait hole.

“That doesn’t make any sense! Alex said you asked Lily and then I asked her,” James said, very confused.

“When was that?”

He shrugged, “Maybe a half hour ago?”

“But I asked Lily only about 10 minutes ago,” Sirius stated dumbfounded. A pause followed as they both tried to figure it out, and Alex took a couple more silent steps towards the exit. The problem was they were sitting on the floor only about a couple feet away from the hole almost blocking direct access entirely, meaning a discrete escape would be difficult. Then Sirius said, “Wait, you never actually talked to Lily after you talked to Alex, did you?”

He shook his head, “I only talked to Alex and then tried to find you.”

“And Alex told me after she talked to you…”

Screw it, Alex thought as she made a leap for the exit, as Sirius and James both exclaimed her name at the same time.

“Why that little conniving…” James started.

“Mad, evil, completely twisted, but brilliant all the same,” Sirius said, starting to laugh. “Sorry I doubted you, mate.”

“Me too, but what do we do now? Lily thinks you’re going with Alex, and I’m—“

“We have to go find Alex and talk to her. She did this, she can undo it. Where did she go anyways, I thought I just saw…” he trailed off, all of the sudden recalling the blurred figure that rushed past them only a couple seconds ago. “Damn, she’s quick. Let’s go before she gets too far ahead.”

They stood up and ran through the portrait hole and down the corridor, footsteps echoing off the walls from ahead of them. When she was within sight, Sirius pointed his wand at her, and a resounding yell filled the hallway as Alex was now hanging upside down, frantically trying to hold up her skirt.

James started to clap as they neared her, “Well done, missy. Now I really see why you’re an honorary Marauder.”

“Let me down!” she yelled.

“No, I don’t think I will,” Sirius said lazily, a grin stretching across his face. “There’s always a chance you might let your skirt loose and—“

“Why you little—“

“Hey, you can’t say you don’t deserve this,” James said. “You could have ruined our friendship.”

“As if. Oh just go already James! Go find Lily and talk to her, and tell her it was my fault, and actually ask her to the ball,” Alex said. “Go! She’s patrolling somewhere completely depressed.”

James smiled and nodded, before giving Sirius a pat on the back and running in the opposite direction, pulling out the Marauder’s map from his pocket. Meanwhile, Sirius stared at Alex.

“Will you let me down already?”

“Only if you’ll agree to come to the ball with me,” he said with a smirk.

“Agreed,” she replied, and though she had known he was going to ask her, it felt strange in a good way to actually hear him say it.

He thought, Liberacorpus, and caught her as she came crashing down. She landed in his arms perfectly, able to look him straight in the eyes. That strange shiver ran down her spine, and her heart seemed to start beating twice as fast. No! No Alex, stop it! Get a grip on yourself—this is Sirius. Just Sirius. Just completely wonderful and handsome and caring and funny and NO! She quickly looked away, breaking their gaze before her thoughts ran away with her…again. It seemed to be happening a lot more often, because even though she tried to forget her amortentia and what she had smelled in it, it was always reappearing in her thoughts. She was starting to notice different things about him, and it was becoming inescapably clear that she always felt better with him around, which he almost always was.

Alex quickly stood up, and brushed herself off, muttering under her breath, before saying, “Thanks for catching me.”

He smiled, and replied, “Well I couldn’t very well let you crash into the ground and break your neck…How would we be able to dance?”

She laughed, and they continued on their way towards the Great Hall. They were soon joined at the table by James and Lily, who both looked rather pleased. Lily sat down beside Alex, and right away began to lecture her about the wrongness of her actions, before merging into a recount of what James told her and how.

“That is impossible! Give it up, Sirius!” James suddenly exclaimed from beside Alex. He turned to her and said, “Tell him it’s impossible, Alex.”

“It’s not impossible!” Sirius half-yelled. “I tell you it will work.”

“What will?” Alex asked.

“A flying motorbike,” Remus replied as neither James nor Sirius seemed to be able to reply as they were still arguing.

“Where will you get one anyways? And where are you going to learn how to ride it, let alone make it fly?” James asked in between forkfuls of some kind of meat.

Sirius shrugged, “I’ll buy one, and then learn to ride it myself.”

“That’ll get you killed,” James stated. “And what do you know about motorbikes to actually go out and buy one. It’s completely impossible, and how—“

“I could teach you,” Alex interrupted, causing everybody to stare at her. She grinned, “What? Don’t you know that rebels have bikes?”

“You know how to ride a motorbike?” Sirius asked, and when she nodded, he continued, pointing a finger at James’ face. “HA! See it is possible! Alex’ll teach me and I’ll figure out the flying bit later.”

“Er…but why exactly do you want to make it fly?” Lily asked.

Sirius gave Alex a glance and a smile as he replied, “Why not?”

She smiled back, again feeling her pulse slightly quicken. “You have learned well, grasshopper.”

“Uh…grasshopper?” Sirius asked.

Lily and Alex laughed. “Sorry, muggle thing.”

He nodded once, trying to ignore their laughter. Giggling girls should be illegal, he thought wryly, cringing at their growing laughter, before going back to his conversation about the motorbike. Now that James’ points were half-disproved, James himself took to suggesting a number of ideas for making the contraption fly, quite eagerly indeed, while Remus looked on with a grin. 

Chapter 25: A Mirror, Mistletoe and a Mistake
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Author's Note:  This is so way overdue....sorry!  Hope you like it, even though Christmas was a while ago...  I can't say I'll be back with the next chapter soon (because exams are looming *shudder*) but I will definitely post again this month.  Oh, and this chapter isn't the longest I've ever written, but I'm pretty sure the next one is ;)  So forgive the fluffiness that is this chapter.  Please let me know how you like it!

Thanks to everybody reading and reviewing!
Cheers!








She stared at her reflection in the giant conjured up mirror in the girls' dorm. Smoothing down her dress, and frowning at her overdose on makeup no thanks to a certain giddy red-headed best friend (which in truth looked really good, but way too much for her own liking), she sent a glance via mirror to Lily who was sitting on the bed.

“Don’t worry, Alex,” she said while strapping on one of her shoes, “It’ll be lots of fun, I promise.”

“Which is why you sound like your about to die from anxiety,” she mumbled under her breath. “Remind me why I’m putting myself through this?”

“Because it’s gonna be great… and you don’t want to upset Sirius,” Lily added with a semi-smirk.

“Bah! He could die down there for all I care,” she mumbled again, though a sudden flutter of discomfort ran through her at the thought of Sirius dying, and then added pointedly, “And I’m not the one freaking out about my date.”

Lily flushed, but stood up, and walked towards Alex, thankful that their other two roommates had already left the dorm for the evening. “Yeah, can you blame me though?”

Alex grinned and took her friend by the shoulders, “No. But hey, it was bound to happen sooner or later, and you’ll see it’ll be great.”

“Yeah but what if James does something stupid and I’ll start yelling or—“

“Lily, trust me. He’s gonna do everything in his power to not mess this up,” Alex said with a comforting smile. “Now stop wringing your hands and grab that clutch.”

Lily grabbed the small purse from the bed before they both took one final glance at themselves. Lily stared in slight admiration and Alex only smirked. She wasn’t modest enough to deny that they looked gorgeous, hot yet classy. Lily’s dress was as simple as it was striking. It was a royal blue which hugged her curves and ran straight down to the floor, rippling like a waterfall. Alex was dressed as comfortably and informally as she could manage without Lily getting a heart attack at her inappropriate choice of wardrobe. After all, Alex preferred a mini-skirt or short dress. At least that way she wouldn’t have to worry about tripping over the hem of the damned contraption. She settled for a floor length silvery white dress, with a gold trim at the waist and around the neck line. The bottom portion was finely pleated to make it cascade outwards and flow delicately when she walked, so dancing was still a viable option. She grabbed Lily by the hand, and pulled her towards the door and down the stairs, where Sirius and James were both waiting a tad nervously for them.

“What could be taking them so long?” James asked, not directing the question at anyone in particular and running a hand through his hair…again. “Everybody’s down in the Hall already.”

“Well I figure since you two got the two best looking girls in the year, its only fair you wait a bit longer,” Alex replied snidely, as she walked down the steps.

The two boys gaped. Alex had really not lied when she just said they had the best looking girls. They’d already seen a couple other girls pass by, all looking very nice indeed, but the two figures standing in front of them beat them all. Alex kept walking towards Sirius, but Lily stopped at the foot of the stairs, sending nervous glances at James who couldn’t seem to form a comprehensible sentence. Lily started to blush and wring her hands again, and Alex could somehow feel the mounting anxiety on her friend’s behalf, so gave James a subtle but rather forceful and directional nudge towards Lily as she passed by him towards Sirius. James stumbled, but caught his balance as he took a few steps towards Lily, and whispered something to her, making Lily blush a bit more, before she took his arm and they started towards the portrait hole. Meanwhile Sirius was still staring at Alex, a small smile on his lips. Alex didn’t mind, because she herself was a bit preoccupied with how godly Sirius looked in his suit and tie. She finally snapped out of it, and putting her hands on her hips said, “Well? Don’t tell me you went through all that trouble to get me to be your date just to stare at me all night long. There is a Ball apparently?”

“Yeah, there is,” he replied, still smiling. Is it just me, or does she seem a little flustered?

“Then by all means, getting there any time within the next three hours would be great,” she said, sarcasm dripping from each word joyously.

“I thought you hated ‘these events’?” Sirius asked with a raised eyebrow, but extending his arm towards her all the same.

She smirked back, taking his arm, “Yeah, but I didn’t dress up and sit through nearly an hour of Lily’s makeup torture to just let you enjoy the sight.”

A sudden wave of jealous-like emotions raced through him at the thought of all those hungry eyes staring at her, but Sirius laughed his bark laugh, and replied, “Well then, m’lady, the Christmas Ball awaits.”

They walked down to the great hall joking and making snide comments, as always, as if completely ignoring the fact they were going to a ball. At the doors to the great hall, they met up with James and Lily, as well as Remus (who had turned down all his dates), and Peter who had managed to get a Hufflepuff 6th year girl to go with him.

“Wow, Alex, you look…stunning,” Remus said. “You and Lily both.”

“Yeah well they ought to, considering they took enough time getting ready,” Sirius said with a grin.

Alex stuck out her tongue at him, before turning to Remus, “I see you don’t have a date, Remus, so make sure you save a couple dances for me.”

“Of course,” Remus said with a smile. "I wouldn't pass up the chance to dance with you even if Sirius threatened to kill me."

"Oh come on, Remus. I know it's hard, but could you please spot hitting on my date?" Sirius joked right back, clutching Alex's arm over dramatically and protectively.

"Pfft, that was barely even a compliment," James put in, unable to resist, but turning his attention right back to Lily.

"Hey!" Sirius and Remus yelled at the same time, right before Alex continued. His comment, whoever it had been meant for, clearly hit them all.

"Oh, thanks James," Alex scoffed, giving him a mock glare, "Nice to see I mean that much to you. Remind me why I'm so nice to you?"

"Or why we're friends? You can't insult my man-ness and scary intimidating-ness!" Sirius whined in a higher voice than usual, as if deliberately trying to contradict himself. James cowered behind a confused Lily to keep the joke going.

"Or my compliments, you tosspot" Remus replied with a huff. "But honestly, as if I'm daft enough to actually try hitting on Alex with you right beside her. Whatever it may look like, I rather do enjoy my life."

Even Lily laughed, just as the doors to the hall opened, and the students in the foyer started to pile into the hall, seating themselves at the round tables that were present in place of the usual, 4 long tables. The hall was decorated beautifully, and oohs and ahs were heard echoing off the walls from every direction. As the Marauders and the ladies seated themselves, Alex said, “Well, Prefects, I gotta hand it to you, this is some interior decoration. “

“Yeah, it really is great guys,” James affirmed, sitting down beside Lily and Remus. “So what’s to eat?”

Soon enough, dinner was over, and everybody began to move towards the cleared out floor in the center of the hall as soft music began to emerge from nowhere and everywhere at the same time. Sirius, James, and even Peter pulled their partners towards the floor as Remus took the hand of a pretty Ravenclaw. Then the music grew louder, and began to fill Alex’s ears. Even though she preferred her muggle music, it didn’t take long to feel the familiar ecstasy of dancing, and the relief it brought wash over her. All of her troubles, including the orb, started to fade away as she twirled and stepped across the floor with Sirius, laughing merrily, while occasionally sneaking glances at James and Lily who seemed to be getting along just fine…. 

                                                                  * * *

“Where are we going?”

“Stop asking. Don’t you know the concept behind a surprise?” Sirius asked irritably, as he led Alex down a rather dimly lit corridor.

“No, not really,” she replied sarcastically.

“Well, we’re almost there.”

“It better be good—I mean, come on, we’re missing the ball for it,” she kept on sarcastically. “Can’t it wait?”

“No, you’re leaving tomorrow and this is sort of my Christmas gift,” he said.

“Oooh, now I’m excited!” she said, dropping her sarcasm.

“Yeah?” he asked with a raised eyebrow. “Well don’t get your hopes up—it might turn out you’ll think it a pile of useless junk.”

“Never,” she reassured him with a smile.

Soon enough, they were at a door which he softly pushed open, and led them inside the darkened room. Once her eyes got acclimatized to the change in lighting, she noticed the entire room was empty, except for a large mirror right in the middle with ornate engravings carved lavishly on the frame. He took her hand and pulled her a bit closer to it.

“You brought me here to look at myself? Thanks Sirius, but I already know I look great,” she joked.

“Very funny. Now will you give me a minute to explain?” he asked, and she nodded. “Right. This is the Mirror of Erised.”

“The…what?”

“The Mirror of Erised,” he repeated. “It shows you the thing you desire most."

When she still looked confused, he continued, "Well, I remembered you saying something was missing in your life but you weren’t sure what it was, and then I ran into this mirror, almost quite literally, and I thought it might help. So…Happy Christmas.”

She looked at him, her eyes round and wide, slightly glazed but sparkling joyfully. She just stood there, looking into his eyes, a faint smile on her lips, unable to believe he had remembered that conversation.

“Aren’t you going to try it out?” he asked, sounding slightly disappointed. “Because you would need to stand closer.”

Still she did not move, and only kept looking at him. He was starting to feel stupid.

“Sirius…Would you be terribly offended if I didn’t?” she finally asked, her voice soft and a bit wavering, speaking off of that strange feeling that had consumed her moments ago. Except that feeling wasn’t too strange to her at all…she was pretty sure she had felt hints of it before.

He blinked, confused. “Well…no…but why wouldn’t you?”

“I don’t need to,” she replied, and her smile widened as she continued. “I’m pretty sure I’m looking at it right now.”

He blinked again. “What? Are you sure you aren’t drunk? Because the mirror’s over there so—“

But his words were cut off, as she threw herself into him, enveloping him in a warm hug, her head on his shoulder and her arms around his neck.

“Oh…” he mumbled, as his initial shock subsided and realization dawned. His arms closed around her body naturally and instinctively, almost protectively. I’ve forgotten how thin she is…I swear, she doesn’t look it, but right now it feels like I could crush her if I hug too tight… 

After a moment, she raised her head off his shoulder, looked up into his eyes and said, “Thank you. Best Christmas gift ever.”

“You’re not the least bit interested in what you’ll see?” he asked with a grin.

“But according to you, if you really do remember that conversation, I have it all, so what would I see?”

“Only one way to find out.”

“Well…I suppose there would be no harm in taking a quick glance…” she said as she slipped out of his arms and took a few steps towards the mirror.

At first, she saw nothing. Just her reflection and that of Sirius from behind her. Then, a figure came striding into view, the usual crown absent from his head. He smiled, and stretched out his hand towards her. She hesitantly reached out and touched the mirror. After a moment, he started to beckon to someone behind her, and Sirius’ image now became clearer as he stood beside Alex’s reflection, and his hand was placed on top of Alex’s by her father. Behind her, the images of Dev and Adrian came into view, and they were greeted with a smile and nod from him. Alex blinked as unexpected tears started to well up in her eyes. She thought she had overcome that long ago; overcame the need to gain approval and acceptance from her father, but what she was seeing now completely disproved it.

Her heart ached as it started to beat wildly. Was what she was seeing possible at all, or would he haunt her for the rest of her life? Would she ever get that acceptance of her, of her friends, of her way of life and her magic? Her heart ached even more as she realized that the scene she had just witnessed was very improbable, seeing as the plans he had in store for her suggested nothing of the sort. Which would mean she would either have to be Princess Alexandria, or just Alex. She stared at the image of Sirius’ hand placed upon hers. How could that even work? Would she be able to completely cut herself off from Buckingham to be with him, when clearly her heart had such a desperate need for it? Would she even be alive long enough to make anything of it, or would either the orb or Voldemort get to her first?

She closed her eyes, trying to shut away all the questions and calm her furiously beating heart. When her eyes snapped open, she was surprised to see the previous image gone, and was now face to face with Sirius. His image lifted his arm, his hand connecting with Alex’s, still on the mirror. He smiled that smile she had only seen on his face a couple of times, one of complete peace and happiness, as if telling her all she needed was his acceptance, and she already had it. Her insides twisted as she realized that even though her own heart couldn’t make up its mind, one thing was absolutely clear: she needed him. And she had known it all along, but now was completely certain about it; certain about everything that kept pointing her to the same truth which she had been trying to ignore for the past month.

And the truth was that she, Alexandria Edwards, was in love with Sirius Black.

She blinked as the realization hit her, but her shock at ‘love’ was only momentary, because to her great surprise, she accepted it right away. It had to be love, because no crush had ever made her heart melt each time he looked into her eyes, nor swell with pride when he defended her, nor break a little each time he said something even the slightest bit hurtful. It had to be love, because that would explain her amortentia, the giddiness each time he held her hand, and the feeling of completion each time she found herself in his arms. It was why such a simple gesture, him remembering their conversation and trying to do something to help, meant so much to her.

She felt somebody touch her shoulder, and jumped, her hand sliding off the mirror as the image faded into the distance. Slowly, she turned around and took one glance at Sirius’ worried face, before burying herself in his chest, willing herself not to cry. He ran his hand in soothing circles around her back, waiting for her deep breathing to slow, whispering sweet, calming nothings into her ear.

“Do you want to go back to the ball?” he asked once he deemed her calm enough.

“It’ll probably be over by now,” she said softly, her head still resting on his shoulder.

“How about one last dance, then?”

“I’d love to,” Alex replied, lifting herself up and placing one of her hands into his. Slowly, they started to twirl around the room, the mood and tension lifting as they started to smile, chat, chuckle, and eventually laugh as they made their way towards Gryffindor Tower once again.

“So how did you find that mirror anyways?” she asked him.

He grinned, “Technically we found it. But I think you may have been a bit too drunk to remember.”

“You mean…on that night?”

“Yeah, when we were trying to run away from Mrs. Norris, remember? We hid in that room, and I noticed it from the corner of my eye. I came looking for it a couple of days later,” he explained.

She nodded along as he retold the story, sparse flashbacks flying through her mind. They were almost at the portrait of the Fat Lady when suddenly, she felt Sirius stop and pull her towards him. “What’s the matter?”

“Mistletoe,” he said with a smirk.

“What? I don’t see any,” she responded, looking around.

“Yeah, I guess not,” he said softly as he lowered his head and softly touched her lips with his own for only a brief moment, before pulling away. “My mistake.”

And then he waited. Waited anxiously for her to do something—slap him, make a witty comment, kiss him back, anything—but she only smiled. Her cheeks became rosier, and she pulled him towards the Fat Lady once again, Sirius grinning stupidly, reveling in the strange ecstasy of having his feelings towards her known, and at least partially reciprocated. Or at least, not rejected.

“Alright, Sirius, spill the beans,” James said as soon as Sirius entered the dorm room that night.

“On what?” he asked innocently, though that grin was still there.

“On what happened when you whisked your fair maiden away to…er, to where?” Remus said dramatically in a Shakespearean tone, smiling.

“To show her her Christmas gift,” Sirius replied, and when James raised waggled his eyebrows, he deemed it better to explain some more, “The Mirror of Erised.”

Remus looked shell-shocked. “The Mirror of Erised is at Hogwarts? No way!”

Sirius nodded.

“And then what happened?” James prodded some more, before Remus’ inner nerd won over and had a chance to ask more about the mirror.

“Nothing. We came back here.”

“You mean, you two didn’t confess your undying love for each other?” James asked, his own grin now appearing.

“No…well, no…but it seems there’s a mutual unspoken understanding between us. It wasn’t time for the confessions yet.”

“You are way too romantic, Padfoot. Did you even kiss her?” James tried again, while Remus merely shook his head, but was attentive to the answer nonetheless.

“I may have,” he replied with a smirk.

“Did she kiss you back?” James asked eagerly.

“Well, no…”

“Then how do you know she likes you back?” James continued. He didn't notice Remus' eyes trying to tell him to shut up. These were not the kind of things Sirius should be hearing a mere couple of hours before Alex's departure.

“She didn’t slap me,” was all that he decided to say, leaving out the earlier part where she threw herself into his arms before she went to look in the mirror, her actions implying more than she could have ever said in that moment. “Didn’t even make a witty comment.”

That seemed to shut James up. “But…Alex always has something to say…how…”

“Like I said, mutual understanding,” Sirius repeated, his grin resurfacing. “Besides, it feels right to be taking it slow, and I don’t want to risk messing it up either. What about you? How did Evans enjoy the dance?”

“I think she really had fun,” James replied. “Laughing and smiling the whole time, she even blushed a fair bit too. I swear a couple of times she leaned in for a kiss… ”

“And…?”

James smirked knowingly and superiorly, but didn’t say anything, so Remus said it for him, “He went all romantic and gave her a kiss on the cheek—the cheek—whispered a sweet goodnight, and let her walk up the stairs to the girl’s dorm. Farewell my love, sleep well my goddess. I bid thee adieu, till morning light!”

Sirius fought back the urge to laugh (more so at Remus’ awesome impression in which the Shakespeare tone made a reappearance, though he was quite sure James would never have said anything of the sort), and said, “Good for you, mate.”

“Hey! It was nothing like that! Besides, if you’re allowed to take it slow, why can’t I?” James defended. “I don’t want to mess it up either, you know.”

“Sure, but really…on the cheek?” Sirius said, still struggling with the laughter.

“It was Alex’s idea,” James mumbled, and Sirius shut up. “But obviously, it was a good idea, because I really am winning Lily over and she can see I’m not just an obsessed seventeen year old hormone driven boy.”

“Alex said that?” Sirius asked, looking ready to panic. What if he had made the wrong move? What if she thought he was an obsessed hormone driven boy? What if—

“Padfoot,” Remus’ voice rang through the air, “I’m sure she doesn’t think that at all.”

He blinked. “Er…did I say that out loud?”

“Yes, you did,” Remus replied, a grin twitching at the corners of his lips. “Don’t worry. Like you said, she didn’t slap you or say anything, clearly that means she was alright with it.”

“But what if—“

“Trust me, alright? I think I know Alex enough to say that she would have definitely expressed her opinion in some form or other, especially if she was against it. It’ll all be fine, alright?” Remus reassured, and Sirius settled onto his bed. “Besides, I’m sure you did it with such charisma and romance that she’ll be dreaming about it for days.”

Sirius beamed as he lay down, putting his hands behind his head and starring up at the canopy of his bed with a glazed over expression . “I think I did it pretty well, yeah.”

“There you go—days, I tell you,” Remus went on, trying to make sure his friend would at least sleep through the rest of this night, knowing her departure the next day would put him into enough disarray as it was. A week-long separationOh he’ll be such a joy to live with the next couple of days, he thought, recalling the occasions where she had only disappeared for a couple of hours, and trying to multiply that by a factor of at least 1000.

Chapter 26: Midnight Escapades
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Author's Note:  Well, like I said, quicker update and much longer chapter.  Hope you like it.





Let's rock, everybody, lets rock.
Everybody in the whole cell block
Was dancin' to the jailhouse rock. 

Elvis Presley: Jailhouse Rock 

She slowly stepped up to the door, and knocked quietly. Soon enough, she heard the footsteps getting louder, the chain rattling, and the click of the lock as the door opened.

“Can I help you…holy sweet potato, about time!” Dev exclaimed as he caught Alex in a giant hug, and pulled her inside the house before she even had a chance to say a word.

“Hi, Dev. Missed you,” Alex said, her voice muffled and sounding rather lacking of air.

Dev seemed to have noticed her strained voice and loosened his hold on her. “So good to see you, Alex! Hey, Adrian! Get your arse down here!”

Adrian came down the stairs with a bucket of ice cream and a spoon in his mouth, mumbling something incomprehensible until he saw who was standing next to his brother. Leaping down the stairs two at a time, he gave her a warm hug.

“About bloody time! You’ve been in London for a whole 12 hours and you only come see us now?” Adrian joked quite seriously after finally releasing her from his death grip.

“And is there no such thing as a phone where you go to school?” Dev added.

“Er, no not quite. The nearest one is down in the village but even then I couldn’t find it,” she muttered. “Anyways, what’re you two up to?”

“Nothing much. Watching ‘Jaws’ and eating ice cream,” Dev said.

“You’re watching ‘Jaws’ without me?” Alex asked in mock offense.

“Hey, at least it's not ‘My Fair Lady’ or ‘Gone with the Wind’ or ‘Casablanca’ or some other rubbish that we would never watch without you,” Dev defended, holding up his hands innocently.

“And he really does mean never,” Adrian added solemnly with a nod.

Alex laughed, “Fine, you’re forgiven. Have you gotten to the part with the legs yet?”

"No, but we've just passed the part with the head," Adrian replied casually, digging into his ice cream again, as if he didn't just comment on vicious shark attacks and half eaten people.

"Ooooh! That’s like, just the beginning!" Alex practically squealed in glee. "Let's finish watching it then!"

“Good idea, and in the meantime, we can catch up and make Plans,” Dev said, as they started to walk up the stairs.

“How do you do it?” Alex asked with a smile. “You say ‘plans’ and you just know you’re capitalizing the P.”

“I’m talented,” he said with a shrug. “Now tell us, Dria, truthfully—is there anybody at that school of yours who matches up to us in wit and charm, not to mention our astoundingly handsome features?”

She grinned back at them, “Well, there are a couple contenders, but you know you two are number one. Anyways, you can decide for yourselves—they’re coming over in a couple of days.”

Their jaws dropped, almost synchronized. “They’re coming over?”

“As in…staying over?” Adrian amended.

She nodded.

“But that’s…impossible,” Dev said slowly. “I mean…”

“I know exactly what you mean,” she replied with a sigh. “But they’re coming over nonetheless, so be nice, alright?”

He ran a hand through her hair and ruffled it up, as Adrian said in a tone implying the complete opposite, “Of course we will.”

“But till then, the night is young,” Dev put in, starting to waggle his eyebrows.

“It’s not even dark yet,” Alex pointed out with a smile.

“My point exactly.”

Just then, the telephone rang, and Adrian ran to answer it very enthusiastically, practically tripping up the rest of the stairs. She gave Dev a questioning look, and he only replied with another shrug. Then, deciding to grace Alex with an actual answer, said, “Marilyn.”

“Ohhh, is she the airhead?”

“The one and only; though she’s not too bad, I guess, seeing as Adrian hasn’t gotten bored of her yet so…”

“So we should all go out tonight,” Alex finished.

“What? Are you insane?!” Dev asked looking as if he had just been sentenced to death row. “Do you want to die from excessive giggling and too many displays of affection?”

“I thought you said she wasn’t that bad?” Alex asked, and when she received a look along with a crazy smirk in return, she slapped him on the arm, and said as he recoiled in mock pain, “You sicko!” 

“Hey! That was uncalled for!”

“You’re uncalled for!” she shot back, but didn’t feel as stupid as she should have saying it. Petty quarrels like these always resorted to childish techniques and she loved it.

“Am not!” Dev yelled back right on cue.

“Are too!” she yelled, sticking her tongue out.

“Am n—“

“Uh, guys?” Adrian called from somewhere like an omnipotent being, “Hate to break it up, but would you maybe prefer to go out somewhere? Marilyn says she’s in the mood for some dancing…”

“Well if Marilyn says so,” Dev said, crossing his arms over his chest, “Wouldn’t want to disappoint her.”

“Sure, Adrian. But you might want to drop a hint that I’ll be there,” Alex said.

“Why?” Adrian asked, his eyebrows furrowed with confusion, and looking at Alex as if she had gone completely insane.

“Oh, I dunno, maybe because apparently I’m the princess, would be one. And two, showing up for a date with another girl in tow generally decreases your chances of getting some,” she replied with a smirk. Teasing Adrian about his many dates was just one of her (and Dev's) jobs.

“Right,” he replied, ignoring Dev’s spasms of laughter. “So we’re on, yeah?”

They both nodded, and Adrian ran back to the phone, as Dev said, “Looks like you’re stuck dancing with me all night, Dria.”

She looked positively abashed at such an idea, and if they hadn’t known each other for such a long time, he would have taken offense. “I guess I can live with that, though I would like to steal at least one dance from Adrian.”

“Ah yes, and endure the never-ending pain of Her razor sharp talons slicing through you while deafening you with her loud squeals and squawks and tearing you apart from limb to limb with her chiseled beak,” Dev agreed sarcastically, nodding his head as if in deep thought, “Who wouldn’t want such a wonderful death? In fact, now I think I might even line up for some.”

Alex laughed, “I’d endure it somehow…Adrian just has a different style of dance…which can be quite entertaining in low doses.”

“If by ‘style’ you mean epileptic seizure-like movements, then you got it bang on.”

“I heard that!” Adrian yelled from the room across, as the other two settled onto the couch and watched the rest of ‘Jaws’, having one of those light chats while Adrian still talked to Marilyn…


The days at Buckingham passed same as always: stuff to do during the day, and then nights out with her best friends (and possibly Marilyn too). Now it was almost three in the morning. She stood in her room, in front of the fireplace, tapping her foot anxiously. It was the 22nd of December, two days before the big Christmas Eve ball, one and a half days before her parents returned home from wherever they were, and the day her friends would be arriving.

She hadn’t gone to bed at all yet, having spent the last couple of hours in her ‘secret lab’, trying to figure out the orb. It was her first time since talking with Dumbledore about it that she actually gave it some thought, and the first time since the accident with the Hell’s Fire that she was actually trying to do something about it. After setting the cauldron on the burner, she had stood up and went to her ingredient cupboard, staring at all the little vials, wondering how in the name of Merlin's underpants was it possible to ‘just brew’—as Dumbledore had put it—something of such magnitude and importance. He had told her to just close her eyes and let her hand pick out the ingredients, but she figured she would be more than a bit biased seeing as she knew exactly where every vial was.

Eventually, she had decided on some ingredients, and cranking up the music from her bedroom, started to brew. After about an hour, the fumes rising from the cauldron were less than endearing, and the colour was less than appetizing, but indeed something inside of her seemed to be squirming, almost like pulling her away from the cauldron as a sudden drowsiness rushed over her…

The fireplace suddenly burst with green flames, and a figure appeared, coughing sporadically, breaking her little reverie. She reached out to pull her friend from the fireplace, as the next person would be arriving soon.

“Sirius! You made it!” she yelled happily, giving him a big hug, forgetting about the orb and why she hadn’t been able to bring the potion to her lips in the end. The fireplace turned green again just as he stepped away rather reluctantly from her embrace.

“Bloody hell!” James exclaimed brushing himself off, stepping out of the fireplace and looking around. “This place…is…amazing…”

“Yeah, yeah, go stand in awe over there before you get crushed by Remus,” Alex said with a smile, giving him a brief hug. James did as he was told, muttering to Sirius about the décor as Sirius pretended to be in awe also. He had already seen her room, which made him feel rather smug, though he tried not to let it show.  Their midterm visit to Buckingham was still secret. 

Remus stepped out of the fireplace, giving Alex a warm hug. “You look thinner, Alex. Are you alright?”

“Gee, what I question. Let me think about that one…No.”

“Well what’s the matter?” he asked concernedly.

“Other than the fact that I barely have enough time for myself, running around from formal party to theatre premieres and charity dinners and parliament rubbish and whatnot…? Yeah, they’re starving me.”

“Who’s starving you?” A voice piped up from the fireplace, as Lily emerged from the green flames.

Alex smiled, and gave another hug. “I’ll show you guys your rooms—your stuff has already been moved there. Quietly though! I’ll give you a tour tomorrow—you can ooh and ah then.”

She led them from her room, across the large hall. Opening a door, she said, “Lily, this one’s yours. If you need anything, ask one of the maids or come get me or whatever. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Lily nodded and headed into her room slowly, taking in the magnificence as calmly as she could without jumping up and down and squee-ing like a little girl. Alex kept walking down the hall for a good minute before opening a door on the same side as hers, “Come on guys, you three get to share a room…sort of.”

She led them inside, and turning on the lights, they all withheld gasps as a large, beautifully furnished sitting room came into focus. She smiled at their reactions, and kept walking, pointing out the different doors. “Lavatory, room, room, room, room—you guys pick which you want—that’s a huge closet, though there are separate ones in each of the rooms, and that’s another toilet room.”

“And that door?” James asked through his shock, pointing at a door on the opposite wall.

“Will send you down a chute to the dungeons.”

“Really?” James asked in wonder, his eyes starting to twinkle mischievously.

“No—it’s a shortcut passage down to the kitchens.”

“Nice try, but you can’t fool me twice,” James replied upon seeing her smile. But as she just stared at him, he added, “You are joking, right?”

“Uh…no.”

“You’re not joking?” Remus asked. “That will actually get you to the kitchens?”

She laughed. “It will…amongst other places. Just keep walking down the stairs and straight, no turns anywhere, and you’ll get there.”

“Sweet!” James exclaimed gleefully.

“Does your room have a passage to the kitchens too?” Remus asked curiously.

“No…well, yes…this room and mine share that passage.”

Sirius smirked, “So, technically we can to your room?”

Alex smirked back, “Technically yes, but you’d have to find the right way to get there or else you might meet your doom, and… I’ll be locking all of my doors.”

“So will we,” Remus replied.

“Hey, wait…question,” James said, actually raising his hand. “Where’s Darcy’s room? Or your parents?”

“My parent’s are on West side…you’ll see tomorrow…um, today I mean…Darcy’s room is on the east façade too, but about twelve doors down. Closer to the stairs, my rooms are at the end.”

“Façade?” Sirius repeated in semi-shock-confusion.

“Rooms?” Remus asked.

“Yeah, my room, this room, the room Lily’s in, and three more are mine.”

“Does everybody have 6 rooms to themselves?” James asked incredulously.

“Well…actually Darcy has like 9 and they have 17 at least… I think…but most of them are guest rooms, like this one. There’s also a bunch of empty rooms, like the ones in between mine and Darcy’s, and the downstairs ones which are mostly used for formal parliament rubbish.” She smiled again at their looks of disbelief. “Don’t worry, you’ll see tomorrow.”

“I thought you never have guests,” Sirius said with a grin.

“Never…theoretically of course—I’m not saying these rooms weren’t ever used,” Alex replied just as smoothly with a small wink, and for the first time, Sirius hoped she was actually referring to Dev and Adrian. “Good night, and again, if you need anything, I’m a door down.”

And with that, she left the three boys to their room. They exchanged a couple silent glances, before running into their rooms to see what wonders lay there.

The next morning Alex was awoken by somebody pounding on her door. She quickly stood up and ran to the door, hoping something had not gone horribly wrong. As soon as she opened it and saw Lily standing in front of her, still in her pajamas and smiling widely, she breathed a sigh of relief.

“Good morning!” Lily exclaimed way too happily for such an early hour.

“Any louder Lily and I think I might actually die,” Alex yelled back, still a bit groggily, but a slow smile overcoming her from Lily’s radiating and quite contagious glee. “What’s the matter?”

“Oh, nothing, I’m just excited,” Lily replied stepping into Alex’s room and once again marveling at the décor, which was a more than a tad extreme compared to her own room.

“And you couldn’t be excited about two hours from now?” Alex muttered back, falling onto her bed face first, as Lily explored her room silently. Her eyes were slowly drifting shut again, as Lily jumped onto her bed, making her bounce up and down.

“Where’re the boys?”

And… cue the brilliant idea. Alex grinned, now completely awake. She got up from her bed, and walking out of her room said, “Probably sleeping still, come on.”

She led Lily across the antechamber-ish room, to a door that almost completely blended in with the wall around it. She pulled it open to reveal a small lit corridor. Lily hesitantly followed her up the staircase, turning left and right, through at least two doors, before they finally emerged into a very similar looking anteroom.

“As I suspected, not up yet,” Alex whispered with a grin.

Lily seemed to understand they had just snuck into the boy’s room, but before she could ask if there were any secret passages from her own room, Alex put a finger to her lips, motioned towards the three doors on the opposite wall, and mouthed something almost unintelligible to her. Then, swiftly plopping down into the couch behind her, she started yelling and screaming nonsense syllables mixed in with threats and curses of all sorts, promptly knocking Lily off her balance and into a rather comfortable chair. After about thirty seconds of wide eyes and Alex’s yelling, Lily finally caught on and started yelling also, trying not to laugh. Another thirty seconds had not passed when the three boys came running out of their rooms, in shorts and half buttoned shirts, brandishing their wands offensively, ready to do battle with whoever was making their girls scream. They stopped short when they saw the two girls (who stopped screaming as soon as they were met with such a lovely sight) lounging in front of them, guffawing merrily with wide grins.

“I thought you said you’d be locking your doors?” Alex managed to say.

Slowly, looks of comprehension settled upon their barely awake features. Remus slumped against the wall crossing his arms over his chest, but grinning, and Sirius and James exchanged a look before walking back into their rooms. Alex glanced at them suspiciously as they disappeared without a word, before…

“Oh bloody hell!” she exclaimed as she jumped over the back of the couch looking for shelter and a possible weapon as James and Sirius came rushing at the two of them with two pillows each. She reached around just in time to grab a poof off the couch as Sirius jumped over it and started a fight. Remus watched lazily from the corner as James, Lily, Sirius and Alex all fought, before James started tickling Lily and Sirius and Alex just fell onto the floor laughing.

“Alright children, break it up,” he finally said walking towards them, “Let’s get this show on the road, huh?”

“Show?” Alex asked lazily. “What show? We’re not scheduled to be at the theatre until…six I think.”

“We…theatre…?” Lily repeated.

“Oh, yeah…you guys are so coming with me—there’s no way in hell I’m sitting through that boring shite all by myself. Don’t worry though, we’ll go party after.”

“Whatever you say. Let’s go eat though first,” James said helping Lily off the floor.

They each returned to their rooms to change and wash up, and met in the hallway. As they were walking down to breakfast, Sirius remarked, “So how many rooms does this place have?”

“Ah…about 775, I believe,” Alex replied though a bit absentmindedly.

“Well no wonder you get 6 rooms to yourself,” Remus said.

“Yeah but now it sounds like only 6,” Sirius joked.

“Damned right only 6—they don’t like me very much, remember?” Alex joked back.

“So what are all the other rooms for?” James asked.

“Well, most of them are staff bedrooms…188 I think, then there’s about 92 offices, 19 state rooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms and 78 washrooms…” Alex rattled off.

“And the other 400?” Remus asked.

“Hell if I know!” Alex said laughing. “I suppose there’s all the music rooms, drawing rooms, galleries, pavilions, guard rooms, state apartments, private apartments, luncheon and dining rooms…ballroom and throne room. Somehow, that all adds up in the end. I never actually counted.”

“Have you ever gotten lost?” Lily asked quietly.

“Oh yeah, many moons ago. Though they kept telling me, it’s a square and it's impossible to get lost.”

They started walking down the main grand staircase, as Alex kept pointing out the different rooms, paintings and other useless information she had buried deep inside her that she just wasn’t able to completely forget no matter how much she wanted. It stuck with her as if imprinted in her soul.

Soon the day had passed over nothings, as Alex showed them around the whole Palace and its grounds, and after watching TV, playing cards and exploding snap, and eating a lot of food, it was time to get ready for the theatre. As the boys turned into their room, Alex took Lily to her own and headed for the wardrobe. She opened the double doors and entered it with a flourish, Lily trailing behind her.

“Alright, we need to pick outfits—one for the theatre, and one for after…unless you already have something you want to wear for the after?” Alex asked as she wandered through the rows of clothes.

Lily barely registered what Alex just said. She was shell-shocked, rooted in place, but soon started to follow, touching all the magnificent fabrics, her eyes darting from colour to colour. Alex grinned at her delight, though somewhere deep inside she felt slightly envious that she herself could not be so delighted.

“Well, I’m wearing this brown gown,” Alex said, pulling out a long, fitted brown dress with a sequined-corset-ish top and a long train. Putting it onto a chair not too far away, she continued to walk before pulling out another dress. “Personally, I think you’d look stunning in this.”

Lily gasped at the marvelous dress Alex had just picked from the rack. It was a flowing, olive-green with a rather low cut v-neck that tied at the back in an elegant knot, the ribonnesque satin hanging down across the open back. Fitted at the waist with a tiny, sparkling brooch in the middle, it flowed to the bottom slightly puffing out.

“Alex…it’s…gorgeous!”

“One of my favourites,” Alex agreed nodding her head. “But I couldn’t ever really pull it off. You on the other hand, your red hair and green eyes will go wonderfully with it.”

Lily reached out and touched the soft fabric.

“Unless you want something else…go right ahead and pick,” Alex said after a moment, moving to put the dress back on the rack.

“NO! This one is perfect! Thank you!” Lily said, clutching the dress protectively.

Alex smiled, and continued walking around the wardrobe. “Alright, so pick some shoes, a shawl—though I’d recommend one of the fur ones, it’s a bit cold tonight—and some jewelry if you want is over there in that cabinet. Now we also need to grab some clothes for later.”

Lily blinked, barely able to comprehend everything Alex had just said. “Later?”

“Well yeah! What, you think the theatre is the most exciting place in London?” Alex asked with a smile. “We’re going out. So we need something more interesting…possibly a bit shorter…”

Her voice trailed off as she entered between two racks of clothes (that Lily noticed, did contain dresses shorter than the rest). Something had caught her eye though, as she laid the green dress down and took a few steps towards it. She pulled it out, carefully, took a look at it and decided that though she wasn’t sure where she was going for the after-party, this would suffice. It was a halter neck short dress that flowed outwards to about the knees. It was pale beige, but over top was a lacy black material with different designs spreading over it. Alex appeared with a blue dress in hand, and looked at Lily.

“Can I wear this one?” Lily asked timidly.

“Sure! That suits you! What do you think about mine?”

Lily surveyed the dress. It was a pale blue, with a pleated top wrapping around the torso and up over the shoulders with tiny brooches holding it together. The skirt part was layered and cascading down to the knees, and Lily could already picture Alex twirling around in it across a dance floor. She nodded, “It’s great.”

“Good! Let’s get going than, shall we? Into the fancy ones first,” she said, as she grabbed her brown dress and headed toward a partitioning, as Lily headed towards the other.

“Hello?” a male voice said from somewhere in the wardrobe. Lily nearly screamed as she was half naked. “Miss Alex, are you ready for you hair to be done?”

“Just a second, Carmen. You go ahead, I’ll be right there,” Alex replied calmly, and Lily took heart that it wasn’t some stalker. The footsteps faded away, and Alex called out, “Lily you almost done?”

“Yeah, can you tie the back though?”

Alex headed over and tied the knot, admiring her friend. “Fits you perfectly, though it is a bit long…do you want to shorten it a bit?”

Lily shook her head, and Alex shrugged. “Alright then, let’s go get our hair and makeup done.”

She grabbed lily by the hand, and they made their way out of the closet and towards Alex’s lavatory, where a short man dressed all in black was waiting. Alex sat Lily down first, and said, “Alright Carmen, do your worst. I want her looking better than me, got it? Where’s Roger?”

“I’m here,” a voice muttered as he entered the room. He was a bit taller than Carmen, though also wearing all black. He took out a bunch of makeup and started to apply it for Alex. “The usual?”

Alex nodded, “Nothing too extreme, sorry.”

Roger sighed as he started to dab on some blush, while Carmen was working away at Lily’s hair. After about ten minutes, they switched places. After another ten and the two men left, leaving the girls looking at the mirror and at each other in wonder.

“Do you think I should have told them not to make us look drop dead sexy?” Alex said with a smirk. “After all, we do want the guys to be alive a little longer, no?”

Lily agreed as a faint blush started to creep up her neck. She wasn't used to such…blunt…comments with regards to her appearance. Alex pulled her back to the wardrobe, and they finished dressing up—shoes, jewelry (which for Alex included a small tiara), coats, clutches, and their other dresses stored in a dress bag. Slowly, they made their way out of Alex’s room, down the hallway and down the grand staircase where the three boys where waiting for them, looking very handsome indeed. But when they saw Alex and Lily coming down the stairs, they stopped chatting and looked at them incredulously. They had thought they were beautiful enough at the Hogwarts Christmas ball, but now they surpassed anything they could have ever imagined.

“Good evening, gentlemen,” Alex said dramatically, and they forced their jaws shut. “Ready to go?”

They nodded, just as the two girls reached the landing. But Alex didn’t even stop. She kept walking, clutch in one hand, lifting up her dress a bit, and dress bag in the other, draped over her shoulder. She kept walking, and the others followed her, straight out the doors and to the roundabout, where a big white Rolls Royce limo was waiting for them.

“Good evening, miss,” said the driver as he opened the door for her.

“Hello Jasper!” Alex said cheerily, handing him the dress bag, and getting into the car. The other four followed her lead. Jasper closed the door behind Remus, and walked over to the driver’s side. It was only then that Remus noticed the dress bag in the front passenger seat.

“What’s that for?” he asked, though practically knowing the response.

“Now Remus, did you honestly expect Lily and I to go dancing dressed like this?” she replied with a smirk.

“Well what about us?” James asked.

“Don’t worry, you’re coming too. All you have to do is take off your tux jacket and your set, us…not so much.”

“And where do you plan on changing?” Remus asked.

She smiled knowingly. “In the car, of course, while you three wait outside like the gentlemen you are.”

“Naturally…” Sirius spoke up for the first time, having been too distracted to form understandable syllables before. “And what a lovely tiara, might I add…”

She gave him an evil glare and didn’t spare one for James neither who guffawed heartily at Sirius’ oh-too-sarcastic comment.

“You know, I’ve always heard death by tiara is extremely painful because of the millions of sharp diamonds and jewels and pointy edges cutting into the flesh…would you care to find out?” Alex said, mockingly sweet and with a smirk, as the car jostled on its way.

“No, not really,” Sirius replied solemnly, taking a small gulp. “So what show are we seeing?”

Alex shrugged. “Some sort of symphony. It’s some orchestra from America and apparently they’re pretty good.”

“And we have to go to this…why?” James asked.

Alex shrugged again. “A good question, one which I’ve never gotten the complete answer to myself. Apparently by having me there England shows its ‘cultural refinement’ by being good hosts to the guests and appreciative of arts or some other rubbish like that.”

The conversation continued in friendly banter all the long ten minute drive to the Theatre of London, where a Red Carpet had been set up for arriving guests, with crowds of photographers, attendees, fans and civilians were standing on either side. As the white Rolls Royce pulled up, the cameras started to flash their way. Somebody opened the door, but nobody in the car moved. “Remus, you first.” Alex finally said. They all stared at her with anxious faces, and she gave them a warm smile in return. “It’ll be fine. Just wait till I get out and then we’ll all go in together. Oh, and don’t answer any of their questions. Just smile and say hi or something.”

Remus took a gulp and stepped out of the car, followed by James, Sirius, Lily and finally Alex. The four were in shock as cameras flashed at them and reporters asked questions. Alex pushed her way through the small crowd surrounding her to get to her friends. Linking arms with Remus on one side, and Sirius on the other, Lily took the hint and linked arms with him also, and James on the other. They all took a few steps forward, stopping for a few pictures on the way.

“Alexandria, why the return for Christmas?”

“Somebody needs to do the dirty work around here,” she said with a grin.

“Who are they? Does His Highness know about them staying at the palace?”

“These are friends from school and it was my father who invited them over in the first place.”

Another reporter asked, “Where are the Wheeler twins? How come they’re not here with you?”

“Because unlike some of us, they have a choice,” she snapped icily, the reporters greedily taking it down.

“And who here doesn’t have the choice?”

“You try figuring that one out,” Sirius replied for her. She gave him a wink—that was almost exactly what she had been planning on answering.

“What he said,” she affirmed.

They were all bombarded by questions, but Alex replied to them in short statements not disclosing any information, and soon enough they were walking up the steps and through the glass doors to the marvelous hall of the theatre. They checked their coats and shawls, and were led up the stairs by an usher who showed them to the Royal Box.

“Pretty nifty,” Remus said, plopping down onto the seat. “These are the best seats in the house.”

“Won’t stop you from falling asleep, though,” Alex said. “And please don’t, or I’ll never hear the end of it. Just keep thinking about something that’ll keep you awake, and it’ll be over before you know it.”

Before James or Sirius could make a witty reply, the first violinist played it’s long, solemn note to which the rest of the orchestra soon joined in, and the conductor walked onto the stage…

                                                         *  *  *

The fog was getting thicker. They were standing at the corner of a street by a lamp, all looking rather conspicuous in their nice clothes, though Lily and Alex had already changed (and practically gave the guys another heart attack, all of whom appreciatively noticed the shorter length of dress). The Rolls Royce had long since left their side.

“We actually get to meet them?” James asked in shock at Alex's declaration, looking rather excited, though Sirius drew in another breath of semi-worry. He was starting to get anxious. What if he didn’t measure up to her best friends? What if she realized she liked them better than him? What if—

“Well yeah,” Alex said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, “Couldn’t very well deprive you of their presence could I?”

“Damned right,” a voice said from behind them, and she twirled around right into the arms of Dev who came out of the darkness as if from nowhere, hugging him tightly. “That feels good, Dria, you really have no idea how much I’ve missed you.”

“Pfft, you saw me two days ago,” Alex replied, but still in his embrace, Sirius noted with jealousy. Though he had seen the two best friends on a picture in Alex’s room before, tonight he hadn’t failed to manfully notice that the twins were in fact slightly taller than himself, uniquely handsome and possessed a definite charm and reserved cool. His ego couldn’t help but take a hit as he looked at the two of them, before glancing quickly at Remus and James who seemed to be experiencing the same sort of threat. And they weren’t even the ones vying for the girl in question.

“Yeah but you know what I mean…”

Sirius started to burn up at the twinkling in Dev’s eyes and tried to block the sentence he just said from replaying in his mind. It was just ridiculous; he practically knew their entire story, knew there was nothing between them, knew she fancied him (or at least, very strongly suspected), and yet it was all he could do to restrain himself from running over there and splitting them up. She muttered something into Dev’s ear, to which he guffawed and nodded, before she turned to Adrian and gave him a hug too. “What, no Marilyn?”

He shook his head with a laugh, “No, tonight is just for us, love… and your friends, of course.”

This time, Remus put a steadying hand on Sirius, having sensed his growing discomfort.

“Right then, let’s get to it then, shall we?” Alex said, bringing them closer to the others. “Dev and Adrian, meet Sirius, James, Remus and Lily.”

They each shook hands, and Dev gave Lily such a charming smile that she blushed even worse than she had when she met Darcy. James moved closer to Lily instinctively, protectively, and his gesture did not go unnoticed by Dev, who just smiled some more and said, “I don’t care who’s your guy, Lily, but you must grace me with one dance…at least.”

If it was at all possible, she blushed even more as she nodded her head. Alex nudged her friend in the ribs. “Alright, let's get going, shall we?”

Then both Dev and James extended their arms towards Lily, who for a second looked stunned, before taking both their arms, and letting Dev lead the way. The other four just walked all together, as Adrian bitterly whispered something about a shortage of girls.

“Where exactly are we going?” Sirius asked.

“Er…I dunno,” Alex replied, looking to Adrian, “Where are we going?”

He thought about it for a while, before answering, “Let’s go to 42 Wallaby Way, Sherman’s actually built a new place and it’s pretty savvy.”

“What ever you say, Maestro,” Alex said. “Hear that Dev? Sherman’s!”

She registered a subtle nod of his head, even through the darkening surroundings…

Sirius sat on the stool, downing another drink as he watched Alex twist with Dev on the dance floor to that song that he vaguely remembered hearing during their own outing…Twist and Shout by those bugs…er…Beatles? Sirius thought (recalling the time when they twisted) with a grimace as she twisted even closer to him, just as the lyrics suggested. He was surprised when she suddenly connected eyes with him, and smiled before twirling into Dev’s arms again, laughing. They just looked so…perfect, dancing together, and completely loose and relaxed. Every move they made seemed perfectly synchronized and almost as if expected by the other party. He wondered if they looked just as good when he danced with her.

“Don’t take it so hard, mate,” somebody said from beside him, as a new song started to blast from the stage, which to his great dismay, made Alex squeal with delight before starting to quickstep and twirl, making her skirt fly up in round waves of fabric. “Ah, yes…Jailhouse Rock…Classic, that one.”

He turned to see Adrian sitting beside him with yet another drink in hand, though still sounding sober. He blinked, and said dumbly, “What are you talking about?”

Adrian laughed, “About you staring a hole the size of Mars through my brother.”

Sirius was completely dumbfounded. Was he really being that obvious?

“Look, I know my brother, and I know Alex, very very well—they’re just comfortable with each other…and the fact that they took dancing lessons together only helps making them look so good.”

“They took dancing lessons?” Sirius asked in shock, and Adrian only grinned back at him.

“Well it was like this: Alex needed to learn, for some party or other, and was screaming bloody murder, yelled at the instructor and her previous partner…eh, Michael I think?... and Dev—being chivalrous—decided to help out before her father murdered her…metaphorically speaking of course,” Adrian added at the serious look of apprehension on Sirius’s face. “Though that was quite some time ago, and they only learned the ballroom stuff. This is simply because of all the night time meanderings. Besides, there’s more than some history between them and these songs—”

“Er…thanks, Adrian…but I’m not completely sure you’re helping…” Sirius managed to say before Adrian could recount more.

He sighed, “Alright, look. She's never really been in an actual relationship so don't mind her if sometimes she seems indifferent—she probably doesn't even know she's doing it. But that doesn't mean she doesn't like you." 

Sirius didn't say anything, but Adrian correctly interpreted the 'how' off his expression.

“All I’m saying is, what you see there is nothing compared to the way you two looked only a couple minutes ago,” Adrian continued, still trying his best, but Sirius only looked up at him confused. He took a swig of whatever was in his glass, and then started again. "Between you two, you can tell there’s this…I dunno…electricity…heat…gives off a totally different vibe. I’ll say it again, what you see there is pure friendship.

“But while we’re on the topic,” Adrian kept going, upon seeing a smirk flicker across his new-found friends’ face, “You do realize that if you ever hurt her, you’ll be wishing you never met The Wheeler twins. After all, hell hath no fury like the Wheeler’s unleashed because some jerk broke their best friend’s heart.”

He clapped him a couple times on the back, smiling wickedly, before downing the rest of his drink and leaving Sirius to his thoughts…again, though not for long, as Alex came up to sit beside him as the music changed once again. Wow, is the band of a bunch of seers or something? Or is it just coincidence? Sirius thought sardonically, as he listened to the slurred words of the Rolling Stones' She's so Cold.

“What’re you doing?” she asked gleefully before taking a sip of another rather colourful drink. He noticed it looked like whatever it was Adrian was drinking.

“Watching James and Lily,” he spat out the first thing that came to mind. “And I must admit, you really worked wonders.”

“Nah, Lily was coming over to the dark side either way. I just proffered the whole process along…”

“Ah yes, the dark side.”

“We have cookies,” she said with a smile.

“So why’d you stop dancing?” Sirius asked, not bothering to hide his curiousity.

Alex grinned, taking another sip of her drink. “Dev noticed some girl that was, how'd he put it, devouring him with her eyes. So I couldn't take away his happiness, especially with this song playing, which I quote "will make her hot for me"."

He blinked. He wasn't sure what that was supposed to mean—was she being serious or joking…? He sneaked some glances around the club to see if what she was saying were true. Finding Dev wasn't hard, and some part of him was surprised to see it was true. Turning to Alex, he said, "Doesn't that bother you?"

"Huh?"

"Well he practically ditched you…" It felt weird, him explaining this to Alex when usually girls were the ones who noticed stuff like that.

Alex blinked, looking at him from her drink, seeming slightly dazed but grinning widely in amusement at Sirius' apparent worry. "No. It's what we do, and we're used to it. Besides, he didn't ditch me. We ditched each other."

Am I just drunk, or was that supposed to make sense?  "You ditched him?"

She looked at him knowingly, her dazzling smile making him feel stupid, and then continued. "I had noticed Adrian talking with you, and just wanted to make sure he wasn’t bothering you with rubbish about me and Dev taking dancing lessons or summat.”

Creepy. Either they just know each other that well, or Adrian's done it before, he thought. A smile started to stretch onto his glum face as he pictured it, and finally decided to ignore the weird 'ditching'-incident, especially as she didn't seem bothered by it. Alex just sat there in front of him, radiating a sense of relaxed cool and a contagious glee that finally seemed to affect him. Sirius chuckled, “Actually, he was.”

“BAH! I’m gonna kill him! Why he insists on telling the entire world about that is beyond me,” she stood up looking very ready to kill, but Sirius held her back as he stood up. She gave him a questioning glance.

“Don’t kill him. Dance with me instead,” he said just as Heart’s Crazy on You started to creep from the stage.

She smiled, shrugged and said, “I suppose it’s a fair alternative…but just because it’s one of my fav—”

“—Favourite songs,” Sirius finished for her, smiling and taking her hand, “I know.”

                                                          *  *  *

He was walking toward the kitchen, quite aware of the early hour and the fact that he was rather quite tired for someone supposedly on their Christmas holidays. He shook his head, regretful that he couldn’t sleep when everybody else was getting their beauty rest, stocking up on hours of sleep they had already lost within a day and would lose the next night. He didn’t know what it was, but something about this place and all these new experiences was keeping him tossing and turning in his bed. If it wasn’t thoughts about Dev and Adrian and their unique relationship with Alex, it was his own relationship with her. Starting to question what exactly she thought of him, he started to see himself as just another best friend (despite Alex’s declamation at the Christmas Ball and Adrian’s reassurances). After all, she acted with him almost exactly as with them—a different level from a normal friendship, but nothing else either.

And every minute he spent with her, especially in the palace, she seemed to be giving off a vibe of pessimism and moroseness such that he had never expected from her, especially given her normally happy and exuberant behaviour. Moreover, the whole time it seemed as if she was undergoing some sort of transformation; getting ready for something that was to come, and he didn’t like it at all. Her far off looks into the distance and glazed over expressions when she thought nobody was looking made him wonder what exactly was going on at Buckingham. He worried for her, especially as being at Buckingham now with her, he was partially able to understand just what she had been talking about all this time. In fact, the entire atmosphere of Buckingham seemed to be cold and empty, devoid of any emotion but rather rich in history, both recent and antique. It made him slightly uncomfortable, and he could not picture growing up in such a house, though his own childhood had never been awesome either.

As he neared the kitchen (having not gotten lost on the way as he thought he would have) he noticed a dim light escaping from under the door. Pushing the door open silently, he breathed a small sigh of relief when he saw her sitting at the counter. Taking a few steps towards her, he waited until the last moment to say, “What’re you eating?”

“Merlin Sirius!” Alex yelled, practically dropping her spoon onto the floor. “You scared me! What are you doing wandering my house at this time of night?”

“One—you did say the kitchens were down this way and we’re free to go and take what we want, and two—house? I thought this was just a place you ‘reside’ in?”

She stared at him through the semi-dark. “Right. Cake.”

“Sorry?”

“Cake—I’m eating cake.”

“Why?” he asked incredulously.

“Because I couldn’t sleep and I really, really need my sugar fix. The past couple of days have been torture. Want some?”

“What kind of a question is that?” he asked in very well played mock indignation. “Have you ever met a guy to pass up food? Of course I want some.”

She smiled and cut him a large slice, and they ate in silence, before Sirius broke it, “Why can’t you sleep?”

Alex shrugged, “I dunno. I guess I’m a little nervous for tomorrow. You know, with meeting my parents and the ball…”

“Don’t worry though; I’m sure it will be fine.”

“Are you going back to bed anytime soon?” she asked after a moment.

“No. Wait…are you planning on going out again tonight?”

“Well…out, but not really. Not dancing, at least,” she replied, smiling at his sudden apprehension. “I want to show you something.”

“Alright, lead the way.”

She smiled, took his hand, and leaving their cake half-eaten on the counter, made their way through the dark halls. “Alright, this is sort of your Christmas gift, and I’d give it to you tomorrow or actually on Christmas day, but since we have time now…”

She rambled in hushed tones all the way, through halls and doors, and down stairs, and Sirius really wondered why she was so nervous. Finally she stopped in a rather cold room, and flicked on the light. In front of them stood five motorbikes. Really nice, leather covered, shiny and colourful motorbikes.

“These three are mine,” she said pointing to the blue, red, and yellow Harley Davidsons—two of which were sport bikes while the third was a rather luxurious looking ride. “The other two are Darcy’s, though he doesn’t really use them.”

“Why do you have three bikes?” was all that Sirius managed to say.

She shrugged, “Three was convenient once…before Dev and Adrian got their own…I’m never around to use them anyways….So I’ll be quite glad to be left with only two, really.”

She smiled at him, and it took him a moment before he realized what she was telling him.

“Wait…No…Alex, I can’t accept…I mean…”

“Stop making noise, Sirius. I’m giving you one of these and that’s that. Merry Christmas. Besides, I want to see this flying motorbike of yours.”

Sirius was speechless, but he finally wandered over to where Alex was standing to give her a bone crushing hug, before whispering. “Thank you. Which one’s mine?”

Alex grinned, “Take your pick.”

He sauntered around the three bikes, before stopping at the sporty blue one. He stared at it with a lopsided grin, running his fingers over the seat and handles, before something hit him in the face. Catching it as it bounced down, he stretched it out and realized it was a thick leather jacket. He looked up in time to see a helmet flying his way also.

“Suit up, Sirius…We’re going for a ride!”

“What?! Are you insane?” Sirius yelled after he found his voice.

“Well yeah!” she replied with a grin. “I thought you knew the answer to that one?”

“But it's like 2 in the morning! And it’s cold and dark and I don’t know how to ride a bike and…”

“Honestly Sirius, if I didn’t see you standing there and moving your mouth, I wouldn’t believe the things you’re saying. So what if it’s early and dark and you don’t know how to ride a bike? Obviously I do, and I’m gonna teach you as soon as we get out of town. As for the cold, well we do have a little thing called magic. Nothing a few warming spells can’t handle, right?”

He gaped at her as she pulled open a large door leading outside. A cool breeze drifted in and made him shiver, and seeing her look of amusement and determination, decided it be best if he did indeed put on his jacket and helmet. She laughed as she made her way over to her—his—bike. Throwing a leg over it, Alex said, “You get to sit in the back, but just wait a second. Watch, this is how you kick start it.”

He watched as she held back the handles and put a small lever down with her foot, and started to push it down, like a downward kick. The engine roared to life and she rotated her right wrist quickly to rev it. She slowly rode out of the garage and he followed her, closing the door behind him as she told him to, before getting on behind her. He hesitated as to where he should put his hands, before Alex said, “Unless you plan on falling off and dying, you better hold on…around the waist if you wouldn’t mind.”

Sirius did as he was told, interlocking his fingers on her stomach.

“Ready?” she said, her voice ringing softly, as if in tune with the purr of the engine.

“Yeah,” he answered, but he wasn’t prepared to be suddenly jerked backwards as the bike sprang forward, cold wind biting into his half covered face. Alex drove through the Buckingham grounds, and Sirius noticed she was taking a back route out instead of the main gates. Around the fountains and gardens he had seen from his own window and all the way to the back, before she made a sharp turn. She slowed down as they clambered over a few bumps and through an unnoticeable narrow gap in the wall covered by vines and flowers. They were soon on a gravel road through the Royal Gardens park behind the palace, and Sirius noticed a tennis court and a rather large lake—though he remembered Alex saying something about it being artificial—before merging onto a main road. She sped up, faster than before. He could feel her heart pounding, and could hear the gears clicking as the scenes zoomed by them. Though he was excited, he couldn’t help but think about an imminent death as Alex sped through the roads quite recklessly. When five minutes had passed and they still hadn’t crashed, he started to relax, and finally the exhilaration and adrenaline rush took effect. And really, he didn’t feel that cold anymore.

Within what felt to Sirius about a half hour, they were out of main London, and into a slightly more rural area, or at least a less dense area. They had ridden past Hyde Park, past rows and rows of houses and buildings. Now the houses were more spaced out, and pretty trees and yards lined the winding road they were on. But Alex just kept going, right until they made it up a large hill. Stopping under a large willow tree not too far from a small cozy looking house, she turned off the bike, took off her helmet and turned to face him.

“And…?” she asked, her eyes twinkling in the moonlight.

“Well, after my heart restarted and acclimatized to the fear of crashing into every lamppost and car, it wasn’t too bad,” he said, taking off his helmet also. “Where are we?”

“Er…somewhere around Elstree I think. There’s a bunch of green space here that’s good for learning to ride…softer landings,” she said with a smile.

“And are we allowed to be using this green space?”

Alex shrugged and slid off the bike. “It’s good for night though because the park down there actually has lamps.”

“Hey, wait…where are you going?” Sirius asked.

“Obviously it’s your turn,” she replied with another smile. “Don’t worry; I’m just switching places with you.”

She pushed him forward and sat behind him, putting on her helmet once again. “Alright. On the left side of the handles is the clutch; on the right is the brake and throttle. There’s also a back brake with your left foot, but don’t worry about that one for now. Hold the clutch and brake both down and steady yourself with your feet on the ground, and kick start the bike. Good. You use your foot to change gears, we go to one first so that’s down.” She waited until she heard the familiar click and then continued. “Using your left hand you slowly release the clutch, and with your right, you slowly release the break and slowly add some gas,” she explained as the bike started to inch forward very slowly.

Note to self—emphasis on slowly, Sirius thought wryly, I wonder what would happen if I just let g—
They both yelled as the bike jerked forward and did a wheelie, causing Alex to slide off and hit the ground while Sirius just barely manage to stay on. But as soon as the bike hit the ground again, the engine shut off, Sirius lost his balance and jumped off just in time before the bike toppled over onto its side.

Alex stood up, and walked over to Sirius who looked almost catatonic. “I said SLOWLY!” she yelled, though quite playfully, and giving him a punch on the arm. “Well what are you waiting for? Pick the thing up again, we don’t have all night you know!”

He bent down to lift up the bike and silently marveled at its weight, though Alex seemed to have noticed. “Not exactly a feather, huh?”

Sirius didn’t reply, but restarted the bike again. She sat down behind him, and this time held him around the waist. “Right, do it again…slowly!”

He nodded, and started to release the brake and clutch, and the bike rolled forward. “When you get to the end of the release, add some more gas. When you hear the engine starting to get louder, in other words the RPM going up to about 2500—that’s that display there—press the clutch and change gears to second with your foot. That’ll be two up.”

She waited until he did it, and smiled as the bike jerked forward again when he released the clutch again.

“Stay on two for a bit, make some turns and stuff, get a better idea of how the bike moves. Then do the same thing and go up to three.”

They zoomed around the park, and after a few engine stalls, a couple falls and some near-death experiences, Sirius finally felt comfortable riding the motorbike. They stopped in the middle of the park near a swing set, and leaving the bike at the side, they started to swing back and forth. And soon he was feeling her undergo that changing phase again, and courageously decided this was as good a time as any to get some answers.

“Alex?” Sirius’ voice finally broke the silence of the eerie swing screeches.

“Hmmm?” she managed to get out, her head resting on the chain of the swing and her eyes closed.

“Why are you so nervous about tomorrow?” he asked. She opened her eyes and looked at him. “I mean, I know you’re going to have to face your parents but…I don’t know, it just doesn’t seem to me like you’d be so anxious about that…”

His voice trailed off into a pause where only the swings echoed in the night again. Alex licked her lips, hesitating whether or not she should tell him. She drew a breath and finally replied. “Well, the thing is…Darcy and I suspect that he might be…er…trying to marry me off again…”

Sirius stuck his legs out and stopped swinging, looking at her in shock. “Marry you off? What do you mean again? You’re only 18!”

“To him, more like already 18,” she said gingerly. “He tried doing it last year too.”

He thought about it for a couple of seconds, and suddenly everything made sense—why she was in 7th year but a year older, the meaning behind the letters, how she nearly said ‘married’ a couple of times…

“Do…do you know to who?” he asked, his voice barely audible.

“Nope. Probably some random person from a country far away,” she replied, but though she seemed upset about it, it sounded like she had already made up her mind. That much he could definitely decipher of her mysterious behaviour.

“Why…?”

Alex sighed, and pushed herself off the ground a bit more, “My guess is he wants me to actually start acting like a princess, and by marrying me I’m sort of not his problem anymore, you know?”

“But that’s horrible!”

She laughed wryly. “Believe me, I know. That’s partly why I ran away this past summer—I think he wanted me to meet the person the next day. I guess me not turning up caused a bit of a ruckus.”

“Is that why Evans was so…angry when she first saw you on the train?” he asked, remembering Lily’s reaction to Alex sitting calmly in the compartment.

“Probably.”

Another pause overcame them, but Sirius ploughed on. “What are you going to do?”

“Play along for now, see what he’s actually up to. And then talk to him I suppose, though I don’t know how much good that’ll do.”

Sirius deemed she had enough of the question/answer period, and standing up, led her back to the bike. “Maybe we should get back.”

She nodded, and put on her helmet. Getting back onto the bike, she was just about to start it up when a voice cut through the silent night.

“HEY! What are you doing here?”

“Oh no bloody way,” Alex muttered under her breath, “Which bloody constable patrols this park at this bloody hour?”

The constable walked closer to them, as they subtly positioned themselves, Alex’s foot resting above the gears.

“Wait there!” he yelled as he neared. “This park is not open to the public at this time of night, nor are any vehicles allowed in it.”

“Look, officer, I can explain…” Alex started. Sirius noticed her gripping the clutch and brake, and immediately tightened his hold on her.

The constable shook his head and took out a writing pad, “That’ll be a fine miss, no matter what happened. Now to what name shall I make the ticket out to?”

“Name?” Alex repeated. “Alexandria Edwards.”

The officer looked up from his writing in shock, and Alex smiled at him before starting the bike, and letting go of the clutch and brake, the wheels burned out on the dusty path before they rocketed out of there, both laughing insanely.


Chapter 27: Just to Dance with You
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Author's Note:  Here's to the summer and to the 2nd longest chapter!!  
Thanks to everybody reading and reviewing!  I really appreciate it!
Enjoy!

PS- Just a reminder that my Buckingham Palace and Royal family are fictional.




In this world there's nothing I would rather do
I discovered I'm in love with you
'cause I'm happy just to dance with you
 
The Beatles

Birds were chirping merrily somewhere not too far away. A cold breeze whisked by as the sun shone down on their sleeping figures. Alex slowly opened her eyes, silently cursing the stupid birds for having the nerve to sing like that in December, when they were supposed to be somewhere warm and far away. She shivered as another breeze caught her off guard, and she leaned in closer to the warm body beside her. Wait. Warm body what? She actually opened her eyes, and saw none other than Sirius sitting, well sleeping in a sitting position, contently beside her, his arm wrapped around her shoulder. She smiled, not at all bothered by it. What she was bothered by was the fact that she couldn’t quite bring to mind where she was.

She looked around, and found she was surrounded by four rounded glass walls, an open door across from her. They were sitting on a padded bench in the middle of the small room, trees and flowers planted in pots and baskets in every which way she looked, the sunlight streaming softly through them. Outside, she could dimly make out the shape of the motorbike, leaning on its stand against the silhouette of a building, and then it all came back to her; their little escapade with the bike last night, after which they had stopped by for a drink and consequently ended up in one of the greenhouses on the palace grounds. She smiled, content now that she knew where she was, and closed her eyes again, preparing to lean her head back down on Sirius’s chest. But as soon as she closed them, they snapped open again. She checked her watch, and shot up from her comfortable position.

“DAMN IT!” she yelled, and Sirius stirred. “Damn it all to hell! Stupid birds! Couldn’t you have woken me up earlier!”

Sirius awoke when Alex’s screams echoed off the glass walls and hit him with a resounding force in the face. He shook his head, trying to really awaken and gain his bearings, which was proving difficult as Alex was still yelling, though now she was outside the glass dome and trying to start up the bike.

Slowly he got up and walked over, “What’s the matter?”

“We need to go….Well I need to go,” she corrected, and the bike finally gave a loud roar as it sprang to life. Sirius looked extremely confused and still very sleepy. “You can stay here and walk back, or get on now.”

He blinked.

“NOW!” Alex shouted, and he quickly jumped onto the bike, just barely making it as the bike jumped and started on its way—very fast—to the palace.

“Can you please tell me what’s going on?” Sirius shouted from behind her, not sure if she would hear him over the noise of the wind and engine.

“It’s the 24th, and I’m late,” was all she managed to say as she shifted another gear, the building in front of them becoming larger with every passing second.

“Late for what?”

“For them! Oh please god let their plane be delayed!”

Another two seconds passed, and they were soon at the back of the palace. Alex slid the bike to a stop, jumped off and not even bothering to put it away, started to run through the doors. Sirius hesitated, not sure if he should put the bike away for her, or follow her now. Her almost disappeared figure made the decision for him…no way in hell would he be able to find his way back to his room in time for whatever they were late for. He jumped off, and after carefully leaning it on its stand, ran after Alex’s echoing footsteps.

He soon made up for his lost ground, and was now running directly behind her, through hallways, past rooms and staff who stared at them with wide eyes, through the kitchen, up the stairs and finally through the hall to their rooms where they were met by the other three who were slowly walking towards them.

“GUYS!” Alex yelled as she skidded to a stop beside them, Sirius doing the same behind her.

“Hey where you two? It’s past 11am already—“ James started to say.

“Never mind!” Alex yelled again, stopping James mid-sentence. They all stared at her, bewildered. “Has Darcy been here?”

“No,” Remus replied.

“Delayed!” she yelled frantically as she burst into her room, the others staring after her. “Please please please be delayed!”

Slowly, they followed her in, her voice still bouncing off the walls as she rummaged through her closet. Within two minutes she came out looking very sophisticated and pretty, yet not as she had for their past two outings. This outfit was more…formal, more conservative. Her short hair was amazingly done up in some sort of sleek bun, with wisps falling onto her face. She was pulling on shoes as she gargled in the bathroom. All four friends were too shocked to say anything, not quite sure what was going on. Running by them on her way out, she stopped for a moment to say, “Sorry. Stay hereabouts, I’ll come get you guys soon…”

And with that she left them, sprinting out of her room and down the hall.

“How can she run dressed like that?” James finally said. “I mean, the skirt and the heels…Uh, why is she running?”

He looked at Sirius, as if expecting him to know the answer, but he only shrugged in return. “All she said is that she’s late, and it’s the 24th.”

“Oh…” Remus said after a moment. “We’re so stupid, how could we forget?”

“Forget what?” James asked, but already Lily’s eyes were widening in understanding.

“They couldn’t have come in without us knowing though, could they?” Lily asked quietly, and James and Sirius finally caught on. “We’d have heard…something…”

Sirius laughed wryly as he sat himself down on a couch, “If it were anybody else’s house, then yeah, Lily, we’d have heard.”

They stared at each other in silence, before James broke it again. “She said she’s coming back, right? Then maybe we should make ourselves… presentable…?”

They all nodded their agreement and separated to their own rooms to get ready for whatever was coming…

Meanwhile, Alex had made it to the lower floor West Façade, cursing under her breath. Having stopped for only a moment to ask whether they had returned and received an affirmative, she increased her speed, checking her watch. Only 34 minutes late… She slowed down once within a couple feet of the parlor they always used, to catch her breath and regain her composure. She cringed as she heard voices coming from the room, though the door was closed. Outside the door stood Laurent—her father’s secretary—conversing in hushed tones with one off the Palace staff.

“…well go find her!” Laurent said.

“I’ve searched everywhere, sir,” the butler replied. “She doesn’t seem to be in the palace."

“She can’t be thick enough to miss this! She must be here somewh—"

“Hello, Laurent,” Alex said as she walked up behind him. She nodded her head towards the butler, whom she now recognized. “Emmett.”

Emmett smiled at her, while Laurent glowered. “Do you have any idea what time it is?” 

“Yes, I do,” Alex replied casually, as she grasped the handle. Taking a deep breath, she turned it, and stepped inside the bright room. Her parents were sitting on the couch, and Darcy stood behind them. Resisting the urge to gag at the interior decoration, she made two steps forward, and after quickly catching eyes with Darcy, bowed her head and curtsied.

“Alexandria,” her father said evenly.

She looked up, “Sorry I’m late, father, mother.”

An awkward pause as the four of them exchanged glances.

“Is that all you have to say?” her father said.

Her brow furrowed, and the familiar frustration started to build up inside her. Typical. “What else should I be saying?”

His eyes narrowed and Darcy sighed, putting his head in his hands. “Perhaps you would like to give a reason for being 37 minutes late, or apologize for running away four months ago.”

“Well, sir, I was late because I was so busy preparing for your arrival I lost track of time,” she said, not bothering to hide her sarcasm. His expression clearly told her he was not amused, and expected her to go on with the next part. “As for apologizing for running away, I’m sorry but I can’t be sorry for that. And it wasn’t really running away in the first place…just an extended trip away from here.” 

Darcy stared at her as if she finally did lose her mind, and she herself was surprised at what she was saying. She usually didn’t start off the conversation so negatively and sarcastically…that, if it ever came, since she usually did try to behave during these conferences, came at the end.

Another pause.

“How was your trip?” Alex asked.

“Fine.”

“Wonderful,” she replied in the same tone. Yet another pause. She beat her arms against her sides. “Perhaps I should introduce my friends.”

Her father gave a stiff nod, and she backed out the doors, murmuring something about being right back before he had a chance to respond.

“Done already?” Laurent asked as he met her in the hallway again.

“Getting my friends,” she said.

“I’ve already sent for them,” Laurent replied a tad scornfully, gesturing to a bench a couple meters away down the hall, where the four anxious teens sat.

“You shouldn’t have,” Alex responded under her breath, walking towards them as they got up.

“Alex I’m sorry I borrowed another outfit—“ Lily started to say quickly, but was cut off by a raised hand from Alex.

“You look great. All of you.” She paused, biting her lip. “Alright, so I hate to do this to you, but if you want me to live a bit longer can you please just grin and bear it?”

They nodded hesitantly, not quite sure what they were getting into.

“When we go in, bow—Lily you curtsy—and kind of incline your head, and then if he extends a hand, shake it. Um…your majesty or your grace will do…try not to talk too much…I’m not sure if he knows Darcy’s already met you so watch for what happens and just play along…the end has the same ritual as the beginning, and back out facing forward…if he mentions the ball thank him for the invites…oh, and just in case you’ve forgotten, he knows nothing about Hogwarts so please be clever and don’t fall into any traps…Ready?”

She said this all so fast the four of them just stared with open mouths, barely registering what she said. But when she looked at them expectantly, they all nodded reassuringly.

“Alright then. Here we go.”

Alex walked back to the double doors, her friends following in her footsteps. Ignoring the looks of resentment from Laurent (who seemed to have an objection to this many teenaged friends of Alex in the Palace all at once), they entered the room, each doing as they were told.

“Welcome to Buckingham,” Charles said with a cheery grin, which surprised Alex to say the least. But then again, she thought, he wouldn’t want to give a bad impression even if they are just my friends

“Sirius Black, James Potter, Remus Lupin, and Lily Evans, sir,” Alex recited, as each stepped forward to shake hands.

“Sirius…an interesting name,” he commented, his gaze not omitting the fact that he seemed to be standing rather close to his daughter. “Named after the star?”

“Yes, your majesty,” Sirius replied with more grace and elegance than any of them could have imagined he possessed. “A longstanding tradition in my family.”

“Oh? Such as?” he inquired, and for a second all four faces turned to Sirius who had a habit of getting into a bad mood at the subject of his family.

“Well, your majesty, my brother is Regulus and I have a cousin named Andromeda,” he replied smoothly.

“I see. So tell me, you all attend the same school as Alexandria?”

“That’s where we met,” Alex said irritably. Honestly, what kind of stupid question was that? He seemed to have caught the tone, and gave her a harsh look.

“And how are you enjoying your holidays?”

“Most excellently, your majesty. Thank you for the honour of allowing us to stay,” Lily stepped in, much to Alex’s relief as she caught they boys’ eyes which seemed to have a different, wittier, response at the tips of their tongues.

“Not at all, it is my pleasure.” Her stifled laugh at Sirius’ expression turned into a stifled scoff at his remark, though in the silence of the room it seemed much louder. “Well it was lovely to meet you, I do hope to see you at the ball tonight.”

“Without a doubt, your grace,” James said, and they all nodded, and taking their cue to leave, headed backwards for the door, Alex on their heels.

“Stay, Alexandria,” the voice commanded as she was about to leave the room behind Sirius, who gave her a quick wink of reassurance and gently brushed hands as he reached for the door to close on his way out. He saw her smile, as he shut the door on her. Stepping forward to her position again, she waited for him to begin. “What delightful friends.”

She looked up from the pattern on the carpet she had been studying, looked up to give her father a disdainful glance. “Thank you…?”

Darcy stifled a chuckle, disguised as a cough.

“Now, on to other more pressing matters. Do you remember Jacob?”

She scoffed, “Do I remember him? I can’t bloody forget him the annoying twat.”

Darcy grinned, as her parents did a double take on her language. She herself was surprised for saying it. But her father continued with a hard glare, “He has recently finished his military college and training and is back in London. He will be your escort for the night.”

“Jacob? My escort? I thought we already figured out that doesn’t work,” she muttered, recalling the two or three times they were partnered. “We don’t get along very well remember?”

Her father thought about it for a moment, and then said, “What about Michael?”

“Ha, not unless he wants another broken nose or worse,” Alex replied evenly, though Charles was now seething, but seeming to take her threat seriously.

“Then who do you suggest?”

“Sirius,” she said before she knew it. She caught Darcy gaze, and smiled at his knowing smirk and twinkling eyes. Her father’s eyes narrowed, but somehow they seemed more amusing to Alex than intimidating.

“Certainly not, and don’t think I haven’t noticed his behaviour towards you.”

She had to laugh at this, “What behaviour?”

“Never mind, we’ll deal with that later. Since you object to Michael, then you will have to settle for Jacob.”

“Done,” she replied without a thought, before her father decided to be less gracious as a procession of past and possible escorts danced before her mind’s eye. Though not getting along with Jacob was an understatement, she doubted he’d be leaving with a broken nose. “Can I leave now?”

“Yes, and I expect to see you promptly at five for dinner, and then at eight at the entrance for the greetings.”

“Very well.”

She left the room with only a glance at Darcy, trying to say that they’ll talk later. Finding her friends waiting outside in the hallway for her, she gestured to them to follow her, back to her room. As soon as they were all seated and waiting for her to start, she first turned to Remus, who as she just noticed, look slightly pale. She mentally scolded herself for forgetting about Remus too. “Are you alright?”

He nodded weakly, “Yeah, but I don’t think I’m gonna be able to stay for the ball. My mom’s sick, right, and I really think I ought to be home for tonight and tomorrow, at least.”

She paused for a second or two, before replying, “Whatever you think is best, Remus. I’m not gonna force you to stay, though you will no doubt disappoint my father seeing as he called you all ‘delightful’.”

“Does he talk like that all the time?” James asked lazily, his head in his arm and elbow on the chair. “Honestly, I thought I’d throw up right then and there.”

“Well thank you for sparing us,” Alex said with a smile.

“What a meeting though,” James continued. “It took all of what…45 seconds?”

“Hey, if I only get two minutes total after not seeing them in four months, how long did you think he’d spare of his precious time for you?” she said jokingly, though they all noticed the slight bitterness in her voice. She turned to Remus, “So when do you plan on leaving?”

“Maybe within an hour or two.”

She nodded and plopped down on the chair beside Sirius, “Thanks for being here these two days anyways.”

Just then the door opened and Darcy came into view. Alex jumped right back up and ran to give him a hug. He returned her embrace, before giving her an appraising look, “Have you honestly gone mad? I haven’t ever heard you talk to him like that.”

She shrugged as she made her way back to her friends, “Well what do you expect? He’s the one making the ridiculous commands.”

“Speaking of which, Jacob will be here soon,” Darcy said with a poorly disguised grin.

“How soon?” Alex asked her eyes narrowing.

“I was told about thirty minutes.”

“Right, well then that settles it,” she replied.

“Settles what, exactly?” Remus asked.

“That we’re going out now and having an early Christmas Eve celebration while Remus is still here, and we don’t plan to be back until its time to get ready for the ball.”
They all looked at her like she was crazy, again. Sirius was keeping a watchful and wary eye on her all the time, getting more worried by the minute.

“What?” Darcy finally asked.

“If Jacob’s on his way here then I’ll have to be a good hostess and stay with him all day, which is unlikely and sure to end up in some tragedy before the damned hell night even starts, hence we are leaving…and we need to put away that bike before he sees it.”

“Does that mean your missing dinner?” Darcy inquired, with a raised eyebrow. Seeing her nod, he shook his head. “This does not go under ‘playing along’. What should I tell him?”

“Uh…that I have one last charity event to attend,” she answered with a shrug. Before Darcy could protest that their father wouldn’t fall for that, she turned to her friends who were all still sitting. “Well let's go! Remus go pack and then we’re leaving!”

Remus was the first to stand and go to his room to pack, while the others slowly made their way out, Lily asking a quick question about attire, and Darcy on his way to look for Jacob and stall if the situation arose. So Sirius was left by the door, looking at Alex, fighting an inner battle rather desperately whether or not he should ask—

“Who’s Jacob?”

She looked up at him apologetically. “My escort for the evening. Not to mention one of the most annoying people I have ever met. Really, I haven’t spoken with him since he went off to wherever he went, like three or four years ago and even then we left off on hostile terms. Why my father would pick him…”

“Do you think maybe he’s the one he…well…you know?” Sirius asked hesitantly, thoughts of their conversation on the swings from the night before reawakening in his mind.

She waved a hand dismissively, “Makes no difference.”

He smiled, reassured by her comment and the way she was looking deep into his eyes. “Let’s go put that bike away, shall we?” 

                                                         * * *

They were walking up the parkway that led to Buckingham, Remus no longer by their side. But they were all laughing merrily, chatting in not so hushed tones.

“So how do we dance at this ball?” James inquired.

“We waltz,” Alex replied with a smile.

“That’s it?” Sirius added.

“Yeah, we waltz slow, and waltz fast, and maybe somebody will do a tango or foxtrot in between, but then its back to waltzing again.”

“Great,” James said, his sarcasm not omitted.

Already through the doors of the palace and up the side stairs so that they wouldn’t be seen, they made their way through the hallways. They were a couple of steps from their rooms, and halfway through a conversation about quidditch when a deep husky voice called out from behind them.

“Alexandria!”

She froze midstep, as did the others when they saw her stiffen. Slowly, she turned her head to greet the approaching figure.

“Alexandria,” he repeated himself extending his hand.

“Jacob?” she asked in shock, partly because in front of her stood somebody she barely recognized and in part due to his extended hand in such a civil greeting they had never before bothered with. He stood dressed in a dark blue naval officer uniform, the childish face she remembered matured into a handsome face with sharp contours. She shook her head, and gave him her hand after a moment’s indecision, half expecting him to pull one of his tricks. But to her relief he acted the gentlemen and only softly brought it to his lips. “Jacob, I thought I told you not to call me Alexandria.”

He smiled, flashing his white teeth, “Oh but that was many years ago, when you didn’t look like this, and we could both make do with such an ambiguous name. I must say, these four and a half years made you quite curvy and good looking.”

“It’s Alex either way, get it?” she said, poking him in the chest, glowing with pride at Sirius’ automatic protective step toward her.

“Got it, ma’am,” he replied still smiling.

“None of that either or you’ll be singing a different tune by the time this night is through. What are you doing up here anyways?”

Jacob shrugged. “The dinner was just about over and I thought I should look for you. I was told you were at a charity dinner but…” his eyes scanned over her attire, “…is it possible you weren’t?”

“I was. And my friends were with me. Jacob meet Lily, James and Sirius.”

He stepped forward and shook hands with each of them, “From school?”

“Yes,” Sirius replied, still silently fuming at Jacob’s bold comment about Alex’s curves…only he was allowed to comment on them. Alex raised an eyebrow at the smidge of hostility in his reply, but before anything else could be said or done, Darcy came running down the hallway to them.

“Hey guys. You should be getting ready,” he said, and Alex nodded, and the boys went to their room as Lily went towards Alex’s. Alex stayed behind for a moment.

“Jake, you should probably wait for me down by the—“

“Stairs,” he finished. “I remember, believe it or not.”

“Just give me a minute and I’ll come down with you,” Darcy told him as he followed Alex in to her room.

“How was dinner?” she asked him with a smirk.

He gave her a look that wiped it off her face, “Listen, I don’t think he bought the excuse, and in fact I’m pretty sure he thinks you went off gallivanting through town with Sirius, and to say he’s not exactly fond of him at the moment would be an understatement. I think he saw you two putting away the motorbike.”

“So?”

“So I suggest you behave properly and maybe lay off Sirius a bit unless you want him to do something rash,” Darcy finished.

Alex pursed her lips in thought, before replying, “I’ll keep that in mind.”

Darcy nodded and was half way out the door when she called him, “Darcy?”

“Yeah?”

“Thank you,” she said softly, and he smiled once before closing the door behind him.

Alex made her way towards her wardrobe where Lily was already putting on the cream coloured sequined dress—very classy and old fashioned—she had picked out earlier that day. She wandered through her wardrobe, and finally settled on a simple, completely red dress, very puffed out at the bottom. Ha, lay off Sirius, she thought wryly, I barely touched him.

“Alex?” a timid voice asked, making her jump.

“What?” Alex snapped.

“Carmen and Roger are here,” she replied, slightly shocked at the tone in her friends’ voice.

Alex nodded, and told Lily to go ahead without her.

In the boys’ room, things weren’t going as well either as the two boys dressed in borrowed outfits from Darcy, magically tailored to fit them perfectly.

“Sirius, you alright?” James asked as he straightened out his bowtie.

“Fine,” came the brusque reply.

James sighed. This was not normal. Surely he never acted like this whenever Evans was on his mind…? “Look, just relax. Alex likes you, not Jacob.”

“I said I’m fine,” Sirius nearly shouted as he threw on his tux jacket. “Sorry. I just…have a lot on my mind.”

James nodded empathetically, and together they left their room and went to wait by the grand staircase as they were told. The main hall was filling with glittering colours and sparkling jewelry, and they barely noticed the time go by as they watched the spectacle of bejeweled nobility pass by them. They did however, notice when Darcy came to stand beside them.

“They’re not down yet?” Darcy asked, looking slightly worried. “She’s cutting it really fine—already missed the entrance greetings.”

“Where’s Jacob?” Sirius asked.

“There’s been a change in plans, so he’s waiting in the ballroom, and I’m supposed to bring her there.”

“And who are you escorting?” Sirius asked, trying to scope out the situation.

“Nobody, actually,” he said with a smile of relief, but seeing Sirius’ worrisome expression continued. “He picks people to escort her in hope that she’ll behave, but it’s never really worked.”

“What do you mean, behave?” James asked, quite curious.

Darcy shifted from foot to foot, before saying, “Well, you know, be good? Like a princess. Mostly I think he does it so that that someone will stop her from disappearing half way through. She always does though, at least for an hour.”

Sirius perked up at this. “She literally disappears?”

“She usually comes back, but when she goes out for that hour or two she’s unfindable. I think she tries to keep herself sane that way or something…” Darcy trailed off, and after a moment’s thought said, “Listen, you haven’t ever seen her like this before, and just so you know, she lays the charade on pretty thick. Don’t take anything she does or says seriously tonight, alright? And don’t mind the fact that she’ll probably talk to you three maybe once or twice throughout the night.”

Though he was talking to both of them, Sirius felt as if it was directed at him, and wondered if Darcy had figured out that there was something more than friendship between him and Alex.

“Damn,” James whispered as he looked up past Darcy and Sirius who were locked eyes, as if having a secret silent conversation. They turned to see what James was looking at, and both smiled as they saw Alex and Lily at the top of the stairs, looking spectacularly ravishing in their contrasting colours of red and cream, long elbow length gloves pulled on, and bespeckled with soft, flattering jewels. They slowly walked down the stairs, gowns slightly pulled up and revealing very pretty shoes. James pushed by the two of them, to take three steps up and taking Lily’s hand in his, brought it slowly to his lips, before taking it under his arm.

But Sirius couldn’t move. Darcy’s words echoed in his mind as he looked up at his girl whom he barely recognized. It was as if the whole changing vibe she had been radiating the past few days finally culminated in this. She had a different expression, and even when she smiled it wasn’t the heartfelt heart melting smile he had gotten used to that made his pulse pick up. She carried herself differently, and something about her and her sharp eyes gave the impression that she just created a bubble around herself. She really did look like a princess, a large tiara on her head sparkling through the dim lights.

“Sirius?” her voice called out to him, but it wasn’t the same melodious sound. It had a sharp edge to it that threatened anybody that dared to talk to her who wasn’t in the same class as her with a painful social death. She repeated herself, “Sirius?”

He blinked. Maybe he had just imagined it all, because there was that ringing in his ears that came up every time she said his name in such a worried, loving way. “Yes, princess?”

She grinned, though only half-heartedly. “You look great.”

“Not so bad yourself,” he replied.

“Thank you, sir,” she said, and taking Darcy’s arm, said in a softer voice, “Try to have fun tonight Sirius. Now go on into the ballroom. I’ll be along shortly.”

Nope, he hadn’t imagined it, Sirius thought wearily, as he watched her walk away, head held high. He watched in surprise as the crowd parted before them, sinking into a graceful bow as they passed by. He sighed, shook his head and went to find James and Lily. Though his mind was occupied with Darcy’s short speech and images of Alex in her real princess outfit, he couldn’t help but admire the finery and grandeur of the ballroom. He noticed the King and Queen sitting at the head of the room in throne-like chairs, red and purple drapery hanging behind them. He soon found James and Lily, and was about to stand by them when horrible images of being a third wheel started to form in his mind. Instead he started to look around at the girls, trying to find one he might be able to dance with, but he was interrupted by the crowd gasping and parting to make a pathway from the doors to where her parents sat. As he watched them come nearer, he vaguely wondered why Darcy didn’t where a crown…but as the crowd beside him started to bow, he was caught in a moment’s indecision before following the wave and also bowing, his heart seemed to break a bit when she walked right by him and didn’t even spare a glance in his direction. With a pang he realized it was because he was grouped with everybody else beside him as lower class, and thoughts of her being too good for him, too high above, too cultured and refined plagued his already troubled mind.

When they had walked by and the crowd straightened out again, he watched along with everybody else as they made their way to the centre of the room, where they stopped, the king and queen walking towards them also. Then the siblings parted, each seeming to search for somebody. Darcy came back soon with Jacob by his side, while Alex emerged a while later, with a breathless and protesting Lily. Sirius automatically searched for James, and was surprised to find him by his side, arms folded over his chest.

“You know, maybe Alex doesn’t deserve that shrine in my closet after all,” he muttered. 

Sirius couldn’t help but smile, “Of course she does. Don’t you remember her saying every girl wants to be a princess? That includes Lily, and she’s making it happen for her tonight.”

James seemed comforted by the thought, and slightly relaxed, but both boys cringed when their girls were caught in the arms of their partners. Then a loud, lilting graceful waltz sounded from the orchestra, and all three pairs started to dance, as the guests watched, some murmuring amidst themselves, about who the beautiful girl dancing with the prince was, and why was she honoured with such a privilege.

The hours passed, and Sirius downed another glass of punch. James and Lily were dancing amid the twirling pairs. He had danced a couple of times also, mostly with girls he had noticed were eyeing him hungrily. Once, in the beginning, Alex had came to find him to dance, and when they danced that graceful waltz, it was as if time stood still.  He had loved it so much, and couldn't help but feel proud that he was the one dancing with her, the one she liked.  But every other time she was either in the arms of Jacob or some official looking partner. And he had watched almost each time, admiring her dancing. He couldn’t help but think how she fit in perfectly amidst all these glittering gowns and into the grand atmosphere. Was she really acting this out? Or was she actually enjoying this?

Now his eyes were scanning the crowd, but he couldn’t find the sparkling tiara anywhere. He glanced up at the clock and found it was almost two in the morning, already Christmas. Yet so far it wasn’t turning out to be a very happy Christmas at all. Then his stomach upturned as he saw the familiar red dress escape onto the balcony. He at once went after her, anxious to talk to her; to go with her if this was the point of her disappearance. When he saw her leaning against the railing, he took a few steps towards her. Taking a deep breath, he was about to call her name when somebody did it for him. He stopped midstep, and silently cursed under his breath as somebody familiar yet someone he hadn’t met before appeared out of nowhere beside her. Before she could turn around to see him, he ducked behind a conveniently placed tree, and watched what would happen.

“Good evening,” the man said, his voice velvety.

Alex turned to look at him. “Aren’t you supposed to be in France or Switzerland or someplace?”

“Yeah, but I wouldn’t miss this for anything.”

“Do you ever give up, Michael?”’

Ah. Michael…the guy from the picture…Sirius thought, and automatically became panicked, jealous and slightly hopeful for another broken nose.

“What do you mean?” Michael asked.

Alex waited until a few people walked by, smiling graciously at them before replying, “I really didn’t know your daft enough to try again. Anxious for another dent in your face?”

He cringed. “Alex, I realized I never properly apologized to you after that night, and I wanted to do it now, so will you let me?”

Her gaze narrowed, but she gave a soft nod.

“I really am sorry. I don’t know what came over me, but I think you know that I’ve always liked you.” He took a pause, and Sirius gulped. Suddenly he wasn’t so sure about eavesdropping. Why hadn’t he ever asked why she broke his nose in the first place…? “I’m sorry if I made things worse for you, but I really—“

“Michael, I appreciate your apology, but I’m really not in the mood to hear much more,” Alex interrupted, surveying his expression which looked heartbroken. She leaned in with a small smile and gave him a kiss on the cheek. He returned the small smile, before heading back inside.

Michael had just barely left her side, and she had just barely turned back towards the railing, looking out to the darkness as if searching for something, when another figure appeared by her side. A girl, dressed exquisitely, glittering in sequins and jewelry, Sirius guessed probably about the same age as Alex or himself. When he saw her face he identified her as one of the girls he had danced with earlier that night.

“Alex?” the girl asked.

Sirius watched as Alex’s shoulders stiffened, and very reluctantly turned to face the speaker. “Yes?”

“Er…How are you?”

Alex quirked an eyebrow, though it wasn’t the usual one of amusement. This one was something of annoyance and mocking. “I’m absolutely wonderful. How are you?”

“I’m alright,” she answered rather timidly.

“I haven’t wrecked your life then?” Alex asked, her tone harsh. The girl cringed.

“No.”

Before a silence could enfold upon them, Alex broke it without very much thought or finesse. “What do you want, Isabella?”

Isabella took a breath, before starting out slowly and hesitantly. “I just…well, I guess…you know I never meant all that…and those articles published…you know I’m sorry…”

Alex looked at her wearily, and Sirius couldn’t recognize the expressions splashing across her face, but he was starting to get worried. It occurred to him that so far both people had found her to apologize and wondered how many stories she had yet to share. Alex didn’t interrupt as Isabella rambled incoherently, but it didn’t quite seem to him like she was listening either. More like just letting her talk.

“…and well…I guess I should be thanking you, really…” Isabella concluded, sneaking the princess apprehensive glances as her eyes darted around.

“Thank me for what, exactly?” Alex finally said, and Sirius got the impression that she knew exactly what she was being thanked for, but the cruel sadistic side of her had asked the question to see her victim squirm before her. Sort of like what she did to Remus when they had been playing The Truth, except this time she didn’t back down.

Isabella took a moment before continuing, “Kevin was scum, and you showed that to me, and I repaid you horribly for it before. So, thank you.”

For a moment, Sirius thought Alex was going to snap back something vicious, but her face softened, though her tone was flat as she replied, “I’m glad you’re alright.”

It was evident from her tone that the conversation was closed. Isabella stood for a moment, uncertain how she should proceed, but then bowed her head and sank into a small curtsy before leaving Alex, who had once again turned out towards the dark of the gardens.

Now was Sirius’ chance to come out from his hiding place, but no sooner had he placed a foot out from behind the plant than he quickly pulled it back again, for Jacob had now appeared by her side. He silently cursed Alex’s popularity, before listening in once again.

“What are you doing out here?” Alex asked, a tone of slight anger evident. Clearly she wasn’t taking well to not being left alone for more than a minute at a time.

“Just wanted to make sure you wouldn’t be causing another ruckus with Michael and Isabella around,” he said with a grin. “Besides, I happen to be your escort.”

She growled, “I never liked that word. It’s supposed to be formal, but it sounds like I’m being escorted to prison, to my death or something equally sinister and dramatic.”

Sirius grinned and for a moment regained hope that Alex was still just Alex, but it was Jacob who spoke, “Well either way, I can’t leave you for too long.”

There was a pause, and Sirius carefully peaked out to see what was going on as low mutterings recommenced. He nearly ran over there when he saw Jacob leaning towards her, and he knew what that meant. He had taken that leaning position numerous times before.

“Why aren’t you torturing me as usual, Jake?” she asked.

“I never tortured you. Just made your life a bit more exciting—can you deny that?”

“Yes, I can.”

He smiled at her, and tucking a wisp of hair behind her ear, said, “You’re so beautiful.”
They looked at each other for a moment, though each differently. After the moment which seemed like eternity to poor Sirius behind the tree, Jacob leaned in further and was centimeters away from her lips when her voice rang out, “Don’t kiss me, Jake.”

He didn’t move, but responded, “Why not?”

“Oh lets see, maybe because I hate you, and I doubt you have any nicer reciprocal feelings,” she replied, before turning away, but he caught her at the elbow and turned her around to face him. “Let go.”

He shook his head, “I can’t let you disappear.”

Her eyes narrowed. “I knew you couldn’t have changed. And what did he promise you in return for keeping me reigned in and not being the arrogant bastard you usually are?”

“Hey, it’s not like I have a choice in this either…you may be beautiful, and yeah I still hate you but I can’t let you go see them.”

“Well if you don’t let go, then I don’t think I’ll have a choice,” she replied, her voice angry. “What do you prefer, black eye or social ruin?”

“As if you could ruin me,” he scoffed. “Or give me a black eye.”

“Is that so? Then perhaps I should announce right now to everybody in there about what you did that made you run away to that military college?”

He took a step back, in semi-skeptical shock. “You wouldn’t…”

“My silence for yours, Jake. That’s the way it’s always been between us, and nothing’s changed,” she said in a low whisper Sirius barely heard. He held his breath as the tension between the two mounted, and finally he let go of her arm. She smiled mischievously back at him. “I’ll be back later.”

She ran down the four steps and disappeared into the darkness of the palace gardens.

“Damn it,” he heard Jacob mutter as he walked by him.

With a final glance around, Sirius came out of his hiding place and ran after Alex. Though he wasn’t sure where he was going, he followed her footsteps, thankful for the occasional lamp that lighted the pathway. He panicked for a second when the sound of her footsteps against the gravel disappeared when they were quite a ways away from the palace, but turned onto the grass to follow the sound of her laughter, now earnest instead of false and pretentious. But just as he heard it, it disappeared again. He walked forward, and discovered why. She was in the same glass greenhouse they were in that previous morning. He strained his eyes to make out who was there with her, but all he saw were two figures—Alex the third—as they sat down, Alex on one of their laps, wrapping her hands around his shoulders, as she stretched out her legs across the other. Sirius thought he had to be imagining it. He had to be imagining the low voices and laughter, the hand that was rubbing circles into her bare back. His hands clenched into fists, his breathing deep and rushed. He saw red for a moment, before he unclenched his fists, and started to walk back to the palace. 

                                                            * * *

“Did you hear something?” Alex asked, lifting her head off his chest, and looking around.

“You’re imagining things again, you paranoid princess you,” said the voice from her left. “Or maybe it’s just the gin talking.”

“Aw thanks Adrian, that’s so sweet of you.”

“Well it better be—I’m giving up my sleep for you,” he replied with his crooked smile, completely ignoring the fact that what he said was not related at all.

“Hey, so am I!” Dev put in. “And you didn’t even bring us any food.”

“I got a bit caught up, but really, you guys both know I love you for it,” she said putting her head back on Dev’s shoulder. “I’m so tired of this.”

“I know, but you’re almost done,” Dev said comfortingly, still rubbing circles into her back. “Are you sure you don’t want to leave now and get some actual dancing done?”

Alex sighed.  There was really no way to describe her feelings.  She couldn't think of anything except for 'lousy'.  “Thanks, but I can’t leave them there by themselves—its bad enough I can’t hang with them.”

There was a small comfortable pause, as more swigs of gin were gulped and the bottle passed around from hand to hand and back again.  “So how’s Jacob?” Adrian asked with a grin. “Does he miss our pranks?”

She laughed, “I never got around to asking, but I’m guessing no. He tried to kiss me, you know.”

“Who?” Adrian asked lazily. “Sirius? But I thought you liked him—“

“No no…Jacob,” Alex replied, chuckling.  It did strike her as amusing that Adrian, and probably Dev too, had already picked up on her relationship with Sirius.  Because sure, she had spent a lot of time dancing with him, but other than that there hadn't been any actions or words to hint at something more than friendship between the two of them.  Had it really been that obvious?  Or was it just that her two best friends knew her better than anybody else, and immediately spotted the difference?

“Oh that’s it, we’re so going up there right now and kicking his ass,” Dev said, though very much sounding like he would rather just stay put and down another swig of gin.

“I wish you guys could,” Alex said, sounding apologetic. “I’m sorry for this.”

“Dria, we already told you to give up with the apologizing…just buy us a nice car and we’ll be even,” Dev replied, not missing a beat.

“Right.”

Dev's smile stretched as he continued, “Beside, us princes don’t fit in very well with those paupers” . And that was what Alex absolutely adored about Dev, aside from all the other things obviously.  He just had a way of making her calm down by saying the most random things.

Another lull in the conversation followed, but Adrian quickly broke it, "So how much more time do you figure you have?” 

“Maybe half an hour?” she said.

“Good, then I can tell you guys all about my plan for Marilyn,” Adrian said, clapping his hands together in a very evil mastermind-ish way.

“Why do you have a plan?” Alex asked.

“He’s planning on breaking up with her,” Dev explained.

“Right, so I figure if I take her to dinner first, and then maybe…” he started. 

                                                         * * *

Sirius was pacing the balcony nervously, not sure about whether or not he should confront her. After all, Darcy had said to not to mind if she ditched them, but this was different…he couldn’t take it anymore. He couldn’t stand not knowing what she was thinking, what her feelings for him were, and seeing her in that dark glass dome with two other men made him even more nervous.

“Sirius?”

He whipped around to face her voice, only to see the two figures retreating from her side back into the darkness.

“Is the coast clear?”

He nodded, unable to form comprehensible sounds, and only watched her walk up the stairs to him. She looked better, and really, as Darcy had said, sane again. That took a bit off his mind. He took in her fragrance as she came to stand close in front of him.

“Sirius, you’re worrying me…” she said, putting a hand to his forehead. “You’re not coming down with lycanthropy too, are you?”

He smiled at her attempted joke. “No, don’t worry about me.”

“How can I not, when you look ready to throw yourself off a cliff?” He gave her a meaningful glance and she continued. “I’m sorry about tonight. You know that the person who was parading around in there isn’t me…”

“No, the real you was out there in the greenhouse with two other guys,” he snapped, unable to keep his mouth shut.

“You…followed me?” she asked, appalled and yet amused at the same time.

“I had to, Alex. I can’t stand this anymore. I can’t stand not knowing where you are or who you’re with…who you want to be with…and all of this stuff…” here he threw an arm towards the ballroom, gesturing to it and everyone there “…I don’t fit in with all of that and you, even if you don’t like it, do…fit in, I mean…I just don’t know if this is right for us…”

As he rambled incomprehensibly, Alex pieced the broken sentences together and smiled, before putting a finger to his lips. “First of all, you know I hate all of this and don’t want any part in it, so don’t give me that rubbish about me fitting in because honestly, I have more enemies in there than friends. This isn’t me.”

She paused, as if to check that Sirius was following, though the pause wasn’t necessary—Sirius was hanging on to every word she said as if his life depended on it. “Secondly, you followed me, saw me, heard me…you said that the real me was there with two other guys, and yet you can’t figure out who I was with? I thought you knew me better than that.”

Sirius stared at her, into her sparkling eyes. “That was…Dev and Adrian…?”

She laughed, “Of course. Who else would meet me at three in the morning during a party in the middle of palace grounds—which they were banned from in the first place—with a bottle of gin?”

He shook his head, still not quite comprehending what she was saying. She noticed his doubt, and taking a deep breath, finally decided to say what has been begging to be said for weeks. “Sirius, in case you haven’t noticed, I need you. You have joined the circle of the few that keep me sane and happy, except when I’m with you, I feel a thousand times better than with anybody else, and that’s saying a lot because Dev and Adrian…well, you know our story.” She stopped for a breath, and to quickly catch his expression. “Something happens to me when I’m with you. It’s like, I’m honestly ‘all shook up’…

“… Sirius, I think…I think I love you.”

He looked at her, and suddenly he was wearing such a smile, and before she could realize what was happening, he swept her off her feet and pressed his lips to hers. She was in shock, but her body responded to his before her mind could sort out what was going on. When they finally pulled away, his arms were still around her waist, and hers around his neck, both were grinning madly.

“I love you more than I thought I could, Alex,” he said. “It’s like, when you’re not with me, there’s no point to my existence—I need you by my side.”

“Then come dance with me,” Alex said smiling after a short pause, her voice slightly shaking from hearing him say that to her.

“If I come with you now, I won’t be able to stop. And no one in there will be able to drag me away from you.”

“That’s fine with me, as long as you don’t mind making a headline or two and a few page articles about my mysterious dancing partner…er, possibly a talk with my father too,” she said with a real smile, and at once Sirius felt as if they were back at Hogwarts and none of this Buckingham nightmare had ever happened. This was the girl he knew and fell in love with. “Screw this charade, it’s coming to an end anyways, might as well end it with a bang.”

Before he could protest anymore, she pulled him back inside, onto the dance floor which was now occupied by fewer couples.


Chapter 28: Breaking Free
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Author's Note:  Hello!  Sorry for the wait!  Hope you like this chapter, even though it's a bit of tieing up loose ends and explanations and stuff.

Also, just to remind you, all my Monarchy stuff is completely fictional!
Oh, and there's quite a bit in here about arranged marriage, which again is fictional!  I don't mean to offend anybody!

Cheers!




I want to break free, I want to break free from your lies
You're so self-satisfied I don't need you, I got to break free
God knows, God knows I want to break free

Queen: I want to Break Free


The day after the ball, i.e. Christmas, everybody slept till past noon. When the four friends had woken up, they ate breakfast/lunch in bed while exchanging gifts. Not too long after, it was time for James, Lily and Sirius to leave. Except Sirius stayed behind. He couldn’t leave her when she needed him. So now, having already parted with the other two, they were still in their room, this time eating their dinner. Sirius was eating in silence, his mind wandering, as Alex examined the paper Darcy had brought in a few hours earlier.

“Hey look, you got a whole paragraph,” Alex said, pointing somewhere amidst words and words of the two page spread entitled Royal Matters: The Who, What, Where and When of the Annual Christmas Ball. She was quite surprised to see that for once, the article didn’t focus solely on her (they cut it down to about a page). According to them, she had finally acted normally enough, right up until she decided to spend the rest of the evening in the arms of Sirius. “They called you dashing and charming. Ha.”

Sirius smiled.

“I hope you don’t mind this?” Alex asked warily. “I mean, I doubt they’ll be able to dig up any dirt on you, but you know, they do have one hell of an imagination.”

He smiled again. “It’s alright. Nobody I know reads those papers anyways.”

She smiled back and continued to scan the article, looking for any hints as to who her mystery fiancé might be.

“Alex…?” Sirius finally asked after a pause.

“Hmmm?” she replied, in between a spoonful of soup.

Sirius seemed to hesitate for a moment, but then continued, "When you usually…er…disappear during an…um…event…do you always just sneak out to the back?"

Alex blinked, and then laughed, almost spraying soup all over him. "Of course not. That would have been way too easy for them to find me."

"Then why yesterday?"

She smiled. "Well I couldn't leave you guys all alone for too long, now could I? Besides, the human mind is a wonderful thing, you know. Once they assume I'll be off the grounds like I usually am, no one would bother looking for me."

"So where do you usually go then?"

"Usually we just hide out somewhere in some random corner of London, sometimes we might go to a club."

He paused, letting her eat some more of her soup, before starting again. "Alex? I just…I’m sorry if I come off as overbearing and jealous and protective and all sorts of things, and you probably really get annoyed of my questions…”

“Ask away, Sirius, I’ll try to answer them,” she replied, putting down her paper and looking at him.

“Right…well last night before you disappeared to see Dev and Adrian, you were out on the balcony and I was—“

“Hiding behind the tree and eavesdropping?” she finished with a small grin. “Well that’s a relief, I thought I’d have to chase down and kill yet another journalist.”

When he only looked at her, she put down her spoon and continued, “Let me guess, you want to know what Michael did that made me break his nose, why Isabella was apologizing, and what exactly Jacob did that he decided to run away?”

He nodded.

“Well, Michael…I sorta told you about him once, right?” Alex asked, and Sirius nodded again. She shrugged. “I tried letting him down easy, but that didn’t quite work. He got pretty angry at me and started insulting my friends, yelling his head off and causing a scene on the balcony during my birthday ball. So bam, broken nose.”

She paused, taking a few more spoonfuls. “Isabella…she was my friend. Became Dev and Adrian’s friend too, and she went on a few outings with us. But she, well the best explanation I figured was that she was jealous. And then one night—I dunno when it was, last May?—her scum dirtbag boyfriend, whom the three of us knew was cheating on her, but she didn’t want to listen when we tried telling her, decided to get drunk and kiss me.

“Well she had to see that, but obviously blamed it all on me, called me a slag and accused me of trying to steal her boyfriend, and that was the story she circulated,” she said. “I never got a chance to ask her how much she got paid for it, though.”

“That’s…horrible,” Sirius said, quite shocked as new pieces of Alex’s life were revealed. “And she apologized for it now…?”

Alex shrugged again, “A couple of weeks later she broke up with him. But by that time we stopped talking. Yesterday had been the first time we talked since then.”

“And Jacob?”

He was surprised to see Alex actually grinned, “Jacob…I actually have no idea why he ran away. That was a bluff. But it’s good to know there is a reason. Definitely good blackmail.”

“You are way too conniving for your own good,” Sirius replied with a grin, letting out a small breath of relief. He had been expecting worse. “So you and Jacob...bad blood, huh?”

“Oh yeah. We hit it off from the first day we met how many years ago. Never was there a minute of rest between us, and Adrian and Dev for that matter. Things got more interesting and complicated…and dangerous…when they got involved.”

They finished their dinner in near silence, with a few comments and stories here and there.

“Ready to go talk to your father?” Sirius finally asked.

Alex sighed, “No, but no point putting it off anymore.”

He took her hand, and they started on their way towards his study, admittedly walking much slower than usual. Giving her a small kiss on the forehead, he watched her go inside, before he turned to head back towards her room.

Inside, Alex stood awkwardly near the door, waiting for him to speak.

“Have a seat, Alexandria,” her father said as he gestured to the chair in front of his desk. She sat down, noticing that her mother was for once present at their meeting, though sitting in a corner quite a bit away from her. She shifted in her seat nervously as her mother’s gaze bore through her—there was something about it that made her uncomfortable. As if she knew something. Her father’s voice shook her out of it, “Did you have a nice time at the ball?”

She shifted a bit more, “Yes, thank you for inviting my friends.”

“Pleasure.” Alex scoffed, but if he heard it, he subtly ignored it. “However I was not too ecstatic about you dancing the night away with that Sirius boy. Did you at least have a chance to meet Prince Gustavo of Spain?”

She cringed, but replied, “Yes, I talked with him for a bit.”

“I see. And what do you make of him?” he asked, though still writing away.

“I think he’s a complete stiff,” Alex spat, and finally he looked up. “Didn’t even want to dance—so boring I thought I would—"

“I like him.”

“I don’t.”

His eyes narrowed. “He’s eligible.”

“He’s twice as old as me.”

“There is only a ten year difference, I believe,” he said quite adamantly. “And he’s next in line to the throne. England and Spain would both benefit from such a union.”

There was a pause, in which Alex contemplated running away now or begging for mercy. “Please, father you cannot be serious!”

“I am.”

“But—"

“I want you to think about it. I have a meeting to go to at the moment but we will discuss this tomorrow.”

He stood up, and left Alex alone in the room with her mother for about ten seconds, before she stood up and followed him out without a word. Alex held back the stinging tears in her eyes at her mother’s indifference and ran back to her room. Slamming the door behind her, Sirius barely managed to ask “And?”

“I don’t believe him!” she yelled.

“Not good, I assume?” Sirius said quietly.

“Not good? Bloody disastrous!” she flopped down onto the couch and grabbing the pillow started screaming and yelling into it for a good three minutes.

“Done?” Sirius finally asked. She nodded weakly. “Who is it?”

“That Spanish bloke,” she replied and Sirius’ jaw dropped.

“That is bad.”

“Right, let’s start packing then.”

“Er…packing?” Sirius asked, a bit alarmed at her sudden change in composure.

“Yeah, because after I talk to him tomorrow, and assuming he doesn’t disown me or torch me on the spot or refuse to marry a freak like me to someone as respectable as Gustavo…I run away and never return.”

“To where, exactly?”

She thought about it for a moment, “My cottage for now, then Hogwarts, and then we’ll see what else the future brings.”

He nodded, but before he could continue, a different voice cut in, “What are you going to do, live in Africa?”

“No, Darcy, I was thinking Venice actually,” she replied airily pulling out her trunk and a few more suitcases.

“Alex…” Darcy started, looking rather agitated.

“Seriously Darcy, I’m a witch. You think I can’t hide myself from the muggle world, including father?” she asked, pulling the afore mentioned suitcases into her room, followed by Sirius also dragging a trunk, and Darcy with his arms crossed.

“You’d be giving up everything!” he yelled, and she stopped and looked at him. It really hurt her seeing him so worked up, and all of a sudden she feared another falling out between them. Darcy seemed to be thinking along the same lines, and taking a few steadying breaths, continued, “What I mean is…is there no other way than running way?”

“Well sure there is—running away is plan C,” Alex replied starting to throw things into her trunk.

“Yeah, right after telling him no and then telling him she’s a witch,” Sirius added.

Darcy looked as if those two ideas were more preposterous than the first. “Do you have to tell him you’re a witch?”

“Believe me Darcy, I’d rather be disowned than have to run away again,” she said with a small smile. A pause overcame the three of them as more items landed in the trunk with a resounding clatter. “Anybody feel like going dancing?”

Sirius nodded weakly, but Darcy shook his head.

“Afraid of getting caught, Darce?” Alex asked with a weak grin, before turning to her wardrobe to take pack a few items from there.

“No, but I have other things to do…You two go ahead, and have fun. Actually, I better get going…I’m supposed to be at Parliament House in 10 minutes.”

“Right, well listen, if you don’t think you’ll make it in time, I could always apparate you there…” Alex said, poking her head out from the closet door.

“Or, you know…I could just be fashionably late,” Darcy replied with a grin.

“Ah, quite the badass, huh?” she joked back.

“You have no idea,” he said. “See you guys later.” 

                                                            * * *

Later that night, or rather, early the next morning, they were walking back to Buckingham Palace, having already parted with the twins. It was quiet, with only the sounds of their footsteps echoing off the walls. The sun was not yet risen, but the night sky was disappearing, and the moon was starting to fade away as Sirius and Alex walked hand in hand, surprisingly sober.

Sirius chuckled. "You know, I've been wondering, about Dev and Adrian…"

"What now?" Alex asked, slightly suspicious, though she couldn't help but smile. Sirius just couldn't seem to let go of her attachment to them.

This time he smiled at her, "Don't worry, its not to do with you. It's just, they're twins right? Yet, from what I've seen, they don't attract the same girls, based on their looks, which doesn't make sense…"

"Because they're identical twins," Alex finished for him, nodding along but grinning. "It might have escaped your notice, but they are two different people."

"Well obviously…but you couldn't tell just from the way they look."

"They have different hairstyles," Alex defended, though rather jokingly. She wondered how fast Sirius would get annoyed, but to her surprise, he looked at her wickedly with a smirk of his own. She would have taken a step back if it wasn't for his hand holding her in place.

"I bet if Dev didn't have that nasty scar to hide on his temple, his hair would have been just as short as Adrian's…"

Alex gasped. "He told you?!"

Sirius laughed at her horror. "Showed it too."

"That is IT! I've had it with those two! How many secrets are they going to spill?! Bah! Won't even let me live my life in peace! Well I'll give them something to smirk about."

He kept laughing as she ranted on and on, occasionally muttering death threats. "Really, though. They attract completely different girls."

"That's because Adrian pulls of the charming kiss-me-I'm-cute look, and Dev goes for the mysterious, smoldering you-know-I'm-hot look," Alex replied.

Sirius nodded—it seemed to make sense to him. Of course, this much lack of sleep, everything and anything makes sense, he thought to himself.  "So, what look am I?"

Alex pursed her lips. "Well you had a different look than the one you have now."

"Oh?" Sirius asked, raising his eyebrows.

"Yeah, before you were trying to do some weird mix of Adrian's and Dev's, put together with your own ego, it sort of came out like, "I'm godly, aren't I? So come on and kiss me already."

Sirius laughed, and stopped walking to turn to face her. "And now?"

She smirked. "Now its, I'm-godly-but-too-bad-for-you-I'm-taken."

"Wow does my look really say that much?" he asked, pulling her closer to him. She nodded as she looked up at him. "Well then, Princess, allow me to fill you in on your look."

"By all means," she murmured, wrapping her arms around his neck.

"Before: yeah, I know I'm gorgeous and sexy. What's your point?"

"True enough," Alex agreed with a grin. "And now? Would it be something along the lines of, 'you-know-you-want-to kiss me, Sirius'?"

"Damned straight," he answered, as he closed the small gap between their faces and kissed her.

The moment was perfect. They both wished they could just stay right there and like that instead of dealing with real life. They just wanted to escape.

Breaking apart after a moment, and both grinning madly at the other, they looped arms once again, and made their way towards Buckingham Palace...

Sooner that she would have liked, Alex was waiting for her father to show up for their confrontation. She was standing by the window in her father’s study. Again, she thought, though maybe for the last time. It all comes down to the next couple of minutes. She let her thoughts run away with her, subconsciously fingering the necklace around her neck that Sirius had given her for Christmas. Something rustled in the corner next to her, and she turned to see nothing there. Apparently Sirius isn't good at returning things to people.  But she smiled weakly, and said, “I thought I told you two I’d be alright.”

“You did,” a voice whispered back.

“But we decided to come anyways,” another voice added.

“Well thank you. Listen, if things get nasty, don’t either of you dare come out from under that cloak. When I open the door, you two leave and I’ll follow you out. Get it?”

“Got it, princess.”

She sighed, though still smiling replied, “One day Black…One day I’ll make you regret calling me that.”

“But till then, princess, I—"

“Shh!” She turned to face her father who had just entered and sat down at his desk, though for once, not writing anything. “Good morning father.”

“Good morning,” he replied stiffly. He stared at her for a moment, before continuing, “Well?”

“I can’t marry him,” Alex blurted right away, forgetting her worked out strategy.

Her father didn't look at all taken aback. He had of course been expecting it. Clearly disappointed, however, he asked, “Why not?”

“Because I am more than convinced he is the last person in the world that could ever make me happy, and vice versa. I’d be miserable for the rest of my life.”

“You cannot always get what you want, Alexandria,” he said, his gaze boring into hers.

“Oh, but you can?” she spat back.

“This is about responsibility…” he started.

“It’s my responsibility to marry someone I’ve talked to for ten minutes—a complete stranger?” she said, her voice over his, though he did not stop talking.

“As the Princess, it’s your duty to England to—"

“Become a princess of another country?” she cut in harshly.

“STOP interrupting me!” he yelled, and in the corner, Sirius and Darcy actually both cringed at the menace in his voice and eyes.

“No! Because you’re not listening to me,” Alex ploughed on. “I can’t marry him. I won’t.”

“You will.”

“I won’t and you can not make me!” Alex yelled.

“Do not talk to me like that you ungrateful wretch! I am looking out for your best interests.” Alex scoffed loudly and crossed her arms over her chest, staring at him. Her father’s eyes narrowed and his face became redder, as he started to say, “After all these years of rebelling and disgracing our name, you should at least feel obliged to do this and clear your name. Frankly, I’m quite shocked he even wants you considering your more than embarrassing reputation.”

Alex stood there stunned. She had suspected her fathers reasoning, but hearing him say it and confirm her dreaded suspicions was almost unbearable. She swallowed and continued, “If you really want to get rid of me that much, why don’t you do us both a favour and just disown me?”

“And further disgrace the royal name?” he asked in indignation. “A disowned princess would not benefit anybody.”

“It would me.”

He was not impressed. “You will marry him. I am announcing your engagement on New Years, and by June you will be married.”

“WHAT?! Never!” she yelled, and then quieted down in semi-shock as a vase on his desk exploded into a million pieces. Control, keep control. Calm, not angry. No…harnessing, or whatever Dumbledore had called it. “You couldn’t make me say ‘I do’ even if you dragged me down the aisle, which wouldn’t happen anyways because I won’t be showing up.”

“Alexandria, you are trying my patience,” he said, still disconcerted at the shattered vase.

She shut her eyes, and taking a deep breath, said, “I need to tell you something I’ve been trying to tell you a while now.”

“Oh great Scott…you’re pregnant, aren’t you?” he spluttered, and Alex had to contain her laughter at the look on his face.

“If I was, would I have to marry?” she asked semi-curiously.

“Are you?” he repeated.

“Huh, that really is a good one…why didn’t I think of that one…” she muttered.

“ARE YOU?!” he yelled standing up, and Alex no longer wanted to laugh.

“NO! Don’t insult me like that! I’m not the whore you think I am just because I’ve spent a couple nights out and about,” she stated, the slightest bit offended.

He sat back down and straightened out his clothes. “What then, do you have to tell me?”

Alex sighed again as Sirius held his breath. “I’m a witch.”

Her father blinked. “Come again?”

“I’m a witch—I can’t marry him because I’m a witch,” she said quite plainly, observing him cautiously for any sign of a flamethrower. But after a tense moment, he only laughed.

“Nice try.”

She felt like she was going to snap at any moment, “Why don’t you believe me when I’m telling the truth? I AM A WITCH! I have magic—I can do magic. The school I’ve been going to is a school of magic. My friends are witches and wizards…”

He only blinked again, but no longer laughing. “I don’t believe you.”

“Believe this!” she yelled, as she took out her wand, and waved it at the broken vase, and the pieces rearranged themselves. He looked from the vase, to her, and to her wand in shock, before standing up again.

“I always knew there was something wrong with you,” he growled, walking towards her.

“There is nothing wrong with me!” she defended, but didn’t like the way things were going at all.

“That reporter had it completely right when he labeled you Devil Incarnate! Freak! When did this happen? Why? How?”

“Dad—" she started to say, but he cut her off, not even giving her enough time to think about the fact she had just called him dad…to his face…something she hadn’t done for more than fifteen years.

“You are not going back to that school.”

She blinked back the tears that were starting to burn in her eyes, “What?”

“You are not going back and that is final! You’ll stop all this magic nonsense and marry Gustavo and be the person you were born to be!” he yelled.

“I was born a witch!” she yelled back, not cowering before him.

“NO! You were born a princess and you shall be one!”

“I won’t!” she yelled, and as the room shook a bit, she could feel it awakening inside of her, starting to do whatever it was that Dumbledore had tried warning her about. She sent a silent prayer to whoever was listening up there that the orb wouldn’t interfere and blow up the room or something. After all, she wasn’t really sure what it was capable of. She took a few steadying breaths, “Alright…can you at least disown me now that you know what I am?”

“Absolutely not, because you are going to stop that rubbish and go on with your life as a normal person. And stop fraternizing with your abnormal friends, including those Wheeler boys. They were a bad influence from the start. And that Sirius—"

That was it. No more holding back and no going back either.

“Don’t ever insult my friends!” she yelled in frenzy, and if she hadn’t known that a dark object was awakening inside her with every passing moment, she wouldn’t have known where her sudden energy came from. “They were a better family for me than you ever were. And you, all high and mighty King of England, are not fit to polish their shoes.”

At this point, a couple more delicate pieces around the room exploded, but Alex continued. “I’m done with this life. I’m of age now, in both worlds, I can do what I please and that does not include bending to your stupid whims. How could you be so cruel and try to force your only daughter to marry? In fact, everything you ever made me do—it was complete torture! I want a different life!”

Her father looked at her in shock, but regained some of his momentum as she went to open the door. “Don’t you dare—"

“No, you listen to me for once. I’m leaving, moving out, whatever you want to call it. Do as you wish, but don’t expect me to show up for anything. Don’t write to me either, unless it is to say you’re disowning me.” She felt the silvery material brush against her arms as they walked by her. “Thank you, your majesty, for ruining my holidays the 18th year in a row…you should feel proud.”

She walked out, the door slamming itself behind her. Outside in the hall, Darcy and Sirius had already taken off the cloak, expecting Alex to stop when she saw them. What they didn’t expect to see was a fierce red gleam in her eyes as she walked by them without a word. But she didn’t know what was happening to her. She felt feverish, and at the same time so cold. She felt like she wanted to vomit, and scream and break things into a million pieces. In fact, she was quite sure she’d even set the whole palace on fire if she put herself to it, and right now she was honestly this close to attempting it. Shivering and taking deep breaths as she kept walking towards her room, trying to control her shaking arms and legs, she didn’t notice Darcy and Sirius run after her.

“Alex what the hell is going on?” Darcy asked.

She didn’t reply, and only stared straight ahead as she kept walking. They noticed the trouble she was having, saw her shaking, and could feel something like vibrations radiating from her. Sirius looked at her intently, not sure what was happening to her but knowing that this was what she hadn’t been telling him about. And it didn’t look good.

“Alex…” he started to say and reached out to touch her shoulder, but he recoiled suddenly as he felt his hand burn up, and Alex rounded on him angrily.

“Don’t touch me!” she yelled, before turning once again on her way. Sirius gazed at her, at her eyes which no longer seemed her own, and at his own hand which looked completely normal aside from the fact that it felt like it had just been burned with an iron. Darcy looked at Sirius with worry, catching on that more was going on than the three of them could handle. A resounding crash that echoed off the walls made them look ahead, and they both started running when they saw Alex, who had gotten quite far ahead within a few seconds, kneeling on all fours on the carpeted floor, amidst pieces of shattered glass.

She yelled from the floor, clutching her head as spasm of pain that radiated from her toes to her hair seared through her body. Inside of her, she felt as if the blood flowing through her veins and arteries was boiling, and she was suddenly afraid that Dumbledore hadn’t told her everything there was to know about the orb. She was suddenly afraid that it was taking over her. Not just amplifying her emotions or giving her power to do otherwise impossible things. His words echoed somewhere far away as if in rewind…Self preservation... harnessing… avoid contact…activation…merging… 

Merging. She might have been going insane, but it felt as if it was laughing at her. Is this it then? Centuries have gone by and I’m the one it possesses? 

She heard somebody calling her name from a distance. Looking around, she saw two blurry figures by her side.

No way in hell. I’ve never let myself by ruled, and this is not the moment for it either. The maniacal ‘laughing’ she ‘heard’ silenced as she felt her shaking lessen. Just as fear had washed over her seconds ago, a new found feeling of excitement and hope replaced it, though it still felt much amplified. Forcing herself to calm down instead of giving in to the sudden feelings of anger and violence, she remembered the potion she had brewn days ago, and hadn’t thrown out. She felt herself standing up as the shattered remains of the mirror which hung on the wall were starting to fuse back to the way they were. After only a second’s thought as to whether she had made the mirror fix itself or if that had been Sirius’ work, she gave him a quick reassuring glance before starting to run towards her room, the other two in her wake.

They barged through her room, turning over a few tables and chairs on their way. Sirius made as if to grab the trunk and start on their escape. But instead Alex had went straight to her mirror, taking out her wand and opening the passage as she had before.

“What are you doing?!” Sirius yelled, as she disappeared down the steps. His voice brought her back, but instead of going to him, she waved her wand and the passage resealed itself. He ran towards the mirror, sudden panic gripping him. Darcy was right beside him, trying to break through the mirror.

“ALEX!” Darcy yelled, and Sirius heard the same panic he was feeling in her brother’s voice. “Alex open up! What the hell do you think you’re doing?!”

Sirius took out his own wand, and tried a few spells, but nothing worked. When he heard something shatter and a loud thump which sounded clearly like a body falling to the floor, he decided now was the time for desperate actions and consequences later. Pointing his wand straight at the mirror and taking a few steps back, Darcy along with him, he opened his mouth to utter, Bombarda maxima, when the floating veil replaced the shining glass.

The two guys ran down the steps, jumping down the last few upon seeing Alex sprawled on the floor, barely supporting herself, leaning against the leg of a table. In a flash they were both by her side.

“Are you absolutely insane?” Darcy asked as Sirius picked her up and headed back to her room.

She smiled weakly, “Of course.”

“What were you doing?” Sirius asked once he had placed her softly on the bed, noting that though she looked extremely exhausted, she was no longer shaking or staring at him with ruby red eyes.

“I needed a quick dose of a potion, is all,” she replied, her eyelids drooping. “I’m alright. We’ll leave soon…”

Sirius decided he would have an opportunity to ask exactly what this was all about as soon as they were out of Buckingham.

“Sirius…go back and find my vial of veritaserum,” she told him. “We need to take it with us.”

Grudgingly, he let go of her hand and left her side. He thanked his lucky stars that Alex was as organized as she was, and the veritaserum was found and in his pocket within a minute. He shrunk their trunks and placed them in his bag, slinging it over his shoulder.

“We should get going, Alex,” he said softly, helping her up.

She nodded, “Do you mind if we make a quick stop at Dev and Adrian’s? I…I need to say goodbye this time.”

They both gave her a wary look, but Sirius replied anyways, “Sure.”

Darcy on one side and Sirius on the other, they half carried Alex through the palace to the outside grounds. They stopped at the gates.

“Well, this is it,” Darcy said.

“Yeah. Though it is a much nicer parting than last time, I’ll admit,” Alex replied, pulling him in for a hug. “Visit me, alright? I’ll write you and let you know what I’ve got planned.”

Darcy nodded. “Be careful.”

“You too,” Alex said.

“Sirius…” Darcy started. “Take care of her alright?”

“I will,” Sirius replied with a smile.

“Bye,” Alex whispered, before Sirius turned on the spot and they both disappeared from his sight.

They apparated not too far from her friends’ house, and walked the rest of the way there. She was not at all surprised to find the two of them sitting on the porch watching the sun set.

“Alex!” Dev yelled as he jumped over the railing to her. “You came to say goodbye, how sweet!”

“Actually I just came for the bike,” she said with a grin, and though still quite exhausted, feeling rather cheery upon seeing Dev’s face.

“Right,” Dev replied with an almost identical grin, but walking towards the garage anyways.

“Are you ok?” Adrian asked.

“Fine, just a bit…worked up,” Alex replied, still clinging onto Sirius’ arm.

“Didn’t go too well, then?” Adrian continued.

“Obviously not if she’s getting the bike,” Dev answered for her, wheeling Sirius’ blue motorbike towards them. “Where you headed?”

“Cottage…then school.”

They both nodded, and a silence overcame them as the three longtime friends exchanged glances, the twins getting slightly nervous at the way Alex was looking at them both, with such a sad, almost regretful expression. She was battling with herself, trying to decide whether or not she should tell them what she was. In the end, all she could do was take two giant steps towards them, opening her arms wide and crying out, “Oh come here you two.”

The three of them embraced so warmly, Sirius really did wonder why he ever doubted they were more than just friends. Yet it felt almost wrong to him that he was there, watching something so intense from the sidelines, as if intruding on a moment of such complete friendship.

“I’m sorry,” Alex whispered.

“For what?” Dev asked in mock suspicion, his head buried in Alex’s shoulder. “Did you finally rat us out?”

“No,” she answered with a small laugh, trying to stop the tears from spilling, though they were already welling up in her eyes. “Never. But just…for everything. And thanks for everything too…”

“Don’t cry, Alex. It’ll all be alright in the end,” Adrian soothed.

Dev, finally realizing this was one of those rare moments where his jokes wouldn’t help, finally said, “We love you ‘Dria, no matter where you are or what you’re doing…princess or not.”

“I love you guys too,” she whispered. They took another moment in their embrace, before she finally started to break away, wiping her eyes. “I’ll write you guys more often, I promise.”

“And we’ll write back,” Adrian replied.

“Yeah, but do try to find a telephone,” Dev added. “I’m not a fan of writing.”

“I will.” She slipped on the jacket Dev had also brought out, and got onto the bike Sirius had already started, sitting behind him. “See you guys.”

Sirius shifted gears and drove away, leaving the two brothers standing side by side.

“Did you get the feeling she wanted to say something more?” Adrian asked, turning to Dev.

“No,” he replied. “I got the feeling she wanted to say a heck of a lot more.”

They stood and watched until the silhouette of the motorbike faded, before turning to go inside the house.

The motorbike and its riders zoomed along the road, Sirius not quite sure where he was going, but going nonetheless. He pulled over once he felt Alex had stopped sobbing and trembling.

“You want to take over?” he asked softly. “Because I’m not really sure where we’re going…and why are we driving there in the first place?”

“Sure, and because you need to keep your bike somewhere, right?” she replied. “Just give me a second to calm down some more.”

They switched places, but it wasn’t until a few moments later when a flash interrupted her from her thoughts that she kicked the bike into gear. Sirius heard her curse under her breath as another flash went off just as they zoomed from the scene. Once again terrified by the incredible speed they were riding at, it took him a few minutes to relax and enjoy the wind, which didn’t seem as cold as he would have thought considering it was almost January. Some part of his mind was telling him Alex had been brilliant behind his back and cast a warming spell, but the other part argued that it was just the body heat radiating from her that made it alright.

In what should have felt like an hour, though to Sirius felt about half considering the frightful speed Alex had taken up, they had long left London behind and were passing through a more rural area. In the near dark, he could just read the “Welcome to Surrey” sign as they passed it, Alex finally slowing down but showing no signs of actually stopping. Snow blanketed the grass around them, and again he felt amazed that he wasn’t cold. They kept driving up the road, turning left and right, up a winding road through the fields and hills until Alex finally pulled into a small driveway, and shut off the bike.

Without a word, they got off and she put it away in the small garage, before they both entered the small cottage.

“Where are we?” Sirius asked as he looked around the cozy apartment.

“Surrey. This place is actually Darcy’s…well it was ours but I stopped using it after our fight…I don’t think he should mind that we’re leaving your bike here though,” Alex replied walking towards the kitchen. Sirius felt better hearing her voice was normal again.

“So…we’re not staying here?”

“No, just a quick pit stop and then we’ll apparate the rest of the way. I’m not driving all the way to Cornwall. That’s where I relocated.”

Sirius nodded, silently thankful for her decision. “You know I’ve been wondering though, didn’t your parents ever notice how you and Darcy drifted apart?”

Alex stopped eating the chocolate pudding she had found in the fridge and looked at him. “Are you kidding? They barely pay attention to our lives unless it has anything to do with court. And Darcy was…cordial when they were around.”

He nodded again, as he sat down on the couch.

“Don’t get comfortable, we’re leaving soon,” Alex said. “You don’t want anything? I’m not sure how much edible stuff I have up there.”

“I’ll survive.”

“Suit yourself,” she replied, downing the rest of her drink. “Alright then, let's go.”

Sirius followed her out of the house, not bothering to ask any more questions. He stopped on the porch as she made sure the door was locked.

“Er…Alex?” he said, hesitantly.

“Yeah?” she replied, turning around to face the gate—two officers were standing at the fence, looking at them. She sighed, but took his arm and walked towards the gate anyways. “May I help you?”

“This is private property miss,” one of the constables replied, while the other glared at the two of them.

“I am aware of that,” she replied harshly as they walked through the gate, leaving the cottage behind the white picket fence.

“Then you are aware you have been caught breaking and entry?”

“It’s not breaking if you have the key,” she replied, staring straight at the cop, though the dim moonlight barely illuminated his face or hers.

The second cop spoke up, “Only one person has the key to this place, and you are not him.”

“But there you are wrong, officer, because this cottage always had two keys and I happen to be the owner of the second,” she snapped, her breath visible in the cold, crisp night air. The two officers stood in shock for a moment, not quite sure how to proceed. Finally, in a quick movement, the younger cop took out his flashlight and shone it straight onto her face.

“Holy shit,” he spluttered as he stared into the face of the princess, before promptly dropping the flashlight on the ground in shock.

Alex smirked, before turning around and walking away, Sirius by her side, chuckling. A few moments later they were interrupted by the two officers who came running after them. Alex kept walking, staring straight ahead.

“Apologies, your highness,” one of them said, over the second who kept rambling.

“Just forget about it,” Alex muttered, and she quickened her step, leaving the other two behind.

They walked in silence down the road for a few minutes, before Alex turned into a small path through the forest. They barely took three steps on that path when Alex turned on the spot, and the two disapparated.

He breathed the clean fresh air in deeply, noticing a touch of saltiness he guessed came from the ocean, though it was not in sight. It was colder, but not quite Siberian.

“This is it?” he asked looking around, only to see fields and forests around him, a million and one stars dotting the clear sky above him.

“No, we need to walk a bit—anti-apparition barrier,” Alex explained, before starting a trek up the hill.

Sirius nodded in understanding, and followed. “I’m guessing not many people know about this place?”

“You’ll be the 4th, 5th including me. I try to keep it like that.”

Sirius nodded again and kept following her through the snow, occasionally slightly slipping on a random ice patch. They soon finished their march uphill and were met with a view of a small cottage/house on what looked to be a cliff overlooking the ocean, which was now sparkling and shimmering in the moonlight.

“It’s…beautiful here,” Sirius finally managed to say, actually meaning it despite his coldness.

“Wait till you see it in the day,” she replied with a grin. “Come on, I’ll show you inside.

Once they entered the bungalow, Sirius at once got a, what he called “Alex vibe” radiating from the inside. It was exactly this kind of residence he pictured her living in. It was small and cozy, but radiated a sense of elegance and good taste, fun and calm. The living room next to the colourful kitchen was furnished with comfortable looking sofas and painting, posters and pictures spread on the walls, tables and mantel of the fireplace, where a fire suddenly sprang to life (out of the corner of his eyes, he saw Alex stashing her wand back in her jacket). The stairs at the side led to a loft where through the railing a bed could just be seen.

“Bedroom,” Alex commented, following his gaze. Then pointing to three more doors on the main level, “Loo, extra room, magic room. Make yourself at home.”

She spread herself on the ottoman next to the fireplace, holding her hands near the flames. Sirius mirrored her actions, and for a couple of minutes, only the cracking of the fire and the slight howl of the wind outside broke the silence. Then, Sirius finally asked, “Now can you explain to me what that was all about?”

Alex sighed and withdrew her hands, placing them in her lap and gave him an apprehensive look.

“You know I’ll keep it secret,” he added under her scrutinizing glance.

“Alright…ah…so there’s no easy way to explain this…” she started, but really didn’t feel like replaying the entire conversation between herself and Dumbledore. “Ok, you know that day Dumbledore talked to me?” Sirius nodded, and she continued, trying to make sense, “Right, well that’s when he told me about this, though neither he nor I are sure how long I’ve had it or how much longer I will have it….though for the moment I’m pretty sure I do…basically, I’m immortal.”

Sirius blinked. He did not expect all her rambling to come to such an abrupt stop with such a statement.

“You’re immortal,” he repeated.

“According to Dumbledore, which is why I didn’t die a couple of weeks ago—"

“And why you recovered so quickly,” he added, earning a nod in return. “Which is…why, exactly?”

She sighed again, “Well, skipping the background story, it appears I harbour some fantastically dark and dangerous object in the depths of my soul that has been passed down generation to generation since a millennia ago, through the people who have the ‘gift’ of potion-making, because apparently that’s the only way to extract and destroy it.”

Sirius stared at her as she said it all in one breath. “So…what?

“It’s like this: at any one moment, there is only one person alive—that would be me—who can brew the damned potion. So, I can’t die until some other is born or I get it out of me,” she tried to explain, giving him a pause so he could try to put it together.

“Alright,” he finally said, apparently having accepted it all. “So…what are you going to do?”

“Well, I can either forget and ignore it completely—though the ignoring is proving slightly difficult, as you may have noticed—or do something about it. Though I don’t think either solution will help if Voldemort comes after me—"

Voldemort is after you?!

A bit taken aback by his outburst, she only shrugged. “Possibly. Apparently, according to Dumbledore’s suspicions—“Here Sirius groaned as he knew Dumbledore’s suspicions had a knack for walking hand in hand with the truth. “—Voldemort wants to merge the orb with his own soul and gain unimaginable power.”

“Does he even have a soul?” he muttered cynically. He took another minute of silence, mulling it all over. “So…potions?”

“I really hope so,” she said softly, her eyes starting to droop as finally the effects of the long day started to play on her.

“It doesn’t like them?”

“No, especially they dark ones…definitely not,” she said with a grimace. Sirius quirked an eyebrow at her, and she took it as a hint to continue. “The mishap with animus dixere…veritaserum…Hell’s Fire…”

“Hell’s fire?!” Sirius exclaimed, quite concerned, just when he was beginning to understand. “When did you drink that? Why?!”

“Er…well the same say after my talk with Dumbledore—after you left me in the hallway.”

“You…brewed it yourself?” he asked astonished. He knew it was a difficult potion, and he knew it was very dark and painful.

“Yeah.”

“Wow…Where did you learn how to brew it? That’s extremely dark stuff.” Alex shrugged again, though she barely had the energy to lift her shoulders. “And you drank it?!”

“Yes, I know I’m insane,” she said with a grin. “But I had to see for myself if what Dumbledore said was true, and it was. The potion affected me, but kind of in a reverse way.”

“Hence the swollen hands,” he muttered, now recalling their conversation. “And the Veritaserum you got from Slughorn?”

“Yeah, I figured that would be a simpler way to test if I was killable—Hell’s Fire was a bit too painful and involved the infirmary, where as Voldemort’s alternative isn’t exactly enticing either.”

“Avada Kedavra?” Sirius guessed, as more pieces of the puzzle started to fall into place—the missing potion masters.

“Precisely.”

When he recovered his voice and trusted his own hands not to shake from all this information, he reached into his pocket to take out the vial of veritaserum. “Care to find out if the potion you downed earlier had any effect?”

“I doubt it did; I mean, I didn’t see some glowing ball of energy surface anywhere after I drank it, if that's even what's supposed to happen. But it’s worth a shot,” she answered, taking the vial and swallowing a few drops of it, looking at Sirius expectantly. But for once, no question came straight to mind. Quite surprised that all his questions seemed to have been answered, he asked the only question he knew girls didn’t like to answer.

“How much do you weigh?”

“That’s taboo.”

“Right, so I guess test is positive?”

“Appears so. But at least I know I’m on the right track—it definitely sedated the thing somehow,” she replied with yet another sigh. “And really, what kind of a question was that?”

“It sufficed, didn’t it?” he asked with a grin.

“That’s beside…[yawn]…the point.”

His grinned widened as his eyes took in her falling asleep. “You should get to bed. I’ll bring our trunks out. I’ll just put myself in the extra room then—"

“We can share a bed,” she interrupted, awake again and on her feet. He stopped and turned to look at her.

“I’m not sure if that’s…well…probably isn’t the best idea…” he said, running a frustrated hand through his already messy hair, though it was his mind doing the talking.

“Oi, I just want to sleep,” Alex said with a smirk.

Strangely not disheartened by the idea of 'just' sleeping, he still objected. “Obviously, but still…I dunno, Alex…well it’s…different…now… with us…so—"

“Oh stop being so noble and chivalrous, Sirius… I won’t drag you up there, you know,” she interrupted once more, though seeing him unsure and fighting a losing battle with himself had been quite amusing and very adorable. “But honestly, when was the last time you had a good night’s sleep?”

Though slightly taken off-guard by her question, he answered, “Probably after our London venture in November.”

“Me too,” she replied, nodding once in triumph. “Case closed.”

With that she made her way up the wooden steps, Sirius taking only enough seconds to properly admire her walking up them, before following her.

And for the first time since November, both fell asleep right away, and slept through the entire night without waking up once. 





Author's Note:  So...good, bad?  Please let me know!
Cheers!


Chapter 29: Awake and Dreaming
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Author's Note:  ...read first.  kill me later (although I swear I have really good reason for taking so long with this update)

Hope you enjoy it!





Alex sat by the remains of the bonfire from the night before, the cold morning air biting into her. But the slowly rising sun compensated, already basking her face in warm light. A small smile crept across her lips as she looked out towards the ocean, watching the waves beat again the rocky shore, lulling her back to a semi-conscious sleeping state. She had woken up early that morning with a strange feeling, left Sirius’ side (rather reluctantly) and came outside to walk it off, which she had. The complete silence, except for the sounds of the earth around her, was peaceful, and though she had already calmed herself down since she woke up an hour ago, she couldn’t shake the eeriness of her feeling, and the silence which she usually welcomed. Closing her eyes and taking a few deep breaths, she instead decided to think about the past two days she had spent here with Sirius. They had been absolutely perfect.  Dreamlike, even, except that she had known she was, in fact, awake.

She had shown him around town and around the outside property of her cottage, and they had spent hours just sitting and talking and laughing. In the evenings they had sat by a bonfire, snuggled close together. Not to mention all the snogging at random points throughout the day and night.

Over the past two days, Alex had calmed down again, forgetting about stupid Buckingham Palace and all those affairs. Sometimes she would sink into deeper thought, momentarily feeling sorrowful, and as if she had made a terrible error; just lost something that apparently had held much more importance and meaning to her than she had thought. And now it seemed irretrievable. But one look at Sirius, who always gently shook her out of her own thoughts, and she knew she had done the right thing. It would all be nothing without him.

She missed Dev and Adrian. She missed Darcy. But she knew that they would always be there and giving up Buckingham didn't mean giving them up too, even if sometimes it felt like that. She wouldn't let them slip away.

Yet for as much as she had relaxed and became herself again, this morning she felt strange. Unexpectedly and unreasonably anxious, if not slightly paranoid as well. Something just didn't feel right. In fact, it didn't just feel 'not right'—it felt completely wrong. It was more than just a bad feeling, although she wasn't sure why. Maybe the orb was behind it, or maybe it was just her unstable emotions and thoughts breaking through again.

Alex sighed, and opened her eyes again, and taking one last glance at the shimmering ocean, she stood to return to Sirius. Turning around, she just managed to hold back her scream: before her stood five cloaked figures, all brandishing wands pointed directed at her.

“Goodmorning Ms. Edwards,” a voice said from behind a dark mask. “Would you care to join us?”

Before she could reply, she felt a spell hit her, and she fell to the ground, her eyes drifting slowly shut as she cursed herself for foolishly leaving her wand on the bedside table. She hoped they hadn’t…won’t go to the cottage…that they would just take her and leave instead of looking around…

…Sirius…


She woke up feeling very sore and cold. As she stood and tried to walk around the small stone room, a figure entered and in a second her hands were bound with thick ropes behind her back. She was prodded to walk forward, and decided to oblige…at least for the moment. They walked for a short distance through a corridor not unlike the room she had been held in—stone, cold, damp, and colourless. A door to the left suddenly opened and she was pushed inside. The bright lights in the room shocked her, and it took a good couple of seconds for her eyes to adjust. But even before she could see the figure in front of her, she heard the thin, cold voice hiss, “Ah, Alexandria Edwards, a pleasure for you to join us at last.”

“Pleasure is all yours, I assure you,” she said, her voice sickly sweet. Her eyes adjusted from the dark to bright right in time to see a twisted look of amusement cross the snakelike face.

“We shall see,” he replied. “Now tell me, how are you feeling?”

She shrugged.

“Then tell me this, do you know why you’re here?”

“Is there a point in answering when you will undoubtedly tell me yourself?” she snapped back.

“Very well, then let’s get straight to it—Avada Kedavra!

Whatever she had been expecting, that was not it, though she barely registered what he had just yelled, when a jet of green light shot out of his wand and hit her square in the chest, sending her flying backwards. She felt her body side twirl and fall onto the ground with a sickening thud and crack, quite sure she had broken more than one bone. Such immense pain radiated throughout her entire body that she was afraid to move. In fact, she wasn’t even sure she was breathing, but she did know she was alive when she heard that voice command, “Go check her.”

In an instant she felt somebody by her side, and she writhed in pain as they lifted her up from the floor, exclaiming, “She’s alive!”

Gasps echoed throughout the entire hall, and Voldemort himself descended from his throne to come closer to her. The Death Eater who had examined her mentioned a broken wrist and ribs from the impact as Voldemort came nearer. He crouched down to be face to face with her, and she all of the sudden felt her throbbing wrist and burning side fade away in numbness, the pain gone. She looked into his red eyes and realized he must have healed her. Why, though? She barely managed to form thoughts in her aching head.

“Now, it just wouldn’t be logical for me to keep you in pieces when you’re supposed to brew the potion to get me that wonderful orb inside your delicate soul,” he whispered, his voice snide and full of mocking.

Anger consumed her, and even Voldemort took a stop back, a look of scared excitement in his eye. “Who says I’ll brew anything for you?”

"I do, of course.” His lips drew back into an evil smile at thoughts of her defiance. “I really wonder…how does it feel to be in so much pain without even the comforting thought of death to ease it and end your misery? Shall we find out?”

Before she could answer, she heard him whisper with a hard tone Crucio, and intense pain shot throughout her entire, already sore body, cutting through her like a million knives and burning like salt on a fresh wound. And then just as suddenly as it had hit her, it ended, and left her crumpled on the floor before him.

“There’s no difference…” she managed to say, her breath hitched. “Nobody knows when I’ll die, including me…so hope still remains.”

“Hope,” he spat. “A useless, pathetic muggle invention. What can you hope for? For your rescue? For your death? Well I assure you my dear—you won’t be rescued, though your death is inevitable."

Voldemort paused, examing her thoughts which were still defiant and angry. Then he continued, his tone altered, "But how lucky for me that you are such a celebrity. I know your weaknesses, your friends and family…I know exactly who to hurt to get what I want from you.”

Alex paled.

“Ah, I see you understand exactly what is at stake here,” he hissed amusedly. “Then I expect to see you at work in no time.”

“I have no idea how…what I’m supposed to brew,” she said, her voice low and cracking.

“Trial and error, Alexandria. Though I suggest you put your heart into it and procure as few errors as possible, for the sake of your friends.”

“I want a deal,” Alex said after a pause. “That you won’t touch any of my friends or family, or you can forget about getting anything from me.”

Voldemort scowled. “You are in no position to bargain.”

“On the contrary, I believe I am.” She felt stronger now, more confident. She assumed the orb was once again amplifying her feelings and determination. “You are the one who wants something from me in the first place, so I think you should be offering treaties instead of hurling threats.”

Though she knew she wouldn’t be able to trust his word, any type of reassurance would help. Not to mention give her at least a little extra time to stall and figure something out.

Voldemort did not answer until a few minutes had silently passed by. “Very well.”

With a nod of his head, Alex was pulled to her feet by two death eaters and slowly dragged out of the room. 
 
                                                            ***

Sirius stirred in his sleep, and his eyes suddenly snapped wide awake. Breathing heavily, and sitting up, he looked around and a good minute had passed before he recognized where he was. Looking to his side, he was quite discontent to find Alex was not there. What he saw in her a place was a small note in her writing:

Gone for a walk. Be back soon.

He put the note down, and glanced at the clock. It was already past 11 in the morning. When had she left? Was she already back?

He got up and walked over to the railing across the bed. Looking down, he did not see her there.

“Alex?” he called.

No answer. He shrugged to himself and decided she simply hadn’t yet returned. Walking down the stairs and checking all the rooms anyways, he finally settled in the kitchen to eat brunch. But even when he finished a half hour later, she was still not back. He started to get a little bit worried. Getting dressed, he headed outside to take a look around the house. Though he made a wide circle—twice—there was no trace of her anywhere. Returning to the house, he thought perhaps they missed each other on the way and he was hopeful once more. But he was disappointed when she wasn’t inside.

He let the time pass, trying to reassure himself that she was alright, and just out in the town not to far away; that she would be back soon with a bag of groceries. But when hours passed, and she had still not returned, he couldn’t shake the suspicion that perhaps things had really not gone so well when she had went for her walk. And why would she have left her wand behind? Bundling up, he once again went outside and walked around the property before apparating to the town, in the spot she had shown him the day before. He made a quick round through the town but did not notice anything particularly strange, nor did he find Alex.

This time when he returned to the cottage, he ignored all his reassuring voices telling him she was just probably at Dev and Adrian’s, and headed straight for the fireplace, hoping it was connected to the floo network. Finding some spare floo powder, he threw it in and yelled, “Dumbledore’s office!” before sticking his head in, on his knees before the grate.

His head materialized in the fireplace of Dumbledore’s office amidst green flames.

“Mr. Black,” Dumbledore greeted warmly, though a trifle surprised to see him there. Sirius thanked his lucky stars that Dumbledore hadn’t decided to go away for the holidays. “What can I do for you?”

“Sorry for the intrusion, Professor,” Sirius started, but Dumbledore just waved a hand dismissively as if to say it was quite alright. “Er…I’m not sure, but I think Alex is missing.”

A pause.

“Missing?” Dumbledore repeated. “From where?”

“From her cottage—we spent the last three days there after a little dispute between herself and her father,” Sirius explained, Dumbledore nodding along. “Then this morning I woke up to find a note in her bed, saying she went for a walk. And she hasn’t yet returned. I checked around town and around the property, but nothing.”

“Please return, Sirius. I will be there shortly.”

Sirius obliged with a nod and withdrew his head from the fire. Settling down on the couch, he stared in exchange at the fire, and at the door, waiting for the familiar faces to show up.

A few minutes later, the fire blazed green and Dumbledore emerged from the fireplace. His face was grave, though upon seeing Sirius his eyebrow’s lifted and his eyes twinkled for a brief moment, before the other expression returned once more.

“I have checked her usual hideouts but unfortunately she was not there,” the professor said, walking towards the door. “I’m very sorry Sirius, but unless I am mistaken, she has been taken by Death Eaters.”

“I think so too,” he said, his voice barely audible as he followed Dumbledore outside, who began a thorough inspection of the property. They were silent as Sirius watched Dumbledore stare at particularly nothing in front of him, much as he had done when the bond between Alex and himself had not broken, and used his other hand as if touching something. “Professor, how would they find her here? I mean, she said barely anybody knows about this place.”

“While that is true, magic always leaves its mark,” Dumbledore replied. “Especially Alex’s magic, since you probably know by now about the orb.”

Sirius nodded, “And something that dark doesn’t go unnoticed, right?”

This time Dumbledore nodded, “That is, doesn't go unnoticed once it's been set in motion. And am I right to assume she wasn’t exactly herself lately?”

Sirius nodded once more, and stayed silent while Dumbledore kept looking around for any clues to Alex’s whereabouts. But he couldn’t stay silent for very long. “If Death Eaters were here, why didn’t they look inside the cottage…? Why am I still here?”

“Perhaps they didn’t see the need to look inside when she was outside already, or perhaps they weren’t aware you were here with her.” Dumbledore stopped and looked at Sirius with bright blue eyes. “I wonder if Alex suspected something was going to happen, for it seems she did her utmost best to hide you.”

“Sir?” he asked, not quite understanding and silently cursing the old man for always speaking so eloquently and full of knowing—making the listener writhe in anxiousness—instead of just coming out with it.

“There is no trace of you on this property at all,” the professor replied with a smile. “And even if you didn’t do any magic here, you still walked around and left your mark in some form or other. But, there are no footprints other than her own, and you...well I can actually see you completely now, to be quite frank.”

He blinked, and didn’t bother with any formalities this time. “What?”

“It is amusing that she has no mirrors around this place…” Dumbledore started, and upon seeing the look on Sirius’ face decided to be more direct. “You were invisible for the greater part of the day, I believe.”

“Invisible…How…?” was all that Sirius managed to say.

“That I’m not sure of, because I do not see any traces of disillusionment charms or such. This in turn makes me think that it has something to do with the connection between Alex and yourself—never quite broken and in fact strengthened by the Animus Dixere, and the power of the orb.” He paused for a moment as if to catch his breath, checking the surrounding area once more before walking forward. “I suspect when Alex was captured, her thoughts went to you and that they wouldn’t find you. Hence, you became nothing more than the air, a part of the surroundings, almost like the mishap with the Ani—“

Animus Dixere,” Sirius finished, vividly recalling the few moments where his (and Alex’s) life had flashed before his eyes, and nothingness threatened to engulf him whole.

“Exactly. Though it is very strange magic, we shall have to look into it when we find some time. But for now, let us continue our search—“

“Professor, if I just became visible again…if the spell just recently broke…” Sirius trailed off, unable to voice the horrendous thoughts flying about his mind.

Dumbledore sighed. “She may not yet be dead, Sirius, though she may have been hit with the killing curse already. We must have faith in her. We will find her.”

The tone of finality in the old professor’s voice cut Sirius’ other questions off, and they searched the outside and inside grounds for three hours, but unable to find more than confirmation that she was indeed captured. Though Sirius wanted to stay behind at the cottage, Dumbledore persuaded him to return to the Potter residence until school resumed after the holidays, and to not say more about Alex until further details were known. 

                                                            ***

Alex awoke the next day, or so she assumed it was the next day by the sunlight streaming into the room, feeling very sore and with a splitting headache. Glancing around the room she was in, she was taken aback by the elegance of the design and furnishings, and though she welcomed the change from the cold stone holding cell, she felt very ill at ease in this large room. Of course, Slytherin colours, she thought wryly, confirming that she was in fact still a prisoner of Lord Voldemort, but for whatever reason was granted luxury.

She took a few turns around the room, inspecting every desk, chair and window, looking for clues as to where she was and how to escape. But her search yielded no results except an entire wardrobe of potions ingredients, cauldrons and books, which she doubted had been there before she had taken up residence in the room, and therefore providing no insights. Curiosity got the better of her, however, and she picked up a tattered potions book, and scanned through it. She barely had gotten through scanning the third book from the closet when that voice erupted from beside her.

“Anxious to get started?”

She whipped around, dropping the book and staggering backwards until Voldemort’s entire body came into view rather than just his head, as it had been seconds ago. “What are you doing here?”

“You really are a silly girl,” he said mockingly. “You may have mere seconds to live and you ask me what I’m doing here?”

“Alright then, where am I?”

“But you haven’t yet answered my first question.”

She stared at him. How was she supposed to reply to a stupid question like that, that clearly did not have the answer he wanted? “Actually, yes, as you can see I already found the stock cupboard.”

Something resembling a smile appeared on his face, before he replied, “You are in the house of one of my followers. Is there anything you require to get started?”

“Food—Can’t brew on an empty stomach, you know,” she said with a partially disguised smirk. “Silver knives and daggers. A clock and calendar would be good too. Oh and some music…helps to get in the vibe.”

The Dark Lord did not reply and instead studied her with an intense gaze, but she did not back down. “Yeah, I’m not joking about those things…really do need them.”

He stared at her some more, and then gave a brief, stiff nod. “But perhaps before I start handing you knives and daggers, we should double check something.”

Alex’s eyes grew wide and she screamed as the green jet of light hit her a second time within the past 24 hours, having the same effect and sending her crashing into a wall.

“It seems you live to die another day,” Voldemort said after a pause, before disapparating in a wisp of black smoke, leaving Alex alone, crumpled on the floor…

                                                                 ***

“NO!” Sirius yelled, shooting out of bed into a sitting position. Breathing heavily, he shut his eyes tightly, trying to ban all images of Alex being hit with the killing curse from his mind. Resting his head on his knees, he felt like crying. It had been three days since Alex disappeared and no news from Dumbledore. He had avoided telling James what exactly had happened and only gave an excuse that Alex had some business to take care of by herself. But now, as he heard James getting up from the other side of the room and trudging towards him, he had a sinking feeling some more details would have to be spared.

“Are you alright?” James asked concernedly, though sleepily.

“Yeah…just…bad dream,” he said cautiously, hoping James wouldn’t ask more.

With a flick of James’ wand, the lights in the room dimmed up, and Sirius now saw concern splashed all across his friends’ face. “Are you sure you’re alright?”

He nodded, and James decided to try a different tactic. “It’s New Year’s Eve tonight. Is Alex coming to the party?”

Sirius cringed at her name and felt the need to cry and scream and yell again, but held it down. “I don't know…”

“Look, Sirius, what really happened between you guys? Are you avoiding her, or her you?” he asked. When Sirius only gave him a mournful look, he continued, “I don’t mean to pry or anything like that, but its killing me to see you all torn up about something and I can’t even help.”

Sirius sighed, and looking at James’ worried eyes, decided to be a bit more fair to his best friend. “Nothing happened between us, James. Nobody is avoiding anybody. The truth is…is that…she was…”

He trailed off, unable to finish as his voice started to crack and tears came dangerously close to spilling. Taking a few calming breaths, he tried to continue, “The truth is that she was taken by Death Eaters.”

James gasped, horror etched into his face. “What?”

“They took her, James. Right from under my nose, when I was with her, and had told her that I wouldn’t let them take her,” he whispered, recalling the night before she was taken. “They didn’t even find me, just her.”

“How…? When? Why…?” James asked, his voice a mere ghost of its usual booming cheeriness.

“Dumbledore says they probably tracked her all the way from Buckingham when we left on the 26th…they found us and took her on the 29th in the morning, we assume,” he stopped for a moment to think about the ‘why’. “We don’t know why, but Dumbledore suspects it’s something to do with potions.”

James nodded slowly, also remembering the recent disappearances of some of the most celebrated potions masters.

“Why didn’t you tell me before?” James asked. “All this time…”

“Sorry, James, but Dumbledore had said it’s best if as few people know about it as possible,” Sirius said sadly, letting a pause fill the room, before he decided to voice his fears. “She…what if she’s already…d-dead…”

“She’s not. I just know it. Alex is smart and she’ll survive. We’ll find her, Sirius, we will. And everything will be alright in the end,” James tried to comfort Sirius who was slowly breaking down.

“I feel so…empty and dead without her. It’s like when we were listening to the apothecarian all over again, thinking she might be dead, except a million times worse and across a three day span already,” he said, staring at the wall in front of him, willing the tears to stop and not fall. “I don’t know how long I can take it.”

James was lost for words. He truly did not know what he could do or say to ease some of his friend’s pain. “You really love her, don’t you?”

Sirius nodded. “I really didn’t think this kind of love was possible, and if this is anything like what you feel for Evans, than I’m sorry for making fun all these years.”

James smiled, “Nothing to be sorry for, mate. You were just skeptical and cynical, is all.”

Sirius tried to smile, but barely managed to get half way there, before he sighed again. “Go to bed, James. I don't want to keep you up, and in fact, I think I should get some rest too.”

He nodded, and gave his friend a reassuring squeeze on the shoulder, before making his way back to his side of the room, the light dimming down as he walked, leaving Sirius alone to his overactive imagination and grueling thoughts once more. 

                                                           *** 

Alex's life, as dreamlike as it had been, had taken a vicious turn into the nightmare zone.  And if she hadn't been constantly reminded just how real it actually was, she'd be convinced it actually was a nightmare.  

The next few days passed in a blur, and Alex fell into a sort of routine—eat and brew. She barely had any sleep and was very edgy. She didn’t need any disturbances and yet they persisted on checking up on her every so often, through the door albeit, unlike—

“How’s it coming?” the voice sliced through the air, making Alex jump again, no matter how many times it happened throughout the past few days. Voldemort deemed it of utmost importance that not only his masked soldiers of death come to check on her every hour or two, but that he himself supervise the potion making every so often.

“Maybe you should use the door,” she retorted. “With every pop of apparition I could make a fatal mistake.”

“You talk too much for your own good, Alexandria,” he hissed sardonically, starting to circle around her and the bubbling cauldron. “A simple answer would have sufficed.”

“As far as I know, it’s going well,” Alex replied, not lying, for indeed she was trying her best (though procrastinating as much as possible) and starting to feel the familiar drowsiness she had experienced before. “No need to kill me today.”

“And why would that be?” he asked, his red eyes boring into her.

“Two reasons, actually,” she started, still stirring the thick simmering potion before her. “One, I don’t think being away from the cauldron at this point is the best idea. And two, I’m quite sure the orb hasn’t…er…relocated.”

He was silent for a moment, as if considering her words, before asking, “How much longer?”

“I honestly don’t know,” she replied warily, glancing at his towering form from the corners of her eyes. “But soon, I think.”

“You had better hope so,” he said threatingly, before disapparating once again. Alex heaved a sigh of relief at not being avada-d yet another time. Each time the curse hit her, she felt her body and mind take the toll. She was exhausted, and extremely sore. Bruises spotted her body here and there, and dark bags were starting to form under her red, puffy eyes. It hurt to move, she was hungry, tired, and thinking was impossible. Yet here she was expected to brew the most brilliant potion of the millenia from her own intuition, which seemed to have died completely.

She needed sleep. 

Looking at the bed across the room, she longed for a night’s rest, cuddled safely and warmly in Sirius’ arms. She turned to face the cupboard of potions ingredients, her eyes scanning all the labels, until finally they rested on the one she was looking for. The one that would let her get some rest. Cursing under her breath for being denied a wand to summon the ingredient to her, she quickly jumped up and let the potion bubble while she ran to get the silvery and colourful flaky substance: rainbow fish scales—one of the most rare and sought after ingredients. Among its many uses and effects, it primarily allowed the potion to remain exactly the way it was for as long as was needed, as if freezing it in time until the potion-maker returned to tend to it. Taking a moment to properly admire it, she quickly ran back and sprinkled a bit on top, watching as the rainbow spread across the surface and slowly started to sink. Slightly smiling in satisfaction, she wandered over to the bed before promptly collapsing upon it, as the potion simmered away.

As her eyes drifted shut, she got a glance at the calendar. It was January already. She had been a prisoner for more than a week, and all her friends would be returning to Hogwarts in a few days. Without her. Her thoughts meandered as she wondered if anybody was looking for her, how they would explain her absence from school, if anybody would tell her parents she’s missing…Tears welled up in her eyes, partly from fear, sadness, frustration and exhaustion, but she didn’t have a chance to spill them as she fell asleep.

“Alex…Alex wakeup,” a familiar voice gently called.

Stirring from her sleep, she drearily opened her eyes and immediately did not believe them as a pair of silvery blue ones met her gaze. What could he be doing here…?

"Sirius?” she asked, her voice cracking as she sat up.

"No,” he replied sadly.

"Regulus?!"

Alex thought she registered a subtle nod of his head. She blinked. So she wasn’t dreaming. “What are you doing here?”

His smile was very faint, and his voice wry, “It’s my house.”

“Your house?” she repeated, blinking dumbly again, unable to understand.

“Well…my parents house,” Regulus slowly corrected, and after a few moments it finally clicked. Voldemort had said she was in the house of one of his followers…the Black family was notorious for its support of the Dark Lord…is that why Sirius ran away? She found herself asking. Sirius lived in this house?!

“Oh,” was all that she could say for the moment as her tired mind worked furiously. “And they let you come in here?”

“No,” he said with a smirk, “but I’m leaving back for Hogwarts tomorrow and I wanted to see you before I left.”

She smiled, though it hurt to.

“And I just wanted to tell you that Sirius and all your friends, muggle and wizard alike, are so far alright,” he whispered quickly.

Her heart sped up at the mention of Sirius, “Regulus, I know you’re putting yourself in a lot of risk coming here, so thank you. And I know you probably can’t tell anybody about me being here, but please…if you somehow can…find a way to tell Sirius I’m…well, alive still.”

For a moment he looked uncertain, but seeing Alex’s pleading eyes he nodded. “I’ll do it somehow, Alex, I promise I will.”

“Thank you,” she replied, giving him a hug.

“Alex…I…” Regulus started hesitantly, then taking a breath continued, “I didn’t have anything to do with this, but I should have warned you somehow…about this and…I’m so really sorry but I…being Slytherin isn’t—“

“It’s alright, Reg,” Alex interrupted.

He tried to smile but instead said, “I could have stopped this, if only I was braver like Sirius and didn’t care about Slytherin or Mother and the stupid Dark Lor—“

“Regulus I don’t want to hear you saying that,” she interrupted once more. “You are just as brave as Sirius, and you coming here right now proves that. Don’t blame yourself for anything. Odds are I probably would have ended up here either way...I am a bit accident prone, you know…”

“But you could die…”

She gave a weak laugh, “Me, die? Don’t you know I’m immortal?”

“You won’t be forever,” he whispered morosely, eyes downcast.

“Well we don’t have very much to worry about at the moment,” Alex said after a pause. “Keep an eye out for all my friends if you can though, alright?”

He nodded. After a pause, Regulus said, “I should probably go.”

“Yeah. Thanks for this,” Alex said softly. “Good luck at school.”

He nodded once more before tiptoeing out of the dark room, closing the door silently behind him and leaving Alex alone once again. 






Author's Note:  Alright...so...how was it?  Was the switching of perspectives alright?  Did it make sense, or was it confusing?  Please let me know so that I can either fix this chapter and/or not make the same mistakes in the next chapter.

Sorry for the horrendous wait.  I know I'm not a very good updater. But now that school is over for about a month, I will try to put up one more chapter before September.

Please review!

Thanks for reading!

Chapter 30: With Every Breath
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Author's Note: It seems I've gotten into a habit of starting off chapters with apologies. So, not wanting to break that tradition…

1—sorry sorry sorry for the horrible wait. I really do try but stuff always comes up
2—sorry for the shortness of this chapter (and the next few). But before it was one huge long mess of words, and I had to break it up in order for it to make any sense and not be confusing.
3—sorry for the ending of this chapter. I know you'll probably hate me for it, but see Apology #2.

And now, onto the good stuff. I really hope you like it! Please let me know!

Thanks to everybody who has been reading and reviewing! If weren't for you, I probably would have stopped writing this ages ago.

Cheers!




Since you've gone I been lost without a trace,
I dream at night I can only see your face,
I feel so cold and I long for your embrace
POLICE: Every breath you take.

Sirius was past approach. Everything that he did was so automatic by now, he honestly looked dead and acted even worse. It was like he was a ghost, or only a shell of his previous self, devoid of all fun and laughter and joy. When he spoke, it was in short succinct sentences, just to humour the asking party with an answer. Everyday without news about Alex seemed to make him die a little more, and soon enough he started blaming himself too, on top of everything else. With every breath he took, he wondered if she was still breathing too. Would he be able to carry on breathing if he ever had to hear those dreaded words, that she was breathing no longer?

His friends didn’t know how to help him at all, and the professors laid off a bit. And quite sure that it was one of the Slytherins who had betrayed her, he became more hostile towards them than ever, though whoever, friend or foe, mentioned “Alex” was sent such an evil glare they made sure to never do it again.

Things only got worse when Sirius closed his eyes. His dreams were haunted by visions of her. Sometimes they were happily together, and then Alex would be torn out of his arms and away from him by darkness. He would watch as she disappeared into the dark abyss, sometimes silently, and other times yelling out frightened, painfully. He would search for her, through the dark, misty field, calling out her name but hearing no answer in return. On rarer occasions he would hear an answer, but to no avail: no matter how he ran, how he searched or yelled, he could not find her.

It came to a point where he was afraid to go to sleep. Afraid of seeing her again, only to have her taken away, again.

It was simply too much to bear.

Through his sleepless nights, he had already read through a number of Alex's favourite books that were left in her dormitory. Wuthering Heights was the most painful to get through, and he still had not finished it.

“Padfoot, class is over,” Remus said softly, lightly shaking Sirius out of his stupor. He got up without a word and the Marauders, minus Peter plus Lily who was by James’ side, walked silently towards potions—the worst class to sit through without Alex there.

Nobody wanted to say anything. Or rather, there wasn't much left to say.

“Sirius,” a voice from ahead of them suddenly said.

Sirius looked up to respond, but his eyes narrowed. “What do you want, Regulus?”

Regulus hesitated, arms full of books and a scared expression on his face. “Well I…er…can I have a word?”

“Whatever you have to say to me, you can say to all of them,” Sirius said flatly.

He pondered for a moment, “Alright, come this way a bit then.”

He led the group of 7th years a bit to the side, his eyes darting every which way as if to see if he was in the clear.

“What do you want?” Sirius repeated.

“I’m not supposed to tell anybody this…I mean, I don’t even know how I found out about it…luck, and I guess…but, well…”

“Get on with it,” Sirius commanded.

“It’s about Alex,” he finally blurted, remembering her pleading look, and having already waited this long to talk to Sirius, decided not to waste anymore time with his useless ramble. Somewhere deep down, he still cared about his brother, too, and seeing Sirius all lifeless like this made that buried concern creep up to the surface where he couldn't deny it any longer.

All four of them stared at him in shock.

“What about her?” Remus asked, seeing that Sirius had lost his voice yet again.

“She’s alive,” came the short and quiet response.

Lily gasped, putting one hand over her mouth and all four of them, eyes widening. “Alive…?”

Regulus nodded quickly.

“Are you sure?” Sirius said after a pause, and Regulus nodded again. “Where is she?”

“I don’t know,” he said quickly, hoping none of the Marauders had somehow learned legillemency. “But she is alright.”

Sirius stared at him before breaking the awkward and tense silence by giving him a quick and slightly awkward pat on the shoulder. “Thank you.”

Regulus nodded once more, and with a faint smile strolled off towards his next class. The four Gryffindors headed towards Potions once more.

“Do you trust him?” James said after a moment.

Sirius sighed, “If it’s got to do with Voldemort, then I don’t have a doubt he might have picked up something at home over the holidays, or even in the Slytherin common room.”

“She’s alright,” Remus repeated, and then looked at Sirius. “You see, she can take care of herself.”

For the first time in over a month, a real smile appeared on Sirius’ ghost of a face.

"Don't know why I doubted her," he replied.

                                                                     * * *

“My patience is waning, Alexandria,” the cold voice hissed. “This is the third unsuccessful potion. Perhaps you are... insufficiently motivated?”

“NO!” Alex yelled, her voice hoarse, as she tried picking herself up from the floor from yet another killing curse. “I am trying everything I can think of, I swear! I need a break. I can’t think—“

“There will be no breaks,” Voldemort interrupted, his voice venomous. “You have until the end of the week to make another potion or else your two muggle friends will be in more pain than you can ever imagine.”

“Don’t hurt them—I’ll make you two potions by the end of the week, just don’t touch them,” Alex bargained weakly, barely able to talk.

Voldemort looked at her in surprise first, then in anger. “Crucio! It appears you have been wasting my time, if you can invent and brew more than one brilliant potion at once. Perhaps you ought to brew five potions by the end of the week, to make up for the three failed ones so far, one for this week, and one as a safety measure for your friends.”

Alex looked up from the floor in pain and shock. “Five potions? That’s impossible—if I knew what I was brewing maybe not but I can’t make up five completely new potions—“

“You will, Princess, you will. And one of them better be successful,” Voldemort hissed, the unspoken ‘or else’ hanging in the air. He waved his wand, and 4 more cauldrons and burners materialized on the working table. “Go ahead and start.”

“I’ll start tomorrow,” Alex spat, staring at him in defiance. “Five potions need more thinking about.”

Voldemort paused for a moment, before smirking down at her. “It’s your time, and your friends’ lives you’re gambling with. By the end of the week—Saturday is the deadline.”

He turned on his heel and disapparated, leaving Alex alone. She pulled herself up onto the bed, trying to bring all her thoughts together. She believed this potion she had just completed and drank had been dangerously close to succeeding—something she could not allow or else Voldemort would be more powerful than ever and she would be dead. Yet it was a wonder that she was still alive after almost two months, when at any moment Voldemort’s killing curse might have actually done its job. Now she had gotten herself into a worse mess than before. And for as long as she had managed to keep Dev, Adrian and Darcy safe, she had destroyed it all with one sentence. Now if she didn’t succeed, one of them would get hurt. Escape was impossible, and incompliance would get her nowhere. But then again, neither would compliance. Was there no way to win against Voldemort?

And then it came to her. A way to stop her pain and save her friends; a way to not give in to Voldemort, to not give him the dark power he sought. And she could do it too, she was sure she had almost figured it out—it only came down to a last couple ingredients. And five potions would be perfect. It would give her five different variations, five different chances to get it right. Maybe even a sixth…?

But what then? What happens once I get it out? I have no idea what or how it'll happen. I don’t know how to destroy it, I don’t know what do with it at all, and I can’t just leave it out in the open somewhere for him to find and take anyways…

…maybe this isn’t the best idea after all…but it’s the only one I have…


She pushed all her worries aside until the next morning as sleep washed over her. Perhaps if she was lucky, Voldemort’s killing curse would finally kill her tomorrow, or the day after…or even the day after that, and save her all the trouble, and her friends too.

                                                                    * * *

The days at Hogwarts had flown by much better now that Sirius was slowly coming back to the real world. Not that Alex was forgotten. Everyone's thoughts still dwelled on her, especially Sirius'. But at least now hope was restored. She had survived thus far. She wasn't dead. She would return to them all. Sirius would hold her in his arms once more.

She was alive.

And if she had made it so long, she could definitely hold out a bit longer. Just a bit longer, before somebody would rescue her.  She had to.

“Oh no,” Lily whispered in fear, staring at the muggle newspaper she always received along with her copy of the daily prophet.

“What is it?” Remus asked quietly, trying not to alert Sirius who was sitting only a few spaces down the table in the great hall, who though still not really eating, was at least talking normally with James and getting some sort of food down his throat.

“It just…it can’t be possible…” Lily muttered, eyes still scanning the front page.

“What?” Remus asked, more concerned, but when Lily didn’t answer, he folded down the paper and gasped as he read the big black bold letters.

Princess Alexandria Dead




 


Chapter 31: Setting Sun
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Princess Alexandria Dead
Last night, after a call from an unknown source, investigators arrived at the horrific scene of a motorbike accident near Surrey, the well known area where the Prince Darcy’s cottage is located. Upon arrival, they quickly got to work and tried to rescue the victim who had been suffering for at least an hour before from a severe head concussion, broken ribs consequently causing a minor pneumothorax, a broken leg in several areas and internal bleeding. It wasn’t long after the paramedics started to treat the victim on the way to the hospital that she had lost consciousness, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The dead victim was identified as none other than the Princess Alexandria Edwards… whom we all know to be quite fond of motorbikes.

Remus looked up from the page at Lily, who was trying in vain to stop the tears welling up in her eyes from cascading down her pale face. “It can’t be real…how could she have gotten away…?”

Lily shrugged as she struggled to keep herself from convulsing and sobbing out loud, and pointed to the rest of the article.

Paramedics brought the Princess to the hospital, where last, futile attempts to restore the 18 year old princess’ life were made. The hospital staff sent for the rest of the Royal family, as well as Devlin and Adrian Wheeler to confirm that the dead girl was in fact the Princess, as previous incidents years ago involved false deaths. They all sadly confirmed that it was her, though her brother Darcy seemed to be slightly skeptical. None offered any comments.

The funeral was announced this morning to take place next weekend. Meanwhile the body rests in Buckingham Palace. It is without a doubt certain that we will all miss the spontaneous and rebellious Princess who, though we may hate to admit it, captured our hearts and imaginations. She will forever be remembered…


Remus had to stop reading. It was too much too bear. Was she really dead?

“Sirius can’t see this,” Lily interrupted his thoughts, her voice barely audible. “Not when a few days ago he found out she was still alive.”

Remus nodded, his own tears now threatening to spill. But fate seemed to be against them, as James noticed the change in Remus’ and Lily’s moods.

“What’s the matter with you two?” he asked, and Sirius turned to look at them also.

“Nothing,” Lily managed to say, trying to stash the newspaper away, but her voice betrayed her.

Remus tried to communicate a look to James that Sirius needed to be taken away right now, and James understood it, but so did Sirius.

“What’s going on?” he asked warily.

“Some muggle rubbish,” James said, not quite sure what he was talking about. “Let’s go Sirius, quidditch practice, you know.”

But Sirius was not to be fooled, “What are you hiding?”

“It’s nothing, Sirius,” Lily said weakly, slightly afraid of the look in his eyes.

“SHOW ME!” he yelled, and they all moved away from him. Lily gave Remus a glance, and Remus only nodded once as if to say ‘sooner of later’. Reluctantly, Lily handed over the newspaper, and Sirius unfolded it, James leaning over to read it as well. Lily and Remus watched Sirius carefully. They did not expect him to suddenly look up towards the professor’s table before storming away. The three of them followed, and soon realized he was headed towards the Headmaster’s office. Stopping only briefly to knock before he entered, he ran into the room, and threw the newspaper down before Dumbledore who sat at his desk.

“Is it true?!” he yelled.

Dumbledore looked only mildly stunned, before a sad look overcame him and he started to read the entire article. Finally he lifted his head and looked at Sirius, whose eyes were blazing. “I was not aware of any such accident. I will have to go investigate immediately. Meanwhile, it is best for you to return to your classes.”

He stood up, and put his hand on Sirius’ shoulder, trying to reassure him, before he went to the fireplace, and disappeared in a cloud of green smoke. Sirius just stood there in a daze, his mind unable to comprehend what was going on. Finally James called out, “Sirius…we should probably get going…class starts in like 10 minutes…”

“She can’t be dead…can she?” Sirius whispered, still staring at the fireplace. "I mean, the Death Eaters had her…"

No one replied, afraid to answer, because even if it wasn’t really her in the motorcycle accident, they were all growing slightly doubtful that she was still alive. And it wasn't that much of a stretch to believe she had died at the Death Eater's hands, and only dropped off with a motorcycle and inflicted injuries after, setting up her death and attributing it to an accident.

“I really don’t know,” James offered after a while.

Standing there for another few minutes, completely still and silent, Sirius finally heaved a resigned sigh and headed out the door, the others in his wake. All his classes that day seemed to drag on forever, and he barely registered what any of his professors lectured about as his thoughts were completely occupied.

How would he be able to go on without her? If she really was, truly gone?

The answer was simple: He couldn't.

Sirius closed his eyes, painfully recalling their last night together when Alex had brought up the same, grim subject. Could one go on without the other? Could life still exist?

Alex had seemed persistent, in a quiet voice, trying to convince him that death was nothing. One must go on, if anything were ever to happen to the other.

Had she known then…? Had she felt something terrible was about to happen?

"It's nothing," Sirius whispered, repeating Alex's words, trying to keep his promise. The promise he had made only to calm her, never thinking he would actually have to keep it. He had to go on. He would go on. It's nothing.

But a few seconds had only to pass for Sirius to know that it was not nothing.

It was everything. Grief. Anger. Despair. Numbness. Darkness. It was a promise of life devoid of any feeling; a mere existence of a broken, scarred soul never to be healed*.

And she, his beloved Alex, had left him to face the vast universe alone.

Alone.

Pain ripped through his chest, and suddenly he couldn't take it any longer. Without a word to any of his friends or the teacher, not caring for any of his belongings, he simply stood up and left the room.

He didn't know where he was going, nor did he care. He might have walked straight into the half frozen lake for all he knew, and have gladly accepted his fate. Anything. Anything to get away from this torment.

It was as if he just suddenly became painfully aware that Alex was never coming back to him. That he would never see her again, unless it was in her casket or nightmares. He would never hold her in his arms again, never hear her voice again, never feel her warm lips against his. No more laughter. No more adventures. No more of anything.

She was gone; taken not only from him but from this world entirely.

There wasn't even hope left.

Sirius collapsed outside. He had made his way to their place by the lake, where a few months ago he had began being civil to her in his attempt to win the bet he had made with James.

Though he was on his knees, he didn't feel the wet snow starting to soak through his pants, nor the cold wind biting into him. It was as if his physical senses were all thrust into deadness; his body, heart and mind too completely overwhelmed with his emotions and thoughts to even bother with the physical world around him. He didn't notice the tears start streaming down his face, and he barely knew what he was shouting, whispering or mumbling. All he knew was that Alex wasn't beside him, and would never be. And somewhere in his mind, awareness sparked, that the rest of his life would look and feel exactly like this, for every minute of every day.

Time passed, however slowly and unbearably, but it passed nonetheless. It was starting to get dark, the sun was setting. It had already set on her life. And even if he was still alive, it was setting on Sirius' life too, now. Life wasn't life without her.

He closed his eyes, finally beginning to feel a real, physical numbness brought on from the cold.

"I don't care!" he yelled out loud as if in response to his protesting body, his voice hoarse and broken.

"Sirius, you need to come inside, please."

He looked up, surprised to see Lily standing beside him. He had expected James or Remus or even Peter to come after him. Not Lily.

"Sirius, please," she repeated, her voice soft and wavering, and her green eyes glistening with tears. "This isn't how Alex would have wanted it."

"I can't," was all that he replied, casting his eyes down again.

There was a pause, both of them unable to speak, too consumed by their emotions. Lily opened her mouth, about to say something more, but all she could do was sit down in the snow beside him, and reach for his cold hand grasping it firmly, reassuringly.

"We have to get them back," Lily said after a while, her voice quiet but determined. "We have to get the Death Eaters back for this, for Alex. For all of us. That's something to live for, isn't it?"

Sirius didn't protest. He had already decided he would kill them all. He would have revenge. But still, he only whispered, "It won't bring her back."

The last rays of the sun were gone. They were left in a greyish darkness that would soon envelope them completely…







Author's Note:  Hello!  I know I'm slow.  And I know this is short.  But like I said in the previous chapter, I think it was:  this was simpley the best way to cut a huge long piece of narrative into chapters that flowed and make sense. 
Please review!  I would really love to hear how you guys are liking (or not liking) the story.  Its drawing to a close, by the way.  Probably only like 5 or so more chapters remaining.  So yeah...please comment on anything!
Thank you to everybody reading and reviewing thus far.  I love you all!  I never expected this story (my first story) to have this many reads and reviews!  Thanks so much.
Cheers!

PS--haha, does anybody else think my chapter title would fit in perfectly with the Twilight series? ^.^







*Fire in the Steppe, Henryk Sienkiewicz.  Please note that the fragment denoted with the * was inspired by this book.

Chapter 32: Birthday Magic
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When Sirius woke up, he was surprised to find himself in the infirmary, Mdm. Pomfrey bustling around him. His mind was hazy, and his vision blurred. It seemed like the world was spinning around him.

"Well as long as you're up already," Mdm Pomfrey said, noticing him trying to adjust to his surroundings. She stuck out her hand, in which was clasped a vial filled with purple liquid "You might as well take some of this."

He tried ignoring the massive head rush and migraine as he tried to sit up, and accepted the small vial, though somewhat hesitantly. Sirius peeked inside the small container, and felt his stomach churn at the foul smell. He looked up, trying to find the matron and protest, but she was no longer there. It was James and Remus in her place.

"You should probably drink it, Sirius," James said, his voice soft.

Remus nodded. "It's been bringing down your fever."

"Fever?"

He was surprised at his own voice. It sounded hoarse, and weak.

His friends nodded at him.

Sirius blinked, unable to remember anything past staring at the setting sun, and the cold darkness enveloping him. He dimly noticed Remus gesture towards the vial, and he closed his eyes and downed it in one gulp. He felt it burn on the way down. And then, everything was suddenly clear; his vision no longer blurred, and the room no longer spinning. His thoughts were sharp, though his body still felt weak.

"Alex?" he asked right away, his eyes searching their faces for any hints.

They just stared back at him, with sad and mournful eyes. Remus sighed, and finally said after a while, "We have no idea what's going on anymore, Padfoot."

"What do you mean?"

"Well…Dumbledore came back three days ago, and said Alex was…well, you know…but then yesterday…" James said, trying somehow to piece together bits of information in a way that would be the least shocking.

"Wait, what? Three days ago? How long have I been here for?!"

"You've been delirious and out for almost a week," Remus answered quietly.

Sirius blinked again. Could he have possibly spent a week in the infirmary and remember nothing of it?

"What has been going on?"

"Dumbledore spent a day or two at Buckingham before he was finally able to get in and see A-Alex…" James started.

Remus picked up, "And then he came back with bad news."

Sirius felt the blood drain from his face. "Where's Dumbledore?"

"Well…ah…he left, again…" James said, scratching the back of his and looking anywhere but at Sirius.

"Remus…" Sirius said, ignoring James, who had always had trouble breaking bad news.

"The funeral is supposed to be tomorrow," Remus said quickly, unable to bear the look of pain and anxiousness on his friend's face any longer. "So he left yesterday to…help out, I guess, and make sure nothing else happens."

"Nothing else…?"

Remus sighed yet again—Sirius was not letting anything slide today. "Alex's body went missing yesterday."

The silence that enveloped the room was indescribable. The three boys didn't even breathe for those few seconds. Remus and James just held their breaths, waiting nervously for Sirius' reaction. Sirius stopped breathing completely subconsciously. It was as if all his bodily processes just stopped, and reconverted all their energy into trying to comprehend that not only was Alex dead, her body was now missing too.

"What?" Sirius whispered, unable to believe what Remus was telling him.

"There was an article in the muggle newspaper," James continued, seeing Remus' stressed out face and finally taking over the role as the bringer of bad news. "That her body disappeared sometime in the night, from Buckingham palace."

"Disappeared?"

"The paper said cops were already searching everywhere, but Dumbledore went to investigate right away. He hasn't come back yet, but he did send this…"

Remus handed over a piece of parchment, which Sirius seized immediately.

It is with great grief that I inform you that the article in the paper was not a scam — Alex's body truly is gone. At the moment, her parents seem to be in shock, but still set on carrying on with the funeral, closed casket. I have spoken in depth with her brother and cannot be brought to suspect her parents in this matter, and Darcy seems convinced that it could not have been a simple, muggle heist. Yet I have found no evidence of magic anywhere, and so must conclude that this was a muggle incident. I will however, keep looking for her and for any clues as to this whole, miserable, affair.

Sirius put the parchment down after reading it over a few times, and stared at pattern on the duvet cover.

"Sirius? You alright?" James asked after a while, when his friend had made no motions.

"Can this get any worse?" Sirius muttered, barely audibly. He hadn't meant for them to hear it anyways, except that they did.

"Sirius, don't think—"

"I'm sorry guys, but can you leave? Please?" Sirius said quietly, not looking at them.

There was a pause in which his two friends seriously considered simply denying his request, worried for his mental and physical well being. Remus and James just looked at him, very concerned, and finally Remus sighed. James nodded and said, "Sure, Padfoot. Go back to sleep, you still have a lot of rest to catch up on."

Sirius nodded, and watched them leave.

He closed his eyes as soon as they were gone. How could he possibly get any rest? Not now, not ever. She was gone. There was nothing left for him. Nothing but an existence that would be hell. Sirius wasn't sure how it had happened, and happened so quickly, but he had fallen in love. And now his heart was broken. Torn out, right along with his soul, to be buried with Alex, wherever she was. How could he live without his heart? Without his soul?

Alex was dead.

But how did she die? Was it really a motorcycle accident, or was she murdered? Did she just breathe her last breath while sleeping peacefully, dreaming, with a light smile on her face? Or did she quit the world with a scream and a look of terror in her eyes?

Alex was dead, and her body was missing. He wouldn't even get a chance to see her once more and somehow say goodbye, somehow let her go, and let her be at peace.

She was gone in so many ways…

Sirius' eyes shot open. Her body went missing…?

He blinked, trying to make sense of the flood of ideas and information that suddenly came rushing through his exhausted mind. Maybe it wasn't her body that went missing…?
His brain worked harder and more furiously as he lay awake, eyes wide open, on the infirmary bed. Something possessed him, a new feeling, and it was getting stronger with each passing moment. It wasn't quite hope, but it was something. Something better than grief and despair and hopelessness. It was something he could actually believe. Now he knew what he had to do. He would help her, in one way or another…

When Sirius left the infirmary a few days later, the rest of the Marauders and Lily were worried. He looked scary, a determined steely look in his eyes. And the very first thing he did was go to the library.

"Eh…Sirius?" Remus ventured as he rushed to catch up with Sirius towards the library.

"Yeah?"

Remus drew a breath. "Don't take this the wrong way, but…what the hell are you doing?"

Sirius glanced at Remus quickly, but didn't stop his trek towards the library. He shrugged. "I figure its time to make use of this supposedly extensive library sometime before I graduate."

James blinked, dumbfounded. "You're making jokes? Are you sure you're alright?"

Even Peter was there, following closely in Remus' and James' footsteps, and said, quite worriedly, "You didn't even try to get some breakfast. You know…real food? You've been in the infirmary for more than a week and living on that awful shit they call food, and now that you've escaped, you're going to the library?"

Sirius looked at them as if this was actually a valid reason to be concerned. "Really, guys, I appreciate your concern, but I'm fine. I've just finally figured out something. And now I know what I have to do, what I should have done months ago."

Remus took a few giant steps and ended up in front of Sirius, crossing and barring his path. Sirius stopped, and looked at his werewolf friend half in wonder, and half in frustration. Didn't he realize that this was just wasting more time? Didn't they all realize they had wasted enough time already?!

"Sirius, this isn't going to bring her back," Remus said softly.

He didn't say anything for a while, but then Sirius replied, voice unwavering. "I've made up my mind, and I don't care what you guys say: Alex is alive, somewhere out there. And if this is the only way to help her, then so be it."

"But—" James started, except Sirius cut him off right away.

"Look, I know what I'm doing and why I'm doing it. I'll take good care of myself, alright? So don't worry about me, and let me do this; it's the only thing I have left."

He didn't wait for them to answer, as he walked by the three of them and continued on towards the library. He knew his friends were worried for him, and probably with good reason. But they didn't understand. They didn't know her secret. He was the only who could help her, and as painful as it was to brush his friends aside, Alex was the most important right now.

And I have to get started right away, because honestly, I have no idea what the hell I'm looking for, or where I should even start…

                                                               * * *

"Sirius you have to stop this!" James yelled, though with a volume still within library limits, at his best friend who was yet again sitting at a table in a deserted corner of the library, hunched over a book. "You're only making it worse!"

"How can it possibly get worse?" Sirius retorted emotionlessly, not even bothering to look up. He was finally on to something, after weeks of searching. And as much as he appreciated James' concern, now was really not the time for James to show up and start lecturing him again.

"Exactly like it is now! You're going insane! All you do is school, quidditch, and library. You barely eat or sleep. That’s making it worse!"

The raw edge in James' voice finally got Sirius to look up. He was faced with a wide-eyed James, who looked positively ready to tear his hair out. Sirius sighed. "Trust me, James, its not getting any worse. I've already hit way past rock bottom. I'm sorry for worrying you, but I need to do this."

"What, suicide?" he snapped back.

Sirius glared. "I don't care. I'm not giving up. I need to find more about it. I need to know more…"

"Alex is gone! You need to start again!"

"She's not dead, alright?!" Sirius yelled for the first time in a long while, standing up to meet James eye to eye, engaging in a fierce staring contest of sorts. Sirius finally broke his gaze away, and sat back down, repeating in a whisper, "She's not dead."

James took a pause, "And if she is?"

"Then at least this way I'll make everything alright again, and get some revenge," Sirius answered quietly. "I know you think I'm crazy, but I know what I'm doing and why, so don't question it, alright?"

James contemplated the person sitting before him. He was so removed from the Sirius he used to know, it was beyond comparison. This was not the fun, free and worrisome Sirius that used to roam the halls of Hogwarts making snide and joking comments, playing pranks and annoying all the professors to death. All that really remained was his body, but even that was starting to show signs of exhaustion and stress. Dark bags were starting to encircle his eyes, and he somehow looked thinner and more sallow.

And yet, as James recalled the Sirius directly after Alex first went missing, this version of his best friend was somehow better. He didn't seem as (relatively) depressed, and all this researching and long hours in the library at least allowed him to sleep through the few limited hours fairly peacefully. This project, whatever he was working on and so intent on keeping secret from the rest of them, was driving him, keeping him alive, in a manner of speaking. Sirius was no longer just a shell, a ghost of his previous self as in January. At least now there was some sort of emotion. The only question was how long would it before Sirius went completely mad?

Eventually, James sighed and said, "Alright. Let's make a deal."

"James, I really don't—"

"Please. Just indulge me. For your best friends, just do this for us. I know Alex is really the only thing on your mind right now, but you're hurting the people around you by acting like this. Don't forget about us, Padfoot. We all care for you and its killing us to see you do this to yourself." Sirius looked up from the book at James once more, as he continued. "Here's what I propose: You sit through every meal with us, and eat whatever we dish out onto your plate. No more research through late hours into the night—you gotta get at least six hours of sleep everyday. You play a game of exploding snap with us tonight, and you come with us to Hogsmeade this weekend. And obviously don't forget about Remus' furry little problem. Oh, and come home for spring break next week."

"What's all that in exchange for?" Sirius asked, after deciding that the library at the Potter residence might be just as useful as the one here.

James took a moment, as if reconsidering, but then said, "You do all that, and I swear, Marauder's honour, we'll stop bugging you about this and let you do whatever it is you're doing…except if it gets really, really bad."

"I suppose I can do that much," Sirius said, sticking out his hand to shake on it. James shook hands, and pulled Sirius up and in for a hug.

"You know, it’s a good thing I found the perfect deserted corner of the library in which to research, or else that could have been awkward," Sirius joked, albeit slightly weakly, but he cracked a small smile. James laughed.

"Us? Awkward? Perish the thought. We are the epitome of un-awkwardness. Now, pack up your stuff and let's go to dinner."

With a nod, Sirius put his books and papers into his bag, slung it over his shoulder, and followed James out of the library, and into the great hall, James keeping up most of the conversation.

"Well look what the stag dragged in," Remus said as soon as they sat down opposite from him at the Gryffindor table.

"I know. Amazing isn't it?" James said, not wasting any time in serving both himself and Sirius. "Sirius just signed away his soul us. We own him for every meal time, so stuff him up with food! He's gotta get fat again."

Remus and Peter immediately joined in in James' rather successful attempts to fill up Sirius' plate. Sirius accepted it, and said, "I've been a jerk, guys, and pretty selfish, and just…just a horrible friend. I'm really sorry."

There was a quick silence, before the rest of the Marauders piped up all at once.

"It's ok, Padfoot," Remus said.

"You're going through a lot," Peter piped up.

"We understand," James finished. "Now, eat up, or the deal's off!"

Sirius smiled another weak smile, before grabbing his fork and digging in.

That night, James gathered the Marauders and Lily in the commonroom and explained the deal he had made with Sirius. They agreed to honour it, though rather reluctantly, and gave James numerous glances of 'this-was-a-bad-idea-and-you'll-pay-for-it-eventually', but didn't say anything. By the fireplace, the played their game of exploding snap, and when it was over, Peter excused himself and turned in early. Shortly after, Sirius also left, except he went to the library—there were still a few hours left before curfew, and after that, he had the invisibility cloak.

Which left only Lily, Remus and James by the fireplace, James explaining how the whole deal with Sirius had come about. After that was cleared up, conversation flowed to the only possible topic.

“March…already,” Remus muttered to Lily and James who were sitting together across from him.

“I know—it barely seems like it, but Alex has been missing for more than two months,” James said quietly. “Do you think there’s any hope for her?”

Remus sighed, and ran a hand through his hair, quickly looking around to make sure Sirius wasn’t anywhere nearby, though he knew he wasn’t. After the ‘missing’ article, Sirius had given up on not doing anything and waiting for something to happen—he started investigating, and spent his free hours asking people questions and in the library, silently pouring through thick books. Nobody knew what he was looking for, but he was hell-bent on the idea and didn’t want any help from anybody.

“I really don’t know. Possibly—I mean, we probably would have heard something if she really died, and that whole thing with her missing body is skeptical.”

“I really miss her,” Lily whispered, clinging to James who pulled her in closer.

“We all do, Lils,” he whispered back, giving her a kiss on the forehead.

“I just wish we could do something to help,” she said. “Maybe Sirius has got the right idea—at least he’s doing something.”

“What can we do, Lily?” Remus asked weakly. “If I could go rescue her I’d do it in a heartbeat, but we don’t even know where to start.”

Silence followed, each trying to think of something useful.

“Er, Remus?”

They all turned to look at 5th year Cassie who spoke.

“Yes?”

“Sorry to interrupt, but there somebody outside the dormitory who wants to talk with you… alone,” Cassie replied.

Remus looked confused for a moment, but then stood up. “Thanks. I’ll be right back, guys.”

Clambering out of the portrait hole, he looked around to see nobody there. Taking a few steps out, he called, “Hello?”

“Remus, over here,” a voice said back from a dark corner.

“Regulus?” Remus asked back, recognizing the voice.

“Yeah,” came the whispered reply.

Remus walked towards him. “What are you doing here?”

“I wanted to ask, if you knew any hiding place in the castle that is completely safe, and mostly unknown,” Regulus whispered once Remus was close enough to hear.

“Why?” Remus asked, looking at him suspiciously.

“Please, Remus, this is really important and I didn’t have anybody else to ask,” Regulus pleaded. “I figured one of you four might know a place like that, I just know there has to be one somewhere.”

“Yes, there is one, but I’m not sure if I want to tell you.”

Regulus sighed. “Look, I know you don’t trust me and you have a right not to, but this has nothing to do with me or you or Sirius. I need your help—where is it?”

Remus contemplated the boy standing in front of him. It’s not that he didn’t trust him, but rather just the fact that he was in Slytherin where a number of people he didn’t trust resided and ruled. But something in Regulus’ expression bought him over.

“You have to promise not to tell anybody else about it, alright?” Remus started, bringing his voice down lower than a whisper. “It’s the Room of Requirement, on the 7th floor opposite the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy…know where I’m talking about?” Regulus nodded once, and Remus continued. “Walk three times back and forth, thinking about what kind of place you need—the room will appear for you if you are in need of it, equipped with whatever you need, accessible to no one else unless they think the same thing when trying to enter. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” Regulus answered. “Thank you.”

Remus nodded and gave a small smile, before Regulus scurried away, clinging to the walls as if in stealth mode. Wondering what that had been all about, he returned to the common room.

He sighed. This is all just getting to be too much. And as if I didn't have enough to worry about, the bloody full moon is coming up too…I really don't know how much more I can take of this…

                                                             * * *

The halls were empty, except for three Gryffindor boys walking down the corridor, making quite a fuss and not even bothering to be stealthy.

"Sirius, you are coming with us and that is final so just stop trying to get out of this."

Sirius groaned, and tried to shake out of Remus' and James' grips on him once again. "This is not fair. This is…this is breaking the deal James!"

"No, not technically. Remember, I said we won't do anything unless something comes up."

"No. You said you wouldn't interfere again unless I got really, really bad. That’s not quite the same thing."

"Alright then, fine! I am breaking the deal. We are interfering with your obsessive research…but come on, it's your birthday!"

“You guys I’m really not in the mood for anything,” Sirius said weakly as Remus and James practically dragged him up to the 7th floor.   Of course he had put up a fight...he had already wasted enough time over spring break as James kept trying to distract him and get him away from the books at his house.  He hit the books as soon as they got back to Hogwarts last week.  And he had really made progress.  And now again, they insist on interfering and dragging him away when he was so close to finding an answer.   “And I told you guys I didn’t want a birthday party. I have stuff to do…”

“We know, Padfoot, but there are more important things than 'stuff' going on here at the moment,” James replied.

Sirius didn’t reply. He didn’t want to argue an argument he knew he couldn’t win. They had literally carried him out of the library, until at last he agreed to walk wherever they were going to, though they were still holding on to him. He gave Remus a glance.

“Trust me, this will be good,” Remus said with a smile. “I really don’t think you’d want to miss this.”

Sirius sighed. He should be missing it. He should be getting back to work on finding out more about that damned orb that had caused this entire problem in the first place. Back to finding out more about how to get rid of it. It seemed that was about all he could do for her…

“Alright, we’re here,” James announced when they reached the entrance to the Room of Requirement. As Remus did the necessary pacing and thinking, a door materialized and James held it open. “After you.”

Sirius scowled but walked in anyways; the sooner this was over, the better. He barely had enough time to look around the dark room when the door shut behind him. Whipping around, he turned to face nobody behind him. Scowling again, he grabbed at the handle only to find that it wasn’t there. They had locked him in.

“This isn’t funny you guys,” he yelled. “Let me out of here.”

“Not for another 15 minutes…at least…” he heard James yell back.

“When I get out of here I’m going to kill you both,” Sirius threatened, his voice taking on some real emotion for the first time in a while. He reached for his wand but remembered Remus had confiscated that from him when they first attacked him in the library.

“No, I don’t think you will,” Remus yelled.

“Just relax, alright? 15 minutes will be up soon anyways,” James said, his voice trailing off.

“FINE!” he yelled, kicking the door a few times before turning around to look around the room. The light in the room was very dim, only a few torches burning lowly scattered on the walls and a fire in the grate. In the darkness, he could just make out the shape of a couch, table, bed and…a person. There was somebody in the room with him, standing only a few meters away, the firelight reflected in the eyes staring straight at him. A girl, he thought, as he noticed the silhouette of a dress clinging to a thin, though noticeably curvatious, figure. I’m going to kill them…

“Who are you?” Sirius asked. No reply, instead she walked closer. “Look, I don’t know why you’re here and why I’m here but whatever James and Remus told you—“

“James and Remus told me you might like to see me,” she said softly, interrupting Sirius. His heart skipped a beat as she spoke. He closed his eyes, savouring every word she had just uttered and replaying it in his mind. His closed eyes registered the light fading in as he struggled to control his thoughts and emotions. Take a deep breath, he opened his eyes. He couldn't believe who he saw standing barely an arm's length away.

“…Alex…?” he finally managed to croak out.

“Happy Birthday, Sirius,” she whispered, looking at him with a faint smile.





Author's Note:  Hello!  Sorry for the delay in posting!  Can you guess what I blame?
(If you guessed school, good job ;)
Anyways, hoped you liked it.  Please let me know what you think of it, especially with regards to the POV and the timeline and passing time...I found it hard to put this chapter together so I would really appreciate any feedback!
Thanks so much for reading and reviewing!

Cheers!

PS--new (relatively) banner...yay or nay?

Chapter 33: Just Hold Me Now
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]


Oh there's lots that I could say,
But just hold me now,
'
Cause our love will light the way
BRYAN ADAMS: Heaven




Perhaps if she was lucky, Voldemort’s killing curse would finally kill her tomorrow, or the day after…or even the day after that, and save her all the trouble and her friends too.

She had been stupid. Stupid and naïve, to even have thought such hopeful thoughts. Death was nowhere near. And at this point, she would have welcomed it.

Alex looked at her small calendar that had been granted to her when she first arrived at the Black mansion. March. March already.

It had been weeks since she had been commanded to brew five potions in one week. It had been weeks ago that she tried drinking them, one straight after the other, to no avail. They did nothing, except result in her collapsing painfully to the ground, and waking up days later, only to be hit with the killing curse yet again.

And then barely a day or two later, right when she thought things couldn't get worse, Voldemort had shown up with a copy of the Muggle newspaper, and flung it at her.

"The world grieves your passing, Princess," he spat. "When will we get to that part?"

Alex looked at the paper in horror, as the words flashed out at her, Princess Alexandria Dead. She skimmed through the paper, before looking back at Voldemort in rage. "You did this?!"

"I? No, of course not. That's what loyal servants are for," Voldemort drawled viciously, encircling her. "And I must say…my faith in them was well placed. Quite the scandal they generated with a little bit of polyjuice potion, even made it plausible with the whole motorcycle accident…Although, your precious brother has some trouble accepting it. If he continues to deny your death, he might need to be removed from the picture…"

"I'm trying everything I can!" Alex yelled, no more energy left to even try making a smart or bold response. "It's not working! Something is missing, something is wrong…"


Weeks ago. And then there was another article about her missing body. She couldn't even imagine her friends' reactions or responses, and frankly she tried to not imagine them. Trying to picture their horror and pain just made things worse. Every week, Voldemort or one of the Death Eaters never failed to bring in another paper or magazine, with more articles about her, her suspicious death, and missing corpse, and dozens of other little stories. Alex wasn't even sure anymore how much of it the Death Eaters actually orchestrated, and how much was just the normal reaction and over-exaggeration of the media. Week by week, more stories, gossip and scandal—some recent, some from the past, though a large percentage made up or set up—appeared in the papers. Voldemort was ruining her name, and attacking the last shred of dignity her father had with regards to his daughter.

And the cycle kept on: brew, drink, fail, Avada kedavra. Sometimes a few days in between were spent unconscious, only for Alex to awake in pain and harshly brought back to reality. Time dragged on, wearily and slowly, but surely. And still, even though the potions kept getting more potent, and definitely close, no success. She was still alive, and had come no closer to unlocking the secret behind the release of the orb.

And here I am, Alex thought miserably. Trying this again.

Again.

Something crackled in the corner of the dark room. She whipped around to face it, expecting to see Voldemort or one of the Death Eaters. What she did not expect was to be seized by strong arms. Alex struggled against the hand that suddenly closed over her mouth.

“Don’t yell.”

She stopped. She knew that voice. She'd recognize it anywhere. The hand uncovered her mouth and she slowly turned to look behind her. "Severus?

He nodded back through the darkness. “We’re getting you out of here.”

“We? Who’s we?” Alex asked quietly, her voice sounding unnaturally hoarse. It felt like she hadn't used it in ages.

“Regulus, but he's with his parents somewhere so they’re all covered and safe—alibi, you know.”

“And the Death Eaters outside the door?”

He smirked. “Taken care of. Now we need to get out of here while the house is empty still.”

Alex blinked, completely dumbfounded. She opened her mouth to ask more questions but Snape only took her hand and started dragging her towards the door. “I’ll explain later…we need to go…now.”

“What about Voldemort? He’s here usually all the time…”

“The Dark Lord is indisposed at the moment,” Severus said, but upon receiving a look from Alex he continued, “There’s some big fight going on somewhere, now lets go.”

They were at the door when Alex stopped. “Wait—can you destroy those five cauldrons? Blow them up or something, make my escape look like I did it myself…”

He gave her a questioning glance but nodded and instantly the room was a war zone, with shredded fabrics, broken furniture and brightly coloured potions splashing out from every which way. Without another word, they ran down the stairs and out the door, disapparating as soon as they were in the clear.

They reappeared in Hogsmeade, and Alex breathed the cool fresh air deeply, holding onto Snape for support. The cold air seemed almost foreign to her now, and coupled with her bruised and sore body, it rushed down her throat in painful bursts. “Now where?”

“Up to the castle…quickly, while its dark still.” Snape half-carried Alex to the gates of the castle, Alex weaker with each step and breathing deeper, “Almost there…just hold on a bit more.”

“I think I can help,” a voice cut through the night air suddenly, and they stopped in their tracks, staring through the gate at the man who spoke. The gate opened soundlessly, and he walked towards them. Not bothering to say anything to Snape he placed a disillusionment charm on the both of them before levitating Alex as if on invisible stretchers, and heading towards the castle, the gate closing behind them once more.

Snape wasn’t sure what to say or do. The silence was unbearable, and though he didn’t have anything to say, he couldn’t take it any longer.

“Professor Dumbledore, I—"

“Save your breath, Severus,” Dumbledore replied quietly. “We will discuss this later. First Miss Edwards needs to be seen by Mdm Pomfrey, then we will hide her.”

Severus paused. Then he asked the question he couldn't help asking, “How did you know, sir?”

“I didn’t, but I suspected something was going on when you decided to go home for Spring Break—something you never do. Is Regulus alright?”

“I think so…he should be back tomorrow night,” Snape replied, walking by Alex’s side and staring at her. The past two months had not been to her advantage at all—dark circles were under her eyes, her hair which had grown longer was tied back but tangled and frizzy. Bruises spotted her entire body and she was thinner than ever before, sallow and sickly pale. “What did they do to her?”

His voice was quiet; barely a whisper, but Dumbledore had heard it. “Not to worry, Severus. Alex will be back to full health in no time.”

They were soon at the infirmary, and Mdm Pomfrey scooted over and started working on her patient at once, mumbling and muttering under her breath. Dumbledore made his own diagnosis and gave his own treatment, before sitting by her side with Snape, silently. In the early hours of the morning, long after she had been carried in, the two men still sat by her. Finally Dumbledore said, “You have had a long day. Perhaps you ought to get some rest.”

“I want to be here when she wakes up. I need to explain,” Severus replied quietly.

“There will be plenty of time to explain, and I doubt Alex will wake anytime soon—she has much sleep to catch up on, and the sleeping draught is taking it’s effect as well,” Dumbledore continued, his voice laced with reason. “When she is in better form we will move her to a safer location, and you can talk with her there.”

Snape wanted to protest, but after another moment of silence, got up and headed towards the Slytherin dormitory, feeling slightly relieved that Alex was safe once again, but much guiltier seeing her beaten up the way she was.

It was partially his fault.

When Alex awoke three days later, she was surprised to find herself in a familiar setting of red and gold, in a comfortable bed with a fire blazing and bright sunlight streaming in through the windows. Panicking all of the sudden, it took her a few moments to remember she had been rescued, and was now presumably back at Hogwarts. She stretched, and was relieved to not feel the soreness of her aching body anymore. But her happy thoughts were soon discarded in favour of worries—where was Severus? Was he alright? What about Regulus and his family? What was Voldemort doing? What about Dev and Adrian and Darcy?

“Good morning,” a voice interrupted. “I brought you some breakfast.”

“Professor Dumbledore,” she said, finding it strange to hear her voice returning to normal, though still a bit crackly. “So I am back at Hogwarts?”

“Yes, indeed, thanks to Severus and Regulus—both of whom are safe,” Dumbledore replied with a smile.

“What about Voldemort? And my friends in London—"

She stopped as Dumbledore held up a hand. “Don’t over exert yourself, Alex. Just take it easy, you’ve been through too much the past two and a half months.”

He waited until she was calm and eating her breakfast before he started to answer her questions. “Dev and Adrian are fine. We’ve been keeping an eye out for them and Darcy since you disappeared—couldn’t have Voldemort take them hostage. Lord Voldemort is rather furious at your miraculous escape, and seeing the mess you created, I believe he thinks you destroyed the orb.”

“But I didn’t,” Alex whispered. “I think I may still have it.”

“Don’t worry about that at the moment,” Dumbledore said softly. “What matters now is that you are safe and alive. And if you are well enough, I think you have some guests.”

Her eyes flickered to the opening door and her face lit up as Snape and Regulus appeared in the doorway. She scrambled out of bed, and ignoring Dumbledore’s cautions and the massive head rush, she stumbled over to the two of them, engulfing them both in a giant hug, tears starting to well up in her eyes.

“Thank you, thank you so much you two!” she barely managed to say, adoring the both of them with a million kisses to the cheeks. “I owe you my life.”

Dumbledore slowly inched out the door, leaving the three alone.

“You owe me nothing, Alex…” Snape started to say. “I’m just glad you’re alright.”

“Of course I’m alright!”

"No, you're not." Snape pulled away from her embrace and sat her back down on the bed. “Alex, listen. I know you’ll probably hate me forever, but that Hogsmeade we went to the apothecary together…I’m so incredibly sorry, but I knew you were going to get hurt. I agreed to take you so that they could test out whatever hypothesis they had. Only I didn’t know how bad it would be. If I knew you would have came so close to death….that they were going to…to take you and put you through all that I would never have…You know I wouldn't have…”

Alex paled as the force of his words hit her.

He had betrayed her.

That was what he had tried apologizing for the morning in the infirmary after the explosion accident. Even worse, he had been part of the whole thing…But she found her voice and interrupted his rambling. “Severus, I don’t hate you. You made a mistake, but you saved me. I think we’re pretty much square.”

He scowled, “You take it way too lightly, Alex. You could have died, and it would have been on my head—"

“Stop it. I think I know what I went through, alright?” she yelled, all of the sudden angry. She tried to calm herself down. “I know what could have happened, what should have happened…but whatever you did doesn’t matter. You saved my life. Is that not enough to make up for your guilt?”

“I’ve caused you pain,” he said quietly. “It would be fair if I went through the same.”

“Listen to me, Severus Snape. I’m thanking you for rescuing me; not condemning you for being part of a psycho’s plan for lord knows what. So just shut up.” She looked at Regulus. “Thank you, Regulus. I know how much you put at stake to help me, and I’m sorry if your parents are paying for it now.”

“Nah,” Regulus said dismissively with a grin. “You made a brilliant escape that wasn’t our fault, and my parents are fine…Besides, things weren’t the same without you here.”

She smiled back at him, “Of course they weren’t. Oh, and where exactly am I?”

“Room of Requirement,” he answered. “Don’t worry. You’re completely safe in here.”

“I know,” Alex replied, her mind drifting to memories spent in the exact room. “How’s everybody doing?”

“Alright. We’ll get Remus and them to come see you tonight, is that ok?”

“Yeah I would love that. But not Sirius, alright? I think I need some more time…”

Regulus nodded. “Well we better get going. Class starts soon. Come on Sev.”

“Bye guys! Love you!” she yelled at their retreating backs, before gobbling down the rest of her breakfast which magically had kept itself warm. She was so preoccupied eating her breakfast she didn’t notice Dumbledore coming back inside until he sat down beside her.

“The boys have asked me to not reveal how you returned here to your other friends, so if anybody asks you were rescued but you’re not sure by whom,” he said softly with a smile. “Would you like more guests to come by tonight?”

“Yeah, I think I can handle a few more people,” Alex replied. “Er, professor, I know that it would probably be best if I remain…hidden, per se, for now…but can I still finish school, somehow?”

“I’m already arranging it with your other teachers.”

“And uh…do you think I can drop by Dev and Adrian’s place sometime?”

“Darcy is on his way over, and he’s bringing them along.”

Alex gaped. “They’re coming here?! But do they know…I mean…”

“It’s alright, Alex. I explained the situation to them a few days ago, and will leave the rest to you,” Dumbledore said. You see, I knew you would want to see them, but I didn’t think you going to London would be best at the moment.”

Alex nodded, still in shock at Dev and Adrian knowing what she was and coming to Hogwarts. It wasn’t that she hadn’t planned on telling them she was a witch, but rather just the fact that the moment had arrived much sooner than later.

“Well I think they should be here any moment, so I better go back to my office for now,” Dumbledore said and stood up once more. “Also, when you feel strong enough, and I don’t just mean physically, I would like to talk about what happened while you were captive.”

Alex nodded once more, thankful that he understood enough to let her be. She was not at all in the mood to talk about what she had gone through. And she still felt tired. In fact she fell asleep right after eating her breakfast.

She awoke an hour later, and barely had enough time to change from her pyjamas when a knock at the door sounded and three boys entered.

“Darcy! Dev, Adrian!” she yelled and ran to them, hugging them all. “You’re alright! Thank god, I was so worried they would hurt you.”

“You were worried about us?” Darcy asked after he regained his voice. “Lexy, we thought you were dead.”

“I know, and I’m so sorry I put you guys through all that,” she whispered, tears starting to well in her eyes as she embraced the three of them once more.

“You really are alive, aren’t you?” Adrian asked uncertainly, unbelievingly.

Alex nodded with a small smile. “Not rid of me yet, guys.”

“That’s not funny Alex,” Dev said, and Alex immediately felt horrible again. Dev had maybe only ever once taken that tone, and she knew that meant he had been hurting. Badly. It made her feel all the worse because as much as she loved both of them, it always felt as if Dev and her shared a deeper friendship. “You have no idea what it was like seeing your dead—or whatever it was—body, thinking you were gone forever and then your body went missing and now you’re alive? And we find out you’re a witch.”

“Why didn’t you tell us?” Adrian asked.

“It was sorta against the rules, and I thought it would be better that way,” Alex said quietly with a sigh. “I guess I was wrong, though. I’m sorry.”

There was a silence where the two brothers stared at her with slight hesitation. Finally, Dev smiled a small crooked smile and said, “Well at least that explains some of your weirdness and not being able to find a phone in the surrounding area.”

She smiled, happy to see Dev getting back to his normal self again, and hugged them once more.

“Yeah, this is so like…medieval. A castle with torches and moving stairs and what’s with that whole floo powder thing?” Adrian asked.

“I guess I have a lot to explain,” Alex said wandering towards the couch. “Too bad I can’t give you guys a tour though. I’m kinda stuck in this room—in hiding, you know.”

They sat and joked and Alex talked about the magical world, all three boys listening with an avid interest (Darcy was after all, a bit of a stranger too), until Dumbledore came back a good 3 hours later and told them it was time to leave.

She ate her dinner with Regulus (the table in her room was now enchanted to appear with food just as in the great hall) who talked animatedly trying to catch her up on all the happenings of Hogwarts, the magical and muggle world while she was away. Alex listened and reacted at all the right parts, but her mind wandered to thoughts of Sirius. She had longed for him when she was kept at the Black house, but knowing he was far away she was able to keep herself under control. Now that they were in the same castle and only a floor away, she was becoming an emotional wreck, conflicted with wanting to see him right away, and wanting to wait until she was calmer.

Regulus left, and she was alone for less than an hour when James, Remus and Lily entered behind Dumbledore. The three of them stopped in their tracks and stared at Alex, unbelieving and confused. Nobody made a move in either direction for close to three minutes, before Remus finally took four giant strides and closed the gap between them, enveloping her in a warm hug.

“You’re alive. I knew you were alive, you couldn’t be dead. You just couldn’t,” he whispered, holding Alex and stroking through her hair as she started to cry. “Don’t cry, everything is fine now. Shh, it’s alright…”

She couldn’t find her voice, and instead just embraced him tighter, as Lily and James ran up to her.

“Bloody hell, you’re one tough princess,” James said as he hugged her.

“Oh Alex, we thought you weren’t ever coming back,” Lily cried.

Alex tried to grin, “And what, leave you all here to fend for yourselves? How could I possibly…”

Lily chuckled through her tears as she wiped at her eyes, and the four friends sat down on the couch as they started talking all at once about everything, anything and nothing in particular. Until the subject of Sirius came up.

“When do you plan on seeing Sirius?” Remus asked cautiously.

“I…I don’t know,” Alex whispered, feeling the familiar butterflies in her stomach start up again.

“Soon, I should hope, before he completely looses his mind,” James said with a grin. “Maybe we should bring him later tonig—“

“NO!” Alex yelled, interrupting a very stunned James. “Not yet. I think…I need some more time.”

“Oh…well…alright, whatever you say,” James answered coming out of his stupor.

A pause overcame them with just the fire crackling behind them, and then Alex spoke. “How…how is he?”

Another pause, though this time it wasn’t nearly as comfortable as they all tried to find a way to break her the news that Sirius was only this close to being carted off to St. Mungos.

“Better, now,” Remus finally said. “The first couple of weeks you were missing, he was going insane—he just took it all silently. It’s like he wasn’t there, just this empty shell. Then Regulus told him you were alright and he calmed down a bit. But then…well…”

“The muggle newspaper had an article about your death, and he saw that,” Lily carried on slowly. “And when Dumbledore didn’t want to confirm or deny it, he completely lost it—spent a week and some in the infirmary…”

Alex put her head in her hands, tears springing to her eyes and her heart aching as she realized all the pain she had caused for him and everyone close to her.

“…After the second article came up, the one about your missing body, he changed,” Lily finished, and Alex looked at her.

“What do you mean?”

“I think he took it as a sign that you might still be alive or something, and then he started being more normal again,” James continued. “Except he spent so much time in the library researching nobody knows what that it couldn't possibly be normal. But it's like something possessed him—a completely different person, driven only to find whatever he was looking for. You included.”

Alex smiled at them, “I’m so sorry for putting you all through this…and thank you, for being there for Sirius.”

For a moment it looked like they wanted to protest to her apologies, but Alex continued. “Sirius’ birthday is next week. I was thinking maybe we can make him a surprise party…here.”

Their faces lit up at the idea. “Yeah that sounds great!” James agreed at once. “We’ll get him up here somehow.”

They spent the next half hour planning Sirius’ party, before the Gryffindors left Alex alone to her thoughts once more. And for the first time since she had been captured and then rescued, she cried. Cried really hard and for close to an hour she couldn’t stop. They were tears of sadness, joy, pain, fear and hope, and it felt good to finally let out her bottled emotions. She cried herself to sleep.

                                                             * * *

She couldn’t take the anticipation any longer. She walked from one side of the room to the other, muttering to herself as she kept pulling her long hair back and forth over her shoulder. Just when she thought she’d run outside the Room or Requirement and go find Sirius herself, the door opened, and somebody stepped into the room, before the door slammed shut.

“This isn’t funny you guys,” he yelled. “Let me out of here.”

She closed her eyes as the voice echoed in the room and sent shivers down her spine, her heart starting to pound hard. Sirius…

“When I get out of here I’m going to kill you both,” Sirius threatened. She saw him trying to reach for his wand, before kicking the door with an angry “FINE!”

Then he turned around, and her eyes found his, though she was quite sure he didn’t really know who he was looking at just yet. But he started talking as she started to walk towards him. “Who are you? Look, I don’t know why you’re here and why I’m here but whatever James and Remus told you—"

“James and Remus told me you might like to see me,” she said softly, her voice not sounding her own. She saw his shoulders stiffen and his body tense as his voice hit him.

Time seemed to stand still.  Neither moved, or said a word.  They barely even breathed.

…Alex…?” Sirius finally said, though the one word came out quietly and broken, disbelieving.

“Happy Birthday, Sirius,” Alex whispered, staring at him with a faint smile.

Sirius was rooted in place. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing and hearing. Alex. Alive. Alive and in front of him, only a few steps away. Move feet, move! But he couldn’t move. He couldn’t even speak. All he could do was stare at her as tears started to well up in his eyes. Alex stood, not breaking eye contact, waiting for him to make some sort of move. Her heart was beating a thousand times too fast as she counted the seconds.

“…Alex…” he repeated.

“Yeah, it’s me,” she replied with another smile.

He closed his eyes, as the past two months replayed on fast forward in his mind’s eye. He didn’t feel the tears starting to stream down his face. What he did feel, was her arms suddenly around his neck and her lips crashing into his. His mind was still trying to figure everything out, but his body and heart reacted immediately. He wrapped her in his arms and deepened the kiss, feeling in it every single emotion he thought possible. When she finally broke away, though still holding on to his neck tightly, he opened his eyes and looked at her again.

Though hardly able to believe it, there she was before him, staring up at him with a huge grin on her face and streaks of tears on her cheeks. He brought his hands up to her face, running them through her hair, as he smiled back down to her.

She wanted to say so much to him, but all she could do was look at him. She couldn’t find her voice, and neither could he. But to them, it seemed like everything that they wanted to say was being said already. They didn’t need to use their voices for the other to understand. Finally Alex collapsed against his shoulder, embracing him tightly.

This was how it was meant to be. The two of them together, in each others arms.

And that is how it'll stay.





Author's Note:  So...whats the verdict?  I get an A+ for updating so quickly though right? haha.

Please review.  I really appreciate any comments on the chapter or the story in general, especially now that I'm bringing it to a close...I'm not very good with endings.

Almost done!  Now Alex is finally back with Sirius at Hogwarts, and all is well with the world once more.  Or is it...? Tune in next time to find out.

Thanks to everybody reading and/or reviewing!  I hope you enjoyed this chapter.
Cheers.

~Saint


Chapter 34: The Bigger Bang
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Author's Note:  Alright...so it took a bit longer than I expected.  But things just didn't sound right, you know?  I tried fixing it, but in fact, I'm quite sure things still sound a little messed up.  I apologize for the delay in updating, and in advance for all the science-y content.  Hey, what did you expect?  You can't be studying science everyday and not integrate into fiction somehow haha.  Though, if you do know anything about physics/chemistry, I hope you enjoy the little nerdisms.





The night had flown by at what seemed like light speed for the group of friends, who had been busy celebrating Alex's miraculous return, Sirius' birthday and their reunion. It wasn't the same as before—how could it have been? Alex still felt and looked a little weak, and though she denied it, they all noticed her go into silent relapses, thoughts flashing back to the months spent as prisoner or to the orb. Sirius didn't leave her side, and though he was slowing returning back to his old merry self, the past months spent in torment had taken their toll on him. And at times, Lily, James and Remus just simply didn't know how to act, because as much as they wanted to believe things had returned to normal, they simply had not. Not yet, at least, but they all believed it would get better; all five of them were determined to forget what had happened, and go on as if it never had.

Sooner than they would have liked, day arrived, and the group had to split up. They had all fallen asleep sometime midmorning, and were woken up by the sound of food appearing on the table. Lily and the marauders had to go to class, and Alex had to go talk with Dumbledore. It took a while for Sirius to finally leave, and as he did the look on his face was one of disbelief, of apprehension—as if he still couldn't believe this was all real, that he was leaving and he would wake up any second.

As fast as the night seemed to go by, so the day seemed to drag on forever, as Sirius attended all his classes so as not to arouse any unnecessary suspicion. Or rather, any additional suspicion, because it was inevitable that at least some of the Hogwarts students would notice his (and three other Gryffindors) sudden change in countenance.

As soon as he could, he rushed down to the room of requirement, where he found Alex sleeping. He walked over towards her, and just gazed at her. Tears welled up in his eyes as he looked at her sleeping figure, finally safe in front of him, a light smile gracing her still pale face. Making as little noise as possible, he crept over to the other side of the bed, and lied down next to her. I must be the luckiest man alive.

"Sirius?" he heard her mumble.

"Yeah, love, it's me," he whispered back, leaning over and giving her a kiss on the forehead. Alex reached out and took his arm, holding it tightly across her body, and he snuck in a little closer, wrapping his other arm around her too.

Later that evening, Sirius and Alex were left alone in the room of requirement once more, sitting together on the couch in front of the fireplace.

"Alex?"

"Yeah?" was the barely audible reply.

"I hate to bring this up…but…did you…you know…get rid of it?"

"No," she whispered. "Unless it just left on all its own while I was sleeping…urgh, that sounds so demented it's not even funny."

Sirius laughed weakly. "Did you get any closer to figuring out how to get rid of it?"

"Yeah, I think I came really close…"

Sirius drew a breath. "Do you want to get rid of it?"

She looked at him, confused and a little intrigued.

"I think I've got it figured out," Sirius said, but when her look still demanded a further explanation, he continued, "See, when I thought you were…And then your body went missing, I couldn't take it anymore…Just sitting around waiting for something to happen, waiting to hear worse news…"

Alex held back the tears that were threatening to spill as she heard the story recounted from Sirius himself. It was worse than hearing it from Lily and all of them—she was not only hearing it, she was seeing the pain etched onto his face as he spoke.

"…Well, I decided to do something about it. And the only thing I could do was research; try to find a way to destroy that blasted thing that got you into this whole mess anyways…"

Now she was on the edge of her seat, looking at him intently. "And? Did you discover anything?"

Sirius nodded. "Dumbledore was right, it has got something to do with you making a potion, and you might have come really close…except that you need two people. Both need to drink the potion."

"Never would have thought of that," Alex admitted after a few moments. "And then?"

"Er…after that, it got harder to find stuff—believe me, half the restricted section books nearly chomped off my arm or tried to throw chains around me…" he said, throwing a half-hearted smile her way. "All I was able to find, was a wonky looking picture that seemed to indicate that after drinking said potion, the other person physically removes the orb from…well, from your soul."

"What? How does that even make sense?" Alex asked, not liking how it was sounding, and for once being the one who envisioned loads of catastrophic images related with something so apparently simple.

Sirius shrugged.

They both thought about it, Alex pursing her lips and thinking much harder than Sirius, who had already spent night and days debating over the paradox.

"Alright…suppose it works? We pull out the freakishly fantastic dark thing…then what? Stun it?"

"Good guess, but not quite," Sirius said, grinning. "You'll never believe this, but the night you came back—well, last night—before Remus and James ever so sweetly dragged me out of the library, I found one tiny note, scrawled into the oldest most ancient ruin of a book I had ever set hands on—The destruction of energy is futile."

Alex blinked. "Destruction…of energy?"

"Well, that’s what is it, isn't it? The orb? Just a ball of energy?" Sirius kept going on.

She smacked her head with her palm. "Of course! Its bloody thermodynamics!"

Sirius' grin faltered. "Thermo-what?"

But Alex only grinned, as she waved a hand dismissively. "Muggle stuff…physics," she couldn't help the involuntary shudder pass down her spine at the mention of the dreaded subject. If it wasn't for Sirius' questioning glance, she wouldn't have said anymore on the topic. "First law of thermodynamics…energy cannot be created or destroyed, just—"

"Transferred," Sirius finished. This time Alex raised her eyebrows as he shrugged. "Found a similar thing last night, once I realized I need to be looking for ways to get rid of energy, not a random dark orb."

"Well that made it easier, didn't it?"

Sirius grimaced. "Relatively speaking…there was a lot about energy, but not much that applied to this situation."

"But…there was something?" Alex ventured, and grinned. "I mean, aside from creating an endothermic reaction to consume the energy?"

Sirius looked at her funnily. "I assume that’s supposed to be a joke?"

She just nodded, smiling, but let Sirius continue.

"Right…so, I think our safest bet would be to just…send it away…"

"What…like, vanish it?" Alex asked, not liking being confused again after all the progress with the energy concept.

Sirius ran a hand through his hair and sighed. "I dunno…the books were confusing and the pictures didn't really help…all I got was this incantation: Eximius nova…"

Alex scrunched up her face. The incantation meant nothing to her, nor had she ever heard of something like it before. "Well, I guess we ought to try it. That’s really the only way to find out, isn't it?"

He nodded in response, and pulled her in for a hug. "Don't worry. I won't let anything happen to you."

"I'm not worrying. But we do need to go do some quick research. And I need to grab my potions kit, wherever it is. We should probably also do this little experiment in a different form of the Room of Requirement, you know, just in case things decide to blow up."

"Let's get to it then. Luckily, I have James' invisibility cloak right here – I just sort of assimilated it when I started spending all that time in the library, so I can go grab some books. Meanwhile, you can start brewing your potion. I'm pretty sure all your stuff is still left behind the Room we used last time."

"Alright," Alex said with a nod, and they started towards the door as Sirius quickly checked the Marauders Map to make sure no one was around. Even if they were invisible, doors materializing out of nowhere were usually quite suspicious.

They exited Alex's Room under the cloak, waited for the doors to disappear, and then walked three times back and forth, visualizing the room they had previously brewed the Animus dixere in. The door appeared and they entered. The room looked exactly like it did before – potions bench with cauldrons and ingredients, as well as the couches and kitchenette.

Coming out from under the cloak, Alex started looking through the vials and ingredients, and pulled out one small vial less than half full of a clear liquid.

"Veritaserum?" Sirius asked.

Alex nodded. "There's not much left, but I figure it should be just enough to test whether this whole ordeal will be worth it, before we actually go through with it."

"Right, leave that for later then. You start brewing, I'll be back later."

Alex nodded once more, already throwing different items into the cauldron and stirring. Last time I'm brewing this god forsaken potion…I swear it…

Sirius returned with a handful of books within an hour, and they examined them together as she let the potion simmer, occasionally adding an extra ingredient or stirring it once or twice.

Looking through the sections Sirius had marked off, Alex came to realize that the figures and pictures in the textbooks appeared to indicate some sort of black hole, and then an explosion. She paused, and thought about it, trying to recall what little she knew about astronomy. Maybe the orb is supposed to explode like a star? And the black hole…vacuums up all the mess left behind?

Sirius was already sleeping as Alex kept flipping through the pages, until after a few hours, she too fell asleep.

The next day, Alex was the first to wake up, and immediately went to check on the potion. Sirius had felt her leave his side, and woke up as well. While Alex continued to improve the potion, he took it upon himself to find something edible. They would no doubt need the energy later on.

Later that day, Alex finally proclaimed, "It's ready."

Sirius sat up straight away from his position on the couch, and looked at her intently. "You sure?"

"Yeah. This is it. It has to be."

"Alright then. Do you have the veritaserum?"

Alex took it out from her pocket, uncorked it, and downed the contents in one swift and quick swig.

"Who rescued you, Alex?" Sirius asked straight away. He had thought out his question before, and decided it was worth a shot since she didn't want to divulge any specific information when he had asked her before. And he really wanted to know.

"Some friends of mine," Alex answered. There was a pause, and she closed her eyes, taking a deep breath. She was able to avoid answering completely truthfully. The orb was still exerting its bizarre effects. They still would have to get rid of it.

"It's alright, Alex," Sirius whispered, standing beside her. "We'll get this done in no time."

Opening her eyes, she tried to send him a smile, but it wasn't a very reassuring one. Trying to hide her sudden apprehension and fear, she quickly walked over to her work bench and started to search for cups.

"Sirius, you might need to force feed me this," Alex said, feeling very strange as she ladled two portions into the same two goblets they had used for the Animus Dixere…how nostalgic.

Wait…!

" Animus Dixere…?" Alex said, smiling. She looked at Sirius. "This will work…I know it will."

She spit into her goblet, as Sirius did the same, and they exchanged cups, as before. "Ready?"

"Whenever you are, love," Sirius replied, feeling very nervous all of the sudden.

"Bottom's up." As she brought the cup to her lips, she felt weak, her arms like lead, seemingly weighing tons, unable to bear the weight of the cup. It was dragging her down…she couldn't drink it. But she had to…it was now or never. Yet the cup seemed to be sliding further and further away from her.

And then, in one moment, she felt the thick liquid going down her throat, and a steadying hand on the small of her back. "That a girl, Alex."

She opened her eyes that had slid closed before, and saw Sirius staring at her.

"This is…weird…" Sirius said slowly.

Alex looked down at herself, and gasped. She was…translucent, more and more transparent by the second.

"Holy shit…I see it. I see the little bugger!" Sirius yelled, pointing to Alex's torso, where one little glowing sphere was becoming more visible as Alex became less so. It was glowing red, and as each second passed, seemed to emanate a darker and blacker haze around it.

"Sirius you gotta do it now…Before I fade away completely."

He nodded, and slowly extended his hand, which was starting to glow. He took a breath, and put his hand through what should have been Alex's solid body, but now was only air. With a gulp, he clenched his fist around the orb, and felt it start to vibrate.

"Sirius!"

With a swift motion, he tugged the sphere out. No sooner had he done so, when Alex collapsed onto the ground, back in her full body state, but quivering. Sirius hand stopped glowing.

"OW!" Sirius yelled, releasing the orb and shaking his hand out, having been burned by it.

The orb floated into the air and hovered, getting redder with each passing moment. Sirius had dropped to Alex's side and helped her sit up.

"Is that…supposed to happen?" Alex managed to say, nodding towards the orb.

"I dunno…we better get rid of it… now," he replied, helping her stand up again.

Alex nodded, and took out her wand, as Sirius did the same. "Well, here goes nothing. Ready?"

"One, two….three!"

"Niger foramen!" Alex yelled, tracing her wand around in circles, slowly, then faster and faster, starting from the inside and a small diameter to progressively larger circles. As she did so, a dark black vortex started to form. She kept spinning, and it got larger and stronger, starting to suck in a few small objects placed around the room of requirement. The glowing orb started to be sucked in as well. Slowly but surely, it started to inch closer to Alex and the black hole she had created. Sirius was standing poised, wand out, ready to finish it off.

"Almost there…" he said. "Keep spinning!"

Alex continued the circular path, creating an even larger and stronger black hole. Now, even she felt herself being pulled towards the vacuum. "It's getting too big!"

"No, its fine! Keep going!" Sirius yelled at her. Now the orb was really moving. Sirius prepared himself. He couldn't miss the moment – it would only be a split second. That was his only chance to get rid of the Dark Orb once and for all, without destroying everything else around him, including themselves.

"Sirius, don't stand so close! The blast will get you!" Alex yelled in a desperate warning. She felt the dark hole getting more powerful, and she was barely able to keep it under control. Her arm was starting to get sore from the constant spinning, her mental energy was almost shot, and to top it all off, her feet didn't quite want to stay grounded.

But Sirius didn't have time to hear or heed her warning. The orb had at that moment been drawn into the radius where things just vanished into the dark hole. Just as the orb neared the portal into the dark abyss, he raised his wand, and yelled, "Eximius nova!"

As he yelled it, Alex quickly tried to close off the circle she had been spinning by making the radius smaller once more, but she was interrupted by Sirius who had lunged at her. They fell to the ground together with a loud thunk, Alex partially protected by Sirius. Everything went silent and dark for one glorious second, and then it exploded. Bright white light engulfed the entire room, and although there was no sound, a giant shockwave echoed throughout the room, sending Sirius and Alex flying apart in different directions. It was like a supernova, except reversed. First the black hole, then the explosion. Little did they know that the shockwave travelled across the majority of the school, as students and professors alike felt the ground vibrate and the walls shake around them for a few split-seconds while it passed over.

Had it worked?

Alex got up form the ground slowly, on shaky legs, and looked around. The room was in ruins, and Sirius….

Where was Sirius?

"Sirius?!" Alex yelled. No reply. "Sirius!"

Oh please god, don't let him have been drawn into that.

She ran around the room frantically, overturning the pieces of furniture and walls. The room was literally like an earthquake disaster zone, heaps of debris piled and scattered around the entire room.

"Sirius!" She yelled as she finally spotted his arm sticking out from beneath a pile of rubbish. She started peeling away the layers of wood and stone and fabric, until finally she got o the bottom, where Sirius was lying motionless. "SIRIUS!"

There was no reply. Alex pulled him out carefully, and set him on the ground. She checked for a pulse.

It was there. Faint, but unmistakably there. He was alive. Then why wasn't he breathing?

Without a second thought, she planted her lips onto his and pumped air into his body. And then pumped his chest, depressing his ribs and heart. Still no sign. She repeated it again.

"Come on Sirius! You are not dying here beside me!"

She pumped his chest again, and finally, just as she was starting to get desperate, he spluttered a cough, trying to lift himself.

He groaned, as he sat himself up, and Alex heaved an enormous sigh of relief, placing her hand on her chest, and trying to calm her rapid breathing. "Sirius! Are you alright? Are you hurt?"

"No, I'm fine, just a little sore. Let's never do that again…" Sirius mumbled, wheezing.

She smiled, and threw herself into his arms, "Deal."

They stayed like that for a moment, in the silence and ruins, before Sirius said, "Although, I've got to admit, it was pretty epic. And just look at this place! Complete destruction. Epically amazing."

"And to think, all this time such power was lurking inside of me," she replied with a grin.

"Yeah. Come to think of it, why did we get rid of it? We could have had so much more fun with it around," Sirius said, standing up and helping Alex up.

Alex's grin got wider as she stepped in closer to him, and looked up into his eyes. "Oh don't worry; I think we can amuse ourselves adequately without it."

"Never had a doubt," he whispered, and gently kissed her.







A/N Cont'd:  Anywho, hope you liked it.  Please let me know if the wording is alright, and if things were understandable.  I tried to describe what was happening as best as possible. 
Thanks to everybody reading and reviewing!  You guys are amazing!

One more chapter to go!
Cheers!

~Saint

Chapter 35: Epilogue - With Me
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Author's Note:  This is it...hope you like it...





“You know, I never thought I’d be the kind of guy to just stare at a sunset like this.”

Lily chuckled, holding out her hand and staring at her ring, “And I’d never thought I’d see the day I would be wearing an engagement ring from James Potter.”

“Yeah, but we all knew it would happen sooner or later,” Remus said. “Just not so soon after school was over.”

“Hey, it’s not that soon,” James defended, breaking out of his sun-staring reverie. “After all, school finished a good… two months ago.”

The setting sun was painting the entire landscape a fiery orange and pink, rays reflecting off the smooth water, as the five friends sat on the dock, dipping their feet in that water and watching the beautiful sunset. James sat on one side, Lily cuddled under his arm, staring at her sparkling ring which had just been slipped on a few hours earlier. Next to her sat Remus, beside whom sat Alex, holding hands with Sirius, who sat on her other side.

“Truthfully, I was expecting these two to be the first,” Remus said with a sly grin, and a slight nod towards Sirius and Alex.

Alex smiled as she lay her head on Sirius' shoulder, but it was Sirius who replied, “We’re not in any rush. Besides, I think a few more actual dates are in order first.”

He grinned down at her, and she returned his smile.

“So have you decided about Buckingham yet?” Lily asked quietly.

“No, not quite, but I’m really starting to think things are absolutely fine the way they are right now, and me going back there might just screw things over again,” Alex said.

“Oh yeah things are just fine now,” James said with a grin. “Half the world thinks you’re dead, the other half doesn’t, and the third half thinks your ghost is roaming night-clubs and rock concerts.”

“Well, honestly, did you expect me to give up my dancing and hardcore rocking?” Alex asked with a smirk.

“We’d have killed you if you did,” a voice said from behind them, and they didn’t even need to look around to see who it was—the three boys were common visitors at Alex’s new secret hideout house/cottage. Well, two of them more often than the third.

“Aw, how nice of you, Dev,” Alex replied lazily, as Dev, Adrian and Darcy squished their way in between Remus, Alex and Sirius. “I thought being dead one time was enough."

Dev gave her a look. "Cheap shot."

"Just like this," Adrian said, swiftly and quickly pushing her off the dock and into the water. They all laughed as she resurfaced, cursing the Wheeler twins for all it was worth, trying to make her way back onto the rather crowded dock. Sirius was allowed to help her up eventually (after she swore she wouldn't seek retribution). She dried herself off, shaking her head like a dog, 'accidentally' spraying water on the twins.

"And what brings you here, Darce?” she asked.

He shrugged, “Now that you’re gone, I’ve decided to take on your mission of raising a little hell now and then.”

“Oh really?” Alex asked, raising an eyebrow. “And how’s that working out for you?”

“Harder than I expected, truthfully. You made it look easy.”

“That’s because she had us to help,” Adrian put in, but upon seeing Alex's glare added, “And you know, obviously… she just has this great… charisma… about her…”

“Damned right,” Alex said with a smile.

They all laughed, and reverted to sitting in silence staring at the sunset once more. Only this time the silence didn’t last very long, as Dev got up and said, “Well, not that burning out my retinas from that lovely fiery sun isn’t fun, but enough of this foolishness. I didn’t come here to sit around, you know.”

"What about Madison?" Alex asked. "You could have gone out with her."

"Please, I need my space too," Dev replied lazily, grinning.

"Translation: Maddi is away this weekend with her parents somewhere," Adrian said, loving his chance to finally tease his brother about a girl. Usually it was the other way around—Dev didn't normally bother with any sort of longer-ish-term relationship.

"That's not it at all," Dev tried to cover, but everybody saw him elbow Adrian rather forcefully, though of course playfully, in the ribs. Upon a snigger in return, Dev tried a different tactic, "You're just jealous I'm with somebody so great and you're all alone."

"Right," Adrian replied, still grinning madly.

Alex laughed and got up —today she particularly felt like dancing the night away. She pulled Sirius up and beckoned to the other four (Adrian was already up and beside his brother, still continuing the exchange, which had now progressed to mocking, complete with Shakespearean accents and gestures) to get a move on. They went back to the house to change, and soon enough they were all partnering up to apparate to Experiment 626, Alex partially disguised under some light make-up and coloured hair.

They arrived at 626 with a flourish, the bouncer greeting all of them with big smiles as he let them in. The music started to take control, and soon enough they were all on the dance floor, amidst other pairs of twirling bodies.

The music didn't slow down, but Sirius and Alex didn't seem to notice as they put aside the quick step in favor of something slower and calmer, and drifted off towards the edge of the dance floor. She had her head resting near his shoulder, as they swayed back and forth; still in time with the music though not beat for beat.

"Alex…" Sirius finally said.

"Hmmm?"

He took a breath, not sure why it was so hard for him to start the conversation. "You don't…want to get married, do you?"

He knew he loved her, and that she loved him as well. He knew she was the only woman he'd ever spend his life with. Heck, he'd even thought about proposing to her this summer as well. But seeing James and Lily go through it just hours earlier…something made him stop and think. All of the sudden he couldn't picture himself as a married man. It didn't mean he didn't want to get married at all…but all of the sudden he just felt too young to be getting married. And what with the war that was brewing all around, was it really a good idea to be getting married?

Alex looked up at him, half seriously and with a grin playing on her lips. "What, is that a proposal?"

He shook his head rather vigorously, and then regretted it as Alex looked up at him curiously. He didn't know what she thought about it all. What if she did want to get married now?

"I mean…well I don't mean don't ever want to get married….just…well you know, we're just not yet….I'm not saying marriage isn't a good idea, but just …" Sirius started, but was having trouble verbalizing his thoughts, he was starting to get frustrated with how flustered he was.

"Just not now," Alex finished for him after a small pause. He looked at her, trying to read her expression. Was she upset, or mad? Or on the brink of laughter? "Listen, Sirius, you don't have anything to worry about. I love you, but I don't think I'm ready to become a wife…or mom...we've got time. There's no rush, just like you said."

Sirius breathed a sigh of relief and smiled. It was good to know they were approximately on the same page. "But you'll be with me forever, right?"

"Till the end of time," she replied, looking directly into his eyes.

"Even if we have nothing….? You know, rough times ahead…."

"You're the only thing that I need," Alex said softly. "And if I have you, I have it all."

She stood on her tiptoes and pulled him in closer, kissing him. Their lips barely touched when a voice called out.

"Oi! You two call that dancing? Give her here," Dev half-yelled, closing the distance between them and grabbing Alex's hand, twirling her away from Sirius and into his own arms. She laughed and sent a smile in Sirius' direction as Dev took her across the dance floor, before spinning her around straight to Adrian. Their laughter rang through the music as she was passed to Remus, in between James and Lily, and finally back to Sirius, who took the chance to finish that kiss, right in the middle of the dance floor.





Author's Note:  Well, that's all folks.  That was the final chapter.  I can't believe its over.  When I started writing this, my first fanfiction ever, I had no idea how far it would go, how long it would take to finish, or if anybody would even read it.  It took a while, but I did finish it, and I'm so happy that I shared it with you.  I hope you enjoyed it!  Thanks to everybody who read and/or reviewed it! You guys are great.

Before you go, please just review one more time and let me know what you think about the chapter, the story in general or the weather haha. 

Or, try to list as many overused cliches as possible throughout the story...I counted about 21.
;)

Counted them?
See how many you caught.  Or if I missed any let me know!

(btw, yes these cliches were done purposely.  Its part of the original idea for the story...to try and make a good yet cliche princess-Marauders story.  Did I succeed?).

Cheers!





THE OVERUSED CLICHES
 1. The happy ending.

2. The gorgeous, perfect princess who wants more than what she has.

3. Main character's (best) friends are eccentric in more than one way, are just as good-looking and often of the opposite gender, which leads to opportunities to employ #15.

4. Main character has some secret, special ability (directly related with #5&6 below).

5. Destiny and fate...because everything has to happen for a reason.  Main characters always need a destiny.

6. Main character captured by villain/antagonist.

7. The ONE MAJOR turning point in the relationship. Because clearly, things don't build up over time. They just happen overnight.

8. Remus goes self-sacrificial and never gets the girl.

9. THE fight and “I hate you”.

10. Stuck together and ensuing havoc. See #17.

11. The stranger and the cliffhanger of doom.

12. The new, irresistible girl at school, who is not only pretty, and smart, and athletic, but also witty and ingenious and charming and if the situation calls for it, a mean girl.

13. Damsel in distress (because of #12).

14. The charms of Sirius.

15. The jealous, possessive, overprotective guy.

16. The Christmas Ball. Because really, no story is completely without some sort of ball.

17. The girl, the jealous guy, and the jealous guy’s best friend (followed by #8 above)

18. The desperate situation, which often triggers #7 and 19.

19. The changing of feelings and confusion.

20. The good, the bad and the ugly (guys and girls). Because girls just can't be friends with guys. They have cooties.

21. The Sirius-serious pun/joke thing. Siriusly, just stop it.

(I'll admit...some of these are more plot-devices than cliches...but still.  Definitely overused.  And theres no way I'm giving them up ;)


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