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Like a House on Fire by 800 words of heaven

Format: Novel
Chapters: 39
Word Count: 112,432
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: 15+
Warnings: Mild violence, Scenes of a mild sexual nature, Substance abuse, Sensitive topic/issue/theme

Genres: Fluff, Humor, Romance
Characters: Lupin, James, Lily, Sirius, Regulus, OC
Pairings: Sirius/OC, James/Lily, Remus/OC

First Published: 09/07/2011
Last Chapter: 12/20/2014
Last Updated: 01/31/2017

Summary:


"Conflicted interests" is one way you could describe Sirius Black and Millie White's relationship. At best, there's one-sided small talk. At worst, it's all-out war. But when Sirius manages to convince Millie into one of his hare-brained schemes, the coming clash will ensure that seventh year at Hogwarts won't be what either of them expected.

Slytherin Story of the Month, January 2015

Thanks to -BookDinosaur- for help with the summary | Banner by Hobbit' @tda


Chapter 1: A First Time for Everything
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Millie’s POV:
 
Why was there always so much blood? I’d seen what had happened. The Killing Curse doesn’t leave a mark, let alone a whole river of blood. But still my dreams always insisted on conjuring it up. I wouldn’t have minded so much, but was it necessary to have it by the bucket loads? Wasn’t it enough that I couldn’t find some peace when I closed my eyes? Was the blood seriously necessary? Then a drum started somewhere in the background. That was new. Usually the nightmares were silent, which was a lot scarier than noise, so the drum was a welcome addition. But wait, why was the drum getting louder? And why did the blood seem to slip away? Don’t get me wrong, I was glad that it was going, but I couldn’t help but feel that something worse was going to come in its place. Then the blood disappeared altogether, and I could see a water-stained ceiling above me. And it turns out it wasn’t a drum but someone knocking at the door. Incessantly.

 

“I’m coming, I’m coming!” I tried to yell, but my voice was muffled in my blanket.

I tried to disentangle myself, but all I managed to do was get even more tangled and fall off the bed and onto the floor. Deciding that the blanket wasn’t about to loosen its death grip on me anytime soon, I half staggered, half crawled to the door and wrenched it open.

No sooner had I done that, a flash of red whirled past me and into my room. “You have to help me, Millie!” cried Lily, my best friend, as I closed the door and turned to face her.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, getting worried. What had my friend so upset this early in the morning?

“Potter!”

“Oh.” That’s what. And here I was thinking that there was a basilisk living in her bathroom or something. “What’s he done now?” James Potter and Lily Evans were in a steady relationship – a steady love/hate relationship. He loved, she hated, just like the sun rose in the east and set in the west.

“Nothing.”

“Then what’s the problem?”
“He’s here.”

“So?”

“So? So? If he sees me, I’m, I’m…!” It was interesting to note that the mere sight of James sent Lily over the edge. Imagine what would happen if he kissed her?

“Um… you could hide in here I guess… but I’m heading out. I haven’t had breakfast yet,” I said. Lily was overreacting as usual.

“You haven’t had breakfast yet? It’s almost ten o‘clock! What have you been doing? Sleeping?”

“Uh, yeah?”

“The day’s half gone, Millie!”

“You’re so pessimistic! Look at it this way, there’s still half a day left!”

 

I left fifteen minutes later, leaving Lily to hide in my room. I headed downstairs, and being the klutz I am, bumped straight into someone who was walking up the other way. “Oh, sorry,” I mumbled, not looking up to see who it was. I had learnt from experience to avoid eye contact – otherwise they might start talking to you. “That’s okay. I’ll just make you do an extra fifty push-ups when we get back to school.”

Only one person threatened me with push-ups. “Hey, James,” I said. Now that I knew who it was, I was okay with looking at him--and realising that Sirius Black was standing behind him as well. I decided to ignore that fact and carry on my conversation with James.

“Hey. Happy birthday by the way,” said James.

“Thanks.”

“Where’s Lily?”

“Um…” What do I do now? Do I lie to my Quidditch captain and friend, or do I commit high treason against my best friend? “I’m not quite sure…”

“She’s hiding, isn’t she?” He sounded so weary.

“Uh, yeah.” I was glad that I didn’t have to say it.

He shrugged. “She’ll come around.” Whoa! What was that?

“You’re not going to ask me where she is?”

“Even if I thought you were going to tell me, no.”

“Are you feeling okay?”

He laughed. “Yes. I’m feeling great!”

I looked over at Black. With an amused expression on his face, Black said, “Prongs got Head Boy.” Now it made sense.

“Wait, Lily did get Head Girl right?” James asked worriedly. Clearly this thought had never crossed his mind. And rightly so.

“Lily not getting Head Girl is almost as impossible as Binns realising he’s dead,” I said.

James let out a sigh of relief. “Well, I’ll let you go and do whatever it was that you were going to do. And we’ll…”

“We’ll go do whatever we were going to do,” interjected Sirius.

I wasn’t quite sure, but I don’t think that actually made much sense. Then again, nothing really makes much sense until I’ve had breakfast. “Right. You go do that,” I said and walked down the rest of the stairs. I was halfway through my second ice cream down in Diagon Alley (I know, I know, not very healthy, but hey, it’s summer) when I realised that through that whole conversation, Sirius Black’s eyes had only been looking at one thing. And that one thing was me.

 
~*~
 

Sirius’ POV:

“What,” Prongs began to ask as we headed up the stairs to get something from his room, “was that?”

“What do you mean?” I asked back.

“You know exactly what I’m talking about.”

“No, I don’t.”

“Yes, you do.”

“No, I don’t.”

“Yes, you do.”

“No,” we’d reached Prongs’ room. “I don’t,” I said as I flopped down on his bed while Prongs began to rummage through the mess looking for whatever he was looking for.

“You were eyeing my Seeker!”

Your Seeker?”

“Yes, my Seeker!”

“I wasn’t eyeing her.”

“I’ve seen you look at girls like that before, and about six weeks later, they end up a blubbering mess!”

“It’s not my fault that they take this whole break-up thing so bloody seriously!”

“Well, don’t go doing it to my Seeker. I don’t want her unfocused, especially as the first Quidditch match of the season is against Slytherin!”

“Don’t worry; the game is more than six weeks away. And anyway, do you reckon she’d be like that?”

“Like what?”

“Like other girls.”

“Well, if you want her to fawn over you and worship your shadow or something, you’re after the wrong girl, mate.”

“I’ve never had someone worship my shadow before.”

“Be careful Padfoot. Your good looks and charm just might not work on her.”

“They’ve never failed before.”

“There’s a first time for everything.”

“We’ll see.”
 

~*~
 

Millie’s POV:
 
“Why the hell didn’t you say anything?” I heard Lily say quite vehemently, pulling me out of my very pleasant ice-cream-induced daydream.

“Say anything about what?” I sighed. I really wasn’t appreciating being yelled at for no apparent reason.

“That it’s your birthday today! What else?”

“Um, I sort of figured that seeing as you’ve known me for the past seven years now, you’d know.”

“I do know!”

“I know. That’s why I didn’t say anything.”

“Gee, no need to rub it in,” she grumbled. We were lounging (well, in my case anyway) outside the ice cream parlour, enjoying the last day of summer for another year.

“Rub in what?” I closed my eyes again and turned my face back towards the sun. Merlin only knew when I would see the sun again. Hogwarts seemed to have a sunlight allergy.

“That I forgot! I fucking forgot my best friend’s birthday!”

“Don’t worry about it. Could’ve happened to anyone.”

“I feel like such a bitch. Especially considering what you’ve had to go through this summer.” Clearly, Lily wasn’t listening to me. Nothing new there, but that was okay. It was simply the way we were.

“If it makes you feel any better, I almost forgot your birthday once. James reminded me the night before.”

“How the hell did Potter remind you of my birthday?”

“We’re on the same Quidditch team, remember?”

She groaned. “Yes. Of course you are.”

“It’s okay if you forgot that, too. I mean, I’ve only been on the same Quidditch team as him for six years.”

“Shut up, Millie.” I did as I was told. When Lily was angry or upset (or, as in this case, both) you did as Lily told you to do. “Let me make it up to you,” she said.

“Seriously, Lils. It’s okay. You don’t have to –”

“Didn’t I tell you to shut up?”

“Right.” And I went quiet again, letting her talk.

“Whatever you want. A new broomstick, fine. The ownership of Honeydukes. Great, but you’ll have to wait until we get back to Hogwarts for that. Bloody Batman. I don’t care, even if I have to create Punk Town myself.”

“Um, it’s Gotham City.”

“What?”

“Batman lives in Gotham City, not Punk Town.”

“Whatever. Just…” Lily looked absolutely wretched. I couldn’t help but feel a surge of love for her.

“A hug would be enough,” I said.

“A hug? Is that all you want?” she looked amazed.

“Honey, even you can’t get me Batman.”

 


AN: Hello everyone! If you’re a new reader, then welcome! If you’re not, then here’s the situation. This story is currently undergoing a sort of rewrite, where I ask my lovely beta-friend, Lissie at biggerandbeta on tumblr, to help me with this story to make it more awesome. As you guys are porbably aware, this is my first story, so I’d really appreciate any feedback – all the previous feedback and any further feedback will be incorporated as I update each chapter. This however, also means that there probably won’t be any new chapters for a while as I try and get this story together again.

Other than that, I hope ALL of you enjoyed, and if you could find the time to leave a review, you would receive muchos love! I DO read them all and I’m usually pretty quick with replies but it’s been a crazy few months!

Adios amigos, and keep smiling!
:D


Chapter 2: Have You Even Talked to Her?
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Millie’s POV:
 
“I cannot believe that Potter’s Head Boy!” Lily had just come back from the Prefects’ carriage. Understandably, she was upset about certain decisions carried out by the senior staff at Hogwarts. “What drugs are they on?”

“Well, it is the seventies,” I said.

“Lily, I think you’re overreacting,” added Sarah, our other best friend.

“There’s nothing new there,” I muttered. I was rewarded with one of Lily’s infamous glares.

I tried giving her a winning smile. I don’t think it worked.

“James Potter is not Head Boy material,” seethed Lily, as she flopped down next to Sarah.

“You don’t know that,” I said, feeling that I had some sort of duty to stand up for my Quidditch Captain, no matter how many push-ups he made me do.

“Oh, and someone who’s constantly in detention for pulling pranks and terrorising the student population makes a good Head Boy?”

“Terrorising is a bit strong, isn’t it?” said Sarah.

“And it’s not just James,” I added, trying for a reasoning tone.

“Great! Now that he’s Head Boy, those stupid Marauders will get away with absolutely everything!” cried Lily.

“I really think,” I started cautiously – we didn’t want to incite the girl any more – “that this might be good for him. You might have noticed some, uh, changes already.”

“Potter cannot change,” Lily said, chin jutting out slightly, just like it always does when she was being stubborn.

“Did he hit on you?” I asked. The only way to convince Lily was to put up a sound argument.

“What?”

“Did he hit on you while you were with him?”

“Well… um,” Lily’s brow furrowed in confusion. “He hardly said a word to me, actually.”

“See, change.” But before Lily could reply, the door to our compartment flew open.

 
To be honest, it didn’t really fly open. It just opened like a normal compartment door opens. It just seemed that way because the people standing in the doorway were the kind of people you would expect to make a door fly: the Marauders. James was in the lead (as usual) with Black leaning against the door frame like he owned the place. Remus was standing sort of in the background, trying to look unobtrusive, which really wasn’t that hard for him, but Pettigrew was doing a much better job of blending in. If anyone ever had to learn the art of blending in, I’d recommend learning it from Peter Pettigrew, but I think he really didn’t mean to. Disappearing into the woodwork was something that sort of just happened to you if you hung out enough with the rest of the Marauders.

Lily scowled at them. “What do you want?” she snapped.

“Hello to you too, Evans,” drawled Black. For some strange reason, whenever Black talked, it invariably came out as a drawl. A very annoying drawl.

“What do you want?” she repeated.

“Hey, is that the new one?” Remus suddenly said, looking in my general direction.

“What?” I said quite intelligently, then realised he was talking about the book in my lap. “Oh yeah, it is.”

“I didn’t even know that was out!”

I wasn’t quite sure if he was just diffusing the situation, or he actually cared about the book I was reading. I think it was a bit of both, so I went along with it.

“Um, it came out last week.”

“Is it any good?”

“Yeah, it’s great! But it’s not as good as the third one.”

“I don’t think any book can be as good as the third one.”

“Um, you can borrow it once I’ve finished, if you want. I’m almost done with it.”

“Really?” his face lit up with a genuine smile.

“Sure. The library won’t get it in ‘til ages.”

“Thanks.”

Neither of us had realised that whilst we were having our little discussion, all our friends had been staring at us with looks of surprise and, in some cases, slightly open mouths. Sarah was looking at me like I had just sprouted two heads, Lily’s look clearly showed the shock in realising that I was okay with having a conversation with one of the Marauders (even the decent one – her words, not mine) in public, James was looking at Remus like he had never seen him talk before, Black looked as surprised as one can whilst still looking arrogant, and Pettigrew… well, he was being Pettigrew.

“Um… we’ll be leaving you now…” Remus said, not without a lot of awkwardness.

“Uh, okay. I guess we’ll see you at the feast or whatever,” I replied with only marginally less awkwardness.

Neither of us did well when all eyes were on us. Remus walked away, Pettigrew trailing behind him. James couldn’t help himself and threw a fleeting glance at Lily (she didn’t notice) and said, “See you later, Lily, Sarah, Millie.” And he walked away.

Black was the last to leave. He inclined his head and said, “Ladies,” but even though he was referring to all of us, his eyes never left me. Creepy. At last, even he left.

 
“He talked to you,” whispered Sarah reverently. Sarah has had a massive crush on Remus since third year, but Remus, being Remus, has been quite oblivious to her obvious affections for him.

“Yes, Sarah. And I talked back,” I replied dryly.

“I didn’t know you talked to Remus,” said Lily.

She couldn’t quite fathom why I would like a Marauder, which was weird, considering that Remus and her would’ve been in each other’s company heaps for the past two years as they were both Prefects.

“We were Potions partners in fifth year, and well… we have a lot in common,” I muttered.

“Are you and him… you know…” began Sarah.

“Definitely not. We have a strictly platonic relationship. There is absolutely nothing of that nature going on between us,” I said firmly. It was very important to stamp out any misgivings such as this, very early on. One never knew what could be construed later down the track.

“Do you want there to be something more?” asked Lily. How could she even ask that as she knows that I know about Sarah’s feelings?

“No,” I said.

“Does he want there to be something?” asked Sarah cautiously.

“No.”

“How do you know?”

“Because I do,” I snapped. It was time to stop this whole Remus thing right now before the idea took root in my friends’ overactive imaginations. Next thing you knew, they would be planning the wedding!

“I don’t think Remus stood a chance anyway,” Lily said.

“Excuse me?” I asked, my head snapping in her direction.

“Well, even I know that Remus Lupin doesn’t stand a chance against Sirius Black,” Lily said slyly. What on earth was she going on about?

“What do you mean?”

“I think you know very well what I mean.”

“I honestly do not.”

“Come off it. Are you telling me that you didn’t notice that Black’s eyes never left you?”

“Well, yeah, I did, but it doesn’t mean –”

“And you didn’t notice that look of his when Remus was talking to you?”

“Um… sort of, but that’s kinda how he looks all the time – when he’s not being you know, up himself or whatever.”

“I think Lily has a point,” mused Sarah.

“No, Lily does not have a point!” I said. Why did I have to do this twice in one day?

“You two are quite similar in some ways…”

“I do not share anything in common with that arrogant prat!”

“You’re both pure-bloods,” Sarah continued like she hadn’t heard me. “You both have family problems –”

“It comes with the whole pure-blood thing,” I interrupted. Amongst other things, it also included being related to each other – distantly, but still probably related. Which is weird. And gross.

“You both have trouble holding down a relationship for more than two weeks.”

“I can hold a relationship for more than two weeks!”

“No, you can’t,” said Lily bluntly. “You’re both commitment-phobes. That would be an interesting relationship for sure.”

I didn’t say anything. I was positive that my friends were exploiting something that just wasn’t there. And I would never, in a million years, go out with Sirius Black.

Ever.

 
~*~

 
Sirius’ POV:

“So. You and White, huh?” I asked as nonchalantly as I could. We were back in our own compartment after our little expedition. It is quite sad sometimes that Prongs could not spend ten minutes without seeing Evans. Slightly scary even.

Moony, to whom the previous statement was directed, frowned and said, “No. Nothing like that. We’re just friends.”

“When someone says they’re just friends, it never means that they’re just friends.”

“No, sometimes they do, Padfoot.”

I knew that, but you know, I had to say it. Just in case. “Right. Are you sure there’s nothing going on between you two? I don’t think I’ve ever heard her say that much at once. I don’t think I’ve ever heard you say that much at once.”

“I am positive that there is nothing between us. And you’ve never heard her talk that much because you’ve never really paid attention, have you?” I think that might have been an ill-disguised jibe in my direction. “Why the sudden interest?”

“Padfoot has a new crush,” chimed in Prongs. I felt like killing him right then.

“I do not have a crush!” I countered hotly.

“Are you sure? I think that might be a blush there.”

“Sod off, Prongs.”

“So you do have a crush on Millie?” asked Moony.

“No!” I replied again. Didn’t I say that before?

“But you certainly have a…” he paused for a second trying to think of the word, “a certain interest in her?”

“I guess you could call it that,” I mumbled.

“I can tell you now you’re not her favourite person.”

“I know that. She hardly knows me. I could eventually become her favourite person though.” I mean, it’s not like that’s difficult, wooing the opposite sex.

Moony looked sceptical. “If you say so.”

“Why does everyone keep telling me that White won’t ever like me?” It was seriously annoying.

“Because she’s just not that kind of girl.”

“And what kind of girl is that?”

“The kind that you frequently associate with, Padfoot. She’s not one of your fan girls.”

I frowned. First Prongs, now Moony, telling me that White wasn’t “my type”. Why did everyone seem to think that she wouldn’t be interested in me? “Does it matter if she isn’t one of my fan girls?”

“Have you ever even talked to her?” asked Moony.

“Of course!” I paused for a second. Moony raised his eyebrows in question. “I mean… I must have… there was that one time… no, wait, that was someone else…” Had I ever talked to her? “Well… maybe not… perhaps.” Strange. The amount of time Prongs spent around Evans, thus me spending time around Evans, thus me spending time around White was quite a lot. How the hell had I missed her before, then?

“Wait until you do. Let’s see what you think after that,” Moony said smugly, returning to reading the Daily Prophet.

I didn’t reply.

I had a strategy to plan…

AN: And there is Chapter 2, freshly edited! I want to thank my awesome beta (she thinks she isn’t amazeballs, but she totally is) for her great beta-ness! She’s just the best! And I feel that I haven’t been thanking my reviews enough (read: at all) and that is very mean of me! So – to all those who have reviewed – thank you so much! Your words of encouragement/feedback/excitement really make my day. And also, to those who read this story – you are also totally amazeballs!

Adios amigos! :D


Chapter 3: The Deeper Things in Life
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Millie’s POV:

Life could be so cruel sometimes. Why else would I have double Potions on a Monday morning? “I’m sorry about what happened… over the summer.” Did I mention that my partner was none other than Sirius Black? And that he was trying to make awkward small talk with me? And that he was failing miserably? What did they teach the (ex-) Princes of Pure-bloods these days? How to survive in the real world or something?

“Um, thank you,” I sort of mumbled. At least my mother taught me what to say in such situations, even though I knew that he had no idea who I even was, let alone my family.

“Do you… miss them much?” Sirius hazarded.

“Let’s just cut the crap shall we?” As you could probably tell, the nightmares were seriously affecting my delicate sleeping patterns.

“Cut what crap?” asked Black, looking a little surprised. I didn’t blame him. If my Potions partner started cussing at me out of the blue, I would have backed away as fast as I could and requested a partner change pronto. But that’s just me.

“We hardly know each other, right? And I’m really not in the mood to actually talk to you this morning – actually I’m really not going to be in the mood to ever talk to you, but I still have to put up with you as my partner. You suck at Potions. I don’t. Your writing’s neat. Mine’s not. We seem to both be lacking something that the other needs.”

“What are you suggesting?” He looked a little wary. I suppose he had a right to that, seeing as we didn’t know each other, and here I was, cutting deals like I was part of the Mafia. Or at least I think that’s how the Mafia cut deals. The magic community is too small to have a proper Mafia to draw stereotypes from, so I’m just going by some of the old Mafia movies my dad used to watch all the time.

Yeah, Dad was pretty weird – even for an Unspeakable.

“I’ll manage the prac; you copy down whatever old Slughorn decides to put up on the board. Clear?”

“Very.” Did I detect a slight note of sarcasm there? Should my delicate pure-blood upbringing be affronted by this rudeness? Probably, but I really didn’t have the energy today.

“Great.” And that was, I hoped, the last long conversation I would have to have with Black. However, like I mentioned before, life could be so cruel sometimes.

 
“So?” It was lunchtime, and I had the misfortune of being interrogated by Sarah. Don’t get me wrong, I loved her and all, but was it necessary to keep such close tabs on every guy I talked to? “I heard your Potions partner’s Black.”

“Does the whole school know, or did Lily tell you?” I asked sulkily. Best to get this done as quickly as possible.

“Neither. I heard Slughorn raving about your potion when I passed him in the corridor. Something about Black having vastly improved his Potions skills over the summer or something.”

“He didn’t. I made the potion.”

“Is he making you do the work for him?”

“No. I suggested it.”

Sarah looked baffled. “It isn’t like you to do other people’s work for them.”

“Extreme personality changes are required when one has to pass Potions with a decent mark and one’s partner is terrible at Potions,” I intoned with as much mock pomp I could muster.

“There’s a reason why your relationships don’t ever last longer than a day,” mused Lily, deciding to finally join the conversation, though I was hoping it was to save me, not torture me further.

“Hey! My relationships do so last longer than a day!” I cried.

“Figuratively speaking of course. But it’s because you don’t quite understand the concept of partnership. You’re both meant to give equally.”

“How does this have anything to do with our randomly assigned Potions partners?”

“It does because it proves my point. You have to let him do something.”

“He does,” I muttered.

“Oh yeah? What’s that?”

“He writes my notes for me.” Sarah and Lily exchanged a look.

“What do you think Lils?” asked Sarah.

“A match made in heaven,” replied Lily.

I hated it when they did that.


~*~
 


Sirius’ POV:

“It didn’t seem to go down well with Millie, mate.” Prongs, Moony, and I were doing our homework in the common room that night. Well, Moony was; Prongs was lounging, and I was pondering the deeper things in life.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” I said, but I frowned at the memory, clearly suggesting that I knew exactly what they were talking about.

“I told you so,” Moony almost sang out but was still too preoccupied with his essay to give it his all. And besides, Moony didn’t really sing.

I frowned again. “Is she always that nasty?” I asked.

Prongs smirked. “Not usually. It must have been you.”

I rolled my eyes and sighed. “It was weird. She hardly talked!” Except for that little heart to heart we had near the beginning of the lesson.

“She’s a little shy I guess,” Prongs shrugged. “She might talk more once she gets to know you.”

I leaned further back into my cushy armchair and decided to once again resume my pondering of the deeper things in life, namely the mystery that was Millie White. But alas, it was not to be.

“Stop sulking, Padfoot, and start your essay,” Moony said, unfortunately snapping me out of my thoughts.

“Aw, come on, Moony! It’s not due in until next week!” I whined. It’s an unfortunate habit of mine, whining, one that I can’t seem to control. I think it has something to do with being a dog.

Moony just shook his head at me. “Suit yourself.”

I sighed and decided to at least look at what the essay was about.

It was marginally better than brooding about a certain brunette.

 

AN: Hello everyone after a really long time! I actually have no legitimate excuse why this chapter was edited so slowly. It just was. Anyways, I just wanted to take this moment to thank my amazing beta, once again, because she can never be thanked enough. I swear she is the Queen of Commas! Also, I’d like to thank my wonderful readers and reviewers – again – because I never do that enough. You guys have been so supportive and encouraging, and your words of criticism and advice have been greatly appreciated (for example, if you read the first few chapters before the edits, you may notice that I have decided to actually label my changes in POVs, because it can get quite confusing at times)!
 
Anyways, I hope you enjoyed yourselves!

Adios amigos! :D


Chapter 4: No Love Lost
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Millie's POV:

“Rex, please,” I said. Don’t make this any harder than it already it. Lie. Lie, lie, lie. It was oh, so easy to break up with him.

“But I thought you had a good time…?” he asked. The hurt that was evident in his eyes pricked my conscience, but I soldiered on. Rex, a Ravenclaw and fellow seventh year, and I had gone on one date last year before summer started. One date.

“I did,” I continued gently. That, at least, wasn’t a lie. It had been fun roaming around Hogsmeade together, just the two of us. “But… we drifted apart over the summer.”

Rex’s expression changed, became softer. I cringed internally to see the pity in his eyes. I knew what was coming next. “I heard what happened with your parents, Millie. I’m sorry.” He reached out and touched my arm. I tried not to flinch away from his touch.

“Thank you,” I mumbled. “But you understand why…?”

Rex nodded slowly. “I understand. You just need a little time. We can –”

I suppressed a groan. “Listen, Rex,” I said, cutting him off. “I like you, I really do. But I don’t think we’re a good fit for each other.”

He looked confused. “You can’t know that,” he argued. Bloody Ravenclaws. “We’ve just been on one date!”

I shook my head. “What happened over the summer… I’m just not looking for a relationship right now, okay? And with NEWTs and everything…”

Rex looked crestfallen. “I – I get it.”

I smiled, soft and a little wistful. If things had been different, I might’ve considered. But, no. I didn’t want any distractions this year. Plus, Rex was a fairly popular fellow. I’d overheard a lovely Hufflepuff girl confessing her crush on Rex to her friend, just yesterday, in the second floor bathrooms. He’d be fine without me.

“I’ll see you around?” I asked. I didn’t like burning my bridges – Rex wrote excellent Ancient Runes notes.

Rex shoved his hands in his pockets. “Yeah, I’ll see you around, I guess,” he mumbled. He did smile at me, though. I’d wait a month or two before I asked him for help – if the need arose, of course.

I smiled one more time, and then left the classroom, not looking back.

~*~

“Been making out with some random again?” asked Lily, as I flopped into a seat next to her.

“No. I was breaking up with Rex,” I said defensively.

“Which one was that one?”

“The last one.”

Lily nodded. “I see. How did it go?”

“Well, he won’t be lending me his Ancient Runes notes tomorrow, but I think I broke it off gently enough that we’ll at least be able to become acquaintances again.”

She gave me a look. “How are you?”

I shrugged. “Fine. Why?”

“Fine?”

“Yup, fine.”

“You broke up with someone, and you’re fine?”

“We’d only been on one date!”

“Plus the summer.”

“We… drifted apart over the summer. You know with my parents – and then sorting out the wills… I just… we drifted apart.”

“Okay, don’t talk about it right now.” She rolled her eyes and went back to whatever she was doing before I came; probably homework. Which reminded me that I should probably do the same, before Quidditch started. Merlin only knew when I would get the chance to have a normal life, let alone do homework, once Quidditch started. “Where’s Sarah?” I asked, realising that Lily had been sitting alone.

“Upstairs, I think,” replied Lily, almost completely engrossed in her Charms essay. I never could comprehend how she found writing about a stupid spell fascinating. I’d much rather show that I could actually use the spell in a practical situation, rather than regurgitate something from a dusty textbook.

“What’s she doing up there?”

“I don’t know.”

“I’ll just go and check on her, then.” And get my stupid homework. And then go hole myself up in the library for forever more.

~*~

“Hey Sarah, what’s up?” I asked. Sarah was lying on her bed looking up at the canopy. I can’t imagine it was very interesting, but hey, each to their own.

“Mmm,” was the only reply I received.

I picked up my bag and sat down on her bed. “Remus again?”

“Mmm.”

“Still ignoring you, huh?”

“Mmm.”

“Don’t worry, Sarah. He’ll come around soon enough.” As soon as he notices that there’s a whole other gender out there.

“Mmm.”

“Right. Well, um, I’ll leave you to it.” Lily was much better at dealing with situations like these. I just never knew what to say. I didn’t really have a way with words, just pictures. It was a really unlucky form of expression to be good at. It wasn’t like I could just draw a picture every time I needed to interact with other people. I headed back down the stairs and sat back down next to Lily. She was so engrossed into her work that she didn’t even look up. I sighed and pulled out a half-finished essay on whatever stupid potion I had been working on Monday. It seemed to me that the matters of the heart were reigning supreme tonight. A delusional ex-boyfriend and two best friends in love: one with a boy, and the other with her homework. And what did I have to love? My stupid sketchbook. A sketchbook so useless that I couldn’t even use it as a means of communication with anyone. I sighed again. Things would be better in the morning.

~*~

Sirius' POV:

“She broke up with me!” I yelled as I stepped into the dormitory. “How dare she!”

Both Moony and Prongs looked up in surprise at me. Wormtail was busy sleeping – I could hear him snoring away. “Who broke up with you?” asked Moony. Wait… my friends hadn’t known I was seeing someone?

“That… that woman!” I couldn’t even say her name.

“And which one would that be exactly?”

“Marissa!”

“What…” asked Prongs with a frown on his face, “The Hufflepuff girl I caught you snogging in the broom cupboard the other night?”

“Yes,” I said through gritted teeth. “That one.”

Moony smiled that knowing little smile of his. “It’s barely been a month since school started, and the notorious Sirius Black has not only managed to find a girlfriend, but also lose one?”

I glared at him. “So?”

“Nothing. I was wondering what was happening on the Millie front.”

“Why don’t you ask her, seeing as you’re so chummy with her?” Things were not going well on that front. And no, I was not snogging Marissa to make White jealous, before you ask.

“So I take it not well,” remarked Moony, completely ignoring my jibe at him. How the hell can he stay so calm all the time? I guess he tries to make up for his, well, animalistic behaviour all the times he’s a werewolf. Then again, you can’t help behaving like an animal when you are one, right?

“I still don’t get why you’re so mad, mate,” said Prongs.

“Because she broke up with me. I’m the one who breaks up with people, not the other way around!” I hadn’t been dumped since… well, it had been a long time ago.

“I really don’t think you guys were going out.”

“That doesn’t matter. It’s just… why? I’m…” I was confused, mostly. Not being wanted by someone was quite the novel experience for me.

“Sirius, I know your pride and everything’s been hurt, but you really need to get over yourself,” said Moony matter-of-factly. If he hadn’t been one of my best friends and I knew that he was just saying that to help me out, I might have just hexed him. “Besides, I have the perfect thing to take your mind off your, um, current situation…”

Both Prongs and I looked over at him in surprise. “What?” I asked.

“It’s been a while since we pulled a prank, hasn’t it? I think it’s time to remind the school who the Marauders really are.”

“Any good ideas?” asked Prongs.

Moony gave a wicked grin. “Several.”




AN: Hello, friends! I've updated the start of this chapter, as well as the start of Sirius' point of view. So if you're a returning reader and you're a little confused, that's what happened. New readers, carry on!

Adios, amigos! :D


Chapter 5: Rain, Rumours and Plans
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Millie's POV:

It wasn’t better in the morning. Well, at least not for Sarah anyways. If Remus didn’t notice Sarah’s obvious affections for him soon, I was scared that she was going to do something drastic. Not jump off the Astronomy Tower drastic or anything, but maybe cut off all her hair drastic (to quote the woman herself “like a stylish bob or something”). So as you can guess, breakfast was not the most pleasant experience. First of all, Sarah was looking longingly over at Remus and sighing audibly (and to be honest, annoyingly). Then, Lily had once again started to pay attention to what I ate, especially at breakfast. “You realise that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, don’t you Millie?” Yes, I did. “You should be having more than just a cup of tea,” Lily said sagely.

“I am. This is my second cup of tea,” I replied. I know, I know, not much of a breakfast. I’d probably get something later. “And if you let me drink it in peace, I’ll probably have enough time to drink my third cup of tea as well.”

“That’s just not good enough, Millie. You know –” but I never got to find out what I knew, because at that precise moment, it began to rain.

 

Yes, yes, I know. The enchanted roof reflects the sky outside but it doesn’t actually ever rain. Well, yes, it rains, but the water never reaches the ground. Or the tables, in this case. But for some strange reason, it was raining. People were getting wet, homework was being destroyed, and shirts were going see-through… including mine. And yeah, everyone was going nuts. Completely and utterly nuts, like Lord Voldemort had walked into the Great Hall nuts; it took Dumbledore three very loud cracks, which sounded suspiciously like gun shots, to get everyone paying attention to him. “Prefects, get your Houses back to your Common Rooms,” he intoned. What were we, five year olds that we still needed to be guided by our stupid Prefects to our Common Rooms every time a calamity happened? “And yes, if whoever’s responsible for this isn’t up in my office by the end of first period, the first Quidditch match of the season will be cancelled,” he added, almost as if it was an afterthought, which it clearly wasn’t. Understandably the student body gave a collective groan. It was so nice to see that in times of strife, us fellow Hogwarts students could band together and sulk at the unfairness of it all.

 

“You know who did this right?” Lily said. She was practically livid, like rain in the Great Hall was some kind of personal affront to her.

“Um, duh. Who else has the magical skill and the sheer guts to pull off something like that?” I said. Lily, Sarah and I were up in our dormitory, seeing as first period was cancelled so that everyone could dry off, fix up any ruined homework, and most importantly, the teachers could figure out how to make it stop raining.

“Are you saying that you’re impressed by what they did?”

“Millie’s right. It was pretty amazing. And come on, it was pretty funny – if you didn’t get wet,” said Sarah. It seemed that the rain had washed away her earlier lovelorn mood.

“And think about it positively. We get to miss out on a whole lecture from Professor Binns! I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth!” I added.

“But the first Quidditch match of the season could be cancelled!” cried Lily. “I thought you at least cared about that.”

“I highly doubt that the Marauders won’t own up to this. God forbid someone else takes the credit for their absolutely brilliant prank,” I said, rolling my eyes.

“But I don’t think you fully understand. Dumbledore seemed pretty mad. What if he cancels the Quidditch season, or says that Gryffindor has to forfeit all their matches?” Lily pretended that she hated Quidditch, but it was so obvious that she was a closet Quidditch fan.

“Would he do that?” asked Sarah worriedly. Unlike Lily, she was a hardcore Quidditch supporter and wasn’t afraid to show it. I think she knew more about Quidditch rules and regulations than I did and I was on the team!

“Nah,” I said breezily, but still feeling slightly worried. “Dumbledore loves his Quidditch, but he loves Gryffindor even more. There is no way he’s going to make us forfeit matches.” Dumbledore might not, but some of the other teachers might rally against him, and unless he wants a mutiny on his hands, he just might have to agree to their demands. Merlin, who knew a little bit of harmless rain, could cause so much trouble?

 

“Might I just say, White that you looked absolutely lovely this morning,” said Black. Thank Merlin that today I only had a single of Potions, otherwise I might have just poisoned myself with one of the many dangerous things that I had at my disposal as an advance Potions student.

“I thought I told you that I didn’t want to talk to you,” I said through gritted teeth. Obviously the Marauders had owned up, but I didn’t like the sound of the rumours too much. Detentions for the next six weeks didn’t even begin to describe the trouble they were in.

“You said nothing about me talking to you,” he smirked. Merlin, what a smart aleck!

“More like talking at me,” I muttered, but he must have heard, because his smirk got even, well, smirkier, if that was possible.

“But I must say, the wet look really suits you. You should do it more often.”

“It doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that my shirt was see-through does it?”

“You can’ blame a guy for looking now can you?”

“Yes, I can.”

“Yeah I guess you can. But I never had you down as a lacy bra kind of girl,” he mused. Just my luck, the one day I forget to wear a singlet it rains in the Great Hall. And Sirius Black seems to have been paying attention.

“You are such a dog Black.”

“You have no idea.” What the hell was that supposed to mean?

 

~*~

 Sirius' POV

Yeah, so we got into a little bit of trouble for what we did. Okay, we got into a lot of trouble, but you could tell that if Dumbledore hadn’t gotten wet, he would have thought it was pretty funny too. And you have to admit, it was an amazing piece of magic, so simple, so elegant, so… perfect. I could not have been happier with the results; it made all the trouble we got into more than worth it, and seeing White drenched was the icing on the cake. Hey, boys will be boys, right?

 

~*~

Millie's POV


I was amazed that Black had managed to stay alive for so long. And why was he so damn annoying? He was like a thorn in my side, a blemish on my (almost) perfect life (I was alive, right?). And why was he still haunting my thoughts so long after our little chat in Potions this morning? It was almost as if I didn’t have other things to think about. It was so annoying – Black was like a fly, always buzzing around your head not giving you a moment of peace, except I wasn’t so lucky – this fly was buzzing around inside my head…

 

I needed to cool off, get away from it all for a while. That was slightly difficult to do when you went to a boarding school. There was nowhere to go, especially in times like these. Curfew used to be tight, but this year, it had jumped to a whole new level, like they would find Voldemort roaming the corridors of Hogwarts at night. But I was undeterred. Lily and James were on patrol tonight, so I knew that I wouldn’t get in trouble if I was caught, unless it was by some teacher, but even then, I had a lot of faith in my image as the shy Gryffindor girl who was getting above average marks in all her classes. So I headed for the only place in the whole school where everything magically became better: the kitchens.

 

So there I was, eating a tub of chocolate ice cream, provided by the ever helpful house elves and wondering why Black was still bugging me and why I was even caring so much that he was bugging me so much! I mean, if I wanted to stop thinking about him, I should just stop thinking about him, right? But it wasn’t working. At least the ice cream tasted good. And that was when the devil himself walked in the door.

 

Okay, it might be a little mean to call Black the devil, but I really wasn’t happy to see him there. This was supposed to be my time alone, where I was all by myself. Not all by myself with Black! I already had to endure enough of that in Potions and that wasn’t like we were really alone. I really hoped that he was only here for a short stay and that he would go away soon. But as it turned out, today was not shaping up to be my day.

 

Black looked around and his sharp eyes spotted me. Dammit. He seemed a little surprised to see me here, but he still casually strolled over and sat down opposite me at the table. I pretended not to notice him – ignorance was the key. “Hey,” he said casually. “I wasn’t expecting anyone to be here.” Nor was I, surprise, surprise. When I didn’t say anything he kept on staring at me like he was going to will the answer out of me or something. I could feel his eyes boring in, almost as if they were searching, searching… for something. I saw a house elf waddle up to our table and place a tub of ice cream (choc mint, I noted with some approval) and a spoon in front of him. “Thanks,” he muttered; the house elf just bowed silently and waddled back to whatever he was doing before. We both then sat there for a while, completely engrossed in the task at hand. You’d be amazed at how much concentration it takes to eat a whole tub of ice cream. You’ve got to pace yourself, so that you don’t get too full too fast, or that you don’t get a brain freeze, but you can’t eat it too slow, otherwise you might just have to drink it with a straw. It was a delicate task, consuming a tub of ice cream. After a while, the silence got a little bit too overwhelming, even for me, and that’s saying something. “So, what’s your problem?” I asked as casually as I could.

“I beg your pardon?” Black asked, as if he’d been snapped out of deep thought, but that can’t be possible; a Marauder, actually thinking? (Except maybe Remus).

I raised an eyebrow. “Gosh, it must be serious,” I said gravely.

“Why do you say that?” he asked, looking adorably confused. Wait, I did not just think that Black was adorable in any way shape or form!

“You were polite.”

He grinned at me, and it wasn’t one of his, ‘I wanna get into your pants’ grins, or ‘I have the upper hand and I know it grins’ or even an ‘I’m an arrogant bastard, deal with it’ grins. It was just an ordinary, run-of-the-mill kind of grin that normal people often give. Except that with Sirius Black, hardly anything is ever ordinary. “You’re here eating ice cream as well, what’s your problem?” Classic question evasion: throw it back on whoever asked.

“I was recently orphaned,” I deadpanned, “What’s your excuse?”

“Nothing as serious as yours by far.”

“I guessed as much.” If his family had died, I’m sure I would have heard it. “So, what’s up?” Why was I asking him? Why?

“Oh, you know, the usual pressure of… stuff.” Evasive, very evasive.

“If that was the case, every single student would be down in the kitchens.” The kitchens would become a counsellor’s heaven. So many kids with problems!

“Only if every single student knew the location of the kitchens, that is.”

“True,” I conceded. “So I take it you’re not going to tell me?” Which I completely understood. I mean, he hardly knew me. And it wasn’t as if I actually cared, I was just asking to be polite. Several more minutes were passed in silence, then suddenly, Black said, “I was dumped.”

 

After the initial surprise, I couldn’t help but laugh. I know I shouldn’t have, but it was just too ludicrous. “What’s so funny?” Black asked, a frown distorting his handsome face. And no, I meant absolutely nothing by saying that his face was handsome.

“I think it’s very funny that Sirius Black is hiding in the kitchens eating ice cream because of girl troubles,” I said, after I had managed to get my laughter back under control.

“Yeah, well. I can’t say that this isn’t new for me,” he huffed.

“What? Never been dumped?”

“As a matter of fact, I have.”

“So are you usually so heartbroken after being dumped, or was this girl special?”

“Oh, what would you know?”

“Black, are you telling me that you’re in love with the girl who just dumped you?”

“No! I never said that! It’s just…”

“That you can’t live without her? Feel utterly incomplete? Like you’ve lost your other half?”

“No! It’s just that for the life of me, I can’t figure out what went wrong.”

“So usually, when you’re dumped, you’ve done something wrong?”

He gave me a hurt look. “Do you think that every relationship that’s ended for me has been my fault?”

“Uh, yeah.”

“Harsh, White. Real harsh.”

“You’ll get over it. Eat your ice cream and you’ll feel better.” He glowered at me, but began to eat his ice cream again. We ate on for a while longer until I couldn’t resist asking, “So who was she?”

“Who was who?” It seemed that every time I talked to him, he seemed to be lost somewhere.

“Who’s the girl who has your heart all a-flutter?”

“My heart isn’t a-flutter! And if you must know, her name’s Marissa.”

“What? The blonde Hufflepuff girl?”

“Yeah, you know her?”

“Um…” Yes, I knew her. And I had a sinking feeling why she broke up with Black too. “It’s more like, I know of her, really.”

He narrowed his eyes at me. “You know something, don’t you?”

“I know a lot of things Black.” I hoped it came out as nonchalantly as I imagined.

“You know why she broke up with me, don’t you?” Woah! Along with being exceptionally good-looking and vastly arrogant, could Black read minds too?

“Um… no?” That sounded like a lie, even to me.

“Yes you do.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Yes you do.”

“No, really, I don’t!” I shifted uncomfortably in my chair and went back to my almost empty tub of ice cream.

“Come on, you can tell me.” Um, no, I can’t. “You think I won’t be able to handle it?”

“No, that’s not it at all!” Yes, actually, it is. Why? Because you’re in here eating ice cream like a girl who’s just found out that her major crush wanted to marry his boyfriend of two years, but couldn’t because of the anti-gay marriage laws – and it wasn’t the anti-gay marriage laws making her eat the ice cream.

“Then why aren’t you telling me?”

“Because I don’t think I can!”

He looked confused. “What do you mean?”

“I overheard Marissa talking with one of her friends,” I mumbled, and judging by the content of that conversation, I was one hundred percent sure that the words exchanged were not meant for my ears, but it really wasn’t my fault if they didn’t notice me. They should pay more attention to their surroundings.

“So? It’s not as if she made you swear a vow of silence!” he paused for a moment, then asked, “Did she?”

“No.”

“Then why can’t you tell me?”

“Because I feel kind of guilty for overhearing their conversation and it doesn’t seem right to go blabbing it to the world!”

“You’re not blabbing to the world, just me!”

“That does not make me feel better, Black!”

“Take another spoon of your ice cream, it really helps.” I did as he suggested, then took a deep breath.

“Fine, I’ll tell you. I guess you have a right to know. You’ll probably know soon enough anyways,” I muttered. Sirius leaned back in his chair and waited silently. “Marissa was using you.”


~*~

Sirius' POV


I was being used? What the hell was that about? I was a user, not a usee! I felt my anger rising, but I didn’t let it show. Not until I knew more. “What do you mean?” I asked.

White looked even more uncomfortable than before. “Well, um… when I heard Marissa talking, she said, she said…”

“She said?” Why didn’t she just spit it out already?

“She said that she went out with you because she thinks you used one of her friends just so you could sleep with her and then when you were done you threw her away like a used tissue!” she let out so fast that I almost missed it. “Wow, that was a lot easier than I thought it would be,” she muttered. I don’t think she realised that she’d said that out loud.

“She called her friend a used tissue?” I said calmly.

White looked very confused. “You don’t mind people using you like that?”

I shrugged. “It doesn’t bother me when they’re plans aren’t going to work the way they had hoped.” White just looked even more confused at that. “No one knew we were going out.” If you could even call it that.

White began to look uncomfortable again and a tiny doubt sprang into my mind. “But that’s not all she said, is it?” I asked.

“Um, no…”

“Well out with it then.”

“She said that she was going to spread around that you two, had in fact, been going out.”

“But no one’s going to believe her!”

White shook her head. “You don’t understand. She’ll say that you two were trying to keep your relationship secret, that you two didn’t want everyone to know, that you guys had something special, that you loved her and wanted to marry her and father her children!”

“What?” I cried.

“Well, okay the marry her and father her children part seems unbelievable, so she probably won’t say that, but what she will say is that you loved her deeply, but that she dumped you anyways to expose you for the dirty, lying, cheating, piece of scum you are.” I looked at White in shocked silence. I wasn’t sure if the last part were Marissa’s words or White’s. “Her words, not mine,” clarified White. Now I wasn’t sure why I was so relieved that White didn’t think that I was a dirty, lying, cheating piece of scum.

“She said that too?” White nodded solemnly. I took a moment to think about what I had just heard. White was looking at me strangely, almost as if she couldn’t quite believe that I was taking this so well. “We can’t have the whole school thinking that I’m a dirty, lying, cheating, piece of scum, now can we?”

“Why not?” asked White.

“Because I’m not!” She gave me a look as if to say that she didn’t believe me. “What?” I asked. “You think that I’m a dirty, lying, cheating, piece of scum too?”

“Well… the evidence isn’t in you favour, Black.”

“How could you think so low of me?” I asked feigning hurt.

She rolled her eyes. “Oh come off it, Black. Even you must know the rumours that fly around about you! One minute with this girl, another minute, you’ve moved onto another one! It doesn’t paint a pretty picture!”

“They’re lies.”

“They can’t all be lies!”

“Well, they are!” We lapsed into silence, glowering at each other across the table, our ice creams left forgotten between us. But this was too ridiculous for words. Why did I care what White thought of me? Because you have a crush on her, said a voice in my head. That stupid voice was going to get it some day, but I had more pressing matters to handle first. I took a deep breath to calm myself and said, “Look, it doesn’t really matter right now, but what does matter is what Marissa’s going to do. We have to stop her.”

She gave me a startled look. “We?”

“Yes, we.”

“Why do I have to stop her? She’s your ex-girlfriend, you deal with it.”

“You have to help me because there are two kinds of evil people in the world: people who do evil and people who see evil happening but do nothing about it.”

“I haven’t seen any evil happen! I just overheard a conversation!”

“It’s the same thing.”

“You don’t even know if she’s going to do as she says!”

“White, you forget, for however short a period of time I was with Marissa, I did learn one thing. She’ll do exactly as you overheard her saying she would. Those Hufflepuffs can be very determined.”

“Even if she does do as she plans to, there’s no way of stopping her!”

“Maybe not stopping her, but definitely thwarting her plans.”

White eyed me apprehensively. “What did you have in mind?”

 

~*~

Millie's POV


Why oh why did I have to talk to the stupid git? Why couldn’t I just keep my mouth shut and eat my ice cream? Why? “No way, Black!” I said.

“Why? Don’t think it’ll work?” he asked.

“No, I don’t! And even if it does, I don’t want any part of it!”

“Come on White, it’s not as if you’ll have to be my girlfriend for real, you’ll just have to pretend!”

“I’m not doing it!”

“It’s the only way! If Marissa comes out saying that I was madly in love with her and that I’m suffering from a broken heart, no one will believe her when they see that she was quite wrong, because in actuality, I’m in a relationship with someone else!”

“But I don’t want to be your rebound!”

“You’re not my rebound! I don’t love Marissa! Will you get that into your head?”

“Then why do you care so much about what she says about you?”

“Because I have a reputation to protect! I can’t have people thinking that I’m some lovesick puppy moping around for a girl who’s too good for me! And also, more importantly, I don’t like being used.”

“You should have thought of that before you used her friend!”

“I didn’t use her friend! Merlin, White, do you believe everything that you hear?”

“No!” Just most of the things said about you.

“Then why won’t you do it?”

“Because I really don’t think it’ll work! I’m not an actress! I can’t pretend that I actually want to go out with you! People will see right through me!”

He frowned again. “Why is it so unbelievable that you’d want to go out with me?”

“You’re, um… not my type.” Merlin, wasn’t that lame?

“Not your type? And what exactly is your type?”

“Um… not you. Listen,” I said hurriedly changing the subject. “If you really think that your hare-brained scheme is going to work, well that’s your problem, but I don’t want anything to do with it!”

“Give me one good reason why it won’t work with you.”

“Because, because, I already have a boyfriend!”

Black regarded me for a moment then said, “Well that was the most blatant lie I’ve ever heard!”

“See? I’m a terrible liar!”

“Lucky for you, I’m not such a bad one. And it has to be you.”

“Why?”

“Because you’re the only one who knows the truth.”

“Tell one of your stupid fan girls to do it! They’ll love to! And I won’t tell anyone about your dirty little secret either!”

“What is it with everyone and the fan girls? I do not have fan girls!” Weird outburst there, Black. “But,” he continued, slightly more normally, “How can I trust someone else to keep this secret? I know that you can. It has to be you!” Was that a subtle attempt at flattery to get me to agree? I’m not sure.

“I’m sorry, Black,” I said as I got up from the table (my ice cream was finished anyways) “But I really can’t help you.” And then I walked out the door, leaving Black behind.





AN: Who loves plot progressions? I DO! Things are beginning to happen people! Get excited! And leave a review! And let me know what you think! By leaving a review! Did I mention that I would love it if you left  a review? YAY!


Chapter 6: Insane Before Christmas
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Millie's POV:

It had been two days since that fateful conversation in the kitchens. Thankfully, Black hadn’t said a word about any of it to me, and even better, Marissa seemed to have dropped her devious scheme as well. And I really hoped it would stay that way because this was really all her fault, or if one was to believe Black, it was really all her friend’s fault for spreading such rumours around. Quidditch practise had started up again, so mercifully for my brain, I didn’t actually have that much time to waste on thinking about Black and his schemes and those apparently false rumours flying around about him. If only it had remained that way.

~*~

Day three after the “Kitchens Conversation”, Black was proven right in assuming that Marissa would carry out her dastardly plan. I was walking to the library at recess to return one of my books when I heard a group of fourth-year girls whispering about Sirius Black and his broken heart. By the sounds of it, about half of them thought that what Marissa had done was right and about the other half thought that hurting Sirius Black in any way was the equivalent of burning the Bible or something – you’d definitely go to hell for it. I walked past unnoticed (as usual) but couldn’t help thinking how this wouldn’t bode well for me. If I had heard the rumours, how long would it take for Black to hear them? And more importantly, how long would it take for him to try and press-gang me into helping him?
 
As it turned out, not that long. I had a free period after lunch, so I took this is an excellent opportunity to do some homework, as I wouldn’t get that much time because of Quidditch practise. James could act like one of those hideous slave drivers when he wanted to. It was a nice day, or as nice as they can get at the end of September at Hogwarts, so I had decided to situate myself in a nice, sunny patch of grass, with my books around me and my parchment in front of me.

I had just started to plan my essay when Sirius Black, who was quickly turning into an annoyance, came and sat down beside me. I spared a thought for how it was so unfair that people like Black were always so graceful. Would it really be too much to ask if he could’ve been just handsome?

“Hello, darling,” he drawled after a few moments spent in silence.

I continued to ignore him. I’d spent more than six years of my Hogwarts career relatively Sirius Black free, and I wanted it to remain that way. I just wanted to get through Seventh Year without any hassles.

“You’ll have to talk to me eventually,” Sirius said cheerily into the growing judgemental silence. “I’m not going anywhere. Especially since we’re dating now.”

“I’m not going out with you, Black,” I replied, not looking up from my work. It was best not to encourage him, although I wanted to hit him over the head with the textbook currently in my lap.

“Oh, it’s too late for that,” he continued on, even more cheerily. The nerve.

When he didn’t go on to elaborate, I sighed, finally caving in. “Why is it too late for that?”

“Because I’ve released the seeds!”

I raised an eyebrow at him in confusion. Who knew that beneath that devilishly handsome face was an insane person?

“The seeds of rumours!” When I continued to look at him, no less confused he added, “That you and I are now an item.”

I rolled my eyes. “That rumour will be easily dismissed when I hex you from here to the other side of the Forbidden Forest.”

He pouted his lips in mock sadness. The look would have been adorable in almost any other circumstance. Luckily, my sheer annoyance at Black made me immune to his considerable charms. “But you’d miss me.”

My lips quirked into a sardonic smile. “Hardly, Black.”

He finally dropped the act, heaved his shoulders, and looked at me seriously. “There’s something in it for you, too,” he said quietly.

My eyebrow once again rose from its usual resting position, “Oh?” I asked. “What might that be?”

“I heard about your breakup,” he continued in that serious, quiet tone. A part of my mind noted that it rather suited Black.

“My breakup with whom?”

“Unless you’ve broken up with someone new in the intervening days, Rex Redford, from Ravenclaw.”
Dammit. How on earth did he know that? “It was one date,” I replied defensively. I had no idea why I needed to be defensive.

He flapped his hand dismissively, brushing away my concerns as if they were nothing at all. “Doesn’t matter. Redford is pretty smitten.”

I shook my head. “That’s ridiculous!”

It was Black’s turn to raise his eyebrows. “Why? You’re quite smitten-worthy.”

I made a face at him. “If you’re attempting flattery, it won’t work.” Did Black really think that, though? That I, Millie White, was smitten-worthy?

“It doesn’t really matter what you think, though,” Black continued. “He seemed pretty determined.”

I went quiet. This was a problem. I just didn’t like Rex in that way. Nothing would ever happen between us.

“So…” Sirius went on. Clearly the boy was uncomfortable with silence. “It might work in your favour if you were otherwise engaged.”
He had a point. But there was a problem with this plan, too. “I told Rex that I wasn’t looking for a relationship at the moment,” I said. “And I meant it. I’m not looking for a relationship – even a fake one.”

He opened his mouth as if to say something, but then abruptly closed it. After a second he said, “It was meant to be between us. We can say that. You can’t stand in the way of destiny.”

Destiny, Black? Really? No one will believe that!”

He grinned and shrugged. “You’d be surprised, actually. When it comes to love, people will believe almost anything. People believe that I’m currently broken-hearted over Marissa, after all.”

He had a point. Again. I was beginning to hate it when that happened.

And so, I relented. What harm could possibly come from this, really? And plus it would only be for a few weeks – just until the gossip cycle had rolled over to another victim. “Ugh, fine.”

Sirius gave me a brilliant smile. “I knew you’d come around, darling.”

I was going to go insane before Christmas, I just knew it.


Chapter 7: Goodnight, Darling
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Millie's POV:

It was official. Sirius Black and I, Millie White, were now an item. And we seemed to be the hottest topic since Black – sorry, Sirius and Marissa’s very public break-up – even though the break-up itself was not public, everyone supposedly knew what had happened between them, and because of this, I was now unfortunately dating Sirius Black – well, pretending to anyway. I was probably the envy of a lot of girls right now. If I could, I would have gladly swapped places with them a thousand times, because as I was finding out, being the notorious Sirius Black’s girlfriend was a lot harder than everyone thought.


It started out easily enough. Public displays of affection were basically nil, so far. I managed to get through the rest of that fateful day without having to do anything, and for Sirius’ part, he didn’t bother me. Not until that night. anyway.


After a rather unforgiving Quidditch training session, I dragged myself up to Gryffindor Tower and crawled into the shower without too much difficulty. I don’t quite remember how, but the next thing I knew I was suffocating. It took me a few precious seconds to realise that I was face-down on my bed and my pillow was trying to kill me. I groaned and turned over onto one side, mostly so I could breathe easily again. Inadvertently, I caught a glimpse of my watch, which was glinting in the moonlight streaming through the window. I squinted through the sparkle of the glass to read the time: a quarter to midnight. Shit. I had a half-finished Transfiguration essay that was due in tomorrow. So I decided it was best to haul myself out of bed and finish it off in the Common Room.

I was still half asleep and caught up in my own muscular pain to notice that I wasn’t the only one madly trying to finish off homework at such an ungodly hour. I wouldn’t have noticed either unless the aforementioned person hadn’t approached me. Which would have been a good thing.

“What has caused the fair lady to abandon her beauty sleep?” asked a deep voice from some dark recess of the Common Room. Okay, it wasn’t dark, and the voice wasn’t that far away either, but it really seemed like that to my befuddled brain. I looked up from my parchment (which I had probably been staring at incomprehensibly for the past five minutes) to look for the source of that strange question. After locating said source and identifying it as a certain Sirius Black, all I managed to get out was, “Huh?”

Sirius sighed, like he was repeating the same question for the umpteenth time to someone who still didn’t get it. For all I knew, he could’ve been – I was that tired. “What are you doing up so late?”

“What do you usually do up so late?” I asked defensively. It was probably unnecessary, but I was tapping into my basic nature – I get like that when I’m tired and sore.

He sighed again. Looks like I wasn’t the only one who noticed the defensive tone, but he didn’t comment. Instead, he said, “Finishing homework if you must know.” That was confusing, to say the least. Since when did Sirius Black do homework? And why do I keep thinking his whole name? My confusion must have showed on my face, because Sirius let out a short laugh. “Since when did I do homework?” he asked. And since when can he read minds? “The teachers don’t love me just for my good looks and charm, you know.” But I bet that had a lot to do with it.

“Oh,” I said. I really needed to progress from single syllable sounds, but it seemed like sleep, or lack thereof, was still interfering with semi-normal brain activity.

“So, what are you doing?” but clearly, Sirius didn’t expect a coherent answer because he leant over my parchment to read what I had written. He frowned in concentration for a moment, trying to decipher my almost illegible scrawl. “Weren’t you working on that essay this afternoon?” he asked. I hadn’t realised that he was paying attention to what I was doing when he had pressganged me into his hare-brained scheme.

“Didn’t finish it,” I mumbled, then went back to work. I could feel Sirius’ eyes boring into my skull from across the table. After a while, I began to wonder what the hell he was still doing there. It was extremely uncomfortable, being stared at by Sirius Black whilst trying to finish a Transfiguration essay. I couldn’t take it anymore, so I glanced up and asked, slightly annoyed, “Didn’t you say you had homework to finish?”

“I just finished,” he replied coolly, not offering a reason why he was still here. I wouldn’t have minded, but why did he have to sit right in front of me?

“Then why are you still here?”

“It’ll start tomorrow, you know.”

“What will?”

“The rumours.”

“Rumours about what?” All I really wanted to do was finish my essay and go back to sleep. I couldn’t care less what tomorrow brought.

“Rumours about us.”

Oh. “Right. Those rumours.”

“Will you be okay?” Why do you care?

“I’ll manage,” I said and turned back to my essay. It’s not like I had much of a choice. I heard Sirius laugh again. Had I said that last bit out loud?

“Well, I suppose I’ll leave you to it.”

“Hmm.” I was once again back to single syllable sounds.

“Goodnight, darling,” he said and headed up towards his dormitory.

 It wasn’t until Sirius was long gone, that I registered his last sentence. “Don’t call me darling,” I said. There wasn’t much point, but I could almost hear him laughing again.


Chapter 8: Sleeping After Lunch
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“When were you going to tell us?” asked Lily. It was lunchtime the next day and I was feeling glad that we didn’t have Quidditch practise today. I’d finally get a good night’s sleep. I tried not to think about my ever-mounting pile of homework too much.

“Tell you what?” I asked, through a delicious mouthful of Shepherd’s pie. Yum.

“That you and Black are going out!” said Sarah, like it was the most obvious thing in the world. And to them, it probably was.

“Um… I was going to say something, but, you know, time just got away from me.”

“So the rumours are true?” asked Lily.

“For once, I suppose,” I said.

“How could you?”

“How could I what?” Was no one going to let me eat in peace?

“How could you want to be with such an arrogant bastard?”

“Well, wasn’t it you who said that we had a lot in common?”

“Yes, well, I did. But I was just saying that for, for…”

“The sake of saying it?” finished Sarah.

Lily scowled. “No! It was merely an observation.”

“Right. But seriously, Millie, what are you thinking?”

Clearly, I’m not, otherwise I would have moved to Siberia by now. “I don’t know! I’m just giving this a shot. We’ll see how things work out.”

Lily snorted. “I guess the race is on.”

“What race?”

“To see who caves into their fears first.”

“What fears?”

“Your fears of commitment. Will Black break up with you, or will you beat him to it?” I glared at Lily for a moment then went back to my pie. Little did they know, that both of us had already caved into our fears of commitment, as Lily so eloquently put it. Which is exactly what landed us into this mess in the first place.

 

~*~

 

“So you finally convinced her?” asked Prongs. It was lunchtime the day after Millie had agreed to help me and to my utter delight, the rumours were flying very, very fast.

“Convinced who?” I decided to play a little dumb.

“You know exactly who,” said Moony. Not much gets past our Moony, but I was nothing if not stubborn.

“As a matter of fact, I do not,” I said, then bit into my Shepherd’s pie. There is almost nothing as good in the world as a Shepherd’s pie.

Moony sighed. “Are you and Millie going out now?”

I shrugged. I’d decided that it was best not to tell my friends what was really going on between Millie and me. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust them; it was just that it was better if just Millie and I knew what was going on. Probably. Maybe. “I suppose,” I said nonchalantly after I had finished carefully chewing. It wasn’t because I was polite, more that it added to the performance.

Moony shook his head then went back to his lunch. Prongs, on the other hand was a little more supportive. He clapped me on the back and said, “Well done, mate!” Then he frowned and said, “How did you do it?” It was clear that Prongs was thinking whatever worked for Millie might just work on a certain best friend of hers as well.

I smirked (yes, a little arrogantly, but I had to make sure that if anyone was watching, they didn’t suspect that Sirius Black was a big softie). “I guess my good looks and charms finally wore her down.”

Moony snorted, but didn’t comment. Prongs asked, “Could you possibly put in a good word to Evans for me?”

I laughed. “Prongs, I don’t think she likes me!”

“Well, use some of that bloody charm of yours for a good cause for once,” he snapped. Even Moony laughed at that.

 

The next class after lunch was Defence against the Dark Arts, and as per usual, we had a new teacher this year. DADA wouldn’t be the same without it. I sauntered into class a few minutes before Professor Faraday and looked around, trying to decide where to sit. I could sit where I usually sat, but I spied a still empty seat next to a certain brunette.

“Hey,” I said as I sat down next to Millie.

“What are you doing here?” she asked, instantly going on the defensive. It annoyed me to no end that she felt the need to be defensive with me, but I let it slide.

“I have class here,” I said, smirking at her annoyance. If she was going to be defensive, I’d be annoying.

“I know that, but you don’t have to sit right here.”

“I’m sure Evans will manage a whole class without sitting next to you.”

“She might, but I won’t,” she muttered, then said a little more loudly. “Why not sit next to one of your fan club and make their day or something?” What was it with the fan club again?

“Because I’m not going out with one of my fan club, am I? I’m going out with you.”

“Ugh. You are, aren’t you?”

“Forget so soon?” Millie was saved from replying as the esteemed Professor finally came into class, about five minutes late as usual. And he really was esteemed, with many words mentioned after his name – even more than Dumbledore if that was possible. But for all his accolades, the guy couldn’t teach for shit. He was boring, pedantic and slightly patronising. He began talking about some random defensive technique that we were going to ‘discuss’ in class today. When he turned to the board to write something, Millie turned to me and said, “When Lily sits next to me, she makes sure that I’m not caught sleeping in class, and since you’ve kicked Lily out of her seat, it seems that it’s up to you.”

I leant in a little closer and felt about half the class focus their attention on us. Didn’t these people have anything better to do? But I guess it would supply the rumour mill with lots more juicy information about Sirius Black and Millie White’s ‘relationship’. “You’re going to fall asleep in class? After lunch?”

“Especially after lunch. And if you don’t want me to fall asleep, talk some sense into that best friend of yours.” I could only assume that she meant Prongs and his um, vigorous, training regime.

 

About halfway through the class, I glanced over at Millie. She didn’t seem to be asleep; there were notes written down on the parchment in front of her, her back was straight, quill poised in hand; a cursory glance seemed to indicate that her full and undivided attention was on the good Professor. On closer inspection however, I noted that her eyes were closed. Merlin, she really was asleep! I was marvelling at her ability to fall asleep in class inconspicuously, that I almost didn’t notice Faraday’s attention focus on us. I poked Millie as surreptitiously as I could. She didn’t even startle. “Miss White, can you tell the class the incantation?” asked Faraday, and it was so obvious that he had hoped to catch one of his students unawares, but Millie didn’t even hesitate before answering. Nor did she sound or act like she hadn’t been fast asleep seconds before. How on earth did she do it? A few minutes later, I flicked my eyes back in her direction and was surprised to see that she had fallen fast asleep again, looking as if she hadn’t even woken up. I shook my head in wonder and returned my attention to the front of the class, once again on Professor Watch.

 

~*~

 

And so, the great game continued. For the first time in my life, I was glad that I had a crazy Quidditch captain because with all the training I was doing and the ten foot high pile of work that our teachers seemed to think was okay to set every night, I didn’t actually see Sirius that much. We only really had to pretend in classes and the occasional ‘romantic’ notion was displayed during meals, otherwise, both of us left each other alone. And after two weeks of such behaviour, the day of the first Quidditch match of the season rolled around.




AN: And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the end of (an admittedly short) chapter 8! I thought it was about time we had some Sirius/Millie interaction in a public sort of environment. So tell me what you think so far/what's going to happen next/how cute you think Sirius is (I love this guy, if you couldn't tell)/how Millie's going to get out of this one. I always look forward to reading your lovely reviews! (But feel free to leave me a review saying whatever you like - they're all lovely anyways!)

Bye for now, not forever!


Chapter 9: Quidditch Alliances
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The morning dawned grey and cloudy. The night before, James had reached an anxiety level that increased his chances of heart attack tenfold, and understandably so: our first match was against Slytherin. Now, on most days I had absolutely no issues with the Green House that sat on the other side of the Great Hall to us, but their Quidditch team was good, their Seeker even better. I should know, this was going to be my fifth year playing against Regulus Black. Still, as Sarah felt the need to remind me just before I went to bed, “You’ve never lost a game against him, I’m sure you’re not going to start now.” No pressure, or anything.

 

For once, I was up bright and early (six-o-clock). I lay in bed for half an hour trying to calm myself down. When I realised that it wasn’t working, I decided that it was time to get up and try and do something productive.

By seven, I was down in the Common Room, attempting to do some homework.

By seven thirty I realised what a waste of time that was, and decided to go down to the Great Hall. Breakfast wasn’t ready yet, but at least there was tea.

At around eight, James came in looking as anxious as I felt. He sat down in front of me, grabbed his own cup of tea, and began drinking without saying a word.

The whole team had assembled around us at eight thirty. We all sat there in silence, and tried to cope with our feelings of nervousness, anxiety and nausea, all of which we experienced at the same time in varying degrees.

The people who have the amazing ability to be functional at nine in the morning on a Saturday were the first people I saw enter the Great Hall.

At around a quarter to ten, my two best friends and the rest of the Marauders showed up, probably to lend some moral support. Even though they were one of the last people probably in the whole school to come down, I still felt marginally better.

Sirius plonked himself down on one side of me and looked across at his best friend. “Mate, you have to eat something,” he said.

“We can’t have our captain faint from hunger on the pitch,” I added. A remote part of my brain noted that it felt incredibly strange to be agreeing with Sirius about something. Most of brain was however occupied by my current task: eating as much as I possibly could. As a Seeker, I had a certain physique that I had to maintain, and it was something that was maintained very well, but I was one of those people who ate about half of their body weight in one sitting when they were nervous or stressed. Along with about seven cups of tea, two cups of coffee and three glasses of pumpkin juice, I had managed to eat three slices of toast, a helping of scrambled eggs and two sausages and bacon rashers – in short, double the amount of the rest of food consumed by my fellow teammates put together.

“You, on the other hand,” started Lily, “Are eating way too much for it to be completely healthy.”

“What’s your problem Lily? You complain when I don’t eat breakfast, and you complain when I do eat breakfast! Will you just make up your mind?” I said irritated. Lily didn’t take any offence, because we’d been friends for far too long to let pre-match anxiety come between us. Sirius, however, looked incredibly surprised at my outburst.

Or the amount of food I had actually managed to consume; I wasn’t sure which.

At around quarter past ten, James looked up from his cup of tea, and as well trained team members we instantly transferred our attention to him. “We should probably go get ready now,” he mumbled. It sounded like it was the last thing he wanted to do.

 

The seven of us huddled around in the dressing room. There were only a few minutes before we were meant to go out. James began his pep talk and I looked around at our team mates. I could see the effect James’ words was having on them, as their expressions turned from dazed and scared rabbits into a determined team who was about to kick some serious butt – behind the ref’s back of course; butt-kicking wasn’t really allowed on the Quidditch Pitch.

 

“Holy Merlin, is that Dumbledore out there?” asked Jason, a Chaser and the newest member of the Gryffindor Quidditch team. “Yeah,” mumbled one of the Beaters, the Bull. He was a fifth year and was built like a troll – in the nicest possible way. “Usually rocks up to watch the first match of the season.”

“Especially if Gryffindor’s playing,” I added.

“But he’s got to be all secretive about it because being Headmaster and all, he can’t be seen favouring a particular team,” finished Hartley, the other Beater.

I snorted. “Yeah, like we all don’t know that he likes us more than the rest.”

“And let’s give him reason not to change alliances, shall we?” said James irritably. It seemed that pre-match jitters were getting to him, but we all shut up and headed out onto the pitch.

 

Madam Hooch made James and the Slytherin captain (I can never remember his name) shake hands. If this hadn’t been the beginning of a Quidditch match and I didn’t feel like throwing up, it would have been quite amusing watching those two trying to break each other’s hands. However, that wasn’t the case. I vaguely heard Hooch telling us to play nicely. I think she said this before every match between Gryffindor and Slytherin – I don’t know why she bothered; she knew we’d still play a little dirty anyways. It wasn’t that we were breaking the rules, it was just all in the spirit of the game, and when you knew you could hit that bludger right at the Keeper’s nose, well, there wasn’t much that could stop you from grabbing the bat off the Beater and knocking the bloody ball right on target… not that I was speaking from experience or anything…

 

The whistle had barely made a sound before fourteen brooms shot into the air like bullets… or that’s how Lily’s described our ascent – I actually have no idea how bullets launch their broomsticks. I flew up higher than the rest of my teammates – partly to protect myself from bludgers and players who behaved suspiciously like bludgers and partly to not get in anyone’s way. I circled around the pitch for a while, searching for the Snitch, but not seriously, as I also had to keep an eye on the other team’s Seeker. I took the opportunity to contemplate just how similar the two Black brothers looked. While Sirius’ features were sharper, and more well-defined, Regulus’ were softer and rounder, however both of them had a certain aristocratic and vaguely haughty, holier-than-thou air about them. I wondered again for the umpteenth time, what might have caused them to hate each other so, but I couldn’t dwell on this long as I was almost knocked out of the air by a Bludger. “Watch out there, White!” called Hartley, as he whooshed passed. I decided that it was about time to actively search for the elusive golden ball.

 

Fifteen minutes later, found me plummeting towards the ground at breakneck speed. Black wasn’t far behind me, and he was catching up fast. Worryingly fast. I could see the Snitch, hovering a few feet above the ground, right in the middle of the pitch. It was darting about a little, but didn’t seem to know which way to go. I was now ten feet from the ground, with Black just half a broom behind me… eight feet… five feet… the Snitch swerved wildly to the right, and if I didn’t do something soon, I was at full risk of breaking my neck. I made a minute adjustment to my course; it was difficult to judge course alterations at this speed, but I hadn’t been Seeker on the best team Hogwarts had seen for nearly three decades by sheer luck alone. I sensed, more than saw, Black pull out of the dive to oohs and aahs from the crowd. Well they hadn’t seen nothing yet. I was now just three feet from the ground and with the Snitch taking up my whole concentration, I reached my left hand out and felt the cold metal under my fingertips… just before feeling the hard embrace of the ground below, before being swallowed in darkness.

 

I could hear muffled sounds from somewhere… were they in my head, or out? No… they were definitely external sounds. As my hearing returned slowly, I could make out that they were voices, and they seemed strangely familiar… another few moments later, and I could make out the excited, but hushed tones of the Gryffindor Quidditch team. My eyes flickered, and I heard Lily’s voice say, “Shush! She’s getting up!” Everyone stopped talking and I could almost hear everyone hold their breath. I opened my eyes and croaked out, “Jeez guys! It wasn’t that bad a fall!” A pair of arms were flung around me and I was almost suffocated in someone’s shoulder. There was red hair in my eyes, so it must be Lily. “Oh my God! I was so worried!” she breathed when she finally let go of me. I took a lungful of air, and sat up. All of the Gryffindor team was there, still in their Quidditch robes, along with Sarah and Lily and the rest of the Marauders. That was weird. Since when did the Marauders come to watch me wake up after a Quidditch match? “That was brilliant!” beamed Jamieson, our scrawny sixth year Keeper.

“Bloody fantastic!” cried Jason!

“Much better than last year’s final!” said Hartley.

“You should have seen Greengrass’ face!” said James with glee.

“You should see yours,” I said. He was grinning from ear to ear, like someone had just told him that it was Christmas for the next month.

Lily whacked him on the arm. “How could you say that? She almost died!”

“Lily, she was three feet from the ground!” said Sarah.

“And I have enough experience with falling off my broom to judge a fatal fall from merely one that will cause unconsciousness for a brief amount of time,” I added. Before Lily could reply, Madam Pomfrey, the matron, bustled in. “Right, all of you, out! She needs rest! Out!” she said, whilst making shooing motions with her hands. Once everyone had filed out (trailing bits of Quidditch pitch behind them) Madam Pomfrey sighed, and reached for a bottle that was on the table beside me. “I hoped that I didn’t see you in here again, Miss White, but I kept out the bottle, just in case.”

I looked at it in horror. “But Madam! It really wasn’t that bad this time! Do I have to?”

“Yes, you have to. If you don’t like taking it, maybe you should be more careful.” I was a natural flyer, there was no doubt about that, but it seemed that the clumsiness that affected me so when I was on the ground was determined to prove itself by causing me to make spectacular landings every game. And they were spectacular for all the wrong reasons.

I sighed, but didn’t say anything, instead, taking the goblet she handed to me and drinking the vile potion, attempting not to retch.

 

When I was finally allowed to leave the Hospital Wing and head back to the Common Room, I wasn’t very surprised to find that there was a victory party already in full swing. I sidled in and headed for a quiet corner, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. I loved a good party as much as the next person, but without Lily or Sarah there to support me through any social faux pas I may make, I felt incredibly uncomfortable about hanging about with other people. It seemed, however, that other people just didn’t understand this, as they kept on coming up to me to congratulate me on winning the game. One third year was so impressed, that he declared loudly to anyone who was listening that it was possibly the best capture of the Snitch he had ever seen. Before I could thank him, however, James sauntered over and declared, in possibly an even louder voice that kid should have seen me in my first Quidditch game, all the way back in second year. “It almost brought tears to my eyes,” he said, his eyes becoming overbright, right on cue. Lily decided to come to my rescue at this point and whisk me away from the reverent looks I was getting from all the second and third years around me. “Are you feeling okay?” she asked me.

“Yeah, fine. Madam Pomfrey gave me that stupid potion again, but honestly, I don’t know why she bothered. It wasn’t as if I’d flown into a bludger as I landed.”

Lily winced. “Don’t remind me. It still brings tears to my eyes.”

“Come on Lils! It wasn’t as if there was any serious damage!”

“That bloody thing almost killed you. Don’t you remember that you spent the next three weeks in the Hospital Wing with severe internal bruising?”

“And it would have been two if Madam Pomfrey wasn’t such a worry wart.” Lily seemed to think that Madam Pomfrey hadn’t kept me in there long enough. I decided that it was probably time to change the subject. “Where’s Sarah?”

“In some corner trying to coerce poor Remus into snogging her senseless, I presume,” she replied. Lily was of the opinion that if a boy didn’t pay you any attention, he wasn’t worth your time. Clearly this was a point of contention between Sarah and Lily. “Haven’t seen your boyfriend around,” she said casually.

“What boyfriend?” I asked.

“You mean to say you have more than one?” said a voice from behind us.

“Oh. That boyfriend,” I muttered.

“Evans,” Sirius said, nodding in acknowledgement of Lily’s presence.

“Black,” she said icily back. “I’ll see you later, Millie,” she said, and after throwing one last look of disdain in Black’s direction, she walked off, leaving me giving looks of complete abandonment and desperation to her back.

 

“Was it something I said?” asked Sirius mildly.

“I think it’s more the fact that you exist at all really,” I said.

“Oh, that’s much better than my next guess.”

“What was your next guess?”

“That I was beneath her best friend.”

“You are beneath her best friend.”

He gave me a hurt look. “Ouch!”

“Get used to it,” I shrugged.

“Are you feeling better?” he asked. I looked up at the sound of genuine concern in his voice, and was even more surprised to see that he even looked worried, as if he actually cared… Merlin, was he good.

“I’m feeling fine, thank you,” I replied.

“That was some capture.”

“Um… thanks.”

“Though, I have seen better.”

“Um…”

“My favourite has to be last year’s final. I must say, I was highly impressed with the way you managed to dodge three chasers, two beaters and a bludger, catch the Snitch and get a concussion all in the span of ten seconds.”

I narrowed my eyes at him. “Been doing your homework, Black?”

He shrugged indifferently. “I do know that you exist, Millie. There’s no need to feel that way.”

“What way?”

“Unloved and unnoticed.”

“I do not feel unloved!”

“Well that’s good, otherwise I’d have to start declaring my undying devotion to you in public!”

“You are just so…”

“Fantastic? Fabulous? Freaking awesome?”

“Full of yourself!” I snapped, then turned on my heel and walked away.

 

Stupid Black had managed what very few people could do: put me in a bad mood after a Quidditch match. Merlin, I was going to kill him. But first, I’d torture him. Make him feel pain… however, I didn’t really get a chance to plan all the gory details because at that precise moment, Lily came charging over towards me. “Millie! Help!” she cried.

“What happened?” I asked, bewildered. She seemed to be in one piece.

“Potter!”

“What about him?”

“He just asked me to go to Hogsmeade with him!”

“Oh.” And here I was expecting news that the sky was falling.

“What do I say?”

“Um… what you usually say?”

“But – I don’t know!”

“What do you mean you don’t know?”

She leant in and whispered, “I think I might like him.” The thought seemed to terrify her beyond belief. I grabbed her and dragged her into a quieter corner. “What do you mean that you might like him?” I asked, trying to be as cool as possible, whilst fighting the urge to yell out “I knew it!”

“You know, like, like, like him.”

“I see.”

She looked at me anxiously. “So what do I say?”

“What? You haven’t answered yet?”

“No!”

“Then what did you say to him when he asked?”

“Nothing! I sort of bolted!”

“Lily!” I cried in exasperation, before marching over towards James.

 

“Millie! Did I ever mention that I loved you?” asked James. I wasn’t sure if I should be worried or not, considering he’d just asked out my best friend.

“Not right now, James, I need to talk about something else with you,” I said tersely. That sobered him up. Black, who was standing next to him, also seemed slightly more alert.

“Oh. What’s up?”

“Did you just ask Lily to Hogsmeade?”

“Um… yeah? She didn’t really give me an answer though…”

“I know.”

“Merlin, news travels fast between girls doesn’t it?” said Black mildly.

Ignoring him, I continued, “When’s Hogsmeade again?”

He stared at me. “How hard did you hit your head Millie? It’s tomorrow!” Wow, that was new.

“It is?”

“Didn’t you know? Padfoot, didn’t you tell her?”

“I might have mentioned it, I can’t really remember,” said Black shrugging.

“Well shouldn’t you have said something, considering you’re going together?” said James, looking quite confused.

“Wait, what?” I asked. Since when was I going to Hogsmeade with Black?

“Well, aren’t you two? I just assumed that you were… hey! I’ve had a great idea! What if we double date?”

“Um… excuse us, will you?” I said, before taking Sirius’ wrist and tugging him after me.

 

“What, so now you want to talk to me?” asked Sirius, frowning slightly, as I pulled him into the corner that Lily and I had occupied a few moments earlier.

“Why didn’t you tell me it was Hogsmeade tomorrow?” I demanded.

“Because I assumed, that like every normal person in this castle, you’d know.”

“Well, I don’t. And what’s all this nonsense about us going together?”

“It’s not nonsense, Mills. It’s just what people expect, that’s all.”

“You didn’t feel the need to give me a heads up about this?”

“Again, I assumed that you would know.”

“You assume too much for your own good.”

“Well, I’ll keep that in mind for next time!”

“Next time? There is going to be no next time! We end this right now!”

“We can’t!”

“Yes, we can!”

“No, we can’t! Things are just getting better!”

“Sirius, I don’t know how long I can keep this up for!”

“Not much more – just this Hogsmeade weekend, I promise! Then, you’re free to go!”

“But –”

“Come on Mills! Don’t do it for me, but for your best friend and your Quidditch Captain!” I scowled up at him.

“Fine! But no more after this!”

“Excellent! Let’s break the news to the happy couple!”

 

Lily still seemed a little apprehensive. “A double date? With you two? But don’t you guys, I don’t know, want to spend time alone together?”

“Oh no, not at all! We already do enough of that at school!” I said. Did I sound too eager? By the strange look Sirius shot me, it seemed that I had.

“Well…” Come on, Lily! You can’t leave me alone to this!

“Please?”

“Why are you asking?”

“He’s my Quidditch Captain. I feel some sort of obligation to support him in this matter.”

“What about being my best friend?”

“I’m your best friend all the other times! Come on, Lily! Just this once?”

“Well…” Stop saying that! “Alright… I suppose,” she finally relented.

“Great! Now you can go over and tell James.” The mere thought of it seemed to scare her senseless.



AN: And welcome to the end of chapter 9! Who else is quite happy that Lily and James are finally going out on a date? Let me know what you think about the Millie/Sirius relationship so far in that rather neglected box down the bottom of this page!


Chapter 10: Things You Really Don't Want to Know
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“Millie! Do you know what you’re wearing?” asked Lily.

“Um… clothes?” I answered tentatively. What else was I going to wear, a hessian sack?

“Aren’t you putting any thought into this?”

“No. Am I supposed to?”

“Well, yeah. Isn’t this your first real date with Sirius?”

“Yeah, it is.”

“Then why aren’t you caring more about this?”

I was about to retort that the last thing I was going to do was care about what I wore for Sirius, before realising that if this was a real date with a guy I actually wanted to go out with, I probably would be giving a shit. Instead, I said, “Never mind me, what are you wearing?”

“I don’t know! I want to make an effort, but I don’t want to look like I made an effort. I don’t want him thinking that I actually like him!”

“But you do. Isn’t that why you agreed to this?”

“No! I agreed to this because you promised me that we’d double date!”

“No… double dating had nothing to do with this. You agreed to the double date because you’re sort of scared of what you’re feeling. You agreed to go to Hogsmeade with James because you like him.”

“Wow Millie,” said Sarah. I thought she’d still been sleeping like I would have been if I hadn’t been trying to calm Lily, but it seemed that she’d been awake almost the whole time. “That was quite an astute observation. I’m impressed.”

“Well, it happens sometimes.”

 

“How could you just leave me with those two and escape all on your own?” A few hours later, I found myself behind the Three Broomsticks with Black pouting at me.

“Stop pouting Black, it isn’t becoming,” I chided.

“But you abandoned me!”

“That’s not a reason to pout! And you’re a big boy, I had full faith in your abilities to look after yourself.”

“But you left me with those two as an awkward third wheel!”

“New experiences broaden the mind,” I said as I began walking down the alley, heading back to the Main Street.

“How did you get out by the way?” he asked as he fell into step beside me, I was vaguely annoyed to note.

I shrugged, “Climbed out of the girls’ bathroom window.”

He seemed impressed. “Nice thinking.”

“How did you get out?”

“Trust me, you don’t want to know.”

 

So we walked towards the main road again in surprisingly comfortable silence. “So… where do you want to go?” asked Sirius casually.

“What?” I asked, perhaps a little too sharply by the look on his face.

“This is still a date, you know.”

“Oh. Right. How could I forget?”

He had the nerve to smirk. “So where do you want to go?”

I shrugged. “Anywhere that has good coffee. And isn’t Puddifoot’s.”

“You drink coffee?”

“I’m half European. Of course I drink coffee.”

 

“Why all the hate for Puddifoot’s?” asked Sirius. We were in a little café which was off the beaten track a little. It was a little rough around the edges, but it somehow added to its charm. And it probably had the best coffee in a fifty mile radius. Come to think of it, it might be the only place to stock coffee in a fifty mile radius.

“Have you ever been there?” I asked. “It’s like someone vomited all of their pink vomit all over the place!”

“Charming visual, White, but yes, you might have a point. It isn’t very subtle is it?”

“But it isn’t as if you go there for subtlety, is it?”

He gave a small smile. Not a smirk, but an actual smile, I was surprised to note. “Then what do you go there for?”

“As a general rule, I don’t go there. You might be in a better position to tell me what people go there for.”

“And what makes you say that?”

“Come off it! How many girls have you trapped in there with your charming ways and handsome looks?”

“You think I’m handsome?” I knew he couldn’t keep from smirking.

“It was more a figure of speech.”

“But you still think I’m handsome?”

I studied him for a moment. Did I think he was handsome? “I suppose… you’re easy on the eyes… you could say.”

“Easy on the eyes? You’re a hard one to please, aren’t you?”

“Very hard. But you still haven’t answered my question. How many girls have you taken to Puddifoot’s, or are there too many to count?” I teased. Merlin, it was almost as if I was flirting with him.

He took a sip of his coffee. “Well… there hasn’t been that many…”

“Yes, I suppose it wouldn’t be that many,” I said thoughtfully. “I suppose you don’t stay together for that long.” As soon as I’d said it, I knew it was too harsh. And things had been going so well! We were having a civil conversation, Sirius was actually being decent for a change and the coffee was really nice, but no! I had to go and stuff it up. There are reasons why I don’t talk much.

“You know Millie, I don’t get you at all. You’re just as bad as me! I’d like to hear about one relationship that you’ve been able to hold down for more than a month.”

“Been doing our research, have we?” The atmosphere had changed dramatically. There was something darker and more sinister about it, barely hidden under the layer of false sweetness that tinged our tones.

“I thought it might be useful to know a little bit about my girlfriend, yes.”

“Isn’t that part of the fun? Finding out about each other as we go along?”

“Maybe, if this was an actual relationship.”

“This wasn’t my idea, Black. Let me remind you of that.”

“I remember perfectly well White. But if this is going to work, you’ll have to remember why you signed up for this.”

“I did not sign up! I was press-ganged!”

“Yes, you signed up. To get away from a relationship, if I recall correctly. Just like me.”

I glared at him, fuming, but didn’t say anything. What could I say? I really couldn’t deny the truth. And the truth was that Sirius Black and I were alike in more ways than I cared to admit.




AN: And welcome to Millie and Sirius' first date! ... sort of. Anyways, tell me what you thought of it! Does anyone else think that their relationship may be a little smoother if they didn't keep on forgetting than remembering the fact that their relationship is fake AT THE WRONG TIME? Or maybe that's just me...

That little grey box is feeling neglected, so please make it's day (and mine)! I love to hear what you guys think!


Chapter 11: Love the Smell of Blueberries
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Millie's POV:


“Where on earth did you and Black disappear off to today?” asked Lily. Sarah, Lily and I were in the girls’ dormitory alone. I was sprawled across my bed, Sarah was on the floor, painting her toenails and Lily perched on the edge of hers.

“They probably wanted to get some alone time,” said Sarah with a knowing look.

“Shut up Sarah,” I retorted. The bad mood I was in courtesy of Sirius Back still hadn’t quite dissipated. And I think I was PMSing as well.

She seemed surprised. “Things didn’t go well on your first date?” she asked.

“They went fine,” I snapped. This was followed by an awkward silence. To break the silence I turned towards Lily and asked, “How did it go with James?”

“Oh, you know,” she began with a nonchalant shrug. “It was okay.”

Sarah and I looked at each other, then back over at Lily with a combined pointed look. Never underestimate the power of a combined pointed look. “Oh, okay, it was amazing!” she gushed. I went back to staring at the roof of my bed’s canopy with a satisfied smirk.

“Yeah?” Sarah asked casually, right on cue.

“Yes! Who knew that James could be so funny and sweet and kind all at once?”

“Ooh! Sounds like Lilykins is in lurve!” I sang. Lily chucked a pillow at my head, which of course, I immediately threw back at her. This, typically, led to a full-blown pillow fight between the three of us, ending with us rolling on the floor laughing, and my hostility towards Sirius was forgotten. For now.

 

~*~

 
Sirius' POV:


“Gentlemen, I think I may be in love,” Prongs sighed happily as he flopped onto his bed. Moony and I exchanged an exasperated look.

“Mate, you’ve been saying that for more than six years now,” Moony said.

“I know, but this time, it’s… different.” He sighed contentedly again.

“I take the date with Evans went well?” I asked.

He lifted his head to look at me with a dopey grin on his face.

Moony shook his head and rolled his eyes. “So Evans didn’t try and jinx you?”

He shook his head. “Not even once!”

“Good for you mate!” I said, and I meant it too. Us blokes, we’re not too great with feelings and stuff, but I was genuinely happy for my best mate. He deserved to be happy and if Evans made him happy, then so be it.

“How did your date go?” asked Moony.

“Oh, you know, not too bad,” I said casually, but I couldn’t help that an image of Millie’s face popped into my head, her eyes full of something that looked a lot like resentment, and possibly… hate.

“What did you do?” he asked with a sigh.

“Why is it always me?” I muttered.

“Because nine times out of ten, it is you, mate.”

I scowled at him, but I knew his words were true. If Moony was one thing, he was truthful… most of the time. “It was nothing. We just… had a little discussion, that’s all.” Moony and Prongs exchanged a look, but both of them knew better to push it.

 

~*~

 
Millie's POV:


Halloween came and went in a blur of feasty goodness and it was soon mid-November, with the seventh-years’ workload increasing drastically with every breath we took from its already large proportions. I had no idea how James was managing it all, what with all the work and Head Boy duties he had, because he was relentless in Quidditch training sessions. It was often cold and wet and windy and we couldn’t usually see five feet in front of us. On the rare occasions that our crazy Quidditch captain realised that his team really weren’t joking when they couldn’t see anything (this was greatly helped along when McGonagall yelled at James and me for losing the third Snitch in two weeks), he’d have us on the ground doing gruelling exercises “to keep up our general fitness”. It felt more like I was being trained for the army.

 

After a particularly wet and miserable training session, the team trudged into the Common Room. I could barely stand and staggered my way over to an empty couch by the fire. I groaned as I fell into its cushiony embrace. Lovely. “What happened to you?” asked Lily.

“Your boyfriend happened to me,” I groaned, as I closed my eyes. “Clearly you’re not snogging him enough because that guy has way too much energy for his own good.”

“Or maybe, you’ve been snogging Sirius too much that you don’t have enough energy left.” Lily retorted. I heard a deep chuckle come from somewhere over my head and then a heavy weight sit down somewhere near my feet.

“Get your own couch, Black,” I growled, still not opening my eyes. Since Lily and James had started dating, Lily seemed to have come to the conclusion that none of the Marauders were that bad, and I now had to study most nights in the Common Room with them. Which meant that I spent a far greater amount of time around Sirius than I had to before, which meant that I had to act like I actually liked the bloke – yes, we were still pretending to be going out, even though the rumours about Marissa and him had long died out.

“Millie dear, this couch is made for two, so play nice and squish over before I make you.”

“I assure you, Sirius, that it would be far easier if you just got yourself another place to put your fat arse,” I said in a falsely sweet voice.

“My arse is not fat!” he cried in feigned shock.

I opened my eyes and lifted my head to look at him at the other end of the couch. He was smiling lazily at me, but there was a clear challenge in his eyes. Game on, Black. “Your arse is so fat,” I replied.

He gave me his best shot at a bitch-please look, but it was ruined by the fact that his lips were turned up at the corners, a hint of a smile and mischief dancing in his eyes.

“I mean,” I continued, “You eat so much. All that extra fat has to go somewhere!”

“Take that back you meanie!” he said, faking almost-tears. “It’s just because no one understands me!”

“Aw, poor baby. Does the bacon understand you?” I asked, also faking concern. Lily, I noticed, had given up on her Charms essay and was now watching us with an amused expression.

He sniffed. “At least they listen, unlike you!”

“Well, maybe you should just go date the bacon, then!”

He shot me another fake-hurt look. “How could you be so mean to me? Lily!” he cried petulantly. “Why is your best friend always so mean to me?”

“Nuh uh, guys. I’m staying out of this. This is far too entertaining for me to finish.”

“What kind of best friend are you?” I asked.

She shrugged. Sirius, deciding that he’d been ignored too long, threw a cushion at my face.

“What the hell?” I cried, more out of surprise than anger.

That’s for saying I have a fat arse and this,” he threw another cushion, this time, aiming for my stomach, “is for being so mean!” I looked at him again and even though his expression was one of someone who’d just found out that Father Christmas wasn’t real, his eyes were full of mischief. I had a brief thought that he was looking quite sexy, but I quickly shook it off before the idea caused me some sort of mental illness.

“Yeah? Well, this is for throwing a cushion at me,” I said as I chucked a cushion at his head, which he ducked. “And this, is for having a fat arse!” This time, I aimed for his stomach, but because he was still ducking, I managed to get him in the face. He shot me an appalled look. “The gloves are coming off now, White. You asked for this!” And then he dived at me and started tickling me mercilessly.

 

“Oh my God! Stop! Stop!” I gasped.

“Not until you take it back!” he cried.

“Never!”

“Fine!” And he kept on tickling me! And Sirius Black doesn’t tickle gently. He’s downright violent about it – so violent, that we both ended up falling on the floor, barely missing the table edge.

“God guys, will you two get a room already?” asked James from somewhere above our heads. “Or at least, quieten down on the sex noises. You’re beginning to scare the ickle firsties.”

“We’re not making sex noises!” I gasped. Sirius had finally stopped tickling me and we were now both sprawled on the floor exhausted. “He wouldn’t stop tickling me!”

“Is that some sort of euphemism for sex?” asked Remus, also from somewhere above my head. It took me a while to locate him sitting opposite a discreetly drooling Sarah. Even Peter was here now. Where did all these people come from?

“No! He was actually tickling me! And he wouldn’t bloody stop!” I shot the man in question a scowl.

Remus turned his head a little to look at Sirius. “Is this true Padfoot?” he asked in mock seriousness.

Sirius pouted as he sat up leaning against the sofa we had fallen off not too long ago. “She said I had a fat arse!” he accused.

“That’s because you do mate. You need to eat less.”

“Hah!” I cried triumphantly, but I was saying this as I struggled to sit up myself, but clearly talking and sitting up at the same time was just too much for my brain, because I ended up sprawled on the floor again. Sirius let out a bark of laughter. He has such a weird laugh. I mean, who the hell laughs like a barking dog? “Ow,” I mumbled. Still laughing, Sirius grabbed my arm and pulled me up next to him.

“You guys are so cute together,” Sarah said. I felt Sirius stiffen slightly next to me and my brain started screaming that we were not cute together! However, both of us managed to hide our shock quite well; Sirius even managed to give some witty reply. Everyone shook their heads and went back to work. Sirius and I remained on the floor, things suddenly very awkward between us. I realised that our shoulders were touching and our knees grazed together, and suddenly I felt very flustered. I hauled myself back onto the couch, trying to make it as discreet as possible that I was trying to create some physical space between us, and closed my eyes again. Cute indeed!

 

I woke with a start. I could barely see two feet in front of me, so my sleep-addled brain correctly deduced that it was night – possibly early morning judging by the lack of a roaring fire. As I came to consciousness, I realised that I was still on the couch that I had commandeered earlier in the evening. As my senses slowly returned, I heard something. A scratching noise… was that a quill? Or was it a herd of rabid rats? (Do rats even hang in herds? Or are they packs?) The mere idea of a herd of rabid rats (or packs, whatever) being in the near vicinity woke me up. I jerked fully awake and bolted straight up, wildly looking around for the rabid rats. My wild search didn’t turn up any rats, instead I found something almost as alarming. “Black? Are you… doing homework?” I asked incredulously.

“Millie, how many times do I have to tell you? I do have to work a little bit to be as good as I am,” he said, slight annoyance tinging his tone.

“Right. It’s always just… such a shock, that’s all.”

He shot me a grin. I mustn’t be as awake as I thought, because I swear my stomach tightened a little. I mentally shook myself and looked over at what Black was doing. “Is that Arithmancy?” I asked.

He glanced over at me, as I craned my neck to see what he was scribbling on, trying not to actually move from the couch. “Err… yeah.” He seemed a little distracted. “Do you… do you need any help?” he asked.

“What? Why would I need help?”

“You look like you’re about to fall over.”

I stopped for a moment to take stock of my body and yes, I was about to fall over. I was teetering on the edge of my seat. I waved my arms around wildly for a moment before righting myself and plopping back into the safety of my couch. Black looked amused. I scowled. “So is that the Arithmancy homework that’s due in tomorrow?” I asked again.

“Yeah. Have you done it yet?”

“No.”

He regarded me for a moment. “Are you going to?”

“Maybe.”

“Right. Have fun with that.” I lay there for a moment more, then sighed and heaved myself off the couch and onto the floor in front of the table where Black was working. I dragged by schoolbag over and shuffled through various loose pieces of parchment until I found one covered in at least one hundred extremely complicated equations. I sighed again and got back to work.

 

After a few moments working in silence I looked up at Sirius. He must have noticed my gaze, because he looked up as well. “What?” he asked. No witty retort? It must be late.

“I had a blanket on me,” I stated.

“Mind saying your thought process out loud, love?”

“When I was on the couch before, I didn’t have a blanket, but when I woke up, there it was. Where did it come from?”

He looked a bit uncomfortable. “Well, um…” then he mumbled something.

“What?”

He took a deep breath, then said, a little louder, “You looked cold, so… I put it on you…” the last part of that sentence was mumbled down to his Arithmancy homework.

I was a little surprised. Since when did Sirius Black give a hippogriff’s behind that I was cold whilst sleeping? “Oh. Um, thank you,” I said, then quickly looked back down at my homework.

 

Sirius let out frustrated sigh. I looked up. We must have been working in silence for at least an hour now. “What’s up?” I asked.

“Have you done question fifty-three?”

I looked down at my parchment. “Uh… yeah. What’s wrong?”

“It’s not working!”

I couldn’t help smiling. “Here, let me have a look.” I pulled his sheet in front of me and had a look. “You forgot to carry the six,” I said. “And you used the wrong Law in line four.”

“The wrong Law?” he was looking at me with something akin to disbelief.

“Well… not the wrong Law actually, just the wrong application,” I corrected.

“Oh. Well, that makes me feel much better,” he said back sarcastically.

I smiled at him, then looked back down at his page. “You did question two wrong as well, by the way. And question thirteen. And question twenty-six.”

He sighed again, got out of his seat and plopped down next to me. “Help.”

 

~*~

 
Sirius' POV:


Her hair smelt like blueberries. Holy Merlin’s boxers, she uses a shampoo that smelt like blueberries. Who even does that? I decided that I liked the smell of blueberries. She had really nice hair. It was the colour of dark chocolate and the reflection of the dying embers of the fire gave it a golden glow. I decided I liked dark chocolate too. And fires. “…In this one, you just forgot to cancel, that’s all, but it’s a really important step, otherwise the numbers get too big and the equation just becomes screwed up,” she lectured. She had a pleasant voice – not too high, not too low – just right. “And in this one… you really stuffed up,” she continued. I felt that some sort of input into the conversation was required at this point. “Hey!” Yeah, real witty, I know.

“No, really. It’s that bad. I can’t even tell what you did wrong – and that’s saying something.” Her hand absently searched for a quill as her eyes remained on the page. She managed to grab one and was about to write on my sheet, when she paused. Her eyes flicked to mine, and for a second there, it was a little difficult to breathe. “Mind if I write on this?” she queried. I shook my head no. The corners of her mouth turned slightly upwards – an almost smile – in acknowledgement. I watched her as she worked on the question. She was left-handed, I noted. Funny, I’d never noticed before, considering that I’d been sitting next to her in Potions for two and a half months now. Her handwriting was terrible – it was an almost illegible scrawl, all over the place. She finished the equation she had been working on, paused for a moment to admire her handiwork, nodded in approval, then continued to scrutinise my work. She stopped every now and again, to make a correction or two, but once or twice had to completely redo a whole question. For some strange reason, it was mesmerising to watch. “You’re really not good at Arithmancy, are you?” she asked whilst correcting yet another equation. It wasn’t a question really – it was bloody obvious that I could barely tell the difference between six and nine, let alone understand the complicated rules of Arithmancy.

“No, I guess not,” I shrugged.

She glanced over at me again. “I’m amazed. There are two things that Sirius Black isn’t good at? Is the world about to end?”

Even though I was quite sure she was having a go at my intelligence, my lips twitched upwards of their own accord. “Not yet.” This girl had the strangest effects on me.

“But you’re amazing in all your other subjects.”

I shrugged again. “It comes with being totally awesome,” I said modestly.

This time, she gave me a proper smile. “Then why’d you take them?”

“What?”

“Why’d you take Potions and Arithmancy if you’re absolutely rubbish at them?”

“Well, I want to become an Auror after leaving school, so I sort of need Potions for that and…”

“You took Arithmancy because you enjoy being wrong sometimes? Keeps you humble, or something?” Millie deadpanned. I was beginning to appreciate her sense of humour. It was quiet; you really had to pay attention – kinda like the rest of her.

“Yeah… I thought something was needed to deflate my head a bit.”

“So you agree you have a big head?” She’d finished with my equations and had started again with hers.

“No one’s perfect,” I said, as I pulled my sheet back towards me. I looked down and saw that it was now covered almost completely in bottle-green scrawl. Would it be weird if I slept with it under my pillow? Probably. I picked up my quill and frowned at the next question. It was even more impossible than the last one. Millie noticed and leaned over to have a look. “But seriously, why’d you take it?” she asked. She really wasn’t going to let this drop.

“It’s stupid,” I mumbled as I watched her begin the equation off for me.

“Stupid?” she repeated. Why wouldn’t she just let it go? And why the hell was I so nervous about telling her?

“Well, back in third year, I had this crush on a Ravenclaw girl, right…”

“Right…” she’d stopped working and was watching me intently.

“So, when I found out that she was taking Arithmancy, I decided I would too, to… you know, impress her with my sheer brilliance. And I thought it would be a breeze like the rest of my subjects.”

She nodded. “And?”

“And, well… it turned out I wasn’t so hot at it as I thought I would be, as you might have noticed.”

“Oh, I had a slight feeling, yes. But why’d you continue with it?”

“Because I don’t back down from a challenge.”

“And Arithmancy was a challenge?”

“It was, and I somehow managed to pass my OWLs with decent enough grades to end up in the NEWTs classes, and then…”

“Instead of being a challenge, it just became challenging?” she finished.

I grinned sheepishly and nodded. “Yeah, something like that.”

Her eyes lit up when she smiled this time. I think my heart stopped for a beat. “Cute, Black.”

“Cute? Cute?” I screeched in mock offence. “Sirius Black is funny and charming and sexy, but in no way shape or form is he cute!”

“Really?”

“Really! It isn’t manly.”

“Don’t worry,” she said, leaning in. Of its own accord, my body leaned in as well, so our foreheads were almost touching. “It’ll be our little secret,” she stage whispered, then unfortunately, leant away and sat up straight, returning her attention back to her homework. I think I sat there for a good thirty seconds in shock. Millie White had leant towards me!

“Well, I’m done, so…” Her voice snapped me out of my surprise. “…I guess I’ll be going off to bed, then.” She shoved her homework back into her bag and got up, almost falling back down on the way. She turned towards the girls’ dormitory, but paused and looked back at me. Or my homework. Great, now Arithmancy homework was more interesting to look at than me. Real smooth Black, real smooth. “You might want to copy that out again,” she said frowning. I had the sudden urge to reach out and smooth away the creases. What in Merlin’s name was wrong with me tonight? First the blueberries, then the glowing hair, now this! And what was with the whole ‘heart-stopping-and-breath-catching’ shenanigan before? Get it together Black, she’s just a girl. A really pretty girl. Not you again, you traitorous little inner voice of reason and truth! “Hmm? What? Yeah… I will,” I said. Way to go, lame-o.

She frowned at it for a moment more, then turned around to leave.

“Hey, White!”

 

Now, seriously (no pun intended), what the hell was wrong with me? Why do I no longer have control over my mouth? She turned around again, and regarded me. “What?” she asked, but it wasn’t unkindly, I was relieved to note.

“Could you… could you…? I don’t know…” She raised an eyebrow at me – just one. Damn, I wish I could do that. “Could you… help me with my Arithmancy… more?” THAT WAS SO LAME! WHERE IS THE COOL, SUAVE SIRIUS?

“What, like tutor you?”

“Um… yeah,” Please don’t take this the wrong way! Please don’t take this the wrong way!

She appeared to think about it for a moment. “Yeah, why not?” she shrugged.

My face split into a huge grin – too huge for the occasion, judging by the bemused expression on Millie’s face. “Really?”

“Really, really.” She smiled at me (again!), then turned around to leave. “Goodnight, Sirius,” she called out as she headed over to the stairs leading up to her dormitory.

“’Night!” I replied, far too cheery for two-o-clock in the morning. I saw Millie shake her head out of the corner of my eye, before going up to bed.

 

I decided that, no, I didn’t like the smell of blueberries – I bloody loved it.

 

~*~






AN: Hai guys! This is just a semi-filler, but hopefully it helps to move Millie and Sirius' rather messed up relationship to new levels of weird! There was a bit of a time jump here, and it does leave the first part of the chapter a little unresolved, but I just wanted to kind of highlight the fact that their whole relationship is rather dysfunctional in that they never really sort out their problems, but just let things sort of get on with it, in a manner of speaking. Lemme know what you think about Sirius' revelation? The box below feels lonely!



Chapter 12: It has to be Soon
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“I hate him!” Lily screeched. “I hate him! Hate him! Hate him! He is just the biggest idiot in the world! Why did I ever agree to go out with him? He is such an arsehole! I hate him!” Cue angry heavy breathing.

“What’s up?” I asked, trying not to groan too loudly as I stretched my aching limbs. James was training us like our bloody lives depended on it.

“Potter!”

“I guessed as much. What did he do?”

“I’m going to bloody kill him!”

“Lils, what did he do?”

“But first, I’m going to torture him until he’ll wish he wasn’t born!”

“Lily! What did he do?” Merlin, the woman had finally lost it!

She glared at me for a moment, but for once, I wasn’t really worried for my safety because I’m quite sure she was using me as a James substitute. However, I will take mild offence at being a boyfriend substitute. “He and Severus were trying to kill each other again,” she said quietly.

I looked at her for a moment. No matter what Lily said, I am quite certain that she’s still in love with Severus, at least a little. “What happened?”

“Well, I was just on patrols and I walked in on them having an argument, or something.”

“What were they arguing about?”

“Oh, who cares? All that matters was that suddenly Potter had his wand at Severus’ throat and Severus looked like he was about to launch himself at Potter and throttle him with his bare hands –” That I would have liked to see. They were the same height, but James had the physique that can only be obtained through years of Quidditch training, and well, Severus was a scrawny little git in comparison. “– and then I decided to do something about it.”

I took a deep breath, steeling myself for the worst. “What did you do?”

“I marched up to them –” Read: stormed up to them.

“– Told them off for being such arrogant swine –” Read: ranted and raved at them for being stupid little shits.

“– And then marched off again.” Read: stormed away from them leaving them in shock or to finish each other off for good or both.

“Lils… was it…” I started cautiously. We didn’t talk much about Severus. It was one of those touchy topics. I knew that we should, and we would, at some point. Soon. I promise.

“Was it what?” she snapped.

“Was it… a good idea to, um, intervene?”

“Was it a good idea? What was I supposed to do? Let them finish each other off?” Uh… yeah? However I didn’t reply immediately. Choosing my words carefully, I said, “Are you sure… this was James’ fault?”

“Oh, of course! You’d take his side in this! Heaven forbid that your precious Quidditch captain be in the wrong!”

I sighed again. It was just so difficult to talk to her when she was angry – especially about James or Severus. And it was sheer hell when it was about both. “Lily…” I started, but I didn’t know what to say. I needed Sarah. She was much better at dealing with all of this. I always just ended up saying the wrong thing. How the hell were we even friends? “Okay. Maybe James was wrong, but why are you getting so worked up over this? I’m sure Severus is planning revenge right now, so there’s no need for you to get all righteously indignant on his behalf.”

Because I thought he’d changed!”

“Who? Severus?” Had he washed his hair or something since I last saw him?

“No! James!” Well, that was a good sign. She couldn’t be that mad at him if she was using his first name again.

“He has changed! For you!” Quidditch captain aside, James Potter was my friend, so I had some obligation to defend his actions, no matter how much I thought the little rivalry thing him and Severus had going on between them was as annoying as hell.

She shook her head. “You weren’t there Millie! He’s still the same cocky idiot he’s always been. And I really thought…” she looked away and down. “Never mind,” she muttered. “I think I’ll go to bed now.” And without another word, she went up to our dormitory. I sighed and pulled over my History of Magic essay.

 

“Hey,” Sirius said quietly as he sat down next to me.

“Hey yourself,” I replied. He smirked.

“Where’s Lily?” he asked.

“Bed,” I mumbled.

He raised his eyebrows at me. “Little Miss Perfect went to bed before midnight with our pile of homework?”

“She’s had a long day,” I said shortly. I wasn’t in the mood to discuss exactly why she had gone to bed.

“Prongs’ being the same.”

I looked over at him. “What happened?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. He’s being really vague about it all.”

“Strange.”

“Yeah.”

We sat there in comfortable silence for a while. It was strange how I would have shrieked in rage at his mere shadow crossing my page a few months ago, but now we felt perfectly comfortable sharing a brooding silence over our best friends’ weird stupidity. We both sighed simultaneously. “I should probably go see if he’s alright,” Sirius said.

“Yeah… it’s probably been long enough for her to pretend that she’s fallen asleep, if she wants to.” We shared a wistful smile with each other and parted ways.

 

I dragged myself onto the couch where Remus, Sarah and Sirius were studying. “Merlin Millie! Who attacked you?” Sarah asked in surprise.

I groaned and shook my head. It had been six days since James and Lily’s sort-of-but-not-really argument. She still hadn’t talked to him. Hell, she was barely acknowledging his presence right now. I wondered how on earth they were performing their Head Boy and Girl duties if they didn’t even talk to each other anymore.

“Where’s Prongs?” Remus asked, noticing that one of his best mates was still missing. Speaking of best mates, where was Peter? That boy rarely left the protection that the formidable team of James-Sirius offered.

“I think he’s drowning himself in the showers still,” I managed to get out. I hurt everywhere.

“Tough training session?” Sarah asked sympathetically.

“He’s killing us!” Merlin, it sounded like I was almost in tears. “I thought our training sessions used to be bad, but compared to this…”

“They were a walk in the park?” Sirius offered.

“Exactly!” Somewhere in the back of my brain, I noted some surprise at agreeing with him on something.

“He’s been miserable all week,” Remus remarked.

“It’s because of Evans,” Sirius said darkly. “She’s been ignoring him all week and it’s breaking his heart.”

“Hey! It’s not completely Lily’s fault!” Sarah cried, on behalf of our friend, but she liked James, and it was really hard to see him so down in the dumps. It was like seeing a sad sunflower. It was just against the Laws of Nature.

“Something has to be done about those two,” I muttered. “I don’t think I’ll survive another one of our training sessions!” I sounded like I was on the verge of tears again.

“Yeah! We need to do something that’ll make them realise that they’re head over heels in love with each other and shouldn’t be doing this to each other!” Sirius said enthusiastically.

Through my pain, I managed to snort. “I really don’t think James has a problem with realising his feelings for Lily.”

“Yeah, you’re right, but Miss Evans on the other hand…” Sirius must be the only seventeen year-old male on the planet who could get away with calling anyone Miss and making it sound okay.

“This hasn’t been easy for her you know!” Sarah was fulfilling her duty as Lily’s best friend, because I was in far too much pain to even bother. All my muscles had cramped painfully and were now going into spasms periodically. I knew a shower would help, but I highly doubted that I would ever be able to get off this couch again.

“Then why in Merlin’s name is she doing it?” Sirius asked. That seemed like a legitimate question to me. It was as clear as day that those two were made for each other, but why was she refusing to acknowledge it?

“Because… I don’t know!” Sarah sighed in frustration. They all looked over at me.

“Don’t look at me! I’m just the best friend! No one actually tells me anything!”

“You girls never shut up! What else do you talk about?” Sirius asked.

“We do have other things in our lives than just boys!”

“Guys, not that this isn’t riveting and all, but can we first sort out one problem before you two can bite each other’s heads off?” Remus asked wearily. Poor bloke, how come it was always him who ended up mediating? Must be a tough job.

We both looked appropriately ashamed. “Sorry,” Sirius muttered. “But what can we do?”

“We have to do something!” I said. We all paused for a moment to see if we could think of anything. I really tried to think about something, but all I could think about was how much my body hurt and how it felt like someone had replaced the marrow in my bones with lead.

“Anything?” Sarah finally asked.

We all shook our heads no. After a moment, Sirius piped up, “We could always just lock them in a broom cupboard and not let them out until they’ve sorted out their differences.”

“Won’t work,” I said. “You tried it last year, and do you remember how that ended?” Both Remus and Sirius winced. James had spent the next two weeks in the Hospital Wing and there was many a rumour flying around the Changing Rooms that his ability to father children may now be grievously diminished.

“Well do you have anything better?” he demanded.

I glared at him. I saw Remus and Sarah exchange a look. We’re allowed to fight – we’re not even going out!

Yeah, we’re dysfunctional, get over it.

“What we need, is something that would make them realise that they were made for each other. That they can’t live without each other,” Sarah tactfully said.

“Yeah, but the question still remains, what?”

“Whatever it is, it has to be soon.” The others nodded in agreement.




AN: GASP! All is not well in paradise (aka James and Lily' relationship)! A little light on Sirius/Millie interaction, but one does need to spend some time writing about the second-cutest couple in the world! So what did you think of it? Let me know in the little grey box below!


Chapter 13: Perfect for each Other
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It’s now been eight days since James and Lily’s sort-of-but-not-really argument. Lily still isn’t talking to him and James looks like he wants to commit suicide. Sirius and I were sitting in Potions at the back of the class, watching our best mates awkwardly working in silence together. And it was bad. “How the bloody hell does she manage it?” Sirius asked.

“Manages what? Completely ignore him yet still work with him?” I asked back.

“Yeah.”

“Not a clue.”

We went back to watching our friends.

“He looks like he’s about to cry,” I commented.

“Yeah.” I gave Sirius a sideways look. You know, he looks kind of adorable when he’s all concerned… wait, no. He does NOT look kind of adorable in any shape or form. “This is even worse than when she just hated him,” he said. “At least she still acknowledged his presence. But now, she’s just…”

“Ignoring him,” I finished.

“Yeah.”

We sat there and watched our friends in some more silence.

“What we need to do, is make Lily realise just how much she needs Prongs,” Sirius said slowly.

“Yes, we established that the other night,” I reply, rolling my eyes. I thought Marauders were supposed to be good at thinking up stuff like this.

“I know, but I mean, make her really realise.”

“We are not going to fake James’ death!”

He looked at me in surprise. “I didn’t even think of that, but you know, that’s not such a bad idea.”

“Do you really want to fake your best friend’s death?”

He seemed to consider it. “I guess not; wouldn’t seem, er, prudent in current times.” Among other things.

“And also, we don’t want to give Lily a heart attack.”

“Yeah, that too,” he mused. “So what do we do?”

“I don’t know.”

We went back to watching James and Lily.

“Um, Millie…” Sirius began.

“What?” I asked, still a little preoccupied with the whole ‘how to make Lily realise that she’s in love with James’ thing.

“Aren’t we supposed to be doing something?”

“Like what?”

“Like, I don’t know, stirring the potion or adding stuff to it, or something?”

“Huh?” I looked around to notice that our cauldron was merrily bubbling away, turning a hideous shade of poo. “Nah. Give it another minute or two,” I said, then went back to my musings.

 

“I’ve got it!” Sirius suddenly cried.

“No, you haven’t,” I replied calmly. “You’re still not getting the answer right.” We were in a secluded corner of the library, with a muffling charm around our table, so the scary librarian wouldn’t kick us out if we made ‘too much noise’. And as Sirius was prone to swearing colourfully and loudly whenever he got an equation wrong (which was quite often), there was actually a very high chance that we would have been banned for life by now.

“No, not the stupid equation!” I scowled at him. It wasn’t the equation’s fault that he couldn’t solve it, it was his! “I’ve got an idea to get Lily and James together again!”

“Okay…” not surprisingly, I was a little apprehensive about any of Sirius’ bright ideas, considering how I’m still entangled in his last hare-brained scheme.

“You know how you said that we can’t fake Prongs’ death before?”

“And that sentiment still hasn’t changed.”

“I know, I know!” he waved his hand impatiently. “But, we can fake him becoming grievously injured, can’t we?”

I looked at him in complete shock for a moment. His pale eyes were dancing with mischief (more so than usual) and his whole face had lit up as a result of his little epiphany.

“That…” I began. His face began falling. “…Might just work,” I finished, and he went back to his original hyper-enthusiasm.

“Great!”

“Yeah… so how were you planning to do this?”

His face fell again. “I hadn’t got that far.”

 

“I have an idea,” I said suddenly. We’d relocated to the Common Room after being kicked out of the library.

“That you can sit the Arithmancy exam for me?” Sirius asked hopefully. The poor bloke was still battling with his Arithmancy homework.

I shot him a look. “You’ll do fine. Anyways, my idea was about James and faking his sickness.”

“I thought we were going to fake-grievously injure him?”

I shook my head. “This is much better. We can give him a fake-terminal illness.” I realised just how strange this conversation must sound to outsiders. It sounded like we were planning some sort of sadistic plot to kill our best friends and that we should be locked up in Azkaban for it.

Sirius looked at me thoughtfully. “Go on,” he said.

“Well, there’s this potion, you see, and it does a damn good job of mimicking the effects of a generic sort of illness that’s going to kill you eventually.”

He nodded that he was following. Encouraged, I went on, “So, we could give this to James and he’ll come down with this terrible illness that threatens his very survival, which will make Lily realise just how hopelessly in love she is and that she can’t live without him, and then they’ll declare their love for each other and then I’ll just quietly slip him the antidote and then they’ll get married and live happily ever after and have a large brood of children who’ll go around crying ‘Uncle Sirius, it’s my turn for a piggy-back ride!’”

Sirius looked at me in silent surprise for a moment. Then he said, “I think I like the sound of Uncle Sirius. We just might be able to pull this off.”

I flashed him a grin and returned to my Charms essay. As I was writing about the adverse effects of Laughing Charms, I tried to valiantly push out any doubts about this very badly thought-out plan, because honestly, it was the best we had. Damn. It should be easier to make two people realise that they were perfect for each other than this.





AN: I know, I know. It was pretty light on Sirius and Millie cuteness, but I thought it would be interesting to see how they'd work together on a problem, putting aside their differences for the time being. But you know, if you didn't like it/loved it/hated it/feel very confused as to your feelings towards it, drop a review anyways! I thrive off feedback!


Chapter 14: Together
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It is now the beginning of Day Ten since Lily and James’ sort-of-but-not-really argument. And let me tell you, it has been hell. I cannot wait until the potion is going to be ready and we can just give James a fake terminal illness. We let Remus, Peter and Sarah in on our brilliant plan, just to make sure they didn’t freak out or anything and start thinking that James was actually going to die.

 

“So who thought of this brilliant plan?” asked Remus. He was not happy with it, but since he couldn’t think of anything better, we’d press-ganged him into just going with it.

“Well…” Sirius began, glancing at me, “It was a kind of a mutual effort really.”

“That’s so romantic!” exclaimed Sarah. Both Sirius’ my heads swivelled in her direction. Hatching a stupid plan to give your friend a faux terminal illness just so his girlfriend will forgive him is romantic?

“No. It wasn’t romantic at all,” I said bluntly.

“Yes, of course not,” she replied, but gave us a knowing look anyways. I looked over at Sirius and was pleased to note that I wasn’t the only one who was completely miffed.

“So exactly when is the potion going to be ready again?” Peter asked.

“It’ll be ready by tonight,” I replied. I was actually very proud of it. It was currently merrily brewing away in the haunted first floor girls’ bathroom. “So one of you three can slip it into James’ morning cup of tea at breakfast tomorrow.”

Remus sighed. “And this is really the best we’ve got?”

Sirius and I nodded. In unison, I noticed. Weird.

“I can think of at least ten things that could go horribly wrong here.”

 

By Day Twelve, James was comfortably holed up in the Hospital Wing and I was perversely pleased to notice that his condition was getting worse by the minute. It had started out as a sniffle, quickly snowballing into a cold, which seemed to only get worse after Madam Pomfrey gave him her famous Pepper-Up Potion. Now, he had a high fever, was delirious and wasn’t eating or drinking anything. Lily had decided to notice only then. We were at lunch when she piped up, “Where’re those four idiots?”

“What?” I asked. I had been thinking about the new sketch I was working on. I worked on it during Potions so funnily enough, it’s ended up looking like our Potions classroom, but I just couldn’t seem to get the shadows right…

“It’s not like them to miss a chance to stuff their faces with food, especially Peter.” That’s a fair point. The bloke eats like he’s been starved for the past ten years.

“Oh,” I shrugged nonchalantly. “They must’ve gone up to see James in the Hospital Wing again.”

“Potter? In the Hospital Wing?” She tried to affect an air of indifference, but she failed terribly. The concern was practically popping out of her eyes.

“Yeah. Didn’t you know? He’s been in there for the past two days now.” I played my part as being the indifferent bearer of bad news.

“What?” Her alarm was so great that she forgot to hide it. “Did his broom finally give way under the weight of his big head or something?” she snorted, once again trying to convince herself that James was the biggest idiot to ever grace the planet.

“No,” I said mildly. “He’s quite ill actually. Madam Pomfrey has no idea what he’s got. And it seems to be getting worse.”

“Worse?” She looked a little pale now.

“Yeah. I’m going to go give him a visit tonight. You want to come as well?” And this is the part where Lily agrees.

“No. I’ve got stuff to do. If Potter decides that he’s going to get himself sick, it means I’ve twice as much that I’ll have to do.” Bollocks.

 

Sirius and I had decided that we’d go visit James after his tutoring session (it didn’t go well). “Is Evans going to come soon?” he asked.

I shrugged. “I have no idea. She seemed pretty shocked when I told her today, but…”

“But what?”

“I don’t know. I really hope she comes soon though. I’m actually not sure how long we can keep James like this.”

“What?” Sirius yelped.

“Keep your voice down!” I said, furtively looking around for Madam Pomfrey. She hadn’t said anything, but I think she was beginning to suspect what was wrong with him.

“I thought you said this was safe!”

“It is! But I’m not sure for how much longer it will be.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, all those symptoms he’s producing, they’re actually because his immune system thinks something is wrong and it’s using all its resources to get rid of it. And since there’s really nothing there to get rid of, but his immune system doesn’t know that, well…”

“It’ll eat him up from the inside,” he whispered, horror dawning on his handsome features. No, wait, they’re just normal features, not handsome ones at all! “Please tell me there’s an antidote!”

I gave him a reproachful look. “Of course there’s an antidote! You didn’t think I’d give him something without having a cure up my sleeve did you?” The expression on his face was a bit sheepish, like he’d thought just that. “I’m carrying it around with me everywhere, so if need be, we can slip it to him nice and fast.” He seemed a little relieved. Before we could continue our worried conversation however, Lily finally decided to pay the love of her life a visit.

 

“So he’s really sick, huh?” she asked.

“Yes,” Sirius said. “Why would he be here otherwise?”

She glared at him. “Usually he ends up in here for being a stupid git,” she snapped. I was amused to note that Lily was aware when and how James ended up in the Hospital Wing. It was cute.

“That’s a fair point,” Sirius agreed. “But this time he’s really sick.”

“What’s wrong with him?” she asked, sitting gracefully into the chair right next to his bed. Merlin, how can she be graceful even at a time like this?

“Oh you know, high fever, delirium, the usual,” I said casually.

She glanced up at me in surprise. “For how long?”

I glanced over at Sirius, as if to ask how long it’s been. “What? At least a day, yeah?” He nodded on cue.

Just then, Madam Pomfrey bustled in holding a goblet in her hand. “What are you three doing here? He needs rest!”

“He’s been resting for the past two days!” I muttered. Sirius heard and grinned.

“Oh,” Lily stood up abruptly, as if realising what she was doing. “Um, okay. We’ll be leaving, then.”

I think dear old Poppy realised exactly who had been sitting next to James, because she said, “Oh, it’s you Miss Evans! You can stay, if you like!” Merlin, you have no idea how much love I have for this woman right now!

“Oh, um, I’m not sure if that’s a good idea…” she began uncertainly.

“Nonsense! He’s been asking for you, when he’s awake, poor boy,” she glanced over fondly at James’ sleeping form. By this stage, I was trying hard not to jump up and down in glee.

“He’s been asking for…me?” Lily asked uncertainly.

“Yes, and he was getting into quite a state about it too. Said he had something important to tell you.”

“Oh. Really?” Lily looked like she was about to cry, with happiness or sadness, I couldn’t quite tell.

“He hasn’t been eating or drinking anything either,” Sirius piped up, making sure that there was no way that Lily was about to leave James’ bedside until he was all better.

“Yeah,” I added. “Maybe if you ask him to, he will.”

She looked uncertain again. “Why would he eat if I asked?”

Before I could cry out, “Because he loves you and would do anything you’d ever ask!” James decided that this was his cue to wake up.

 

He groaned and his eyelids fluttered. Instantly, Lily was by his side, holding his hand. Sirius made to move as well, but I grabbed his hand and gave a slight shake of my head.

“James?” Lily whispered.

“Lily?” he croaked out, his eyes finally opening. They were unfocused for a moment, before clearing and locking onto Lily’s. Merlin, if I wasn’t their friend and wasn’t so happy for them, I would have gagged, the scene was that sappy.

“How are you feeling?” she asked gently.

“Better, now that you’re here.” You had to give the guy credit, he was practically dying and still he manages to hit on her.

She gave him a small smile. “Madam Pomfrey has something that she wants you to drink.”

“But I don’t want to! I have to tell you something!” he cried. Sirius gave my hand a small squeeze and I realised that I hadn’t actually let go of it when I grabbed him earlier. Awkward. I shot him a questioning look and he looked at me meaningfully. In the background, I was dimly aware that Lily was still trying to convince James to drink something and James was vehemently disagreeing, trying to get Lily to listen to what he really needed to say. But that all really didn’t matter right now, because Sirius was holding my hand and his amazing pale eyes were trying to tell me to do something. Dear Morgana, he had beautiful eyes... Giving myself a mental shake, I tried to focus on the situation at hand and not the fact that if I moved in just a bit closed, I could probably smell him…

Sirius was still giving me a meaningful look. Right. I looked at him blankly for a moment, then I understood. I quickly let go of his hand, trying not to make it too obvious that it had been getting increasingly awkward holding it, and turned towards Madam Pomfrey.

“Here, I’ll take that!” I said, snatching the goblet from her hands, barely managing not to slosh it everywhere. I shot Sirius a pleading look, trying to convey the need for Madam Pomfrey to become a little busy so I could slip the antidote into the cup. He immediately understood and turned his considerable charm onto our unsuspecting matron.

“Madam Pomfrey…” he began, but I stopped paying attention, instead using all my concentration to add the antidote to the goblet as discreetly as possible. I fumbled for the little vial in my pocket, managed to unstopper it with one hand (with the handy help of my teeth) and pour all of its contents into the cup without anyone even noticing. I felt like a bloody ninja.

“Here,” I said quietly, handing over the cup to Lily. She took it without ever looking away from James.

“James, you have to drink this! Don’t you want to get better?” she pleaded.

“No,” James mumbled.

“Why not?”

“Because at least while I’m sick, you still like me. If I get better, you’ll go back to hating and ignoring me again!”

“Your best friend is the most lovesick puppy I have ever had the misfortune to meet,” I muttered quietly to Sirius, who had returned to my side once his job was done. Madam Pomfrey still looked a little dazed from the encounter. Poor thing; while never being at the mercy of Sirius Black’s charm, I had of course, heard the stories.

“And your best friend has to be the most oblivious person I’ve ever had the misfortune to meet,” he countered. I looked at him and we shared a grin.

“I don’t hate you,” Lily said quietly.

“Really?” he looked like she had just declared that every day was now Christmas.

“James, please…” she closed her eyes and I could tell she was close to tears. “Just please drink this! I – I don’t know what I’ll do if you don’t get better!”

He regarded her for a moment. “I have to tell you something, Lily.”

“First, drink the potion.”

“No. I have to say it right now.”

“I’m not going to listen until you drink the potion!”

“No!”

“Fine!” They glared at each other for a while. James caved in first.

“Fine, I’ll drink it, but you have to promise me that you’ll listen to what I have to say.”

Lily looked like she was going to cry again, but this time from relief. Merlin, why so much emotion? “Fine, I promise.”

He grinned. Lily helped him sit up a little and brought the goblet to his lips. I was suddenly struck by the sheer cliché-ness of the moment. Once again, I had the strong urge to gag. James took a sip and almost instantly, a little colour returned to his face. Lily made him drink the whole goblet before she let him talk.

“Now, that wasn’t so bad, was it?” she asked, but couldn’t help smiling a little.

He shook his head. “Lily, I –”

“Not right now James, you should rest.”

“But you promised!” he cried petulantly. James could be the biggest baby in the world sometimes.

“James, I –”

“And I think this is our cue to leave,” Sirius whispered into my ear. I nodded and we both headed for the door. The two lovebirds didn’t even notice.

 

“Well done, Millie,” Sirius said quietly as we made our way back to Gryffindor Tower.

“Well, it wasn’t all me,” I said. I could feel the heat rising to my face – I never did well with compliments.

“I definitely couldn’t have brewed the potion.”

“No, and I wouldn’t have let you, otherwise James really would be dead!” Merlin, could that attempt at a joke get any lamer?

He stopped in the middle of the corridor and took my hand. For some reason, my breath caught. What was wrong with me? I don’t even like the guy! “No, really, Mills. You were amazing.” He looked at me earnestly and for the first time, I saw the real Sirius. No cocky façade, no infuriating smirk, just… Sirius. “What you did for those two was amazing.”

I shook my head, partly because I disagreed and partly because it was an excuse to look away from his mesmerising eyes. “What we did was amazing, Sirius.”

He looked at me for a moment then a faint grin pulled his lips upwards. Oh my Merlin, don’t look at his lips Millie! You don’t like him! “Yeah, we did. Together.”

I smiled despite how uncomfortable I suddenly felt. “Yeah, together.”




AN: I made this chapter longer to make up for the really short previous one! So is anyone else wondering how they managed to pull this off without getting James killed? And also, I owe everyone who has been reviewing a very big THANK YOU! All your thoughts mean so much to me!


Chapter 15: Claustrophobia and Confusion
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“I almost preferred them when they weren’t together,” I muttered. James and Lily were currently unashamedly snogging for the whole world (okay, just the Common Room) to see and let me tell you, it was slightly distracting. It wasn’t as if I was into stuff like that, but the constant sounds of face-sucking were more than enough to put me off doing an essay (The goblins precipitated the Goblin Wars, not humans. Discuss) that I really didn’t want to do anyways. Who gives two knuts about a bunch of gold-hungry goblins? I mean, that’s what they’re always after! I looked over to see if any of my other friends were doing anything interesting. Remus was helping a struggling Peter with his Charms homework and Sarah was staring at Remus with as much discretion as a hippogriff in a china shop. Sirius was playing naughts and crosses with himself.

“Aren’t you supposed to be doing your Arithmancy homework?” I sighed.

He grinned at me and the bottom of my stomach just fell out. This seemed to be happening much more frequently in recent times. Soon, I’d start spontaneously combusting every time he’d look at me. “Nope.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

“Why aren’t you doing it?”

“Because I need your help.” As usual.

I rolled my eyes. “Sirius, I know you’re smart. I’m beginning to wonder if you’re just failing the subject just to spend time with me.”

I was fully expecting him to smirk and snort and tell me that it just went to show how much I wanted him. Which I didn’t. Instead, he surprised me by looking a bit sheepish. “You… you aren’t really failing just so I can tutor you, right?” I asked, sounding more than a little scared, even to myself. Merlin, what on earth was I going to do if that was the case? Feel strangely pleased by the fact that Sirius wanted to spend some time with me, apparently.

“Not entirely…”

“Not entirely?” I squeaked. “What do you mean, not entirely?”

“Well, there’s still the fact that I completely suck at the subject and will never get it even if my life depended on it.”

“Really, Sirius, that should be the only reason why I still have to tutor you.”

He looked confused. “Why?” Oh my Merlin, why is he looking so adorable frowning? Why? “Don’t you like spending time with me?”

I thought about it. Yeah… I kind of did enjoy spending time with him. Over the last couple of months, the bloke had really grown on me. He was genuinely funny and could be quite fun to be around actually. But there was no need for him to know that. “Not really.” His frown deepened and my heart melted a little.

“Why not?” he asked.

“We can’t have you thinking that I actually like you,” I said, a grin tugging on my lips beside myself.

He frowned at me for a moment more and then his face broke out into that bloody smirk of his. “So you like me?”

I rolled my eyes and snorted. “Please Black, don’t flatter yourself.”

Suddenly, he leant towards me. What the hell? I did not give Sirius Black permission to invade my personal space whenever he bloody liked! Instantly, I leant away and scowled at him. He had the nerve to smirk at me again. Git. “You do like me.” I raised an eyebrow at him. “At least, a little,” he corrected. I stared at him for a second, realised what I was doing and mentally shook myself. Get a grip Millie! You don’t like the bloke! “Get back to your work Black, and leave me alone to mine.” That was supposed to come out all icy and distant, but instead sounded uncomfortable and like I was avoiding answering him. Imagine what that sounded like to him?

 

“Hey Lils,” I began, “What do you think of Sirius?”

She looked over from her bed and to where I was lying staring at the ceiling, with my sketchbook lying across my stomach. “What do you mean?” she asked.

“I mean, what do you think of him?”

“Well… he’s nice… once you get to know him…” She looked so confused and I suppose that she had a right to – these were the kind of things you asked before you decided to date a guy, not after it.

“Is that it? Is he just nice?” Is that the only reason why I was feeling so strange about him?

“He’s funny too, I guess. And he’s quite intelligent, when he wants to be. Plus, he’s hot. That’s always a happy bonus.” A little disconcerting to hear that considering that she’s dating his best mate.

“Yeah… he is, isn’t he?” I continued staring at the ceiling. There was a water stain in the shape of Elvis. It was quite riveting.

Lily stared at me for a moment more, sighed and then came down to lie down next to me. “What’s up?” she asked.

“Hmm?” How intelligent of me.

“Why are you suddenly asking me about what I think about Sirius?”

“Oh you know, just wanting to get your opinion.”

She raised her eyebrows at me. Unlike me, Lily never learnt the subtle art of raising just one eyebrow – even though she practised for a whole summer she once spent over at my place. “Why do you want to get my opinion now? You’ve been dating the bloke for what? A month?”

“Better late than never, yeah?”

She smiled. “Mills, it sounds as like you’ve just started to like the bloke!”

I almost yelled out that of course I didn’t like him! What was she on? Thankfully, I realised in time that for all intents and purposes, I did like him. Instead, I smiled and rolled my eyes. “Yes, Lily. We’ve being going out for a month and I’ve only just started liking him.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised – he takes some getting used to.”

I shrugged. Feeling the need to change to subject, I asked, “How’s it going with you and James?”

She blushed. “Oh, you know, fine.”

“Is he that good of a snog or do you just do that out of pity?” I teased.

She went even redder. “He… isn’t bad… I bet you and Sirius just can’t get enough of each other!”

“Is that really the best you’ve got?” Awkward because Sirius hasn’t even tried to kiss me even once. I’m sort of disappointed now that I think about it. I’ve always wondered if the rumours about him being a good snog were true. But no way in hell am I actually going to kiss him! Or even think about it! Stop it, brain, dammit!

Lily swatted me, but continued. “So? Are the rumours true?”

“Are what rumours true?” I asked, feigning ignorance. They tell me it’s bliss.

“You know, the ones about him being a good snog.”

“Yeah, I suppose,” I shrugged again. Please let Sirius be a good snog – then it won’t have even been a lie!

“You suppose?”

“Well, I believe you said James was ‘not bad’, so…”

“Okay fine! He’s bloody fantastic!”

“Really?”

“You have no idea.”

I scrunched my nose in disgust. “I don’t really want to.”

 

“Has anyone ever told you that you have beautiful eyes?” Sirius asked. Can you guess where we were right at this moment? No, really, take three guesses. Yeah, that’s right – a bloody broom cupboard. How might we have ended up here? I have two words for you: Sirius Black.

 

So I’d been studying in the library, where usually I wasn’t disturbed. No one ever came looking for me in the library, and if they did, they rarely found me. That was before Sirius Black decided to crash land into my life.

“Millie! I’ve been looking all over for you! What are you doing here?” he asked me breathlessly, after racing over to my secret hiding spot. How did he even do that? I though the little fort I’d built around me with various books was doing quite a splendid job of hiding me.

“What am I doing here? Trying to study, if you must know,” I sighed.

“Well, forget about that, and come with me.”

I became instantly wary. “Why?”

“I need your help.”

“When don’t you need my help these days Black?”

He had the bloody nerve to grin at me. “It’s because we’ve been going out for so long that I can’t imagine doing anything without you by my side!” A quick look around me told me that a few fourth year girls from Hufflepuff were keenly pretending not to listen in our conversation. I suspected that they were part of Sirius’ considerably large fan club – which meant I couldn’t even hit him without the fear of being attacked.

I sighed again. “What do you want from me?” I really wasn’t in the mood to pretend. I had two essays to write and another one hundred equations to do, and Sirius was just wasting my time. Really nothing new there.

He grabbed my hand and pulled me out of my chair and towards the exit behind him. I gave out a squeak of surprise, which he studiously ignored, but said, “Just come with me and you’ll find out.”

As we passed the Hufflepuff girls, I heard them break out into excited whispers. I stifled the third sigh in five minutes. I wonder what new rumours would be flying around tomorrow?

 

“You did what?” I screeched.

“Shh! Keep your voice down!” Sirius said, looking around furtively.

“But Sirius! You just can’t go around doing stuff like that just because they’re in Slytherin!”

He gave me a look that clearly said of ‘of course I can! – I’m Sirius freakin’ Black!’ “And why not?”

“What have they ever done to you?”

He seemed to ponder it for a moment. “Well, it’s not what they’ve done to me personally, but it’s more like their mere existence is a malignant growth on the otherwise wonderful wider school population.”

“Oh, so this stupid prank of yours is completely altruistic is it?” I asked folding my arms across my chest, trying to look as indignant and stern as possible – which can be quite a challenge for me at the best of times. It’s something about my eyes; they’re just not able to convey that kind of authority.

“Of course it is! Now, will you please help me?”

“With what?” I asked beside myself.

He ruffled his hair nervously. “Well… you see, things might have got a bit out of hand…”

I felt uneasy. “Out of hand how?”

“Out of hand as in some innocent bystander may or may not have got caught in the attack and inevitable counterattack.”

Holy Merlin! There’s already been a counterattack? Man, those Slytherins move fast! “Who was it?”

He ran his hand through his hair again and I was momentarily distracted by how sexy his hair looked all ruffled like that, but I quickly shot that particular feeling to hell. He’d just acted like the little git he was! “A little first year boy. I – I don’t know what to do.”

Sirius looked genuinely worried. I wasn’t quite sure if it was for the kid or because he’d be in big trouble if he was caught. “Can’t you fix it?”

He shook his head. “It wasn’t just because of a spell.”

“What else was there?” My sense of unease increased.

“Oh, you know… a weird combination of various spells and potions to achieve the desired effect.”

Oh dear me. I could see where this was going. “You’ll have to take him to Madam Pomfrey then. She’s qualified to actually fix people up.”

His eyes widened in shock. “I can’t do that!”

“Why not?”

“Because I’ll be a dead man if a teacher finds out about this! I’m supposed to be responsible and stuff!”

“Then you should have been more careful!” I snapped. “Because now some poor kid’s ended up hurt because you have some strange sort of prejudice against the colour green!”

At least he had the decency to look ashamed. “Look Mills, I know I screwed up, but I really need your help!” He gave his stupid puppy dog eyes. “Please.”

I couldn’t help it. I melted. “Where is he?” I sighed.

 

“You couldn’t find a better place to hide him?” I asked resignedly. “Was a broom cupboard the best you could do?” And did he really have to go hunt down the smallest broom cupboard in all of Hogwarts? One child, two teenagers and various cleaning products was making things a little more than cosy. Thank Merlin the door was still open.

“Mills, we have to close the door! What if someone comes and sees us?” Sirius said, looking around furtively.

“Then keep lookout,” I snapped, turning around to have a look at the little boy in front of me.

And wasn’t he a sight to behold. His face was covered in horrid-looking boils. I think a few were about ready to pop and squirt disgusting pus over the entire world. However I bit down on my revulsion and focused beyond the boils. The poor kid looked like he was in severe pain. I was going to kill Black after this.

“Hey,” I said quietly, kneeling in front of the kid. “What’s your name?”

“Billy Higgins,” he managed to gasp out from behind all those boils.

“On a scale of one to Chinese burn, how much does it hurt?”

“Eleven.”

“Right. Well, I think I’ve got something to help with the boils…” I rummaged around in my bag, looking for the bottle of Cure for Boils which I casually carried around. You never knew when you were going to need stuff like this. Finding it, I unstoppered it and handed it over to Billy. “Fair warning, it tastes like cat piss, but it does work,” I shrugged.

He looked at the tiny vial with some trepidation, shrugged and downed it in one gulp. I was dead impressed. He barely gagged as all his taste buds committed mass suicide.

“Hey! I think it’s working!” he cried. And it was working. The boils already looked less like bombs that exploded on impact and more like boils.

“Of course it is,” I smiled and ruffled his hair. “Now get out of here before you get caught after curfew.”

He gave me a grateful smile and scampered on his merry way to the safety of his Common Room.

I congratulated myself with a job well done, but unfortunately, it was forcefully cut short by none other than the biggest git on Planet Earth: Sirius Black.

 

“What the hell, Black?” I shrieked as I was pushed deeper into the world of magical cleaning products that was this broom cupboard.

“Shh!” he whispered, looking as if he’d just seen a horde of stampeding rhinoceroses charging down the corridor. “They’ll hear you!” he closed the door behind him and spelled it locked.

Instantly, it felt like there wasn’t enough oxygen in here to last the next five seconds. “Wh – who’ll hear me?” I managed to gasp out through my hyperventilation.

“The Slytherins of course – hey! Are you okay?” Sirius asked, surprise and concern evident in equal parts on his handsome face. But even Sirius’ good looks couldn’t keep me from noticing that the walls were suddenly closing in. And was Sirius now closer to me than before? Holy shit – was I going to be crushed to death or would I suffocate? My knees gave way and I sank to the floor with about as much grace as an elephant in a pink tutu.

“Millie?” Sirius asked uncertainly.

All I managed to do was hyperventilate some more in response. I really shouldn’t be doing that. It’ll only use up the oxygen faster.

“Hey.” His voice sounded closer (I’d closed my eyes in the hopes that if I couldn’t see the walls coming closer, maybe my brain would start believing it), a lot closer. Like, right in front of my face closer.

“Hey,” he said again. I felt his cool hands wrap around my sweaty ones. He squeezed them once, gently. “What’s wrong?”

I didn’t reply instantly. I was trying incredibly hard not to have a mental breakdown in front of Sirius freaking Black. I took a deep breath and opened my eyes. The little light that seeped in through the crack under the door made it look like his eyes were glowing. And for some strange reason, gazing into his incredible grey eyes made me feel a little calmer.

“What’s wrong Millie?” he asked again quietly, not breaking his gaze from mine.

“The walls,” I whispered.

“What about the walls?”

“Are…” he nodded encouragingly. “Are they closing in?” A distant part of my brain noted how stupid this sounded. Another part of my brain was completely mortified by the idea that I’d just asked this question of none other than Sirius Black. Yeah, that’s right, the guy I was pretending to date and hoping was a good snog because I was too chicken to find out.

His eyes flicked around us for a moment. The loss of his gaze caused another wave of panic to course through me. Holy Merlin – what was wrong with me? Here I was, locked in a broom cupboard with a guy I was having weird feelings about, and instead of snogging him senseless to figure out exactly what was going on between us, I was having a minor panic attack!

Sirius must have noticed that I was losing it again, because his eyes instantly found mine again and he gave my (shaking) hands another squeeze.

“Mills, the walls haven’t moved,” he said slowly and clearly. “Everything will be okay. Just a few more minutes and we’ll –”

“A few more minutes!” I gasped. Merlin, I was going to die in here!

Sirius’ eyes widened in surprise. I felt a little sorry for him. I bet the poor bloke wouldn’t have dreamed of having to console a hysterical girl in a broom cupboard when he woke up this morning. Come to think of it, who would? Pretty strange dream to have, really.

Apparently at a loss of words, Sirius said the first thing that must have popped into his thick head: “Has anyone ever told you have beautiful eyes?”

 

“Black, are you seriously hitting on me at a time like this?” I asked, incredulity breaking through the terror.

“Sorry,” he said sheepishly. “First thing that popped into my head. Thought it might help you take your mind off, um, things.”

“Yes, having Sirius Black tell me I have beautiful eyes is really helping with the claustrophobia.”

He grinned. “Clearly, it is.”

I scowled. “It is not! There still isn’t enough oxygen in here for the both of us!”

“Yeah, but at least your terror levels have subsided to a level where they allow you to be sarcastic once again.”

I scowled at him some more and he grinned at me some more. “You’re such an idiot, Black.”

He pretended to be affronted. “And idiot? Me?”

“Yeah you.”

“Excuse me, but I’m not the one who’s flipping out over being locked in a broom cupboard!”

“I wouldn’t be locked in a broom cupboard if it wasn’t for you!”

“Well…” however, he seemed to be at a loss for words. Ha! Take that, Sirius Black!

I smirked at him in triumph.

“Sheesh. No need to get so cocky about it,” he grumbled.

I raised an eyebrow at him.

“Oh, alright. I’d probably be doing the same, but still. It’s the principle of it!”

“Black, you’re such a sore loser.”

“I know,” he said miserably. “Apparently it’s because I don’t lose nearly often enough to keep my head a bit deflated.”

Even though I was locked in a broom cupboard and the walls were still closing in, I smiled. You had to hand it to the guy, he was pretty good in a tight spot.

Sirius looked at me and smiled as well. We smiled at each other like complete dopes for a moment or two before I finally snapped out of it and asked, “Do you think the coast is clear?”

“Huh?” his eyes snapped into focus again.

“Do you reckon that the Slytherins would be gone by now?”

“Um… they should be.”

“So…”

“So what?”

“Can we leave now?”

“Oh, right! Of course!” He stood up abruptly, letting go of my hands. I hadn’t even realised he’d been holding them all this time. I clambered my way to my feet and as soon as Sirius had lifted the spell, I bolted straight out of there and into the relatively fresh air of the corridor outside.

 

“You know, I wasn’t lying about your eyes.” Sirius had insisted on walking me back to the library, even though I’d told him to get lost. I was still a little mad at him for hurting the poor kid and then locking me up in a broom cupboard with him.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“About them being beautiful.”

I stopped dead in the middle of the corridor and stared at his retreating back for a moment or two. He must have realised that I wasn’t there anymore because he turned around looking for where I’d got to and noticed me standing there. He seemed amused at the look on my face, and really I couldn’t blame him because I was doing an excellent impersonation of a drowning fish in shock. I felt like a drowning fish in shock.

“What? Never received a compliment before, White?” he teased.

“Yeah, but – I – just –” I spluttered for a bit, trying to make sense of it all. Maybe there was a lack of oxygen in that cupboard and I was finally feeling the effects. Delayed onset or something. That’s a thing, right?

“You can just say thank you,” he grinned, his eyes dancing with mischief.

“I – thank you,” I managed to get out. And thank Merlin, I stopped acting like a fish as well and started walking again. We continued our trek in silence for a while, when Sirius spoke again quietly, “They’re like firewhiskey or honey or something.”

“What are?” I had been miles away, thinking about how to get the shading right on my new drawing. Bloody lack of light in the dungeons!

“Your eyes.”

“Oh.” Are we still going on about that?

“And they’re so… dreamy,” he went on. I wondered if he even realised that I was still there.

“Right.”

He turned around to look at me and gave me a faint grin. I wondered what the house elves put in our food because there were suddenly fireworks going off in my stomach. Since when were Filibuster’s Fireworks edible?

“They make people wonder what you’re thinking about,” he continued.

I decided that my shocked drowning fish had been sorely missed and brought it out again for an encore performance. “No one wonders what I think about Sirius. I’m the invisible girl, remember?”

He regarded me for a moment and I began losing myself in those pools of grey. What was wrong with me? Why was I suddenly waxing almost lyrical poetry? This guy was not good for my health, that’s why. Thank goodness he blinked, but then he had to go and say something that completely threw me off. “You’re not invisible to everyone.” And then he was gone, leaving me standing outside the library entrance even more confused than before.




AN: GASP! A broom closet scene? And you thought that this story could not become any more cliche - but then it does! Cheesiness, corny-ness, cliche-ness and other such words beginning with C, aside, what did you think of it? And all of you people hanging out for a certain Black brother's appearance - I promise you, it is coming up very soon!


Chapter 16: Recognising Forks
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Lily's POV:

“Millie, do you remember what this is?” I asked, waving a fork in front of my best friend’s vacant eyes.

Her eyes came into focus a little and she stared at the piece of silver that was dangling in front of her. “A fork?” she answered, shooting me a puzzled glance. Bear with me for a sec, this is going somewhere, I promise.

“And do you know what a fork is used for?”

“Um… eating?”

“Exactly!” I said, beaming at her. “Well done Millie! Now, can you tell me why you’re not eating?” I asked, my tone losing all its sugary sweetness.

“Oh.” She glanced down at her plate, seeming to notice for the first time that there was actual food on it. “I’m not hungry,” she said after a moment spent frowning at her food. At least, I assumed she was frowning at her food, because that was the general direction she was looking in, but because of those bloody dreamer eyes, you never really could tell exactly what Millie was looking at.

“Why aren’t you hungry?” I asked. She’d been eating even less than usual.

She shrugged. “I’m just… not, you know?”

Sarah decided to notice the world that didn’t just consist of her dinner and looked up, mashed potato in mouth. “Issh shomefing whong?” Sarah asked around her full mouth. Classy, Sarah, classy.

Millie considered the question. “No…” she finally said.

“Then eat! The potatoes are delicious!” Sarah cried, stabbing her fork viciously into her potatoes for emphasis.

Millie gave a faint smile. “Nah, maybe later. I’ll just, um, I’ll just be in the library, uh, studying. I’ll see you later.” She abruptly stood up and swung her bag over her shoulder, almost knocking out a little first year and tripped away from the table, towards the door.

 

I sighed and turned back to my own food. I frowned as I chewed through my steak. There is no better food to ponderously chew through than steak. “Hey Sarah, does Millie seem… a little different to you these days?” I asked.

Sarah turned her attention away from Remus who was sitting diagonally opposite her, seemingly oblivious to her attention as him and James were in an intense discussion about Quidditch plays or something equally as riveting (not). “What do you mean?” she asked.

“She seems… spacey.”

“Lils, Millie always seems spacey.”

“I mean spacier than usual.”

Sarah thought about it then shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe it’s just a thing.”

“You don’t think she’s pregnant do you?”

“What?” screeched Sirius. Apparently he’d been listening in.

“She’d be eating more wouldn’t she?” Sarah said, completely ignoring Sirius.

“Wait, wait, wait! Exactly how would Millie be pregnant?” asked Sirius.

“I don’t know! Why don’t you tell me?” I asked, shooting him an accusatory glare. The nerve of the prat to go and get my best friend knocked up!

“I assure you, dear Lily, no matter whatever else Millie is, she is not pregnant!”

“Good!”

“Good!” We glared at each other for a minute or two.

“Um, what’s going on?” James asked. He’d finally noticed that something that didn’t concern Quidditch was going on around him.

“Nothing,” Sirius and I both said at the same time, giving each other a final glare.

“Doesn’t look like nothing.”

I sighed. “Millie’s been acting weird lately, that’s all.”

James instantly turned towards his best mate. “Padfoot, what did you do?” he asked.

“It wasn’t me!” Sirius cried, throwing his hands up in the air in defence. “And why is it my fault?”

“Because it’s always your fault,” said Remus tiredly.

“You better not be doing anything! We’re up against Ravenclaw next and I need my Seeker in top form!” James cried.

“That match isn’t until next term,” said Sirius, unable to keep the incredulity out of his voice.

“Potter, first of all, she isn’t your Seeker –” I started.

“That’s what I’ve been telling him,” Sirius muttered.

Ignoring him, I continued, “And secondly, there is more to Millie than being the Seeker on the Gryffindor Quidditch team!” Stupid Quidditch and stupid Quidditch captains! They were going to kill my best friend!

“You’re not training them for war still, are you?” asked Sarah.

“I was never training them for war! Quidditch is a demanding sport and it requires players who are in peak physical form –” James began heatedly.

“Are you still training them that hard?” Sarah asked again.

“No. Not since they almost committed mutiny on me,” he muttered the last part.

“Serves you right,” I said. “But back to the issue at hand. Something’s wrong.”

“Here’s a new idea,” Sirius began, and I could tell by his tone that this wasn’t going to go anywhere helpful. “Have you considered just asking her?”

Sarah and I glanced each other and burst out laughing.

“What’s so funny?” Sirius asked, looking bemused.

“Have you ever asked Millie anything, ever?” I asked, once I’d gained control of myself again.

“Yeah, heaps of times –”

Sarah shook her head. “No, not stuff like that. Have you ever asked her about her feelings?”

Sirius threw a look over towards his friends but they’d conveniently busied themselves with dessert. Looks like you’re on your own pal. “I’m a bloke, Sarah. Blokes don’t ask about feelings.” He shuddered at feelings.

“You may be a bloke, but you are also a boyfriend, and it’s part of your job description to make sure that your girlfriend is happy, or at the least, notice when she’s not and be there for her!” Sarah dictated.

Sirius looked like he’d just realised what he’d signed up for.

“Honestly, how have you two even lasted as long as you have without talking to each other?” I asked.

“We talk!” Sirius said heatedly.

“Yeah? About what?”

“Um… you know, stuff…” Sirius trailed off.

I shook my head. “You’re beyond help, my friend, beyond help.”

 

~*~

 

Sirius' POV:


Exactly what do we talk about again? Oh yeah, that’s right! We talk about Arithmancy and how I’m such a total loser at it… and we talk about Potions and how I’m such a total loser at it… and we kind of talk about everything that involves me being a total loser is some shape or form, come to think of it. And it’s more as if Millie berates me for being such a total loser and I shoot witty remarks back at her.

 

Our conversations are riveting. Really. They are.

 

It was after curfew and Millie still wasn’t in the Common Room. Normally, I wouldn’t care less where or what she was doing, but my little, ahem, chat with darling Evans was still bugging me. My Charms homework forgotten in front of me, I switched between staring broodingly at the portrait hole and into the fire. Neither was telling me where Millie was. She couldn’t still be in the library – Madam Pince kicked everyone out ten minutes before curfew. Actually, she could still be in the library and even the Pincer could miss her. I’d noticed that Millie was very good at hiding, especially in the library.

“Mate, just get the Map and find her already,” Moony sighed, after I scrunched up the third piece of parchment and threw it into the fire to watch it burn. I felt it added quite nicely to my brooding untouchable image.

“Who says this has got anything to do with her?” I asked defensively. It was not cool when Sirius Black was caught brooding over his girlfriend – especially his pseudo-girlfriend.

“Because I’m not an idiot.” Touché, Lupin, touché.

It was my turn to sigh. I really shouldn’t care this much. Really, I shouldn’t.

 

Glancing swiftly at the Map to see if the coast was clear, I made a beeline for the door to the Great Hall. I’d spotted Millie on the Map somewhere in the grounds. What on earth was she doing out there? It was a cold and dark November night and here she was, sulking around the grounds! I traipsed around, frowning at the Map under the feeble light from my wand. It seemed as if she was in the boathouse… strange choice. However, if I thought about it, it wasn’t so strange. No one would ever think to look in the boathouse for anything… except you know, boats. But who goes looking for boats anyways? Especially in the freezing autumn weather, where you’d rather be curled up in a comfortable armchair in front of the fire in the Common Room… thinking up new and inventive ways to prank the student population with your best mates and NOT about how much you wanted to snog your quasi-girlfriend when you were both locked in there, because really, that’s what broom cupboards are for.

And yes, I realise that she might have been on the verge of a panic attack.

The snogging would have distracted her, I swear. I’m a great kisser.

Word.

 

She didn’t notice when I walked in to the relative warmth of the interior of the boathouse. She was situated in a far corner, legs crossed, back against the wall, wand lying beside her, shedding a little pool of light, with some sort of book in her lap. From where I stood watching, it seemed as if she was scribbling something… literally. Was she… drawing?

I sauntered up to her and plonked myself down next to her. Finally, Millie decided to notice, and notice she did, quite violently actually. She must have jumped a full foot in the air, her hand jerking across the paper and a yelp escaping her lips.

“What the hell, Black?” she squeaked, after her initial shock had worn off. I wasn’t too worried – it hadn’t been that big of a scare – she still managed to sound pissed off at my appearance. As usual. I wondered whether she would still be annoyed at my presence if I had kissed her in the broom cupboard… hmm, this theory might be worth testing.

“Millie, I didn’t know you drew,” I frowned, choosing to ignore her question.

“There are quite a few things you don’t know about me,” she said, returning to her sketch. Strangely, her voice didn’t hold any sort of bitterness at the fact, but it still made me feel uncomfortable. Whether she gave a damn or not, the point was that she was still right.

“What are you drawing?”

She sighed. “You’re not going to leave me alone until I tell you, are you?”

Even though she wasn’t looking at me, I grinned at her. “Nope.”

“That’s a very annoying habit of yours, you know that?”

“What, being stubborn?”

“No. Knowing when to stop but not giving a hippogriff’s behind anyways.”

I grinned at her again. Maybe she’ll think I’m debonair or something. She shook her head (clearly, the debonair thing didn’t work out), resignedly saying, “It’s a sketch I’ve been working on for a while now.”

“Of what?” I was genuinely curious to know. What captured Millie White’s attention so?

“Our Potions classroom, funnily enough.”

“That’s a strange thing to draw.” And that was a very insensitive thing to say, oh King of Cool.

She shrugged. “I was bored one day in class and there didn’t seem to be anything better to draw…” She shrugged again and continued with her drawing.

I was silent for a moment. For how long had she been sitting next to me scribbling away and I had never noticed?

“It’s not a big deal if you didn’t notice, Sirius,” she said.

How did she know I was thinking that?

“You’re easier to figure out sometimes than you would have people believe.” Her voice was teasing, but she shot me a small smile to soften the blow a little.

“I am?” I asked, completely thrown off by this new turn in the conversation. Or it might possibly be the faint smell of blueberries wafting in the air, but I couldn’t be sure.

Her smile widened a little. “You are. Sometimes.”

I regarded her for a moment. She held my gaze, but her attention wouldn’t remain for too long on me, inevitably returning to what I assumed was her sketch book. “Or maybe you’re more perceptive than you let on,” I murmured. Her hair chose that moment to slip from behind her ear to swing in front of her face like a curtain, but not before I caught her fleeting smile, and a stronger scent of blueberries. Merlin, how I loved blueberries.

 

We sat there not talking for some time, the silence broken only by the sound of the lake water gently lapping against the walls, the scratch of Millie’s pencil on paper and night time outdoors sounds, far away.

“I can see why you come here,” I finally said, my voice sounding unnaturally loud in the peace of the night, even though I spoke quietly. “I mean, no one thinks to check outside the castle for wandering students and it’s protected from the elements…”

“And it’s usually very peaceful too,” Millie added without looking up from her sketch. She was really into it.

It took me a moment to realise she was poking fun at me. “Hey!”

“Get back to the castle Sirius. I think the lack of sleep is making you slower than usual.”

I let out a laugh. “I can’t. I have to make sure my girlfriend doesn’t freeze to death!”

I thought my voice was joking enough, but instead of getting another smile (yeah I know, I wish) or even a snarky reply, Millie sighed and asked quietly, “How much longer do I have to do this?”

 

I was surprised into silence, but I recovered quickly and asked, “Do what?”

“You know.” She waved her hand vaguely. “This. You. Me. Us.”

“Why? Did something happen?” Had another guy caught Millie’s attention? And why was I feeling so weird about it, if he had?

“No… nothing happened. It’s just… I’m tired of pretending.” She sighed again, but her eyes remained steadfastly locked on the sketch book. “This might be normal for you, but for me…”

“I know,” I said quietly.

Her head swivelled towards me and she looked me in the eye. “Do you really?” she asked, her eyes searching mine. Her amazing, dreamy, firewhiskey eyes…

“Millie,” I began gently. “I don’t know if we can anymore.”

“What do you mean?” I watched as confusion subtly changed her features. She was looking quite cute…

“Well, people, most importantly our friends seem very comfortable with the idea of us being together.”

“So? What does it matter to people, even our friends, what happens between us?” I saw a spark of stubbornness light up in her eyes, something that I hadn’t seen before. The girl had some fighting spirit in her, which is always nice.

“It would make things a bit awkward, wouldn’t it?”

“Would it?”

I was about to answer that of course it did! We’d been together for a month now (which was a considerable amount of time for me), but then I stopped.

Millie gave me a sad smile. “It shouldn’t be awkward between us. Nothing happened!”

“Did you want it to?” I asked. The question just sort of slipped out, but now that it had, I was glad that I’d asked it.

“It’s a bit too late to ask what I wanted, Sirius, but for what it’s worth, then no, I didn’t.”

That’s strange. I was disappointed to hear that she didn’t like me. “So… you don’t like me?” Way to go sound insecure Black!

“No, I do like you… sort of… sometimes, but let’s face it Sirius, you’re not exactly boyfriend material, and you know it.”

“I am too!” Finally, a normal emotion! Outrage! “At least, I could be.”

“Yeah, maybe, eventually, for the right person, but…”

“You and me?”

“I cannot believe you could even entertain such an idea for a moment.”

“No…”

“Exactly.” She sounded almost… happy at the idea that we’d cleared that up. Why wasn’t she heartbroken, or at the least, a little upset at the idea that we’d never work out? Unless…

“Hey! Are you saying that I’m not good enough for you?” I asked heatedly.

She seemed unperturbed. “I’m not saying that at all. I’m saying you’re not my type… and I’m not yours. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

Wasn’t there?

“So. Can we end this? It’s becoming more unbelievable by the day.”

“But I kind of like having you around,” I murmured. What? I did? Since when?

“I’m sure you’d get used to it.” She grinned. “Eventually.”

“Next Hogsmeade weekend.”

“What?”

“After the next Hogsmeade weekend. We can call it quits after the next Hogsmeade weekend.”

“But that’s not until next month! Why wait so long?”

Because it gives me a whole month to convince you that we could work! “Because it’ll seem a little more believable if we come back from a date or whatever mad at each other.”

“It’ll still be believable if we get mad at each other tomorrow and break up the next day. It’s not that big of a deal.”

“I know, but I want to do this properly.”

“You want to break up with me properly?”

No, I want to take you on a real date so I can prove to you that we are believable. And trust me when I say this, that there is no other reason why I want this to continue. The only reason. Not because I like you or anything. No. No way. You’re not my type. And I’m not yours. Instead of saying all of this to her, I said, “Yeah. Let’s go out with a bang, shall we?”

She looked at me for a moment; a ghost of a smile pulled at her lips. “Why not?”

 

“So tell me what are you actually doing down here?” I asked after some more time spent in companionable silence. Operation prove-I’m-great-boyfriend-material is online. And I’m never watching another James Bond film again. Ever.

She looked at me in surprise. “I’m drawing. What does it look like I’m doing?”

“You could have drawn in the Common Room – there’s better lighting there. It looks like you’re hiding, but the question is, from what?”

She closed her sketch book with a snap. Had I pissed her off? That wasn’t a good start. Good boyfriends didn’t make their girlfriends unhappy. Or if they did, they tried to fix it. Or something. She didn’t say anything for a moment. “It’s nothing,” she finally said.

“It has to be something. Otherwise you would have stayed in the castle. It’s warmer.”

“Really, it’s nothing.”

“Yes, it is.”

“No, it’s not.”

“Yes, it is.”

“No, it’s not!”

“Yes –”

“Drop it, Sirius!”

I was once again shocked into silence. There was that fighter spirit again, burning brighter in her eyes. “So it must be something big, then?”

She let out a frustrated sigh. “Sirius, do you not understand the meaning of the word, no?”

“I understand the meaning of the word no very well – that’s why I don’t stop pestering.”

“Well, at least you’re bright enough to realise you pester. Realising you have a problem is half the battle won. Or something like that.”

“What’s wrong?” I asked quietly, trying to sound as sincere as possible. Maybe it was time for a new kind of attack.

She sighed again (she seemed to be doing a lot of that) and scowled at me. I was amused that she thought she could intimidate me into stop bothering her. It was quite hard to take any sort of threat seriously from Millie.

“You know I won’t stop asking until you tell me.” Did that sound a little smug? Meh, what the hell?

“You’re such an idiot.”

“No, that’s not it. As annoying as you may find my presence, I’m quite certain that it wouldn’t cause you to spend a night in the freezing cold in a boathouse.”

Her scowl deepened. Merlin, didn’t she look just adorable when she was mad? A distant part of my brain wondered if this was the best way to go about things. Shut up distant part of my brain – no one cares what you think. “You won’t understand.”

“Try me.”

Another searching look. Who knew that such dreamy eyes could look at you with such an intensity? But I held my ground. “I miss my dad,” she said quietly.

 

She was right. I was way out of my depth here. I couldn’t handle grief! Hell, I couldn’t handle any sort of emotion! I still giggled when someone said bum and found fart jokes incredibly funny! I’m a bloke for Merlin’s sake! Abandon ship! My brain screamed at me. However, as usual, I ignored the sage advice of my brain and ploughed on. “Um…” Well done, Black. Now she’ll really respect you for your eloquence.

“I told you that you wouldn’t get it.” Once again, she surprised me by not sounding bitter about it. Did this girl not feel emotion the way most people do? Clearly, said the distant part of my brain again. It turned out to be my stupid voice of reason. No wonder it was so distant. “No one does,” she added, so quietly that I almost didn’t hear what she said.

“You’re right. I don’t understand, and I can’t empathise, but I can sympathise.”

“I don’t want your pity.” Now is not the time to be prideful, woman!

“And I’m not giving it. Sympathy’s different.”

“Then what are you trying to do?” she asked suddenly.

“What do you mean?” I was taken aback. Again.

“Why the sudden interest in my emotional wellbeing?”

“Because I care.” That surprised her. Don’t worry, Mills, it surprised me too. “We all do. And I want you to know that we’re there for you, whether you like it or not.”

She just looked at me in silence. After what seemed like an age, she finally smiled and said, “I choose stubborn people for friends, don’t I?”

I grinned. “The stubbornest. Now come on. Let’s see if we can sneak into the castle without getting caught, shall we?”




AN: YAY! Relationship progress FTW! And also some much awaited Sirius POV and a new POV as well. What did you think of Lily? What did you think of Sirius' revelations? What did you think of it in general? What do you think about anything at all really? Can't wait to hear what y'all think!


Chapter 17: SNOW! SNOW! SNOW!
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Sirius was acting strange. I mean stranger than usual. That boy was weird on his good days. Recently however, he seemed even more out of whack. What was he doing that was so completely and unbelievably Sirius? Where do I begin? Well, let’s see… first of all, he was being nice. It was creepy. And sort of suited him. And he was all into asking me how I felt about things all of sudden. He’d never given a damn before, why suddenly start now? Not that I was complaining much about that. It seemed to be a positive change, for once. He stared at me too. Like, a lot. A lot as in every time I happened to glance in his direction (which wasn’t that often, mind you) I invariably caught him looking back. And he never looked away. It as if he wanted me to know that he was watching me! It was downright creepy! Those stormy grey eyes were always so intense… and really, I have not spent a single daydream wondering about those eyes… not even one. I swear.

 

And there was one more thing. I wasn’t sure if this was just me though. For all his weirdness, he seemed to be a lot wittier… and more charming… and more handsome… and I am not fantasising about Sirius Black!

 

No, really. I’m not.

 

Am I?

 

“SNOW! SNOW! SNOW!” Sirius yelled excitedly, doing some sort of victory dance around the Common Room. It was the first Saturday of December and by the sounds of it, there had been a massive snow storm last night, leaving Hogwarts transformed into a winter wonderland.

“Millie, please shut your boyfriend up!” cried Lily, as I stumbled down the stairs to see what all the fuss was about. She was curled up on a sofa, her hands over her ears.

“Ask your boyfriend,” I growled. I was not happy about being woken up before eight-o-clock on a Saturday morning. “It’s his best mate who’s gone bonkers.” I plonked myself down next to Lily and scowled at my boyfriend.

“No can do, Millie dear,” James said. He didn’t seem disturbed in the least by the god-awful racket Sirius was making. Maybe he’d grown used to it over the ears. Or maybe he’d gone deaf because of it. “There is very little that can shut him up right now.”

“He’s right,” Remus said, sounding as miserable as I felt by this news. He collapsed down next to me. Sarah, who was sitting opposite us, next to James, smiled shyly at him. “Nothing short of killing him would shut him up right now.”

“That can be arranged,” Lily growled.

“SNOW! SNOW! SNOW!” Sirius continued to crow. More people had gathered to see what was going on. Most, after realising it was just Sirius being an idiot, went back to bed, charming their dormitory doors, so the sound was muffled.

“Where’s Peter?” I asked, looking around. He seemed to be the only one who was missing from what had become our group.

“Still sleeping,” James said.

“How can he sleep through that?” I asked, indicating a still victory-dancing Sirius.

James shrugged. “The bloke has a God-given gift to be able to sleep through anything.” Lucky little git.

“SNOW! SNOW! SNOW!” Dear Merlin! Was there nothing that would shut this guy up?

“Oi! Black!” I yelled across the room. “Shut up!”

“SNOW! SNOW! SNOW!” Bloody hell!

I aimed a cushion at Sirius’ head. And didn’t miss. It concked him on the back of his noggin hard enough to surprise him into silence.

He whirled around and narrowed his eyes at me. I raised an eyebrow at him. “You’re going to pay for that, White,” he said menacingly. He picked up the cushion I threw at him and chucked it at my head, but his aim wasn’t as good as he thought it was, because he missed me and hit Lily instead.

Everyone went dead quiet. Sirius looked visibly scared. And with good reason. It was one thing to throw a cushion at Lily. It was a completely different thing to throw a cushion at Lily when she’d been rudely awakened by a half-crazed adolescent male on a cold Saturday morning.

“You. Are. So. Dead!” she screamed. The rest of us exchanged looks. This could take a while.

 

After Lily had finished completely annihilating Sirius – or at least to the point where he was practically in tears begging for mercy (I wasn’t sure if they were tears of fear or laughter, considering that once she’d attacked him with all the cushions in the Common Room, she’d started to tickle him), we headed down to breakfast. Once everyone had eaten (Sirius decided that the best way to get back into Lily’s good books was to start berating me for not eating a proper breakfast), Sirius suddenly cried, “Snowball fight!”

 

Now, as pretty as snow was, it was definitely prettier from afar. Preferably when there was a thick pane of glass between me and the powdery stuff, with a roaring fire warming my face. It was not nice when my pretend-boyfriend physically picked me up, slung me over his shoulder like he did this every day and hauled my arse outside. Pretty obvious that he ignored my shrieks of protest, right?

 

“Black you put me down right now or I’ll make sure you’ll never be able to have children!” I yelled in his ear.

“Calm your farm White! It’s just a little snow!”

“It is not a little snow! It’s bloody frozen water! And do you know what frozen water is? It’s freezing! And I do not like freezing!

He seemed unaffected. Note to self: must work on being scary and intimidating.

“Black, I’m warning you –” I never got to finish my threat (good thing too, it wasn’t that great) because at that precise moment I was unceremoniously dumped into the snow. I lay there for a split second before the cold started to creep up, before shrieking and jumping up, dusting off as much of the blasted stuff as I could from my (now wet) coat. Sirius just stood there and laughed at me.

“Merlin Millie, I didn’t know you were such a sook!” he said, between guffaws. He was not witty or charming or handsome anymore! Okay, he was still looking damn fine with his hair all ruffled and falling gracefully into his eyes and his pale cheeks tinged slightly pink from the cold… but that didn’t redeem his recent behaviour! Nor did it mean that I liked him! Just that I was a teenage girl who happened to notice when a cute guy was around. Nothing wrong with that.

I scowled at him and whacked him on the back of his head.

“Ow!” he cried.

“Who’s the sook now?” I asked. By this time, the others had made their way down the hill to where Sirius and I were. James and Lily were hand in hand and I was happy to note that Remus and Sarah were deep in conversation.

“Am not!” he cried. I didn’t notice the snowball Sirius was preparing to throw at me in retaliation until it was mere inches from my face. With the reflexes borne of years of Quidditch, I managed to duck just in time. Sirius’ snowball flew harmlessly over my head and straight into Remus’ face. We all stared in shock at him. He seemed surprised at first, then he shook his hair, dislodging excess snow, bent down, picked up a handful of snow and chucked it in the general direction of Sirius’ big head. Of course it missed, instead hitting James in the gut. And so, through various hits and misses, all six of us spent a morning laughing and throwing balls of frozen water at each other.

 

After a couple of hours, we began to tire. Well, most of us did. James and Lily had been pelting snow at each other and had tripped over a largish mound a while ago. They hadn’t resurfaced and none of us really wanted to go check on them. We got enough of what they were most probably up to in the Common Room thank you very much. Remus and Sarah had retired to the sidelines and were watching and laughing at Sirius and I pelt each other with snowball after snowball, offering their help every now and again. And weren’t we brutal.

“You’re going down White!” Sirius sang.

“No!” I began, throwing a snowball at his (exceptionally fine) arse, “You’re going down!”

“Not if you go down first!”

“Ha! We’ll see about that!”

Snowball after snowball, hit after hit, finally, finally Sirius called a momentary truce. He walked slowly towards me, but I kept my guard up, just in case. Maybe it was his lopsided grin, or the mischievous twinkle in his eyes, but something about him seemed shifty… And I was right! When he was three feet away from me, with an all mighty yell, he threw his last snowball at me. My eyes widened in shock as I watched the sphere of ice approach my face. With my mad Quidditch skills, I whirled wildly out of its trajectory, only to bang into six feet of solid muscle.

 

My extreme velocity already had me more unsteady than usual, adding to that was Sirius’ surprise at having failed in his last attempt to win (never!) and a speeding adolescent female, I of course toppled over, managing to cause Sirius to topple right on top of me.

 

We hit the snow with a soft whoosh, the white blanket making itself useful for once and cushioning our fall. Still, the ground was still hard and having six feet of teenage boy land on top of you was enough to wind anyone. I lay there for a moment, with Sirius sprawled over me, with the need to breathe forever increasing.

“Millie? Are you alright?” Sirius asked. Apparently, his lungs had managed to salvage some air.

I couldn’t reply. I didn’t have the oxygen.

“Millie?” he asked again, alarm creeping into his voice.

“Gerrof!” I somehow managed to gasp out.

He seemed to finally get it. “Oh right,” he said, lifting his body off of mine. I gasped in some sweet, sweet air. “Sorry.”

I lay there for some time, getting my breath back. Enough oxygen had managed to reach my brain once again for me to notice exactly what my current situation was. I was pinned to the ground by Sirius Black! Was it only me who seemed concerned about this arrangement? I looked into Sirius’ face (only because there was nowhere else to look) and once again found his eyes on me. Suddenly, my breath decided to abandon me again, and this time, for no apparent reason other than Sirius Black was looking at me with those bloody eyes of his. I noticed that right now, they were the colour of a pale winter morning fog, almost colourless, as they reflected the whiteness of the snow.

“What?” I eventually managed to whisper out.

He didn’t say anything. Instead, his hand slowly reached for my face and brushed a strand of hair that had escaped my ponytail and landed on my face away, without once taking his eyes away from mine.

“Are you alright?” he asked quietly, his voice sounding slightly husky. I felt the bottom of my stomach fall away at the sound of his voice and once again, I was feeling a little short of breath.

Somehow, I managed to nod in response to his question.

“Good,” he murmured.

I nodded again, not trusting that anything would come out if I tried to speak.

“Hey! Are you two okay – oh,” Sarah and Remus had come over to us to see what was going on. “Sorry, we didn’t know we were interrupting something.”

“Having fun you two?” James asked, a smirk evident in his voice. It seemed that he and Lily had finally finished snogging. At the sound of his best friend, Sirius and I snapped out of… whatever that was… and we scrambled to our feet. Actually, I scrambled to my feet; Sirius seemed incapable of doing something as ungraceful as scrambling. He was up on his feet first and pulled me up to mine. “Thanks,” I muttered and busied myself with dusting off snow from myself to avoid seeing my friends’ smirking faces. Oh, they had no idea!

Sirius snorted. “I don’t know, how about you and Evans?” he teased. Lily went as bright red as her hair and James grinned sheepishly, running the hand that wasn’t holding Lily’s through his hair. I peeked at Sirius and he gave me a wink and a devilish grin. I quickly looked away and hid my giddy smile.

 

As we dragged our cold, wet and tired bodies back up to the castle to dry off and warm up again, I wondered to myself, what the hell was that?




AN: A cute little fun chapter because fluffy stories can never be too cute! What did you think of Sirius' behaviour? Too quick too fast? Or stuff can't happen fast enough? Let me know! And because I love you all, I'm telling you now that the next chapter is Millie and Sirius' first real date! Get excited people!


Chapter 18: New Immaturity Heights
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Millie's POV:

“Merlin, Lily! What am I supposed to wear?” This was weird. I was the one worrying about clothes instead of my best friends for a change.

“Clothes?” Lily suggested helpfully – not.

“Here, let me help you,” Sarah said.

“Thanks,” I said. I shot a glare at Lily. She poked her tongue out at me. I really need to work on being more intimidating.

She rummaged through my trunk, searching for something appropriate. “So, what’s the big occasion?” Sarah asked casually.

“What do you mean?”

“Why all the sudden fuss about clothes?”

“Yeah, is Sirius going to propose or something?” Lily snorted.

“You’re still not being helpful!” I retorted.

“Oh my God, he’s proposing?”

“What? No! Of course not!”

“Then why are you putting in all of this effort all of a sudden?”

“I can put in effort if I want to!”

“Yeah, you can, but you never do – not for dates with Sirius anyways.”

“We’ve really only ever been on one.”

“And you both came back from that all grumpy and moody.” I forgot how much attention Lily pays to the world around her – something which I am obviously a complete failure at.

“I was not grumpy and moody!”

“Just drop it Lils,” Sarah interjected. We both turned to look at her in surprise. Rarely did Sarah ever tell Lily to drop something – I was usually the one who did that. “If Sirius makes her happy, then Sirius makes her happy.” She replied in answer to our looks of surprise (that was me) and shock (that was Lily). I almost laughed out loud at the ludicrous idea of Sirius “making me happy”. It sounded completely bonkers! But my friends didn’t know that, so I kept quiet and we headed down to the Great Hall for breakfast.

 

~*~

 

Sirius' POV


“Mate, will you just relax?” Prongs asked, sounding alarmed, and rightly so. For some inconceivable reason, I was getting a little worked up about this impending date.

“I am relaxed! What are you talking about?” I snapped, a little shrilly even to my ears – and that’s just not on, because shrilly voices are not manly in any shape or form.

“Oh, yes completely,” Moony said rolling his eyes. Some days, I really despised his sarcasm.

“What’s got your panties in a twist?” Prongs asked.

“I do not wear panties!” I huffed indignantly. The nerve of some people!

“Whatever,” he waved dismissively. “If I didn’t know you better, I’d say you were nervous about your date,” he teased, the famous Potter smirk gracing his lips.

I scowled the famous Black scowl in retaliation, but didn’t say anything. The smirk slowly faded from his face to be replaced with alarm.

“Holy Merlin, mate!” Yeah, that pretty much covers it.

“Shut up Potter and eat your breakfast,” I growled, returning to frowning at my porridge.

 

“How is it that Lily Evans always manages to look beautiful?” Prongs asked after a few moments spent in silence, as all four of us devoured our breakfasts like we hadn’t eaten for the past twelve years. Except, apparently, for Prongs. He’d developed the neat little skill of staring at Evans whenever she was in the near vicinity and continue doing whatever he was supposed to be doing – even eating breakfast, which requires considerably more attention than eating any other meal. I looked up from my bacon and eggs (I’d moved on from the porridge long ago).

“Maybe she moisturises,” suggested Wormtail.

We all stopped eating and turned to look at him in shock and incredulity. “What?” he asked, shrugging and returning to his food.  Moony, Prongs and I all exchanged glances and shook our heads. Sometimes the things that that boy said worried me. It really did.

“Seriously though,” Prongs said, returning to the previous thread of conversation. “How does she do it?”

“Can you refrain from bringing Evans into the middle of breakfast?” I asked. “I know that you’re in love with her and completely obsessed, but at least try to keep some things sacred.”

Prongs and Moony looked at each other. “He’s definitely nervous isn’t he?” Moony asked Prongs.

“Definitely,” Prongs grinned back.

“Shut up, arseholes,” I muttered.

 

“Hey,” Millie said, strolling towards where I was casually leaning against the wall near the Grand Staircase. At least, I hoped it looked casual, because I felt anything but. She flashed me a small, shy smile.

“Hey,” I grinned, quickly standing up straight as she approached. I felt like such a goof, for some strange reason – it was quite an alien feeling. “Ready to go?”

She smiled again, this time a little more boldly. “Lead the way.”

 

~*~

 

Millie's POV:


As we walked down towards Hogsmeade village in companionable silence, I peeked at Sirius out of the corner of my eye. Oh okay, I admit it, I was checking him out, but you really can’t blame me. He looked good even rugged up in several layers of warm clothing, all in shades of dark grey and black and a pair of nice, form-fitting jeans. His cheeks were a little ruddy from the cold and the end of his nose was an adorable shade of pink. His hair was all windswept and sexy. I noticed that I wasn’t the only person looking at Sirius – quite a few girls were also discreetly (or in some cases, not so discreetly) observing my date. I frowned and moved a little closer to him, to make it quite clear that he was here on a date with me.

Wait.

Hold on.

Did I just act possessive?

WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?

 

“So where do you want to go?” Sirius asked once we’d reached the village.

I shrugged, “Any place where it’s warm, really.”

“Do you want to go to that coffee place we went to last time or the Three Broomsticks?”

“Let’s go to the coffee place. I think I promised Lily that I’d find her later at the Three Broomsticks.”

“That’s a good idea. Prongs, Moony and Wormtail shouldn’t be far behind then.”

 

~*~

 

Sirius' POV:


Dear Merlin. Since when did they make such figure-hugging sweaters? Here I was, just taking off a few of my outer layers of clothing and then BAM! She goes and takes off her coat to reveal this pale blue piece of clothing that makes her, um, chest area, look amazing. She unwrapped her scarf from around her neck and carelessly hung it off the back of her chair and sat down, leaving me standing there, mouth slightly agape at this revelation that my pretend girlfriend for the past few weeks is a complete knockout. Why had I not noticed before? WHY? And why was I noticing now, when the time to end this charade was drawing nearer and nearer?

WHY, MERLIN, WHY?

“Are you going to sit down Black, or are you more comfortable standing up?” she asked me, one eyebrow quirking up slightly. Merlin’s pants, she’s cute when she does that.

I snapped my mouth shut and sat down in my chair, shooting her a charming smile to hide my awkward moment. We sat in silence for a moment until the waiter came to take our orders. “Are you two ready to order, or should I come back later?” he asked with a sly smile.

“No, we’re ready now,” Millie said as she tore her eyes away from mine. I was pleased to note that she was reluctant to look away. It’s a start. Of what, I’m not sure.

After taking our order, the waiter gave us another sly smile and a conspiratorial wink in my direction.

“Was that a wink of approval?” Millie asked once he was gone.

I grinned and leaned back lazily in my chair. “Yeah, I think so.”

“Well, it’s good to know that I have been validated as a good catch.” I didn’t miss the slight note of sarcasm. If I wasn’t careful now, all could be shot to hell.

“Not like I needed someone to tell me that,” I said, looking her right in the eye and turning the charm on to full blast.

She rolled her eyes at me, but she was smiling shyly again, so in girl world, that meant that the compliment worked. I tried not to smirk.

Well, I tried not to smirk too much.

Our coffees were brought to our little table for two by the roaring fire by the same waiter. He shot Millie a charming smile (or at least tried to, amateur prick) who smiled back.

“It seems that my date’s received too much approval,” I said, shooting a scowl at the back of the waiter’s head. And there goes your tip, pal.

“Jealous?” she asked, taking a sip of her coffee.

“No!”

She did that one-eyebrow-raised trick of hers again. Damn, wish I could do that.

“Well… maybe a little…” I said sheepishly.

“It’s cute.”

It’s cute? IT’S CUTE? What does that even mean? Does that mean that being jealous is cute, or that I’m cute? Or the smiling waiter is cute? GAH! I CANNOT STAND ALL OF THIS! Merlin’s bloody beard, it was difficult. No wonder girls were always so neurotic – who knew it took so much energy to overthink something?

“Cute?” I asked as nonchalantly as possible. A cool, suave response; good start, Black.

“Yeah, cute.” WHAT THE HELL IS CUTE?

“What’s cute?” A little too eager? Yeah, probably. But I NEED TO KNOW!

Her lips twitched into a wicked grin. The little chit knew exactly what was going through my head!

“Pouting is unbecoming of you, Sirius,” she said gently chastising, but that stupid grin of hers didn’t leave her face. And it drew my attention to her lips. She had nice lips, I decided. Full ones that looked very soft…

“I’m not pouting,” I said, whilst pouting.

She laughed. She had a nice laugh too. It didn’t sound like wind chimes or church bells or any of that crap, but it was heartfelt, genuine.

“If you say so,” she said. I grinned too. I wasn’t sure if I was grinning more at the joke or the fact that I had actually managed to make Millie White genuinely laugh. I am such a softie. Ugh.

 

~*~

 

Millie's POV:


This was weird. Very weird. I was on a date with Sirius Black. I was on a date with Sirius Black and I was enjoying myself. This was weird. I can’t be enjoying myself, I mean, this is Sirius Black, the cause for so much worry. Yet, here we were: sitting in a little café, drinking coffee, talking and laughing. I knew he was funny and charming, but now I could completely relate to all those girls in the bathroom. If nothing else, Sirius Black knew how to make a date that had great potential of being incredibly awkward (as the first few dates of any relationship have the potential to be) fun. All that wit and charm that I knew he had, was suddenly turned on me. To say that I was a little unprepared for this would be a gross understatement. I had no freaking idea what to do with myself. I tried to keep a cool, calm and collected front up, but he was just so good that I failed quite miserably. I am mildly ashamed to say that I laughed at his jokes, smiled at him just because I could and flirted back. It was embarrassing to think that I felt, of all things, flattered, with all of Sirius’ wit and charm (have I already mentioned that he’s witty and charming?), attention and his rugged good looks to enjoy all for myself. The sane part of me – no wait, the old me, before Sirius Black decided to waltz in on my perhaps boring and average life, with the unfolding drama that was my best friends’ love lives as the only means of entertainment – kept on saying that this was some ploy of his, another hare-brained scheme to get me to do something stupid. Not stupid, like sleep with him stupid or anything, because that would just be plain weird and completely out of the blue. Oh sure, he flirts mercilessly with me every now and again and comes out with these insanely sweet and deep things, but really? This is Sirius Black we’re talking about! I bet he says all those things to every girl he meets.

Even that thing about being great together?

Oh, shut up sane brain. We both know that he meant that in context of how we were a pretty good team, managing to get our best friends to declare their undying love for each other, not you know, together, together.

Did it?

Am I falling for Sirius Black?

Yes, I think I am.

Holy Merlin, I couldn’t afford to fall for him now; not when we were so close to the end!

I am so screwed.

 

Closer to midday we headed back out into the arctic landscape that was Hogsmeade village right now. Two and a half weeks before Christmas, and the whole place was brimming with the kind of cheer and goodwill that only seems to come out at this time of year. Students were milling about, talking with friends, throwing snowballs at friends, talking with the residents of the village, throwing snowballs at the residents of the village, people were running around, trying to get all their Christmas shopping done in time to send it to far-off relatives so that their owls came back in time to send even more presents to people who live closer.

“Can we stop by the post office on our way to the Three Broomsticks, just really quickly?” I asked.

“Yeah, sure,” Sirius answered shooting me a grin.

Merlin, he’s got dimples! As if his smile wasn’t a killer enough, he has to go and have dimples! I have a thing for dimples. Crap. We started walking down the path, but the ice was really slippery, so of course, being the complete and total clumsy person that I was born to be, I lost my footing and slipped. Or… at least, I would have, if Sirius Black hadn’t grabbed my hand. This is not good. I’m acting like I have a little schoolgirl crush on the guy!

“Careful,” he said, before shooting me another smile. Did this idiot not understand the effects his smile was having on me? It was not a good idea to do this to me – especially with all this ice around!

“Thanks,” I mumbled and I felt heat rise up my neck. Thank Merlin that my blushes don’t show easily, otherwise it might have been a little more than obvious that I was developing a little (cough) crush on him.

Life was so much easier without Sirius Black around.

And also, he didn’t let go of my hand.

 

~*~

 

Siriu's POV:


“Why are we going to the post office, just out of curiosity?” I asked. Not to sound too eager I added, “Didn’t you do all that Hogsmeade sightseeing in third year?”

For that little bit of inspired sarcasm, I earned a small quirk of her lips, the same lips that were looking a little cold… I wonder if she would mind if I just warmed them up…

“For your information, I did do all that sightseeing back in third year. My visit to the post office this time has a more practical purpose.”

“What? You need to send a letter? Don’t you have an owl?”

“No, I don’t and yes, I do.” Merlin, I could stand here all day and listen to her enigmatic responses to straightforward questions… what was wrong with me? Maybe the cold was getting to me. Or maybe being around Millie did strange things to my brain.

“Then why are we going to the post office if you don’t have to send a letter?”

“I have to send my grandmother her Christmas present and as it is quite big and my owl is a bit of well, a bird brain, ironically enough, it would be far easier and more efficient to use the excellent postal service provided by Hogsmeade village to send it.”

First of all, wow. And second of all, “You have a grandmother?”

“Yes, she’s the only living family member that I know of, actually. She asked me over for Christmas this year but I blew her off saying that I had a lot of work to do, what with it being NEWTs year and all, but I felt guilty for leaving a little old lady all alone at Christmas, so I sent her to Puerto Rico for a nice sunny holiday and am sending her a large and somewhat expensive Christmas present.”

I was completely baffled by this. Since when did Millie say so much without prodding? “Um… you must really like her then.”

“We tolerate each other, to a certain extent. Even though she’s my dad’s mum, her and mum got along absolutely brilliantly, probably united in their sheer exasperation towards their son and ex-husband respectively.”

“Your parents were divorced?” This was intriguing, very intriguing. Back story to the mysterious Millie White. All I knew about the White family was that they were an old pureblood family that was considered by hags such as my mother as a little… eccentric, in polite company. And there, my knowledge ended because I stopped listening at any mention of the word “pureblood” in a conversation.

“Yeah. They eloped, my mother’s family disowned her for marrying such a scatterbrained man who would never amount to anything in life, had me five years later and after ten years of apparent married bliss divorced.”

“What? Just like that?” I was too intrigued to hear Millie talk so openly about a subject that we never broached that I couldn’t quite bring myself to care if I was prying or being insensitive.

“Not exactly just like that. My dad was really into his job, so he wasn’t around much anyways, but I guess… mum just had enough of it all one day.”

“So… what happened?”

“Well, they signed the divorce papers. Mum got the old manor house, grandma wrote dad out of her will for letting go of, and I quote, ‘the best thing that ever happened to you’ and left it all to mum, dad moved out and into a little house in London closer to work and I moved in with him.”

“You lived with your dad? Why?” We’d reached the post office by this point in this fascinating tale, so it was put on hold for a moment, whilst Millie selected an owl and paid for her delivery. We headed out again into the cold. Without an excuse to hold her hand anymore, I shoved them deep into my pockets and turned towards her expectantly.

“Yeah, I lived with my dad. It was easier all around. My parents thought it would be, uh, good for me to go to a muggle school, so I could make friends with people my own age. Or, you know, make any friends at all really.”

“You didn’t have any friends as a kid?”

“It was a small town and I was shy and we always had to be so careful that no one found out about us being magical folk and all, so I kept myself to myself. But in London, with dad, it was a different story. We still had to be careful, but it’s easier being anonymous in a big city than a small town. And dad and I were so alike. We grew comfortable with each other.”

We’d reached the Three Broomsticks and were welcomed by a roaring fire and the sounds of people forgetting their worries for some time. We headed for a table near the back of the pub. None of our friends had arrived yet, so I ordered a round of butterbeers so Millie could finish her story and if it got awkward, we could pretend to be really busy drinking our butterbeer until our friends arrived. I’m the king of sailing through awkward situations relatively unscathed.

“Did you ever see your mum?” I asked, prompting her to go on.

“Yeah, I did. Dad took me over often enough and we were as close as the circumstance allowed, but I can’t help but think that I was still a disappointment to her.”

I cocked my head, not even needing to feign any sort of genuine interest. Merlin, her pureblood upbringing seemed to be one of the few I’d ever heard that had a remotely happy ending. “What do you mean?” I asked.

“Well, like I said, I was a lot like dad; spacey, scatterbrained, clumsy, messy, all those little things that were most probably the reasons why she fell in love with him in the first place. She never said it, but it was always there, just under the surface.”

“So your mother hated you and your dad for it?”

“Hate? No! I’m quite positive that my parents were still very much in love with each other. And don’t look at me like that, I wasn’t imagining it. They dated every now and again for Merlin’s sake. No, they loved each other, but they couldn’t be married to each other. It just wasn’t meant to be I suppose.” I knew that that was the end to her story. She shrugged and looked down into her half-full tankard of butterbeer.

“Listen to me, babbling on about my boring life story.” She hit my arm playfully. “You should have shut me up a long time ago!”

“I didn’t want to,” I replied honestly. “It was interesting to hear.”

She regarded me for a long moment with those beautiful firewhiskey eyes of hers. They were just as dreamy as usual, but they seemed to have some sort of focus now, they were searching. I knew that this was a very crucial point – if Millie detected even the slightest hint of deceit, she’d completely close herself off from me and we’d end up having a very real breakup to our very unreal relationship. And I really didn’t want that.

Wait, what?

 

I was saved from further scrutiny by the rather loud and boisterous arrival of our friends. “Are we interrupting something?” Sarah asked, a sly smile on her face. Over the past few months, I’d come to consider this girl a friend, but she did have this insanely annoying habit of reminding Millie that her and me weren’t real for even a second – which wasn’t completely true, at least, not from my end of it anymore. And I think it hadn’t been for a very long time.

“No, not at all,” Millie said with a smile, quickly breaking eye contact. It suddenly felt colder. Merlin’s beard, if I wasn’t careful, I’d turn into Prongs!

 

~*~

 

Millie's POV:


Friends. Where would we be without them? Stuck in quite intense staring competitions with our dates, that’s what. See, there’s staring contests, and there’s staring contests with Sirius Black. Staring contests with Sirius Black tend to be so much more… intense. It must be his bloody eyes. Stupid eyes.

 

We spent the rest of the day just hanging out together. The boys dragged us to Zonko’s and surprisingly the person who had the most fun in there was Lily. She couldn’t stop laughing when Remus and Sirius set off this… thing… that made this incredibly creepy sound right behind James and he jumped about three feet in the air, screamed like a girl and ran to hide behind Lily. For a few hours, we all forgot our worries. We forgot that we had a pile of homework waiting for us when we got back to the castle. We forgot that we were seventh years. We forgot that we had to start thinking about life after Hogwarts. We forgot that there was a war raging on. We forgot that people we knew and loved could be in danger. We forgot it all and just… had fun, for once.

Sometimes, I love my friends.

 

“I had fun today,” I murmured quietly to Sirius. It was time to go back, so we were all walking up the hill, sort of spread out in a longish line. James and Remus were up the front, charming snowballs to fly at each other; Sirius and I were bringing in the rear.

“Yeah? I’m glad to hear it,” he replied easily. Did he not realise just how difficult it was for me to admit that? Me? Having fun with Sirius Black? I mean, come on! Next thing you’ll be telling me that the moon’s made from Swiss cheese.

And I know I said that I might be falling for him, but still. Really?

“Did you…” Deep breath. “Did you have fun?” Why did I sound so damn whiny and insecure? I’m turning into one of his fan girls!

He turned his head to look at me, so naturally, I subtly tilted my head forward a little so that my hair fell in front of my face to hide any sort of feelings I may be displaying like a billboard on it and kept my eyes firmly fixed on the path ahead of me (this was actually legitimately necessary, because I might trip over something and fall over… trip over something like, you know, snow…).

“Yeah, I did,” he finally said, after what felt like an age.

“Good,” I replied.

“Good.”

We lapsed into silence once more. It had been a long time since we’d partaken in an awkward silence. I hadn’t missed them to be honest. It was so strange; usually the trick was to get Sirius to shut up, but apparently not right now.

“What are you thinking?” he asked suddenly.

“Nothing!” I replied quickly. No need to tell him that I was thinking about him… Merlin knows he’s got a big enough head already.

“You answered far too past for that to be the truth.” He narrowed his eyes at me, but that mischievous sparkle was, well, sparkling away in his eyes… STOP LOOKING AT HIS DAMN EYES!

“Fine, I admit that I was thinking about something, but nothing of great importance.”

“So what were you thinking about?”

“Didn’t I just say that it wasn’t important?”

“So you were thinking about something you don’t want me to know about?”

“Honestly Black, could you not find anything else to pester me about?”

“So you were thinking about something you don’t want me to know about!” he said triumphantly. “Well, spit it out, what was it?”

I sniffed. “Go to hell, Black.” Merlin, our relationship was so bipolar, it should be a crime.

“You should know by now Millie, that if I really want to know, I will find out.”

“Now I’m going to go around having to test all my food for truth serums!” I said, rolling my eyes. “Brilliant.”

“That wouldn’t have been my preferred method of extraction, but now that you mention it, that seems to be a pretty good idea.”

“As long as you’re not the one making the truth potions, I don’t really care.”

He looked affronted, but his trademark sparkle gave him away. “Are you insinuating that I can’t make a truth potion?”

“I’m not insinuating it, I’m telling you – you can’t make a truth potion.”

“And why ever not?”

“Because you suck at any kind of potion, Sirius.”

He scowled at me for a moment, but then said “Fair point.”

I smirked. Millie – 1. Black – 0.

“So what were you thinking before?”

I turned to look at him in surprise.

“What? You didn’t think I’d give up that easily, did you?” Well, yeah, I did actually. “So, what was it?”

“What’s it to you?” I snapped. Way to go and sound defensive, White. Now he’ll never leave you alone!

“Was it about a boy?”

I scoffed. “Please, Black! This may come as a shock to you, but most girls honestly don’t care enough about the opposite sex to spend perfectly lovely walks thinking about them.” Lie.

“So you were thinking about a boy? Who?” he asked, excitedly.

I sighed and rolled my eyes, hoping that if I ignored him, he’d stop. Apparently not.

“You weren’t thinking about that waiter were you?” he asked, his eyes narrowed, voice suspicious.

“No!”

“So you were thinking about him! I knew it!”

“Sirius, really? I think your immaturity has just peaked at a whole new high.”

“You thought he was good-looking, didn’t you?” he continued accusing, completely ignoring me.

“Oh, dear Merlin!”

“And I bet you thought he was charming and witty too!”

I didn’t even talk to him!

“Oh yes, probably bloody perfect!” Sirius seemed to be getting himself worked up into a downright frenzy.

“If I didn’t know any better Sirius, I’d say you were jealous!”

He stopped dead in the middle of the path. It was so sudden, that I walked right past him for a few steps before realising he wasn’t beside me anymore.

“What now?” I asked exasperatedly.

“So what if I am?”

“So what if you are what?”

“Jealous?”

Were we still talking about this? Maybe I should just tell him the truth and be over with it, but I don’t think I could handle the most probable increase in his ego. “I don’t understand. What is there to be jealous about?”

He stepped forward closer to where I was – a little too close, actually. “Really?”

“Yeah, it shouldn’t matter to you who I fancy. You’re not my actual boyfriend, remember?” As soon as I’d said it, I knew had been the wrong thing to say. Something flashed through his eyes, before they went completely empty (dead scary), but only to be filled with determination… of some kind or other.

He quickly closed the gap between us, wrapped his arm around my waist and pulled me close to his body. His incredibly buff and warm body, might I add. “Didn’t you say you had fun today though?” he asked quietly, his face close to mine, his breath gently tickling.

“What are you doing?” was the only thing I managed to squeak out, however. Why was he suddenly touching me? Not that I minded really – hey, it was a pretty cold day and everything.

“Answer the question, Millie.”

“You answer mine, first!” Yup, still squeaky.

“I asked first!”

“Fine! I did have fun today!”

“So why were you thinking about that waiter then?”

“Sirius, I never said that I was thinking about him! You were the one who started making all these wild accusations and jumping to conclusions!”

He looked stunned for a moment. “I did, didn’t I?”

“Yes, you did, you idiot. Now let me go, people are beginning to give us funny looks.” I tried giving him a little shove, but he just tightened his grip on me.

“Let them,” he said, grinning at my obvious discomfort. Not just a second ago, he was frowning and being downright weird, now he was grinning and flirting with me again. Maybe our relationship wasn’t bipolar – maybe it was just him.

“Honestly Black, I’m really not into PDA,” I said, rolling my eyes, in the hopes of hiding my obvious attraction to him.

He lowered his head closer to mine, so our foreheads were almost touching. “Why not? It’s adorable.”

“You think people eating each other’s faces while you’re trying to have breakfast is adorable?”

“Well, not when you put it like that,” he said, flashing me what he probably thought was a winning smile. And he was right – it was. I was glad that he was holding me for a more practical reason – I think my knees were about to give away because of his bloody winning smiles.

“So… can you let go of me now?”

He looked at me and something… changed between us – it felt so… strange. Our faces were suddenly closer than I had realised. My eyes flicked to his lips of their own accord, but I quickly flicked them back to his eyes in the hopes he hadn’t noticed, only to find that he seemed to be doing much the same thing as me. The moment dragged on for what felt like a million years. His lips drew closer to mine. Oh my Merlin, was he going to kiss me?

Before anything could happen, Lily called out to us, “Will you two stop snogging and hurry up? We’ve been waiting for you two to catch up for the past five minutes, and it’s getting plain annoying.”

Instantly, I sprang away from Sirius. “We weren’t snogging!” I called back.

Sirius shot me a weird look. However, he grabbed my gloved hand and started to walk towards where our friends were waiting without further comment.

 

For a second there, I had actually thought he was going to kiss me, strangely enough. What was stranger was that I kind of wished that he had.






AN: Ta-da! I actually quite like this chapter - I really enjoyed writing it. I know that the POV changes like a kabillion times so I hope it wasn't too confusing, but I felt that it was important to get some sort of juxtaposing in viewpoints, just for lols. And also, what do you think of their relationship NOW? Does it seem to get weirder by the day? And how much are you guys looking forward to Regulus popping in to say hello? A lot, no? And also, how many people are waiting for them to snog already and get over all this sexual tension?

Lemme know and hope you liked!



Chapter 19: Snogging in the Middle of the Corridor
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“So did Sirius propose to you or not?” asked Lily with a mischievous grin later that night. We were all lying on her bed, trying to work up the effort required to do anything at all.

“No, he did not,” I sniffed.

“Disappointed?” asked Sarah, a mirror image of Lily’s grin on her face. I really need to surround myself with people who take life more seriously.

“Shut up.”

“Oh my God, you are?” asked Lily, sitting up so fast that she was in danger of her head exploding.

“Uh… no.”

“Then why do you sound like you are?” Sarah said, tilting her head a little and trying her best to look innocent. She forgot to get rid of the grin.

“You two jump to conclusions like a couple of teenage girls, you know that?” I asked.

“That’s because we are a couple of teenage girls.”

“You know what I mean,” I said, waving my hand dismissively. “But enough about me –”

“Really, we just want to know about Sirius.”

“Shut up Sarah. Like I was saying, enough about me; how was your day?”

“It was good, I suppose,” she shrugged. “Didn’t do much.”

“How did your date with James go?” I asked Lily.

“It was… good,” she said, her voice distant and her expression dreamy.

“Sounds like someone’s in lurve,” I teased.

Lily threw a pillow at me, which I promptly put behind my head. Go Quidditch skills.

“It’s nothing like that,” she mumbled, but a blush was creeping up her neck.

“Sarah, I think you shouldn’t be asking whether Sirius has proposed yet or not, I think James is a thousand times more likely to do so in the near future.” I grinned. And I was happy for them.

“You know he told me that he loved me,” Lily said conversationally.

Sarah sat up excitedly. “No way! That’s so romantic! When did he tell you?”

“You know how he was sick a couple of months ago and I went to visit him?”

“And after your visit he miraculously became better? Yeah, we remember,” I said. No need to mention that he miraculously became better, not because of the miracle of love, but ninja potion-making skills.

She threw me a glare, completely ruining it with her faint smile. “Yeah, well, after you and Sirius left to go snog somewhere, he just kind of blurted it out.” Her blush deepened at the memory.

“For your information, Sirius and I didn’t leave to snog. We left to give you guys some privacy,” I said, just to clear things up.

“But I bet the snogging was an added bonus,” Sarah said, her sly grin was back.

“Honestly, the way you two put it, it sounds like Sirius and I do nothing but snog!” The irony of the situation wasn’t lost on me. Sirius and I did everything but snog.

“Well, don’t you?”

“No.”

“Liar.”

“It’s true! But again, enough about me, what did you say Lily?”

“I didn’t know what to say, to be honest, so I kind of mumbled something and then force-fed him some food,” said Lily.

“And James was completely fine with this?” Sarah asked.

“Well, he almost choked, actually –”

“No! Not the force-feeding, but the fact that you didn’t tell him that you loved him.”

“He brought it up again a few days later, so I told him that I liked him a lot, but I wasn’t really sure about being in love with him.”

“But you are now?” I asked. Merlin, if she said no, she must be the stupidest person in the world – and that’s saying something, considering this is Lily Evans, quite possibly the brightest witch of her age.

She sat up and played nervously with her hair. “I think I am.”

 

“Sirius, what are you doing here?” How come he always shows up every time I go to the kitchens? Does he, like, stalk me, or has he moved there permanently?

“I could ask you the same thing,” he says, grinning his bloody grin. Some days, I really feel like strangling him when he has that grin, but other days (such as today) I can’t help my insides melting at the sight of it.

Yes, I am a confused soul, so sue me.

“I was hungry, so I came looking for ice cream,” I shrugged.

“I’m not surprised you’re hungry – you hardly ate anything at dinner.”

“You were paying attention?” Weird pleased feelings when Sirius Black tells you that he pays attention to your eating habits are not acceptable.

“I always pay attention.” He’s still grinning. Why is he still grinning?

“You still haven’t answered my question. What are you doing here?” Yeah, change the subject before things become more weird.

“I had a similar idea to you actually, but something else seems to have caught my eye.” I know that tone…

“Sirius, I refuse to be pulled into another one of your albeit exciting, but still incredibly stupid escapades.”

“What makes you think I was about to ask you to join in one of my incredibly stupid escapades?” He did air quotations around “incredibly stupid escapades” and even threw in an eye roll for free.

“Because that seems to be what you’ve been doing of late, Sirius,” I said evenly.

He considered it for a moment. “You’re right. So, you up for it?”

“Didn’t I just say that I refused?”

“Yeah, you did, but I know you didn’t mean it.”

What is it with boys and not comprehending a simple no? “Actually, I did mean it.”

He took a step closer, invading my personal space – something he’d been doing quite often lately. “You know you want to,” he said quietly, in what he must have thought was a charming and sexy way – which it completely was, but still.

“You sound just like my ex-boyfriend when you talk like that, you know that?” I asked, taking a step back and bumping into the portrait that concealed the entrance to the kitchens.

“Trust you to bring up your ex-boyfriend when I’m trying to be charming and sexy,” he said, rolling his eyes, but still grinning.

“I mean it Sirius, these things never end well for me.”

He cocked his head to the side, his grin widening. I tried not to dwell on his adorable dimple. “How come?”

“Well, let’s see, there was that time when I made the mistake of asking you about your terrible break-up, so you coerced me into a fake relationship and then there was the time where I ended up locked in a broom cupboard with you for the longest fifteen minutes of my life.”

“Hey, how was I supposed to know you were claustrophobic? It’s not like we’d ever been in a broom cupboard together before for me to know.” Was there a hint of disappointment in his voice? Did he want to be locked in a broom cupboard with me for reasons other than hiding from Slytherins? No, I have to stop now, before I overthink myself into believing that Sirius Black is in love with me, or something.

“You get my point?” I asked, as if he’d never interrupted.

He thought about it for a second, or at least pretended to. “Yes, I get it. So let’s go!”

“Sirius! It’s as if you never listen to a word I ever say!” I cried exasperatedly.

He took a step closer. What in Merlin’s pants is he up to? “Please?” he asked earnestly.

I glared at him. “Fine! But if I end up locked in another broom cupboard, I swear I’ll kill you with my bare hands!”

“Great!” he said brightly, grabbed my hand and dragged me off in the direction of the dungeons.

Bloody git.

 

“Why are we lurking in a corridor close to the Slytherin Common Room like we’re criminals?” I asked, because that was exactly what we were doing and I had no idea why.

“I thought we’d try and blend in with the crowd,” he replied cheerily.

I rolled my eyes. “Is there any purpose to this exercise or are you doing this just for kicks?”

“I saw my brother down here a second ago looking shifty.”

“Are you serious?” Were we really spying on his brother?

“Yes, I am. I’d think that after more than six years of being in the same year level and House as me Millie, you wouldn’t have to ask my name.”

I rolled my eyes again. “It’s getting old Black. You really need a new joke.”

“Shut up.”

“So why are we spying on your brother again?”

“Because he was looking shifty.”

I stared at him incredulously. “And why do you care if he was looking shifty?”

“Because I feel that I owe society to find out what my brother is up to and foil his dastardly plans.”

I raised an eyebrow. “I think you give your brother too much credit.” I would know – I dated him.

“You’re not being helpful.”

“That’s because this is stupid!”

“You’re stupid!”

“You’re stupider!”

“You’re stupid – quick! He’s coming this way!” With that, he pushed us behind a suit of armour that was conveniently close at hand. Funny how these things work out.

“Sirius,” I whispered. “Is this really necessary?”

“Yes!” he whispered back. “As two Gryffindors, we can’t be seen near the Slytherin Common Room by anyone.”

“What exactly do you think your brother is up to?” Currently, his brother was just standing around in the corridor, looking around like he was waiting for someone.

“He’s probably going to meet up with a couple of his Death Eater buddies and plan some dark and gruesome deed.”

“Or, you know, he could just be rendezvous-ing with his girlfriend.”

“Don’t be ridiculous! My brother is incapable of finding himself a girl –”

I pointed my finger in the direction of the entrance to the corridor. Illuminated by the torches outside was an unmistakable silhouette – Marissa.

 

“That bitch!” Sirius exclaimed – quietly of course.

“I wasn’t aware that she was going out with Regulus,” I murmured. As much as it shamed me to admit it, Regulus Black was probably the closest I’d ever been to being in love with someone. We’d dated for about six months last year – in secret of course, because there was quite a real danger that if we were found out, we might get kicked off our Quidditch teams. Well, okay, I really don’t think James would have kicked me off the team, because I’m really the best Seeker he’s got, but the Slytherin Quidditch team was not so forgiving. Surprisingly, a secret relationship had turned out to be my longest one. It was actually quite easy to talk to him and we had a lot in common. And not to mention that even though he may not be as good-looking as his brother, he was still hot.

I had been the one to break it off, saying that it would be difficult to keep things up over the summer and into next year, but it still rankled to see him with someone else, especially someone like Marissa. I’m sure she’s a lovely person, but – “Oh my Merlin, are they snogging in the middle of the corridor?” I asked.

Sirius’ face looked disgusted. “That is so gross.”

“Can we leave now?”

“Yeah, this is much worse than planning gruesome deeds.”

“Um, Sirius…”

“Yeah?”

“Exactly how do we leave without being seen?”

He turned and in the near darkness, his teeth flashed white in a grin. “Darling, you forget who I am.”

I stared at him blankly.

“I’m Sirius Black, the best Marauder of all!”

“Right.”

He sighed. “There’s no impressing you, is there?” Without waiting for a reply, he grabbed my hand and tugged me further into the Dungeons. “Come on, I think there’s a secret passageway around here somewhere…”




AN: Ta-da! And welcome to the end of Regulus Act I, Part 1 of 2. In the next chapter, the poor bloke actually gets to say something! And I know, I know, it was short. Very short indeed, but if I combined it with the next chapter, the story wasn't sitting right with too many things happening all at once. Back to the chapter at hand, I know that you haven't actually been properly introduced to the younger Black, but what do you think of him (and him and Millie, almost more importantly)? What do y'all reckon he'll be like? I could tell you what he is like to me, but then I might ruin the surprise!

Hope you enjoyed reading and stay tuned!


Chapter 20: Brothers
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Sirius' POV:-

This was strange. I, Sirius Black, was in the library. That in itself was not the strange part – I have spent many hours in the library over my years here at Hogwarts (contrary to popular belief, one is not as brilliant as I in class without putting in some time and effort into being so), but never, in all my years had I spied on my fake girlfriend and my younger brother in the library. Hell, I don’t think I’ve ever spied on my fake girlfriend and my younger brother anywhere. It was a pretty strange thing to do – then again, so was my fake girlfriend talking to my younger brother.

“Hey Mills, how’ve you been?” I heard my brother ask on the other side of the bookshelf I had been innocently browsing through moments before (oh, for Merlin’s sake, you’ve caught me. I was, in fact, not innocently browsing through a bookshelf but secretly, er… observing – not stalking – Millie). No one’s allowed to call her Mills except me!

“Can’t complain,” she answered. I could imagine her shrugging her slender shoulders. I removed an abnormally large tome from in front of me, in the hopes that I might be able to see them. And I was in luck – the book on the other side had also been removed, so I had a small visual window into their conversation.

“I heard you’re dating my brother now,” he continued casually.

There was barely a hesitation in her voice now, whenever the subject was brought up. I think I was the only one who picked up on it anymore – or I’d begun to imagine it. “Yeah, I am.” She didn’t sound defensive. Why didn’t she sound defensive? Random guy comes up to you and starts having a casual conversation about your relationship status, and you just answer casually? What’s up with that? I leant in closer.

“Isn’t it a bit weird?”

“Isn’t what a bit weird?” I saw her look bewildered. Merlin, she was so cute when she looked like that…

“Dating your ex’s brother?” he teased. Wait… WHAT? SINCE WHEN HAD MILLIE GONE OUT WITH MY BROTHER? WHY HAD I NOT HEARD ABOUT THIS? WHY DIDN’T SHE TELL ME?

“Isn’t it a bit weird dating your brother’s ex?” she teased right back. They were too comfortable with each other. Why were they too comfortable with each other? If they were exes, why weren’t they more awkward? Exactly how close had they been?

“It’s difficult not to date someone he’s dated.” He leaned casually against the opposite bookshelf, hands in his pockets. My eyes narrowed. He thinks he’s so cool, trying to flirt with my girlfriend… my fake girlfriend, I mean.

She gave a faint smile. I had to work so hard for those smiles, and here he was, my idiot of a brother, getting them for free! “Fair point. But that’s not why you’re here, is it?”

His expression became serious. “No, it’s not.” Then why are you here, you jerk?

“Well, hurry up. The suspense is killing me.” Yeah, didn’t you hear the lady? You’re killing her, so go away.

“I just want you to be careful.”

“About what?” Yeah… about what?

He waved his hand vaguely. “Oh, you know… the war, my brother, your heart…”

She did that absolutely adorable lopsided grin, where only one side of her lips go up, but her eyes fill with sparkles… not that I spend any time staring at her and then analysing her every miniscule movement hours later or anything… “I know about being careful about the war and your brother really isn’t an issue.” Why am I not an issue? Is this a bad thing? Feelings were so damn difficult!

He returned her crooked grin with one of his own. Millie’s back was almost turned towards me, so I couldn’t see much of her face, but I swear I saw her eyes flick towards my brother’s lips, just for a split second, but that could only mean one thing… “My brother really isn’t an issue? Are you so in love with him that you can’t see his womanising ways?”

She sighed. “It’s not like that. He’s just… we’re just… never mind. But thank you for the concern. I didn’t know you still cared.”

He gave her a warm smile. “May I remind you Mills, that it was you who broke up with me.” That’s a good thing… right? “And in my opinion, I think we could have made it work.”

She shook her head with… was that sadness? Does she regret breaking up with my brother? Why? “Not as long as you were Slytherin Seeker and I was Gryffindor’s.” So they broke up over Quidditch? In guy world, that’s a completely legitimate excuse… but in my little (ahem) experience with the opposite sex, I don’t think that quite cuts it…

“Oh please, Mills,” he snorted. How very attractive. Just brings all the girls to the yard, doesn’t it little bro? “You and I both know that wasn’t it.”

“It doesn’t really matter now,” she replied, but she sounded so… I dunno… regretful? If my brother did anything to hurt her, I swear…

“Yeah, I suppose it doesn’t. But I should go before your crazy Quidditch captain finds you fraternizing with the enemy.” He gave another grin. Cocky bastard.

“He’s no crazier than your captain.” That’s my girl, defending her Quidditch captain!

He laughed. “I guess not, but seriously, I better leave before your boyfriend catches us. Wouldn’t want to give him the wrong ideas now, would we?” he said with a sly grin.

She whacked his arm playfully with the book she was holding, galvanising him into finally moving his arse away from her. “Play nice. I don’t want to hear any nasty stories about you getting beaten up by your brother or anything.” She’s more concerned for his safety than mine!

“What? You reckon he could take me on?” Any time, little bro, any time…

“Yes.” I was strangely pleased to hear that. A compliment from Millie White was a rare thing. Merlin, I am so whipped.

“Alright, alright. I’ll be a good little boy,” he said, walking backwards towards the main section of the library. “And you remember to be careful, yeah?”

“Yes, I’ll remember Regulus!” A surge of anger and annoyance shot through me at the sound of his name on her lips. It had taken me so long to convince her to use my first name.

With a fleeting last grin, my brother was gone.

Millie sighed and turned back to the shelf she had been looking at, wandering deeper into the shadows.

I quietly moved away from the bookshelf (after placing the book back in its rightful place, because Madam Pince is scary) and slipped away so I could think about what I had just heard.

And contemplate exactly what it meant.

For Millie.

For me.

For us.

 

~*~

Millie's POV:-


Something’s wrong. Sirius is acting weird. And when I say weird, I mean different to how he usually acts because that’s pretty weird in comparison to normal behaviour for human beings. Anyways, he’s acting weird and I don’t know why. Normally, I wouldn’t care, but he’s one of those annoying people who seem to affect the area in the near vicinity of themselves with their moods. And it’s bloody annoying. As in, messing with my creative juices annoying. I’ve been staring at a sort-of blank page on my sketchbook for the past ten minutes without anything happening, whilst Sirius the serial sulker (try saying that five times fast – OUT LOUD) sits there and sulks his sorry arse off. Stupid.

I sigh and finally give up hope on ever being able to do anything with him around in this mood. “What’s wrong?” I ask, perhaps a little too wearily to sound genuinely concerned enough.

His brooding stare flicks from the carpet (interesting pattern I’m sure) to hold my gaze. “Nothing’s wrong,” he says evenly, deciding to ignore my previous rudeness.

“Something’s bothering you, I can tell.”

“Can you now?” he asked, raising his eyebrows. No need to be so condescending and sarcastic with me, but I didn’t say this out loud – what little social aptitude I had gleaned over the course of my life was being put to the test right now.

Everyone can tell Sirius.” Yeah, you’re messing with the creative vibes and all.

He stared at me broodingly some more.

“Fine. Don’t tell me what’s wrong,” I huffed and returned to my sketchbook, deciding to ignore him and my homework for the rest of the night.

Maybe I should have thought that idea through more.

 

“Did you and Sirius get into a fight or something?” Sarah asked quietly at breakfast a couple of days later. He was still in his weird little funk.

“No,” I replied shortly, not really wanting to go into it when I was only on my second cup of tea.

“Then why – ?”

“Don’t ask me. I tried to talk to him about it the other night, but he didn’t want to, so…” I shrugged.

“So you just let it go?”

“Yeah. It’ll blow over soon.”

Hopefully.

 

I decided that if by lunchtime things weren’t magically better then I’d confront Black about his little attitude problem… only because it was still messing with my creative vibes and not because I cared or anything.

 

Things weren’t magically better, so I decided that I’d skip Potions and force Black to tell me what was going on. Don’t ask how I was planning to do it, maybe I could sit on him? But then he’s quite capable of pushing me off with ease…

“Hey Lils, cover for me if Slughorn asks where I am?” I asked. Maybe I should have asked someone who wasn’t Head Girl to cover my skiving activities, but I really wasn’t in the mood to deal with James acting immaturely. One Marauder at a time, please.

She gave me a disapproving look, but agreed to anyways.

I gave her a hug and left the Great Hall to hunt Black down.

 

“Millie, what are you doing?” he asked me. And rightly so, I’d managed to snag him somewhere on the third floor corridor as he was on the way up to get his books for afternoon classes. I’d just grabbed his wrist and pulled him into a concealed corridor that lead to an abandoned one, so no one would accidentally or otherwise find us and start asking awkward questions.

I didn’t answer him until I was sure that we were alone. Once satisfied, I turned towards him and all but yelled, “What is wrong with you?”

He looked at me in surprise. It was the first emotion I had seen on his face other than sulky in days. “What?” he spluttered.

“What is wrong with you?” I repeated, slightly calmer this time.

“What do you mean?” STOP THINKING ABOUT HOW CUTE HE LOOKS RIGHT NOW! That is so not appropriate. Ever (really trying to get over this little crush of mine, if you couldn’t tell).

“Why have you been,” I waved my hands around, to illustrate my point. When all I got was a blank look, I stopped with the hand-waving. “Why have you been sulking?”

“I haven’t been sulking!” he said, immediately acting defensively.

“Yes, you have! And it’s really starting to piss me off!”

“Piss you off? Piss you off? Why on earth would anything I ever do piss you off?” His face was all flushed with the sudden burst of anger and it triggered mine too. Sirius Black really was the only person who could get me so riled up in such a short time. Except my mother. I think my mother could do it a tiny bit faster.

Everything you do pisses me off!”

“I know! You’ve told me before!”

“Well you bloody don’t get the message do you?”

“Then why are you bothering with me?”

“Because I told you, your bloody sulking is annoying me! Or didn’t you get that part?”

“That’s what you think I am, don’t you? An idiot?”

“I don’t think that, Black. I know that.”

“Then why are you even with me?”

Because I have to be!

“No, you don’t,” he said, suddenly a lot quieter and calmer. I really don’t understand this guy’s moods. They swing faster than you can say Quidditch.

When I didn’t reply, he took this as his cue to continue talking.

“We can end this right now… if you want.” He ran a hand through his hair, so that it was even more sexily dishevelled than before. Merlin, I’m such a goner, it’s not even funny. How on earth can I break up with a guy I have a crush on? How? “I mean, isn’t that what you’ve wanted all this time?” He looked at me, waiting for me to say something.

“Sirius… I…”

“You don’t have to say anything Mills. If you and my brother want to –”

“Wait, what?” Did he just say brother?

He looked a bit uncomfortable now. “Well, I saw you two the other day… talking in the library…”

“Is this what this is all about?” I asked incredulously. “Regulus?”

“No need to sound so surprised,” he said defensively. “You didn’t think I would find out about you and him?”

No, not really. Secret relationships being secret and all. “Um…”

“Why didn’t you tell me?” he asked, looking more than a little hurt.

“Well… I didn’t really think it was that important, to be honest.” And I still don’t think it was that important.

“Why on earth wouldn’t it be important for me to know that you dated my younger brother?”

“Because I’m not dating him anymore and I really didn’t think it would be so important to you.”

He ran another hand through his hair. If he kept doing that I’d just have to snog him, I swear. “Of course it’s important!”

“But why?”

“Because I want – no – I need to know what you ever saw in a jerk like him!”

“He really isn’t that bad,” I said, before I realised who I was talking to. Immediately, Sirius’ face closed up, his eyes went cold and he folded his arms across his chest defensively. “What I mean to say is –”

“That I just can’t compare,” he intoned dispassionately. Oh Merlin, why is he so damn insecure about all this?

“That’s right! You can’t compare! You two are completely different!”

“Well, I’d certainly hope so, considering he’s a Death Eater!”

“You don’t know that for sure,” I said frowning. For Regulus’s sake, I hoped that wasn’t true.

“Oh come on Millie! You know the type of people he hangs around! Of course he’s one of them!”

“It doesn’t really matter what he is –”

“What do you mean it doesn’t matter? Of course it matters!”

“Well, okay it does, but right now, it doesn’t matter.”

“What did you ever see in him?” I could almost hear the second part of that question: and don’t see in me. No, shut up brain! Stop trying to delude me into thinking that Sirius Black likes me in that way. Because he doesn’t. All this is just because he has insecurities concerning his brother and himself which he doesn’t want to confront and resolve. So really brain, shut up.

“Well… he was nice, I suppose. And we have a lot in common.”

He raised his eyebrows at that one.

“We both like Quidditch.” Even I know that’s not enough to form an entire relationship over, but I was kind of put on the spot a bit, so said the first thing that popped into my head. “And there were other things…” That I really didn’t want to talk about right now.

“And what about us?” he asked quietly. This was what I had been dreading.

“What about us?” I asked, stalling for time.

“What do we have in common?” We both stared at each other for a moment as I tried to think of something to say.

“I don’t know, Sirius,” I said quietly. “What do you think?”

I saw something flit through his eyes. Before I could identify what it was, another emotion solidified – resolve. Uh oh. What was he resolving himself to do? Sirius quickly strode over, closing the space between us. If that wasn’t surprising and body-paralysing enough, what he did next sure as hell was. He pinned me to the wall. Um, excuse me?

“Sirius –” I couldn’t really say much more because at that precise moment, he decides to kiss me.

 

No, no. That was right. Sirius Black is, in fact, kissing me right now. And I think I may be kissing him back. And it’s very nice. His lips really are as soft as they appear to be, but all those bathroom stories about his kissing are a lie – he’s way better at kissing than any of those girls made him out to be. And understandably so; if other girls found out he was such a good snog, they’d be lining up straight away… more than they do now, I mean. His arms wrapped tightly around my waist, pulling me close to his body. His very buff body. My arms slipped around his neck and my fingers began playing with his hair. I wonder what shampoo he uses that makes his hair so soft?

Dear Merlin, help me! I’m probably having the best snog of my life right now and I think about what shampoo he uses?

But really, it must be a good one, because his hair is –

Oh my Merlin! He’s kissing down my neck! This feels so good. A soft moan escaped my lips as his lips wandered across my skin, leaving a trail of fire in their wake. I tugged his head back up towards mine and our lips crash into each other.

When we finally pull apart, all I can manage to do is stand there and try and catch my breath, still clutching him close to me. Sirius was not much better than me. I snuck a glance at him. His lips were all swollen and his hair was even more dishevelled than before. Merlin he looked so… so…

Our eyes locked. All coherent thought (what little I had) stopped. Oh Merlin, his eyes…

Wait.

What.

Have.

I.

Just.

Done?




AN: And welcome to the end of Act I, Part 2 of 2 of Regulus. Now, now, I realise you may be disappointed with the lack of Regulus for the next set of chapters, but this is only Act I of Regulus, so there's more to come of his wonderfullness!!!

Also, on another note, what do you think NOW that they've (FINALLY) kissed? Have I satisfied that particular request? Actually, I think I did pretty good in this chapter, what with Regulus AND snogging! I should get a prize or something!

Or even better - reviews!

Lots of love

xx


Chapter 21: Awkwardness and Adorable Puppies
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Millie's POV

Merlin, this is awkward. I mean he’s sitting right there. What the hell am I supposed to do? Am I just supposed to ignore what happened the other day in the corridor and carry on like normal? Am I supposed to confront him about it? He did kiss me, not the other way around, so really this is all his fault and has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that it takes two to snog (which I am quite sure is what we were doing by the end of it). Or maybe I should be looking to find prime real estate in the Netherlands, or something? Yeah, that sounds like a good idea…

“Miss White?” I heard Professor Slughorn ask.

I snapped out of my thoughts and tried valiantly to focus on him instead of Sirius’ very large presence (which was still right there. Doesn’t he understand how uncomfortable he makes me now? Why doesn’t he just go somewhere else? Why does he have to sit right next to me? Oh yeah, that’s right – because stupid Slughorn made us Potions partners this year. So really, this is all Slughorn’s fault in the end). “Yes?”

“What is the key ingredient in this potion?”

What potion? Since when are we learning about potions? Most of the class was looking back at me. All those pairs of eyes were making me nervous. Why do people have to stare? “Um… is it… powdered brains of the Common Newt?” I ventured.

“Well done, Miss White! Five points to Gryffindor!”

Well. That wasn’t so bad. Five points seemed a little generous, but really, who cared about that?

Yeah, so I was trying to take my mind off a certain person (who was still stubbornly there) – and I was failing brilliantly. Not even powdered brains of the Common Newt could take my mind off that kiss… or his hair… or his eyes… or really him in general…

 

~*~

 

Sirius' POV


“Hey Moony…”

“What do you want Sirius?” Moony looked up from the book he was reading and gave me a long-suffering look. The full moon was still a week and a half away, but already he’d started to act a bit moody.

“Do you think Millie likes me?”

I think he stared at me for at least a full minute. Then he put his book down and leaned towards me intently. “What did you do?” he asked slowly and clearly, as if he was speaking to an especially slow three year old pig. Or Snivellus.

I was affronted. “Why does everyone automatically assume that I’ve done something? Isn’t there the slightest chance that someone else has completely stuffed things up?”

“What did you stuff up, then?”

“I didn’t stuff up anything! What makes you say that?” Did I say that a little too fast? Did I sound a little panicked? Because really, I’m not worried about Millie and me or anything! Merlin’s beard, she isn’t even really my girlfriend! So what if I think she’s hot… and her hair smells really nice (like really nice)… and that when she smiles, my heart skips a beat… or when she laughs, I get this uncontrollable urge to stare at her like an adoring puppy? I mean, I feel that way about most girls I meet… sort of… sometimes… when it rains in the Sahara desert… in an alternate universe…

“What did she say?”

“Nothing! She didn’t say anything! Is that a good thing? Should I be worried? Should she have said something? Should I have said something?”

He gave me another stare. “Get some sleep Padfoot.”

“Yeah… I think I’ll go do that.”

 

I walked into our dormitory and tripped over all the junk on the floor to flop onto my bed (someone really needs to clean our room – seriously. I think there’s a new species of mould growing under Wormtail’s dirty laundry pile).

Staring up at the canopy of my bed, I sighed.

Jeez.

And things were going so well! I think Millie was really starting to like me… or at least tolerate my presence for longer periods of time. Until…

Until my brother came into the picture.

And I got all moody about it.

And Millie yelled at me for that.

And then I kissed her.

And she kissed me back (yeah, that’s right. The great Sirius Black, Hogwarts’ resident lady killer’s still got it).

And we snogged in an abandoned fifth floor corridor.

And I liked it.

A lot.

As in, I can’t stop thinking about it, a lot (her lips were just so soft and her hair… Merlin her hair was just as silky smooth as it looked).

And now she’s ignoring me, or worse, avoiding me.

So really, this is all my brother’s fault.

Stupid brother.

 

“Hey buddy! What’s up?” Prongs asked, bounding into the room like Christmas was just around the corner… which technically, it was, but still, no need to be so happy about it.

“The sky.”

“Moony said you’re having troubles with a certain pretty brunette.”

“We’re fine.”

“What did you do?”

“Nothing! I honestly didn’t do anything!” Did I?

“Then what’s the problem?”

I sighed. I should just tell him. Tell him everything. Tell him how I coerced Millie to pretend to be my girlfriend, even though she can’t stand the sight of me, to get revenge on Marissa and how, even though she wanted to stop the whole operation, I wouldn’t let her because I’d gotten used to having her around and quite honestly, couldn’t imagine what I would do with myself without having to prove to her all the time that I wasn’t as big an idiot as she thought I was.

I should tell him that I didn’t want to break up with her at all for the foreseeable future, because I liked the smell of her hair and holding her hand in the corridors and sitting a little too close than was strictly allowed in Potions (I don’t think she actually noticed I did that – like today, I could feel how she was all tense and… disengaged in class – yeah, that’s how close I sit next to her; and no, that isn’t creepy. At all).

I should tell him that I wanted her to be with me as well and want to kiss me again as badly as I wanted to kiss her… (I sound like such a stereotypical teenage girl! Is this really how they think all the time? Because, quite frankly, it’s exhausting)

I should tell him.

But I didn’t.

Instead, I said, “It’s complicated.”

I could feel his eyes regarding me from the foot of my bed.

“Maybe she’s PMSing?” he suggested.

“Hmm, maybe.”

“Or maybe her cat died.”

“She doesn’t have a cat. She has an owl.”

“Well, maybe her owl died then!”

“Her owl’s fine.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah.”

We lapsed into silence.

“So… what are you going to do?” he asked eventually.

“I don’t know.”

But I think I might have an idea…

“Prongs, do you know if Millie likes dogs?”




AN: Was that too much of a filler? Yeah, I think it was. Please don't kill me! Suffering from MASSIVE writer's block, but I really wanted to get SOMETHING out! I promise I'll try and make stuff happen in the next one!!!

xx


Chapter 22: Half-Bear Half-Wolf
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Sirius' POV:

“So let me get this straight. You’re going to try and work out your little problem with your girlfriend by appearing to her in your Animagus form. Is that correct?” Prongs asked.

I thought about it for a second. “Well, yeah!”

“And are you going to tell her it’s you?”

“Of course not! Then she’d ask why and then it would be really awkward, because I wouldn’t be able to tell her and then she’d forever be suspicious of me, which would probably make the whole situation worse, so really, that would be quite counterproductive.”

Prongs blinked. “You know, sometimes I forget that you can actually be quite smart when you feel up to it.”

I grinned. “Well, I do try.”

“So what’s the point of this again?”

That wiped the grin off my face. It was an obvious flaw in my plan. If Millie didn’t know it was me, how would she know that I was apologising for… whatever I did (and let’s face it, it probably was my fault)? “I dunno. I’m still working on that part.”

“Well,” he smiled brightly. “All I can really say is good luck, mate!”

“Yeah, thanks.” Merlin only knows how much I’ll probably need it.

“Because Mum wants to meet her.”

“What?” I cried. Mrs Potter was totally awesome and a much better mother than my own, I had decided. And apparently, she’d decided that her son’s best friend was an okay enough kind of person to adopt into the small Potter family in all but name, so really, I shouldn’t be that surprised.

“Yeah, she asked me how you were doing and everything, so I told her that you had a new girlfriend whom you’d somehow managed to keep for almost as long as Stephanie now, and now she wants to meet her.”

I jumped off my bed and grabbed his collar. “Are. You. Insane?” I asked, giving him a little shake at each word, just so that my point went across as clear as possible.

“Calm down, mate; I haven’t finished yet.” There’s more to this crazy story? When will the torture end?

“What’s left?”

“I’ll tell you once you let go of me.” I realised I was still holding onto his collar.

“Oh, sorry.” I let go and sat down heavily on my bed again. Prongs came to sit down next to me.

“It turns out that Millie and I are neighbours – sort of.”

“You can’t be. She lives in London.” See? I am a good boyfriend – not only did I listen, but I remembered what she said. Am I awesome, or what?

“Yes, but the old White family home happens to be in the next village over to where we live. So, naturally, being two of the few witches in the same area, my mother and her mother used to get on quite well.”

“Well? How well?”

“As in, it is quite possible that Millie and I probably fought over the same teddy bears and toy broomsticks at the age of one and a half, well.”

“Wow, that is well.”

“Yeah. So fair warning – she said she’s going to send you a letter asking you to bring Millie with you this Christmas in the next few days. She said it’ll be nice to have some girls around for once.”

“Some girls?”

He looked a bit embarrassed at this point. “Mumble, mumble, mumble.”

“What? Didn’t quite catch that mate.”

“I said, Lily’s coming over for Christmas as well, so it would be a really good idea if Millie came too so that you know, things won’t be as awkward.”

I took a moment to grin at him. “Things are going well, eh?” I waggled my eyebrows suggestively.

“Merlin, it’s a little creepy when you do that, you know that?”

“Don’t avoid the question.”

He glared, but being glared at by someone in glasses really isn’t that intimidating and being glared by James Potter even less so. “Yes, things are going well.”

I grinned. Maybe I’ll be hearing cries of Uncle Sirius sooner than I had imagined (okay, sooner than Millie had imagined. The idea hadn’t even crossed my mind that James and Lily would have children someday, until she’d mentioned it). “That’s really good, mate. I’m happy for you.”

He gave a dopey grin – the same one he gets on his face every time he thinks about Evans.

“And it’s quite creepy when you smile like that, too,” I added.

“Right, whatever.” His smile only went down a few notches in intensity, though. “So you’ve only got about two weeks to get her to forgive you for whatever stupid thing you’ve done this time and convince her to come over.”

“If I didn’t know how much your mother actually likes you, I would kill you right now Potter, because you’re enjoying my pain and suffering far too much for your own good.”

He grinned and ruffled my hair.

I glared at him (which is infinitely more impressive than his). No one touches the hair – no one.

“Sweet dreams Padfoot – and don’t moan too loudly if you dream about Millie again!”

He ducked the pillow I aimed at his fat head. “I don’t moan!” Nor do I dream about Millie… much.

 

~*~

 

Millie's POV:


My plan to move to the Netherlands wasn’t going as well as I hoped. It turns out it’s harder to find good real estate there when you’re stuck in a school in the middle of the Scottish highlands or somewhere.

However, my plan to avoid Sirius was going quite well. Every time I saw him in the corridors, I bolted the other way before he noticed, only sat next to him in the Great Hall if I absolutely had to and spent most of my time studying in the library, either alone or with Lily and less frequently, with Sarah. The only times I really had to interact with Sirius anymore was in Potions, and even then, I kept it as brief as possible. But it was really hard to ignore just how close he sat next to me. Did he always sit this close, or was this a recent move?

Anyways, it didn’t really matter at the moment. I had a free period after lunch and even though the ground was covered in at least a metre of snow, I made my customary trek down to the boathouse to get some peace and quiet. Not that the Common Room or library wouldn’t be quiet at this time of day, when most people were in class and those who weren’t were most probably busy working as well, but sometimes, it felt nice just to get away from people (yeah, call me antisocial).

And no, it had nothing to do with the fact that I knew that Sirius also had a free at this time and that hiding in the boathouse was a pretty good option if I wanted to avoid him. I wasn’t even thinking about him as I made my way down.

Really, I wasn’t.

 

~*~

 

Sirius' POV: 


She was in the boathouse again. Even though I knew she was avoiding me and everything, this was a little extreme, even for Millie. I mean, it was cold down there – and I knew that she felt colder than I did. What on earth was she thinking? Did she want to get hypothermia?

I decided now would probably be a good time to put my incredibly flawed plan into action. Everyone loves puppies, but I’m pretty sure Millie once told me how much she’d wanted a pet dog as a kid. And okay, whilst my Animagus form appeared to be the Grim to some, I was pretty damn adorable when I was clean (which I was – I even washed behind my ears this morning, like a good little boy). So at least, if I cuddled up to her, she’d be warm (and I’d get to cuddle up to her – something which was a definite no-no if I was a human).

I sighed. The things I do for this girl.

 

~*~

 

Millie's POV:


So there I was, innocently sitting in a corner of the boathouse, my cloak wound as tightly around me as I could manage whilst still be able to move my hands enough to write my essay (why did I take Herbology again?), trying very hard not to think about how soft Sirius’ lips felt the other day (and how warm he was – I was really appreciating warm things at the moment), when I heard a soft “woof” from close by.

“Ah!” I yelped, jumping about a foot in the air and knocking my bottle of ink all over the cold stones. Because there was some sort of… monster in front of me!

…Which was wagging its tail.

Since when do monsters have wagging tails?

I stared at it for a moment in complete shock.

It stared back, still wagging its tail.

“You’re a dog,” I said to it. It occurred to me a little late that if it actually understood me, it probably wouldn’t appreciate me stating the blindingly obvious and it might take offence. And I really didn’t want this dog to take offence, because it was huge. Its coat was thick and it seemed to have soft, curly hair the colour of night. A black nose, sharp ears and intelligent pale eyes (I didn’t know dogs could have pale eyes). It seemed pretty happy to see me right now, but if I ever crossed paths with this creature on a cold and dark night, I would probably run screaming the other way, because it looked like its mother was a wolf and its father was a bear. It probably had ferocious teeth that could saw a human’s leg in half too.

“What are you doing here?” I asked it, as if it could actually answer me. My experience with animals was rather limited to exotic organisms in Care of Magical Creatures and trying to communicate with my idiot of an owl, Nelly (I didn’t name her that, my dad did), but even I knew that dogs couldn’t talk. My suspicion was confirmed when it just wagged its tail a little harder.

“Stop doing that,” I scowled. “You’re making it colder.”
It seemed like in direct defiance to my order, it wagged its tail harder still and gave another little woof, as if to say, make me. Except it was probably just getting a little excited at the sound of my voice.

“What are you doing here?” I asked it again. What else was I supposed to do? There was a big black, potentially dangerous, dog in front of me. What would you do?

It walked over to where I was sitting. Instinctively, I shrank into the wall, but it stopped again a few feet in front of me. We stared at each other some more.

I scowled at it.  

It hung its tongue out to pant a little. Great. I can’t even intimidate dogs with my scowl. I have a pathetic excuse for a scowl.

“Do you live in the Forest?” I asked it. I’d heard that there were a lot of strange creatures living in the Forbidden Forest, so it was quite plausible that a pack of half-bear half-wolves could be residing there as well.

“It mustn’t be a very nice place at this time of year, I imagine,” I continued conversationally. It must be something about those intelligent eyes (they were grey, on closer inspection) because I felt compelled to keep on talking to it.

It wagged its tail again and gave me this adorable look with those beautiful eyes.

I sighed. I must be going insane, doing this. “Well, I suppose you can sit next to me. It’s probably warmer for us both that way.”

He (I’d decided that the dog was probably male – there was no other way he would be this annoying, and it would be rather impolite of me to check) wagged his tail so hard, that it was in danger of knocking down the boathouse (if, you know, it was made of straw and not stone) and bounded up to me.

“No! No! No licking! Who knows where that mouth of yours has been?” He stopped and looked at me. Just as I was lowering my arms down again from my face, his face came speeding towards me and I just managed to see a pale pink tongue dart out before I was almost literally covered in slobber. Who knew what damage could be inflicted with just one lick?

“Yuck!” I scrunched up my nose in disgust and swiped at my face to get as much of the slobber off. “I thought I said no licking!” I glared at him. It seemed to have some effect for once because his incessant wagging slowed down and he looked almost… contrite. “Yes, that’s right. You’re a very bad dog!”

He cast down his eyes.

“Very bad!”

His tail was barely moving now.

“Oh, alright! You’re not that bad.”

His tail started wagging again, but he didn’t move.

“What? You waiting for a formal invitation?”

His tail was once again waving around like a leaf caught in a strong wind as he padded over on his large paws to sit next to me. I scooted over a little so he could be more comfortable. The stupid dog decided to take my offer of sharing body heat at face value (or is it snout value?) because he pressed up right against my side.

“Oi! Stop pushing!” However, I couldn’t deny that he was quite warm. After I’d seen that he was comfortable enough I returned to my work.

After a moment, he put his head in my lap, as if to see what I was doing. I absently reached over with my free hand and scratched him behind the ear. I was surprised to find that his fur was a lot softer than I thought it would be. I mean, it looked soft, but I had just thought that it was a trick of the light or something, not that it would actually be soft.

“You know, for a dog that lives in the Forest, you do have rather beautiful fur,” I murmured. I glanced over to see that his eyes were nearly closed, either in enjoyment or sleepiness, I couldn’t tell. “I bet all the lady dogs are all chasing after you.” His tail beat the ground gently at the sound of my voice, I’m sure, and not at the compliment.

“And even though you sort of look scary, you’re not half bad, you know?”

His tail hit the ground a little harder.

I shifted my scratching to under his chin. “Actually, come to think of it, you’re rather adorable.”

I got a little lick on my hand for that compliment.

I smiled and shook my head, returning my attention back to my work. My hand didn’t leave his fur for a second.

 

~*~

 

Sirius' POV:


I think she smelt even better to me as a dog. Everything about her was intensified. The scent of blueberries was even stronger, almost at intoxication levels, and the scent coming off her skin was so strong, I could almost taste it. It was a strange mix of cinnamon, toothpaste and rose (that’s probably the scent of the soap she uses). Overlaying all this faintly was her perfume – something floral and light – and incredibly girly. This surprised me. I’d never pinned Millie as someone to wear such a feminine perfume. Perhaps her taste in other things was also inclined that way…

Her voice was pleasant to listen to as a human, but as a dog, I could hear the finer nuances, the slight changes in pitch, tone and volume that happened subconsciously to reflect her emotions and mood. And let me tell you, I should have done this a long time ago, because quite honestly, Millie White made a lot more sense to me when I was a dog than a human – which is rather strange If you thought about it (which I really wasn’t trying to do too hard, because then I’d just creep myself out).

We must have sat there for at least an hour, me, with my head resting in her lap, body pressed up against her to keep her warm, and her, scribbling away at her Herbology essay with one hand and her fingers running absently through my fur with the other.

And it felt… nice. Peaceful. Content.

 

~*~

 

Millie's POV:


“Holy Merlin!” I’d just realised what time it was – Potions was about to start in ten minutes and I was at the edge of the grounds. It was at least a fifteen minute trek to the dungeons from here. How had I lost track of the time whilst doing homework of all things?

“Mr Dog, you’re going to have to go now, or at least move so I can leave,” I said, turning my attention towards the dog.

He lifted his head off my lap and regarded me. It looked like he was saying: why bother?

“I have to! I’ve got class now!”

He seemed to look rather affronted at the fact that I’d rather spend an hour in some cold, dark room than freeze out in the boathouse with him.

“Stop looking at me like that! If I don’t go, Lily will kill me!”

He kept on staring.

I gave him a little shove.

He didn’t move.

“Oh come on! Don’t you have a best friend or someone who cares whether or not you come back?” I asked.

He kept on looking.

“I mean, aren’t dogs supposed to be pack animals naturally? Don’t you have them to go back to?”

I didn’t know if dogs could glare, but it looked like this one could. But finally, he moved. Slowly.

“Thank you!” I cried exasperatedly and began shoving my stuff into my bag.

He ambled away. I could tell he was mad at me, because he had his back turned to me.

“Fine. Be that way,” I muttered. With my stuff packed, I hurried to stand up. In my rush, I forgot to factor in my annoying habit of tripping and falling over thin air. Somehow, my legs tangled with each other and I stumbled into the wall beside me, grazing my knee. “Ow!” I said, very elegantly, I’m sure. I looked down to survey the damage. I could see blood starting to ooze out, as if even it felt that it was too cold to move quickly. “Damn!”

“Woof!” I’d forgotten that the dog was still there. He’d come over and was pacing around frantically.

“Don’t worry, Mr Dog. It’s just a little scratch,” I tried to soothe him. He really seemed worked up about it.

He approached me and nudged me gently.

“It really is just a little scratch.” I scratched him behind the ear in the hopes to calm him a little. “It’ll be all better in a minute.” Somehow, I felt I wasn’t doing the dog’s intelligence justice, talking to him like a three year old. I rummaged through my bag, looking for the packet of band-aids that I kept for occasions just like this. Even though I was so accident prone, I’d never managed to get my head around even the most basic first aid spells. So it had to be the muggle way.

Once I’d bandaged myself up, the dog gave me another nudge with his nose. “See?” I showed him my knee. “All better!” He seemed to inspect it for a second, and apparently it satisfied him enough to give his tail a little wag.

“That’s the spirit! Now come on! Be a gentleman and walk the lady up to castle.”

I stepped onto the path that led back to the school, my new friend wagging his tail beside me.




AN: Is it just me or does anyone else find Sirius' Animagus absolutely cadorable? If you are like me, fear not, for Snuffles shall make a return! ...soonish. I'm sorry guys it's been a while since I posted but exams are annoying and writer's block is so not cool. But tell me what you think... and also please feel free to gush about everyon'e favourite big black dog's absolute cuteness!


Chapter 23: It's a Date
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Sirius' POV:

“Sorry I’m late Professor,” I said as I strolled into class. Even though I didn’t sound very sorry about it, Slughorn seemed to buy it.

“Yes, yes,” he replied distractedly. “Take a seat.”

I beamed at him and sauntered over to my seat next to Millie. I’d escorted the lovely Miss White up to the castle (no one can accuse me of not being a gentleman – even as a dog) to make sure that she made it up there in one piece. It is absolutely amazing to see that someone who’s so graceful in the air, can be so clumsy on the ground. Actually, come to think of it, it wasn’t that amazing after all.

But it was still a nice walk.

Which, of course, made me very late for class.

I’d had to dash back to Gryffindor Tower and take a quick shower because all that tramping through the snow made me smell like wet dog. And let me tell you something about wet dog smell: it’s only almost bearable on an adorable dog such as myself, but on a human being, it suggests that you don’t shower very often – or like to wear pure wool in the pouring rain.

Seeing as I wanted to make a good impression on my almost-girlfriend, especially considering what I was about to ask her, smelling clean and not like wet dog was desirable.

I slid into my chair next to Millie and looked over at what she was doing. A cauldron was bubbling away with some sort of vile liquid in it, whilst Millie sat there cutting something (which looked suspiciously like sheep’s brains) with rather more concentration than was probably strictly required.

I sighed inwardly. So she still wasn’t acknowledging me.

“Hey,” I said quietly. She was trying really hard not to be obvious about the fact that she didn’t want to be anywhere near me anymore, so I figured that if I talked to her, she would at least answer – even if it was in monosyllables.

“Hey yourself,” she said. Three syllables! It must be my lucky day!

“What? No concerns about where I’ve been?”

“Is it really any of my business?” Yes. Yes, it is. You’re my girlfriend – you’re supposed to care. Why don’t you care?

“What if I’d seriously hurt myself or something?”

“If you were either dead or dying, I’m pretty sure I would have heard about it. Eventually.” She shrugged. Did this woman have absolutely no feelings for me whatsoever?
I scowled. She still hadn’t even glanced my way for even a microsecond, so it was quite ineffective. “Would you care?”

“Care about what?” she asked absently. She’d finished mutilating the sheep’s brains and was now in the process of adding every slither very carefully to the potion.

“If I got hurt?”

“Mm.” Is that non-committal or what?

I couldn’t help it – I crossed my arms and I am ashamed to admit it, pouted. “So you wouldn’t care?”

“I never said that.”

“But you didn’t say you would, either.”

“Fine. For what it’s worth, yes, I would care!”

“Are you just saying that to make me shut up?”

“What do you think?” I could hear the annoyance starting to creep into her voice. She only sounded faintly annoyed when I didn’t get a question right in Arithmancy after about the eighth time I’d attempted it nowadays, so it sort of surprised me that she sounded that way.

I took a moment to consider my next words. “Sorry.”

“About what?” How had she already forgotten about what we were talking about? Was I that unimportant in her life?

“For making you annoyed. Just before.”

For the first time that lesson she looked at me. Okay, it was just a brief glance in my general direction, but I was getting a little desperate here. “That’s okay. I’m used it by now. Have you seen the powdered brains anywhere?”

Hadn’t she just added brains? Why did she need to add more brains? Was this some sort of brain farm potion? “Here.” I held out the box.

She reached for it without looking.

Our hands brushed.

She almost dropped the box.

Ha! So she does like me! Or maybe my slightest touch repulses her so much that she flinches at the mere thought of it.

Best to go with the first option – my ego stays in a better condition that way.

At that thought, I felt myself smirking. I knew how much she hated me smirking, but it was kind of an occupational hazard – it went with the whole Sirius Black image.

Which she also hated.

Damn.

“Thanks,” she murmured, moving closer to look into the cauldron’s mouth. In that movement, her hair swung down to cover the side of her face, hiding what little I could see of it. Over the past few months I’d come to realise that this was a practised move. So. She was hiding something.

I moved in a little closer.

Our knees touched for a second.

Her hand, which was slowly tipping the contents of the box into the cauldron stopped. Just for a second.

“So,” I said, in a valiant effort to strike up a civil conversation.

“So,” she echoed, fastidiously not looking at me. She could be right stubborn when she wanted to be.

“We need to talk.” I winced as soon as I’d said those words. Now was not the time to fling out the first words that came into mind, buddy.

“We are talking.”

“No. We need to talk, talk.”

Finally, she stopped what she was doing and looked over at me.

“Want to talk, talk right now?” she asked, quirking up a single eyebrow. I almost kissed her.

“Um, I was hoping for a little more privacy, actually.”

She looked at me for a second, regarding me with her firewhiskey eyes. “Okay. When?”

“Um, what are you doing after dinner tonight?”

“Quidditch practice.”

“Right. Well. When will that finish?”

Her eyes drifted over to look at something more interesting than me over my left shoulder. The only consolation was that they’d drifted away in thought, not because she couldn’t bear looking at me anymore. “Well… it gets dark out pretty early these days and James’ got patrols tonight, I think, so if we’re lucky, we should be done by about eight.”

“Great!” I sounded too excited then, didn’t I? “Meet me in the kitchens after your practice then?”

Her eyes flicked back to my face. Without a single change in expression, she replied, “Alright. It’s a date.”

 

~*~

 

Millie's POV:


Why did I say it was a date? WHY? Because in no shape or form was this a date. I mean, I only have a GIANT CRUSH ON HIM, why on earth would I want to go on a date with him?

And in the kitchens of all places?

What kind of place is that for a date anyways?

Yeah, that’s right. It isn’t. So clearly, this isn’t a date.

Even though I said it was.

But he doesn’t have to take my word for it.

He probably won’t even remember.

Yeah.

 

“You’re late,” he smirked lazily at me from a table that was out of the way of the House Elves. What on earth were they doing so busily in here at this time of night?

“No. You’re early,” I replied as smoothly as I could, which was quite a difficult task because there were butterflies tap dancing in my stomach.

His eyes roved over me, making me feel a little self-conscious. I’d come straight here (because I wanted to get this over with and NOT because I wanted to see him) so I was still in my Quidditch gear.

“Is it snowing outside?” he asked.

“No,” I replied shortly.

“Then why are you wet?”

“I flew into a cloud,” I muttered. Merlin, don’t I feel stupid right now?

He frowned. “Shouldn’t you get out of those clothes then?”

Excuse me?”

“I mean, you should get out of those clothes and into some dry ones. You’re going to get hypothermia otherwise.” He looked mildly embarrassed.

“I’ll be fine.”

He didn’t say anything else, but still looked worried. Strangely worried. Why would he care if I got hypothermia?

“What did you want to talk to me about?” I asked as I sat down opposite him. I realised this was the same table we’d been sitting at when he’d come snowballing into my life. I’m not into Divination or anything, but this did not bode well.

“Right. Well,” he cleared his throat. “Right. Christmas holidays are coming up.”

“Yes, I’m aware.”

“What are your plans?”

“I’m staying at Hogwarts. You?” Am I seriously missing out on a hot shower right now because this guy wanted to make small talk?

“Oh, well. I’m going over to the Potters’. With James.”

“I figured.”

“And Lily.”

“Yeah, I remember her mentioning something about that.”

“Mrs Potter’s a really nice person, you know.”

I looked at him. He was acting weirder than usual. “I know,” I said slowly. “The Potters and my mother were neighbours – sort of.”

“Yeah… um, James was telling me…”

“Whatever it is Sirius, can you just spit it out already? I want to go take a shower.” Why on earth did I say that? He doesn’t need to know that I want to take a shower!

He stopped talking and looked at me.

I looked at him.

Then he said really fast, “Mrs Potter wants you to come over for Christmas so she can meet you.”

 

~*~

 

Sirius' POV:


Silence.

That’s never good.

“Say something,” I said. I couldn’t bear it anymore.

“Why?”

“Because she thinks you’re my girlfriend and it’s been a really long time since I’ve been in such a, um, long-term relationship as this, and well…” I ruffled my hair nervously. Millie was still looking at me like I was crazy. I probably was crazy.

“Well?” she prompted.

“Well, she’s kind of like my mum… actually, the Potters have sort of adopted me, so…”

“It’s only natural that she’d want to meet her second son’s girlfriend,” Millie finished. She was smiling faintly. That’s a good thing… right?

I sighed in relief. “So you understand? You’ll come with me to the Potters’ over Christmas break?”

“Sirius, I understand, but I won’t do it.”

I felt myself deflate. “Why not?”

“Because Sirius.” She was enunciating her words carefully and slowly. This couldn’t be good. “I’m still not out of the first mess you got me into.”

She had a point. “Look, I’m sorry about that –”

“Sorry? Sorry?” Was that the wrong thing to say? “What on earth am I supposed to do with a sorry?”

I was getting a little mad, but I was getting even more desperate. “Millie, please. Hear me out.”

She didn’t look like she wanted to hear anything I said, but she waved her hand, indicating I should continue.

“You know that I ran away from home back in fifth year, yeah?”

She nodded.

“Well, once I did that, the Potters took me in. Looked after me. Gave me a home, a real home, something I’d never really known before then.” Okay, okay, I was laying it on a little thick, but like I said, I was getting desperate. I didn’t want to lose Millie just yet. And I didn’t want to break Mrs P’s heart.

She was looking at me the way she looked at me when we were on our date at the Three Broomsticks. It was exceptionally powerful, that look. Stripped a man’s soul bare, it did.

“So I really, really, don’t want to disappoint Mrs P.”

“And bringing your fake girlfriend home to meet the closest thing you have to parents isn’t disappointing at all, is it?”

“Not if they don’t find out about the whole fake thing, no.” I threw her my most charming grin.

“You’re unbelievable!” She made to get up. “I can’t believe we’re even having this conversation right now!” I was losing her, and I knew if I lost her now, there was no way I was ever getting her back.

“Wait!” On an impulse, I grabbed her hand as she walked past.

She stopped dead in her tracks. She turned around slowly to look at where my hand was holding hers. Her eyes were wide and her mouth was slightly open (don’t think about her mouth, don’t think about her mouth). I was sensing I had a slight advantage here.

“Please Millie. I really need you to do this for me.” I was begging now, I knew, and as a general rule, Sirius Black did not beg, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Her eyes snapped to my face. “Why?” she asked. Fair question.

“Because it’ll make them happy.”

“How?”

“I think it’s kind of a parent thing. Seeing your children happy somehow translates to their own happiness.”

“So you’re willing to feign that you’re happy with me just to make them happy?”

“Well, I’m not exactly unhappy with you, so it shouldn’t be too hard, should it?”

She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but okay.”

“Thank you Millie! You’re the best fake girlfriend any guy could ever ask for!” I jumped up, and without thinking, gave her a big hug. I’m not really a hugging sort of person, but I thought the occasion called for it. I felt her tense against me, so I let go quickly. “Sorry about that. Didn’t know what came over me.” I said a little sheepishly.

“That’s, um, alright,” she said, looking down to brush out her Quidditch uniform. I couldn’t help but admire how nice her legs looked in them. All long and shapely… “And I believe what came over you is known as joy.”

I grinned at her.

“Stop doing that. You look like a moron.” She scowled.

My grin grew bigger.

“But.”

Uh oh. My grin fell.

“Let it be known for the record that I am not doing this for you, I am doing this for your surrogate mother. Having spent the little amount of time I have around you, I have no idea how she can even like you, let alone love you, so in my opinion, the woman probably deserves a little happiness on your behalf in her life. That is the only reason I am doing this. Understood?”

“I hear you loud and clear.” Merlin’s bloody beard, I am nowhere near her favourite person right now, am I? Not that I’m even in the top one hundred usually, but she’s not so obvious about it. She usually acts like I’m at least #99.

“Also, there is going to be as little PDA as believably possible and try not to look too infatuated with me. We don’t want them thinking we’re in love or something.”

“Would that be such a bad thing?”

“Yeah, it would, because the next crazy thing you’ll be asking me to do is marry you.”

“Only to make them happy.”

She gave me the stripping-a-man’s-soul-bare look again.

“You really do love them, don’t you?” she asked quietly.

“Yeah, I do.”

She smiled slightly. “It’s kind of cute.”

I grinned.

She looked like she regretted saying that.

“Well, it wasn’t exactly what I was aiming for, but I’ll take what I can.”

She regarded me for a moment longer, then shaking her head, made to leave.

“Wait!” I tightened my grip on her hand – I’d forgotten I was still holding it (some subconscious part of my brain had slid my hand down to hers after I hugged her – sometimes I loved my subconscious brain).

“What now Sirius? I wasn’t kidding about that shower, you know.”

I was sorely tempted to tell her how much I would like to join her in that shower, but somehow, I imagined that would not be endearing me to her. And endearing was a pretty necessary thing right now. So, I fought down that urge and locked it up into that place in my brain where such inappropriate teenage male thoughts are locked up until such a time as when they can be properly dissected in privacy. “You smell fine to me,” I blurted out instead. Okay, I needed to work on this a little bit.

She rolled her eyes. “What did you want to say?”

“I just wanted to say… thank you… for everything. You really are the best girlfriend a guy could ask for.” A little bit of subtle hinting there. Yeah, I’m seventeen and male, sue me.

“You mean fake girlfriend,” she corrected. So she noticed the accidentally-on-purpose slip-up. This could be a good thing.

“Yeah, of course.”

She shook her head again, but I could tell she was trying to fight down a smile. Success! “Goodnight Sirius.”

“Goodnight.”

She didn’t leave.

We just kept looking at each other.

If she didn’t leave soon, there would be no force on this planet that could stop me from kissing her.

“You can let go of my hand now,” she said quietly.

“Oh! Right, sorry.” I let go of her hand reluctantly. It had been icy cold when I’d grabbed it. I wonder if she wanted me to warm up the other one for her? Would it be weird of me to ask? Yeah, probably. I should just grab it and avoid that whole awkward situation.

Yeah, because this situation wouldn’t be awkward at all.

Oh great, so now my stupid voice of reason has developed sarcasm. Can’t someone just Avada Kedavra this sorry bastard already?

“So I guess I’ll see you tomorrow, then?” I asked as she walked away.

“You can count on it, seeing as we go to the same school and all that.”

“Right, of course.”

I wish she’d said it was a date again.




AN: See? I didn't make you guys wait too long for their talk! And I was ecstatic to read all the reviews which all seemed to suggest to me that everyone adored Snuffles! I have a HUGE soft spot for dogs, and I was cuddling mine the whole time I was writing the last chapter. And fear not, Snuffles comes back! But what do you think of this chapter? I wanted to show Sirius as a bit of a more caring person - and I reckon that he really does love the Potters. So tell me what y'all think!


Chapter 24: I Wanna Hold Your Hand
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Millie's POV:

What was I thinking when I said yes to Sirius? Why on earth did I keep on agreeing to prolong this stupid charade?

It was probably the gruelling training session I had been subjected to beforehand by James (where does he come up with such dastardly plans to torture us?).

Or it might be the fact that I have a crush on him.

Or that we snogged a few days ago.

And I want to snog him again.

A lot.

Yeah, it was probably the training session.

 

“Where have you been?” Sarah asked as I finally traipsed into our dormitory. “James came back ages ago.”

“So him and Lily out patrolling now?” I asked, wishing to distract Sarah from my whereabouts.

“More like making out now.”

“You know Lily, she’d never do that when she was supposed to be working.”

“Yeah? Well I reckon James’ wild ways have had an effect on her.”

“Do you seriously think he’s the one wearing the pants in that relationship?”

Sarah grinned. “No.”

“So. How’s it going on the Remus front?”

She shrugged and looked down, hiding her blush. “Oh, you know, well, I suppose.”

I quirked an eyebrow. “Well?”

“Okay! I think he likes me – as a friend of course, but that’s much better than I was doing at the start of the term!” She was still blushing, but she was smiling like crazy too.

“Sarah, he’d have to be stark raving mad not to like you.” And I meant it too. With her golden blonde hair, sapphire blue eyes and totally fit body, most people just considered her to be another airhead bimbo. But true to form, Sarah broke all the stereotypes. She was super kind, super caring and super fun to be around. Plus, she did much better in school than any of those idiots who thought she was dumb, just because she was a blonde female.

“Thanks! But he’s always so quiet! It’s so hard to figure out what he’s thinking!”

“I think when it comes to boys, it doesn’t matter how loud they are – they’re still as confusing as Advanced Alchemy.”

“Is Sirius confusing?” she asked – well, she practically sang it.

“Yeah, he is, but I think it’s got more to do with the fact that he’s a complete idiot than anything else.”

“Did you guys have a fight?”

“It’s nothing. We’re always fighting.”

“No, you’re not.”

“Sarah, almost all our conversations are arguments!” Why was I telling her this? Probably because it was the first real thing I’d said about Sirius and me ever. It felt good, getting that off my chest. “I mean, I’m surprised we’ve lasted as long as we have!”

“Oh sweetie,” she came over to my bed and gave me a hug. “You might argue all the time, but it’s so obvious that Sirius really cares about you!”

I looked at her like she’s just sprouted two heads. Why was she taking his side? Wasn’t she my best friend?

“Don’t give me that look! Anyone can see it! I mean, think about it. He listens to you when you’re talking.”

“Oh, he looks like he’s listening, but he’s really not.”

She continued like I hadn’t interrupted. “He makes sure you’re comfortable.”

“Just because he put a blanket on me when I fell asleep in the Common Room one time –”

“He does it every time you fall asleep. He’s always fussing about your eating.”

“Which is actually very annoying, seeing I get it enough from you and Lily.”

“Yes, but when a guy does it, it’s cute.”

“It’s a bit creepy actually –”

“And he’s so protective of you.”

I laughed. I couldn’t help it. “Okay. Maybe there was a little truth in all of those things, but there is no way that Sirius Black is protective of me.”

She raised her eyebrows and crossed her arms. “Oh really? So how do you explain the innumerable times he’s saved you from imminent death from a fall down a flight of stairs, or amnesia because you hit your head into various objects, or some sort of terrible end because you dropped a nasty ingredient in Potions, or –”

“Alright, alright, I get it.”

“I’m not done yet. Have you noticed how he sits when he’s next to you?”

“Um… no?” Usually when Sirius is next to me, I try not to think about it, because he smells really nice. I can’t really describe what it smells like, but it always makes me think of trees and the way everything looks after a summer storm and the sun’s poking out again, making everything glisten and little bubbling brooks…

“Well, his body’s kind of turned towards you, but it’s really subtle, like he doesn’t even know he’s doing it – almost as if he’s trying to subconsciously shield you from the world. Now, if that’s not protective, I don’t know what is.”

“Sarah, have you been reading Lily’s trashy historical romance novels again? Because we talked about this –”

“And most importantly,” she said loudly over me, cutting me off. “He holds your hand.”

This threw me more than anything else. “He holds my hand,” I repeated, just to make sure I’d heard right.

“Yeah, he holds your hand.”

“And that is the ultimate sign that Sirius is the best boyfriend ever?”

“Yes.”

“Um, please explain.”

“Haven’t you ever heard The Beatles song, I Wanna Hold Your Hand?”

“Yeah, I think Lily’s played that one for me.” Excuse my ignorance people – I’m a pureblood.

“Well there you go.”

“Sarah, that explains nothing.”

“It explains everything. It just goes to show that the ultimate sign of love is not if you want to snog them, or sleep with them, or whatever, it’s that you want to hold their hand.”

“So now Sirius is in love with me because he holds my hand?”

“No, of course not! It’s not as simple as that.” She was saying all of this like it was the most obvious thing in the world. To Sarah, it probably was – she was good with feelings and stuff. But this was all news to me. “But it’s a start.” She smiled knowingly at my confusion.

“Whatever you say, Sarah,” I replied, feeling a little dazed by all of this.

“You’ll understand, if you give this a real chance.” That stupid knowing smile hadn’t left yet. “So where were you?” she asked, suddenly changing the subject. Completely normal Sarah behaviour.

“Oh, I was talking to Sirius.”

“Talking to Sirius, or having an angry snogging session with Sirius?”

“No, no, definitely talking. There was no snogging involved, angry or otherwise.” There was some hand-holding though. And hugging. Not sure where the hugging thing came from.

“Were you trying to sort out your differences, because even though you said that you two argue all the time, I’m quite sure, knowing you, that you wouldn’t be arguing about what’s really bothering you.” It was creepy how well she knew me. I should expect it, seeing as she’d been one of my best friends since first year.

“No, we weren’t discussing that.” Sort of. “He actually asked me to come with him to the Potters’ for Christmas.”

“Really?” She looked excited.

“Actually, Mrs Potter invited me over. He says that she says she wants to meet me.”

“Oh my God, that’s great! This is a really big step for you and Sirius both! You’re going to meet his parents!”

“The Potters aren’t his parents, they’re James’.”

“Oh, it’s practically the same thing. They’re really the ones who care.”

“How would you know?” I didn’t think it was common knowledge how close James and Sirius really were. I mean, it was clear that they were brothers in all but blood relation (and both being purebloods, it was more than certain that they were distant cousins, so they almost were related by blood), but I don’t think anyone really knew that James’ parents considered him a son. Hell, I only found out today!

“She wouldn’t have invited you otherwise! I mean, it only goes to prove my point that Sirius likes you more than he’s liked any of his other girlfriends, because you’re the one he’s written home about – ”

“I don’t think he did.” I’m pretty sure James did. Sirius wouldn’t think it important to tell her.

“Irrelevant! The point is, she knows, and she wants to meet you, and Sirius didn’t blow her off and not ask you.”

“I really think he did it just to please Mrs Potter, actually.” I know this to be fact, considering I’d been told of it very, very recently.

She gave me a look. “Sweetie, that might be part of the reason, but he did it because he wants to take you home to meet his family.”

“Or to make it less awkward for Lily. And because he doesn’t want to disappoint Mrs Potter.”

“Is that what he told you?”

“Yes.”

“That’s only because he doesn’t realise the real reason.”

“And you do?”

“Yes. I know these things.”

I looked at Sarah. I love her and everything, but she’s completely insane. “I have to go take a shower,” I muttered.

I slipped off my bed (and by slip, I don’t mean daintily slide off onto my feet, I mean slipped), got up off the floor and made my way to the bathroom.

The worst part of all of this was that, even though there was a part of me that didn’t believe a single word of what Sarah had said, there was quite a large part of me that really, really wanted to.

Man, it was so difficult having a crush on a guy you were only pretending to date.

 

~*~

 

“Millie! Hurry up! We’re going to miss the train!” Lily yelled up the stairs.

“I am hurrying!” I yelled back. It was just that my stupid trunk – just – wasn’t – closing. There. Done.

I dragged it to the door and then pushed it down the stairs.

“Incoming trunk!” I called out as fair warning to any poor soul who was traversing the winding staircase, just in case the thudding noises my trunk was making wasn’t warning enough.

“Bloody hell!” I heard a male voice yelp.

“Sorry!” I called as I descended the path that my trunk had recently taken.

When I got into the Common Room, I found that as usual, I was the last one ready to go. Remus and Peter were lounging in nearby couches, looking as if they’d fallen asleep (probably had). Both of them were going to their own respective homes this Christmas.

Sarah, who was going to go visit her great-aunt in Germany or something was sitting on her trunk, her pretty face still looking pretty when she was half-asleep (how does she do that?).

James was laughing at Sirius for something, whilst Lily was standing in front of me, hands on hips and glaring. Uh oh.

“You!” she began angrily walking towards me.

I took a cautious step back. “What did I do? I haven’t even been awake for that long!” I cried out in my defence. No idea what I was defending myself against.

“Was it really necessary to send your trunk careening dangerously down the stairs?”

“Yes. How else was I supposed to get it down?”

“Couldn’t you just levitate it like a normal person?”

I opened my mouth to retort, then closed it again thoughtfully. “I didn’t think of that.” Sue me, it’s early.

“Yes, I’m sure you didn’t! You almost killed poor Sirius!”

We both looked over to see that Sirius was looking accordingly hurt.

“Well, poor Sirius seems to be in one piece!” Unfortunately.

“Hey!” the man in question cried out in indignation. “Don’t sound so disappointed!”

“Padfoot, it would have been a great service to the world if that trunk had knocked you silent,” Remus said wearily from his couch. “Then perhaps some of us would still be sleeping.”

I sent a questioning glance at James. As explanation, James said, “Padfoot here’s been awake since the crack of dawn.”

“And he woke us up, too,” Remus grumbled.

I turned to look at Sirius. He was looking quite chirpy for someone who’s been awake since dawn. That’s downright unnatural.

“You’re such an idiot, you know that?” I told him.

He grinned. “Darling, my day doesn’t really begin until you’ve informed me of my idiocy.”

“Shut up, Black.”

 

~*~

 

Sirius's POV:


“Well, isn’t this cosy?” I said as a means to begin a conversation with the lovely Miss White. She was looking exceptionally beautiful today, with her dark chocolate hair down, arms crossed defensively (or to keep herself warm) over her chest and her dreamy eyes shooting daggers at me (don’t know how she managed to do that, considering that she was also looking incredibly sleepy). A man has no hope in all the universe of not kissing her when Millie White is throwing daggers at him with her dreamy eyes.

“Yes, cosy,” she replied. Her eyes narrowed, as if to say that this was all my fault.

I assumed an innocent expression, even though it was my fault that she’d ended up wedged between me and the wall next to the window. Because the train was relatively empty, we’d managed to snag one of the larger compartments, so I really had no legitimate reason to be sitting so close to her – except, you know, that I was her boyfriend. Sort of. “At least this way, we’ll stay warm,” I said.

“The train’s heated,” she said without inflection – a sure sign that she wasn’t happy, but then again, she rarely is happy around me. I planned to change that this Christmas. I didn’t know how, but I would.

“You look beautiful today.” Maybe it was time for a different tack.

“Go away, Black.” Or maybe not.

“No seriously, I don’t think I tell you often enough how beautiful you are. I should tell you that at least once every day.”

“I said, go away.”

Then she turned her head away from me, leaning it against the window, closed her eyes and fell promptly to sleep.

Well.

I knew I was an idiot, but I hadn’t realised how boring I was either.

 

~*~

 

Millie's POV:


I awoke with a jolt. The train had stopped moving. It took me some time to return to my senses. I could feel that my cheek was resting against something rather softer, warmer and infinitely more comfortable than the wall of the compartment. Strange.

I opened my eyes. The first thing to swim into my vision was Sarah giving me a meaningful look – or at least I think she was – I was still pretty out of it.

I felt myself frown in confusion. I shouldn’t be able to see Sarah at all if I was sleeping against the compartment wall. So that meant, I wasn’t sleeping against the compartment wall, but something else.

I felt the something rise and fall gently under me, almost as if it was breathing.

Weird. What on earth breathes?

Then, all of sudden, in a rare moment of clarity, I realised what it was.

Correction – I realised who it was.

Sirius.

 

I shot up off his shoulder like he’d caught on fire. Except, I was the one on fire. Merlin, this was so embarrassing! I’d fallen asleep on the same guy I was mad at for no apparent reason other than he existed for the past four months!

“Woah! Careful!” he said quietly. He looked at me with concern. “You’ll give yourself a head rush.”

Too late. And the head rush wasn’t just because I’d moved too quickly. Holy Merlin, I could still smell him!

“Sorry,” I muttered as I stood up and fixed my rumpled clothing.

Now he looked confused – adorably so. Gah! “What for?”

“For falling asleep on you. You should have woken me up or something.” Why hadn’t he?

He gave me a small smile that made my already jelly-like insides turn into complete mush. We were now the only two people still left in the compartment. “You looked so peaceful. It seemed like a crime to wake you up.”

“But it would have been so uncomfortable for you.”

His smile widened. Merlin, he had to stop doing that. Oh no, his dimples were showing! I was in hot water now. “It wasn’t too bad. I mean it isn’t every day that you have such a pretty girl fall asleep on your shoulder.”

My already overheated body flushed even more.

His smile disappeared to be replaced with a frown. “Are you feeling okay?” he asked.

“Who, me?” I asked back. Of course, you idiot. Now I was hearing voices in my head. “I feel fine! Um, why do you ask?”

“Well… you look all… flushed.”

That would be because I’m blushing with embarrassment, idiot. Thanks to my skin tone however, it was actually quite difficult to tell whether I was blushing or just looking exceptionally red that day. “No, no. I’m fine.”

There was a moment of awkward silence where Sirius looked at me and I looked anywhere but at him.

“We should… probably go now,” I mumbled.

“Oh, right!” he snapped out of his thoughts. “Yes, I think it’s time you met my mother!”

 

Mrs Potter was waiting to meet us on the other side of Platform 9 ¾. As we emerged from the barrier, she was in the process of smothering her son in a big hug.

“James, honestly, how many times have I told you to comb your hair?” she scolded gently as she tried to flatten his unruly hair.

“Mum! Gerrof!” Remus, Peter and Lily (Sarah had rushed off to catch her train to Germany at some other secret platform) were all trying very hard not to laugh out loud. I couldn’t help but grinning at the scene.

“And Remus dear, have you been keeping well?” Her attention shifted abruptly, the way only a mother’s can.

“I’ve been fine, Mrs Potter. How have you been?” Ah Remus, ever so polite, as he hugged her.

She gave him an appraising look. “Never mind me, you need to get more sleep Remus!”

James snickered.

“And Peter, how’s your mother, dear?” It was now his turn for scrutiny.

“She’s better now,” he replied meekly.

“It’s such a shame that you two couldn’t come over to stay. But I suppose you’d want to spend some time with your own families.” She looked wistful. Holy Merlin, I hadn’t even met the woman yet and I could tell that if she had her way, she’d be a mother to the whole world!

Her attention once again turned to find another victim. Her eyes landed on Lily and they widened. “You must be Lily!” she cried and enveloped the startled-looking red-head in a hug.

“It’s very nice to meet you,” Lily said as best as she could through it.

“Of course James has told us all about you! You’re even prettier than he described!”

“Mum!” James cried indignantly. Lily blushed.

Ignoring her son, she held Lily out at arm’s length and appraised her and it was pretty clear that Lily was getting the all-clear for future daughter-in-law.

Satisfied, Mrs Potter looked around once more. “Where’s Sirius?” she asked.

We’d been standing off to the side, watching the scene in silence.

Sirius had decided, however, that there had been enough attention diverted from him for long enough because he suddenly cried, “Mrs P! It’s so good to see you!” He rushed the poor woman into a rather violent bear hug.

Mrs Potter laughed. “Yes Sirius, it’s nice to see you, too! I see you’ve been keeping yourself well.” He beamed at the compliment. I couldn’t help smiling. I guess he really did love her as a mother.

“And where’s your friend?” she asked. My stomach filled with dread. I couldn’t do this. My body screamed at me to run, but I was rooted to the spot. What was I doing here? I didn’t belong in this happy familial scene!

Sirius looked around him, noticing for the first time that I hadn’t followed, but stayed where he’d left me. He rolled his eyes at me, grabbed my hand and pulled (none too gently either). I stumbled to his side, bumping into him a little, but his hand steadied me easily.

“Hello, Mrs Potter,” I said quietly. She looked even kinder up close. She had a smiley sort of mouth and even though her eyes were chocolate brown, her son had inherited the warmth that they held in them. Being around Mrs Potter made you feel instantly wanted, loved.

She looked me over, her eyes darting down to where Sirius’ hand was still holding mine. He gave it a reassuring squeeze. I suppose she was probably sizing me up as future daughter-in-law material as well, but it saddened me to tell this woman that even if I passed (unlikely), that was never going to happen.

She smiled warmly at me. “It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen you, Millie. Look how you’ve grown!” Expected, since I was probably around two, but I didn’t say anything as she enveloped me in a hug, her warm motherly scent drifting into my nose. I felt my eyes moisten slightly. I suddenly missed my own mother. How could Sirius expect me to lie to this woman? How?

“Look at you, all grown up!” Oh my Merlin, please don’t tell me she was going to cry, because I was quite certain that there would be nothing stopping me from bursting into tears and blurting out the whole truth then and there – including the part about having a crush on my fake boyfriend.

Sirius must have noticed that something was not right, because he pulled me back, taking my hand again and gave it another reassuring squeeze. At least, I assumed that was what he was doing, but really, how was that supposed to help (ignore the fact that it did)?

“Don’t they feed you up at the castle anymore?” she asked.

“What?” Yeah, rather intelligent of me.

“You’re skin and bones! I can’t understand any of this nonsense about being thin to impress boys…” she rattled off as she turned around and we began heading out of the station.

“What?” I said again, still managing to sound completely stupid.

“You need to eat more! There’s nothing wrong with having a little extra on you –”

“That’s what I’ve been saying,” Sirius muttered under his breath.

“Shut up, Sirius,” I muttered back.

He had the nerve to grin cheekily at me, dimples and all.

Curse those bloody dimples!





AN: TA-DA! This was originally two chapters, so it is a bit disjointed, but I'm sure you'll forgive me because I made it semi-long and less filler-y than if it was posted as two chapters. And also, I apologise for the random Sirius POV in there, but I couldn't resist, because he's just too cute! And all credit for the title of this chapter to the ever awesome, ever relevant, original boyband, THE BEATLES!


Chapter 25: Early Mornings, Breakfasts, Dresses and Hometowns
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The day after tomorrow came too soon. I could tell this was going to be a long day when I was woken at the ungodly hour of eight in the morning (it’s practically sacrilege to get up that early on the holidays) by Sirius barging into my room.

“Millie! Millie! Millie!”

“Holy Merlin! Wazgoinon?” was the coherent reply I gave.

“Millie! Millie! Millie!” There was a strange man bounding towards me.

“Ah!” I pulled my covers to my chin and tried to huddle down into my mattress to make as small a target of myself as possible.

“Millie! Millie! Millie!”

The strange man had been identified by my sleep addled brain. “Sirius! You can’t just go barging into people’s rooms at eight in the morning!” I cried, still making sure that my covers were pulled up as far they could go. I mean, I didn’t go to bed stark naked, but I didn’t exactly feel comfortable revealing that I slept in one of my dad’s t-shirts and my oldest and most comfortable flannel pyjama bottoms (they were a faded sky blue with yellow stars on them), especially considering that Sirius was now practically jumping up and down at the edge of my bed in nothing but boxers and a faded concert t-shirt of The Norwegian Ridgebacks.

I shall leave it to your capable imaginations as to how hot he looked, with his hair all ruffled from just getting out of bed and mischief dancing in his pale grey eyes…

“Sirius!” cried Mrs Potter from the door. “Stop that at once! You’ll break the bed!”

With one last rebellious bounce, Sirius ceased his jumping.

Thank Merlin.

“And don’t you know it’s impolite to enter a lady’s room without knocking first?” she added, hands on hips and gazing sternly at her almost-adopted son.

“Millie’s no lady!” Sirius said defensively.

“Hey!” I cried, kicking his leg from under the covers. “I am too!”

“See what I mean?” he winced dramatically at my kick. “What kind of lady kicks people?”

“The kind who wishes to have an undisturbed sleep!”

“It’s still quite unladylike behaviour!”

“Oh, and you would know, considering what a perfect lady you are!”

“I am not a lady! Mrs P! Millie’s calling me names!” Sirius cried, pointing his finger at me.

“You know, it’s also impolite to point fingers,” I said in what I hoped to be a scathing voice, but I don’t think I quite managed it because I was too busy having fun arguing with Sirius. I can’t believe this, but I actually missed our little babyish spats – the real ones were just too charged with unresolved issues and pent-up emotion for my liking.

I don’t think this was quite a healthy relationship.

Sirius poked his tongue at me.

I poked mine at him back.

“Are those two arguing again?” Lily asked Mrs Potter exasperatedly.

“Do they do this often?” Mrs Potter asked in mild surprise. Yeah, I don’t know how people still buy we’re together either.

“Practically every day. It can be cute sometimes.”

Cute!

Mrs Potter shook her head and sighed. “I’ll go downstairs and make breakfast. You will eat something won’t you, Millie?” Yes, I hand one more person scrutinising my eating habits. Now that’s four more than I wanted.

“Oh, she will,” Lily said menacingly. “I’ll make sure of it.”

With one last eye roll in our direction, Lily followed Mrs Potter down the stairs, leaving Sirius and I alone once more.

 

I glared at him at the edge of my bed.

He had the nerve to grin back at me.

“Morning darling,” he drawled.

“What was the need to wake me up in such a loud manner?” I demanded.

“I thought it had been a few days since I’d annoyed you, so I decided what better way to make up for lost time?”

“Black, be very assured when I say this that you manage to annoy me at least three times a day some way or another, so there is no need for you to feel that you must make up for lost time.”

He waved his hand dismissively. “It doesn’t count when it’s accidental.”

“You mean you annoy me just for the heck of it too?”

“Yeah. You look cute when you’re annoyed.”

“Cute?” I asked incredulously. Inside, the part of me that has a crush on this guy was dancing. He thought I was cute!

“Yeah. When your eyes are all sparkling with pent-up fury and frustration and your eyebrows are all scrunched up.”

“I do not scrunch my eyebrows!” I totally scrunch my eyebrows.

He leant over and smoothed out the lines that had formed between the eyebrows in question with his thumb. The sudden touch surprised me into relaxing my face muscles. Now I was probably doing my famous drowning-fish-in-shock impression. I bet I was looking damn cute now!

“You look cuter still when you’re all surprised,” he murmured, his hand now cupping my cheek.

We were face to face now, him leaning over me. Why did we somehow end in these positions?

I swallowed to see if that would help my suddenly dry throat make some sort of noise. “I probably look like a drowning fish in shock,” was what I managed to finally get out, in only a slightly hoarse voice, I was pleased to report.

He looked at me right in the eye for a moment, the edges of his mouth turning slightly upwards. Merlin, he had to move away soon or I would have no choice but to fling myself onto him and snog his brains out. “Yes, but a very cute drowning fish in shock.”

“Drowning fish in shock aren’t cute.”

His lips twitched further upwards. “Must you argue with me about everything Millie?” he asked quietly.

“Yes,” I breathed.

He thoughtfully stroked my cheekbone with his thumb. His touch was feather light, but it still managed to do very strange things to my innards.

“I can live with that.” Then, he leaned in, closing the gap between our mouths and –

“Millie! Prongs! Stop snogging and get your arses down for breakfast!” I heard James’ voice call up the stairs.

“Language, young man!” Mrs Potter’s voice followed.

It was enough to jolt me out of the strange trance Sirius’ eyes held me in. Sirius also leaned away, taking his big warm hand with him.

It must have been my still-Sirius-induced-addled-brain’s fault, but I thought I heard him say “damn!” under his breath.

That couldn’t be right.

He finally got off the bed and looked down at me smiling, dimples and all. “Come on princess! Breakfast awaits!”

I threw a pillow at him.

 

“Millie dear, just have one more piece of toast,” Mrs Potter coaxed.

“But I’m really not hungry,” I almost-whined.

“How come? You’ve only had tea!”

“But I’ve had about three cups of tea. And that’s a lot of tea.”

She frowned, most probably in confusion. I bet none of James’ friends ever made such a fuss about eating. They probably ate the house down. “Is this one of those new fad diets? I think I read about this somewhere… I’m telling you dear, they don’t work and I know that you think that boys like skinny girls, but they really don’t –”

“Mrs Potter,” I interrupted before this conversation went into places where I didn’t want it to go. I mean James was practically peeing his pants, trying to keep from laughing and Lily was going red from the effort, too. Or maybe she was just annoyed about something. Sometimes it was hard to tell with her. “This isn’t a fad diet or anything. I just don’t like eating breakfast.”

She didn’t look convinced. “Well, dear… half a piece of toast at least. You’re too thin for your own good! And if any boy likes you better as a stick then quite frankly he isn’t worth your time.” She threw an accusatory look at Sirius like this was all his fault.

“Hey! I tell her to eat more! I’m very supportive,” he glanced my way and gave me a wink.

DID SIRIUS BLACK JUST WINK AT ME?

WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?

“Mrs Potter, I assure you that the whole breakfast thing has absolutely nothing to do with boys, or my weight, or my self-esteem – I really just don’t like breakfast!”

By this stage, James had buried his head in his porridge and was trying very hard not to snort half of it up his nose. He was almost successful too.

“Skipping breakfast still isn’t a very healthy thing, dear. Just one piece of toast! It’s got marmalade!” Was that supposed to be some sort of incentive? I mean, what kind of self-respecting fruit preserve calls itself marmalade?

“She’s right you know,” Sirius said sagely – or it would have been, if he wasn’t talking through a mouthful of scrambled eggs.

“Will you swallow before you speak?” I asked him, scrunching my nose. I was still feeling a little shaken from recent events involving him and me, so I’d decided that the best way to combat these feelings of confusion and turmoil was to act nastier than usual.

As his girlfriend, I’m allowed to do that right?

Well, whatever.

He swallowed without chewing properly. How does this guy digest anything? “You just can’t say no to marmalade on toast!”

I stared at him like he’d gone mad.

He gave me a wicked grin (was it possible to jinx someone’s dimples off and pass that as self-defence?).

I sighed.

Fine! I’ll have one piece of toast!” I conceded, none too graciously, but whatever.

Mrs Potter beamed and went back into the kitchen to make more mountains of toast presumably.

Sirius smirked at me.

I kicked him under the table.

Hard.

 

“I’m sure you’ll find something in here,” Lily said encouragingly. A few hours later, Mrs Potter, Lily and I were entering the last boutique in all of Diagon Alley. We’d spent the morning and a good part of the afternoon already trying to find me the perfect dress for the stupid Christmas Ball thing that was happening in a couple of days’ time (turns out, it was on Christmas Eve, not Christmas Day – a rather deceptive name in my opinion).

“I don’t understand what was wrong with the last dress I tried,” I muttered.

Both Mrs Potter and Lily looked at me aghast.

“It was horrible, that’s what was wrong with it!” Lily cried. She sounded far too upset at the idea that I should wear that dress, than was strictly necessary.

“It wasn’t that bad.” Thank Merlin, we’d done some other shopping as well. Mrs Potter had some last minute Christmas present-buying to do, Lily had found a dress that made her look stunning and I’d managed to somehow get a Christmas present for Sirius. I mean, he was supposed to be my boyfriend – but really wasn’t, so I did have to put some thought into it to make it look like I actually cared

So really, all that was left, was my dress.

“Can’t I just wear something that I have already?” I asked, a little hopefully. I wasn’t really one for shopping and so much prolonged exposure to retail was starting to get to me.

“You don’t own anything that’ll do,” Lily said.

“Yes I do!”

“Millie, I’m not letting you wear jeans, okay?”

Okay, maybe I didn’t have anything.

“Fine. But can we do this quickly at least?”

 

It wasn’t quick. I think I’d tried about every single dress in that little store. The poor sales assistant, who had been so chipper and happy at the start, now resembled someone who’d just been through a lion fight or something.

I didn’t even know why it was so difficult, but according to Mrs Potter and Lily, it was paramount that I found something that was simply perfect.

“I’m not getting married, you know!” I sighed after the latest dress had received a decisive no. If it wasn’t the colour, it was the cut. If it wasn’t the cut, it was the material. If it wasn’t the material, it was the length…

“You might like this,” the sales assistant said tiredly, bringing over the dress that Mrs Potter had chosen. Apparently, it had been pushed right to the back of a long-forgotten clothes rack in a dark and dusty corner. This didn’t bode well.

I eyed it dubiously. “I don’t think I’ll fit into it.”

Lily sighed. “Millie, you’re tiny. You’ll fit into it.”

“Fine.”

I grabbed the dress and huffed into the change room. The only thing I really noticed about it, was that it was long. And it had a difficult zipper. Stupid zipper – why – was – it – stuck? Oh, here we go!

I stepped out of the room, with the dress finally done up.

Both Lily and Mrs Potter gasped.

“What? What? What’s wrong with it?” I asked, frantically. This was possibly the last dress in the last shop! I’d have to wear jeans to the Ball if we didn’t find anything!

… Or maybe I wouldn’t have to go! Even better!

“No,” Mrs Potter breathed.

“It’s beautiful!” Lily cried.

“You’re beautiful!”

“I am?”

I turned to look at myself in the mirror. Well… the dress was definitely a beautiful one, no doubt about that. It was a floor length, one shoulder, midnight blue affair, with a fitted bodice, cinching my waist in (actually, it made me look like I had a waist in the first place and I wasn’t just some willowy tree branch or something) and then coming out in an a-line skirt.

But…

Did I look beautiful?

“Do you really think so?” I asked, considering myself in the mirror.

“Yes! The colour of the dress contrasts wonderfully with your eyes and it’s making your skin glow!” Lily exalted. The glowing skin thing might just be from frustration and the warmth in this shop actually.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes!” both Mrs Potter and Lily said together.

“Well, I suppose… alright.”

The shop assistant seemed to be the happiest with our purchase.

 

~*~

 

“Do you mean to tell me, that you haven’t visited your house since your parents died?” Lily asked me later that night. We were both lying on her bed. It was late, but neither of us could sleep, so I’d decided to crash her room (which was a soothing pale rose pink).

“I didn’t really feel the need to. It’s not like I actually lived there or anything.”

“But it’s your ancestral home!”

“But it’s not my actual home.”

“You know you have to go.”

“Why?”

“Well, even if you’re not going to use the place or whatever, you have to at least clean it out. Didn’t you say you had a house elf or something?”

“Nah, he lives with my grandmother, so there’s no worries there.”

“But it would be good to go there and just to see what you now own, you know? You should know stuff like that.”

I turned my head to the side to look at her. “You think so?”

She turned to look at me like I was crazy. “Of course!”

I turned back to look at the ceiling. It was far less judgemental about the state of my mental health. “Fine. I’ll go soon.”

“Go tomorrow.”

“I can’t!”

“Why not?”

“Because I need time to prepare!”

“For what? This isn’t a test or anything! You’re going to go to your own house! And it’s not like it’s miles and miles away! And you can apparate!”

“I have to prepare myself still… mentally, you know?”

“No, I don’t.” I could feel her eyes still judging me… or more accurately, my cheek, but I kept my eyes resolutely glued to the ceiling.

“But won’t Mrs Potter need help with preparing for the Ball? I mean, it’s the day after tomorrow!” It was a rather weak argument, but it was still worth a try.

I’m here, James’ here, Sirius is here. She’ll have lots of helping hands!”

“You mean I have to go alone?”

“Why? Are you scared of your house?”

“Yes! Why do you think I haven’t been?”

“Millie! You’re unbelievable!”

We were interrupted by a quiet knock on the door.

“Are you two decent? Can we come in?” I heard James’ muffled voice ask.

“Yes, we’re decent,” Lily called.

“Dammit!” I heard Sirius mutter.

“…And yes, you may come in.” She rolled her eyes.

The door swung open and the two boys traipsed in. Sirius was wearing his boxers and t-shirt again. How in the world is it possible for someone to look as hot as he does in a t-shirt and boxers? I mean, that should be illegal in at least twenty different countries!

“We heard your voices –” James began, but Sirius interrupted.

“Actually, we heard Lily’s voice and it sounded rather dangerous, so we came to investigate. See if anything interesting was happening.”

“No, I came to investigate; Sirius here practically rushed to the door to save his girlfriend from impending doom,” James grinned, sitting at the foot of the bed in front of Lily (she’d sat up, whilst I’d tried to sink through the mattress and onto the floor – I was wearing the star pyjamas and Dad’s t-shirt again).

“I did not!” Sirius said hotly, but he seemed a little flustered. Who knew that Sirius Black of all people could become flustered? And here I was thinking that it only happened to us lesser mortals!

“You did too! And those were your exact words – ‘impending doom’!” James laughed.

Sirius shoved his best friend and sat down in the little space that was now left on Lily’s bed. I could feel the wood crying out for mercy under the weight of four teenagers underneath me.

“Shut up Prongs!” I felt his eyes flick over to me, but I still kept my eyes on the ceiling. Rarely had I encountered such an interesting ceiling.

“What were you two talking about anyways?” Sirius asked. “Or was it some sort of secret girl thing?”

“Millie here, hasn’t been to her mother’s home as of yet,” Lily explained, now sounding a lot exasperated.

“Can we just drop it?” I asked meekly.

“No! You should go! I mean, it’s your hometown, the place where your parents are buried! It has sentimental value at least.”

I glared at her.

“When were you thinking of going?” Sirius asked. I’m sure he was just being polite, or keeping up our little charade or something. Why else would he actually care?

…Even though he sounded like he did.

“I wasn’t,” I said.

“Christmas Eve,” Lily said.

“What?” I cried, shooting up in surprise. “Since when?”

“Since I just decided for you.”

“But I’d have to go all day, and the Ball –”

“We’ll be back in time for the Ball I think,” Sirius said thoughtfully. My neck snapped to him in surprise. “I mean, we will be gone the whole day, but if we leave early –”

“Wait, what?” I asked, looking at him a little more than dumbfounded.

“What?” Sirius asked, seeming a little startled at my rather crude interruption.

“We?”

“We what?” He was frowning now, looking more than a little confused. And adorable. But I didn’t think about that. Much.

“Who exactly is we?”

“Uh… you… and me?” Oh Merlin, stop cocking your head to the side! I can’t snog you!

“You want… to come with me… to Witherwoods?”

“Um, is that where your mum’s house is?”

“Yeah.”

“Then yes.”

I blinked at him in complete and utter surprise. What is going on here? Since when did Sirius Black of all people want to come with me to visit my hometown?

“But won’t Mrs Potter want your help or something?”

“Nah, she won’t mind. I always seem to get in the way.”

I turned to look at James for some confirmation.

“It’s true,” he said. “He blew up the chandelier last year. Twice.”

“How’d you manage that?” I asked, momentarily side tracked.

“It’s a really long story,” Sirius said a little sheepishly.

“So that’s settled then,” Lily clapped her hands together. Beware the clapping hands. They have sealed many a person’s doom in the resonance of their finality. “You and Sirius are going to Witherwoods the day after tomorrow for the day. And you will go to your house and you will sort things out.”

I had a nagging feeling that saying “But I don’t want to!” just might not work.




AN: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF MILLIE'S DRESS?!?! Also, how CUTE was Sirius in this chapter?!? I fall in love with him more and more every day. But what were YOUR favourite bits? It's always a pleasure to read what you guys think! (There were some pretty good guesses about the dress in the reviews from the last chapter - you know who you are!)


Chapter 26: Blame it on the Cat
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Millie's POV:

The Potters lived in a large house on the outskirts of a muggle village slap bang in the middle of the countryside. They really lived the average magic folk’s dream – white picket fence and (mostly) gnome-free garden and all. I always found it quite strange that so many of us chose to live in the country when it was easier to hide in the big cities, but I think something about the country way of life appealed to our seventeenth century farmer lifestyles.

“Come in, come in!” Mrs Potter cried as Lily and I kind of stood awkwardly at the front door.

I tripped over the hall rug practically the moment I stepped in the door. Before I could fall and smash my nose into the floor, however, a pair of strong arms caught me and made sure I was the right way up again.

“You okay?” Sirius asked, concern evident in his eyes, now that I was looking for it. I knew Sarah would shoot me another significant look if she were here. Curse you, Sarah.

I shook my head, trying to rid myself of any Sarah-induced thoughts that Sirius liked me in that way, then realised that the man in question might interpret this as that I wasn’t okay. “I mean, yeah, I’m fine,” I hurriedly correctly.

Awkward silence.

Shouldn’t we be doing something right now?

“Sirius dear,” Mrs Potter called from further down the hall. “Could you show Millie up to the guest room on the second floor?” She turned a little to look at me and smiled.

I think it had something to do with the fact that Sirius was holding my hand.

“It’s next to Lily’s so you won’t be all alone. And the boys are just down the hall anyways.”

I could feel her smile on the back of my neck all the way up the stairs.

 

Sirius dropped me off at my room and traipsed away to his to drop off his trunk. It was a beautiful room, as far as rooms go. I wasn’t getting any weird vibes from it, which was always a good start. The walls were covered in pretty pastel yellow wallpaper and the large window opposite the door looked over the Potters’ rather overgrown and very homey backyard. I could just imagine this room being completely magical during the summer, with the sunlight shining through the lace curtains, creating delicate shadows over the walls…

I tripped over myself three times in my rush to get to my bag (which was conveniently lying behind my trunk, so I tripped over that too) and pull out my sketchbook. I had to be quick and get a preliminary sketch in before the light changed and the view from my window was lost for another twenty-four hours.

I was already well engrossed in my drawing five minutes later, that I didn’t notice that someone was at my door.

“You like the room?” Sirius asked, breaking my concentration, causing my pencil to skid across the page.

“Ah!” was all I managed to say.

I didn’t have to look at his face to know he was smirking. “It hasn’t even been fifteen minutes in a new place and already Millie the intrepid artist is busy capturing the world around her!”

“I’m not an artist.” I got up off the floor and grabbed my bag, rummaging through it to see if I could find an eraser.

“Darling, I’ve never met someone who was less of an artist than you.” It’s weird how having a crush on a guy can make you so aware of their every movement. Take, for example, now, when I don’t even need to look up to know that Sirius was now making his way over to me. Or maybe it was just that Sirius always seemed to have such a presence.

“Clearly you haven’t met many people,” was my distracted reply to what may or may not have been a compliment.

I felt that smirk again. Was it creepy that I could do that? Probably.

I still hadn’t found my eraser. With a frustrated sigh I tipped the entire contents of my bag onto the bed.

“Do you see an eraser anywhere?” I asked Sirius. Perhaps a second pair of eyes was what I needed.

He came over to stand beside me by the bed and surveyed the scene with those cool grey eyes. They searched through the sea of scrap pieces of paper, a few old chocolate frog cards, the odd pencil or ten (in varying grades and lengths), a few stray knuts, a packet of tissues, two tubes of lip gloss, my dad’s missing cuff link (so that’s where it went), my wallet and a pair of earrings of my grandmother’s (which I received on my eleventh birthday).

Man, I really needed to clean my bag out more often.

“No, I don’t see an eraser,” was the cool reply I got for my question after a moment or two.

“Hmm. There must be one in my trunk then…” I distractedly turned away from the bed in an attempt to get to my trunk.

Bad idea.

I accidentally stepped on my open shoelace, causing my feet to have some sort of spasm. In an effort to gain my (quite sporadic) balance once more, I wheeled my arms around in some sorry and (if this was someone else) comical imitation of a Dutch windmill. All I managed to do was snag my hands in Sirius’ cardigan.

“Woah!” was the intelligent thing I said, before my balance decided to completely desert me and I fell backwards onto the floor, pulling Sirius with me.

 

~*~

 

Sirius' POV:


“I have a strange sense of déjà vu,” I said mildly as I hauled myself off of Millie. Actually, that’s a bit of a lie – I only took my body weight off her, but didn’t make any serious move to get up. I rather liked this position.

“Yeah? And I have a hurting backside,” she muttered.

I couldn’t help it – I smirked down at her.

She narrowed her eyes at me.

“Are you okay?” I asked. I seemed to be doing that a lot.

“Fine,” she grumbled.

We stared into each other’s eyes for a few moments.

Millie shifted a little underneath me.

I didn’t move.

“Are you going to get off of me anytime soon?” she asked.

“Nope.”

“Right. Just checking.”

Another few moments of silence, but this time, Millie wouldn’t meet my eye. Her eyes kept on flicking around – first over my left shoulder, then my right, then off to the right side, then left again…

I could feel another smirk pulling at my lips. She mightn’t like me, but being this close made her nervous, I could tell. It made me feel somewhat pleased that she felt something other than hatred around me.

“How about now?” she asked.

Before I could give another witty reply, our intimate moment was ruined by my git of a best mate.

“If you’re going to have sex, could you at least bother yourselves to close the door?” he said from the doorway.

“What?” yelped Millie. She made to get up, most probably forgetting that she couldn’t actually achieve that, what with me still practically on top of her, so inevitably, she crashed into me, which took me by surprise (for someone so petite, the girl sure hit you like a particularly strong stunner), causing my arms to give way.

I once again, ended up sprawled over Millie.

It was rather a nice feeling.

Sue me, I’m male.

I heard Prongs laugh. “My, aren’t you two just adorable?” he cooed.

“Prongs, if you don’t shut it, I am going to tell your mother that it was in fact you who broke your great-grandmother’s vase and not the cat,” I threatened as I reluctantly rolled off of Millie and onto my feet. I should be in the ballet with my amazing grace – but only if it was a manly ballet.

Before she could protest, I grabbed Millie and hauled her to her feet. Merlin, she was so light. How on earth did she manage to keep on course on her broom? Didn’t the wind just blow her away?

“You broke your great-grandmother’s vase?” Millie asked, one eyebrow raised, an amused expression on her face.

“It was an accident,” he mumbled. “And it was a long time ago.”

“It was last summer,” I corrected.

“And you blamed the cat?” Lily asked, coming up behind Prongs. He took her hand in his. Merlin, could those two get any sappier?

“Yeah.”

“And your mother believed you?” Millie said.

“Only because I told her that,” I said, puffing a little with pride in my mad lying abilities.

“Mummy’s boy,” Prongs snickered.

“Jealous!” I said airily as I swept past him and down the stairs.

Mrs P’s famous lemon tart beckoned.

 

~*~

 

Millie's POV:


Sirius was right. Mrs Potter’s lemon tart was quite possibly the best thing I’d ever eaten.

“This is really good Mrs Potter,” I said around an impolitely large mouthful of tart.

She beamed at me. “Thank you, dear. If you want more, it’s here.” I was already on my second helping. At this rate, I wouldn’t be able to get my broom off the ground.

“Sirius dear, chew before you swallow. It’s not running anywhere,” Mrs Potter scolded gently. It seemed that every time she talked to Sirius, she was scolding gently.

James snickered.

Sirius pouted (rather adorably – there’s no point denying it anymore. It’s pretty cute). “That’s what you think!”

“If your food runs away again, I assure you dear that James will be in a lot of trouble.” She shot her son a stern look, because it seemed as if that was exactly what he was thinking of doing.

Sirius assumed a smug expression and poked his tongue out at James.

James kicked him under the table.

Lily and I tried to (unsuccessfully) hide our smiles in our tarts.

“When’s Dad supposed to be back?”

“I’m home!” a male voice sang from the front of the house.

A lanky individual walked into the kitchen. Even though his hair was now more salt than pepper, the way it stuck out at the back could only mean that this was James’ father.

“Ah! The kids are home too I see!” he said as he caught sight of us scoffing his wife’s lemon tart like there was no tomorrow.

“And there are girls for a change, so I won’t be so outnumbered,” added Mrs Potter. Holy Merlin, if I ever marry, I want what these two have. Something special.

“You must be Lily!” he said happily whilst shaking poor Lily’s hand quite vigorously. “James talks a lot about you!”

“Yeah, he doesn’t shut up!” Sirius cut in.

Lily was going steadily pink.

“And you…” he turned to look at me. James and him shared the same hazel eyes – down to the round glasses that framed them. “Must be Millie White.” He sounded more thoughtful as he said that.

“Pleased to meet you,” I said politely.

“Your father worked at the Ministry, didn’t he?”

“Uh, yeah, in the Department of Mysteries.”

“Yes… I remember him… a nice fellow. Quiet, kept mostly to himself.” It sounded more like he was following some internal train of thought, rather than talking to me. What do I say now?

“Um…”

“I’ve heard that you’re Gryffindor’s star Seeker!” he said, suddenly changing the subject.

“I’m Gryffindor’s only Seeker, so I guess there’s not much competition, really.”

“She’s just being modest,” Lily inserted. Being my best friend and all, she must have thought it was necessary to praise my Quidditch skills. “Gryffindor’s never lost a game with her on the team!”

“That’s right!” James beamed like a proud father.

“Really?” asked Mr Potter. “Is that true? You’ve won every game?”

“Well, not exactly. We’ve drawn at least twice.”

And thankfully, the conversation progressed quite naturally from there. Quidditch – it brings people together, it does.

“I’m sure James has mentioned that each year we have a Christmas party at our home,” Mrs Potter mentioned casually during a slight lull in the conversation.

“No, he hasn’t,” Lily said.

“James!”

“We have a Christmas party every year at our home,” James dutifully told us.

“Well it’s more of a ball really,” Mrs Potter continued.

I choked a little on my sip of tea.

“Ball?” I squeaked. Why did this not sound good?

“Oh yes! It’s all quite fun! William’s friends from the Ministry all come over with their families and all the wizarding folk in the area are invited too, of course. Your mother used to come as well!”

I’m sure that was meant to be reassuring.

It wasn’t.

“Did she?”

“Yes! Didn’t she ever mention it to you?”

“Uh… she might have…” Not that I listened much when Mum went on and on about all her social events. I was daddy’s girl to the core.

“So, of course, you two would be wanting to go to Diagon Alley for dress robes…”

Lily seemed to perk up at the idea of shopping.

“Dress robes?” I squeaked again, but no one seemed to notice.

“We’ll make a sort of girls’ day out of it! What do you two think?”

Lily looked at me with eyes shining.

I glanced over at Mrs Potter’s face.

Her eyes were shining too.

Great.

“Um, alright then,” I said carefully.

“Excellent! We’ll go the day after tomorrow!”

Yay! Shopping! For dress robes! So I can go to a ball! What fun!

Did you notice my sarcasm?




AN: Yeah, I know, filler-y, but exams are LESS THAN TWO WEEKS AWAY!!! But I did want to post SOMETHING! And once again, I apologise for the random Sirius POV in there, but some people like it and some don't and I can't think straight right now because of all the chemistry that's tumbling through my head! So yeah. But I'll try not to randomly swap points of view for the next couple of chapters because they're really Millie heavy character development.

PS: Don't you just love James' mum? And I can almost taste her lemon tart...


Chapter 27: Bleak House
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“Mrs Potter – are you absolutely sure that you don’t need our help today?” I asked anxiously, standing in front of the door, trying to stall the inevitable as Sirius struggled with his coat. He managed to look hot doing it too, the insufferable git.

She waved her hands dismissively. “Of course not dear! James and Lily are here, if I need any help, so you and Sirius just go have fun today!”

I don’t think Mrs Potter was quite grasping the idea that I didn’t want to go, least of all with Sirius. The way she was going on about it, it sounded like we were going on a date or something!

“Now, are the both of you warm enough?” she asked, helping Sirius with his coat, because he was still struggling with it.

“Yes,” we chorused.

“Good. And you remember that you have to come back before it’s too dark?”

“Yes, Mrs P!” Sirius chimed. “I’ll make sure to bring Millie home before the Ball – she’ll have heaps of time to get ready.”

I glared at him for that one.

He just winked at me.

WHAT IS UP WITH THE WINKING?

“Good, good,” she said absentmindedly. “Now look after each other, okay? And Sirius dear, try not to get into trouble?”

“Oh, Mrs Potter I assure you that even Sirius can’t get into trouble at Witherwoods,” I said. Yes, my hometown was that dead of a place.

She beamed at us and ushered us out of the door.

 

“So… how far is your house from here?” Sirius asked, I assumed as a way of making conversation as we made our way down the lane to a secluded copse of trees so we could apparate without any muggle noticing – even though they were all indoors and warm anyways.

“I dunno,” I shrugged. “Not far.” I wasn’t very good with distances, nor did I actually care about how far my mother’s house was from anywhere.

“That’s awfully vague.”

“Yeah, it is.”

And our conversation ended there. It would have been awkward too if it wasn’t for the fact that we were now at the clump of trees, thank Merlin.

The snow was pretty thick here so it was covering all the exposed roots of the trees. Obviously, I managed to trip over them three times in the space of five feet.

“Bloody hell!” I sighed after the third time it happened, narrowly avoiding a low-hanging branch by some miracle.

Sirius turned around to look at me over his shoulder. He had the nerve to smile and shake his head at me before taking my hand and guiding me the rest of the way.

Okay.

It seems that physical contact with Sirius Black does strange things to my breathing rate and heartbeat.

I really need to get over this crush of mine. Things feel far too awkward between us otherwise.

“Are you ready?” he asked suddenly.

“For what?” Yes, that was a rather stupid question to ask, but I was still caught up in the warmth of his hand.

“To apparate! I’ll have to side-long with you, because I have no idea where we’re going.” He regarded me for a moment. “You do know where you’re going, right?”

“Yeah, of course!” Minor lie there. It had been over a year since I’d last been there, things might have changed. Then again, this was Witherwoods we were talking about. Nothing changed there.

 

“So… this is where you live?” Sirius asked, looking around the dismal village. James and “my” village were around the same size, but his was much cheerier. Mine looked as if there was a constant funeral going on somewhere. The snow seemed grey, even if it was supposed to be white and the naked tree branches didn’t help much with the mood of the whole place. Even the church looked like a dark and grim place to be, even at Christmas time.

Yet, now that Sirius was looking around curiously, judging it, and thus by extension, me, I felt a slight defensiveness for it rise up in me.

“Correction – this was where I lived. I haven’t lived here since I was five years old.” I said. Yeah, okay, the defensiveness thing – wasn’t that strong.

“It seems…”

“Depressing?” I supplied as I walked down the street which would eventually lead to… my house (gee, it felt weird even thinking that).

“That’s not what I was going to say,” he said, a little too quickly for it to be completely believable.

“Yeah? What were you going to say?”

“Grim.” He grinned at me. Well, wasn’t that nice of him?

I couldn’t help it – I laughed. There was something about that grin of his that made all of this almost bearable.

“If you think this place is grim, wait until you see where I live!” I said as I headed towards my mother’s home.

 

“It doesn’t look that bad,” Sirius commented. We’d been standing outside my mother’s – I mean, my house for a good thirty seconds at least and neither of us had worked up the courage to even open the front gate. Actually, considering it was my house and Sirius was here for the very first time, I guess it was my responsibility to take the initiative to open the gate, but what good was it having him along if he just stood and looked around curiously?

I glanced at him quickly to see if he was making fun of my house. Honestly, I wouldn’t blame him – it looked pretty bad, at least to me. It was three storeys high, with an attic and a cellar (dead scary place) and made out of dark, almost black, brick. The locals had dubbed it Bleak House many a century ago, when the first White ancestors came to settle here. The witch or wizard who built it must have been one cheery person. There was a white picket fence out the front, just like at the Potters’, but the Potters’ front fence was well looked after and probably much loved, whereas my front fence had peeling white paint and I was in danger of getting a splinter even through my glove (not as hard as it might sound).

“The garden’s a bit of a mess,” I said, more for something to say rather than any concern for it.

“Yeah, you could say that.” It looked like the Forbidden Forest’s little cousin, and if you’d ever seen the Forbidden Forest, you would understand that that was not something one joked about.

We stared at the house some more.

“Should… we go… in?” Sirius suggested after a while. I could see him out of the corner of my, trying to gauge my reaction to the question.

I sighed, rather more dramatically than the situation really called for. “Yeah, I suppose. The quicker we get this done, the quicker we can leave this horrid place.”

 

The door swung inwards, creaking ominously. We peered into the dark depths that was the hallway cautiously, me in search of any sort of nasty creature that may have taken up residence since the place was thoroughly vacated; Sirius, apparently, was being rather more astute than I was about the whole thing, considering the fact that he suddenly grabbed my arm, just as I was about to step inside the doorway.

“Ah!” I yelped. You would too if Sirius Black (the guy who you’re pretending to date and secretly have a crush on) suddenly touched you.

“Wait!” he cautioned.

“Okay,” I squeaked, teetering dangerously with one foot still in the air.

“You can put your leg down, Mills.”

“Oh, right.” I did as he said. “What’s wrong? Did you see something?” I asked, now feeling a little panicked. I could handle it if there were rats in there, but if he’d seen a cockroach, I was outta here.

“No. It’s just that… I was wondering… considering the current climate and all…”

What the hell does the weather have to do with things now?

“Sirius, did I almost fall over because the weather is preventing me from entering this building in some obscure manner?” I asked incredulously.

He gave me a weird look. “Not that kind of climate, darling,” he said, a little dryly for my taste. He only got like that when I was being more obtuse than I usually was.

“Then what kind?” I mean, how many different kinds of climates are there?

“What I was going to ask was that considering the current political climate, what with Voldemort on the rise and the Ministry of Magic being complete dolts and all, is it possible that your house may be booby trapped or anything like that?”

I stared at him for a moment blankly, letting his words sink in a little.

“I don’t think so…” I said.

“Really?” He seemed surprised.

“No one’s been in here since my parents died. I literally did not step foot in here after… after that… so there shouldn’t be any booby traps or anything.”

“But weren’t your parents… I dunno… careful or anything?”

“No, they weren’t paranoid like some purebloods are,” I smiled, getting what he meant by careful. It was common knowledge that the old pureblood families were secretly terrified of muggles attacking their magical abodes or something equally as ridiculous as that, so you found that often, those places were spelled well beyond a building’s capacity to withstand such powerful enchantments (therefore, many of the older homes had to be reinforced with magic quite often).

I turned around again and took a cautious step into the hallway. “The House of White is weird like that,” I commented. Little pockets of dust were being disturbed wherever I stepped. They rose into the air, like tiny mushroom-shaped clouds. If this place didn’t creep me out as much as it did, I’d think they were cute.

“Still…” Sirius said as he followed me in. “We should be –”

The door suddenly slammed shut behind us, making us both jump.

“Careful,” he finished, once we’d gathered ourselves. “We should be careful.”

I gulped and nodded.

 

“Maybe it would help if we opened the curtains in here,” I mused, considering the windows in the sitting room. We’d so far been exploring the house by wand light. After making our way through the hallway, we’d headed to the kitchen, finding nothing exciting there. We’d checked out the dining area and I’d been surprised to find that we had cutlery with what I presumed to be the White family crest stamped on it. Was that normal?

“Mills, how old were you in this picture?” Sirius asked, over by the mantelpiece.

I spared a glance in his direction. He was peering closely at a framed photograph. I frowned and walked over to see what he was looking at. Holding up my wand, I saw that indeed, it was a picture of me, smiling and laughing in some sandpit, most probably in a playground of some sort.

“I think I was around four when that was taken,” I said, leaning in closer to have a better look. Thank Merlin I grew out that fringe – it looked positively outrageous.

He smiled at the photo. “You were a very cute four-year-old.”

I frowned. Compliment or not, I didn’t feel comfortable with him looking at pictures of me when I was younger for some unknown reason. It felt as if he was seeing a very deep and personal part of me, and I don’t think I was ready to reveal that to him just yet.

His gaze moved over to all the other pictures that were on the shelf. Most of them were of me, which I was surprised to note. Yeah, I was her only child and everything, but I’d never pinned my mother as someone who proudly showcased her poor excuse for a traditional pureblood daughter to all and sundry (or anyone who came into the sitting room – same thing).

“Are these your parents?” he asked, indicating with his chin which photograph he meant. It was one where both my parents were smiling at the camera, with me happily gurgling away in my father’s arms as a six-week-old newborn. I seemed to be rather more interested in the butterfly that was currently in my mother’s hair than anything else.

“Yeah, they are,” I replied shortly, surprising even myself.

Sirius looked at me in surprise. “Sorry.”

I mentally shook myself. What was wrong with me? A few minutes in my mother’s house and I turn into an emotional wreck? I’d managed to keep it together for so many months; I couldn’t begin to grieve now. I wasn’t sure if that was the way it was supposed to work – delayed grief onset. “Don’t be,” I said, attempting a smile, but it felt weak.

Sirius seemed to think so too, because he raised his eyebrows slightly, but just nodded and turned back to the mantelpiece. “They seem happy.”

“They were. They divorced five years after that was taken.”

I turned away from the shelf then, deciding that enough time had been spent gazing at frozen moments of my childhood. Besides, there were still two floors, an attic and a cellar to get through.

 

The second floor didn’t take long to sweep through, except my mother’s room. Sirius insisted that I should at least pack up some of the stuff that was lying around. We found a few boxes in the attic which we could use.

“What do you want to do with all the clothes?” he asked, looking way out of his depth as he stared into the vast depth that was my mother’s closet.

“Um… pack all of them up. I’ll sort through them later and see what I want to keep and what I’ll give to charity.”

“Charity?”

“Yeah. If I don’t need them, at least someone else might find some use for them. One person’s trash is another’s treasure and all that.”

He nodded in agreement and we got to work.

No matter what else was said, it couldn’t be denied that my mother had excellent taste in jewellery. As a little girl, I used to dream of getting the chance to wear it all one day; now it felt strange realising that it was all mine.

After my mother’s room was done, we went up to the third floor, where the only two rooms of real importance were my bedroom and my father’s old study. There wasn’t much to clean up in my room, considering that I hardly spent any time in there, but Sirius and I still managed to fill a whole box and a half full of stuff. Most of it was junk, but the more time I spent in this house, the stronger my desire to not throw anything out became. Perhaps the house wasn’t booby trapped, but maybe there was still something freaky going on…

 

My father’s study was the hardest. There was so much stuff just lying around. We had a quick flick through his work to see what it was about.

“Exactly what did your father do?” Sirius asked, scanning the spines of the books that were jammed into the bookshelf. I’d inherited my love for reading from my dad.

“He worked at the Department of Mysteries,” I said absently, rummaging through the drawers, looking for anything of interest. All I found was a picture of mum, holding me at the hospital, presumably moments after I was born. My vision blurred, but I blinked it away. Must have got something in my eye.

“Your dad was an Unspeakable?”

“Uh… yeah.”

“So, um… what did he do, exactly?”

“I dunno.” I shrugged, turning to look at Sirius’ profile. Merlin, how did he look so hot, even with a slight coating of dust in his hair from where all my mother’s shoeboxes fell on him? “Isn’t that kind of the point of being an Unspeakable though? You can’t talk about it?”

“Yeah, but… you lived with him.”

“Trust me, Sirius, my father was an even greater mystery to those who were close to him than any other.”

He smirked.

“What?” I didn’t find anything to smirk about. Then again, I rarely did, but Sirius seemed to do it often enough to suggest that it was easy enough for him to find something to smirk about in almost any situation.

“Kind of like you.”

I scowled.

His smirk grew wider.

Nothing like me, Black.”

 

“So… we’ve done all three floors and the attic… what’s left?” Sirius asked brightly. How on earth did he still have so much energy? I hadn’t slept too well the night before, worrying about my trip into the English countryside’s version of hell and a few hours in Bleak House had drained me, both physically and emotionally. I hadn’t thought that I had so much emotion invested in any place, let alone here. What kind of wreck would I be when it came time to leave Hogwarts at the end of the year?

“The cellar,” I replied tiredly.

Sirius must have noticed something was wrong, because when he glanced in my direction, his face grew worried.

“Are you okay?” he asked me quietly.

“Fine,” I muttered, gritting my teeth, trying to get it back together again. Now was not the time to start exploring my feelings!

“Are you sure?”

“Yes!” I snapped.

For once, I must have sounded dangerous, because he backed off. “Okay. Do you want to go see the cellar now?”

I sighed. I didn’t really want to. Cellars were damp and dark, home to all sorts of moulds, fungi, rats and creepy crawlies. I highly doubted there was anything of interest to see down there, but it was the last place left. “Let’s go,” I said.

 

“Maybe… I should go first,” Sirius suggested as both of stared down the steep and narrow flight of stairs that led into the dark void.

“What? I’m not scared of the dark Black!” I snapped. Make no mistake, Millie White was not the type of girl who let a man handle her problems!

“I know. But the stairs are steep and with your propensity for tripping over thin air…” I frowned at that, no matter if it was true. “If I go first, I’ll be able to guide you down safely,” he reasoned.

I considered it. His logic seemed sound, so I agreed. “Fine.”

No one said I had to be gracious about it.

He, at least, had the good grace to just grin and shake his head.

The combined light from our wands only managed to illuminate the way a few steps ahead, the dark was that absolute. Halfway down, I stumbled, but before I could fall to my death, Sirius grabbed my arm to steady me. After he’d ensured that I wasn’t going anywhere, his hand slipped into mine.

He didn’t let go the rest of the way down.

 

We stood shoulder to shoulder, our wands held high to let as much light as possible penetrate the darkness. As our eyes adjusted to the gloom, vague shapes came out. The cellar was incredibly small. I felt the breath catch at the back of my throat and terror stir in the pit of my stomach. Sirius gave my hand a squeeze. I’d forgotten he was still holding on.

“Mills, you okay?” he asked quietly. If this place was big, the sound should have echoed, but it didn’t.

“Yeah,” I managed to get out, even though there was barely any air in my lungs. “I’m – I’m fine.”

He turned to look at me. Now he was standing in front of me, meaning that he was no longer holding my hand, which was rather unfortunate.

“Millie,” he said clearly and quietly.

I looked into is cool, calm eyes with my own terror-filled ones.

“It’s going to be okay,” he said slowly, placing his hands on my shoulders.

Even through my panic, I felt the truth in his words. Rationally, I knew that walls didn’t move in and small spaces couldn’t kill me unless I was buried alive in a coffin or something (that has never happened to me before, by the way), but I guess that’s the thing about phobias – they tend to be rather irrational.

Yet, all I could do was silently nod in reply.

He regarded me for a moment more, then turned back around to stand beside me, his hand slipping into mine once again. It was really warm.

He lifted his wand high into the air again and took a step forward, dragging me along as well. We made a round of the room and discovered that it wasn’t as small as I first thought it was.

“See? That wasn’t so bad –”

I shrieked.

“What? What is it?” Sirius asked, sounding a little panicked, swinging his wand around looking for some sort of serial killer who’d been lurking in my cellar.

“There are cockroaches in here!” I whispered hoarsely. Merlin, that scream took what little energy I had left.

Sirius stopped his crazy serial-killer searching and stared at me. “Cockroaches,” he deadpanned.

“Yes!” My voice was still hoarse.

“You just screamed like a banshee, giving me a heart attack in the process, because you saw a cockroach?”

“I didn’t see a cockroach!”  My voice was now more indignant than hoarse. “I saw three cockroaches!”

“Millie!”

“They all had six legs each!”

“They’re insects! The all have six legs each!”

“Exactly! It’s downright unnatural!”

He looked at me incredulously. At least he had the smarts not to call me insane to my face.

“What? I don’t like cockroaches, okay!”

“Claustrophobic and a fear of cockroaches? What next?” He was smirking at me, I could tell even in the dim light, the annoying little prick. What kind of person smirks at someone’s discomfort? I’ll tell you – psychopaths, that’s who!

“I do not have a fear of cockroaches! I just don’t like them much! There’s a difference!” I crossed my arms over my chest defensively.

“It’s the same thing,” he waved his hand dismissively. “But seriously, cockroaches?”

“They have too many legs,” I muttered, turning around in a huff towards the stairs. I stalked over to them and would have made my exit with at least some of my dignity still left intact if I hadn’t tripped over the stupid stair.

Sirius let out a bark (literally) of his strange laughter.

I turned around and glared at him.

He laughed harder.

I glared at him some more.

He kept on laughing.

My lips twitched upwards. I couldn’t help it – his madness was infectious!

Soon, both of us were bent over double, tears in our eyes, barely able to breathe, we were laughing so hard.

“We –” Sirius wheezed. “We – need – to get – out – of – here!”

I couldn’t say anything, what with the lack of air and everything, so I just nodded (I hoped) in agreement.

Like I said, there was something strange about Bleak House.

 

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Sirius asked quietly. We’d had a very late lunch at my local bakery. Thank Merlin no one recognised me, not that I expected them too.

“Yeah. I mean, I’ve come this far, it would seem rather stupid not to do this.”

“But… I dunno…”

“What? Scared that the graveyard’s haunted?” I teased. Yes, we were standing outside the entrance to the village cemetery, arguing.

“No! It’s just that… well, you’ve had a long day… and everything…”

“Honestly Sirius, I’ll be fine.” I rolled my eyes and stepped in.

It was beginning to get dark, so it took me a moment to find the two graves I was looking for. After a little meandering, I located them, side by side. Someone had removed the decaying flowers that had been placed in front of the headstones at the time of the funeral, all those months ago.

I felt Sirius walk up to stand beside me.

We stood there for a while, without saying a word, just looking at my parents’ graves.

And all I felt was… empty.

That was it. I was expecting some sort of grief, anger, shock, something!

But no, all I felt was empty.

“Mills…” Sirius said after a really long time, breaking the heavy silence that blanketed us. We had the cemetery all to ourselves at this time of day and year. I suppose more people would come tomorrow or whatever.

“I didn’t bring anything,” I said, blatantly ignoring his next question about how I was feeling. I didn’t really want to go into how I was feeling, least of all with him. Sirius Black could be all too perceptive in matters of the heart at times when you wanted him to be the exact opposite.

“What?” At least that managed to throw him off his rather dangerous previous train of thought.

“I didn’t bring anything. Look –” I pointed at other graves around us. “They’ve all got flowers and stuff around them. They look well cared for. I don’t want –” My words got caught in my throat. Okay, maybe the empty feeling was only because I wasn’t talking about it or something. “I want – I should’ve –” I looked desperately around me, as if the answer to my problem (not sure exactly what it was) would magically appear.

And in a sense – it did.

Except he’d been standing next to me the entire time.

Sirius smiled at me in understanding. It wasn’t his usual arrogant smile, or one of those pity smiles you reserve for the moments when you’re feeling especially condescending, but one of his genuine, make-your-insides-melt, girls-swooning-twenty-miles-away smile. Holy Merlin, and its full force was focused all on me. Not the best idea when I felt so confused and unstable inside.

He took my hand in his again and pointed his wand at the headstones in front of us with the other.

“What –?” I began to ask.

He squeezed my hand to silence me. I watched as his arm made a slow circle in the air, two wreaths of red roses appearing on the stone.

I stared in surprise at what he’d just done for a moment or two, trying to let it sink in. Sirius Black had done something nice – for me. And it wasn’t just nice – it was thoughtful, and considerate, and something I’d expect from an actual boyfriend who actually cared about me.

“I – thank you,” I managed to splutter out. I looked at him, the surprise at his thoughtful gesture still evident on my face. “That was –”

He shrugged. “Don’t mention it.” Did he sound a little – embarrassed?

“No, really. That was –” Words cannot even begin to describe what that was. And what I was now feeling as a result. “Very nice… of you.” Lame, but hopefully, he’d understand.

And you know what? Judging by the absolute stunner of a smile he threw at me – I think he did.




AN: GASP! Longest chapter yet! Aren't y'all so proud? I almost died from Sirius-being-too-cute-for-sanity in this chapter. Please tell me I wasn't alone. I had fun developing their relationship though. It's about time these two got a little bit serious. Sorry that this wasn't as funny a chapter, but then again, let's face it, they rarely are that humourous are they? Anyways, hope you guys enjoy!


Chapter 28: Just Because
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“Millie! You have to come out right now!” Lily yelled at me through the door.

“No! I don’t want to go!” I yelled back from underneath the covers of my bed. As soon as Sirius and I had returned, Lily had whisked me away to get ready for the stupid Christmas Ball – the one and the same Christmas Ball that I didn’t want to go to.

“Millie – if you don’t come out of there in the next five seconds I swear I’ll call Mrs Potter up here to drag you down!”

“You can’t make me!” I’d spelled the door shut so that no one could enter. The only way in was if they broke down the door and I thought that that was an unlikely situation. Hopefully, Lily would yell at me a for a bit, get distracted, go downstairs for the Ball for the night and find me curled up in a ball, my beautiful dress all crumpled and make-up running down my face because I’d cried myself to sleep. Bleak House had me feeling… well, bleak. All that talk about feeling empty before? It seems that the charged emotions of the day had finally caught up with me. I was tired, I was emotional, I was probably PMSing, I was wearing a stupid dress (that wasn’t done up, by the way – the zip was stuck halfway up my back) and I just didn’t want to go to a Ball! Did no one bloody understand that?

“Evans, is there any particular reason why you’re yelling at a closed door?” There’s only one person in the whole world whose voice could be that dry at a time like this.

“I’m not yelling at a closed door, I’m yelling at Millie!” Lily huffed in reply – much quieter than when she was talking to me. Just went to show that she liked my pretend-boyfriend more than me now.

“Why?”

“Because she’s behaving like she’s five!”

“I am not!” I yelled in my defence.

“Yes, you are!” Lily yelled back in reply.

“No!”

“Yes!”

“No!”

“Yes!”

“No!”

“Yes!”

“Okay ladies!” Sirius interrupted. “That’s enough. Lily, why don’t you go downstairs and I’ll look after this, okay?”

There was a pause and I felt that both Lily and I were thinking the same thing:

WHAT? WHAT? WHAT? SINCE WHEN IS SIRIUS BLACK PROACTIVE ABOUT SOLVING THINGS? WHAT IS HAPPENING TO THE WORLD?

Except, knowing her, her thoughts would sound infinitely more graceful and ladylike.

Lily sighed. “I wish you good luck.” I heard her head down the stairs. Was she abandoning me at a time like this? To be quite honest, you couldn’t blame Lily at all for this – I hadn’t actually told her anything at all. She’d seemed so excited and happy when I got back that I didn’t have the heart to rain on her parade.

It seemed that Sirius was determined not to abandon me, strangely enough. “Millie?” he enquired quietly from outside the door. “Open the door, please?”

“Go away!” I said, more into my pillow than at him.

“Millie, when you talk into your pillow like that, I can’t actually hear what you’re saying.”

“I said, go away!”

“Come on Mills! I want to talk!”

“Well, I don’t!”

“Yes, you do. Now open up.”

“Or what?”

“I will break down this door if I have to. Try explaining that to Mrs P.”

I sighed. There was no avoiding this. I got out of bed and stalked over to the door and wrenched it open. Sirius was standing incredibly close to the door, so I almost bumped into him.

I kind of wish I had, because he looked damn fine. Black dress robes, a quick shower, some light cologne, a brush through his hair and that charming smile of his, dimples and all, made him irresistible. I think the only reason I didn’t pull him towards me and snog his brains out then and there was because I was in such a bad mood.

Instead, I scowled.

Sirius, on the other hand, just stared.

His eyes did this weird thing where they quickly scanned me up and down, then they lingered on my lips, then went down to my chest, then back to my lips.

I think I’d just been checked out.

His eyes finally flicked to mine, after he realised that I was still scowling at him.

They had a strange gleam in them, which sent my spine tingling.

I tried to not let it show, however, my scowl deepening to compensate.

He grinned.

I turned around and headed back into the room, with all intentions of crawling underneath the covers of my bed.

“Um… Millie…” Sirius began.

“What?” I snapped, without turning around.

“I think… your dress… it’s kind of… not done up… I think.” In any other time, seeing Sirius this uncomfortable would have been funny. It went to show just how low I was feeling that I couldn’t even summon a small twitch of the lips.

“I know!” I snapped back.

“Is it… supposed to be like that?”

“No!”

“Then why…?”

“Because the bloody zip is stuck and I can’t do it up!” I spun around and glared at him, like this was all his fault.

For a moment, I think Sirius believed that it was (I think I’m getting better at this whole intimidation thing). He took a step back, in surprise or caution, I wasn’t sure. “Okay,” he said calmly to my little outburst. “Let me help you with it.”

“What?”

“Let me help you with it,” he repeated, enunciating each word carefully, like I couldn’t understand English or something.

I gaped at him. “How?”

He rolled his eyes. Something was seriously wrong with this picture. It was usually my job to roll eyes, not his. “I’ll do it up for you, of course!”

“Oh. Of course.” I said faintly, suddenly feeling drained and empty. Let me tell you – all these feelings are not good for you.

He walked up to me and said, “Turn around.”

I was in such shock that I did as he said.

I felt him pull a little at my dress. I stood stock still and let him fiddle around a little with the zipper.

“I think some of the material…” he said under his breath. “Is stuck… oh! Here we go!”

He gave a more forceful tug. In the process the back of his knuckles grazed my back.

My spine went rigid at the contact. It was all tingly now and I was trying really hard not to let that show.

His fingertips brushed my skin again. Okay, once was an accident, but twice?

WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?

I stood there in silence, my back as straight as a ram rod (what on earth is that anyways?) as Sirius slowly pulled the zip the whole way up.

“You know,” I hadn’t realised how close he was standing to me – I could feel his breath tickling my neck. My mind instantly jumped to when we snogged in the fifth floor corridor… and how his lips felt… “You could have used magic to fix that,” he went on quietly, his deep voice sounding a little husky.

And unimaginably sexy.

“I didn’t think of that,” I managed to get out through the Sirius-induced fog that was my brain. Stupid hormones! To be quite honest, I couldn’t really think of much at all at the moment.

He took a step back as I turned around to face him.

“Thank you,” I said. I think that was the second time today that I’d said that to him. Either he was being really nice all of a sudden, or I’d begun to notice that he was actually a pretty decent guy. I’d like to believe it was the former.

“Don’t mention it.” He flashed me a mischievous grin. “It wasn’t as bad an experience as one would imagine.”

I looked at him bemusedly, but let it slide.

“You can go now,” I said, as I walked to the other side of the bed, slid down to the ground, pulled my knees up to my chin and placed my head on my knees, fully intending to spend the next hour in this position, thinking about how stupid my life was and what a pathetic person I am.

After a moment, Sirius padded over and plonked down beside me.

As in, there is about an inch of space between us.

Which, you know, is usually the case when he sits beside me like this, but I’d never noticed before.

GAH! WHY DOES HE HAVE TO SMELL SO GOOD?

I turned my head away from him. Usually doing this indicates to the other person that they have no interest in talking to you.

Somehow, Sirius missed that memo, because he nudged me gently with his knee.

“Mills,” he said.

I ignored him.

“Mills.”

I ignored him some more.

“Mills!” The nudge from the knee was a little more forceful this time.

“Mnmnmmm!” I moaned.

“Mills!”

“Go away!” I said to the, wall which was far more likely to listen than Sirius.

“Not until you tell me what’s wrong.”

“No!”

He didn’t say anything for a moment.

“Come on Millie! What’s up?”

“Nothing!”

“Oh, so you usually yell at people and sulk alone in your room before balls?”

“Considering this is my first ball, I think I’m setting a rather good precedent, don’t you think?”

He sighed. “Millie. Seriously. I’m getting worried now.”

“What do you care?” I still refused to look at him, but I think he rolled his eyes again.

“We’ve been through this before, Millie. No matter if you like it or not, I care about you. So you’re stuck with me until you talk to me.”

I scowled at the wall in reply.

There was a moment of silence and then I heard a scuffle. Next second, Sirius’ face was looming in front of mine.

“Ah!” was my eloquent reaction. I jerked my head up and away in surprise.

“That’s better,” Sirius said, sounding satisfied. “It’s much easier having a conversation with someone when you can see their face, don’t you reckon?”

I scowled at him in answer.

He shot me a grin.

I was beginning to notice a pattern in our communications, here.

“So. Are you going to tell me what’s wrong if I ask again, or am I going have to blunder through as many guesses as it takes to get it right?” he asked.

I didn’t reply. Instead, I decided to look at the quite interesting patch of wallpaper behind his left shoulder. At least the wallpaper paid me the courtesy of not talking when I didn’t want it to. It probably wasn’t that difficult for it, considering that it didn’t talk at all.

“Is it your time of the month?” he began.

My eyes flicked to his, then flicked away quickly. I mustn’t stare at his eyes, otherwise I’ll start spouting my deepest and darkest secrets to him.

“No… then… did Lily do something?”

I steadfastly stared at the wall.

“No? Then did I do something?”

For once, Black, no.

“No? Wow, well that’s a first! Alright… does it have anything to do with today, then?”

I stared at the wallpaper harder, trying not to give anything away.

“So it’s got something to do with where we went today, then?”

Damn! That plan didn’t quite work out. Like I said, Sirius Black could be too perceptive for his own good at times. However, I tried my best, but it was really difficult, because now that he’d mentioned it, all those feelings I’d been holding in, pushing them away and instead focusing on being angry towards him, were now resurfacing. My vision went blurry and I blinked to try and fix it, but all that happened was that it got blurrier. I could feel the moisture sitting on the edge of my eyes, just waiting, waiting to fall down.

I blinked a few times rapidly to make the tears go away.

They didn’t, in case you were wondering.

Instead, they decided that it was okay to fall down my face, and keep on doing so, in an uncontrollable manner, without any heed to what I felt about it.

I dropped my face into my hands, pressing my eyeballs hard, to see if I could just switch them off.

They only came faster.

This was getting serious now. I could feel my body begin to shake with the effort of keeping all these tears in.

Then suddenly, a warm arm wrapped around my back and neatly pulled me towards the body to which it was attached.

To be quite honest, it did not take too much effort on my part to practically fling myself into Sirius’ arms – and it was for more than just because he smelt nice and I had a crush on him, though those two points sure helped.

It was more the fact, though, that it had been so long since someone had held me as I cried. I remembered when I was a kid, and I’d come back from a long day at school, and my dad would just be there to hold me and hug me as I cried about Lucy Wilkinson stealing my chocolate bar and then we’d go out and have ice cream for dinner (because according to Dad, life was too short to not have dessert first, but we’d stuff ourselves so much, that we wouldn’t bother with the main course. It was probably a good thing – neither of us could really cook).

And okay, getting hugged by Sirius was nowhere near as good as my dad’s hugs, but the point is that there was still someone in my life who I could lean on and cry my heart out on their shoulder, without having to explain why.

As I began to calm down a little, I wondered how Sirius was feeling right now. I mean, how often does this happen to him for him to know what to do? If this is his first time dealing with emotional women, he should seriously consider this as a possible career option, because he’s quite a good comforter. For one, he smells nice, so that when you have your nose buried in his shoulder, you’re not smelling like this disgusting boy smell or anything, but a really refreshing sort of forest-after-the-rain smell. And his shoulder, aside from being broad and muscular, is quite a comfortable shoulder to lean on in general. And whilst you’re crying your eyes out, he seems to have learnt the perfect balance between hugging and rubbing someone’s back in a comforting way.

It’s quite a talent.

It’s making me sort of jealous.

Once the sobs had stopped and my body wasn’t shaking anymore, I pulled away from him.

He seemed to let go rather reluctantly.

We stared at each other for a bit.

I licked my dry lips, in an attempt to begin saying something.

“I got your shirt wet. Sorry.” REALLY? WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?

He gave me a small smile. Probably thought I was off my rocker, not that I was trying so hard to disprove this point, what with all the emotional crying and all. “It’ll dry.”

I nodded and then looked away embarrassed. “Um. You should probably go downstairs… everyone’s bound to be missing you.”

“Or, you know, they think I’m up here getting lucky.”

I laughed. “Instead, you’ve just been emotionally abused.”

He cocked his head to the side, in confusion. Merlin, he looked so adorable with his hair falling into his eyes like that! “How is comforting someone equal to being emotionally abused?”

“Are you telling me that you enjoy having emotionally unstable people cry all over your dress robes?”

He shrugged. “Only if they’re as pretty as you.”

That dangerous gleam was back in those mischievous pools of grey.

He laughed at my shocked expression. “Do you always look so horrified when you’re complimented, Mills, or do you reserve that honour just for me?”

I frowned at him and pursed my lips. One second he’s flirting with me, and the next, he’s making fun of me? What am I supposed to make of that?

He laughed again. “Merlin, do you know how adorable you look when you’re mad?” he asked.

My lips went thinner. “I don’t!”

“Yeah, you do, actually. And do you want to know a secret?” He leant in closer. And curse my stupid body, because it leant in towards him of its own accord, I swear.

“What?” At least my facial muscles were still obeying me, because I managed to deepen my frown into a scowl, but I’d seemingly lost control over my voice, because I sounded far too interested than I should.

“Sometimes, I make you mad on purpose, just so I can see that adorable frown of yours,” he stage-whispered conspiratorially.

I huffed and pulled away. “Sirius Black, are you making fun of me?” Beside myself, I was beginning to feel a little better. Sirius had that kind of effect on people, when he wanted to.

He laughed. “Only a little, I promise. But that thing about you looking adorable when you’re mad was completely true, by the way.”

“Shut up, Black!” I crossed my arms and turned away from him.

He hadn’t stopped laughing, but suddenly a rather familiar pair of arms wound around my waist and pulled me into their owner’s lap.

“Sirius! What –?” I yelped.

“You can make it up to me for getting my shirt wet and emotionally abusing me,” he said quietly beside my ear. And oh my Merlin, was he nuzzling my neck? Because it was really ticklish.

Trying not to think about the nuzzling and squirm away, I asked “And how can I do that?”

“You can come downstairs with me to the Ball as my beautiful and stunning date.”

My eyes narrowed and I tried to turn around to look at his face. “What’s in it for you?”

“Aside from having all the other guys down there completely and utterly jealous that such a beautiful and amazing woman agreed to be my date and not theirs? I get to spend some time in your wonderful company, which is always an honour.”

I blinked at him and then whacked his chest.

“Ow! What was that for?” he yelped, rubbing his chest and looking for all intents and purposes, incredibly hurt at my act of violence.

“Don’t tease,” I scolded.

“I wasn’t! All I was trying to do was be charming and persuasive!”

“Sirius –”

“Do you think I’m charming and persuasive?” he asked.

“Persuasive – when you put your mind to it. Charming –” I looked at him critically. “Sometimes, by accident.”

He pouted. “Gosh, there’s no pleasing you, is there?”

I giggled. Holy Merlin, what was that? Since when did I giggle, of all things? Blame it on the dress.

“So, come with me?” he asked, his eyes lighting up hopefully.

“I dunno… do you really want someone who’ll probably trip over the hem of her dress, looks like she’s just had a good cry and is likely to start doing so at any second around you all night?” I asked.

“Well… when you put it like that… yes.”

I looked him right in the eye then. I couldn’t find a single trace of mockery or judgement. Did he actually want to go with me just because?

“And it would be such a waste of a beautiful dress if no one saw it!” he wheedled.

“Seriously? Was that the only thing you could think of?”

“Cut me some slack, I’m running out of ideas here.”

I smiled. “Thank you, but no thank you, Sirius.”

Sirius frowned. “Exactly what are you going to do up here all night anyways?”

“Um… well… I was planning on getting out of this dress pretty soon and then eating the brick of Honeydukes chocolate that Lily keeps hidden in her room, whilst reading some trashy historical romance that I’m sure Lily sneaked into her trunk.”

He looked at me incredulously. “And that was going to be more fun than spending time with me?”

“Um… I dunno. But I’m really not in the mood to have fun tonight, so I’d just ruin your night if I went with you.”

His expression softened. “Mills, believe me when I say this – I’m always happy spending time with you. And if you come downstairs with me, I assure you that you’ll feel a lot better than if you read trashy romance novels all night.”

Merlin, why was he being so understanding and earnest and nice? It was so difficult to say no to him!

There must have been something about my expression that indicated to Sirius that he didn’t have to push too much harder to get me to say yes.

“Please, Mills,” he said quietly, steadily holding my gaze. “For me?”

My shoulders sagged. He was too damn persuasive for his own good! “Oh, alright,” I finally conceded.

He gave me one of those stunning smiles of his and hugged me tight.

“You’ll have the time of your life, I promise,” he whispered into my ear.

There was something about his tone that made me believe him.




AN: I know, I know. How dare I put a filler chapter in before the Ball? Because I enjoy building tension. Or torturing you guys. Or love writing Sirius being cute too much. But seriously, I tried to jump straight into it, but it just wasn't working, so I thought a chapter to set it up would work better. Anyways, let me know what you thought about it in the little grey box below which is bigger on the inside, so feel free to write as much as you wish! I love hearing from you guys, especially when you all gush about Sirius and how cute he is!

Adios Amigos!


Chapter 29: The Time of Your Life
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Sirius' POV:

Okay. So I promised Millie a good time. The time of her life, to be exact. Quite a tall order to fill, taking into consideration that I have no idea what happens to me around this girl and she’s probably on the verge of tears even at this very moment. I sneaked a glance her way, trying not to get distracted by how stunning she looked in that dress, or how her hair grazed her bare shoulders, or how soft her lips seemed…yeah, this not-getting-distracted thing is working out well. She was talking to Lily at the moment, or more accurately, Lily was talking to her (or scolding – sometimes it’s hard to tell) and she was listening. She was trying hard to hide how low she was feeling and to any outsider, Millie White was as chipper as can be, but she couldn’t quite hide the grief and pain in her soulful eyes. Merlin, when she began crying, aside from being way out of my depth, I had the biggest urge to hold her in my arms and hug her tight. The former I was able to do without much argument on Millie’s part, for once, but the latter… well, one can only dream.

But maybe tonight, if I play my cards right… just maybe…

“Sirius,” Millie said quietly, touching my arm to get my attention. Must. Fight. Down. Urge. To. Kiss. Her.

“Huh? What? Yeah?” Oh Merlin, no wonder she reckons I’m an idiot, if this is the way I behaved all the time around her.

“What’s wrong?”

“Wrong? Nothing’s wrong! Why? Is something wrong?” Was she going to cry again? Did she need the services of my shoulder to lean on once more, because I could assure her that my shoulder would not mind in the least? And no, this is not taking advantage of an emotionally vulnerable young woman, this is grasping the opportunity.

They’re two completely different things.

Really.

“You’re staring,” she said. Crap! And I thought I’d been so sneaky.

“I can’t help myself,” I said, with a grin and a shrug. “When my date is as ravishing as yourself, it’s hard to look away.”

We looked at each other, our eyes locked for this moment; her trying to figure out if I was being sincere and me trying to convince her that this was the most sincere I’d been in my entire life.

“Try and resist,” she said drily, looking away.

“I can’t. You’re irresistible.”

She snorted. “I’m sure.” No, Millie, I don’t think you are.

 

“How come you don’t like dancing?” I asked a while later. We’d kind of finished with the socialising part of the night and were now camped out in an out-of-the-way corner, trying not to impinge on any couple’s few moments of privacy – in theory. I was trying to have a few moments of privacy with my date, whilst I think Millie was just trying to hide. Earlier, Mrs P had accosted her and all but squealed at how wonderful and gorgeous she looked.

“That’s what I keep telling her, but she doesn’t believe me,” I sighed dramatically, winding my arm around her waist. The strange thing about it was that I didn’t even have to pretend to make it look natural – it really was natural.

She beamed up at the both of us. I think she was quite happy to see us interacting with each other as a legitimate couple for the first time.

“And you look very nice too, Sirius dear,” she added as a bit of an afterthought.

“Yes, no one could have guessed how handsome he’d look if he brushed his hair once in a while,” Millie said, shooting me a mischievous grin.

Mrs P all but burst with happiness.

“Well, I better be going now and leave you two to have fun. And if you see James by any chance, let him know that his father wants to see him.”

Once she left, I turned her around a little in my arms so we were facing each other. I had a feeling that Mrs P kept on glancing over her shoulder at us, so it was important to be in close proximity for appearances’ sake. The fact that I could smell her blueberry shampoo if I was this close had very little to do with it.

“You think I’m handsome?” I asked teasingly.

Only when you brush your hair,” she said, but she smiled shyly at me, so maybe she thought I was handsome at other times as well…

“Perhaps I should brush my hair more often, then.”

“Oh, you mustn’t do that!”

“Why not?”

“However am I going to fight off the increase in your fan girls if you started looking handsome all the time? I have so much trouble as is!”

I grinned down at her. “You’d fight for me?”

She squirmed a little in my arms. Merlin, she was so cute when she was uncomfortable. “Hypothetically speaking, yes,” she replied, rolling her eyes, trying valiantly to hide… something.

“Millie,” I began solemnly. She arched an eyebrow, indicating that I should continue. “You’re amazing.”

She rolled her eyes.

She couldn’t hide her smile fast enough though.

 

“So tell me why you don’t like to dance,” I started again, after I’d received no response the first time. This might have been because she became very engrossed in the patterns on the wall the diffracted light from the chandelier was making.

Yes, my girlfriend is an artist; step back.

“Don’t you think that it looks so pretty?” she asked, instead.

“Yes, it’s very nice, but –”

“They’re such unique patterns – I wish I had my sketchbook! And look at those colours –”

“Millie!”

“What?” she asked, finally tearing her eyes away from the stupid light patterns. Go figure that the only person who could make me jealous of light patterns was Millie White.

I pouted for effect. “You’re ignoring me!”

“Oh sorry, were you saying something?”

“Come on Mills, am I really that boring that you find light patterns more interesting?”

“No, it’s not like that,” she said shaking her head. I took this as a good sign as to how far our relationship had come. A few months ago, she would have said yes, even if she meant no. “I just didn’t realise you were talking to me. What were you saying, by the way?”

“I don’t want to talk anymore.” I crossed my arms and turned away from her.

I heard her sigh. “Sirius, really?”

“Well you obviously don’t care about what I have to say!” I wasn’t really mad at her but it was nice to know that she liked me enough to want to convince me to talk to her – even though I was being childish.

“I never said that!”

“You didn’t have to! Clearly, if you’re more interested in patterns than what I have to say, you don’t care.”

She took a deep breath. “Okay, okay. I promise not to talk about the light patterns again, okay?”

I shook my head. “That’s not good enough.”

“What? What else do you want from me?”

Your promise to be mine forever. “You have to promise not to ignore me again!”

“Ever?”

“Yes, ever.”

“That’s an awfully long time.”

“Fine! Then I’m not talking to you anymore!”

“What about your promise to me about having the best night of my life?” she asked teasingly. It did however remind me that I had to do something about that. “You can’t promise that and then not talk to me.”

“I can if it means that you’ll have a good time,” I replied softly, turning around to face her again.

It caught her off-guard. “Sirius, if you don’t talk to me, I’ll feel very lonely and am likely to go back upstairs and cry some more.”

I felt oddly pleased that she trusted me enough to tell me such an intimate detail. I considered her for a moment. “Oh, alright, I’ll talk to you.”

She rolled her eyes at my tone, but smiled none the less. “So what were you saying?”

“I asked why you don’t like to dance. I thought girls loved dancing at these kinds of things.”

“Oh. Isn’t that obvious?”

I shook my head no. “Where you’re concerned, darling, things rarely are.”

She smiled and shook her head. “I can barely manage to walk without causing myself or others grievous injury – and that only sometimes. It would be a complete disaster if I decided to dance.”

“So you’ve never danced?”

“It’s not as if I’ve never danced, but I try and avoid it for the safety of the wider population.”

“Do you want to dance?”

“What? Now?”

“No, I meant next week. Of course, now!”

She considered the dance floor for a moment. “It’s not that I don’t want to, but there are so many people out there! I’m bound to crash into someone, or step on someone’s hem or do something else completely stupid and utterly embarrassing.”

“Then we’ll go somewhere where there’s no one else.”

“What?” Her head whipped back in my direction.

“We’ll go where there’s no one else.”

“Where’s that?” Could she please stop looking so hot with her eyebrows scrunched in confusion?

I smiled mysteriously (I hope, because I like to believe that I’m the type of guy that girls find mysterious and brooding). “Follow me,” I said as I took her cool hand in mine.

 

“Outside?” she asked. I’d led her out of the ballroom, through the kitchen and out the back door to the Potters’ little terraced area out the back. A wide balcony would have been far more romantic, but one had to make do with what one had.

“I figured because it was so cold outside, no one would be here.”

She stopped just outside the door.

I turned around and saw her looking rather concerned. I frowned; this was not a promising sign. “What’s wrong?”

“I was just wondering whether the reason no one else is out here should be the same reason we shouldn’t be out here.”

I realised that she was shivering a little already. Come to think of it, my nose wasn’t feeling quite attached to my face either. I wondered if suggesting that we’d be warm enough if I held her in my arms would work and be considered romantic enough, but quickly killed that notion. I shouldn’t get ahead of myself – a lot rested on me being very careful.

“I have an idea,” I said, with a sudden burst of inspiration. I took out my wand and went around the perimeter of the tiled area, muttering a little spell for warmth. Once I was done, the heat dome closed in over our heads and in a matter of mere minutes, the place was comfortably warm.

“Better?” I asked.

Millie smiled up at me. “Much.”

“My lady,” I bowed, a little more extravagantly than was required. “May I have this dance?” I proffered my hand.

She laughed. It was the first real laugh I’d heard from her in a very long time. “Please don’t expect me to curtsey. I’ll probably fall over.”

“I expect no such thing, but simply hope that you accept my humble invitation.”

“It would be my pleasure,” she said with a dazzling smile, placing her hand in mine.

I guided her out to the middle of the “dance floor” and pulled her closer. She placed her left hand on my shoulder and her right hand in my left one. I wound my right arm around her waist, pushing her just that little bit closer to my body. Hey, my spell-casting might be good, but a guy could still feel a little cold and Millie was delightfully warm.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Millie asked.

I nodded. “I’m sure,” I smiled.

“Really? Because I can’t be held responsible for any damage to your person or otherwise that may occur as a result of my clumsiness.” Her dreamy eyes were shining in the light from the half-moon and the tiny lights that were dotted through the garden beyond.

I smiled at her again, in what I hoped was a reassuring manner. “Don’t worry. We’ll be fine.”

“How?”

“Just – trust me.”

She looked at me for a moment with her soul-searching intensity. Then her lips curved up into a soft smile. “Lead the way.”

 

Strains of music from the ballroom could be heard, faintly reaching the back of the house. I think we swayed half to that music and the other half to some sort of rhythm that only the two of us shared. It wasn’t a sound, but more of a feel and the longer we danced, the stronger the rhythm became. I didn’t know exactly what it was – it could have been the wind whooshing through the trees, the scuffling of the garden gnomes through the overgrown grass, or the thuds of our hearts in time…

Anyways.

I wasn’t really focusing on it, and you wouldn’t be either if you had an angel in your arms – and that was what Millie looked like to me. The soft light made her hair shine, her eyes sparkle and her skin glow.

Her eyes locked onto mine. After a moment which could have been forever or no time at all, her lips bent upwards into a small, shy smile and she looked away.

Merlin, she was such a tease.

I decided it would be unwise to say something at this stage – it might frighten her away, and that was certainly an undesirable outcome.

We kept on swaying to the music in silence. There really was no need for words. What on earth was there to say? I’m happy that I get to spend time with you, uninterrupted, alone and without you remembering that you don’t really like me because I forced you into pretending to be my girlfriend?

Yeah, best not to say anything.

Her hand slipped out of mine and rested on my other shoulder. Then, I felt her head rest on my chest, a little hesitantly at first. I wrapped both my arms around her waist and she relaxed completely against me, a soft sigh escaping her lips.

I smiled and rested my cheek on the top of her head.

To any outsider, we looked like we’d been doing this since forever.

Except there was no outsider this time. We weren’t pretending. For once, this was real.

The music stopped and we stopped with it.

Millie didn’t make to move away, like I expected her to.

I was definitely not complaining. She was warm and comfortable in my arms, her body pressed up against mine, fitting perfectly.

It was amazing how girls had the ability to do that.

She sighed deeply.

“Sirius?” Millie’s asked quietly.

“Mm?” My hand was playing with the ends of her hair of their own accord.

“Is this – is this – okay?” Her voice was laced with doubt.

I pulled her away from me a little, so I could see her face. She looked up at me with those firewhiskey eyes. She seemed vulnerable and sad and a little tired. It fully hit me that today had been a really long day. She’d wandered through her house in a bit of daze and her decision to visit her parent’s graves had surprised me, but I hadn’t said anything. She’d come away from there all quiet and thoughtful and I’d just assumed that this was her way of dealing with it all. Then Lily had rushed her away almost as soon as she’d stepped foot into the door to do whatever girls felt was so important to do before a ball. And then… well, then I’d realised that Millie had been doing a damn good job of keeping it together all day and I had just taken it for granted.

She fidgeted a little in my arms and I realised with a start that I had just been staring at her again, lost in thought. She seemed a little self-conscious now and she licked her lips…

And then the next thing I knew, I was kissing her.

It was gentle, mind, nowhere near as roughly as I had handled her in the corridor the other day. I made sure I went slowly this time.

She didn’t respond.

Awkward.

What now?

I increased the pressure a little.

Still nothing.

Perhaps she didn’t actually want to be kissed by me? A couple of months ago, that idea would never have crossed my mind (I mean, come on, I’m Sirius Black), but spending time around Millie changes a bloke’s sense of self.

I began to pull away. I can’t say that I wasn’t hurt by the fact that she hadn’t spent almost every waking minute thinking about our kiss and what we could be, like I had (no, I am not a female), but I had to respect her decision.

Then suddenly, her soft lips pressed back against mine. Her hands slipped up around my neck, pulling me closer.

Can’t say I was reluctant to oblige. My arms slunk around her waist, pulling her tighter still.

She gasped and I grabbed the opportunity, flicking my tongue just past her slightly parted lips.

I felt her fingers tighten in my hair.

She may not have been thinking about our previous kiss all the time before, but she sure as hell wasn’t going to stop thinking about this one now.

Wait, no.

This was wrong.

What was in Merlin’s name was I doing?

 

~*~

 

Millie's POV:


We were dancing.

And then I was resting my head on his chest.

And then he was holding me.

And then he was kissing me.

And then I was kissing him.

And it was amazing.

But then he pulled away.

I blinked in confusion, feeling a little dazed with the feel of his lips still lingering. Merlin, this boy had to come with a warning label!

“I’m – I’m sorry,” Sirius muttered, pulling away from me and taking a step back.

“What?” I asked, rather dumbly. Did I miss something?

He ran a hand through his hair with a frustrated sigh. “I’m sorry, Mills. I didn’t mean – I’m not like –”

“Didn’t mean what?” I crossed my arms over my chest defensively. “To kiss me?” How can someone not mean to kiss someone else but then do it anyways? You don’t go around kissing people accidently!

“Yes!”

I raised an eyebrow. “Then what did you mean to do?”

He shook his head. “No, that’s not what I meant. I did mean to kiss you, but I didn’t mean to kiss you.”

“Sirius, you’re not making any sense at all.” I was beginning to feel less defensive and more confused by the second. And thoroughly annoyed that he’d pulled away when I had been enjoying myself so much. There was no denying it anymore – Sirius was a damn fine kisser and I liked kissing him.

He sighed. “No, I’m not, am I?”

“I think that’s the smartest thing you’ve said in the past few minutes.”

He gave me a cheeky grin. “It’s your ravishing beauty. It’s very distracting.”

“Sirius, you can’t go around saying stuff like that and then say you didn’t mean to kiss someone! You’re sending rather mixed signals here.”

He seemed worried again. “What I mean is, as much as I want to kiss you, I shouldn’t have.”

“Why not? I most certainly wasn’t complaining.”

“Millie! I can’t just go around taking advantage of you in your currently emotionally vulnerable state!”

I stared at him for a good ten seconds.

Say what?

“Emotionally vulnerable state?” I repeated.

“Well, yeah. I understand it’s been a long day and… well, it was very inappropriate of me to… to rush you into… things.”

“But all of this?” I waved my hand around, indicating the romantic setting and his thoughtfulness in putting on a heat spell (although, if we’d kept on kissing, I suspected we wouldn’t have needed it soon). “What the hell was that, then?”

He frowned. “Okay. I realise how this looks, but I swear Millie, I just want you to know – no, need you to know – that I didn’t do all of this just so I could… take advantage of you or anything!”

“Then why did you do it?”

“Because – because – because I promised you a good night and well…” he ran another hand through his hair. It was very distracting, seeing his hair all mussed up now. “I just wanted to spend some time with you. Alone. And make you feel better,” he added, almost as an afterthought.

I smiled at him. “Sirius, for the record, when you kissed me, it never even crossed my mind that you did all of this just to take advantage of me.” Nothing really crossed my mind, actually. It all kind of went a little blank. It was definitely a happy blank though. “I always had faith in you honourable intentions.”

His shoulders relaxed. “Oh. Well, that’s… that’s good, then.”

I nodded in agreement. “It is.”

“And I think I owe you another apology.”

“What for now?” I asked, a little exasperatedly.

“Well, I’m sure I could be apologising for a lot of things, but this time, I want to apologise for the other day. I shouldn’t have lost my temper with you. You’re right, it really is none of my business if you dated my brother or not, and it really shouldn’t matter to me.” But it does, was the thing that he left unsaid. Instead, he took a breath and continued. “And really, once again, I shouldn’t have kissed you like that.”

“Then how should you have kissed me?” I asked.

His eyes widened in surprise. I couldn’t help but smirk a little (a nasty habit I had picked up from a certain someone).

“Wh-what?” he spluttered.

“Then how should you have kissed me?” I teased. It felt nice having the upper hand for once.

“I – well – I dunno –”

“What? All talk and no show, Black?” I teased again. This was fun. I should do this more often.

His eyes narrowed. “Fine,” he growled, and the next thing I knew, his lips were on mine again.

They were soft and barely grazed mine, lingering only for a moment. Then, they were gone as suddenly as they had come and I was once again left in a bit of a daze. Was it normal to have one person have such an effect on you?

That’s how I should have kissed you,” he said quietly, leaning his forehead against mine. “You deserved better.”

“I wasn’t complaining,” I said faintly. And I’m still not, for what it’s worth.

He smiled. “I’m glad.”

We looked at each other.

“We should probably go back inside,” I said after what could have been a few seconds, minutes or hours, I couldn’t tell.

He nodded.

Things had changed between us.

For better or for worse, I wasn’t sure.

I hoped it was for the better.

He really was a good kisser.




AN: And... here we are! Are you guys happy? Sad? Furious? Ecstatic? Pineapple? Whatever your feelings may be, feel free to share them with me. And also, do let me know what you thought about this chapter in general. It took me quite a while to write, so yeah...

This is probs the last chapter to go up before the queue closes for a week, but I promise that once the queue opens again, I shall have a chapter for all you lovely folk written and ready to post!

Until then, adios amigos - and keep smiling :D




Chapter 30: Christmas Morning
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I got up very late the next day, even though it was Christmas and I was usually the first up on a Christmas morning. I must have been more tired than I realised. Stupid house, stupid ball, stupid Sirius. In all fairness, Sirius was not stupid, but it felt that no list about stupid things was complete without his name popping up on it at least once. He was stupid, but incredibly sweet. Gosh! I wonder when that happened? Probably sometime during yesterday’s events, in between the cemetery and that oh-so-wonderful kiss. We headed back inside after that and pretended like nothing had ever happened between us out in the Potters’ backyard.

Okay, well, we didn’t exactly pretend like nothing happened, but we definitely didn’t find a dark corner and snog our brains out – an idea which I would not have been averse to, for once. However it seemed that somewhere deep down in that idiot was a modicum of decency and he felt that it would be very wrong if we snogged whilst I was so “emotionally vulnerable”.

For Merlin’s sake, I wasn’t drunk! I’d just had a long day! Wasn’t that a really good reason to snog? Isn’t that what he wanted as well? Isn’t the snogging part the only reason this may just work? I mean, come on, I may be a little dreamy in my outlook on life, but when it came to boys, I tried to be as practical as possible. Sirius and I weren’t exactly compatible, but there did seem to be some sort of weird physical attraction between us recently, which meant that the only thing I really wanted to do with him was snog. And let’s face facts, it was much better than what we did otherwise, which was argue.

And I’m positive that this was the way Sirius felt as well. He is Hogwarts’ resident playboy, after all… even though he’d been in a “steady” relationship for the past two months. But the fact that it was all a lie just went to show how much of a playboy he really was!

…Didn’t it?

 

“Good morning, sleepy head!” Lily called as she waltzed into my room, pulling back the curtains before she plopped onto my bed. Even though I was awake, I buried myself deeper into my blankets, trying to protect my sensitive eyes from the blinding winter sun.

“Mmm!” I mumbled.

“Merry Christmas!” she continued, completely ignoring my moan of pain and despair. What was wrong with this woman? Was she completely unable to understand human emotions? Or did she just choose to ignore mine?

“Merry Christmas,” I sighed, deciding that there was no point in fighting Lily’s cheery mood. As an artist, I had to be forever mindful of the trap of despair and gloom that had snared so many of my fellow peers. Us sensitive souls were very susceptible to such things.

“Have you opened your presents yet?”

I pushed my covers back and looked at her incredulously. “Of course not!”

She looked at me, confused. “How come? You’re usually the first to dive for the present pile and rip off the wrapping.”

“I was sleeping!”

“Why?”

“Because I was tired!”

She shot me a devilish grin. “How come? Didn’t get much sleep last night, eh?”

I didn’t miss her insinuation. “You’ve been spending too much time around that boyfriend of yours. You’re beginning to sound like him.”

She ignored me, as usual, and asked, “Well?”

“I slept fine, thank you. Just had a really long day yesterday.”

Her face became instantly concerned. “Did… everything… go alright yesterday?” she asked.

I nodded in reply. “Everything was fine.” Which was mostly due to Sirius. Otherwise, Lily would be finding me now, still in my stupid dress, chocolate smeared all over my mouth, tear tracks glistening in the pale winter light and three or four boxes of empty tissues lying around. “Expected, considering the place hasn’t been inhabited for almost six months now.”

“Well, I’m glad. And it’s good that you went there. It feels as if you finally got some closure.”

I looked at Lily closely. How did she…?

“What?” she asked defensively. “You didn’t think I wouldn’t like to know how my best friend was doing?”

Sirius told you?”

“Well, I practically had to extort the information out of him. You have one loyal boyfriend there – where are you going?”

I’d leapt out of bed and was currently charging towards the door. “I’m going to kill him,” I muttered.

 

“What the hell, Black?” I asked (well practically yelled) once I’d charged into Black’s room and skidded to a halt in front of his bed.

Black was sitting on top of his covers, hair all dishevelled and sexy-looking, wearing his boxer shorts and band t-shirt, and had just finished opening his last present.

“Merry Christmas to you too, darling,” he drawled.

I narrowed my eyes at him. For all his good looks and amazing scent, the guy could be a downright jerk sometimes.

He raised his eyebrows arrogantly in question.

Make that a jerk all the time.

I stood at the foot of the bed, breathing heavily and glaring at him, too angry and out of breath to say anything.

His eyebrows went further up. “Is there something you wanted?” He asked with false politeness.

“You… you…” I managed to breathe out. I wanted to curse his sorry hide from here to next Christmas, but in my angry haze, I’d forgotten my wand back in my room.

“Yes?”

“You… Lily… what… thinking?” It had been a really long time since someone had reduced me to incoherence in my anger.

He looked at me blankly for a moment, and if I was thinking rationally, I would have felt sorry for him, trying to make sense of why an angry female was standing at the end of his bed on Christmas morning not making much sense at all. Then, understanding dawned in his gaze. “Oh,” he said quietly. “Is that what this is about?”

“Yes!”

He regarded me for a moment. “Are you going to listen to anything I’m about to say?” he asked quietly, his cool gaze not wavering from mine.

I would like to think that my breathing had eased a little and I could think a little clearer now, not because of Black’s calm demeanour, but because I’d been standing here for a little while now.

“Perhaps…” I said in a more normal tone of voice.

He looked at me for a moment more, then nodded, more to himself than to me. He slowly crawled towards me, as if I was a frightened wild animal whom he was afraid to scare away. He stopped at the edge of the bed, casually kneeling and staring at me. We were now face to face and I could clearly see the darker grey that circled his irises.

“Millie,” he began slowly.

I raised a single eyebrow, indicating him to go on.

“What exactly, do you think I told Lily?”

I glared at him for a moment. As if he didn’t already know! “Everything,” I replied curtly, my voice sharper than I’d ever heard it before. I didn’t realise until that moment how hurt I was feeling. How could he do this to me? First comfort me, then betray my trust like that?

“Well, I didn’t,” he said matter-of-factly.

I blinked at him in surprise. “What?”

“I didn’t tell her everything. I told her enough to stop her bothering me… and you.”

I looked at him warily. “The what, exactly, did you tell her?”

“Just that you’d had a rough day yesterday and that you didn’t really feel up to talking about it at the moment.”

I blinked once more in surprise. Of the many things that had tumbled through my brain, that had not been one of them. “And Lily accepted that?”

His lips quirked into a little crooked grin. “Not easily, but I can be very persuasive when I feel up to it.”

I was painfully aware how persuasive he could be.

“She actually wanted to rush to your room immediately after and wake you up so you two could ‘talk’ –” he made quotation marks in the air around ‘talk’ “– about it, but I convinced her that it wasn’t a good idea.”

“Really?” I asked, feeling a little dazed now.

He nodded, looking quite pleased with himself. “Really. I told her that you would talk to her about it once you felt ready.”

Wow. I don’t know what surprised me more – the fact that Lily listened to Sirius’ counsel, or that Sirius apparently knew me quite well.

I stared at him some more. Finally, when the silence became a little deafening, I said, “Oh. Um. Well, thank you… for that…”

He smiled that bone-melting smile of his.

“… And… I guess… I’m sorry,” I mumbled.

His smile flashed into a grin. “I’m sorry to inform you, Millie dearest, that I cannot accept your apology.”

“Why not?” I asked, feeling a flash of indignation. Did this guy not realise how hard it is for someone to apologise?

“However,” he continued, as if he hadn’t heard me. “I am willing to accept a forfeit.”

“A forfeit? What is this? The sixteenth century?”

“Yes, a forfeit.” His eyes were twinkling mischievously. I had learned to be wary of those mischievous twinkles – they usually only spelt trouble for me.

“What kind of forfeit?” I asked cautiously.

“A kiss.”

“A what?”

“A kiss. I do believe you know what a kiss is, Millie?” His expression clearly said that he was enjoying my rising indignation… and other prickly feelings…

“Yes! Of course I do!” It wasn’t as if I hadn’t just spent an amazing night partaking in exactly that.

“Well?” he raised his eyebrows in question.

“What?”

“Do you accept your forfeit?”

“Do I really have a choice?”

“Not particularly,” he replied sunnily. I felt like killing him all over again.

I huffed.

Then I glared at him.

He shot me a roguish grin.

“Very well,” I conceded.

He looked at me expectantly.

I took a deep breath… leant in slowly… my left hand coming to rest on his cheek… closed my eyes… and kissed him gently on his other cheek.

I felt his dimple below my lips as he smiled.

Before I could pull away, one of his arms slipped around my waist and his other hand captured mine.

“You’re not getting away that easily,” he murmured, tightening his arm around my waist, effectively pulling me towards him.

I toppled onto him with a little yelp, both of us falling back onto the bed. For a few moments, I struggled to untangle myself from his long limbs and sit back up, but I was greatly hindered by the fact that Sirius seemed to be quite unwilling to let go of me. Eventually, we reached a compromise – sort of. I somehow ended up straddling Sirius’ lap. I’m not quite sure how I ended up in this situation.

Sirius seemed to be enjoying my bewilderment and discomfort because he was grinning at me, laughter in his pale eyes.

“Sirius – let me go!” I gasped, pushing at his chest.

“I don’t think so,” he murmured, his hold on me tightening and his face exceptionally close to mine.

I stopped struggling and sighed. “What do you want?” I asked wearily.

“A few things, actually. Number one: will you relax? Your muscles are so tight, it’s giving me a headache just thinking about it.”

I took an exasperated breath, but relaxed into his hold nonetheless. There was no denying that Sirius possessed a singularly comfortable chest.

“Good girl. Number two: you still owe me a kiss.”

“I already kissed you!”

He grinned. “You cheated.”

“I did not! You asked for a kiss! And I gave you one! Next time, be more specific!”

He pulled me closer still. I could feel his breath tickling my ear as he murmured, “Very well. I believe I am owed a kiss, Miss White. And on the lips, if you please.”

I couldn’t help but smile. Sirius Black could be too charming for his own damn good sometimes. “And if I don’t please?”

“I have a feeling that you do.”

I pulled back so I could see his face. He was grinning at me with mischievous intent, but there was a slightly disconcerting intent lurking in his eyes.

“Before I oblige,” I said, “Is there something else that you wish to ask of me?”

He shook his head. “Nothing more to ask, but something to give.”

“What?” I asked, feeling a little excited in spite of myself.

“Your Christmas present.”

“Oh! Sirius, you didn’t have to get me –”

“Yes, yes, I know. But I wanted to. So be quiet and close your eyes.”

My eyes widened.

“I said to close them, not make them bigger!” he said, laughing.

“Fine!” I huffed and closed my eyes. I loved surprises!

I felt one of Sirius’ arms unwrap from around my waist and heard a little bit of ruffling going on.

“Can I open my eyes yet?” I asked.

“No!” came back the reply.

A few more seconds passed, and I was beginning to get a little impatient.

“What about now?”

“Merlin, Mills! A little patience!”

“Patience is for losers.”

He laughed his strange bark-like laugh. “You can open your eyes now.”

My eyes flew open almost before he’d finished his sentence. There was something shiny dangling in front of me. I blinked to focus my eyes. It was a thin silver chain, with a little silver pendant hanging off it. I brought out my hand, and Sirius dropped it into my waiting palm, the fine links collapsing like water. I brought my finger up underneath the pendant for a closer look. It was the profile of what looked to be some sort of giant dog’s shaggy head, the exquisite detail highlighting the power in its neck and the reflective nature of the metal casting a sense of nobleness to the upward tilt of its head.

“It’s… beautiful…” I murmured, running a thumb lightly over it.

Sirius smiled, seeming a little relieved. “I’m glad you like it,” he said, his deep voice reverberating through his chest.

“Is it a wolf?” I asked. It reminded me strongly of the bid black dog that I had befriended a few weeks ago in the Boathouse, but it was practically impossible that Sirius knew this, considering I hadn’t told anyone about him.

“The shopkeeper was convinced that it was actually a rendition of The Grim.”

I looked up at him to find that he was watching me with those mischievous eyes. “The Grim?” I asked sceptically. I’d taken Divination for a grand total of three weeks before deciding that the only thing that class was good for was drinking copious amounts of weak tea.

“When I told him I was buying it for my girlfriend, he thought it best that I didn’t mention the fact that I was giving her an omen of death as a present.”

I laughed. “Well, even if it an omen of death, I think it’s a very beautiful one.”

“I’m glad.” We looked at each other for a moment. Sirius’ hand came and wrapped around the one that was holding the necklace. “May I?” he asked softly.

I uncurled my hand under his. His graceful fingers slipped through the chain and pulled the necklace out with a gentle tinkle. I watched his fingers as they unclasped the hook and began moving up.

I went to move my hair out of the way, but Sirius beat me to it. “Here,” he murmured. “Let me.” I felt his breath whoosh over the sensitive shell of my ear as he leaned in closer and brushed all my hair to the side. I reached up to secure it out of his way.

His arms came up around me and he leant in even closer to clasp the necklace shut. He leant back once more and I dropped my hair back down. He adjusted the pendant slightly. Seeming satisfied with his work, he regarded me with an assessing look.

I smiled and cocked an eyebrow in question.

“Beautiful,” he murmured.

“Well, you do seem to have good taste,” I said.

His eyes flicked to mine. “I didn’t mean the necklace. I meant you.”

I felt my skin become warmer and I looked away from his intent gaze in shyness.

“Millie…” he began, but I didn’t give him a chance to finish. Before I lost my courage, I quickly closed the little distance between us and kissed him.

 

Well.

He didn’t respond.

This is extremely awkward.

I pulled away in embarrassment and avoided his gaze. “Sorry,” I muttered. “Don’t know what came over me.”

He tightened his hold on my waist with one arm and took my chin in his firm yet gentle grip with the other, turning my face so I had to look at him again. His grip changed until he was cupping my cheek, his thumb gently stroking my cheekbone. “Kiss me again,” he murmured.

“What?” I asked in my surprise.

“Kiss me again.”

“But –”

Apparently becoming frustrated with my lack of understanding he decided to take matters into his own hands.

He kissed me instead.

And I am only mildly embarrassed to say that I kissed him back.



AN: Hello all! The next chapter as promised! It's more than a little filler-y but I felt that after all the emotional turmoil of the last chapter, this was probably a well-earned break for our leads. And also, I love writing cute little fluff scenes. I have no idea how you guys felt about the last chapter, but I'm assuming that you guys liked it, because I haven't received any reviews stating otherwise. And I hope that you guys enjoy this chapter just as much! It's gonna be a little hectic with school and all for the next few weeks, so I dunno when the next chapter will be out, but I promise not to make you guys wait too long!

Adios amigos - and keep smiling! :D


Chapter 31: Valentine's Day
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Sirius' POV:

I hardly noticed as December rolled into the New Year, then January into February. I guess I was just having too much fun, what with all the extra work that our teachers kept on piling onto us, planning and undertaking epic pranks, so that Hogwarts was unlikely to forget the Marauders anytime soon, oh, and spending lots of time with a certain brunette.

And yeah, I could now snog her whenever I felt like it.

And yeah, I felt like snogging her quite often.

And I suppose it was a good thing that she felt the same away about it, too.

 

One fine (or as fine as it got in February) evening, Moony, Wormtail and I were lounging about in the Common Room. Lily and Sarah were off studying in the library and Prongs and Millie were still at Quidditch training. There were still a few months off until the final match, but there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Gryffindor would be there. I mean, since Mills and Prongs had joined the team back in our second year, we haven’t lost a single match.

So, accordingly, Prongs had the poor lot training their butts off. I was quite used to the creative ways in which Millie wished to off her Captain. I’d feel sorry for the bloke, but that would take all the fun out of it.

So. We were all lounging about (well, I was lounging about, whilst Moony helped Wormtail with his Transfiguration homework. For all that he was an Animagus, Wormtail was terrible at the subject) when Moony piped up, “Are you and Millie doing anything special for Valentine’s Day?”

I flicked my eyes towards him. “No. Why?”

“Oh, just wondering. Prongs wouldn’t shut up about what he’s got planned. I thought maybe you had something up your sleeve too.” He shrugged.

I narrowed my eyes. “Prongs is a man in love. Of course he’s got something planned.”

“And you are not a man in love?” Moony asked, with deceptive innocence.

I frowned. I liked Millie, really liked her, but I wouldn’t call what we had love

“So nothing planned?” Moony prompted, tactfully dropping the love subject.

I shook my head. But this had me thinking. Was Millie expecting something? I mean, yes, we began our, um, relationship, by pretending, but in the past few months, things had definitely changed. We’d never really talked about it, but I for one, thought of Millie as more than my fake girlfriend. Did she think of me in the same way?

“Should I do something?” I asked, a few moments later.

Moony looked up, then looked back at his work. “I dunno, mate. You two have been going out for quite some time now, almost six months. That has to be some kind of record for you.”

“Yeah, but what does that mean about Valentine’s Day?” I was usually doing one of two things on Valentine’s Day: either entertaining some completely vapid but rather attractive bimbo, or avoiding the entire female population of Hogwarts like the plague. Sometimes, I did both.

At the same time.

Because I’m a ninja like that.

But this year, things were different. Whilst, Millie was more than attractive, she definitely wasn’t vapid. And since I’d been “off the market” for so long, the whole having to avoid the entire female population of Hogwarts had dwindled down to only having to avoid most of the female population of Hogwarts.

Perhaps this called for a change in tradition…

 

~*~

Millie's POV:

It was strange that once you were in a relationship with someone, you just somehow knew when Valentine’s Day was, even if you usually had trouble remembering that it was your birthday or Christmas or whatever.

So when I woke up that Friday morning, for some strange reason, I felt rather excited.

Really, I had no right to be.

Yeah, it was Valentine’s Day, and yeah I was in a relationship for all intents and purposes, and yeah, I might’ve started believing it myself, but that didn’t mean anything.

For one thing, I was quite sure Sirius was going to forget.

And for another, I wasn’t quite sure what we were anymore. We were definitely more than pretending, if the number of times we’d snogged was anything to go by.

But neither of us had ever said anything.

We may have tacitly agreed to breach the rules of our initial agreement, but we hadn’t talked about a new one.

So, celebrating Valentine’s Day, least of all with Sirius, was completely out of the question.

 

So imagine my surprise when I woke up to find a single red rose on my bedside table, but no note.

How the hell had a rose managed to get there?

Was it from Sirius?

Should I feel as excited as I was? Probably not, considering it mightn’t be from him…

But what if it was?

What did it mean?

Did it even mean anything?

Was he just doing it to be nice?

But why would he do that?

Did he like me? I mean, he liked snogging me, but that didn’t mean that he liked me.

Although, we have been “together” for an awful long time now…

So perhaps…

I got dressed and headed down to breakfast in a bit of a daze, mulling over what that rose meant.

Sirius wasn’t at breakfast, but that was normal as the lucky idiot had a first period spare on Friday mornings.

He was probably snoring away up in the boys’ dormitory while I sat here drinking my tea, and still wondering what on earth that rose could possibly mean…

As I was heading towards the greenhouses, I was suddenly grabbed by the arm and yanked into an empty classroom.

“Ah!” I yelped, as I tripped over thin air and into a very comfortable pair of arms.

Laughing, Sirius caught me and spelled the door closed.

“Bloody hell Sirius! It’s too early in the morning for your…” I tried to search for the right word. “For your… antics!”

He grinned at me and pulled me closer. “I guess I was just happy to see you.”

“Exactly what kind of happy?” I asked, also smiling. It was hard to be mad at him these days. The boy was too charming for his own good.

He leant his forehead on mine. “Wanna find out?” he asked in a low voice, as his breath tickled my nose.

I laughed before I leant up and kissed him.

Pulling away after a few moments, I asked, “Was there any particular reason I was yanked into an empty classroom?”

“Do I need another reason other than wanting to kiss you?”

I pulled away a little so I could look at his face better. “You do when I’m going to be late to class.”

“Oh, the plants can wait,” he said and leant down to kiss me again, but I pulled back.

“Sirius.”

“Oh, alright.” He rolled his eyes in mock defeat. “I was going to wish you a happy Valentine’s Day, but now you’ve ruined it.”

I tried to desperately tamp down on the ridiculous feelings of joy and elation at his words. “Actually, I believe you were going to kiss me.”

“I was going to say it afterwards. Far more romantic, that way. But now I that I’ve told you…”

“You can’t kiss me or wish me a happy Valentine’s Day?”

“Well, actually I can still do both, but it’ll have lost its effect.”

“That’s too bad. I guess I’ll just have to go now…” I made to move away, but I didn’t even manage to escape his hold.

“Don’t you dare, Millie White! I’m not finished with you yet.” He pulled me back towards his chest. “I’ve decided to proceed according to plan anyways, and if you have any qualms about its lack of romanticism, you have only yourself to blame.”

I was still laughing when his lips swooped down to capture mine.

A while later, we broke apart and he rested his forehead on mine, but this time, both of us were quite out of breath.

“Happy Valentine’s Day, Mills,” Sirius whispered.

“Happy Valentine’s Day, Sirius,” I replied, still a little dazed. You would think that after spending more than a month and a half snogging this bloke, the side effects would’ve worn off.

Apparently not.

“Mills…”

“Hm?” I pulled back and looked at his face. He was looking unusually nervous.

“I don’t know how to say this, but, would you like to – would you like to –?”

I smiled up at him in confusion.

He took a deep breath. “Would you like to have dinner with me? Tonight?”

I blinked in surprise. “Like a… like a date?”

“Yeah… exactly like a date.” He grinned sheepishly.

I smiled. “I would love to.”

~*~

Sirius' POV:

So spending time with my, um… girlfriend (I think?) was always a pleasure, but going on a romantic date with my girlfriend was… stressful. Who knew there were just so many damn things that you had to do to make everything perfect?

And who knew that you actually wanted to do them?

And that if things didn’t go as planned, you were liable to suffer an apoplexy.

That hadn’t happened.

Yet.

The heavens were smiling down on me… in almost a literal sense. The sky had the presence of mind to be clear and starry for such a romantic evening.

It was too good an opportunity to waste indoors.

“Sirius… are we heading for the Forbidden Forest?” Millie asked me quietly. She was looking absolutely stunning all wrapped up in her coat and scarf, her nose pink from the cold.

I smiled down at her. “Yes.”

She raised one eyebrow at me. “Is that wise?”

“Don’t worry. I won’t let anything hurt you.”

Both her eyebrows went up.

“Do you doubt my protecting prowess?” I asked in mock indignation.

She laughed. “Oh, how could I ever doubt your protecting prowess? No, I was a little worried about getting caught.” She looked around a little nervously.

“Mills, we’re ages away from the Castle and no one else is bound to be heading towards the Forest. They’d be crazy if they were!”

“And we’re not crazy for doing such a thing?”

“You would be if you were out here alone, but you’re not. You’re with me. Safe.”

She looked at me curiously. Perhaps I’d said too much, but I didn’t want her thinking that I didn’t value her enough to lead her into such a dangerous place without ample protection (namely myself). But she wasn’t stupid either. “What makes you so sure?”

I gave her my most charming and dazzling smile. “Because I’m Sirius Black, darling.”

She gave an incredulous laugh but dropped the subject.

 

“Mind your head,” I murmured as Millie almost walked into a third branch in the span of five feet. I tightened my hold on her hand as I felt her stumble slightly.

“Why are there so many bloody trees?” I heard her ask under her breath. I was quite sure that I wasn’t supposed to hear that, but I couldn’t resist teasing her.

“That’s because it’s a forest, Millie dear.”

I could feel her glare burning two holes into my back.

She was getting better at the whole intimidation thing.

 

“Did you seriously plan a romantic picnic under the stars for Valentine’s Day?” Millie asked once we’d reached the clearing that I had prepared earlier. It was spelled for warmth and protection and the picnic basket and blanket were all laid out.

I frowned at the set-up.

Was something wrong?

Had I miscalculated?

Was this too cliché?

Was this not cliché enough?

“Yes, I did,” I replied as neutrally as possible.

She smiled that gorgeous smile of hers, where her eyes light up and you feel like you’re the king of the world.

No, seriously, you do.

Then she leaned up and kissed me gently on the cheek.

“Thank you,” she whispered.

I was glad that she’d walked ahead and was leading me over to the blanket, because I’m sure I looked like a right idiot, grinning at her simple words.

Trying to gain some of my coolness back, I cleared my throat and asked as casually as possible, “Did you like the rose this morning, too?”

She glanced back at me and I hastily tried to turn down the grin a notch or two from I’m-in-love-for-the-first-time-ever to I’m-the-coolest-person-in-the-entire-world­.

Not that I was in love with Millie or anything.

I mean, I don’t think we’re even together.

Even though we’ve been “together” since October.

And this was a date.

“So the rose was from you?” she asked.

“Of course!” I cried indignantly as we sat down on the blanket. Then a thought occurred to me. “Wait a second,” I said, my eyes narrowing in suspicion. “Who else did you think the rose was from?” Did I have competition?

She shrugged nonchalantly. “Oh, nobody in particular. I just wondered if…”

“Wondered what?”

She laughed. “Sirius, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were jealous.”

It was my turn to shrug nonchalantly. “Maybe I am.”

She looked at me with that soul-searching gaze of hers. “Are you?”

“No…”

She cocked her head to the side (and I felt like kissing her) as she passed over a plate and reached for the butterbeer. “So you don’t want to know who I thought might have been from?”

My eyes narrowed. “Not really…” Who was this guy? It better not be her ex-boyfriend.

Or my brother.

It especially better not be him.

He had no right to be sending Millie flowers anymore.

None of them did.

Except me.

Because I was her boyfriend… sort of.

She shrugged again as she uncorked a bottle and passed it over. “It seems as if you forgot glasses, but that’s okay. We can drink straight from the bottle.”

It seemed as if we’d dropped the other-man issue.

But it was still bugging me.

She took a swig and passed the bottle over with a smile. I could tell it was supposed to be a peace offering.

And since it was Valentine’s Day, and I was trying to be on my best behaviour, and I’d promised not to pester her about my brother, I let it go.

For now.

 

~*~

Millie's POV:

He was jealous. I could tell. He’d taken my peace offering, but it was obvious that he wasn’t happy about it. I gave a mental shrug. The guy needed to learn to trust people.

Luckily, the awkwardness passed quickly enough as we began with the eating and talking. Against all odds, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Sirius was being more charming than usual and the starlight was anything but unkind to the handsome little idiot. It accented his dark hair and caught on his sharp features. His eyes sparkled and his smile took my breath away. I tried to act as unaffected as possible, but it was hard to hide how much I liked him. Over the past few months, and especially since Christmas, I’d become… fond… of him.

It wasn’t love or anything.

But I had a feeling that it might not stay that way for long.

Especially if he kept up the charm all night.

Once we’d eaten, we lay down on our backs, side by side, and gazed up at the night sky. We lay there together, in silence, for a long while.

It was moments like this when I felt that I could fall in love with this guy the most. I’d never ever felt so completely content with myself and another person, than when I did when we were simply together. We didn’t need to talk – just being close to each other was enough.

Sirius reached out and took my hand in his. He clasped it to his chest without taking his gaze away from the sky.

As I continued to look up at the stars, I could feel the steady beat of his heart under my fingertips.

“You know, there’s a tradition in my family for naming offspring after things found in an Astronomy textbook,” he said quietly. Sirius never talked about his family.

“I didn’t know there was anyone in your family by the name of telescope,” I quietly teased back, not wanting to spoil the lovely mood with something he didn’t want to talk about. Even if he had brought it up.

He grinned. “I meant the stars and galaxies and stuff.”

“Well thank goodness for that. I’d hate to be called telescope.”

He laughed then. “But it’s a strange tradition, don’t you reckon?”

“I suppose. But what’s strange to one person, is completely normal to another.”

“Did you have any weird traditions?”

“Other than having to spend Christmas together as one happy family, and pretend that everything was normal and okay? Not that I know of. There was just grandma and dad on that side of the family.”

“And your mother’s?”

I shrugged. For some strange reason, I felt comfortable telling Sirius about my life. Perhaps because I knew that it couldn’t be much more messed up than his. It’s the price one pays from coming from Pureblood families. “I don’t know anything about Mum’s side of the family. Her family disowned her when she married Dad. I don’t even know if they know that she’s…” My throat closed up before I could say the word “dead”.

Sirius seemed to understand. “It happened to one of my cousins too.”

“What? She was disowned?”

“Yeah. She married a Muggleborn.”

“And does she… regret it?”

“Not even for a second. They have a little daughter now. Happiness. And Andromeda’s husband’s parents are really supportive.”

“They’re the lucky few, then.”

“With love, or happiness?”

“With both, I suppose. Not everyone gets the chance to be.”

We lapsed into silence again. Sirius’s hand stroked mine absently. Suddenly, he turned onto his side and looked down at me.

I turned my head to look at him and cocked an eyebrow in question. He was looking adorable with his hair flopping into his grey eyes, all serious and solemn.

When he didn’t say anything for a while, and just continued to look at me, I asked softly, “What?”

He still didn’t say anything.

Instead, he bent down and kissed me gently, his lips grazing mine sweetly. He pulled away and I took a deep breath.

“What was that for?” I asked.

He grinned. “I felt like kissing you.”

“Why?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. Because I like you? Because you smell nice? Because you look adorable when you scrunch your nose when you’re thinking, or when you’re sketching something, or the way you glare at me when you’re mad.” I stared at him in surprise. This must be the most romantic thing anyone has ever said to me.

Ever.

He continued more softly. “Because you have a gorgeous smile. And your eyes are the colour of firewhiskey. And your lips…” he sighed.

I waited, holding my breath.

He leant close again, his body partially on top of mine. “Your lips taste just like heaven.”

In any other circumstance, I’d think the last part was overkill, but somehow, Sirius seemed to make it work, and I found myself blushing.

I turned my head away from his perceptive gaze in case he saw how much his words had affected me. I didn’t want him thinking that I was that easy to win over.

Even though I was.

But I had to say something.

“I like you, too,” I whispered, still not meeting his gaze.

His hand cupped my chin and turned it gently to face him. He looked at me for a moment, then kissed me again, but this time, it was more… passionate. I wrapped my arms around his neck and pulled him closer. His body rolled on top of mine. He was using one arm to prop himself up, the other roamed my body.

My hands weren’t idle too, as I felt the strong muscles of his shoulders and back, before they drifted back up to the soft dark hair at the nape of his neck.

He pulled back slightly and said, “Darling, if you don’t want this to become something… more… I suggest that you push me off right now.” His voice was low and husky. Not to mention seductive.

“I have to push you off? Can’t you get up by yourself?” I murmured.

“I might, if I wanted to. But I seem to find myself in a position where I don’t really feel like moving.”

“Whatever happened to your gallantry and chivalry?”

“Damn that,” he murmured before bending down to kiss me again.

I moved closer, knowing instinctively that I could trust him, that he wouldn’t let things get out of hand before either of us was really ready for it.

Well, not much, anyway.

 

We finally disentangled from each other. Sirius rolled back beside me as we both tried to get our breaths back.

“I was going to ask you something, before you distracted me,” he said. He always managed to get his breath back that little bit faster than me. And I was the one who played Quidditch.

“Distracted you? When did I distract you?” I asked incredulously. If anything, he distracted me.

“Darling, you distract me by simply walking into the room.”

I rolled onto my side and whacked him gently on the arm. “Stop flattering and get to the point.”

“I wasn’t flattering!” he said, whilst rubbing where I’d just thwacked him. As if it actually hurt, the big baby. “I was telling the truth.”

I sighed to hide the wave of giddiness that went through me at his words. No need to inflate his ego, or anything. “What was your question?”

“I don’t know if I can ask it now.”

“Why not?”

“It just doesn’t… feel right.”

I rolled my eyes. “Sirius, it doesn’t matter. The atmosphere doesn’t always have to be right.”

“Yes it does!” He rolled onto his side, so that now we were facing each other. “Otherwise you get the wrong answer!”

I narrowed my eyes. “Why don’t you just ask, and we’ll see, hmm?”

He appeared to be slightly embarrassed. “Well… okay. But mind you, I’ve never asked this before, so don’t be surprised if I stuff it up.”

I stared at him. Exactly what was he going to ask? My hand in marriage?

“Millie.” He took my hand in his. “Will you do me the great honour…”

This was sounding suspiciously like a marriage proposal, but that can’t be right…

“…Of being my Valentine?”

Not quite a marriage proposal, but monumental all the same.

I smiled at him and leant across to kiss him.

When I pulled away, he asked, “So was that a yes?”

I raised an eyebrow. “What do you think?”

“Well… I think it was, but I’m not quite sure. That could have been a pity kiss.”

“It wasn’t.”

“So it was a yes kiss?”

“Yes, it was.”

“So since that kiss was so ambiguous, might I be able to request another one, just to make sure?”

I laughed as I leant across once more.

We didn’t let go of each other for a while.





AN: First of all, PLEASE DON'T HURT ME! I know I haven't updated for so long that I don't even want to check the date. I've been pretty busy, because it's my last year in high school (WITH EXAMS IN LIKE NOT THAT LONG! AH!), but I also didn't know have any ideas how to connect the first half of this story to the second half, and this is the best yet. Secondly, do I even have any readers left? If I don't I, I completely understand, but if I still do - OMG I LOVE YOU GUYS SO MUCH! YOU ARE DA ABSOLUTE BEST! So tell me what you think of this chapter. Where do you think these two will go from here? What on earth is going to happen to them next? Is Sirius way better at feelings than Millie? Is Sirius still as adorable as ever? I don't know when I'll be able to post the next chapter, but hopefully the wait won't be anything like this...

But anyways! Adios amigos! And keep smiling! :D



Chapter 32: Of Hearts and Bludgers
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Millie's POV:

“WE WON! WE WON! WE WON!”

“Shut up, Hartley! We were all there!”

“BUT WE WON!”

Lily’s voice swam into my conscious from… somewhere. “Will you two stop bickering? My best friend almost died out there, and all you lot care about is some stupid trophy!”

That shut them up.

But what was this about me almost dying? That didn’t sound right.

“Mills?” I heard a voice ask softly from somewhere near my left ear.

I tried to open my eyes. I managed to crack them open, before they shut instantly at the searing light, a groan of pain escaping.

The whole dying thing was sounding more and more plausible by the minute.

“Millie!” Lily cried.

I groaned in pain again, the noise too loud for my poor head.

“Will you keep it down, Evans?” Sirius snapped.

“Sorry,” Lily said in a more moderate tone.

I tried to open my eyes again, this time meeting with more success. It took a moment for the blurs to take shape as six sweaty Quidditch players, three concerned-looking friends and one (probably) boyfriend who seemed about ready to pass out with relief.

So. It must have been a good game then.

“What happened?” I croaked, as I tried to sit up.

Sirius promptly, yet gently, pushed me down again.

I shot him a glare.

He gave me a grin, but the concern in his eyes was still evident.

The guy was too just too damn sweet for his own good sometimes.

It was now sometime in April, I was quite sure Gryffindor had just won the Quidditch Cup, and I think I was in love with Sirius Orion Black.

And I still didn’t know if we were official.

And my head really hurt.

“What happened?” I asked again, my voice sounding a little stronger.

“Well, after Hartley sent that Bludger hurtling towards Cartwright, the last thing I saw was you dive for the Snitch,” James said.

“And might I add, just how callous and dangerous that was,” Lily interjected.

“Lily, it’s called Quidditch!” Sarah cried.

“No, it’s called madness!”

No one had the guts to tell her that she really shouldn’t bag Quidditch in front of seven Quidditch players. Not that they’d hurt her – everyone was terrified of Lily Evans.

“So I dived for the Snitch, and…?” I prompted.

“Then you caught the Snitch –” Sarah said.

“Which meant that we’d won!” Hartley added, just in case I’d missed that part for the past six years.

“– and then as you were pulling out of that spectacular dive, this Bludger came out of absolutely nowhere and knocked you right out of the air!” Sarah finished, a little breathless.

“And then I’m assuming that I fell about ten feet to the ground and passed out?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“Brilliant.” I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. My final Quidditch match at Hogwarts ever and like always, I end up in the Hospital Wing. At least you can call me predictable.

I was saved from making further conversation with the bustling entrance of Madam Pomfrey.

“Oh, good. You’re awake Miss White,” she said in a business-like tone. “Now you lot can leave so I can look after my patient.”

“But we can’t leave! She’s our star Seeker!” the Bull cried out. A lot of emphatic nodding was followed by this statement.

“Your star Seeker who is in need of some peace and quiet! I will not have a loud raucous party in here when my patient requires rest!”

With quite a lot of grumbling the Quidditch team filed out, leaving behind James, Lily, Sarah, Remus and Sirius.

“We should stay,” Sarah said quietly.

“All of you?” I asked, squirming to reach a more comfortable position in the pillows. “Only if you want Pomfrey to bite off your head.”

“She has a point,” Remus said, every the pragmatist.

“Well, one of us should stay,” Lily said with some concern.

“There’s really no need for that. It’s not as if I’ll be doing anything exciting. I’ll just take my medicine and have a little nap, that’s all.”

“But you’ll get lonely!” James cried.

“James, this isn’t the first time that I’ve been in the Hospital Wing! You should go and enjoy the victory party.”

I closed my eyes but felt no one move.

I sighed. “That meant all of you.”

There was a moment of silence where I felt all four of them silently arguing. I didn’t bother opening my eyes to see what all the fuss was about. My head hurt and all I wanted was to take some of that lovely purple liquid that Madam Pomfrey was about to put on my bedside, so I could get some rest without fear of dying because I fell asleep for too long with a concussion.

Finally, I felt the lot of them traipse out.

All except one.

I opened my eyes to see who it was.

“What are you still doing here, Black?” I asked, as I eased up the pillows so I could drink the potion that Madam Pomfrey had just left on the table. I was still in my sweaty Quidditch gear, but I hurt too much to really care. Ten feet didn’t sound like a lot, but at the speed that I was going at, I really was lucky to have escaped with just a few bumps and bruises.

“Keeping you company,” he replied, as he adjusted the pillows around me. It still surprised me when he did stuff like this, even after all this time.

“Well, I’m not going to be much company,” I said, after I swallowed the contents of the goblet and settled back down into my little pillow fort.

“I don’t mind,” he replied, settling into a chair next to me.

I turned on my side to look at him. His grey eyes regarded me with a mixture of patience, concern and something inscrutable.

“I mind.”

His lips twitched into a faint smile and my heart fluttered. “You gave us all quite a scare.”

I shrugged, or at least tried to, before realising that shrugging hurt. “It happens all the time.”

“It doesn’t make it any less scary.” He leant forward and took my hand.

“You get used to it, after a while.” His fingers were absently playing with mine and it was very distracting.

“No. You don’t.” His eyes looked into mine with such intensity that I had to look away.

“But I guess this is the last time ever something like this is going to happen.”

“Sad?”

“Yeah. I’m going to miss this team. This place. Aren’t you?”

He shrugged. “Yes. But I’m excited about going out there. Finally being able to do something.”

We both knew what that something meant. The war had escalated rapidly over the past two years, and I knew that many of us were chafing to help. To fight. I couldn’t help the flutter of fear in the pit of my stomach, thinking about my friends fighting.

Getting hurt.

Dying.

They were all the family I had left.

“You should go, Sirius,” I said softly, after a while.

“I really don’t mind staying with you,” he said.

“I know, but there’s a party going on, and I’d hate for you to miss it because of me.”

“It won’t really be any fun without you.”

I rolled my eyes at that. Sometimes, he said things that were just a little too unbelievable. “Yes, because I really am the life of the party, aren’t I?”

“You are for me,” he said, kissing the back of my hand and grinning.

I shot him a look. “Oh, I think you’ll manage to have a good time without me,” I said dryly.

He laughed. “That’s what you think.”

I smiled at him. “I mean it, Sirius. Go. This’ll be one of your last chances to spike the punch.”

He looked at me for a moment. “Will you be alright here alone?”

“Of course I will. It’s the Hospital Wing for Merlin’s sake!”

Before he could say something else, I added, “If it makes you feel any better, I’ll be out soon enough anyways. Just a couple more hours and I’ll be back.”

He looked at me some more.

This was starting to get a little uncomfortable.

I couldn’t say that I was used to people fussing all over me like this.

I also couldn’t say that I wasn’t pleased that it was Sirius who was doing the fussing.

It felt… nice.

“Get some rest, darling,” he whispered as he stood up and kissed me lightly.

 

~*~

Sirius' POV:

I hadn’t been kidding when I’d said it wouldn’t be fun without her.

But for some reason, even after all this time, she just didn’t take me seriously.

It was as if she was incapable of believing that someone would actually want to spend time with her.

It was utterly frustrating, this insecurity of hers.

But it was utterly charming at the same time as well.

It made me feel like I should just keep on piling it on, until she believed that I really cared for her, and wanted to spend time with her and lov – no wait. Maybe not that far.

Because whatever this weird feeling of wanting to be close to her, and protect her, and make her laugh, and keep her company, and hold her hand – it wasn’t love.

It couldn’t be.

 

“Mate! There you are!” Prongs called.

I’d just come back from the second alcohol run of the night. The entire Tower was going through the stuff like it was water.

I think I’d gone through the stuff like it was water. I couldn’t remember how many bottles of some cheap Muggle beer I’d had.

“And you’ve brought more alcohol!” he cried, grabbing me in a bear hug. Drunk Prongs was weird. Funny, but weird.

“Gerrof!” I laughed, prying him away. “Have you seen Millie?” I was getting desperate to see her. It had been, what, three, four hours, since I’d left her? She must’ve left the Hospital Wing by now.

“No, I haven’t.” He must have noticed my confusion because he gave me a sly grin and said, “Worried you’ll lose her to some other guy, eh Padfoot?”

“Shut up, Prongs. Don’t you have a girlfriend to snog or something?”

“Indeed I do!” he turned around and entered the fray again, leaving me alone to wonder about my missing girlfriend.

What if she’d taken a wrong turn?

What if she’d fallen down the stairs?

What if she’d been kidnapped by some guy and was currently being ravished in a broom closet?

What if she hadn’t been kidnapped by some guy and was currently being ravished in a broom closet?

The last one kicked my alcohol-marinated brain into action and out the portrait hole.

 

I was hurrying down the fourth-floor corridor, on my way to the Hospital Wing, when I bumped into something warm.

I instinctively reached out. My hands came into contact with a pair of slender arms.

Feminine arms.

Millie?

If I’d been in my right mind, I’d have known instantly that it wasn’t her.

“Hello, Sirius,” a sultry voice came out of the shadows. “I’ve been looking for you.”

I frowned in confusion. Definitely not Millie.

I pulled my unknown assailant into the nearest patch of torchlight.

My grip instantly went slack as I realised who it was.

“Marissa?” I asked. “What the hell are you doing here?”

She laughed. There was once a time when I’d found that laugh actually kind of sexy. Now it was just annoying. “Like I said, looking for you.”

“Why?”

She edged closer. If I hadn’t been drunk, alarm bells should’ve instantly gone off.

Unfortunately, I was drunk.

“Can’t you guess?” she whispered, in what I could only assume she thought was a seductive manner. It sounded like she had something stuck in her throat.

“No.” My frown deepened. Could she just leave already, so I could go rescue my girlfriend from impending ravishment?

She laughed again. “Oh, Sirius. You always did like to play games.” She was closer than before.

“Er, right. Listen, I’ve got to go…”

“What? To collect your girlfriend from the Hospital Wing?” she snickered.

I scowled.

“Oh, come on. As if you were actually ever interested in her!” she wrapped her arms around my neck.

“Um…” Was there a polite way to pry a girl off from around your neck?

“I know you’re only pretending to date her just to make me jealous.” She tightened her grip. The scent of her perfume was cloying. And to think that I’d once snogged her. Now I couldn’t even stand to be within three feet of her.

“Marissa, listen – whatever you’re doing, you should stop –”

“Because you’re spoken for now? You can’t seriously expect me to believe that someone like you could be interested in someone like her.”

There was once a time when those words would have been true, but that was a long time ago. I was beginning to wish that I hadn’t had so much to drink, because I couldn’t think of anything to get myself away.

“Aren’t you with my brother?” I asked, grasping at anything to make her go away.

“Only to make you jealous.”

I blinked down at her in surprise.

Had she expected that to work?

“Now come here,” she purred.

“Wha –?” Before I could even finish my question, she’d pulled me down and sealed her lips over mine.

I could barely breathe from the shock of it.

And that wasn’t good shock either.

So I stood there and let the chit snog me for goodness knows how long.

Only the sound of Millie’s voice snapped me out of it.

“Sirius?” I heard her ask, from not so far away.

I wrenched my lips away from Marissa’s and dragged in a deep breath. “Millie!” I said, or tried to, what with the lack of oxygen and everything.

“Oops!” Marissa giggled. “Looks like we’ve been found out!”

It was only then that I noticed the look on Millie’s face.

It was as if she’d been hit in the stomach with a Bludger.

She blinked once, twice, before turning on her heel and walking swiftly back down the corridor.

“Millie! Wait!” I called. As I tried to take a step towards her, I realised that Marissa the Leach was still latched onto me. “Let go!” I snapped.

She was surprised enough at my tone to let go and move a step back instantly, but apparently not surprised enough to stop talking. “Are you just going to leave me here?” she asked incredulously.

I didn’t bother with a reply as I rushed down the corridor after Millie.

I saw her about to turn the corner, and called out again. “Millie! Wait! It’s not what it looked like!” It sounded pathetic even to my ears.

She didn’t even slow down.

But as she turned the corner, I caught a fleeting look at her expression and it was my turn to be hit in the gut with a Bludger.

Because it looked as if her heart was broken.

And for some strange reason, it felt like mine was too.

I took the corner at breakneck speed, practically banging into the opposite wall, but she was gone.






AN: I know, I know. It was short. But it was a quick update. And there was plot development! Yay! So what do you reckon just happened? Did anyone see this coming? Did you LIKE it? Did you HATE it? Do you think that they're gonna survive this? Is anyone excited that Regulus is going to make a return very very soon? (I AM!) Let me know what you guys think!

And as always, adios amigos! And keep smiling! :D



Chapter 33: Asphodel, Powdered Root of
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Sirius' POV:

She was out flying again.

I hated it when she did that.

Didn’t she know how dangerous it was out there? Sure, flying around the Quidditch Pitch at midnight at the end of April wasn’t exactly the same as walking into Lord Voldemort’s secret lair (he seems the secret lair type) and cheerily declaring that you were a muggleborn, but it was up there.

I chucked the Map onto the table, propped my feet up next to it, right over my Defence Against the Dark Arts essay, and closed my eyes and sighed.

It had been two weeks since The Incident, and Millie still wasn’t talking to me. I’d lost count the number of times I had tried to coax her into a conversation, but she just kept on ignoring me. It was almost bearable when we were in company, but it was sheer torture when we were alone, and since Millie was so determined to pretend that I didn’t exist, those moments were now confined to our Potions classes.

Merlin, I couldn’t have believed that there would come a time in my life where I actually looked forward to Potions classes.

Because that was what I had been reduced to – it was the only way I could spend time with Millie now, but only because she had no choice. And it wasn’t as if she was nice to me in those moments. If I had thought the days when she was prickly and always scowling at me at the beginning of the year were bad, it had nothing on what she was now…

I sighed again.

I really needed to talk to her. I needed to explain myself. I needed to tell her that it was all just a misunderstanding. I had been drunk, and I was just on my way to find her, and then I’d just bumped into Marissa, and she’d… she’d… well, she’d shoved her tongue down my throat.

And I was certain that Millie would understand that if anyone had a tongue shoved down their throat unexpectedly, they too, would have stood there in shock, hands tightened in surprise, unable to do anything.

And it wasn’t as if I’d enjoyed the experience.

Marissa was a terrible kisser.

And besides, I was spoken for. Sirius Black was many things, and a one-woman man was one of them.

But how to convince her of that fact?

Short of kidnapping her, I had no idea.

“Padfoot? What are you doing down here so late?” Prongs asked, as he flopped down in the couch opposite mine. I hadn’t even heard Lily and him come in from their patrols.

“I could ask you the same thing,” I said, smirking lazily. “I’m quite sure patrol duty ended a while ago.”

He grinned, but a blush still crept up his neck. “You didn’t answer my question.”

I shrugged. “Homework,” I replied as nonchalantly as I could.

Prongs raised an eyebrow.

“What? Finals are coming up. Thought it was about time I put in the effort.”

“Padfoot,” he intoned in that annoyingly superior voice of his.

“Prongs,” I intoned back, mimicking him.

“What’s going on, mate?” He asked softly. “We’re worried.”

“We?”

Prongs shrugged. “You know, me, Moony, Wormtail, Lily, and Sarah.”

“Not Millie?” I internally cringed. I hadn’t meant for that to slip out, but I hoped I hadn’t sounded as interested as I was. I don’t know what Millie had told our friends about us, but I hadn’t said a word. I just didn’t know what to say.

Prongs looked at me for a moment. “So this is about Millie, is it?”

I glared at my best mate. “Isn’t it always?” I asked sarcastically.

“What happened?” He asked calmly, not taking the bait. Dammit. I could do with a good argument right about now. There was all of this anger… and frustration… and other things, just waiting to come pouring out.

I shrugged. “We’re having a bit of a disagreement, I suppose.”

He looked at me some more.

“What?” I asked, incredulously.

“Come on, mate. Even I can tell it’s serious. What happened between you two?”

“It’s complicated… but, in short, I messed up.”

“Well,” Prongs grinned. “There’s nothing new there.”

Noticing the positively murderous scowl on my face, Prongs sobered once more. “It’s that serious?”

I nodded silently, staring into the fire.

We both sat there in companionable silence.

“Have you tried talking to each other about it?” Prongs ventured after a while.

“She’s fastidiously ignoring my existence,” I replied in a monotone. Merlin, I just missed her so bad. I missed kissing her, and holding her, and listening to her talk, and watching her draw, and making her hide her secret smiles at my idiocy behind the curtain of her hair. I missed the smell of her blueberry shampoo as she tucked her head underneath my chin, and the way her firewhiskey eyes lit up when she laughed, and the moments when she’d slip her hand into mine as we walked back from the library after our Arithmancy study sessions.

Merlin, I was such an idiot.


~*~

 
Millie's POV:

I was out flying again. There was no Quidditch practise these days, and I really missed the feel of the wind in my face, my muscles pleasantly aching from gentle exercise, and the sheer joy of not having both feet flat on the ground.

Too bad it was at times like this that thoughts of a certain someone surfaced.

For the majority of the time, I tried to forget that I knew or had ever known someone by the name of Sirius Black, but these unguarded moments up in the air had a way of making me forget what I was supposed to forget.

I felt the tears collecting at the corner of my eyes for the umpteenth time. I furiously brushed them away. I’d spent too much time these past two weeks wasting tears on that good for nothing, arrogant prig, and he could go to the innermost circle of hell for all eternity and it wouldn’t be long enough. He didn’t deserve any of my tears.

But it hurts so much when your heart breaks.

What had he been thinking?

Merlin’s bloody beard, what had I been thinking, going and falling in love with the most notorious playboy to grace the halls of Hogwarts? I thought he’d changed. That he actually liked me. Or at least, respected me enough to not go shoving his tongue down other girls’ throats.

Holy Merlin! How long has this been going on for?

Was that just the first time, or was it just the first time he was caught?

Was this his plan all along? To use me like this?

The bloody bastard!

I’d kill him, if it didn’t mean not ignoring him anymore. However, I was above such things. I wasn’t going to let some stupid boy bring me down. I had other things to worry about, like my upcoming final exams, and what the hell I was going to once I graduated, and what flavour of wedding cake I was going to coerce Lily and James to have for their wedding reception (nothing was official, but it was dead obvious that they were going to get married and have a dozen kids as soon as humanly possible).

There was no way in hell that I’d let Sirius Black get me down.
 

I couldn’t, however, ignore the fact that Potions classes had become quite awkward now. At the beginning, when I didn’t know him that well, his presence was annoying, but at least it was bearable. Talking was at a minimum, definitely, but honestly, I didn’t care enough about him to actually want to talk. But then, I got to know him better, and we started “dating”, and then we had to come up with that dastardly plan to get James and Lily back together again, and then our friends started hanging out with each other, and then he’d always make me eat my breakfast, and then he started winking at me at the Potters’, and then he was just so sweet when we went to Witherwoods, and then we shared that absolutely romantic night under the stars on Valentine’s Day, and then I fell in love with him…

Well, Potions classes weren’t so bad anymore.

But now, they were a nightmare.

I had been ignoring him for the past two weeks, but I made a point of it especially during Potions. It was at times like these, when I was left alone with him for extended periods of time, that I was most susceptible to his charms and conniving ways, and I refused to be roped in and strung along by him anymore. And if that meant that I had to ignore the existence of an entire human being, so be it.

Of course, it didn’t help matters that aforementioned human being had enough presence to make the sun look a bit dim (but only when it was cloudy).

In short, Sirius Black was a difficult human being to ignore.

With final exams fast approaching, we were practising making the Draught of Living Death, for some strange reason. I got how it might pop up on our exams, but considering it was the first potion we ever made in a NEWTS class, two years ago, I was pretty confident that we didn’t need to brew it two weeks before the exam. The time could have been far better spent actually learning something.

However, considering the inordinate amounts of time I had spent recently on ignoring certain members of the human population, I guess it was a good thing that we were doing such a dead easy (pun not intended) potion.

Yet I’d still forgotten to grab the powdered root of Asphodel from the supply closet.

I sighed, and headed over to the cupboard. It was quite obvious that someone who was most decidedly not Slughorn had reorganised the cupboard.

In alphabetical order.

Which put Asphodel, powdered root of, right on the top shelf.

I had to crane my neck to even see that far up. I’d conveniently left my wand over on the table, so I couldn’t even levitate the blasted thing down, and pulling up a chair was just far too risky a move for such a clumsy person like me. I just knew that if I tried, I’d manage to pull down half the contents of the storage cupboard with me on my way to death by chair falling.

I sighed again. There was nothing for it. I’d just have to struggle my way through this. I stood on tippy toes, placed one hand on a chest height ledge for leverage and support, and stretched the other as high up as it could go along the top ledge. My fingers scrabbled along the scarred wood, catching nothing but air for a few desperate moments. I wobbled around on my toes for a bit, just to see if that changed things.

No luck.

I was just about to make a little jump up for it, when I felt a presence behind me.

I was so surprised that I gave out a little squeak of alarm, freezing in place as the body pressed close to me, an arm, much longer than mine reaching up beside my arm and grabbing whatever it was looking for.

I froze all over again when I realised to whom the body and attached arm belonged.

I felt that familiar tingle travel up my spine as Sirius’ body heat seeped through the back of my jumper. The hairs on his arm tickled mine softly, and the subtle sound of his breathing had me gripping my support ledge tighter.

I hated how he still had this effect on me.

Wasn’t it bad enough that he broke my heart?

Why must I still be so physically attracted to him?

It just wasn’t fair.

“Here you go,” he murmured as he took a small half step away, giving me just enough space to lower my arm and come back down from my awkward stance. In his hand, he held the jar of powdered Asphodel root.

I stared at the knot of his tie, trying to make up my mind.

Should I accept the jar from him? I needed the bloody thing, after all.

But if I did that, I’d have to acknowledge his presence.

And that wouldn’t do.

But I needed the jar.

By I was so angry and in love with him right now.

It didn’t change the fact that I needed the jar.

In the end, Black made the decision for me – he grabbed my wrist with one hand, and placed the jar into my listless grasp with the other.

An electric shock travelled from where our skin touched, to straight down my spine, causing me to stiffen in embarrassed awareness. Ugh! I so didn’t want to be attracted to him!

I knew he noticed my response by the way his fingers tightened around my wrist and fist almost imperceptibly.

I wish the idiot would let me go, but he just stood there, holding my hand in both of his, staring down at where we were joined, as if he’d never seen hands before.

And I must have been an even bigger idiot, because I could do nothing but stand there, too, still looking in the general area of the knot of his tie, simultaneously rejoicing at his nearness, kicking myself for enjoying it, and cursing him to hell and back for being so… so…

Sirius.

I saw his Adam’s apple bob a bit as he swallowed, and the movement caused my eyes to snag and move upwards to his face.

Then he licked his lips.

I really wish he hadn’t done that, because I sure wasn’t looking at his tie anymore.

A moment passed.

Then he said, “We need to talk, Millie.”

Talk?

Talk?

After all that had happened, he wanted to talk?

Well, let me tell him; I was in no mood to talk. What I wanted to do was curse his arse, and accompanying body, from here to Pluto, then leave him there to freeze on the cold, lonely, icy hunk of rock orbiting so far from the warmth of the sun.

And then I wanted to cry and ask why he’d done it.

Because despite all of it, despite how much I told myself I didn’t care, or want to care, I still did.

I needed to know why he did it.

So, perhaps, talking wasn’t such a bad idea.

His gaze moved up and locked with mine.

I swallowed convulsively as I tried to battle the sheer intensity of those molten pools of grey.

“I’ll see you in the kitchens after dinner,” he finally said.

Then, being the complete prig he is, he suddenly let go of my hand and just walked away.

I was left holding the jar of Asphodel, powdered root of, in my now sweaty palm, and wondering what the hell had just happened.




AN: So guess who FINALLY wrote a new chapter? Are you guys excited? Are you guys even reading this story still? Because if you are, let me just say, that I love you guys so much! This fanfic, being my first ever, is my baby, and I really do want to finish it, but seriously, if it weren't for all your love and support and constructive critcisms for it, I might just have abandoned my baby by now. So really guys, thank you so much!

Aside from that, you should be happy that I didn't make this a filler chapter just full of angst and stuff, because I considered doing that. But then I realised that I can't write enough angst to sustain a whole chapter, I didn't want to write a filler chapter that much because there'd been a couple just before the last one, and that I guess all tension building had been done simply by me not updating for months. So I give you this! It's on the short side, but I like writing shorter chapters for this story. I promise some fun times ahead, though! And a re-appearance from Regulus, although I haven't decided in what capacity just yet. Any suggestions?

As always, let me beg a review or half in the little grey box below! I'd love to hear from those who still read this!

Adios, amigos! :D


Chapter 34: Not Now, Not Ever
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“Millie? Are you in here?” Lily’s voice sounded muffled from underneath the covers of my blanket.

“If I pretend I’m not here, will you go away?” I asked from under my covers. I wasn’t sure if Lily could hear me, but I figured if she wanted to hear what I had to say, Lily would make the effort.

“And leave you to wallow in self-pity and misery?” She snorted. “I think not.”

A moment later, the mattress depressed a little under Lily’s weight, as she settled down on top of my covers, somewhere near my stomach.

I didn’t move from my rather comfortable semi-foetal position under the blanket. The artificial light from the room beyond streamed in through the blanket. If I unfocused my eyes, I could see the dust motes dancing in the soft light.

“Do you want to talk?” Lily asked gently.

“No,” I mumbled. I’d been very grateful for the space both Lily and Sarah had given me. I hadn’t told them what had happened between Sirius and me, but obviously, they knew something was wrong. I mean, you didn’t suddenly start ignoring your boyfriend (or whatever) of the past six months, just for the heck of it.

But then again, your boyfriend (or whatever) of the past six months really shouldn’t start acting like a bigger jerk than usual, just for the heck of it.

Lily pulled the covers from over my head and tucked them around my shoulders. “Have you been crying, again?” she asked, without even a hint of accusation in her voice.

I shook my head no, which was no easy feat considering its current orientation.

“I’m all cried out,” I sighed.

She gave a small smile.

“Good. He doesn’t deserve any of your tears. No one does.”

I looked up at Lily’s fierce expression and smiled.

Then promptly started sobbing.

“Oh, Millie,” she murmured, as she gathered my head in her lap.

I quietly sobbed into her school skirt as she gently stroked my hair.

Suddenly, a memory of my mother doing the exact same thing came unbidden into my mind’s eye, and I started sobbing harder.

I had been eight years old, and was visiting her for the summer. Back then, I still didn’t quite realise that in a small town like Witherwoods, people like me – people with magic – weren’t readily accepted into the community, even if they didn’t know why they were excluding us. An old White ancestor had decided to build our great manor house in the stupid little town, and apparently, there seemed to be a masochistic gene that bred true, because despite the fact that we were ostracised from the community, and feared and despised for who we were, no White had ever even considered a relocation.

So I’d been playing alone in the front garden of our house, back when the garden was simply charmingly overgrown, rather than the dangerous jungle it was now, when a bunch of kids had walked up to the open gate and started taunting me.

“Oi! Weird girl! My gran says that your family’s cursed! Is that true?” One kid had asked condescendingly. I had no idea how an eight-year-old could be condescending, but this one had managed it.

“’Course she’s cursed! Why do you think she’s got no friends?” Another had sneered.

“Is that why your mum doesn’t want you living with her? Coz you’re cursed?” Yet another had taunted.

“I heard Mum and Gran talking about it,” the first condescending kid had said pompously. “They said that her mother sends her far away from here with her dad, but when he gets sick of her, he just sends her back here!”

They’d all laughed at that; the strange little girl, who was too shy to talk to anyone, and always played in her mother’s front garden alone. The strange little girl, who despite the fact that her parents were divorced, still hoped that their deep love for each other would mean that they might live under one roof again, like all the other happy families in the little village.

The strange little girl, who somehow managed to give the condescending little idiot a nosebleed, because she was scared, and angry, and ashamed of whom she was.

My mother had come outside a little while later, after the kids had run off in fear, to find me still sitting there in shock, in the middle of the garden, looking at where the three children had swung on the rickety white picket fence and voiced all her inner fears.

She’d taken one look at my face, and gathered me up in her arms, and stroked and held me until the tears had stopped, just like Lily was doing now.

It had taken the hurts of that day a little more than a good cry to heal, and I hoped that my broken heart would mend the same way.

Once I’d quietened down, Lily gently smoothed my hair away from my face, and patted my swollen eyes dry.

“Better?” she asked.

I nodded, and lay my head back down on my pillow.

“He asked me if we could talk,” I said quietly into the comfortable silence that wrapped around us.

Lily’s green eyes met mine, and they looked luminous in the relative darkness under the canopy of my four-poster bed. “What did you say?”

I shrugged. “Nothing. I said nothing. He’s been trying to talk to me for the past two weeks, and I’ve said nothing.”

Her eyes softened in understanding. “He’s hurt you, and you never want to lay eyes on him again. That’s understandable.”

I shook my head. “It’s not how you think it is,” I mumbled. Even after all that had happened, I couldn’t tell Lily the truth about our relationship. How it had started out as just a way to get revenge, and to combat the rumours, and to ensure that our two best friends realised that they loved each other.

“Then how is it?” she asked. I could hear the curiosity in her voice.

I shrugged again. “It’s… complicated. But I should’ve seen this coming. I should’ve known… should’ve known that things would never… would never be what I wanted them to be… what I thought they were, or at least, could’ve been…” I wasn’t sure if I was even making sense anymore, but it hurt knowing how much I loved him, and how much he just didn’t care.

“Did you… are you…” Lily began cautiously. “Are you in love with him?” she asked in a big rush.

I would’ve smiled at her hesitancy, but I was too tired and drained. I nodded instead.

“Did you tell him?”

I shot her a look.

“Sorry, my mistake. Forgot who I was talking to for a moment,” she muttered. I should’ve been offended, but those stupid kids had turned a shy little girl into a shy adolescent who had trouble expressing her feelings.

A heartbeat of silence later, she tried again. “Does he love you?”

I shook my head vehemently. “Most certainly not.”

“How can you be so sure?”

Because you don’t go around kissing your conniving ex-girlfriend if you’re in love with your current girlfriend.

“I just am,” I said instead.

She nodded.

“When did you speak with him last?”

I thought about it. “Two weeks ago.”

Lily’s eyes widened. “Remind me never to get on your bad side.”

I managed a faint grin. “As long as you don’t break my heart, you’re pretty safe.”

She chuckled. “When did he speak to you last?”

I traced a pattern in my sheet with my finger. “Potions, this afternoon,” I said, as I watched my finger move across the smooth weave.

“What did he say?”

“What he’s been saying for the past two weeks, I guess. That we need to talk,” I paused for a moment as I relived the memory; of how my hand felt in his grasp, so warm and inexplicably right. “And that he’d see me in the kitchens after dinner.”

“You didn’t go to dinner,” Lily remarked.

“I know.”

“Then perhaps a trip to the kitchens wouldn’t be remiss.”

I pulled my head off the pillow to stare at Lily. “Lily… I’m quite sure that’s against the rules.”

“So am I,” she replied calmly.

“But… but… you’re condoning – no – encouraging rule-breaking behaviour!”

“I don’t want to see my best friend go to bed with an empty stomach as well as a broken heart. And do you seriously think that I don’t know that you sneak down to the kitchens often to eat ice cream alone?”

My shoulders slumped. “I wasn’t being very secretive about that, in my defence.”

“I know.”

I sighed. “I can’t go.”

“Why not?”

“Because he’ll be there.”

She shrugged. “Perhaps it is time that you two talked. Maybe –”

“He’s done nothing wrong and I’ll forgive him?” I snorted derisively.

No. What I was going to say was that maybe it’s worth listening to his side of the story. I’ve known you for seven years, Millie, and I know you always hear other people out. Perhaps, Sirius should be given a chance to tell his story.”

“But –”

She put up a hand to stop my words. “I didn’t say you had to take him back, but you’re both my friends. And I can’t stand seeing you both look so miserable and depressed all the time. And you owe it to yourself to know the full story.”

My brain snagged on one point. “He’s been looking miserable and depressed?”

Lily rolled her eyes. “Somehow, he’s managed to look even more miserable and depressed than you have, and that’s no easy task, considering you’re harbouring a broken heart. And you should see him when he looks at you. He looks so lost and yearning… almost as if his heart’s been broken, too.”

I snorted at that. Obviously, Lily’s been indulging in our favourite guilty pastime of reading trashy historical romance novels, because she was painting Sirius out to be like one of the heroes, when he’s lost the love of his life because of his own stupid actions. If I had been in a more charitable frame of mind, I may have seen the parallels in the situation, except that I wasn’t in a charitable frame of mind, and that I wasn’t the love of Sirius’ life.

“Sirius Black doesn’t have a heart to break,” I snorted.

Lily raised her eyebrows, but didn’t say anything.

“Go to the kitchens, Millie. If nothing else, you might find some closure over this entire thing.”

“And then what?” I whispered.

“Then,” her lips firmed into a determined line. “Then, we mend your broken heart, and tell Sirius Orion Black to screw it.”

 

“You came!” Sirius said, sounding far too eager for my peace of mind.

I tried to think about Lily’s parting words, as I sat down at our usual table across from him. I was only here so I could tell Sirius Orion Black to screw it.

He pushed a tub of cookies and cream ice cream towards me, the spoon sticking out at the top.

I looked at his face, and he must have seen something in my expression to warrant an explanation. “You weren’t at dinner,” he shrugged. “You must be hungry.”

I debated whether or not to break my silence to inform him that I wasn’t at dinner precisely because I wasn’t hungry. It didn’t seem to be worth the effort, so I just pulled the tub closer and took a spoonful of ice cream into my mouth.

I could feel his eyes watching my face keenly as I ate a bit more. I mightn’t have been hungry, but ice cream was ice cream.

We sat there in silence, me with my ice cream, and him with his disconcerting gaze. I was watching him out of the corner of my eye, and the expression on his face seemed so lost… and yearning… and obviously, I had been paying too much attention to what Lily had been saying. Of course he didn’t look lost and yearning. This was Sirius Black, the heartless heartthrob of Hogwarts we were talking about here.

“We need to talk,” he eventually said.

“So you’ve said,” I murmured, keeping my eyes trained on the ice cream, and acting as if consuming a tub of cookies and cream was a task that required vast amounts of attention.

Another moment of silence, and then he blurted out, “I’m sorry.”

I sighed, and looked up at his face. Oh, he was good. My broken heart almost believed he was being sincere. “Do you seriously think that’s going to work?” I asked.

“No, but it seemed like a good start.”

“Oh, so you have a plan, do you?”

“Of course. First, I’ll apologise, then after explaining myself, and once again profusely apologising, I’ll start grovelling.”

“And then what? We’ll go back to normal?” I asked with a derisive snort. The conniving bastard had really thought things through. If only he’d put in so much effort before.

He sighed, and he sounded almost… defeated. “I don’t know. I hadn’t really gotten past the grovelling.”

“Because you planned to grovel for the rest of your miserable life?”

“If I have to.” He looked me directly in the eye, and I caught my breath at the full force of those pair of greys. Then I promptly kicked myself for being such a sentimental fool and surreptitiously let my breath go.

I regarded him for a moment. I was coming to the realisation that being in his company for too long would melt my resolve to hate his guts, and I really didn’t want that. I wanted to hate him at least until I’d fallen out of love with him. “Start talking,” I said curtly.

He took a deep breath. “That kiss… with Marissa… wasn’t supposed to happen.”

I rolled my eyes. “Wasn’t supposed to happen, or I wasn’t supposed to see? Tell me, how long has this been going on for?” Merlin, please let it not be since before Christmas or something.

“It wasn’t supposed to happen,” he said forcefully. “She came out of nowhere and… attacked me!”

I raised an eyebrow at that. “Marissa?”

“Yes.”

“Attacked you?”

“Yes.”

“With her feminine charms and wiling ways?”

“Yes – I mean – no! She just… attacked me.”

“And because you’re so helpless, you couldn’t help but succumb to her attack.” My voice was heavy with sarcasm. I wondered not for the first time how he’d managed to garner a reputation as a smooth talker. Every time he opened his mouth around me, he came out sounding like an idiot.

“Yes – I mean – no! I was drunk!”

Both my eyebrows came up at that. “Ah. I see.”

“You do?” I chose to ignore the hopeful tone in his voice.

“Yes, completely. You were drunk. Obviously, that excuses your behaviour. I mean, I can completely understand why you’d have your tongue down the throat of your ex-girlfriend, whom you supposedly don’t like enough to pretend to date me, in the middle of the corridor.”

He frowned. “I didn’t have my tongue down her throat. If anything, it was her tongue that was down mine!”

“Was that supposed to help your case?”

“Yes!” He ran a frustrated hand through his hair, causing his already dishevelled hair look even more dishevelled. “Look. I was coming to find you, and then Marissa came out of nowhere, and then she started saying some really weird things, and then she mushed her lips against mine, and then – well. You know the rest.”

Yes, I did know the rest. And then, I’d come along and witnessed my supposed boyfriend locking lips with a girl who was most decidedly not me, and then I’d stormed off to hide the sudden hurt and tears, and then I’d locked myself in an empty classroom and cried for a good half hour at my own stupidity.

Because why else would I have gone and fallen in love with Sirius Black in the first place?

“Mills? Do you believe me?”

I didn’t say anything. I looked down at the wood grain of the table, willing the tears that had sprung to my eyes to go away. I couldn’t afford to cry in front of him. I had to be strong, unbreakable.

“Was that your plan all along?”  I asked as casually as I could, because I had been wondering.

“Plan? What plan?”

“You know.” I took a deep breath. It was becoming hard to get air past the lump in my throat. “To use me to get back at Marissa. To make her jealous.”

He looked baffled. “Yes… but you knew that.”

I tried to ignore the stab of hurt at his words. Still talking around the growing lump in my throat, I continued. “So all of this,” I waved arm around vaguely in the air. “All the time that we… that we spent together, was just to get revenge? Because she’d dumped you, and your fragile male ego couldn’t handle the fact that someone didn’t want you?”

“No! No, of course, not! It might have started that way, but it hasn’t been like that for a long time!” He ran his hand through his hair again and murmured, “For such a long time.”

I gave him a disbelieving look.

“You knew that, right?” He suddenly leant forward and grasped my hand in both of his. “You knew that we weren’t pretending anymore? That we hadn’t –” His grasp tightened. “That I hadn’t been pretending.”

“I thought I knew,” I murmured, trying to pull my hand away. Physical contact was not a good thing. It had broken my resolve to ignore his very existence only this afternoon. “But after what happened, I think I was wrong in thinking that.”

His hands gripped even harder as he noticed my efforts to break free. “No,” he said forcefully. Then, more quietly, he repeated, “No. I haven’t been pretending. I don’t think I was ever pretending. Not really.”

I looked away, not wanting to be fooled into believing the sincerity in his voice. Neither did I want him to see my heart in my eyes. If he knew what he’d done to me… what he meant to me, I just knew he’d use it to manipulate and hurt me more.

And I’d had enough of being manipulated and hurt for a while.

He leaned closer over the table. “Please, Mills,” he whispered. “Please believe that. If nothing else, please believe that.”

“Why?”

“Because I…” he paused, and for some strange reason, my heart leapt. “Because it’s the truth.”

My heart promptly slumped again.

“Enough!” I said, suddenly fed up with all of this. Who in Merlin’s name did he think he was? Telling me that the reason he’d been kissing Marissa was because he’d been looking for me, and was attacked whilst being drunk. Telling me that he thought he’d never been pretending. Telling me that I should believe him because it was the truth. What crap!

“It was my mistake coming down here,” I muttered, finally pulling my hand out of the vice-like grip he had on it. I abruptly pushed out of my chair and began to make my way towards the door.

“No! Millie! Wait!” Sirius took half a step towards me.

“No!” I said, backing away. “No. No more, Sirius. Not now, not ever.”

And before the tears started streaming down my face, I turned my back on him, and hurried out the door, fighting myself the entire time.

I would not look back.

Not now, not ever.




AN: Hello, there. So this was an unexpected update! I hope you guys like it. It's longer than the last couple of chapters (more than 3 000 words!) and a lot more weighty. Please excuse the somewhat angsty tone, but I believe it was needed. Especially considering just how fluffy many of the updates have been! So, what do you think of the somewhat random insight into Millie's backstory? And the more mature way Lily acted? Also, how do you think Sirius did? Did you think he was being sincere, or do you agree with Millie?

Share your thoughts - good, bad, ugly, or otherwise - in the grey box below! I love hearing from you guys! It's seriously what keeps me motivated!


Chapter 35: Gone, Gone, Gone
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The ground exploded.

Everything went black.
 

Hogwarts, a few hours earlier…
 
“Lily! I don’t want to go!” I tried to hide further under my covers, but they were rudely wrenched away, exposing me to the chill air. May had arrived, but not with the warm weather the calendar promised.

Lily was having none of it. “I don’t care what you want, Millie. You’re coming down to Hogsmeade with the rest of us, whether you like it or not. I am fed up with your wallowing.”

A week and a half had passed since my confrontation with Black, and whilst it had seemed like a good idea at the time, the pain of his betrayal hadn’t lessened. I’d managed just fine, though, keeping myself busy preparing for exams, which were happening next month. I maintained my silence in Potions class, and was glad that Black seemed to respect that. I’d catch him staring at me out of the corner of my eye; his gaze holding something I couldn’t quite fathom.

“I haven’t been wallowing,” I muttered mutinously, although I recognised the truth in her words. I had been wallowing, and enough was enough. I couldn’t let him get me down like this. I swung myself out of bed, and headed over to my trunk, looking for my comfiest jeans.

Sarah came back from the bathroom, and giving a little twirl in her floral spring dress, asked, “How do I look?”

“Gorgeous,” I replied without looking up. Sarah could wear a potato sack and still make it look good.

“You haven’t even seen me!” She cried.

I shrugged, standing straight and giving her a grin. “I don’t need to.”

She giggled and came over to give me a hug. I’d been receiving a lot of hugs from her of late. Usually, I’d complain, but I didn’t mind. She’d received a letter just last week, telling her that her family was going into hiding. She tried to brush it off, but we could all tell that worry was weighing heavy on our bubbly best friend. Sarah could do with a few extra hugs.

“You think Dom will think so?” Dominic Peabody of Hufflepuff had asked Sarah out to Hogsmeade, and she’d accepted. When I’d gently teased her about breaking Remus’ heart, Sarah had replied with a shrug. “He’s not interested in me. It’s time I moved on.”

I was secretly jealous of her, the way she was handling the fact that the object of her affections for goodness knows how long wasn’t interested. However, it was difficult to feel malice against Sarah – she was too nice by half.

“He’d be an idiot not to,” Lily replied with a snort, slipping into a pair of flats. She, too, was dressed in jeans, but unlike mine, they looked less dusty and didn’t possess a tear at the knee.

I smiled at my two best friends and surprised myself by leaning over and giving both of them a hug. “You know that I love you guys?” I said quietly.

I pulled back to see the identical looks of shock on their faces. “Are you… are you feeling okay?” Lily asked slowly.

No, not really. There was a tight knot in my chest, and whenever I blinked, I saw the nightmare of last night. It was similar to the one I had experienced in the Leaky Cauldron, all those months ago, except the red river did not just comprise of the blood of my parents anymore. “I’m fine,” I replied with a small smile.

Sarah regarded me for a moment, then blinked, and smiled back.

“We should head down for breakfast,” I said, turning away from Lily’s steady gaze, and headed towards the door.

 
Hogsmeade Village, two hours later…

 “Padfoot, mate! Are you coming, or what?” Prongs called down the long main road that ran through the middle of the village.

I kicked a loose stone out of my way before answering. “I’ll catch up with you guys later!”

Prongs regarded me for a moment, and then turned towards Evans for help. Evans shrugged, but her head tilted a little. I didn’t miss the direction, nor what she meant by it. Millie had wandered off into a little side street just moments before, saying that she needed to get some supplies before exams.

Supplies, my bushy dog’s tail. Side streets in Hogsmeade were no place to find quills. She was running away from me.

Again.

I could hardly blame her. I had really botched up that apology. I did think I did rather well, given the circumstances. Sirius Black was not in the habit of giving out apologies, so as a first attempt it wasn’t too bad.

Millie White, however, did not seem to have such a benevolent opinion. And I got it. I really did. I’d messed up. I saw that now. But why didn’t she understand that I regretted my actions? That I wanted to make things right between us again?

Hell, right now I’d settle for our relationship returning to what it had been when we’d first struck up our bargain. I remembered back to that fateful day when we’d sat next to each other in Defence against the Dark Arts, and she’d fallen asleep. Or that time in Potions when we’d sat side by side, observing our best mates pine after each other even through their anger. Or all the late nights that we’d spent in the Common Room flailing over my Arithmancy homework.

Was it really too much to ask? I wasn’t asking her to snog me. Hell, I didn’t want to snog me right now. I’d settle for getting her back as my friend. We could have that at least.

My musings had taken me to the end of the street, where it petered out into a beaten track of dirt. I knew it led up into the foothills, where the stone was riddled with caves. I climbed a little ways up, so that I had a nice view of the village. Resting for a moment on a convenient wooden fence, I glanced down at Hogsmeade Village, home to so many wonderful memories. There was the main road, full of teenagers happy to get out of the castle for a bit. There was the little side street that Millie had wandered down. There was Madam Puddifoot’s, where Sarah had gone for her date. I thought it was a little sappy, but Sarah had seemed pleased. I was glad that she’d finally gotten over her crush on Moony. She was a lovely girl, and Moony was too oblivious by half.

There was the Hog’s Head, tucked into a shady corner of the town. Old Aberforth was a strange sort, but he never asked questions when Prongs and I bought too much firewhiskey and butterbeer.

There was Zonko’s, where I’d left Moony and Wormtail to their nefarious devices. They’d been tasked with restocking our prank supplies. With graduation so near, we needed all hands on deck. Our grand plan for graduation brought a smile to my face. For good reasons or bad, Hogwarts would not be forgetting the Marauders anytime soon.

I’d loved to have told Millie about it. She would have rolled her eyes, but I knew that secretly, she’d be impressed. Or at least, I’d pretend to myself that she’d be impressed. It was amazing how much of my self-worth was now tied up in her good opinion of me.

I sighed and let my eyes wander again.

There was the Three Broomsticks with… half of it on fire.

 
Meanwhile, at Puddlebrown: Fine Quill Makers
 
I had found out about Hogsmeade’s secret quill-making industry quite by accident back in fifth year. My favourite quill had broken about two weeks before exams, and in a stress-induced panic, I’d rushed around the tiny village trying to find the perfect replacement. I’d stumbled upon this tiny establishment, all out of hope, and almost out of time.

The proprietor, an elderly man with springy white hair had taken one look at me, and whisked to the back of his shop.

He’d returned a few moments later, bearing a wooden box with a fine selection of quills. “Here you go, Miss,” he’d said, and not unkindly. “I’d been saving these for someone special.”

I’d looked up into this man’s face, and seen a kindred spirit. Here was a person who understood what a good quill could mean to someone.

I’d bought the entire box.

Two years later, I felt I owed a goodbye to this nice old man. He’d lost his only son last year in a Death Eater attack, so like me he had no family left in the world.

I stepped into the dusty interior of the shop. Despite a good layer of dust, it was still a cheery place, with the sun shining through the front window panes. The bell tinkled, and Mr Puddlebrown himself came out from the door behind the counter.

“Miss White! What a pleasant surprise!” he smiled. He’d replaced his missing tooth since the last time I’d seen him.

“Mr Puddlebrown! It’s good to see you,” I replied warmly.

“Were you after a new quill?” he enquired politely.

“Ah, no actually.” I stopped, not knowing what to say next.

“Perhaps just a nice cup of tea, then?” he suggested. His eyes were kind, and they seemed to understand what I wanted so say.

I smiled gratefully. “Tea would be lovely.”
 

Half an hour later, in the shadows of the main road
 
“So now that you’re no longer dating my brother, does this mean I have a chance again?” a voice asked from the shadows behind me.

“I don’t think you ever had a chance, Reg,” I replied. I still smiled and turned around. He was leaning against the side wall of Mr Puddlebrown’s establishment.

He shrugged and grinned. “I tried my best I suppose.”

Despite myself, my smile grew wider. When the Black brothers weren’t being completely infuriating, they were completely charming. There didn’t seem to be any middle ground.

“How have you been, Mills?” Regulus asked with more seriousness than I was used to coming from him.

I shrugged. “Well as can be expected with exams just a few weeks away.”

“That’s not what I meant.” His eyes were an icy blue, rather than stormy grey, but they could still carry the same weight.

“Then what did you mean?” I asked, pretending that I didn’t understand.

“You know.”

“If you’re referring to your brother, then I don’t want to talk about it,” I replied tightly. I didn’t want to talk about Sirius with anyone anymore, least of all his brother. He was in the past now. I would be graduating soon. I had to think of the future; what I wanted from life after Hogwarts.

Regulus raised his eyebrows. “That bad, is it?” he asked quietly.

I shrugged again. “I’m getting over it, and that’s all that counts.”

“What happened between you two?”
It was my turn to raise my eyebrows. “I hardly think it’s any of your business, Regulus. From what I understand, you two are hardly close enough to want to know about each other’s love lives.”

He smirked. “Point taken, Mills. Although I had hoped that we were still friends.”
I didn’t know what to say to that. The rumours going around school about him and his gang of friends had not been… pleasant. “We are still friends,” I murmured.

His smirk turned into a grin. “I’m glad, Mills.”

We stood there in silence, both lost in our thoughts.

“I guess I should be heading off now,” Regulus finally said.

I nodded, “I have to go meet my friends.”

“I’ll see you around?” he asked.

I nodded again.

He smiled at me before heading further down the little lane. I wondered where he was off to. I hoped it had nothing to do with those nasty rumours about Death Eaters and initiation ceremonies.

I shook my head and turned onto the main road, heading towards The Three Broomsticks.

I was almost at the pub when –

The ground exploded.

Everything went black.

 
Hogsmeade Village, at this very instant…
 
I had almost reached The Three Broomsticks when the second explosion happened. I could see people down on the ground further ahead, but my mind was focussed on the burning building now in front of me.

I’d come down from my little hill at a dead run, a terrifying thought running through my head.

James and Lily were in there.

“Padfoot!” a voice called. I turned around. It was Peter, a bleeding cut on his forehead.

“What happened?” I cried. “Where is everyone?”

“Moony’s helping the younger kids get back to the castle, but I haven’t seen Prongs or Lily.”

I blanched and glanced at the doorway to the pub. There was thick smoke pouring out of the windows and gaping door. They were still in there.

Without thinking beyond that, I dashed inside.

And immediately began coughing. I hadn’t reckoned that the smoke would be that thick. I could barely see a foot in front of me. I’d taken perhaps five steps inside when someone barrelled into me. I instinctively reached out and grabbed hold of them. By the feel of it, I’d grabbed their upper arms.

“Let me go!” The arms struggled under my grasp. I orientated them towards the door and released them. They didn’t even look back as they bolted towards fresh air.

“Prongs?” I called, stepping further in. “Evans?” That’s all I managed to choke out before a coughing fit overcame me. The smoke was becoming even thicker.

I whipped out my wand and muttered a spell. My vision finally cleared. I may not be able to breathe, but I could at least see what was going on around me.

The pub was in complete disarray. There were overturned chairs and tables everywhere. I glimpsed a quick lick of orange beyond the door behind the bar, before Madame Rosmerta slammed it shut and headed for the door.

“Madame Rosmerta!” I called. She half-turned from helping two third-years untangle themselves from their overturned table and chairs.

“Sirius – what are you doing here? The building’s on fire! Get out!”

“Have you seen James or Lily?” I persisted.

“Sirius!” a feminine voice cried, before what little clean air I had was forcefully pushed out of my lungs by a deceptively strong pair of arms.

“Evans!” I gasped, breathing in more of the smoke. “Where’s –?”

“Right here, mate,” Prong’s voice came to me from my left side. I looked over with relief. They were covered in soot, but they looked alright.

“Could you help me with these two ladies, Padfoot?” he asked. I noticed then that he was supporting two almost-unconscious girls, fifth-years by the look of it. I immediately reached for one and wrapped her arm around my shoulders.

She moaned, her eyes fluttering.

“It’s going to be okay,” I murmured.

Lily led the way, following Madame Rosmerta out of the burning pub.

There was a long line of Hogwarts students heading back to the castle. After handing off our unconscious rescues to their frantic friends, Lily, Prongs and I caught up with Moony, Wormtail, Sarah and Sarah’s bloke from Hufflepuff, about a third of the way back up towards the castle. We congregated by the side of the road.

“What happened?” My voice sounded grim, even to my own ears.

“Death Eaters,” Moony said curtly. “Five explosions, all within two minutes of each other, up and down the main road.”

“Where are they now?” I asked. I suspected the answer before the Hufflepuff bloke – whatever his name was – said it.

“They disappeared after setting off the explosions.” My mouth pressed into a thin line. Bloody cowards. It was just like them to cause so much fear and panic and pain, and then disappear. Attacks like these had been happening with more and more frequency over the past year.

“Anyone hurt?” Prongs asked.

“No one really knows yet,” Sarah said. “We won’t know until we get up to the castle.”

“We have to go,” Lily said urgently. “We have to help –”

“Where’s Millie?” I asked, suddenly realising that in all of the chaos, I hadn’t seen her since I watched her turn off into that side street.

Lily went pale under her soot-covered skin. She whirled to face Sarah, who looked equally ashen.

“I haven’t seen her since…” Sarah breathed.

I didn’t bother waiting for her to finish her sentence.

I knew.

Millie was still down there.

 
Back at Hogsmeade Village, near The Three Broomsticks
 
I searched frantically, not really sure where to begin. Where on earth could she be? I looked around helplessly, hoping to see her.

There were still people everywhere. The village folk were all there, trying to put out the fire at The Three Broomsticks, and some of the older students had stayed behind to help out. My heart plummeted into my stomach. No. She couldn’t be trapped inside. Prongs, Lily and I had been the last out. We couldn’t have left anyone behind.

I turned to face down the street in desperation. Maybe she was still down that little side lane. She’d said she’d wanted to get some supplies before exams… did they sell parchment down that street? A vague memory about quills pushed itself into my brain through the panic.

I skidded to a halt at the mouth of the little lane. It was deserted. Maybe she was inside one of the buildings? No, that wasn’t right. Everyone was out here, helping.

“Sirius!” a voice called out from further down the lane.

I looked up to see who it was. “Have you seen her?” I asked, not caring that we didn’t speak anymore. He knew.

He shook his head. “I spoke to her just before…”

“When?” I snapped. If he didn’t spit it out…

“She said she was heading to meet her friends…”

That would be Prongs and Evans. So that meant she was somewhere between here and The Three Broomsticks. But she could be anywhere between here and The Three Broomsticks. It was quite some distance, and the place was riddled with debris from the explosions.

He was closer now, becoming more cautious as he approached. “You have to find her, Sirius.”

I nodded. “I know that, Regulus.”

My brother came to a stop a few feet from me. Our last proper conversation had been almost three years ago, the night before I’d left that bloody house for good. It felt a little strange standing here, knowing that we had a common goal, despite our differences. I don’t know what had happened between Millie and him, but he cared, and if he helped me find her, that was all that mattered right now.

“I’ll check down here,” he said. “Just in case she doubled back when she heard the… the blasts.” Did he know something about this? Because if he did… no. I didn’t have time for this right now. I had to find Millie.

“I’ll look down the main road,” I replied. With not another word, we turned around and went looking.

 
A few minutes later
 
I found her propped up against a wall about three buildings down from The Three Broomsticks.

My breath caught in my throat at the sight of her.

She was alive.

There was a nasty gash near her hairline, her hair was almost grey from dirt and ash, her leg seemed to be bent at an unnaturally awkward angle, but she was alive.

And that was all that mattered.

“Mills!” I choked out. I rushed up to her and crouched down.

Her breathing was shallow. There were lines of pain bracketing her expressive mouth. Her brow was furrowed. She was covered in grime. There was blood on her shirt.

She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

“Mills,” I said softly, touching her arm gently.

She moaned.

I froze and looked down at my hand. Had I hurt her? That’s when I noticed where the blood on her shirt had come from. I turned her arm as gently as I could. There were bits of glass still embedded in the soft skin of her inner forearm. The bleeding had slowed a little, and the blood was drying in its little rivers.

“Mills!” I said more urgently. She needed to stand up. We had to get her up to the castle. I could fix minor bone fractures, but I knew nothing about how to stop the bleeding. Or what to do when there was so much blood loss. The Marauders’ full moon adventures hadn’t quite prepared me for this.

I ripped the bottom of my t-shirt and wrapped it tightly around her forearm. Maybe that would slow the bleeding a little further. I hoped she wouldn’t bleed out before I could get her back up to the castle.

I put my hand on her shoulder. “Mills,” I said quietly, trying to keep the fear and panic out of my voice. “Millie!”

She moaned again, but at least she opened her eyes. “Sirius?” she slurred. I had never been gladder at the sound of her voice. If she was able to talk, then she was going to be okay.

She was going to be okay.

“Can you stand up?” I asked.

She seemed to consider it for a moment. Her eyes went cloudy and her eyelids drooped, but she still answered. “N-no… I think… my leg… it hurts…

I glanced down at her left leg. It was at an awkward angle. Well, there was nothing for it, then.

“Mills, I want you to listen to me carefully,” I said as I arranged myself. “I want you to put your arms around my neck, okay?”

I knew things were very bad, because she didn’t even argue.

“Good. Now, can you bend your legs for me? Just a little bit?”

She bent them slowly then stopped, wincing in pain. “This is all I can do,” she whispered, her entire face contorted in pain.

“Is it okay if I put my arm under your knees… like this?” I asked. I had to carry her out of here, and I didn’t want to hurt her any more than absolutely necessary. I could have levitated her out, but my levitation charms had always been erratic at best. The things that I floated always seemed to needlessly jostle. I couldn’t afford to be so callous with her.

She nodded, although I knew that it hurt her. My heart clenched. It hurt me so much to see her like this. I put my other arm around her back and lifted her.

She groaned as I stood. “Mills,” I murmured. “We’re going up to the castle now, but I need you to promise me something.”

“What?” she rasped, her eyes clenched shut in pain. I tried to smooth my almost frantic pace, but I had to get her up to the castle as quickly as possible. How much blood could someone safely lose? And couldn’t head wounds be more deadly than they first appeared?

“I need you stay awake for me, okay? You can’t fall asleep.”

“But… I’m so tired…”

“No!” I said vehemently, my fear and panic seeping into my voice. “You can’t! I won’t let you!”

She didn’t reply.

 
In the Great Hall, a while later…
 
“Padfoot…” Moony murmured. Everyone had congregated in the Great Hall. The tables had been removed, and the injured were being looked after in one corner by Madame Pomfrey and some of the sixth- and seventh-years who knew a little about first aid. Prongs and Evans were bustling about, trying to restore some calm and order, along with the Prefects and teachers. There were people constantly running in and out, fetching supplies from the Hospital Wing and the kitchens, as needed.

I was pacing just outside where Millie was. Madame Pomfrey had set up beds and screens around the worst of the injured, affording them some privacy in which to begin to recover. There were far too many of those screens.

I whirled around to face Moony. I could just imagine what I looked like, covered in soot and grime, my sweat leaving clean tracks across my skin. “How is she?” I rasped. I hadn’t left her side since I’d carried her in. It had been Lily who’d directed me towards the field hospital, her eyes worried and her face ashen.

Moony handed me a goblet.

“What’s this?” I demanded, but took the goblet anyway.

“Water,” Moony replied with some of his usual calm. There was something to be said about werewolves in a crisis – they knew how to keep their cool. Or maybe that was just Moony. “Drink.”

I complied. “Millie?” I asked after I drained the goblet. I hadn’t realised how parched my throat was. It felt nice to wash down all the soot.

Madame Pomfrey bustled out from behind the screen. “She’s still unconscious, but I’ve stopped the bleeding in her arm and checked her head. I won’t be able to do anything else until she wakes up, but I think she’ll be fine, Mr Black.”

My body went limp with relief. I put my head in my hands and choked back a sob. Oh, Merlin. I think I was going to cry.

A hand rested on my shoulder. I turned around to see Prongs standing behind me. “Is she going to be alright?” he asked quietly, his expression concerned. I wasn’t sure if the concern was for Millie, or my sanity.

I nodded, still too overcome to speak.

“You can see her, if you like,” Madame Pomfrey said kindly.

I looked up at her face and saw an understanding look in her eyes. “Are you sure?” I asked.

She smiled then. “Yes, I’m sure.”

“Go,” Moony said. Prongs gave me a little shove.

I didn’t hesitate again as I rushed behind the screen.

 
I could have pretended that she had merely fallen asleep, if it wasn’t for how pale she looked. There was a clean white bandage around her head and arm, and her leg looked normal under the covers.

I sank to my knees beside her face and merely looked at her. Madame Pomfrey had cleaned most of the dirt off her face, but she’d missed a spot on her cheek. I gently reached out and wiped it away with my thumb.

My breath came out in a slow exhale. I’d missed touching her; feeling her soft skin under my fingertips. I brushed away a strand of hair from her closed eyes.

I watched her face. I watched as her chest rose and fell evenly. I held her hand in my grasp. I looked at it, feeling the soft coolness of her palm against mine. Turning it over, I placed a soft kiss on the back of her hand, and let out a sigh.

If something had happened to her… I don’t know what I would have done.

Something drastic and stupid, I was sure.

Because I knew, as I watched her resting form, I was too far gone.

I loved her.

There were no two ways about it. I tried to pinpoint the exact moment when it had happened, thinking back over all the moments we’d shared since I’d asked her to pretend to be my girlfriend.

Had I loved her when I’d spoken to her in the kitchens two weeks ago? Yes.

Had I loved her when I’d gone looking for her that fateful night of the last Quidditch match of the season? Yes.

Had I loved her when I’d asked her to be my Valentine? Yes.

At this rate, I’d probably realise that I’d been in love with her since the moment I laid eyes on her at the Leaky Cauldron, almost a whole year ago. I knew that wasn’t when it had happened – probably – but it didn’t really matter. All that mattered was that it had.

And all it had taken me to realise that was her almost dying.

Fantastic.

That would be a story to tell the kids.

I was surprised that a thought like that didn’t surprise me. Millie hated me, and here I was, fantasising about telling our future children about how I’d realised I was in love with their mother. Typical.

But I loved Millie White, and I didn’t really care anymore about anything else.

And that was the moment when a horrible realisation came upon me.

She didn’t really care anymore about me.






AN: Hello everyone! Please don't hate me for this very late update! And after I promised a quicker one in the last chapter, too! I'm really sorry guys (for those of you who are still reading - you guys rock) but this chapter gave me a lot of difficulty. I had to change up the style a little get things going again - sorry if that annoys you, but tell me how you feel about it nonetheless!

Also tell me what you think about Sirius NOW! I'm super happy about where he was at the beginning of this story, and where he is now. It's taken a very long time, but it has finally happened! Yay!

Also, the title of this chapter is the song Gone, Gone, Gone by Phillip Phillips, which was the inspiration for this chapter. The lyrics in the summary are from this song as well, and therefore, belong to Phillip Phillips!

Adios, amigos! :D


Chapter 36: Chocolate Is Always the Solution
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Millie's POV:

The first time I saw the big black dog, I screamed. Luckily, thanks to the vengeful return of my nightmares, Madam Pomfrey and I had agreed that it was best to place a muffling charm on the screens around my bed in the Hospital Wing. Screams of terror did not help anyone on their road to recovery.

Once I’d gotten over my initial shock, my heartbeat slowing down considerably, I glanced over the side of my bed to see the dog still standing there. By his gently wagging tail, it seemed that he was quite used to people screaming at the sight of him. To be fair, if a pair of pale orbs stared at you out of the darkness, you’d be pretty scared too.

He ruined his scary reputation by hanging out his tongue and panting. I rolled my eyes and sat up. I reached for my wand, mumbling Lumos in my head. The half-moon cast a pale light through the high windows, but it created more shadows than it dispersed.

“Mr Dog,” I was quite sure that he was the same dog as the one I’d met in the boathouse all those months ago. How many other half-bear half-wolves were there on the grounds that were comfortable around humans? I doubted their numbers would be higher than one. “What are you doing here?”

At the sound of my voice, the dog wagged his tail harder and jumped his front paws up on the edge of my bed. His adorable ears were cocked and his wet nose glistened in the wand light.

“Bad dog,” I murmured, although as far as reprimands went, it was quite ineffective, as I was scratching him behind the ear nearest me as I said it. There was a reason why no one ever took my threats seriously.

The dog leaned his head into my palm, and I couldn’t help smiling. There was something comforting about his presence. I’d been in the Hospital Wing for the past two nights now and I wasn’t likely to be released for at least another three. Whilst my friends popped in as often as they could, the reality was that work and impending exams kept them quite busy. And that was completely fine. I didn’t expect them to spend every waking moment with me. I didn’t want them failing because of me and my strange craving for company.

It was just that I was so bored during the day. Between James, Remus, Peter, Sarah, and Lily, I always had a new set of notes, a stack of homework as high as Cleopatra’s Needle, and book requests from the library to keep me occupied for the next three years. But still. I just wanted things to go back to normal. I wanted the soreness in my body to stop. I wanted the headaches to fade. I wanted the nightmares to go away.

The only upside to this situation was that I had a very legitimate excuse to avoid Sirius.

I sighed and looked over at my unexpected furry guest. “Do you have someone in your life that you wish you didn’t like, but still do, despite everything?” The Hospital Wing was slowly driving me insane. I was now talking to a dog about my confused feelings for Sirius Black.

The dog expectedly did not really react to this question, except for giving me a tiny lick on my hand.

I sighed again, and continued. “It’s just so bloody annoying, you know? I really, really want to hate him. He’s such a jerk.”

The dog had apparently become a little tired from standing on its hind legs for so long, so he sat down on the ground. Even then, his soft head was easily reachable, and his tail beat softly against the hardwood floor, in doggy encouragement. I was beginning to notice that dogs really only had one sort of emotion – I’m happy to hear your voice, therefore I shall keep wagging my tail. Or maybe that was just my crazy dog.

“But he saved my life,” I continued softly, absently running my fingers through his soft fur. “And he’s a good friend.” Too bad he didn’t make such a stellar boyfriend.

The dog gave me another soft lick, as if he could actually understand what I was saying and fully sympathised with me.

I smiled down at him. “You’re a very good listener, you know.”

His tail thumped and his wet nose gave me a little snuffle against my palm.

“You should probably go now,” I said softly. I didn’t really want him to leave, but it wouldn’t be a good thing if Madam Pomfrey walked in and found a wild dog in her ward. Whilst he’d been very well-behaved so far, I don’t think he was exactly toilet trained. “We don’t want you getting caught.”

He gave a sad little shake of his bushy tail and whined softly. It was a little creepy just how well he pretended to understand exactly what I was saying. The sparkle in his pale eyes had an uncanny resemblance to human intelligence.

I laughed and pushed him away. “Go! I need to sleep!”

Tail and head hanging down, he walked away from my bed. He stopped just before he left the curtains and gave me a sad look. I tried to school my features into as stern an expression as possible. “Go,” I repeated.

He turned away and left.

Just before I drifted off to sleep again, I saw a large dark smudge slink its way back next to my bed. When I reached out my hand, a cold wet nose briefly touched it, before disappearing. When I woke in the morning, my doggy friend was gone.

 
~*~

Sirius' POV:

I slept in the Hospital Wing beside Millie’s bed for the next two nights. I couldn’t exactly go visit her during the day, so this was the best way to be close to her. It really sucked that I’d realised that I was head over heels in love with her after I’d been such an idiot about the whole situation. I mean, why couldn’t we just have had a conversation about our changing relationship at Christmas? Or Valentine’s Day? Or any time between the day I stared at her like a deranged person in Diagon Alley and now? Why was that so hard?

But we hadn’t, so here I was, peacefully dozing on a Tuesday morning next to the love of my life when who else but Remus I’m-a-flipping-werewolf-and-my-best-friends-are-illegal-Animagi Lupin walks in the door.

“Knock, knock!” he said rather cheerfully for a werewolf who was rapidly approaching “that time of the month”.

“Remus!” Millie said with a little too much enthusiasm for so early in the morning.

“May I come in?” he asked politely. No, you may not come in. I’m trying to have a little private time with the girl of my dreams.

I was beginning to sound like Prongs. Merlin help me.

I cracked one eyelid open very slightly to see Millie glance down at me. I thumped my tail a little in acknowledgement.

She smiled at me, and I thumped my tail a little harder.

I tried not to think about how strange it was for me to have a better relationship with Millie White as a dog than a human. Maybe I should take Prongs’ advice and just make the change permanent. Move in with her as her adoring pet. Our relationship would only improve, without me having to change my feelings at all – there was no denying that I adored her.

“Sure,” she replied.

Moony stuck his head around the corner of a screen and immediately noticed me lying on the floor, my head resting on my paws.

He blinked at me.

I cocked my ears.

“Er…” Millie began. “I can explain the dog. Actually, I can’t really explain the dog. He just sort of… appeared.”

“Oh, I bet he did,” Moony muttered.

Millie looked at him with interest. “Do you know him?” she asked.

Moony shook his head, no. “Just heard a rumour about a stray running around the grounds. Guess it’s true.”

Who was he calling a stray?

Millie laughed. “I suppose it is. Take a seat, Remus. What brings you here so early?”

Moony slouched into the chair next to the bed, almost dropping his book bag on my head in the process. I gave him a warning growl. This adorable face was basically the only thing allowing me to spend time with Millie. He better not blow it by smashing it under a ton of books on advanced Potions making.

“Just checking in. And also bringing you your requested reading of the day.”

“Is it your turn for the unfortunate morning duty?” she asked, raising an amused eyebrow. It never ceased to amaze me how much easier she was to read when I was in Animagus form. It was as if my doggy instincts to please took over and allowed me to get a better read on the situation. Another reason to make the change permanent.

“Duty? We’re not on duty!”

“You’ve organised yourself into shifts.”

“We… have?”

“You notice the strangest things when you’re bored out of your mind.” Millie said, her voice heavy with wry amusement.

My ears lay flat against my head in sadness. Her amusement was derisive at best when she was with me. At worst, she wasn’t amused at all. Now that I thought about it, how on earth had she stood up with me for so long? Clearly, I made her miserable. It was better that I was no longer in her life.

I should atone for my sins against her, though.

All the more reason to become her pet dog. She’d love me then.

“Do you know when you’re being discharged?” Moony asked. He reached down absently and gave me a pat on the head.

I raised my eyebrows in canine sardonicism.

He surreptitiously shot me an evil grin.

Millie, unaware of this little exchange, bounced a little in excitement. “Tomorrow morning!”

“You’re rather excited to return to classes,” he observed.

“I’m just happy to finally leave this stupid bed. Even studying for NEWTs is preferable to staying cooped up in here.”

I’d never thought of Millie as being particularly restless, but I realised that I’d never actually seen her just sit around for long periods of time doing nothing. She was either studying, or reading, or sketching, or spending time with our friends… or telling me off (we snogged sometimes, I swear). And she never stayed in one place for long. She’d never spend more than two hours in one place, even if that meant moving from the couch to the floor whilst studying. This must have been a nightmare for her, being cooped up in one place for so long.

And let’s not start about her actual nightmares. She’d woken up no less than five times over the last two nights, sweaty and wide-eyed with terror. Those moments were the only times when I’d truly wished that I could turn into a human and comfort her. I don’t think my frantic tail-wagging, slobbery kisses to her exposed arm, and panicked scrabbling of her sheets was exactly effective.

Not to mention a little creepy.

“We’ll see how you feel after a few days,” Moony replied, looking harrowed. I still didn’t understand why he was so worried. He wasn’t exactly an idiot.

Millie smiled at him, and I felt a sharp stab of jealousy. This was unexpected – and unwanted. I knew there was nothing between Moony and Millie except a strong platonic bond. I knew that.

Apparently, the irrational part of me didn’t care. It was hell-bent on feeling jealous. This is what deprivation of Millie’s smiles did to me. I was so pathetic and in love.

It was even more pathetic that I didn’t give two flying hippogriffs’ poops.

“How’s everyone doing?” Millie asked. “Lily and Sarah keep claiming everything’s fine, but they look a little pale to me.”

Moony nodded. “No, everyone’s doing well – or as well as can be expected. Lily and Prongs keep each other sane, I think. And Dominic Peabody is quite enamoured, and Sarah seems quite happy with that situation. Prongs, Padfoot and I are making sure that Wormtail doesn’t drown in all the work, but he’s holding his own quite well.” I swelled with pride at hearing this. I felt bad for neglecting my friends a little this past week, especially Wormtail. It was my job to help him with Transfiguration.

“And…” Millie hesitated for a moment. “… Everyone’s recovered from the attack last weekend?” Her voice was oddly blank of any emotion other than polite interest.

Moony glanced down at me briefly, glanced over at Millie, then glanced down at me again. He took a deep breath, and said, “For the most part.”

Millie frowned. I head-butted Moony in the leg for making her frown. She was still recovering. She didn’t need to hear any bad news. “What do you mean?” she asked, her voice laced with concern.

“Well… you know Sirius hasn’t visited you,” he rushed out.

Millie looked down at her blanket-covered lap.

I gave a low warning growl. There was no need to make her anxious by mentioning my name.

Moony, ignoring both our unfavourable reactions and continued, “He’s been very… worried about you, you know.” He glanced down briefly at me, and I raised my hackles as surreptitiously as possible.

“Has he?” Millie murmured, still staring intently at her lap. Her discomfort was rolling off her in waves.

Moony nodded. “He cares about you a lot, you know.”

Millie nodded. “I know,” she whispered.

Moony opened his mouth to say something else, but closed it. He looked at both of us intently, a keen expression on his face. After a long moment, he said, “I’d better be off. Otherwise Wormtail will eat all the toast.”

Millie gave him a small, yet bright smile. “It was nice of you to drop in, Remus. Thanks.”

He stood, and shrugged. “Don’t mention it. If I don’t see you later today, tomorrow then?”

Her smile grew. “Definitely.”

With a wave and a final keen glance at me, he left.
 
~*~
 
I cornered Moony just before lunch in an empty classroom.

“What the hell was that about this morning?” I spat.

Moony looked taken aback. “What about this morning?”

“Mentioning that I was worried about Millie!” I waved my arms in the air. A distant corner of my brain noted that there may be some merit to Prongs’ claim that I was a bit of a drama queen. I gave that part of my brain a shove down a tall and sharp cliff, as usual.

Moony’s expression relaxed from wary to judgementally amused. “I was telling her the truth. You are worried about her.”

She doesn’t need to know that.”

“I surmised that from the fact that you’ve spent the last three nights sleeping next to her bed as a dog. Despite how creepy that is, it is rather obvious that you don’t want her to know. What has me confused is why.”

I looked at him incredulously. “Isn’t that obvious?”

He crossed his arms and shook his head. “No. With you two, nothing really is.”

“She hates me, Moony.” Despite what she said to me that first night. I’m sure she was just trying to make conversation with me. “Besides, you saw how she reacted when you mentioned my name.”

He rolled his eyes. “Merlin, you two are hopeless.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked, waving my arms around again. I really needed to stop doing it, but I couldn’t help myself.

He rolled his eyes again for good measure. “She doesn’t hate you.”

“How do you know that?” I crossed my arms across my chest, feigning disbelief, but really, I wanted to know how he knew. Maybe werewolves have secret powers that let them know about girls’ feelings.

“She did ask about you.”

I blinked in surprise. “She did not. I was there.”

He sighed, looking very put-upon. “What do you think she meant by asking how we all were after last weekend? She was asking about you, you dolt! She sees the rest of us every day!”

I mulled this over. “But she didn’t even say my name!”

Moony let out an exasperated huff and raised his hands to the heavens. “Merlin, grant me patience.” I mentally snorted. As if Merlin would grant his wish – I’d tried heaps of times, asking the old codger for even a little guidance with a certain brunette, and the bloke was yet to deliver.

“I know that she doesn’t hate you the same way I know that you love her,” he huffed.

I sputtered in shock. “I do not – I mean – love! Really –

“Oh, put a cork in it, Padfoot. It’s been as clear as day to all of us for ages.”

How could that be if I’d only just found out myself a few days ago?

“You’re so completely oblivious to your own feelings, you know,” Moony replied. It took me a moment to realise that I hadn’t actually asked that question out loud. Maybe those werewolf senses extended to all people, and not just girls… “Now if you’re done, can we go down to lunch, please? I’m starving.”

I stared at him a little blankly.

“No? Alright. I’ll save you a seat.” He began heading for the door.

“What do you think I should do?” I asked.

Moony glanced back at me, half out the door, his eyebrows raised. “I suggest you actually talk to her, Padfoot. Maybe start by telling her how you really feel, apologise for being such a twat, grovel for the next ten years, and buy her half of Honeydukes.”

“Is chocolate always the solution with you?” I asked.

“Chocolate is always the solution, end of story.”

I stood in the empty classroom for long moments after Moony left. There may be some merit to Moony’s advice, especially the chocolate thing…




AN: Hola everyone! It has been so long since I updated (but what's new in that, right?), but I really missed Millie and Sirius. I hope you enjoyed this chapter. We get to see a little of the aftermath of Millie's injury, and Sirius' revelation from last chapter. Also, Remus is a great advice-giver, as well as gossiper, no? ;) Please tell me your thoughts on this chapter. I always love hearing from you.

Adios, amigos! :D


Chapter 37: Chocolate Frogs
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It had been three days since I’d been released from the Hospital Wing when the first chocolate frog appeared.

I found it when I was rummaging through my bag for a spare quill halfway through Charms. One minute, I was all business, diligently looking for a replacement writing implement; the next, my mind was filled with nothing but rapturous thoughts of chocolate frogs.

I had a very big weakness for chocolate frogs. My love affair was a long and passionate one, beginning at the tender age of three and one-quarter when I’d tasted my first. At age seven, my father had figured out that it was a good way to get me to fall in love with reading: I wasn’t allowed to eat the frog until I’d learnt about the famous person on the back of the card. My card collection was just shy of fifteen thousand – not one of the largest, but not exactly a modest collection either.

Needless to say, nothing existed for me in the world at that moment except me, and the beautiful purple and gold box cradled in the palm of my hand. I was mesmerised by the way the shiny gold paper caught the sunlight streaming through the high windows… the way its perfection was marred by a note stuck on the back.

Wait, what?

The note snapped me out of it. It was a scrap of a parchment, messily folded into quarters, yet stuck onto the back of my box with almost painstaking care. Frowning a little in bemusement, I gently pulled the paper away from its clingy spellotape, and unfolded the note.

In large, loopy writing that was oh-so-familiar, was the rather baffling message:

A special edition Mordred was released last week. I hope it’s him.

My frown deepened. What was my scoundrel of an ex-boyfriend playing at now?

Since my return to normal life, I hadn’t been so circumspect in my avoidance of Sirius. The irrational anger and hurt of before had eased a little, leaving confusion in its wake. And let’s not forget that I still harboured a broken heart. Love was too painful and annoying by half.

However, since I’d decided not to ignore Sirius’ very existence anymore, he’d decided that he was going to ignore my very existence instead.

The idiot was even more infuriating since acting so chivalrously. There really had been no need for him to come back and find me. I’d said in no uncertain terms that I wished never to lay my eyes on him again, and first he goes and respects my wishes, then comes to rescue me.

And then, he goes back to respecting my wishes!

I think I loved him all the more for it, the insufferable git.

But now, there was this chocolate frog. I resisted the urge to turn around and look at where he was sitting behind me, two rows back and three seats to the left. Instead, I tore open the box and let the frog slip into my hand, turning over the card to see who I’d got this time.

Mordred, special edition.

Lily gave me a very strange look at the sight of my small grin.

~*~

The next chocolate frog was inside my goblet at lunch. That was a little creepy, but I ignored that for the moment and opened the note stuck to the back.

A Morgana to match the Mordred, perhaps?

His innocuous little messages were so infuriating. What on earth did he mean by this? I glanced up to the other side of the table to see that Sirius was busy chatting and laughing with Peter and Remus. Was it my imagination, or did his laugh sound a little forced? And was he deliberately avoiding my eye?

I pushed that dangerous line of thinking away with a mental derisive snort. I couldn’t let what Remus had said to me the other day affect me. I knew that he had our best interests at heart, but he must have been exaggerating when he said that Sirius was worried about me. If he was worried, why didn’t he come up and talk to me? Why send chocolate frogs?

Incidentally, the card was Morgana.

Sarah caught me staring down at the card in wonder.

“What’s wrong, Millie?” she asked between enthusiastic bites of her quiche. “Why are you staring at that chocolate frog card?”

I shook my head and replied, “Nothing, really. I just wasn’t expecting to get the card I got, that’s all.”

“As long as you eat more than that one bloody frog for lunch, I really don’t care,” Lily added, breaking away from her love bubble with James to scold me.

I sighed and began eating my lunch. She’d never understood my love for chocolate frogs.

If only everything in life was as simple and good as chocolate frogs.

~*~

The Merlin card arrived the next morning next to my alarm clock. Just like that stupid rose (over which I had not sentimentally cast a long-life charm. My spell had accidentally hit it instead of a cupcake I was saving for later, I swear) had magically appeared on Valentine’s Day, so did my third chocolate frog.

The note as usual had the creepily prophetic words:

Merlin to complete the trinity?

Holy… er, Merlin! Once is chance. Twice is coincidence. But three times? Three times is just creepy.

I had double Potions first thing, so there was plenty of time to interrogate Sirius about his new-found psychic abilities concerning chocolate frog cards.

Obviously, it took me almost an hour to work up the courage to say more than “Pass the snail brains, please.”

“How do you know about the chocolate frog cards?” I finally blurted, after three attempts to say something.

Sirius looked up from where he was fastidiously making two copies of the notes for today’s potion. “I beg your pardon?” he asked politely.

I gritted my teeth and held back my surge of frustration. Our pureblood upbringing chose the worst times to rear its ugly head.

“The chocolate frog cards. How do you know about them?”

“What? That you like them and fanatically collect them? It was one of the few subjects on which you would need no prodding to talk about for hours on end.” His lips twitched in a hint of his usual smirk, his voice tinged with some of his usual teasing, and my heart practically melted into a puddle of lovesick goo. And then promptly refroze into something slightly misshapen at remembering the hurt he’d caused me.

I wondered if this would give me heartburn.

“No. What the actual card is,” I finally said.

He shrugged. “A lucky guess.”

“Three times?”

He gave me a lopsided grin. It was a mere shadow of what it usually was, but it still managed to do funny things to my insides.

We lapsed back into silence, and for the first time in weeks, it wasn’t as awkward and uncomfortable.

~*~

There was another chocolate frog in my goblet at lunch.

Lily looked at it where I’d put it on my empty plate. “I thought we talked about this yesterday,” she sighed. “You can’t just eat chocolate frogs, Millie, no matter how much you worship them.”

“I’m not just eating chocolate frogs,” I huffed. “They just keep appearing.”

Lily raised an eyebrow. “You know that’s impossible.”

I looked around to see if the Marauders had arrived yet, and on noticing that they hadn’t I continued in a low voice. “Okay, they’re not just appearing out of nowhere.”

“Then where are they coming from?”

“Sirius keeps writing her love letters on them,” Sarah said, plopping down in an empty chair across the table from where Lily and I were sitting.

Lily looked towards me and I shifted uncomfortably in my seat. “They’re not love letters,” I muttered.

Lily shook her head and turned back to her lunch. “You two have the strangest relationship I have ever seen.”

I looked over at Sarah for a little help. She nodded her head, agreeing, “Definitely. But it’s entertaining to watch.”

“You find my heartbreak and pain entertaining?” I asked.

“Not when you were so upset. Sirius was a tosser then. But now… it’s sort of cute.”

I raised an eyebrow I disbelief. “Cute? How are chocolate frogs and stupid notes cute?”

She shrugged. “What does this note say anyway?”

I looked down at where the note was lying, still attached to the frog. If this was another accurate prediction…

I’m very glad you argued with me this morning.

Lily sniggered as she read the note from beside me. “Is that what you two were doing? James and I had wondered.”

I shot her a scowl, but asked, “Do you have a spare quill on you?”

~*~

I was glad that Sirius was sitting on the same side of the table as me, three people down. He coincidentally got up a fraction of a second before I did, and so it was easy enough to orchestrate a stumble into him.

From much practice, he caught hold of my upper arms almost instinctively. Our gazes caught and tangled for a long moment, his hands gently running down my arms to rest comfortably around my wrists. The simple touch sent a tingle down my spine.

“Sorry!” I squeaked, twisting my hands in his grasp so that they were clutching at his palms. For all that the stumble was planned, my complete lack of coordination meant that I was still a little off-balance. His hold was very reassuring. I also took the opportunity to slip the note he’d given me back into his palms.

His eyes widened a little in surprise, but he took it from me as he took a step back saying, “No problem. Are you alright?”

I nodded and turned around, not looking back.

I didn’t allow myself to smile until I was out of the Great Hall and heading up the Grand Staircase to get my things for the next class. I’d written two words in reply: Me too.

At the sight of my grin, Lily rolled her eyes. “Sarah’s right. You two are cute. Strange, but cute.”

I looked at her quizzically.

“Sirius had the craziest smile on his face I’ve ever seen.”

My smile grew wider.

~*~

Our chocolate frog correspondence continued in this way for the next few weeks. Since the NEWT examinations had begun, we were often in each other’s presence, but still never talking to each other unless completely necessary. Despite this, I’d catch myself staring at him thoughtfully, my revision momentarily forgotten, as I tried to sort through my confused feelings.

On the one hand, he’d been a complete twat.

On the other hand, I’d never really given him a chance to apologise properly. Ignoring him and then dismissing his rather sorry excuse at an attempted apology in righteous anger.

And he’d still come back for me in Hogsmeade.

And Lily, Sarah, and even Remus had said that he’d been utterly miserable, which suggested that he did still care for me.

And I couldn’t just dismiss that my chocolate frog card collection had grown considerably, thanks to him.

And that I was enjoying our written conversations.

We talked about the stupidest things, from Quidditch, to the weather, to how our Defence Against the Dark Arts practical examiners had to be older than Dumbledore.

It was probably those notes, those moments of surprised laughter and happiness that stopped me from being completely thrown into despair during exams. The stress of exams, combined with my still ongoing nightmares meant that I wasn’t getting much sleep at all – despite all the chocolate frogs I’d been consuming.

Finally, it was the night before my final NEWT exam. It was Arithmancy, and since only Lily, Sirius and I took it, celebrations for tomorrow night were kindly being planned elsewhere from the Common Room. Lily called in an early night, saying that she needed the rest.

“Don’t you mean you need a snog?” I teased.

She narrowed her eyes at me, but still blushed.

I grinned and waved her away, turning back to my final revision worksheet with a sigh. Unable to focus very well that evening, I’d only completed about a quarter of it, but I vowed to finish before I went to bed.

I hadn’t been alone for five minutes, sitting cross-legged on the floor at a low table in front of the fire, before I was joined by Sirius.

My heart leaped a little. We hadn’t been completely alone since our chocolate frog correspondence began.

He came to sit across from me, and pulled out a sheet of equations identical to mine. I tried very hard not to stare at him and concentrate on the numbers and figures in front of me.

I’d gotten through two questions when a chocolate frog box skittered onto my page, causing my ink bottle to almost topple over.

I looked up scowling at Sirius, to see him wearing an apologetic expression.

Pressing my lips into a firm line, I reached over and tore off the note stuck to the back, not even bothering to open the box to check the card.

It read: Can you help me with question three?

I glanced over at his sheet, and noticed that he had the right answer. He was actually up to question ten. I looked up to see that he was watching me carefully.

I scrawled my answer on the back as usual, scrunched up the scrap of parchment into a little ball, and chucked it onto his page. My mad Quidditch skills meant that his ink bottle was in no danger at all.

I watched him from lowered lashes as he opened the note to read: No. You have the right answer.

He actually looked crestfallen, but he quickly hid it and started scribbling on a piece of paper.

The split second after my attention returned to my work, another chocolate frog landed on my page.

What about question seven?

I wrote back: Right again.

Another chocolate frog. Another note. Don’t I have any wrong?

I couldn’t help but smile at that. Glancing up, I noticed his sad puppy eyes. I’ve never seen anyone look sadder at the prospect of being right, I wrote back.

Another chocolate frog sailed toward me, but I caught it before it landed on my page. I grinned at his impressed expression. How else am I going to talk to you if I don’t have anything wrong?

I rolled my eyes at him, my worksheet now forgotten. Not bothering to answer such a ludicrous question, I instead asked, Where do you keep getting all these chocolate frogs?

At reading my note, he grinned and picked up a box from next to him.

I actually laughed. It was quite a big box, like one you’d find from a wholesaler of chocolate frogs. I wondered where he’d managed to get his hands on them…

He picked another chocolate frog and attached the note to it hastily. Why? Don’t you like them?

I wrote back, I do like them. But why do you keep giving them to me? Are you trying to give me diabetes?

He grinned, but still picked another frog and wrote, Moony said that I should give you a lot of chocolate to apologise.

There was no need to elaborate what he was apologising for. And inundating me with chocolate frogs is your way of apologising?

He grinned. Is it working? If you’re sick of the chocolate frogs, I could probably get something else. What are your thoughts on mint chocolate hearts?

I tried to fight down a ridiculous smile as I replied: Is this your way of saying that I have bad breath?

He looked rather horrified. No! Your breath is fine! I thought heart-shaped chocolate might be a good next step.

I frowned slightly in confusion. Next step in what?

My plan to grovel for the next ten years. I glanced up in surprise to see that he was being completely sincere.

It took me a moment to think of an appropriate response. Another of Remus’ suggestions?

Yes. My pile of unopened chocolate frogs was growing to be rather dangerously high.

Smart boy, Remus is. And you can stop with the chocolate frog cards for now. I gave him a shy smile as I threw that one across the table.

He grinned back.

For the first time in this little game, I wrote a note first. But only for now. You can try again tomorrow after the exam.

I slid that note across the table and packed my things. There was no way in hell that I was going to finish that sheet now. It was time to call it a night, no matter how enjoyable it had been “talking” with Sirius.

His shoulders slumped as he watched me stand up and swing my bag onto my shoulder.

I was struck by how much this felt like all those other nights we’d spent studying together. From the first one where I’d woken up to find him scratching away at his Transfiguration essay all those months ago, to the many late nights that were spent on working on our Arithmancy homework. I felt a little warm at the thought of the other things we’d done after we’d finished our homework.

It was these thoughts that compelled me to murmur, “Goodnight Sirius.”

Before I could blurt out anything else like “I love you” or something equally embarrassing, I turned around and fled to the entrance to the girls’ dormitory.

“Goodnight darling,” he called back.

I grinned all the way up to my dorm.




AN: What's this? ANOTHER chapter? And only a week later? No! Thanks so much for all your love on the last chapter. It is because of you guys that this chapter came out as quick as it did. Tell me what you think of Sirius' newest mad idea. Personally, this boy is crazy!

Adios, amigos! :D


Chapter 38: Home
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The Common Room was a crowded and noisy affair. It was expected, since exams were officially over and that meant there was no reason not to party. Sometimes I wondered if Gryffindor’s defining trait should be a love of parties, rather than bravery. End-of-exams parties were a whole House affair – even the little first-years were running around, although the contraband alcohol had to be watched with rather more caution than usual.

I picked up a bottle of butterbeer and headed toward a relatively quiet corner of the Common Room. I was just happy to watch the merriment and revelries for a while. Whilst the Arithmancy exam hadn’t been particularly difficult, the entire exam period had taken its toll, and I was feeling a little exhausted.

I curled up on an empty couch not far away from the fire and fondly watched the antics of my fellow House mates. I was going to miss this, I realised. The ridiculous dancing, the dubious firewhiskey, the laughing chatter. I remembered McGonagall’s words to us that first night at the Hogwarts, so many years before. As we waited to be Sorted, standing close to each other in shivering clumps of trepidation, her speech helped to allay some of my fears. My House was to be my family. Despite the spark of hope, I hadn’t quite believed her words then. And right now, I didn’t quite believe that I was going to leave my family behind in a few short weeks.

“What are you thinking about in this corner by yourself?” Remus asked, coming to sit next to me on the couch. He had a cup of the spiked punch clutched in his hands, and like me, his eyes watched the scene in front of us.

“Nothing really,” I replied, smiling. There was something about Remus’ company. It was always so calming, so reassuring. I’d wondered how he could’ve been friends with people like James and Sirius, but as I’d gotten to know him over the years, I was glad that he had become friends with them. I strongly suspected that he acted as a counterbalance to their mischievous and nefarious ways.

“Just thinking about what it’ll be like once we leave?” he asked astutely.

I looked over at him, and couldn’t help grinning. “Something like that, yes. I hadn’t realised how much I loved this place until now.”

Remus nodded, and took a thoughtful sip of his drink. “I’m really going to miss this place,” he murmured after a moment.

I nodded in agreement. “Hogwarts is…” I paused, searching for the right word.

“Home,” Remus replied. “Hogwarts is home.”

I smiled. Yes, that’s what Hogwarts was. Home. It was safety, and comfort, and knowing what to do. It was childhood, and friendships, and laughter. It was everything that the outside world was not.

And nothing had quite highlighted that more than the Death Eater attack on Hogsmeade a few weeks before. Thankfully, no one had been any more seriously injured than me; the last of us to recover had all been discharged from the Hospital Wing together, and all of us had been quite happy to leave.

But I wondered about the impact this attack had had on us mentally. My nightmares hadn’t become any better – if anything, as the weeks had gone on, they’d become worse. My friends were more quiet and thoughtful, getting far-off looks as news of more attacks on muggles and muggleborns were reported in The Prophet every day. Trips to the owlery were always frantic scurries, and the sight of the post in the morning caused more worry than happiness these days.

No, no one had been seriously hurt physically, but the attack had taken its toll on us all mentally.

“I’d better get back to the refreshment table,” Remus sighed, breaking our contemplative silence.

I shot him a quizzical look.

“I’m on don’t-let-the-first-years-near-the-punch duty,” he explained.

I gave a little laugh. “Have fun, then.”

He smiled and waved goodbye as he left, and I settled back into seat, wiggling a little to make myself more comfortable.


As time went on, other friends came past my couch in the corner. James and Lily dropped in for a while, before Lily dragged James off to dance with her to some muggle song that was blasting through a wireless. Sarah came back with Remus and another butterbeer in tow, and we spent a good while just talking and laughing. Even Peter popped by for some time, although our combined quiet natures kept the conversation to a minimum. But when we did speak, the conversation was pleasantly witty and engaging.

As the party began to wind down in the early hours of the morning, after the second time Professor McGonagall had stormed in and yelled at us to go to sleep in all her tartan glory, I found my thoughts wandering in the direction of chocolate frogs.

And the person who seemed to have an infinite supply of them.

We hadn’t “spoken” since last night, and I found myself missing Sirius’ company. He was always the centre of attention at parties, and I’d caught glimpses of him throughout the night, sometimes on punch duty, sometimes  dancing wildly on top of tables, sometimes winning a round of Exploding Snap with a bunch of sixth-years with ill grace.

Not once had I seen him look over in my direction.

Not that I expected him to, of course. It wasn’t as if my couch was in the middle of the Common Room, visible to all. And nor should there be any reason as such that he’d want to search me out. Even when we were… together, parties had always been time which we’d often spend apart.

But there would sometimes be some sneaking into empty classrooms, or to dimly lit corners, mostly just to talk.

Okay, also to snog.

And now I was thinking about snogging. Great.

I felt the sofa shift under the compressing weight of someone sitting down next to me, and I desperately hoped that my expression did not give away that I was thinking about snogging Sirius.

I glanced over to see who it was, and then really wished that my expression did not give away that I was thinking about snogging Sirius.

Sirius’ cool grey eyes looked back at me, and a prickle ran through me. Heat flushed my skin, and I shifted uncomfortably at the inexplicable hot-and-bothered feeling.

Alright, I was feeling hot and bothered because the object of my snogging fantasy was now looking deep into my soul, and it was rather embarrassing.

“I don’t have any chocolate frogs,” he said as a conversation starter.

The hot and bothered feeling eased a little. Perhaps my expression demanded chocolate frogs rather than a snog.

Before I could reply, he continued, “They’re up in my dorm. I could go get them right now –”

“No,” I surprised both of us into a momentary silence with that one word.

“… No?” His gaze was a little wary, and his tone was carefully void of any clue as to what he thought I meant.

“No,” I shook my head to emphasise the point.

His expression remained wary and confused.

“You don’t need the chocolate frogs,” I clarified.

“Oh. Okay, then. I don’t have anything else, though.”

“That’s fine.”

His eyebrows puckered faintly, not helping to lessen his austere handsomeness. “Then how am I supposed to talk to you?”

“With your mouth,” I replied without thinking. Once again, I shocked us into silence. My gaze flicked down to his mouth, and then quickly back up to his eyes, hoping that he hadn’t noticed.

I flushed to notice that he, in fact, had noticed. It was a little consoling that he’d been doing the same.

I really shouldn’t have mentioned his mouth. How was I supposed to stop thinking about snogging him now?

I turned away, embarrassed, and stared very intently at the distant punch table, a collection of firewhiskey and butterbeer bottles shrouded in shadow under it.

The awkward silence drew out.

Sirius sighed.

I glanced in his direction again, and expected him to get up and leave, but instead, he just took a sip from his almost-full butterbeer bottle.

“Since I have permission to speak without resorting to bribery, why are we sitting in silence?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I replied a little peeved. “You are the one who came and sat down next to me.”

He looked over at me and smiled. I felt my bones melting like chocolate left on a sunny window ledge. “Mills, why are you always right?”

I raised an eyebrow. “Flattery? Really?” Some of the tension in my shoulders eased as I fell into the familiar rhythm of our conversations. I’d missed more than just the snogging.

I mean, I didn’t love him just because he was a good snog.

“You compel me,” he replied simply.

“I… compel you?”

“Yes.”

“To flatter me?”

“Yes.”

“That makes no sense.”

He sighed dramatically. “Many things about speaking with you make no sense, but in all the best ways.”

I laughed at his silliness. “There’s good ways not to make sense?”

He nodded, “There’s good, there’s better, and there’s best. And then there’s you.”

My smile faltered. I don’t know why. Maybe it was the sincerity in his voice. Maybe it was the intensity in his gaze. Maybe it was because I was still in love with him, and I was actually okay with that.

I wondered when I’d come to that decision. Was it whilst I was lying against a building, my leg twisted and my head throbbing? Was it during those long sleepless nights in the Hospital Wing? Was it somewhere after the fifty-seventh chocolate frog? I didn’t know, and I found myself not caring.

I loved Sirius Orion Black, and despite what a colossal idiot he was, I wouldn’t – couldn’t – stop loving him.

“Mills…” he began, snapping me out of my thoughts. He always called me Mills. I didn’t know why I liked it so much. It was a ridiculous name. I did not grind flour with my magic turbines.

I clutched my empty bottle of butterbeer to my chest, and turned toward him.

“I realise that my behaviour over this year has been… unforgivable.”

I opened my mouth to say something, but he held up a hand, forestalling my words.

“Let me finish, please,” he said softly.

I hesitated, but then nodded for him to continue.

“I don’t just mean that kiss with Marissa. That was definitely unforgivable, and despite whoever had kissed whom, there certainly was kissing, and that’s what counts.”

I wondered at where this new Sirius was coming from. Distance from that night had given me some perspective. I’d been hurt and angry, and as he’d said, no matter who’d initiated it, there had been kissing, but I couldn’t hold Sirius solely accountable. Despite it all, I did trust him, and now that I’d had some time to think about it, his version of events did hold the ring of truth. But Sirius wasn’t done talking.

“It wasn’t fair to you that I coerced you into pretending to be my girlfriend.”

“You didn’t exactly force me, Sirius. I could’ve easily said no,” I interrupted.

“I know that, but there was no reason to keep making you do it as long as I did,” he said with an impatient shake of his head. “But the truth is… do you remember when you asked me if we could end it, just before Christmas?”

I nodded slowly, wondering where he was going with this.

“I didn’t let it end because I didn’t want it to end.”

Ah, he was going there. Towards feelings.

“I didn’t want to stop spending time around you. I didn’t want to let you go. It took me a lot longer than it should have to realise that. After that… it stopped being pretend for me.”

He looked at me, and sighed, running a hand through his slightly dishevelled hair. “You don’t believe me, do you?” Before I could reply, he muttered, “I wouldn’t believe me. But it’s the truth, and I want you to know that. I can’t change if you believe me or not. And I know that showering you with chocolate frogs is not going to make you forgive me. But I really am very sorry for all of it.”

I gave him a moment to see if he’d finished. “Are you done?” I asked.

He thought about it, and sighed. “Yes, I think so.”

“Okay. May I say something now?”

“Of course.”

“It was real for me, too,” I said quietly, clutching my butterbeer bottle tighter. The words were hard to say, but I felt as if I owed it to him – to me – to say what I felt. “It’s why it hurt so much. You – you broke my heart, Sirius.”

Something close to pain flashed through his eyes, settling into remorse. “I really am very sorry, Mills. I’m a stupid, idiotic… idiot. You’re right about that – again.”

I gave a small smile at his attempt at humour. “So what are we going to do?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he replied. He put his bottle down on the ground next to the sofa and moved a little closer to me. There was very little space between us; our knees almost touched where they pointed to one another.

“Maybe…” I began, loosening my death grip on my empty bottle. My palms were a little sweaty at what I was about to say, so I thought it best to put the bottle down, before it just slipped out and smashed to the floor. “Maybe we could start… over?”

He looked up from where he’d been staring between the floor and the middle distance. “Start over?” he asked, a thread of confusion sparking in his face.

I nodded. “Start over. You know, from the beginning.”

“Like we don’t know each other?”

I smiled. “More like two acquaintances who wish to further their friendship.”

He thought about it for a moment, then gave me a winning smile. My recently reformed bones melted into a puddle of bony goo once more. His smile was not doing wonders for my posture, for sure. “Hello,” he stuck out his right hand to shake. “I’m Sirius Black.”

I looked at his hand. So this was how he wanted to do this? I took his hand in mine, and gave a shy smile in return. “Hello. I’m Millie White.”

He quirked his lips. “Our names match.”

I laughed. “Funny, that.” He still hadn’t let go of my hand. Despite its familiar warmth, I pulled away.

“So tell me about yourself, Millie White.” He lounged back into the sofa, and I followed suit, relaxing into the worn comfortableness of the backrest.

I shrugged. “There’s not much to tell, really. I’m seventeen years old, my parents died during a Death Eater attack near Diagon Alley last summer, I’m about to graduate from Hogwarts, and I want help with the war any way I can.” My words gave me pause. Was that true? Did I want to help in this war? But then Lily’s pale face flashed before me as she waited for Sarah to finish reading about the most recent attack on muggles near where her parents lived. Another image of a second-year Ravenclaw sobbing quietly in the third-floor girls’ bathroom as her friend tried to console her flashed. Eavesdropping, I learnt that the girl’s father was missing, possibly because of Death Eaters. Yes, I wanted to help.

Sirius nodded. “I’m eighteen years old, I ran away from home when I was sixteen because my family are crazy pureblood fanatics, I’m about to graduate from Hogwarts, and I want to fight in the war.”

I smiled wistfully. Look at us, sitting here side by side, seemingly safe from the harsh realities of life. But Hogwarts couldn’t protect us forever. It was our turn to protect it. “We have a lot in common, then,” I murmured.

“Yeah,” he grinned. “I guess we do.”

“Besides wanting to fight in wars, what do you like to do?” I teased, trying to lighten the mood again. The tightness in my chest that had plagued me for the past several weeks had almost completely eased away.

“I love you.”

My chest tightened again, my eyes widened, and I’m quite sure my mouth was hanging open. My drowning fish in shock impression hadn’t reared its ugly head in a while. Sirius hadn’t said something so outrageous in a while either.

“What?” I squeaked.

“Sorry,” Sirius squeezed his eyes shut, in embarrassment or something else, I couldn’t tell. “Can we start again? I’m not very good at this.”

“You think?” I asked incredulously. What would possess him to say something like that?

“I’m sorry,” he said again. “Sort of just… slipped out. Didn’t mean to say it.”

My heart fell into my stomach. “You didn’t… mean it?” Of course he didn’t mean it. Sirius Black did not fall in love, least of all with me.

“No,” he shook his head. My heart plummeted to my knees. “I didn’t mean to say it. I definitely meant it.”

“What’s the difference?” I asked, feeling slightly breathless. Was talking with Sirius always such an emotional rollercoaster? Yes. Yes, it was.

He took my hands in his, holding them gently. Both of us looked down at them. It was easier than looking at each other. “The difference is that I love you, but since we’re going to try being friends first, I shouldn’t have said it,” he replied. “Could you forget that I said it, and we can try this again?”

“How do you expect me to forget something like that?”

He grinned faintly. “I don’t really. But it was worth a try. Truth is, I don’t really want to be your friend. I love you, and I want to be yours.”

I was silent for a long time. “I – I don’t know what to say.” And I didn’t. I should be happy, really. I loved him, and he loved me. But our relationship was so… fragile. Could it withstand something like the force of love? I didn’t think so.

“I understand,” he murmured, rubbing the pads of his thumbs across the back of my hands. A shiver ran down my spine. “We’ll be friends for as long as you like, but consider this fair warning – I don’t know how good I’ll be at it.”

“What do you mean?” He was still rubbing his thumbs across the back of my palms, and I tried to ignore the warmth that was spreading from where we touched.

“Well, if you start dating another bloke, I’m going to be insanely jealous,” he began conversationally. “And if he hurts you, he may never walk again, of course. And you might find me staring at you quite frequently. You’re so beautiful to me, and even now, I can’t stop thinking about how badly I want to kiss you. Fortunately, this also means that I’ll always be up for a good snogging session if you ever want to.” The heat in his eyes was scorching. If that ever happened, I didn’t think we’d be able to stop at just the snogging. And to be honest, I didn’t want to stop at the snogging. An answering heat pooled deep in my belly at the thought.

“That’s… quite the offer of friendship,” I replied carefully.

He smiled, dimples and all. “Is that a yes, then? To my terms of friendship?”

“I… have to think about it.” And I did. I suddenly felt the need to get away from Sirius and his large, charismatic presence. My feelings about us before didn’t hold a candle to the confusion I harboured now.

He sighed. “Okay.” He didn’t let go of my hands.

“I have to go now,” I blurted out.

“Alright.” He still didn’t let go of my hands.

I waited three very long heartbeats. “Could you let go of me, please?”

The look in his eyes was a bolt of lightning. They clearly said no, but his mouth said, “Okay.”

He brought my hands to his lips, and gave each one a kiss, his touch butterfly soft. And then he let go.

I shot to my feet, and wobbled a little unsteadily, but managed to right myself before I could fall over. Or need Sirius’ help.

Sirius remained seated, looking up at me where I gazed uncertainly back down at him. What now?

“Goodnight, Sirius,” I mumbled. I couldn’t just leave without saying anything.

He smiled, mischief sparkling in his eyes. I got the unsettling sensation that he knew exactly what was going through my head. That made one of us. “Goodnight, darling.”

Before I blurted out something I would later regret, I turned abruptly and headed for my dorm.

Was Sirius Black, whom I loved, and who loved me, worth the risk of a second chance?

I didn’t know.




AN: Hey y'all! Welcome to the (probably) penultimate chapter! Yes - this means there's (probably) only one more chapter to go. This has been no more a surprise than to me. I'm going to miss this story once it's (finally) finished :(

All that aside, do you love Sirius as much as I do in this chapter? Yes? No? Maybe? Is Millie's confusion understandable? Silly? Confusing? Let me know your thoughts in the grey box below!

Adios, amigos! :D


Chapter 39: What an Idiot
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Sirius' POV:

I was sitting at the end of the little jetty that abutted the boathouse two days after my conversation with Millie. The day was a beautiful one: the sky was a clear, deep blue, the sun was buttery warm, and the lake glittered dark and mysterious as ever before me. I sighed. I was ready to move on, to go out into the world and make a difference – to fight – but I was going to miss this place. Hogwarts had been a safe haven for me for a very long time.

I leaned back on my arms and closed my eyes, soaking in the quiet and the warmth, enjoying my last few days at my beloved castle. There was mischief to be had yet, but for this moment, I was glad for the solitude.

Well, okay. Maybe glad wasn’t the right word. There was one person whose company I craved, but I had to give her some space, some time to think. If someone had sprung a declaration of love on me like that, I’d want a little space and time too.

A shadow fell across my face, but I didn’t bother to open my eyes, certain that the cloud would pass soon. It did – a lot quicker than clouds usually move. And then I heard the slight scuffle of rubber-soled shoes on weatherworn wood, and a body set itself lightly beside mine.

I cracked an eyelid open and barely managed from jumping out of my skin. Who else but the object of my affections, the lovely Millie White herself, could it possibly be? I wondered for a moment if I was hallucinating her here, beside me. Merlin knew that I couldn’t stop thinking about her, so it wasn’t too far-fetched to think that it had finally happened – I’d snapped and was now imagining her into existence. Our paths hadn’t crossed since that fateful conversation of two nights ago, despite the fact that the student population was small, and that we had the same friends. But that had always been a specialty of Millie’s, avoiding me.

But no, she was real. I could feel the warmth of her skin against mine, we were sitting that close. I took this as a positive sign. Sure, the jetty was narrow, but it wasn’t that narrow.

Millie hadn’t looked at me as yet. I observed her as she gazed out across the lake, her legs hanging over the edge like mine, swinging a little. The sun gilded her dark brown hair, so that it looked as if she had a halo about her head.

That, or I was imagining things again.

Slowly, I reached a single finger and poked her arm.

She jumped a little, but turned to me with only a raised eyebrow.

“Just wanted to make sure you were real,” I mumbled, feeling a little stupid now.

Her eyebrow moved further up her forehead.

“I thought you might be a figment of my imagination,” I clarified.

Both her eyebrows were raised now.

“I sound crazy, don’t I?” I asked, my shoulders slumping in resignation.

She gave me a small smile, and suddenly sounding crazy was all worth it. Damn. Was this how Prongs felt all the time? “Just a little bit,” she replied.

“Only a little? Wow. That’s a vast improvement from the beginning of the year.”

She nodded, her face serious. “Definitely less crazy than the beginning of the year.”

“But I’m still crazy?” I asked, acting a little offended.

It had the desired result: another smile, this one a little wider than the last. “I don’t think you’d be you without being a little crazy. It’s part of your charm, Sirius.”

Something inside my chest bloomed, spreading a rosy warmth from the top of my head to the tip of my toes. And all because she said my name. I knew how pathetic this was, but I just couldn’t help myself. I hoped that I’d get the chance to be with Millie long enough that I could feel like a normal person around her. I also hoped that it would take me a lifetime to get to that stage. “I’m charming?” I asked, injecting a little swagger into the question. I was just desperately trying to hide just how much of a lunatic I was around her.

She gave me a look. “Coyness does not become you, Sirius. You know you’re charming.”

“But I didn’t know that you thought I was charming.”

“Is that so? Is this your way of saying that you Confunded me into spending so much time with you this year?” Her lips were quirked mischievously, but there was something solemn in her gaze. I didn’t know what that meant.

“If anything, it was you that Confunded me.”

“Oh, yes. Because I was the one who suggested we do this in the first place.”

I was silent for a moment. “Are we having a fight?” I asked quietly.

She looked at me for a long time. And then, “No,” she answered, just as quietly. “We’re not having a fight.”

I grinned. “You know, if you want to have a fight, we can. You’re kind of hot when you’re angry.”

She shoved me in the arm, and I pantomimed almost toppling into the lake, making her laugh.

That warm feeling about tripled in intensity. I grinned at her like a fool as I watched her face light up. It had just been so long since I saw her look this way.

“But we do need to talk, Sirius,” she said, sobering a little and turning her entire body to face me. She crossed her legs and leaned her elbows on her knees, watching me intently.

“Are we going to talk about the other night? At the party?” I asked, not being able to help a little of my nervousness creeping into my voice. And of course she’d know what night I was referring to. It wasn’t as if there was some other night where I’d confessed my feelings to her in recent memory.

Her lips curved upwards into a memory of a smile. “I think talking about the other night so quickly would be seriously out of character for us. I mean, we’re the kind of people who like to keep our happy feelings bottled inside of us, aren’t we?”

I shrugged, “You keep your sad feelings bottled inside of you as well. At least I’m good at expressing those.”

The curve of her lips deepened. “True. But no, that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about.”

I cocked my head to the side, genuinely confused. “Oh. Then what is it?”

“Why didn’t you ever tell me you were an Animagus?”

 ~*~


Millie's POV:

He blinked at me once, twice, three times. I think my question had caught him by surprise. Well, good. It was about time Sirius Black was thrown off his game a little. I was a little tired of always being on the receiving end of the surprises.

“Excuse me?” he asked. He hid it well behind his surprise, but I could tell by the way the colour of his eyes flattened that he was closing himself off.

“Why didn’t you tell me you were an Animagus?” I asked again, even though both of us knew full well what I’d just said.

He shrugged and turned to look at the lake. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Really?” I leaned my chin on one of my hands. I wasn’t mad, just curious. “You have no idea what I’m talking about?”

“That’s what I said.” His voice was so tense. It was a little strange to see Sirius nervous in this way.

“So that day just before Christmas in the boathouse doesn’t ring any bells?” He didn’t take his gaze away from the lake, but his shoulders tightened just a little. “Or all those nights you slept next to my bed when I was in the Hospital Wing?”

He swallowed, his Adam’s apple bobbing in his throat.

“You kept the nightmares away, you know,” I said softly. “I can’t imagine what it would’ve been like if you hadn’t been there.”

He looked down at his hands, but still didn’t say a word. I bided my time. My dad always said that good things came to those who waited.

“How… when did you figure it out?” he asked, still looking down at his hands. I wanted to reach out and hold his cool palms between mine.

“I think I always sort of knew it was you. But I actually figured it out the other night – the night of the party.” The night you told me you loved me. “Dogs don’t have grey eyes.”

He finally looked at me then, with those beautiful grey eyes of his. “I just… I didn’t know how to tell you,” he said. “Argh!” he ran a frustrated hand through his hair making his curls stick out at odd angles. “I still don’t know how to tell you! It was just so much easier to be with you when I wasn’t… myself. Every time I did it, it was because I knew that you didn’t want me around. But I wanted to be around. I wanted to be there for you, but I couldn’t. I just didn’t know how. Sirius the human is an idiot. Padfoot the dog…”

“… Is still an idiot,” I murmured, not quite able to tuck away my smile.

His shoulder slumped, “But he’s a loveable idiot when he’s a dog.”

I nodded at that. “That is very true.”

“There’s… there’s another reason why I couldn’t tell you,” he muttered.

I waited for him to continue. Now that he’d started talking about it, I didn’t think Sirius could stop.

“I still can’t tell you about it, though.”

“It’s because Remus is a werewolf, isn’t it?” I said quietly. We were so far away from other people, out here behind the boathouse at the end of the jetty, that we might as well have been the only two people in the world, but I still said it quietly.

His eyes widened at that. “How…?”

I shrugged. “I was his Potions partner last year, remember? It wasn’t so difficult to work out, really.”

“And you… you never told anyone?” he asked cautiously. My heart warmed at his concern for his friend. Sirius was nothing if not loyal.

“It’s not my secret to tell,” I replied. “Not even Remus knows I know. I figure that he’ll tell me whenever he’s ready.”

“But how did you know that’s why we – I – was an Animagus?” I successfully hid my smile at his slip-up.

“Animals can’t get infected if a werewolf bites them. I was in the same classroom as you when we learnt that in third year, Sirius.” He smiled at that. “And besides,” I shrugged. “It seems like something you three – James, Peter, and you – would do to help your friend. Something completely ridiculous, but still so completely genius that it just might work.”

His smile widened into a grin at that. “So you think I’m a genius?”

I rolled my eyes. And there was the Sirius I knew… and despite myself, loved. “Don’t flatter yourself. I bet it was all Peter’s idea.”

Wormtail’s idea?” he screeched incredulously.

“He has hidden depths.”

Sirius frowned, “He does, but not many people notice that about him.”

“That’s why they’re hidden, Sirius.”

“That… makes a lot of sense. Why do you always make a lot of sense?”

“Because you never do. Honestly, I have no idea where you’d be without my excellent sense.” I gasped at what I’d just said, and we both lapsed into a moment of shocked silence. Holy Merlin, I might as well have written it in the sky with fireworks that I loved him.

He reached out a hand towards mine, hesitating for half a moment before resting it tentatively over the back of my palm. “I’d be floundering in the middle of the North Sea without thermal underwear without you,” he said. “And I mean all of you – not just your good sense.”

I could feel heat creeping up my neck at his words. So we were going there. Even though I’d danced around the topic for our entire conversation, it was going to happen. Strangely, I was reminded of the Christmas Eve ball at the Potters’ all those months ago, where we’d danced underneath the stars. I hadn’t wanted to dance then, but somehow, I found myself doing it anyway – and enjoying it – thanks to Sirius. Maybe it would be the case this time, too…

“That is the worst analogy I’ve ever heard,” I said crisply.

“See what I mean? Even my sense of analogies sucks. Without you, I’d never even know!”

I smiled despite myself. Sirius Black was too utterly charming for his own good, and more importantly, mine.

“I love you so much, Amelia White,” he whispered, running his thumb across the skin of my wrist.

I looked up from where his hand was to his face. “You know my full name?”

“Of course!” he snorted, affronted. “You’re Amelia Diana White.”

I ducked my head and stared at our hands again. Way easier than looking at his face, for sure. I hadn’t expected…

I gently clasped my other hand over his. And he let me hold his hand between mine as I worked up the courage to say the words.

“I love you, Sirius,” I murmured, talking to our hands rather than his face. I was brave, but not that brave. “I have for a very long time – a lot longer than I probably should’ve but there you have it,” I gave a nervous little giggle. Merlin’s knobbly knees, I never giggled.

“So the other night when you said that I broke your heart…?” he asked tentatively.

I nodded. “I meant it. I was completely and utterly, head over heels in love with you, and you just…”

He sighed. “Screwed it up.”

“It wasn’t completely your fault, I know that now. And I guess… I guess I was looking for a reason to let you go.”

“What?” he barked, his voice becoming sharp with surprise.

I finally glanced up at his expression and then glanced away. “If I really think about it, I was scared. I was so in love with you, but I wasn’t sure if we were still pretending –”

He groaned. “You must’ve known – I wasn’t pretending. I can’t even remember when it stopped not being real for me, that was how much I wasn’t pretending.”

I nodded again. “I think I did – somewhere. But I was just scared, Sirius. I’ve never been in love before, and it’s terrifying.”

“You don’t think I’m scared, too?” he asked. “I’ve never been in love either! This is just as new for me as it is for you!”

“I – I see that now,” I stammered.

“Oh. That’s… that’s good. Very good.”

We went quiet again, but now that everything was out there… I was just happy to hold his hand. The sun was low in the sky, its light becoming more orange, but it was still warm. And I was just content to sit there, his hand between my palms until it went from orange to red to gone.

“Millie… can I – may I…?” Sirius stammered into the silence.

I looked up at his face to see his eyes wide and lips compressed in nervousness.

“May I kiss you?” he asked.

I blinked at him. And then blinked at him some more. “Why?” I finally asked.

“Because I want to? Because I love you? Because you love me? Since when have we ever needed a reason to kiss?”

I thought about that for a moment. It was true. We used to kiss a lot… as well do other stuff. “Okay,” I said.

“Okay? Okay what?”

“You can kiss me.”

“Great.” And then he just sat there.

I raised an eyebrow at him. “Are you waiting for a formal invitation to be delivered?”

“Um… no. It’s just that… once I kiss you, I don’t think I’ll be able to stop. And not just the kissing, I mean. I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving you Millie White. And I’ll never stop wanting to be with you either. So I’m just trying to decide if you’re ready for that kind of commitment or not. This is it for me. If I kiss you, I’m never going to let you go. Ever.”

I looked at his face. His stupid, beautiful face. And I thought, what an idiot. And for once, I meant myself.

And then I kissed him.



AN: Welcome to the end! FINALLY. This is it, folks! It's finally finished. My first fanfic. Complete. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I loved writing it. Thank you so much to all of you! You guys stuck through a lot of weirdness here with me, and for that, I am ever grateful. It's been a long three years! And so, for the last time on this story...

Adios, amigos! :D


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