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The Lost Child by MagGrrl

Format: Novella
Chapters: 15
Word Count: 45,944
Status: WIP

Rating: 15+
Warnings: Mild Language, Mild Violence, Scenes of a Mild Sexual Nature

Genres: Drama, Romance, Action/Adventure
Characters: Dumbledore, Lupin, McGonagall, Snape, Sirius, Lily, James, OC
Pairings:

First Published: 01/31/2005
Last Chapter: 06/16/2005
Last Updated: 02/14/2006

Summary:
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Talia was always the quiet and shy type. No one really noticed her, especially Sirius Black. Her past six years at Hogwarts was spent with her nose in a book, until seventh year came. Talia's beauty and personality finally bloomed. Will she win Sirius' heart? Will she discover where she came from? This chronicles their last year at Hogwarts up until the night of Lily and James' death.


Chapter 1: Fresh Start
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Chapter 1- Fresh Start

Talia

It was a sunny August afternoon and children could be found as far as the eye could see, playing games of tag and hide-and-go-seek.

The small town of Falmouth housed quite an impressive group of youngsters, most of them girls. This was almost entirely due to The Cornwall Home for Destitute Little Girls. It was an orphanarium located on the edge of town; not the type of horrible orphanage one usually thinks of. It was a wonderful place to live; the caretakers were very loving and treated the girls like their own children.

It was on this day that a young woman was sitting in her room, not joining in on the merriment. She felt she was much too old for the games, and in fact she was the oldest girl living there. But that would all soon change; she would turn eighteen the next day and was getting ready to move out of the orphanage. However, this did not sadden Talia Grace; while she loved her home it was not where she truly belonged. She belonged to a world much more exciting than this one. A light breeze entered into her window where she sat upon her bed; her things were neatly stowed away in her trunk and ready to be taken downstairs.

Talia had been given her own room, due to her age, and it was now bare. It was small and plain but it had suited her needs perfectly. The star chart that she had to keep hidden behind her dresser lay on her bed as she studied it. The previous year she had bewitched it, with Professor Flitwick's help, to change with the rotation of the heavens. She quickly rolled it up as a knock came on her door. "Come in!" Talia scurried to remove the chart from view as the door opened. But she breathed a sigh of relief as Sister Mary Thomas entered her room. Sister Mary was the matron of the Cornwall Home and knew everything about Talia's "gifts."

"Talia, why aren't you outside on a beautiful day like today?" "I just wanted to make sure my things were in order." The nun smiled at the young woman that only last year seemed so child-like. She had matured quite rapidly over the summer. Her straw colored hair had relaxed into a shimmering gold and her once thin and sinewy body had developed graceful curves; her face had thinned out losing some of the babyish charm it held only three months ago. Unbeknownst to Talia, but not the rest of the world, she had developed into quite a beauty.

"Well, Father Fitzpatrick has arranged for a car to bring you to London, it should be coming in about two hours. For now I was wondering if you would join me for a picnic outside." Talia looked up at Sister Mary's hopeful face and even though she would have rather stayed where she was, she got up to join her. Talia looked around the building with an appreciative gaze; the beautiful granite and stone walls shown in the light of the afternoon. As she inhaled deeply she could taste the salt of the sea on her tongue. While it was beautiful, she knew that it could never surpass the beauty of Hogwarts; she missed her school dearly and couldn't wait to go back the very next day.

She was torn from her daydreams as a chorus of "SURPRISE" startled her out of her wits. The look of shock strewn across her face was immediately replaced with a smile. The young children that had always looked up to her bombarded her from every angle. They all wanted to be close to her; she was being dragged in ten different directions until Sister Joan interfered; "Now girls give Talia a moment to eat. I'm sure she would love to play after she's had her farewell luncheon."

"Oh please Talia, won't you tell us a story about the wizard land?" A sweet and rambunctious brunette named Anna looked up at Talia with pleading in her eyes. Talia had taken to telling the girls fantastic stories about Hogwarts and wizarding adventures. They all thought Hogwarts to be a fantasy land and believed she made up this imaginary place; while she had made up the adventures in her stories, Hogwarts was in fact a real place.

She smiled at Anna, bending down to bring her into a tight hug, "Of course I will but for now let's eat!" As she ate, Talia let her thoughts drift again to Hogwarts. While she loved the school so much she knew inwardly that she became an entirely different person there.

While she was in Falmouth she was outgoing and friendly, surrounded by children eager for her attention; school however was quite different as she would revert into a shy girl becoming a loner. Most of her classmates, if they even thought of her at all, saw her as a queer person. She kept mostly to herself, her nose buried in her Astronomy books. That was her only passion besides potions; she loved the stars and would spend many a night in the Astronomy tower gazing out into the heavens. Her secret fantasy was that she could become a star, but she knew that transfiguring herself into an orb of burning gases would never happen.

Before she could even finish her lunch the girls of Cromwell House gathered around her impatiently waiting for the story to begin. She took great care in building up their suspense by chewing as slowly as possible. Finally Avalbane, who was only three years her junior, gave her an exasperated sigh, "By the time you finish you'll have to leave!" Talia laughed as she set her plate down and cleared her throat with a decisive air. The children's faces lit up with eager anticipation and scooted in a bit closer so as not to miss a word.

~~~~~~~~~~


As Talia sat in the small room for let at the Leakey Cauldron she couldn't help but shiver with anticipation. She already missed the girls of Cromwell, but promised to post as often as possible. This was it for her; this was going to be her year. No more shoving her nose in a book, she promised herself she would break from her shell and become a new person. What troubled her was the question of how; how could she become someone new if she didn't even know who she was now? She knew nothing of her past or her parentage. The nuns used to recount how she was left on their doorstep with only a note.

Please take care of her

She received her name from Mother Mary St. John, who at the time was the matron there. Talia, it was a beautiful name that she came to learn meant drew from heaven and close to water. Both were correct as far as the nuns were concerned. She was found at high tide, with the smell of the sea lifting past the brush and up to the doorstep on which she laid. The Sisters always remarked on what a well behaved child she had always been; impetuous and inquisitive yes, but never wicked.

The thought of the women who had cared for her for the past seventeen years comforted her as she drifted off to sleep.

~~~~~~~~~~


King's Cross station bustled with busy travelers as Talia pushed her trolley along the path towards the gateway between the 9th and 10th platform. She thought listlessly back to her first encounter with this magical portal. She had all but given up on finding platform 9 ¾ when she plopped down crying and leaned back onto a wall. It was then that she slipped through the solid stone, arriving at the Hogwarts platform.

That memory made her laugh as she walked through the wall and into the beginning of her last year at Hogwarts. Pushing her cart alongside the waiting train she watched as mothers fussed over their children and fathers made sure the luggage was being stowed properly. A pang of want coursed through her body. Oh how she had always longed for a mother to fuss over her and re-check all her luggage twice, making sure she had everything she needed; a father to pull her into a tight hug and tell her to be good and keep her grades up.

Father Fitzpatrick was always so good to her and said those things when he dropped her off at the Leaky Cauldron the night before, but it wasn't the same. All her life she had wondered where she came from and now she went back to school with the hope that she could find out. Talia boarded the train lugging her things behind her, as she made her way to the back of the train she realized that she was reverting. She was making her way to the back, her usual escape from contact with others.

Looking to her right she glanced into the glass paneled door of one of the compartments. A pretty redhead, she knew as Lily Evans sat chatting animatedly with a brunette Talia recognized as Alice Matthews. They were as good a couple as any to try and start a friendship with, seeing as they all shared a dormitory, so she slid open the door. The two girls paused turning towards her and a look of surprise came across their faces.

"Do you mind if I join you?"

They looked startled but Alice quickly remembered her manners and smiled, "Of course, come on and sit down. Lils here has to go and take care of her head girl duties so you can keep me company." Talia sat down as Lily eyed her, a great deal of wonder written across her face. Talia couldn't blame her, while there was no bad blood between them only a lack of friendship. Talia rarely spoke to either of the girls, but she smiled weakly as she tried to break the ice. "So how was your summer?" Alice raised her eyebrows at this and started laughing, "Yeah Lil how was your summer?" Lily quickly shot her a nasty look, "Shut it Matthews!" But Alice just laughed as a confused Talia sat there quietly.

She should have known this would be a bad idea, every student in this school had established bonds with one another; who was she to invade on that. But just as she began to sink further into hopelessness Alice turned her laughter towards Talia. "You see what Lily here is so shy about is the fact that she spent the entire summer visiting back and forth with a certain James Potter." Talia smiled as she turned towards Lily, "Wow I thought you hated him." Lily, still weary of sharing her feelings with a relative stranger shrugged slightly, "I guess he's okay now, not such a prat anymore."

Talia nodded as she looked out the window, "Good for him, I mean he has had a crush on you since first year." Alice and Lily looked incredulously at the girl across from them. Of course everyone in the entire school knew about James' outlandish attempts to woo Lily but hearing it coming from Talia's mouth seemed weird. Here this girl knew things about their lives while they barely even noticed her, it seemed unnatural. Lily gave Talia a sheepish smile and fingered her new Head Girl badge almost as if to check if it was still there.

Just then a Ravenclaw 7th year Prefect by the name of George (Talia couldn't remember his last name) popped his head into their compartment. "Hey Evans, we’d better go if we want to get ready for the Prefect meeting." Lily got up hurriedly and grabbed a stack of parchment.

The boy turned to Alice bidding her hello and then surprisingly smiled at Talia, "Hey Talia how was your summer?" Talia turned her head slightly eyeing the boy with interest, he had never been impolite to her but he rarely said more than two words to her; hello and goodbye. She shrugged slightly adapting Lily's same defense mechanism, "Okay I guess yours?" He beamed with pride as he told her that he had gone on a research expedition with his father in Russia. Lily had to drag him physically away from the compartment before he was out of ear shot.

The train started with a lurch as an uncomfortable silence crept over the two sole inhabitants of the compartment. Alice turned towards Talia in an attempt at friendship. "I think that George there has got a crush on you." Talia grew red as she raised her eyebrows in surprise. "Wha—What do you mean…a crush." Alice shook her head in disbelief, "Didn't you notice how he was trying to impress you. I know George pretty well and he definitely fancies you."

Talia turned away from Alice, staring out the window. She was thoroughly embarrassed that Alice had picked up on it and was now teasing her about it. There wasn't much time for Alice to say anything comforting to Talia because just then the door burst open and a group of three laughing Gryffindors came piling in.

"Did you see the look on old Snivellus' face? I thought I was going to burst!" Sirius positively roared with laughter. Peter sauntered in after Sirius, with a thoroughly amused look on his face. "I swear one of these days he's going to end up stuck as a frog!" Peter stated as he plopped on the seat next to Alice.

He raised his eyebrow inquisitively at Talia as she sat there glancing intermittently at each of the Marauders. Sirius quickly stepped in before Alice or Talia could say a word, "Why hello, are you new? I haven't met you before." Sirius sat next to Talia and flashed her the mind-blowing smile he used on so many girls. She was taken aback for a moment and then looked at Alice with a confused glance.

Alice began to laugh so hard that tears came streaming down her eyes, Talia was shocked for a second but then started to chuckle. Before another moment had passed the two girls were in stitches over Sirius' stupidity. Sirius just looked at the two of them thoroughly confused as Peter sat silently grinning. It had taken a minute but he did recognize Talia as a fellow 7th year and Gryffindor to boot.

"Will someone please tell me what's so funny?!" "Sirius, you daft git! That's Talia, she's only been in the same house as you for the past six years!" Alice's comment caused the group to laugh even harder. At this point a very red faced Sirius was surrounded by his classmates in complete hysterics at his expense. He managed to grumble a short apology after everyone had calmed down; though every once in a while Alice would look his way and let out a stifled chuckle.

Quick to change the subject Peter turned to show everyone his new wand. His old one had been broken last year though he claimed he didn't know how it happened; one of the Marauders' infamous pranks caused the accident, no doubt. "Holly, ten inches long." He stated as he swished his new wand through the air. "

What's the core?" Talia asked coming out of her daze. "Knarl quill," he stated matter-of-factly.

"Oh, really?" Talia asked, "that's really interesting." Peter looked a little nervous and gave a slight squeak when he asked her what she meant by that. "Well holly is associated with the circle of life and death, representing renewal; and a Knarl is a very untrusting creature and is often wary of strangers. I think our wands say a lot about who we are. Your wand would also be very good for Astronomy, I think."

The others looked at her in a weird way; they weren't quite sure how to take this girl. She seemed a bit barmy to them but somehow she was really interesting. Sirius was next to submit his wand for inspection. Talia held it lightly as he handed it over and measured it next to her own. "It looks like Alder to me," he nodded prompting her to continue,"12 inches?" He smiled as she guessed correctly. "What's the core?" "Dragon heartstring," he said proudly. Talia smiled at him and handed his wand back. "Well, believe it or not the Alder is one of the strongest types of wand wood. It represents strength, tenacity and determination. The Dragon heartstring represents unmitigated strength and bravery."

The wand conversations took them well into the journey; just as Talia was beginning to enjoy spending time with the people that were hopefully her new friends, the glass door slid open. Bellatrix Black stared haughtily into the compartment, "Alright there you lot. Not going to have to hand out detentions, am I?" She turned slightly so her Prefects badge shimmered in the light from overhead. "Get off it Bella," Sirius growled at her.

Talia had never paid any attention to the nasty Slytherin and Bellatrix Black, like most other Slytherins stayed away from Talia. No one bothered her much because no one ever noticed her; today however was quite different. Bellatrix scanned the group until her eyes rested upon Talia. A nasty sneer skewed her beautiful face as she spit out, "A new member of the Sirius fan club? Probably a mudblood to boot."

Sirius stood angrily, not entirely because he was jumping to Talia's defense but just out of hate for Bella; Talia however, was the first to speak. "Actually I don't know whether or not I'm muggle born. No idea who my parents are, but I assure you if being pureblood means being like you I'd rather be a mudblood." Everyone in the compartment stared at Talia, usually James or Sirius dealt with Sirius' cousin and sent her packing; everyone else in the group steered clear of Bella's wrath as she was unusually talented at hexes and curses.

Talia didn't know this fact, nor did she care; being hexed wasn't something that Talia feared. Bella gathered her response and gave Talia a stare of death, "You don't know who you're messing with, mudblood." Before anything else could be said Sirius waved his wand and the compartment door was shut in Bellatrix's face.

The room became silent until Sirius broke the ice apologizing for his nasty cousin. "Sorry about her, I really wish I wasn't a Black." Unbothered by Bella's comment Talia looked straight into Sirius' face with an incredulous stare. How could he say that? At least he had a family "At least you know where you come from."

Sirius didn't respond to her comment and luckily the train stopped, pitching them forward and signaling the end of their trip. The uncomfortable silence was broken by the students grunting and gathering their things.

Talia carefully gathered the plastic traveling cage which housed her pet lizard, Iggy. She remembered begging McGonagall to make an exception for her, explaining that Iggy was just like a pet rat. McGonagall eventually gave in, which was unusual for her. Talia was a bit hesitant when the group of students reached the carriages that would take then to Hogwarts castle. She watched as her fellow Gryffindors boarded the carriage; Remus, Lily and James, who were done with their duties loaded into the coach as well.

The moment came when Talia turned and went to border another carriage, Alice popped her head out the window. "Come on, we'll have to squeeze though." Talia lowered her head, "It's okay, I don't want to put you out; I can find another carriage." "Oh don't be silly, get in here." Talia felt her heart soar as she silently thought to herself they actually want me in here She climbed into the waiting coach and moments later it jolted forward en route to Hogwarts. As usual she watched the castle grow larger as they approached. Even after six years of seeing Hogwarts it still amazed her. It was still unbelievable to her that she was a witch. Talia of all people had never been unique, she was always plain and ordinary. Being at Cromwell made her feel alive and special; because she had something that the others didn't, she was extraordinary. Here at Hogwarts she reverted back to her ordinary self with everyone having the same gift of magic. It may have been a selfish way of thinking but that is how it was.

As she was all consumed with her thoughts Talia didn't noticed that the carriages had stopped. She looked at the others and saw that they were just as confused as she was. She felt the carriage begin to buck and lurch back and forth. The violent shaking of the carriage scared its inhabitants as they were tossed back and forth within it. Talia managed a peek out its curtains as the coach turned over on its side sending everyone flying on top of her. The red streak of light that she saw was most definitely a spell.

Maybe the magic of the coach went awry and someone had to stop it

The students were visibly shaken as Professor McGonagall and Professor Sinistra ran to the coach and began helping the students out of the door that now stood on top of the overturned carriage. The students watched as McGonagall ordered the other coaches to continue asking only two to stay behind. She hastily divided the students into two groups and shoved them into the other carriages.

Talia tried to stop her, "But Professor, my lizard!" "I will make sure all your things, including your lizard, arrive safely. Now GO!" Talia boarded the awaiting carriage with Peter and Alice; unfortunately the Slytherins in the coach were only too happy to see her. She attempted to ignore them and as they resumed their route to Hogwarts Talia caught a glance of Professor Dumbledore walking towards the now right standing carriage. It was then that she noticed scorch marks on the side, but it disappeared from view before she saw anything else.

Bellatrix Black turned to Talia with a sneer, "So I have the mudblood cornered without her little savior huh?" Alice sat up straight as she looked over protectively at her new found friend. Peter looked back and forth between Talia's placid face and Bella's angry one, staying resolutely quiet and as far down in his seat as he could. It was then that Talia started to realize she was getting annoyed. It took a lot to push her buttons but this girl definitely knew how to do it. "Listen, what was your name? Bella, I have no problem with you, in fact I could care less about you so just clear off okay!" Bellatrix and her cronies, Talia recognized as Regulas Black, Narcissa Black and Edmund Crabbe started to laugh. She mistakenly took Talia's offer of truce for fear. What she didn't realize was that it didn't matter to Talia whether or not they had a row, in fact she was trying to push her buttons; especially with the "what was your name" comment. She knew that Bella's pride would have gotten the best of her as she tightened her hand around her own wand.

"Oh I don't think so mudblood…you have it coming to you don't you!"

"Leave her alone Black!" Alice had just about enough of that horrid creature and growled at the group of Slytherins looking menacingly at Talia. The tension in the carriage seemed to mount almost brewing to explosion point when the coach stopped. Moments later Sirius and James were at the carriage door, flinging it open for their friends to pile out. "I was afraid she would start something. You guys okay?" He questioned as Alice rolled her eyes. "We're fine, she's such a wanker!"

Talia just raised her eyebrows and laughed at Alice. She had always thought her a proper young lady never envisioning a cuss escaping her lips. Everyone in their group began laughing as Remus and Lily walked up. "What's so funny?" Lily asked. "Oh nothing, just something Alice said about Bella Black." James said as he took Lily's hand in his own. She blushed slightly as he did this but, for the first time as far as anyone out of their small circle knew, she did not pull away and call him a git.

Filing in to the Great Hall, Talia felt a sense of calm come over her. She looked towards the head table as Professor Dumbledore quickly took his seat. That was fast I wonder what happened to those coaches But she pushed it out of her mind as she sat in her own normal seat towards the end of the table. She did this without noticing and was confused when Alice gave her a weird look, "Do you want to join us?"

"Are you sure?" Talia asked, her usual self-consciousness beginning to resurface once more. Sirius had regained his playboy composure and moved down slightly, "You can sit next to me." He said with a wink. Talia didn't even blush, having never been flirted with before, she didn't realize his intentions and stood up and made her way over to him.

For the first time since she came to Hogwarts Talia had friends, instead of just acquaintances; or at least she hoped so. She smiled happily, knowing that she was making a fresh start as she settled in to watch the first years follow Professor McGonagall to the front of the room.


A/N: Hey please READ/REVIEW tell me what you think??? Thanks!! :-)

Chapter 2: The Unknown Killer
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A/N: During the story a group of people called Slappers are mentioned: Slappers= Loose Girls)
Hey guys guess what…there's a review box at the end of this story!!! I know isn't it amazing. All you have to do is go down to the box, type in what you think and hit send. Doing this makes the author very, very happy!!! :-) Just thought you ought to know!



Chapter 2- The Unknown Killer


As the group of new first years finished filing in, they clustered around the front of the hall. McGonagall, in her ever stately manner, placed the Sorting hat upon its stool. It seemed to take years, but when the hat began its song a young first year girl let out a shriek. James stifled his laughter under the ever watchful eye of Lily and the entire school listened intently to the Sorting Hat's song.

Welcome one and welcome to all
Oh how quick the time does fly
I have missed you so since last fall.
Never have I told a lie.

And now a new Era will reign
In which we find division.
Sorting, my task and will again
Dividing you is my mission.

I ask of you all, each my friend;
Please treat each house as your own;
Thus you will find the discord end.
You must all reap what is sown.

Brave Gryffindor, sly Slytherin,
Ravenclaw; none without wit,
Other houses you must defend.
Hufflepuff beside you sit.

As for my dear friends that are new
I give consideration;
Although just a hat, I am true
And show great dedication.

I will sort you where you belong,
Of this you all can be sure!
Never before have I been wrong
My choices are always pure!

To Ravenclaw, if you progress
It's because of all you know.
For Slytherin you must possess
Perfect knowledge of your foe.

Every Gryffindor, brave are you
I will sort you to your own.
Last but not least, those that are true
Hufflepuff will be your home.

Now as this song comes to an end
Use this new knowledge within.
Each of you I know where to send
Let the Sorting now begin!


The Great Hall broke out in cheers and loud applause. It only seemed as though no one paid any attention to the warnings of friendship it bestowed upon them. But Lily leaned forwards in a hushed whisper, "What does it mean, a new era?" No one had any time to answer her as McGonagall shouted out the first name on her list.

Akerman, Daniel!

A haughty and sure looking blonde boy made his way forward through the crowd. Talia noticed that some of the first years looked at him with awe in their eyes; he was so sure and brave as he sat down on the stool.

Everyone watched as the hat turned this way and that, having a silent conversation with the boy.

"GRYFFINDOR!"

The entire house table broke out in thunderous applause as the boy made his way to his seat. Around the time when the sorting hat placed Anna Lobody into Ravenclaw, Talia's stomach gave a loud rumble.

"I know how you feel, I could eat a bloody hippogriff!" Sirius whispered to Talia with a smile.

She grinned back at him as her stomach gave a little flip flop. She had always fancied him but he never gave her the time of day. He was always too busy chatting up all the slappers that inhabited this school. Maybe my new attitude is starting to pay off!

The sorting hat finally sorted Philip Zacharias into Slytherin house; after the applause died Professor Dumbledore stood. "Well I am sure you would all much rather listen to me speak than to eat, but I am hungry. So tuck in!"

The students laughed as the tables were immediately filled with tremendous amounts of food. If one listened carefully they could hear the creaking of the wood tables underneath the weight. Students lunged for their favorite foods; Talia gave Alice and Lily an amused look as the boys stuffed their faces. "It looks as though none of them were fed while away for the summer."

"Hey, we're growing boys!" Sirius said with a laugh in between bites.

"Too right!" Peter exclaimed as he reached for a chop.

The meal was over all too soon and a wave of fatigue washed over the whole school as they sat back, bellies full and waiting for Dumbledore's speech.


"Welcome back everyone! And to our new students we welcome you! This will only take a moment as I know you are all ready for your beds!" Dumbledore smiled at the students sitting at the heads of their tables, and the first years just gazed at him in awe.

"First years should know that the forest located on the east side of the castle is forbidden to students…a fact that I feel inclined to remind some of our older guests."

Talia noticed a glimmer in his eye as his gaze caught the Gryffindor House table. With a blush, she knew that this was meant not only for the famous Marauders but for her as well. Most of the Marauders were busy giving each other knowing looks while trying to suppress their grins; but Sirius glanced at her as she attempted to hide her blushing face.

"We have a new addition to our staff this year. Mr. Filch has taken the position of Hogwarts' caretaker. I would like you to show him the same courtesy that you have shown Mr. Pringle." James gave a snort to this as the students looked toward the end of the hall. They gave an unenthusiastic applause as they stared at an ugly looking man who couldn't have been much more than twenty-five. He was wearing a nasty scowl on his face as he stroked a young gray cat that he held in his arms. Sirius' eyes were positively brimming with delight, "We're going to break this one in good!" The Marauders looked as if Christmas had come early this year. One could almost see the schemes hatching in their minds.

"I am also sorry to say that Professor Barrow will be leaving us after this year. I hope everyone will make his last year at Hogwarts a pleasant one." The students broke out in applause for their Divination Professor as he smiled and nodded slightly.

"Oh that's too bad, he was always my favorite teacher!" Alice exclaimed over the thunderous applause. Lily nodded in agreement as they all pulled their attention back to the Headmaster.

"Quidditch tryouts will be held in the coming weeks, check with your House Captains for the schedule. Now I have the privilege of introducing our new Head Boy and Girl, James Potter and Lily Evans."

The applause was deafening as Lily and James were quite popular, but the Gryffindor table was by far, the loudest. Talia applauded along with the rest as Sirius began whooping.

"Yes, yes Mr. Black, we are all very excited." Dumbledore continued as the applause died down. "I wish you all a very pleasant and productive year. Now would the House Prefects please show the first years to their dormitories?"

"Yeah Remus go show the little buggers where they're supposed to go." Peter was lost in a fit of giggles at Sirius' comment. Lily and James left to join him, and just as they got up Talia could have sworn she saw James give Sirius a knowing wink.

Sirius caught her looking and whispered in her ear, "It just wouldn't be Hogwarts without the first prank of the year. Just steer clear of the Courtyard tomorrow." Talia shook her head with a smile as she, Sirius, Peter and Alice made their way the fat ladies portrait.

They waited in back of the group of first years as James gave the password, "Jobberknoll feathers."

Talia smiled as she heard the password; she could never forget that as Potions was her absolute favorite class. That and Astronomy were the classes that she excelled in, Defense Against the Dark Arts however, was a different story.

~~~~~~~~~~


Talia could be very sly when she wanted to and no one noticed a she slipped out of the common room to her favourite place in the entire castle. It had felt like an eternity since she had been there; the warm night air enveloped her lovingly as she sat in the highest tower of Hogwarts. The Astronomy tower was, by far the best part of the school as far as she was concerned. As she sat out looking at the stars a pleasant feeling came over her; she was back at last and it felt wonderful but she was snapped out of it by the sound of footsteps.

She wasn't quite sure whether or not she would get into trouble being up there but her nerves got the better of her anyway. She listened as the footsteps drew closer, until they were in the very room, where they stopped. She looked around the tower but no one was there, and she began to panic. "Who's there?" She asked, forcing her voice not to betray the fear she felt. "Show yourself!"

Talia had to stifle her scream as Sirius' head popped into view out of thin air. His head floated there grinning as Talia looked down where his body should have been. "You—Your head? Where's your BODY!?" She asked frantically as he started laughing. She withdrew from him backing away slowly towards the stone balustrade that divided the tower from an untimely plunge to the ground. "Oi, watch it there he shouted as he lunged forward to bring her back. Her eyes grew as big as saucers when she felt his hand clasp her wrist but saw nothing.

He removed the cloak and she stood there totally befuddled. "It's an invisibility cloak, James' to be precise. I nicked it when he wasn't looking." Her face still showed signs of being utterly horrified. "I'm going to return it!" He shouted, thinking that was what she was making a face for.

"No! It's just…wow an invisibility cloak. That's really…" Sirius waited apprehensively as she paused; wondering what her reaction was going to be, "…smashing…absolutely brilliant!" She said as she fingered the edges of the cloak. Sirius relaxed as he realized how impressed she was and he began to explain the cloak to her; only slightly telling her about the adventures the Marauders had.

Talia felt completely at ease talking with Sirius, which she thought was weird; she had always felt so nervous around him before. A moment of silence interrupted the conversation when a thought occurred to her, "What are you doing up here?"

His nonchalant demeanor faded as he turned away from her, "Just taking a walk."

Talia gave him an unbelieving glance as she raised her eyebrow at him. Sirius grabbed the cloak and stood up from where he was sitting next to Talia. "Yeah well we'd better get back. It's almost midnight and the last thing we need is a detention our first night back."

Talia checked the magical pocket watch Sister Mary had given her when she was accepted to Hogwarts (She always wondered how she was able to buy the item) and sure enough it was ten of twelve. She stood next to Sirius as he draped the cloak over the two of them.

They crept carefully throughout the castle as Sirius kept glancing at a piece of parchment that he withheld from her view. "Uh oh," he said as he stole another glance at the parchment.

"What is it?" Talia asked in a hushed whisper, but there was no need for him to answer as she saw the new caretaker Filches' cat walk over to them and hiss menacingly. The same thought ran through their heads as they looked at each other…Can this cat see through the cloak?

One last look at each other and they knew what they had to do as they took off in a sprint down the hall. The cloak was barely covering them until they had the good sense to stop and straighten themselves out. The sound of hushed whispers alerted them to the presence of teachers; pausing to hear what was going on, they covered their mouths to mask the sound of their breathing.

"Albus, I don't understand why he is doing this."

"Minerva, he has always flirted with the Dark Arts. He hated his father and wants nothing more than to destroy the world from which he came. I'm afraid his father's murder is only the beginning."

Talia looked wide eyed at Sirius as he grabbed her arm. Who were they talking about? Could one of their fellow students have killed their parent? Sirius steered Talia so she would follow him back up to the Gryffindor common room, but for a moment Dumbledore turned and stared at exactly where they stood. Talia almost gasped but luckily Sirius clamped his hand over her mouth and all but dragged her up the stairs.


Sirius


Once they were safely in the Gryffindor common room Sirius removed the cloak from over them. Talia stood there staring at him with wide eyes. They were both completely baffled and a bit scared. He put his hand on Talia's shoulder in an attempt to comfort her, but a voice thwarted his attempt.

"So that's where it was? Am I going to have to start locking my trunk Padfoot?" James shouted with a laugh. He sat in front of the common room fire with Lily waiting for an answer, until he realized something was wrong. "Sirius, what's wrong…what happened?"

Lily got up and walked over, putting a hand on Talia's shoulder, "Talia, are you okay?"

Sirius looked at Talia and as if snapping out of a daze she turned and nodded mutely at Lily; who, in turn, led her to the couch. Sirius walked over and began replaying the night's events, ending finally with he and Talia safely back in the common room. Lily gasped as she looked at James, "Who would kill their own father?"

James looked concerned as he caught a glance at Sirius, "I don't know Lily, but I think we should find out." Lily turned and gave James a very serious stare, "Now James I know how the four of you get," she nodded towards Sirius along with Remus and Peter, who had just walked in, "but I don't want you getting mixed up in something so dangerous."

"What's dangerous?" Remus asked as he plopped onto the seat across from Sirius.

Ignoring him Sirius turned towards Talia, "Are you okay?" She was still a bit shaken but nodded fervently claiming that she was fine. He couldn't help but notice there was fear in her eyes; those beautiful eyes. He let his mind wander, wondering why he had never even noticed her before. She was absolutely beautiful…he wondered if she had a boyfriend. She must…who wouldn't want to date her

"Earth to Sirius!" James began waving his hand in front of Sirius' face. "Oh..what?"

Lily just shook her head as she stood and grabbed Talia's hand. "Let's get to bed…it's already one o'clock." Sirius watched as Talia followed Lily up the stairs to the girl's dormitory.

"I think someone is already on the pull. Do you fancy her Sirius?" James and Peter laughed as Remus just shook his head silently. Sirius looked at his friends with an aggravated stare, upset that he had been caught staring at Talia. "What are you on about? Don't be daft James…it's not like that. She was scared is all."

"MmmHmm." James answered suggestively.

Sirius hurriedly changed the topic by explaining the night's events to Remus and Peter.

"So what do you think Marauders? Time for an adventure!" Sirius said as he looked around at his circle of friends. His statement was greeted by a chorus of "yes" and he stood up. "I think that we should turn in, we can work out the details tomorrow." They all nodded and stood and James looked at Sirius and said warily, "I don't think we should let the girls find out about this."

"Oi Potter has she got you on a leash already?"

James turned defensively towards his friend, "No! It's just that she's Head girl and I don't want her to have to report us."

Sirius let out his bark like laugh, "Well you're Head boy, are you going to back out, or worse snitch on us?"

James gave his friend a reproachful stare, "I'm in all the way. I live for danger!"

Sirius clapped him on the back as the four Marauders went up into their dormitory. "I knew you'd say that Prongs old boy!"

As he lie in bed Sirius found himself having trouble sleeping. His thoughts kept reverting back to Talia; she looked so different from last year. He wouldn't have believed it was her if he saw her walking on the street. He had never paid much attention to her in the past but now he couldn't get his mind off of her. He shook his head violently as if trying to throttle the images from his mind. As he lay in his four poster bed he forced his mind to think about what he saw that night. The Marauders were going to have to pull their sneakiest trick yet if they wanted to find out what was going; luckily for them Sirius had a plan in mind.

~~~~~~~~~~


"So when's Quidditch tryouts mate? I want to be ready!" James asked Sirius as they sat down to breakfast.

"This weekend...we've got a decent enough team this year but we need a new beater and a new seeker." Sirius responded as he poured himself a cup of coffee. Lily gave an exasperated sigh, "I wish I could play but I'm just no good; and that's all there is to it."

"I'm sure Prongsy here will give you a few pointers." Sirius said with a sly grin.

Even though James chastised his friend by telling him to "sod off" he gave him a knowing wink.

Just then Siris noticed Talia walk in with Alice and his stomach gave a weird turn. He ignored it and equated it with the fact that he had yet to start eating his breakfast. The two girls sat down next to Remus, Talia placing a large book next to her, and began serving themselves. They appeared to be in the middle of a conversation: "So my name basically means noble, huh?"

"Yup, that's what the book says." Talia answered back.

"Oh what are you guys talking about?" Lily asked excitedly.

"Talia has this book all about names and she said that my name means 'noble kind'." Alice answered as she piled some eggs on her plate.

Lily looked over at Talia, "What does my name mean?"

"Let's see." Talia replied as she picked up her book and began leafing through it. "It says here that it simply means "lily" from the name of the flower, a symbol of purity. The word is ultimately derived from Latin lilium."

"That's brilliant!" James interjected. "I bet I know what Sirius' name mean. "Enormous bogey eating git!"

The table rang out in laughter as Sirius chucked his toast at James' head, narrowly missing.

"Actually Sirius means searing or scorching, if you must know. Peter's name means rock or stone," Talia answered reading aloud from her book, "and yours James, means to waffle."

This time the table erupted into laughter at James' expense. "You do tend to go on a bit mate." Sirius laughed as he artfully dodged a roll James sent his way. "Keep throwing like that and Gryffindor will have to look for a new Chaser!"

This comment caused Peter to go into a fit of giggles as Talia turned to James with a smile. "Your name actually means to replace or succeed."

"Thanks," he whispered to her.

"What about Remus' name, Talia?" Lily asked. Talia turned to Remus and said, "Well I think that by far your name is the most brilliant. It comes from one of the founders of Rome, who was later murdered by his brother Romulus. When they were children they were both raised by a she-wolf."

Talia's head was bent as she read the pages so she didn't notice the panicked glances between the Marauders, Lily and Alice. "That must have been amazing, to be raised by a wolf!" Sirius attempted a laugh at her naïveté and the others found themselves slowly going along with Sirius' reaction.

Wow...better keep an eye on this one. No one's come that close before.

Sirius smiled at Talia as McGonagall requested Lily and James' help in handing out the class schedules.

"Oh no, double D.A.D.A for the first class of the year." Talia groaned as she eyed her schedule. "Ah come on Defense isn't that bad, plus Professor Platt is a pretty good teacher." Talia looked at Remus as he explained to her that class would be fun.

"Yes, but I'm dreadful at Defense, I'm not even sure how I managed an O.W.L. in it."

Sirius stared fervently at his eggs and without looking up said, "I could help you if you want."

Remus and Alice raised their eyebrows at this; Sirius would never actually volunteer to do extra work.

Talia just looked completely ecstatic about his offer though, "That would be brilliant...if you could find the time."

"Oh I'm sure he will." Remus replied as Alice began to giggle. Talia looked questioningly at Sirius but he just shrugged it off, "Thos two are barmy I tell you. Let's get to class." It was the first time that Sirius had actually wanted to get into the classroom, if only to avoid the uncomfortable situation. This girl was invading his thoughts way too much and driving him crazy and now he just offered to spend time alone with her. You're losing it Padfoot He thought as they all made their way to class.


Chapter 3: Pranks and Potential
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A/N: To those who reviewed...thank you so much. I love getting feedback, whether it is a compliment or some good ol' constructive criticism. I really want to know what you think...it's the only way for me to know if I should go on with the story or not. Because really folks what good is posting my story if no one likes it. :- )


Chapter 3- Pranks and Potential


Sirius, James, Peter and Remus lazily walked along the hall bordering the courtyard. Luckily they had a free period before lunch and with the large open windows they had a perfect vantage point to view the effects of their prank. "I have to say, even we've outdone ourselves this time. I wonder who the first victim will be?" James wondered lazily as he ruffled his hands through his untidy black hair.

Sirius glanced over to the entryway and a menacing grin grew across his face. "YES! Look who it is...Snivellus!" Three of the Marauders looked over at Severus Snape eagerly, with Remus shaking his head in the background. Severus walked slowly towards the courtyard as he held a book closely up to his face. Unwittingly walking into a trap he gasped in shock as he took his first step out onto the grass of the grounds. He dropped his book and it subsequently sank into the grass.

He struggled as his foot sank into the seemingly solid ground. The look of shock on his face sent the Marauders into a fit of laughter. His head spun around as he looked directly at them. "You'll pay for this Potter, Black!"

"Oh will we Snivellus? I'd like to see you try!" Sirius barked as the Marauders turned away from him laughing. Remus was the only one who looked apprehensive. James looked over at Remus, "What's the matter Mooney, old boy?"

But Remus still looked back at Severus, who was now knee deep and struggling to pull himself out. "Are you sure that he'll only sink to his knees?" Sirius shrugged at his question, "We'll see won't we." With Sirius' answer Remus gave him a look of shock and turned back in an attempt to help Severus out. But James and Sirius grabbed him before he could make his retreat. "Calm down Mooney, I promise he won't go any further." James said as he clapped an arm around his worrying friends. "But you do have to admit, the look on ol' Snivellus' face was PRICELESS!"

~~~~~~~~~~


Lunch in the Great Hall was a more boisterous affair than usual. The entire hall was clamoring on over the Marauders prank; news traveled faster than owl post in Hogwarts and by then everyone knew and was carefully avoiding the courtyard until Professor McGonagall could sort it out.

"About five or six first years got caught in it! The Filch guy was trying to pull them out by throwing them a bit of rope. Flitwick got them out in the end." The Marauders listened to the tales of their prank as if they were listening to a sweet melody. James took his usual place next to Lily as Fabian Prewitt yelled across the table, "Oi Potter...that was bloody brilliant!" James just shook his head, "I have no idea what you're talking about." He answered with a wink, while Lily rolled her eyes. Their merriment was cut short as McGonagall's advancing figure walked towards them, her shrill voice rang out in the hall as she neared their group.

"You four are in serious trouble!"

"Why whatever are you talking about Professor, you don't think that we," Sirius feigned innocence as he gestured towards his friends, "had anything to do with that awful, but might I add brilliant, prank."

"Oh don't you try and wiggle out of this one Black. I have it on good authority that the four of you pulled that stunt." Sirius turned his gaze toward the Slytherin table where Severus looked on, his face filled with glee. "And on the second day of school. You and your fellow ringleader, Potter are too smart for your own good. And Remus I am very disappointed in you. The four of you will serve detention every night this week." With that McGonagall turned on her heel and marched up to the High Table muttering something about wasted potential.

Sirius watched as Talia took her seat next to him shaking her head. "Your four are incorrigible!"

"I'll take that as a compliment Miss Grace." Sirius flashed a grin at her, feeling some of his old self-confidence come back. "Now I hate to be the one to bring it up but I think that we should meet after dinner tonight," he whispered so the whole group could hear him, "we need to talk about what Talia and I overheard last night."

Lily looked dumbstruck and gave James a sardonic glare, "James you promised!"

"Bloody hell Lil, calm down we're only talking okay!" Sirius nodded in agreement as Peter cut in, "We just want to get down the facts." Lily didn't seem much comforted by this but she agreed, after all there was no harm in talking about it.

~~~~~~~~~~


Sirius sat quietly in the common room as his friends began to appear. When he saw Talia he motioned for her to take the seat next to him. The couch was quite crowded and Sirius felt her press next to him as she moved to make room for Peter and Remus. He felt a chill go down his spine and as he stole a glance at her he noticed that she was looking directly in his eyes; a look of mild shock enveloped her face. Had she felt it too?

"Where's Alice?" James asked as he looked around the common room. Lily sighed as she leaned back in her usual armchair. "She's with Frank I think. Those two have been getting very cozy lately."

"Frank Longbottom?!" Sirius asked as he looked over at Remus. "The Hufflepuff?"

"Yup." Lily answered with an air of indifference. Sirius stole another glance at Remus and felt bad for his old friend. He knew that Mooney had always fancied Alice a bit; never acting on it because of who he was. As Sirius was beginning to lose his thoughts to Remus' love life the common room door closed with a bang.

"Sorry I'm late! Had a bugger of a time getting up here. The staircases kept changing; at one point Frank--"

"Well let's get on with it then." Sirius retorted with a snap; cutting her off from going into depth about Longbottom.

"You're in a right state! What dragon flew up your arse?" Alice spat out at him. She was definitely not the type to take anyone's rude comments; even if it was a Marauder. "Okay you two, at ease." James interjected, trying to stop the row before it started.

Deciding that it would be best if James took over the talking Sirius nodded at him to continue. "Well, we know what happened but what we need to find out is who did it. Can anyone think of someone they know who would go as far as killing his--"

"Or her." Lily interjected.

"Or her father?" James finished. The group looked around the common room as if the wood paneled walls would reveal the answers that they sought. Peter hummed nervously as Sirius began to get irritated, "Knock it off would you Wormtail."

"Why are you always picking on people?" Alice demanded as she stood from her seat. "There's no reason to have a go at Peter if it's me you're mad at!"

"I'll have a go at whomever I BLOODY WELL PLEASE!" Sirius shouted as he too raised from his seat.

The mounting tension in the room made it difficult for anyone to think straight as Lily and James stood to calm their respective friends. "No one's having a go at anyone...let's just calm down okay." Lily begged as she tried to usher Alice back to her seat. Alice stood there seething as she stared straight at Sirius.

"Severus Snape."

No one had really heard Talia mention Snivellus' name due to their own preoccupation but she stood and said it louder and clearer. "SEVERUS SNAPE." They all turned their faces to look at Talia; dropping their jaws they saw the determined look in her eyes. "She's right." Sirius said turned towards the rest of the group. "He's a slimy git and I wouldn't put it past him; he's always been obsessed with the Dark Arts. I bet he would be at Voldemort's side if he's not already!"

Remus made a face and turned away from the others and stood up, staring at the brightly burning fire. "Voldemort couldn't get inside the school; Dumbledore wouldn't let him."

Talia looked over at Remus; she knew that he was wrong. "Voldemort is the darkest wizard since Grindelwald; there's no telling what he could accomplish. Look at how many lives he has destroyed already."

Lily turned to Remus, "Talia's right, I mean most of the students are even afraid to say his name, but..." Still unconvinced that Snape had anything to do with it she added, "...we can't be sure it's Snape."

"He hates his parents." Talia said nonchalantly as she lowered her voice.

"How do you know that?" Remus asked as he leaned forward in his chair trying to avoid being overheard by some passing first years. "He told me." Talia said lightly as Sirius' stomach tightened up in knots. What did she mean he told her? Was she actually friends with that slimy wanker?

As if reading her mind her eyes locked with his, "It's not like we're friends or anything. I saw him at the Kings Cross station with his parents...they were being downright awful to him. Anyway, we ended up being partnered in Potions and I asked him about it. At first he told me to mind my own business but eventually he told me how they treated him. And I told him about how I didn't even have a family."

Talia gave this information freely; with such ease that Sirius felt that he had to believe her. He couldn't help but notice the slight pang of jealousy he felt at knowing that Talia shared parts of her life with that disgusting Snivellus; parts of her life that she hadn't told him.

Hey we barely know each other...it's not like I've told her things about me

Lily still shook her head, "I don't know. How do we even know it's a student?"

"What if Lily's right?" Sirius drew his eyebrows in trying to think about Lily's concept, "But why would Dumbledore and McGonagall be talking about it if it didn't involve the school?"

"Seriously Sirius, they're not just our Professors, they have lives and they know what is going on outside the school." Alice's chastising remark was almost more than Sirius could take as he turned towards her; a biting retort on the tip of his tongue. But something stopped him; he felt Talia's hand on his knee willing to sit down. As he looked at Talia he inwardly yelled at himself, Padfoot get a grip and stop going to pieces every time she's around

"The carriage..." Talia trailed off as she stared into Sirius' eyes. James turned and pushed Talia to continue, "What do you mean? The carriage yesterday? What does that have to do with--"

"Prongs, let her speak." Sirius shifted his weight so that he was directly facing Talia again, her hand still on his knee. "The carriage yesterday, it had scorch marks on it...from a curse you know. I saw it after McGonagall turned it right side up."

Before anyone could press her further for information they heard an anguished cry coming from the open window. They rushed over to see where it had come from when they saw Hagrid standing, only a few feet from his hut, as he hurled something at what looked like a large group of people. The group of Gryffindors hesitated only a moment before dashing out the common room door and down the stairs.


Talia


Talia ran out onto Hogwarts grounds and halted immediately as they came upon Hagrid's hut. Grabbing onto Sirius for support she almost fainted as she saw Hagrid sprawled out on the grass. Dumbledore stood above him as the seven students ran over to them.

"Professor is Hagrid okay?" James asked as a panicked Lily bent down to look at Hagrid more closely.

"He will be fine. Mr. Pettigrew, could you please run and fetch Madame Pomfrey?"

Talia turned her head into Sirius' chest as she silently prayed that Hagrid would be okay. She looked over at the Headmaster as he knelt beside Hagrid's unmoving body. What she saw made her gasp; Dumbledore had always been such a pillar of strength, seeing that he was injured scared her out of her wits.

"Professor, your leg...is it okay?"

Dumbledore looked down at the bleeding cut just above his right knee and then returned his gaze to Talia. "I will be just fine Ms. Grace." He conjured a stretcher just as Peter ran over with Madame Pomfrey in tow. "Professor! Here she is!" Peter shouted as he panted heavily.

"I want you seven to return to the Gryffindor common room, except for you Ms. Grace. Please follow me to my office."

"But Professor shouldn't you have Madame Pomfrey look at that?" Talia asked as she gestured towards his knee.

"There will be time enough for that, now I must speak with you."

Talia stared as Dumbledore stood in front of his office. He didn't even need to state the password as the Gargoyle statue sprung to life, moving aside so the staircase could make it's way upward. She followed Dumbledore into his office; where she sat upon a comfortable armchair. He walked over to a beautiful red and gold bird, ignoring her presence for a moment. This gave her time to take in her surroundings. She had never been in Dumbledore's office and she looked around curiously. The room was lined with bookshelves housing everything from books to small silver objects. The portraits on the wall looked stately and regal. She squinted her eyes so as to read the captions underneath their inhabitants.

"Former Headmasters and Headmistresses."

Talia jumped slightly unaware that Dumbledore had been watching her.

"Oh." She said as she looked down into her lap quietly.

"Am I correct in stating that you have never been in my office before, Talia."

She rang her hands together nervously, "Yes Sir." Why did he ask for her to come? Why not the others as well? Talia glanced over at Dumbledore's desk, eyeing a box of Chocolate Frogs sitting upon it. He smiled at her, catching her glance, "I do have quite a sweet tooth. Would you like one?"

"No thank you, Professor." Talia was a bit nervous but Dumbledore tried to put her at ease.

"Now Talia, could you please explain to me what it was exactly that you saw happen tonight."

As Talia recounted the events she made sure to leave out what they were talking about just prior to seeing Hagrid out the common room window.

Dumbledore nodded thoughtfully as he looked into her eyes. Talia noticed how they sparkled and silently wished that she had his eyes instead of her own dull hazel eyes.

"Is there anything else you would like to tell me?"

A small pang of panic set in as Talia quickly averted her eyes. Did he know?

"No Sir."

"Okay Talia, you may leave."

Talia got up and walked towards the door as Dumbledore called out her name; she turned to face him as he smiled at her warmly. "I am glad to see you have made some friends."

Talia was quite surprised at his comment; she never even thought that the Headmaster would have noticed her, let alone who she spent her time with. "Sirius Black, especially, is a good fellow; albeit a bit misguided but perhaps you can put him on the right track." Talia blushed deeply at Dumbledore's implication and nodded with a thanks as she left his office.

For some reason she couldn't bring herself to go back to the common room just yet, so she made her way to the Astronomy tower. The chill in the air that usually set in around this time, to announce the coming winter, was missing; all that replaced it was a warm breeze that floated up off the lake. Normally Talia would have been entranced by this but she was too worried to think about anything but what had happened her first two days of school.

She sat there quietly looking out at the stars and thinking. What happened to Hagrid? Who could have done this? These first two days had been more eventful than the rest of her six years at Hogwarts. What troubled her more than anything was why Dumbledore had called only upon her to recount the nights events. Even if he knew that she and Sirius were sneaking around the night before, he would have asked Sirius into his office as well. Her thoughts were interrupted by the familiar footsteps of the night before.

Sirius popped out from underneath the invisibility cloak and she just shook her head at him, "Shouldn't you be in detention?"

Sirius just shrugged as he sat down next to her. "Doesn't start until tomorrow. So what did ol' Dumbledore say?"

Talia looked nervously at Sirius; he was so incredibly good looking. She couldn't quite understand why he was talking to her of all people. She wasn't anyone special and she was definitely not his type; namely she didn't put out. She turned and blushed when she realized he caught her staring. "Umm, nothing really he just asked me to tell him what we saw. Oh and I think he knows about us sneaking around last night." She added almost as a side-thought.

She shifted nervously so that she wasn't so close to him. Earlier in the common room this weird feeling came over her when they touched. She couldn't quite describe it but it was unlike anything she ever felt before. Sirius must have noticed because he was looking at her questioningly. She was beginning to feel uncomfortable and to break the ice she started talking about classes, "When do you think you could start tutoring me in Defense."

Sirius let out his bark-like laugh as Talia noticed a twinkle in his eye, "Don't miss a thing do you? We haven't even had class yet." Talia realized that she must have looked like such a book worm to him so she hurriedly tried to change the topic. Sirius must have picked up on this because he grabbed her hand, "No, no I like that about you. You're different from a lot of other girls, you know that?"

The skin where Sirius was holding her hand was tingling and it sent a chill up Talia's arm and spread throughout her body. Sirius looked down at her hand and then her face. "You feel it too?"

"Yes"

With that Sirius leaned over and kissed Talia; it wasn't the type of snog she expected from him. It was gentle and tender, with the scruff of his unshaven face tickling her slightly. The longer the kiss lasted the fast Talia's heart began to beat; it was as though and electrical current ran between them. She pulled back gently and gave him a look of genuine shock. Was that what all kisses were like?

This was Talia's first kiss. She had never been close enough to a boy before to become friends with him, let alone kiss him. Sirius looked at her with a worried expression. "I'm sorry I did that..."

Talia shook her head ardently as she put her hand on his arm to assure him it was okay. "No don't worry...it just took me by surprise." She was trying her best to remain calm; not to let him know that this was her first kiss and that it was amazing. She shrugged it off standing up to look out onto the lake. "What do you think happened to Hagrid?"

"Not sure..." He answered as he stood up and moved next to her "...it had to be some really strong magic. It's bloody difficult to stun a giant, usually spells bounce right off them."

"A Giant?!" Talia turned to Sirius, completely unable to mask her shock.

Sirius just laughed at her, "Well half-Giant to be precise. Don't tell me you never noticed."

Talia just stood there attempting to hide her shock, "Well I mean, I knew he was overly large but I didn't think that it was so close in his bloodline; it's obvious that it is in his blood but half, wow."

Sirius narrowed his eyes at her as he searched her face for any inkling of judgment. "What do you think of him being a Giant." Her reply must have relieved him greatly. "Well it must be helpful; having spells bounce right off you." Sirius seemed to breathe a sigh of relief as Talia nudged a little closer to him.

"Cold?" Sirius asked.

"Yes" she lied back at him, as he put his arm around her.

"Sirius, did you wonder why Dumbledore only asked me to come into his office?" Sirius replied with a laugh, "Yes, but I think he wanted the truth about last night and you were the one most likely to give it to him."

Talia looked up at her crush, "Too bad I didn't give it to him."

Sirius' eyebrows raised at her answer, "Wow Miss Grace, I'm impressed. Lying to a teacher...I thought you were a good girl."

"Well there are a lot of things you don't know about me."

Sirius tightened his arm around her, causing her stomach to flutter slightly. "Yes, well I intend to remedy that."

Did this budding relationship have any potential? That was a question that Talia was willing to learn the answer to.

Chapter 4: The Dog Star
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A/N: Thanks to all my reviewers...I always appreciate your responses!


Chapter 4- The Dog Star


The sun crept slowly thrown the window as Talia shifted slightly to better position herself for sleep. She was still asleep when the thought had occurred to her that her bed had never felt this hard before; and why didn't her bed hangings keep out the light that was now infringing on her sleep. It was then that she realized where she truly was; she was not in her bed but on the Astronomy tower. She jolted away with a snap as a sharp pain jabbed at her back and neck. Righting herself for a moment, she looked down at the sleeping form of Sirius. He had taken the brunt of uncomfortable floor, as she had used his body for a pillow.

She wondered how he could have slept thru the night like that as she gently shook him awake. He groaned as she lightly shook his arm, grabbing her by the arm and dragging her back down into the nook between his arm and torso. She was so tempted to stay there and, even on the uncomfortable floor, sleep the day away. With all the willpower she could muster she picked herself back up and shook him a bit harder.

"Sirius, wake up."

He opened his eyes slowly and she watched as the realization of where he was crept across his face. Then, and she was totally unprepared for this, he smiled. "Good morning Talia."

Talia shifted slightly under his stare. She knew she must have been an awful sight.

"How do you do it?" he asked her.

"Do what?" she answered as she stood slowly, bringing her hand to her neck, trying to work out the kinks.

"Look so beautiful in the morning."

Talia blushed as she grabbed his hand, helping him up from the floor. He groaned slightly revealing his own pain from sleeping on the hard stone floor. "We better get back before we're missed."

He looked as though that was the last thing he wanted to do but he relented, "We'll use the cloak. If we meet anyone along the way they won't even know we're there." Talia nodded thinking how much she longed to be near him, but she couldn't let that happen again. In the light of day she was fully aware of the repercussions of this relationship. Sirius never stayed with one girl too long and besides she had way too much going on to involve herself in a relationship. It had taken her eighteen years to decide to start the search for her birth-parents; she couldn't let anyone get in the way of that, even if that person was Sirius Black.

~~~~~~~~~~


Talia dragged herself through her third day of classes; only now fully appreciating the meaning of the word tired. She felt as if she couldn't keep her eyes open a moment longer as she lugged her weakened body to her room. When she saw what was waiting there for her any fatigue she felt was washed away. She silently thanked Father Fitzpatrick as she opened the waiting package. It was the best birthday present he could have ever given her.

The sky deepened into a dark blue as she sat on her bed surrounded by birth records. She search every single birth of a baby girl recorded for Falmouth and the surrounding provinces, within the correct time frame. Talia had always wondered exactly what day she was born on. Her birthday was always celebrated on the day she turned up at Cromwell. Something as simple as knowing your birthday, which so many people took for granted, had always eluded Talia. With every record that she searched, her hopes were built up only to be shattered. As she picked up the last record she felt it, this was it; she was positive.

Baby girl born to Eliza Bennett on the 24th of June in the year 1960.

This is it!

A gasp escaped Talia's lips as she scanned down the record, only to be left in despair. No, the child died two days later. Talia fell back on her bed as her stomach rumbled loudly. She knew she was missing dinner but she didn't care. She lay amidst the evidence of her despair and fell into a troubled sleep.


Sirius


"So none of you know where Talia is?"

"Sirius, for the 500th time, no we don't." Lily was starting to get aggravated at Sirius as he questioned them incessantly. Sirius just looked back down at his pie and mash with a defeated sigh.

"Could your concern have anything to do with the fact that you didn't sleep in your bed last night?" James grinned evilly at his friend as Sirius gave him a very McGonagall-like look, that said shut your mouth.

"McGonagall was in a right state when you didn't show up to detention last night." Peter chimed in as he stuffed a fork full of carrots in his mouth. Sirius just shrugged at this comment while using his fork to push around the food that was left on his plate. "You'd better come up with a good excuse." Remus warned as he noticed the teacher in question walking towards them in his peripheral line of vision. "She's on her way over here."

McGonagall marched directly over to where Sirius was sitting and tapped him on the shoulder. "Mr. Black you better have a very good--" She stopped mid-sentence upon seeing the state of her student. "Mr. Black, what is wrong?" She snapped at him.

"Nothing," he stated as he shrugged and looked back down at his half-eaten meal. "I want you to have Madame Pomfrey check you out. You can make up your missed detention with me next week. Barring any natural disasters I will see you for detention tonight; and you will be there Mr. Black, if I have to wheel you in on your hospital bed."

Sirius nodded as his professor turned and made a hasty exit from the Great Hall. His friends sat there in shock staring at him. "Bloody hell Sirius, how on earth did you manage that? McGonagall was almost...nice" James stared at Sirius and then at the doors of the Great Hall. Sirius heaved a sigh, normally he would have been congratulating himself over escaping her wrath, but tonight all he felt was heartache. He didn't even know why, everything was fine; so why did he feel this way?

He followed the rest of the Marauders into Professor McGonagall's office after dinner, without even going to see Madame Pomfrey. They each sulked walking in to the classroom; as much as they loved pulling their pranks they hated being punished for them. McGonagall's detentions were nothing to sniff at, as she had them cleaning out the animal cages.

"I'll take those wands, you'll get them back when I am sure those cages are cleaned."

The problem was not so much cleaning the cages as keeping the animals from destroying the classroom while they cleaned. It had taken them about half an hour to get a good system working. Sirius and Remus kept the animals wrangled in one corner of the room, while James and Peter scrubbed out cage after cage. "Time to switch! If I have to clean up one more ferret dropping I am going to scream." James walked over to where Remus was failing to keep six frogs from hopping away in different directions.

"Oi, Marauders...you have to stop and appreciate this! Remus you look like you have a bar of soap slipping out of your hands." Sirius and Peter gave a hearty laugh as Remus struggled with his captives, "I'm glad you three think this is funny. A hand please!" James leaned over to help him, casually throwing an unexpected question at Sirius. "So Padfoot, when's the wedding?"

"Huh?" Sirius asked absentmindedly. This caused the Marauders to go into a fit of laughter. A sincerely confused Sirius realized that whatever was said, it was at his expense. "Prongs, you are the world's biggest--"

"If you gentlemen cannot contain yourselves I will have to separate you." McGonagall appeared in the doorway of her office looking irate. With a slam of her office door they resumed their merriment, in hushed whispers of course.

"The world's biggest what, Padfoot?"

"Wanker!" Sirius said, forcing his voice into a whisper. James smiled at Sirius as he turned to help Remus, who was now running around the room trying to keep to frogs wrangled.

~~~~~~~~~~~


Tired and feeling as though they were sufficiently punished, the Marauders made their way back to the common room. Plopping down into their favourite seats in front of the common room fire, Peter expressed everyone's feelings, "I feel like I've been hit with five bludgers." Everyone sighed in agreement when Lily and Alice walked in the room. Alice, who hadn't forgotten their row the day before, promptly ignored Sirius. "You four look exhausted," Lily said as she sat down next to James, rubbing his back slightly.

James groaned in relief, "You keep doing that and I may have to marry you."

"Ha, fat chance Potter!" Lily retorted as she shifted her body weight to better reach his back.

Just then the portrait door opened and Marlene McKinnon walked in looking very perturbed. "Hey all," she stated as she flopped on an armchair across from Lily and James. "How was patrolling?" Lily asked. "Dreadful, I caught a couple of fourth years trying to jinx Mrs. Norris and I had to give them detention, otherwise completely boring and uneventful. Luckily Bella Black relieved me on time; last week she was half an hour late."

"Who is Mrs. Norris?" Peter asked as he warmed his feet by the fire.

"Mr. Filch's cat." Marlene answered with a yawn.

"He named his cat Mrs. Norris?!" James shouted with a laugh, "Now that is too much!"

Marlene just shrugged as she announced that she was headed up to bed. "Did you hear that Padfoot...Mrs. Norris, ha that man is mad!" Sirius laughed heartily as did the rest of the group; getting up and looking out the windows he noticed that the sky was particularly clear. Then a thought hit him as he claimed he was turning in and ran upstairs to grab James' cloak.

Creeping up the stairs to the Astronomy tower he saw Talia looking through a telescope out at the stars. He couldn't help but think that she looked absolutely amazing, the way the moonlight almost made her hair glow. "Are you going to make this a habit Mr. Black?" He was dumbstruck; without taking the cloak off he asked, "How did you know I was here?"

"I may not be able to see you but there is nothing wrong with my hearing. Take that infernal cloak off and come here." He stripped off the cloak and walked over to where she was still peering into the telescope. She moved aside gesturing for him to look; as he brought his eyes down to the lens he became aware that he wasn't sure what he was meant to see.

"Do you see that star? The brightest one in the constellation...that's Vega. It's one of the brightest stars in the sky and it's part of the constellation Lyra." Sirius took his eye away from the scope and looked at her beautiful face. "You really love Astronomy don't you?"

She just shrugged as she began to dismantle her telescope. "It's amazing, the heavens I mean; the sky is always changing yet it's always the same...you know what I mean? It could take millions of years for a star to burn out. I don't know it's just a stupid hobby anyway." She claimed as she shoved her telescope back into it's carrier. "No, it's not." Sirius claimed, trying to make her feel better. Talia smiled at him lightly, "Well maybe I could show you your namesake."

Sirius turned to her as a look of mild shock crossed his face. "My namesake?"

She looked at him as if he was mad and asked, "You don't know about the star called Sirius?"

"No," he answered as she just shrugged. "I guess I just figured since it was your name you would...Well anyway. Your star Sirius, it's located within the constellation Canis Major. It's often called the Dog Star."

Sirius was quite taken aback by this and must have obviously showed it because she questioned him about it. "Oh no...nothing." Talia shrugged and Sirius was extremely grateful that she dropped it that way. Quick to move on with their conversation he shouted a little too enthusiastically. "Can you show me?" Talia laughed, you're emphatic aren’t you. Sorry, can't show you until December, although it would probably be easier to see in January."

Sirius smiled as he motioned towards the sky, "Is this your escape?" It was her turned to be surprised; Sirius could tell that he had guessed correctly. "I'm not like the rest of you. I have no clue where I'm from or what my parents are like. I was left on the doorstep of Cromwell Orphanage in Falmouth when I was about a year old. I don't even know my real birthday." Sirius could see Talia blush for a moment and he wondered why. "What's wrong?"

"It's nothing, I just...well I didn't mean to waffle on, it's weird usually I don't talk about my life with other people. With you it's different, I feel--"

"Comfortable?" Sirius interrupted.

"Yes," she replied, smiling hesitantly. He noticed how her lip curled slightly to the right when she smile; it was beautiful. She must have noticed him looking because she stopped smiling and said, "We'd better get back; this is the third night in a row we've been up here. People will start to talk." Sirius laughed, "So what?"

Sirius knew immediately this was the wrong answer as she looked a little annoyed. "Listen Sirius, I like you I do, but I'm not that kind of girl and I don't want anyone thinking that way about me."

"No, no...I know you aren’t like that, but come on...who cares what people think. It only matters what you think."

Talia grabbed her satchel and turned around to meet his eyes, "Sirius, I know your intentions are noble, but I learned a long time ago that it's all about what other people think. Maybe if my mother had loved me more, she wouldn't have given me up." With that Talia walked downstairs and left Sirius there totally dumbstruck. He wanted to run after her and tell her that she was wrong. He couldn't believe that this was what she thought about herself. Instead he threw the cloak over his shoulders and made his way toward his common room.


Talia


She felt guilty as she walked towards the fat lady's portrait; she really shouldn't have snapped at Sirius like that. It wasn't his fault that she was orphaned. Talia even considered going back and apologizing but figured she could do that later. She was so preoccupied that she didn't see Bellatrix Black coming toward her from the end of the corridor. "Well, well if it isn't the mudblood. Are you scared?"

Talia looked at Bellatrix, obviously surprised that she was even there. She tried to brush past her but Bella moved so she was directly in Talia's way. "Move!" Talia spat out emphatically. Bellatrix just laughed, "You really shouldn't speak that way to a school Prefect. I shall have to give you a detention for that. Another detention for being out after curfew and another for--"

But she wasn't able to finish her sentence as the back of her robes flew up over her head. Talia laughed as Bella started to scream, flailing around so much that she immediately fell on the floor. She kept trying to pull her robes down but magically it wouldn't come down. Talia kept laughing as Bella struggled with her robes; she watched Sirius' head as it popped out of nowhere. He mouthed for her to go, so she ran towards the portrait and gave the fat lady the password, "Jobberknoll feathers." She held the door open for Sirius and after feeling him brush by, closed the door in a fit of giggles.

"I can't believe you did that! Oh boy am I going to get it when she tells McGonagall." Sirius laughed heartily, "Well I couldn't very well let her give you all those detentions. Besides it's you word against hers, and you really didn't have anything to do with it." Talia laughed and thanked him; she really was truly grateful. "Does this mean I'm forgiven?"

"As long as I am."

"Deal." And they shook hands as they parted ways up to their separate dormitories.

Chapter 5: Miss Know-It-All
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A/N: I am soooo sorry to everyone for taking so long to post...there are quite a few crazy things going on right now...sorry for the wait :-)


Chapter 5 - Miss Know-It-All


"Ms. Grace!" Talia gave Sirius a frightened look as Professor McGonagall came walking up to her at breakfast the next morning. "Yes, Professor?"

"What, may I ask were you doing last night, after hours, wandering the corridors?" McGonagall gave Talia a stern look, under which Talia felt herself begin to weaken. "Umm, I..."

"Professor, it was my fault. I asked her if she could help me with my Astronomy work."

Professor McGonagall turned her cold stare towards Sirius, "I did not ask you Mr. Black. I was also unaware that you had even had an Astronomy class as of yet." Talia inwardly groaned, knowing that they were caught. But Sirius just flashed her a toothy grin. "I just wanted to get a head start." McGonagall looked from Sirius to Talia as Talia trying to give McGonagall her best it's the truth look. "While I'm sure there is something behind this story that was obviously," she looked at Sirius with a disapproving glare, "a concocted story, I will acquiesce to allowing you to be more involved in Astronomy. The two of you will be helping Professor Sinistra repair and clean the broken school telescopes tonight. And you Mr. Black can make up the detention you will be missing with me, next week."

McGonagall left looking a little less intimidating and made her way up to the high table where Professor Dumbledore was looking very intently at the Gryffindor table. "You got out of two scrapes one week Padfoot, wow!"

Sirius smiled lightly as if this was something he did every day. Talia felt very uncomfortable and lucky to have gotten out of that scrape. Jumping up, remembering that she had left her Charms book in her trunk, she ran out of the Great Hall in a flash. No one even had a moment to ask her where she was going.

It was only minutes until the bells rang to signal the beginning of class as Talia rushed back from the Gryffindor common room. The corridors were filled with students walking to class and chatting animatedly. All those students weren't in a rush, being merely feet from their classrooms, but Talia's classroom was on the other side of the castle. She raced past the students trying not to knock into anyone; in her rush she never noticed the group of Slytherins waiting to pounce. Talia lost her footing and was sent sailing clear across the hallway. Her books flew everywhere and she gasped with horror as she sailed across the newly waxed marble floor. When she finally stopped the hallway was silent as every student stood frozen, watching and waiting for Talia's reaction.

Talia turned beet red and looked over at the snickering Slytherins; Bellatrix gave her a little wave and an evil grin. All of a sudden Talia started laughing; she laughed so hard that tears were streaming down her face, while everyone began laughing as well. This was different from being laughed at because they were laughing with her. A hand came out of nowhere and as she took it Talia recognized George from the train. "Alright there Talia?" She nodded as he pulled her up from the floor. He helped her gather her books, "You handled that brilliantly...I saw Bellatrix Black jinx you."

Talia shook her head, "She's an absolutely horrid, wretched and vile creature."

"Don't hold back," George laughed, "tell me how you really feel." This brought a smile to Talia's face as they walked into Professor Flitwick's classroom. The groaned as Flitwick took 5 points each; sitting in the two seats left available, right next to Sirius.


Sirius


Sirius watched as Talia ran out of the Great Hall. "What's her hurry?" Peter asked as James motioned for them to come closer. Lily was chatting animatedly with Alice and Marlene. "Oi, Marauders tonight's the night. I'm supposed to be doing double patrol duty tonight, but no one says I have to be alone. Besides full moon's not for two weeks and we could do with a bit of fun." Sirius felt a glimmer of excitement well up inside him, "Good!" he answered with a mischievous grin, all thoughts of Talia, or any girl for that matter, being replaced with roguish intentions. Lily looked over at the whispering group and gave a small sigh, "You know if you're planning something you might want to be less obvious about it. McGonagall's had her eye out."

The Marauders turned toward the High table and sure enough McGonagall's hawk-like stare was bearing down on them. She gave her head a negative shake as if to tell them, 'don't even think about it!'

Walking into their first class of the day, Charms, Sirius realized that Talia was still no where to be found. As Professor Flitwick closed the door with a flick of his wand Sirius became a little worried. He looked around the room scanning the faces of each Gryffindor and Ravenclaw until he was sure that she was missing. He began convincing himself that she was probably late for a good reason, stuttering slightly when Peter elbowed him in the ribs. The entire class was staring at him expectantly. He looked over at Flitwick, who's eyebrows were slightly raised.

Hi squeaky voice rang out as he asked, "Well Mr. Black, can you please tell me the proper wand movement for the Permanent Sticking Charm?"

Sirius reddened as he fumbled around with his wand, "It's a general sweep along the object you want to stick."

"Correct, Mr. Black, although you might have answered me the first time if you had been paying attention."

Sirius was saved any further embarrassment as the door open and Talia walked in with George. All heads in the classroom looked over to them as they lowered their heads sheepishly. Flitwick wasn't too pleased, but being the good-natured Professor he was, only took a hand full of house points and continued on with his lessons. Sirius cast Talia a questioning look as she mouthed later; he shrugged it off but gave George a look as he sat down next to her.

~~~~~~~~~~


Dinner was a quiet affair that evening; none of the 7th years at the Gryffindor table seemed to be in the mood for chatting. The whole day had been spent listening to their teachers drone on about their upcoming N.E.W.T.'s. McGonagall herself, had given them three feet on human to animal transfiguration. Lily tried to lighten the mood and suggested a walk about the grounds after dinner.

"Hear, hear!" Peter exclaimed upon hearing her suggestion. At this point they would do anything to forget about their ever growing pile of homework. The rest nodded fervently as they stuffed their mouths with dinner. It was not even a week into classes and they were beginning to feel overwhelmed.

The evening stroll was the best idea Lily had yet, they watched as the sky grew steadily darker. The lake was so calm that the moon reflected in it looked almost real. It was as if the mirror image was an actual replica of it's reflector. Sirius watched Lily and James smile at each other as they walked hand in hand. A slight pang of jealousy erupted in him as he looked away, shaking his head. Talia was a few feet in front of him chatting animatedly with Alice. Sirius Black does not commit He repeated these words in his head as Remus shoved him in the arm, "Alright there Padfoot?"

"Yup," Sirius replied as he looked away from Remus. Remus had an uncanny knack for knowing when he was lying. Sirius noticed a shadow at the far end of the lake and pointed it out to Remus. "What is that?" Sirius looked curiously over at the moving form and a sense of adventure welled up in him. Time for trouble! Remus squinted his eyes as well, trying to determine who or what it was, "I don't know...maybe a werewolf?" Sirius laughed at his friends joke and clapped him on the back. "Sure Moony, maybe it's a girlfriend for you." Peter began to laugh hysterically when Talia and Alice walked over to see what they were up to.

"What’s so funny, you lot?" Alice looked at Peter as he began stifling his laughter. Sirius looked over at Talia, seeing the moonlight shine on her face. She looked almost angelic, he recalled the night in the Astronomy tower where he first kissed her and longed to do it again, but he turned his face back out towards the other side of the lake. "We don't know, let's go check it out. Maybe it's a student, we can scare the living daylights out of them." Sirius smiled at the rest of the Marauders who looked eager to comply, but Talia and Alice looked appalled.

"Sirius Black, that is the most horrible thing you've ever said." Sirius gave her a look of utter surprise. "Calm down Talia, it's not like we're going to hurt anyone. It's just a joke."

She gave him an incredulous glare, "You wouldn't think it's funny if it was you, besides it's not a student."

Peter jumped to Sirius' defence, after all Talia was only a girl and he could deal with her. "Well who is then Miss Know-It -All?" Talia looked at Peter with a squared jaw and squinted eyes, "Professor Sinistra, she's out here every night doing research. She's writing an Astronomy book, you know." With a flip of her hair, Talia walked away towards the other side of the lake. Peter wrinkled his nose in Talia's direction as Remus looked over at Sirius with a pained smile. "Don't worry about it Padfoot."

Sirius just scoffed at his comment, "Worried? Who's worried? Now where's Prongs?" Sirius walked away from Alice, Peter and Remus toward where Lily and James were standing. James seemed to be hugging Lily and leaning in for a kiss, but Sirius ignored that fact as he marched right up to them. "Hey listen let's all go back inside. It's getting cold out here." James looked thoroughly brassed off, "Well we're going to stay out here...we're not cold."

Sirius narrowed his eyes at the couple and said, "Fine, have it your way." He turned to walk away but something caught his attention. In fact everyone in their small group noticed the jet of red light that struck across the lake. They watched as Professor Sinistra fell to the ground. Sirius' heart began pounding; where was Talia? But that question was answered for him as he heard her scream from across the lake. "YOU GET AWAY FROM HER!" The students watched helplessly as Talia shot a jet of purple light towards a dark figure.

Alice, Remus and Peter ran towards Sirius, James and Lily as they all broke out into a sprint towards Talia. They watched the mystery intruder fall to the ground and Sirius breathed a sigh of relief; never breaking his sprint. Unfortunately to their horror they watched as he stood up again and pointed his wand towards her. Talia fell to the ground with Sirius only ten feet away. James, with his wand already drawn, yelled, "Impedimenta!"

Unfortunately the curse missed, but the attacker ran off towards Hogsmeade. Sirius grabbed up Talia in his arms as James and Lily ran to Professor Sinistra. He felt his body shake with fear, she had to be okay. He brushed her hair away from her face and felt for a pulse. It was faint but it was there; Talia was unconscious but alive. Sirius looked up at Remus but only saw his blurred figure through the tears in his eyes. "Alice ad Peter are getting Professor Dumbledore and Madam Pomfrey. He felt blank and empty, all he could do to acknowledge Remus was nod silently. James came running over to Remus, "Sinistra's alive, but she doesn't look very good."

The look in James' eye told Sirius and Remus that it indeed was serious. He looked over to where Lily was kneeling next to their Professor with a worried look on her face. It was only minutes before Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall came running over; they said nothing but conjured stretches out of thin air. Sirius placed Talia on the stretcher as he watched McGonagall walk towards the hospital wing with the floating stretcher holding Sinistra. One look at Dumbledore's steely face told him that this was serious.

"Go to my office and wait for me." The others complied but Sirius shook his head fervently. "Not until I know she's alright." Dumbledore raised his wand lightly as Talia's stretcher lifted off the ground, hovering three feet in the air. "I understand how you feel Sirius but I will make sure she is fine and I need you to tell me what happened. Now go!"

Sirius ran towards the castle, having no intention of going to the Headmaster's office. He slipped into one of the many secret passage ways that Hogwarts held and finally came out the other end, right next to the Gryffindor common room. "Jobberknoll feathers!" Sirius grabbed the cloak from James' trunk and raced back downstairs. "Hmmpf...no manners children these days." The fat lady did not seem very grateful to be swung around as she was, but Sirius had no time to apologize as he raced behind the statue and through the secret passageway. With the cloak draped around him, Sirius ran to the hospital wing.

Unfortunately he didn't account for the doors being closed. Wearing an invisibility cloak was one thing but if he opened the door they would surely notice. To Sirius' extraordinary luck Professor Sprout came toddling along the corridor towards the hospital wing and opened the door. Sirius slipped in after her and made his way over to Talia's bed. Dumbledore smiled warmly at Professor Sprout. "Now that our visitors...I mean visitor," Dumbledore said glancing over at the place that Sirius was sitting. Sirius' heart skipped a beat and he barely contained as gasp. This was the proof, Dumbledore definitely could see through invisibility cloaks. "is here, I can begin. Professor Sprout, please inform the rest of the staff that we will be holding a meeting tomorrow morning before breakfast. As Hogwarts' secretary I needed to tell you tonight."

McGonagall looked over at Dumbledore, "Can it be possible...is he targeting Professors?" Dumbledore shhhed McGonagall as he ushered them out of the room. "That will be enough for tonight. We will take care of everything in the morning."

After the Professors had left Dumbledore walked over to Talia's bed and sat down next to Sirius. "I need to ask you to keep what you just heard to yourself." Sirius removed the cloak from his head and Dumbledore looked over at the floating head. "This is more dangerous than you know Sirius, I need you to promise me." Sirius nodded numbly as he sat in disbelief. Someone was targeting teachers? Was it the same person who had killed his father? More importantly, who was next?

A/N: I have to say a HUGE thank you to Xavier JX...without him I wouldn't have been able to fix my plot line...I was afraid that it would fall apart but he has helped me soooo much!!!!

Please review...thanks so much!


Chapter 6: Snape's Innocence
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Chapter 6 - Snape's Innocence



Talia


It took almost a week before Talia was feeling better. Professor Dumbledore had informed her that Professor Sinistra was feeling just fine, luckily they were both hit with only stunning spells; though they were powerful stunning spells. One day when Talia was feigning sleep she overheard McGonagall and Dumbledore saying that they had never seen that kind of strength in magic since...well they hadn't been able to finish because Alice and Lily had interrupted, claiming they wanted to see Talia.

Luckily Madam Pomfrey had acquiesced to letting her out, on the condition that Talia check in everyday. Alice and Lily greeted their friend with overwhelming joy, "I'm so glad you're okay!" Talia smiled weakly as Lily gushed over her. Both she and Alice helped Talia with her things, leading her to the Great Hall for breakfast.

Alice refused to let Talia carry her things. "I am under strict orders from Madam Pomfrey that you are to take it easy. Don't worry, we’ll have one of the boys carry your stuff back up to Gryffindor tower. I'm sure Sirius would volunteer."

"Somehow I doubt that." Talia was keenly aware of the fact that Sirius hadn't been to visit her and he didn't even show up to see her to the Great Hall with Lily and Alice. He was probably still angry at her for their little tiff by the lake. "What do you mean you doubt it? He's been to see you every night since you were hurt."

"WHAT?!" Talia turned so abruptly that Lily looked shocked. "What do you mean what? You didn't see him? Every night after detention he's been sneaking down to see you."

A wave of realization washed over Talia, the invisibility cloak! Of course, but why didn't he wake her, let her know he was there? She felt a little embarrassed about the way she had reacted; she didn't want Lily and Alice to know her true feelings for Sirius...bloody hell, she didn't even know how she felt. They must have recognized the bitterness in her voice because they looked at her awkwardly but thankfully let it alone. They walked in to the Great Hall greeted by the enthusiastic greetings of the Gryffindors, Hufflepuffs and especially the Ravenclaws; the Slytherins were inauspiciously silent. Apparently the story of what happened the night Professor Sinistra was attacked was still the most talked about thing at Hogwarts. Talia looked up at the high table towards Professor Sinistra, she looked a little worse for wear but she seemed okay as she nodded her head at Talia and raised her glass.

They made their way over to the Gryffindor table where the Marauders sat huddled at the table; Talia felt a little twinge of resentment, they hadn't even bothered to welcome her back. But that feeling disappeared immediately and was replaced by one of guilt when she saw why they were huddled. It was probably the cutest thing she'd ever seen, even though it was breakfast they had a cake waiting for Talia. It was topped with chocolate icing and scrawled on top in messy handwriting was "Welcome Back Talia."

Talia blushed as she thanked her friends. A feeling of complete bliss welled up inside her; Talia had never had friends like this before. The people at Cromwell's were more like family, these people were friends. Friends that loved her, this cake and their joy at seeing her were proof of that. Breakfast was a pleasant affair as they ate their way through kippers, eggs and the beautiful cake. "We'd better get down to the pitch for tryouts." James said as he stuffed one last piece of toast in his mouth.

Sirius stood up saying, "We need to check weather conditions for the tryout. We've got until November to practice up. We need to beat Slytherin!" Lily and Alice laughed at Sirius' fanaticism while Peter just agreed heartily, "You lot can pull it off! I really thought we had the House Cup last year until Ravenclaw beat Slytherin and won it out from under us."

"That was a fluke!" James scoffed, "Never happen again."

"But they're a good team, they deserved to win." James, Sirius and Peter stared at Talia incredulously, "WHAT?!" They asked at the same time. Lily grabbed Talia from the line of fire, just in time, "Good luck guys, we'll be cheering you on."

"Are you sure she doesn't want to go sit at the Ravenclaw table?" Peter asked sardonically. "Stuff it Wormtail." Talia watched unbelievingly, she expected Lily or Alice to stand up for her, but Sirius was the one who spoke; and after she defended Ravenclaw against Gryffindor, but then again there was some Ravenclaw in her. Sirius signaled for the rest to follow and with that, the confrontation was over. Talia got the distinct feeling that, while the Marauders fancied themselves equals, when Sirius set his foot down on a matter that was the end of it. James shook his head as he grabbed Talia's things from Lily's hands. He smiled at Talia, proving that there were no hard feelings, "He must have it bad." James said as he smirked at Talia. Peter said nothing to Talia and kept his mouth shut as he pouted all the way down to the Quidditch Pitch.

Remus walked in stride with Talia and Alice, "We'll bring your things up later, if the practice gets boring we'll take a walk around the grounds." They made their way to the pitch and settled in the stands waiting for the tryouts to begin; it was a perfect day for flying. Talia, Alice, Remus and Peter sat in awkward silence, with Talia keeping as much distance as possible between her and Peter.

Talia listened as Sirius told James off for flirting when he should be getting ready to play. A very red faced Lily made her way off the field and up into the stands to watch with the rest of the group. For a moment Talia caught Sirius' eye as he looked up in the stands, and gave him a small smile. The practice seemed to be going well and Talia was a little more excited than usual watching them run plays. She had always supported Gryffindor, but now that she had friends on the team she cheered with renewed spirit.

The practice seemed to slow as the team practiced passing with the prospective players. Remus gave Talia a look that said, maybe now would be a good time for that walk. The four friends, minus Peter, who chose to stay behind, made their way out of the stands and towards the lake.

Talia took a deep breath, sensing the coming of autumn. There was a brisk feel to the air as they walked on the shores of the lake. The water rippled with the wind across the vast surface; the lake looked as if it would go one forever if the gates of Hogwarts didn't stop it. A sigh of contentment came over Talia, she was happy and most of all, she was safe. Thoughts of the attack had plagued her incessantly while she was in the hospital. These attacks didn't seem to phase anyone though, so why should she be so upset; first the carriage, then Hagrid, now she and Professor Sinistra. Why would someone do this? Was it the same person who killed their father?

These questions had burnt a hole in her mind for far too long. Today was Saturday, a day to relax and be with her friends. "Galleon for your thoughts." Talia turned to Remus and smiled at his question. "That's quite a price to pay for my thoughts, believe me they're not worth that much." Remus just shrugged, "Bet they are." Remus Lupin had always been nice to Talia, even before her new found confidence and friendliness. "Honestly, I was just thinking about these strange attacks. I am wondering who it is."

Remus looked out onto the lake; that was what you liked the best about him; he always thought before he spoke, it made it seem like he was really taking your thoughts and feelings into account. Never rushed to judge, it took him a moment before answering. "I understand what you mean, and no one seems to be too put off by it. Four attacks since school began, you'd think everyone would panic."

"Five actually, don't forget about what happen to that wizard, who was attacked by his son." Remus smiled at Talia, "I didn’t forget, but that's not exactly common knowledge now is it?" Her eyes squinted, which is always something that happened when she realized she were wrong, then she gave him a mock scowl, "Well Mr. Lupin, I daresay you are correct." He laughed at her sarcastic remark as they both continued to walk along the bank. Talia was lost in daydreams about the coming winter. She loved nature and all the seasons but she always fancied the winter snow. It made everything look so fresh and new. She looked towards the castle to see Severus Snape sitting on the front steps, absorbed in a book. She didn't really even know what was happening until she heard Lily scream. Talia snapped her head around to see Lily and Alice taking off in a sprint towards the Quidditch pitch. With a look from Remus, they both took off after them.

Talia came upon the Quidditch field to find a crowd of people standing just under the three golden hoops (through which the chasers were supposed to throw the Quaffle). Remus helped her push through the small throng of students gathered in a circle. There in the middle lay and unconscious James, with Lily kneeling down beside him. "How did this happen?" Lily asked in a shaky voice. Davey Gudgeon was the first to speak up, "I don't know. He was about to pass me the Quaffle when out of nowhere he was hit by a spell."

The crowd gasped and looked around the pitch, searching for a sign of someone lurking about. "Did anyone see who did it?" Lily was almost frantic as she spoke. The crowd shook their heads, no one said anything; everyone was scared that James was badly hurt. Lily stood up, with a decisive air, "Let's get him to Madam Pomfrey, I think he's going to be okay, Lily turned to Sirius, "don't worry, I think he'll be okay. Finish up your practice." Sirius nodded as he turned and gave Remus a look; Talia noticed the unspoken connection between them as Remus nodded his head and followed.

Talia wasn't exactly sure what she should do as she glanced at Alice and Peter, who were watching Lily and Remus float James' invisible stretcher towards the hospital wing. She settled for stealing a glance at Sirius, when he returned her look she gave him a weak smile and walked over to him. "I'm sure James will be okay." Sirius just shook his head, "I tried to slow his fall but by the time I reached my wand I barely got to him. I'm not sure how much it helped." Talia put a reassuring hand on his arm, "I know it helped…" Her sentence was lost as he looked at her with those amazing grey eyes, she tore her own away before she got lost in his gaze.

He seemed to snap out of his daze as well as he turned to Peter. "Wormtail, you didn't see anything strange did you?" Peter shook his head and then Talia watched as something caught his glance. He looked towards the castle as the entire group turned to see what he was looking at. Along the castle wall she watched Severus Snape walking, book in hand, not paying any attention the advancing throng of Gryffindors angrily bearing down upon him. To them Snape was the worst kind of Slytherin and that was all they needed to know. Sirius was in the lead as he drew out his wand and cast a spell at Snape. A look of shock covered his face as he was thrown up against the wall. Talia started running towards them as she watched him struggling to move.

"WHAT DID YOU DO TO HIM?!" Sirius screamed as he moved towards Snape; he was now only five or so feet away, with the crowd right behind him. They were out for blood as Talia ran to try and stop them. "What are you talking about Black?" Snape snarled; even in the precarious position he was in, he was still nasty and defiant. "You cursed James and now I'm going to curse you!" Sirius raised his arm, presumably thinking of some kind of horrible spell to throw at Snape. "NO!" Talia screamed as she ran in front of Snape, holding her arms out to protect him. "Sirius, DON'T!" Sirius' expression was blank with shock as he just stared at her.

"What do you mean, don't? He cursed James, we all know it! He's always cursing him behind his back." The rest of the Gryffindors murmured in agreement, as she watched their faces contort with dislike for Severus. Talia knew that this could not be denied, James and Severus were always battling in some way or another. Snape growled from behind her, "I don't need your help, Grace. Go away!" She turned and gave him a nasty look. "Shut it Snape, or I'll curse you myself." Turning back to Sirius, she saw his expression towards her lighten a bit, but then he tried to pull her aside to finish his business. "No Sirius, he may have cursed James before but not this time. I saw him by the front steps even before James fell. It wasn't him." The downcast looks upon the faces of the Gryffindors made Talia realize that they believed her.

All but one had that look, Sirius gave Talia an incredulous stare, "Are you actually defending him?" This confused her, Sirius did hate Snape but she thought that he was past his years of jinxing people for no reason. He had seemed so mature since the beginning of their seventh year. "Sirius Black, I am defending him because he didn't do it and if you insist on cursing him, you'll have to curse me as well." Talia stood in front of Snape defiantly, with her hands on her hips. For a moment Sirius looked as though cursing Talia was a price he would have to pay, but he dropped his wand and began to walk away. "Tryouts are over. I'll let you know by next week who made the team." With that he walked away towards the hospital wing. Peter cast Talia a nasty glare and followed him.

Alice saw the disappointed look on Talia's face and put her arm around her shoulder. "Sirius can be like that sometimes…don't worry about it.." A mixture of distress and anger clouded Talia's mind. Why was Sirius being such a git?! He never acted like that around me before… A nasty voice from behind them interrupted Talia's thoughts, "I didn't need your help, Grace." Severus barked at Talia as the spell binding him lifted and he slumped down against the wall. He righted himself as he and Talia stared at each other in a battle of wills. "Fine Severus, next time I'll let Sirius curse you into oblivion! DUMB GIT!" She shouted as she grabbed Alice by the arm and led her towards the hospital wing.

If Severus and Sirius were going to be nasty little prats, Talia didn't want anything to do with either of them. Alice pushed through the doors of the hospital wing and a wave of shouting greeted you both. "Miss Evans, head girl or not I want you OUT!" Madam Pomfrey was chivvying her away from James' bed and towards the door. "That includes ALL of you," she chastised at Remus, Sirius and Peter. "But Madam Pomfrey, he actually wants to go back out on that field and play again!" Lily complained as she was being shoved towards the door.

Madam Pomfrey closed the door solidly behind the rest of the group as Lily gave a snort. "That old bat wouldn't listen to a word I said." Talia looked at Lily uncertainly, "Is he okay?" Lily seemed to calm down a bit and smiled lightly, "The rest of him is okay but that thick head of his…" She didn't finish the rest of the sentence and just shook her head. Talia's gaze fell upon Sirius; when he caught her looking at him he lifted his chin and announced that he was going back to his room. Sirius walked past Talia as if she didn't exist, leaving her standing there with a mix of emotions welling up inside her.

It was obvious to everyone that he was angry at Talia and Lily just stood there open mouthed. "What's his problem?" The question was directed towards Talia, but Alice chose to spare her from repeating the events. Remus listened intently and turned to Talia in a whisper, "I saw Snape on the steps too. Don't worry I'll talk to him."

But somehow Talia knew that Sirius' anger had nothing to do with Snape's innocence.

A/N:Please Review!!!!!


Chapter 7: Much Needed Answers
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Chapter 7 - Much Needed Answers



Sirius


Sirius stomped into his dorm, slamming the door as he went. What is wrong with her?! Defending that pasty faced, slimy git! He couldn't understand why this upset him so much. Snivellus was pure evil as far as Sirius was concerned; bloody hell, he was probably already a Death Eater. Any chance that cretin got, he would hex James and Sirius behind their backs. He was a coward and Talia defended him; she even admitted to talking with him about her past. Something she had yet to share with Sirius.

Sirius hadn't gone back to the broom shed or the locker room to return any of his things. He threw his pads against the wall next to his bed and hastily thrust his broom down by his trunk. He felt the impulsive need to do something crazy; his anger grabbed a hold of him and he felt like breaking something. He paced around the room, turning this way and that as if he was an animal trapped in a cage. When the feeling consumed him so much that he felt he was going to burst, he ran to the door.

But before he could reach it, the door opened and Remus stood before him. Sirius stood looking at his friend; Remus had a calm exterior but on the inside he was angry. "What happened down there, Sirius?" Sirius gave an angry laugh and turned away from Remus. "He attacked James and she defended him, that's what happened." Remus walked to his friend, taking him by the arms and turning him to face him. "No, he didn’t, he was by the front steps. I saw him too." The reality of Remus' words were lost on Sirius, it didn't matter anymore. He was angry and more than that, he was blinded by it.

"He's a BLOODY DEATH EATER Remus! If you can't see that, then that's you're problem." Sirius sidestepped Remus and walked out the open door. The common room was filled with students but not a sound was heard. Everyone in the room watched as Sirius stormed out of the portrait hole; no one dared say anything to him after hearing his fight with Remus.

~~~~~~~~~~


Sunday morning breakfast at the Gryffindor table was an anxious affair. Few words were spoken and intermittently people would glance toward the end of the table where Sirius sat alone. He refused to speak to anyone except James and ignore anyone who tried. Peter was beside himself with grief and promptly ignored Talia, sending her dirty looks as often as possible. Hushed whispers were heard throughout the table; those who weren't in the common room had already found out what happened. With the addition of a few embellishments, the story was mostly true. Sirius glared at anyone who dared approach him, eating and suffering his meal in silence.

He kept his head down, attempting to ignore the whispers, he knew were meant for him. They were all blind and he was going to exact justice! Lost in his thoughts he never noticed Talia make her way over to his end of the table, her head held high despite her fear. "Sirius…" He looked up at her with a scowl and turned his head back towards his meal. "If you want to ignore me, by all means please do, but do not ignore your friends. After all they are your friends not mine, so just go and sit with them." With a quick turn she grabbed her things and walked straight out of the Great Hall.

Sirius held his reaction in check and stared apathetically down at his meal. Most of the students at the other House tables took no notice of what was going on; some knew what had happened and were mildly interested but others just continued on with their breakfast. Truth be told, Sirius was completely shocked by Talia's behavior; what was she trying to prove? He just didn't understand; he turned to look at the reaction from his friends. Most had a look of mild surprise on their faces, Lily and Alice stood and followed her out of the Great Hall. Remus looked as though none of this surprised him; he turned to Sirius with a look of sadness printed across his face. Peter looked supremely satisfied, as if he just won the Quidditch World Cup.

James looked at his old friend with mixed emotions. Sirius was sure that James hated Snivellus as much as he did but there was something in eyes that called out to Sirius. James may have wanted him to drop the entire thing but it would never happen. The Owl post arrived just as Sirius got up to leave; the Sunday Edition of the Daily Prophet was dropped in front of Sirius as he stood. He dropped a few knuts in the owl's pouch and grabbed the paper, taking off for the forest.

Lately he felt a strange affinity for the Astronomy tower, but he refused to go there, lest he run into Talia. There was a small clearing on the edge of the forest, not too far in as to attract the attention of undesirable company, where Sirius liked to be alone. A thin layer of soft grass, not the course kind that covered the rest of the grounds, provided Sirius with the perfect spot to sit and think. Leaning up against a small tree stump, which had obviously died some years ago, Sirius ran his hands through his hair. Snivellus Snape had messed with him and his friends for the last time. He wasn't sure how or when but he would expose him for the Death Eater that he was.

Sirius sighed deeply, feeling the weight of recent events on his shoulders. Why would Talia and Remus defend that git? It didn't make sense to Sirius, as he contemplated what was wrong with his two friends. He sat listlessly tearing small bits of grass from the ground and letting them float gently back down; the forgotten Daily Prophet lay at his feet. He and the other Marauders had taken up a subscription, attempting to keep tabs on Voldemort's actions as well as an attempt to discover what their mystery wizard was up to. He picked up the paper and stared blankly at it, not really reading the contents; the paper served more as something to hold and keep his hands from ripping out his own hair over his frustration.

Irrational anger is the worst kind; at the time that you feel it, you know deep in your bones that you are right and no one can tell you any differently. Given time, the anger gives way to a quiet seething and you still believe you were right but you're not quite sure how right you were. All the problem needs is more time and reflection, once Sirius realized he had gone overboard his senses came back to him. He looked at the paper, glancing at a small article on the lower right hand side of it.

Murder in Falmouth

Wizard or wizards unknown attacked a small house located in
Falmouth, a small town on the Eastern Coast of Great Britain. The
sole inhabitant of the house was well known Russian wizard, Liev
Zidraw. Zidraw has long been implicated as a supporter of
Grindelwald (defeated by Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore
in 1945) and has been presumed dead by Russian and British
Ministries of Magic for the past twenty-five years. His body was
discovered last night by a local neighbor, Sister Mary Thomas.
Sister Mary had this to say, "I never expected this to happen to
Mr. Wilenska," apparently his known alias, "he was such a quiet
neighbor. I just hope God will forgive the person who committed
this heinous crime." Ministry officials are combing the residence
for any evidence of dark magic, at present they have found nothing
but old journals, which chronicle Zidraw's involvement in practicing
and teaching the Dark Arts. No evidence of a struggle or forced
entry have been found at this time. Minister of Magic, Millicent Bagnold
has informed the Daily Prophet that she will not rest until she has gotten
to the bottom of this mystery.


Sirius blinked as though he was trying to clear his eyes, this Liev Zidraw could have had something to do with the strange events that were happening at Hogwarts. Maybe he was the mystery wizard who had been attacking the teachers, and now he was caught and dead; maybe their troubles were over. Putting all his anger and frustration aside he stood up and started towards Hogwarts. He had to tell everyone the news of this wizard's death.


Talia


Everything that could have gone wrong that day did go wrong. Talia spent a half hour listening to Lily and James try and explain Sirius to her. "Listen Talia, this is what Sirius is like. We just need to give him some time and he'll come around." Talia wasn't sure whether or not to believe James' explanation but she figured if anyone knew him it was his best friend.

Luckily she was right; James did know his best friend better than anyone in the world. Sirius came bursting through the portrait hole with a flushed look on his face. "Where's everyone else?" he asked quickly, directing the question towards James. James looked a little startled at Sirius' urgency but answered just as quickly. "Wormtail and Moony are off somewhere and Alice is with Frank, what's going on?" Sirius sat down in a heap, beckoning the three of them to lean in. "You three have got to read this…" he whispered in a hushed voice, "I think it's got something to do with what's been happening."

Talia, Lily and James scanned the article; it didn't take long since it was so short. Talia felt her face go numb as she stared at the newspaper. Falmouth? Sister Mary? Mr. Wilenska? He had always kept to himself but I cannot believe he was evil… Talia's open-mouthed expression was not lost on her three friends, but they mistakenly thought it was the act of murder that had her horrified, not who was murdered.

Sirius put his hand on Talia's arm, but she was too bewildered to even notice that he was speaking to her again. She looked at Lily and James with a white face and a horrified expression. She gently removed Sirius' hand from her arm and smiled weakly at him, "I'm not feeling so well, I think I'll go upstairs for a lie down." Talia didn't wait for anyone to answer her as she turned and made her way up to the dorm. More than anything she wanted to tell her friends why she was like this, but she needed time to think.

Little did she know that they were already discussing a plan to find out what happened. Her three friends marched down to Hagrid's hut, attempting to pry some information from their friend and Hogwarts groundskeeper. Their efforts would prove futile; there were answers to be found at Hogwarts but they were asking the wrong person. Talia lie in her bed thinking about what had happened, she knew what she had to do but she had to admit to herself, she was a little scared. But she mustered up every ounce of strength and went down into the common room; she had prepared an excuse of going to the library but it was unneeded. With her friends gone, Talia made her way quietly out of the common room and towards Professor Dumbledore's office. The answers she needed lie there, but they were not necessarily the answers she wanted.


A/N: PLEASE REVIEW!!! I'D LIKE TO KNOW WHAT EVERYONE THINKS...THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY!!! :-)


Chapter 8: Chocolate Frog Cards
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Chapter 8 – Chocolate Frog Cards





Talia




With a resolute gait Talia headed straight for the Headmasters office, she wanted answers and she knew that he had them. Dumbledore was the most intelligent person she'd ever met, and that included Father Fitzpatrick (and that was saying a lot), he would surely have the answers she needed. She arrived at Dumbledore's office, confident and tenacious, he would surely tell her all she needed to know; and how right Talia was. The stone gargoyle loomed before her, refusing to budge an inch. She blurted out every single password she could imagine, but it stood there unwavering.



By chance, or perhaps not, Professor Barrow was striding along the corridor and spotted Talia. "Well, Miss Grace, what are you doing here?" She smiled sheepishly at him, the way every girl at Hogwarts did. Professor Martin Barrow just happened to be on of the best looking wizards Talia, or anyone for that matter, had ever met. "Er hi Professor, I just—I mean I was looking for—"



"Professor Dumbledore, I presume, as you are standing in front of his office." He smiled warmly at Talia, who felt her knees gave slightly as she took in his chiseled features. She imagined running her fingers through his soft hair and before she knew it the Gargoyle had leaped out of its place to reveal the moving staircase. Professor Barrow had given the password for her and she never even noticed.



Blushing horribly and muttering some semblance of a thank you, Talia stepped onto the ascending staircase. She reached for the brass knocker that hung on the door to Dumbledore's office, slightly recoiling a bit at the look of it. The head of the gargoyle did not look very inviting, for a moment Talia wondered if she should leave or not. But a voice from behind the door, though it was slightly muffled, called to her. "Come in Miss Grace."



That man never misses a beat



Talia slowly opened the door to find Professor Dumbledore sitting at his desk; his half moon glasses were perched on the bridge of his nose, looking dangerously close to falling off. In his hand was a red, or at least it used to be, leather bound book. He smiled at Talia, directing her towards one of the chairs on the opposite side of his desk. "I daresay you had a difficult time getting in here. I'm afraid Monty is very strict on the rules."



"Monty?" Dumbledore laughed, with a twinkle in his eye that could match any star in the heavens, "Monty the Gargoyle, or at least that's what I named him. He won't actually give me his real name." Talia smiled; the headmaster had a way of making one forget their troubles. Dumbledore squinted his eyes at his student and snapped the book shut with a bang. "So Miss Grace, before we get down to business, would you like a Chocolate Frog?"



Talia felt a little uncomfortable, she was in this office twice since the beginning of the school year; that was more than the past six years combined. Talia wasn't used to adults, outside of Cromwell that is, treating her so informally. "Er, sure Professor." She gently took the box from her headmaster and laid it on her lap. He looked at her expectantly, so she opened the box.



He grinned at her, "The cards are quite fun, in fact they recently gave me my own card." Talia actually gasped for joy. It was a very big honor to receive your own Chocolate Frog card, they were only reserved for the very greatest wizards. She held the frog in the palm of her hand and it leaped onto Dumbledore's desk, where she promptly scooped it up. She didn't want it to ruin any important papers that he had on his desk. She took a small bite and grinned uneasily at her headmaster.



"So tell me Talia," she waited for the inevitable question of 'Why are you here?' but it never came, "which card did you get?" Talia was a little taken back by his question, who cared who was on the card? However, she was always polite to her elders, especially Dumbledore, and looked down at her card. "Er, Hesper Starkey, she was the first to use moon phases in potion making; she died in 1973."

Dumbledore nodded at her and smiled, "Wonderful woman, Hesper, I taught her myself. She did well in Transfiguration but her best subjects by far were Astronomy and Potions. Very much like you Talia."



Talia was surprised, to say the least, she never thought that Dumbledore, being the important man he was, would ever take the time to follow her academic career. Blushing furiously she thanked her Professor, never losing sight of why she came into his office. "Professor, I want to ask you a question."



Dumbledore stood and walked over to a bookcase standing on the far left side of his office. He placed the red leather bound book into an empty space on the shelf. "Miss Grace, Talia I know what your question is but I'm afraid that I cannot answer it at this time." Talia was crestfallen and her face must have revealed it because the Headmaster's face softened. "But there is something I want to share with you. I have spoken with Sister Mary Thomas," this news gave Talia quite a shock, but Dumbledore either didn't notice or chose to ignore it, "a very lovely woman might I add, and she informed me that you have decided to search for your birth parents." Talia nodded mutely, she didn't understand why Albus Dumbledore would take an interest in her life, she was no one and he was the greatest wizard in the world!



Again Dumbledore continued, not giving attention to Talia's surprise, "You are a very special young lady Talia, your mother left you in an orphanage. You grew up in a home bereft of real family bonds, no others like you, with your special gifts and you still managed to blossom into a fine young lady. Unfortunately, that is more than I can say for others in similar situations."



Talia cocked her head slightly as a frown played across Dumbledore's lips. She wondered what he meant by that, but she pushed her natural inquisitiveness aside and smiled at her Professor, frowning did not become him and she did not want to be the cause of it. Almost as if he had read her thoughts he laughed at her, "This old face has seen many frowns, however, it is students like you who counter them with a million more smiles." This was probably the highest compliment anyone had paid Talia in quite a while and she blushed under his praise.



Shifting slightly in her seat Talia realized that he would not give her the answers she wanted. "I'm sorry to have bothered you Professor." She made to stand up and move towards the door but he stopped her with his words. "Now Miss Grace, I think you can do better than that." Confused and a mite shocked Talia wrinkled her nose, wondering what in the world he was talking about.



Again he laughed at her, a joke that he kept to himself but would soon share with Talia. "I may not be able to answer your questions about Mr. Zidraw, but is there anything else you would like to ask me?" There was a question that had been burning within her since the beginning of the school year, but she didn't know whether or not she should ask him. His eyes twinkled knowingly as she stammered, attempting to find the words. "I—I was wondering if, well if you could help me find my mother? I am still not sure whether she was a muggle or a witch."



Dumbledore lowered himself into his overlarge cushy leather chair and tipped his chin into his fingertips. "That's better, now isn't it? I was wondering when you'd get around to asking me. I thought that maybe the day that Hagrid was hurt you might bring it up. That is why I asked you here alone, but I daresay you had other things on your mind."



Talia was, for lack of a better word, completely floored by his frankness, he knew she would ask and he was waiting patiently; she should have come to him earlier.




"Can you help me Professor Dumbledore?"



He removed his fingertips from his chin and gestured to her lap, "What you seek is right in front of you." Talia was puzzled as she looked down at her lap; the Chocolate Frog card lay gently and forgotten upon her thighs. She lifted it up looking at the witch staring back at her and smiling.



"Is that--?"



"Your mother." Dumbledore finished, nodding as shock consumed Talia's body. The questions she had longed to ask filled her brain. "Why did she leave me?"



"I will tell you what I am able to about your mother; she left you to save your life. Your mother had fallen in with an unsavory crowd, to say the least. When she found out that she was pregnant with you she came to me for help. I helped her to disappear and start her life anew as a muggle. She took on the name of Eliza Bennett and moved to a small town just outside of Falmouth."



Talia's jaw dropped, so she was right about Eliza Bennett! "But Professor, the records said that her baby died!"



Dumbledore nodded pensively, "Yes, that is what the records say." Talia began to understand what he was saying as her face dawned with comprehension. "So the records were doctored, but why?"



"Your mother was hunted down by those she once foolishly considered friends. Luckily I have an ear for these things and was able to warn her. She faked your death and left you on the steps of Cromwell Orphanage before running from these evil wizards. She knew you would never be safe as long as you were with her." Almost as if reading her thoughts, Dumbledore answered her next question without her having to ask it. "Upon her death her true identity was revealed, thus ending the hunt for her." Talia nodded as she tried to absorb all of the information thrown at her. The questions that filled her mind only a moment ago, flew out just as quickly. Dumbledore understood this as he rose from his seat. "There is time Talia, anything you wish to know, my door is always open."



Talia clasped the card in her hand, holding it to her chest as if it was actually her mother. "Thank you Professor." She looked down at the floor sheepishly with tears filling her eyes. "Thank you so much." Dumbledore nodded and placed a hand on her shoulder. "I must ask you to keep this to yourself. The men that hunt her are still out there and if they knew about you I—"



But Talia interrupted him, "I won't say a word Professor." He smiled at her, "I know you won't." Talia left Dumbledore's office that afternoon, feeling more alive than she ever had before.




Sirius




"Well, Hagrid was no help." Sirius complained as he, James and Lily were making their way back to the Gryffindor common room. It was slow going since James was still a bit sore from his run in with the ground of the Quidditch Pitch.



Lily looked thoroughly disturbed as she guided her arm around James' waist, just in case he felt weak. "I have been patient with this long enough, because of what happened; but I cannot let you two go running off in search of an adventure. Between Voldemort and this mystery wizard, who knows what kind of danger is out there."



Sirius sucked in his breath deeply; he knew he had to convince Lily that they were only asking around for what happened. "Lily, we aren't doing anything wrong, I promise!" Lily huffed at Sirius' response, "Well, that would be a first."



She stopped walking and turned to look James directly in the eye. "James Potter, if you are serious about marrying me then I have to tell you that you must put a stop to this." Lily's eyes were pleading with him. "James, please I cannot lose you!" Sirius watched, a little embarrassed at the moment being had between James and Lily. He felt out of place and to be honest, a little shocked. James had never said anything to him about wanting to marry Lily. Sure he joked about it and everyone knew he'd been in love with her since first year, but to actually say those words, 'Will you marry me?' that was unbelievable.



James looked down at the ground as Sirius waited awkwardly for his answer. "Okay Lils, I will not go running off after this wizard." Lily seemed satisfied with his answer and helped him continue along. By the time they had reached the tower the awkward silence was almost too much to bear. Lily must have realized what she said because her face was almost as red as her hair, "I am going to go to the library. I need to work out Flitwick's homework for tomorrow." She exited the room making her way up to the dorms. Sirius flopped on his favorite chair by the fire. James seemed to be looking for any type of distraction to avoid talking about what had just happened.



He sauntered over to the message board, "Hey Padfoot, they've announced the first trip to Hogsmeade, it's on Halloween day." "It's always on Halloween," was Sirius' placid response. James walked over to his friend and sat across from him with a sigh. "Listen Padfoot, you were the first on my list of people to tell. It just kind of happened suddenly." Sirius rolled his eyes and let out a very forced laugh. "You think that's what I'm worried about. I'm just trying to work out how I'm going to find out what's happening by myself."



James winced at Sirius' comment and Sirius was glad at it. Let him squirm…if he's going soft on me I'm better off alone



"Padfoot, you won't have to do anything by yourself. Sirius' face broke out into an unbelievable grin at James' words. "Why, you mean to say that you are going back on your promise to Lily?" he asked in a mock serious tone.



James gave Sirius a sly look which changed into one of mock surprise, "Come on Black, you of all people should know I never go back on a promise. I told Lily I wouldn't go running off after our mystery wizard. I never said anything about walking…" Sirius laughed heartily at this and for a few minutes they went back and forth with their lovely banter.



"Or flying…"



"Or skipping…" James laughed.



"Or traipsing…" Sirius answered with a slap on his knee.



Peter and Remus came in, interrupting the moment between the two Marauders. "What's going on Marauders?" Peter asked jovially. He and Remus were in the better spirits seeing Sirius laughing; though they were still a bit weary lest he blow up once again. James seemed to be feeling much better and the four Marauders sat in front of a roaring fire discussing what they should do.



~~~~~~~~~~




Sirius was in a hearty mood, all of his past anger had dissipated, leaving him free to enjoy the rest of the beautiful Sunday evening. He had an hour before dinnertime so he decided to take a stroll along the grounds.



It had proven quite difficult to slip out of the common room with Peter in his face asking questions about their plans every two seconds. Remus and James were a little bit easier to escape from. James had made up some silly excuse about studying so he could join Lily in the library. Remus seemed to be content with reading his book and placating Peter.



The sun had set but the moon was barely visible in the sky, in a few hours time the moon and the stars would light up the night sky. This made Sirius think of Talia; he hadn't seen her all day and he wondered if she was okay. She seemed to have taken the news of Zidraw's death very hard, almost as if she knew him. He shrugged off his thoughts about her.



You're turning into bloody James…who knows soon you'll be asking her to marry you



He walked along the bank of the lake and made his way over towards the cliffs; standing there basking in the crisp autumn air Sirius felt the inexplicable urge to leap off the cliffs into the water. He wanted to see if he would be able to swan dive; in his mind he was half serious about it too. He lingered there for a moment, contemplating whether or not the fall would kill him when something caught his eye. He noticed a figure coming out of the Forbidden Forest.



Ducking down quickly, so as not to be seen, he wondered if his chance had come. Who was it? He held his body low to the grass, lifting his head up to try and see who it was. He even considered changing into the dog, but if someone saw him he'd be toast. All he could do was try to stay as invisible as possible. A trait he would find very useful later in life. He watched as the person continued marching straight up to the castle; this couldn't possibly be someone who didn't belong here. No one would be as stupid and brazen to attack Hogwarts head on with Dumbledore here.



The light from the windows of the castle shown on their face and Sirius received a shock… Talia? Now what would she be doing in the Forbidden Forest, especially at this hour? He hesitated a moment, wondering whether or not he should approach her. Maybe she wanted to be alone, but throwing caution to the wind he called out her name. He wasn't just interested in what she was doing in there, there was another reason he wanted to speak with her. Sirius watched as Talia swirled around scanning the grounds for the source of the call. Remembering that he was lying in the middle of the grass, Sirius stood up and waved to her.



He started to walk forward as she bent down to the ground and stood up straight, making her way over to him. "Hey, what are you doing?" Sirius asked as nonchalantly as possible. She answered in the same tone, "Nothing much, just on my way to dinner." Talia obviously did not want to talk about why she was in the forest and Sirius didn't press it; they had just begun speaking again and he didn't want to ruin it.



"Great, I'll come with you. Are you feeling better from this morning?" He smiled as they began to make their way back up to the castle. Her answer was short and her demeanor revealed nothing as to her mood, "Yeah, thanks."



A silence lingered in the air around them and Sirius figured it was as good a time as any, "I wasn't sure if you noticed but the next Hogsmeade weekend has been announced." She laughed, it was nice to see a smile on her face and it put Sirius at ease. "Yeah I heard about it." He grinned, knowing that the odds were terribly in his favor. "So do you want to go with me?" A look of shock registered across Talia's face, "Oh Sirius, I thought since the fight—I well, I kind of told George I would go with him."



Sirius was completely taken aback, he had never actually been turned down by a girl before. "George who…that Prefect from Ravenclaw?" Talia nodded affirmatively and Sirius was at a loss for words. "I'm sorry Sirius, I just thought that you were angry at the time and he asked. I didn't…" Talia trailed off and Sirius could tell that she was genuinely sorry and completely uncomfortable.



He put on his best smile and shrugged nonchalantly, "Forget it, it's fine." The entered the Great Hall and those were the last words spoken between them for the rest of the night.




A/N: Thanks to all my reviewers...you're are the best!!! I really appreciate you taking the time to let me know what you think!!! :-) Moe


Chapter 9: The Full Moon
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Chapter 9 - The Full Moon



Talia


The week went by in a blinding blur; the formal niceties between Talia and Sirius were beginning to wear on her, she never meant to hurt him and she was sure that he knew that. It seemed that more than ever he was giving every girl except Talia his attention. One afternoon after an especially interesting Potions class Talia was strolling with Alice toward the Great Hall for lunch.

"So when did he ask you?" Alice was shooting questions at Talia as if she had transfigured herself into a cannon, who's only goal was to make Talia divulge every detail of how George asked her to Hogsmeade.

"He caught me on my way to…er well I was just coming from speaking with Professor Dumbledore and he saw me in the hall."

Alice looked sideways at Talia, but Talia fervently ignored her stare. She almost told her that she was on her way to the Forbidden Forest, and that would have led to questions that she couldn't answer. Talia knew that she was being careless, in fact Sirius had come close to finding out what happened. Talia had dropped the pouch that she now wore around her neck, only mere feet from Sirius; the fact that he had seen her coming from the forest was bad enough.

Luck struck twice for Talia; Sirius hadn't questioned her about the forest and now Alice ignored her slip up and continued talking about George. "So what are you planning to wear? Where do you think he'll take you?"

Talia started to panic at these questions. She never even thought about these things, oh why did she say yes? She didn't even know what she would wear or what they would even talk about! Alice must have noticed the panic in her eyes because she began to comfort her friend. "Don't worry, we'll find you something stunning to wear!" Talia sheepishly smiled, not even wanting to tell Alice that clothing wasn't her main concern.

"What's this about stunning?" Sirius walked up next to them flashing a toothy grin at Alice. (Ever since he asked Talia to Hogsmeade Alice and Sirius seemed to be on better terms and were getting along quite well.) "Oh," Alice waved her hand in dismissal, "nothing, just what she'll wear to Hogsmeade on Halloween."

Sirius rolled his eyes, which Talia caught, and gave a muffled grunt, "It doesn't matter what you wear, like it matters to him." Talia was beginning to get a little fed up with Sirius' nasty attitude towards George. At every turn he managed to make a snide remark about Ravenclaw or George. Only two days ago he was making a comment on how George's essay for Care of Magical Creatures was outlandish. Sirius knew how to be just "nice" enough to make the remark seem as though it was not a rip on George, which is exactly what it was.

"You know what Sirius, you're right! George will like me no matter what I wear, unlike some people, he isn't caught up in appearances. Thank you for making that clear to me."

Sirius narrowed his eyes and stopped mid-step to face Talia, who was now standing with her bag at her side facing him. "What's that supposed to mean?!" A small group of students were watching, in hushed whispers, while Alice stood between the two, apprehensively. The tension had been building up between them for a week and now it looked as if it would explode.

"Take it as you will, Sirius…" Talia walked off leaving Alice and Sirius in her wake. Sirius looked as though he would hit the first thing that crossed his path so Alice stood there saying nothing as Talia disappeared around the bend.

What did I ever see in him anyway?! Talia was livid as she stomped into the Great Hall throwing her things down on the table. Lily looked up with a face of mild surprise; she had been sitting with her nose buried in a book, undoubtedly reading about Divination. Professor Barrow had warned the students that he was going to be holding a mock N.E.W.T. exam to better prepare the students for their end of year exams. All this did was create a panic, making it impossible for anyone to check a book out of the library without having to fight over it.

Talia looked at her friend and muttered, "Sirius Ruddy Black!" It was all Lily could do to keep from laughing, "You sound like me last year, except all I kept saying was James Bloody Potter!" Talia smiled, she was glad that she had a friend who understood her and could make her feel better, if only for a little while. She felt the compulsive need to tell Lily everything; everything about her mother and Sirius, but while this feeling was so strong there was another feeling that was stronger. She gave her word to Dumbledore that she wouldn't tell anyone and she knew that she had to keep her word. Now Sirius and George were another thing; just as she was about to unleash her frustrations she saw Alice and Sirius enter the Great hall and her mouth snapped shut.

Lily knew why she did this and gave her a sympathetic glance, "We'll talk later," she whispered as the rest of their friends came in and sat down. Lunch was a pleasant affair for the table, mostly because Sirius and Talia kept their mouths shut. Just as Talia was beginning to think she would get by without another blowup she saw Alice's eyes widen in horror. Talia snapped her head around to see what horrified Alice so much and there it was. George was making his way from the Ravenclaw table over to where the 7th year Gryffindors were sitting. Talia wasn't sure of exactly what she should so; what she wanted to do was to tell George to go back to his table. She felt her muscles tense as he strolled over and sat down next to her.

"Hey everyone!" James and Remus managed weak smiles as Sirius and Peter blatantly ignored him, but this didn't seem to phase George. At least Lily and Alice made the effort to be nice and Talia rewarded them with a grateful smile. "Hi George!" Lily answered brightly, "What brings you to our table?" He smiled and gestured toward Talia, "None other than…"

He wasn't able to finish his sentence because Sirius stood with his oh so pompous air and removed himself from the table. "The Ravenclaw/Hufflepuff match is only six weeks away, you might want to prepare for that instead of hitting on our girls." Everyone, even Peter, was floored by Sirius' remark. As Sirius turned on his heel and marched out of the Great Hall, everyone except George looked thoroughly nonplussed. Talia's heart was pounding so fast, she felt as though it would leap out of her chest and into her Yorkshire pudding.

"George, I am so sorry…"

But George just put his hand in the air, "Talia, it's okay. I figured he wouldn't be happy about our date." Talia was a little baffled at his response, but he answered her unspoken question without flinching. "It's obvious that he fancies you." Talia knew that there was something between her and Sirius but she wasn't comfortable at all now that she knew other people saw it as well. She looked nervously towards the doors of the Great Hall and excused herself quickly, grabbing her books and darting out into the corridor. She hoped that she would be able to catch up with Sirius and luckily she saw him turn quickly down the next corridor. Talia ran as quickly as her book laden bag would allow and turned the corridor to see nothing. It wasn't possible that he made it across so quickly; she peered through the doors of classrooms to find no one inside. She couldn't quite understand how he could have disappeared like that. The main question puzzling her was, where did he go?

Talia doubled back and decided to look in the Gryffindor common room; it was as good a place as any to start and she knew it would be empty, which is probably what Sirius wanted right then. Talia knew Sirius better than either one of them could of imagined, because that is exactly where he went, he just had other ways of getting there than the common paths. There was only fifteen minutes to go before lunch ended as Talia told the Fat Lady the password. "Ashwinder eggs." The Fat Lady swung open, allowing Talia to enter and when Sirius saw her he let out a groan.

"What do want? An apology?" Talia felt her blood begin to boil, no one knew how to get to her quite like Sirius did.

"No Sirius, I want a truce."

He was a bit taken back by her response and remained silent.

"I never meant to hurt you, but—"

"Hurt me!?" Sirius asked incredulously. "You did nothing of the sort!" Sirius stood up from the couch and began to stare at Talia confrontationally. Talia winced at his reaction, the last thing she wanted was for him to blow up again, but she couldn't hold her anger in a moment longer.

"SIRIUS BLACK! SIT DOWN AND SHUT YOUR BLOODY PIE HOLE!" Talia shoved him down by the shoulders, showing enormous strength. She sighed as she plopped down next to him and lowered her voice. "Sirius, I know that my going to Hogsmeade with George bothers you," she held up her hand to silence him as he opened his mouth in protest, "so don't even pretend like it doesn't. I want you to listen to what I have to say, after that you can ignore me, keep being nasty to me, whatever you want, but just listen." Sirius didn't say a word and Talia took that as an agreement and continued on, "Before this year, I had never had any real friends. When you and the rest of the group took me in and befriended me it was more than I could have possibly wished for. I never expected you to actually like me…I mean more than just a friend. I have always liked you and I thought that the amazing Sirius Black would never notice me in a million years, but you did."

Talia paused, taking a deep breath; she couldn't actually believe that she was sitting there bearing her soul to him. "I would have never said yes to George if I thought you were going to ask me to go to Hogsmeade, but I did say yes and I am going with him. George is an amazing person and he is my friend. If you would just get to know him I know you would see how great he is." Sirius winced as Talia sat there complimenting the stupid prat but he didn't say a word.

"I cannot keep going like this, having a row every two minutes and walking around on egg shells." Sirius looked a little confused at her muggle cliché but she chose to ignore it. "Please Sirius can we just call a truce?"


Sirius


Sirius wasn't sure what came over him but as he sat there listening to Talia pour out her feelings he felt an overwhelming urge to be closer to her. She had barely finished her sentence when he pulled her towards him and kissed her roughly. She was perfect; she was straight with him and didn't play games. Every other totty in school always bent to his will and flirted mercilessly. They would constantly agree with him and giggle all the time, he found it thoroughly irritating. Talia, on the other hand, was different. She never played those games and was, more often than not, one of the few people to stand up to him. He loved that and he loved her for it.

He felt her relax into his arms as the kiss grew softer, and less forceful. This was perfect until they were interrupted by a chorus of gasps. They turned their heads to see the Marauders, Lily and Alice staring incredulously at them. Sirius looked at Talia to see the crimson run up her face, he laughed at how she blushed and got up from the couch. "What, haven't you ever seen two people snog before?"

It was quite a sight and Sirius knew it, in fact he reveled in the attention; he almost always seemed to be in the center of everything. Talia, who was much more used to the sidelines withdrew and walked away. Sirius went running after her as she tried to run out the door towards class. "Hey Tal, I'm sorry listen don't let them bother you." Sirius smiled as he fell in step with her. She shook her head and didn't say anything as they rushed to Professor Sprout's Herbology class.

The rest of their friends came in only moments after Talia and Sirius found their places. Talia took out her potting materials and busied herself with anything she could get her hands on. Sirius noticed that she was desperately trying to ignore his questioning glances. She liked him, there was no doubt about that, and it wasn't his over inflated ego that told him that; she had kissed him back…both times. She made it clear that she had a crush on him so why was she pulling away.

You know what blast it all…I'm wasting my time thinking about girls, especially this one!

James leaned forward, almost crushing the Flutterby Bush he was supposed to be pruning. "Oi Padfoot, tonight's the full moon. Don't go filling your head with silly nonsense." Sirius knew what he meant; he could not be distracted by anything on these nights. The last full moon had been a close call, even by Sirius' standards and they couldn't have Remus escaping again.

"Oh my dears, you must make sure that your Flutterby Bushes do not shiver too much, the more energy they use the more maintenance they will require." Professor Sprout was walking around the greenhouse assisting the students on this boring lesson. Sirius was deeply wishing that they were taking care of something like Devil's Sprout. At least that might liven things up a tear. Talia still avoided his gaze and he watched as Alice and Lily hovered next to her speaking in whispers. He shook his head softly, girls…sheesh!

"So how was it?" James asked nonchalantly.

Sirius knew he meant the kiss but of course he had to be difficult. "How was what, Prongs?"

"You are a piece of work." James laughed as he turned back to Remus. "That one'll never settle down."

Remus gave a hearty chuckle at his two friends. Sirius could tell that Remus' laugh seemed forced. Sirius loved the nights of the full moon. He and his friends got to gallivant around town, doing whatever they pleased. Remus was another story, he was always pensive and peekish when the full moon came around; but then again, who could blame him.

~~~~~~~~~~


The Marauders sat in their dorm room; luckily Amos Diggory was not back from his classes yet. Sirius and Peter had already ventured down to the kitchens to nick some food for the night. It was an elaborate ritual that was repeated every month and the Marauders knew their parts. The invisibility cloak would never cover all of them, which is why they created the Marauders Map; it had taken quite a few late nights in the library but they would sacrifice anything in the name of Marauderism.

"You know, I never thought about it but what are we going to do with the map after we graduate?" James asked thoughtfully as Sirius packed the food into a satchel. Peter looked at James as if he had four heads, "What do you mean, what are we going to do with it?"

James stood, with the map in his hands, "Well it's not of much use outside Hogwarts, is it? Should we give it to someone? I've seen some promising first years, they could have the potential--" But Sirius cut his friend off, "No, this is only for true adventurers and troublemakers." He said as he took the map from James' hand, "It is only meant for someone truly special." Remus sighed as he sat gazing at the common room fire, "Maybe we should destroy it." His three friends looked at him completely abashed but before the situation could escalate James had the presence of mind to cut them off. "We can talk about the map later, we need to go." They looked out the window into the dusky light of the setting sun.

They were getting quite good at predicting the sunset, and it was only a matter of half an hour or so before it was completely down. Gathering their things they took one last look at the map, the coast was clear and they set off for the Whomping Willow. The map was cleared and they hadn't taken into account that Argus Filch would be sniffing around for any troublemakers. He spotted them walking toward the front doors and asked in his usual sneer, "You four…what are you doing out here? Mmm up to something bad aren't they?" He posed the question, not to them, but to his cat Mrs. Norris, who was now winding her body through his legs.

Sirius haughtily stepped up to the front of the group, "We're not doing anything wrong. We're allowed to be out here." But Filch was supremely skeptical and clicked his tongue at them, "We'll have to see about that won't we?" He walked away but left the Marauders with an uneasy feeling, Sirius was the only one who scoffed at his hidden threat. "Let's go shall we, we haven't got all night."

Peter changed into the rat when they were sure no one was looking and ran to the willow to push the knot, pausing its attacking branches. In a matter of moments the four friends disappeared underneath its still branches and into the trap door hidden beneath.


Talia


The full moon was definitely going to make it difficult to see the stars but it was rare that Professor Sinistra gave her permission to spend the night in the Astronomy tower. Talia knew that her professor had always liked her for her interest in the heavens but she secretly thought that her newfound favoritism of Talia had something to do with the night she was attacked. The reason didn't really matter to Talia, all she knew was that she wouldn't get into any trouble being up there.

Talia looked up at the sky with her naked eye, feeling completely overwhelmed by its vast beauty. She often spoke aloud (for no one's benefit except her own). "This is truly spectacular. It makes me feel special and insignificant at the same time."

"Oh really, how's that?" Talia swung her head around so quickly she got a crick in her neck. Sure, she had made a statement but she didn't expect it to be returned. Severus Snape stood with his arms folded, blocking the doorway from view. Talia relaxed, knowing that although he was nasty he would never hurt her. "I just meant that it is so huge that it makes me feel small. Yet, in the same token I feel as though it were made especially for me."

Severus snorted at her honesty, "That's ridiculous!" Talia just shrugged his comment off, knowing that he was never truly happy unless he was making someone or himself for that matter, miserable. "Just a thought…" she murmured as she brought her eye to the lens. Talia looked through the lens trying to find Cepheus so she could label it on her chart. She began mumbling to herself again, as was her habit, "There it is, right below Ursa Minor."

She heard Severus shift his position slightly. Why was he just standing there? "Do you mean Cepheus?" The question that came out of Severus' mouth shocked her completely. "How did you know that?" He just scoffed at her question and answered her with a nasty tone, "I took Astronomy too you know." Talia just shrugged once more and returned to her work. What was he doing there? Probably just out to annoy her, stupid prat. He never even thanked her for saving his hide. "If it makes it any easier, you might want to locate Vega first. Cepheus is only a few stars away." Talia hummed and nodded in agreement, Vega was one of the brightest stars in the sky, it would make sense to locate that first. "Thanks Severus."

He walked closer to her star chart and looked down at it as she used her quill to jot down Vega's location. "Hmmm, impressive…" he mumbled, "this chart is very accurate." Talia just raised her eyebrows and went back to her telescope, "I did take Astronomy too you know."

"Touche." He answered to her obvious quip. Curiosity boiled up inside Talia until she finally decided to be done with it, "What are you doing up here Severus?" He seemed to stiffen at her question as she played with the focus on her telescope. "Nothing, what are you doing here?" Talia sighed, completely worn out and not looking for a row just then, "Why don't we both say we are here to stargaze and leave it at that?" He nodded curtly and continued to look out towards the sky. Minutes passed in relative silence and Talia was beginning to find Severus' company relaxing, even bordering on pleasant. All this was dashed in a matter of seconds. "You're looking for trouble spending time with them you know."

Talia's grip on the focus tightened and her jaw began to clench. So this is why he came up there, to berate her friends. "Whom I choose to spend my time with is none of your business Severus. Some people would say the same thing about you and yet, here I am." Severus' eyes narrowed at her retort. He seemed to develop a silent rage within him as he reached for the star chart. "You're better off with your stars than with him. Talia knew exactly who that him was meant for and she began to grow even more agitated. "Like I said Severus, it is none—"

But he cut her off, "That Black is no good Talia. He's nothing but a—"

It was Talia's turn to prevent Severus from going any further and making a huge mistake. She drew out her wand and held it inches from his hooked nose. "Go on and finish that sentence. I dare you." Severus just laughed at her, which made Talia even more angry. He pushed her wand to the side and moved in so closely so that she could feel his breath on her skin. "Don't say that you haven't been warned." With a swish of his robes, Severus disappeared down the winding staircase leaving Talia in his wake. She stood silhouetted against the moonlight. If a picture had been taken at that moment, one would have thought it serene and lovely but no photograph could capture the turmoil inside its subject. Talia's rage inhibited her from making anymore progress on her charts. After a few futile attempts she packed away her things and marched back to her common room, all the while wondering what Severus was up to.


Sirius


Sirius was completely breathless before he made it back to Hogwarts. The rays from the rising sun were blinding as he ran past the motionless branches of the Whomping Willow. He burst through the open front doors of Hogwarts castle and searched the halls panic stricken. Mr. Filch was limping his way through the doors of the Great Hall and turned to sneer at the student. "Where is Professor Dumbledore?!" Sirius asked between his deep gulps of air. His sides were cutting like knives but it didn't matter, he had to find Dumbledore. Filch just sneered at him, "Been getting into trouble eh."

Sirius didn't have time for this as he pushed past Filch, running full speed toward the Headmasters office. He heard Filch's yells after him, "I'LL SEE YOU STRUNG UP BY YOUR TOES!"

Sirius turned the corner to Dumbledore's office colliding with none other than Professor McGonagall. "Black! What are you doing?" Her severe eyebrows were knit closely together and she was staring down at Sirius disapprovingly. "No time—James—hurt—hospital wing." Sirius answered in between his rapid breathing; he knew that the other Marauders must have been there by then. McGonagall's face turned to one of shock and horror. She grabbed Sirius and told him to go directly to the hospital wing to wait for her as she ran to Dumbledore's office. There was one thing invading Minerva McGonagall's thoughts and that was the full moon.


A/N: Thanks to my reviewers I appreciate you taking the time to let me know what you think!


Chapter 10: The Sword
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Chapter 10 – The Sword



Talia


Talia grumbled as the bright morning sun invaded her sleep, pulling her from her abnormally pleasant dream. She rolled back over, shoving her head beneath her pillow wishing she had not forgotten to draw her hangings closed the night before.

Inwardly she groaned thinking about her row with Severus. What had he meant by saying, "Don't say that you haven't been warned."? Talia wondered what he was up too and most importantly of all; should she tell the Marauders?

With so may things cluttering her mind add to the bright sunlight in her eyes, she knew she wasn’t going to be able to get back to sleep. She sighed and rolled out of bed to get dressed. As she threw on her clothes and slipped her feet into her trainers Talia decided to go to the library which would certainly be quiet this time of day. Professor Rigel had granted her permission to work on a few more advanced potions and she needed to look up instructions and ingredients.

Hogwarts was eerily quiet; after all it was dawn on a Sunday morning. Who else would be up at that hour? Amusingly enough, Talia was laden with books even though she was headed for the library. This unfortunately, kept her so occupied that she never noticed Bellatrix Black headed her way.

Talia's body was pounded against the hard stone and her head ricocheted off the wall. Dizzy and unnerved she shook her head rigorously, trying to clear her befuddled mind. Talia felt the cold wall behind her but there was something strange and soft wedged between it and her body. Talia moved forward and her back groaned in pain. Mrs. Norris, Filch's cat, jumped out from behind her hissing and baring her claws. With one swipe Talia looked down at her hand and as if by magic, four blood red lines appeared. Bella laughed maniacally at her handiwork, as blood dripped from Talia's hand onto the floor.

Talia looked up at her attacker, What in Merlin's name was Bella doing up at this hour? she asked herself. But before she could find out Filch appeared out of nowhere.

"What are you two up to?" Filched asked eyeing a very agitated Mrs. Norris. "What have they done to you my love?" He asked gingerly lifting the cat into his arms. His glare turned on Bella.

Her sugary sweet voiced pierced Talia's eardrums like nails on a chalkboard. "Oh Mr. Filch, I was just patrolling," she turned slightly so he could see her Prefect's badge, "and I saw her trying to attack that poor defenseless animal." With one hand she pointed at Talia, the other attempting to hide her wand. Talia gasped, "I did no such—"

"YOU!" Filch's voice quivered with anger, he began stuttering as small wads of spittle spewed from his mouth. "I will see you punished for this!" He turned off running down the corridor, "HEADMASTER!"

Bella stood before Talia, supremely pleased with the scene. Talia stood and dropped what books she still held, grabbing for her wand.

"NONSENSICA!" Talia shouted before Bella could react. Bella raised he wand trying to retaliate against Talia but all that came from her mouth was an incoherent babble. Talia's babbling hex had done its job; Bella grabbed at her throat trying to coax it into working properly again while Talia laughed.

Talia gathered her books and noticed that the bleeding on her hand had not stopped, if anything it was growing worse. She quickly changed direction and headed for the hospital wing.


Sirius


Sirius flopped down onto the ground next to James' bed. A pain shot through his knees but it didn't matter, all that mattered was James. He was still passed out and the three remaining Marauders looked at each other in fear. Madam Pomfrey attempted to chivvy them away from the bed but gasped at the sight of them.

None of them had even noticed their appearance because they were much too concerned with James. Peter had a gash in his arm, where his robes were torn away by the sword that the maniac had wielded. Remus was bleeding profusely from a gash just above his left eye and his limp was caused by a fractured bone. Aside from the aching pain in Sirius' undoubtedly broken ribs, he had a bloody lip. The blood had been running down his face for quite some time, soaking the front of his shirt thereby making his injuries appear much worse.

James was the one they were all worried about. The maniac had actually stabbed James with that sword; luckily Sirius was able to get it away from him. They were able to fight off their attacker, causing him to retreat before he inflicted any further damage.

McGonagall and Dumbledore burst into the hospital wing as Madam Pomfrey muttered and fretted over James. Dumbledore looked absolutely furious, which was something that the Marauders were not used to. Sure they had gotten in trouble before but that was all in good fun, no one was ever seriously harmed during one of their pranks. This was different.

"Mr. Black, my office now." Dumbledore strode in and stopped directly in front of Sirius' bed. He had never heard the Headmaster speak like this to anyone and quite frankly he was more than a little bit frightened. But Dumbledore, sensing his terror, lowered his voice into a more calming tone. "Sirius, I need to know what happened."

"Oh, no you don't! This boy needs to be tended too." Madam Pomfrey came rushing over wagging her finger at Dumbledore. Her other hand was laden with bandages and a vile of the most dangerous looking potion Sirius had ever seen; and after growing up in the Noble House of Black, that was saying something.

"Poppy, I understand but I must speak with him,” said Dumbledore.

She shook her head vehemently, "So talk here!" Dumbledore and McGonagall had to acquiesce and began questioning Sirius. He sat there as McGonagall began firing questions at him.

"Minerva, let him speak." Dumbledore put his hand on McGonagall's shaking shoulder. Sirius could tell that she was frightened for James, but she had the entirely wrong idea.

"Professor McGonagall, Remus didn't bite James," said Sirius. Remus sat on his bed, not daring to look up. Sirius could tell that his insides were torn apart worse than any flesh wound. He knew that he had to carefully concoct his lie so that McGonagall and Dumbledore wouldn't know that he, James and Peter were Animagi. "We went to get Remus after the sun had come up. We know what a state he's usually in after the full moon. When we got to the Shrieking Shack we were attacked."

Dumbledore's eyes were alert and concerned, if he had detected Sirius' lie he didn't show it. "Attacked by who Mr. Black?"

Sirius moaned softly, that was the problem, they didn't know. "I didn't recognize him. None of us had ever seen him before. He might have…" Sirius trailed off but as he gazed over at James lying so still in the hospital bed, he knew that he couldn't hold back. "We think he might have been the dark wizard who killed his father."

A look of shock spread across Professor McGonagall's face, "How did you four know about that?!" Sirius noticed the slight glimmer in Dumbledore's eyes when he looked at him.

So he did know Talia and I were there!

"I—I overheard something, anyway we managed to fight him off but not before he stabbed James with his sword."

"Sword?" Dumbledore asked, any glimmer in his eye was now gone. He face looked as if it were made of stone as he sat down on Sirius' bed. "It is important Mr. Black that you tell me exactly what this sword looked like."

Sirius was a little taken back, who cared about the sword, what about the wizard!? But still he began to describe the sword to the Headmaster. "It seemed to be made completely of gold. It had rubies on the handle and it looked like—well it looked kind of like a snake."

Dumbledore's grave silence did not make Sirius feel any better. Dumbledore stood and walked over to Madam Pomfrey. "Will he be okay Poppy?"

Madam Pomfrey sighed deeply and nodded, "I thought for a second that he would have to go to St. Mungo's but he'll be just fine. All he needs is a few weeks rest. I've given him a blood replenishing potion and healed his wounds."

Dumbledore silently thanked her as he placed his hand on her shoulder. "I will leave you to it then." McGonagall followed him out the door and they disappeared from Sirius' view.


Talia


"Oh Albus, what would we have done if Lupin had bit him? One werewolf is difficult enough but two!" said McGonagall.

Talia stood hunched behind a suit of armor in complete shock. She had ducked behind there thinking that she was in trouble for Filch's cat. She had never meant to overhear their conversation. Remus, a werewolf? Did Sirius, James or Peter know about this? she asked herself. She felt the blood drain from her face and her hands began to tremble.

Who did he almost bite? she wondered. Not knowing where to go or what to do, she stood frozen; the blood from her cut continued to run down her sleeve.

~~~~~~~~~~


"Oi Padfoot, she's awake!" declared James.

Talia's eyes fluttered open. She didn't know where she was or who was talking but she felt a strange tingling sensation in her arms and legs. "Wha—Where am I?" Talia opened her eyes and saw the concerned face of Sirius staring back at her. "Sirius, what's going on?"

A smile of relief spread across his face. "It's okay Tal, you fainted."

"Gave us a right scare," said Remus.

Remus smiled down at Talia and the memories began to flood her mind. Remus is a werewolf Talia felt a slight twinge in her chest and she couldn't quite figure out what it was; was it fear? Her brain began to work overtime, arguing with her reaction. THIS IS REMUS FOR MERLIN'S SAKE. He's your friend! Talia tried to hide her emotions as she closed her eyes again.

Madam Pomfrey came bustling over to her bed, ushering Remus and Sirius into their own beds of the hospital wing. "It's okay dear. You lost a lot of blood, I don't know what gave you that cut but it must have been nasty. Do you remember how you got it dear?" Madam Pomfrey was fussing with the bandages on her hand and continued speaking, not allowing Talia to answer her question. "The poison wouldn't allow the wounds to heal but I think I've got you sorted out." It took a moment before Talia could register what the nurse just said.

"POISON?! WHAT?!"

Talia's face was panic stricken as Madam Pomfrey tried to comfort her, "It's fine dear, it's fine. You'll be right as rain once I'm done."

"No," Talia shook her head fervently, "you don't understand, it couldn't have been poison."

Madam Pomfrey frowned at her response and then pushed her back down onto the bed. "I'm afraid that it was definitely poison Miss Grace, now lie still so I can—" But Talia didn't let her finish as she jumped out of bed and sprinted towards the door. With a flick of Madam Pomfrey's wand the door shut tightly. "Just where do you think you're going?"

"I have to see Professor Dumbledore!" Madam Pomfrey could see the desperation in her eyes.

"Get back in bed, I will summon him." With that the conversation was over and Talia was meekly making her way back to the hospital bed. She was greeted with unbelieving stares from the four Marauders, who still occupied their beds.

"What's wrong?" asked Remus in a hushed whisper.

Talia looked at him and her eyes began to tear. Why did he have to be a werewolf? She stuttered, slowly trying to answer his question, "It was Filch's cat," she answered rubbing the bandages on her wrist.

Sirius jumped out of bed grabbing his shoes and beginning to throw them on, "That slimy, good-for-nothing—"

"Shhh!" James chastised Sirius, "she'll hear you!"

"So what?!" Sirius bellowed, "If he thinks he can get away with—"

"He won't Padfoot, Dumbledore'll set him straight."

Although James was lying in the hospital bed, unable to move he was able to coax Sirius to sit back down. Talia marveled at the way he was able to make Sirius understand; she would have to beg him for a few lessons. Talia felt Remus' stare and wondered, in a panic, if he knew what she had overhead and that she found out about him. So she did what was in her nature to do, she lowered her head and shut her mouth. Madam Pomfrey brought Dumbledore in the nick of time, to save them from the uncomfortable silence.

He seemed as if he was gliding on air as he walked briskly in the room to the side of Talia's bed. "Miss Grace, I believe you have something to share with me." Talia nodded, all of a sudden much shyer about conveying what had happened. Sirius saw this and took it as his cue to intervene.

"Professor, Filch's cat attacker her, it scratched her hand, WITH POISONED CLAWS!"

"That is enough Mr. Black," he turned to face Talia as she became enormously interested in the pattern of the floors. "Is this true Miss Grace?" Talia nodded her head slowly, not taking her eyes off of the floor. For some reason she never told him that Bella was there and how she had cursed her. Dumbledore nodded and stood, making his way to James' bed. "And how is our young Mr. Potter doing?"

James grinned and shrugged, "All right," he said, stifling a wince. But Madam Pomfrey had heard it and was rushing over with more potions to throw down his throat. Unfortunately for James it was a losing battle and he was forced to drink the awful concoctions.

"You complain now but later you'll be thanking me." She walked briskly back into her office.

"Fat chance." James whispered. Dumbledore could not hide his grin as he stood and addressed the group as a whole.

"I do not dare to interfere with Madam Pomfrey's medicinal expertise therefore you will remain in the hospital wing until further notice. However, there are some people that wish to see you." With a simple hand gesture the doors to the hospital swung open and Alice and Lily rushed in.

Lily ran to James' side as Alice came and sat between Remus and Talia. "Oh James are you okay?! What happened to you?!"

Dumbledore raised his eyebrows at James and put his hand on Lily's arm, "I think the questions would be best left for later." Lily didn't notice the thankful gaze that James sent Dumbledore. That wouldn't be the last time that Dumbledore would get him out of a tight spot with Lily. Dumbledore left the room full of 7th years and a whole lot of questions.

Alice turned to Talia with a concerned look on her face, "Talia, what happened to you?" It only took a few moments for Talia to explain what happened and when she was through Lily turned to James.

"And what happened to you four?" James just groaned and turned over on his side,

"Come on Lils, you heard Dumbledore." Lily just grabbed his shoulder and flipped him over to face her.

"I know what didn't happen," she growled at him through gritted teeth, "so tell me what did!" James' face looked as though he had seen a ghost; no amount of complaining about pain would get him out of this.

Talia watched wondering what Lily meant by that comment; did she know about Remus too?

"You went off on one of your stupid adventures, didn't you? You were trying to find this wizard?! JAMES POTTER, ANSWER ME!" It didn't matter that Madam Pomfrey was now out of her office and chastising Lily, she wasn't going anywhere until she got some answers.

Talia winced on James' behalf; he was really going to get it. James didn't need to answer Lily though, the guilty look on his face was all the proof she needed.

"We're through! Do you hear me? THROUGH!" Lily stormed out of the hospital wing with her face almost as red as her hair. Talia wasn't sure if she had ever seen anyone that angry before. Alice turned and shot Talia a look before running off after Lily.

No one spoke after that. James looked as if he wanted to crawl into the mouth of a Hungarian Horntail. He turned over in his bed so that he wasn't facing any of them.

Three days were spent in silence, with only small interludes when Lily and Alice came to visit them or bring them their class work. Lily made sure to stay clear of James, she refused to speak to him and he remained silent, still not speaking to anyone, even Sirius. Whenever Lily spoke about some particular fun she and Alice had, she made sure to turn up the volume. Everyone in the room knew that Lily was concerned about James and that James was a wreck without her; that is of course everyone except Lily and James.

"Ignorance is bliss." Alice whispered as they left one day. Talia gave her friend a weary smile, knowing that she must be going through hell with Lily for the past few days.

~~~~~~~~~~


Finally it was Friday and the patients were getting fidgety, even James wanted out of the hospital wing. Not only was Hogsmeade the next day but so was the Halloween feast and no one wanted to miss that. Madam Pomfrey allowed Sirius, Peter, Remus and Talia to leave but she refused to let James go.

The yelling match could be heard as far as the Forbidden Forest, but no matter how much James pleaded, Madam Pomfrey was not letting him out.

In the midst of the begging a pleading from, not only James, but everyone, the door to the hospital wing opened, and much to everyone's surprise George stood in the doorway with a bouquet of calla lilies for Talia. Sirius' jaw dropped as Talia blushed, taking the flowers from George. "Er…thanks George, they're beautiful."

With one last look of pity towards James and a wave goodbye to the rest of her friends Talia walked out the door with George.



Chapter 11: The Forbidden Forest
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Chapter 11 – The Forbidden Forest


A/N: I'm so sorry this took so long! But here it is…I hope you enjoy it. This chapter contains a bit of alcohol consumption. In the wizarding world people come of age at 17 so it is not underage drinking, but I wanted to warn anyone who might be sensitive about this subject! Thanks for reading! :-) Moe


Sirius


Sirius shook his head as he watched Talia leave with George; he wasn't very angry at her for doing it. To be honest he pitied George; not matter what George did, Talia would never feel the same way about him that she felt about Sirius. That is why he only felt a small pang of jealousy when they left.
"Oi Prongsy, don't worry we'll sneak you in some sweets." Sirius assured his friend as the rest of the Marauders left begrudgingly. It just didn't feel like All Hallow's Eve without James and although their Halloween prank had been planned for nearly a month, it wouldn't be a sweet without him.

Remus was awfully quiet and Sirius knew why but he tried his best to lighten the mood; prank time while short a Marauder was one thing, short two Marauders and Sirius was ready to burst. "Listen Moony, we've got to do this for James, if you're in an awful mood it won't help matters. Stop thinking about it."

Remus shook his head quietly and sighed, "No use, I can't help but think about it. And on top of everything, Lily and James are on the outs." Peter nodded his head quietly while Peeves swooped down on them attempting to hit them with ink pellets. As if second nature the boys raised their bags over their heads. Halloween was the worst time of year for Peeves' jokes. The Marauders usually enjoyed them and even cheered Peeves on. This would always cause Peeves to cackle and show off even more.

Surprisingly enough Sirius just shrugged, "So what? He's become a wet blanket ever since he started dating Evans, maybe now he'll get back to the old James."

However, even more surprisingly Remus stopped dead in his tracks, "So what are you saying, Sirius?" His attitude was bordering on confrontational and Sirius was a bit taken aback by this.

"What broomstick flew up your arse, Remus?" Sirius was doing a wonderful job of maintaining his calm to the casual observer, but if one looked close enough they could she his face flush slightly. His normally pronounced jaw was clenched tightly.

What in the bloody hell is Moony's problem?

"Lay off Lily, that's all!" Remus stormed away towards the stairs and disappeared up them, leaving Peter and Sirius standing in an empty corridor completely baffled. With one confused glance at each other, they took off after him; unfortunately the staircase had decided to move before they could reach it. It was almost as if it was taking Moony's side. Sirius and Peter waited patiently.

Peter tried to alleviate Sirius' frustration, "He's not himself; he's always like this after the full moon." Sirius just shook his head, there was something else wrong with Remus, he just couldn't put his finger on it. Peter looked incredulously at Sirius, "You know how he gets!" But Sirius still wasn't convinced. He was so preoccupied with Remus that he didn't even notice the sour look on Peter's face.

They finally made it through the door of the common room. Remus was sitting in front of the common room fire with Alice and they both looked over to see Sirius and Peter enter. Alice rose from her seat and gave Remus a reassuring smile, "You three need to talk." Before leaving the common room she placed a hand on Sirius' shoulder and whispered in his ear, "Hear him out."

Sirius didn't know what to make of what she said; thoroughly confused he and Peter sat down and waited for Remus to speak.

The few minutes of silence were unbearable as Remus appeared to be collecting his thoughts. Finally, when he began to speak the tension seemed to alleviate. "You two and James figured out my condition at the end of our first year here." He turned to face Peter and Sirius. They nodded, not wanting to interrupt him. "Well, did you ever wonder why no one else figured it out?"

Sirius frowned and then shrugged at his question, "No one knew you as well as us, I just figured no one noticed."

Remus gave a small smile at his friend's naiveté. "Well someone did notice Padfoot. In fact it only took Lily four months or so to realize what was going on." Peter and Sirius' jaws dropped as they stared incredulously at Remus.

Peter shook his head vigorously, "No, she couldn't have. We told her in 6th year, together remember!"

Remus smiled again, "I asked her to keep quiet about it. I didn't want you three to know that she knew before you. I thought that maybe…well I thought you would think I was keeping secrets from you." Something clicked inside Sirius, Remus had always been friendly with Lily and when they were younger he noticed that they would sometimes talk in secret. Naturally he always thought Remus was trying to tell her to give James a chance, but now it all made sense. Remus watched as his friend pieced together the puzzle.

"She kept my secret and for a while she was the only one I could confide in about my being a…a werewolf."

Peter stood up from his seat and walked over to the fire, stroking it gently. "But we barely pieced it together, how did she—"

"Lily is the smartest witch I ever met." Sirius cut him off as he stood decisively. Peter just nodded as Sirius looked down at Remus. "Moony, I'm sorry." He held out his hand, which Remus took eagerly, "Padfoot, there's no need."

They both smiled and turned to Peter; Remus, although it was unlike him to take command, gave a large grin, "Come on Wormtail, we have some pranks to pull." With a bark-like laugh from Sirius and an excited squeak from Peter, they were off to the kitchen.

"I have to make one detour, I'll meet you down there." Sirius said as he left his friends.


Talia


Talia was staring avidly at the ground as she walked along the bank of the lake with George. He was a quiet person, often contemplative. Talia was always wondering what was going on in his mind. He had an unusual quietness about him, as if he was always thinking about something really important. That was a quality that Talia found endearing; the nuns at Cromwell used to say that about her.

George must have noticed her staring because he started to laugh. "Anything on your mind, Talia?" She smiled sheepishly.

"Mmm Hmm, James…" she answered absentmindedly. Her friend was in pretty bad shape and she was worried about him. Mind you, physically he was doing much better, but since Lily broke up with him, he was an emotional mess. Even Sirius wasn't able to cheer him up.

"You friends mean a lot to you, don't they?" George asked as he picked up a nearby rock, tossing it in the lake. Friday afternoon was winding to a close and the sun was sinking ever lower in the sky.

"Of course," Talia answered, "don't you care about your friends?"

George stammered, afraid that somehow he had offended Talia. "N—No of course they do. I just—I meant that you are pretty close." At this Talia shook her head.

"No, not really, I mean Lily, Alice and I are pretty close. Lily's a muggle born, like I am," Talia added. Not really sure whether or not that was true, "we just have a lot in common. Alice has been a wonderful friend, loves Potions just like me."

George seemed to lower his voice a bit as he asked, "What about Sirius, James, Peter and Remus?"

Talia just shrugged, "To be honest, we really don't know much about each other. More like friends by association." They walked in silence for a few moments and George turned to her as she continued, "I would honestly love to get to know them, but…"

"But what?" he asked.

"Well, it's complicated." Talia shrugged, thinking about Remus and not really wanting to continue the conversation.

"Friendship shouldn't be complicated. You are a really smart person Talia, and you chose your friends for a reason. Maybe if you all made more of an effort, you wouldn't feel this way." George spoke with a great deal of wisdom that Talia only half expected. He was a Ravenclaw after all.

Talia smiled at George and looked down once more at her flowers. Bringing them to her nose they reminded her of something, but she couldn't quite place it. "Thanks for the flowers George, they're beautiful."

He blushed as he looked into her eyes, "I wasn't sure what to get but someone recommended them." He took one from the bunch and broke off the stem, putting it in her hair. As he leaned in close Talia felt his breath on her neck, it was a warm sensation, not altogether unpleasant. He turned his face towards hers and their eyes locked for a brief moment before he kissed her. Talia knew that it was coming and she hadn't stopped it. But now that it had happened for some reason she didn't want to kiss him. She pulled away quickly, gasping a bit.

She noticed the panic in his eyes as he began to apologize, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to—"

"No, it's okay, I just wasn't expecting it," she lied to him.

George turned a bit red and smiled at her, "You don't have to explain. I know how you feel about me. If you want to go to Hogsmeade with someone else I understand."

Talia was shocked at his forthcoming nature, "No George, I want to go with you!" He just smiled and gave her a disbelieving look. She gave him a threatening stare, "Don't you dare say his name, George!"

He laughed and shrugged his shoulders, feigning innocence, "Who's name?"

She let out a hearty laugh and slapped him on the shoulder, "You are too bad, you could give Sir—" She clamped her hand over her mouth before bursting out into laughter.

He pointed at her laughing, "You said it, I didn't!"

~~~~~~~~~~


Gryffindor tower was bustling with students, who were up unusually early, preparing for the trip to Hogsmeade.

Lily was shuffling through her trunk, "Where is my blue jumper?!" While Lily was usually very neat, she had a mound of clothes on her bed; the pile was growing at a startling rate as she threw the contents of her trunk on top of them.

"Why don't you wear the red one?" Alice asked in a bored tone. She was dressed and completely ready to set off.

"Because, red clashes with my awful hair!" She said as she gestured toward her beautiful auburn hair.

"I like your hair." Talia answered as she waited patiently for her friend to finish her meltdown.

Alice just shook her head disbelievingly, "Then why do you have a red jumper?!"

"Christmas present." Lily answered as she pulled out a green jumper and settled on that one. "Talia, you don't have to wait for me. Shouldn't you find George?"

Talia just shrugged, although Alice had carefully curled her hair, using some spell Talia had never heard before and Lily had gone through every article of clothing Talia owned, searching for the perfect outfit, she still didn't think of this as a date. She and George had agreed on friendship the day before, Talia didn't want him to think she saw this as anything more than two friends spending time together.

After many assurances from Alice and Talia, Lily finally deemed herself ready. The three girls made their way down the stairs and into their common room. Alice looked around, expecting the Marauders, minus James, to be waiting for them, but they were no where to be seen. On his way out, Amos informed them that the guys had already left.

Alice looked a bit put out and made a face, "Well that's bad form, they knew we were coming. Sirius is just too impatient to wait for anyone."

Lily just sighed and asked Alice not to be so hard on Sirius.

George was waiting for Talia in front of the Hogwart statue in the front hall. He looked comfortable in a green jumper, a pair of jeans and his trainers. Talia was happy that she had let Lily choose a very casual outfit for her, instead of wearing the heeled boots and black skirt that Alice had shoved under her nose.

They strolled along merrily with Lily, Alice and Frank to Hogsmeade. It was a pleasantly mild Halloween and they didn’t even need jackets as there was no chill in the air. Talia didn't know Frank all that well but he seemed pleasant enough and terribly bright.

When they reached Hogsmeade Lily announced that she would meet them later in The Three Broomsticks.

"Where are you going?" Alice asked.

"Oh just to Honeydukes, I figure James could do with a few sweets." Lily answered nonchalantly.

Talia and Alice stopped dead in their tracks, pausing to look at each other and then at their friend.

"James?" They asked in unison, giggling at that fact. Lily just blushed and turned away from them.

"Let's just say I've had a change of heart. I may have been a bit rash, telling him that we were through."

Alice punched the air in triumph, "Well, it's about time! It's been almost a week of you blabbering on about him!"

Talia just shook her head and laughed at her two friends. George had a look of utter confusion on his face. She leaned in a whispered, "I'll tell you later."

Spending the afternoon with George was quite pleasant. They stopped in at Scrivenshaft's Quill Shop, which amongst its many different quills, also sold a number of books. Talia found an interesting book that contained a page about her mother, Which Wizard: Who's Who in the Wizarding World by Steven Vander Ark. They also stopped in Honeyduke's, briefly helping Lily pick out some sweets for James. Finally when they felt as if they were all shopped out they stopped at The Three Broomsticks to meet Alice and Frank for a butterbeer.

It was quite crowded and more than once Talia was knocked into by some student having too good a time. George tried to put his arm around her protectively when Alice rushed over to her, grabbing her by the arm, "Talia, I think we should leave."

Talia didn't understand why Alice would want to leave, they had just got there, but when she saw the table sitting in the middle of the floor she understood. Sirius, Remus and Peter were sitting with an empty bottle firewhiskey, all of them looking completely bollixed. Sirius looked as if he had consumed most of the bottle and was teetering in his chair. "ROSIE MY LOVE, BRING US ANOTHER BOTTLE!"

With a disgusted look Talia turned to Alice and Frank. "How long have they been up to this?"

Alice just shook her head and shot a disgusted look at the three Marauders. "Since noon, it started with them having a drink to James' health and then it turned into them getting pissed."

George tried to convince Talia that she shouldn't get involved, "they'll be alright, they're just having a good time."

Talia starred incredulously at George, "Good time? You call this a good time?!"

He didn't know quite how to answer her, "No…I just…"

Talia didn't give him time to answer her rhetorical question as she marched over to the offending table with her hands resolutely on her hips. By the time she reached them Madam Rosmerta had already placed a new bottle in front of Sirius with a warning, "Sirius Black, this is your last bottle you hear me."

He swooped her up and placed her on his lap in one quick motion, "Oh Rosie, don't play with me. You know I love you."

Madam Rosmerta swatted Sirius with her dishrag and jumped up off his lap, "Be that as it may, it is still your last bottle!" She walked away with more of a sway in her hips than anyone had ever seen before.

Talia was a bit hurt witnessing this scene but she tried to push it out of her head. Unfortunately Sirius noticed this and in his drunken state reached in for the kill. "What? Are you jealous?"

Talia just shook her head resolutely and grabbed the bottle from Sirius' hands. It wasn't that difficult to snatch it away from him due to his inebriated state. "I think you've had enough Sirius, and that goes for you two as well," she stated turning to Peter and Remus. "Remus, I thought at least you would know better than this."

This comment, in addition to the loss of his whiskey, was too much for Sirius to bear. "LEAVE MOONY ALONE! What do you care anyway, it's not as if we're your friends!" Talia was taken aback from his harsh words and stood there amidst the eerily silent patrons, tears threatening to spill from her eyes. "What are you going to cry? Go cry to your boyfriend, Georgie over there."

There was nothing she could do to stop them, the tears spilt over onto her cheeks and the more she tried to stop the harder she cried. "Why would you say that, Sirius?" She asked in between her sobs.

"I am only repeating what you said, I heard you tell him we weren't your friends!" Although his speech was marred by the alcohol, it was perfectly clear that he had mistaken heard her conversation, but before she could explain George interrupted.

"That's enough Sirius! Leave her alone," he said as he stepped in front of Talia.

Sirius' anger seemed to increase as George challenged him. "Shove off! I'm not talking to you, I'm talking to your girlfriend here."

While Remus had been drinking, he did have his wits about him and he rose from his seat grabbing Sirius by the arm. "Padfoot, let's go." Sirius looked as if he were just drunk enough to take a swing at George but luckily he saw reason and left with Remus and Peter.

It was obvious that Alice and George wanted to comfort Talia but she wouldn't have any of it. Shrugging off Alice's hand on her shoulder she ran out of The Three Broomsticks. Running through Hogsmeade proved difficult as the tears blurred her vision. She couldn't understand why Sirius wouldn't listen to her and let her explain. Normally she would have run straight to the Astronomy tower but for some reason the Forbidden Forest seemed as if it would provide more comfort.


Sirius


Drunken numbness had given way to a horrendous headache and feelings of utter guilt. Sirius opened up one eye, surveying his surroundings. His eye lid felt as thought it weighed a ton, his eyes stung from the setting sun that peeked in through his dorm room window. It felt as though his mouth was full of cotton dipped in stale firewhiskey. Sitting up was probably the hardest part as his pulse hammered away at his temples.

If it were possible the common room was even less friendly than his hangover. By then everyone knew what had happened in The Three Broomsticks. The boys of Gryffindor tower eyed him warily as he made his way downstairs. The girls, who normally swooned and giggled when they saw him, turned their backs coldly towards him. They couldn't believe how insensitive and nasty he was. Of course, the validity of events that made their way through Hogwarts was usually questionable, but they were uncannily accurate this time. Sirius thought he heard a 3rd year mutter "Stupid git," under her breath as he passed.

Lily and Alice made quite a production of leaving their seats in front of the fire when Sirius sat down next to Remus. Remus' headache was now completely gone having taken a potion to cure his hangover much earlier. He raised his eyebrow at Sirius, as he plopped down next to him. "How are you feeling?"

Sirius mumbled something about never drinking again and put his head in his hands. Luckily for him Peter came over with the smoking potion to cure his malady. Taking it down in one gulp, Sirius then placed the glass on the table. The potion took effect immediately but that didn't make him feel any better. There was only one thing on his mind. "Where's Talia?" he asked quietly.

Remus just shook his head, "I saw her heading towards Hagrid's hut, but when I stopped by earlier Hagrid said he hadn't seen her."

While he was nursing a hangover, nothing bad could be said about Sirius' memory. He remembered that look that Dumbledore gave Talia when he warned the school about the Forbidden Forest; he also remembered seeing her come out of the Forest the night he asked her to Hogsmeade. With a tired sigh he stood and walked out of the common room without a word. Peter made to follow him but Remus held him back, "I think it would be better if we leave him alone for a while."

~~~~~~~~~~


It had been easier to get to the Forest than he anticipated. Pretty much everyone at Hogwarts was congregated in the Great Hall for the Halloween Feast. He knew that he would miss seeing his prank pulled off but Remus and Peter would be there for it. The Forest was rarely quiet, that was why Sirius felt nervous with anticipation as he walked through the woods in search of some sign of Talia's presence. The silence that surrounded him was suddenly broken by a booming voice.

"What are you doing here human?"

Unnerved by the sudden sound, Sirius' stride faltered and he fell to his knee. "You are right to bow human. What are you doing in our forest?"

Sirius did not stand; his lucky mistake of falling seemed to have calmed the voice. "I—I am looking for my friend. I think she is in the Forest."

Sirius gasped as a large Centaur stepped out into view. He had heard about them in his Care of Magical Creatures class, and he vaguely remembered Hagrid mentioning them, but he had never seen one before. In all his years sneaking in and out of the Forbidden Forest he had never crossed paths with a Centaur; but somehow he knew that they had seen him.

"There are no humans in this forest, except you. We have been lenient of you in the past, as you were a foal. But now you are a man and we cannot continue to allow your presence here."

There were not many times in his life that Sirius could say he had truly been afraid but this definitely made that list. He only allowed his body to relax when a more familiar voice rang out through the trees.

"Yer fores'? You lay one han' on 'em and you'll regret it Bane." Hagrid stepped in front of Sirius with a crossbow slung over his shoulder. Sirius had never been so happy to see Hagrid in all his life.

"Hagrid, we allow you free reign in this forest. Do not make us regret that."

"You 'llow nuttin'…pickin on a kid like that?"

Although Sirius was scared he knew that he couldn't leave Talia alone in the forest like this. "Please, you have to let me find my friend. She could get hurt in here and I need to make sure she is okay!" Bane could sense the desperation in his voice. While he did not condone the human coming into his forest uninvited he knew that there was a great connection between him and his mate. There was no need for Sirius to worry about Talia, and Bane knew that as he could smell her in the air.

"You mate is fine, now take her and go."

Sirius was confused and opened his mouth to protest but then he saw Talia step into the clearing. He ran to her and grabbed her into his arms, "Talia, I'm so—"

But she cut him off, putting her finger to his lips. "I don't know if I can forgive you just yet, but I know why you did what you did and I am not entirely innocent. I need to tell you…"

"You need to tell me what?" Sirius asked through watery eyes.

"Everything." Talia answered.


Chapter 12: A Time of Firsts
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Chapter 12 - A Time of Firsts



Talia


Hagrid looked down at Talia and Sirius; luckily he had been there, otherwise who knows what would have happened. "Yers need ta be more careful. I don' want ter see either of yers in there no more. Ya here me."

Talia and Sirius bowed their heads, nodding solemnly. They both knew in their hearts that it wasn't the truth; most likely they would be wandering back into that forest. Bowing their heads was more a sign of guilt than a sign of repentance. After Hagrid was satisfied that they were okay, he walked into the Great Hall to join the feast.

Talia paused outside the doors, "If you want to go in, I understand."

His face flushed, Sirius knew that he and Talia needed to talk and that was more important the feast or even his prank. "No Tal, we need to talk. You deserve an explanation."

She nodded and took his hand, leading him back to where it first started. The Astronomy tower was cold; November was mere hours away and the threatening weather had finally arrived. The cold bit through them, Talia especially. Sirius was a bit hesitant at first but with an enormous amount of effort he drew his arms around her. For a moment she flinched but she did not move away from him.

Talia turned towards him, taking in an deep breath. She could feel her hands shaking and a group of enormous butterflies in her stomach. She couldn't remember a time when she felt more anxious.

"Sirius, there are things you don't know about me. First I'd like to start with what you overheard between George and I." Sirius shook his head and opened his mouth to stop her but she stopped him. "You may not want an explanation but you're going to get one. I did say that we weren't really friends but it was only because we barely know each other. Granted, I know there is an attraction between us but Sirius, do we really know each other?"

Sirius smiled and shook his head, they really didn't know much about each other.

"Well, maybe it's time I told you about myself. I promise Professor Dumbledore I wouldn't reveal what I'm about to tell you but I really have no other choice."

Sirius couldn't help but interrupt, "Talia, you don't have to tell me."

But Talia shook her head, "Sirius, I want you in my life and in order to do that you need to know the truth about me; so just listen. I recently found out who my mother was; her name was Hesper Starkey and she was a witch. She had me on June 24th, 1960 and she died in 1973."

Talia paused, noticing Sirius' confused look. He asked tentatively, "But you would have only been 13 when she died, I don't understand how you never knew her."

Talia nodded, knowing that she would have to explain everything. "True, but she left me at Cromwell when I was a baby...for a reason. I have only recently learned that my father was a dark wizard. I have no idea who he is, as Dumbledore has refused to talk about it."

Talia noticed that Sirius didn't gasp, recoil or tear his arms away from her. If anything he hugged her even more tightly, and for this she was grateful. "I have been taking trips into the forest to see a friend who has been trying to help me piece together the clues to my past. His name is Firenze and he gave me this."

Talia reached underneath her shirt to reveal the pouch around her neck. She held it out to Sirius, who ran his fingers along it gently, as if making sure not to harm it. She watched his face, knowing that, although he wanted to know what it was he wouldn't ask.

"It's mallowsweet." Talia said in answer to the question he never asked. "The Centaurs burn them, along with other herbs and leaves, to look for clues as to what the future will hold for the world."

Sirius slumped down against the balustrade and put his head in his hands. "I don't get it, so you've been going to the forest to try and tell the future? And the Centaurs have been helping you?"

Talia smiled and sat next to him, knowing that it would take a lot of explaining. "Yes and no, Sirius. I have been going to the forest to try and figure out my past. The only way that I can find out about my past is figuring out the future."

Sirius looked confused and Talia understood why, she wasn't being very clear. "It might be best if I start at the beginning. My mother fell in love with the wrong kind of man. If my father knew I were alive he would come after me, just like he went after my mother. For some reason Dumbledore believes that my father will heavily influence what happens with you-know-who." Sirius listened patiently as Talia revealed to him all that she promised Dumbledore she wouldn't tell to another soul. "Sirius, you cannot tell anyone this."

He nodded and took her hand, "I know, we wouldn't want anyone coming after you..." He paused as he stared down at their interlaced fingers.

"I feel a 'but' coming on." Talia chuckled as she bent her head so that she was staring into his eyes.

Sirius laughed, Talia knew him so well, yet she knew so little about him. "But what if this someone already knows about you, what if that's what all these attacks are about? What if this mystery wizard who killed his father...is your father?"

Sirius raised a good question, one that Talia had been wondering about for quite a while. It would explain why you had been attacked...twice. "I don't know Sirius, I just don't know."

He stood up and looked down onto the grounds; Talia sighed knowing that she probably put too much of a burden on him by telling him all these things. "Sirius, I didn't tell you to worry you. I told you because I want us to know each other...yesterday by the lake--"

Sirius cut her off as he turned around to face her. "I don't need any explanations Tal. I just want you to understand that I'm your friend."

Talia felt her heart sink into her stomach, friends, that's all? She nodded and turned away from him so that he could not see the pain on her face, but he knew it was there.

"Well, not just friends," he murmured as he walked closer to her. She could feel his breath on the back of her neck but she didn't turn to face him. She stood there bathed in the light from the shrinking moon, waiting and hoping for something to happen. She felt him reach down and put his hand on her hip, pulling her gently towards him. They stood there silently as he wrapped his arms around her waist from behind. Talia could feel her heart quicken as he rested his head on her shoulder, the slight stubble from his unshaven face tingling her cheek. Had his heartbeat quickened just as hers had?

Their perfect silence was broken by something even more perfect; with no words he released her and turned her around to face him. Talia watched him lower his head towards her, she kept her eyes open as he brought his lips to her own. Almost as if involuntarily her eyes closed softly as his kiss deepened.

Sirius Bloody Black was kissing her once again, but this time they would not be interrupted. She felt him pull away and yearned to grab him back and refuse to let him end the kiss, but that was not who she was. He spoke, stuttering a little, which was what most boys, all except Sirius Black, tended to do when they kissed a beautiful woman.

"You have told me about your past, and now I want to tell you about mine." Talia happily obliged as she sat next to him and curled herself under his arm. The stone floor in the Astronomy tower had never been so comfortable. She listened as he spoke about his dark family; although she had a slight idea about the "Black Family", having known Regulus, she was astonished at the stories he told her.

"So you just left? Just like that?" She asked, astonished at his bravery. "I could never do that."

He smiled down at her, playing with the loose ends of her hair, "Do what?" he murmured.

"Just leave, go out on my own like that." Talia answered as she closed her eyes, enjoying the sensation of his fingers in her hair.

"Well, I'm not really alone, the Potters took me in."

"What are you going to do after graduation? Are you going to stay with them?" Talia asked.

"I'm not really sure what I am going to do but I can't live off them forever." He answered as his eyelids grew heavier. "What about you, now that you're not going back to Cromwell."

Talia yawned as she answered him, "Dumbledore told me that my mother left me a bit of money, not much mind you but enough to get me started."

Sirius sighed and nodded. Talia's eyes were in danger of staying closed until morning but she didn't care. She was with Sirius and that was all that mattered. "Talia?" Sirius asked, making sure she was awake.

"Hmmm?" she mumbled incoherently.

"Will you be my girlfirend?"

"Yes," she answered as she nuzzled even closer to him.

Neither of them could remember when they fell asleep, it was all a haze to them. But they woke up the next morning with the sun blazing in their eyes.

~~~~~~~~~~


The stone floor that felt so comfortable the night before caused Talia's back to ache with pain. She moved carefully, shifting her weight away from Sirius and shook him gently awake.

"Mmm five more minutes," he sighed as he moved to roll over, his head coming into contact with the stone wall. "OW!" he cried as he shot up rubbing his forehead. Despite her aching back and shivering from the cold, Talia began to laugh heartily.

Sirius just sat there with a grumpy expression, "It's not funny."

This caused her to laugh even more, doubling over and grabbing her stomach. Sirius looked at her and began to chuckle as well. "I guess it's a little funny." He stood and grabbed her by the arm, helping her up, "It's still early, we might be able to sneak in to our dorms."

Sneaking, sauntering more like it, unusually there was no Filch or Mrs. Norris patrolling the corridors and this gave Talia and Sirius a clear path all the way to the Gryffindor common room. They gave the Fat Lady the password and walked into the empty common room. It was still early and everyone was probably tired from the feast. Talia tiptoed across the wood floor and began to creep up the stairs when she felt a tug on her arm. She turned to Sirius as a small smile played across her lips.

He craned his neck and pecked her on the lips lightly. She felt her stomach flutter lightly and touched his cheek; as she did this she noticed a glint in his eye. He winked at her and grabbed her outstretched hand, kissing it and turning towards the boys dorms. Talia went up to her room that morning as light as a feather.

"TALIA! TALIA!"

Talia was roughly shaken awake; not understanding what was going on she bolted herself upright, coming face to face with Lily and Alice.

"Where in the RUDDY HELL have you been?!" Alice asked, visibly shaken.

Lily had a look of real worry on her face as she leaned towards Talia, "Tal, we thought something happened to you."

Talia just moaned and flopped back down on her bed, "I'm fine."

"Oh no you don't," Alice yelled as she ripped off Talia's bed covers, "...you better start talking." Talia grabbed at her pillow and shoved her head underneath it, but Alice grabbed that as well and tore it from Talia's hands. "Get up!" she yelled.

Talia grudgingly sat up in her bed. "What is it that you want to know?" she asked, covering a yawn with the back of her hand as she adjusted her position.

Alice and Lily just stared at Talia incredulously with their mouths agape. Finally Lily managed to speak, "Where were you? What happened?"

Talia sighed as if she were bored, she thought it might be better to keep her romp into the Forbidden Forest a secret. "I was in the Astronomy tower. Sirius came to find me and we ended up falling asleep."

"Sirius....Black?" Alice asked.

"Do you know of any other Sirius?" Talia asked jokingly as she pulled back her covers and touched her feet onto the cold wooden floor.

"But..." Lily asked as she fidgeted with Talia's blanket, "...we thought you two were...you know."

Talia just shrugged and pulled her trainers onto her feet, "He apologized and everything's okay."

Alice just stood up to grab and jumper, "I wouldn't forgive him," she said in a huff.

Lily turned towards Alice, leaving Talia's blanket and grabbing a jacket, "Don't be so hard on him." Alice's jaw dropped at this and turned towards Lily.

"Since when have you been a Sirius fan?"

Lily just shrugged and grabbed Talia to walk towards the door, "Dunno, he just set things right with James and I. He told me what actually happened the night James was hurt."

Both Talia and Alice were shocked at this; although Sirius didn't hate Lily but he was never a big fan of James and Lily's relationship. It was shocking that he would try to patch things up between them. Talia grinned at her friend and pulled her into a tight hug. "You know Lily, James was a right mess when he thought he'd lost you."

Lily smiled at her comforting words and nudged Talia. "So what's going on between you and Sirius?"

Talia shrugged, but underneath her mind and heart were reeling, she was his girlfriend and she couldn't believe it. Lily knew that look because she, herself, had it when she thought of James. Alice just rolled her eyes at her love struck friends and started walking down the stairs.

Talia laughed at Alice and slapped her on the back, "Come on Alice, don't you swoon over your boyfriend too?"

Alice just snorted, "I don't swoon! I mean yeah, I love Frank but I'm not the type of person to swoon...wait a minute...is Sirius your boyfriend?"

Talia was a bit taken aback, of course Sirius was her boyfriend. She thought that it was obvious. She gave Lily and Alice a confused look, "Yeah, of course." Lily almost tripped down the stairs and Alice just stood there immobile.

Their shock was what took her by surprise, rather than their question. "So what?"

Alice didn't speak up, which was unusual for her; it was Lily who explained the situation to Talia. "Tal, he's never had a girlfriend before."

But Talia just laughed at her, "Oh posh, he's always dating girls."

Both Lily and Alice nodded emphatically and Alice finally chimed in, "Yeah, he's dated girls but he's never had a girlfriend before."

Talia was completely shocked, she was his first girlfriend and he was her first boyfriend. This was unbelievable, the experienced ladies man, Sirius Black had never had a girlfriend before. This was definitely going to be an adventure.

Chapter 13: Unspoken
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A/N: I'm so sorry that it has taken me so long to update. I promise to try to never do it again! This chapter is a little short but I wanted to get something up. The next chapter is already in the works and will be longer. Hope you enjoy!
BTW there is a really talented author you all should check out...she doesn't get the reviews or recognition she deserves...check out her story True_Hermione



Chapter 13 - Unspoken



Sirius


James laughed at Sirius' tight lipped nature; he refused to tell the guys where he was and what had happened the night before. "You know Pads, I think I like you better as a dog, maybe you should make the change permanent." Peter and Remus let out a hardy chuckle at their friends expense.

Sirius grinned and playfully punch James in the arm, "The tail I could deal with but the fleas are murder! At least I'm good looking Jim...you look better as a stag!" The laughter ensued as the four friends sat in front of the common room fire. James gave Sirius a swift punch back, he hated being called Jim and Sirius always did it whenever he wanted to annoy him.

James turned to Peter with a grin, "Why are you laughing Wormtail? You're better off as a rat!" They all continued laughing, though Peter's seemed a little forced.

Remus stood up and raised his arms in the air, "Don't even think about it Prongs, you know I'm better off as me!" It wasn't often that they laughed about Remus being a werewolf, but every so often they could sit back and have a hearty chuckle about their adventures. These were the times that Sirius loved, the times he would miss the most when he graduated. He pushed the thought of graduation out of his mind. With no family and no home to return to, Sirius didn't know where he would go or what he would do; at least he wasn't alone, he and Talia had the same fate, neither of them had family to speak of.

The portrait door opened and the friends watched as Professor McGonagall walked through. Sirius suddenly felt a knot in the pit of his stomach; they were caught. He would surely get detention for a month for their prank. Amos had screamed with laughter when he bit into his pumpkin pasty. Fake blood made of syrup had oozed out of every piece of food in the feast. The guys had loved it and even the girls, for the most part. A million excuses were running through his head; how would he get them out of this one?

McGonagall looked down at Sirius through her spectacles; if he would have looked back at her he would have noticed that her usually stern face glittered with sympathy, yet her tone was ever the same, "Black, please follow me." The others looked at him curiously, he just shrugged and rose to follow her. McGonagall turned to address his friends as they left. "I expect you four will still be here when we get back. That includes you Grace."

The four Marauders turned to see a startled Talia standing on the stairwell. Sirius' eyes opened wide in surprise but he just turned and followed the professor. Sirius opened his mouth to ask where they were going, but instead held his tongue. Surely a little prank didn't warrant his expulsion. He knew that no matter how much trouble he got into he would take the blame for himself, there was no way he would let James, Remus and Peter get expelled as well. He watched as Peeves swooped down upon them; although an annoyingly horrible poltergeist,Peeves would never do anything in front of McGonagall.

They stopped in front of her office and she opened the door to let him in. She didn't not speak, prolonging the uncomfortable silence. Sirius decided he would come forward right away, maybe it would ease his punishment. "Professor McGonagall, I know why I'm here and I have to tell you that it was me. I was the only one--"

"Mr. Black, while your gesture is noble it is unnecessary, I can ascertain for myself just who pulled the Halloween prank. That matter, while not closed, is not why I have asked you here." McGonagall stood up from her chair and grabbed a tin of biscuits. "Here," she said, shoving the tin in front of his face. Sirius was a bit taken aback by her gesture; McGonagall was a lot of things but the motherly biscuit making type was not one of them.

As he took the cookie, he stared down at it, "Professor, what's wrong?" He knew that this had to be a lot worse than some stupid prank. Her stern face was softened somehow and she heaved a sigh before walking over to a bookshelf, from which she took a large envelope.

As she handed it to Sirius she began to explain, "Mr. Black, you're uncle Alphard Black has sent you this." Alphard was one of the few family members that Sirius still spoke to, he was not the pure blood elitist that every other Black was. Sirius' mother had a beautiful family tree hanging in Black Manor from which Alphard was removed. Sirius was sure that his name was just as blackened as his uncle's. He was also sure that his favourite cousin Andromeda, had joined them. Romy had become very close with a Ravenclaw girl named Alissa Tonks. Apparently her brother Ted had taken quite a liking to Romy; they ended up getting married and that was the end of Andromeda Black. She was ostracized from the family.

Sirius ripped open the envelope and pulled out the parchment inside. McGonagall waited patiently as he looked it over until the dawn of realization washed over his face; only then did she begin to speak. "Mr. Black, you are of age so this money will be put into an account at Gringott's for you. The Potter's have offered to house your uncle's motorbike for you.

His Uncle Alphard was dead. Sirius lost himself in a memory of his first ride on his uncle's motorbike; he had never felt so free. His uncle took great pride in that bike. It took a few moments before the shock wore off and he was able to ask his professor what had happened.

"He died peacefully in his bed." McGonagall looked down sorrowfully at her student. Minerva McGonagall mustered up what comfort she could give and placed her hand on his shoulder, "If you need a few days, I will inform your professors that your homework may be handed in late."

Sirius was completely nonplussed and shook his head silently, "No, it's okay Professor." This was enough to register a look of shock across McGonagall's usually rigid face. Sirius stood and walked to the door. "Err thanks Professor."

She nodded silently and her thin lips spread out into a smile. An unspoken agreement passed between them, her door would always be open to him.

~~~~~~~~~~


There weren't many people in his family that Sirius could turn to and now the numbers had dwindled even more. Sirius sat in the Gryffindor common room, surrounded by his friends. Talia sat silently next to him as everyone tried o console him. Sirius had never lost anyone close to him before; the feelings he felt would not be foreign to him in the future. He knew that his friends were only trying to help but all he needed at that moment was to forget about what happened. He was eternally grateful to Talia for not saying any of the normal "I'm so sorry" or "He's in a better place" comments that everyone else was so intent on saying. Two sixth years actually started crying and telling him how sorry they were, he was utterly disgusted. By the end of the week he actually thought he was going to go crazy if one more person gave their condolences.

He tried to steer clear of the common room as much as possible but one night he was cornered by Talia. She snuck over to him and whispered in his ear, "Go and borrow James' cloak." He looked down at her beautiful shining face and without thinking about it made his way up to his dorm room.

They made their way past Nearly Headless Nick quietly; apparently Peeves had been going around unscrewing the chandeliers and Nick was complaining to the Bloody Baron. Sirius showed Talia a little short cut through one of the paintings and they were able to make it to the Astronomy tower in record time.

Sirius noticed that Talia had been prepared, there was two blankets and pillows folded up in the corner. He turned to her with a wicked smile on his face, "Hmm, what are those for?" he asked, pushing her hair back and kissing her lightly on the neck.

Talia pushed him away and laughed, "Get your mind out of the rubbish bin, I just figured we might as well be comfortable if we pass out up here." As she walked away from him to set up the blankets, his mind wandered towards his uncle. Romy had written him about what happened, she even offered to pick him up for the funeral. It had been a small affair; not many "upstanding" pure blood families would go against the Blacks and show up. The Prewitt's had gone along with the Weasley's, Tonk's, Dumbledore and a few members of the Ministry. Even McGonagall had shown up. Sirius pushed all thoughts of the funeral out of his mind; he had been doing this all week but as time went on it was proving more difficult. He walk over to Talia, who was arranging the blankets and ripped them from her hands. Throwing the blankets in a heap on the cold stone floor, Sirius gathered Talia into his arms and thrust his lips onto her own. He felt her shock and then relax, kissing him back. He took this as license to go further; he began tugging at her shirt, slipping his hands underneath to touch her warm hips. Talia tried to pull away but Sirius pulled her closer, kissing her even more roughly.

Talia turned her head, "Stop, Sirius STOP!"

He was trying to turn her head back so he could kiss her again but he stopped and looked into her eyes. The fear was unmistakable. He released her immediately and backed away; how could he have done this? She was truly afraid of him and with good reason. What was wrong with him? He stared at her with a look of shock on his face and then just slouched down against the wall, sitting on the cold stone floor. The tower was freezing and he shivered as Talia walked over to the blankets. He closed his eyes knowing that she would collect her things and walk out of the tower, out of his life.

To his surprise he felt her warm hands draping a blanket over his shoulders. He felt disgusted with himself and flinched at her touch, pulling away from her. She was unlike any girl he had ever met; normally if he acted that way with a girl she would walk away in a huff, thinking that he was being a git. Talia just sat down next to him, keeping her distance, yet close enough for him to feel the heat radiating from her skin. She said nothing, just sat there silently waiting for him to deal with his own thoughts.

It seemed like an eternity but it was only twenty minutes or so before Sirius spoke, "Thank you."

He could feel Talia's eyes on him he still was not able to look at her. Instead he stared at the stone floor, painting the stones systematically in his mind so that they would resemble a chess board. She was timid in her answer, but it wasn't the way she spoke that shocked him, it was what she said, "For what?"

He finally managed to turn towards her, the fear in her eyes was gone, Sirius was unable to recognize what replaced it. "For what? For everything," he said, "For being there for me."

Talia shrugged and turned away from him. "I didn't do anything. I didn't know what to say to you when..." She trailed off, leaving those unspoken words hanging in the air between them.

"You did more than you know." Sirius answered, taking her hand in his own.


Chapter 14: Black's Revenge
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Chapter 14 - Black's Revenge



Sirius


She loved him, she was truly and utterly head over heels in love with Sirius Black, and he felt the same way about her. Everyone knew it, everyone that is except for Sirius and Talia. They walked hand in hand throughout the corridors, in fact the only time they spent apart was during Talia's frequent study sessions or Sirius' frequent detentions. There was a certain time of the month, however, when Sirius couldn't be with Talia. The full moon was rapidly approaching and Sirius could tell that it would be a bad one. Remus was looking worse than Sirius had ever seen him before. James went as far as asking Sirius if he would bother to show up for the full moon.

"Oh shove off Potter! You should talk!" Sirius had grumbled as James laughed, stuffing bangers and mash into his oversized mouth. Peter found the bickering between his two friends very disheartening and tried easing the situation with a bit of adventure planning.

"Maybe we could go into the woods tonight?" Peter suggested; they hadn't gone wandering in a few moons. Lately Remus hadn't been up for it.

Remus shook his head rapidly, "I don't know Pete, I think this is going to be a bad one."

It was very subtle, none of his friends heard it; but had they been in their animagi form they would have heard Peter mumble something about no one listening to his ideas under his breath. Their conversation was cut short as Lily, Alice and Talia sat down next to them at the Gryffindor table.

Sirius smiled his usual toothy grin and pinched Talia's side. "So, what are we up to tonight?" He asked, knowing that they would probably spend the night in the Astronomy tower, as they had done for the past six nights.

But Talia shook her finger at him, "You have detention for turning that Hufflepuff boy's hair green last week...and I have a potions lesson." He screwed up his face, mockingly perplexed and tapped his chin with his finger.

"Hufflepuff, Hufflepuff...I don't remember doing anything of the sort." Talia smacked him on the knee and turned to look at the 3rd year boy sitting at the table across from them. If one looked hard, they could still see a slight twinge of green still in his hair. He looked completely wary as he ran his fingers through his hair, looking around to see if anyone noticed. When he caught Talia's eye she tried to smile but he just stuck out his tongue and looked away.

Sirius let out a hearty bark like laugh as he watched the scene unfold. Talia just swatted him, "You really should apologize."

"Ah come on Tal, it was just a joke." Sirius said, pushing her words aside. Talia looked over to see Remus shaking his head, his eyes met her own and she could tell he agreed with her. She could also see circles under his eyes and his obvious wariness. The full moon was coming and still he didn't know that she knew his secret. Sirius didn't notice any of this as he stood up, patting his stomach heartily and asked Talia, "Want me to walk you to the dungeons before I go to detention?"

"Nah," Talia answered. "I'll be fine."

"Okay, see you guys later." Sirius sauntered out of the Great Hall, turning quite a few heads as he walked haughtily towards McGonagall's office.


Talia


Normally Talia would have been excited about her advanced potions lessons. Every week was an exciting new adventure for her, and more than that, these lessons had a purpose. She kept it under wraps very well, no one not even her professor or her lab partner knew about what she was trying to do. If it worked it would be the wizarding breakthrough of the century, she would be famous but more than that her friends would be happy.

This week was different, this week she would have to deal with her lab partners snide remarks. Things had been going pretty well with Severus Snape; they had even gotten to the point of limited conversation such as "please pass me the puffer fish eyes" or "you need to stir that counter-clockwise". But ever since she started dating Sirius, Severus refused to even speak with her; he made snide remarks under his breath and snorted every time she tried to initiate conversation. It was pure misery.

Okay Tal, take a deep breath. He's nothing you can't handle, just do your work and keep your head down. Talia pushed open the dungeon door that opened into the potions classroom. Professor Slughorn was not in his usual place and the other students that usually took this class were absent as well. In fact, the only person in the room besides herself was Snape. Talia paused, a bit shocked but continued on, placing her things at the table where Snape sat.

She took a deep breath and dived in, "Where is--"

"Don't know," he snarled, before she even finished her sentence.

Well this isn't going to be fun Talia went to the ingredient cabinet and began pulling out the things she would need. Slughorn had been allowing them to work on their own potions for about two weeks. It was exhilarating to work on your own without being told what to do. Slughorn wasn't even grading them, Talia remembered exactly what he said the first day, "This class is optional, you have enough pressure with your NEWT classes, this is just a stepping stone for a future in potion making."

He was an understanding man who always tried to encourage his students, rather than frighten them into doing their work. He was the main reason that Talia enjoyed potions so much, in fact she recently decided that she wanted to be a professor at Hogwarts and today was the day that she would tell him.

Being careful to turn away from Severus Talia took out the research she had been collecting during her "study time." She was positive that it would work, she had even gone into her mothers things. Dumbledore had allowed Talia to look through all of her research and Talia knew that her mother had been brilliant. She was the reason that most of the highly developed potions used today were so effective. Her mother had found away to use the phases of the moon in potion making, thus developing much more potent concoctions.

Talia was only missing one ingredient and it would not be easy to get; it would either entail putting herself in grave danger or letting others know what she was doing. Now any normal person would choose the latter but Talia was not any normal person.

The next hour went by just as Talia expected, in complete silence. Not a word passed between them; the good thing was that it allowed Talia to lose herself in her work. She was so lost in her thoughts that she didn't even notice Severus pick up her notes and start perusing them. As she began packing her things she saw the parchment in his hands.

Grabbing it from him, she had never felt so enraged before, "JUST WHAT IN THE BLOODY HELL DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING!" She snatched up her parchments and began shoving them in her bag.

"My, touchy aren't we," Severus snarled as he watched her fume. "Would that have anything to do with a certain--"

"If you ever touch my things again I will not hesitate to kill you where you stand." Talia's face glittered with rage, she held her finger in Snape's face. Her hands were shaking with rage, every thread of her being shook with anger. When Snape began laughing she lost it, her wand was mere inches away from her but there was no logic in her brain. Even though she only came up to Snape's chin, her reach was far enough to make an impact. Without any thought Talia began swinging; throwing her body weight into every punch she easily got Snape to the ground. The element of surprise took him off guard but when he realized what she was doing he shoved her off of him and grabbed his things, running for the door and calling her a crazy bitch.

Talia was not about to let him get away with it, running after him and jumping on his back as he walked out into the hallway. "Shut your BLOODY mouth SNIVELLUS!" Snape wiry body was surprisingly strong and he flung her off without a problem, slamming her into the wall. Before he could even collect himself he felt a striking pain across his face and fell unconscious to the floor.


Sirius


Sirius sat in the hospital wing of Hogwarts seething with anger as he watched Talia sleeping. Madame Pomfrey had given her a calming draught to keep her from hysterics. He wasn't sure what had happened between her and Snivellus, all he saw was Snape hit her. Sirius looked over at the bed across from Talia where Snape sat with bandages on his head. The hospital door opened slowly and Lily and Alice rushed in, followed by a slow moving Dumbledore.

Lily and Alice sat beside him and began firing questions, "What happened?" and "Is she going to be okay?" Sirius was unable to answer them, basically because he didn't know. He watched Dumbledore sitting with Snape, apparently talking about what happened. He watched Dumbledore rise and make his way over to Talia's bed.

"Poppy, how will she recover?" Sirius didn't understand why Dumbledore would ask Pomfrey about Talia if she wasn't even there.

"That was a right smack to the head, but she'll be fine." Sirius jumped with a start to see Madame Pomfrey right behind him. She continued speaking with Dumbledore, "We have bigger problems on our--"

But Dumbledore stopped her, "I think you might want to check Mr. Snape's head, Poppy."

Sirius watched as Madame Pomfrey shuffled off, apparently to get more bandages. Professor Dumbledore looked down at him and told Sirius to meet him in his office and then left. Sirius stood up slowly and turned to Lily and Alice, "Stay here with her." He walked over to where Snape sat; a surprisingly large smile was plastered across Snape's face. Sirius lowered his head so that his face was even with Snape's. Snape's greasy hair lightly grazed Sirius' nose, but instead of recoiling, which is what he would have normally done, he gritted his teeth.

"You will pay for this with your life."

Snape laughed but the fear in his eyes was unmistakable. He stuttered his words revealing that he indeed told Dumbledore that Sirius had attacked him, "H-How can you d-d-do that when you're expelled!" Snape spat out that last word, every ounce of vengeance in his body being released with that one word.

Sirius smirked at his fear and stood up slowly, "I have my ways." He turned his back on Snape and walked slowly out of the room. He turned to see Lily and Alice staring at him. All he said before leaving was, "Stay with her." His tone was serious and slightly alarming so the girls offered no argument.

Sirius Black was on a mission, he would get Snape no matter what it took and already a plan was forming in his brain.

~~~~~~~~~~


Talia was out of the hospital wing, tonight was the full moon and Sirius couldn't have been in a better mood. At least that's what he thought until he came across Snivellus walking along the corridors that night. An evil smile spread across his lips; Snivellus couldn't have made it any easier for him. All he needed to do was get him to the tree, what Sirius didn't realize is that Snape would make it even easier. As soon as Severus spotted Sirius he sent him a sardonic glare.

"Black, wouldn't it violate your probation to be strolling around the corridors this late a night. Dumbledore almost expelled you didn't he?" Snape snarled as he spoke to Sirius, everything about Black made Severus hate him. From the haughty way he walked through the corridors to the condescending way he spoke to everyone in his midst.

Black laughed, which annoyed Snape even more, "Oh Snivellus, don't you know when to leave well enough alone. I'm sorry for attacking you," Snape's angry glare changed to one of disbelief, "no honestly Severus, I thought you were attacking Talia and I just went crazy."

Snape just snorted, "The other way around, wasn't it."

Sirius sighed and fell into step beside him, "I know, I don't understand what set her off."

"Yes, well she was meddling in things she ought not, and I caught her." Snape answered, never wavering in his scepticism of this new found "friend." Sirius looked at Snape in actual shock. What is Snivellus up too? What does he know?

Snape saw this and inwardly laughed, those idiotic fools had no idea what was going on. "Hmph, you'd better keep a closer watch on your girlfriend Black." Sirius tried to ignore the overwhelming urge to hit Snape square in the jaw, but if his plan was going to work he had to keep a cool head.

"Oh yeah, why's that?" Sirius asked with as much outward calm as he could muster.

"Let's just say I know about your friend's situation." Snape's answer threw Sirius off guard for a minute; all the while they were walking closer and closer to the front entrance of the school. Sirius' quizzical stare prompted Snape to continue, all the while he kept thinking what a dolt Sirius was. "It is a lovely evening for a full moon, wouldn't you say Black."

The realization that Snape knew hit Sirius like a ton of bricks; any normal person would have worried but it made Sirius' objective all the easier. He smiled slowly and turned to Snape in a confidential manor. "Alright, so you know. It's a little scary isn't it?"

Snape was bewildered by Sirius' response, surely this would have set Black off; not knowing what to do Snape answered him, "I will never be scared of Remus Lupin."

Sirius just laughed, "Oh yeah? Well I've seen him change. That Whomping Willow they planted our first year here, well they planted it to protect the entrance to Remus' lair." Snape was mildly interested and although he tried to disguise it, Sirius could see it in his face and he knew he had him. "I went down there myself, there's this knot at the base of the tree. If you poke it with a stick the tree will freeze and you can get through the opening no problem."

Snape rolled his eyes and waved Sirius off, "You expect me to believe that Black? What are getting at?"

Sirius was a master at fake honesty, having used it on McGonagall since he set foot in Hogwarts. "No seriously, come on I'll show you." Snape looked sceptical and stopped walking; had he turned around right then it might have made life much easier on him, but just then Sirius touched his sore spot. "Are you scared?"

Snape puffed out his chest in indignation, "I told you that I'll never be scared of Lupin."

"Well then, come on!" Sirius answered in a mock friendly tone. The trudged across the gardens towards the Whomping Willow, it really wasn't far from the front entrance. When they got there Sirius could still see the look of doubt plastered across Snape's face. He knew that it might take a bit more coaxing so he grabbed the longest stick that he could find and walked closer to the base of the trunk. The willow, try as it might, could not reach him with it's assaulting branches. Sirius watched as Snape flinched every time the willow would take a swipe.

He was just able to reach in and prod the knot while the willow was in mid-swing. To Snape's amazement the tree froze still. He stood there gaping when Sirius yelled, "GO! It'll only be frozen for a moment." Sirius could not hide his glee as Snape dove for the trap door and shoved himself through just before the branches began swinging again. There was no longer any sight of Snivellus Snape and Sirius buckled over in a fit of laughter. However, his triumphant moment was spoiled by a voice.

"Oi, who's there?" Unfortunately the moon was covered by a deep cloud front and Sirius could not see a thing, he turned to see a wand illuminate in the dark. James stood mere feet away from him with his wand extended, next to him Peter stood quietly. "Oh, Padfoot, it's just you. What are you cackling about?" James asked as he lowered his wand.

In a fit of laughter, Sirius was barely able to speak, "Snivellus...willow...Remus!" He doubled over once more, practically rolling on the ground, but his glee turned to surprise when James grabbed him by the collar.

"WHAT?! Padfoot, what is wrong with YOU?!" James tossed him aside in disgust, sending a stunning spell directly at the knot.

"Now why didn't I think of that?" Sirius asked as he shook his head, still chuckling from his ingenious plan and started yelling after James as he disappeared into the hole, "He deserves it James! Sticking that bloody beak where it doesn't belong!" But James could no longer hear him. Sirius was faced with the decision of waiting for his friend to return with a pathetic and most likely petrified Snape or go back to the common room. Deciding that he couldn't miss the opportunity to see the look on Snape's face he decided to wait.

Waiting became awfully boring as Sirius sat on the ground tossing twigs at the tree, trying to make it move. Peter, who usually laughed like a jackal at his jokes, remain inauspiciously quiet. It seemed forever before James' head came into view, he was dragging out a raging Snivellus behind him. Sirius laughed as Snape came out thrashing a sputtering obscenities. James tried to calm him, although Sirius couldn't understand why. Who cared what Snivellus said or felt?

"Y-you and you-r-r-r friends are th-through!" Snape yelled as he tripped over his overly large feet, trying to stand and grab for his wand at the same time. James put out his hands, trying to reason with Snivellus but that made Sirius laugh even harder.

"Serves you right for sticking that nose in other people's business, you greasy git!" Sirius roared as James gave him an admonishing look.

Snape ran for the front entrance, closing it behind him with a loud bang. The three remaining Marauders stood there in complete silence. The wind rustling through the leaves of a now calm Whomping Willow. Sirius' laughter had died as he took in the look on his friends faces. He tried to speak but James turned his back on him, motioning for Peter, "Come on Wormtail, Moony needs us."

Sirius rolled his eyes in disgust, "Come on Prongs, it was a joke!" James didn't say anything, he didn't even turn around, he just looked directly at Peter. Peter gave Sirius a desperate stare and transformed into the rat. He reached the knot and paused the tree.

Without a single word James and Peter disappeared through the trap door, leaving Sirius standing alone in the moonlight.


Chapter 15: Trouble for Talia
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Chapter 15 - Trouble for Talia



Talia


Every night of troubled sleep since the incident with Severus, Talia would wake up in a panic. Her usual calm exterior had spilled over creating a mess; Talia couldn't understand why she was so angry. Although the idea of getting caught frightened Talia, she knew it didn't justify what she did. She did notice that Professor McGonagall began keeping a close watch on her after she attacked Severus, the two weeks of detention alone gave her time to keep an eye on Talia. But it was nothing compared to the trouble Sirius was in, although it was very hushed Talia knew he must have retaliated against Snape.

Even James, Remus and Peter had been wary around Sirius of late. That evening in the Astronomy tower Talia would find out why, exactly, they had been keeping their distance.

She sat silently as Sirius replayed that fateful night's events for her. She wasn't exactly sure what he expected her to say; she wasn't even sure what she wanted to say. This was a huge mistake on both of their parts and Severus would be out for blood.

"So now you know about us. I've never told anyone before." Sirius dipped his head and Talia couldn't tell whether it was shame or regret for telling her. He suddenly grabbed her hands, and with a desperate note in his voice began begging her, "Tal, you cannot ever tell anyone! I'm begging you!"

She smiled and looked up at him, her face relaxing in assurance. "I already knew." A look of shock registered across Sirius' face. He stood and walked towards the edge of the tower, looking out at the Whomping Willow.

"How?" he asked, not entirely dumbfounded by her knowledge. Talia didn't know that Severus had alluded to her knowing when he spoke to Sirius that night.

Talia cringed and began playing with the laces of her trainers, "I overheard McGonagall and Dumbledore talking about Remus the night James was hurt." Sirius looked at her with amazement, she had known for quite a while and said nothing. "As for you being an Animagus," Talia continued, "I kind of overheard the four of you in the common room. I knew you were an Animagus, so I just assumed the others were as well." Sirius' sigh was heavy and he turned towards Talia. She sat cross-legged staring at him, studying the usually smiling face that now showed more than a hint of sadness.

"Tal, promise me you will never tell anyone about this."

Talia was never more sure of anything in her entire life; she would never breathe a word of this to anyone. "I promise."


Sirius


The dorm rooms that were once filled with laughter and joking was now eerily quiet. Sirius felt completely alienated from his friends; from an outsiders point of view they hadn't changed. They were all still speaking but there was a weight on their friendship. It could be felt but not seen and it was slowly eating away at Sirius. He was brooding and withdrawn, when he was normally fun and light-hearted. Christmas was approaching rapidly and Sirius knew that it would either be an uncomfortable stay at the Potter's or Hogwarts. He refused to be a burden on the Potters any longer, especially considering the rift between himself and James, so Hogwarts would have to do.

Remus Lupin had other ideas though. Sirius barely noticed as his three friends walked into their shared dorm. Remus led James and Peter towards Sirius' bed. "Hey Padfoot," Remus said cheerily as he sat down on Sirius' bed. Sirius cringed at this; anything that reminded him of that night, reminded him that he and James were barely speaking. He managed a weak smile, while James just ruffled his hair and looked around the room as if seeing it for the first time. Peter said nothing, standing at the edge of the bed and running his hands along the wooden post.

Remus stood up, obviously exasperated with his friends. "You three are ridiculous! We've been friends through worse than this!" Sirius watched Remus' face as he stared intently back and forth between himself and James. Sirius knew that both he and James were stubborn and would never admit wrong-doing but Remus looked as if he were going to explode.

Sirius mustered all the self-control he could and opened his mouth to speak. "I'm sorry!" But it didn't come from Sirius' mouth, it was James, who was finally looking Sirius in the eyes.

"I'm sorry too," Sirius said, letting out a bark like laugh, "but you should've seen the look on his face!" Remus gave Sirius a chastising look and Sirius raised his arms in defeat.

But James began to laugh as he watched Sirius and Remus staring each other down. Laughter being as contagious as it is, soon the four of them were engulfed in fits of hysteria. James gave Sirius a rough punch in the arm, "I can't believe you actually did that!"

Sirius punch him back playfully just before James grabbed him in a head lock. Soon the four of them were enveloped in an all out brawl. They laughed as Peter got caught off guard and went flying off the bed, his feet going up over his head. He looked a little put out at first but began laughing along with his friends. They were having so much fun and so totally engrossed in finally hanging out with each other once again that they never even noticed the door open.

James was the first to notice Lily standing in the open doorway, attempting to cough loud enough to alert them to her presence. "Hey Evans, alright there?"

Then the look of pure panic across Lily's face registered in the four boys as they ran towards her, whipping out there wands. "What's wrong?!" Sirius shouted, panicked that Severus did something to her, or worse to Talia.

"I-I don't know, it's Talia, she's in hysterics over something." Lily stammered as Sirius rushed past her in search of Talia.






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