Sirius’ breath shortened, his heart quickening to a stop. It seemed to take her forever to form an answer. He spent what felt like years trying to interpret the astonished look on her face. Was she happy? Was that triumph or discomfort? Beads of sweat formed on his hands, weighing about as much as a hippopotamus. His hands started to tremble with the weight of the sweat. The soft velvet box in his outstretched palm threatened to turn into burning flame if she didn’t answer him soon. The ring sneered at him, twinkling in the candlelight, almost mocking him.
He almost laughed at himself then. If somebody had told him years ago that he would be kneeling in front of a girl, shaking like a leaf and proposing marriage, he would have said they were tinked. Not only would he have despised the idea of marriage, but he would have scoffed at the suggestion that he would have actually loved somebody; that he wasn’t completely in control of himself.
Kneeling there, as he thought these insane thoughts, that fact dawned on him; he wasn’t completely in control! The fact was that he would do anything for this girl. She could tell him to jump off a cliff and he would ask how high of a cliff she wanted! What scared him more than this, however, was only that he didn’t really mind. Giving a sigh, he watched as her face showed the first, discernable emotion. Happiness.
“Of course I’ll marry you! I’ve been waiting for you to ask me for so long now!” she wailed, throwing her arms around his neck. His heart did somersaults all over the place. She had been waiting for him!? Grinning all over his face, forgetting their surroundings, he stood and pulled her into a heart-wrenching kiss.
His mouth invaded hers, craving her. Their passions collided, fusing together to make a state of rapture so intense that the entire restaurant was feeling dizzy. Struggling for more intimacy, Heather wrapped her fingers around Sirius’ wavy locks. Sirius, in turn, was practically lifting her up off the floor, apparently attempting to swallow her whole. His hand moved in slow movements up and down her back, leaving trails of fire wherever his fingers touched. An eternity could have passed and the two would not have cared or noticed. Both were so embraced warmly in a whirlwind of emotions and feelings.
This, however, was broken by a certain, very unwelcome individual. “If you don’t mind, there is a bar across the street. I suggest you take your hedonist ways in that direction. They are certainly not welcome here!” came a prolonged sniff that accounted for a voice. Their waiter had returned to clean off the table, and was looking very disconcerted to find them not only still there, but groping each other as if the floor had dropped away from their feet, and their only means of escape was to cling to each other.
Sirius heard and broke off the kiss, Heather, not caring for the man at all, preferred to keep her gaze focused on Sirius. She watched as his face rippled with barely contained laughter at the stuck-up man’s look of humility. She saw other costumers looking at them with wild shock. But some of the women were looking wistfully at the men sitting opposite, as if hoping that they might suddenly leap out of their seats at them, capturing them in a romantic kiss much like the one that had just been displayed to them. As no such thing was highly possible, however, they were looking almost upset. One rather large, beefy woman was eyeing Sirius as if given the chance, she would snatch him up in an inescapable conversation. Trying to get a piece of what had just occurred.
Heather turned back to the heated conversation now going on between her fiancé and the waiter. She really didn’t care what they were talking about, but wanted to leave so she could be alone with Sirius.
“I demand that you leave at once!” the wiry man was saying, his face reddening. Sirius looked fit to burst, laughter pushing at the seams of his face.
“Only if my fiancé is ready,” he said, putting emphasis on the unfamiliar word. His tongue tingled with excitement, his mouth approving of the word. “What say you?” he said, turning to Heather. She grinned, and then feigned concentration, prolonging the waiter’s agony. Just when she thought he might faint with anxiety, she nodded.
“Very well,” she sighed, putting on an air of snobbish boredom, sounding much like the man had done earlier. Sirius moved to get her coat for her, but she stopped him with a short, quick shake of her head. It was discreet, but Sirius noticed it. He frowned in confusion, but stopped all the same, waiting with eager anticipation for what she was about to do next.
“Is there a problem, Miss?” the man said irritably, seeing her hesitation. She raised her eyebrows.
“I’m simply waiting…” she said, beginning to examine her nails. The man looked quite perplexed, and actually looked at Sirius for guidance. Sirius, following Heather’s lead, looked expectantly at the man.
“Er…for what?” he asked nervously, very aware of all the costumers now watching his every move. Heather smiled. It was pay-back time.
“Well, are you not going to help me with my coat, or shall I do it for myself?” she asked annoyed. The man looked as if he had been shot. He had completely forgotten the fine etiquette of his job! Jumping quickly, he helped her with her coat rather hastily. People around sitting closest were whispering. ‘Why, for the money they spend here, the least he should do is help the lady with her coat!’ they murmured. He heard these doubtful remarks about his service, and flushed. These two were ruining his flawless reputation!
“Well, now. I suppose you’ll be on your way,” he said, forcing a smile, and then looking eagerly at the people to see if their expressions looked mollified. Heather, giving a knowing smile at Sirius, walked to the door. She stopped then, looking at it as if it would burst open for her. Sirius, knowing her plan to embarrass this man, didn’t open it for her, but also waited.
Now people were whispering even louder. The waiter, who had begun to look relieved, noticed this and looked around. Heather thought he might have a heart-attack when he saw them still standing there. He quickly scanned for something else the insane woman wanted him to do.
The door! She wanted him to open the door! His stretched face pinked with frustration; he bustled to them. He opened the door for Heather, bowing. His tiny eyes darted to the doubtful looking costumers, then reproachfully up at Heather. This girl was ruining him! He had to get her out!
He hoped she didn’t expect him to hold her hand while she apparated to her home. “Have a pleasant day, Miss,” he said loudly for all to hear, though with a touch of clipped disgruntlement. She gave him a glittering smile, but Sirius sniffed.
“And what am I? A sack of beans?” Sirius said loudly. People muttered about the man’s ill manners. The man’s bald head burned brightly.
“And you too, Sir,” the man said through gritted teeth.
“Good day,” Heather muttered, a peevish glint in her eye. The man caught it and felt anger rising. She gave a swift nod and was off, Sirius following in her wake, trying not to laugh out loud with pride. He was sure that, next time, the man would think twice about treating a customer bad.
“Really, Peter, you don’t have to do all of this!” Alex was protesting. Peter gave a squeaky laugh; a real laugh.
“But, you don’t understand! I do it for my own enjoyment, not yours!” he teased, watching as she spooned the ice-cream around and around as the sun started fall, inviting darkness to take its turn. Alex giggled, feeling truly happy. She didn’t care what everybody else thought. She was in love with Peter, and he her. If they didn’t like it, too bad. But then she thought of Alice, Lily and Heather. She had been Heather’s first friend at Hogwarts! She would have thought at least she would have forgiven her. Peter saw her consternation and frowned. He anxiously pawed at her hand. “Something wrong?”
“I dunno, Pete,” she said uncertainly. “I just…your friends…” she muttered, looking downcast. Peter stiffened slightly.
“What about them?” he asked, his voice growing nasally. Alex shifted uncomfortably.
“They don’t like me, ever since I helped Lucius break Sirius and Heather up,” she whispered. Peter went quiet. It was true. They didn’t respect her anymore, and it showed around them. They were cold and distant to her. He shrugged, sighing dismally.
“Well, in the Marauders, we all stick together. Trust is a major issue. You can’t do something like that and just be forgiven,” he said sadly. “They just don’t understand you like I do.”
“Nobody understands me like you do,” she said with a rather depressing laugh. “But they trust you again, and you helped too,” she said.
“It’s because they’ve known me longer. They think they understand me,” he whispered. He held her hand in his. “Don’t worry. Everything will be alright. After awhile, they’ll see the beautiful person you really are.”
“And if they don’t?”
“Who cares?” he muttered. She laughed.
“You’ve changed so much,” she said, laying a hand on his cheek. His entire face was suddenly warm, despite the chilly wind that was now blowing evil feelings about.
“Thanks to you,” he muttered. She nodded, her smiled evident. How he loved her. He would do anything she asked him, and she knew it. She thought over this, and wondered why she didn’t take advantage of it. She normally would. She didn’t love this boy. But there was something about knowing that he loved her…it changed her. It made her feel…beautiful. It made her want to protect Peter, make sure that, even though she didn’t share his affections, he still loved her. He was the only person that was left.
He was her only friend.
“It’s getting really dark,” Alex acknowledged, looking around, rather surprised. Peter looked around too, actually taking in the scenery and the sounds.
“Yeah. You would think people would still be milling around,” he muttered, looking around the small park bench they were sitting on. The only sound was that of the creaking swings. Nobody was walking around. No cars were driving by. Peter felt an army of goose bumps attacking his arms and the back of his neck. Alex shivered beside him.
“Ready to leave?” she asked, almost nervously. Peter nodded, feeling jittery. He stood up, and the bench croaked its relief. Alex sniffed and tried to carry on their earlier conversation. “I’m sure you’re right. I’ll fit in with your friends soon,” she said confidently.
Peter nodded. “And if they don’t, forget them!” he said indignantly, putting a beefy arm around her. Alex nodded, but slowly moved her hand towards her wand. The hairs on the back of her neck were standing on end. Peter didn’t notice this action, but followed suit as a nearby streetlamp went off. Alex remained calm, while Peter began shaking, and controlling the urge to whimper. All was stone-cold silence. Nobody moved, nobody breathed. All was stillness. Then another streetlamp went out, then another. Soon the only light was from the moon above them.
Peter’s eyes were trying to adjust to the dark when Alex muttered, “Lumos.”
“Oh yeah,” Peter said, having forgotten completely about that spell. “Llamas,” he said, twitching his wand. “I mean, Lumos,” he muttered in quick amendment. His wand gave off light, though it was considerably less bright that Alex’s. As he looked up, having finally gotten his spell right, he nearly leapt out of his skin to see two people standing right in front of them, their eyes rather red, like those of a devil.
Alex gave an immediate sigh of relief. Peter stared at her in confusion. Here were two wizards standing before them, wands pointed straight at their hearts, and Alex was relieved?!
“They’re Aurors!” she explained, seeing that he still looked frightened. Peter squinted through the dark, and could see that they had on identical blue robes. Embroidered on the chest of the robes was the symbol for the Ministry of Magic. “My parents had them over to dinner loads of times!” she said with a smile, starting to walk up to them. “Hello Oliver, Sam…” she said warmly.
The two men simply stared. It was then that Peter realized how utterly…dead, the two looked. It was the best word to describe them. The only thing that kept Peter from thinking that they were in fact no longer living was that they kept blinking meaninglessly at them. Their skin was stretched taught across their faces, leaving gaping, hollow looking sockets for their eyes. Their eyes…. Peter felt almost sick to see them. They looked empty. Maybe these fellows had had too much to drink? The lack of substance surrounding the two was suffocating and downright scary.
Alex’s smile seemed to fade slightly. The two men glanced at each other, their eyes moving for the first time. They shared a sort of shrug, and then raised their wands.
“Stupefy!” they yelled together. Peter whipped his wand around, his heart fluttering with terror.
“Protego!” For a second Peter thought he had done it, but he saw that it was Alex’s wand, not his own, that bounced the spells back at the two wizards.
“Expelliarmus!” Peter said, trying the spell for the second time in his life. The man he had pointed the spell at let out a harsh yell, and winced. But Peter’s spell merely floated softly into the man’s face, causing his hair to stand on end. Maniacal laughter escaped the one called Oliver. Sam, meanwhile, was advancing on Alex.
“Impedimenta!” she was yelling over her shoulder, but, focusing on her aim over her shoulder, she didn’t see the swings that were right in front of her.
“Alex! Watch-” but it was too late. Alex’s knees collided with the hard metal of the swing, and she fell facedown into the unyielding grass. Peter, who hadn’t done a thing to help so far, was feeling useless.
“Wingardium Leviosa!” he yelled, pointing his wand at the picnic table. Sam, who had been about to curse Alex, looked towards the table in fear. For a second, Peter felt his wand vibrating slightly with his immense effort. “Come on…” he thought furiously. His father had always told him that he could do anything if he tried with all of his heart. He did now. He set all of his focuses on that table, remembering his father’s words.
Finally, with a great heave of emotion, he was able to lift…a rock next to the table. He almost fell over. So much for daddy’s sweet words. Sam gave a loud, insane chirp of laughter, watching as the rock floated a few feet above the grass. Peter cursed loudly, and saw Oliver coming towards him. There was no use for it. He would have to forget about wands. Balling his hand up into a tight fist, he drove it into Oliver’s skeleton face. He flew back, and Peter jumped on him, wands completely forgotten.
Meanwhile, Alex was getting up off the ground. Her nose was throbbing, and blood poured down her front. She knew she had broken it, but she ignored it. She had to get them out of this. Clutching her wand, she watched as Sam came for her, wand raised.
“Just a little bit closer…closer…” she whispered, biding her time. Then, when Sam was feet from her, she grabbed the seat of the swing, and pushed it hard. Its edge did the damage Alex had hoped for. It slammed into his mouth, with the help of Alex’s furious push. Sam let out a scream of pain. He stumbled backwards, and spat out a large glob of blood. Alex felt sick, for inside that glob were several browning teeth.
The man wasted no time. “Diffindo!” he cried, and several large gashes appeared on Alex’s stomach. She clutched them in pain, dropping to the ground. What was happening? Why were these Aurors attacking them? What had they done wrong? But whatever the reason, she couldn’t let them kill her! She had to keep her head, she thought to herself, even as the warm life began to slowly flow from her body. Firstly, she needed to fix these gashes, before she lost too much blood.
“Scourgify,” she whispered, and immediately wished she hadn’t. It felt as if her stomach was being scrubbed with a wire-brush. Sam laughed harshly, but Alex focused on her wound. Now it was clean…she needed to heal it…“Reparo,” she said uncertainly. She wasn’t sure what would happen…that spell wasn’t supposed to be used on skin. She felt then as if her skin were molding back together. She screamed in pain. She frantically tore her shirt above her stomach and saw a huge, bright red scar. It was throbbing, and she wasn’t sure how much longer she would be able to stay conscious. She had to save Peter…
Peter was thrown to his back, his eyes black and his lips bloody. He heard Alex’s scream of pain, and looked about wildly. He saw her crumpled on the ground, at the feet of her attacker. He stumbled for his wand, feeling nauseated. What could he do to help her? What curse could he do properly? He almost gave a feeble smile at the only spell he was good at. The tickling spell.
He now had his wand clutched in his hand, his opponent staggering around behind him. Sam was raising his wand up triumphantly, and Peter knew then and there that if he didn’t do something, that man would kill Alex.
“NEVER!” he yelled. “RICTUSEMPRA!” he roared. A jet a sparkling yellow light erupted from his wand, and hurtled towards the man at full force. It hit him in the stomach.
“Avada…” the man began, but ended the sentence with bales of laughter. Alex stared in disbelief and then saw Peter, bloodied and looking triumphant, his wand raised. She tried to give him the thumbs up, but her pain kept her from carrying it out completely, that and the fact that Oliver was now sneaking up behind him. This registered slowly. Her first instinct was to yell at him to turn around. But then, after a split-second of thinking, she knew that would be no help. The only spell she had seen Peter successfully carry out was the tickling charm.
“Incarcerous!” Alex bellowed. Oliver was suddenly bound tightly with chains. He fell, struggling, to the ground. Peter turned around, his reaction incredibly delayed. Then he saw the man, struggling helplessly on the ground. He looked at Alex, who was looking windswept, but alive all the same. She wiped some blood from her nose on her sleeve, and struggled upright. Peter went to her.
“That was bloody amazing!” he said enthusiastically. Alex laughed, but then clutched her stomach in pain. Peter frowned curiously. Alex hesitated for a second, and then lifter her shirt up a bit so that he could see her scar. Peter’s eyes widened. “Does it hurt?”
“Yeah,” she murmured with a tiny, forced laugh. “Oh well, I’ll get over it. I just didn’t know any actual healing spells.”
“If it hadn’t been for you, I would have been dead,” Peter said softly. “I owe you my life!”
“Hey, I wasn’t the only one out there saving lives. If you hadn’t hit that one with the tickling curse, I wouldn’t be standing here right now,” she said, looking up at him. Her wound already felt better as she gazed at him.
Peter then did something that he had never done before. He kissed a girl. He kissed Alex with all the feelings he had kept bottled up inside him. At first Alex was surprised. Normally, she was the one who had to enforce the physical contact…but now, now was a different matter! Peter was allowing his hands to curve around the back of her head.
“I love you so much,” he said through his kiss. “You’re everything to me,” he panted. Alex tasted blood, both his and hers. It was so sweet, so wonderful. Peter’s heart felt as if it would burst with happiness. He knew that he would never be happier than he was right now…
Just as these thoughts crossed into his mind, however, Alex went very still. He didn’t notice at first, but once he realized that he was the only one kissing, he paused. He pulled his mouth away from her, and stared into her eyes.
A/N: Okay guys, I'm kinda panicky. I don't think I'll be able to finish this before HBP comes out. I'm wondering how many people are still gonna read???? Review!
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