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You Hate Me.
Chapter 10: Public Displays of Rejection


The return of Piper and Sirius caused absolute bedlam. Madness. Mayhem even. The commotion was worse than when James Potter turned all of the utensils in the great hall invisible.

At Hogwarts, it was quite a familiar occurrence for students to turn up in the middle of the night by way of the Knight bus or other means, but one thing that the walls of the castle had never seen was Piper Redden and Sirius Black popping up at twilight…together. If one thing riled up the rumour mills at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy it was one sixth year girl and one sixth year boy who despised each other emerging at breakfast—together—when they certainly were not supposed to be there. And if that didn’t cause the mill to whir, the fact that the said sixth year boy and the said sixth year girl sat next to each other did the trick.

A week of Christmas break remained. The absence of lessons was taken advantage of by the female population of Hogwarts; they used their ample free time coming up with obscene and ridiculous gossip and spreading it to anyone who would listen.

Piper tried to remain impervious to the stares and catty comments, but it grew harder as her nerves shortened. She had never understood the term “wits end” fully until then. Madness was only inches away…madness or murder.

“C’mon, Lily, let me at her!” Piper grunted, tangling herself in her own black robes as she dove for her wand. Lily’s tactic of holding onto Piper’s hem was an ingenious one, and soon Piper was tripping over her heels as if someone had tied her trainer’s laces together. Once Lily was sure the seventh year that had tripped Piper was completely safe, Piper was released.

“Just ignore it, Piper. Trust me, they’ll get bored eventually. A new story will catch their attention soon enough,” Lily said. As an afterthought she added, “Although, it probably won’t be too soon. You have to admit, it is a good story. A midnight runaway. A lovers’ quarrel. Star crossed lovers.”

“There was no running, no quarreling, and no loving of any kind,” Piper snarled, but Lily was too emerged in her fantasy and continued to mumble.

“But in the end, love conquered all,” the redhead said dreamily.

“There was no conquering!” Piper shouted, causing all those around her to stop and stare. Lily sighed contentedly and Piper grumbled, “Why don’t you write a book about it?” Piper massaged her temples, feeling like she was about to have an aneurism or some other medical emergency.

The ability to nail a story on the head was a special talent of the Hogwarts girls. Weaved into the complicated tangle of lies was a string of the truth. How the tale even surfaced was a mystery—until the Howler came, then the whole school knew the story without the lacking of any of the details. However, even before Carolyn Redden’s cries filled the Great Hall nearly every soul roaming the halls of Hogwarts knew of the flight of Sirius and Piper. Piper tried to convince Lily that Mabel, the biggest gossip in the sixth year class, had recording devices hidden in all of the broom cupboards. According to Lily, that was a preposterous theory. Piper’s second theory about Mabel bribing the House Elves with dirty clothes for information didn’t even warrant a sarcastic remark. It was more ‘logical’ (to Lily, at least) that Korey had been written to by her cousin who happened to know the entire story because her best friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s father’s nephew’s best friend was Regulus Black, who had heard his mother shouting about Sirius the very same night.

Lily was right. As the vacation neared an end, the rumors lost their spunk (and originality). But it wasn’t for lack of trying. Even Peeves lost his creativity. The best he came up with was, “Piper and Sirius kissing in a tree…” The others were less “Gone with the Wind” esque.

“--They eloped and their parents found out and—“
“—A spell backfired and Piper fell in love with Sirius—“
“--She has been in love with him for years now—“
“—She is obviously just paying him—“

Sirius took the rumors better than Piper. While she ignored anyone but Lily, Sirius invited the attention. He could be seen at meals or during free blocks encouraging the gossip about them.

“Well you see, we have been madly in love since first year, but we had to keep it a secret. You see, our parents are members of rival gangs, and our love was forbidden. But we finally decided we could not harness our love! And now we can truly express it and I’ll never let her leave my side!”

Coincidentally, Piper was indeed by Sirius’ side. His hand found the hood of Piper’s robes. With a forceful yank, he pulled her closer. “Come ‘ere, love!” Several surrounding people snickered.

“Get off.” Piper whispered in her best I’ll-bloody-kill-you-if-you-don’t-stop-pronouncing-our-love death voice.

Sirius gestured to the dispersing crowd. “You sure know how to ruin a guy’s fun. I haven’t gone so many days consecutively without getting asked out—now I know how Moony feels— and I’ll tell you, it great! And it’s all because of you.” He did not say it in anger, but in awe.

Mable poked her curly head out from behind a pillar where she was unsuccessfully spying on Sirius and Piper. Sirius noted this. He lowered his head. “Here, give us a kiss.”

“NO!” It was perfect was it that Sirius was the one getting all of the perks. While he was living a jolly old life, Piper was being slandered at every corner. “This may be the best time of your life what with the lack of imbeciles fawning over you, but me?” Piper placed a hand on her chest. She could feel her hair already frizzing with anger. “I’ve never been so ridiculed in my life! Last night, someone put a snake in my bed, this morning, my fork turned into a flubberworm, and look at this!” Piper dug a piece of paper out of her pocket. She nearly tore the crinkled parchment in two she was so flustered. She forced it into Sirius’ hand. “Go on, read it!” Piper’s eyes were in danger of popping out of her head they were opened so wide.

Sirius complied, for Piper’s sanity, and read aloud. “’Piper Redden, you are a bitch.’ Well I could have told you that.” To save himself from any broken bones, Sirius continued to read. “’I have always tolerated you, but I never liked you. There was always something about you that made me anxious. Now I know what it is, you are a bitch. You’re a snake, skank, slut…’ Wow, nice alliteration. ‘I cannot imagine a painful enough death for you to endure—but I’m sure one will come to me. Sirius Black was going to be my boyfriend until you stole him away. You ruined my life and now I will ruin yours. Whore.’” Sirius folded the paper in half. “Well that was a little extreme. I wasn’t close to being anyone’s boyfriend.”

“And the death threat, that wasn’t extreme at all?”

“You know what? It sounds like you need a sense of humor.” Sirius crossed his arms. Seriously, that death threat wasn’t that bad. He had had thousands of assassination attempts done on him, and he wasn’t complaining. “Besides, you weren’t complaining when I let you jump me.”

Piper’s face darkened. How was he acting like nothing had happened between them? Piper’s denial skills were not so grand that she could block out such an amazing event as running away from home with her most hated rival. Even the strong, protective movements he had been making that night had ceased. It was as if being back at Hogwarts had clouded his vision. Piper had thought that was what she wanted—what she prayed for. She told Sirius what she had told no one else. How could he betray that act of trust by ignoring it?

For a person so small, she managed to tower over Sirius. Leading with a pointed finger, Piper advanced on Sirius, cornering him into the brick wall. The Adams Apple in Sirius’ throat protruded more than usual. He gulped.

“You want a sense of humor, Sirius Black? I’ll show you a sense of humor.”

* * * *


“So let me get this straight,” Lily’s brows were knit together in frustration, forming one long red line across her forehead as she attempted to curl her hair. Her locks were putting up quite the battle, and this war demanded most of Lily’s attention. “You kissed him.”

“No.”

“So he kissed you?”

“No.” Even though Piper knew she sounded like a fool she couldn’t justify what had happened with a yes-no answer.

“Well Piper,” Lily’s hair was a dreadful sight of half-defeated curls that hung lifelessly around her head. “There was definitely some kissing going on.”

“Then it was both.” Piper kicked her bedpost, and prayed the beast wouldn’t retaliate. “But he started it.” Piper pointed her finger threateningly at Lily.

Lily saw right through Piper’s three year old logic. “Right. Well, however good your intentions may have been, they seem to be backfiring.”

“No shit.” One kiss could only cause so much drama in a castle filled with teens. “And Black won’t leave me alone now. It’s like I’m his bodyguard to protect him from trollops seeking a date. And what are you getting all dressed up for anyway?” Piper desperately sought any change in the subject. She couldn’t explain the fact that she had—God she hated the word—connected with Sirius. Ew. Connected? That wasn’t the right word. Bonded? No. She would have to create a new word to describe what had happened while she went home for the winter holidays.

Lily tried to hide both the new blouse she had put on and a large grin at the same time. She failed miserably. “I actually have a bit of a…erm…unsupervised meeting between myself and one of my peers that I have to be present at around six o’ clock in the evening.”

“Don’t try your word games on me, Evans,” Piper threatened. “You’re going on a date!”

“No it’s not a date! It’s a meeting!”

“And is this meeting with a member of the opposite sex?” Lily’s new blouse was answer enough, but Piper wanted to hear the words. The redhead nodded. “So it’s a date.”

Lily shook her head violently. “No, no, no, no, no. It’s just a casual get together with me and someone else where there will be no talk of dating.”

“Oh yeah, and what are you guys going to talk about, trolls? Gobstones? Meetings are for cults, societies, and clubs, Lils, not l teens. Who’s the guy anyway?” Piper placed her hand under her chin. There was no one in the Hogwarts body that Piper had not heard of. Living in the shadows seemed to have the bonus of knowing everything that happened at Hogwarts. Piper knew more gossip than Moaning Myrtle. She didn’t enjoy the knowledge she had, nor did she spread rumors she just…knew.

Piper had to repeat “Pardon?” four times before Lily would pronounce the name with a bit of coherency.
The name caused Piper’s jaw to nearly unhinge. A cobra would have been jealous of the gaping hole that was Piper’s mouth.

“GRANT GREY!?”

“Keep your voice down, Pip—“

“YOU’RE GOING ON A DATE WITH GRANT FUCKING GREY!?”

“I don’t think that’s his middle name, Piper.”

Piper shrugged. After the initial shock wore down somewhat, Piper was able to rebuke Lily with a hint of sanity. “Lily he will talk your ears off. Seriously, they’ll fall right off, just plunk right on the table. Bye ears! You’ll want to kill yourself by the end of the night. I can’t allow you to go. As a friend I must intervene. He is a another bastard who thinks that he is hot shit because his great-great-great grandfather’s brother’s cousin invented Exploding Snap or something.”

Grant Grey was a Ravenclaw Piper had met only once. Grant was a seventh year whose father had something to do with the Ministry, so of course their family was invited to the Redden’s for dinner. Piper had never come closer to actually jumping out of a window than when she was with Grant Grey. The Grey’s all had severe acne issues, and the curse had befallen Grant more than any before. The pimples were held at bay only by copious amounts of Bubotuber Pus and other crafty spellwork. Other than the acne, Grant was still not an attractive person. His nose was too long and crooked, nearly reaching his round, protruding chin. He did have nice eyes and pleasant, full lips, but neither matched his mousy brown hair and obnoxious personality. Piper could not see what Lily wanted with this boy.

“He’s very kind. He is always at the library with me and always offering to help me with my homework.” Lily began to fall into her defense stance. It was a very alarming pose including crossed arms, bent knees, jutted out hips, and narrowed emerald eyes.

“Well he is probably only in the library because, oh yeah, HE’S A GOD DAMN RAVENCLAW! Besides, I doubt homework was the only thing he wanted to help you with. And I’ll bet he asked you out and you were too polite to reject him.”

Any person in the castle with a Y chromosome over fifteen and under twenty had outstanding odds to reign in Lily Evans. Just because she was, as Piper put it, too polite. The one exception to this was James Potter. Since he went about asking her out in a rude way to begin with, Lily felt no remorse rejecting the piss out of him. Mind you, any normal girl would have done the same if James had gathered eighteen of his closest mates to lay out in the court yard to spell “GO OUT WITH ME EVANS?” (two were needed for the question-mark) while Lily had Transfiguration, which looked out over the courtyard, as James jumped up and down in the air, making it clear who had asked the question in second year. Most learned from James’ repeated mistakes and went about asking Lily for dates in quieter ways.

“I know, I don’t really want to go on this…meeting,” Lily was still adamant about using that word, “but I know I will hurt his feelings and he’s a really good friend. I’ve never known a guy so…wholesome. Just give me some advice, I need guidance.”

“Well the best advice I can give you is move all sharp utensils out of the way when Grant starts talking, but I doubt that’s what you’re looking for.” Lily’s glare confirmed that quite nicely. “I don’t know. Just make him see you’re not girlfriend material.”

“You really give the worst advice ever.” Lily turned away, huffing and puffing all the way to the door. “How do I look?” Lily’s hair looked a bit like someone had draped orange seaweed over her head, her blouse was buttoned wrong (Lily had mistaken the first hole for the second), and she had a bit of celery stuck in her teeth.

How Lily had managed to accomplish this flustered look so well was far beyond Piper’s knowledge, but she certainly wasn’t about to mention it. With a Witch Weekly award winning smile, Piper sent Lily to damnation. “You look simply dazzling.”

While Piper’s advice for Lily may have been the worst advice ever, it had given Piper a terrific idea.

* * * *


James Potter was a Mafia movie lover. He tended to travel in a posse when he had serious business to do.

Piper did not know this.

So it came as no surprise that when James Potter cornered her in a dark corridor with his crossed-armed thugs behind him, including Remus, Peter, and Sirius, she was sure she was about to be mugged. James had other things on his mind.

“You let Lily go on a date with Grant Grey?” He accused. “She won’t come back sane!” James held his broomstick in his hand and let it fall into his other hand threateningly. It appeared as though James had enlisted the entire Gryffindor Quidditch team to help him (minus Remus and Peter).

“Yeah, that was sort of my reaction too.” Piper mumbled, frowning. “But I wouldn’t worry, Potter, I’m sure they’ll keep it appropriate.” She said with a wink. Throwing a deadly stiff arm, which Rhett had conveniently taught her, Piper made her way from between the brawny boys.

“Nuh uh! You march down to Hogsmeade and rescue her this instant!” James stamped his foot then toppled over his comrades to block Piper’s way. The rest of the Quidditch team had seen enough. Hot showers were much more inviting than watching Piper Redden beat up James Potter. Only Remus, Peter, and Sirius stayed loyal to their stupid friend.

“There will be no marching, Potter.” Piper took a stab at imitating Lily’s defense stance, but only managed stumbling a bit. “You go get her if you’re so damn worried. She is a big girl, Potter. Trust me; she doesn’t need you looking out for her.”

“C’mon, love, be a doll and go rescue Lily.” Sirius stepped forward. James backed off and let his wingman handle the situation. If anyone could tame a wild beast it was Sirius. Sirius approached Piper warily; he was close enough to put his arm around her shoulder. As his arm slid around Piper’s slim shoulders, her own arm flew upwards and twisted his off.

No words were needed; the guttural growl coming from Piper was enough of a warning. The four boys scampered.

I really need to do something about this…

Piper was at a loss. The only “boyfriend” she had ever had was in first year, and that hardly counted; the closest contact they had was holding hands, and they had probably only spoken thirty words the whole nine days they were dating. Technically, they were still dating, since neither one of them had the courage to dump the other.

This whole situation is ridiculous. No less than a thousand ideas were formulating themselves. Piper had always been a natural plotter. But none of them ended well. That’s it! And ending. I need to end it. Oh sweet Circe, I need to break up with Sirius Black.

Piper told her plan in it’s entirety to Lily when she came back from her “meeting” looking worse for wear (which was saying something, considering the state she left in). While Lily disapproved, she was a bit too distracted to voice her complaints. Lily was in a complete daze, given another hour; Grant would have talked the poor girl to death.

If Piper had been a crueler woman, she would have told Lily about James’ (ahem) request to have Piper go save her. No good would have came from it, and she was going to play the perfect Marauder girlfriend for plan Break up with Sirius to work.

“So why do you need my help?” Lily asked after a much needed cold shower.

“Because no one knows how to turn down a Marauder better than you, Lils.”

* * * *


When Piper sat next to Sirius the next day at breakfast the female population of Hogwarts choked into their goblets, or else gagged on the sausages in their mouths. To add salt to the wound, Piper reached for Sirius’ hand, which was previously content on Sirius’ lap, and brought it up into clear view with her own fingers laced between his. One fourth year darted from the Hall in tears. But no one choked more than the Marauders themselves. They knew Piper Redden and her games, how could they have forgotten the last time she lulled them into a false sense of security before striking like the lioness she was?

Sirius was dumbfounded, mystified, bemused, but he wasn’t about to take his hand back, either. Remus, James, and Peter seemed to be having a difficult time recovering also.

“I’m really sorry I wouldn’t help you yesterday,” she said to Sirius as sweetly as possible. “I’ll see you in Potions, ‘kay?” Piper gave Sirius a lingering kiss on the cheek and then slid out from between him and Peter.

It wasn’t until Piper was out of the hall entirely that one of the Marauders found their voice.

“What the fuck just happened?”

* * * *


The perplexing actions of Piper continued all day. She sat next to Sirius in classes, at meals, and even in the common room. She held Sirius’ hand the whole time.

Sirius learned three things about Piper during the day he was going to dub, “Most Awkward Twenty-Four Hours of My Life”:

Firstly, she was a great hand-holder. She had a firm grip, but yet it was loose enough for Sirius to let go if he had wanted to (which he really didn’t). Nor did her palms get sweaty like his sometimes did. Her arm did not shake annoyingly like other girls’, but sat, inexhaustible, on the table. Once, she even took her thumb and caressed Sirius’ with it. The gesture was a pleasant surprise.

Secondly, she had beautiful hands. A more intelligent man would have used different synonyms like “stubby,” or “big-knuckled.” Her round nails were filed short; they barely showed white at the tips. No polished marred her nails, but they were still well kept. No hangnails dared show themselves. Her skin was soft and lotioned, which more than made up for their subbiness.

Thirdly, she smelled the way only a woman could: warm, exotic, and clean.

These interesting facts were lost on Peter, Remus, and James, who were too busy trying to figure out what was going on, and what Piper was after.

“I say Sirius turns into Padfoot and gives her a good bite in the leg.” Peter said. He added another idea to a list entitled, “What Redden’s after” So far, the list included:

1. Sirius’ hot body
2. James’ hot body
3. Peter’s hot body
4. Remus’ hot body
5. Peter’s Y-fronts
6. James’ lingerie
7. Remus’ diary
8. Sirius’ pants
9. Sirius’ money (“She’ll be sorry if that’s the one, Mum’s probably already disowned me.”)
9. Our dignity.

James was in charge of manning the list. “What’s Going On?” His ideas ranged from, “Piper’s finally become sane and has come to terms with her love of Sirius,” to “Piper’s slowly poisoning Sirius from toxins she hides in her hands.”

The Marauders designed a full reconnaissance (James watched a lot of spy movies also), including snooping through Piper’s drawers (they found only lacy pants they wouldn’t expect Piper to wear and a picture of Piper surrounded by a bunch of good-looking blokes), Peter stalking her in his Animagi form, Remus continually asking her for help with his homework, and Sirius wearing gloves at all times. As the investigation progressed, numbers were crossed off both of the lists until none were left except for the conclusion that Piper was just a normal girl who was keen to date Sirius Black. Though a seed of doubt was still planted.

* * * *


“What are you doing?” Sirius said. Piper had entered the Great Hall for breakfast, and was hovering beside Sirius, waiting for him to clear a spot for her.

“I just want to sit next to my boyfriend.” Piper took matters into her own hands and squeezed herself in the narrow passage between Remus and Sirius. By angling in her shoulders, Piper managed to fit somewhat comfortably.

“So what, no malicious prank? None of this pretend to have surrendered business?” His broad shoulder hit Piper in the jaw as he turned to face her. Sirius pretended not to have noticed.

“I’ll be honest with you, I had plenty of things I was going to do to you, but I decided that the worst thing that I could possibly do was actually be your girlfriend. Or act like it, at least. I mean how long can you last without snogging some fifth year? Besides, I’m a terrible girlfriend. The worst, actually.” She paused for dramatic effect. “I’m going to make you wish that you never hit puberty, Black.”

“Well, fortunately enough, I never have. Ha!” Sirius said, thinking himself wise.

“Right.” Piper un-lodged her shoulder and reached for a piece of toast. Finding a suitable slice, she bit into it, scattering crumbs over her own robes as well as Sirius’. “I just have one more question. Which pet-name do you prefer: Sweetie Pumpkin Pookums, Hunny Wunny Cakes, or Snookie Wookum Weetie Bunny Bo?”

“Oh, I see your game, Redden. Well you just wait, because I just so happen to be the World’s Worst Boyfriend Ever.”

“Right.” Piper said again, then she whispered into his ear, “I’ll save you a seat in Charms, Siri Weary Bunny Bear.”

And thus, the War of the Relationship began.

* * * *


“I have never been more humiliated in my life.” Piper subtly moved one of Lily’s giant stacks of books to fully hide her crimson face. She was dismally losing the Relationship War—which was planned, of course—but Sirius was taking the term “public displays of affection” to a new level. Sirius had conjured a cherub to float behind Piper, shouting love ballads at the top of its lungs, he had written ‘PIPER REDDEN IS FOXY’ in red roses during Herbology, and had become accustomed to taking photographs of Piper every time he saw her, saying it was for a scrapbook he was putting together because he wanted to document their love.

“Think again.” Lily said. She collected her books in one large swoop (ruining Piper’s hiding spot), and stumbled over to an adjacent table. The library was a sanctuary to Lily, and she wouldn’t have Sirius Black destroying it, nor would she ruin her timid relationship with the new librarian, Madame Irma Pince, to protect Piper’s dignity. Some friend.

Sirius was no less than exultant with his newest expression of ‘love.’ It was a shirt. But it wasn’t just any shirt. It was a white shirt with a picture and words on it. Now, the normal formula for a shirt is ‘a picture and words,’ but the words on this particular shirt were well chosen, and the picture was especially important.

Similar to Muggle shirts of its kind, Sirius had somehow managed to superimpose a portrait of Piper on the very center of the crisp, white shirt. The picture had been cut into an atrocious heart shape (which pointed out its male doing). Across the back in bolded letters were the words, “PIPER + SIRIUS = LOVE”

Vomiting almost certainly would have blown Piper’s cover.

“Prongs,” Sirius announced, loud enough for the library’s occupants to hear.

“Yes, Padfoot.”

“Do you think Piper believes in love at first sight?”

“Probably not.”

“I guess I’ll just have to walk by again, then.” True to his words, Sirius cat-walked backwards and walked by Piper a second time.

“Oi, Piper, is your father a baker?”

“What are you talking about, Bla—“

“BECAUSE YOU HAVE GREAT BUNS! AH HA HA!” A knee slap accompanied the laughter radiating from the two boys.

Most often, librarians are mild, timid creatures. The Dewey Decimal System is their only friend. This stereotype is not the same for Hogwarts librarians. One out of line student and library hell is unleashed. So when Madame Pince saw Sirius Black and James Potter making a mockery of her books, she saw it quite reasonable to levitate her heaviest volume at their heads.

“But Irma,” Sirius said, dodging the tome wildly, “I was just escorting my girlfriend to class.” His antics resulted in hitting his shin against a nearby chair. For an instant, he reached down to examine his wound, but an instant was enough. The book hit its target. Like a proud dog, the volume floated back to its owner, waiting for praise.

Madame Pince pointed to the door. Her book flapped angrily.

“Fine! I’ll wait for you outside, Pumpkin.”

“It was just Karma.” Piper said smugly over her shoulder ten minutes later in Transfiguration (Sirius was still moaning about his head).

The Marauders conferenced behind Piper’s back. Using ostentatious gesticulation, head nodding, and torso waggling, they came to a consensus. Sirius loudly tore a piece of parchment from a notebook. The long tear lasted for nearly thirty seconds. He unscrewed his ink bottle just as loudly and rummaged in his bag for a quill. Professor McGonagall took notice to these actions but ignored the boy, she was getting her hopes up, but she prayed he was going to take notes…for once.

Sirius had similar plans, but lesson notes weren’t exactly what he was scribbling (shooting droplets of ink on the floor). He took an enormous breath, filling his lungs much more than was necessary, and exhaled on the parchment to dry the ink. More than half of the class had turned to see what Sirius was making such a fuss about. Three quarters of the class followed Sirius as he crinkled the note into the shape of a paper football and took aim straight at Piper’s head. His shot was excellent.

“OI!” The sharp end of the paper nicked Piper’s ear. Her cry was enough to draw the attention of Professor McGonagall.

“Miss Redden, if you cannot control you’re outbursts you will have to leave this class!” McGonagall’s narrowed eyes fell to the football on her desk. Her unnaturally thin mouth spoke what she was thinking. What is this, Miss Redden?

Piper flopped forward onto her desk and clung to the opposite end of it, enfolding the note between layers of wood, wool, and skin. She won’t make me move, she won’t make me move, she won’t make me move, ouch, unless she grabs my ear! The ear grabbing move was an art Minerva McGonagall had perfected. Every student feared the dreaded ear grab from that woman. Piper knew why after that day.

“Well let’s see what we have here.” McGonagall unfolded the note with cruel hesitation. Piper had a feeling about what was coming. Had her legs been working properly, she would have bolted, unfortunately embarrassment kept them glued to the floor. The only thing she could do was close her eyes and lower her glowing face to her desk. The lack of sight seemed to heighten her other senses. McGonagall’s words were as clear as the Pyramids of Giza.

“Ahem. Piper, here is a poem I have written for you. I had planned to wait until our date tonight, but your beauty inspired me.

When I feel a bit yellow
I remember that I am a fellow
With a wonderful girlfriend named Piper.

When I start to feel lonely
I imagine that I’m a pony
And my rider is my girlfriend named Piper.

She cheers me up when I’m blue
And she has a great body too
That’s right; I’m talking about my girlfriend named Piper.

Love, Sirius.


* * * *


“Lily, I can’t take it anymore. I’m breaking up with him tomorrow.” Piper was cramped between two suits of armor on the fourth floor where people seldom stopped by. The armored knights had been previously unaware of Piper’s sanctuary between them. When she spoke, their rusted heads bent down.

“Ain’t you that that girl who that boy wrote that poem about? ‘When I feel a bit yellow…’ How’s it go again, Gideon?”

’I remember that I am a fellow’”

“Finish it and die, knight,” Piper threatened.

The second knight was offended. “No appreciation. In my day, when a lover poured his heart and soul into a work of art, the subject of his affection at least acted like she liked it. The boy had such passion.”

“And rhythm.”

“And meter.”

“I didn’t know Hogwarts was home to the Dynamic Duo of Poetry.” Piper piped in, purposely banging the knights as she wedged her way out of the two.

“Piper you have to wait until you’ve been going out for at least a week for it to be really believable.” Lily said.

“Lily, I’ll be dead by day seven. I’m dumping him tomorrow.”

“Suit yourself but you know I really that that what you’re doing is really, really wrong. It’s so childish, Piper. Besides, I think that it’s painfully obvious that you and Sirius aren’t even dating. You’re not fooling any—OH HI GRANT!”

Grant Grey was not the type of person one enjoys running into in a corridor, definitively because his mouth never shut for long enough to make it to class in time. Piper needn’t have worried. It wasn’t she who’s ear Grant was about to talk off, it was Lily’s. Piper’s rejection was still sore for Grey, but like his mother had said, he was too good for her anyway.

“Hello, Lily.” Grant said. His sonorous voice made Piper’s jaw twitch.

“’Ello, Grey. We’d love to stop and chat, but Lily and I’ve got to get to class.” Piper said. She allowed her face to fall into an apologetic countenance.

Grant rolled his eyes.

“Actually, I have a free break.” Lily skipped past her friend and slide her arm through Grant’s before Piper could stop her.

Now this was bad, very bad. Piper was 120 percent positive that Lily did have a class. What in the name of Cliodna was she doing!? James had been on rather good behavior considering his own standards; Lily couldn’t possibly be skiving off class for retribution.

This was not good.

“Shit.” Piper snapped her fingers and allowed her feet to carry her to her next lesson, which Black thankfully wasn’t in. Piper had some serious thinking to do.

* * * *


“Look what Grant bought me!” Lily was positively glowing when she found Piper in the least likely of all places: the Quidditch Pitch. It was (or had been) the perfect hiding spot. Not only was it in a location none would ever think of, it was also outside, and while the Scottish winter chilled Piper to the bone, the fresh air cleared her mind. Piper found that by Summoning blankets she was able to create a sort of nest in the bleachers. She could have spent the night there if it wasn’t for damn Lily Evans finding her.

“He got me a friendship bracelet!” She brandished her wrist, fully adorned with a silver bracelet. “Look, mine says ‘Friends’ and Grant’s says ‘Forever.’ Isn’t it cute?”

“Yeah, so cute I could hurl.” Piper was distracted enough without Lily bragging about her love affair with Grey.

“You know I’ve never really been friends with a guy, and I really like it!” Lily sighed helplessly. “He really just likes me for me.”

“I wouldn’t know.” Piper said from her cocoon.

“So you’re still breaking up with Sirius tomorrow?” Lily jangled her bracelet and examined it from different positions.

“Why wouldn’t I? Not all of us can find such good guy friends. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t exactly call Black ‘wholesome.’” Piper stood. Her blankets fell to the ground, turning back into stones. “I should get back to the castle. Big day tomorrow.”

Piper dug her way through the snowy ground. Her breath manifested itself in crystallized puffs. She retreated back to the dark castle, leaving Lily alone with her bracelet.

* * * *


The worst week of Piper’s life was the average week in numbers. There was seven days, but those seven days were filled with embarrassment. One hundred sixty-eight hours of harassment. One thousand eighty minutes of snog attempts. Six hundred four thousand eight hundred seconds of sheer pain.

Piper bit her fingernail viciously. She gave up on the dratted nail and began to work on her knuckles, cracking them absentmindedly. Part of her gained a vindictive pleasure, knowing cracking them made her knuckles grow. She’d love to see what her mother would say. Piper shook herself. She had to stay focused if she wanted this to look believable.

Air filled her lungs but trapped itself there, too afraid to come out. Her fidgeting became more and more pronounced as Defense Against the Dark Arts came to an end. Her hand shook so violently when she was dissecting her vampire heart that the entire organ slipped to the stone floor.

Severus waved his wand to clear up the mess Piper had made. He pushed his own heart closer to Piper so the two of them could share.

“So, you and Black?” he said conversationally.

Piper cringed. She needed no reminder of she and Black being ‘an item’. In response, she said, “Mmmmm.”

“I thought that you hated him with, what was it, ‘a burning passion that should be powerful enough to set him on fire.’”

“Feelings change sometimes.” Piper said unconvincingly.

“What is this, some sort of game between the two of you? It’s perverse.” Severus did little to hide his disappointment in Piper. “I don’t know how you can be so swayed in your beliefs. One minute you hate him the next you’re dating him.”

“I never said I hated him.” Piper said offhandedly. “And there’s a lot of things you don’t know about him,” Piper stopped, remembering how quickly Sirius forgot about what had happened between them. Why was she defending him when he would not do the same for her? She would bet her wand Sirius had already had his fun telling the other Marauders all about the things Piper had told him.

Severus was still waiting for her to continue when the bell rang. Students filtered through the door into the hallway. Piper was one of them, as was Sirius.

She closed her eyes and counted to three. “How hard can this be?” She muttered to herself. Piper wove her way through the black clad students, throwing the occasional elbow and ducking the odd bag or two. “Sirius,” She said in a stage whisper. “We need to talk.”

“About what?” Sirius reached into his bag with one hand and held up a finger with the other. He must have had some object or another to give to Piper. She couldn’t let that happen. She had to be in control.

“About us.”

“Eh?”

“Look,” Piper now had four people in the least hanging on every word she said. When she touched Sirius’ elbow to get his attention more people turned. Instinctively the crowd formed a circle around the two as mobs often do when they smell a fight coming.

“We just aren’t working out.” She waited for Sirius to reply. He didn’t. He must be playing stupid. Piper spoke her next words with deliberate slowness, “We need to stop dating.”

“Huh?”

“Okay!” Piper shouted, frustrated. This wasn’t going as planned. She needed to start over. “We are going out right?”

“Yeah.” Sirius said; glad to finally be able to answer one of Piper’s questions.

“And I want to stop going out with you.”

“Ohhhh. But wh—“

“No, don’t speak.” Piper rushed forward, the picture child for distressed girlfriend, and held a finger to Sirius’ lips. She turned her head away from his. “Please, let me go quietly, Sirius. I loved you once so madly, and I still do. But the passion, the passion is gone for me. You have to let me go, Sirius, I’m like a bird, I need to be free.” Somehow, Piper had managed to lock her wrists in Sirius’ hands. It was like a scene from one of the shows Alexander had made her watch over the summer—the kind with bad actors and even worse plot lines that were only shown during the daytime when no one watches them.

Guys and gals alike were pushing to get to the front of the throng of people. The Marauders were three of these people. The sight of James made something click in Sirius’ brain. This seemed way too familiar. He saw a bit of orange hair. Why, this was just like something Lily would do to James. Now that’s funny, Lily and Piper are mates. Then he got it. She was fake-fake dating him! He was quadruple crossed! He was dating her as a joke because she convinced him that it was a joke, forcing him to do a slew of crazy, needy boyfriend things, only so she could break up with him publicly in order to humiliate him and make it seem like they had really been dating after all. After this unnerving insight all Sirius could do was gape dumbfoundedly. No, he was the one fake-dating Piper, not the other way around. The whole gig had been fun and games for he, Sirius, but for Piper it was for revenge.

But what had he done? He didn’t know. Sure, he had been blatantly ignoring the fact that they had kissed each other, run away together, and shared several intimate moments, but that was nothing to get touchy about. Was it?

“Sirius, I thought it would be a good idea to make our relationship public since we’ve been in love so long, but you’re just, you’re just…too needy.”

“I’m the needy one, am I? Well I happen to remember you…er…you held my hand too much.” So that’s why she never retaliated when Sirius showed his false affections. “And you always walked with me in the corridors. I think I need the space, dear.”

“Sirius please don’t turn this on me. I know this is hard for you to hear, but you have to accept it. I know the wound is fresh now and you’ll be upset for a long time but I promise it will heal with time. It might be hard to see me every day, but we can still be friends, right? I’d love it if we could stay close, but it just won’t work to be lovers. You need me too much. Accept it, we’re over.”

Piper had found her calling as an actress. She licked her lips and pursed them as fake tears pooled in her stormy eyes. She entangled her hands behind Sirius’ neck. On her tip-toes she let her lips find his smooth cheek.

“Goodbye, Sirius.”

* * * *


When Piper woke the next morning and sat down at breakfast she had prepared to be the object of more judgment. She wasn’t, which was a pleasant surprise. She scratched her head slowly as she looked for Lily. Piper hadn’t seen her friend since Sunday.

Piper wasn’t a lover of attention, but really, she hadn’t broken up with Sirius to be ignored further. Oh, people were certainly talking, but it wasn’t about Piper. You see, the breakup of Piper and Sirius was overshadowed by another event. To the students of Hogwarts, the Piper-Sirius dating fiasco had only been a strange—very strange—moment in Hogwarts history. It was almost forgotten entirely in the grand scale of things, especially since the new gossip was fresh, juicy, and scandalous.

“Wot’s everyone freaking out about?” Piper said to a fourth year Gryffindor sitting near her.

“You haven’t heard?” The girl giggled. “Grant Grey asked Lily Evens to go steady with him.”

Piper began to choke. "She said no right?"

“No, she accepted.”

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