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* * *
The next few weeks went by quickly. Training intensified, but somehow, it was becoming easier. Running three laps around the lake at five in the morning wasn’t even that difficult, though just as unpleasant. Kristen would admit it though, she felt stronger, and faster. Captain Renoir had even said she’s never been surer of a Gryffindor victory. The meetings with Dumbledore were doing nothing for her strength though, she was just thankful she had the day after them off from Quidditch practice. Every night she’d have strange dreams, not necessarily bad dreams, but strange dreams nonetheless. Before this year, she’d hardly ever had dreams, and it was always an odd occurrence for her. Anytime she told her mother about it she would start freaking out. She had never known why her mother was like that; it had just always been that way. But the cycle was starting again, she didn’t tell Dumbledore. The piercing eyes she saw nightly in her dreams were probably of no concern to him. It was probably like the mood swings, merely a remnant of their connection.

It was one particular trying morning in mid October that Lily finally came up to Kristen. She’d been antsy around her for the past few days, and Kristen didn’t have any notion as to why. Kristen had fallen asleep on her bag at breakfast once more, having been not particularly awake for her ru that morning. Lily kept prodding her, urging her to go to class early. “I don’t wanna,” Kristen grumbled, turning her bag. But Lily was insistent, and finally Kristen gave up. “Fine,” She snapped, swinging her bag over her should as she half-heartedly tried to wipe the sleep from her eyes. “Why do we even have to get to class early?”

Lily kept her mouth firmly shut until they were safely in the Herbology. She sat down by one of the trays, allowing Kristen a spot next to her. “Lily?” Kristen asked, somewhat worried now. “What’s wrong? What do you need to talk about?”

“I over heard Professor McGonagall and Professor Dumbledore talking the other morning.” Lily told her, looking pale as he light red hair fell easily on the side of her face.

Kristen watched her questioningly. “What did they talk about?” Kristen prodded her.

“I only caught the end of the conversation. I had gone by the faculty room to talk to Professor Slughorn about the extra credit assignment due next term, but when I heard them talking I turned to leave, and then I heard your name.”

Kristen already didn’t like the sound of where this was going. “What did they say Lily?”

“He said he was scared for you. He was saying stuff like ‘our lessons are not going as planned’, and he was saying how he thought that by now you should be trained with your aptitude but there is some kind of block. McGonagall suggested that maybe you were just being defiant, but Dumbledore told her no, that you had been trying. He thinks V-, V-, you-know-who is stopping you from learning any more. He said he was scared he was going to lose you and that you-know-who would win. McGonagall then mumbled something about if your father had been kinder to you and then I had to run before they caught me.” Lily rattled off looking nervous. It was obvious that listening in on their conversation had made her feel quite guilty.

Kristen’s eyes were wide in horror as she stared at Lily. Dumbledore was afraid for her? Where did that put her then? If Dumbledore was afraid for her, then she most definitely should be afraid. All she wanted to do was run and hide. Every day seemed to be getting worse.

She suddenly felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned sharply to see Sirius watching her with concern. “It’s nothing,” She told him quickly, shooting a meaningful glance at Lily to not say anything. He didn’t look like he believed her, but as soon as James and the others walked in he moved away. Kristen was glad he didn’t push her this time, not when she was in this state of mind.

She barely paid attention, though, luckily, with Lily as a partner that day she hardly needed to. Double Herbology passed by quickly for her as she numbly potted the just arrived mandrakes, the earmuffs snuggly saving her from passing out.

She put on a happy face at lunch, determined to show Lily that she had done a good thing in telling her. Now that she’s had a chance to think on it, it really wasn’t so bad. So Voldermort was out to get her, big deal. She’d known that for two years now. So Dumbledore was scared he was going to lose her, yeah right! Dumbledore was the greatest wizard of the age; he had obviously been putting on an act for Professor McGonagall.

And yet she knew he hadn’t. But for now, she was going to ignore the problem, maybe then it would go away.

“Hey Krissie?” James asked, pulling her from her thoughts. “Can I ask you something?”

Kristen smirked a bit at him. “Sure? Why not?”

He looked very uncomfortable and pale as he wrung his hands together. He didn’t notice Sirius, Remus and Peter watching him intently, Sirius with a scowl on his face. “The Halloween dance is coming up,” he told her, biting his lip in frustration.

She laughed at him. “Really, hadn’t realized. Do you need help asking some girl James? Just say the word and I’ll go become her BFF.”

“Well, you see, the girl I want to ask is you.”

Kristen stared open mouthed at him, not believing what she was hearing. James Potter, asking her to the dance. No, it had to be a dream. She’d wanted this for a while, but she had always known it would never happen, and didn’t stake any hopes on it. Yet here he was, inviting her to go with him.

“You can say no Kristen,” He told her nervously when she failed to answer him for a considerable amount of time.

Her face lit up. “No, no, no, no, I would love to go with you James.” She was giddy with excitement at the realization that this wasn’t a dream.

His face lit up as well and he swiftly kissed her on the cheek, a feeling so different from all those times as friends. “Thank you so much. I promise, it’ll be the night of your life!”

She giggled like the infatuated schoolgirl she was and blushed hotly. It was soon time to go to History of Magic, and by then Kristen had forgotten all about her fears.
* * *
Sirius tossed and turned restlessly in his bed. Usually after a good hard quiditch practice he was fast asleep, but tonight was different. He grudgingly got up and walked down to the common room. It was deserted, just what he needed as he slipped out and made way to the room he always used to think.

There it was, the ballroom. It had once been Kristen’s place to unwind, and now it was his. She had told them she didn’t need the ballroom anymore, or the multitude of people. Sirius did though. He never joined, but simply sat to the side and watched. They were all beautiful, swirling dresses as a symphony played in the background. He had never enjoyed things like this before he met Kristen, but now it was his favorite place to be.

He didn’t really want to think; though it was the reason he went there. But he had to. First off, James; he wasn’t sure if he should use the killing curse, or maybe just a mild crucio. Then again, Sirius had given his consent, willingly even. It was his own fault that he hadn’t said anything, and if he could go back and change it, he still wouldn’t. He had seen the joy in her face, she had obviously been hoping for it. It wouldn’t be fair to take that from her.

“Would you like to dance?”

Sirius was startled. Never had one of the apparitions approached him, nor did he want them to. But when he looked up, it wasn’t one of the shimmery, nearly see through people that filled the room, but a beautiful girl, with blond hair and shining green eyes.

He stood up quickly, ashamed of being caught. “I’m sorry, I’ll go.” He mumbled, making a beeline for the door. But she grabbed his arm and turned him to her.

“Don’t even think about leaving. You know the rules. You can’t leave this room until you feel better about your problems, and by the look on your face, you obviously do not.” She told him with a smile.

‘Maybe that’s because the problem is you,’ Sirius thought a little cynically, not liking her hand on his arm. “Just couldn’t sleep tonight, too much on my mind.”

“Feel free to rant about it. Merlin knows you’ve had your fair share from me.”

“It’s nothing, the regular family stuff you know. What about you though? Why are you here?”

She sighed heavily, but knew that since he had caught her in the room, she was obliged to tell him. “I’ve just had a very trying day.”

Sirius smiled just a tad. “That doesn’t say much about James, does it?”

“That’s not what I meant. It was just…Lily told me that she over heard McGonagall and Dumbledore talking about me the other day. It scared me is all.”

“What did they say?” Sirius asked, almost afraid of her answer. She quickly told him what Lily had said, watching his eyes narrow in confusion. “What does your father have anything to do with it?” Was the first thing he asked.

“No idea. Maybe McGonagall thought that if I had more loving and accepting parents none of this would have happened.” Kristen suggested, shrugging her shoulders.

“Kristen, don’t worry. I…we’ll always be there to save you, no matter what.” He assured her. He then looked at her and noticed that she still looked strained. “Anything else?”

She didn’t know how he did it. It had to be something in the air. Whenever she was in this room with him, she seemed to spill out all her problems without a second thought. “First things first, you are sworn to secrecy, especially from James.”

Sirius looked at her a little wearily. He wasn’t sure he was up to her girlish ravings about James, but she looked so exhausted and desperate as she sat down against the wall, the smooth ballroom floor there to break her fall. So, instead of telling her no, he sat down beside her. “I promise. What is it?”

“I never imagined myself with James. I mean, I’ve wanted it for the past few months, but never seriously thought it would happen. And now that it is, it’s kind of strange, you know? I don’t know if I’m supposed to act different around him or around you or anything.”

“Who did you imagine yourself with then?”

Kristen blushed a little, but hid it effectively. “Well, I don’t really know who the one is yet, but I thought I had a fairly good idea of who it wasn’t. James was one of the people in the ‘no’ column.”

“To be honest, I never imagined it either,” Sirius told her, very truthfully, though she hardly realized what he really wanted to say.

She smiled as she turned her head to him. “Who did you think Sirius?”

“Now that, I am not allowed to tell you.”

Her looked at him in horror. “Oh come on Sirius, who is it?”

“No. When he told me he liked you, he said I was forbidden from telling you. I wish I could though.” He teased her, not looking at her as she scowled at him.

“Come on, please! At least give me a hint! Have I known him long?”

“For a couple of years. He actually started liking you right after you met him, but he’s been too much of a chicken to do anything about it.’

Kristen racked her brains, trying to figure it out. It couldn’t be Peter, not after the dating fiasco in first year. Remus perhaps…no, she could tell that she was just another part of the group to him. “Who Sirius? Please tell me!”

“No,” He held firm, smiling at her persistence.

Kristen sighed, realizing his hard headedness. “At least tell me why you’re so sure this is the guy meant for me.”

“For one, the other maurders and I could finally relax. I think this guy could protect you; he kind of gets what you have to go through. And I think he’d balance you out. And he likes you, a lot, which is always a plus, I’m sure. He’d never do anything to hurt you. From the way he talks, sometimes I think he might even love you.”

Kristen looked so wistful as Sirius described him to her. “Please Sirius,” she begged quietly. “Maybe I love him too.”

“You don’t. You barely even know who he is,” he assured her, feeling bad for even bring it up.

“Then how can he love me if I barely know him?”

“He loves from afar.” Sirius told her with a shrug of his shoulders.

She was silent, obviously still trying to think about who it was. “You said you would never turn down a dare Sirius. Well I dare you to reveal this boy’s name.”

He laughed a bit. “That’s not fair at all. I won’t give up his secret for a game of dare.” She huffed and crossed her arms angrily. “Oh come on Krissie, you can’t be mad at me.” She continued to glare across the room and refused to look at him. “I wouldn’t give up one of your secrets, so I cant give up one of his.”

She glared a moment longer, and the finally cracked. She turned to him, only inches away as they sat together in that ballroom that had brought them together so many years earlier. He was starting to feel uncomfortable, she was very close. He wanted nothing more than to kiss her at that moment, but that would raise certain…inquiries that he wasn’t too eager to deal with. He had to pull away, he just had to. Okay, maybe one more second of being this close to her wouldn’t get him in trouble, it would be okay.

How wrong he was.

He wasn’t sure who started, he was almost positive it was him though, but the fireworks were back. There was such warmth over him as they kissed, and ever fiber of his being wanted nothing more than to grab her hand, to make this last forever. But she pulled away, looking terror stricken. “Oh Sirius,” she sighed, putting her head firmly against the wall. “What did we just do?”

Sirius was trying to figure that out. He couldn’t believe he’d allowed that to happen. Sure, it had been bad before, but it was even worse now. Now, when James had her, when this time it meant betraying his very best friend. “I’m so sorry,” he sputtered, standing up quickly to make a run for it. “That was all my fault. I’m sorry. I…I just wondered if there was still nothing there.” With that he bolted. He got very lucky that his loud, sprinting footsteps didn’t alert any teachers. He burst through the portrait hole and then up to his dormitory, slamming the door behind him before breathing a deep sigh of relief.

“Look Sirius, I can’t stop you form sneaking out and risking every house point we have but when you come back in would you at least be quiet about it?” Remus asked irritably, the only one to have been awoken by his abrupt entrance.

“I basically told her I was in love with her, Remus! I kissed her! I kissed my best friends bloody girlfriend!” Sirius whispered harshly to him, sweat running down his face. “I don’t know why I did it, I just did. Merlin I can’t believe I let him ask her! What was I thinking Remus? This is torture!”

“You kissed her?” Remus asked in shock, still hung up on that piece of information.

“We were in the room of requirement just talking and then we were really close and, well you know what happened! Merlin, I am an idiot!”

“What are we up to, four now? And you really think she doesn’t like you back?”

“Well as she’s dating James, obviously not!”

Remus rolled his eyes at him. “You have a girlfriend and still like her. You can have a distraction.”

“Look, she doesn’t, so drop it. She looked horrified afterwards. Not something she would look like if she had enjoyed herself.”

“She just kissed you Sirius, while planning on going to the dance with James. Of course she was scared!”

“Whatever,” Sirius said moodily, throwing on pajamas before crawling into bed. Remus just sighed and lay back down as well, wondering just what would happen next.

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