I admitted, my retreat from that fight on the grounds was rather cowardly of me, but at least I had managed to do it with style. Sirius Black never did anything without an air of confidence, and really, I believed full well that I had done so without bringing too much attention onto myself. Of course, that didn’t explain the fact that I had heard gasps and shocked murmurs run through the crowd as I left, but that was the least of my worries at the moment.
It was only until I had gotten down half the length of the corridor that I heard footsteps behind me. I didn’t even have to turn around; she caught right up with me, and yanked my robes so hard that I was forced to stop. Really, women these days were so violent.
“You’re hopeless, you know that?” Kathryn said, her voice hard.
“Yeah, I kind of assumed so,” I replied with as much nonchalance as I could insert into my voice. Merlin knew I didn’t need to sound like I regretted my actions. I’d never hear the end of it. “And your point is?”
She let out a gasp of outrage. “My point? I just…I can’t…you just…ugh!”
I couldn’t help it. I smirked. “My, aren’t you proving to be quite eloquent today.”
“If I wasn’t about to be expelled, I’d strangle you.”
“Go ahead.” I was seriously feeling quite audacious at the moment. It hadn’t really occurred to me that I could possibly be dead by this time tomorrow if I kept this up, but I could hardly let a girl tell me what to do. “I’m sure McGonagall would make an exception.”
Kathryn had placed a hand in her hair, and from the looks of it, she was seriously contemplating making herself bald. I blinked. I couldn’t have that now, could I? Her hair was quite lovely, if I did say so myself.
I smiled. “Don’t I know it?”
She tilted her head towards the ceiling and glared at it as if it was the source of all her troubles. “Why do I even bother?”
“Because you’re as nosy as Evans is?” I replied innocently. Her head whipped back down so quickly that I was worried for a moment that she had sprained her neck. When she glared at me with all the rage she possessed, however, I realized that I shouldn’t have spared so much worry for her when I could’ve saved some for myself. She really was going to kill me.
“You did not just say that,” she snapped.
“You just insulted my friend and me in one go.” And for the first time, Kathryn viewed me in what I saw as pure disdain. Truth be told, I was rather surprised by the turn of events. Earlier, she had yanked me away from my breakfast and the Great Hall saying that there was a matter that needed sorting out. Imagine my surprise when I found a hoard of supporters who were willing to follow my every beck and call. I had originally planned to let out a huge battle cry and urge them forward, but Kathryn had adamantly opposed my decision.
Now look what good it did.
I sighed and ran a hand through my hair, a move that was characteristic of James. For some reason, it had been quite a favorite of mine lately. “Oh come on, Kathryn. You know me. It just…slipped out.”
“Oh yeah?” she challenged, her eyes narrowed dangerously. “Well maybe you should learn to control yourself sometimes.”
“I…” I was suddenly cut off by loud cries echoing off the castle walls. The source became clear a few moments later when Team Black came trampling towards me, their arms thrown wide as if embracing their idol. It was rather…interesting.
Kathryn had managed to control herself a little when she noticed that we weren’t alone, but one glance at my supposed followers riled her up again. She drew herself to her full height—which was still shorter than me by a few inches—and glared full force at the kids who had gathered themselves into a circle around us.
“Shouldn’t the lot of you be in the Great Hall?” she said loudly, viciously. I mentally gave her props. A few less-daring kids even cringed. If she kept that up, she’d be the second Lily Evans in no time. “What do you think you’re doing here?”
A rather bold Ravenclaw stepped forward and looked up at her, her hands on her hips. “We just wanted to talk to Sirius. I don’t think it’s any of your business.”
Kathryn’s eyes widened and her nostrils flared. I watched in amusement as she rounded on the poor kid, her posture practically spewing fire. The Ravenclaw had no idea what she had just gotten herself into. “My business, huh? You say it’s none of my business?” Kathryn threw her hands into the air. “Of course it…” Then for some strange reason, she seemed to suddenly deflate, as if all her anger had been zapped away.
She drew in a breath. “You’re right,” she told the girl. “You’re absolutely right. This is none of my business.” I watched as she stepped aside. “Go fuss and drool over him as much as you please. I’m out of here.”
And much to my surprise, she actually pushed her way out of the crowd and started on down the corridor. Was she actually leaving? What was up with that?
I took a step towards her, but the Ravenclaw girl who had bravely stood up against Kathryn caught my hand and smiled up at me adoringly. “Sirius! It’s so wonderful to finally get to meet you.”
I lifted an eyebrow at her approach. “Yeah, sure.”
She giggled. “Do you think you could, you know, perhaps…”
“No, I don’t think I could,” I replied. Upon realizing that I had unintentionally hurt the girl’s feelings, I bent down to her eye level and gave her a wide smile. “At least not today. Come find me some other time and I’ll give you a tour around the castle.”
“But I already know the castle.” It appeared as if the girl wasn’t in Ravenclaw for no reason.
I winked. “Not the Sirius Black routes, you don’t.”
“Oh!” Her eyes widened further. “Okay then!” And then she scampered off, letting out a frighteningly high-pitched squeal as she went. I raised my eyebrows at her retreating figure and then glanced around at the rest of Team Black. What was I supposed to do with them?
An idea struck me. “Hey. Why don’t you go and find Team Potter?”
A Hufflepuff blinked, clueless. “Why?”
“Show them what you’re made out of, of course!” I said, with as much enthusiasm as I could stick into my voice. “Just make sure you don’t get caught.”
The idea seemed rather agreeable to the lot of the group and they left, chattering to themselves. I was sure that I’d get hell from Prefect Evans for initiating another fight, but I couldn’t help it. By the time the corridor was clear enough for me to look around, I saw no sign of Kathryn anywhere. Where could she have gone? The library? Quidditch pitch? Common room?
I headed towards the common room, turning a few corridors, and then taking the shortcut that would get me there a few minutes before she arrived. And I was quite right. She came walking up the last flight of stairs a minute later, glanced up, and halted. She looked surprised.
I smirked and languidly strolled towards her. “Good evening.”
Kathryn shook her head and shouldered past me towards the portrait. I frowned and snagged her arm before she could get away and turned her around to face me. “What’s your bloody problem?”
She stared at me. “Nothing.”
“Nothing?” I snorted. “I’m not a fool.”
“Of course you’re not,” she replied impassively and attempted to leave. I drew her back again and pulled her closer so that there was barely a foot between us.
I sucked in a deep breath to calm myself. For some reason, my temper had become rather volatile these last few weeks. “Seriously, what’s wrong with you? This is hardly like you at all.”
She drew her arm away. “And this is hardly like you. Since when have you chased a girl down various corridors just so you could ask her what her problem was?”
I blinked. “Huh?”
“The point is,” Kathryn said, her voice calm, “things have changed these past few weeks, some for the better, some for the worse. And honestly, I’m tired of it all.”
My eyes narrowed and I crossed my arms. “For the worse? What are you implying?”
“Not implying anything, just saying. You have to admit, ever since you Marauders broke up over some miniscule argument, Hogwarts hasn’t been the same. It’s simply incredulous how much influence you guys have over the school.”
I, for one, was still quite confused. It was a regularly known fact that we reigned over the school, but so what? “I don’t see how that has to do with anything.”
Kathryn sighed and bit her lower lip. I could practically see the chain of thoughts running through her head, with that furrowed brow and those contemplative eyes. I decided to give her time. It appeared as if she really wanted me to get what she was saying, and while patience has never been one of my virtues, I could at least grant her enough time to get her point across.
After what seemed like forever, but was probably only two minutes, she looked up at me. “Sirius…look, you’re my friend, all right? My good friend. And I know I should be supportive and all, but don’t you think you guys are taking things too far? It’s been days…weeks…months…hell, even years!”
“I don’t think it’s been years quite yet,” I couldn’t help but add.
Her eyes narrowed. “Can we please stick to the point here?”
I nodded. “Right. Taking things too far…go on.”
“Don’t you think everyone has had enough?” she continued on as if I hadn’t interrupted her. “I’m tired of this…everyone’s tired of this! You didn’t even give us a good enough reason for why you guys split, and you expect the rest of us to follow along like obedient little children.”
I rubbed the back of my neck awkwardly. “I never said anything about…”
“Never said anything?” she snorted outrageously. “You told me to stay away from James, because as you said, he’s the enemy. Do you remember that, or has your brain gotten too foggy since then?”
I flushed slightly at the memory. It wasn’t a fond one. “Look, I was out of my head. I didn’t mean it, and you got revenge anyway, right? I thought we got even already. Why are you bringing it up again?”
“That wasn’t revenge!” Kathryn shouted, so loudly that the portraits along the corridor walls all turned and stared at her. “I was trying to prove a point to you!”
“Fine then!” I yelled back, just as loudly. “You proved your point. We’re even.”
She sputtered then. “That…that doesn’t even make…I mean…that’s not the point!”
I was growing increasingly impatient now. “Then pray tell, what is the point?”
Kathryn looked extremely frustrated, and even a tad angry. She jabbed her finger at me, seriously looked as if she wanted to hit me, and then retracted it a few moments later. Her breaths were coming in harsh gasps; she really was getting quite a cardiovascular workout. I was about to ask her if she needed to head to the Hospital Wing when she suddenly whirled on me and pointed her wand in my face.
I jerked back a step, startled. “Sheesh Kathryn. Calm down, will you?”
“Episkey,” she muttered, and then stormed past me into the common room. I only just realized that I had yet to pay attention to the cut that the stupid quill had inflicted from the earlier duel. Kathryn’s spell had sealed the cut quite well.
I blew out an annoyed breath when I realized that she had marched her way inside the common room and followed. I wasn’t quite sure what she was expecting, but from the looks of it, she wanted me to say something to her. The sad thing was, I had no idea what she wanted. Girls were my forte, sure, but Kathryn belonged in her own category.
The Fat Lady beamed down at me when I approached. “Dear young Black. How nice it is to see you again!”
James had always said that she had a crush on me. Now the thought seemed simply disturbing and I shuddered before uttering the password and hurrying in.
I suddenly stopped at the sight before me.
James was there, lounging on a couch with a plate of chicken in his hand and a goblet of something on the coffee table next to him. Kathryn and Lily were there as well, sitting in the far corner of the room, chatting quietly amongst themselves. The common room was empty save for those three people.
They looked up when I approached. The tension was so palpable that I could literally reach out and touch it.
Lily appeared as if she wanted to say something, but she kept her mouth shut. Instead, she shot a glance towards James, who didn’t seem to have taken notice to me at all, and muttered something to Kathryn. Lily gave me a pointed glare and then the two girls got up and walked out the common room.
And the silence rang on.
I considered just heading up to the dorms, but then reassessed the move. It would appear cowardly of me, and Sirius Black was anything but a coward. At the same time, staying here was surely not an option that I was willing to execute.
I cleared my throat and scratched the back of my neck. If James had any tact at all, he would choose this moment to start a conversation. But he didn’t say anything, and continued to munch on that chicken of his.
Well…I supposed that I was up to me now, as unwilling as I was. I contemplated starting an argument, as I was sure that James was very capable of participating in it. At the same time, I didn’t think it was wise. After the ‘battle’ that we had earlier, it didn’t appear as if we were anywhere near reconciliation.
It figured. I’d be the bigger person and start a conversation. It was best that I chose a neutral topic. “What were they talking about?”
James didn’t even spare a glance at me. “No idea.”
The room fell into silence again.
There were times when I doubted my communicative abilities, and unfortunately, this was one of those times. Damn.
“Go after her.”
I jerked my head up and blinked at James in astonishment. Had he actually talked to me? But no, he still wasn’t looking at me. In fact, he didn’t even give a sign that he knew I was here. I never thought I’d say this, but those chicken drumsticks were getting more attention than I was.
“You’re not stupid. Figure it out.”
I snorted disdainfully. “Since when have you been the expert on females?”
James finally lifted his head and looked at me, but his gaze was dead. He was clearly still upset over the fact that I had sent a snake at him in our duel.
“Kathryn’s upset. Make the connection.” He vanished the plate of food and goblet and brushed past me out the common room. I glared at his figure as he went and was tempted to tell him to stop, but I held back. I admitted, it was harsh to send an enlarged snake at him, but really, I had thought that James would be able to dodge it easily. I was wrong.
Since the common room was once again empty, I had no reason to stay. I trudged out the room as well, ignoring the good-bye calls that the Fat Lady gave me, and instead, headed down the corridor to the library where I was sure Kathryn and Lily were. James had been right in one aspect: go after Kathryn and see what she wanted. I refused to remain clueless any longer.
The corridors were mildly crowded since dinner had just ended. I managed to squeeze my way through the hoard of people, some who stopped to glare and others to smile. The mixed vibes were getting to me by the time I had made it down half the corridor, and I was seriously considering taking out my wand and hexing the lot of them to make room for myself. That is, until I crashed into…well, if luck would have it, my dear old pals, Remus and Peter.
I managed to grasp onto the wall, but Remus missed and tripped onto the ground. He hoisted himself up and upon noticing me, quirked his lips. “Sirius.”
I gaped at his pallid complexion. Perhaps it was the lighting of the corridor, but Remus was looking rather worse for wear and highly unlike his usual self. I cast around for any possible explanations, and when my head came up blank, I could only stare.
“You look rather pale,” I pointed out.
He gave me an assessing glance and upon finding whatever it was that he was looking for, he only shrugged. “I’ll be okay.”
I lifted my eyebrow. “Really?” I had no idea why I was pursuing the topic in the first place. Was it because I knew something was wrong but couldn’t put my hand on it?
Remus frowned. “Yes.”
“Okay then.” I decided not to press further. If Remus was sick, then he was mature enough to realize that he needed to head towards the Hospital Wing.
He nodded. “I’ll see you around.” And then he continued down the corridor. I expected Peter to follow Remus, but he actually turned around to face me. He was a head shorter, but at the current moment, it seemed as if he were seven feet tall. His gaze was condescending, a glare that James and I usually wore when we were dealing with the Slytherins.
“You seriously forgot?” he accused.
I tilted my head in confusion. “What?”
Peter shook his head in disgust. “Full moon, Sirius. It hasn’t been that long.” He disappeared into the flowing current of the crowd. The realization hit me hard and hit me fast. How could I have forgotten such an important date? The memory had tugged on the borders of my mind, only slightly out of reach, and I hadn’t bothered to extend my arm just a little further. At times like these, I frustrated myself.
The full moon was approaching in…four days. I couldn’t believe it. Four days and Remus would be in trouble again. Four days…was it really possible for all of us to forget our momentary grudge and get together to battle the moon?
I shook the troublesome thought out of my head and focused on the task at hand. Kathryn Abbott. I continued on my way towards the library. If it were only Kathryn, I doubted that she would be in the atrocious place, but since she was with Lily, it was a different story.
The tables were pretty much filled by the time I got there. I searched around till I spotted Lily’s fiery red locks and headed towards them. They were in deep conversation, and even though Lily was facing me, it was clear that she had not seen me. I approached and after snickering at their inattentiveness, helped myself into the chair next to Kathryn and started counting.
“Sirius Black!” Lily suddenly screeched. I smirked at her. Twenty-five seconds. She shot up so suddenly that her chair flipped over in the process. “What are you doing here?”
Kathryn whirled around and when she noticed me, glared and turned away pointedly. I sighed and rubbed my temples. Women.
Lily marched around the table and without asking permission, yanked me out of my seat. “Black, I need to talk to you.”
I shrugged, even though I didn’t think she’d take no for an answer, and followed her out the library. She glanced around to make sure that no one was listening or looking and shoved me into an empty classroom.
I smirked at her expression. “Why Evans, I didn’t know you had it in you. I always thought you and James had something going, but I guess…”
“Shut up, Black,” she snapped, rounding on me. “I only want to ask you a question.”
I nodded and propped myself against a desk. “All right. Fire away.”
“I want a truthful answer.”
Things were getting a little fishy here… “Okay,” I said slowly.
“Good. You did something, right? Something that led to the crash of your friendship with the other three.”
I tensed up immediately. I could tell she saw my sudden movement because her green eyes brightened, almost imperceptibly. She looked eager.
“Why are you asking me this?” I said quietly.
Lily shrugged. “That’s for me to know and not for you to find out. I want a straight, honest answer, even though I can already assume from your reaction.”
I bristled. “If you’re asking me such an intimate question then I deserve to know your reasons. How would I know you won’t broadcast this out at breakfast tomorrow?”
She raised an eyebrow. “I’m not you, Black. I’m not bored enough to do something as foolish as that. Now come on. Out with it. Stop being a coward.”
“Why should I tell you anything?” I challenged.
“Because you have nothing to lose.”
I let out a snicker and shook my head. “Whatever, Evans.” I walked out the classroom and shut the door behind me. I could practically see Lily’s fuming face but I didn’t particularly care. Leave James to deal with her; I just wanted to see what Kathryn wanted and then be on my merry way.
I found her seated in the exact same chair, at the same table where I found her last. She had her Charms book propped on the table, but it was clear that she wasn’t reading it. I slipped into the seat in front of her and waited for her to acknowledge my existence.
It took her barely two seconds. “Hello Sirius.”
I stared at her calm expression. “You’re not angry anymore?”
“Angry?” Now it was her turn to look surprised. “Since when was I angry?”
I was baffled. “Earlier, in the corridor. You were sprouting a whole bunch of nonsense that I had quite a bit of trouble following.”
“That was frustration,” she pointed out.
I waved my hand dismissively. “Same thing. And then you just kept on glaring at me as if I were the world’s biggest sinner. What’s up with that?”
“Frustration,” she repeated.
“Oh.” I blinked, wordless for the first time. I had no idea what I was supposed to say now that I realized she wasn’t angry. Women. “Okay…”
Kathryn gave me a faint smile and picked up her book again. I frowned in response and wondered whether I should continue attempting small talk or just head towards the kitchens so I could make up for the dinner I had missed.
She suddenly put down her book. “Where’d Lily go?”
I stiffened at the recollection of my talk with the redhead. “We had a fight. I don’t know where she is now.”
I had expected Kathryn to blow up in her friend’s favor, but to my surprise, she just nodded and went back to her book. I went back to my thoughts.
“Can I ask you something?”
She sounded rather hesitant, and when Kathryn Abbott sounded hesitant, it meant that her question would involve serious thinking and deep concentration. I mentally spruced myself up for the moment and nodded stoically. “Shoot.”
“Why did your friendship break?”
Her question was as blunt as Lily’s had been earlier. I wondered if they had formed some kind of conspiracy to get me to tell the tale. I shifted uneasily in my seat and averted my gaze towards the looming bookshelves around us. It was one reason why I rarely stepped foot into this place. The books looked like they were out to get me.
“Aren’t you being straightforward today,” I said wryly.
She looked a tad embarrassed, but her facial expression was serious. “I know. I figured that it’s the only way to get you to tell. You’re evasive, but you’re not a liar.”
I didn’t know whether to take comfort in her words or not. Instead, I just shrugged and attempted to pass the question off as any other question. “There are always bumps in the road.”
“Now you sound cryptic,” she remarked, “which definitely means that you’re hiding something. In this case, you aren’t answering my question.”
For the first time, or rather, second time in my life, I struggled for words. My first time had been when I had confronted Remus the morning after the incident. My words had been jumbled and I had stumbled my way through the sentences, but Remus had understood what I meant and had literally kicked me out of his life for it. It was a different matter now, one that was only better than the first to a certain degree.
I wasn’t sure what to say. “It’s not an easy question to answer.”
“So you’re not going to?” The sentence was phrased as a question, but I could tell Kathryn already had the answer before she asked.
I shook my head. “No, I’m not.”
There was a period of silence. She surveyed me with her speculative gaze and finally let out a dry smile. “Right. I see.” She paused. “So much for being friends.”
For some reason, the jibe hurt. “It’s not…”
“I get it,” she interrupted calmly. She even smiled. “I know it’s not an easy thing to reveal. I get the whole need for secrecy and…”
She was heading down an entirely wrong path with her assumption, and in an impulsive moment, I reached out and grabbed her hand, ignoring the sparks that jolted through my arm. “Kathryn, listen to me.”
“You’re my friend, my good friend, as you said. I would tell you anything…anything except for this.” I took a breath. “This entire situation, the whole break-up matter, isn’t just something I can reveal, because it involves the other three as much as it involves me. I…” I paused then, searching for the right words. “I made a mistake once. I broke a confidence already, and I don’t want a sense of déjà vu. Do you understand?”
Her blue eyes were wide and focused and she nodded.
I expelled a breath of air that I hadn’t known I was holding. “I’m sorry for not being able to tell you everything, but if we sort this thing out, I’ll explain everything down to the last detail to you, okay?”
Kathryn blinked at me, as if dazed. Her eyes widened another fraction till they were round enough to pass for circles and gaped at me. “Did…did I just hear right?”
I frowned. “What?” This wasn’t the reaction that I had been expecting.
“You just…did Sirius Black just apologize to me?”
Her jaw was still on the floor, literally. “But you never apologize!”
I grimaced. “That’s not true. I’ve apologized before. You’ve just never seen it.”
“Then it doesn’t count,” she replied promptly, and to my surprise, released such a dazzling smile that I was blinded for a moment. “Thanks Sirius. It’s enough, really.”
I was skeptical. “Really?”
She gave me an exasperated look. “Really.”
I smirked then. “See, now that’s more like the Kathryn I know.”
“I am currently restraining the urge to curse you to oblivion.”
Seriously, there were times when I truly loved that girl.
Author's Note: Sirius won the tally this time, with Remus taking second place :) I know this chapter is more light-hearted than the others, and that's because I never really saw Sirius as a truly serious person (ignore the pun please). This chapter is also to all of those Sirius/Kathryn fans out there! Hope you enjoyed it :)
And thank you for the overwhelming amount of reviews I received. Truly, you guys spoil me too much ;) Cheers!
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