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And chapter four is upon us! Thanks for all the lovely support! You guys are truly the best. But I shall not keep you any longer. Onto the story!

Chapter Four

Ms. Revealed

*Ava*

Ava’s heart rate had gone back down since Sirius had been ordered from the room. He hadn’t seen her. Thank goodness. She still had no idea what he was so miffed about, but he had seemed so angry. She hadn’t done anything to him.

She shrugged to herself and got back to work. She was safe. Chelsea had handled the situation beautifully, and Black would never be able to figure out that she was indeed Ms. Anonymous.

She had nearly forgotten the matter completely when Maggie came flying into the room, looking pale and sick. Ava looked up, surprised at her friend’s appearance.

“Are you alright?” she asked Maggie gently, getting up and finding an extra chair. She pulled it forwards and gestured for her friend to sit. Maggie sat, still looking ill; an expression of disbelief filling her features.

“I am SO sorry,” Maggie suddenly gasped, wringing her hands in her lap. Ava smiled. Maggie apologized often, for little things. She never really did anything that merited an apology.

“Maggie, whatever it is, I’m sure you didn’t mean it. Why don’t you tell me what’s going on?” Maggie bit her bottom lip and shook her head; her eyes wide.

“Oh, Ava it’s the worst possible thing I could have done!” she cried, pulling at one of her short curls in agitation.

“What did you do?” Ava asked, now mildly curious.

“It’s just that….he’s so charming!” Maggie gasped, bringing her hands up to cover her face. A terrible sense of foreboding set in around Ava as her heart rate started to go up again. She gulped before asking,

“Who’s so charming? What does that have to do with anything?”

“Sirius Black,” Maggie whimpered, from behind her hands.

Oh God. Ava pulled her chair in front of Maggie’s and pulled her hands away from her face. She stared right into Maggie’s eyes as she spoke with as much calmness as she could muster.

“What happened?” she demanded. “Please Maggie, tell me.” Maggie let out another wail of distress before speaking.

“I told him,” she answered numbly.

“Told him what?” Ava asked urgently.

“I told him that you’re…I told him that you’re…Ms. Anonymous.” She let out a squeal and buried her face away again.

Ava put a hand to her head. “This is it,” she moaned. “I’m dead. Not only am I ruined at this paper forever, soon the entire school is going to know that I write the column.” Her shoulders slumped as she leaned back in her chair.

“Maybe he won’t tell anyone,” Maggie suggested timidly. She smiled at the thought.

“Newsflash, Maggie. Sirius Black hates me!”

“Of course,” Ava thought bitterly. “As soon as I make an enemy with the guy he finds out one of my biggest secrets.”

“I’m sorry,” Maggie said again. “Please don’t hate me, Ava.”

“I don’t hate you, Maggie,” Ava answered. “I just don’t know what I’m going to do now.”

“You were never really too fond of the column, Ava,” Maggie reminded her gently.

“I know,” Ava replied. “I’m just worried about all the people who are going to have a bone to pick with me about advice I’ve given. “

********

Ava continued to worry all through the rest of her free period. She didn’t get any more work done. A couple of times Ava thought about confronting Chelsea and letting her know that a section of the paper was now going to have to be terminated, but she didn’t have the heart or the courage. When finally it was time to head off for class, Ava gathered all her unfinished work into her bag and headed for the door. She gave Maggie a reassuring smile as she passed.

When she stepped out the door and into the hall she stopped immediately. He was here. Sirius Black was leaning casually against the back wall with his arms folded across his chest. Ava tried to turn around and run back inside, but the four or five other students coming out blocked her path.

“Ava!” Ava heard Sirius’ sharp call of her name. By the time she turned around there he was, standing in front of her, his eyes wide and questioning.

“Walk with me,” he said, putting a hand on her arm and leading her away from the other members of the Hogwarts Howler who were staring at the pair with avid curiosity. They walked until they found a space empty of other students. Other than a few suits of armor, and some paintings, they were alone.

Ava ripped her arm away from Sirius’ touch.

“What do you want?” she asked. Just seeing his face seemed to make the hostility inside come out.

“I think you know,” Sirius said, a strange smile creeping along his mouth. “I was hoping that Maggie was talking about a different Ava. So how does it feel, Ms. Rude, to now be Ms. Revealed?”

“Shut up,” she whispered fiercely. “So you managed to weasel out some information out of one of my friends.”

“Actually, it was quite easy,” Sirius said smoothly.

“So how many people did you tell?” Ava asked, fearing the worst. “Should I be on the look out for attackers in the hall or something?”

“I haven’t told anyone,” Sirius grinned. “At least not yet.” Ava groaned. She could see where this was going.

“What do you want?” she asked, unable to think of anything she had that Sirius Black could possibly want. “I’m not going to be your slave for a week or something like that. I’d rather you just tell everyone.” Sirius took a breath, his annoying grin finally melting off his face.

“What I want,” he said determinedly. “Is for you to retract what you said in your last column.”

“Sirius,” I responded, realizing that this was the first time I had said his name out loud, “The column in anonymous, I don’t even know what part you’re talking about.” Sirius was all prepared. In a second he had whisked out a copy of the Hogwarts Howler. He opened it to the proper page and handed it to me. He then pointed out the place on the page.

My eyes fell upon the familiar words.

“You’re Kiss Me Kate’s boyfriend!” I gasped with sudden recognition. He was Mr. Fake.

“No,” he answered angrily. “I used to be. She dumped me, because of you.”

“Actually she dumped you because of you,” Ava snapped, before she could stop herself.

A frown formed on Sirius’ face, and it was easy for Ava to see that she had hit a nerve.

“You didn’t know the whole situation,” he growled, ripping the paper from Ava’s hands. “This is not fair.”

“Hey, I give as accurate advice as I can; with the information I’m given!” Ava shouted. “It’s not my fault that your girlfriend wrote to me!”

“Fine, whatever,” Sirius answered. “I don’t want to argue anymore. Just issue the retraction.”

“Never,” Ava responded, shocking herself.

“I’ll expose you,” Sirius said.

“Fine, I’ll expose you,” Ava answered, before thinking.

“Expose me as what?” Sirius yelped. “I’m the one with the secret information here.”

Ava thought fast.

Light bulb!

“I’ll expose you as Mr. Fake,” she said, remembering things in Kiss Me Kate’s letter. “I’ll expose you as the guy who spends more time on his looks than his girlfriend.”

Sirius was looking both dumbfounded and crestfallen. His plan had fallen apart. And Ava sensed it.

“I think we’re done here, Mr. Black,” Ava said. “I have to get to class. I believe we have an understanding.” And Ava turned on her heel and walked away from him, anxious twitters jumping throughout her body.

********

*Mr. Fake…er I mean Sirius*

Things had not gone according to plan. No, they had not gone according to plan at all. Ava was supposed to retract the article, Kathleen was supposed to realize she was wrong, and Sirius was supposed to be back on the top of the world by the end of that evening.

Let’s review. Ava had issued no such retraction. Kathleen was not speaking to him. And Sirius was nowhere near the top of the world. And there was no chocolate pudding at dinner. Life was rough.

“I don’t get it,” James said for the hundredth time, looking at the old issue of the Hogwarts Howler. “Kathleen dumped you because you’re fake? You’re Sirius, and that’s all. This doesn’t make any sense to me, mate. I suppose that’s women for you.”

Remus chuckled.

“What Moony?” Sirius asked moodily, wondering how anyone could find the situation funny. “My misery amusing you?”

“No, no,” Remus reassured him, but it was clear he found something quite funny.

“I can’t believe you got dumped,” Peter said, looking wistful. “I never thought I’d live to see this day.”

“Can it, Wormtail,” Sirius barked. “You all have to promise never to tell anyone that its me in this article. Hopefully Kathleen won’t say anything.” He sighed a depressed sign.

“Where were you around lunch time today?” Remus asked quickly changing the subject. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you miss a meal.”

“I was talking with Ms. Anonymous,” Sirius grumbled. “Tried to convince her to retract the article.”

“WHAT!?” all Sirius’ friends exclaimed at once, making Sirius jump with alarm.

“You talked to her!” James gasped. “Who is she? What’s she like?” The other two boys nodded enthusiastically.

“I can’t tell you,” Sirius admitted. “I threatened to reveal who she was if she didn’t retract her advice. But then she threatened to reveal to the entire school that this article is about me.”

“Clever girl,” Remus said, winking at Sirius.

“Come on!” James said eagerly. “You have to tell us!” Sirius shook his head.

“I can’t. My reputation is probably already dangling by a string now that I’ve been…well…you know…dumped. The last thing I need is for people to know that this article is about me.”

“Don’t worry,” Remus said, patting Sirius on the shoulder. “No one is going to care that Kathleen dumped you. And even if they do care, it will all blow over soon.”

“Blow over!” Sirius said loudly, attracting the attention of a few first years sitting nearby. “You think I’m just going to wait for this to blow over. No, no, I’m going to get Kathleen back.”

“How?” Peter asked, raising his eyebrows.

“Somehow I have to get her to retract that article,” Sirius muttered, reaching for a dinner roll.

“Somehow, you have to get more dirt on her,” James said, twirling his fork.

“Excuse me?” Remus said, choking on the bite of food he was in the middle of. “How will that help things?”

“Observe,” James replied, smirking. “The master at work. If good old Padfoot here gets some more dirt on this Ms. Anonymous, then she will have to retract the article, and hopefully also keep the other information to herself. It would have to be a pretty big amount of dirt though. The kind of dirt that people would do anything to hide. And there’s only one way to that kind of dirt.”

“How?” Peter asked.

“You have to get to know her,” James answered, smiling. “And then when the moment is right, use some of that Sirius Charm we all know, and she’ll spill something.”

“Problem,” Sirius said. “I’m pretty sure we didn’t get off on the right foot. She wouldn’t want to be my friend.” James chewed on the handle of his fork as he thought. And then his face brightened.

“Ask her for help.”

“Help with what?” Sirius asked, mortally confused.

“Ask her for help implementing her advice. Ask her to help you stop being Mr. Fake. I’m not saying you are, mate! This is just the inside track to get to know her. Tell her that she is the only one who can help you with this problem. Tell her you want to be better. If she has a compassionate bone in her body, she’ll go along with it.”

“You two are evil,” Remus declared, drawing two glares from James and Sirius. “You can’t just pretend to be this girl’s friend to find dirt on her, so you can crush her. Simply to restore your reputation to full Sirius Black status.”

“I like the sound of it,” James said gleefully. “And lets just say you end up never getting any dirt on her, you’ll gain some positive female advice and probably win Kathleen back anyway.”

Sirius scanned the Great Hall. He saw Ava sitting with that boy she was always with. Could he really do this to her? Could he really do this to himself? Spending time with Ava. Just looking at her made him a little mad. He continued to look down the Gryffindor table. He saw Kathleen sitting with some of her friends, laughing. She sensed her gaze and suddenly she looked at him and their eyes locked.

Yes, he could do this.

********

*Ava*

“So I was under the impression that you were never going to talk to Sirius Black ever again,” Tom grinned, spooning casserole onto his plate. “And yet you were talking to him in an empty corridor today for an extended period of time. Hmmm.”

“It’s not my fault,” Ava complained, looking down the table to where Sirius was sitting. “He started talking to me. I told you that he found out my secret identity.”

“Yes, by day Ava, but by night Ms. Anonymous,” Tom said, waving his hands around for effect. Ava gave him a light punch on his shoulder, telling him to keep his voice down.

“But hopefully, the villainous Mr. Black, will never reveal this identity to anyone,” she whispered. “I really think this is over, Tom. I mean we really have nothing else to talk about.” Tom nodded his mouth full.

“Hey,” he sputtered. “What do you think of Chris?” Ava looked over at the Hufflepuff table. Chris Beflin was a sixth year Hufflepuff. He had short, black hair, was rather short, and a crooked smile.

“I’ve only talked to him a couple times in Herbology,” Ava answered. “But he seems nice.”

“I think…I might like him,” Tom said uncomfortably, pushing food around with his fork.

“Is Chris…?” Ava asked excitedly.

“I’m pretty darn sure,” Tom responded, blushing a little. Ava let out a little squeal.

“That’s great Tom! We’ll make it work!” Tom gave her an uncertain smile and Ava grinned as he watched Tom’s eyes drift back over to where Chris was sitting.

“Ava, I need to talk to you.” Ava’s happiness dissolved in a heartbeat at the sound of Sirius Black’s voice. She looked up from her food, and there he was, standing right near her. Tom looked up too, a dopey grin on his face.

“She would love to talk to you,” he said to Sirius pushing Ava to her feet. “Bye, Ava.” Ava glared sharply at Tom as she followed Sirius out of the Great Hall. She felt the eyes of many students following them. Walking with Sirius Black was like walking with a celebrity. Everyone became more interested in her because she was with him. As they came out into the darkened Entrance Hall Ava stopped, feeling they had gone far enough.

“You know,” she said, causing Sirius to turn and face her. “I’m trying to remember a day when I didn’t talk to you.”

She expected a witty comeback but Sirius said nothing of the sort. In fact he looked nervous.

“I need your help,” he muttered suddenly, making Ava blink in surprise.

“I don’t let people copy my Transfiguration homework,” Ava tried.

“Its not that. I need you to help me get Kathleen back.”

“I’m not…”

“I know you’re not retracting the article,” Sirius said, holding up his hands. “I need you to help me be less…fake. I know you can help me, and you’re really the only person I can ask. I don’t want anyone else to know about this.”

Ava was blown away. The amount of sincerity in Black’s voice was staggering. He did sound like he needed help. Could she do that to herself? Spend time with Sirius? Help him? She could barely believe that he was being serious.

“So let me get this straight. You want me, Ava, Ms. Rude, to help you…”

“Help me be better. I really liked my girlfriend and I want to show her that I care,” Sirius said. “Please.”

Did Sirius Black just say please?

“I don’t know,” Ava said uncertainly. “We might kill each other.”

“We might,” Sirius answered, smiling a small smile. “But I’m willing to try.”

Ava took a deep breath, her mind racing. So many things were telling her to say no but she found her compassion welling up.

“Alright, Sirius,” she whispered. “I’ll help you.”

********

Wala! That is chapter four! I hope you enjoyed yourself! I shall see you again soon for Chapter Five!

Many thanks,

-Kira

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