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Hey, hey lovely readers. I hope you’re not too upset with me for giving you, yet again, a cliffhanger at the end of that last chapter. I do apologize, for I know most of you hate cliffhangers with a passion, but I just couldn’t help myself. I hope you enjoy this chapter and I’ll see you at the bottom!

Chapter Ten

Ms. Heartbroken

*Ava*

If someone had told Ava that by December of her sixth year she would be in a relationship with Sirius Black she would have told them that they were totally off their rocker. Up until this year, she had never even spoken to him. Looked at him a couple times, but never talked to him. And now here they were, on the verge of starting a relationship.

And how did she feel about it? There was no way around it, Ava was happy. And it was clearly obvious. When Ava got back to the Common Room, she found Tom polishing up a Charms essay, so she took the seat next to him.

“Jeez, I haven’t seen that smile in awhile,” he commented, a smug grin on his own face.

“What smile?” Ava asked, watching him grin away.

“I think,” Tom said thoughtfully. “I think I can see all your teeth at once. You’re beaming.”

Normally Ava would have been a tad embarrassed, and attempted to deny the claim, but she knew it was true and that there was truly no masking it.

“Beaming, huh?” was her response.

“May I inquire as to the occasion that is making you smile in such a manner? I mean normally detention isn’t something I would expect you to be glowing about.”

Ava ran a hand through her curls as she started into the crackling fire.

“Well you know how I wasn’t going to be able to see Sirius tonight?” Tom nodded. “It turns out that I got to spend a lot of time with him after all.

Tom perked up to listen more intently as Ava launched into the tale of the evening.

“He threw himself in detention for you?” Tom gaped.

“Who knew that would be a desirable trait?” Ava said, knowing that smile was still on her face. As she twisted and untwisted her hair around her fingers she continued to think about Sirius and the fact that she had just agreed to be in a relationship with him. Ok. That’s what she had said. She hadn’t needed to think about it then. The word, ok, just came out. But then she had wanted it to come out. She did like him.

Ava bit at her lip. But Sirius had had plenty of relationships over the years; Ava might even have problems counting them if she tried. She had never had anything…ever. Was that going to be a problem? Was she lacking experience? Yes. But did that mean they weren’t going to get along? They seemed to be getting along well so far. But then they had just been friends before. Was that even right?

“What are you thinking about?” Tom asked, breaking into her thoughts. “Your smile is turning into a look of concern.”

“I’m just wondering if this is actually going to work out. I mean we’re so different. And I’ve never even had a boyfriend before. I don’t even know how to have a boyfriend. I rarely get things right the first time, so I’m likely to mess this up!”

Ava groaned and put her hands up to her face. “How pathetic am I?” she mumbled through her fingers.

“Pretty pathetic.”

“Um, thanks. What a nice way to kick me when I’m down.”

Tom scooted closer to her and put an arm around her shoulders. “Look, you trust me right?”

“Always,” was the response.

“I’m not saying you’re pathetic. I’m saying your attitude is pretty pathetic. You can’t just assume that the relationship isn’t going to last simply because you’ve never had one before. You guys seem to get along great when you’re together! Don’t count yourself out before you even start. That’s not fair or right.”

Ava sighed happily. “I suppose you’ve been right so far. I mean I never actually thought we would ever get along in the first place.”

“Yeah, considering the first time you ever spoke, you slammed into him on purpose,” Tom laughed at the memory. “I don’t think anyone could have predicted things would turn out the way they did.”

Ava smiled at the memory. Who would have thought that slamming into Sirius Black would somehow wind up in a relationship!

“So how does it feel to be in a relationship?” Tom asked, echoing her thoughts.

“Well considering I’ve only been in one for less than an hour…” Ava started but then her smile got even bigger.

“You know what? It feels good, it feels really good.”

********

The next day the school was buzzing because Sirius Black had been seen walking down the corridor hand in hand with Ava Carmile.

Were they dating?

I didn’t even know they were friends!

She has been helping him with transfiguration lately.

I don’t believe it for a minute!

And so it went. Ava endured all the comments, but at the same time she found herself oddly pleased with them. She didn’t know why they made her so happy. But walking down the hall holding Sirius’ hand sent scores of feelings through her body.

Her day was going quite well until she reached Potions class and realized that she had left her essay in the Common Room.

Muttering an apology to Slughorn, she sprinted up from the dungeons. Upon entering the dormitory she was surprised to find Lily Evans also rummaging through her belongings. Lily looked up as Ava burst into the room.

“Can you help me?” Lily asked, looking breathless. “I can’t find my potions essay.” Lily’s face was nearly as red as her hair and she looked clearly frantic. Ava had never known Lily to miss any sort of assignment.

Ava went over to her dresser and pulled out one of the drawers, confirming that her essay was indeed where she believed it was. She let out a small breath of relief as she pulled out her essay from among her socks. Why had she put it there? She put the essay into her shoulder bag, and turned back to Lily.

She knew she should probably get back down to class and turn in her essay, but seeing Lily tear through the room made her hesitate. She put her bag down on a bed and knelt down next to where Lily was.

“Where did you see it last?” she asked helpfully, sorting through a pile of papers.

“I had it this morning. I thought I left it on my desk, but now…” Lily gasped, gesturing to the massive amount of papers scattered on the floor. “Don’t you hate it when things just randomly disappear?”

Ava nodded as she searched. They looked together for a few minutes in silence. Both girls kept casting small looks at the other when they thought the other wasn’t watching.

“So is it true about you and Sirius?” Lily asked, sounding as if she wanted to ask the question for awhile.

Ava stacked a set of papers she had already looked through, and smiled. “Yeah,” she responded. “It’s true.”

“I always knew you two would end up together,” Lily said, smiling back. Ava looked up from the paper she was scanning in surprise. That was one she hadn’t heard before. Anyone who asked her about the situation just seemed purely shocked at the fact that she and Sirius was together.

“What?” was the only answer to a statement like that. Lily laughed at Ava’s confused face.

“Don’t you remember the train ride second year?” she asked, a secret smile on her face.

“I remember the train ride,” Ava said, still confused. “But I don’t understand what that has to do with anything.”

“Remember, when Rachel showed us how to play M.A.S.H during the ride?”

“What’s M.A.S.H?”

“It’s a game used to “predict a person’s future.”

“I don’t get it.”

Lily was still smiling as she explained. “The game is played by setting out a list of possible outcomes in certain categories: for instance, under the heading automobiles, one would include various automobiles. And in the “guy” category Sirius was one of the guys we listed. Then the person playing picks a number and you count through the options, crossing off ones as you go. The ones left are supposed to be your future. And when it was your turn, Sirius was the guy that you ended up with.”

“Oh yeah,” Ava responded, as the memory came back to her.

“And when you saw you got Sirius Black, do you remember what you said?” Lily asked next.

Ava just shrugged her shoulders.

“You said, who’s that?” Lily answered, laughing. Ava grinned, remembering how Lily and the others had laughed at her then too. She shook her head at the memory, and gave a small noise of discovery as she finally found Lily’s potions essay.

“Here,” she said brightly to Lily, handing the paper over. Lily took the paper and let out a grateful sigh.

“Thanks, Ava.” A pause. “Listen. I never wanted to stop being friends. And I didn’t mean for us to fall out like we did.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Ava answered. “It is what it is.”

“We better get down to Potions,” Lily said next. “Sit next to me in class?”

“You got it,” Ava agreed as she and Lily left together.

********

Ava slid into her seat in Transfiguration class, after turning in her late paper to an annoyed Slughorn. As she scanned the classroom she noticed that Tom was not sitting in his normal seat next to her, but across the room next to Remus Lupin. She shot him a confused look but the intention became clear when Sirius sat in the seat next to her.

“Hey,” he said happily, scooting closer to her. “How are you?”

“I’m good,” Ava answered. “Except that Slughorn said he was going to downgrade my paper because it was late.”

“Aw, too bad,” Sirius said, as McGonagall stood up to begin teaching.

The class went on as normal, except Sirius kept whispering small comments to her making her laugh. When class was finally over, Sirius went over to talk to the other Marauders and Ava left to the hall with Tom.

********

*Sirius*

When Sirius reached the hallway he was met with a horrible surprise. Tom and Ava were standing nearby, and Chris was present as well. Along all the walls in the corridor, poster after poster were hanging on the wall.

MS. ANONYMOUS EXPOSED! Every poster had this heading along with a picture below with Ava and Sirius in it. When Sirius got closer he could hear that the posters not only had a picture but made noise as well.

“The Ms. Anonymous column, I was assigned to it. I’ve never had a relationship before.”

The posters repeated these words over and over again.

Sirius gaped as he looked at the pictures. Then he saw Ava’s stricken face. Her identity was exposed for the world to see. And one of her deepest secrets; one she had confided in him.

“This isn’t good,” Tom stuttered blankly, staring at the posters. “Ava, come on let’s just go.”

“Go?!” Ava shrieked back. “Go where?! These things are everywhere! How could this have happened?”

Sirius took a deep breath before rushing over.

“What’s going on?” he asked urgently, looking from Ava to the posters and then to Chris.

“Oh, like you don’t know,” Chris said, a big smile painted on her face.

“Actually I don’t,” Sirius responded with a threatening hint in his voice. “But if you want to explain it…”

“You can’t tell me you didn’t want this to happen.”

Chris came a little closer to the pair and looked fondly up at the posters.

“You can drop the act Black, I know.”

“Know what?” Ava and Sirius said together.

Chris was positively beaming now as he picked at the bent corner of one of the posters. “I know that this is what Black wanted to happen all along.”

Sirius’ heart stopped for a minute as he fought back feelings of nervousness. That wasn’t true. He cared about Ava. He didn’t want to see her hurt.

But the plan. There had been the plan. But only he and his friends had known about it. Chris, the little snipe, obviously didn’t have a clue.

“Somebody been following you lately Black?”

At this comment, Sirius allowed the nervous feelings to erupt. He had felt someone had been following him. Meaning they knew about the plot and Ava’s secrets.

“Sirius what is he talking about?” Ava was still shooting venomous looks at Chris as she stared confidently back at him. She trusted him.

“Tell her,” Chris urged. “I think she has a right to know.”

Sirius gulped. He knew he could lie. He knew he could lie and say the plot didn’t exist. He knew he could lie and that Ava would probably believe him. He could call Chris a delusional prat and be done. But the words just kept getting caught in his throat. He couldn’t lie to her. He found not only he couldn’t lie to her, he didn’t want to lie to her either. This was Ava. He had told her things he had never told anyone else.

His thoughts had taken too long.

“Alright,” Chris scoffed. “I’ll tell her.” He stepped closer to Ava who was looking at him as though she had never seen him before.

“Well apparently Ava, aka Ms. Anonymous, wrote some sort of piece that our dear Mr. Black desired to be retracted. Our brave Ms. Anonymous refused to retract her article angering the devious Mr. Black. So Black, along with his evil comrades devised a plot to bring her down. Mr. Black decided to pose as her friend, gather dirt on her, and then expose it to the world. That way, her credibility would be destroyed and that would be his form of retraction. And of course the goal of this dastardly project is to get back with his ex girlfriend.”

With a wave of his arm and a broad grin Chris ended his tale saying proudly, “Hence the posters.”

Chris gave the two a shadow of a wink before heading off down the corridor and disappearing.

Sirius bit his lip hard as he looked over at Ava. She was looking quite alarmed but there was still a bit of calm in her eyes, as though she didn’t really believe what she heard. She gave him a weak smile.

“Sirius, just tell me it isn’t true and I’ll believe you.”

Sirius shuffled his feet uncomfortably. He couldn’t lie to Ava. He just couldn’t bring himself to do it.

“Look, Ava,” he started softly. “It may have started out that way but…” He didn’t get much further, for Ava’s yelling cut him off.

“It’s true?! IT’S TRUE?! You mean you only pretended to be my…” She put a hand on her chest, anger filling her eyes.

“How dare you!” she said loudly, turning away from him. “I can’t believe I trusted you.” Sirius rushed to catch up with her, grabbing for her hand.

“Don’t!” she snapped, whipping around to face him once more. “You came to me for help, and for some reason I decided to believe you. And not only did you trick me into thinking you wanted help, you tricked me into thinking that you actually changed!”

“I did change,” Sirius tried, but Ava was in too much of a rage to listen.

Ava gestured to where Chris had been standing a moment ago. “I mean at least he’s horrible all the time! But you! You lead people on. You trick them into believing that you are a nice guy. And then you just take it away. You haven’t learned a damn thing!”

“I have learned,” Sirius gasped, jumping in front of her to block her path. “I’ve learned a lot.”

“Oh yes,” Ava muttered sarcastically. “You can learn a real lot from something that has been built on nothing but lies. Sirius, you are nothing but an act. A performer! But you’ve got nothing when the mask comes down. And I am done being part of your little act. You should just go find your ex girlfriend and see if she’ll take you back. Because I don’t want you.”

She shoved him out of the way and started to leave, but turned back.

“I just don’t understand. Why? You could have accomplished what you wanted without doing it.”

“Without doing what?” Sirius asked, noticing how dry his mouth was.

Ava had the smallest glitter of tears in her eyes as she spoke.

“Without breaking my heart along the way.”

Sirius watched her go and felt his own heart twinge uncomfortably. He leaned up against the wall and slid down into a sitting position. He took another look at the endless array of posters before putting his face to his knees, hoping everything would work itself out.

*Ava*

Ava didn’t sleep that night. So many thoughts and feelings were keeping her occupied. Everything that she had thought she had done in the past months had been for nothing. He hadn’t listened. All he wanted was to find dirt on her. Oh, and he had found it. A girl with no relationship experience giving advice to her peers.

She had thought she had found something real. She had thought she had finally found out what Mr. Fake was all about. And she had liked it. She had liked him. But it had been nothing but lies, and now she was alone…again. Not only alone, but humiliated as well.

When she went down to breakfast the next day, a huge amount of letters were delivered to her. A slim amount were sympathetic, but most were Howlers of the nastiest kind. Telling her that she had ruined relationships, lied to everyone, and made many people miserable.

At least it was almost Christmas break. Two more days and then Ava would be home free for awhile. And not have to see Sirius, or avoid him in the hallways. And then maybe after break, everything would go back to normal.

*Two days later*

*Sirius*

Sirius shouldered his way through the massive crowd of students heading home for the holidays. There was some slight pushing and shoving as students made there way to the train.

Where was she? Sirius knew she was going home. He couldn’t let her go away without talking to her. This had gone on long enough. He could feel himself missing her.

The train whistle blew and he noticed how the crowd was starting to thin. He was about to give up completely when he noticed a girl with long, curly hair boarding not too far away.

“AVA!” he called loudly, trying to get closer to her. He saw the girl pause, and her head turned slightly in recognition of his voice.

“Ok,” Sirius thought. “If she looks back, everything is going to be okay.” He cracked his knuckles a couple times, waiting.

Ava’s figure disappeared into the train, having never turned back.

********

Okay!! That’s it for now! I don’t think that really qualifies as a cliffhanger. I mean it still has the *what’s going to happen* feeling, but what kind of story doesn’t?

Well, call it a cliffhanger if you like. Either way, Merry Christmas if I don’t get another chapter up by then. Good cheer to all and have a very happy and safe holiday.

Much Love,

Kira

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