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“So anyway,” I say to Sirius, “in the end, she said she wouldn’t go with me.” I’m talking about how Clover said no to my invitation to Hogsmeade, which I’m currently confused about.

“Really,” Sirius muses. “Did you ever consider maybe…just maybe, that was the wrong time to ask?”

I think. I think some more.

“Nope,” I answer unhelpfully.

Sirius sighs.

“I hate helping you out here Remus. You know I didn’t want one of you guys do fall madly in love with her as you seem to have,” Sirius conjectures.

I shrug. What can I do?

“I think at first though, I thought it’d be James or Peter so just be glad it’s you instead. If you hurt her though…I’ll kill you,” he says after a moment.

I laugh at that. It’s hard to imagine Sirius killing me, a werewolf.

I play along however. “Deal,” I say.

Sirius accepts this and begins pacing our dorm. James and Peter are playing a game of Exploding Snap, and Peter is rather bad at it I notice. It’s kind of annoying really.

“Okay,” Sirius says, “the reason she said no is because first of all, your timing was off. She was having a heart-to-heart with you it seems, and you went and asked her on a date. That’s not going to fly with my sister. It makes it seem like you don’t care about her feelings and only about dating her.”

“That’s crap,” I say fiercely.

“No,” Sirius says slowly. “What’s crap is how hard you’re going to have to work now to get her to go with you.”

He has a point.

“Anyway,” he begins again, “you have to really listen to her. Make her trust you. Most of all, please remember that after everything, she is a girl. She may not have the same emotional capacity of most, but she does like, you know, the occasional flower or compliment.”

I nod. I can deal with that.

“Basically, the best you can do now is follow those little tips, talk to her, and when the time is right, ask her again.”

“When the time is right,” I repeat slowly.

“As in, when she’s not ready to pour out her heart to you.”

I snort. “I highly doubt she was about to-”

Sirius stops me with a raised hand. “Never assume anything about that girl.”

I choose not to question him at this point.

“Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with Emmeline.”

“Vance?” James blurts out.

“Yeah, why?”

“Well,” James says from his side of the room, “it’s just that she might be…I don’t know, good for you.”

Emmeline is the smartest girl in our year, and pretty, but not in the typical way Sirius likes his girls to be. She has class.

“I know,” he shakes his head. “It’s scary quite frankly.” With that, he exits.

-

“Remus,” Clover says politely as she takes her place next to me in potions class.

“Clover,” I mimic. I didn’t mean to. It just popped out.

“You’re mad,” she says pointedly.

“No, I’m not,” I say a little too fast.

She laughs charmingly. The hurt melts away like ice in the sun.

She examines me. “There, that’s better.”

“Guess who I’ve made friends with?” she asks after a moment.

“The devil?” I guess. I’m being childish, but I don’t care.

She rolls her eyes. “I did that ages ago,” she laughs. “Emmeline Vance!”

“Really,” I say flatly. Emmeline seems to getting all the love lately.

“She knows how to sign,” she claims.

A thought strikes me suddenly. “Does she,” I say mischievously, and I’m pleased because I know she can’t hear the playfulness in my voice.

After class, I immediately go to Sirius in the dorm.

“How was your date?” I ask uninterestedly.

“It was good. Emmeline-”

“Can you teach me how to sign?” I ask quickly.

Sirius sighs as if he had been expecting this question all along and moves over to make space for me on his bed.

-

I’ve wondered if maybe I’m misdirecting my efforts. I mean, if she really doesn’t want to go with me, I know nothing is going to make that girl change her mind. I just have this feeling that that’s not the case. There’s something else…and I don’t know if it has to do with my bad timing like Sirius said or what.

It’s possible she’s figured out my secret. She is smart after all.

If anyone told though…I’ll be upset to say the very least.

The thought occurs to me that maybe Sirius might have accidentally let it slip. Granted, he’s never told anyone before, but she is his sister, and he seems to tell her a lot.

Then I have to wonder what her reaction would have been. She’s definitely not the hyperventilating type so that’s definitely out.

I know it’s stupid, but I just think maybe, just maybe, she wouldn’t care.

I guess eventually I’ll have to find out.

I catch her as she’s heading outside to study with flowers in hand and a compliment in mind. She spies me suspiciously.

“Who are those for?” she asks.

I hand them to her. She takes them tentatively, but I can tell she likes them.

“Thanks,” she says easily as if she’d been expecting this. “I love tulips.”

“I know,” I admit.

She grins.

I sign to her, “You look lovely today.”

She blushes.

Clover Black just blushed.

Ha!

“Thanks,” she signs back. She signs something else, but I can’t understand what it is.

I shake my head, “I didn’t learn that much of sign language. I just started my lessons you know.”

“I said that’s sweet of you,” she says.

Now it’s my turn to blush.

“Will you go to Hogsmeade with me?” I ask again with nothing in hand now but a prayer.

She examines me. I feel small under her scrutiny even though I’m nearly a foot taller than her.

“You don’t give up easily,” she decides.

“Not when it comes to this,” I say shrugging earning a smile from her.

She shakes her head. Oh no, she’s about to refuse me again, I think.

“Listen,” I say quickly, “I’ll tell you my secret if you’ll go with me.” It’s possible I’ve just made the worst decision of my life.

She stares at me wide eyed. “Why,” she says slowly, “would you do that? That secret is the best card you have to play. You’re laying it on the table too soon.”

“The stakes are high,” I say roguishly.

“Well,” she says, “I’m glad you think so.” She bites her bottom lip. It’s about the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen. “Here,” she decides. “I’ll let you keep your secret if you let me ask the questions.”

“What?” I’m confused.

“Will you go to Hogsmeade with me Remus?”

I stare at her. “What?” I repeat.

“Will you-”

“I heard you,” I interrupt, “and yes, I’ll go with you. But…”

She smiles wide. “Sirius forgot to tell you that I always do that asking.” She flips her hair and gallivants away celebrating a victory that was supposed to be mine.





Clover’s POV

I’m still smiling when I walk into the library to meet with Regulus later that day. The look on Remus’s face had been just priceless. It was true I’d been hesitant about going to Hogsmeade at first, but now I wasn’t sure why. He was nice…perfectly nice. Maybe even too nice. I wonder as I step into the library what he thinks of me when no one else is around.

I can’t believe he was willing to give up his secret to me. I’ve known he has some kind of big dark secret since Sirius told me last year, but he wouldn’t tell me what it was. I guess maybe he trusts me. Maybe I should trust him.

I meet Regulus at a table in the Potions section.

“I apologize for yesterday,” he says immediately. “Dumbledore seems to have covered our tracks.”

I snort. “That was awfully nice of him.”

He ignores me. “The Dark Lord wants to know where you stand.”

“The Dark Lord can ask me himself.”

Regulus shakes his head, “You don’t want that to happen Clover.”

I notice he’s not using sign language today. Oh wait, he never really knew it.

“Remus learned a bit of sign language for me,” I say pointedly.

Regulus laughs. “You know I don’t see the point of learning it. You understand everything perfectly anyway.”

“Sirius learned it too.”

“Hey,” he says, “I learned some.”

“You’d never be able to tell,” I state, “seeing as you never use it.”

He looks as if he’s on the verge of getting angry, but then shrugs. “I don’t have time for this. Are you with me or not?”

“I’m with you,” I say. “That doesn’t mean I’m with him.”

“You don’t have a choice. You do know that right?”

“Actually, I know that I do. Sirius definitely isn’t going to be helping out with cause any time soon.”

“Sirius,” he spits, “is not even worth the Dark Lord’s time.”

“And you are?” I challenge.

“Yes,” he says without thinking.

“Well,” I say slowly, “in that case, you two can just go have a little tea party.”

“Clover,” he says clearly exasperated, “you’re being difficult.”

“Of course I’m being difficult,” I say loudly. “Think of the conversation we’re having! It requires me to be difficult.”

“I’m leaving,” he says shortly. “Remember this though. You’re either with me or against me.”

“So if I choose not to get a little tattoo on my arm I’m against you?” I ask spitefully although I already know the answer.

“Yes,” he says regarding me carefully.

He leaves without a backward glance. I look at the floor in anger, and I notice a pair of sneakers on the other side of the bookcase. Sneakers that look exactly like the pair Remus owns.

I realize with a sinking feeling that he now knows my secret.

I watch his sneakers leave without him knowing I’m watching him at all. I’m thinking I should have made that deal with him today. I’m thinking everyone seems to be leaving me these days.

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