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You Hate Me
Chapter 14:

“I don’t get it,” Peter said for the fourth time, “I just don’t get it.”

Remus put a hand on Peter’s shoulder and shook his head. Remus could only assume Peter’s confusion would blacken Sirius’ mood and throw James into more of a strop. Remus himself had naught to say to Sirius and let James have the floor. It was one of the few times in his life Remus could say he was disgusted with Sirius’ behavior; the others involved buckets of ice, eighty jalapeño peppers, and two pushup bras and Remus preferred not to think about them. James and Peter seemed to feel similarly, for the second James closed to door to the dormitory he stared sternly at Sirius.

“What the fuck was that, Padfoot? I thought you and Piper were on good terms now? Why are you being a frickin’ prick!?” James locked the door to their dormitory and waved his wand to make sure they would not be interrupted, he had too much to holler at Sirius for and not much time to do it.

“I couldn’t tell you, Prongs.” Sirius doffed his Quidditch robes, throwing them haphazardly on the floor, adding onto the already teetering tower of clothes that looked remarkably similar to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Sirius had caused Piper enough pain without spilling all of her secrets. He could do her one last service by not revealing that she was disowned.

“Well then you better start trying! That went too far earlier.” James pointed down the stairs, indicating the incident in the Great Hall. James had grown quite particular to Piper in the past weeks. She was not his mate by any standards but public humiliation seemed ungrateful after she ceased hostilities towards them. Sirius was choking on his words, at a loss for what to say. James, in a mock baby voice angrily said, “Come on, Sirius, use words like a big boy, I know you can.”

“I decided I didn’t want to be on good terms with her anymore.” Stubbornly nonchalant, Sirius lounged on his bed, twiddling his wand between his fingers. If James wanted to be pissy Sirius wasn’t going to fuel his fire. James didn’t need to know what happened between Sirius and Piper. Sirius himself didn’t’ want to think about it. He reclined as one who did not have a care in the world would recline. An onlooker would have found Sirius the epitome of relaxation. He could have been a poster child for a calming spa vacation package. On the inside he was teeming with anger; anger with himself, with Piper, with the Reddens, with the Blacks, with his friends.

“Well that was just about the stupidest thing you could’ve ever done, Sirius. You really want to be turned red again, huh?” James attacked Sirius verbally to compensate for attacking him physically. He took one long stride to Sirius’ bedside and berated him. “You really don’t care about her? That’s bull shit. I know you Sirius, and I’ve seen you look at her when no one else is watching. Why don’t you just accept that you care about someone for once? I don’t know what changed between you two in the last twenty four hours, but whatever it is it isn’t worth it. I know you have a hard time opening up to people, Paddy, but Piper was good for you.” James said, using his final argument. It had taken him years to convince Sirius to express to some degree his loathing for his family. It did not make him jealous that Sirius had somehow related with Piper in a period of a few months, on the contrary, he was relieved someone understood Sirius for once.

Piper was good for you Sirius had said just the opposite to Piper only hours ago. He was not good for her and she wasn’t good for him. James didn’t understand that, Piper didn’t understand that, and Sirius definitely did not understand that. “You don’t know shit, Prongs.”

“Oh really? Because I see a big piece of it right in front of me.” James rolled his head back and laughed at the high ceiling forcibly. “And besides, you’re seriously deluded if you think I don’t know anything about you and Piper, because I’ve seen her look at you too, Sirius.”

Sirius hurled his legs over his bed and landed solidly on the wood floor. Sirius did feel like a piece of shit. A big, smelly piece of shit that was freshly out of some enormous animal’s asshole.

When Sirius was five he had convinced his father to buy him a puppy and at the pound. The puppy was an adorable but clearly mistreated dog. It had aggression issues toward everyone but Sirius brought the dog home and adopted it nevertheless. It was going to be put to sleep if no one took it home. Sirius eventually tired of the dog and sent it away. He never knew what happened to the animal, but could only assume his father had had it put to sleep, the very fate Sirius had tried to save it from.

Sirius compared this pitiable anecdote to the relationship he and Piper had been establishing. And just as he had done with the puppy whose hopes he had brought up, Sirius grew bored and smashed them. But it wasn’t out of boredom Sirius cut all ties with Piper; he was protecting her. He effectively destroyed her life by romanticizing her. Sirius knew he was right to have slandered Piper, he was only being chivalrous. And even if his idea of chivalry was seriously distorted, Sirius still had her best interests at heart and hearing her name dropped carelessly by his best mate was infuriating.

“Don’t talk to me about her anymore. Say her name again and I swear I’ll knock you out, James.”

James cocked his head. He turned around, giving Sirius the impression of full fledged capitulation in the row. It was only when he took a great intake of breath and turned around that Sirius knew his friend had not surrendered at all. With a terrible, trouble making smirk on his face, James yelled, “PIPER! PIPER! PIIIIIIIIIIIIIPER!”

Whether the Gryffindor common room thought it was odd James Potter was shouting Piper’s name over and over again was odd, James never found out. As he was on his fourth chorus of her name he tasted blood in his mouth and the entire right side of his face ached with a force that may as well of come from James running side long into a stone wall. It was not, however, an unprecedented flight into a wall that caused James his pain; it had been Sirius’ fist.

James felt a loose tooth with his tongue and exhaled deeply through his nostrils. He lowered his head as if he was wishing to sprout horns and charge at his friend like a bull attacking a particularly finicky matador. James launched himself at Sirius, uppercutting him so hard in the stomach Sirius gasped for breath. They fought, bloodying their knuckles and breaking fingers until Remus and Peter were lulled out of their trance like state. James and Sirius fought over Peter’s and Remus’ arms that were acting as barricades. They managed to break through Remus and Peter and grappled, each trying to get a better hold of the other, until they were so worn out it was easy for Remus and Peter to pull them apart. Neither Remus nor Peter had ever seen Sirius and James fight—especially over a girl. It was ROL Number 868 after all; ‘Never row with a mate over a bird—they’re not worth it.’ Peter held Sirius and Remus James. All four glared as if they were brandishing swords instead of wands.

And then, at the same time, James and Sirius fainted, exhausted from their fight.

* * * *


Piper had drawn herself the hottest bath the tub could handle. She was surprised the metal of the tap did not melt from the heat rising from the water steadily. Piper sunk into it, her wand trained on the vent almost directly above her just in case Sirius dared to make a showing. If he did, Piper decided she would merely splash him with the boiling water—and then, perhaps she could throw him out of the window.

Piper entertained the idea as she splashed feebly about. Enjoying vivid images of Sirius free falling or at least breaking his back from the fall and living the rest of his days as Quasimodo ringing the bells at some obscure chapel made Piper’s mood exponentially brighter.

She had just begun to hope Sirius would plop down into the bathroom so she could drown him and the last thing he would ever see would be what he could have had when a knock at the locked bathroom door echoed around the room.

“Piper,” It was Lily speaking hesitantly from the dormitory, “what are you doing in there?”

“Trying to drown myself.” Piper said in her satirical voice.

“And how’s that going for you?”

Piper could almost envision Lily shifting her weight from one foot to the other with a look on her face contorted with the effort it took for her to exert any form of her nonexistent sense of humor.

“Badly. These towels don’t bloomin’ weigh me down enough. I need a bloody rock or something,” Piper commented while examining her finger nails. With any luck, Lily would give up, take the hint, and leave Piper alone.

“Suicide is nothing to joke about,” said Lily.

“Who’s joking?”

Piper’s dry tone produced the desired response.

“You are being immature, Piper.”

“And you’re being a nosy pain in the ass, but you don’t see me complaining about it.” Piper slunk lower into the hot water and submerged until she heard the definite sound of footsteps and a door slamming. As long as Lily was not going to a Professor or Dumbledore himself to report a suicide in the process, Piper didn’t care. She wanted only to be alone and immerse herself with macabre scenarios she could potentially put Sirius in that would lead to his untimely (or completely timely, depending on how you look at it) death.

She even managed to coerce one of the younger house elves to trade a bottle of wine for the promise of providing plenty of dirty laundry; and as she drained the bottle her thoughts grew even more melancholy. Before she knew it, Piper was completely piss drunk and was damning every person she knew to hell, including the bloke who drove the Knight Bus that dropped Piper and Sirius off at Hogsmeade, he shouldn’t have given them a ride to Hogsmeade, they were delinquents. After damning Sirius to Hell for the umpteenth time Piper grew tired of hearing his name and in her drunken stupor she vowed to only refer to him as Stupid Ugly Francis Overly Large Gob Arrogant Misogynistic Mean Man. That name seemed to take care of all of his personality flaws and the name ‘Francis’ prevented her from actually thinking about him—she knew no Francises and could thus not connect the name to him in any way.

Piper was still at a loss about the matters concerning her family. She was unyielding in her opinion that no family should disown their daughter for the simple misdeed of snogging an unwise bloke. And since being disowned freed her from any matrimonial obligations such as marrying Alexander McClure (who, in her state Piper decided to rename Rather Attractive Git That Ruined my Life and is no Longer Attractive for it) it couldn’t be so bad, could it? Besides, Piper had not missed it when her mother’s note failed to mention Heath’s role in the matters. Her father would somehow over power Carolyn in the long run, Piper was sure of it. Her father had never let her down.

Comforted by this thought, Piper downed the dregs of the bottle of wine and stumbled back into the dormitory, found her bed by some means unbeknownst to her and fell asleep without even bothering to change into pajamas. She had a big day tomorrow, after all. Stupid Ugly Francis Overly Large Gob Arrogant Misogynistic Mean Man was in for it.

* * * *


It did not take long for the school to learn that the two star players on the Gryffindor Quidditch team were laying in the Hospital Wing with what Korey called ‘severe concussions’ and had been there all night. Aside from being on the threshold of forming a lynch mob to show Sirius and James how displeased they were for their behavior, the Gryffindors were worried. It was only when Zane pointed out that it would hardly be beneficial to Sirius’ and James’ health to lynch them that the mob disbanded and decided to allow Madame Pomfrey to do her work with her undivided attention. Sirius and James needed to be in tip top shape—soon.

The Ravenclaws had been particularly arrogant about their team. They had flattened Hufflepuff with an outrageous score of 20 to 560. The slaughter had lasted eight hours due to the dysfunctional Keepers on both sides. Their side was a collection of bad talent and rudimentary skills. Their Beaters, Chuck Crane and Lawrence O’Neil were more apt to mistake the opposing team’s heads for Bludgers than actually make contact with the brown balls. Ian Snow, the Keeper actually brought his homework up in the air to do while the ball was not at his end of the pitch. If not for the mediocre talents of Daniel Tailor, Jack Smith, and Collin Johanson the team would have never scored. Their Seeker was new and his skills had only been tested once. However, Hogwarts was sure James Potter would persevere over Grant Grey.

The known rivalry between James and Grant had sparked an interest in the school since the feud was so recent. If Grant could beat Potter he could only be deserving of Lily Evans. The general opinion of Grant Grey was so distasteful many Slytherins and Hufflepuffs donned crimson colors to show their support in Potter’s quest. For if James failed, it would be up to little Regulus Black—who nearly no one had seen in action—to defeat the pompous prat that was Grant Grey. Sirius said that if it came to that he wasn’t sure whose side he would take since he loathed each both of them.

In the Hospital Wing, James and Sirius were still in an incapacitated state. Madame Pomfrey had set them right with a wave of her wand but upon being resuscitated, James and Sirius continued their unfinished fight. They made a right mess of things: tipping over shelves of potions and flattening one of the beds completely until Madame Pomfrey Stunned them. She had kept them in a severely tranquilized state after that; feeding them large doses of Calming Droughts every fifteen minutes through a funnel and following it with an even larger quantity of the Elixir of Bed Rest.

“Mmm Pomfrrrrr pleee letd usd ooooooo,” James gurgled from his bed, still trying to fend Sirius off with one rubbery hand. He valiantly rose and dropped his arm in a desperate attempt to hit Sirius before Sirius could hit him. Their beds, however, were separated by no less than five feet of distance, and his efforts were thwarted.

James’ pleas were ignored by their caretaker.

“Gaaaaaaaaaaaame,” Sirius bellowed. Sentences were too tricky to form with his magically swollen tongue, immobile body and cloudy mind. However, he hoped he got his point across.

“Gaaaaaaaaaaaame,” James echoed.

“Gaaaaaaaaaaaame,” their said in unison and continued to say in harmony until their cries became more like whale calls than teenage pleading. United by their goal, James and Sirius tacitly agreed to take a rain check on the fight and used their renewed energy to beg to be set right.

“Oh, shut up!” Madame Pomfrey came flying from her office; hands covering her ears, which themselves were covered with fluffy pink ear muffs that must have been a present from Professor Sprout. “How the Professors deal with them I don’t know!” She grumbled more to herself than to Sirius and James. She huffed and looked contemptuously out of the window where she saw the most eager of the students were collecting near the pitch, testing the conditions and quarreling over who would be victorious; the knowledge that a Quidditch match would soon commence did not ease her temper. Knowing she would need to clear the bed space before the match was over, Madame Pomfrey eyed James and Sirius suspiciously. “If you two promise me—and I mean promise —not to harm one another I will release you,” she said warily.

James’ and Sirius’ heads flopped downwards once (they were incapable of lifting their heads back up since they lacked the neck strength). “Pwwomis.” “Yaa, pwwwomiss.”

Eyes still narrowed in suspicion, Madame Pomfrey waved her wand and Summoned a bottle from the highest shelf. She measured a hefty amount in two glasses and, using the funnels on their nightstands, poured it down James’ and Sirius’ throats. She then performed some very complicated movements with her wand (most of which where for show) and aimed it at the beds on which rested the two most troublesome boys she had ever met.

Almost instantly, they were righted. Their vocal chords unclenched, their legs felt less like liquid, they had control over their limbs, and their minds unclouded. Their anger was also back in full force but it was overshadowed by their desire to play Quidditch. After scrambling to collect their wands, James and Sirius tripped over each other to leave the Hospital Wing with as much haste as possible.

“And stay out!” Madame Pomfrey yelled as the door shut behind her. She walked to the window and leaned on the sill, watching and waiting for the accident that would undoubtedly occur. She hated Quidditch.

* * * *


Piper woke the next morning and was vaguely aware that it was a game day—Gryffindor vs. Ravenclaw. Excellent. She rolled over but stopped halfway when she felt judgmental eyes on her. She wasn’t even fully awake and already she was causing a stir in the dormitory. Sure enough, as soon as she had wiped the grogginess from her eyes she was aware of Korey staring distastefully at her pajamas-less form. As Piper sat up the revulsion on Korey’s face grew as she viewed Piper’s matted hair, baggy eyes, and wrinkled clothes.

“Oh, Piper, you should get back to bed,” Korey winced, showering the dormitory with her snotty, nasally voice. “You really need to catch up on your beauty sleep. You need all the time you can get.” She went back to brushing her hair at her vanity, gauging Piper’s reaction through the mirror.

“So that’s the secret then? Sleeping. God and here I was thinking the key to beauty was layers of makeup and making yourself hurl after every meal. Fuck, I was misinformed.” Piper said, managing to speak with her usual élan even though she was suffering from a massive headache.

“Ha, ha, very funny,” Korey gave her hair one last sweeping brush and slid a scarlet and gold head band on the very top of her head to display her House-spirit. “I assume you’re not going to the game.” Korey pulled on her tight fitting robes to complete her look.

“When you assume you make an ass out of yourself,” Piper quoted, she knew the expression went something like that.

Korey growled under her breath. Piper was as challenging as a two year old who knew a lot of curse words. And Korey knew many terrible toddlers—she babysat. With one last appraisal of her appearance Korey swept from the room, she wasn’t going to let Piper’s attitude dampen her spirits—Korey glowed less when her spirits were dampened.

Piper chortled. It was too easy to vex Korey. Piper was down to a flat fifty seconds to harass Korey out of a room. Next time she would try for forty. Refreshed by rudeness, Piper was able to go about her morning routine feeling completely rejuvenated. Teeth brushed, face washed, legs shaved, and hair combed, Piper dressed for the day. She instantly regretted completing this routine so quickly; without a bottle of wine, Korey, or mindless tasks to distract her, Piper’s wrath bubbled up in full force. If she had cared to see her reflection in a mirror, Piper was sure flames would have taken the place of her pupils. She was sure of three things: one, she hated Sirius Black; two, she was going to make Sirius Black suffer, and three, she would somehow find a way to make it all work out.

Firstly, she quickly penned a letter which she copied over and sent to her father and to Rhett to inquire if they knew what the bloomin’ hell was going on.

Secondly, she formulated a way to destroy Sirius. The Quidditch match was a half hour off, which meant Sirius was on the pitch scrutinizing the conditions and warming up; that was no good, Piper couldn’t exactly do bodily harm to him in front of the whole school. But that didn’t mean she had to hurt Black directly…

If she was going to ruin Black’s life, Piper decided, she was going to look good doing it. Piper moved quickly, she tore the entire contents of her wardrobe apart until every article of clothing she owned was strewn about the floor. In the very depths of her trunk she found the diamond stud earrings that were a birthday present from her grandfather two years ago, a book that had changed Carolyn’s life about magical makeup application, and a pair of shoes she had vowed never to wear. She changed in record speed, exchanging her baggy jeans and roomy blouse for a brown wool skirt, a tight fitting, low cut, white jumper, and a cashmere sapphire blue cardigan. Ignoring the excruciating pain, she squished her feet into the too high brown heels. The spells in the leather-bound book of Carolyn’s came with detailed instructions that were easy to follow thanks to generations of Redden women adding their cosmetic secrets to it. Piper scrutinized her reflection; ten minutes were left until the game, she had to hurry. She was missing something but she did not know what. The heels made her legs look long and slim, the blue of the cardigan made her eyes sparkle, the jumper hugged her body and gave the illusion of curves, and her makeup was flawless, it hid even the most stubborn of the bags under her eyes. She smiled when she realized what the missing factor was. With a flourish, she pulled her hair free of its band and allowed it to creep wildly down to frame her face.

Her progress down the stairs was slow. With each step her heels clacked loudly and echoed down the staircase. Gradually, he came into sight. He was exactly where she knew he would be: on the couch closest to the fire leaned over a pile of papers spread out on the mahogany table he had dragged over from the corner, trying to get in a few more minutes of homework before he had to face the frigid February weather for as long as it took James to catch the Snitch. He was alone in this attitude of placing homework above Quidditch but he also found that the castle was at its quietest ten minutes before a match. He completed on last sentence and was about to collect his things and trek to the pitch when a strange clacking noise filled the common room. Intrigued, he waited for the source of the noise to appear.

“Hello, Remus,” Piper, wobbling as if she were descending in stilts rather than pumps, came into view and Remus smiled. He had never seen her without her black robe on and he never thought he would ever see her in heels. “I have to break them in before Easter,” she explained, displaying her skills as a face reader. “My mum said she’d give me a week without Latin lessons if I wear them. And I thought I’d try them on when no one could see me but it looks like that’s not gonna happen so…” she trailed off. “I didn’t realize anyone would be here,” Piper said, lying through her teeth. She knew he’d be here because she never went to the Quidditch games and she always saw Remus packing up his last minute homework with just enough time to make it to the pitch.

“’Sokay. I’m leaving anyway.” Remus was at the portrait hole when he looked at Piper, confused. “Aren’t you going to the game?”

“Nah, I have loads to do.”

“Like break in shoes?”

“Exactly.” Piper smiled sweetly, the exact smile she had learned encouraged people to continue conversations with her. She was out of practice but she thought that it would get the job done. Piper made a show of each step she took, grimacing dramatically every so often to show Remus just how difficult breaking in shoes properly can be.

“Piper.”

She had him now. Piper did not need to look to know Remus had moved from the portrait hole. Her smile grew.

“Yes?”

“Well it’s just, if you don’t mind me asking,” Remus was closer to Piper now and farther away from the portrait hole. “What the fuck is going on between you and Sirius?”

Piper could have laughed. The last time she had been asked that question it had been Korey asking her at the beginning of term. Then the answer was simple: Nothing is going on between Black and I because we despise each other and only want to see each other spend their days in misery. But it had changed, that wasn’t the answer anymore. Sure enough what Piper was about to do would make Black miserable, but for the first time Piper truly felt like he deserved her mistreatment. When Sirius had made her the object of some cruel joke Piper had only retaliated because she had her honor to uphold, that, and Sirius needed to be taught a lesson. In her heart Piper had been able to forgive Sirius for his stupid stunts like breaking her quills and charming her cheeks to glow red every time someone said the word “penis”, but he had wounded Piper too deeply this time and she was finally going to get it through his thick skull that she was not the type of person that should not be screwed with. And if that meant destroying a couple of friendships that was his fault.

“I honestly couldn’t tell you, Remus,” Piper sat on the couch where Remus had been minutes before; the seat was still warm. “I mean one second he’s all, ‘can’t we be friends?’ and the next he’s calling me out in front of the whole school! He doesn’t make any sense! I don’t know how you deal with him because I’ve almost strangled him more times the past month than I’ve ever wanted to before.”

“The ability to resist strangulation is an important quality to have when you’re friends with Sirius,” Remus said. He was next to Piper on the couch now although he kept his distance still.

“I’m not friends with him.”

“So there was nothing going on between the two of you when you were ‘dating’?” Remus made mocking air quotations; Sirius had told the Marauders how Piper was only pretending to go out with him so she could break up with him and humiliate him.

“GOD NO!”

“Okay, okay, just wondering. Can’t blame a guy for being curious.” Remus moved to stand but reconsidered. “Speaking of being curious: what’s the real reason you’re not going to the Quidditch game? I mean it’s your own House for God’s sake.”

Piper kicked off her heels and removed her cardigan; as she pulled the blue fabric over her shoulders she purposely stuck her chest out and made a soft sighing noise. “You want the real reason?”

“Yes.” Again, Piper’s smile drew Remus into her; they were closer now so that Remus could smell her spicy amber perfume faintly.

“Because I hate it.” Piper spoke slowly and playfully.

Remus gasped, jokingly affronted; he had never met a witch who hated Quidditch. But he had also never met someone like Piper. Being so close to her, speaking words to her was toxic. Every inch of Remus was screaming out to actually reach out and touch her skin, to feel what Sirius felt. Sirius. No, he couldn’t be feeling this way. Whether they wanted to admit it or not, Sirius and Piper were connected in some obscure way and Remus couldn’t interfere like that. But her smell…No.

“I,” Remus fought off the voices in his head, yelling, ordering him to stay. “I should get going. If I don’t leave now I’ll never get a seat.” Nervously, he chuckled.

“Remus, I really appreciate you listening to me. It feels nice to have someone to talk to, you know?” Her voice pulled Remus back in; he was a fish trying to escape the urge to latch onto a particularly good looking piece of bait, not necessarily knowing that there was a hungry fisherman waiting to reel the fish in. “Thank you so much.” Piper met Remus in mid-stand and laced her arms under his and around his back, pressing her face onto his chest. His whole body felt so different from Sirius’ Piper nearly let go from the shock. Remus reacted to her touch by cautiously wrapping his own arms around Piper’s waist.

“I always thought you were the best Marauder,” Piper mumbled into Remus’ shoulder.

“You’re not too bad yourself.” Remus chuckled his warm-hearted chuckle. His good hearted nature only made Piper feel even more terrible. Though no matter how wretched she felt, her anger at Sirius was still the dominant emotion coursing through her veins.

Piper broke apart from Remus slightly, enough to allow her face to move closer to his. Enough for her to see the conflict in his eyes. Her hands moved to his hair and she felt her lips open slightly. Remus’ own lips lost their tightness, but she felt a shuddering gasp run through him. Piper cocked her head to the side, frightened that Remus would reject her, but also fearing that he wouldn’t. She didn’t want to do this to Sirius; she didn’t want to cause him pain, even though he had no problem hurting Piper. Remus’ own movements mirrored Piper’s feelings of not wanting to cause Sirius pain. Their lips were nearly touching. Nearly.

Right on cue, Korey Kayhart, having forgotten her warmest pair of gloves and her cutest earmuffs, opened the portrait hole. Piper and Remus snapped apart, but quick enough for Korey not to have seen them.

“Oh, sorry…” Korey said uncertainly, not really sorry at all; it wasn’t uncommon to walk in on couples taking advantage of an empty common room. It was only when Korey realized that the couple she had intruded on was Remus and Piper that interest sparked in her eyes. At first glance she hadn’t recognized the glossy haired, slim figured, sharp faced girl as Piper. Korey looked from Piper to Remus, trying to read their faces for any hint of what had just happened between them, for she had never seen Piper like this and, for a moment, Korey was glad that Piper chose not to look like this every day or she, Korey, would have competition.

“I just forgot my gloves,” Korey said at the same time that Remus said, “I’m probably missing the match,” while Piper chose to have a coughing fit to ease the awkward situation she had purposefully put herself into. She knew Korey had forgotten her gloves and earmuffs and, judging by the thick snow falling, Piper had guesstimated just how long it would take Korey to realize that her winter necessities were not with her. With any luck Korey would have the whole school knowing that Piper Redden and Remus Lupin were in love by tomorrow afternoon. Midnight tonight if she worked quickly.

Remus and Korey disbanded and once they had both fled from the scene of the crime Piper smiled, delighted over the chaos she had just created. Just call me Eris, Piper thought.

* * * *


Lily was shaking her head, for she could not comprehend what exactly Korey was saying, nor could she fully believe what Korey was saying.

“I’m telling you, it was really, really, really, really, freaking weird.” Korey shuddered, visibly affected by what had happened. Her reaction was enough to sway Lily; when Korey was lying or exaggeration she nodded, blinked, and licked her lips compulsively.

“Did you actually see them kissing?” Lily’s eyes were on Remus and his eyes were on Sirius flying fifty feet above the ground swinging his club to and fro.

“No, but,” Korey made sure there were no eavesdroppers listening in, “her cardigan was off!

“Oh my God!”

“I KNOW!”

But Lily was not exclaiming over Korey’s evidence that Piper and Remus were about to engage in naughty activities, Sirius had just hit Grant Grey with all of his strength from only a short distance away. The Gryffindor section cheered more raucously as more blood poured from Grey’s nose, the Ravenclaw section groaned, the Slytherins heckled the Ravenclaws, the Hufflepuffs laughed, and Lily tugged at her blue and bronze pin that was a gift from Grant and her scarlet and gold scarf, torn between the two. In the air, James high-fived Sirius and the Ravenclaws surrounded Grant to stop the bleeding.

Grant waved off his team-mates dizzily, steadied himself, and examined his surroundings again to ensure his momentary pause did not affect the game.

James, after high-fiving Sirius had plummeted toward the ground, a look of determination in his eyes that was only associated with catching the Snitch or asking Lily out. And since the later was in the stands biting her nails nervously, the crowd knew James had seen the Snitch. Grant noticed James’ dive toward the ground, he lowered himself onto his broom and began to plummet as well. James had too much of a lead off of Grant and the crowd knew that he would be victorious. But in a move of stupidity, James slowed his broom down and allowed Grant to catch up to him, he wouldn’t let anyone say that James Potter only beat Grant Grey because Grey had broken his nose. Neck and neck, James and Grant dove even closer to the ground, but the Snitch had torn upward, forcing its hunters to stop their dive at the last moment and follow after it. Now in an upward climb, James and Grant were still tied. Grant rammed James with his shoulder, but James did not take his eye off of the Snitch. Now the ball was only an arm’s length away. James climbed farther up his broom, and with one final thrust, he felt the golden ball close around his fingers. He held the same hand aloft in victory.

The Gryffindors stormed the field, cheering victoriously and congratulating the members of their team. They had performed spectacularly and many were already making bets that their team would be in the finals. Lily also stormed the field, only less raucously and she did not do it to cheer on her House; Grant collapsed against her and she patted him awkwardly. His face was rather bloody and Lily was afraid it was going to stain her robes. James witnessed this and squeezed the Snitch in his hand tighter until he was close to crushing it. Lily didn’t even congratulate him. She always congratulated him when they won. And they always won so Lily always congratulated him. What was she doing hugging Grant Grey, the loser? Remus was also on the pitch, and he met Sirius.

“Good hit,” Remus said. He hoped Sirius could not read the guilt on his face. Remus did not know what would have happened if he had stayed in that room with Piper, but it didn’t matter. He had nearly done something with the girl that so clearly had an untouchable bond with Sirius, whether the two wanted to admit it or not.

“Thanks,” Sirius was eyeing the stands and the crowd on the pitch. Sirius had never seen Piper in the stands, nor did she ever rush the field after a game, but Sirius also never looked for her. He hadn’t expected her to come and see him, not after the way that he had treated her, but a small part of him hoped that she wanted to see him. “Piper wasn’t up there, was she?” Sirius gestured to the stands with a nod of his head.

Remus coughed violently. He knew! Sirius knew that he had been with Piper. Oh God. Damn. Damn. Damn. Sirius would never talk to Remus again. Okay, he had to play it cool. Remus needed to settle down. “Er, I think she was, er, in the, er, common room, maybe. I dunno, I didn’t see her or anything. I mean, I might have seen her. I mean we didn’t talk or anything.” Remus always excelled at acting nonchalant.

Sirius did not pick up on Remus’ clearly worried tone. She hadn’t come, that was all he needed to know. She really did not want to see him. She hadn’t forgiven him and she wouldn’t forgive him. She would marry McClure and stay a Redden forever. If she didn’t want to see Sirius it meant that they weren’t…weren’t what? Together? They were never dating. They were never in love. They were never in a relationship. None of those terms could possibly cover the uncontrollable rollercoaster that were the feelings that Piper and Sirius felt for each other. They didn’t even enjoy each other’s company half the time. They couldn’t speak civilly for more than two minutes. Sirius had hated her and Piper had hated Sirius, and after what had happened between them, she clearly hated Sirius again. And who wouldn’t hate him after he toyed with her emotions and abandoned her? Her feelings towards him were well deserved. Sirius knew that the best thing for both of them was to put as much distance as possible between them. He was the entirely wrong person for her to be attached to and she was the wrong person for him. That was all there was to it. But she was addictive and Sirius needed more of her, even though he knew how bad she was for him and vice versa. They were never meant to be happy; they were not bred to be happy, for they were born purebloods and, as Piper had said, she was to be auctioned off to the highest bidder when the time came. She had accepted that until Sirius came prancing into her well designed life. A whisper in the back of his mind had pointed out that marriage Alexander McClure was slightly more dangerous than a life with Sirius in it, but at least if Piper was with McClure Sirius could be happy. He hoped he could be happy. He wanted to be happy. He wanted her to be happy.

* * * *


The crowd of Gryffindors, on top of which were floating the Gryffindor Quidditch team, charged into the common room, instantly filling it out and making the limited space tight and adding several degrees onto the temperature. Piper was not here either, but Sirius doubted that if she hadn’t bothered to watch the game she would hardly want to congratulate the team on their victory. Sirius also noticed the lack of a certain redhead; it seemed that Lily had preferred to congratulate Grant on a job well tried than her own House. Peter had made a pre-game run to Hogsmeade via the Hunchbacked Witch so there was ample butterbeer and Cauldron Cakes.

Sirius’ eyes were on the stairwell to the girls’ dormitories. Was Piper up there? No, he didn’t want to find her. He didn’t want to see her. Sirius shook his head as if he could get Piper out of his mind like a swimmer getting water out of their ears. It was a simple task, forgetting about Piper. All Sirius had to do was replace her. He heard that worked from dog-lovers. Sirius weighed the options. There was always Korey; she was usually up for a snog. Or maybe Raine. Krissy Livingston hadn’t yet forgiven Sirius for Victoria and Victoria had a boyfriend now. But none of these girls had Piper’s mystery. They didn’t have her wit. No. She was replaceable.

Sirius found Remus contemplating whatever it is Remus enjoyed thinking about after nearly betraying his dearest friend. They sat in silence for some minutes until their silence was broken by a group of gaggling fifth years that had migrated behind the sofa.

“And then she walked in on them…and they were snogging!

Remus stiffened.

“And, I heard that her cardigan was on the floor!”

Remus shifted uncomfortably.

“Please, I heard that Piper’s a prude!”

Now Sirius was sitting, alert. If he had been in his dog form, his ears would have been perked.

“Apparently Remus Lupin knows how to bring out the slut in her!”

The group broke down into fits of screaming giggles the way scandalous gossip often made them do. But no laughter marked Sirius’ face; his visage was instead permeated with loathing. Sirius was thinking about several things: firstly, he reminded himself that it was probably useless gossip and his friend was entirely guiltless; secondly, he noted that all gossip has some grounds, some evidence, to back it; thirdly, he thought back to his friend’s odd nervousness that Sirius had associated with the upcoming full moon; fourthly, Sirius came to terms with how betrayed he felt; and lastly, he discovered that a friend that was blameless would have denied it immediately and would not have let his betrayed friend stew in his emotions for so long, an innocent friend would not have put himself into a situation that could have even manifested vicious gossip.

Sirius had already been in a fight with one of his best friends this day. He stood up sharply, his hands balled into tight fists that hung rigidly at his side.

“Padfoot, wait!” Remus called feebly at Sirius. But Sirius was already gone. He was in the corridors and he was going to track Piper down and clear this up.

But he would not find Piper in the castle.

She was outside of the Three Broomsticks, her body protected against the harsh wind with a letter from Alexander McClure clutched in her small fist that read: ”Piper, I would be honored if you would join me in the Three Broomsticks this evening. I’m sure you know a way out of the castle. I look forward to seeing you. Alexander.

Piper re-read the letter, and prepared exactly what she would say to McClure in her head for the tenth time since she had first received it after Remus and Korey had fled from the common room. Piper did want to see Sirius’ reaction to hearing the rumor Korey undoubtedly started, but having an opportunity to squeeze the life from Alexander McClure was much more appealing. And, if she was thwarted in her attempts of strangulation, she could at least make Alexander tell her why he was so determined to ruin her life.

Piper took a deep breath and opened the door.

He was sitting on a stool by the bar waiting for her.

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