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A/N: I owe everything to J.K Rowling. All characters you do not recognise are my own. This story has been edited, 2014, and is under huge maintenance work. Thank you for clicking, and I hope you learn to love Maisy as much as I do.










Chapter 1 - Just Friends

                             


 Do you ever feel like breaking down?

Do you ever feel out of place?

Like somehow you just don't belong

And no one understands you

- Welcome to my Life by Simple Plan

 

“We are going to be late,” Lily says, exasperatedly watching the traffic lights doze on the red light, fiddling with the shiny new badge on her blazer’s lapel.

“Calm down. It’s only ten thirty!” Maisy replies hopefully, watching her friend take off the badge for the thousandth time, reattach it to her jacket and fiddle with it once again. “Lily, you can see the station from here, it-will-be-fine!” she says, straightening up in the back seat and grabbing her bag from her feet, taking out a lipbalm and starting to apply. “Why does this panicking always seem to happen every time you’re about to see James, I wonder...”

“Potter? Maisy, stop. That is beyond ludicrous and he’s, like, ew. Don’t even get me started. He’s so arrogant, and pompous, and I’ve watched him use his own wand to dig ear wax out of his ear. Such a heart throb I don’t think!” Lily replied, carefully looking away from Maisy as she twisted lengths of her long, red hair around her fingers.

“That doesn’t question the fact that he is gorgeous.”

Lily shot Maisy a vicious look with her apple eyes, an apparent no.

“It’s amazing, for a group of friends it’s not usually normal to have one who refuses to call the other a friend!”

“He’s not exactly normal though, is he? Do you think his mother dropped him as a child, like, seven hundred times?”

“I don’t think questioning Mrs Potter’s parenting skills gets away from the point that you get nervous whenever he is around.”

“I...”

“Wait! Lily, he worships the ground you walk on. He would kiss your feet if you asked him to. Is that not even slightly attractive to you?” Maisy asked, eyebrows raised in question. 

“Well yeah, sure, I especially like the enthralling topics of conversation he comes up with. You know... Himself, himself... Oh, and himself!”

“That’s not entirely true though is it? He talks about Quidditch too.”

“Ah, but only if he has been playing Quidditch.”

Maisy sighs. “I think it’s to impress you, Lils.”

“Fat lot of good that’s doing,” Lily spat, drawing a compact mirror from her bag and checking her reflection once again. Maisy smiled to herself knowingly.

“For someone who wants nothing to do with James Potter you don’t half complain about him a lot.”

“He’s basically my stalker. You should fear for my life and stop encouraging him,” says Lily matter-of-factly, a hint of a smile on her face as Maisy starts to laugh as she puckers her lips into the tiny cosmetic mirror.

“So...”

“Maisy Heart I swear if you don’t drop it right now I will give you the first detention of the year!”

“Just one more question you masochist!”

Lily sighs and waves her hand in the air nonchalantly and Maisy asks,

“Is it working?”

“Is what working?”

“James Potter stalking you out of the not-a-friend-at-all zone and into the relationship zone?” Maisy laughs, covering her face with her hands quickly in case an enraged Lily lashes out.

“NO!” Lily yells loudly, snapping the compact shut and throwing it back into her bag violently. The taxi driver bangs the perspex divide between him and the girls and they both start to giggle.

“Aw, c’mon Lils! Imagine your beautiful children...” Maisy teases, poking Lily in the ribs playfully. 

“Honestly Maisy, the less time spent with Potter, the better.” she says seriously, her face deadpan and her eyes devoid of their glitter.

“I just think you guys would be good together, that’s all. You know, the sensible and the untamable. You could make a man out of him yet, Lily Evans. And if anyone could do it, it would be you.” Maisy replied honestly, pushing her hair out of her face as the wind from the open taxi window created, what could only be described as a scarecrow effect, on her hair. And after all of those hours Lily preened her this morning for the first day back at Hogwarts... 

“Good together? Huh. We would be better together if we spent less time together, I’m certain of it. Maybe the Head duties will throw him off this year. I wonder how often I can patrol without him suspecting that I’m actually dodging him…” Lily mused, pulling crumpled letters from her pockets and reading them quickly – although she’d done the same thing ten minutes previously. The Hogwarts crest shone through the back, as did the emerald green ink, which Professor Dumbledore was known for using. It reminded Maisy of Potions lessons and the grass by the lake...she had an ultimate aching in her heart to go back to Hogwarts, but also to stay at home.

“He lives in the same tower as us, he takes all of our classes and he has an invisibility cloak. I’m sorry Lils, but it’s destiny. Stalker or not, he’ll be everywhere.” Lily pales at this thought and her cheeks flush simultaneously. The letters are stowed back in her pocket and she turns to look at Maisy, looking slightly ill.

“You’ve put a lot of thought into this, haven’t you?”

“I just think now is the time, in our final year, for me to finally speak up about this situation! I’ve gone along with the baiting and the flirting for too long and I have to tell you that there is a boy who adores you, possibly truly loves you, waiting for you in that train station right now. And wouldn’t you rather I, bestest friend ever, told you than James tried to tell you through wilted daffodils or extra bacon at breakfast?”

There is silence in the taxi. The driver pulls up outside a grand station entrance and knocks on the window for the fare. Lily counts out the Muggle money, seeing as she is Muggle-born and most efficient anyway, and climbs out of the car. She calls over the top of the cab as they gather to the boot of the taxi,

“Your concern is noted.”

Maisy struggles but finally wrenches her trunk out of the car. Lily laughs and picks hers up like a hulking bodybuilder and places it, ever so gently, onto the ground. 

“Lily Evans, you will be the death of romance for me, I swear,” Maisy shakes her head, dragging the trunk across the cobbles to the door of the station.

“But surely you couldn’t resist a boy who gave you extra bacon” she guffawed, eyes wide and mouth open in mock adoration. Maisy has stopped to retry her sneakers and Lily halts behind her, causing people to tut around them as they block half of the entrance.

“Yeah, yeah. I’m betting ten galleons you’re married with 2.4 kids within seven years,” Maisy bets, eyes still focused on the shoe laces.

“Now that is a bet I am willing to take,” Lily smiles, grabbing Maisy’s hand and squeezing it. “Speaking of bets, I wonder who my new Head partner in crime will be? I’m hoping it’s Simon Douglas, he is incredible at Charms...”

“Let’s not bother betting on that, you’ll find out so soon,” Maisy grimaces, wrenching the handle of the trunk back up again and turning to walk inside the station. Lily grabs her arms and she turns, pale.

“You ready for this?” she asks, dropping Maisy’s arm, concern in her eyes.

“Of course I’m ready…” Maisy barely whispers, patting underneath her eyes self-consciously. It will be tough, but it will be okay, Maisy knew this.

“You’ve got me, Maisy. Don’t worry.” Lily smiles, grabbing her hand and squeezing it tightly. The pair were always together, through thick and thin, their greatest disagreement being over who would use the shower first most mornings.

“I’m not worrying,” Maisy says with false bravado, chewing the inside of her lip and looking down at her watch. “Lily, seriously, if you keep us here much longer we will miss this train!”

“Okay, okay, let’s bloody get on with it then!” Lily demands, swinging her bag over her shoulder and racing into the station with her trunk clunking against the tiled floor as she ran. Maisy pauses but follows immediately after her and does not stop running until they are both beside a rather weathered looking stone pillar between platform 9 and 10. Maisy is shaking and her breathing is erratic from running and nerves.

“C’mon best friend, deep breaths.”

“Deep breaths…” Maisy repeats, gulping back the air like it was Butterbeer. It was time to face the music.

“Ready?” Lily asks, leaning against the pillar and smiling sadly yet brightly at her paling friend beside her. The sunlight from the ceiling hits her new badge and almost blinds Maisy, cheering her slightly as she smiles.

“As I’ll ever be.” 

Lily grabs Maisy’s hand and Maisy squeezes it. She looks at her friend and says, 

“It will be fine. Everything will be fine. I promise.”

And the two girls disappear from the Muggle-filled platform, completely unnoticed.

*

On Platform 9 and 3/4 there are crowds of people. Everyone’s families have come to say goodbye, hand over last minute parcels and scrub dirt off of rushing sons’ noses. There is an atmosphere of euphoria. Everyone is returning to their second home. The whole school is buzzing with excitement. There would be pranks to play, spells to learn and potions to brew. And when it came to pranks, only one group of boys were already being talked about in the first years’ compartments on the train. The legends they had heard about from older brothers and sisters. The deviants, a group of four boys, best friends, the masterminds behind all of Hogwarts’ best jokes, which everyone who knew them or not but had come to know them as ‘The Marauders.’ 

The Marauders are all lounging on the plush velour seats of the Hogwarts Express and seem unusually quiet and distracted. Sirius is led against the bench closest to the door; hands in his dark hair, his eyelids half-closed in boredom so his steely grey eyes are hidden and his long legs resting in Remus’ lap. 

Remus, a tired and lanky looking boy, is submerged in a dusty old book which is giving off a mysterious smell and keeps repeatedly throwing Sirius’ legs off of his lap until he merely gives up and brings the book further up to face where it almost presses against the end of his nose. 

Peter, the smallest, and undoubtedly most awkward of the four, is tapping the carriage window loudly to gain his mother’s attention who, when catching sight of him, waves back vigorously with tears in her eyes when she spots her only son. 

And James, the last in the group, is just totally indifferent to everything going on around him. Like an exhausted dog waiting for his master to return home he seems constantly alert but lazy with it. He ruffles his black hair in anticipation and wrinkles his nose under his glasses. He has no energy to laugh at Peter’s idiocy, watching his golden snitch flit around the compartment, until he catches it and sits upright, staring at the door to the compartment, his eyes now holding more excitement in them than a child on Christmas morning.

The compartment door slides open with a creak and a crash and two girls walk in before being commandeered by said boy with no energy seconds previously.

“Lily! It’s you, it’s actually you! I can’t believe it, you look like you’ve just stepped out of a dream!” James squeals, jumping up from his seat and hugging her. Remus looks up from his book and laughs. Sirius smiles and stands up to move from his seat and over to James, where he has to physically pull him off of Lily and into the corner, restraining him before slapping him on the back of the head. Lily pats down her skirt and blouse awkwardly whilst clearing her throat, a flush of pink creeps up onto her cheeks and neck as she sits in Sirius’ spot and keeps her emerald eyes trained to the floor.

“What did I say about playing it cool?” Sirius hisses under his breath at James who looks panicked and just stares at the redhead opposite him. Sirius clears laughs loudly, looking around at the group of friends and then says to Lily,

“Ten fifty seven and James has already given himself a hernia! You can sit there, it’s fine. I’ll restrain husband-to-be over here.” He adds a wink to this which makes Lily cringe but smile anyway.

Maisy is still stood in the doorway uncertainly, but she smiles at the group and walks in slowly, sitting down next to Lily without a word to anyone. No one appears to notice, but Sirius beams back at her small smile with enthusiasm, then busies himself with his bag as he retrieves a half empty box of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans.

“Sweet?” he offers to Maisy and Lily first. Lily shakes her head and Maisy responds with a small “no thank you”.

“Not that you need to be any more sweet,” Sirius smiles at Maisy whose eyes are wide. “I mean, you don’t need to eat any more sweets.” 

Sirius falters and Maisy’s eyebrows nearly hit the compartment ceiling. He panics,

“As in... Uh, just more for me I guess,” he says finally, defeated, chastising himself under his breath for being a halfwit.

“Smooth,” mocks James in a stage whisper and Remus kicks him sharply, widening his eyes and nodding towards the girls who are giggling. Sirius looks into his box of jelly beans and sighs, very loudly.

“I just wish I could be a bit more, Sirius,” he laughs, and Lily rolls her eyes dramatically. Maisy appears to have an expression of someone who’s just swallowed something hot and looks away when Sirius shrugs his eyebrows at her.

“I’m so glad you’ve had time to change your joke repertoire over the summer, Black,” Lily says distastefully. Sirius looks hurt but Remus defends his Marauder brother,

“The best jokes cannot be trumped, Lily. God knows James is a total joke but no one’s come  close to being as great as him yet!”

James laughs and high-fives Remus, oblivious to the back-handed compliment and Lily laughs.

“Ha ha, you guys just get funnier every bloody time I sit in this compartment with you for hours at a time, draining the oxygen and numbing my brain cells,” she retorts.  

“There are multiple compartments on this train Lily Evans, please, feel free to find another if we are not intellectually stimulating enough for you,” Sirius responds, rather seriously for him, his face pained trying to stay poker-straight.

“I wouldn’t want to hurt Potter’s feelings, he waits all summer to sniff my perfume for a few hours,” she smiles, looking at James who, after a moment, nods to agree with her.

“Mhmm, Potter...” Maisy jokes, giving Lily a knowing look. Lily goes to speak but decides against it and throws her head back against the cushions. It seems that Lily is the only person in the vicinity completely oblivious to the fact that she fancies James Potter, and, unfortunately, James knows it.

As the train begins to gain speed, the conversation stays light and delightfully un-sexual – which is highly unusual for James and Sirius, especially when Lily is present. In the first hour James is caught trying to look up Lily’s skirt twice, which is a huge improvement on the past six years he’d been besotted with her, and only tries to sit next to her seven times, which is an even greater improvement. With a sharp slap and knowing look from Sirius, the boys and Lily begin to talk about homework and Diagon Alley and new professors before veering off slightly as the topic of everyone’s summer comes up. Maisy, who has been watching the others and listening and laughing quietly at appropriate moments during the conversation suddenly stiffens and Remus finds it the perfect time to interrupt a highly detailed description of Peter’s grandmother’s new ironing board.

"I think that was my cue to subject change. How about a nice toast?” he says, holding up his bottle of pumpkin juice to the others. 

“A toast for what? Our final year at Hogwarts or James’ new found politeness?” Lily muses, looking up at James, her eyes glinting. James gulps and smirks, looking like a deer caught in headlights from Lily directly speaking to him and slops a bit of juice onto his trousers. Lily smiles. James glows crimson.

“I was thinking more of a congratulatory toast...” Remus continues, holding up his bottle higher.

“Oh, Moony, you don’t need to congratulate me again for tha-” he said, flexing his arms behind his head, his biceps rippling from under his t-shirt. He looks over at Maisy, but she just stares out of the window.

“Not what I was getting at, Sirius,” Remus interrupts, clearing his throat. “Moving on!”

“Aw, c’mon Padfoot, why don’t you tell the lovely ladies the story?” James laughs, slapping his best friend on the back in encouragement.

Lily grins and Maisy looks up at Sirius fleetingly, before training her eyes to look out of the window again and at the speeding landscape trailing past. Sirius pauses for a moment and looked at the her in confusion. Even his best efforts weren’t working today.

“So it begins with a goblin, an underwear store and Remus Lupin...”

“HOW ABOUT,” Remus shouts, “We congratulate our new Head Boy and Girl?”

Lily smiles and shakes her head. “Remus that’s so lovely of you, thank you! But... The Head Boy and I aren’t meeting for another hour or so for rounds and prefe-”

“Oh but Lily...” James sighs, holding both of his hands up and smiling.

“What is it, Potter?” she says, looking slightly annoyed at him interrupting her.

“I’m right here,” he grins. The whole compartment goes tense.

“I can see that, not hard to miss when you’re constantly talking or tossing a golden snitch around, are you?” she laughs, looking at the others in the carriage who are all grimacing.

“As in, I’m the one you’ve been waiting for,” he smirked.

“James, you’ve been saying that everyday since I met you six years ago!” Lily said, staring at him with fire behind her eyes now.

“But Lily!”

"WHAT?!" Lily shouted, annoyed now with his constant smart-ass comments. Maisy grips her hand tightly without looking at her and Lily softens. For what seemed an age, the small beating wings of the snitch flying against the compartment window seems to echo around the carriage until Sirius pipes up.

“Well done, mate,” he coughs, drinking from his bottle of pumpkin juice hastily, not daring to look at Lily who looked positively murderous.

“Wait...what are you congratulating him for?” Lily asks as the carriage became silent once again.

“For the smartest witch of your age you really can be quite thick,” Sirius jokes, shaking hands with James who was beaming from ear to ear.

Lily was speechless. She looked from Sirius to James to Remus and back to James. Her mouth seemed to hang open in an ‘O’ shape until...

"It'll be great, Lil! You wait. We'll be the unstoppable duo." James smiles sincerely. 

Lily’s mouth continued to hang open unceremoniously. 

"C’mon Remus, we have a meeting to get to," Lily says, squeezing Maisy's hand before rising from her seat fluidly and crashing open the compartment door. “I’ll see you in like, thirty minutes, okay?”

“Okay,” Maisy whispers, watching her friend’s long hair retreat down the corridor, dragging a bemused Remus with her. 

James got up and grinning, purred, “Don’t you just love it when she’s angry?” He bounces out of the door, calling “Oh, Lily, my Lilyflower! Is this our first fight as a power couple?” to the amusement of the surrounding groups of fifth and sixth year girls, hellbent on seeing James and Sirius’ faces and getting their attention. Maisy watched as they pursed their lips and smiled at Sirius who waved half-heartedly back at the swooning teenagers.

The boys were handsome enough, and possibly the most eligible at Hogwarts, but both had their sights set on different girls who were not fresh-faced fifteen year olds, but friends they had grown up with at school. Both, however, were not getting anywhere with their chosen other halves anywhere fast.

When Lily, James and Remus had left, Peter excused himself with a squeak about “needing the toilet” and bustled off in the opposite direction of the prefects carriage. Now, it was just Maisy and Sirius alone in the compartment.

"So... any gossip?" Sirius asks, looking at Maisy intently and smiling.

Maisy looked up from her summer homework and smiles weakly, “Nope. How about you?”

“Well I heard that Lea is officially off the market,” Sirius says, moving over to sit next to Maisy and glance at the notes she is looking at. Sirius noticed that Maisy spoke more when she was alone nowadays. Her self-esteem was shot, but her eyes said more for Sirius than her words.

At his being so close, Maisy’s breath catches in her throat. He hears this and smiles before taking the parchment from her hands and perusing the incantations and notes in silence. Maisy doesn’t look up at him because she knew his eyes are burning into the side of her head. His gaze is intense and flusters her, because it was never common knowledge that Maisy had always had a thing for the infamous prankster. It had been about a year since she’d decided enough was enough and Lily’s constant “it’s-never-going-to-happen” speech still rang in her head, although her best friend had assured her she could easily be with Sirius if she put the effort in. In some ways, Lily had done her a favour by pretending that Maisy’s crush was wasted on Sirius, but other times Lily still perused Maisy’s feelings for the boy and begged her to be more confident. Anyway, that had all ended back in sixth year after many angry hisses from Maisy to Lily about how stupid she must be to like a renowned ladies man like Sirius Black. The summer of sixth year had been fun and flirtatious, but Maisy had moved on, which had caused even more trouble.

But his smile still made her weak at the knees. He was just one of those boys that had that effect on everyone, even Madam Pince, the eagle-eyed librarian. 

“Oh gosh, which poor sod is it this time? And where is she? I thought she’d be in here chatting my ear off about him!” Maisy says, trying to keep her face neutral. Of course she knew the gossip. The moment the letter had arrived and Lea’s scribbled hearts over her ‘i’s had seemingly broken Maisy’s heart for a moment, but Maisy was forgiving and loved her dorm mate and, of course, wished her every happiness.

“It’s that Jason bloke in our Muggle Studies class, the one you usually pair with,” Sirius says bitterly. Maisy didn’t notice the bitterness in his voice – her ears were ringing and her head was spinning involuntarily. The scribbled hearts over her ‘i’s...

She nods, without breaking her plastered smile. But inside, her heart is pumping madly and Sirius was looking clumsy and, well, wet. She didn’t realise she was crying until the first tear splashed onto her denim skirt, causing the moisture to spread quickly through the material and deepen the blue. She put her hands to her eyes and breathed in quickly, brushing away the tears and looking up, still smiling.

Sirius pretends that he hadn’t noticed, as he was glancing out of the window at the meadows and brooks rushing past. That was the perfect thing about being quiet and distant, thought Maisy. It was perfect because no one noticed. 

“I should probably concentrate on this,” she says, taking back the parchment from Sirius with a small smile, watching the words swim around the page. Sirius moves back to his seat with a curt nod and rests his head against the window.

Maisy was here, on the Hogwarts Express, going back to school. She was going back to normality but felt a mere slither of her former self. She had her friends. She had Lily, Remus, James, Sirius, and even Peter; but a voice in the back of her head would not stop screaming that she was more alone than ever.

*

Sirius looked over at Maisy without meaning to. She didn’t know that Sirius had seen the tears. Her hands starting to shake had been the trigger. Sirius loved her hands. Like porcelain, and delicate and tiny. Watching them wobble took all Sirius had not to take them in his own and steady her. Then, the smile. Even though close to tears, Maisy continued looking down but smiled, constantly. Then, the head in her hands; as if to wipe her hair out of her face or to hold her sinuses in stress. It was all over in seconds, but Sirius still noticed. 

Sirius noticed as soon as she stepped into the compartment that something was wrong and Maisy was different. This was not the girl who used her wand to aim things at his head during Muggle Studies then, when caught, swear blind it was not her. This was not the girl who had third helpings of chocolate ice cream at dinner because she could. This was not the girl Sirius had been imagining all summer, cross-legged by the lake, neck tilted back and eyes closed, soaking up the sun. 

This girl was someone else entirely.

Maisy pushes a strand of hair behind her ears and lightly touchs her jaw. She does this when she’s nervous or uncomfortable, Sirius muses, remembering previous times she had done this in exams and during arguments. She hates arguments and any type of confrontation. Her family has had its fair share of arguments over the years, Remus had told him once, mostly due to her and her father never getting along. She was never what he expected because, in the most part, she had been a girl. It seemed so unfair to Sirius that such a beautiful girl had to have such a damning father.

At the end of last year, Maisy had been vibrant and happy. Yes, she was always quite a quiet girl, one who didn’t believe in excessive beauty and wasn’t amazingly intelligent, but she was fun and she liked to let loose with her friends; as long as they were there to support her she didn’t care what they did together.

She was never seen without Lily at her side. They were like two peas in a pod, similar in looks – they both had long curly hair, though Lily’s was the colour of fire and Maisy’s was more of a sweet chocolate brown, wore little make-up, got homework in on time and tried their damned hardest in everything. 

Since knowing Lily, Maisy had brightened up, though she was never the same after her fourth year. The year Sirius had the most uncontrollable crush on her. And the year after that. And the year after that. Sure, he still felt like that every time he saw her, but it had leveled out – just a small ache in his chest now rather than the usual heart palpitations that used to occur whenever he smelt her perfume float past him in corridors and classrooms. Sirius couldn’t help it – he truly liked Maisy. Always had done. Unlike James’ obsession with Lily which was bordering on stalker and unlike Remus’ casual relationship with his girl, which Sirius was pretty sure was one of Maisy and Lily’s dorm mates, Sirius liked to think about Maisy in his own way. Only Remus had ever known his true feelings, but he didn’t know that they had rekindled since exams had ended last year. Could it be possible that Sirius Black, notorious Marauder and funny man had finally come to realise the effects of the big ‘L’ word. Was he in love?

Sirius looks over at Maisy in spite of himself. Her legs are almost grazing his knees and she isn’t wearing tights and her skirt is short. He appreciated this small fortune where in his wildest daydreams he put his hand out and rested it on her knee and she didn’t shy away. He had to focus on something else... Today she was wearing an oversized sweatshirt in purple, his favourite colour. He wonders if she knew that.

“Hey,” he whispers, looking back up to see her eyes brimming with tears again. “You okay?”

“Of course,” she says, even quieter than him, keeping her eyes on the parchment she was reading. The compartment was too quiet. Sirius didn’t know what to say.

Remus had warned them not to ask her about her summer by a fraught Lily. She’d been secretive about it to him, and they were good friends so it must have been bad. Would it hurt to bring it up? Sirius thought, scratching the back of his neck.

“So... Good summer?” he asks timidly, watching her hazel eyes flood with more tears instantly and immediately curses himself for being so god-damn tactless.

*

To occupy her mind Maisy had instead concentrated on Sirius’ smile. She still found that smile dazzling. Even after a year of getting over it, it still managed to dazzle her. But it was all over now. No more obsessing over Sirius Black. No sir-ee. He hadn’t been on her mind for a while, at least not since Jason had come along. 

Maisy thought her and Jason had something. She wasn’t certain of what it was, but it was definitely something. They sat together in Muggle Studies, they studied in the library together – heck, he even invited her to his New Year’s party last year. With like, the rest of the year but that wasn’t the point. The point was Lea was her friend and she was with him now. Not that anyone knew that Maisy thought her and Jason has something. 

But Sirius had ruined the quiet. He had mentioned the ‘S’ word. Maisy thought she had gotten away with not talking about the ‘S’ word.

She wipes away her tears quickly and smiles at Sirius. “Well my mum’s really ill so I didn’t do much. But I’m okay,” she nearly shouted, when she saw the look on Sirius’ face. Maisy knew if she told people this is how they’d react. Sympathetically. Sympathy made her feel ill. It caused blood to rush through her veins rapidly and twist her stomach into unnatural knots.

Maisy had left her mother at home while she went to school, hundreds of miles away. She felt selfish and terrible for it but her father had persuaded her that her education was important and her mother would be fine. Did the word ‘fine’ even come into the equation for her? Would any of them be ‘fine’ ever again?

“Okay. I’m sure she’ll be fine,” Sirius replied quietly, smiling with encouragement in a way that rivaled Lily. Maisy looked at him intently, thinking about that word. ‘Fine’. It was so non-committal. So empty and neither positive nor negative. It just, was. She was about to sink back into her seat when Sirius’ velvet voice spoke up again,

“I’m sorry I mentioned it. I sent you a few owls, I didn’t realise how preoccupied you were so I’m sorry if they seemed overbearing,” he smiles and Maisy laughs.

“I especially liked the ‘if you do not reply within twenty four hours I will send three hundred howlers.’ So charming!”

“Once a charmer, always a charmer.”

“Oh please! I just, you know, I don’t want to talk about the summer and I’m exactly the most talkative person on this train so let’s just, leave me be for today,” she says, her eyes shining and her smile wobbling. Sirius throws his hands up in defeat and knows to back off.

“Yeah... Of course, whatever you want.”

Maisy sighs and throws down her notes she has been playing with in her hands, “I’m so not looking forward to this. You know when you feel awful and you see loads of people and you think they can just tell and they all know?”

“No one knows, Maisy. And if they’re staring, they’re just admiring how beautiful you look today.”

Maisy stares up at him and gives him a sharp look. 

“I mean... You know, seventh year girls! Every boy in school wants a seventh year don’t they?”

Maisy raises one eyebrow at him, “Apparently not all of them,” she mutters. Sirius tries to catch her eye and give her a small smile after his colossal mistake of actually complimenting a girl, what had he been thinking? Maisy is not like other girls, she does not like this sort of thing. And today? Oh Sirius, you fool.

“Look, shall we just sit here in awkward silence so you don’t say anything else totally weird? One day I’ll tell you all about the ‘s’ word, but today is not that day.”

“That’s fine, but look, I had a thought over the summer Maisy,” he said, looking up into her eyes. That word again.  He’d already mentioned the damned word within two seconds of being told not to mention the word. He looks uncomfortable, which is strange as Sirius is usually so confident. “Last year you were moaning about Transfiguration... I know it’s not your greatest subject and I wanted to know if I could help.”

“That’s an understatement. I completely failed the end of year exam,” she says, though she knew not to blame herself. That was the day her mother had owled her, tear stains across the parchment. Her and her father had had a fight about how hard she worked, and there’d been a bit of a struggle. No big deal. These letters weren’t uncommon. Then again, the revision hadn’t gone so well either, not with James accidentally losing her notes when thinking they were Lily’s. Another little game in which Lily would lose her temper and James would once again get turned down for another date when he ‘coincidentally’ found said notes... in the litter tray of a second year’s cat.

“Well, you know I’m actually pretty good at it. So I was wondering if you’d let me give you a hand.” He smiled. “If you want,” he adds hastily when she stared at him, dumbstruck.

“Like, tutoring?” She looks surprised.

“Why’s that so surprising?” he asks, confused at the bemused expression etched across her face.

Maisy laughs in spite of the situation. “This is me, Sirius! I am absolutely horrendous at Transfiguration. Why would you waste your time tutoring me?”

*

That was the first time she had laughed properly. It was soft, delicate, musical... But, good question, Sirius thought. 

“Because we’re friends, Maisy,” he says, smiling at her and trying not to look so awkward at the word ‘friends’. She notices and falters slightly, but continues.

“Oh, well, I’d love some help, but only if you’re willing of course…” she replies, a small smile playing on her lips. 

“Huh? What?” Sirius snaps out of his reverence and concentrated on Maisy again. His inner child starts dancing uncontrollably in excitement.  Go Sirius, it’s your birthday, go Sirius...

“I was saying I’d love some help!” she says, louder this time, and laughing at his bemused face.

“Well, call me teacher!” he laughs, grabbing her notes. “Let me look at those again...”

“Probably a good idea,” she giggles. “I dread to think how wrong they are.”

Sirius doesn’t hear her. He was too elated at the thought of evenings spent listening to Maisy laugh and talk and watching her smile. He looked up suddenly, not to get too ahead of himself, a smirk playing on his face. “Are you revising these?”

“Yeah, why?” she sounds fearful.

“These make no sense… It’s a sharp jab to transfigure reptiles – not a swish.” 

“That would be why I’m failing miserably then,” she replies.

“Don’t worry – I can help. But relax for a moment, stop worrying. We can get to work when we get to school. You’re going to be the second best at Transfiguration in the year!” Sirius said, winking at her and handing her the notes back. He throws his legs up onto the bench and rests his hands behind his head in relaxation. He closes his eyes and she stares as his t-shirt rises slightly and shows off his stomach.

“Really?” she whispers, delighted, snatching glances at him whilst telling herself not to. Lily helps her often but her idea of teaching always ended in the two gossiping about another teacher or the newest couple in their year. Having Sirius teach her would be different. She would try to concentrate. She smiles, knowing this would probably be the best thing for her right now. It was also Sirius Black. Who wouldn’t want a one-on-one with Sirius Black? Maisy smiles. But keeping busy was good… and actually passing her NEWTs would help in the future, she was sure.

Sirius’ eyes snap open and catch hers watching him. 

He flashes her his brightest smile. “Of course. I always keep my promises, Maisy.” 

*

Maisy stared back at him for a moment. His eyes are like liquid mercury, dark and cool. He is staring back at her making her cheeks warm. Her breath catches in her throat as he takes his hands away from behind his head and says,

“Maisy, I, I am sorry for what’s happening to y-”

“I guess I’ll go and get changed now,” Maisy interrupts, grabbing her robes after what felt like minutes of silent staring and fleeing from the compartment before Sirius could tease her about checking him out. Was she checking him out? Wasn’t he staring into what felt like her damned soul? That look wasn’t a normal look. It said so much that Maisy did not want to listen to right now. Focus focus focus. He was like that though, the pompous git. Making her legs feel like jelly, her heart skip and her cheeks blush. He always had the same affect on her, no matter how hard she suppressed that niggling crush she had for him. He made it too easy to like him. 

Sirius watches her leave, slightly crestfallen and closes his eyes again with a huge sigh.

Maisy bustles quickly down the corridor, head buzzing with voices telling her to go back, telling her to cry, telling her to laugh at everything. She collides with Sirius’ fan club but keeps her head down when they call “Oi, watch where you’re going!” and continue to snatch glances at his compartment. She heads for the toilet and bumps straight into Lily as she enters the next carriage.

“Maisy! What’re you doing down here?” she asks, looking at her friend and trying to read the expression in her eyes. Lily could decipher Maisy’s emotions as quickly as Maisy could pick up Lily’s moods.

“I’m just going to get changed,” Maisy replies, smiling at her and holding up her cloak in her hand.

“Good idea, we must be getting close. You okay though?” Lily asks as James and Remus walk past, laughing at some joke James had just told and James pats Lily’s bum smoothly before hurrying away. Lily shakes her head, trying not to laugh, but gives him a reproachful look all the same.

Remus catches sight of Maisy and, looking at both Lily then James, winks at her. Maisy laughs meekly and they boys disappear down the corridor. Remus was a good friend. He was quiet, just like Maisy, but had a bark worse than his bite. He was a good confidant when the others were just too rowdy. They were all there to look out for her in their own different ways – she knew that.

“Do you want me to wait for you?” Lily asks, letting Maisy wriggle past her and move into the empty carriage.

“I’ll be fine – I’ll see you in five,” Maisy says, walking away quickly, wanting to lock herself in the bathroom before all the crazy emotions she was feeling exploded out of her. Why was she so upset? Why was she so happy? Why did Sirius just look at her like he’d never looked at her before? That moment in the compartment between her and Sirius, that was made up, right? Eyes playing tricks on her? Or was she just terrified of that intense look that was still making her chest pound and head thump...

“MAISY!” a deep voice calls, just as she’d wrenched open the cubicle door to escape inside. A hand grabs her shoulder and she turns, looking into the bright blue eyes of her Muggle Studies partner, Jason.

“You dropped this,” he says, handing her her tie and smiling brightly at her.

“Err, thanks…” she managed, looking down at his hand touching hers through the fabric. No electric shock. No pounding heart. Nothing. This would have been a hell of a lot different a year ago.

“Well, I’ve gotta go – but I’ll see you soon? Probably tomorrow! Muggle Studies!” he says, still smiling. Maisy used to have the smallest crush on this boy, with his halo of hair and hulking body. But he just wasn’t... No, that was not it at all. It was not because he wasn’t Sirius. But his feelings for her never really materialised nor did they vanish. He had never said he liked her, but he would spend hours upon hours in the library with her. He would help her in Charms from behind and move her wand for her unnecessarily, because Maisy was actually good at Charms, but she never bruised his ego for that. He was hands on, complimentary, an excellent study partner. But he still just didn’t measure up.

“Sure...” Maisy starts but is interrupted by a shrill, “JAAAAAA-SON!”

Lea bounds down the corridor, stopping at Jason and wrapping her arms around his waist from behind. “Hey Maisy,” she giggles, kissing the back of his neck. Maisy just wanted to disappear. Or did she? Why did an image of her wrapping her arms around Sirius’ waist just... No, Maisy, no.

“Jason, we’re nearly at Hogwarts – you gotta come back and change,” Lea says, winking at Maisy.

“Sure, yeah I’m coming,” he replied, his eyes still glued on Maisy’s. He smiles apologetically at her with a shrug as she hurries inside the toilet, locks the door and falls to the floor, her back propped up against the cistern.

Sirius had stared. Jason had stared. Maisy had not felt nervous to see Lea and Jason together. Maisy had felt nervous at the image of her arms around Sirius’ waist. She closed her eyes and put her hands to her face. A pair of metal grey eyes stared back at her, and Maisy screw her eyes tighter together until they vanished, and wept.



“Alright, Padfoot?” James asks, chewing on some sort of bright blue gummy sweet.

“Yeah I’m fine…” Sirius replies, before being grabbed by the ear by the one and only Lily Evans as she storms into the compartment. She throws him into an upright sitting position before coming so close to his face he could see each individual freckle on her nose.

“What did you say to her?” Lily accuses, slapping his arm with the only free hand she had left.

“Ow! Would you stop?... OUCH!... What? I said nothing!” he cries, narrowing his eyes at James and Remus who were laughing at Lily’s brutality.

“Well something’s gone down still I’ve been gone. She looks as confused as a Hippogriff in a Post Office. She’s got a lot going on right now, guys. She doesn’t need you taking the piss or anything. She’s just, so delicate at the moment...” Lily trails off sadly, letting go of Sirius with her hair still looking fiery. She was frightening for a girl, every boy in Gryffindor house knew that, due to her irrational snaps at James and attacks on James and curses she sent at James… Well, as long as James was around she was frightening.

“She seemed okay. Obviously not herself but I wasn’t exactly going to tell her that! She’s worried everybody in the school will notice. She’s bloody terrified of going back, that much is certain.” Lily nods and Sirius continues,

“Maybe since I offered her some tutoring she was too scared to be around my amazing body and intelligence alone...,” Sirius cajoles. He holds his hands above his head in defense, but Lily doesn’t attack him. Everyone laughs at Sirius’ pompousness. Lily seemed to be in total shock and sits herself next to James without a hex or a curse. She must be in shock. James chose this moment to choke on his Chocolate Frog.

“I’m sorry but what? TUTORING? Padfoot you must be joking...” James laughs, exercising the thought everyone was thinking.

“Not at all. I know she’s struggling with Transfiguration so I thought I’d give her a hand.” Sirius winks at the boys who shifts uncomfortably in their seats. Sirius adds, “The ‘amazing body’ thing was just a joke, obviously.”

“Oh, well... That’s errr, nice of you, Sirius. Thanks,” Lily says, looking slightly puzzled and hitting James’ hand away from her thigh. “I probably won’t have as much time for homework this year anyway, not with Head Girl duties and all.”

“Padfoot, you little Professor, you!” James says, ignoring Lily’s rejection and flapping his hand in a rather camp fashion.

Lily laughs and James looked up at Sirius, raising his eyebrows slightly and smiling like a Cheshire cat. James was in love, and everyone knew. And, for some reason, Lily was acting fonder towards him today. It was a day of miracles!

“Oi, Remus!” Sirius shouts at the boy who, once again, had his head inside a dusty old book.

“Yes, Sirius?” Remus sighs, slowly closing his book in defeat.

“How’s the lady hunt going?” 

“Yeaaaaaah, Moony! How’s that going for you?” James teases, watching Remus’ face grow pinker and his brow furrow.

“Very well actually.” Remus snaps, going back to his book.

“And how is Ava?” Lily asks indifferently, scrutinising her fingernails with a knowing smile on her face.

“What? How did you... I... HOW DO YOU PEOPLE KNOW THIS?!” Remus nearly explodes, snapping his book shut for a second time and glaring at each of his friends in turn. His lycanthropic state was prone to extreme mood swings and angry retorts when something upset him and James threw himself against the back of his seat in mock fear. Sirius laughs.

“Ava came to mine in the summer... After she’d been at yours,” Lily twinkled, a wry smile spread across her lips. 

James jumps onto Remus’ lap, ruffling his hair.

“Oh Remus you cheeky boy! Fancy not telling us!” James says, laughing at Remus’ flushed face and kissing him on the cheek. Remus pushes him off onto the floor.

“Not that it wasn’t obvious but, you know. We did play along for a bit but - get in there Remus!” Sirius says, smiling and making rude thrusts towards him. Everyone laughs at Remus’ reddening face as it turns almost purple.

“Does anyone think this could get a bit incestual?” James asks quietly, his mouth full of chocolate.

“What in Merlin’s name are you talking about, Potter?” Lily says, rolling her eyes at the stupid question.

“Well, Gryffindor is kind of like a family. Remus is my brother, Ava is like your sister, we’ll be together and all of us will just kind of be paired off with each other...”

“Hold it right there, Potter. The day you and I are together will be the day that...I don’t know...Sirius actually becomes a real tutor and not just looking for a lay!” Lily laughs, looking at Sirius’ shocked face and Remus snorting in laughter.

“Hey! What does that mean! I’ll be a great teacher, you wait!” 

“Oh please, as if you’re going to do much more than just stare down Maisy’s top for a couple of hours a night,” Lily said, raising her eyebrows at him knowingly.

“That’s very offensive.” But quite accurate, Sirius thought.

“Just remember, Sirius, you can’t Transfigure someone into liking you back,” Lily says, turning to Remus, “Ava really likes you, you know.”

Sirius goes numb. Lily knows. Of course Lily knows. James smiles weakly at him with a small shrug that says I-guess-she’s-either-an-Occlumens-or-a-Seer.

Sirius is still sat, mouth wide open. Does Maisy not like him at all? He thought that sixth year had been a year of flirtatious advances and fun and pranks and just, being together more. Did she not respond to any of that? Obviously if she hasn’t told Lily then obviously she doesn’t care...

But you don’t need to Transfigure someone to make them like you, surely? Just show them in ways they’ll understand. Maisy should know Sirius’ feelings for her, especially if she was not herself. Sirius could be a comfort...

Or a complete hindrance. 

Sirius sighs loudly and no one looks at his tortured face. Girls are confusing.

“Really?” Remus sits up a bit straighter in his seat. 

“Yep, totally. I think her exact words were that you’re ‘gorgeous’ and ‘interesting’ and ‘mysterious’…” Lily says as the atmosphere in the compartment thickens. Remus stops smiling and bites his lip unsteadily. James stops nudging Remus’ arm suggestively from the floor of the compartment and Sirius looks over at Lily, suddenly slightly fearful for Remus and his Furry Little Secret.

“What?” Lily asks, noticing the change in atmosphere immediately.

“Nothing, that was just a shock is all…” Remus says quietly, picking his book back up and burying himself behind it.

“Yeah, Remus isn’t really any of those things!” James jokes, smiling nervously.

“Well, Ava thinks differently. You’ve got a keeper there, Remus…” Lily smiles, not noticing Remus’ pained expression as he continued to read.

The compartment was silent for a while as James heaves himself off of the floor and perches himself on Lily’s lap instead. 

“So Lily, will you go out with me?” James asks, looking up at her sweetly and batting his eyelashes.

“It’s Evans to you Potter, and for the final time, no! I will not go out with you!” she shrieks, dropping him onto the floor with a thud and storming from the compartment.

“I think you blew it,” Remus laughs, dropping his book on the bench beside him after many failed attempts at returning to read it.

James leans back, his hands behind his head in a relaxed position. “Na, she wants me. I’m sure of it.”

“Maybe you should just be her friend first,” Sirius says, his thoughts straying to Maisy and how upset she had looked. Or was it scared? He couldn’t work it out. He was her friend, and she knew that. Friendship looked good from where he was sitting. But much harder for him.

“Maybe you’re right, my dear Padfoot!” James mused. Maybe he was right. Maybe he was wrong. Everyone knew that Lily and James were practically destined for each other, but the boys barely understood his attraction for Maisy. They couldn’t see it. Maybe they should just be friends.

“That means no retelling her about your dreams where you get married and she only wears a garter at the service,” Remus adds, eyeing James with raised eyebrows.


Damn it.”




 




 

A/N: Please review, it means the world! Thank you to everyone who has stuck to the story since the beginning and is enjoying the revamped version. You're all lovely. And now, to the main story... >>

 

 


 

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