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She was rather enjoying this vow of silence against her from Sirius. She knew after her next meeting with Voldermort she probably wouldn’t, but right now it served her wonderfully.

“Sirius Black may be an excellent kisser,” Kristen told a group of girls at the Ravenclaw table very loudly. “But let me tell you, when it comes to the…shall we say ‘big finale’, he seriously lacks.”

They disolved into fits of giggles, and Kristen couldn’t help but steal a glance back at her table. Sirius was very openly glaring at her, but looked away the moment her eyes caught his. After all, he couldn’t hear anything she said, couldn’t react to it or anything.

“You are evil,” James told her later, not looking at all happy about it.

She twirled a tulip through her fingers, the one she had received that morning. Winston obviously wasn’t having a good day. “Evil? No, this isn’t evil yet. I’m just having a little fun right now,” She told him sweetly with a cheeky smile that made his blood run cold. She tapped him delicatley on the nose with the flower before laughing and walking away with her new band of followers, several girls that wanted to know everything about Sirius Black.

Making him mad was so much easier than it used to be. Years ago, she had to actually do something to him to get him all pissy like this. Now all she had to do was date a boy he didn’t deem appropriate. She wasn’t sure if the fact that she was a murderer had anything to do with it, though she doubted it did. Under normal cicumstances, he would be telling her continually that she didn’t do anything wrong. She would have believed the lie after a few weeks, and they would move on. He would also be comforting her through all the Order meetings discussing if she should be allowed to continue. Slughorn was her only adament defender there. Now she had to leave it all to Winston, which meant she couldn’t confront him about his apparent older brother. Just one more day though, she had to remember that. She was seeing him tomorrow. And it was in a happy place, not some God forsaken lair.

The thought stayed with her the whole of Friday, which was the only way she got through it. Luckily, she didn’t have McGonagall. Those classes had become torture. It wasn’t that McGonagall picked on her in class like Slughorn did, she just refused to look at her. If there eyes did happen to meet, McGonagalls were so filled with sorrow that Kristen immeditly looked away, having every reason to think that she was the reason behind that immeasurable sadness. It wasn’t surprising really. McGonagall was almost as much a mother figure as Mrs. Potter, she only lacked the years. She had always been the one to stand by her at school and make sure that Dumbledore didn’t misuse her. And now Kristen had totally thrown away that regard on an ill thought out plan.

It was, therefore, quite startling when McGonagall asked her to come to her in her classroom after dinner on Friday night. Remus looked at her odly, quite aware of the looks she had been getting all week. Kristen was more than a little nervous, not having the slightest idea of what to expect. If she was to be anything like the other order members, which was mostly likely in accordance with her looks, she was going to explain to Kristen why what she had done was wrong, why she should feel ashamed (because, for some reason, they really believed she didn’t already feel incredibly guilty), and why she should bow out now, before she does something even worse.

She didn’t say anything as she sat down in front of her head of house’s desk. She kept her eyes down, not wanting to see the dissapointment on her face.

“Kristen, are you alright?”

That was the last question she expected. “Um, yes, I suppose I’m as well as can be expected,” She answered reservedly. She dared to look up and was greeted with that same look of extreme depression.

“What should be expected is that you are in extreme emotional turmoil right now.” McGonagall said, her spectacles falling ever so slightly down her nose as she looked at her young charge in contemplation.

“You always expect me to be much worse than I really am.”

“No, I always expect you to be much worse that you show to others.” McGonagall sighed and pushed her glasses back up to their proper spot. “I know what you are going through Kristen, at least partly. I hate that you had to lose that innocence at such a young age, but alas, it has happened time and time again to you.”

Could that really be the reason for all the looks, her lose of innocence? “I doubt that. I killed someone Professor!”

McGonagall hesitated for a moment. “I have…taken a life as well, though I did hold the wand. I was the direct cause of it.”

Kristen didn’t know what to say to that. It was hard to believe. Though McGonagall was the strictest teacher she had, she was by far the most caring, at least to her. “You? I can’t imagine that. I assume it was a Death Eater.”

McGonagall shook her head. “When I was about your age, a little older actually, my house was broken into. I should have apparated away, but in the excitement of the moment I got cocky and wanted to take on the heathen man myself. I mistook him for a common burglar, one that would run at the first sign of a fight. But instead he started firing spells at me, one’s that could have easily led to my own death. I fired a minor spell at him, one that is usually used to stun but I hit him right on the heart. It stopped it. I called the ministry of course, and all the department of Law Enforcement agreed that it was self protection. That didn’t make it any easier on my conscience though. I will never forgive myself for that.”

Kristen was silent for a moment. McGonagall continued to amaze her. The looks…they had been sadness at her loss and because of her own memories, nothing against Kristen herself. “But you did it in self defense, as you said. That’s quite different than what I am guilty of.”

“Not at all. If you did not kill him, you would die. Besides, would you have actually killed him, actually do the deed, if you-know-who told you to? I doubt you could see his face and say the words, I very highly doubt it. There is no hiding the fact that what you did was incredibly foolish and ill conceived,” McGonagall told her with a stern look, which, to Kristen’s sheer amazement, actually softened into a smile, “but I believe the Order is getting quite used to that. Somehow, it always works out for you. Now, I am by no means encouraging your reckless conduct, but I believe it can be excused in this instance. You killed him, yes, but in light of self preservation, which is quite astonishing considering it has always seemed like you lacked that instinct.”

“You can’t tell me that what I did was ‘alright’ an expect me to just accept it!” Kristen suddenly snapped, something unleashing within her that had been building rapidly these past few days. “Thomas Daniels was a death eater, he was going to do awful things, but that was no reason for his wife and son to die as well! I caused all three! I am completely responsible for ripping away their lives!”

“Tom destroyed their lives!” McGonagall said resolutley, standing up to go to her. “Kristen, you have saved countless other lives, never forget that when you look at this event. The information you have garnered from those meetings have been pivotal. Tom is the one to blame here, not you!”

Tom wouldn’t have done a thing had I never encountered Daniels. It is my fault!”

“I never said it wasn’t. It was your fault Kristen, but you’re going to have to find a way to live with that. But you are not the one that ripped away their lives.”

Kristen was a little taken aback. No one, not one, had flat out admitted to it being her fault. In a way, it was a relief. She wasn’t crazy, she hadn’t imagined the whole scenario. “Then why shouldn’t I be thrown in Azkaban?”

“They do not lock people away for legilimency, or even for thinking about murder. Your thoughts are your buisness. They do generally give some sort of punishment for legilimency, but I think it best if we keep that knowledge within the Order.”

Kristen sighed heavily. “I can’t help but feel guilty, you must understand. I mean, no one can ever look at me the same again. I can’t even look at myself in the same way!”

“I know. For weeks I could hardly get myself out of bed. Though he was a despicable man, he didn’t need to die. You are fortunate in knowing exactly what would become of him. You’ve already seen some Death Eaters progress from recruits to cold blooded killers, he would not have been spared that fate, no matter how much you try to convince yourself otherwise.”

“How did you get through it though?” Kristen asked desperatly, willing to try just about anything to make this horrible hole in her heart go away.

“There is no easy way Kristen,” She said a bit sadly as she looked at her. “Time was a tremendous help. Also, having someone I could simply talk to, to tell them what I was thinking without fear of judgement.”

Kristen sighed. A few months ago, that wouldn’t have been a problem. She could have just talked to Sirius and everything would be alright. She knew that she could talk to Remus or even Lily instead, but she’d rather not have to tell anyone else about this whole messy situation. “Ok. Time then, I have all the time in the world I suppose.”

McGonagall’s look of worry did not fade. “You can always tell me Kristen. I know I am your teacher, and perhaps others would call this favoritism, but if you ever need anything, you can tell me.”

She gave her professor a wavering smile. “Like you said, all I need is time.”

* * *

She didn’t mind walking the streets with him now, even though it was completely frigid outside. After all, Dumbledore knew, so who did she have to hide it from? They actually got to eat in a decent restaurant, with only a few curious looks and one or two glares to bother them.

“It’s been quiet,” Winston said late in the day. He hadn’t wanted to bring up work at all, but he knew that it would be better for her to be in the know about it. “I haven’t heard anything at all. Bella’s anxious to be out again, but she won’t dare do anything without his permision first.”

“Thank Merlin,” Kristen muttered. “I would have figured. With all the news coverage these killings have got he probably has his hands full. I’m sure he wants to exploit it to the max.”

Winston did not disagree with that, but the silence seemed more profound. “I don’t know, I think he’s planning something.”

Kristen stopped and looked at him, smiling just a little. “He’s always planning something. Just because you’re a Thorbjørnsen doesn’t mean you have access to all the answers though.”

He looked a little confused by the reference to his name. “I didn’t say I have all the answers, just that I’m worried. What has my name got anything to do with it though?”

It had been eating at her ever since Slughorn had mentioned it. She had promised herself that she wouldn’t bring it up, because she couldn’t risk isolating him from her right now. But the curiosity was insatiable. “Do you have a brother?” She suddenly blurted out, quite ashamed of herself a moment later, her bright red face attesting to it.

Winston shook his head angrily. “No, he’s no brother of mine. Who told you that?”

“One of my professors that’s heard of your family.” She relayed quickly, eager to get to the details. “What did he do to make you so angry? And why haven’t you told me?”

“Because it’s not important. Besides, it’s not like you’d ever meet him, he’s not welcome in our home and he’ll never be seen anywhere you go.”

She didn’t miss that he failed to answer the first question. “Is he a criminal? I mean, what could be so bad that your family completely disowned him?”

There was no hesitation when Winston gave his answer, no sign of remorse, only anger and embarassment when he said, “He’s a squib.”

If Kristen had been drinking something, it would have been the perfect oportunity for a spit take. The answer was completely, utterly, to the point of her considering the possibility that she was dreaming, insanely different from what she had expected. “What?” Was all she managed to say, rather harsly.

Winston back tracked just a bit, though he obviously didn’t feel guilty about it. “He cavorts around with ordinary muggles and completely goes against what my family stands for.”

“What your family stands for,” Kristen repeated, still held in the grips of shock. She should have known. For how perfect he seemed, he had to have one magnificent fault to bring him back down to the level of every other bloody boy she’d known.

“Exactly,” He said, as if thinking she somehow understood. “Like you said, we’re the Thorbjørnsens. We have an image to uphold. It’s why I’m forced to be a Death Eater, it’s why Vegard was disowned.”

“Let me get this straight,” Kristen said slowly, trying to be very careful and not lose her temper. “You disowned your brother because he was born without the ability to do magic, something that was not at all his fault.”

“Yes,” He answered, though it was with slight trepidation as he realized they weren’t going to be on the same wave length about this. “I’ll admit that it sucks for him, but we had to do what he had to do.”

Kristen opened her mouth once, but then shut it tight in fear of saying something that she would likely regret. She took a deep breath and said, “You do realize who you are talking to, yes? I used to think I was a muggle born. Would you have shunned me if we met then?”

“No,” he said quickly, and what seemed to be honestly. “That’s quite different. Muggle borns are the lucky ones, there’s no reason to dislike them. Kristen, you have to understand where I’m coming from! My family’s repuation is everything to them.”

“What about to you?” Seemed the next question that had to be asked, and so Kristen did. “You say you hate your family for making you do this, yet you apparently agree with them whole heartedly in other areas.”

“I do not believe in killing or that purebloods are supreme race, that’s why I don’t support death eaters,” he told her, looking frustrated. He pulled her into the Three Broomsticks to get out of the cold and continued in a low voice. “But some traditions are older, bigger than me. He’s a disgrace Kristen, what else was I supposed to do?”

She was very nearly sickened by his words. God, now she was going to have to tell Sirius he had been right all along, she was already dreading it. “How about stand up for him? He’s your brother! Have you seen him once since your family so spectacularly got rid of him?”

“No.” Winston told her, sitting at a table towards the back. He motioned to the chair beside him, but Kristen refused to take it. “Kristen, please. I’m sorry this upsets you, but this is a part of my family that I can’t change.”

“I don’t care what your family does! I care about what you do! You have all the means to see him and to do what’s right yet you hold onto stupid stereo types! One of the reasons I like, sorry, liked, you so much was for that fact that you were different! Now I see that you’re just as bad as those pure blood maniacs!”

“What would you have me do? Walk up to his door and pretend that he’s not a humiliation?”

“I would have you walk up to his door and act like a real brother. You shouldn’t have to pretend anything!”

“I can’t just go up to him in the middle of Oslo and say ‘Hey Vegard, remember me? You haven’t seen me in seven years and you know mum and dad’ll kill me if I’m spotted here, but what’s up?’.”

“Yes you can!” Kristen persisted, refusing to let this go. Normally, she would have walked away by now and never have given him a second thought. But she was determined to make this work, for her own sanity and for the simple fact that she knew she would be stuck on him for quite a while after this.

“You don’t get it!” Winston persisted as well. “He’s not one of us Kristen.”

“He may not be but he is still your brother.” Kristen reminded him spitefully, her hands on her hips.

Winston grumbled something and ran his fingers through his hair. Similar as the move was to when Sirius was frustrated, she was suddenly struck by just how opposite they were. Yes, they were both incredibly flirtatious and quite charismatic, but that’s where it ended. Sirius did everything in his power to defy his family and to follow what he believed to be right where as Winston wouldn’t dare upset them. Sirius did not shun his brother because he was in Slytherin (well, not much anyways) while Winston was ready to act as if he didn’t even have one because he was unfortunate enough to be born without the gift his family reveled in.

“I never thought this, of all the stupid things, would be what would tear us apart.” Winston finally said after several moments of tense silence.

“I don’t want it to,” Kristen admitted, her voice much softer than it had been. “I don’t want this to be the end of us.”

“Then what do you propose we do?” He demanded to know.

Kristen shrugged and finally took the seat he had offered. “I don’t know Winston.”

A tense silence fell between them once again. At some point, he took her hand in his own and lightly held onto it, tracing patterns on her skin until he finally said, “I’ll go see him. I’m not promising to make any miracles happen or anything, but I’ll see him.”

Kristen didn’t dare get her hopes up just yet. “But you’ll still hate squibs, am I right?”

“I don’t hate them!” He told her. “We just can’t have that in our family!”

“Oh my god! You are so fucking messed up!”

“You can’t expect me to just change my views on the world in five minutes!”

“Do you want to come to the winter dance?”

Winston looked understandably confused. They were in the middle of their first fight after all, and she had shouted the question rather angrily as she was still in that mode. She had wanted to get it out there though, so that she wouldn’t refuse to ask him later when he had probably pissed her off even more. “Am I even allowed to go?”

“Yes,” Kristen told him, her anger not receding in the slightest.

“Then ‘yes’, I suppose.” He answered, now looking on the verge of laughter, which only served to make her anger well up even more.

She turned to leave, quite prepared for an exit that he would remember and hopefully to remind him what a stupid, some kind of –ist (was it racist? She didn’t think so…) he really was. She already made it to the door, which was actually quite impressive. When she tried these dramatic exits on Sirius or anyone else really, something invariably happened that made her look like a complete idiot.

So what happened next wasn’t really altogether surprising.

Sure, she hadn’t expected exactly that to happen. What would have been more up to Kristen St. Claire standards of embarrassment would have been Gwen coming in to have a good laugh at her boyfriend and how she’d probably ruined it this time or, God forbid, Sirius should walk right into her, see that she was angry, spot Winston, and proceed to try and beat him up. Those and an eclectic array of other scenarios ranging from Lily to Voldermort were all definite possibilities.

Winston grabbed waist and pushed her up against the wall of the three broomsticks in the freezing cold weather. “You are so hot when you’re angry.” He told her huskily and proceeded to snog her quite forcefully in the streets of Hogsmeade.

They stayed like that for quite some time.

*   *   *
So how do you all feel about Winston now? I'm rather curious as to your thoughts, especially those of you who had begun to like him more than Sirius.
Today's chapter reintroduces the tantalizing quote. I must say, I'm rather fond of this one.
“James, don’t be a girl about it. Just because I groped you in the broom closet and then didn’t talk to you for two hours is no reason to get like this!” - Kristen St.Claire
As usual, be wary of how you take this.

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