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“You are going to love me for this.”

He said it jokingly, but Kristen still winced. That was all she needed today, another reminder of how she was completely incapable of discerning anything she felt. Sirius had kept to his word, handing her off without so much as a glare. Winston had been a bit alarmed by her state, though Lily had warned him that Kristen had been ‘held up a little at the school’. Luckily for her though, he was too excited over his gift to her that he hardly noticed her grimace of pain.

He had helped her into the Three Broomsticks. This was one of the few times they had not skipped the whole eating business all together and gotten straight to the good stuff. She could tell he was really trying to make this special though, and that in itself was a wonderful birthday gift.

“Now, I know you have this crazy obsession with the Beatles.”

Well this sounded familiar.

“However, they are no longer a band.”

This sounded really familiar.

“Let me guess,” She interjected, smiling brightly. “Kinks tickets?”

Winston crinkled his eye brows in confusion. “No. Why? Are they having a concert soon? We can definitely go if you want.” The confusion disappeared as quick as it had come, replaced by that knowing grin. “Besides, I was talking about The Beatles, not their wannabes.”

She thought it was a little harsh to call the Kinks wannabes. They were a good band in their own right, if nothing compared to the masters. “Like you said though, the Beatles are no longer a band. They haven’t been for nearly seven years.”

“Would you let me finish?” He sighed dramatically, tapping his fingers as if irritated.

“My apologies, please go on.” Kristen gestured to him mockingly, unable to keep from grinning too.

“As I was saying, they are no longer a band. However, Prince Charles, you know, Elizabeth’s son, is a huge fan.”

“He is not!” Kristen laughed, trying to imagine that man liking anything even remotely tied to them. Back before all of this had ever begun, her mother used to joke about how he was as much a prude as his dear mother.

“Yes, he is, though he keeps it very quiet. For appearances you understand,” Winston said as if it were the simplest thing in the world. “We’ve had a good discussion about them before. For a muggle band, the Beatles were surprisingly good.”

Kristen still looked at him with incomprehension, not really sure where this was going. Was he going to have her meet Prince Charles so they could cry over their lost loves together or what?

“Prince Charles, I’m sure you can imagine, has a certain way of getting whatever he wants.” Winston was smiling even wider now, and watching her for even the smallest sign of comprehension. When he saw none, he continued. “He called me recently to tell me, a fellow fan, that he had asked them to perform one last show together. There would be no press, and only twenty or so people. Very quiet, and no one outside would ever know of it.”

“What are you trying to tell me?” Kristen suddenly demanded to know, nearly clawing at the table at the sudden prospect put before her.

He smile turned cocky, which only infuriated her as that made his answer half a second delayed. “I’m trying to tell you that we’ve been invited to see the Beatles.”

There was silence as Kristen stared at him, not sure if she was actually supposed to believe this or if it was just some cruel joke. When Winston’s face showed no sign of mirth, she screamed shrilly, launching herself over the table at him, which is really not a good idea, it turns out, when one’s legs are not functioning properly. She ended up halfway, spilling butterbeer all over the place, but she hardly cared.

Winston laughed and helped her back into a position that did not cause quite so much distress to Madame Rosmerta. “When?” Kristen asked eagerly, hardly able to stay on her side of the table.”

“July 17th.”

Kristen’s smiled wavered for a moment before dropping spectacularly. How on earth could both events be on the same day? “July 17th?” She asked, stupidly hopeful that she had simply misunderstood him.

“Yeah, I know three months is going to feel like an eternity for you.” Winston smiled apologetically. “That was the only time they could all be together though.”

Kristen groaned as her soul was utterly crushed. Her one chance to see her four favorite people in the entire world, and she was already engaged. Normally, she would have simply cancelled everything for them, but the boys and Lily had probably worked so hard to get her that ticket, and they already thought she ditched them all the time. “I can’t go,” She sighed, suddenly wishing she knew a spell to turn the butterbeer into something a bit stronger.

“What do you mean you can’t go?” Winston asked with a laugh. “What could be so important that you won’t see your idols?”

“Sirius, James, Remus, Peter, and Lily got me a backstage pass to see the Kinks. On July 17th.” She explained wearily. “I can’t just ditch them, not after the work they went through to get me that ticket.”

“I’m sure they would understand Kristen.” Winston tried to convince her. “I mean, the Kinks are great, but they’re not the Beatles.”

“But they already think I ditch them all the time for you!”

“All the time?” He asked with a harsh laugh. “I see you twice a month, if I’m lucky.”

“I know,” Kristen sighed heavily.

“Stop babying them Kristen! They’re big kids, they can get over it!”

“They act like children though and sometimes that’s the only way I can treat them,” Kristen fought back half heartedly, wishing she could follow his advice without feeling incredibly guilty.

“Did you ever think Kristen, that you might need different friends? They way you have to tiptoe around to not hurt their feelings is ridiculous.”

“I know, but they’re my best friends, nothing will ever change that.” She explained to them for what felt like the millionth time. “They think it’s ridiculous the way I have to tiptoe around to be with you. It’s all in the matter of perspective. I don’t feel like I have to work hard to please them, but I want to. I don’t want to hurt them if I don’t have to.”

“The offer is open indefinitely then.” Winston conceded, knowing that if this conversation was to follow any of the countless others they had had about it she was not going to back down. “I really do think if you told them they would understand.”

Kristen nodded wearily, hoping he take that as a sign that she would think about it. She knew he was probably right, but it was the fact that she would have to bring it up in the first place. They would have every right to be angry; she knew she would be if she was in their shoes.

“Let’s not think of it anymore,” Winston told her, pulling out money as he dragged her to the door and handed it to the person manning the register.

As they walked down the streets of Hogsmeade, Kristen vaguely wondered why on earth Winston put up with so much crap. Most boys would have walked away by now, Sirius had a knack for scaring them off. Plus the fact that what they were doing was incredibly dangerous, and that they barely saw each other was reason enough to end it. Yet she couldn’t bring herself to do it, no matter how much it would end up hurting him. That, if nothing else, assured her that she did not love him, at least not in the way he wanted. She should be able to walk away, because that would save him from a far worse fate. At any moment this could come tumbling down. She would have Dumbledore to protect her then, he would have no one. And yet, she kept putting him in that danger, just to have a few precious moments with him.

“What are you thinking?” He asked, noticing her silence and worried face.

“About us,” She answered honestly.

“Good thoughts or bad thoughts?” He asked, capturing her hand and holding it tightly in his own.

“Both. There’s always both though so it’s nothing of great concern.” She assured, not noticing that that only caused his frown to deepen.

“There’s always bad thoughts?” He asked her, sounding completely unconcerned. Kristen, being so wrapped up in her thoughts, easily fell for it.

“Of course. It would be stupid of me to not think of everything that could and probably will at some point go wrong.” She continued easily. “The best thing though, is that I can just think about New Year’s or Bella’s Wedding, and suddenly that disappears,” She smiled at him, pulling his head down lightly to give a chaste kiss.

He still looked troubled, but she passed that off as being reminded of Bella. Merlin knew what thinking of that woman did to her anger level. “I’m not so pessimistic as you,” He said suddenly, looking straight ahead. “I have every belief this will end well. If the Dark Lord finds out that I know, then I’ll deal with that.”

“You’ll deal with it?” Kristen asked, a bit more mockingly than she intended. “You can’t just deal with that, and I wouldn’t want you to. If something happens, please, just tell him I had you under the imperious curse or something. I have people to protect me, you don’t.”

He shook his head. “I would never get you in more trouble than you’d already be in. I’ll keep my lips shut tight about you at all if possible.”

“They wanted you to make an unbreakable vow you know,” Kristen told him, thinking back on that conversation with Moody, Dumbledore, and Sirius.

“I’d gladly make it. Do you know how?”

“No!” She responded angrily. “I will not do that to you.”

“But I want to. It will make it easier for me in the long run. If Voldermort tries to get me to tell on you, I can just kill myself knowing the vow’s going to kill me anyways.”

Kristen balked at him, her mouth hanging open in pure horror. “You will not kill yourself and you will most certainly not do it for me. I don’t know why you seem keen on the mental torture today but it will not accomplish anything. I refuse to let you get all noble on me.”

“I just want you to feel safe around me.” He mumbled dejectedly, turning his head away from her.

“I thought it was clear in the beginning that this was stupid and reckless. Of course I can’t feel safe about this, every minute with you is a risk!” Kristen tried to say as best she could at the realization that Winston was taking this much more seriously than she had meant him to. “I would never change that Winston. The fear is well worth it when I get to be with you.”

“I just hate that you have to feel both,” he told her, looking frustrated.

“Well, one day, the war will be over. Then we can be happy together with absolutely no fear.”

Winston laughed, so unlike his usual laughter that it gave Kristen chills. “Over? This war is never going to end. You can’t stop an idea! Besides, if anyone’s going to find a way to live forever, it would be the Dark Lord.”

“Now look who’s being the pessimist.” She teased him, hoping to get off this subject quickly.

“I’m serious Kristen. You can’t honestly believe that this will ever truly end.”

“Yes, I do.” She told him firmly. “That’s the only way I can get through this, knowing that one day I’ll be able to stop. And there is no way to be immortal, you know that.”

Winston shrugged. “All I know is that the Dark Lord knows more dark magic than many have ever dreamed of. There are whispers within our circle, things that might have passed you as petty gossip, but they got my attention. They say he is already immortal.”

“That is petty gossip. He wants us to think he’s immortal and that we can never escape him,” Kristen informed him readily, but this was troubling her. Ever since her very first meeting she had wondered just why he was so completely sure that he was going to win. She remembered very clearly everything that was said. She had put forth that he needed her, and that it would scare people to know the idea would live on. But he had said that was not a problem for him.

“Can you tell Dumbledore at least? I would feel better if you did.”

Kristen watched his face intently as he said it. If he was sincere, she would know, really know, that he was on their side. If not…well, she would need to start running, and soon. She would not consider herself a first rate reader, but his eyes looked desperate, and his lips curved down to show his pleading. “Of course,” She agreed with a large smile, relief flooding every fiber of her being. “Anything for you.”

Even Winston smiled then. “Anything? Well, then I have one small request.”

His impish mood caught on quickly. “One small request then, if you must.”

“Forget that I’m a death eater. Just for a few minutes. I want to know what life would have been like if we had been normal.”

Kristen stopped grinning at that. “That’s going to make it worse. We can never be normal, why put ourselves through the torture of seeing what it would be like?”

“I just want to know,” he pressed.

Kristen sighed heavily. How would she treat him if she wasn’t facing death to be with him? “Well, I would definitely show you off more.”

“Show me off? What, like some prize hippogriff?” He asked, his face clearly offended before he grinned widely. “I have to admit though, I might flaunt you a bit too.”

“And I would introduce you to the Potters, definitely. And I would force Sirius to like you.”

“And I would punch Sirius in the face like I really want to.”

“And he would punch you right back, and then I’d have to curse you both for being such idiots.”

“And then I would sweep you off your feet, and we could be all PDA all over the place.”

“Because we never have PDA now,” Kristen drawled, giggling as he pulled her to a discrete place between two buildings.

“Well, our public displays of affection are usually interrupted by one of your charming friends, or they take place in an alleyway. Neither is what you would call ideal.”

“I don’t mind,” Kristen shrugged, happy enough to be the one to push him against the wall.

“I mean, it’s fine, but I would much rather be able to just sit in the Three Broomsticks or something.”

“Sure,” she nodded, loving, as usual, that blonde hair of his that she could run her fingers through.

“Or at least outside the Three Broomsticks. I guess there is no need to make everyone lose their appetite.”

“Winston, most boys would know by now to shut up and just go with it!” Kristen snapped at him impatiently, knowing full well that once she got him snogging, he wouldn’t feel the need to ‘imagine’ anymore.

“Who says I’m most boys?” He asked her, but he obliged nonetheless.

* * *

“Something’s wrong.” Remus accused, looking at her with narrow eyes.

Kristen clutched the letter and the flower to her self quickly, refusing even a peek. “What are you talking about Remus?” She snapped at him, hoping to bar any further questions.

“That you’re acting funny every time Winston sends you a letter these days. It can’t still be the whole ‘I love you’ thing.”

“For your information, yes it can. That was very troubling to me and I can’t believe you would bring it up.” She told him spitefully, wondering why he wouldn’t just lay off.

She’d held out for fifteen days now. Personally, she found that quite impressive. She was ready to burst the second she got back from Hogsmeade what Winston had gotten her, but instead she lied and told Lily he got her some book, which made total sense to the prefect. James, Peter, Remus, and Sirius, on the other hand, just laughed.

But he kept sending a countdown. Every letter held the number of days until July 17th, until the day she would be sitting like a zombie, wishing she was with Winston, and probably being a right pain in the arse. But at least she would be with her friends, that’s all they would care about.

“Did he say something to upset you again?” Sirius snapped to attention, alerted by the concern in Remus’s voice.

Kristen rolled her eyes heavily. She almost missed when he ignored her and never said a word against Winston. “He’s done nothing wrong. Would you two just lay off?”

“Has something happened with you-know-who or something? You always get antsy when you have a meeting with him.” Peter asked next, though he looked more interested in his porridge than her nerves.

“You guys know I was just at a meeting. Besides, Winston wasn’t even there.”

“I don’t know why we’re tip toeing around just asking her what’s wrong.” James put forth, taking a disgustingly large bite from his egg and toast. “This would be so much easier if we just did it without permission.”

Sirius grinned wickedly at that. Without giving Kristen so much as a second to prepare, he whipped out his wand and said “Accio Winston’s letters!

Instantly the letter went flying from her hands, as well as three from her backpack that she had not yet parted with. Sirius grabbed them all deftly with chaser trained reflexes, and quickly backed away from the table out of her reach. He began reading them with a wide grin, but that quickly slipped off his face. Kristen highly doubted it had to do with her creative use of curse words that had just earned her a detention with Professor Uley.

“Read these James,” Sirius said, thrusting them at his best friend. James grabbed them, carefully dancing out of Kristen’s reach.

“The Beatles?” James asked in confusion after reading the most current letter.

“Yeah, that pretty boy gave her a chance to see the bloody Beatles, and she told him ‘no’!” Sirius exclaimed incredulously, looking at Kristen as if she sprouted a few extra heads.

“It’s on the same day as the Kinks!” Kristen told him, hoping her obvious disappointment wasn’t showing too much. “I’m not going to ditch you guys, you asked first.”

“Are you out of your mind Kristen?” Sirius asked her quite harshly. “If I were you I would ditch me in a second! Hell, if you don’t go, I will! Give me a quill, I’ll write him now.”

“I…” Kristen looked at them shrewdly, sure that this was an elaborate prank set to get her to say she wanted to ditch them, and then they would turn on her and tell her what an awful friend she was. “You guys complain that I ditch you and now you’re complaining that I turned down the chance to?”

“Well, actually, I’m glad that you did now,” Sirius told her, writing furiously on a piece of paper. “Now I have the chance to go see them. Pretty Winston acts gay, and apparently I do as well. I could pass as his date.”

“I could pass as his date better than you,” Lily suddenly joined in, grabbing the paper from him and reading it critically. “Besides, he’d be too afraid you’d hex him.”

“As you can see flower child, I very clearly give my word in line two that I will not curse him,” Sirius pointed out, snatching it right back.

Kristen was too in shock to realize that she should be the one writing an acceptance, not them. “But you guys worked so hard to get those tickets…”

James shrugged. “Lily loves them too. She can fight Sirius for the backstage pass and we’ll make Wormtail or Moony come.” He then grinned at her. “It’s pretty funny that this is what’s been wrong with you. I mean, you honestly thought we would hold it against you if you choose to see the object of your crazy obsession? I know we’re not always the best friends Kristen, but come on! We’re not that bad.”

Kristen threw her arms around him before promptly breaking up Sirius and Lily’s fight and writing to Winston herself.
 
*   *   *

I am proud to tell you that the next chapter is completely finished, as well as half of the one after it. I will probably wait two weeks since writing time is becoming slimmer and slimmer, but it will be up.

However, I'm hopeful that you guys leave more than 3 reviews this time. That made me sad...

Here's the quote for the next chapter though!

“What’s wrong Snivvy, you’re dirty gray knickers all in a twist?” - Sirius Black

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