Written for Staff Challenge 5 and based on the story Stars Shining Bright by Romina Stephanie. Thanks so much, Steph, for letting me play with your story!! Super classy banner made by the wonderful psychee at TDA, who was kind enough to not only do the banner but was willing to help keep it secret from staffers so they wouldn't know what story I had chosen to steal. And special thanks to Bitterepiphany for holding my hand through the forest as I ventured into taking Steph's fairytale and twisting it into a darker, more Brother's Grimm type of tale.

Stars Shine Black

Gasping for breath, Lily barreled down the corridors, desperate to get as far away from Hogwarts as she could. She fumbled a moment at the door, unable to see the locks clearly through her tears. A chilly late spring wind sent shivers down her spine as she hit the open grounds of the school, her legs starting to burn with her fevered pace. She cursed herself as her body began to fight itself – forcing her to slow down and stalling her intended escape. She dropped to her knees at the edge of the Black Lake, her sobs uncontrollable, her lungs on fire.


She whirled, her wand drawn instinctively at the intruder. She dropped it just as quickly, though, her fear evaporating as soon as it had come. “Sirius,” she breathed. “What are you doing here?”

He sank down to one knee, his dark cloak billowing behind him in the wind as he moved. Picking up her wand, he offered it to her, then tilted his head her direction. “Would you believe I couldn't sleep?”

“Sleep in your dress robes often, do you?” she asked, attempting to infuse even a tiny bit of sarcasm into her voice which she knew still must be trembling.

Instead of his usual smart retort, his pale grey eyes focused on her worriedly, his fingers reaching to slip across her cheek. “How can I help?”

How truly Sirius. He didn't bother to ask if she was okay. Didn't bother to demean her with glib “it'll be all right” remarks. Instead, he just wanted to help fix the situation. Just like he had minutes before when she'd been tasked with comforting a third year in the middle of the spring formal. It had been Dumbledore that came to her, building up her confidence that she was just the kind hearted soul the boy needed beside him when he received the news that his parents had been burned to death while sleeping in their home near Hampshire.

It had gone alright, she'd at least managed to keep calm anyway, until a bunch of Slytherins in their fancy dress robes had appeared and drunkenly started describing the grisly scene. Death Eaters sons, every one of them, and they knew graphic details of the deaths that made Lily's stoic resolve evaporate. She had been taught that war weakened you but Lily had swore to herself to never let that happen. She would fight, she had assured everyone. But then, watching the third year crumple to the floor in misery she could think of nothing but escape. When Sirius had appeared she wasn't quite sure but it was his soft touch on her waist, his commanding whisper of “Go, Lily, I'll handle this,” that had freed her to run like the coward she was.

And now, here he was. Kneeling before her with the prideful air of a Slytherin, the devotion of a Gryffindor and the grief-stricken worry of a man in love.

No - not a man in love, she reminded herself. How many times had he told her he didn't believe in love? Hundreds? Thousands? Love was a weakness he couldn't afford, he always said. But his look was so pained, so emotion filled, that Lily could almost allow herself to believe he had chased her because he loved her and not just because of his noble, save the damsel in distress mentality.

She offered him a brief smile. “Sit with me?”

He nodded, sinking down to the ground a few inches away from her. A brief shiver shot through her as the dampness of the ground finally seeped into her skin. Without a word, Sirius slipped off his cloak and draped it around her shoulders. Unable to restrain herself, she inhaled the scent, immediately warming as the smell of him overtook her...pine needles, whiskey she'd caught him pouring in the punchbowl at the dance, and a salty metallic scent it took her several minutes to place.

“You're bleeding?” she asked, turning to face him.

“I'm fine,” he shook his head, waving her off. “Had a bit of a tangle with the Slytherins before coming out here. It was nothing, really.”

“I'm sorry about earlier, Sirius. I just couldn't-”

“There's no need to apologize. Dumbledore shouldn't have made you responsible for something like that anyway. He's a self-absorbed git, if you ask me. Never thinking about how his decision might affect someone else.”

“It's good I didn't ask you then,” she chuckled.

“He, of all people, should know better than to have students sharing news like that. He won't let students join his precious Order but he's willing to let them announce news of their aftermath? What on earth would possess him to do something like that?”

Lily frowned, Sirius' anger surprising her. He and Dumbledore had never gotten along well – Sirius had always been one to follow his own rules- but she'd never heard him speak with such venom. Her first thought was to argue in Dumbledore' defense but considering the way she had run off she had to agree with Sirius – she wasn't ready for a responsibility like that. “Perhaps he thought it would be easier hearing it from one of us?”

“At what price to everyone else?” he growled. “At what price to you, Lily?”

Her breath caught in her throat, her eyes searching his. He met her gaze only briefly, though, before glancing away. She watched as he shifted unnecessarily, leaning back on his elbows to stretch out in an awkward manner than made his unease that much more evident. Moving slowly, afraid of frightening him off, she slipped to his side, resting her hand on his chest.

“You are worried about me,” she whispered uncertainly. “That's why you're so angry.”

Without any warning, his fingers were on her face, tracing across her jawline and up to her cheek. He tucked an errant strand of hair behind her ear before guiding her mouth toward his. Tender, almost heart-breakingly so, his lips pressed into hers. Dropping his forehead to hers, his voice was a low, desperate plea for understanding. “Hell, yes, Lils. When has doubting me ever got you anywhere?”

Never, she thought silently, But neither has believing in you either.

She exhaled a long, drawn out sigh and dropped her head to his shoulder to avoid his eyes. She had doubted him from the first day she'd met him – doubted he would amount to anything other than a lowlife Slytherin; doubted he had a sincere bone in his body; doubted he could possibly have a soul; doubted he would ever befriend someone like her. But she'd been wrong every time as he continued to prove himself true over and over again.

But, her hopes for him had never gotten her anywhere either. The hope that he could find good in Severus; hope that he would stop being so damn reckless; hope that he would believe himself worthy and stop taking unnecessary risks; and, even as she hated to admit it in her own head, the belief that one day he'd let go of his silly worries of having her at his side and admit he couldn't live without her.

“So why did you run here? I mean here specifically?” he asked, nudging her gently with his shoulder to pull her out of her reverie.

“I would've run all the way to the stars if I could have,” she murmured. “I'm such a coward.”

“A coward wouldn't have stopped on the Hogwarts grounds,” he said pointedly. “No matter how bad it gets, you're not a coward because of the simple fact that you've chosen to stay.”

She knew he meant it to lighten the mood, to assure her about her own misgivings but instead it only made her more melancholy. She offered him a half smile of thanks but knew by the furrow on his forehead that he wasn't going to buy it.

He gave her a lopsided grin and pinched her waist. “Besides, it takes an exceptionally brave woman to be out here alone with me with nothing but the stars to protect you.”

She couldn't help but laugh. It was his gift – no matter how bad things seemed, Sirius could always find a way to lighten the mood. She turned a challenging gaze his direction.

“The war scares the hell out of me, Sirius,” she admitted, “but you? We both know I'm safer with you beside me, whether you are willing to say it or not.”

“My family-”

“Are a nasty piece of work. I know. But I also know there is no one who could protect me from them better than you.”

“If you aren't beside me then you don't need to be protected from them,” he rationalized.

She fell silent as the weight of his words sunk in. He truly believed that by being at his side, he was endangering her. Not just the general “war is coming” danger but a more defined personal danger that the Black family would come after her for her allegiance to Sirius. Unbidden, her eyes drifted toward the Forbidden Forest, wondering if perhaps even now someone was lurking in the shadows watching their movements. She shivered uncontrollably and snuggled closer to him, both for warmth and the safety she so desperately craved.

“Are you all right?” he murmured, letting his hand run over head as if she was a child. “I didn't mean to frighten you. Well, I did but not like this. I mean-”

“You mean I'm safer with someone else. Yes, Sirius, I know what you meant,” she huffed.

“I'm sorry, I didn't-” he began but quickly fell silent.

She surveyed him, trying to gauge some level of his emotions. He could be so damn aggravating one minute and so patently docile the next that it drove her mad. She couldn't understand how he could have so many intense emotions running through him at once – or, how with only silence, he could make them surge through her just as easily. She wondered vaguely if it was something he had developed over the years with his family as he tried and failed to appease them before gathering courage enough to set out on his own. They must hate him for that...that he would rather be alone than bow to their demands. And yet, it wouldn't surprise her if they desired him back for that same reason – the courage to defy the Noble House of Black. Was there another wizard on the planet willing to risk so much? She couldn't think of a single one.

“What must they think of you," she muttered under her breath - the phrase a question, but the tone all statement.

“I doubt they think very much of me at all,” he answered solemnly.

It was an temporarily break in his shield, she knew. Intended or not, he was allowing her some insight into the emotional riptide he was riding. Balancing school, his family, his friends – his life was composed of a fine line that would be impossible to walk for any other man. It pained her to know her closeness was causing him even more grief. Why couldn't she just be there for him like he always was for her? Certainly, he would never permit public viewing of a relationship between the two for her own safety but did she need that? No. What I need is you.

“Sirius?” she called softly, slipping her fingers to entwine with his.


“Take me away from here. Just for tonight,” she added hastily, feeling him tense and knowing he was about to object. “You and me, away from all of it.”

He exhaled a heavy breath, his hand squeezing hers. “You can't run to me either, Lily.”

The stars. He was telling her he was just as elusive as the stars...visible, steady, but just as unreachable. A truth perhaps but not one she was willing to accept just yet. She stretched up, letting her lips drift across his throat. She could feel his breath catch, his body reacting instinctively to her touches and his arms wrapped around her waist to pull her in closer to him. His lips were on her throat, returning the loverlike touch when she finally got the courage to speak. “Then you can run to me, Sirius.”

She could feel him hesitate and, with sudden clarity, knew that had been what was holding them back all these years. He wanted to run to her, just like she him, but had held back merely because he didn't want to use her. That he'd never consider that she wanted him however she could get him had probably never entered his mind.

A heavy silence hung between the two as he struggled. They were both confused at that point, uncertain of what words to share, afraid of saying too much. But stoic resolve eventually washed over him and, when he called her name softly, brokenly, she knew she had won.

Slipping her hand into his, she tugged him to standing. He hesitated a moment before kissing her, giving her the opportunity to change her mind. Instead, she tightened the embrace, her own show of resolve for whatever lay ahead. Tugging her close as they walked, he glanced up at the sky.

“Close enough to touch,” he chuckled, nodding toward the stars above.

“Yeah,” she murmured, a slow smile crossing her face. She pulled him back, drawing him for a deep, passion filled kiss. “Bout damn time.”


Hallowed Riddle #16

Look for the faces you love and know;
Are they now starring in that show?
Some people may be hard to see,
Yet others sparkle—yes, it's me!
We love to see their face again,
But you question: as HIM?


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