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Definitely a dead man.

The stone wall was cool against his back when he leaned against it, struggling to regulate his blood pressure again.  Lily, still flushed, had managed to locate the vast majority of her clothing, despite the darkness but while she searched for her t-shirt, slivers of moonlight bent around her, hugging the contours of her torso as his hands had done mere minutes before. 

"Looking for this?" he asked, picking it up from amidst the tangle of his jacket, a handful of twig clippers an upset box of old quaffles.  He dangled it on the tip of his index finger, just outside her grasp.  When she reached up to take it from him, he grabbed her arm and pulled her into another kiss. 

"What was that for?" she asked when he released her, pulling her shirt on over her head and shaking her hair out.  Despite her best efforts to seem comfortable, she remained ever so slightly ill at ease - nervous in his presence.

"If I have to explain it, I'm losing my touch," he quipped, pulling on his jacket and kicking aside the quaffles so he could open the door. 

"That is not what I meant!" she chided.  The pitch of her voice picked up an octave or two like it always did when she was embarrassed but she struggled to modulate it, stubbornly refusing to let him get the best of her.  "Shouldn't we pick some of that up?" she asked, gesturing toward the open door and it's disheveled contents.

Stopping to let her catch up to him, he smirked unevenly.  "Girl scout."

Fall, it would seem, had slipped into winter during the few hours he'd been asleep and he swore a bit too loudly when he stepped out onto the grounds and directly into a puddle of muddy slush, surprised to find it snowing.  "It's fucking October!"

"If you hadn't slept through breakfast, you might have known that was going to happen," James quipped.  He was obliviously chipper as he always was when there was a quidditch match - far too eager to spend a freezing morning sitting fifty feet in the air.  Even Peter seemed to find him grating but while his silence was bought with friendship, Sirius' was motivated entirely by guilt.

Of all the varieties of weather that graced the Hogwarts grounds, snow was easily the least welcome.  Where the chill had felt invigorating last night, now it was simply cold but the castle remained stuffy as always.  Even if one could brave the extreme temperatures, there was still the actual snow to contend with - clinging to everything it touched.

"Who is playing again?" he asked, trying to sound interested in the answer.

Unfortunately, interest was the last thing he felt for the subject and he didn't realize he'd been tuning them out until he was knocking his boots off on the riser to dislodge the clumps of snow between the treads.  James picked a seat as far from McGongall as was possible and hunkered in.  The Hufflepuff and Slytherin stands were packed with onlookers but the showing of Gryffindor and Ravenclaw support was lacking in the face of the spontaneous temperature drop.  Still, pockets of students huddled under blankets, their every breath contributing to the haze fog hanging over the pitch.

As he scanned the crowd, a shock of red hair peeking out from beneath a knobbily knit hat caught his attention.  She was sitting a few rows ahead of them, clustered with a group of other Gryffindor girls over a steaming thermos of something warm.  As if she could feel the weight of his gaze on the back of her head, she turned to look at him and smiled, drawing one hand from beneath her checkered blanket to wave. 

Before he had the opportunity to let his mind wander too far into the realm of indecency, Peter was talking aain, scraping ice off of the bench with a chocolate frog card and complaining to James..  "We need to get you some warmer hobbies," he suggested, flicking a stray snowflake off the face of Hengist of Woodcroft.

"Always with the whinging," James lamented.  He checked to see if Professor McGonagall was looking before reaching into his jacket pocket and unearthing a familiar flask full of an even more familiar amber liquid.  He held it out for Remus to take but Sirius cut across him, unscrewing the lid and downing more than was probably practical at ten o'clock in the morning on a empty stomach and almost no sleep.

"A bit early for that, don't you think?" Remus asked, raising an eyebrow.

Sirius neglected to answer him, only passing it off to Peter when the game began.

When it ended, he was considerably warmer, if a little more unsteady on his feet.  If there was one thing to be said for Quidditch it would have to be that the game moved quickly - so quickly, in fact, that he'd been so engrossed in the game he forgot Lily and her friends a few rows in front of them until they were face to face.  Erin clambered up the stands to stop them, grinning widely.  The others followed a few seconds later, Lily included and Sirius wondered aloud if Remus might be able to ellucidate on their obvious pact mentality. 

"What are you four up to today?" Erin asked

James, Remus and Peter all answered her at once, their simultaneous response sounding more like "studrich" than they'd intended but Sirius, hanging a few paces behind them, had his eyes fixed on Lily.  What started as an attempt to discern whether or not she was still speaking to him - whether or not he had more than James' future discomfort to feel guilty over rapidly became something else when she let slip the tiniest of crooked grins before reminding Erin she had somewhere to be and pulling her off in the direction of the stairs.

He watched her leave, Lily mixing in with her friends almost immediately before rejoining his own surroundings.  "What is it that we intend to do today?"

Remus spent the next three hours casting significant glances in Sirius' direction when he thought no one was looking but he didn't catch Sirius alone until it was nearly dinner time.  With everyone else down in the common room and Alfred still laid up in the hospital wing, Sirius took the opportunity to be alone.  Solitude wasn't conventionally something he relished in - too many days spent this way in his youth taking all of the pleasure out of i, but it was a reprieve from the guilt he felt each time he looked at James so he elected to remain in the dormitory endeavoring to build a house of exploding snap cards.

When Remus cleared his throat, it promptly collapsed, triggering a series of explosions that left him with little more than a pile of ashes.

"Are you out of your ruddy mind?" he hissed, slamming the door behind himself.

"You aren't the first person to ask me that," Sirius quipped, directing a gentle stream of warm air from his wand tip to guide the pile of ashes back into the card box and giving it a hearty shake before pouring them back out onto his trunk again as cards.  "I'm thinking that can't bode well."

"You need to tell him," he urged, trying to ignore Sirius' more flippant response in favor of actually accomplishing what he'd come here to do.

"There isn't anything to tell," Sirius lied, setting a four of spades precariously atop the two of hearts.  It was the second time in so many days that he'd caught himself lying about Lily for no compelling reason.

Collapsing onto the foot of James' bed, Remus looked drown and exhausted.  "You're a dreadful liar when you feel bad about a think, Sirius.  You slept with her, didn't you?

"I wouldn't say that, no," he answered evasively

Remus observed him for a few moment before getting up again, hi expression set with some sort of resolve.  "I'm not going to tell him," he said before he left, a hand resting on the door knob.  "But I'm not going to lie for you either."

The sound of the door being slammed was still resonating off of the walls when he got up to follow.  "Sirius!" Peter exclaimed when he passed.  "Where are you going in such a hurry?"

"Dropped something this morning," he lied fluidly, not stopping.  "I just have to run back out and get it before Filch or Madam Hooch find it.  I'll see you at dinner."

Their vague objections filtered into the corridor when he swung the portrait hole open, startling a Ravenclaw second year so badly that the boy jumped, red faced and frightened.  "Oy, what are you doing skulking out here?" he asked gruffly.

"I...uh...I..." he stammered, blushing further.

Rolling his eyes, Sirius yanked the Fat Lady's frame open again, poking his head back into the common room.  "What's her name?" he asked, catching a student he knew by the shirt sleeve and gesturing toward the puffy eyed little girl, pouting in the corner.

"Amanda Holden, I think," he answered.

"Amanda!" Sirius shouted across the room, scaring her so badly she dropped her diary and spilled purple ink all over the table.  "You'd think I was wandering around with an axe or something," he muttered under his breath, gesturing for her to get up.  "There's someone here to see you."

He didn't stay long enough to see if she came out, sidestepping the now mortified boy.

The Hogwarts library was easily impressive.  If the architecture didn't hold any appeal, there were always the stacks - full to the bursting with books on every subject magical or muggle alike - but it wasn't knowledge he was looking for today.  Today, he was looking for Lily.

He leaned across Madame Pince's high counter and tried not to sound arrogant, cheeky, cavalier or any of the other things she'd called him over the years.  "I have an essay due for Professor Slughorn on fatal potions.  I need a few titles that are kept in the Restricted Section," he lied again, pulling a forged permission slip out of his pocket and handing it to her.

She scrutinized it carefully, even poking at it with her wand a time or two before reaching for her keys.  "Horace didn't mention any assignments that would require students to access the Restriction Section," she pointed out imperiously, eying him once more.

"It's extra credit work," he tried, misleading teachers having become second nature eons ago.  "To make up for an exam I missed for my Uncle's funeral."

Madame Pince hesitated only a moment more before coming around the counter to unlock the gate and letting him pass.  "Third isle, second shelf and remember, the Restricted Section closes at eight."

He ducked down the isle, pausing behind the massive shelf until her footsteps died out in the distance.  It took him less than a minute to find Lily, tucked into one of the enclosed desks, her quill scratching across her parchment feverishly.  Sirius crept forward, careful not to startle her as he did.  "Lily," he whispered, clapping a hand over her mouth to stifle the scream.  "Shhh..."

"What the hell are you doing back here?" she asked when he let her go, furious.

"You looked like you wanted to see me," he answered blithely, leaning against the desk with deliberate nonchalance.  Lily rolled her eyes and slammed her book shut on his hand, smirking as she did.  "All right, fine," he managed, wincing and massaging his hand.  "I wanted to see you."

"Well now that I can believe," she teased, reaching up to seize his shirt collar and pulling him toward her, close enough to kiss.

"Evidently I made quite the impression last night," he laughed, straightening up.

It was strange for Sirius, how quickly their relationship had turned from a mild enmity to this...whatever it was.  He'd been aware since their inadvertently shared evening in Hogsmeade that Lily, despite her occasional assertions to the contrary, was not a girl who would take kindly to being toyed with.  Had the thought crossed his mind last night, he might have had the good sense to stop himself all together before running the risk of hurting her but she was pleasant to be around.  There was no word for it other than to say that he enjoyed her presence - the innocence, the ignorance or nothing at all.  Still, she may not have been the sort to be toyed with but he was no more ready to be what she needed either.

Now, tucked away from prying eyes in the middle of the nearly silent library, he couldn't seem to bring himself to say what he had come to say. 

Her words interrupted his musings before he could follow the line any further.  "I didn't tell anyone," she volunteered, staring down at the back of her book sheepishly.

"I didn't imagine you would," he replied, metering his words carefully.

"I just know...with James...things might be difficult for you."

Sirius let out a hollow chuckle and ran his hand through his hair, staring off into the distance.  "Lily, I don't think 'difficult' begins to describe it."

"That's sort of what I meant," she added, her tone a little lighter.

It occurred to him that the uptick he was hearing wasn't relaxation or happiness, it was hope.  He'd come here, yes at Remus' near constant prodding, but he'd come nonetheless, to tell her - to try to make her understand - that he'd taken advantage, that he was sorry and that it wouldn't happen again.  Instead, he found himself brushing a strand of hair out of her eyes and trying to assuage her fears. 

Cheered, he supposed by his unintentional encouragement, she piled her books into a stack and stood up, smiling again.  "What are we doing next weekend?"

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