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Bellatrix Lestrange sang the words, waltzing up to Kristen as if she owned the place. Her smile was undeniably ecstatic as she boasted the news. “Did you hear me St. Claire, I killed your toy.”

“Congratulations,” Kristen said, though she barely even registered it coming out. “Sirius Black was an impressive wizard. I’m surprised you, of all people, were able to pull it off.”

Bella looked incredibly disappointed by her reaction, and didn’t even comment on the insult. She just glared at Kristen and then moved on to boast to someone else.

For a while, Kristen just stood there. If anyone talked to her, Alaracia would answer. It was an act so well ingrained that she did not even have to think about it anymore. She couldn’t move, she couldn’t even breathe unless she consciously thought about it.

“Hey, sorry I took so long,” Winston told her, laying a hand on her shoulder. When she didn’t respond, he turned her around and noticed her hollow eyes and pale face. “Kristen, what’s wrong?”

“The blood traitor is dead!” Bella shouted in euphoria, kissing her husband firmly on the lips.

“The blood traitor?” Winston asked, obviously unsure of whom that was. “Who is she talking about Kristen?”

“Sirius,” she answered, and that word, which caused her to lose the façade of Alaracia completely, broke her. “Winston, help me.”

“Who here thinks we need some beer for a proper party?” Winston shouted to the masses. They let him know their approval by shouting and screaming and breaking out the alcohol they already had.

“Alright, let’s go,” Winston whispered to her, holding her tightly and apparating the gates of Hogwarts.

She lost it.

How could anyone honestly expect anything different? He was her rock, her everything in life. She always knew this day would come. Either she would be ripped away by her own death, or is. He had even warned her that this would be the most painful day of her life during those horrible few weeks when he tried to distance himself.

And now he was dead.

“Come on, James can help,” Winston told her, big enough to know that he could not help her on his own.

“You’re crying,” Kristen noted shakily, her body not yet put together enough to even produce tears. All she wanted to do at this moment was die too.

“I didn’t like him, but I didn’t want him dead. He held you together. It’s almost like hearing a part of you died.”

“That’s exactly what happened.” She told him bluntly, feeling as if her lungs were shrinking spectacularly. She simply could not inhale enough air to sustain her.

“I need you to keep breathing Kristen.” Winston warned her, supporting her weight as best he could. “I know your penchant for panic attacks, but I would really rather you not pass out right now.”

Kristen found this slightly ironic, despite the situation. Panic attacks usually involved hyperventilation. Considering the fact she could hardly breathe at all right, she found it unlikely that she would develop those symptoms any time soon. Right now, she was more in danger of collapsing onto the hard stones of the castle floor from a simply unwillingness to move forward.

She found it surprising how calm the castle was. She would have thought that the death of a well known student, or any student for that matter, would have prompted mass chaos.

Kristen was hardly aware that she was leading Winston to the Gryffindor common room, though when they reached the portrait she calmly said the password. When she saw the chair, the chair that Sirius always sat in, the chair that held so many memories of him, well, that’s when Winston should have started worrying. Somehow, seeing that chair empty, almost reverently empty, put things in a stark, unnatural light.

“He’s gone,” she said quietly. That’s when the breaths began coming in frequent gasps as her body was forcing her to come some sort of oxygen. “What am I supposed to do? I can’t live any more Winston! He’s everything!”

“Oh Merlin,” Winston breathed, looking around wildly for any sign of her friends. Currently, there were only several started third and fourth years about. “Um, excuse me, does anyone know where James Potter or any of his friends might be? It’s pretty much an emergency.”

“He’s gone. Sirius is gone,” Kristen kept repeating in between gasps. Tears were streaming down her face and her eyes were wild with fright at what the coming days, weeks, months, years were going to hold. “I can’t live without him!”

“I think they’re in their dormitory,” A frightened girl said, pointing to the boys’ side of the stairwell.

“Thanks,” Winston said quickly, hauling Kristen towards the stairs and trying desperately to ignore her words. They were tearing him up inside. Hearing Kristen in such pain was heart wrenching. Not to mention, and this was so incredibly selfish, but he hated that she was so convinced her life couldn’t go on without Sirius. Where did that leave him? He liked to think that this was just Kristen reacting to the extreme, but he knew that wasn’t it. There was real panic in her eyes when she screamed ‘I can’t live without him’.

“What the Bloody Hell is she screaming about?” Winston heard James Potter ask, stepping outside his door to see Winston holding up Kristen.

“What do you think?” Winston snapped at him, pushing through him to get inside the dorm. Somehow, not seeing Sirius in there made things a whole lot realer, a part of him had been holding on to some hope that Bella had been mistaken. But all he saw was Remus with his head in his hands, and Peter staring out the window. “Honestly, I don’t know why you’re not more upset,” Winston stated, noting James’s dry eyes.

“Well believe me, I’m pretty pissed about it, but why is Kristen?” James asked, shutting the door behind them.

“What do you mean why is she upset?” Winston retorted, having to yell over Kristen’s incessant near-screaming of ‘I can’t live without him!’. “He’s dead, that’s why! Has nobody told you?”

“Who’s dead?” Remus asked, coming out of his reverie. He looked grimy and tired, as if he’d just endured days of hard work and no sleep.

“He’s dead!” Kristen shouted, falling to the floor and holding her knees close to her chest. Winston bent down, gently putting a hand on her shoulder but she violently pushed him away.

“Does someone mind explaining?” Peter asked, clearly annoyed. “I’ve had a rather rough day.”

“Haven’t we all Wormtail,” Remus sighed. “It appears though, that perhaps Foxy has had a worse day than us,”

“What are you guys talking about?” Winston asked in wonder, hardly able to understand what was going on. “Haven’t you been wondering where Sirius is?”

“He’s gone –

“Don’t say it!” Kristen covered her ears and closed her eyes tightly, as if that would make this whole problem go away.

“She’s a little sensitive to the topic, if you haven’t noticed.” Winston snapped at him, once again trying to comfort Kristen to no avail.

James, Remus, and Peter all looked him in confusion. “Wait, I’m lost,” James said quite honestly. “She’s sensitive to what topic?”

“Well that he died, obviously,” Winston replied, regretting his wording instantly when Kristen went back to her hyperventilation state.

“Who died?”

Winston stared in shock when Sirius walked into the room. His hair was damp and he was clad only in a robe. “Well hello Pretty Winston! Why on earth would you come near my dorm?”

“Oh my god, now I’m hallucinating!” Kristen said in terror, standing up quickly and backing up towards the door, nearly stumbling over her own feet. “Check me into St. Mungo’s, Dumbledore was right all along!”

“Don’t look at me mate, I have no idea,” James told Sirius, looking at Kristen with some fear.

“You’re alive,” Winston managed to sputter out, hardly able to believe it.

“Well duh,” Sirius told him with a confused laugh. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

“Bella said she killed you.” Winston said, eying Kristen with worry as she kept muttering to herself about her apparent deteriorating mental status.

Sirius actually laughed. “Really Kristen?” He asked, arching an eyebrow. “I find it highly offense that you would think that Bella could actually kill me.”

“That’s something Sirius would say if I were hallucinating about him.” Kristen muttered, intertwining her hands obsessively.

Winston threw his hands in the air. “I have no idea what to do now, she’s too far gone. The moment she heard you were dead she just stopped being rationale.”

“Because Kristen is so rationale usually,” Remus said with a roll of his eyes. He walked up to her and very firmly put his hands on her shoulders. “Foxy, listen to me. Sirius is right there, we all see him.”

“No, you’re just saying that because I’m crazy!” Kristen fought back, pushing Remus away as well. “I know he’s gone, Bella couldn’t lie about that!”

“Do you hear yourself?” Sirius asked her. “‘Bella couldn’t lie’, that’s all Bella does!”

“Go away! You’re not real!” Kristen told him, trying to breathe deeply but finding it impossible.

Sirius rolled his eyes and gently put his hands on her face. “Kristen, this is real, yeah? You can feel my hands, you can hear my voice, you can smell my soap…I’m real.”

Kristen put her hands over his, clutching them tightly. “But…but she said…”

“She told you a lie Kristen,” Sirius told her softly, not moving his hands. “Bella could never take me away from you.”

Kristen was silent, staring at his face. She analyzed his eyes, his nose, his mouth, and even his ears, still so scared to dare and believe that every earnest prayer and hope she had sent out was suddenly coming true. “You wouldn’t lie to me.”

“Never,” Sirius assured her, hating himself for those times he had.

She threw her arms around him, crying into his hair out of joy. Winston sighed in relief, sitting down onto Remus’s bed heavily.

“Well, that was fun,” Remus drawled, leaning on his bedpost next to Winston. “Next time something like this happens, please just come in and say outright what she’s freaking out about.”

“Well you guys shouldn’t use words like ‘gone’. Why didn’t you just say he was in the shower?”

“I was going to say, ‘He’s gone off to take a shower’.” James told him. “And I promise, if he ever does kick the bucket, I would be a little bit more than just pissed.”

“You were talking about Ursula Brown,” Winston said in sudden comprehension. “That’s why you couldn’t understand why Kristen was so upset.”

“Yeah, we heard she had been killed earlier,” James told him, sitting on his own bed opposite from Winston. “Where were you guys during the raid anyways? I mean, it was complete chaos, but those Death Eaters aren’t exactly bright. The most damage they did was to infrastructure.”

“We stayed back. Couldn’t exactly be seen fighting against them, yeah?” Winston said, thankful that they were distracting him, whether it was intentional or not. Under normal circumstances, he would not let Sirius get away with stroking Kristen’s hair like that or whispering to her with small smiles, but that’s what she needed right now, and he wouldn’t stand in the way of that.

“You know Foxy,” Sirius said, stroking her face as her breathing returned to normal. “You are crazy, just not exactly asylum material.”

She laughed lightly, relishing in his touch. “Well, thank you Padfoot. Now I know you’re real because my own imagination would not be so cruel to me.”

“Exactly,” Sirius laughed along with her. “Now, if you ever, and I mean ever, hear that Bellatrix was the death of me again, you won’t believe it, right?”

“Absolutely not,” Kristen agreed, already plotting her revenge. “Speaking of her though, she’s going to be wondering where we are.”

Winston jumped at the chance to get her away from Sirius. “And I have to procure some beer very quickly. We’ll tell them we got snagged at a muggle store.”

“You have to go back?” Sirius asked, looking a bit upset by that. “What will you tell Bella though?”

Kristen shrugged. “I’ll figure it out, I always do.” She looked at Sirius intently and smiled, sighing one more breath of relief. “You don’t know the panic I felt Sirius, and I hope you never do. It was like…like my world fell apart.”

“I think I understand better than you might believe.” Sirius told her, but she didn’t hear because she was already leaving with Winston, her hand captured in his.

“Well, that was intense,” James said decidedly, looking at Sirius with some worry. “You know, as stupid and pig headed as you are, I have to admit, that must have hurt a little.”

“No, not at all. It’s not like I had to watch her endure a totally preventable pain and then hold his hand even though he did shit for her!” Sirius spat at him, though he immediately calmed. “Sorry mate, her whole episode kind of got to me.”

“I can’t believe she acted like that,” Peter said thoughtfully, almost as if he was talking to himself. “I mean, don’t get me wrong Sirius, I would be really upset if you died, but I don’t think I would react like that.”

“Well, we already knew Foxy wasn’t emotionally balanced,” Remus reminded him. “Though I see your point. It was completely irrational, even for her.”

“And that’s saying something,” James muttered, twirling his wand between his fingers as he thought. “You know, maybe it’s time we revisited the idea of –

“Are you kidding me James? She just left hand in hand with him!”

James shrugged, not willing to get in a fight with him about this. “Whatever mate. I’m just saying, I’m not sure she would react the same way if it was one of us, or even if it was Winston.”

“That doesn’t mean she cares for me any differently, just that she’s more dependent on me than you guys. Believe me, if you sat and listened to her for hours on end, she would act that way around you.”

Remus rolled his eyes. “Well, while you mope around and hate your life, I’m going to find Briar. “

“Just rub it in my face why don’t you!” Sirius sulked. “You’ve got this girl you’re madly in love with, and what do I have? Just Brooke and her many talents.”

“Oh, my pity for you is endless,” Peter said with a sour expression. “Honestly, why are you complaining? You get any girl you want!”

“Not Kristen,” Sirius reminded him

“That’s because you’ve been too chicken to try,” Remus told him bluntly. “But I agree with you in one area, I am an incredibly lucky man.”

“Piss off,” Sirius scowled at him.

Remus only laughed as he left the room to find Briar.

* * *

“What took you so bloody long?” Bailey asked, grabbing a six-pack from Winston the moment he appeared.

“Some trouble with the muggles.” Kristen answered, setting the mountain she had had to carry onto a table. “You know them, always putting their noses where they don’t belong.”

“I hope you cursed them to show them a lesson,” another one said, Kristen couldn’t be sure of his name.

“We would have, but we thought it’d be a rather poor idea to get the ministry involved,” Winston said smoothly. “Besides, we were able to get at least 6 cases, you should just suck it up and be happy.”

They needed no more prompting. Within seconds they were nearly all gone. Lucius looked at the them with obvious disgust. He was known for pouring himself wine at these things. “How do you stand that?”

“We can’t all afford 300 year old wine,” Kristen answered, though she was unable to be mad at him. She was on cloud nine right now.

Lucius nodded his head and smiled, as if this fact rather pleased him. He then looked at Kristen and said, “You know Bella was lying, right? She told us she only said that because she thought you would get upset and prove that you’re still loyal to the Order.”

“Oh,” Kristen said, hoping her face showed disappointment. “Well, that means my life is still going to be difficult. He’s always been the most wary of me; with him gone my life would have been far easier.”

Lucius nodded sympathetically. “Yes, he is rather astute. I suppose when you spend your whole life running away from problems, you have to be good at finding them.”

“You got that right,” Kristen said with a laugh, sometimes seriously astonished by Lucius’s way of thinking.

“At least his brother is a right thinking kid though. And one of your sisters also, I hear they are quite close.” Lucius continued.

“Yes, well, they are friends I suppose,” she answered, always on edge whenever Belle was brought up.

“I’ve met with Regulus recently you know, just to make sure he’s on the right track. I would have let Bella see to it, but there was no reason to scare the poor kid, yeah?”

“And is he?” Winston asked, ever so gently trying to take control of this conversation away from Kristen.

“I guess so. A little jumpy, but if I lived with their banshee of a mother I suppose I would be too. Your sister though, now there’s a bright girl. She doesn’t seem afraid of anything.”

“She’s thirteen, we all felt invincible at that age,” Kristen said, ignoring Winston’s look of warning.

“Maybe, but it’s in the way she holds herself. I know the Dark Lord favors her; he’s spoken of her before.”

“Because she’s Valerie’s daughter?” Winston asked.

“Probably, though he’s not nearly as interested in the other one. I suppose it’s because she’s in Gryffindor...” Lucius mused idly. “What does it matter? The Dark Lord will get what he wants and will not let anything stand his way.”

“Chill,” Winston hissed as Lucius took a hearty swig from his wine and responded to several screams for music by conjuring up a record player. “You’ve got to calm down Kristen.”

“I am calm,” Kristen snapped at him, though she immediately sighed and said quietly, “I’m sorry Winston. It’s just…anytime these heathens talk about my sisters I just…”

“The over protective big sister gene comes knocking at the door, I get it. I’m worried about you though. You’re usually great at hiding things, but whenever Belle and Bridget come up that façade fades away.”

“Yeah, I know,” Kristen said, cracking open a beer to help calm her nerves.

“But Lucius is gone now,” Winston said in her ear, snaking his arms around her waist from behind. “So we can just forget about him for right now, pretend to be heathens, and enjoy this party for all it’s worth.”

“With pleasure,” Kristen said with a smile, kissing him on the cheek and then joining the fray.

It wasn’t until much later in the night, when the revelers were sprawled about the floor, and the sky was sparkling in a merry way, that Kristen really thought about what had happened. Those moments…they had been the most terrifying in her life: a hundred times more than when she thought Voldermort was going to kill her, and a thousand times more so than when she first learned who her farther was. It wasn’t just that she had been horrified by the thought of not having her confidant; it was something deeper that she couldn’t even explain. It was the thought of simply not having him. Because, as she laid there against Winston, gazing up at the stars, her mind fuzzy from too much alcohol, and her eyes blurring due to the hour hand that was gradually ticking towards four, she couldn’t shake the feeling that things suddenly felt so different when she thought about Sirius. Perhaps ‘different’ wasn’t the right word, just…sharper. She was quite suddenly hyper aware of every thought towards him, every time he had touched her, every moment spent with him.

As memory after memory sped through her mind, she became increasingly uneasy. For so long she had been wanting to feel this rush of intense emotion. However, she hadn’t wanted to feel it now, when thinking of the entirely wrong boy.

*    *    *

Do I hear a chorus of "Finally!" I believe I do.

Here's a teaser for the next one, which should be out soon because of Spring Break baby!

“Before this year, I was certain that my charms and quidditch skills would win you over. I have since realized though, with quite a few beratings from Remus, that perhaps I act a little full of myself sometimes, and should not rub it in your face as that was quite counterproductive.”  - James Potter to Lily Evans

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