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                I felt slightly bad for leaving James with his emotional mother while Sirius and I ran off, but after we said our goodbyes I think he understood why we were doing what we were doing.  He was just a little peeved he couldn’t come along for our grand adventure.  I however was slightly thankful for the time alone with Sirius. He and I had a lot to work out and I was glad that James, my overprotective brother figure, wasn’t going to be around to effect what we decided.

                We left the Potter manor for Diagon Alley in a state of unforeseen bliss.  I mean sure I had just got kicked out and my abusive father was trying to fight for custody, but I was with Sirius so life was ultimately good. We checked into the Leaky Cauldron, got a room and spent the rest of the day acting like a lovesick teenage couple cuddled up in bed.

                The next day we spent in Diagon Alley was less cute and cuddly.  Mrs. Potter sent an owl apologizing for jumping off the deep end and begging us to come back.  The moment Sirius read it to me I commented he could throw it in the fire or take her up on her offer because I couldn’t be bothered.  We argued for a good fifteen minutes before he called me “insufferably stubborn” and stormed out.  I don’t think I’ve ever cried that much in my entire life.

                After my tear ducts were completely empty I began to wise up a bit.  I realized that at the end of the day the only person who was really looking out for me was me and I had to take care of myself no matter what.  Around that time I sent an owl to my father, asking him to met me in Diagon Alley later that day.  It made me feel like some sort of corrupt bureaucrat when I did it, but I had to stabilize my life.  An hour later the owl returned with a note telling me to meet him at five out in front of the Leaky Cauldron and that I better not waste his time.

                I checked my watch to find it was ten to five so I opened my trunk and pulled out the bulging charmed money bag that held contents twenty times the size of the bag I had filled with the contents of my Gringotts account and my brother’s account.  Time to go strike a deal with the devil, I inwardly sighed, flattening the jumper.

                Part of me was terrified to go meet the man who had done so much damage to my life.  I tried to wave off the fear, reminding myself that courage wasn’t fearlessness, but ability to feel fear yet do it anyway.

                After a series of intense pep talks I managed to talk myself into stuffing the money bag into my coat pocket and started my slow trudge to meet my father.

                My father was waiting in front of the Leaky Cauldron, leaned against the brick wall in his usual suit and tie, excreting enough pureblood arrogance anyone within two feet of him would probably suffocate on it.  “Sophia,” he nodded at me in acknowledgment.

                I nodded back, my throat still clenched up from the anxiety and restlessness I was feeling about meeting him.

                “You said you had a proposition,” he went straight to business instinctively.  It was probably just a learned second nature after the years he spent as CEO.

                I nodded, “We should probably go somewhere a little less conspicuous.”

                He nodded in agreement, “I know a place.”  He pushed off the wall and started down the cobblestone street without another word.  I followed wordlessly, fingering the wand and money bag in my pocket.

                He led me to a very familiar restaurant.  I had remembered going there with my mother once when my father had been for a business meeting.  She had been called in last minute to work while the nanny was out sick with dragon pox and she needed my father to watch me.  He was not impressed to say the least.  After he and my mum had argued outside the restaurant for a good ten minutes he accused her of being a work addict and then stormed back into the restaurant.  I spent the remainder of that meeting at another table across the restaurant alone, occupying myself with shredding the paper napkins.  I must have been well-behaved too because my father forgot I was there and left me there.  It wasn’t until closing time that a young waitress flooed me home and my father realized I was missing.

                “You coming?” my father asked me as he went to enter the restaurant.  I looked around, not realizing that as the memory of my neglected childhood came around I had stopped on the building’s threshold.

                I nodded in reply, burying my rage and resentment before following him inside the elegant lounge.  He gracefully waved off the hostess and continued to a quaint corner table.  He sat down on one side and I sat at the other.

                “Talk,” he instructed in a brisk, strictly business manner.

                I resisted the urge to jump over the table and slit his throat with his own butter knife.  I needed him after all as sad as I was to admit it.  “You know,” I started out conversationally, knowingly testing his patience, “When I was seven you left me in this restaurant for nearly five hours all by myself. Mum made you take me here because you had some business meeting and you shooed me off to the other end of the building where you didn’t have to deal with me anymore.”

                I could see his jaw clench, “Did I really?”

                “Mhm,” I nodded, continuing.  “You then forgot me here and one of the waitresses had to floo me home when the restaurant closed.”

                He shifted uncomfortably in his seat, his jaw set.  “Do you have a point behind your trip down memory lane or are you just wasting my time?”

                I had expected the ice in his voice, but it still nearly made me flinch.  “I just want to make it very clear where I stand.  I hate you.  If I thought you were worth it I’d murder you for all the problems you’ve caused me.  What I’m about to propose is strictly business.”

                He winced at my words, almost twitching.  “I see.”

                “I know you don’t care for me much.  I suppose if you did you wouldn’t go around throwing me through windows, would you?”  I paused for a moment to give him time to argue with me but he remained silent.  “Since we obviously don’t like each other and I’m sure your new replacement family is quite glad that I’m out of the picture I want to find a way that we can both stay out of each other’s lives.”

                “What do you suggest?” he seemed a little more hopeful as I began to speak more about business than the messy issue of emotions.

                “I’ll buy your cooperation,” the words felt dirty as I said them but I remained strong.  “I’ve been recently informed about your unfortunate financial situation.  I figure that you need money and I have money that we might be able to work something out.”

                He sat up straighter in his seat, his coal black eyes shining with enthusiasm.  “I’m listening.”

                “I’ll give you the deed to Charlie’s house in Scotland if you never interfere with my life again,” I offered boldly, not wanting to beat around the bush anymore.  “I’ll even rent the cottage in Kent that Great Uncle Nelson left in his will until I turn eighteen and it gets signed over to me.  500 galleons a month.”

                His eyes grew wide at what I was suggesting, obviously not expecting a plush offer.  “You do realize your brother’s house is worth nearly three thousand galleons, right?’

                “I hear your new wife has an appetite for the finer things in life.  You can sell Charlie’s place or keep it as a second home.  Personally I don’t give a shit what you do with it,” I replied with a wave of nonchalant.  “I want my freedom and I’m going to get it.”

                He rubbed his chin for a moment, looking as if he were thinking rather deeply about this whole situation.  I waited impatiently for his answer, tapping my foot against the wooden floor.  “Fine, but I want the rent paid up front.  That’s 2000 galleons for December, January, February and March.”

                I rolled my eyes, not bothering to argue with him about the fact it was already past halfway into December and my birthday was within the first week of March.  I just nodded in agreement, reaching into my pocket.  I fished out a handful of gold coins and began counting.

                It took me ten minutes to count out all 200 galleons, but it was well worth it.  He grinned at all the gold on the table after I finished counting it.  He then began to shovel as much of the money as he could into his pockets.

                “I want it in writing,” I told him, crossing my arms in front of me.

                He nodded, pulling a muggle pen out of his coat pocket.  I wasn’t surprised that he’d have a muggle contraption on him.  He was a businessman who did business with anyone who was willing and had enough pocket change.

                He began writing away on a napkin and I watched in satisfaction.  It felt good to know the man who had pushed me around and abused me for so long was finally taking my orders.  He bit his lip while he wrote, his eyes determinedly never straying from the paper as he wrote.  Finally he pushed it across the table and looked up, “Good enough?”

                I quickly read it over and nodded, “Now sign it and we’ll be done.”

                He grudgingly took the napkin back and penned his elegant, looping signature before handing it to me.  “Good we’re finished.”

                I nodded, swiftly getting to my feet as my still very stuffed money bag jingled its coins.  “I’ll see you at the funeral I guess,” I told him as a parting remark.  “I’ll owl you the deed within the next few days.”  With that I strode out of the restaurant in the most dignified and poised manner I could with a smirk stuck on my face.  I had won.  I had finally beat the system for once and it felt bloody fabulous.

                There was almost a cocky swagger to my walk as I flounced back to the Leaky Cauldron to collect my things.  I walked into the place like I owned it, almost imitating the cocky arrogance James and Sirius seemed to use to have.

                Sirius was waiting for me when I got back, lounging on the bed like it was an everyday occurrence that we get in a huge argument and he leaves me.  “Miss me?” he grinned cheekily at me.

                “With every Avada Kedavra,” I retorted briskly.

                He lightly jumped off the bed and wrapped his arms around me while I began to repack the kittens into their boxes.  “I’m sorry I reacted the way I did, love.  You have to understand-“

                “I don’t have to bloody understand anything,” I angrily retorted, pushing his arms away.  “You sure as hell don’t understand so why should I?”

                “What don’t I understand?” his anger began to rise.  “Please explain it to me since I’m so bloody stupid I obviously have no idea what you’re going on about.”

                My eyes flashed dangerously and then all hell really broke loose.  “I was abused, Sirius.  I was neglected and abandoned.  I didn’t have a James or a Remus around to pick me up after my crazy family knocked me down.  I have only survived as long as I have because I don’t give second chances.  So I’m sorry if I offended the closest person you have to a good mum and I’m sorry if you think I’m insufferably stubborn but frankly I don’t give a shit. I’m sorry you have to deal with my sometimes crazy and seemingly paranoid behavior but you’re here of your own free will.  I’m not keeping you here so if you’re going to stick around then you’re just going to have to deal with it.”  I felt almost lightheaded the words came out so fast and without pausing to breathe.

                “I’m sorry, love, but that’s ridiculous,” he replied evenly with a cool sense of indifference.

                “Really?  So you’re telling me that if you were abandoned and neglected and abused by people who swore they loved you that you would just openly trust everyone?  I’m damaged goods, Sirius, something I warned you a long time before you got this involved.  If you can’t handle that then you can leave like all the other men in my life.  You know what?  I think men just might be the devil.  In that spirit I’m going to go join a monk-less convent.”

                There was no pause between my mildly anti-men rant and Sirius pressing me against the wooden wall.  “First of all I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting myself into long before I got your background information.  Second of all I’m not going to leave you until you make me.  Lastly you’re not joining a convent because I’m pretty sure they won’t let you do all the dirty, sinful things I plan to do to you.  Though on second thought if you knew all those naughty, wicked things you might be a little more avid about joining a convent.”

                The old butterflies came fluttering back into my stomach and I could feel myself become flush.  “Stop doing that,” I commanded with absolutely no authority in my voice at all.

                “Doing what, love?” his stormy grey eyes bored into me with a lustful look I was only beginning to get accustomed to.

                “Using sex to try to make everything okay again,” I replied in an annoyed voice while my heart tried to return to its normal pace.

                He smirked at me, “It’s a little hard to use sex to make everything alright when we don’t actually have sex.”

                I was tempted to smack that smirk right off his face.  “Remind me when we get back to Hogwarts to hex off any of my body parts that are causing you to some sex driven prick.  Until then please go home to your adoptive mother and leave me alone.”  I somewhat violently shoved him off of me while I still had my pride intact.

                He seemed shocked by my sudden rage towards him, “Sophie, what’s going on with you?”

                “I don’t know what you’ve done with the Sirius who was around a week ago, but if you’re his replacement then you can just do me a favour and get out of my life. I’m not a slag, I don’t make a habit out of sleeping with any guy who shows interest and I’m not going to be some conquest you can brag about in the Qudditch locker room, okay?  As much as I regret it right now I love you and I’m not going to waste whatever relationship we have for some one night stand.  Now make up your mind and stop playing with me or just stop wasting my time.”

                He seemed startled by my aggression towards our relationship problem.  In fact he was probably so used to girls letting him treat them in such a provocative, almost objectifying behavior that none of them put him in his place.  “Sophie, I didn’t mean to-“

                “I can’t do this now,” I waved him off, shaking my head.  “I just had a meeting with my father and made a deal with the devil.  I can’t do this right now.  I’m not- I’m not up for this.”

                “What happened, love?  Are you alright?  Did he file the paperwork? Did he hurt you?  I swear if he hurt you I’ll-“ he trailed out with a menacing growl.

                “Sh, no, pet,” I shook my head, being reminded of why Sirius was the main man in my life.  “I don’t know how you’re going to take this.  I kind of paid him off so he won’t give me anymore trouble.”

                “What?” he gave me an astounded look.

                “I need some stability in my life, Sirius.  How can I live my life if I’m constantly worrying and waiting for my father to come collect me so he can throw me out another window?  I know it’s dirty and kind of corrupt, but I need to be stable.”

                He sighed deeply, nodding in understanding.  “I know.  Is that why you’re packing?  Are you moving back in with him?”

                “No.  Do you remember what I told you about my family and money?  About how my Great Uncle left me that cottage near Kent?  I’m renting it until I come of age and I get ownership.”

                “Why couldn’t you just stay here for the holiday?”

                I sighed.  “I’m tired of staying in inns, Sirius. I’m tired of not having a place to call home.”

                “Ah.”  He inhaled deeply before exhaling.  He kissed my temple, “I love you, Sophie.  Even if you and I aren’t physically together you need to remember you’re still my baby and if anyone tries to take you away from me I’ll break their neck.”

                I should have been mortified by this show of possessive threats of violence, but I was more flattered.  “What do you mean that we’ll be physically apart?  You don’t honestly think that you’re going to get out of living with me, do you?  Because it’s going to get lonely and I’m going to need a roommate to cuddle up with during the cold nights.”

                He tried his best to repress a happy smile, “Well I am pretty good at cuddling and keeping you warm.”

                I smiled openly at him, reaching up to kiss his jaw.  It was the only thing I could reach since he was so much taller than me, but he didn’t seem to complain.  “My thoughts exactly.”

                “Shall we go?” he offered me his arm.

                I nodded, “It’s time to go home.”

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