The day after Sirius’s party, Lily woke up feeling tired but happy. She had the feeling that Sirius might approach her today, maybe ask her out. She hoped he would – although she wasn’t sure whether she wanted a relationship to develop between herself and Sirius, she wasn’t totally against the idea. He was nice and she was attracted to him, and he seemed to like her back. The only obvious problem was James, and his all too well publicised crush on her. She thought about it, but came to the conclusion that the whole thing was more for a laugh than anything else – and that she certainly didn’t owe him anything. She could go out with who she wanted.
Lily got up and donned her everyday muggle clothes. Her plan was to get an early breakfast and maybe have a walk around the lake with whoever would join her – she loved the cold yet sunshiny weather, and planned to enjoy it. On entering the common room, Lily found Alice and Mary sitting near the newly lit fire, talking over the previous night.
“ Do you reckon anyone got caught trying to get back to their common rooms?” Alice was saying. “I know Jenny and Jack didn’t leave till at least twenty past one, and their common room’s down in the basement….”
“I know what you mean, with Filch prowling around and everything” Mary replied, “and Jenny’s an idiot, I wouldn’t be surprised if she took that shortcut that goes right past his office”
“The one behind that tapestry with the goblins on?”
“Yeah, with the… Hi Lilly!”
Lily smiled back at her friend.
“Hi” she said, “Have you two had breakfast yet?”
“Nope, but I am hungry actually…”
“Beth’ll know where we are if we go down to the great hall, won’t she?” Alice asked.
On deciding that they wouldn’t be missed, the three girls headed down to breakfast together. On the first staircase they almost bumped into Sirius Black halfway down, who was eating a piece of toast as he climbed the stairs, consciously avoiding the eyes of the girls. Lily looked at him, puzzled, but he didn’t even glance up. He was so focused on the toast in fact, that he forgot to notice the trick step which it was customary for students to avoid, and sunk into the stair with a grunt of pain.
“Oh, God…” Mary ran forward to help him. It took the combined efforts of herself and Lily to lift him out, whilst Alice hovered in the background looking concerned. Once freed, Sirius dusted himself off and shook his hair out of his eyes.
“Thanks.” He grunted, still not looking at his rescuers.
“Are you okay?” Lily asked, and his eyes flew up to her face for a brief moment before looking away again.
“Yeah, thanks” he muttered again, and ran past them back up to Gryffindor tower.
“What’s with him?” Mary wondered out loud.
“Dunno,” Lily replied, “maybe he’s just hung -over.”
However she wondered about him too. Maybe it was just because her friends were with her that he had avoided her eyes like that – or maybe he really was just hung over. However Sirius continued to avoid Lily that day and all the rest of that week, and she came to realise that he musn’t have wanted to be with her at all. She wasn’t distraught, or broken hearted, but she was angry that he had led her on, and sad that he didn’t even want to be friends anymore, as she had been growing to enjoy his company.
Lily tried not to think about Sirius too much, but this proved difficult as at the moment he was a hot topic for conversation around Hogwarts. Sirius had got himself a job in The Three Broomsticks – the local Hogsmeade pub, and rumours were flying around concerning the relationship between the young and glamourous landlady, Madame Rosmerta, and her new employee. Apparently there had always been some flirtation between Rosmerta and the Marauders– on their part, not hers, and she had used to tease them and laugh at their jokes. Most people saw Sirius’s getting the job as a sign that maybe something was ready to develop between them.
“I don’t think there’s anything in it.” Mary Macdonald told Lily, as the five girls sat in their dormitory one night. “Sirius is still too immature.”
“Think about what he looks like though,” Rachel added fairly, “We’re used to him now, but to someone who’s not, that face could do a lot of persuading.”
“Yeah well, I bet he’s persuaded half the girls in this school already.” Elizabeth added dryly, and the others laughed.
“I think we should go and check it out.” Mary said. “The next Hogsmeade weekend’s coming up, we should go and get some butterbeers and watch how they are together.”
“Spy on them? Isn’t that a bit stalkerish?”
“Just as we’re there Lily, we would have gone in for a drink anyway – let’s just be on the lookout for any tell-tale signs.” She grinned mischeviously, and Lily shook her head in exasperation.
They did visit the three Broomsticks that weekend, but, much to Mary’s disappointment, Madame Rosmerta was away. Rachel and Mary went to the bar and came back with the news that she had gone away for the weekend.
“That’s a bit sly isn’t it?” Elizabeth asked the others, “leaving him on his own when she knows it’s going to be busy with all the Hogwarts lot.”
“Maybe they’ve had a lover’s tiff?” Mary suggested.
Lily looked over at Sirius. He looked as if he was coping okay on his own – he was serving a group of excited third years, and was chatting to them as he filled them each a generous mug of Butterbeer. He was dressed in what must have been the standard Three Broomsticks uniform: black robes, white shirt and a turquoise cravat. It suited him.
“Ready to move on?” Mary asked after the girls had all drained their own mugs. They all were, and so headed off to Honeydukes, as Rachel wanted to get something from there for her mum’s birthday.
“How about the crystallized pineapple?” Lily suggested, “It looks more like a present than a lot of the stuff, and I know it’s Slughorn’s favourite.” Rachel gave her a gentle shove.
“Teacher’s pet.” She said, fondly.
Lily enjoyed her day around Hogsmeade, it had been a while since they had been out just the five of them and it was nice. Towards the end of the afternoon however, Lily realised that she had left her jacket back at the pub earlier, and doubled back for it. The others said they’d start walking back to the castle – but slowly so that she could catch up. It didn’t take Lily long to get back to the three broomsticks, as she knew well where it was. She went in to find that it was reasonably quiet, and seemed to be winding down for the day. Sirius was wiping down the bar slowly and deliberately, as if he was tired but determined not to look it. His robes were slung over a stool behind the bar and he was just in his shirt and black trousers, his sleeves were pushed up to the elbows revealing his muscular forearms, and he had also removed his cravat.
Lily tried not to stare as she passed but something about him just seemed to draw her towards him like a magnet. However she went straight to the table where she had left her jacket, keeping her eyes averted. It wasn’t there, and now she looked like an idiot. Standing back from the table, she let her face form an exaggeratedly puzzled expression, making it obvious that she had lost something.
“What have you lost?”
Sirius had moved from behind the bar and was now collecting glasses from the table behind her. He looked at her over his shoulder as he said this.
“Jacket.” She said. “No-one’s handed it in have they?”
“Yeah actually,” he replied. “Is it that dark green one you wear, velvety?”
He turned to look at her. It was obviously not apparent to him that this was their first conversation since their kiss, but then again, his face was unreadable.
“I’ve got it in the back room” he said. “Want to come through?”
He gestured to her to follow him, and led the way through a carved wooden door, marked ‘private’. For some reason this gave her a little thrill of excitement. The jacket was folded neatly on the back of a gnarled armchair, in what was evidently the staff-room. Lily guessed that this was Sirius’s chair, and that the puffier chair, more feminine in appearance, was Rosmerta’s. The chairs were in close proximity and Lily wondered, with something like jealousy, whether there really was anything between Sirius and his new boss.
“Lily” said Sirius, as if on impulse, turning to her. “I’m sorry I’ve been avoiding you.” He looked sorry too, his eyes seemed to plead with her to understand.
“If you didn’t want it to go any further between us you could have just said.” Lily told him. “I wouldn’t have been bothered.”
“You wouldn’t?” he said.
“No…” she began, but then something in his face made her stop. The steely glint in his eyes, which usually animated the handsome face, had gone. He looked hurt.
“Well I would…” she said, “but I wouldn’t have pushed it. You don’t know me that well, but I’m not like that – I don’t chase after boys that don’t want me.”
She hadn’t meant it to come out like that, she realised she sounded pathetic, but the stronger realisation was that what she had said was true. He didn’t want her, and she had to choke back a sob. Pull yourself together, she told herself, as she looked at the floor, trying desperately to stop the tears that were threatening to brim up in her green eyes. Having got her tear ducts under control, she looked proudly up into his face, showing him that she didn’t care. But his expression had changed again – he was watching her intently.
“But I do want you.” He said, and before she had a chance to respond, his lips were on hers. She grabbed hold of his waist to stop herself falling backwards as the urgentness of his kiss staggered her. He took her face in one hand and the other went round her, drawing her closer to him. She felt dizzy with excitement as he deepened the kiss, and she returned it with equal fervour. Moving as one the couple sank into the gnarled armchair, still kissing like they would die if they broke apart, but it was inevitable that their movement would separate them, and as Lily’s face tilted away from Sirius’s for a moment, she came to her senses.
“Wait” she panted breathlessly, pushing him away from her with her small but firm hand on his chest. “What are we doing?”
“I would have thought it was obvious.” Said Sirius, grinning.
“But,” she persisted, “There must have been some reason why you avoided me?”
His face clouded over.
“There was.” He said. “We shouldn’t do this.” And he dragged himself off the chair and slid to the floor, leaning his back against the arm. She pulled herself into a more secure sitting position, and looked down at him.
“You’re not that interested?” she asked, matter- of- factly. “You don’t want to hurt me.”
“I don’t want to hurt James.” He muttered.
James? Lily thought. We never even went out, and he’s gone off me now anyway.
“Oh.” She said.
“Sorry.” Said Sirius sullenly, still with his back to her. There were a few moments of silence, then Lily said
“But if James didn’t….If he didn’t used to want…”
“Yeah, but he does.”
Lily ran a hand through her hair, as was her habit when flustrated. She shuffled to the end of the chair so that her waist was level with Sirius’s shoulders.
“You’re being a good friend.”
Sirius laughed so loudly at this that the bark- like sound made Lily jump. He grabbed her legs suddenly and pulled her to the ground beside him.
“How vain can you get?” he teased. “You think you’re so hard to resist.”
She laughed with him then.
“Well you think you’re so honourable.”
“I’m not that honourable.” He replied, leaning forward again, to kiss her. His lips were inches from hers when he seemed to think better of it, and drew back.
“No.” he said. “I can’t do this.” He clambered to his feet hastily and shook his dark hair out of his eyes.
“Come on Lily” He said. “You better go.” and he put out his hand to pull her up. She sighed resignedly before placing her hand in his. He heaved her to her feet , and when she stumbled he put one arm around her waist to steady her. She smiled at him.
“You know,” Lily said “I used to think you were a heartless git – but you’re not.”
He grinned, in that mischevious way, that she had found herself missing recently.
“No.” he said, “I’m not.” And he let go of her, reaching over and picking up her velvet jacket. He held it out for her to put her arms into, and she did so slowly, savouring the moment. She could feel his eyes on her and it felt strange but nice. He was watching the way her hair shone in the firelight as she un-tucked it from the collar of her jacket and let it fall all around her. She turned to face him.
“I’ll see you around then?” she said. “Should we just go back to being… acquaintances, now?”
“How about friends?” Sirius said, looking quite solemn.
“That’s good too.” She smiled.
As they left the room and went back into the bar, Lily noticed that Alice and Elizabeth had come in to find her, and were sitting at a table with Louisa Castles and some other Ravenclaw girls. Elizabeth raised her eyebrows as she saw Lily emerge with Sirius, but none of the others were that subtle. They gaped at the two of them, open mouthed.
“Merlin,” said Sirius. “It’ll be round the whole castle tomorrow that we were at it in the back room of the three broomsticks.”
“no-o” said Lily, drawing out the word. “They wouldn’t spread rumours, they’re my mates.”
“Yeah,” said Sirius. “But girls gossip, I know that much, especially that Ravenclaw lot. And I thought Ravenclaws were supposed to be smart – they don’t look too smart now, bloody gormless.”
“Shhhh!” Lily said, shoving him, while trying not to laugh. She muttered a goodbye, but as soon as he went back into the staff room, she felt a little ache of loss. She liked him a lot, but it looked like they were never going to be a couple.
“Hello!” Louisa greeted her, as Lily reached their table. It was one of the only occupied tables in the pub, and excepting a few old warlocks dotted around the room, everywhere was quiet, just before the evening rush.
“What’ve you been up to then?”
“I just came to get my jacket.” She replied casually, “I left it before.”
“You’ve been in there a long time.” Said Aimee, a friend of Louisa’s. She had sharp blue eyes, black hair and an ear for gossip. She was also an ex-girlfriend of Sirius’s.
“Yeah, Sirius had put it somewhere safe, except he forgot where.” Lily lied. “It turned up eventually though.”
The other girls looked at her searchingly.
“That was nice of him – to keep it safe for you.”
“He probably didn’t know it was mine.”
Lily tucked her hair behind her ears, feeling self conscious. She turned to Alice and Elizabeth.
“How come you two are here? I thought you were heading back.”
“We were, but we thought we’d come and wait for you – the other two have gone ahead.” said Alice.
“You ready to go then?” Elizabeth asked. Lily nodded, and the other two got up to follow her back to the castle – the Ravenclaw girls wanted to stay a bit longer.
“Thanks for waiting for me.” Lily told her friends.
“No problem.” They answered.
As they left through the front entrance, Lily spotted Sirius out of the corner of her eye. He was back at the bar serving a tall, thin wizard, and he saw her looking and smiled at her. The smile caused her heart to flop over inside her chest, but she smiled back, controlling the urge to run back to him and throw herself into his arms.
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