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I climbed quietly down the ladder in the linen closet and stepped lightly across the floor, avoiding the spots where I knew it creaked.
I lingered at the bottom of the stairs in the flower shop, staring through the twisting stems and leaves towards the door where a dark shape was huddled outside.
The flower shop looked like a wildly overgrown garden in the dark, but it was oddly comforting, being surrounded by the sweet smells.
I turned the lock on the door, being careful to open it slowly so as not to disrupt the bell that normally would jingle.
I slipped outside quickly, letting the door close quietly behind me.
“What happened to you?” Severus asked sharply, taking in my appearance. My hand jumped automatically to my hair, remembering that I’d let it down for the first time in who knows how long…
“Is it bad?” I asked, completely forgetting for a moment that I was supposed to be ridiculously mad at him.
“No, it’s… it’s nice,” Severus muttered, his dark eyes lingering on my face.
I stared back at him for a moment, unsure of what to say next. He looked worn down, tired, and anxious as he stood in front of me. It was almost like the past two months had never happened. He still looked like the same boy I’d grown up with. He was still my Severus…
But he was also the same boy who had fallen so deep into the Dark Arts that it had caused him to lash out at me and to learn dark spells that no respectable wizard should ever know.
“What do you want, Sev,” I said tensely as memories of June filled my head.
Mudblood! Mudblood! Mudblood! His voice echoed in my head.
“Why did you change your hair?” Severus pressed on, shaking his head.
“It just… it doesn’t matter,” I sputtered, thrown by his insistence on the subject. “I just thought I’d try something different.”
“It’s not because of him, is it?” Severus asked, his voice seeping with disdain. I knew which him he was referring to and it made my stomach twist uncomfortably.
“It doesn’t matter why I did it, Sev,” I huffed, growing annoyed with him. “Now, why are you here?”
“Look,” Severus said, his eyes dropping to the ground. “I am really sorry about what happened. I was just so angry and fed up with Potter and I lashed out…at the wrong person. You know I’d never intentionally call you a… a you-know-what in a million years.”
“But you did,” I said quietly.
“And I’ve regretted it every second of every day since it happened,” Severus said urgently, running a hand distractedly through his dark hair. I couldn’t help but notice that he didn’t have quite the same elegance that Potter did when he performed the same move. I wondered idly if Sev was trying to imitate him.
Like he’d ever admit to that…
“It’s just… you of all people, Sev,” I whispered, looking away from him towards the moonlit river so he wouldn’t see the tears welling up in my eyes.
“I don’t know what else I can do to make you believe how sorry I am,” Sev said anxiously, shoving his hands deep into his pockets.
“You know, you can’t make me believe anything,” I said pointedly, crossing my arms.
“I didn’t mean… I wasn’t…” Severus sputtered apologetically and I giggled despite myself and the situation. The laugh didn’t sound like my own, it was foreign; I hadn’t laughed all summer and it felt good… normal. Only I wish it wasn’t Severus who was making me laugh. It made it all the more difficult to be mad at him.
“What is so funny?” He snapped, glaring at me from behind his curtain of dark hair.
“I forgot how flustered you get when you think I’ve misunderstood you,” I chuckled, tucking my long behind my ears. If I were to be completely honest, I really did miss him… But I knew I couldn’t forgive him for what he’d said. And yet, if I was truly going to start being laid back, I suppose I could give him a second chance, right?
“So glad it amuses you,” Severus pouted, his shoulders slouching.
I sighed and tugged on his sleeve, gesturing to the stone bench at the river’s edge. “Let’s sit down.”
Severus dropped ungracefully onto the bench while I curled my legs underneath me.
“Look,” I took a deep breath, my eyes finding his in the dim light from the moon. “I don’t think I’m ready to forgive you for what happened just yet.”
Severus closed his eyes in silent defeat but I pressed on.
“But… I’ll work on it,” I said and Severus opened his eyes to peer at me. “I’m not exactly known for keeping my cool around Potter either. We all do stupid things.”
“So… what does this mean?” Severus breathed, his dark eyes reflecting the moonlight.
“It means that I’m giving you a second chance,” I said slowly, watching as Severus’s face relaxed considerably. “But there are a few things I need to ask of you…”
“Anything,” Severus said quickly, his eager eyes not leaving mine.
“You cannot hex anyone from my house,” I said sternly and he frowned slightly. “And for Merlin’s sake, try not to let your friends do it either, alright?”
“Does that include—“
“Yes, that includes Potter,” I cut him off, and he scowled. “I know most of the time he deserves it, but I’m still a Prefect and I can’t allow it.”
“Fine…” Severus muttered through clenched teeth. I was surprised that he wasn’t putting up more a fight against the no-hexing-Potter rule.
“And one last thing,” I breathed, looking down at my fingers as they traced the cool stone bench beneath them. “I don’t care where or how or when you learned that spell you used on Potter by the lake, but if I ever see you do something like that again, then I’m sorry but I can’t be friends with you anymore.”
“It won’t happen again, I promise,” Severus said sincerely and I gave him a small smile.
I sighed and looked back towards the river, watching as two white swans floated past us with their heads tucked under their wings.
“So do you have to go to bed or… erm, do you maybe want to go for a walk or something?” Severus stuttered, dropping his dark brooding eyes to the ground. “Like old times?”
“I could go for a walk, I suppose,” I nodded. I was already not going to get enough sleep tonight, what’s another hour or two?
I pushed myself off the bench, heading down the street along the river.
“Did you get your O.W.L. results?” Severus asked tentatively, falling into step beside me.
“All O’s,” I nodded and his face split into a huge smile.
“Brilliant, of course,” He nodded and I felt myself blush. “I did alright. Half O’s and half E’s. But I’ll still get to take all the N.E.W.T.S. courses I wanted.”
“So I guess that means we’ll be in the same Potions class this year,” I said, glancing sideways at him and smiling. “That’s never happened before. We’ll be unstoppable. I wonder what kind of things we’ll be doing…”
“Slughorn told me at the end of the year that we’d be doing a Hate Potion, which sounds kind of complicated and I’m not sure why you’d want to ever brew a Hate Potion, but if Slughorn thinks it’ll be on the exam, it must be important…” Severus began rambling, barely pausing for me to respond.
I glanced behind me at the flower shop, making sure I’d closed the door and looked up to see the light in Petunia’s bedroom still on. Her face was silhouetted in the window and I realized she had been watching us.
“And then he also said we’d be doing Veritaserum which I didn’t think we would be doing until seventh year, but he said he wants us to get enough practice with it so it must be on the N.E.W.T.s too,” Severus continued happily.
I smiled at him, remembering how we used to spend hours during the past summers speculating about what the following year would bring.
At least some things were back to normal…
* * * *
“Lily Evans, get your cute little arse over here!” A shrill voice broke through the crowd of people at the train station and I looked up.
A bright blond head was bobbing towards me through the people and before I could prepare myself, Anna crashed into me, sending me sprawling backwards onto my trunk.
“Lily!” Scarlet squealed, diving on top of us and I let out a grunt as she landed on top of me.
Passersby gave us odd looks as Anna and Scarlet pulled me up from my trunk but we didn’t pay any attention to them.
“Tell us all about your summer! You barely said anything in your letters,” Anna scolded me playfully, looping her arm through mine as Scarlet grabbed my trunk.
“It wasn’t that exciting,” I told them, as we rode the escalator down to the underground. “I worked and Petunia kindly reminded me daily how horrible I’ve made her life.”
“She needs to get over herself,” Scarlet scoffed, as she dragged my bag into the subway car that opened its doors as it stopped in front of us.
“Look at it this way, you don’t have to deal with her for another ten months,” Anna said, pulling me down onto the bench next to her.
“That’s true,” I nodded steadying myself as the car lurched forward. I wasn’t sure if that thought made me feel better or worse. Either way, I didn’t want to think about my sister anymore.
“What have you been doing this summer?” I asked Anna.
“I think a more appropriate question is who has she been doing this summer,” Scarlet giggled and Anna rolled her eyes at her.
“You didn’t…” I stared at Anna, my mouth open.
“I didn’t sleep with anyone, Scarlet’s just exaggerating,” Anna said, leaning forward and scowling at Scarlet around me.
“Well?” I pressed when Anna didn’t elaborate.
“ I just had a few flings with the boys in my town,” Anna shrugged, her chocolate brown eyes twinkling deviously.
“A few,” Scarlet snorted. “Try eleven.”
“Eleven?” I shrieked, making all the heads in our car turn towards us and Anna pinched my arm.
“Shhh, people will think I’m some kind of hussy,” Anna hissed at me and I laughed.
“Where on earth would they get that impression?” I snickered. “To be considered a hussy you would have needed to have gotten with at least twelve boys.”
“Oh, shut up,” Anna shoved me playfully as the Underground came to a screeching halt. Scarlet led us out of the car and up the stairs.
The stairs led us up to a small square. There was a park in the middle with a winding path covered by tall trees and dotted with gardens. Surrounding the park was a wall of townhouses, each identical. The darkened brick buildings towered over us as Scarlet led us down the sidewalk towards the end of the street.
She stopped in front of one of the dark black doors trimmed in gold and I stared up at the building. A giant golden “3” was mounted above the door and Scarlet quickly unlatched the black gate, beckoning us to climb the steep steps up to the front door.
Scarlet’s house had always fascinated me. Her family was obviously well-off to live in this kind of area in London. The foyer was grand, an enormous wooden staircase winding up to the first floor to the left of us and the ornately decorated hallway stretching out before us that led to the kitchen and dining room.
“Mum! Dad! We’re home,” Scarlet called, her voice echoing around the large house. No one answered and Scarlet shrugged at us. “Well, they’re around here somewhere. We can say hello to them later.”
There was a loud crack and a poof of smoke and a small creature appeared before us, making Anna and I jump back slightly. Neither of us had a house-elf and it always startled us when we came to Scarlet’s house.
“There you are, Tiggy,” Scarlet said brightly, bending down towards the small elf who was sporting an orange and black tiger-striped pillow-case. “Can you take Lily’s trunk up to my room?”
Tiggy nodded happily, her tiny fingers hooking around the handle of my trunk and disappeared with another crack!
We spent the rest of the day catching up on everything that had happened during the summer. We wandered around the city idly, window-shopping and drinking coffee and we ended up in the park outside Scarlet’s house as the sun sank behind the tall houses.
The three of us were seated on a bench facing the street, just a few houses down from Scarlet’s and I had started telling them about my midnight visitor last night.
“I can’t believe you finally talked to him,” Scarlet muttered, her fingers scratching idly at her paper coffee cup.
“I just couldn’t take it anymore,” I sighed. “He showed up at the shop almost every day. What was I supposed to do?”
“I think it was good you talked to him,” Anna said and I glanced over at her.
“You do?” Scarlet and I asked at the same time though our inflections differed greatly.
“Yes,” Anna said slowly, glancing between my and Scarlet’s incredulous looks. “I mean, you were friends for such a long time and yes, it was horrible what he said to you, but it was a mistake and look how hard he’s tried to make it up to you!”
“He called her a mudblood, Annie,” Scarlet reminded her breezily.
“They grew up together, Scar,” Anna answered for me. “It would be like you and Sirius not talking…”
“That’s completely different,” Scarlet said carelessly.
“It’s not different at all and you know it,” Anna retorted.
I glanced back and forth between my friends, taken aback by how passionate they seemed to be on the subject of my friendship with Severus.
“For one thing, Sirius has never called me a… a you-know-what,” Scarlet said and Anna glared at her. Scarlet was pureblood so no one had ever called her a mudblood. “And for another, Sirius isn’t in Slytherin.”
“Slytherins aren’t all that bad,” I said quietly and Scarlet and Anna both looked at me as if they had forgotten I was sitting in between them.
“Well, they’re not,” I said defensively. “Sirius’s brother is in Slytherin, isn’t he?”
“Have you met Regulus?” Scarlet scowled, flipping her long, dark, hair over her shoulder as she glanced down the street at the giant house with the large gold “12” on it.
“No, but he’s Sirius’s brother, how bad can he be?” I asked innocently, looking sideways at Anna who looked just as perplexed as I did. All I knew of Sirius’s younger brother was that he was in Slytherin. I’d never had any classes with him and only knew him by sight. He had the same shaggy black hair and piercing gray eyes as Sirius.
“His entire family’s been in Slytherin, ‘cept for him,” Scarlet explained, glaring up at the Black house. “They were really upset when he was put in Gryffindor. Wrote a letter to Dumbledore himself, trying to move him.”
“No way,” I said, not understanding how someone could be upset about a placement in Gryffindor.
Scarlet nodded. “They’re all about this pure-blood mania, his family. Sirius thinks its all bollucks though.”
I frowned, never having realized what kind of family Sirius came from. No wonder he and Potter reacted to strongly when Severus called me a mudblood. No wonder Scarlet was so sensitive about the whole Severus thing…
“What do they think of you? Since you’re in Gryffindor?” Anna asked. We knew Scarlet and Sirius spent a lot of time together during the summers, but she never went into much detail about it.
“I don’t think they care too much,” Scarlet shrugged. “I mean, they’ve always been friendly with my family since we’re purebloods, too. I think they just saw Sirius as a disappointment, him not being in Slytherin like the rest of his family.”
“That’s really strange,” Anna said softly, narrowing her eyes at the giant building.
“Let’s not talk about Sirius or Severus anymore,” I suggested, sensing that this topic was beginning to become a source of tension for Scarlet.
Scarlet gave me a grateful smile and turned away from the Black house.
Anna opened her mouth to say something but her words were lost as something exploded inside the Black house.We all wheeled towards the sound in surprise, gazing up at the ominous building. Lights illuminated the windows on the second floor and shouting erupted inside, though the words were unintelligible.
Anna and I glanced over at Scarlet, whose eyebrows were pulled together in concern.
The shouting grew louder and suddenly we heard every word they were saying.
“—Don’t know what it means to be part of the Black family!” A woman’s voice shrieked, piercing through the still summer air.
“I know what it bloody well means!” A voice shouted back and Anna and I snapped our heads towards Scarlet. We all recognized that voice… it was hard not to.
Scarlet’s lips were pressed into a hard line as she squinted towards the disruption.
“You can’t toe this line anymore!” The woman’s voice screeched. “You’re either in this family or you’re not.”
I heard Sirius’s voice shout something back, though I couldn’t understand what he said.
Lights turned on in other rooms in the house, making a kind of trail down to the front door, which burst open with a crack!
A figure toppled out onto the porch, dragging something large behind him.
The porch lights flared to life and we all gasped as Sirius was illuminated, clutching the handle of his trunk in one hand, his wand grasped in the other.
He dragged his trunk, with some effort, down to the bottom of the stairs before the door slammed open again, the silhouette of a tall, statuesque man illuminated by the light within.
“Sirius Orion Black! Stop right there!” The man roared, stepping onto the porch where we could clearly see his face. He looked like an older version of Sirius, slightly taller with longer hair that was pulled away from his face and tied at the nape of his neck.
Sirius paused, turning back towards his house stiffly as the tall man descended the stairs towards him.
“Get back inside. You’re making a scene,” The man sniffed, his voice full of impatience and disdain.
“You heard her,” Sirius growled, folding his arms across his chest. “I’m either in this family or I’m not.”
“So you’re just going to leave? Run away?” The man, I assumed it was Sirius’s father, said evenly. His voice was haughty, as if he couldn’t care less whether Sirius stayed or not. “I thought Gryffindors were supposed to be brave.”
Sirius visibly winced at that and turned away from his father towards the street.
“I’m not running away,” He said angrily. “I’m taking myself out a toxic environment.”
There was another loud bang and a flash of light from the second floor and Sirius glanced back at the window briefly.
“Besides, I think she’s made it perfectly clear that I’m not welcome here anymore,” Sirius said quietly, so quietly that I almost didn’t catch his words.
“You know what this means, then, once you leave,” Sirius’s father sighed as if he were entirely bored with the situation. “Don’t bother coming back.”
“I didn’t plan on it,” Sirius muttered as he picked up his trunk and yanked it forwards, dragging it after him as he headed down the street.
His father stared after him for a moment before turning hastily and closing the large front door behind him. One last explosion from the second story made the windows shudder and then everything was silent.
A/N: Ok everyone! New chapter! So Lily's given Severus a second chance, the girls are reunited, and Sirius just got chucked out of his house... drama! I hope you all liked it! A lot more Sirius in the next chapter as well as James :)
Love it? Hate it? Either way I'd love to know what you think! Leave a review :)
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