“I should have known he wasn't going to let us explain.” Sirius grumbled as he continued the rant he had started about Cassie and Slughorn as soon as they left Slughorn's classroom. “Of course he would automatically take that toads side. She's in his bloody house.”
Brooke couldn't help but roll her eyes at Sirius as she thought back to the incident. “She did it on purpose Black. For someone who's meant to know everything you don't half take your time clocking these things.” She glanced over to him to see him glare at her, sending her daggers. “Besides, whether it was him or Minnie, it didn't look good for us did it?”
James kept his mouth shut, shaking his head at his two best friends as they bickered like a couple of first years.
“Well if you could keep that little temper of yours in check none of us would be here would we?” Sirius retorted.
“Shut up, Black!” Brooke felt herself getting more irate as the handsome man pushed all of the blame onto her. “I never asked you to jump in. You do have self-control, don't you?” Her voice betrayed her, revealing just how annoyed she was. “Or do you have to involve yourself in everything James does. He can look after himself you know.”
“Guys can you please stop bickering for one day.” James grabbed both of them by their shoulders. “I'm going to bash your heads together if you don't.” He feigned smashing their heads into one another which only gained him a dead arm from Sirius.
Letting out a bark of laughter, Sirius got out of arms reach from James knowing it was only a matter of time before he retaliated.
Meanwhile James kept his arm around Brooke who had snaked her arm around his waist. The all too familiar scent of Irish Spring soap and a tiny hint of cologne tickled her nostrils making her visibly relax into the only family she currently had.
The three of them rushed into the Great hall, Brooke pulling away from James and making her way to Lily, who sighed at the sight of James.
Before anyone could sit down James squeezed past Brooke, taking the seat next to Lily. “So, how is my sweet on this glorious evening?”
Pinching the bridge of her nose with her finger and thumb Lily took a deep breath. “Potter.” She grimaced with gritted teeth. “When will you give it a rest?” Her jaw remained clenched as she stared at Alice who was sitting directly ahead of her.
“I'll give it a rest when you say yes to a date.” James put on his most charming smile, but Lily just shook her head.
“I wouldn't say yes if you were the last man on earth Potter!” Her voice was getting more agitated by the obsessive behaviour. “It's never going to happen!” Lily stood up from the table, leaving her barely touched dinner. “I'll see you in the dorm later Brooke.” And with that she stormed off with Alice close on her heels.
Brooke couldn't help but let out a sigh. Her two best friends hadn't ever gotten along, not that James hadn't tried. But Brooke couldn't help but feel torn constantly. Torn between taking sides. Of course she wanted James to be happy, and apparently being with Lily would make him happy. But she also wanted James to stop chasing Lily, even for a little bit.
“She's never going to say yes if you continue like that.” Brooke, who was sitting opposite James, put some carbonara on her plate. “Stop chasing her James. Show her that you've grown up. That you're not the same boy who started chasing her in third year.” She started playing with her food, having a small mouthful every now and then.
Sirius, who had been shovelling steak and ale pie into his mouth looked at James. “She has a point.” His words were barely recognisable with a mouth full of food.
“How you ever manage to get a girl is a shocker!” Brooke cried as she avoided the food spraying out of Sirius' mouth.
Swallowing his food Sirius flashed her a cheeky grin, a sparkle was in his eyes. “We never really do much eating together.” He winked at her.
“They wouldn't do anything with you if they saw how you eat.” She scoffed back.
“You ever think I just eat like this to put you off, Princess?”
Brooke let out a loud, fake laugh. “Your personality already does that for you.” She flashed a sarcastic smile back at him.
“Guys.” James sighed rubbing his head. “Can we get back to my problem please.” His usual smile was no longer on his face. In fact, it looked as though he was genuinely hurt.
Brooke stopped the laugh that threatened to escape her lips as she took in the sight of him. “Listen James, you're too persistent. You've been doing the same things since third year. Just back off. Make her think she's not that special to you.”
“Look at you trying to trick your best friend.” Sirius jeered.
Brooke rolled her eyes. “When you think about it, I'm helping both my best friend and my brother. She gets a break, and it'll probably lead to her missing his attention.” She thought for a moment. “Maybe.”
* * * * *
The cold air hit Brooke's face as she got outdoors. The rain pelting her face causing her curly hair to cling to it. Her feet were sinking slightly in the wet mud. Rather than continuing the walk her impatience got the better of her and she swung herself onto her broomstick and kicked off into the air.
In that moment Brooke became one with the wind. Soaring high in the sky, her mind went blank. Every single problem that she had didn't matter up there. Any issue was unimportant. It was just her and her broomstick and absolutely nothing else.
When she finally got to the quidditch pitch James had already started everyone off, so they were following Sirius, so he could send the students away that weren't up to scratch. By the looks of it there was a good crowd trying out this year. And with only two spots to fill Brooke could tell it was going to be a long process.
Continuing to fly towards everybody, Brooke only stopped to hover when she was directly next to James.
“Nice of you to join us.” He was obviously in a bit of a strop with Brooke but that only made her roll her eyes at him.
“Come on, I'm here now.” Brooke let out a sigh as she took in James' grumpy face. The way his eyebrows furrowed and he stuck his bottom lip out ever so slightly.
“Well at least act like you want to be here.” A sigh escaped from James' lips as lightening flashed across the sky. “Let's just get this over with shall we?”
Brooke glanced up at everyone following Sirius and turned to James.
“He can't come with us, J.”
“What are you talking about?” James' raised his eyebrow at her before following her gaze to Sirius.
“Christmas.” Brooke couldn't help but admire the grace that Sirius' had whenever he was on his broom but quickly shot the thought out of her head. “Black can't come with us.”
“I know you don't like him; but you need to remember he was the one that found out they were alive.” James assumed it was all to do with Brooke's dislike for his friend.
“It's nothing like that!” Brooke could feel herself getting worked up.
“So stop being stupid, Brooke!” His voice was raised, gaining the attention of everyone else on the pitch.
“Stupid?” Brooke stared at James in shock, not paying any attention to anyone watching the show. “Why don't you stop backing him up for once and accept that maybe there's actually a reason for why I'm saying this!”
Sirius got everyone to fly circuits, throwing a quaffle between them as he went and landed beside James.
“So go on then. Tell me what your problem is with Sirius this time.”
Brooke glanced at Sirius, her eyes lingering on his for a moment. She shook her head and took a deep breath, giving up.
“So we'll all go. Okay Brooke.” It wasn't a suggestion, James was telling her how it was going to be. He turned away instantly and mounted his broom, leaving Brooke and Sirius stood on the pitch alone.
“Care to explain what that was about?” Sirius' grey eyes bore into Brooke's.
Brooke opened her mouth to tell Sirius about her worries about him helping them. That she was worried that by helping her he would end up being helpful to their cause. Instead, she shut her mouth and shook her head.
“It's not important, Black.” She kept her voice strong but he just raised his eyebrow as he waited for a better explanation. “Just a misunderstanding.”
“Listen, Anderson. I understand that you don't like me, I really don't like you either. But James wants to do this too. So I'm going to do this for him.” Sirius explained to her, he too was telling her how it was going to be.
Irritation was evident on Brooke's face, her jaw clenched and chin lifted higher. It was something that always reminded Sirius of the Slytherins; of how his mother used to be every time he did something to disappoint her.
Without another word to each other the pair made their way to assist James with the try-outs.
* * * * *
“Why isn't Prongs here?” Sirius glanced up from the trophy he had been cleaning.
“Head boy duties.” Brook simply rolled her eyes at Sirius. “I guess it does have it's perks.”
Brooke moved onto the next trophy in the room, her mind wandering back to her argument with James earlier on in the day. He had ignored her for the rest of try-outs, and was still yet to talk to her. Not that she had made it any easier on him.
She knew she was being stupid but there was a part of her that was a little bit jealous about the way James never backed her up. He was always siding with Sirius, whether it was wrong or right.
“It wasn't because I don't like you.” Brooke spoke up after a long silence.
Sirius raised his eyebrow at her as he stopped what he was doing. “What?”
Brooke let out a small, inaudible sigh. “Earlier.” She turned to face Sirius. “You're James' best friend and I can't be the reason they'll try and turn you against him.”
It was Sirius' turn to sigh this time. “They'll try whether I help you or not. It does seem to be a family thing after all.” Sirius shrugged it off, not thinking of it being of any importance.
Brooke thought for a moment in silence, carefully trying to think of the right words to say. “How did you do it? Leave them all behind I mean.”
“I guess I just got one hiding too many.” Sirius avoided meeting Brooke's gaze. Talking about the things his mother had done to him was never easy; and had it been anyone else who asked he probably wouldn't have said anything. Brooke had seen it though.
She was there when he'd finally had enough and escaped to the Potters. She had seen the state he was in because of his mothers temper.
Brooke thought back to the summer before when she had been staying with the Potters for the week. She remembered opening the door to reveal an unrecognisable Sirius. His face was swollen and covered in blood. He could barely open his dull grey eyes. He clutched at a couple of broken ribs, grimacing every time he took a step.
Glancing at him now he looked like a completely different person. He was alive again, his eyes full of life. There was something about him that Brooke was jealous about. His ability to just forget the bad and get on with his life. He was always loving life no matter what was going on in it.
“Do you ever hear from her?” Brooke met his gaze with her curious eyes.
“Nah.” Sirius shrugged. He didn't care whether he never heard from his mother again; in fact he'd prefer if he didn't. “Regulus will keep me up to date every now and then. Just to let me know how disappointed they are of me.”
Brooke sat down on the floor without removing her eyes from Sirius'. His eyes showing how intrigued he was by the sudden interest shown in him. “If I had my pick out of your whole family I'd be sat here with you any day. And that's saying something because I really can't stand you 99% of the time.”
Sirius barked his signature laugh which caused Brooke to smile at him. A proper smile that reached her eyes, which were soft for the first time in a long time.
“You almost seem like your normal self.” Sirius stated as he moved his hair out of his eyes so he could study Brooke's reaction better.
Brooke felt herself tense up but pushed through it, making herself relax again. “You don't treat me like I can break at any given moment.” Brooke's eyes remained soft as she looked down at her fidgeting hands. “It's hard to try and get past what's happened when so many people can barely look at me without pity being the only thing I see. James is trying but I just see this hurt boy who has lost part of his family too.”
Sirius nodded at Brooke. “He sees the same in you.” Sirius stands up and pulls Brooke with him, moving her so she can see her reflection in the trophy cabinet. “Look at yourself.”
Brooke stands staring at her reflection. Her eyes were surrounded by horrible dark circles, that stood out more on her abnormally pale skin. Her cheekbones were more defined and her collarbone was almost jutting out at a wrong angle.
Sirius was stood behind her, his chest almost touching her back whilst he watched her reaction in the reflection. “You need to start looking after yourself.”
Tears formed in Brooke's eyes and she just nodded in response, not trusting herself to talk without her voice breaking. Suddenly she was completely aware of the proximity between her and Sirius; and for the first time her heart started crashing against her chest.
“It's hard for people to treat you like you if you don't look like you.” Sirius' voice was soft and caring.
Shivers ran up Brooke's arms leaving goosebumps in their wake. Quickly rubbing her arms to get rid of them Brooke turned away from her reflection to face Sirius. Neither of them moved, they just stood looking at one another.
“It's hard.” Brooke whispered. She wasn't sure what was going on but her whole body was betraying her. All of a sudden there was this attraction to the young man in front of her that she had never experienced before. No matter how much she was shouting at herself to stop looking at him and to move away, she just couldn't do it.
“You'll figure out a way.” Sirius was completely unaware of Brooke's reaction to him. “You're the most infuriating, stubborn and strongest girl I have ever had the misfortune to meet.”
Brooke snapped out of it and rolled her eyes before shoving Sirius away from her. A small laughed escaped her lips before she turned around to finish cleaning the last few trophies.
It wasn't long until the pair had finished the last of the trophies and were making their way, slowly, back to the common room. It wasn't that they cared much about the company but Brooke was putting off going to bed and Sirius had a feeling that she didn't really want to go back.
“So, you say you want people to treat you how they did before?” Sirius had a huge, mischievous grin on his face that only made Brooke raise her eyebrow questioningly. “Are you up for a bit of mischief?”
Brooke couldn't hide the sly smile from appearing on her face which was all Sirius needed. He grabbed her wrist and pulled her in the opposite direction of the common room.
They made their way to the prefects bathroom, not making a sound until they got there.
“What are we doing here?” Brooke pulled her hand away from Sirius, her heart crashing against her ribcage loudly.
Sirius rooted in his pocket and picked out a couple of different coloured vials, giving two to Brooke and keeping two for himself. “Put it in their shampoo.”
Suddenly Brooke realised what was going on and she did as she was instructed, spreading the vials out between the different bottles that were put away by the sinks.
Neither Sirius or Brooke said anything to one another until they got back to the common room. Brooke was at the bottom of the stairs on her way to the dormitory when she turned to face Sirius. “Thank you.” Then she made her way to bed not listening to see if Sirius replied.
* * * * *
Brooke sat at the table on her own eating a small plate of eggs and bacon, when suddenly a blur of black flew into view, taking a seat opposite her.
“Black.” She greeted, noticing him trying to suppress his laughter.
Sirius nodded at her before keeping his eyes peeled on the door to the hall, Brooke following his gaze.
A red faced Lily Evans walked into the great hall, furious. But it wasn't her face or her anger that had people turning heads. It was her electric blue hair that replaced her lovely red hair.
Brooke choked on a mouthful of eggs and couldn't help but laugh at her friend.
Lily was followed directly by James, except James had candy floss pink hair to replace his messy black hair.
Brooke and Sirius had both cracked up laughing by the time the pair got to the table.
“I don't suppose you had anything to do with this, Black?” Lily spat as she sat down next to Brooke, trying to hide from the looks she was getting.
“I have no idea what you're on about, Evans.” Sirius' voice was a bit too innocent and everyone knew it was him. “Why don't you ask Anderson?”
“What!” Brooke glared at Sirius who just laughed at her reaction.
“B?” James laughed a hearty laugh as he messed up his pink hair.
Brooke just shrugged at the pair but the small smile on her mouth gave it all away. She glanced at Sirius who winked at her before laughing loudly.
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