I felt like I could take on the whole world and win as Jocelyn and I walked away from the common room. She had kissed me. She had kissed me in front of the entire school. Twice.
“Let’s go to the lake,” she said.
“The lake? You’re not going to feed me to the giant squid, are you?” I joked.
“Hmm…” she pretended to think about it before beaming at me. “I want to go where I first saw you transform. It seems fitting.”
“I thought you liked the Room of Requirements?” I didn’t particularly care and had already started walking towards the Entrance Hall, but I was curious.
“I do. But I used to spend a lot of time with James in there,” she shrugged.
We walked in comfortable silence for a while. Jocelyn was probably the only person in the world besides James that made me feel this at ease. Any other girl would make this walk awkward, but not her. Any other girl would have made a big deal over the changing room episode, but not her. Any other girl would have made a huge drama out of my idiotic stunt when she’d stumbled drunk in the common room, but not Jocelyn.
Jocelyn was everything I never knew I wanted in a girl, and if I didn’t mess this up, I had a good shot at being with her for real. I half expected the idea of it to make me nervous, or scared. I had rebelled against the prospect of committing to a relationship for so long that I wasn’t even sure I could do it. What if I messed it up completely? But as I watched her walk calmly next to me, guiding me to the spot where she had learnt our biggest secret, I knew that it was exactly what I wanted.
She plopped herself on the grass unceremoniously and motioned for me to join her. I sat with my back to the nearest tree and she shuffled closer to me. It was then I noticed Jo was nervous. I marveled at the fact that I could made our fierce Jocelyn nervous for a moment, basking in the giddy feeling of it.
“So, what made you change your mind?” I asked her eventually.
“I’m not an idiot, you know. You have been blocking all my moves for over a month,” I told her.
“Maybe your moves aren’t as good as you think they are,” she teased.
“Ouch,” I put a hand to my heart dramatically. She laughed.
“I don’t know what made me change my mind,” she said after a little while.
“But it has? Or did you just get caught up in the moment?” I was afraid this would turn into another ‘changing room’ thing and she’d pretend it never happened, no matter how absurd that was with close to 300 people as witnesses.
“I’m worried you’re going to hurt me,” she said softly.
“Everyone is afraid of that, Jo.”
“I am freaking terrified. I’ve never felt this way before, about anyone. I never even cared before,” I said. “With all the other girls it was just… something to do. Sure, they were pretty, and it was fun, but it didn’t matter who it was. Not until I realized I wanted it to be you every time.
I have been afraid for ages because of the things I felt every time you were around. And for the longest time I didn’t know what to do with it or what it meant.”
“How long?” she asked me, her eyes wide with surprise.
“I think I’ve always been a little bit in love with you, but I only started to realize it the day you helped James carry me through that passage. Do you remember it?”
She nodded. “You… you noticed I called you by your name. You were in a world of fucking pain and still noticed I called you Sirius.”
“After that, it took me a while to piece it together, but I couldn’t deny it. It tried to fight it because you were with James and I felt like the biggest traitor. And then, you weren’t with James and it was even worse because you could be with anyone but me and it was killing me. And, Alice died and you wanted me to help you, to take you away, and I didn’t know what to do with myself because I was sure everyone could see how I felt, I though it was obvious to everyone and I was so worried I’d hurt James” the words were pouring out of my mouth like I had verbal diarrhea but I couldn’t stop it.
Jocelyn watched me intently, clinging to everything I said with glittering eyes and the cutest expression of surprise on her face. In all honesty, I didn’t really want to stop talking if she’d keep looking at me like that.
“When you showed up at King’s Cross with all that swagger, I almost passed out cold. I wanted to punch every single guy staring at you like you were prey, but I couldn’t because it was my worst secret and I had to pretend like I didn’t care. I wanted to throttle fucking Hardin to death because he got what I wanted, and he got it so easily. I tried to tell myself it was a good thing, maybe I’d forget about you and everything would be fine but then you… you started getting jealous of Fiorella. And I was a dickhead and used that against you because you were hurting me, and I wanted to make you feel something, anything, even if it was bad.”
“I didn’t even know I was jealous. How did you?”
“Lily may have pointed it out to me,” I said sheepishly. She chuckled.
“Lily has known this whole time?”
“She has. She figured it out after the Hufflepuff game crash and well, you know how she is, there was no point denying it when she confronted me about it,” I shrugged. Jo beamed, as if she was proud of how stubborn her red-haired friend could be.
“Did she tell James?”
“No, I did. It was shortly after my birthday, we’ll talk about that in a second, by the way, you little devil! I told James the day when I carried you out of the changing room and to Gryffindor Tower. He was waiting for me when I got to our room and he knew. Somehow, he knew, and he made me confess. He was cool with it, he had always been, he just was hurt I hadn’t trusted him enough to tell him the truth.”
“So, basically, everyone knew something was going on but me,” she rolled her eyes.
“You were dating Hardin!” I reminded her.
“And you were shagging Fettuccini!”
“The Ravenclaw wench,” she said viciously. I laughed. I had no idea Jo could be petty. I guess it is true hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
“I was only doing that because it was driving me insane to see you with Hardin”
“I understand that. I still refuse to say her name or show any civil behavior towards her,” she insisted.
“You don’t have to,” I said. “I couldn’t care less about her.”
“Now you’re talking,” she nodded happily.
“But you aren’t,” I pointed out. “I’ve practically told you a soap opera, but you still haven’t told me anything.”
“I don’t get why you didn’t say anything if you felt this strongly… I thought, I mean, I knew you liked me. Your birthday confirmed my suspicions, but I had no idea you… well… felt this way,” she blushed.
“At first I thought you didn’t like me, and my ego couldn’t take being rejected,” I shrugged. “Then, you stopped seeing Hardin after he was a dick in the Three Broomsticks, and I thought maybe I was wrong, and my reluctance had nothing to do with ego. I got you the necklace then, and I planned to tell you on New Year’s Eve.”
“And then Christian happened,” she said.
“Yeah, that happened, and it drove me to insanity. I developed freaking anger management issues. I kept punching walls in mad outbursts of rage. It got bad, it got to the point Remus had to learn to knit my knuckles back together because Poppy was getting into a state that I showed up every other day with a busted hand,” her eyes popped out of her face comically at this revelation.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I have worn it every day, though. If you must know”
“The rose necklace. I’ve worn it every day since you gave it to me. I wear it to bed, because I couldn’t wear it during the day when I was with Christian and then I didn’t know how you’d take it if I started wearing it like nothing had happened.”
“Come here, you’re sitting too far away,” I scooped her up and sat her on my lap, putting my arms around her. “You don’t have to apologize for my anger.”
She ignored me. “I didn’t know. How could I not know? I didn’t notice it. I thought you were angry like the others were. I even thought you were still with Farfalle. I saw you on a day we were supposed to have beater practice,” she said. I had no idea she’d seen us, and I felt like a huge dick about it. It was obvious it had hurt her.
“I didn’t know you were with him for the Order. I thought you’d turned bitch. I needed to keep myself distracted somehow or I would lose it completely,” I sighed. “Look, it’s not an excuse, but it was a shit time and I had no idea about anything.”
“I don’t hold it against you. So long as you never speak to her again,” she said frowning.
“That I can do,” I smiled at her. She smiled at me, too.
“Right, and then obviously you found out the real reason I was with Christian,” she said.
“Oooh, so that’s how it is? You’re just going to gloss over the changing room episode?” I teased her. She rolled her eyes.
“What is there to say? We had a fight, and we got carried away, and… well, you were there. I don’t have to tell you what happened,” she blushed crimson and I had to bite back a loud chuckle.
“I’m just teasing you. I know what happened. Trust me, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it,” I said, waggling my eyebrows at her. She smiled a little shy smile.
“I like that,” she said.
“I like you,” I took her hand in mine and interlaced our fingers. “You don’t have to explain yourself if you don’t want to, but I just want to know how you feel. What do you want?”
She took a deep breath before replying. “All I ever wanted was to find someone who could make me feel like I want to catch on fire. And that day, in the changing room, you set me ablaze, Sirius. I have been terrified since because you have this power over me, you could break me if you wanted to. But today I jumped off my freaking broom and even though I was plunging towards the ground I wasn’t afraid because I knew you’d catch me. And you did.”
“Let me finish,” she insisted. I nodded. “I know you don’t do the whole relationship thing, and I am not sure if I’m okay with that, but I can try. I can try because how can I trust you to catch me if I leap off a broom 30 meters high in the air and not trust you with…”
I knew she’d probably be annoyed that I interrupted her and didn’t let her finish, but I didn’t need to hear anymore. I kissed her, cutting her off mid-sentence and after a confused second, she kissed me back.
I had never thought about it the way she’d described it but as she climbed on top of me and straddled me, deepening the kiss and burying her hands in my hair, I knew exactly what she meant because I felt like I was catching fire. Every inch of me wanted to melt at her touch, I wanted to consume her, to make her forget she’d ever been anyone else’s but mine. Because I didn’t ever want to even remember that I could be anything other than hers.
He kissed me in the middle of my speech, and I didn’t know if that was good or bad, but as soon as his lips were on mine, I couldn’t do anything but surrender. I pulled him closer to me, but it wasn’t enough. I hooked my legs around his waist and buried my hands in his hair and pulled him closer, closer. He groaned softly, low in his throat, and then his arms were circling me, gathering me to him and we were on the grass lying down, and he was on top of me, still kissing.
And just like it was last time, I was burning. I was burning and so was the world. It felt as if the heavens had cracked open and lighting was striking around us, but it wasn’t – it was his hands running wild over my skin, erasing any memory of ever having been touched before.
He stopped all of a sudden and gently but firmly lifted himself on his arms, so he was hovering over me.
“If we don’t stop now, I won’t be able to at all,” he said.
“How bad would it be?” I asked him breathlessly.
“Very, very bad,” he rolled off me and I felt his absence like being cold outside on a winter night.
I sighed and sat, picking grass and sticks out of my hair. “I can’t believe you are being the reasonable one,” I protested.
“I am currently very angry with myself,” he joked. I smiled at him. “Jo, I want to be with you. For real, the right way. I’m sorry I interrupted you, but I need you to understand that it doesn’t matter what I said, or did, or thought before you. All that matters to me is after, and after is with you. For real”
“Is that your way of asking me to be your girlfriend?” fireworks exploded in my brain, in my chest, in my gut. I felt a wave of happiness so pure and strong it made me dizzy.
“If you’ll have me,” he said.
“I think I will, Sirius Black.”
We walked back to the common room talking about little things like how I thought he was Moony because of his silver-grey eyes or how he’s picked up on my lip-biting habit when I’m nervous.
“There’s going to be a lot of eye-rolling,” I warned him as we approached the Fat Lady. “James and Lily are going to be so smug about this.”
“Not just Lily and James,” he said, smiling at me. And he was right. Even the freaking Fat Lady had a knowing smile on her lips as he said the password and she swung open.
The celebration was still going. I realized with a jolt I had absolutely no idea how long we’d been gone for. It could have been an hour – or five, or possibly an entire week – but it didn’t really matter.
“There you are!” and I was being pulled away from Sirius, and a glass full of what I assumed was firewhiskey was given to me. My little fan-club gathered around me and all I could hear was “Tell us what you were thinking when you jumped off your broom!” so I did.
Out of the corner of my eyes I saw Sirius and Jo escape the common room. They came back about two hours later. The party was in full swing, music was playing, people were drinking, and it was just all general merriment and celebration. Even Lily was tipsy. Jocelyn was kidnapped by her army of minions and I descended upon Padfoot.
“Well…?” I said, a knowing smile playing on my lips.
“Well what? I didn’t give you grief when you got Red to finally agree to go out with you, I expect the same in return,” he said, walking towards the bar. I followed him trying really hard not to laugh.
“I didn’t snog Lily in front of the entire school after an impressive display of insanity and suicidal tendencies,” I replied.
“She’s not suicidal or insane. She knew I’d catch her.”
“YOU KNEW SHE WAS GOING TO DO SOMETHING LIKE THAT AND LET HER?” oooh, Sirius is in so much trouble. My gorgeous fiancée materialized next to my best friend and, rather violently, pointed a finger at him and started poking him in the chest. “WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU TWO? DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW SCARED I WAS?”
“Calm down, Red. No one got hurt. We had to go out in style.”
“Why didn’t you leap out of your broom, then?”
“Jo is stronger than she looks, but I’m around 6 stones heavier than she is. You really cannot expect her to be able to pull me up, can you?” he had a point. I had to admit he had a very good point. Lily saw it too. She deflated slightly.
“I am so glad quidditch is over for you guys. You are absolutely insane,” she sentenced.
“Here, have a drink. It’ll make you feel better,” Sirius said, offering her a glass. She took it.
“So, Lily, Padfoot was about to tell me about their blossoming romance,” I prodded. She smiled mischievously.
“After almost two years of listening to you pine for her, I deserve to know,” she demanded.
“Deserve to know what exactly?” he asked.
“Well, how did it go?”
“What part?” he was playing dumb on purpose. It was hilarious. I hadn’t seen Sirius this uncomfortable since he’d called my mother ‘mum’ by accident in fifth year during a summer visit.
“Sirius Black, did you or did you not tell her how you feel and what happened after?”
“I did. We kissed,” he said. I could see a smile playing on his lips even though he was trying hard to hide it.
“Yeah, everyone knows you kissed, mate. I think there are some Hufflepuff girls making ‘Sirius heart Jocelyn’ banners. Rumor has it they’ve been shipping you hard even when she was my girlfriend,” I said. “Should I be offended by that? What do you think, Lily?”
“What’s so funny?” Jo joined our little meeting by the bar.
“Nothing,” and to my absolute delight, Sirius took her hand and pulled her in towards him. She just stayed there, leaning against him with an arm loosely around his waist and casually sipping her firewhiskey with the other hand.
“So, you guys are official,” I said. I thought this day would never come.
That night, Lily came to stay with me in the marauder’s room because, and I quote what she said to Jocelyn: ‘Alice would kill me if I didn’t give you space for fireworks’. I had absolutely no clue what she was on about, but Jocelyn did, and apparently so did Sirius. When the party finally died down and everyone was gone, we congratulated our friends again and headed to our room and Sirius walked up the girls’ stairs in his dog form.
With the quidditch cup over, there was very little to distract us from the fact that we had to pass out N.E.W.T.s in order to graduate. I had no doubt we all would, but we still had to study and hand in assignments, which was hard when all I wanted to do was make out with Sirius in a secluded corner or another. It didn’t help at all that he seemed to think the N.E.W.T.s were pointless and so did everything possible to distract me from studying, including playing with the rose necklace I didn’t take off anymore. The only thing that kept him in check was Lily’s wrath.
We were still meeting regularly and training with the Order, but we had been told we’d not go on any missions (not even me) until after graduation. Getting us out of school was hard and there was no point going through all the fuss when we’d be getting plenty to do very soon.
We were sitting by the lake on a blanket surrounded by a pile of books and parchments when the marauders found us. Lily made a distressed sound and I rolled my eyes at her.
“We’ve been here for hours, surely we deserve a break!” I said springing up to my feet and running towards Sirius.
He caught me swiftly as I jumped and hooked my legs around him.
We sat on the blanket again. Lily was no longer protesting now that James had his arms around her.
“How’s studying going?” asked Remus
“I refuse to answer that question on the basis that we’re taking a break and breaks are sacred and I need to not discuss N.E.W.T.s for a while in order to protect my own sanity,” I replied to a general chorus of laughter.
“Fair enough,” he said putting his hands in the air in mock surrender. “How’s the giant squid then?”
“Haven’t seen him today. I think he’s scared Lily will ask him out,” I joked.
“I’m sure he’d say yes,” James chimed in. Lily kissed him.
Sirius nuzzled my neck with his nose, giving me goosebumps. We stayed like this for a while, chatting about superfluous things like the latest prank they’d pulled (which included confounding the owls as they delivered mail this morning, not a pretty sight if you ask me) and how whipped Hardin was by the fifth year he was dating (it was hilarious).
“Do you think she’ll let you get away? You’ve been studying for hours,” he whispered to me.
“If James keeps that up she won’t even notice,” I wiggled my eyebrows at him and then in the direction of my redhead friend who was currently snogging her fiancé.
We stood up and he helped me pack my books into a bag.
“At the risk of sounding like a perv I’m going to ask, where exactly are you going and what are you doing?” Remus said. Peter looked like he might pass out from embarrassment.
“Moony, you need a girlfriend,” Sirius teased.
“No, what I need is to not walk in on you two ever again in my life. I am mentally scarred enough as it is, thank you very much,” he shivered. Sirius smiled proudly.
“We’ll stay out of your way, promise. Just don’t visit the room of requirements and you’ll be fine,” he said, taking my hand and saluting our friends before leading my back to the castle.
The month of May went by in a happy haze of studying, sneaking away from Lily to spend time alone together with Sirius and reminiscing of our best times at Hogwarts, and then before I knew it, we had N.E.W.T.s the next day. These had been the best two months of my entire life. To my surprise and joy, Sirius was indeed a very, very good boyfriend. We just clicked. I suppose that’s the beauty of falling in love with someone who’s been your best friend and partner in crime for so long. Because I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that that’s what it was.
I was irrevocably, irreparably, irrefutably in love with Sirius Black.
“I can’t believe we’re graduating in a week,” said Peter the afternoon before exams started.
“I’m going to miss this place,” Remus said.
“There’s nowhere quite like it,” I agreed. From my very comfortable seat between Sirius’ legs, I felt him sigh.
“What are the marauders going to do without anywhere to maraud?” he said.
“I think there’ll be plenty of marauding to do for the Order,” James added helpfully.
“What are you going to do with the map?” I asked, remembering I hadn’t seen it for a while.
“Filch confiscated it,” said Remus with a glint of humor in his eyes.
“You let Filch confiscate the map?”
“Someone will come along that will be skilled in magical mischief-making enough to steal it from his office. They’ll know what to do with it,” James grinned.
“It’ll give them little clues,” was all Peter said.
True to their name, the N.E.W.T.s were nastily exhausting. However, having been trained by the Order for over six months in my case and three in my friends’ we passed with flying colors.
“This is making me very depressed,” said Lily as we packed our stuff. We had the graduation ceremony later that day, and we would be leaving straight after.
“I know what you mean,” I groaned. “Look at all this crap! Why do I have so much crap?”
“Not as much as I do. Who needs this many hair products? Seriously.”
“You know what, he probably does. He’s got awesome hair,” I joked. She collapsed on top of her trunk in a fit of giggles.
“Any other girl would be insecure her boyfriend might have better hair than her. Obviously, not you. Merlin blessed you with a mane fit for a lion. A lion made of chocolate, I think”
“I could eat some chocolate. Remus is right, it always makes things better,” I sighed, waving my wand around and making my things organize themselves inside my trunk.
“If we’re quick, we can go visit the boys. I’m sure they could use our help with packing”
So that’s what we did. We finished our packing, adjusted our graduation robes and went to the marauders’ room. We walked in on them doing some sort of strange ritual that involved spitting on their hands and doing weird looking handshakes.
“I do not want to know,” Lily said, sitting on James’ bed then immediately jumping up. “James Potter, have you not started packing yet?”
“Erhm… yes?” he tried.
“He is in so much trouble,” whispered Sirius in my ear. He had gotten into the habit of sneaking up on me and hugging me from behind. I loved it; it gave me goose bumps.
“And you aren’t?” I asked, turning around in his arms and looking up at him. He smiled devilishly at me.
“Am I?” he knew full well I couldn’t even pretend to be angry at him when he did that, so I didn’t even try. I went on my tiptoes to give him a kiss instead.
“Please, pack before you give Lily a heart attack,” I told him when we broke the kiss.
I sat on his bed and watched as Lily shrieked and waved her wand, helping the boys pack their extremely messy room. James had to retrieve his cloak, which couldn’t be charmed or ‘accio-ed’, from deep under his bed and Sirius had to take down his posters of motorbikes and bikini models. I may or may not have accidentally set the girl posters on fire. He didn’t seem to mind.
Eventually, they had packed and put on their graduation robes, and we were ready. The entire school was gathered in the great hall. Very much like we had done on our first year, those of us graduating were huddled in the Entrance Hall waiting to walk in. I was finding it very hard to keep my emotions in check. Sirius slipped his hand into mine and squeezed it. I put my other hand in Lily’s. Since Lily and James were Head Boy and Head Girl, we walked in last but we walked in together, the marauders, Lily and I. The roar of the applause reverberated inside my chest and I couldn’t keep the tears in. Lily wasn’t faring much better. We made it all the way to the platform where we had been sorted seven years ago, and Dumbledore gave a speech about us going out into the world, and about all we had learnt and us being adults now and whatnot. Then, it was Lily and James’ turn to give their speech. They had refused to give us even a clue about what they were going to say.
I let go of Lily’s hand as she stepped forward a little bit and cleared her throat.
“We are going out into a world filled with darkness. There is so much fear, and doubt people don’t even trust their own shadow anymore. Some of us have already been struck by tragedy – as you know, there should have been another student here today with us. Alice Thompson was a beacon of light and these dark times could have used someone like her.”
I struggled to contain my sobbing at this. Sirius hugged me and I pressed my face against his chest to stifle the noise a little. James picked up where Lily stopped.
“Someone I know once said we have something they don’t,” I looked at him at that, surprised. “She said that people often underestimate the bond of friendship and the power of love. She believes that darkness is only the absence of light, and it will never grow so long as our flames burn bright enough. So, today, as we graduate from Hogwarts, a place where all of us have found friendships and some of us have been lucky enough to find true love, I ask you – keep the fire alive.”
Lily took James’ hand and they both took out their wands, conjuring a beautiful flame. Then, she finished: “We are igniting a flame of friendship tonight with all of you,” she pushed it out and it floated before us.
I let go of Sirius and stepped next to her, taking out my wand and pointing it at the flame, adding a little bit to it. Sirius quickly caught on and stepped next to me, his wand out. Remus and Peter were close behind him. One by one, all Gryffindors, Ravenclaws and Hufflepuff took out their wands until the flame was as big as the ceiling of the Great Hall.
James looked hard at the Slytherins and said: “This flame represents us. We are all going out there and we’re going to fight the darkness.”
“Together, we’ve got the fire the world needs. And, we’re going to let it burn.” Lily finished, defiant.
Her words made me so proud of her. She was a muggle-born, everything they hated and were trying to eradicate. But instead of cowering and hiding, she was standing up to them and calling everyone to join in the fight. And everyone had rallied behind her.
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