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Chapter Three Safety for Sirius The carnival like atmosphere of the last Hogsmeade weekend was intoxicating. Deep in the recesses of Dahlia’s pub, the Marauders had locked themselves in a back room with a dozen fellow Gryffindors. A long wooden plank table was loaded with food and drink and, in the corner, a cheery fire blazed brilliantly. Laughter and music filled the room as fire-whiskey and mead passed frequently around the group. Sirius sat quietly by himself, his cool demeanor going unnoticed by all but his closest friends. His eyes had met Lily’s repeatedly throughout the evening, but he refused to go to her. He watched her closely, though, trying to determine her state of mind. She, unlike so many other women, confused him. Fiery and temperamental one minute, she’d be lovingly defending the underdog the next. He had watched in amusement as James and Remus cornered her into drinking and laughed out loud when she slipped off her shoes to dance across the stone floor with the other girls. Sirius knew she had charmed the door so no un-invited quests would interrupt their end of term party, but Sirius still didn’t feel safe. As much as he desperately needed her tonight – her presence, her touch, and her calming words – he knew the risk of their being found together was immeasurable. “Sirius.” Remus gave him a lop-sided grin and refilled Sirius’ glass. “You’re among friends.” “Wise words even when you’re drunk?” Sirius laughed but Remus had already moved back into the crowd. Sirius thought for only a moment, afraid he would lose his nerve. He searched the room for her and found her already looking at him. He tilted his head slightly, beckoning her toward him. “Are you sure?” Lily asked softly, as she reached him. Taking her hand, Sirius pulled her into his lap. “No, but I can’t avoid you either, now can I?” “I thought you’d been doing an excellent job of that all day.” “No fighting tonight, Lily.” “You are in a rather dark mood.” Lily took a sip of his drink. She made a sour face but swallowed anyway. Sirius chuckled. “Not up to your standards?” “Just takes some getting used to.” Lily took another drink out of sheer defiance. “Would you like one of your own?” Sirius laughed softly then leaned toward her, his mouth warm on her neck. “Let’s get out of here.” “Where to?” “Do you care?” Sirius raised an eyebrow. “It’s just…” Sirius saw the hesitancy pass over her and he immediately understood. “My father and Lucius are here in Hogsmeade. I know. I wouldn’t take you where we could be seen.” “I don’t care about that.” Sirius shifted her out of his lap and took her by the hand. Giving a brief nod to James, he slipped out the door with Lily. “Where are we?” Lily asked quietly, realizing they’d exited through a door she hadn’t noticed before. “This goes back to Hogwarts, but there’s a place on the way…well, you’ll see.” Sirius tightened his grip on her hand to calm her. “You’re afraid of my father.” It was a statement, although in the darkened stone passageway it echoed more as if a question. “For your sake, not my own.” Lily conceded. “Then you’re a fool.” Sirius was glad when she didn’t argue. “I’m following Sirius Black down some strange corridor in the middle of the night.” Lily laughed tensely. “A fool I definitely am.” Sirius whirled on her. “Are you afraid of me?” Without meaning to, he growled at her. “No. Yes.” Her voice was shaking. “I’ll take you back now.” Sirius started to walk away, his anger and hurt overwhelming him. Lily grabbed his shirt roughly and pulled him back. “I am scared of you.” She kissed him tentatively. “But for completely different reasons.” Sirius searched her eyes questioningly but found only truth. Pressing her against the damp rocky wall, he kissed her tenderly. Her hands reached to wrap around him and Sirius could fight his emotions no more. Pulling her body tight against his, all of his fears and uncertainties melted into a desperate longing for this one woman. The warmth of her body welcomed him, her soft caress offering him a safe haven from the world outside. Sirius relished the feeling of utter peace that being in her arms provided and, for a brief few moments, Sirius allowed himself to lose control. “Sirius.” Lily’s voice was quavering, her body shivering from the depth of his touch. Sirius tore himself away, crashing into the opposite wall of the narrow corridor. “I’m sorry.” “No, don’t be.” Lily rushed to him. “That was you,” she whispered. “I mean, the real you.” Sirius nodded, his breath still ragged. “I never…” “Intended me to know your weaknesses?” Lily kissed his face, his lips, and his neck as she spoke. “Something like that.” Sirius pulled her into a warm embrace, trying to break free from her distracting kisses. He couldn’t go on like this. He needed a talk to her, to tell her the truth. How could he possibly do that when the only thing he could imagine was holding her in his arms all night? Running to her for safety was inexcusable. Sirius’ body tensed as the outside world once again took over his thoughts. “What’s going on?” Lily’s voice was strong now and she eyed him worriedly. “Something is really wrong, isn’t it?” “Come. It’s not much farther.” Sirius slipped his arm around her waist and led her into a large opening in the corridor. “Not as cozy as Dahlia’s but much quieter.” Lily moved around the small alcove. It was furnished with a few chairs, a sofa, and what looked to be a small library on transfiguration. A small table held a game of wizard’s chess, although the pieces seemed to have all wandered away. “What is this place?” “Just a place to escape. James, Remus, Peter and I come here on occasion.” “That way goes back to the school?” Lily pointed to a gloomy opening in the wall and Sirius nodded. “You Marauders are full of secrets, aren’t you?” “You have no idea.” Sirius grinned, and then sank down on to the sofa. “Lily, there is something I have to tell you.” Lily sank down beside him, the seriousness of his voice grabbing her full attention. She listened without interrupting and, for that, Sirius was grateful. He told her the news just as he had the Marauders and, just like James, Lily’s temper overcame her. Sirius watched patiently as she paced the floor then as she threw things into the wall in frustrated anger. Sirius waited, knowing that she too would eventually let the truth of the situation seep in. Of all the things Sirius had available to him, options weren’t one of them. He’d skirted the issue for years and now that the decision to either join or refute his family’s beliefs was at hand, Sirius’ fate was soon to be cast. Eventually, Lily would realize that. “Either way, you’re in danger. If you join them and they learn…” Lily trailed off. “And if you don’t join them…” “Putting it that way makes it a lot easier for me.” Sirius laughed tightly. “I might as well go down for my beliefs than for being a traitor.” “Don’t joke.” “You know a better way to deal with it?” Sirius countered, fingering a chess pawn that had made its way back to the board. “I didn’t want you to hear it from somewhere else.” “You mean you didn’t want me to think you died in vain?” Lily tried to disguise her fear under laughter, but Sirius knew her too well. “Lily.” Sirius moved to embrace her. “No! No! This isn’t happening. Not now.” Lily beat her fists against his strong chest, her tears falling freely. “They can’t do this to you.” “It will get worse. You have no idea the darkness that Voldemort and his army will bring. This is just the beginning.” Sirius’ voice was soft and soothing. “You will be in danger. Even more so for being beside me.” “You’re pushing me away?” Lily’s voice cracked. “You can’t be serious. We’ve never even been seen together.” “That’s a chance I can’t take.” “You mean won’t.” “Okay, won’t. The result is still the same.” “Alright.” Lily wiped her tears away and faced him squarely. “I’ll make you a deal.” “Indeed?” Sirius eyed her warily. “What kind of deal?” “I know how you hate sappy tear jerking displays of emotions. So, you will never in your life see another one from me.” “Good. They are beneath you.” “And, I’ll walk away from you with no regrets.” “Okay.” Sirius struggled to keep his voice even, refusing to let even a hint of his emotions get through. “But,” Lily moved closer to him, her voice soft. “You have to tell me you don’t want me.” “Lily…” “That’s the deal. The day you tell me you don’t want me beside you is the day I move on with no regrets.” Sirius started to open his mouth, but Lily closed it with a well placed kiss. “And don’t think I won’t know when you’re lying,” she whispered softly, her lips tracing Sirius’ neck. Sirius knew he couldn’t lie to her. Not now, not with her body so close to his. Wrapping his arms around her waist, he let his hands slide along her curves. “Deal,” he murmured, their bodies locking as their kisses became more exploring and their movements more urgent. Sirius’ experienced hands slid over her blouse, pulling it out from her skirt. Lily leaned into him and, as soon as she did so, Sirius collapsed to the floor in excruciating pain. “Sirius!” Lily dropped to her knees beside him as Sirius’ agonizing moans continued. “What’s wrong? What’s happening?” Lily tried to shake him but Sirius collapsed onto his stomach. Rolling him over, Lily let out a faint scream. Deep red blood, the darkest she’d ever seen, was streaming like water from a gash in his chest. “Sirius!” Lily looked around for some explanation but could find none. Sirius could hear her calling his name but he couldn’t find the strength to answer. This was the worst he could remember. The other times had never been like this. Fighting to stay conscious, he willed Lily to find James. James would know what to do. Please, Sirius thought, get James. The effort to communicate with Lily was too much but he vaguely heard her mention James before the blackness overcame him. A/N: Thanks to all who are following the story and leaving constructive reviews. You are what's helped this story progress. Thanks ever so much!

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