Months went by, with Heather and Sirius feeling very much like outsiders. Frank, Alice, James, and Lily were much moodier, and with good reason. Also, with the Christmas Holidays being over, Heather and Sirius were back to pretending that they hated each other. The thing that bothered Sirius most, however, was that James seemed to have lost his playful side. He was almost...he hated to say it...paranoid. He had become over-protective towards Lily, and vice-versa. They seemed determined to make sure that neither got caught up in a mess with Voldemort. Things, in Heather and Sirius’ opinion, were getting out of hand. They were determined not to end the school year like this. After all, they only had two months left. What with studying for the N.E.W.T.’s and The Prophesy on their minds, they needed something to cheer them up. That is why, on a bright, warm Sunday morning, Sirius and Heather sat snuggled together outside on the grounds, planning.
“It’s ridiculous. I don’t understand why Dumbledore couldn’t just keep the information to himself,” Sirius grumbled.
“They have to be prepared,” Heather explained. “Just in case...” Sirius shrugged.
“Still, you only get to be seventeen once. Why ruin it with the possibility that the kid you might not even have could save the entire world?” he said, exasperated.
“Well, it’s no use crying over a spilled potion,” Heather said, sighing. “What we need to focus on now is how to fix it.”
“Yeah,” Sirius said. “But how? What will take their minds off it?”
“I think...well...” Heather said, unable to come up with anything. The wind blew through the trees, and the Giant Squid swayed merrily, it’s tentacles making ripples in the large lake. Then it came to her. It was the perfect idea!
“What is it?” Sirius said, seeing her face brighten. “Have an idea?”
“I’ve got it!” she exclaimed. “A dance!” Sirius chewed on his lip for a few seconds, in deep thought. His handsome face slowly allowed a grin. He nodded.
“You know what? You’re brilliant!” he said, squeezing her tightly.
“I know,” she said, jokingly. “So, shall we tell McGonagall?”
“Tell her what?” a curious voice said. The two looked up to see Alex, closely followed by Peter.
“Hello, Alex,” Heather said, stiffening slightly. Alex paid no mind, and sat down. Peter sat down also, a little too quickly. He winced as he sat on a tree root in his haste. Alex looked concerned.
“You alright?” she asked, softly to him.
“Yeah...thanks...” Peter practically drooled, putting on a would-be-brave smile. Heather felt sick, and gave Sirius a glance that he understood all too well. Alex had changed...for the worse. And poor little Peter was so desperate for affection. Heather almost pitied him. Sirius looked sadly at Peter. He missed his friend.
“Hiya, Peter. How’s it going?” he said, trying to start a conversation. Peter gave a smile.
“Great!” Peter said enthusiastically, giving a meaningful glance toward Alex. Sirius gave what he hoped was an encouraging smile.
“What were you two talking about?” Alex asked. It was only because of Peter that Sirius didn’t snap back at her. It really wasn’t any of her business.
“We were saying,” Heather said, deciding it wasn’t that big of a deal to tell her, “that we should hold a dance.” Peter squeaked anxiously.
“That would be awesome!” he said excitedly. Alex threw him a charming smile. Sirius was utterly baffled. Was this girl for real? Did she actually like him?
“That would be neat,” Alex admitted, looking softly at Peter. “We could...go together...” she said. Sirius thought Peter would fall over in glee.
“Uhh...yeah...” Heather said, looking oddly at the two. She threw Sirius a disbelieving look. Sirius simply shrugged.
“So how was your Quidditch lesson yesterday?” Alex said, turning back to Heather and Sirius.
“It was...” Heather said uncomfortably.
“Just fine,” Sirius finished for her, seeing how uncomfortable she was. She squeezed his hand in thanks. He kissed the top of her head. Alex saw this and grinned. Peter blushed, and looked anxiously at Alex, as if he would give anything to be that close to her. Sirius’ felt pity tug at his heart. Poor little guy.
“Alright, well we’d better be off,” Alex said. She stood up, and began walking away. “Coming, Pete?” she asked over her shoulder. Peter nearly fell flat on his face in his hurry to catch up to her. Heather and Sirius both watched them leave.
“I don’t know whether I want to barf or smile,” Heather admitted. Sirius nodded.
“I know what you mean,” he said. “I’ve never seen Peter this way before. In a way...I’m really happy for him. But...Alex?”
“Yeah...they don’t exactly seem to make the most...normal couple...” Heather said.
“I just know that if anything happened between them...well I don’t know how Peter would take it. He’s obviously obsessed with this girl,” Sirius said anxiously.
“Yeah...” Heather said. “And what about how Alex truly feels about him? Do you think she’s for real?”
“That’s what I’m worried about...” Sirius admitted. There was a long silence and then, “Pete?”
About fifteen minutes later Heather and Sirius were standing outside Professor McGonagall’s office. Heather knocked. Nothing happened. Sirius, thinking she might not have knocked hard enough, knocked again. Still nothing. Then after a few seconds, they heard something. It sounded distinctly like somebody crying. Heather threw Sirius a startled look, and then pressed her ear to the keyhole.
“It’s alright, now, dear. Like I’ve said before, it’s not for sure,” came Professor McGonagall’s voice. Except it was her voice as Heather had never heard it before. It was soft and comforting. Heather frowned.
“What is it?” Sirius said. Heather put a finger to her lips. He nodded, understanding, but very anxious to know what was going on.
“I-It’s just...I-I’m s-so scared! I mean, w-what if it is us?” a sobbing voice came afterwards. “I D-don’t want to have that responsibility! A-and if He-Who-M-must-Not-Be-Named d-does come after u-us...one of us m-might get h-hurt!”
“Now, I am going to see who was at the door. Just come and see me again tomorrow, I’m sure everything will sort itself out...” McGonagall said. Heather stood away from the door quickly, stepping on Sirius’ foot in the process. Sirius winced, but said nothing. He leaned against the doorframe, trying to look as though nothing had happened. He tried to search Heather’s surprised face for answers, but she was determinably not looking at him. The door opened, and Alice brushed by them quickly, trying to cover her face with her hair. Sirius saw, however, that her cheeks were wet and her eyes were blood-shot. Had she been crying?
Upon seeing them, McGonagall, sighed and rubbed a hand over her face in a rare show of waning strength. “I’ve been expecting to see you two,” she said, and moved so that they could enter. Heather and Sirius edged in uncertainly.
“Professor...” Sirius started nervously. She went and sat at her desk, and adjusted her spectacles. Heather watched as rare emotion played across her face.
“Please realize,” she said stiffly, “That this is difficult for all of us.”
“Why was Alice in here crying?” Sirius said.
“Why do you think? Black, you’re a smart boy, for goodness’ sake! Say you’ve just realized that you could be a potential targets for the most evil wizard that has ever lived. How would you feel?” she snapped. Sirius looked chastened. Heather sighed sadly. “I did not mean to be so harsh, boy,” McGonagall said sadly. What? McGonagall apologizing?!
“How often does she come here?” Heather asked.
“At least once a week. Frank apparently has been quite distant with her. So she has nobody to talk to,” McGonagall said. Sirius nodded.
“I think we might be able to cheer them up though,” Heather said, trying to brighten up. McGonagall didn’t look convinced. Sirius gave her an encouraging look, and she continued. “I think we should throw a ball.”
There was silence, in which Heather looked uncertainly at Sirius.
“I agree with Heather. I think it would be an awesome idea,” Sirius supported.
Still silence. McGonagall seemed to be in deep thought. “You know what?” she said, a smile curving her lips. “I think you two might have something...”
The next morning Lily got up, and couldn’t quite remember why she was feeling so depressed. She then remembered that night, months ago. The Prophesy. She stood up, and ran a hand through her long red hair. Looking around the room she saw that all the other girls were still asleep. She looked down at the floor, a depression like she had never felt rushed over her. She looked over at the mounds of parchment at the foot of her bed. It was Sunday, and she still hadn’t done any of her homework. She felt something that she couldn’t remember ever feeling; She didn’t care about her homework.
Forgetting to change from her sleep-wear, she trudged miserably down the steps. She allowed a few tears to cling to her lashes, before allowing them to fall daintily down her cheeks. One thought never left her head. If she didn’t stay with James...the Prophesy might not need to be executed. Then that idiotic thought left her as the tug of pain in her stomach showed her how impossible it would be to live without James. She sat on a sofa by the fire, watching the flames dance, just for her.
“Lily?” came a soft, anxious voice from behind her. She didn’t need to turn around.
“James,” she whispered. James came to sit before her. He looked nervous. They hadn’t spoken much lately.
“Lily, look at this...” he said, showing her a piece of parchment. She took it, slowly. “It was on the billboard,” he explained. Lily read it over, and she frowned.
“A dance? In two weeks?” she said curiously. “But that’s right after the exams...”
“Exactly. So...next week exams...the week after that, a dance!” he said, trying to force some cheer into his bride-to-be. He saw that it wasn’t working. “Will you go to the ball with me?”
“Sure,” she said without hesitation. James forced a smile.
“Great...” he said, with no real conviction. “Just you and me...sulking...together.”
“Sounds fun,” she said, obviously not listening to him.
“Yeah, a blast,” he said sarcastically. He started to get up, and walked towards the Portrait Hole, when he stopped. No. He wouldn’t let this ruin what they had together. He frowned, and marched back to Lily, stubbornly. “Okay, this can’t stay like this, Lily,” he said firmly.
“I know,” she said sadly, looking at him for the first time. James grabbed her hand, looking down at her. He sat down beside her. “James...we can’t stay together...”
“Why not?!” he said.
“You heard...The Prophesy,” she muttered miserably.
“Yes, I did hear. And I don’t see any reason why we can’t be together,” he said. “Who said that we are going to have a baby in July?” he asked.
“James...if it’s fate...” she began, but he cut her off.
“Then breaking up will do nothing. If it really is fate like you say, then it’s going to happen no matter what,” James said. Lily looked away, then slowly back at him.
“I’m just...scared,” she admitted. James pulled her into his arms.
“We’ll get through this. Together. Like we always do, Lily. And besides, the Prophesy never said anything about something bad happening! It said that our child might defeat Lord Voldemort!” he said rather proudly. “Isn’t that something to be proud of?”
“Yes...but...what if you get hurt?” she asked.
“Or you,” he whispered, his gaze trailing off into space. Then he seemed to shake out of it. “No. We can’t live like this. This is just like Homework, Lily. It’s just another responsibility,” he said. Lily actually laughed at his analogy. “You’re not one to run from responsibility, Lily.”
“And you are,” she said, smirking. “So how is it that you’re the one doing the pep talk?” she asked, now smiling at him.
“You can’t carry the weight all the time, Lily. Sometimes, I have to take a turn at being the hero,” he said, nuzzling her ear. She moved his mouth to her own, and pressed herself against him in a kiss they had long deprived themselves of. “Is this a yes then?” James said. “You’ll go to the ball?”
“It was never a question. Of course I will,” she said against his ear.
Heather smiled as the two finally worked out their problems. She looked at Sirius softly. He put his arms around her. They quietly closed the Portrait Hole.
“See, your idea was brilliant, love,” Sirius whispered to her. Heather nodded.
“I’m so glad they are feeling better,” she said. Sirius nodded his agreement, then looked around the hallway.
“Come with me, there is something I’d like to ask you,” he said against her lips. She smiled.
“Why can’t you just tell me here?” she asked tauntingly, pulling him closer.
“Because, the walls have ears...” Sirius said, giving a meaningful look up at the Fat Lady who was trying valiantly to pretend she was sleeping. Heather giggled, and allowed Sirius to pull her away into an empty classroom.
“Alright, now. Where were we?” Heather asked. Sirius grinned.
“Before we get back to our...previous discussion, I have a request,” he said. She smiled.
“Anything. Just name it,” she whispered.
“Go to the ball with me?” he asked, his face inches from hers.
“Of course,” she said, and before she knew it, Sirius was kissing her tenderly. She ran her hands across his back, then running her fingers through his hair. He allowed his hands to rest on her hips, pulling them closer to his. Heather’s backside bumped into a desk, and Sirius lifted her up onto it. Now she was a little taller than, sitting up on the desk. He moved so that he stood between her legs. They both forgot completely about the rest of the world. Heather deepened the kiss, trying desperately for more intimacy. Sirius wanted badly to oblige, but would not have it this way. He would not have their first time rushed and nervous in an empty classroom. This was not just a fling, and she was not just a toy. She was the woman he wanted to grow old with, and he would not do that to her.
“Frank! Wait!” came a nervous voice from right outside the door.
Heather stopped their kiss, and it took Sirius a few seconds to understand why. He looked at her curiously, and saw that she was straining to hear something. He stayed absolutely still, waiting.
“Frank!” the voice came again. It was Alice.
“What is it?” came Frank’s deep voice. He seemed out of breath, as did Alice. Heather crept to the door, and slowly, quietly, opened it. Not far away, Alice and Frank stood, staring nervously at each other. Sirius gave Heather an anxious look. They shouldn’t be spying on them. But then a look from Heather pointed out that they had just done so with James and Lily. Somehow, it was different then. They had just been making sure their plan had worked. He assured his conscience that this was what the same thing. He was just seeing if thier dance had helped their relationship. By the looks on their faces, however, it didn’t seem so.
“Frank, I...we...need to talk,” Alice stuttered. Frank said nothing, apparently waiting for her to say more. She cleared her throat. “I know things have been...different since we heard about The Prophesy.”
Frank stiffened. “I don’t think so,” he said curtly.
“Frank, look at yourself. You’re as stiff as a wand. Please, just talk to me...” she begged. Frank looked around guiltily. After several minutes, he still said nothing. Alice decided to speak again. “Alright, well. There’s a ball coming up. I wanted to know if you would, well, go with me?”
There was an eternity of silence. Alice’s heart shone in her eyes, and if you looked close enough, you could watch it slowly break. Frank looked away. “I don’t think...” he said, his voice crackling. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“Why?” Alice said, tears rolling down her face. Frank gave an exasperated sigh.
“Oh, Alice. Isn’t it obvious? If we stay away from each other, then maybe...maybe we can stop the Prophesy from ruining our lives...”
“What are you saying?” Alice asked, practically sobbing now. Frank looked anywhere but at her.
“I think we should end things...before one of us gets hurt,” he said. His voice was cold.
“No!” she said. She put a shaking hand to her mouth.
“It’s for the best...” he whispered, and without another word, he walked away.
A/N: Well, that was an interesting chapter to write. I was really able to sink my teeth into the emotions of Lily and James. I wanted to go into the way their relationships all changed afterwards. Some were for the better...some...were for the worse. But hopefully things will work out in the end!
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