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Chapter 3: Ch. 3
As the time for Gwen’s departure back to Hogwarts drew nearer, her need for his presence became overwhelming. It agitated her, and she didn’t understand this new part of her that she was discovering. She was perfectly familiar with the independent, strong-willed Gwen. The one who was master of her emotions and hated to show weakness. This new side of Gwen was annoying. She craved Sirius’ touch and his company all the time. He acted as a mute button for her brain when it wouldn’t shut up. He was a brilliant distraction for her. His comforting presence had become her crutch. She loved it and hated it at the same time. But she couldn’t help herself. She would watch him from across the room, his eyes closed as he dozed, the firelight flickering and casting a soft orange glow across his perfect features. She memorized every plane of his face, fearing she would forget the minute she looked away. This man had completely consumed her. She didn’t realize how deep she was until she looked up and couldn’t see the surface. But she would rather drown with Sirius than breathe another breath without him. They had possessed one another, and there was no going back.
The Order had kicked off the New Year with a meeting. Nearly everyone was in attendance with only a couple exceptions. Even Dumbledore had come. Numerous members gave updates on different aspects of the Order’s operations, and Gwen tried to listen attentively, but Sirius was proving to be a great distraction from across the table. As the meeting adjourned, Dumbledore stood and reminded them of their ultimate goal.
“There are many things still to be uncovered and explained about the connection between Harry and Lord Voldemort, but it is of utmost importance that Harry always be our first priority. Without him, all could be lost. Remember what we’re doing here.”
Afterward, Gwen sat alone in the front room, wrapped up in thinking how she could put Harry above Sirius if the occasion called for it.
Sirius was the absolute love of her life. More than that, he WAS her life. She couldn’t imagine what it would be like if he was gone. Whenever she thought about losing him, she felt like she couldn’t draw a breath, and her heart ached painfully inside of her chest. But Harry…he was so young, with so much life ahead of him. He deserved a chance at a normal life, and he deserved her allegiance and protection, and like Dumbledore said, all could be lost without him.
As much as she didn’t want to ever think about something like this, her mind would constantly bring it to her attention, usually at night when she was trying to sleep and Sirius wasn’t awake to distract her. She didn’t share this fear with anyone, not even Sirius, but kept it inside to sort through on her own.
The day before Gwen and the kids were to go back to school, she and Sirius were sitting together in the living room, talking and laughing about nonsense. Sirius had just ended the conversation with a rather fervent kiss, straining her body against his as she tangled her hands in his hair, when there was a soft knock on the front door. They broke apart, looking at each other, puzzled. It was too early for anyone to be round for dinner. Mrs. Weasley came bustling down the hall, saving them from getting up to answer the door. Gwen smacked Sirius’ roaming hand away as she strained to hear who the guest was. Mrs. Weasley was talking in hushed tones to the stranger, and as the person answered she recognized the voice at once. She looked sideways at Sirius. This was indeed a most unexpected visitor, and as far as Sirius was concerned, he was always unwelcome.
Gwen waited in the front room, absorbed in a book.
Snape, Sirius, and Harry hadn’t been in the basement more than 15 minutes when Snape came up the stairs, fuming. She saw him pass quickly by the door to the room she occupied.
“Severus!” she whispered as loud as she could, closing her book and jogging into the foyer.
Snape stopped short at the front door and turned to look at her, irritation written all over his face. There was only one person who could be the cause of the sneer he wore.
She stopped in front of him and watched the resentment slide off his face as she opened her mouth to speak.
“I’m sure whatever he said or did warrants an apology, and I’d apologize for him if I could. Even though he’d probably kill me--“
He held up a hand to silence her.
“There’s no need to apologize for Black, Miss Bradley. Sometimes his dog-like tendencies are going to spill over into other areas of his life. There’s no stopping it.”
Gwen bit her lip to hide her smile, and felt a little guilty that she found it funny. But whatever. He was acting like a dog.
“I will see you back at Hogwarts, Miss Bradley. Good evening,” Snape whispered with the teeniest hint of a smile on his face before he opened the door and disappeared into the night.
She heard footsteps coming up from the kitchen and turned to see Sirius emerge from the threshold. She strode right up to him.
“What did you say to him?” she whispered angrily, glowering at him.
“Nothing he didn’t deserve,” Sirius growled, glowering right back.
“I will never understand how two educated, grown up people can behave like this toward each other.”
“Well, if you really understood what kind of scum he is—“
“I don’t want to hear it, Sirius. It embarrasses me, and I’m not going to put up with it.”
She brushed past him and climbed the stairs to her room to finish up her packing.
Five minutes passed when she heard a creak in the doorway. She turned from her full trunk to find Sirius leaning against the doorframe, frowning at the floor.
“Can I help you?” Gwen said sarcastically.
“Hopefully,” Sirius sighed and looked up. “I’m sorry, Gwen. I just...there’s such a…a long history there. It’s hard to put it aside.”
Gwen studied him for moment, then sighed.
“Well it’s hard to stay mad when you look so pitiful.”
Sirius smiled slightly and stepped into the room.
“Forgive me?” he asked, wrapping his arms around her.
“Yes,” she whispered, squeezing her eyes shut. She couldn’t believe she was leaving him tomorrow. She didn’t want to waste their last night together.
“Done packing?” he asked.
“I suppose,” she answered.
He pushed her up against the wall and kissed her.
The rest of the afternoon was lost.