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Chapter 15: After Easter
The Easter holidays had passed in a blur for Sirius – a pleasant blur but a blur all the same. He wasn’t quite sure how he had got into the habit of spending every spare minute with Lily Evans, and eventually asking her out. It was idiotic, selfish and stupid but he had done it. His chest tightened with guilt whenever he thought about James, which was often. He was his best friend, he had always been there for him, given him a place to stay, bought him the motorbike, and he trusted Sirius completely. And Sirius had gone and taken the one thing that he knew James had always wanted.
However, it was so easy with Lily, so comfortable. He felt he knew her better than any girlfriend he had ever had in the past, and liked her better too. When he was with her he felt happy, that was the long and short of it. But he couldn’t think of her just as a friend, she was just too... Sirius thought back to the last few days – the way they had kissed in that armchair by the fire, the feeling of her lips crushed against his, of her warm body beside him, of her hands that had gently caressed his face... He closed his eyes for a moment, remembering. As he opened them, he breathed deeply, steeling himself. The holiday was over and things were about to get a lot more complicated. James was back.
“Padfoot!” James waved at him through a cloud of smoke, as the train pulled in to Hogsmeade station. Sirius returned the gesture, grinning widely though his insides twisted with guilt. He watched as James, Remus and Peter spilled onto the platform and ran towards him, dragging their trunks behind them and beaming good-naturedly. “Nice Easter Padfoot?” James asked, “Not too lonely?” he sounded careless yet Sirius detected the hint of genuine worry beneath James’s casual greeting. He felt suddenly much worse.
“Nah, it’s been fine – work and that, it’s kept me busy.”
“Good.” said James. “ I worried about you mate.”
“Busy at work?” Peter asked, slyly yet in-expertly. “It must be Madame Rosmerta keeping you there!”
“She needs me, what can I say?” he joked, shoving Peter rather harder than was necessary.
“Hey,” James began, as they walked back towards the castle. “We were just saying, on the train, about our next ‘moonlight adventure’.”
Remus grimaced slightly.
“Yeah, we thought,” he continued, “We could go right through Hogsmeade – you know to that bit at the end – there’s apparently like caves or something there. It could be our new hideout!”
Remus laughed, despite himself.
“You sound so excited, Prongs” he said. “But I still think it’s a bad idea.”
“What? It’s a great idea!” Sirius boomed. “Secret caves, that sounds cool. And if we leave from the actual entrance of the shrieking shack, rather than back up the tunnel, we won’t have far to go anyway!”
Maybe he was over-compensating slightly, to ease the guilt in his chest, but Sirius did feel genuinely excited at James plan. He loved going out at full moon, and the risk was what made it so exhilarating.
“One problem,” Remus volunteered. “Prongs, how are you going to climb over the rocks with those hooves of yours?”
“Meh,” James dismissed this problem. “I’ll manage. It’s all decided on now anyway.”
Remus shook his head disapprovingly, yet Sirius could tell he was secretly pleased. Their adventures were always for his benefit, after all.
As the four marauders wound their way through the crowds on the platform, Sirius’s eyes alighted on Lily Evans’s fiery head, only a few metres away. His chest tightened as James shouted her name and waved a greeting. Sirius never saw Lily’s expression, yet he imagined it – a careless smile which wouldn’t reach to her eyes, with their guilty expression. If she did look like this however, James didn’t notice.
“She looked pleased to see me.” He noted happily.
“mmmnn.” Sirius replied.
“Did she get my Easter egg, do you know?”
Sirius cast his mind back, but he couldn’t remember her mentioning it. With a pang he realised that James’s gift had probably been much more impressive than his own - a cheap Honeydukes creation he had purchased on Easter Sunday, as he and Lily wandered around Hogsmeade together.
“I ‘dunno, Prongs.” He finally answered. James appeared confident.
“She will have done.” He said. “I sent it in plenty of time. So, did you see much of her over Easter?”
“Lily, of course!” he laughed. “Should I take that as a no then?”
Sirius laughed awkwardly.
“No, no – I did see her quite a bit actually. We used to eat breakfast together, and we played some Quidditch.”
James looked interested.
“Really?” he asked. “She told me that she liked Quidditch, but was really bad. Is she bad?”
“Terrible.” Sirius laughed, the memory of their flying sessions returning to him. James laughed too.
“But she still flies anyway.” He said, warmth of feeling colouring his tone. “Because she loves it. Doesn’t care what people think, just gets out there and gives it a go.” He shook his head in admiration, and Sirius had a sudden attack of conscience.
“Prongs...” he began. James turned to look at him.
Sirius licked his lips, and took a breath, but his resolution went no further.
“Forgot what I was going to say.” He muttered, guiltily.
“Lily, you seem quiet.” Mary Macdonald observed to her friend, as they waited on the platform for the other Gryffindor girls to unload their trunks. Lily shrugged.
“Late night.” She said. “I was up reading.” In fact, she had been up with Sirius, but Mary wasn’t to know that. Lily had debated all that morning whether to reveal the details of her and Sirius’s relationship to her friends, but in the end she had decided against it. They wouldn’t understand, she thought, they would judge.
“Oh,” Mary grinned, shaking her curly head. “What will we do with you, eh? If you sit up late it should be to do something interesting. You weren’t reading a text-book were you?”
“No, just for fun.”
“That’s not so bad then.” Mary granted. “But you’ll have to leave your book tonight you know, we want a bit of a sleepover to catch up from the last two weeks!”
“Yep, sure.” Lily answered, thinking that she’d have plenty of time to see Sirius beforehand. They had planned to meet in the owlery at six, just before dinner (people usually visited their owls afterwards).
“Had an alright holiday Lil?” Rachel asked. “Done much?”
“Nah, mostly working. I talked to Sirius Black a bit.” She smiled slightly at her own, shameless understatement. Alice giggled at she pulled her trunk up besides Lily.
“Lucky you!” she said, flicking her blonde plait over her shoulder. Elizabeth raised an eyebrow at her best friend, smiling slightly, before turning the conversation to a more serious subject.
“Merlin,” she said. “All I’ve seemed to do this holidays is work, the teachers aren’t half piling on the N.E.W.T stuff now. And they’re not even until next year!”
“I know, I feel like I’ve done nothing but write essays all Easter.” Lily moaned, then wondered at the blatant lie she had just told. She hadn’t done any work, but it had felt like the right thing to say.
For the rest of that day Lily felt as if she was constantly covering for herself and Sirius. Every topic of conversation seemed to require her to bend the truth, in order not to give anything away, and by the time 5 o’ clock rolled around she had such a guilty conscience that she felt as if her trip to the owlery would be immediately seen through, for exactly what it was. However her friends were not yet that suspicious, and she managed to extricate herself from them with plenty of time to spare.
When she emerged into the owlery, Sirius was already waiting for her. He leaned against the window, his shoulder against the stone and his head turned towards the horizon. Lily felt a thrill run through her, as it sunk in that he was there just for her.
“Hey.” She said. He turned to face her, a smile stretched across his face, and took a couple of steps forward. She covered the rest of the distance, and as she reached him he took her hands, pulling her towards him by them, and placing them around his waist.
“You made it.” He said, his eyes twinkling as he took her chin in his hand. He kissed her briefly, before smoothing her hair back.
“Yep.” She said. “But I’ve been feeling guilty all day, it’s like I constantly have to lie to people.”
“You don’t.” He answered, his forehead creasing slightly. “Just don’t tell them the whole truth. If you say you’re going to the owlery, it’s true, isn’t it?”
“You’re too much of a goody- goody.”
“I haven’t heard anyone say that in ages!”
Sirius tugged on a strand of her hair, playfully.
“I’m bringing it back.” He said. “If I start using it, everyone’ll be saying it tomorrow.”
“And everyone’ll sound like an idiot – just like you.”
“Ouch.” Sirius tutted, pulling her closer towards him, her arms now wrapped around her middle. He moved in for another kiss. After a moment of delicious silence, Lily began,
“Had any lessons today?”
“Yeah,” said Sirius. “Just the one. When have we next got potions, do you know?”
By this remark Lily knew he was on her wavelength, and they were both thinking of Slughorn’s comments the previous week. If he hinted anything in front of James...
“Tomorrow.” She answered. “Slughorn won’t say anything will he?”
Sirius looked irritable.
“If he does it won’t make any difference -”
“But if there’s already been a rumour about the two of us - ”
Sirius put a finger to Lily’s lips to silence her.
“It’s fine.” He said, the expression in his eyes painful. “James trusts me.”
Lily felt a sickening surge of guilt, on Sirius’s behalf more than her own. They were betraying James really, and for what? Lily began to pull away, but Sirius agitatedly dragged her closer, kissing her more fiercely than she had yet experienced and her sudden, wild desire drove James from her mind. For this, she realised, as Sirius’s hands began exploring the curves of her slender body, and his kisses strayed to her neck. The moment would have lasted longer if they hadn’t been disturbed by Godric, Sirius’s owl, shooting in through the open window with a deafening hoot, and causing them to break apart.
“Bloody owl.” Sirius grumbled, and Lily laughed, hoisting herself up onto the window ledge and dangling her legs. It was a bit of a precarious position to sit in, but Lily was feeling reckless. Sirius grinned at her, lunging suddenly forwards as if to scare her into wobbling backwards.
“Nice try.” She said, superiorly, as she gripped the sill tightly and remained steady. Sirius shrugged, and picking up a bit of branch from the floor (broken off a perch) made a move as if to launch it at her. She held up one hand to protect herself, laughing as she jerked his arm back, again and again, scaring her into thinking he was about to throw. They were both laughing pretty hard when they heard a sound which made Lily’s heart stop. Footsteps. Sirius immediately fell silent, reaching forward to clap a hand over Lily’s mouth.
It was James Potter’s voice, calling up the stone staircase.