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Chapter 17: The restricted section
“Hey, did you hear about Regulus Black? You know, Sirius’s brother?”
Lily sighed. She had been asked that question so many times throughout the morning that she was tired of hearing it. It was a constant reminder that she had failed to help Regulus, and a constant irritation that everyone informed her of the news so gleefully. They were all so excited at the gossip, never thinking of the real seriousness of the matter. But then, if she hadn’t been involved, she knew she would have been as intrigued as the rest.
“Yeah, I heard.” Lily replied, turning back to Louisa Castles with feigned interest.
“Oh.” Louisa looked disappointed as she followed Lily from the ancient runes class. “I was dying to tell you about it. Damn.”
“Sorry, Lou.” she said. “But I think everyone’s heard by now.”
“You’re probably right.” Louisa sighed. “Ah, well. You know what I don’t get though?”
Louisa looked thoughtful.
“Well, why don’t the teachers do anything about it? They must have heard the rumours too – and we all know the death-eaters get up to loads of illegal stuff. Can’t they have him arrested?”
“No proof.” said Lily. “You can’t just accuse someone of being a death-eater based on school gossip. The ministry’d never have it.”
“Suppose not.” Louisa answered. “But still, you think Dumbledore would try to do something about it – talk to him or something.”
“Maybe he has.”
“You never know.” Louisa shrugged. “Ooh look - ” she lowered her voice to an almost whisper. “There’s Sirius. Do you think he knows?”
Lily looked over in the direction her friend pointed, taking in Sirius’s appearance. He looked grave, and quieter than usual. James stood close beside him, as if protecting him from harm – or maybe it was gossip.
“I think he knows.” Lily said. Louisa considered for a moment, then nodded her agreement.
“Yeah, he must do.” she said. “He looks really depressed.”
As Louisa spoke Sirius looked up, catching Lily’s eye. Unsure of whether he had overheard any of their conversation, Lily felt awkward, yet Sirius gave no indication that he had been listening. He had been turning his wand over in his hands, a nervous, and un- Sirius like gesture, but once he caught Lily looking he stopped. Drawing a cloth from his robe pocket, he began to clean the wand, finally shaking the cloth and wiping it clean using magic. Then, staring meaningfully at Lily, he dropped the cloth onto the floor.
“He’s staring at you.” Louisa muttered.
“Maybe he heard us talking.”
“From all the way over there?”
“There’s not that many people about.”
Louisa bit her lip.
“I hope he didn’t hear us. It’s not like we said anything bad anyway.”
Sirius had turned away to begin talking to James, and Louisa breathed a little sigh of relief.
“Well, he doesn’t seem too bothered, if he did hear.” she said. “Anyway Lily, I better go. See you later?”
“Yeah, see you.”
Louisa smiled briefly at her and dashed off, evidently worried that Sirius had overheard their conversation, and possibly taken offence. Looking over at Sirius once more, Lily thought she saw him smirk. His eyes went once more to the piece of cloth he had previously dropped and Lily, beginning to understand, nodded subtly to him. He smiled at her and turned away, following James.
Lily waited until the boys were out of sight before drawing out her wand, and silently summoning the bit of cloth. The corridor had now filled enough that her spell was unnoticed, and she had no need to explain her behaviour. She unfolded the cloth in her hand. It had not been wiped completely clean, as might have been expected, but instead there were words, spelled out in dust in Sirius’s elegant script.
Meet me in the Library. Ten minutes.
Lily’s heart skipped a beat. There was something exciting about a secret meeting, even if it was in the library. Lily tucked the note into her pocket and headed for the stairs. Arriving at the Library in record time, she headed over to the shelves, Madame Pince’s eyes on her back as she did so. Knowing she might have a while to wait, she began inspecting a dusty row of books. The section she stood at was marked ‘Herbology’ and taking a book from the shelf she began to leaf through it, not registering the words on the page. Suddenly she was blind.
“Guess who.” came a voice in her ear.
“Get off, Sirius.” Lily whispered, smiling as she removed his hand from over her eyes. He put it around her waist instead.
“Sirius, Madame Pince is just the other side of that bookshelf!”
Sirius laughed softly in response, and taking a handful of Lily’s robes he dragged her farther into the rows of bookshelves, until they were almost at the back of the library.
“Hey!” she protested, but he continued to lead her until he found an empty row – a wall at one end and books along each side. It was as if they were in a long, dusty tunnel.
“The restricted section.” he muttered into her ear, as he pushed her back against a bookshelf and lowered his face to hers.
“How appropriate.” she answered, her eyes dancing with mischief. Then he kissed her. Lost in the moment, Lily forgot for a while where she was and what she should be doing. She could think of only Sirius, the feeling of his mouth, hot on hers, of his arms that held her tightly to him. Her own arms reached up, and his hair was soft beneath her fingers as she pulled him closer, her excitement growing as his breathing grew heavier and his kisses became more urgent. After a while however, Lily came to her senses. She pushed Sirius away regretfully, her face burning.
“We should stop.” she said, breathlessly.
Sirius looked at her.
“And why is that?”
She laughed at his puzzled expression.
“Because,” she continued, leaning forward and kissing him gently. “Seriously, I thought you’d come here to talk about yesterday, not to get it on in the library.”
“Oh you did, did you?” Sirius grinned. “I don’t know if I totally believe you there. But what part of the other day?” As he said this, his eyes grew serious. “I know that was a close shave with James, I’m sorry about that. We’ll have to make sure that doesn’t happen in the future, be more careful. I see you climbed back through the window okay though.” He grinned again. Lily contemplated telling him about her near death experience, but decided against it. It would lead her onto her conversation with Severus, which she didn’t really want to go into.
“Yeah, fine.” She answered. “No thanks to you though.”
“You don’t look it!”
Sirius gave a bark of laughter, and Lily shushed him.
“Well it was your crazy idea!”
Lily consented to this.
“True.” She said. “I was crazy – Sirius, why don’t we just tell James?”
“I mean it! Why not? It’s not like me and James ever went out, or even spoke properly before this year. He’s your friend, he’ll understand.”
Sirius shook his head disbelievingly.
“No, you don’t understand – he’d think of it like I betrayed him, it’s not like you’re just some girl - ”
“He doesn’t even like me anymore!”
Sirius was silent for a moment. Finally he said
“We’re not telling him Lily. End of.”
Lily pushed her hair back from her face irritably. She could think of plenty of come-backs for that last sentence, but decided against all of them. Sirius just didn’t want to upset his best friend. That was all.
“So,” Sirius continued. “That was what you wanted to talk about?”
Sirius raised an eyebrow, and Lily began again, feeling compelled to bring up the subject that was bound to dampen Sirius’s mood.
“Sirius, what James started to tell you yesterday – was it just the Regulus thing?”
Sirius crossed his arms and leant back against the opposite bookshelf – his expression was one of irritation.
“Merlin Lily,” he muttered. “I didn’t come and see you so we could talk about bloody Regulus. It’s all anyone seems to be able to think about.”
“Sorry,” she said. “But don’t you want to talk to someone about it? Have you heard from him since?”
“No offence Lily,” Sirius told her, “but I have talked to someone about it. James, and Remus, and Pete. I’m not happy about it, I’m not going to be able to forget about it easily, but it’s not like I can do anything about it now.”
“And before you start the guilt trip, I already feel guilty enough, so there’s no need.”
Although Sirius’s response seemed less than suited to the seriousness of the situation, Lily could sense that it was affecting him much more than he let on. Her expression softened as she realised it wasn’t her place to sort this out. She was barely involved after all.
“Okay,” she said. “I’m sorry. Forget about it.”
She smiled back at him. He let out his breath and gave her a grateful kiss.
“Thanks.” he said. “It’s just, I wanted to just get Regulus off my mind for a bit.”
“I knew I was just a distraction.” She answered mischeviously.
“I didn’t mean it like that...”
In the silence that followed, Sirius’s eyes raked Lily up and down, sending pleasant shivers down her spine.
“But you know,” he finally said. “You make a very nice distraction.”
And Lily laughed, as Sirius took her in his arms once more.
Sirius returned to the boys’ dormitory after lunch, feeling noticeably happier than he had that morning. He loved spending time with Lily, and today it had been just what he needed. It had been good of her to try and forget about Regulus when he asked her. He felt she understood him almost as well as James and Remus did, and he was starting to understand her better too. His thoughts were full of her now, helping to push Regulus to the back of his mind.
“Where’ve you been?” asked Remus Lupin, as Sirius reappeared in the Gryffindor boys dormitory, later that day.
“No-where special.” Sirius replied, kicking off his shoes and dropping onto his four- poster. “Where is everybody?”
“James is at quidditch practice...”
“And Peter’s asleep. Right there.” He gestured to the furthest bed, where the covers were in fact rising and falling, as Peter snored gently. “You’re not very observant today, Padfoot.”
Sirius laughed and chucked a pillow at Peter, who snored and rolled over.
“No I’m not.” He answered. “I’ve got reason though.”
“God, I wish everyone would shut up about that.”
Sirius thought for a moment. He knew he could trust Lupin, and although it would be better for no-one to know, he wanted to talk to someone about Lily.
“Moony - ” he began, looking around to check James wasn’t coming up the stairs.
Sirius licked his lips nervously, and drawing a steadying breath he said
“I think I’m in love with Lily Evans.”