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Like a House on Fire by 800 words of heaven
Chapter 6: Insane Before Christmas
It had been two days since that fateful conversation in the kitchens. Thankfully, Black hadn’t said a word about any of it to me, and even better, Marissa seemed to have dropped her devious scheme as well. And I really hoped it would stay that way because this was really all her fault, or if one was to believe Black, it was really all her friend’s fault for spreading such rumours around. Quidditch practise had started up again, so mercifully for my brain, I didn’t actually have that much time to waste on thinking about Black and his schemes and those apparently false rumours flying around about him. If only it had remained that way.
Day three after the “Kitchens Conversation”, Black was proven right in assuming that Marissa would carry out her dastardly plan. I was walking to the library at recess to return one of my books when I heard a group of fourth-year girls whispering about Sirius Black and his broken heart. By the sounds of it, about half of them thought that what Marissa had done was right and about the other half thought that hurting Sirius Black in any way was the equivalent of burning the Bible or something – you’d definitely go to hell for it. I walked past unnoticed (as usual) but couldn’t help thinking how this wouldn’t bode well for me. If I had heard the rumours, how long would it take for Black to hear them? And more importantly, how long would it take for him to try and press-gang me into helping him?
As it turned out, not that long. I had a free period after lunch, so I took this is an excellent opportunity to do some homework, as I wouldn’t get that much time because of Quidditch practise. James could act like one of those hideous slave drivers when he wanted to. It was a nice day, or as nice as they can get at the end of September at Hogwarts, so I had decided to situate myself in a nice, sunny patch of grass, with my books around me and my parchment in front of me.
I had just started to plan my essay when Sirius Black, who was quickly turning into an annoyance, came and sat down beside me. I spared a thought for how it was so unfair that people like Black were always so graceful. Would it really be too much to ask if he could’ve been just handsome?
“Hello, darling,” he drawled after a few moments spent in silence.
I continued to ignore him. I’d spent more than six years of my Hogwarts career relatively Sirius Black free, and I wanted it to remain that way. I just wanted to get through Seventh Year without any hassles.
“You’ll have to talk to me eventually,” Sirius said cheerily into the growing judgemental silence. “I’m not going anywhere. Especially since we’re dating now.”
“I’m not going out with you, Black,” I replied, not looking up from my work. It was best not to encourage him, although I wanted to hit him over the head with the textbook currently in my lap.
“Oh, it’s too late for that,” he continued on, even more cheerily. The nerve.
When he didn’t go on to elaborate, I sighed, finally caving in. “Why is it too late for that?”
“Because I’ve released the seeds!”
I raised an eyebrow at him in confusion. Who knew that beneath that devilishly handsome face was an insane person?
“The seeds of rumours!” When I continued to look at him, no less confused he added, “That you and I are now an item.”
I rolled my eyes. “That rumour will be easily dismissed when I hex you from here to the other side of the Forbidden Forest.”
He pouted his lips in mock sadness. The look would have been adorable in almost any other circumstance. Luckily, my sheer annoyance at Black made me immune to his considerable charms. “But you’d miss me.”
My lips quirked into a sardonic smile. “Hardly, Black.”
He finally dropped the act, heaved his shoulders, and looked at me seriously. “There’s something in it for you, too,” he said quietly.
My eyebrow once again rose from its usual resting position, “Oh?” I asked. “What might that be?”
“I heard about your breakup,” he continued in that serious, quiet tone. A part of my mind noted that it rather suited Black.
“My breakup with whom?”
“Unless you’ve broken up with someone new in the intervening days, Rex Redford, from Ravenclaw.”
Dammit. How on earth did he know that? “It was one date,” I replied defensively. I had no idea why I needed to be defensive.
He flapped his hand dismissively, brushing away my concerns as if they were nothing at all. “Doesn’t matter. Redford is pretty smitten.”
I shook my head. “That’s ridiculous!”
It was Black’s turn to raise his eyebrows. “Why? You’re quite smitten-worthy.”
I made a face at him. “If you’re attempting flattery, it won’t work.” Did Black really think that, though? That I, Millie White, was smitten-worthy?
“It doesn’t really matter what you think, though,” Black continued. “He seemed pretty determined.”
I went quiet. This was a problem. I just didn’t like Rex in that way. Nothing would ever happen between us.
“So…” Sirius went on. Clearly the boy was uncomfortable with silence. “It might work in your favour if you were otherwise engaged.”
He had a point. But there was a problem with this plan, too. “I told Rex that I wasn’t looking for a relationship at the moment,” I said. “And I meant it. I’m not looking for a relationship – even a fake one.”
He opened his mouth as if to say something, but then abruptly closed it. After a second he said, “It was meant to be between us. We can say that. You can’t stand in the way of destiny.”
“Destiny, Black? Really? No one will believe that!”
He grinned and shrugged. “You’d be surprised, actually. When it comes to love, people will believe almost anything. People believe that I’m currently broken-hearted over Marissa, after all.”
He had a point. Again. I was beginning to hate it when that happened.
And so, I relented. What harm could possibly come from this, really? And plus it would only be for a few weeks – just until the gossip cycle had rolled over to another victim. “Ugh, fine.”
Sirius gave me a brilliant smile. “I knew you’d come around, darling.”
I was going to go insane before Christmas, I just knew it.