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Chapter 2: Protection Of Sorts
2. Protection Of Sorts
“Come on, Padfoot.” James, out of exasperation, stomped his foot on the concrete pavement beneath him. “Come on!”
Sirius stood across the road, eyes glowering at the grey brick building towering in front of him. Large windows covered the façade of the building, displaying the vast studios within it while a brightly pink coloured board stood above the wooden double doors; the words Fionesca’s Ballet Academy clearly and boldly scripted in the centre.
“No,” he said firmly, looking away fiercely.
“Don’t make me come back there and drag you in here myself.” James was nearing the edge of his temper. They were already half an hour late since Sirius’ grudge against the muggle girl had led to his complete refusal to get out of bed or, for better description, James’ couch, in the morning. It was only until Lily slapped his face with a thick, hard textbook that he jerked awake, groaning in pain.
“Think of the Order, Sirius! Think of everything we’ve done! Everything we’ve gained! You’re going to let it slip through our fingers!”
“We haven’t done anything!” Sirius shouted back, suddenly marching across the road towards James, causing an eruption of honks and tire screeches to sound on the road. “We haven’t gained anything! And, by the looks of it, we won’t be contributing any further as long as this shrew of a girl lives.” Sirius had reached James, pushing him in before casting a gaggle of girls a fierce stare as they had started to laugh at the two for lingering around such a place.
The interior of the building was just as dank as its exterior. The stairs were creaky and it felt as though it would collapse beneath them with every step they took. The plastered ceiling, too, seemed as though it could not support the higher floors and would cave in any second now.
James and Sirius walked past many studios, peering into every one in an attempt to find Maia but it was proving to be quite an arduous task.
“I’ve never seen so many girls in the same building before!” Sirius groaned, as they popped their heads into the sixth studio on the second floor.
“You say that like it’s a bad thing,” James winked at him.
After scouring through the third and final floor, James stopped abruptly. “There she is.”
The two ambled in, looks of disgust on both their faces as they watched a group of ten girls in white tutus and two men in black tights pirouette continuously, a gramophone in the corner emitting some screech of a sound.
“Arabesque, arabesque!” James and Sirius turned to look at a sharp looking woman – who could very well be Professor McGonagall’s long lost sister. Her dark brown hair was in a tight bun, and her lips were almost as thin as hers as she clapped singularly, “Arabesque!”
James and Sirius stared at each other, mouths gaping widely.
“What on earth is that rubbish?” James whispered, trying to contain his voice as they retreated back out into the corridor.
Sirius only managed a shake of his head, his mouth still hanging low, and arm held against the decaying wall for support.
“I guess we’ll just have to grit our teeth and do this, then,” James murmured, incredulity still visible on his face.
“You can grit your teeth all you want, mate.”
James rolled his eyes, took a deep breath and knocked loudly on the door, striding into the studio with his back straight and his face uncomfortably strained.
“Vat is it?” the stern looking lady snapped as the music stopped suddenly with an even louder screech.
“Er – we’re here to see Maia,” James said unsurely, looking back to where Sirius was for support.
There was a loud groan as Maia pushed past the now still group of dancers, her arms stiffly down her sides as she marched towards them, the large black bun atop her head bouncing.
“What do you two want now?” she asked James hotly, deliberately ignoring Sirius who was back to his scowling self.
“Um,” James gestured inconspicuously to the rest of the crowd, all of whom were watching them with interest.
Maia merely rolled her eyes and muttered to herself angrily before slogging away to the corridor outside.
“What do you want? We’re currently reciting Beethoven’s-”
“We’re here to protect you!” James interrupted her, “Remember?”
“I don’t need protection,” Maia grunted, playing with the hem of her tutu, “Remember?”
“Oh, yes you do,” Sirius growled, “and the first thing we’re doing is getting out of here.”
Maia cocked her head at him. “Do you hear that?” She hushed to James, who merely looked confused. “It’s the sound of vomit coming out of my arse!” She shouted the last couple of words so loudly that the two boys cringed.
“Can you not?” Sirius snarled, the expression on his face livid.
“Can you not?” Maia imitated him in a high-pitched voice as she pulled an ugly face. “Just because you two have to protect me doesn’t mean I have to stop doing what I normally do. Dancing to Beethoven being one of those normal things.” She added coldly as Sirius began to open his mouth.
“If you can call that dancing,” Sirius muttered under his breath, casting James an infuriated look.
“Well, how long until you finish, then?” James asked her politely, giving another attempt at smiling at her.
She rolled her eyes once more, “I’ll go get my stuff.” She trotted back into the studio, leaving James and Sirius to discuss their plans.
“Where are we taking her?” Sirius asked, coughing uncomfortably as one of the men in the black tights scanned him up and down through the doorway, a perverse smirk on his thin face.
“I have no idea,” James groaned into his hands, “What do girls like to do?”
Sirius let out a small snort, “This, apparently.” He gestured into the studio only to find his arm slapped out of the way.
“My God, get out of the way,” Maia said, adjusting her heavy black bag on her shoulder.
“Are you going out looking like that?” James asked, incredulously staring at her white tutu.
Maia looked at James coldly before pacing ahead of them towards the stairs.
“Merlin, James, we can’t let her go out looking like that!” Sirius muttered furiously as they followed after her, both holding on to their wands tightly.
James, on the other hand, seemed very much resigned.
“We’ll take her to Remus, we’ll take her- somewhere!” Sirius continued angrily, “Just not anywhere people can see us!”
With a step out of the front door, the two groaned as the flare of the sunlight attacked their eyes.
“It seems like she has a mind of her own,” James said, squinting after her white, quickly disappearing figure.
The two ran after her, panting as they caught up to her.
“Maybe you shouldn’t run off when you’re under the threat of being in danger,” James breathed, grabbing onto her shoulder.
“Maybe you two should keep up,” she replied, continuing on her way down the busy streets of London.
James and Sirius walked briskly along with her, their eyes observing their surroundings; Sirius, glaring at anyone who even glanced at the three.
“Where are you going?” James asked kindly, his framed hazel eyes staring intently at a group of hooded figures across the road.
“The library. Why, is that not allowed either?” she shot out, stopping abruptly as she turned her head violently to face them.
Sirius bumped into her, only to push her away aggressively. Meanwhile, James had one eye on the group across the road and the other on the bickering that Sirius and Maia had succumbed to.
“Sirius,” he called suddenly, his voice alert and his body vigilant, “Look over there,” he muttered, jerking his head as inconspicuously as he could.
Sirius’ eyes widened as he saw them, “James,” he hissed, “they’re coming this way.” The two froze, Sirius grabbing hold of Maia’s small body and pulling her in closer towards them. From there, she could hear both their hearts beating quickly.
“Get your hands off of me!” she yelled, slapping him, only to be cut off by the emergence of their wands. “What are you doing?”
“Hush,” Sirius said, less coldly as he would normally have said it. As the hooded group made their way across the road, Sirius untightened his grip, a small sigh of relief coming out of his mouth. “Only a bunch of-”
“Nice dress! Where’d you get it?” One of the boys jeered, their faces appearing out from under their hoods, a cigarette to his mouth, “The loony bin outside the loony house?” The four other boys around him guffawed.
“Nice face! Where’d you get it? The road kill down the street?” Maia snapped, taking a couple of firmly placed steps towards the menacing group before her.
“Best watch your mouth, Miss, or you’ll find it bleeding,” the same boy grunted back, flicking his cigarette onto the floor.
“Was that a threat?” Maia shouted, running up to the crowd, “I’ll show you what’s a threat!” She pulled her fist back only to find James holding tightly onto it, interrupting what would’ve been a well-placed punch. Sirius rushed to James’ aid, as Maia’s body would not stop writhing around as she continued yelling obscenities at the backs of the cackling hooded boys.
By the end of it, Maia had managed to elbow James in the face, breaking one of the lenses of his glasses and punched Sirius on the nose so hard that he had started to bleed.
“Protection!” she shrieked at them as they let her go to tend to their own injuries, “Protection! You’re here to protect me!”
Sirius’ nostrils flared, his mouth and chin covered in a crimson red that had been his blood. His jaw was tight as he stared at her irately.
“We can’t protect you from yourself, Maia!” James shouted at her, his glasses back to normal. “Maia, look,” James held onto her shoulders, looking at her intently, “Do you understand why we’ve been asked to look after you? Why you can’t go around pretending you’re okay?”
Maia scowled at him, opening her mouth to start berating at him. Before she could though, James had grabbed Sirius and apparated them out of London.
“Where are we?” she demanded instantly, not at all disturbed by the uncomfortable sensation of apparating. She looked around at the clusters of buildings, frowning as she noticed the tall, triangular building with Paris Church of St. Clementine plastered onto the board beside it. “You’re making me pray?”
“Follow me,” James muttered leading them past the church and past the little graveyard next to it.
Maia walked behind James, looking from left to right, an unreadable expression on her face. Sirius took the rear, not needing to follow James at all. This place, Godric’s Hollow, had been home to him just as much as it was for James.
After walking for a couple of minutes, James led them past the tiny gate and into the garden of a brick cottage, vines lacing all but the dark red door and window frames.
James opened the door, gesturing for Maia to enter before him. Sirius cast James a dark look before following on after her.
“Come over to the dining room,” James said, pointing to the wide room on the left, a brown table and matching chairs visible.
“I really like the décor,” Maia said, unabashed, looking at the floral wallpaper and brightly coloured vases and bench tops, as she sat herself on a green cushioned chair, letting her bags down with a thunk.
“Thanks,” James muttered unsurely, “Do you want something to drink?”
Maia shook her head as she continued looking around the room.
James looked to Sirius’ figure that had been leaning against the doorframe, staring at Maia with disgust. “Sirius?” He shook his head too.
James sighed, deciding to busy himself with preparing his own cup of coffee. Of course, he could have made one in a second, but he seemed to not revel in the awkward silence that had taken place.
“Did you bring me here for a purpose, James?” Maia inquired, for once, politely. “Or would this time be better spent at the library?”
James brought his steaming mug of coffee to the table, seating himself down on a chair before throwing his glasses onto the table so he could massage the balls of his eyes.
“I want to explain things to you, Maia,” he said calmly as he placed his glasses back onto his nose. He rustled his black hair, before continuing on, “Do you know why we have to look after you?” he asked, voice soft.
Maia had difficulty supressing the roll of her eyes. “Because,” she said sardonically, “my father is in danger.”
“Because he loves you,” Sirius snapped, “Because he cares about you and would do anything for you. Because Lord Voldemort would do whatever it takes to get your father under his control. But of course, you don’t even know who Voldemort is.” Sirius shook his head lightly, closing his eyes as he leant his forehead onto the doorframe.
“I do,” Maia whispered averting her eyes. “Father told me – who he is.”
“You seem to know a lot about our world,” James stated kindly.
She nodded this time, her gaze faraway as she turned back to look out the window. “Father told me.”
“If your father’s told you so much, why have you made it so hard for us?” Sirius asked coldly, his eyes boring into Maia’s white, illuminated face.
Maia snapped out of her daze and shot Sirius daggers. “Why have I made it so hard for you?” she asked, rising out of her chair out with a screech. “Do you think this isn’t hard for me?” Her voice was rising steadily, “Do you think I want people to be risking their lives for me? Do you think I want you two following me around all the time, taking you away from doing what you would rather be doing, as you have so pointedly made obvious?”
Maia was breathing heavily, her body heaving as she stared intently at Sirius’ taken aback expression. “Have you ever stopped to think about how hard this is on me?” Neither of them made a sound. “I never wanted to know that my father is being hunted by the most dangerous man – wizard – in the world.”
Sirius seemed lost for words, his body limp as he stood in the doorway, no longer leaning against the wall but slumping as though defeated.
“I don’t want your protection,” she muttered, looking back out the window, her brown eyes shining slightly. “Because I know how hard this is for you.” A small angry tear ran down her flushed cheek.
James and Sirius exchanged a nervous glance, unsure what to make of this situation. Fortunately for them, there was a clicking of the front door and footsteps sounded outside the dining room. Suddenly, a girl with blazing red hair stepped into view.
“Oh,” she said, surprised, “Hello.” She smiled at Maia who had hastily wiped her face dry.
“Hello, lovely,” James said, pecking her on the cheek and placed an arm around her heavily swollen waist as she sat down beside him. “This is Lily.” He looked to Maia; glad she wasn’t spilling her emotions out onto the table.
“Your wife?” Maia asked directly, as though confident she was.
James spluttered. “N- No!”
“My girlfriend!” James exclaimed, ignoring the quiet chuckle coming from Sirius.
“Who happens to be pregnant?”
“Well, that tends to happen with people in relationships!”
“With people who are going to get married,” Maia smiled as though that settled the matter.
“And you must be Maia,” Lily said hastily, grinning at her, the smile reaching her vividly green eyes. “I’ve heard a lo- I’ve heard about you.”
“And quite frankly I haven’t heard anything about you,” Maia stated, smiling warmly at her. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, though. I feel quite out of place now, seeing as this is also your house and we haven’t been introduced properly.”
“I just introduced you two-” James began.
“How did the two of you meet?” Maia interrupted.
Lily laughed, patting James on the arm as his face burst into a look of bewilderment.
“That’s too long of a story,” Lily said, glowing as she said so. “By the way, James,” she turned her attention back to her lover; “Moody’s asked that you come into headquarters for a moment when you’re done with Maia.”
James’ brows furrowed.
“Yes, and when is that exactly?” Maia piped up, checking her white leather strapped watch, its face gleaming in the sunlight.
“I’ll take her home now, James,” Sirius muttered, forcing a small smile at Maia. “You can go ahead to headquarters. I’ll catch up to you there.”
James hesitated, unsure of how that would pan out. Sirius, as though understanding the tentative look on his face, let out a bark of a laugh. “Come along now, Maia.”
For a second, James was certain Maia would have thrown a knife at him and was immensely surprised to find her picking up her bags and following Sirius to the front door.
Lily, who had watched her walk away, stared intently at her tutu. “I used to do ballet, too,” she said, smirking at the shock that had appeared on James’ face. “To Beethoven.” She gave Maia a quick wink before waving goodbye to the two of them.
Maia followed after Sirius as they exited the Potter’s cottage, the both of them not speaking a word to the other. As they reached the front of the church once more, Sirius broke out into a tumble of words.
“I apologise for not acknowledging how you have felt. I didn’t stop to think how hard this has been on you and your family and I want you to know that I don’t mind protecting you,” he murmured in one barely contained breath. “You’re important.”
He wasn’t sure how she would take it. But luckily for him, Maia smiled warmly, perhaps shyly. “But that’s the thing, Sirius, I’m not.” She placed a hand on his arm, waiting for him to apparate her back home.
The moment their feet landed on the gravelly road - the tall three story building with the recognisable pale blue door visible - there was an echo of loud, murderous shouts and bangs and multiple vibrant red lights and yellow sparks struck right past their heads.
They were under attack.
A/N: Hello readers!
If you're thinking "oh no, they're well on their way in love", they aren't just yet! So don't worry! But if you're thinking "oh yes, they're in love!" I'm sorry, not yet :P
I've finished writing this story so I might need to go back and fix the chapters, so any thoughts and comments on how you'd like this story to progress will be appreciated very much!! :D
Have a lovely day/afternoon/night & thanks for reading!