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Canis Major by atellam

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Format: Novel
Chapters: 13
Word Count: 81,676
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Mild Language, Mild Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme, Contains Spoilers

Genres: Humor, Romance, Angst
Characters: Lupin, Sirius, A. Longbottom, F. Longbottom, Lily, James, Pettigrew, OC, OtherCanon
Pairings: Sirius/OC, James/Lily, OC/OC, Other Pairing

First Published: 11/06/2011
Last Chapter: 02/04/2014
Last Updated: 02/04/2014

Summary:
Beautiful new banner by nymeria.@TDA


She was muggle-born.
He was a pureblood.
She liked books.
He liked motorbikes.
She was dating the Captain of the Ravenclaw Quidditch team.
He didn't know she existed.

Winner of the Gryffindor Story of the Month for April, 2012
Winner of the Golden Paw Award for Best Original Character, 2012


Chapter 1: Smelling like Slytherins
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Sixx.@TDA


Chapter I - Smelling like Slytherin's


Genuine beginnings begin within us, even when they are brought to our attention by external opportunities - William Throsby Bridges


As Platform Nine and Three-Quarters came into sight, I sighed. It took me all but a second to take in the scene in front of me and establish that not much had changed over the summer. First years, scattered all over the platform, were standing with their parents, looking nervous. They may have been wearing fluorescent orange vests, they were so noticeably new. But my eyes passed them over, continuing to search for three, overly energetic, sixth year Gryffindor girls.
 
“Ready?”
 
I started as I heard Mum’s voice behind me.

“Ha! ‘Spose. I wish Henry was here, is all. The idea of him not being here, even for a few days… Hogwarts just isn't the same.” I forced a smiled at my mum as she smiled sadly at me.

“Right. You’ll be fine. You’ll have all your friends, and the time will fly like that.” She clicked her fingers before muttering, “I just wish he was here to help with this bloody trunk.”

“Oi, chill.” I laughed at her, snatching the handle of the trolley she was starting to wheel towards the train. “You get going. I’ll say goodbye here. Reyna, Mel and Alice will be around here somewhere, and you know them. As soon as they see me I won’t get to say a proper goodbye.”

I knew she didn’t like the platform. She felt awkward with all of the other witches and wizards saying goodbye to their magical children. But it was okay. After six years, I’d gotten used to her shuffling her feet when Dad wasn’t here with her; safety in numbers or something like that. The other parents didn’t even notice she and dad were Muggles, but she was still uncomfortable and I didn’t need her to hold my hand anymore. I respected how she felt about the place.

“I suppose you're right.” Mum smiled as she pulled me into a hug. “Now, remember, you may not have O.W.L.s like you did last year, but that doesn't mean that you can slack off on your studies with Henry and the girls.”

“What?” I said as she held me at arms length and gave me a knowing look. “You know I won’t! I’m a model student. I live in the Library.” 

“That’s because you like books, not because you study.”

“Whatever. Here-“ I kissed her on the cheek. “I’m off. I’ll write to you next weekish.”

“Yeah, yeah.” She rolled her eyes again before waving as she walked off, her thick dark bob still visible above the crowd thanks to her height.

I made my way towards the train, looking around for the other girls from my dormitory. Hopefully they would have already gotten us a compartment, I thought as I hauled my trunk off the trolley. Wren, our family's Barn Owl, started making a racket as I grabbed her cage and proceeded to search the platform for my friends.

“Keira!”

As turned around at the sound of my name, I was tackled by a mane of black hair that glinted red in the light.

“I missed you!” cried Alice as she hugged me close.

“Alice! Give the girl some breathing room,” laughed Reyna, her deep brown eyes twinkling. Melody stood off to the side, chuckling.

I scowled at her. Surely she could help save me from an early grave as opposed to laugh at my premature death? Apparently my expression didn’t have the right effect – I supposed it had something to do with my face turning slowly blue from lack of breath in my lungs - as my black Londoner friend laughed even harder, causing her long ebony hair to fall into her eyes as she doubled over, hands on her knees.

When Alice was happy she let me go, only to grin at me, pushing her long blonde hair away from her round face.

“Have you lost more weight?” Melody raised a perfect eyebrow from where she was standing, arms crossed over her chest, as she drew my attention away from Alice, who was now inspecting the results of my attempt to lose weight over the holidays. 

When Alice nodded, deciding that I hadn't made enough of a difference for her to worry, I answered Mel. “Maybe. Only a little, though,” I said, shuffling my feet.

Melody ran her hand back through her blonde hair, giving it the same look as when she stepped off the Quidditch Pitch. She eyed me cautiously before deciding staying angry with me was too hard.

“Oh, come here, you sod!” She flung her arms around me, burying her face in my hair before whispering in my ear, “You know you don’t need to lose any more. You're not built like Reyna, none of us are. Any more and you’ll look sick, Keira.” She pulled away with a worried look. Her brown eyes, searched my soul until she was happy, and it was only once she stepped back that I remembered to breath.

Melody was technically older than me by three months, but sometimes I swore it was years instead. She was favourite to captain the Gryffindor Quidditch team next year after James Potter left, as she was one of the best Chasers in the School. Melody Andrews, the ruthless Chaser with a perfect manicure, and the envy of every girl in their sixth year and below. Possibly the seventh years, too, now I thought about it. ‘Melody, Marry Me?’ and ‘Affections for Andrews’ were popular signs throughout the season. Merlin, even some of the Slytherins would cheer for her. Not for Gryffindor, never for Gryffindor. Just for Melody. The idea almost made me laugh. Some girls get all the luck.

Except perhaps for her parents. The laugh died in my throat as I remembered. 

“Excellent. Now that Alice and Mel have had their turn, I have you all for myself. Get over here, loser!”

I happily fell into my black Londoner friend's arms as Reyna wrapped me in a bear hug, slowly rocking back and forward. “Oh, my! You smell delicious! Hang on…” Rae buried her face into my hair again. “Yep. Vanilla.” She paused, a happy look on her face as I stepped back laughing. “Yum.”

We stood there laughing and teasing each other on the platform, too distracted of anecdotes from our summers to board the train, and so when the whistle blew, we all rushed to join the last few stragglers boarding the scarlet steam engine.

“Oh, look! It’s Madison Cleansweep. Bugger, she is looking good isn’t she? Reckon she had some work done over the summer?”

“I wouldn’t be surprised. I mean her family is worth how much? I heard they have a new broom model coming out early next month. Getting loads of press it is. She’s probably spent all summer down at Madam Primpernelle's in Diagon Alley so she looks nice for the papers,” I scoffed, as Alice continued to peer at the Ravenclaw curiously.

I had limited tolerance for Madison Cleansweep. Hell, Cleansweep wasn’t even her last name. It was Ollerton, granddaughter of one of the three brothers that set up the Cleansweep Broom Company in the 20’s, though which one was her grandfather I’d never bothered to find out. Everyone called her Cleansweep though, it’s what she was known for, being connected to the company and all. And even I had to admit that Ollerton was a terrible last name. Although I still hated her for her constant efforts to steal my boyfriend.

The sudden influx of students onto the train resulted in us all squashed into the corridor like sardines and until some of the students further up moved into compartments, we were stuck here.

“Oh, shove, you lot!” Melody growled at a bunch of third years that had been elbowing her as they had tried to move around.

“I can’t see. Damned fifth years all grew. I can’t see a bloody thing." I tried peering over their heads, but the train, still gaining momentum, lurched, and I fell onto Anthony King.

“Merlin, I’m so sorry.” I blushed as he placed his hands on my shoulders to steady me.

“No problem, Nyx. How was your summer? How’s Watts? I haven’t spoken to him since he left." He laughed, flashing a perfect smile, and I remembered why I liked the Ravenclaw so much.

“Henry’s alright. Still in Wales, catching up will all of the family after the funeral. He hasn't seen them in years so he figured he'd make the most of the trip. Should be back in a few days.”

“Yeah, he mentioned before he left. Bet he’s not too happy about that. Well, obviously being his Grandmother and all. Lucky it’s a Friday though; means classes won’t start till Monday so he’ll miss less. Bloody hell, it’s our N.E.W.T year too.” He paused looking as though he couldn’t remember where the time went. Shaking his head in defeat he continued. “He’ll be really pisses about anything he misses then. I'll let him know I’ll make notes.” He smiled at me again. 

“He'd appreciate that." I nodded.

He laughed as he took my hand and attempted to find a way through the crowd.

Anthony, a Beater for the Ravenclaw Quidditch team, was in the year above me with Henry. The two of them had been inseparable since they had met on the train first year. They had both been sorted into Ravenclaw and had both made the Quidditch team as soon as they had been allowed to tryout in second year.

Anthony’s muscular build, with his bulging, strong arms and broad chest, made him a perfect Beater. The fact that he never missed his target was a bonus as far as the rest of the team had been concerned.

Henry on the other hand, had more of a lithe build. He still had a broad chest and shoulders to match, but not to the same degree as Anthony. He was incredibly agile for his height and strength and had made Seeker as soon as the Captain had seen his flying ability. Everyone else still waiting to try out had just left, then and there.

The Beater and the Seeker, so different, except for their height, yet anyone would be surprised to learn they were not related at all. Brothers through all but blood, I suppose. The two were as inseparable as Sirius Black and James Potter and probably just as popular, although the two Ravenclaws spent more time in the Library than in detention.

The crowd hadn’t thinned much during my conversation with Anthony. If anything it was worse as people had come to see where their friends were. Anthony easily saw over the heads of everyone else however. Even Melody, whose legs went on forever.

“Hmm… Not much room anywhere... but I reckon over here. Need to get you out of this before you get squashed under these damned fifth years. Watts’d kill me if he got back and found his girlfriend in the Hospital Wing before even a week is out." He grabbed my Barn Owl with one hand and, with the other, started to pull me along behind him.

“Cheers, Anthony.” I laughed.

Merlin, why was I so short? And why did these third years have to hit their growth spurt early?

“Rae! Mel! Oi, Alice! This way!” I yelled over the heads of some second years as Anthony King continued to pull me towards the edge of the throng, everyone pressing themselves to the side of the corridor as they saw him heading in their direction.

“Coming!”

I saw the top of Alice’s dark head moving towards me, with Reyna and Mel in tow. I made to turn back to Anthony, right when it happened.

I smelt it and groaned. Dungbombs. What troll thought that would be a good idea? Who was I kidding? I knew exactly who it was and I saw them as soon as Anthony pulled me out of the crowd, with new energy now the place stunk like dragon dung.

James Potter and Sirius Black were just short of rolling on the floor in laughter. They might well have been actually, if they knew they wouldn’t get squashed by the crowd of people hastily trying to evacuate the affected area.

They were both already in their robes and James had a Head Boy badge pinned to his. My eyebrows shot up but I didn't think much of it as Anthony, heading towards the two Gryffindors, continued to pull my arm out of its socket.

“Yeah, cheers, git,” Anthony snapped, when he’d managed to shove enough first years out of the way. I scowled at the back of his head.

"You alright?" I asked, catching one of them by the shoulder. The young blonde nodded before scampering off, leaving me to turn my attention back to Anthony.

“Hmm?” grinned Sirius, still watching the chaos unfold as the smell settled in to stay. He caught sight of Anthony glaring at him and changed his attention to the burley Ravenclaw Beater almost instantly.

“Sorry, King. Casualties, you know?” He was still grinning; his gray eyes alight as he admired his own genius.

“Something tells me you're not sorry at all,” muttered Anthony, his hands tightening around mine in his growing annoyance.

“Agh.” I pulled a face as my fingers began to turn numb.

Even with that slight noise James eyes snapped to me, suddenly realizing I was there. I felt uncomfortable as he peered at me curiously from behind his glasses while Sirius and Anthony continued their apparent staring competition.

“I’m sorry, I don’t believe we’ve met,” said James, a confident grin spreading across his face as he extended a hand towards me. “Are you new?”

“Well, this is awkward.” I snorted, raising a brow at him. “I’ve been here six years.”

“Ah.” The smile faltered on his face for less than a half a second, before it was back, stronger than ever. “King, your girlfriend's a charmer. Where’d you find her?”

I scowled furiously trying to hide my embarrassment at being mistaken for Anthony’s girlfriend. Rae would kill me. She’s been eyeing him off for years.

“She’s not mine, mate. Keira Nyx. Henry Watts’ girl. She’s in your house and everything, you sod. Granted, she’s in the year below, but you still share a common room, breakfast table and just about everything else." Anthony tore his eyes away from Sirius to glare at James.

Taking to mean that he'd won their silent match, Sirius turned his smug eyes towards me. He raised an eyebrow, as he looked me over. When his gaze ran up my legs and paused on my chest, I wanted to disappear into the floor.

“I’ve never seen you in the Common Room,” said James looking at me out of the corner of his eye, his face still towards Anthony.

“I spend most of my time in the library. I actually get work done in there. It seems to have far less distractions in the form of stink pellets, dancing furniture and impromptu parties," I deadpanned.

James and Sirius grinned at each other, probably remembering the last time they had made the furniture dance around Gryffindor Tower the night before exams. Needless to say, they had spent the following nights in detention, but something told me they still believed it worth it.

“Merlin! Finally!”

I whipped around, squirming my hand out of Anthony's still clentched fists, as I saw Melody, Alice and Reyna finally struggle out of the slowly dispersing crowd.

“Some idiots let off Dungbombs. Everyone around us panicked and pushed us back further. Took us forever to get through,” said Alice as she sniffed her sleeve pulling a face. “Ugh. I smell like dragon dung.”

“Ah. Should have known.” Rae rolled her eyes as she spied James and Sirius’s newfound laughter.

“The both of you, I swear to Godric – " Mel started before James realised just how furious his Gryffindor Chaser was.

“Oh, Andrews, it was only a bit of fun.” He smiled, a confident, apologetic grin on his face, despite his eyes still laughing behind his glasses.

“Save it for Evans, Potter.” Mel rolled her eyes before turning back to us. “Compartment? What’s the bet they’re all gone now, anyway?”

“I'd say very likely to definite,” I sighed as I eyed my own shirt, wondering how long it would take to get the smell out.

“Speaking of compartments, shouldn’t you be up in the Prefect one if you're Head Boy now?” grunted Anthony, clearly still annoyed that he smelt like manure.

James’s eyes flashed as he remembered Anthony was right and, nodding at his Chaser, headed off down the corridor towards the front of the train. Sirius watched him go, still grinning, before turning back to us.

“You might all want to get changed out of those clothes; you stink like Slytherins…”

“No thanks to you!” snapped Alice as the pushed past him and continued down the corridor, looking for a compartment. We followed in tow, Anthony coming up the rear, still holding Wren’s cage for me.

Melody had been right of course. All of the compartments were packed and the few that weren’t were full of Slytherins. We passed these by, deciding we stunk enough as it was.

Anthony left us as he found a near full compartment with his fellow Ravenclaws, handing me back my disgruntled bird.

“If you, or any of the other girls for that matter, run into any more trouble, let me know, yeah? Just because over half the girls at this school follow Potter and Black around, praising them, doesn't mean that they can be gits whenever they feel like it,” he said as he slipped into the compartment.

I smiled to myself as I continued walking up the train. Anthony was a nice guy and looked after me like a sister. And, even though he and I didn't have that type of relationship, I understood why Reyna fancied him.

And he did have wonderfully shiny hair...

“Just about everywhere else is full,” said Alice turning to face Mel, Rae and I. “You all happy to ask if we can join these guys?”

She jerked her thumb to the compartment on her left, and I snuck a glace through the glass to see Mary Macdonald, Rebecca Simmons and Leah Crawford; Gryffindor's in the year above us.

“Sure. As long as they're happy to put up with our stench.” I scowled.

Alice stuck her head into the compartment and coughed politely. “Um, hi. You three mind if we join you? Everywhere else is full.”

“Yeah, sure. Come on in. Lily will be back in a bit though. She’s down at the Prefects meeting at the moment, but there should still be enough room when she gets here,” laughed Rebecca, her black curls bouncing around her face.

Leah moved her cat off the seat next to her and shuffled down closer to Mary. “Here, there's plenty of room.” She smiled as she placed the ginger feline on her lap, scratching the disgruntled animal behind its ears. The thing was huge, at least four times the size of a normal pet and had the face of a lion. I was sure it was a cross breed. Even in the wizarding world, that wasn't normal, I was positive. Maybe a lynx or something.

The four of us shuffled into the compartment and I placed Wren on the luggage racks above us. I had promised to let her out of her cage for a bit once we were on the train, but with the cat in the compartment I thought better of it.

Once we were all in the confined space however, Mel, Rae, Alice and I realised the full extent of how much we smelt.

“Sorry,” grimaced Reyna as she noticed the looks the older girls were giving each other. “We ended up on the wrong end of a Potter and Black prank.”

“Ah, say no more,” said Mary as she whipped out her wand. “Here, let me help.”

The three older girls were lifesavers, managing to get the stench out of our clothes after only a few attempts. We filled them in on how we’d come to smell so bad, and by the end of it, they were all laughing. I looked at Mel who was grinning at me. We were both still pissed off at Potter and Black, but at least the seventh years weren't going to kick us out on our arses.

Sometime later, a face framed by bright red hair poked around the door, looking slightly confused at the sight of us, but happy all the same. Lily Evans sunk into the seat next to me and turned a quizzical eye to her friends.

“Everywhere else was full, so we said they could hang in here with us,” Mary answered the redheads silent question.

“Sorry. We ended up victims of a Potter and Black welcome back stunt. I’m sure you heard about that?” asked Mel, steering the conversation away from what could possibly result in Lily Evans evicting us from the compartment. None of us knew her well enough to rule out the possibility.

“Oh, Godric, yes! The whole train still smells like dragon dung. I gave Potter a right talking to when he finally made it to the meeting. Apparently the actual act was all Sirius, but as Head Boy he should know how to control his friends.” Lily rolled her eyes before continuing. “Not that I condone him pulling pranks like that at all, but I’m particularly surprised you were on the receiving end, Andrews. You're the house's best Chaser after all.”

Rebecca, who had also been a Chaser for the Gryffindor team the previous year, raised an eyebrow at her friend, before half-heartedly laughing it off. Everyone knew Melody was the best with the same amount of skill as than James Potter. Rebecca still looked slightly put out that Lily had said it out loud however.

“Ha! Yeah. I don’t think he realised I was there actually.” Mel blushed as she pulled her hair back into a ponytail. “Huge build-up of people and I think they just saw the crowd and went with the idea. I’m going to give him a bloody talking to during our first training, though.” She looked to the dark haired older girl next to the window. “You’ll back me up, yeah, Simmons? He’ll want to run and hide if the both of us rip into him.”

Rebecca Simmons nodded, her blue eyes glinting at the idea of putting James Potter back in his box.“‘Course I will! I smelt how bad you all were when you walked in here. But I’m dropping Quididitch. Mum and dad said it was my N.E.W.T year and I needed to study; If I’d done better in my O.W.L.s I don’t think they would have cared. But anyway, I still think the only thing that would ever really deflate James Potters ego is darling Lily here. And even then, it’d be only temporary…”

Melody raised an eyebrow but said nothing. I knew she wouldn’t mourn the loss of her fellow Chaser. She’d been telling James all of last season that Rebecca hadn't been performing at her peak.

“You know, I wouldn’t care that he’s so good looking if only he didn’t know it too,” huffed Reyna to no one in particular. “That posse that follows him around would be enough to go to anyone’s head. The only thing he and Black are good for is keeping Snivellus in his place.”

Lily’s eyes flashed at the mention of Severus Snape, the boy who’d been her best friend for years before calling her the 'M' word...

Reyna had apparently noticed Lily’s flash of anger as well. She took a newfound interest in Leah’s cat, subtly removing herself from the conversation. I tried to suppress my chuckle; Rae hated cats.

“Speaking of Black,” Leah mused in her naturally airy voice, “I do believe he's become even better looking than he was before...”

Super. Even Leah, whose head was normally so in the clouds she didn’t notice a thing, thought Sirius Black was good looking. There was no hope for any of us now.

Alice giggled at Leah’s comment. “I think it’s because he got taller. He’s over 6 foot now."

"And don’t forget his hair! It’s grown longer, too.”

“Oh, and don’t forget his ego. That’s grown dramatically in size as well,” I muttered thinking back to that moment in the corridor earlier, where Sirius had eyed me up and down after he realised I existed.

My dark mood lifted ever so slightly when everyone laughed at my comment. I smirked as I turned to Lily. “So it’s true then? Potter’s Head Boy?”

“Unfortunately.” She rolled her eyes before continuing. “Which means I have to spend more time with him now. Bloody hell. I don’t know why Dumbledore gave him that badge, especially with him still letting Sirius throw Dungbombs at people five minutes onto the train.”

“Oh, shut it, Lils. Everyone knows you like him! He’s been fawning over you since third year, and you’d have to be as dumb as a concussed troll to see that you don’t revel in it.” Mary scowled in Lily’s direction.

Wait, what? I knew Potter praised the ground Lily walked on; Merlin, the whole school knew that. It was part of the reason his fan club was smaller than Sirius’s, as all the girls knew they stood no chance next to the striking red head with emerald eyes. That, and Sirius was better looking. Marginally, but it was enough.

I continued to roll Mary’s words around in my mind. They made sense in a roundabout way. What was that saying? If someone's mean to you, it means they likes you. Then again, if you followed that logic, Potter and Snape would be announcing their engagement any day now.

Not liking the mental image that gave me, I turned my attention back to the conversation, still about James Potter being Head Boy.

“What were you and King talking to him about before we got there Keira? Anthony looked like he was about to punch Potter’s perfect teeth out.”

I saw Reyna blush at the mention of Anthony, and she gave even more attention to the now purring ginger cat. I knew she was still listening, and smiling to myself, I answered Mel’s question.

“King was pissed, they thought I was his girlfriend, it got awkward, and that's about it.”

“Woah, woah, woah! King? As in Anthony King?” Rebecca squealed, her eyes dancing. “You're friends with Anthony King? OH MY GOSH! THEY THOUGHT YOU WERE DATING ANTHONY KING?! He must have been all over you if they thought that! You have to introduce me!”

I slipped a glance at Rae and noticed her face turn even darker with Rebecca’s outburst and squealing. I felt the heat rising in my own cheeks, and searched my brain for a way to turn Rebecca off the idea of Anthony.

“Ah,” I stuttered. This was awkward. “Yeah. Anthony King. He’s in a dorm with my actual boyfriend, Henry Watts. He and Henry are really good mates. Anthony’s like a brother.”

“So you’ll introduce me?” Rebecca urged, her eyes still alight at the thought of the dashing Ravenclaw Beater.

“Um. Sure.”

I wanted to hit myself. I almost did. I didn’t particularly want to introduce Anthony to Rebecca. I didn’t want to introduce them at all to be dead honest. Not that I had a problem with her…it was just Rae. She’d liked him for years, and if Rebecca and Anthony hit it off, I knew I’d never forgive myself. Then again, I couldn’t have exactly said no, could I? Especially after she helped remove the smell of Dragon droppings from my clothes. I crossed my fingers that the opportunity to introduce them would never arise.

“Leave her alone, Becs,” laughed Mary, pushing her light brown hair behind her ears before turning her attention to me. “Now, Henry Watts you said? He’s in our year isn’t he? Ravenclaw, tall, light brown hair, blue eyes and cheekbones to die for? ”

My face was on fire by this point and I thanked Godric when Melody cut in. “That’s the one. Seeker, with eyes that make you melt when he looks at you.” Her voice was airy, as she raised her hand to her forehead and pretended to swoon.

Rae, Alice and I snorted with laughter at Melody’s impersonation of the fourth year Hufflepuffs we’d overheard at a Quidditch game last year.

The older girls laughed at the re-enactment as well, though they obviously didn’t understand the reference.

“So, where is this boyfriend then, Nyx? Why isn’t he here for you to introduce us?” Lily questioned me, grinning.

“Wales actually. His grandmother passed away over break. He’ll be back at school in a few days.” I looked down at my shoes as I spoke. I still hated the idea of Henry not being here. I wished that I could have gone with him.

“Ah. Sorry to hear that.”

Murmurs of apology came from the other three senior girls.Trust me to kill the conversation. I shifted uncomfortably in my seat, playing with my nails as the cabin fell silent. The only noise was coming from Leah’s cat, still purring as Reyna scratched it, merely so she could keep her hands busy. Right when the silence was verging on becoming awkward, the doors to the compartment flung back suddenly. I jumped at the intrusion, while the ginger cat hissed. Wren began to flap her wings agitatedly at the feline’s sudden hostility.

James Potter and Sirius Black stood in the doorway of the compartment grinning. They filled the doorway with their six-foot frames as they cast their eyes about the space. James’s hazel eyes found Lily immediately, who frowned at him. Sirius glanced at the cat, before deciding to ignore it, with the feline still hissing at his intrusion. Avoiding eye contact, I saw Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew still in the corridor outside under James’s arm.

Peter Pettigrew, a short, slightly tubby Gryffindor with straw blonde hair and who had seemed to develop a nervous habit of twitching his nose, was the complete opposite of his friends.

All three of the others were tall; James marginally the shortest, with Sirius only just above him. Remus, while the tallest, was also the skinniest, and for not the first time, I wondered how he couldn’t keep any weight on his frame.

Remus Lupin sported a lanky build and pale complexion, but some of the kindest brown eyes you’d ever see. His calm and reasonable nature was probably the only reason his friends hadn’t blown up Gryffindor tower long ago, unable to stop them from performing their pranks but persuasive enough to stop the more... dangerous ones. While the prefect and I had never spoken, I knew him by sight, as I regularly spied him amongst the shelves of the Library when he wasn’t away from school, visiting his sick mother.

“Naw, none of you smell like the Slytherin's anymore!” complained Sirius loudly, snapping my attention away from Remus Lupin, who was still standing awkwardly in the corridor.

James ran his hands over his head, making his black hair messier than normal. He continued to smirk at Lily as she glared at him, oblivious to the conversation around him.

“Yeah, cheers for that, git,” snapped Mel, her eyes ablaze. “If it weren’t for these guys, my clothes would still stink. And trust me when I say, I’ll find some way to repay the favour, even if it means leaving the stinking clothes in your dormritory”

“Ah, Andrews,” sighed Sirius, a smirk spreading across his face. “You know you're dying for me to have your panties in my room. No need to use revenge as a cover-up.”

Melody leapt to her feet at this, startling Leah’s cat, which was already on edge. It jumped up onto the luggage rack near Wren’s cage and continued to hiss at Sirius from its new vantage point.

I ignored Melody’s choice selection of words and watched Wren cautiously. The Barn Owl was eying the ginger cat, not comfortable with its new location. Luckily, the cat’s gaze was still on Sirius, though if it turned its attention to Wren, I was going to have to intervene.

Sirius turned to the hissing ginger animal and let out a low, warning growl from the back of his throat.

At the noise, James placed a warning hand on his best friends shoulder. “Padfoot, mate. Watch it. That’s Crawford’s cat. Don’t be stupid…”

But the cat had already retreated to the back of the luggage rack.

“Sirius, James; we should leave these ladies alone.”

I looked back at Lupin. Shuffling his feat in the corridor, he looked uncomfortable, while Peter was watching the drama unfold in our compartment next to him, with avid interest.

“‘Kay Moony. We’ve had our fun.” Sirius looked around the compartment, eyes travelling over me as if I wasn’t there.

He winked at Melody, completely unaware of the insults she’d been yelling at him less than a minute before, and left the compartment. James quickly followed suit, still grinning at Lily as he left.

“Pompous git,” she muttered as the Head Boy winked at her through the glass, before disappearing out of sight down the corridor.

“They're peculiar, aren't they? The way all four of them assume,” Leah trailed off, rising out of her seat to fetch the cat out of the back of the luggage racks. “There, there, Levi," she cooed, scratching the it behind its ears.

“Growling indeed,” said Alice absentmindedly. “That was so weird.”

I chose not to respond and settled myself back down next to Lily, shutting my eyes. My mind wandered with the thoughts of my bed in Gryffindor Tower and soon the conversation of the compartment became distant in the background of my dreams; dreams where I could wipe that smirk off Sirius Black’s perfect face.



Authors Note:
Hi, all. Thanks for taking the time to read this. It's my first fan fiction and an ongoing project of mine. Hopefully you all enjoyed and I hoped you liked reading this as much as I liked writing it.

Favourite quotes, characters, moments? Let me know, I love to hear what you all think as it means I can incorporate similar things in to future chapters. ^_^

Reviews are better than chocolate,
- Adele :)


Chapter 2: Levi the Leaping Lynx
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Sixx.@TDA


Chapter II - Levi the Leaping Lynx



I pulled the scarlet blankets over my face as I finally realise that the sound of running water hadn't been in my dreams. I scowled at Alice, who I knew was the one in the bathroom. ‘Making the most of the day’ my arse. If she weren’t the sweetest thing since Sugar Quills, I’d swear she did it just to annoy the rest of us. I proceeded to stuff my head under my pillow, attempting to eliminate the noise. Even though my pillow, I heard Rae begin to stir and the grunting complaint of Mel at the prospect of moving an inch.

“It’s Saturday,” I mumbled to no one in particular. “I’m not getting up and Alice can forget it.”

I heard feet hit the floor, scuffling as they moved towards me. Tensing, knowing what was coming, I lifted the corner of my pillow and opened my eye a crack. Reyna sat on my bed and poked me, stifling a yawn.

I growled and she gave up, nudging my hip as I shuffled over for her. Rae curled up next to me on top of the sheets. At least she knew I had the right idea. I shut my eyes for a second time, letting my dreams welcome me back into their arms and smiled to myself when the noise of running water abruptly stopped, leaving our dormitory in a sleepy silence.

Distantly, I heard Alice wander out of the bathroom and I opened my eye a crack reluctantly. If she was going to pull something, I wanted to have some warning. She was rubbing her towel over her wet hair and looking around the room with a determined gaze I didn't like. When her round face turning towards me, I snapped my eyes shut.

Accio blanket!

Reyna toppled onto the floor and I instinctively curled up in a ball, attempting to contain my body heat.

“Ow, you troll! That hurt!”

The mental image of Reyna tumbling off my bed, unsuspecting, onto the floor, caused me to giggle. Her natural level-headedness and grace resulted in occasions such as these to be far and in-between. The award for getting to know the floor the best was usually reserved for me.

“Oi! I see you laughing, and don’t think for a moment that I won’t Accio your mattress!”

I bolted upright and stared at Alice, wide eyed. “You wouldn’t!”

“Try me,” she dared. “Shower. Now. I’m not going to go down to breakfast by myself, nor are you staying in bed all day.”

I scowled at her as I grabbed jeans and a blouse out of my trunk. She was still eyeing me when I closed the door of the bathroom. I ran the water, letting it heat for a moment, before I stuck my head outside the door.

“You know… I reckon this is all so you can get down to breakfast early to make sure you don’t miss Frank.”

I held back a laugh as Alice Foster went pinker than Madam Pudifoots on Valentines Day. Reyna’s eyes went wide as she grinned, her episode with the floor forgotten. Melody shared a knowing glance with Rae, smiling to herself.

“Keira, get in the shower. Alice missing Frank at breakfast isn’t something to make fun of. Seriously, they have every class together. She needs to make the most of these very rare opportunities where - Oh wait...” Melody smirked as Alice threw a pillow at her.

I ducked back into the bathroom to avoid a pillow to the face, before getting into the shower and covering myself in vanilla scented soap. I sighed as the smell reached my nose, while the sound of pillows being thrown and Alice’s denial reached my ears. If only Henry wasn’t in Wales, this would be perfect.

*


Breakfast was noisy. Everyone was well rested from the night before, and combined with the prospect of not having classes till Monday, left the castle was in a good mood. The sounds from the Great Hall floated up to us, as Reyna, Mel, Alice and I exited the shortcut onto the first floor.

“This is ridiculous. I can’t even get from the dorms to breakfast without exhausting myself. And to think! Getting to this point has been going down the stairs. Alice, I blame you for all of this,” Reyna muttered as she followed us over to the top of the Grand Staircase.

“Oh, shut up, Rae! It wasn’t even your blanket!”

“Yeah, but I was the one that ended up on the floor!”

“Well, if you hadn’t decided to go back to sleep on Keira’s bed, it wouldn’t have been an issue!”

Reyna opened her mouth to reply, but was cut short, as at that moment the Gryffindor seventh year boys rounded the corner.

“What’s all this I hear about girls sleeping in beds together? Andrews, you promised you’d let me watch!”

“Sirius Black! I promised no such thing! And unfortunately for you," Mel snapped, "nothing of that sort is happening. If you’re after such behaviour, go talk to the Slytherins. Merlin, if I was kept in close confinement with boys as ugly as those, I’d bat for the other team too.”

James’s laughter erupted, his glasses flashing in the light. Remus smirked, while Peter, looking unsure, eventually decided to take his cue from James.

Merlin, that kid needed help if he didn’t even know when he found something funny.

Sirius watched Melody with a careful, blank expression, but his eyes gave him away. Even where I was standing behind Melody, I could see the enjoyment he’d found in her outburst, his silvery eyes dancing with entertainment. Mel glared at him and turned on her heel, starting down the Grand Staircase, but stopped when James called out to her, still chuckling.

“Ignore Padfoot. It’s too early in the morning for him to remember his manners.”

“Like you can talk…” Sirius muttered, pushing his dark hair out of his eyes.

“Shut it mate. Anyway, Andrews… Quidditch."

“When are tryouts? We need a Seeker this year too don’t forget. Prewett left last term.”

"Really? I hadn't noticed," James said sarcastically before continuing. "Tryouts are next Saturday morning at eleven -"

I rolled my eyes and continued down to breakfast as James trailed off. He’d heard Lily’s voice coming down the corridor. Even Quidditch couldn’t hold James Potter's attention for too long when Evans was around.

I turned and grabbed Mel’s arm, pulling her down the stairs towards food. Sure enough I saw Lily’s red hair stop at the top of the staircase as I entered the Hall. I sighed to myself. Wandering down the table to where Alice had grabbed us seats, I thought that surely after seven years, Potter would have learnt by now…

I filled my plate up with eggs and tomatoes, not talking for a while as I ate, while Melody fell into the space next to me, loading up her own plate and digging into her food.

I sat there in silence, playing with my breakfast. The more I thought about it, the more it got to me; the fact that nobody knew who I was. Six years, and it was finally getting under my skin. Maybe because I thought, now that’d we’d be introduced by Anthony on the train, the seventh year boys would at least see me. But thinking back to that confrontation on the top of the Grand Staircase, they still hadn’t known I was there. Hadn’t noticed me at all.

They knew Melody, obviously. She was on the Quidditch team with James and was one of the best looking girls in the school. Reyna demanded attention as soon as she walked into a room. The dark colouring of her skin, combined with the way she confidently held herself meant she was impossible not to notice. Alice, full of life and so quick to have an answer to everything, was well known by the seventh year boys due to their friendship with Frank. She and Frank were mad about each other, although it appeared the only people who didn’t know it were themselves.

I wondered if Alice would be in the same boat as me if Frank didn’t talk about her so much. I wondered if she would blend into the portraits, as I had done earlier.

I doubted it. Alice would never blend in. She was too individual for that.

I stabbed at my eggs, eyes narrowed. Maybe if I sat here long enough, an answer would be spelt out for me by my breakfast. Squashing that hope pretty quickly, I reached for the coffee, sipping it without tasting a thing.

Melody’s nudge got my attention awhile later and I looked up, scowl still covering my face.

“What’s up?"

She was looking at me over her copy of The Daily Prophet, a goblet of pumpkin juice in one hand.

“Do I blend into the walls to you? Like seriously. Because I swear no one at this school knows who I am. James Potter introduced himself to me yesterday on the train because he thought I was new. I’ve been here six years and he doesn’t know that I exist. I’m obviously Disillusioned or something. I mean, surely I’m not that invisible naturally? I’ve been dating Henry for how long now? Almost everyone knows my name, but when we’re introduced, the first thing they say is, 'Oh! You're Keira Nyx. I thought he was dating someone else…' Seriously Mel, it’s been six bleeding years. You’d think at least the people in our house would know who I am!”

Mel stared at me incredulously after I had finished. I'd blurted it all out without thinking, yes, but I needed to say it and if Mel couldn’t help me, then no one could.

“One, you do not blend into the walls. At all. Any idiot could see that you’re amazing. Keira, you’re my best friend; if I didn’t think you were worth my time, trust me, you'd know about it. But as it stands, you have more individuality, humour, courage and sense in one of your brain cells than all of Potter and his friends put together.” She paused, taking a breath and searching my eyes.

I looked down at my plate, not wanting her to know everything that was going on in my head like she always did.

“I’ve been dating Henry Watts for over eight months now. Eight months dating one of the best-known boys in school, and no one knows who I am. I don’t want to be known as ‘that girl, the one that’s dating Watts,’ but who on earth do they think he’s dating if they don’t know it’s me? Everyone knows he’s with someone, but no one knows who I am. I just don’t understand. At this point, even if I was known as ‘that girl’ I’d still get more recognition then I do now… Being ‘that girl’ sounds almost appealing…”

Mel watched me even more intently. I could see her out of the corner of my eye, while I continued to stare at what was left of my breakfast.

“It’s really worrying you that bad, isn’t it?”

“Sorta'… Yeah.”

She reached forward and grabbed my face, turning me to look at her. I was examined for just over a second, before she yanked on my arm and hauled me up.

“Come on then.”

I blinked, confused, as I was towed along behind her, down to the other end of the table.

“Wher–“ I started, but swallowed my words as we stopped abruptly in front of James Potter, Sirius Black and Remus Lupin. Peter was nowhere to be seen, but I guessed from the empty seat, he hadn’t left too long ago.

“Potter. I found someone for Seeker.”

His black hair, which always stuck up at the back, turned towards us, breaking away from the conversation he’d been having. He looked at us from across the table, surprised at the interruption, but not annoyed from what I could tell.

“Really?”

“Mmm. Keira Nyx,” Mel replied curtly, pushing me forwards and causing my toe to collide with the leg of the bench in front of me.

Wincing, I spun on my heel and stared at Mel with wide eyes. She cocked an eyebrow, hands on her hips, daring me to defy her in front of our present audience. I screwed my eyes shut and prayed to Merlin, before turning back to meet the now curious hazel eyes of James Potter. His brow furrowed for a moment, before recognition dawned on his face.

“Oh! You're King’s girl! The one we pranked by accident! I forgot you were friends with Andrews.”

Super. I was still Anthony’s girlfriend. My eyes flitted down the table towards Reyna. She and Alice were looking at us curiously, but were too far away to hear anything. I thanked Merlin again, before opening my mouth.

“Henry. Henry Watts. Not King. Though he and I are great friends, we aren’t dating.”

“Hmm? Oh yes, you're right. My bad, it’s coming back to me now.”

My eyes flicked to Remus as I heard his snort of disapproval. I smiled slightly, telling myself this was what I wanted, to be recognised. To not blend into the portraits anymore. And, true, I did want to hex Melody into next week for putting me in this damned situation; even I had to acknowledge this is exactly what I needed. Though not quite what I wanted...

“Potter, stop changing the subject. Seeker. Keira. She’ll be at tryouts on Saturday.”

And with that, I was dragged back down the breakfast table to where we had started.

“And that was all about…?” Reyna looked from one of us to the other, not particularly caring where her answer came from.

“Keira here, is trying out for Seeker on Saturday. Just informing the Captain. Thought he should know that there was no need to let anyone else sign up.”

“I actually cannot believe you just did that. Warning would have been nice, you know?” I stared exasperatedly at Mel beside me, ignoring Reyna’s nod of approval at Melody’s previous statement.

“If I had, you would have put up a fuss, dug your heels in and refused to. You said you blend into the paintings. I personally disagree, but what I think doesn’t matter in the long run. When you make Seeker - and you will make Seeker Keira, I’ve seen you fly – this new crisis of confidence won’t be an issue and you‘ll realise I was right all along. Besides, it’ll be nice to have someone with more than one brain cell between them on the team.”

IF I make the team Mel. If.”

“Shut it, Nyx. Wait till Saturday and you’ll prove I’m right.”

“Keira, you’re a fantastic flyer. You’ve loved flying since we got here, for Merlin’s sake. Just as Mel said, no need for anyone else to turn up.” Rae nodded earnestly.

“Now you’re all just being –.”

“If you don’t mind my interrupting what I’m sure is a thrilling conversation Miss Nyx, I do have all of Gryffindor’s timetables to distribute and I would appreciate not being held up.”

I swung around in my seat to see McGonagall standing behind me, brow raised, parchment in hand.

“No! Of course not Professor!”

“Good," she replied, sounding anything but thrilled. 

McGonagall sorted out all of our timetables and continued her way down the table, while we examined our new lesson plans. I noted my free periods and leaned over to have a look at Melody’s.

“Oh, good. We both have after lunch off on Monday’s. Oh! And Friday afternoons as well. Excellent. Rae, Alice, what about you?”

We sat there comparing timetables for a while, as the Great Hall slowly began to empty around us. Other students could be seen heading out onto the grounds to enjoy the sun and others back up to their common rooms.

“What are you all going to do? Head back up to our dorm or go sit outside?” Mel asked, as we stood in the doorway of the Great Hall awhile later.

“I’m happy to head back up to the dorm. I think the wind has picked up a bit anyway and I want to finish unpacking,” Rae replied, noting the whipping coats of students outside.

"I'm with Reyna. I've got stuff to unpack." I shrugged, largely indifferent, but wanting to spend time with them all. 

“All up to the dormitories? Fine by me. Come on then,” Alice called over her shoulder as she made her way up the stairs, in the direction of Gryffindor Tower.

*


I fell backwards onto my bed with a thump. That had been an effort and a half.

“My back hurts.”

A pillow hit me in the face and I sat up, glaring in the direction it had come from. Reyna stood there, weight on one leg, with her hands on her hips and a smirk covering her face. I tried to peg the pillow back at her, but it fell short and she laughed. Before I could retaliate however, a face poked its self around our door.

“Hello ladies – Oh! Your dorm is looking good!” Lily Evans grinned at all of us and my bad mood began to ebb. “I was wondering if any of you had seen Levi, Leah’s cat? He’s gone for a wander it seems.”

Her smile was infectious.

“Nope. Haven’t seen the ginger thing anywhere,” said Alice, poking her head out of the bathroom where she was inspecting herself in the mirror.

“Negative. I haven’t noticed the lion either,” Reyna replied, looking so disappointed there was one less cat around Gryffindor Tower.

“I’ll help you look for it if you want. I’m done here and it saves me from Reyna’s target practice.”

“Oh would you Keira? That’d be great. I thought I’d check the Common Room before trying the kitchens. I have a feeling the house elves are overfeeding him again.”

“Do house elves like cats? I never really thought about it before,” Mel asked as she fell onto her bed now that she'd finished unpacking her trunk. Her lips pursed in consideration and she pulled a face at the canopy above her four-poster.

“Some of them do. I think it helps that he’s been finding his way down there since he was little. Levi wasn’t half as intimidating to them when he came up to their knees.”

The four of us chuckled at Lily’s remark and I followed her out of the dormitory, throwing one last pillow at Reyna for good measure.

We slowly made our way down the stairwell, checking the other dormitories as we passed. I couldn’t help but grin as all the other girls began to panic at the sight of the Head Girl checking everyone's rooms.

“You know, next time, you should probably pretend it’s something more serious, like whether their banner is hanging at a thirty-eight degree angle. Or if they’ve colour-coded their cupboards,” I deadpanned.

My comment earned me a swot on the shoulder and I glanced at the red head next to me to find her grinning.

“I can’t do that! The poor first years would have a heart attack and Madam Pomfrey would be furious with half of Gryffindor Tower in the Hospital Wing.”

“Yes, but… Can you imagine their faces…”

Another swot came my way, but she was still smirking at the idea as we came to the bottom of the stairs.

“Feel like checking by the fire? I’ll do near the window before we head down to the kitchens.”

I agreed and turned towards the fireplace before pulling a face. The seventh year boys were in their favourite spot right by the fire, the four of them sprawled all over the couches and the floor. I wondered if Lily had given me this side of the room on purpose, just so she could avoid Potter. It seemed likely.

I made my way over to the notice board a way behind them and began to search for the giant, missing cat, slowly making my way closer to the fire.

Sitting up from my position on the floor after failing to find the lynx under an armchair, I could tell I looked like an idiot. But I could see Lily doing the same thing on the other side of the Common Room and figured at least I wasn’t the only one looking stupid. Safety in numbers, right?

I continued to sit there for a moment, wondering what would happen if I just told Lily that Levi wasn’t by the fire and we moved onto the kitchens. It’d save me going near Potter and his friends, but if Lily found out I’d lied, any hopes of friendship I had with the older girl would be gone, I was sure.

Goblins.

I stood up and slowly made my way towards the boys, wondering how exactly I was supposed to ask if there was a small orange lion under their chair without looking like a fool. With different questions running through my head, I breathed easier once I realised that Remus Lupin was the one sitting closest to me.

He was slightly off the to the side, with a book open in his lap, but evidently forgotten. A failed attempt at studying it looked like, though what he’d be studying before classes began was beyond me. Absentmindedly nibbling on a bar of chocolate, he was listening to his friends banter between themselves.

I coughed quietly, and his attention left whatever his friends were laughing about.

“Ahem. Remus Lupin, right? We’ve never been properly introduced. I’m Kei-”

“Keira Nyx, nice to meet you.” He grinned as he held out a hand.

I shook it firmly, my nerves slowly fading away. These boys were only human after all, I argued to myself. What was the worst they could do? Surely they wouldn’t throw Dungbombs at me for asking them about Leah Crawford’s missing cat... thing. Maybe I should go see Madam Pomfrey. I needed serious mental help.

I smiled back at him.

“You haven’t seen Crawford’s cat, Levi, have you? He’s gone for a wonder.”

“Nope. Haven’t seen the thing, if you can call it a cat… hope you find it though. Do you want a hand?”

“Nah, thanks anyway though. Evans reckons he’s down in the kitchens, looking cute and getting the house elves to feed him. We just thought we’d check the tower first. Cheers, Lupin, I’ll talk to you later. Got to find this damned animal before he’s too fat to carry back up the stairs…”

The older boy laughed, nodding his head in agreement as I walked away, giving him a wave of thanks when I left through the portrait hole with Lily.

“And the kitchens are where exactly?” I asked as we made our way down the Grand Staircase into the Entrance Hall. I’d never been to the kitchens before. It’d never occurred to me to go looking for them, never needing food at times when I couldn’t get it from meals in the Great Hall.

Emerald eyes turned on me at my question, and I felt I might have just insulted her mother with the look of shock and disbelief she had on her face.

“You mean you’ve never been to the kitchens? Ever?”

“Pretty much… yeah.”

She blinked a few times, as if repeating the action would make my words sink in easier. Eventually, she gave up and snorted in a way that managed to combine amusement and disbelief. “And you call yourself a Gryffindor.”

I let her steer me through a door to the right of the Grand Staircase and followed her down an unfamiliar corridor. We passed a few Hufflepuffs as we made our way down the passage, and for the first time I wondered where their Common Room was.

Lily came to a sudden halt and I had to step widely, to stop my momentum carrying me into her.

“Kitchens?” I asked confused as to why we had paused in the middle of the passage. There was no doors insight…

Lily tapped the side of her nose, grinning, before reaching out and tickling the pear of a large still life on the wall next to us. I stared at the Head Girl, wondering if she’d gone mad and almost missed the pear squirming into a doorknob, it’s giggling subsiding as it did so.

I froze dramatically, only moving my eyes away from the doorknob to take in Lily’s chuckling expression. Deciding to just go with it, I held up my hands in mock surrender, a form of apology for ever doubting her. Lily opened the door, bowing theatrically and, taking that as my cue, I walked through the arch behind the painting.

The first thing to strike me was the tremendous size of the room. Maybe it was because our kitchen back home was on the smaller side, but this place was huge. It must have been at least the same size as the Great Hall and it even had the four long tables, running down the middle. The walls were covered in brass pots and pans and a roaring fireplace filled the back wall.

I span on the spot, absorbing every aspect of the room, finally meeting the emerald eyes that were dancing with laugher at my reaction. I blushed, embarrassed, and she gestured downwards, towards the marble floor. Confused, I followed her line of sight, starting when I found myself surrounded by house-elves.

They were smiling up at me, tugging on my jeans and pushing me out of the doorway, further into the kitchen. I stumbled along, slightly overwhelmed at the sheer number of them. There must have been hundreds, the tallest coming to just above my knee, all with bulging green eyes. Food was being pushed towards me and urgings to take it filled my ears. When I had eventually been pushed and pulled into the middle of the kitchen, an old wooden chair was forced behind me and I fell into it gratefully.

I laughed and smiled at all of them, politely turning down the huge roast chicken that was offered to me, informing them that I was still full from breakfast. Looking at Lily, I could see her arms were full of Butterbeers and Pumpkin Pasties and a feeling that she and her friends would be having lunch in their dormitory today crept over me.

“Miss! Miss!”

I looked down at the elf tugging on my pant leg. I wasn’t entirely sure, but I had a feeling it was female. The face looking up at me was round, with large almond shaped eyes, bulging out of her head, yellow-green in colour. Her ears stuck out sideways and turned upwards slightly at the end, coming to a fine point. Wearing nothing but what appeared to be two tea towels sewn crudely together, she continued to tug on my jeans, trying to gain my attention.

"Don't worry about us." Lily laughed, as she politely turned down her third roast chicken. "Pretend we aren't here, go back to whatever you were doing before. I'm sure you're all busy."

Chatter involving “Yes, Miss Evans” and “We are happy to help, Miss Lily,” filled the room as the elves slowly made their way back to their tasks, still smiling at their guests. I looked down to find the same elf that had been tugging on my jeans still there, beaming at me.

“What’s your name?”

“Abra, Miss.”

“I’m Keira Nyx. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Abra.”

“Would Miss Keira Nyx like a drink? Abra thought Miss Keria might like a drink as she has already said that she was full from her breakfast.”

“I’d love a drink, thank you.” I giggled at the look of joy on her face as she ran off to fetch me a Butterbeer.

“Looks like you made a friend.”

I smiled up at Lily who had made her way over to me.

“I think so. This place is amazing. Is it directly under the Hall? Because those tables line up exactly with the house ones upstairs.”

Lily laughed, nodding. “Yeah. It’s directly under the Hall. The tables are how the food gets transported upstairs for meals. Place it on the table and it automatically appears on the corresponding one above. Cool, right?”

“You have no idea. Our kitchen at home is nothing compared to this. I think mum would die.”

The tugging on my jeans was back, and I looked down to find a Butterbeer being thrust towards me, by the very proud little elf.

"Can Abra help you with anything else, Miss Keira? Or would Miss Keira like Abra to leave her alone? Abra does not wish to annoy Miss Keira or Miss Lily. Abra only wants to help, she does. Yes Miss, Abra loves to help.”

“Thanks, Abra. You've been a great help, but we're fine, honestly. You can go back to whatever you were doing before.” I smiled at her, and she beamed again, before beginning to shuffle away. As she did so however, I remembered our original reason for coming all the way down here.

“Hold up! Abra, you haven’t seen a ginger cat have you? Fat thing? Probably looking for food?”

“Miss Leah Crawford’s animal? The crossbreed pet? The animal is over there, it is. Smells bad it does too, Miss Keira. Abra wanted to wash it, make it clean, Miss. Cat didn’t like Abra and soap. Oh no Miss, cat didn’t like Abra and soap at all. Walked straight over to the fire, Miss. Yes it did, tail in the air and all, Miss. You're not angry at Abra are you? Abra was only trying to help. Abra didn’t think Miss Leah would like her cat smelling stinky, Miss. Abra was only trying to help, honest...”

The large green eyes looked up at me, wide with fear that she’d done something wrong and I wondered if elves could cry…

“No, no! Abra, you’ve done nothing wrong at all! We just couldn’t find Levi, that’s all. We thought he might have come down here for food. By the fire you say? We’ll go get the smelly cat out of here.” I crouched down to the elf’s height and grinned at her, making sure she knew she had done no wrong. The little thing was gorgeous. I wanted to take her home with me; she was so cute.

“Can you do me one last thing, Abra? Could you get me some more Butterbeers? Along with some Treacle Tart and pasties? Would that be okay?”

I hoped that I’d catch Mel and the others before they left the dormitory for lunch. I felt I needed a girl’s afternoon and the idea of having a picnic on the floor of our dorm was appealing.

Abra was off in less than a moment, weaving her way between the other house-elves all going about their business finishing lunch. Lily started to make her way over to the fireplace and I followed, spying the fat mound of ginger fur glaring at us instantly.

Conjuring a basket, Lily placed all of her food into it, before attempted to grab the cat. Levi inched out of her way, narrowly avoiding her grasp each time. It appeared it was determined to stay and put in the least amount of effort at the same time.

“Oh, you damned thing!” Lily snapped as the feline stared lazily at her, after she had missed again. The Head Girl pulled out her wand and pointed it at the cat. “Wingardium Leviosa.”

Levi hissed as he rose into the air and Lily smirked, picking up her basket of food again.

The tugging on my jeans was now familiar, almost to the extent that I didn’t notice it when Abra returned with the supplies I’d asked for.

“Will Miss be needing anything else from Abra? Abra would be more than happy to assist Miss Keira. Abra thinks Miss Keira and Miss Lily are both very beautiful if Abra is permitted to say…”

I think my insides melted at that. It was official, I wanted to keep her forever; she was so adorably cute.

"Oh, Abra, you're wonderful. Thank you. You've been a great help."

“Oh! You too, Miss Keira. Come back and visit Abra with Miss Lily soon. Abra greatly enjoys helping Miss Keira and Miss Lily.”

We were near the door when the house-elves had swarmed us again, all waving goodbye, wishing us to return and asking if we were sure we didn’t want a roast for the road. The portrait eventually closed behind us, with me turning to Lily, a grin spread across my face. She took one look at me and laughed.

“Enjoyed that, did you?”

“Not even kidding, Abra, can I keep her? She’s adorable!”

“Yeah, she is cute. She’s fairly new too, only been here the last few years. Still pretty young in house-elves standards from what I can gather.”

“Why’s she new? What happened to her family?”

“Killed in the war I think. They were big supporters of Dumbledore. They must have been, to leave her to Hogwarts in their will.”

“Oh.”

There it was again. That word.

War.

A cold shiver ran up my arms as I thought of all of the names in the papers every morning. With too many to count, many families were left only scanning the columns for familiar names.

I looked at Lily. She was Muggle-born, same as me, which left us both as targets to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

The red haired prefect next to me topped all of her classes. She was brilliant, witty, knew the right thing to say in every situation and everyone loved her. So why in Merlin’s name, did You-Know-Who say that muggleborns were inferior? Half of her class was Purebloods and she trumped the lot of them.

I just didn’t understand.

I thought of Melody. She was bright, she topped Charms every year after all, but that wasn’t because she was a Pureblood, it was because of hard work and a natural flair. Blood status had nothing to do with it. 

Reyna was skilled in all of her classes (the only one she didn’t top was Charms, and that was due to Mel) and she was Muggle-born. She and I had both put so much effort into our magical studies when we arrived at Hogwarts. Both been aware of how lucky we were. After coming from a life where magic was only located in bookshops, between the pages of the volumes kept right at the back of the store, this new gift had been a dream.

My mind flittered back to Platform 9 ¾ the day before. Rae had been so nervous with the idea of leaving her family behind. None of us knew what would happen. Every day meant new opportunities for You-Know-Who to strike our defenseless families. Worried for her little brother, Rae had been writing to Dumbledore over the summer. Her four-year-old brother wasn’t showing signs of magical ability yet, but with Reyna not even knowing of her skill till she received her letter, she was worried little Zac would be targeted in an attempt to wipe out the next generation. I worried for Zac Wilkins too.

Would Alice be safe? Probably. Both of her parents were wizards, although her great-grandmother on her mother’s side was a Muggle-born. I wondered if it counted…

“You alright? You’ve got a funny look on your face.”

“Hmm? Oh yeah. Fine. Just thinking about all the names in the papers... I wonder if I read Abra’s owners names when they died. I probably did. I probably didn’t even notice. I wonder who they were; if their support of Dumbledore was worth killing out their entire household, you know? This war... I just don’t understand how someone could be so biased and judgmental of people he’s never met. Of people who have so much to offer our world, both the Muggle and Wizarding one. I just don’t get it. The more I think about it… the less sense it makes.”

I looked up from my feet and she met my gaze with a sad smile. I could see she’d had the same thoughts, the same unanswered questions and the same fears for loved ones and others like her. She dropped her arm from in front of her; not releasing the spell, causing Levi to fall to inches above the floor. He meowed loudly, but neither of us cared. We stood there in the doorway, just off from the Entrance Hall, having a silent conversation. A silent conversation about our fears, our worries and those dreams we dared not hope for, except for when we were alone, in the middle of the night.

In that moment, I knew that Lily Evans and I were friends. In the look we gave one another, I saw past the brainy Head Girl and understood her. All of her. The same understanding Mel and I had of each other and the same understanding Lily now had of me. We were friends, in this together. Support and hope for each other in this war against those born of Muggle parentage.

“Come on, picnic in my dorm. Bring Alice, Mel and Rae. I need a girls afternoon.”

How had she known I’d been thinking the exact same thing before? I released the breath I hadn’t known I’d been holding, giving her a small nod of agreement.

Lily smiled at that, but there was my sadness still mirrored in her eyes. She blinked a few times and it was gone, replaced by the same curiosity and cheek that was normally found and she smiled again, wider, with her eyes twinkling.

I felt the corners of my mouth creeping upwards and a giggle escape me as I watched to see what idea had brought the emerald eyes alive.

“What’d you say to some choreography?”

“Pardon?”

“You know. Dance moves." Lily spun on the spot, trying to show me what she meant. "I figure the walk up to Gryffindor Tower isn’t exactly the most scenic, and besides, we only have dear Levi here for a limited time before Leah snatches him off us. He looks like he could use some high intensity exercise to burn off all that food...”

I snorted with laughter as she made the cat twirl in the air. And I almost doubled over when he finally stopped, giving us the most murderous look a cat ever could.

“Can he leap?”

I promptly learned that he could, as I watched Lily dance the ginger lynx through the Entrance Hall and all the way up to Gryffindor Tower.



Authors Note:
I rushed to finish this chapter, because I was so happy to see that people had read and liked my first one! Seriously, your feedback is great, both for motivation and inspiration. Thanks ^_^  I love to know what people think of my story and writing style. Favourite parts? Quotes? Characters so far? Thanks again everyone who reads this. I owe you one.

Remember, reviews are better than super speedy updates.
- Adele :)




Chapter 3: The Result of Intimidating Eyebrows...
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Chapter III - The Result of Intimidating Eyebrows...



We bumped into Rae, Alice and Mel on the stairs between the common room and the dormitory, where they had been more than happy to turn around and head back up the tower with me and Lily.

Alice had ducked into our room on the way to grab her secret stash of Licorice Wands. She really must have been in a good mood if she was willing to share. I had a feeling it had to do with Frank greeting her at breakfast.

Lily continued to twirl Levi until Leah came rushing out of their dorm at the sound of his yowls, snatching him out of the air, while the red head snickered right through her friend’s lecture on animal cruelty.  

Less than twenty minutes later, all eight of us – Rebecca, Leah, Mary, Lily, Reyna, Alice, Melody and myself – could be found on the floor of the seventh year girls’ dormitory, Butterbeer and Pumpkin Pasties in hand. The windows creaked occasionally while the autumn wind continued to whip around the tower outside, but inside on the squishy red and gold pillows Lily had conjured, we were happy. 

“Lils,” Rebecca whined when she finished yet another bottle, “when’s our next Hogsmeade visit? You and Potter are in charge of that now, aren’t you?”

“Oh, shut it, Becs, don’t remind me!”

Rebecca laughed heartily, while I saw Mel giving her former teammate a look that I'm sure would have gotten us kicked out of the of older girls’ dorm had it been seen. 

“But it’s true, Lil. You and Potter are going to have to spend loads of time together now. Shame, really. Maybe he’ll use it to his advantage and you’ll finally admit you like him.”

“You say I like that bigot one more time and I’ll set Leah’s cat on you, Simmons.”

Rebecca almost fell backwards in her laughter this time and Leah gave her a curious look from behind her long blond hair. She reached for Rebecca's empty bottle and held it up close to her face, examining it. “How much beer is actually in Butterbeer? I’ve never thought to think about it before now, but suddenly I feel I should be very cautious,” she said in her airy voice.

Thought to think about it. Her sentence took me a moment to work through but I eventually got there. "Maybe Abra gave me a bad batch?” I mused out loud, giving Rebecca a worried look as she continued to giggle.

“Abra?”

“House-elf I met in the kitchens. Merlin, she’s the cutest thing since puppies –" The ginger animal hissed at me from under Leah's bed, but I ignored it. That thing was more trouble than it was worth, in my opinion... “ – completely adorable. Reminds me of a five year old. You know, when they follow you everywhere before they reach that stage where they think they know it all? Completely gorgeous,” I gushed.

“I swear, next time you go to the kitchens, I’m coming with you. I’m going to stock up on Licorice Wands," inquired Alice, suddenly worried. "They do have Licorice Wands, right?”

“I was offered at least three roasts in the 10 minutes I was there. If you want Licorice Wands, I’m sure they’ll be more than accommodating.” Her concern was almost as cute as Abra.

Lily agreed with a laugh, her red hair bouncing around her face, and Alice relaxed, knowing that she had access to an endless supply of her favourite food.

“I don’t know how you do it, you know? Eat Licorice Wands by the dozen and stay as skinny as a stick.” Mary Macdonald sighed, eyeing Alice’s tiny waist.

I nearly choked, staring at the seventh year. She had to be joking, surely? Mary was perfect. Don’t even get me started on how much I wanted legs as long as hers. Not to mention the long, wavy, dark brown hair that fell to her shoulders. With a light complexion, a button nose, and large hazel eyes, she was the epitome of gorgeous and she was one of the few girls Sirius Black had had repeat ‘flings’ with. Even the school playboy couldn’t resist looks like hers. But as he was currently seeing some fool of a fifth year Ravenclaw; they had pretty much ignored each other lately.

Though none of the other seventh year boys seemed to mind that Mary was single...

"Seriously? I can't even... I just can't. You are amazing. Anyone would love to be you. Any one of you." Melody looked around at all of the older girls in disbelief, meeting their gaze. "Evans, you've had Potter after you for how many years now? And Macdonald, one of the very few girls Black has been interested in more than once - if that's not an achievement, I don't know what is. Simmons, I’ve known you how long? And Crawford, have you seen yourself? This is your last year! Bloody hell, stop worrying about eating and have fun!"

Leah had a dreamy look in her eye and a slight look of amusement on her face, while Mary skill seemed skeptical about her own appearance.

I smiled to myself as Mel concluded her rant. I knew this was something she was passionate about, but I seriously hoped she hadn't come across too strong to the others. Her personality often seemed grating, as not many people were used to her lack of filter. She always said what was on her mind, and didn't really mind what she said. Lily had been incredibly kind inviting us to spend the afternoon with her and her friends, and I was paranoid that Mel's animated speech would result in an 'it was lovely to have you, but your dormitory is downstairs...’ Not wanting to be part of the conversation when we were kicked out, I stared out the window, just able to see the top of the trees in the Forbidden Forest. 

The dark green tops of the trees moved gently in the wind, and Henry's face filled my vision, while I wondered where he was. I was tempted to write to him, but I didn't want to distract him from the time he was spending with his family. He'd elected to stay on longer after the ceremony, before he returned for his N.E.W.T year for a reason; none of us knew who would be the next to go in this war, and we all had suddenly felt the urge to make up for lost time.

I missed him though.

I missed him a lot, but I knew I would have made the same decision had it me. Just because they were Purebloods didn't make his family any safer if they were classified as Blood-traitors for not caring about blood status. Hell, he was dating me wasn't he? A Muggle-born. And his parents supported Muggle rights. Yeah, they had Blood-traitors stamped all over them. 

“Alright, alright! I’ll organise a Hogsmeade visit soon so you can all stock up on your sugar. Godric help me, I’ll talk to Potter.” The redhead held up her hands in mock defeat, rolling her eyes as she did so.

I snapped out of my thoughts and grinned at Lily as she muttered something that sounded like “bigheaded tosser” under her breath.

We stayed in the dormitory for the rest of the day, laughing, telling each other stories, explaining in-jokes, munching on food and exchanging tips on classes. Mary had placed refilling charms on our Butterbeers, but by dinner, we had eaten all the snacks Lily and I had brought. Although none of us were particularly hungry, Lily agreed to show Alice the way to the kitchens to see if Abra could conjure her some more Licorice Wands. We appeared to have eaten all of them and Alice wasn’t impressed.

As Lily’s red hair disappeared through the portrait hole with Alice, I turned back to face the others. We’d all moved down to the common room together and Leah was sitting in the window seat; Levi was purring in her lap, and her blonde hair was shining in the glow from the lanterns. Rebecca was arguing with her about - Umgubular Slashkilters? I didn't even know. All I could tell was that Leah was upset because our Care of Magical Creatures course apparently wasn't up to standard. 

Mary was pointedly ignoring her two friends, and was practising some spell out of an open book next to her. I heard her mutter "Multicorfors" and her hair changed to a charming bright pink. I gave her armchair a wide berth after that, liking my hair the way it was far too much to risk a stray spell. 

Dismissing Melody and Reyna’s conversation next to me, I stretched, grunting as I heard my back crack. 

Charming. I was getting old. Sixteen and I’d be in a wheelchair before I knew it. I made my way across the common room to the staircase, wondering why I’d never seen a wizard in a wheelchair.  

Lost in my thoughts about why Dumbledore, a wizard who was at least a hundred, didn't use a walking stick, I failed to remember that Gryffindor Tower was a dangerous place.

“MERLIN!” The words escaped my lips as something solid collided with me at speed.

“Oh, sorry – Nox, wasn’t it? – my bad, my bad.  Didn’t see you there. You haven’t seen Evans by any chance, have you? I haven’t seen her since breakfast…”

Nyx, Potter. Keira Nyx. Not Nox. I am not a light. And watch where you’re going next time! You too, Black.” I rounded on him as he began to snicker at James’s side. “I nearly became part of the carpet all because you both take the stairs at a hundred miles an hour,” I snapped without thought.

They both blinked for a moment, staring at me, before I realised what I’d just said. I needed a good Bludger to the head. Maybe the impact would give my brains the rattle they needed. Nobody talked to these two like that. I may well have just signed a warrant for my social death. 

“So you haven’t seen Evans then…”

“Huh?” I blinked, more focused on the knot forming in my stomach than on our conversation. “Oh – Yeah, sorry. She left not too long ago.”

“Ah. Shame.” James frowned toward the portrait hole, and Sirius – damnit.

“Face. Up here,” I said in a warning tone and Black snapped his vision away from my chest. The grey eyes met mine with a look that was gone in half an instant, replaced by a blank expression and a shrug of indifference.  I didn’t know what the look meant - and later I would quite easily convince myself that it had been nothing - but it made my stomach drop suddenly. I felt a little light-headed.

“C’mon James, let’s go find Moony. Evans isn’t here.”

“Alright, alright Pads. I just wanted to know where she was. I haven’t seen her since breakfast – “

“And the world will end as we know it. Yeah, yeah. If you’ve gone ten hours without seeing her, I’m sure you’ll survive one more. Lets go, Prongs,” Sirius urged as he pulled Potter over towards the portrait hole.

James laughed as his friend pulled him away, grabbing Peter Pettigrew by the arm as the small boy entered through the portrait hole. With a look that suggested he had no idea what was going on plastered across his face, his two friends dragged him back into the corridor.

*


“I saw that.”

“What?” I spun around to see Melody leaning in the doorway, chuckling to herself.

“That display downstairs. I think half of Gryffindor Tower saw it. I, myself, found it quite amusing.” Mel still sported a large grin.

“Now, did you just? Bloody Potter and bleeding Black, nearly squashed me!”

“Mmm, but it was your reply that I found entertaining.”

“Oh? I'm glad you liked it. Might be the last one you ever see.” Images of what I might have looked like from someone else’s view filled my mind’s eye, and I winced to myself. Yeah, may as well permanently Disillusion myself now...  “Thanks, by the way. For what you did this morning. You know, dragging me down the table at breakfast. It was what I needed, I suppose. I still didn't like it though...” I smiled weakly at my best friend and she stopped laughing, opting to give me a soft smile and join me by my bed.

“Hey, I meant what I said; it’ll be nice to have someone on the team with more than half a brain cell.”

My own smile grew as we both sunk onto the mattress. “If I make the team, Mel. IF.”

“Oi, I told you I saw what happened downstairs. Potter likes sass. Why do you think he’s been chasing after Evans all these years? He’ll like you as a person when he gets to know you, and he’ll love your flying as soon as he sees you on a broom. Besides, he’ll be down yet another chaser if he rejects you for the spot.” She crossed her arms over her chest and gave me her ‘Mel look’. My insides cringed.

“There is no way you’ll quit the team!” I protested. “You need to be out there if you want the scouts to see you, Mel. You won’t get offered a spot with the Harpies if you’re sitting in the stands. They don't want a player that'll sit out just because the Captain chose a good player over your friend.”

“Yeah, you’re right. I wouldn’t quit. But I’d threaten to, and I think that'd get the same reaction from Potter…” Mel grinned with a wicked glint in her eye.

I went to elbow her in the ribs, but she dodged it easily and we both fell back laughing.

“Merlin, I just can’t stop thinking about Sirius’s face when you yelled at him for staring at you. I know it’s the second day back, but I have a good feeling it’ll stay the highlight of my term. And then when he was so eager to get out of there? Seriously, I nearly died, Keira! Reyna had her hand over my mouth so no one would hear me laughing.” Her eyes danced at the memory.

I pulled my gaze away from the drapes at the top of my four-poster bed and looked at her, confused. “What do you mean ‘his face’?”

Melody was still grinning as she pushed her honey brown hair out of her eyes so she could look at me properly. It was sprawled all over the pillow and I batted at it to get it away from my face. She laughed a bit, before blinking a few times when she realised I honestly had no idea what she was talking about.

“You know, when you told him to stop staring at your chest? And he looked up at you? Before he shrugged and pulled James away? C’mon Keira, surely you saw it!”

Maybe Melody had fallen on her way up the stairs and had hit her head really hard? Or perhaps it had been a bad batch of Butterbeer that Abra had given me, and it had just taken longer to affect her than it had Simmons? Because surely she and I were not talking about the same Sirius Black.

“Honestly and truly, I have no idea what you are talking about Melody Andrews.”

“Forget it then. Just know that you kill me sometimes.” She shook her head, exasperated. I rolled my eyes, and elbowed her, resulting in a pillow to the face.

“How’s Jack?” I asked, finally, cutting across the tune she had begun to hum to herself. That’s what I liked about Mel. She and I never had awkward silences. We could just sit there and think about our own things, never needing to fill the space with aimless words.

“Hmm? Oh, he’s great actually. Haven’t seen him much, but meh. Suppose that’s the price of having the Keeper of the Stingers as your brother, eh?”

Jack Andrews was quite possibly one of the most stubborn, caring, passionate, focused and unluckiest people in the world. Exactly the same as Mel.

I stared at my best friend with a sad smile as she lay next to me, still humming to herself, eyes closed.

Walter and Grace Andrews had both been Gryffindors, who surely would have made Godric himself proud. They were Hit Wizards, and two of the finest the Ministry had ever seen. Dying in an ambush thirteen years ago, by some of the earliest Death Eaters, it was terrifying to think that Mel and her brother, Jack, had felt some of the first repercussions of the war.

Jack had packed up their stuff and move him and his sister, along with the house-elf, to live with their dad's cousin. Mel had limited memories of when they'd arrived, she'd been so young, and had absolutely no recollection of before then. Using the claim that as their guardian, he wormed his way to unlimited access to one of their parents' Gringotts vaults. Though of course, Jack and Mel never saw the benefits of the money he withdrew; all spent on Firewhiskey and other things I’m sure we'd never know.

And it had stayed that way. Until Jack had turned seventeen, when he’d packed his little sister’s bags, grabbed the house-elf and took them back to their parents’ estate in Surrey. 

Not for the last time, I wondered how on earth he’d managed to raise Mel and still get signed to the Wimbourne Wasps. Jack Andrews was an amazing person, caring for his sister when he was at home, and trying his best to be there for her, even when he was away at school, though Mel had developed a special relationship with their house-elf, Polka, who had hated living with their cousin as much as Mel had, and had taken upon the role of raising Mel the way her parents would have wanted. 

“Do you miss your mum?” I asked, my eyes staring into the canopy above my bed.

Mel was silent for a moment. “Every day. Every bleeding day.”

Her eyes were still shut and I placed my head on her shoulder, mentally kicking myself for bringing it up. “I’m so sorry, Mel. I shouldn’t ha – OW!” I rubbed the ribs that her elbow had collided with.

“Shuddit will you? I don’t mind. It’s good to talk about her. The less I do, the harder it gets. Jack doesn’t like to – not that he’s around much – but he and I talk about other stuff. Quidditch, Polka, how amazing that House Elf’s food is…” She trailed off, and I looked up at her to find her with a wistful expression on her face. “My parents died for being blood traitors and you, my best friend, are the type of person their killers wish to get rid of. I hate them, Keira. I hate them all, but until we leave Hogwarts for good, there’s nothing we can do.”

I thought about her words. About the war. About the sick and wounded. “We need Healers, Mel. St. Mungo’s is so overworked, and so many people are dying. All I need are passing marks for N.E.W.T.S next year and I’m there. I should hopefully get everything else, its just Potion’s I’m worried about.” I paused for a moment, thinking about my grades. “Maybe if I buy Slughorn a lifetime’s supply of Crystallised Pineapple, he’ll learn my name…”

Mel laughed at that, and I sighed, glad the gloom was gone from the air. The war was becoming a more and more pressing topic each day. Particularly for the older students who were soon to leave the safety of Hogwarts, and join the fight, regardless of whichever side they chose. 

Helpless. That’s what I felt, here in the castle unable to do anything.  Yet I was petrified of the idea of actually leaving Hogwarts and becoming part of the fight.

“Maybe on that Hogesmede trip Evans is planning? You can pick it up some pineapple from Honeydukes then.”

“Sounds like a plan. I just hope it’s soon. Sorta want to get it to him before Christmas. Any point after that, and I fear it will already be too late for my grades.” Mel rolled her eyes, ignoring me.  

“Deep and meaningful? Or am I welcome to join?”

I didn’t take my eyes off the canopy above my bed, but I grinned at Reyna’s words. “Of course it’s a deep and meaningful. Get your arse in here.”

She chuckled as I heard her make her way across the room, opting to sit on the end of the bed.

“Where’s Alice?” I asked as I sat up.

“If she’s back from the kitchens, and she’s not here, I’m guessing with Frank.”

Reyna laughed, giving Mel a small applause. “Ten points for Melody. Well done.”

“I’d like to thank my owl, for always being there for me, and my – “ She was cut short by a pillow to the face.

“Merlin, what is it with you and throwing stuff today, Rae?” I asked in exasperation.

She shrugged before grabbing the same pillow she had just thrown at Mel, and hauling it at me. “You’re all just easy targets.”

I scowled, batting it away.

*


First transfiguration lesson of the year, and I managed to get on McGonagall's bad side.

“Miss Nyx! You will pay attention in my class,” Professor McGonagall snapped.

“Hmm?” I blinked, tearing my eyes away from the window behind her desk. I hadn’t been listening and she knew it.

The classroom was cool. The windows were open and a slight breeze swirled through the ancient teaching space. Autumn was well and truly on its way, while only soft sounds of scratching quills and murmured conversation could be heard from where I was sitting in the middle of the room.

Wednesday killed me; it was a constant reminder that I still had half a week to go and I couldn’t slack off yet. So of course, that’s exactly what I had been doing, already exhausted from the amount of homework i'd complied.

“Transfiguration is a very systematic, exact magical discipline, Miss Nyx. It is one branch of magic that works best for the scientifically inclined mind. Even the best Witches and Wizards can deem Human Transfiguration very hard work. If you wish to pass this class my dear girl, then you must start to pay attention.”

I looked down at my parchment, hiding a smile, as the Purebloods in the room began asking each other what 'scientifically' was. 

“Yes, Professor… sorry, Professor.”

Why did she have to be so intimidating? I mean, McGonagall was fantastic; we were incredibly lucky to have her as our Head of House. But Merlin,did she have to peer over her glasses like that? Seriously, she could take the warmth out of a room faster than a Dementor if you put her in the wrong mood.

“36, B Miss Nyx.” Hell.

I pretended to scan my parchment, looking for my answer. But let’s be practical here; she and I both knew I hadn’t done it. I was about to tell her so too, when Benjy Fenwick kneed me under the desk. Still facing at the parchment in front of me, I darted my eyes over to where he lifted his arm, ever so subtly, showing me his answer. Oh Godric, I could’ve kissed him.

Pretending that I’d finally found it, I looked up. “The difference between Transfiguration and the Animagus transformation is that an Animagus can change into an animal whenever they want, without a wand or an incantation. Being an Animagus is an ability, that can be performed at will, while Human Transfiguration requires a spell and a wand.”

Oh dear, she could totally tell I’d read Benjy’s answer. That eyebrow? Yeah. It knew.

However, she gave me a once over, daring me to lose concentration in her class again, and turned back to the board. I visibly relaxed into my chair, and heard Benjy chuckle under his breathe next to me.

“Close one, Nyx,” he whispered.

“I owe you. So badly.” I kept my eyes down, not looking at him as I replied.

“Nah. Just make the team on Saturday and we’ll call it even.”

“How’d you know about that?” I hissed, not wishing to attract McGonagall’s attention again.

He was Beater on the Gryffindor team, and good friends with Frank. Tall for our year, same as his friend, but Benjy had one of those smiling faces you just couldn’t help but love. Light brown hair, blue eyes, and a nose that had been broken a few too many times by stray Bludgers. He was a Half-blood, and he had been one of my earlier friends when we’d both started in our first year. We used to argue about all sorts of things, such as Muggle Rugby. I supported Australia, where my grandparents lived, and he hated me for it.

He still hasn’t forgiven me for when the Kangaroos whipped Britain’s arse in the 1970 Rugby League World Cup. Especially since his team was playing on home ground. Even though it had been two years before we’d started Hogwarts, as soon as he’d worked out I went for Australia, he’d stopped talking to me for 3 months. It was rather traumatic as an eleven year old.

“Potter came and saw me about tryouts. He wants the rest of the crew there so they can all see the new recruits in action before he picks out the best. Anyway, he mentioned one of Andrews’s friends was trying out. I knew it wasn’t Foster,” he gestured to Alice in the row in front of us, “and I could safely rule out Wilkins as she avoids flying like the plague.”

A small smile crept across my face as the memory of our first flying lesson sprang to mind. Reyna had gotten on fine at first, but that had been before the Hufflepuff she’d liked had lost control of his broom and knocked her unconscious for three days. Needless to say, she hadn’t liked brooms, or him, ever since.

“Right…” I murmured.

“You talking about me, Fenwick?” Rae leaned over from my other side.

“Perhaps.” I snorted at the look on Benjys’ face. Merlin, I was so lady-like. “Just saying you hate me almost as much as you hate brooms,” he continued, ignoring my outburst.

“Oh, no! Godric, no.” Rae looked taken back by his statement, while Benjy was eyeing her suspiciously.

“Really?”

“Really. There’s no ‘almost’ about it,” she deadpanned, before squealing as he leaned over me to swipe at her.

“MR FENWICK! MISS NYX! MISS WILKINS!”

Super. And I hadn’t even been doing anything this time.

We all looked up at McGonagall though, who was now standing right in from of my chair. 

“The both of you can serve detention with Professor Slughorn this evening.” Her lips grew thinner and thinner as she stared down her nose at Rae and I. “Maybe then you’ll learn not to disrupt your fellow students. And don’t think I’ve forgotten about you, Mr Fenwick.” She turned on Benjy. “I believe you are already serving detention this evening with Mr. Filch? Shall I inform him that you are to join him tomorrow night as well? Or would you prefer I find something else for you to do in retribution? Though I can assure you now, it will not be with the two ladies to your right.”

The rest of the class giggled, and I wanted to kick the Hufflepuff that wolf-whistled. Or he could get one of those looks from McGonagall... that would work too. Seriously, that woman has intimidating eyebrows.

“I’ll serve another detention with Filch, Professor.”

She continued the lesson, with no interruption from any of us, as we all figured keeping our mouths shut until lunch was a good idea.  

I left Transfiguration with the girls and Benjy and his friends.

“So Ben… no detention with the two ladies –” Caradoc started before he received a swipe from not only Fenwick, but Rae and I as well. 

Caradoc Dearborn was the other Beater for the Gryffindor team. He wasn’t as tall as Frank or Benjy, but was still a good half head taller than I was. His ruffled blonde hair was on the longer side, but still short enough that you could see his blue eyes. He had a lopsided grin as a result of a shattered cheekbone two Quidditch seasons ago, but everyone agreed it added to his charm.

“Shut up, Car. Filch will have me hanging by my thumbs if I have one more detention with him. Bloody hell.” Benjy sighed.

“If Dumbledore lets him do that, I’ll eat my sock,” Frank called from the back of our group.

From where I was, I could just hear Alice say, “That’s sort of disgusting,” followed by Frank’s laugh. I pulled a face not putting it past the boy to actually do it. He spent far too much time with the seventh year boys for his own good.

We wandered into the Great Hall, and I drew my robes tighter around me. The tremendous scale of the space combined with the breeze drifting in through the Entrance Hall left the room cold.

I slid in next to Alice, and promptly began searching through the food on offer for something hot, when Frank sat down across from me.

"Cold, huh?" he asked as he took the serving spoon off me and began to place chicken onto his place. 

"Tell me about it. Normally we have a few weeks before the cold sets in but it's early this year."

Alice piped up next to me. "Maybe it'll get better next week? Merlin knows I can't stand this so early in the year."

"Ha!" Frank laughed. "What is it Muggles say, Nyx? Fingers crossed?" 

"Something like that." I rolled my eyes at him. 

Frank Longbottom was taller than Caradoc Dearborn, and only slightly shorter than Benjy Fenwick, but was a total sweetheart. He had short black hair, which was slightly curly at the ends, a round face, and dark brown eyes. There was a prefect badge, shining on his robes.

He was the best in our year at Herbology too, and tutored Alice in it after Professor Sprout lost it at her for close to the millionth time. I don’t think either of them had a problem with that arrangement though, as Alice didn’t even like the subject. We all knew she had only taken it so she’d have yet another class with Frank, although she denied it profusely. Her hatred of soil was a dead give away however.

I looked at dark haired girl next to me, trying to contain my urge to yell at her. If she wasn't deliberately trying not to look interested in him, then she'd be watching Frank out of the corner of her eye when he wasn't looking.

Mel caught my attention and rolled her eyes. I nodded, knowingly, before turning my focus back to my food, leaving her to her conversation with Benjy. 

"So, heard your trying out for the team? Seeker, eh?" Caradoc started from my other side. He flicked his long, blonde hair out of his eyes as he continued to eat, waiting for my answer. 

Bloody hell. How did everyone know?

*


"Do I have to?"

"Yes! Merlin, just do it already."

"But it's damp! It could be growing poisonous mold or something!"

"Knock on the damned door, Keira."

"Humph." I rapped on the dungeon door before waiting for Slughorn to open it. "He's probably forgotten. We should have just stayed in the common room."

Reyna rolled her eyes at me. She was tapping her foot, clearly agitated at the Professor's delay in answering. 

I knocked again, and we heard movement before the large door opened, presenting us with an equally large man. 

"Professor. We're here for our detention? Professor McGonagall sent us..." Rae trailed off as Slughorn held up a finger to quiet her. 

"Ah, yes. I do think I remember her mentioning something about students for detention... of course, I told her I was far too busy this evening, but now that you're both here, I suppose there's nothing else to be done about it. Follow me - Oh! What were your names again?"

"Keira Nyx, Reyna Wilkins."

"Right. Yes, yes. This way - Kelly was it? - good, good. I know just the job for the two of you."

I heard Reyna groan behind me as we followed the impossibly proportioned man out of his office and down the corridor to the storeroom. Surely it was ridiculous to be only 5' 4" and that wide? And that moustache really did nothing to help the rumours that he was half walrus. 

"So, Remy," Slughorn adressed Reyna as he opened the huge storage cupboard, and I rolled my eyes behind his back, "your friend and yourself can empty this, clean it out, and then restack it alphabetically. It really will make such a difference for my advanced potions class..."

He was already halfway back to his office when his sentence became mere noise bouncing off the cold stone of the dungeons. 

Rae and I looked at each other once, before getting out our wands. We weren't supposed to use magic, but I doubt Slughorn would remember about us, and there was no way I was touching half those things. The containers were sticky looking and I could see a few too many jars of Flobberworm mucus for my liking. 

“So… Kara.” Rae raised an eyebrow at me as we wandered along the corridor, heading back up to the Entrance Hall. 

“Yes, Rachel?” I replied using one of the names Slughorn had used when he'd dismissed us.

“Heard you’re pretty lousy at Potions. Apparently the teacher thinks you’re so terrible, he wiped painful things like your name from his memory…”

I gave her a look of mock offence before responding, playing along with the act. “As if you can talk, Raven. I was informed that you’re so terrible at the subject, that the Professor misses your name on the roll on purpose; because he just simply wishes you’d take the hint and not turn up.”

“Kate! What a horrible thing to say!” She’d copied my snooty tone. It sounded so much funnier coming out of Reyna’s mouth that I had to close my eyes for half a moment, trying to control my laughter. “Perhaps it’s your name he misses on the attendance. In fact, I’m certain it is!”

“Then maybe, my dear friend, we shall be forced to come to a truce? We must simply agree that he thinks of both of us terribly, and his only with is to have those of his elite membership in every class, not riff-raff such as ourselves.” My snooty tone had turned into almost Victorian style English, and as soon as Reyna agreed with my previous statement, by way of a huff, I simply couldn’t contain my laughter any longer.

Rae joined me as we fell against the wall at the end of the corridor, laughing far too loudly considering it was now past curfew. I looked at my friend, her black skin almost disappearing into the damp stone in the poor light, and smiled.

“What’re you grinning at?” She was still trying to control her amusement.

“Nothing." I shrugged, still smiling. “You’re a good friend, you know that right?”

“And you’re a fool, but thanks anyway.” She beamed at me, dismissing my statement, but I knew she appreciated what I'd said.  

Rae was amazing like that. Gush compliments at her and she’d throw it off not really caring, but effortless words, such as how good a friend she was, were the things that made her really happy. It was part of why I loved her so much. She was so incredibly loyal, and tried to do the best by everyone. The simple things were the ones that made her the happiest - hit the closest to home. She was a beautiful person, inside and out.

“What time is it?”

“Dunno. Must be close on ten though,” I replied, peering out into the Entrance Hall. The main doors were ajar, letting in the cool autumn breeze. Tendrils of it reached to where we were still sitting at the end of the corridor, and I relaxed as they broke the stale air from the dungeons. For the first time today, I was grateful for the cold wind. 

“Dormitory? Or kitchens?” I asked finally.

“Ooh, tricky question. Seven flights of stairs, or food?” Rae held up her hands like balancing scales, and pretended to weigh her options, thought I already knew which one she’d chosen. “Stairs…food…stairs…food. Stairs? I think food wins.”

I rolled my eyes, grinning at her, as I pulled myself up off the floor of the passage. She checked for any prefects, and when the coast was clear, we made our way lazily across the marble stone floor, to the corridor next to the Grand Staircase.

I steered Rae towards the passage with the fruit painting now that I knew it lead to the kitchens. How many other things did Lily Evans know about the castle? I made a mental note to find out. 

“Nyx, where are you headed? I know your common room isn’t that way…”

I gasped at the words, spinning on the spot. 

A brown haired figure stood just inside the Entrance Hall, a large brown leather travel bag on the floor next to him.

It took a moment for my eyes to confirm what my mind had been screaming since I'd heard his words. I ran across the marble floor, not caring if a teacher saw me, not caring if a prefect gave me another detention for being out of bed, because as I flung myself on him, all thoughts went out the window. 

It was Henry.



Authors Note:
Well, there we go. Finally wrote this and uploaded it. Hope it's okay. I ended up re-writing it around three times (four times. I just re-wrote it again, even though i'd already submitted it for validation...(kidding, make it five)) before I was happy with it. More new characters - please don't kill me D: - but these are the boys in Keira's year. Besides, I'd had the girls talking about Frank in the last chapter, and I felt he needed to make an appearance. Oh, and Henry. Cant' forget about Henry. ;)

So, my dear readers, let me know what you think. Favourite characters, quotes, all that good stuff. Seriously, the more feeback you give me, the easier it is for me to improve. ^_^

Remember, reviews are better than hopeless teachers on detention.
- Adele :)



Chapter 4: Disapproving Portraits
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empyreal. @ TDA


Chapter IV - Disapproving Portraits


I fell into his arms, forcing him to take a step backwards to steady himself against my momentum. The smell of his expensive cologne filled my nose, and while normally I found it slightly overpowering, right now I breathed in the spicy scent.

“Hey,” he murmured into my hair, as I buried my face into his shirt.
I grunted in reply and he chuckled, pushing on my shoulders, forcing my face out of his chest. Holding me at arm’s length, he looked me over.

His light brown hair was windswept, pushed back from his face. It had grown longer since I’d last seen him, but his pale blue eyes were still the same. Ravenclaw eyes, through and through. They held that calm and collected look, always giving the impression of knowing something you didn’t. But right now, they were looking straight at me and it took all my strength not to latch myself onto him again.

“Have you kept safe?” he asked, searching my eyes.

I had to stop myself from sighing. Yes, I’d kept safe; I was here wasn’t I? Not in the hospital wing, or some dark alley? Just because I was Muggle-born didn’t mean anything. I could still look after myself. Hell, the most life-threatening situation I’d been in all summer was boarding the train last Friday; with those malicious, bloodthirsty third years.

But I pushed my anger down, knowing he meant well. “‘Course.” That was my reply: one word. But I smiled when I said it, and I saw the worry disappear from his eyes, leaving my smile genuine. As long as he wasn’t worried about me, we were perfect.

Speaking of being worried... “You didn’t tell me you were arriving today! I kept waiting for your Owl, but it never showed!” I beat his chest lightly with my fists.

He laughed, flashing perfect teeth, and pulled me into his arms again. “I missed you. Besides, I wanted to surprise you tomorrow morning. I just wasn’t expecting you to be out wandering the castle when I showed up.”

“Right,” I grunted again, but I smiled into his chest where he couldn’t see.

“Reyna is rolling her eyes at us.” I could feel him chuckle.

“Is she gagging?”

“No, thankfully. Just giving us that look.”

I knew the one he was talking about, and laughed out loud. It was Rae’s you’re-ridiculous-but-I-love-you-anyway look, that was usually accompanied by a raised eyebrow and a smirk.

I pulled away from Henry, turning to her. She hadn’t held back. Her hands on her hips joined the eyebrow and smirk. “We going or what? Prefects are bound to come walking through here any minute.” She tapped her foot impatiently for emphasis.

“She’s right. Come on. You happy to trek it up to Ravenclaw? Or will I see you at breakfast?”

I wasn’t happy to let him go just yet.

“East or west?” I asked Rae and she pondered the question for a moment, not quite sure what I meant.

“West? I dunno. What are you talking about?”

“West? Ravenclaw Tower it is then.” I smiled innocently at her.

“Keir!” She hissed at me, making her way across the Entrance Hall. Her shoes made a sharp sound on the marble floor, and the noise reverberated around the empty space. “We’ve got to get back to the common room! McGonagall will have our hides if we’re found out of bed.”

“Anthony’ll be there,” a voice cut in.

I grinned up at Henry as Rae’s frown faltered at his words. She renewed her scowl at us, and I skipped over to her, slinging my arm around her shoulders. Henry grabbed his oversized travel bag and started up the Grand Staircase to the Ravenclaw Common Room, while Rae and I continued along behind him, my arm still around her.

*


Skidding around the corner, and out of sight of Peeves, Reyna and I collapsed on the ground. Henry was doubled over, his hands on his knees, panting heavily.

The Poltergeist could still be heard in the main corridor, knocking over armour and yelling “STUDENTS OUT OF BED! ICKLE STUDENTS ROAMING THE CORRIDORS ON THE FIFTH FLOOR!”

I hauled myself to my feet, pulling Rae with me. “Come on,” I said as I nodded to the stairs leading to the Ravenclaw entrance. “Henry, Filch will be here any second!”

Realisation lit up his face and he grabbed my other arm, hauling me and Reyna along with him as he took the steps two at a time, the sound of crashing armour still echoing through the stone passages.

I kept looking over my shoulder as we climbed the inside of the tower, expecting to see Filch with a gleeful smile on his face as he gave the three of us detention.

It didn’t help that the torches lining the flight of stairs, and the stray ray of moonlight from the tiny windows littered along the wall, left our shadows visible for the Caretaker. Not that he wouldn’t hear our feet on the stone stairs or anything…

I stopped suddenly as I ran into the back of Henry on the landing. Reyna was fidgeting nervously in the half-light, as we waited for the bronze knocker to ask its question and grant us entry. It sprung to life at the sight of Henry while I danced from foot to foot, agitated.

“What breaks but never falls, and what falls but never breaks?”

Fantastic. We’ll be out here all night, with detention for sure.

I looked at Henry hopefully, before glancing back over my shoulder to see the eyes of Mrs. Norris peering at us from a few steps below. If the cat was here, Filch wouldn’t be far behind.

But suddenly Henry’s eyebrows shot up, and he answered.

“Day and night.”

Merlin, he was brilliant.

Agonisingly slowly, the door opened.

“Far out, now go!” I pushed Reyna through the door before I was shoved through the gap myself by Henry. Toppling over Reyna, we both fell to the floor with a thud and I turned my head just in time to see the shadow of Filch coming up the stairs before Henry slammed the door. He slid down the back of the door, and I heard him exhale in a sigh of relief. I grinned at him and he rolled his eyes at me, before chuckling to himself.

Filch hadn’t seen us. Well, maybe he had... But he hadn’t seen who we were, and hence, we were free from detention. Thank Godric.

As I turned my head back to Reyna, I realised that there was something wrong. The giant circular space that made up the Common Room was completely silent. Everyone was staring at the two Gryffindor girls sprawled on the floor and their Quidditch Captain panting heavily by the door.

I froze, staring at the faces that were all turned towards us. Suddenly, the awkward silence was broken.

“You’re early.”

Instantly, the eyes of the Ravenclaws left us and turned to the dark haired figure that had just risen from the lounge chair on the opposite side of the room. I thanked Merlin for Anthony, and quickly got back to my feet while no one was watching.

Anthony King made his way across the room, clasping hands with his best friend as Henry rose off the ground.

“I wasn’t expecting you to get here for another hour or two - why on earth are you so out of breath?”

“Peeves, and that bloody cat of Filch’s.” Henry scowled at the memory. “I swear to Rowena, I’ll find out how that animal sends telepathic messages to him, and then I’ll kill it. It’s good for nothing else, anyway.”

I smiled as I shut my eyes, enjoying the cool night air on my face. The Ravenclaw Common Room was one of the most magical areas in Hogwarts as far as I was concerned. It was a huge, circular room with midnight blue carpet and large arched windows that were hung with soft blue and bronze silks. The scale of the windows lead the Ravenclaw Tower to be one of the airiest places in the school. The ceiling, almost majestic in nature, was painted with stars, while a large white marble statue of Rowena Ravenclaw stood by the stairs up to the dormitories.

Henry had told me the first time I’d visited Ravenclaw Tower with him when we’d first started dating, that his house’s founder, Rowena Ravenclaw, had built the room deliberately without a fireplace. I’d thought it odd at first, seeing as the Gryffindor fire was such a large part of our Common Room; I couldn’t think of a house area without one. But apparently Rowena, treasuring knowledge and wits above all else, had feared for the books and so, no fireplace. Although there was an incredibly brilliant charm placed on the windows that kept the temperatures from outside affecting the Ravenclaw students. Honestly, Rowena Ravenclaw was a woman after my own heart.

My favourite part about the Common Room however, was the books. There was a huge alcove opposite the dormitory stairs that was filled with them, floor to ceiling. Some of the volumes had been there for centuries, others were brand new, but on a day when the wind was still – which was incredibly rare – the smell of much-loved parchment filled the room.

The night air was cool on my skin after our escape from Peeves – Hold up… “What do you mean you weren’t expecting him for another few hours? He told you he was coming, but he didn’t tell me?”

Anthony laughed, as Henry smiled weakly at me from behind his best friend.

“I told you, I wanted to keep it a surprise,” he said sheepishly.

I raised an eyebrow at him, sceptically, but it was soon turned on Madison Cleansweep as she brushed past me and hugged Henry. Anthony’s eyebrow joined mine halfway to our hairline.

“Henry! You’re back!” she shrieked, wrapping her scrawny arms around my boyfriend.

Too right he was back. Shame I beat you to being the first one to welcome him, I thought while a smirk made its way across my face.

“Hey, Mads,” he replied, hugging her back.

Mads? Mads!? I’m sorry – what?

Grabbing Henry’s bag that had been forgotten on the floor next to him, I looped my arm through his, accidentally elbowing ‘Mads’ in the ribs as she was still wrapped around my boyfriend. Did I mention that? That he was my boyfriend? Because yeah - he was.

“Head up and unpack?” I looked up at him through my lashes, smiling slightly.

He grinned down at me. “Sure thing. Then I’ll walk you and Rae back to Gryffindor, alright?” I could have stared into his perfect eyes all night.

“When are Quidditch tryouts, Henry?” Madison piped up, clearly not happy she had been forgotten.

“Oh! Andy, did you – "

“Got it covered; Pitch is booked for Friday night.” Anthony smirked, pleased with himself.

Henry turned to Madison. “There you go. Friday night.”

She flicked her long dark hair over her shoulder and put on her best flirt face. I snorted and she glared at me before turning her eyes back to Henry.

She giggled while she had his attention. “I spoke to my Grandpa… Guess which Hogwarts team is being supplied with brand new, top-of-the-line Cleansweep Sixes, free of charge?”

Oh, no. She did not just - Reyna caught my eye with a concerned expression on her face. Even Rae knew those brooms; they weren’t even out in stores yet and the entire Ravenclaw team was getting them? I wanted to scream and shout and stomp my feet, but mostly I wanted to push her out the Common Room window and wave her goodbye as she fell to the bottom. How dare she try and tease Henry away from me by promising him new brooms for his team!

“Seriously?” Henry had a look of shock on his face. Even Anthony, who I could usually count on, looked like he was about to hug her. I’d hug her. Hug her so tight she couldn’t breathe.

Madison nodded, beaming at him. Honestly, the urge to push her out the tower was overwhelming.

“Well as exciting as this is… I’m thinking we should head back. It’s late and we have classes tomorrow,” Reyna said, far louder than normal conversation would permit. But as Henry and Anthony where so caught up in Madison, it was needed to grab their attention.

“Wha – Oh! Fair enough. I’ll walk you back.” Henry’s smile was met by my scowl, and his expression changed to one of confusion. I sniffed at him as Rae led me towards the door, but I was incredibly thankful that she’d opened an escape option before I was in Dumbledore’s office for pushing Madison Cleansweep off something tall.

My anger and resentment significantly dropped however when Anthony stepped forward and held out his arms for a hug from Reyna. I don’t think I’ve even seen her dark skin turn such a shade of red.

He hugged her goodbye, and while it lasted only a moment, my heart melted at the expression on her face. Henry draped an arm around my shoulders, squeezing me tight, and I knew he saw it too. We’d been trying to get Anthony together with Rae forever.

Of course, Reyna never spoke about him, opting to blush furiously and avert her eyes when he came up in conversation, and unfortunately, Anthony was the sort of person who refused to be set up with anyone, stating that then he’d like them because the situation was biased, as opposed to falling for them naturally without intervention. Which of course, had lead to very, very subtle planning from me and Henry.

It was a long process.

But when they broke apart, Anthony turned to me and ruffled my hair, grinning. “See ya, Nyx.”

“Oi! Get off.” I batted his hand away, rolling my eyes at him, trying to contain my laugh.

“Whatever. Get out of here.” He chuckled, opening the door. “Off you go! Just don’t get caught, yeah?”

“I'll try.”

“Come on, Keir. Reyna’s right; it’s late, and I’ll be damned if your first detention is because of me.” Henry’s arm tightened around me again, and I sighed, fighting the urge to nuzzle into his chest.

Rae laughed nervously, running her hands through her dark hair. I think it had just suddenly hit her how likely it was that we’d be caught. Henry, however, led us out of the Common Room and down the stairs without hesitation. I gave Reyna a feeble smile that she quickly returned before we set off after him, back to Gryffindor Tower.

After forgetting about a trick stair, almost getting trapped in said trick stair, and extended periods of time hiding behind tapestries when we heard sounds that might have been a prefect, we reached the corridor with the Fat Lady and the knot in my stomach relaxed. The portrait eyed Henry as we approached, still looking at him as she began to speak.

Password?

“Alterum tantum,” Rae muttered absently, still searching the corridor for signs of prefects.

The Fat Lady huffed as she swung forward, clearly not impressed that she was giving us access with the Ravenclaw there. Reyna ducked through the portrait hole immediately, and when I turned to say goodbye to Henry, he grabbed my hand. I cocked my head to the side, confused as to his intentions when he leaned down and kissed me full on the mouth.

I was frozen for a moment before I pulled away. Looking into his blue eyes, I saw disappointment that I’d broken the kiss.

“I missed you, Keir. You know that, right? I missed you while I was gone,” he said intently, searching my face.

“Oh, bloody hell! The both of you; get detention, I don’t care, but I’m going to bed, alright? See you in the morning Keira. Thanks for walking us back, Henry.”

I looked over my shoulder to see Rae shaking her head as she pulled the portrait hole closed, leaving the Fat Lady eyeing Henry again. I turned back to him to find his eyes begging. I sighed blissfully, finally falling into his arms and kissing him again. Yes, I had to be on tiptoes to reach his mouth – and even then, he was almost bent over double to reach me – but it didn’t really matter. His hands were around my waist, his mouth was against mine, and I could feel his biceps pressing me up against his chest. Detention would be totally worth it.

The Fat Lady coughed, clearly not impressed with our performance in the middle of the corridor; the sound barely registered in my brain as I felt Henry lift me up off the ground. I wrapped my legs around his waist and pushed my fingers into his hair. With him no longer bending down to reach me, he deepened our kiss and I sighed at the familiar feeling of his soft lips on mine.

The portrait coughed again, but I ignored it while my fingers tangled in his hair, drawing his face closer to mine.

Another cough sounded, but Henry's hands were resting on my hips as he pinned me back against the wall.

Tones of impatience were easily detectable when she next cleared her throat, and the urge to tell her to zip it was enormous. But I forgot about her again when Henry's mouth left mine, kissing up my jaw instead.

Suddenly, there was a much deeper cough, a lot closer than the last few. I started at the noise and Henry almost let me go. Reluctantly, I unhooked my ankles and slid down to the floor.

Sirius Black was leaning against the wall opposite us, clearly smug. He had a raised eyebrow and a smile playing around his mouth.

“I hope you’re both staying chaste…?”

I wanted to run and hide, melt into the wall behind me or fall through the floor. I didn’t particularly care which; any would do.

“What are you doing out so late?” Henry asked. I could see a blush creeping up his face, but he kept his expression neutral.

“Oh, you know. The usual.”

Pretty sure I didn’t know, and fairly confidant I didn’t want to, as it probably involved that Ravenclaw girl he was seeing and an empty classroom on the third floor.

Sirius’s gaze travelled over my shoulder to the portrait. “Alterum tantrum.”

The Fat Lady swung open again, rolling her eyes. Sirius smirked at me again before slipping past us and through the portrait hole. I turned to Henry and reached up and kissed him again, but pulled away quickly. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

He sighed, but nodded, kissing my cheek before turning and jogging down the corridor, back to the west side of the castle. I narrowly ducked through the portrait hole as the Fat Lady closed, knowing she would hate me if I made her open again.

Making a beeline for the girl’s dormitories, I relaxed when I found Black had already gone up to bed. I wasn’t sure I could deal with either ignoring him, or having a conversation with him at the moment; both seemed rather daunting.

*



The echo of our footsteps broke the silence of the empty corridors as Reyna and I sprinted down the passage to the ground floor. I took the stairs on the Grand Staircase two at a time, my bag hitting my hip painfully. Almost tripping down the last three, my hands shot out in front of me, stopping my momentum from carrying my face straight into the marble floor.

Rae grabbed my shirt as she sprinted past, and I nearly choked as she pulled me along behind her.

“Come on!

“Oh, forgive me for falling why don’t you!” I cried as I sprinted even harder, trying to catch up to her.

“We’re late! I’m never late, and I don’t like it.”

“Really? I never would have guessed…” I muttered under my breath as we both took a sharp turn and leaped down the flight of stairs leading to the dungeons.

We hit the ground running but breathed slightly easier when the Potions classroom was insight. Coming to a sharp halt a second before I did, Rae held up a hand, indicating for me a to wait a moment, as she doubled over trying to catch her breath.

“This – is – all – your – fault,” she wheezed, glaring up at me.

I leaned against the damn stone wall, my lungs burning. “Shut up. Merlin, I need to work on my fitness.”

“No, I won't ‘shut up’. If your boyfriend hadn’t turned up after detention, we never would have been out at all hours of the night, meaning we wouldn’t have slept in,” she snapped.

“Right. Because I totally planned for Henry to turn up like that,” I retorted. I rolled my eyes, forcing myself off the wall. Rae was still scowling at me when I rapped my hand on the door, before opening it tentatively, peering inside.

Slughorn was standing up the front of the class, gesturing to three cauldrons in front of him, completely unaware that I’d just knocked. A few of the students sitting closest to the door were watching me, including Mel and Alice, who had apparently saved us seats.

I slipped into the large square room, and sank into the seat next to Alice without a sound. Reyna however, wasn’t as lucky. Halfway between the door and the desk, Slughorn noticed her.

“Oh! And we have a late arrival! What’s your name, girl?”

And to think, we’d only had detention with him last night.

I shook my head at Slughorn, while Reyna’s eyes went wide, the cogs of her brain ticking away. In less than a heartbeat, her expression was gone and she promptly answered. “Renee Waters.”

“Well then, I’ll be adding your name to the detentions list. No late comers in my class!”

“Yes, Sir,” Rae murmured as she sunk into the seat in front of me, next to Melody.

Out of the corner of my eye, I spied Angus Barton with his hand in the air, clearly wishing to inform the Potion’s Master that ‘Renee Waters’ was not in fact, Reyna Wilkins’ name.

Before I could act however, Alice, who had noticed as well, flicked her wrist and muttered “Silencio” at the boy sitting next to Regulus Black.

I flicked my eyes to Slughorn, hoping he hadn’t noticed anything, but he was busy putting his quill back in the inkpot. When he was done taking note of ‘Renee’s’ late arrival, he waddled back around his desk and continued with the class, still unaware of Barton’s hand.

“So, as I was saying, Felix Felicis here, takes six months to brew, making it a very tedious potion - Yes, boy? What is it?” The professor asked, clearly not impressed at another interruption to his lesson.

I shut my eyes with my hand over my mouth, unable to keep back a laugh. Chuckles echoed around the room from the other students, while the Slytherin was sitting there, practically yelling at the Potion’s Master, although no sound was escaping his throat. Opening my eye a crack, refusing to miss this, I saw him point wildly in the direction we were sitting. As Barton turned and fixed us with a glare, it suddenly didn’t seem quite so funny anymore.

He had that look. The same one I’d seen in the eyes of Sirius’s cousin, Narcissa, my first year. Merlin, that had been traumatic.

I’d been lost (I think one of the staircases had moved without me realising) and was running late for Transfiguration, when I’d rounded a corner and ran straight into the back of her while she’d been trying to chat up some boy. Her eyes when she’d rounded on me had been enough to almost cause me to cry, and certainly enough for me to take the long way to class for the rest of the year just to avoid her seeing me in the corridor.

“Mr Barton, if you aren’t going to say anything, please refrain from putting your hand up while I am trying to teach. As I was saying…"

I froze for a moment, peering at the professor curiously. Surely he knew there was something wrong with the Slytherin. He was pointing at his throat and violently gesticulating all over the place. If Slughorn was really so blind as to not notice that something was amiss, then he’d be the last person I’d want around in a duel. Not that he was at the top of my list anyway…

Regulus Black rolled his eyes, and pointed his wand at his friend, muttering the counter charm, before both of the boys turned in their seats and stared pointedly at me, Alice, Reyna and Mel, obviously knowing it was one of us who had covered Rae’s arse for her.

Surprised that the first thing Angus didn’t do was yell at Slughorn, I eyed him warily, not really paying attention to the rest of the lecture. This of course, resulted in me turning to Alice with no idea of what was going on when I noticed students rising from their seats.

“Um…”

“Draught of Living Death.” She rolled her eyes, knowing exactly what I was going to ask her. “We need Moondew, crushed snake fangs, Wormwood, Asphodel, Valerian roots, Sopophorus bean and – ew, sloth brain.”

I pulled a face. “I’ll get them, but there is no way I’m handling that brain once it’s out of the jar.”

Alice looked at me pointedly, clearly suggesting that I, in fact, would be, but I jumped out of my seat, heading to the ingredients cupboard before she could say anything. Mel joined me in the line behind Caradoc, while Reyna set up their workspace.

“So what’s in the cauldrons?” I nodded at the three potions set up at the front of the class.

“Draught of Living Death, Felix Felicis, and Amortentia.”

“The love potion?” I asked, eyeing the cauldron with the steam tendrils rising out of it. Two Ravenclaws were giggling currently in front of the cauldron.

“That’s the one. Most powerful there is.”

I wish I hadn’t been late now. Hearing what the Potion’s Master had to say about Amortentia would have been interesting.

Mel and I eventually made it to the front of the line and were in the midst of grabbing the ingredients we needed when suddenly, I was shoved violently to the side. Recovering myself before I fell and dropped all of the jars, I turned to find Angus Barton seething at me.

“Careful there, Nyx. We don’t want anything… nasty happening to you now do we? Would be a shame if the jar of Bubotuber pus fell out of the cupboard and onto you, now wouldn’t it?” he muttered, tone full of sarcasm.

I scowled at him. His face was too close for comfort, and I had a hard time not staring at the pimple that was emerging on the side of his nose.

“Leave me alone, Barton. I wasn’t the one that jinxed you.”

“Don’t lie to me, Nyx. I know it came from you,” he said, his voice changing to a falsely cheerful tone, “but don’t worry, I won’t tell Slughorn.”

I had an overwhelming urge to punch him, but that would require touching him, which I really didn’t want to do. Regulus Black was watching me over his friends shoulder. He wasn’t participating in the confrontation, but I knew if things turned bad, he’d be the first to hex me. He was like his brother in that sense, (and possibly the only sense, other than the fact that they both got on my nerves) it was always jinx first, ask questions later.

“'Won’t tell Slughorn?' Is that because your worried of him getting mad at you for wasting his time again? Or because you’ll go mute for a second time if you try?” I mocked.

“Can’t keep your story straight can you, Nyx? First you said it wasn’t you, and yet now you’re admitting to it?” Barton laughed. A few students around us were whispering now, pointing and pausing to watch our argument, but the Professor didn’t notice.

“I didn’t jinx you; but this conversation is irritating me so much, I’m tempted to,” I replied calmly.

The laugh died and his face grew angry. His nostrils flared and eyebrows narrowed as he spat, “Send another spell at me, and you’ll wish you were dead, Mudblood.”

“Take it back, Barton.” Mel snapped before I could retaliate. She stepped forward from where she’d been watching behind me, her face furious, and her hand on her wand.

“You can’t tell me what to do, blood-traitor. You’re just as bad as she is.”
A group had crowded now, and my respect for the Potion’s professor was dwindling, as he was still unaware that less than half of the class were in their seats.

“Call me all the names you like, just know that Keira’s more talented at magic that you will ever be…” Mel hissed the words, and despite the fact that they weren’t directed at me, I still felt nervous. She was mad. Really mad.

“Let’s go, Mel.” I tried to push her away, hoping the small crowd of people would part and let us through. She resisted for a moment, but eventually let me drag her back to the desks, although she never took her eyes of the sneering face of Angus Barton.

Alice had set up the cauldron and I dumped the ingredients down next to her, still watching the Slytherins out of the corner of my eye.

“You alright?” I turned towards her, only to find her face so full of concern and worry that it was almost revolting. “I’m so sorry, Keir. I can’t believe he called you – you… I’ll go tell him it was me.”

“Don’t you even think about it.” I yanked on her robes as she went to get out of her seat. “I’m fine. Honest. Sticks and stones, right?”

“Sticks and stones, my arse,” Reyna cut in from the bench in front. “I swear to Godric, that boy better look out, because the next time he comes within a hundred feet of you, I’ll curse him so far into next year not even Madam Pomfrey will be able to help him.”

I smiled slightly, reminding myself that no matter how much it hurt, or made me feel sick inside, it wasn’t worth getting upset over. Barton was a Slytherin with bad hygiene, while I was dating the Ravenclaw Quidditch Captain, who would be more than happy to hex him into next week for me.

My smile widened as I wondered what seventh year jinxes Henry knew that Barton wouldn’t know the counter-spell for.

*


Henry was at Quidditch tryouts on Friday evening, and I found myself in the Library. Slughorn had been so disappointed in the class’s Draughts of Living Death that he’d set a ridiculous essay to be completed over the weekend. I figured that since I had Quidditch tryouts tomorrow, I might as well start it now.

Wandering through the towering shelves, I looked around for an empty table. Instead, I came across a Huffflepuff couple snogging each other senseless. Quickly hightailing it out of there, I scampered down the main row of books, before ducking behind the next bookcase.

“Well, hello there.”

I started, turning to find Lily laughing as she put a thick volume back on the shelf. “Who are you hiding from? Or are you just that excited about your homework?”

“Ha! Not quite.” I attempted to peer around the bookshelves, and up the aisle to see if the dark haired Hufflepuff girl and her boyfriend were still there. “There were two people snogging – " Lily rolled her eyes and the action made me cut my sentence short. “What?”

“Bloody Doe. I told her and Edgar to find an empty classroom if they were going keep that up. Madam Pince will have a fit if she sees them.”

“Doe?” I asked curiously. I couldn’t place the name.

“Dorcas Meadows. She’s in my year. A brilliant witch, but bloody hell, she and Edgar are useless when they’re together.”

What parent in their right mind named their child Dorcas? That was just cruel.

“Right,” I muttered, my mind trying to remember the last name of Doe’s apparent boyfriend Edgar.

“That looks like Potions homework. What’s Slughorn teaching you at the moment?” The red head came and peered over my shoulder at the parchment resting on top of my books. “Draught of Living Death? That’s not too hard…”

“Speak for yourself! The only reason we have this essay is because no one could make it right.”

“Did you follow the instructions?” Lily asked curiously.

“Yes?”

“Ah. There’s your problem.”

I turned to face her so she was no longer looking over my shoulder, an expression of exasperated confusion on my face. “That doesn’t make any sense. Why would it be wrong if I followed the instructions?”

“Because sometimes your trial and error is better than blindly following the book." She grinned and I just raised an eyebrow.

Of course you play around with dangerous potions. Of course you don’t follow the very specific instructions that are there for your safety. Hear that, everyone? You’re just supposed to go nuts and hope for the best.

“Come on. I’ll show you my notes,” she said, waving her hand at me.

So I followed Lily over to a table, where she sat her books down next to a blonde Ravenclaw that I’d seen a few times before. She was in Henry’s year, but Merlin help me; I had no idea what her name was.

“Marls, you’ve met Keira, right?”

The girl grunted in reply, before briefly looking up from her parchment to give me a slight smile. By the time I’d smiled back, she was scrawling away again, and I gave up, sitting down next to Lily.

She pulled my essay over in front of her, and began talking me through the process of Potions making. I sat there, slightly overwhelmed at how much she knew. Everyone knew she was one of the best in the school at the subject, but I suppose I’d never really appreciated it until now.

Pausing to write something she’d said in the margin of my textbook, I asked, “How do you know all this?”

“Snape."

I looked at the blonde Ravenclaw who hadn’t even looked up from the notes when she'd spoken. I went to ask what she was talking about, but Lily sighed and I kept my mouth closed, hoping she’d explain without me having to probe. But instead she began to chew on the end of my quill absentmindedly, leaving me in the dark.

Seeing that she was lost in her own uncomfortable looking thoughts, I tried to think why this conversation would be off topic.

Potions had led to Snape, and Snivellus had led to the awkwardness; which meant that something had happened to cause Snape to become an out of bounds topic…

Godric, I was so stupid!

Everyone knew about that. Everyone had heard Snape call her… Well, what Angus Barton had called me the other day. And if I had thought that had hurt, I didn’t even want to imagine what it had been like coming from a friend – and one you were trying to stick up for, no less! Merlin, if he was stupid enough to think he could call her a name like that, and then just be all ‘oh, so sorry. Didn’t mean it at all. Just insulted you in the worst possibly way there is, but don’t take it personally will you? I just hang around with a crowd of people that wants you dead’ and think everything could go back to normal, he didn’t deserve Lily.

Hell, even before he’d said… that… he hadn’t deserved her; he didn’t shower anywhere near often enough.

Marlene was trying to hide a sad smile, while the red head was absently doodling on my parchment, lost in thought, but when Remus Lupin pulled up a chair, the sound brought her back to earth.

“Merlin, sorry, Keira. I didn’t mean to draw on your essay… I don’t know what’s gotten into me today.” She frowned at the parchment and I laughed, trying to lighten the mood.

She clearly was still upset with what Snape had said to her, and I didn’t blame her. What Barton had called me hurt, but compared to what it would have been like coming from your best friend – and while you were trying to stick up for them! – it was nothing.

“Don’t worry about it. If I say the drawing was from you, Slughorn will probably give me extra marks anyway.”

“What are we all talking about?” Remus smiled at the break in conversation.

“How I saw a Hufflepuff couple making out in the shelves before and that I feel sincerely sorry for the next person who borrows any of those books.”

Lupin raised an eyebrow, clearly not believing a word, but he humoured me by laughing slightly anyway. Marlene was already scribbling away again on her parchment, and Lily snorted at what I’d said, letting our previous topic of conversation drop.

“Where are Potter and his boyfriend? Is it wise that you left them alone, Remus?” The Head Girl raised an eyebrow.

“Potter’s got a lifetime ban from Madam Pince, and while leaving them alone probably wasn’t the best idea, there was no way I was going to get my Runes work done in the Common Room,” he replied with a trace of irritation.

“Lupin, you’re in my History of Magic class; what was the exact figure for the number of deaths in Hogsmeade in the 1612 Goblin rebellion?” The blonde Ravenclaw looked up from across the table, her first recognition that Remus was there. She wasn’t being rude; she was just working and probably didn’t appreciate the interruptions.

I spied the same Hufflepuff that had been snogging in the shelves making her way towards our table. What had Lily called her again? – Dorcas. Right, I was out of here. There was no way I was risking her recognise me as the sixth year that had run in on her and her boyfriend.

“I’m going to head back; early night tonight. Thanks so much for the help with Potions, Lils. Honestly, you’re amazing. It was nice meeting you, Marlene.” The blonde gave me a small smile, looking up from her work for half a second to meet my eye. “I’ll see you later, Lupin.”

And with that, I ducked around another desk or two, avoiding the eyes of Dorcas the Hufflepuff, as I made my way towards the Library door, determined to get some sleep before I made a fool of myself tomorrow morning.


Chapter 5: Off to a Flying Start
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Clara Oswald@TDA


Chapter V - Off to a Flying Start



I stifled a yawn while I watched Potter and Mel put the players trying out for Chaser through their paces.

Benjy and Caradoc were mucking around on their brooms, occasionally hitting a stray Bludger towards the other participants of the game, attempting to keep them on their toes.

Potter had decided he wanted the Chasers to try out first, which left me and everyone else interested in the Seeker position waiting in the stands.

Conveniently, Frank had decided to come down and watch his friends hit Bludgers at unsuspecting third years, while Alice had said she’d come and give me moral support. She swore she ‘hadn’t known he was coming. Honest!’ and I’d snorted at her in response.

“Oh, that’s another one gone.”

“Mm, shame. I thought she was half decent too,” I responded to Frank’s comment, while James shouted at the girl that had been too slow to dodge the Bludger sent her way by Dearborn.

“How many have they eliminated so far? Twenty?” Alice scoffed next to me.

“Something like that. Now that she’s gone, the three left should move pretty quickly.” I eyed the fifth year sitting on his broom next to Mel.

He was by far the best out of the lot that were left. On the smaller side, sure, but he wasn’t trying out for Beater, so I couldn’t see it as an issue. Even from here, you could see his face was covered in freckles.

“What do you think of the one with the brown hair?”

“What? The one next to Mel?” Alice asked, raising her hand to shield her eyes from the sun.

“Yeah. He’s not half bad; better than the other two,” I replied.

“I know him; Archie Holloway.” Frank nodded. "He's pretty good – Merlin, look at him go!”

My head snapped to where Frank was pointing, just in time to see – Holloway? Was that what Frank had called him? – roll out of the way of a nasty Bludger. The violent ball then collided with the brunette third year he’d meant to be passing to.

“Well, there we go then.” Alice nodded, her lips pursed in thought.

“What?” I turned to her.

“Better get to know your new teammate. There’s no way Potter will pick either of the others after that.”

“It’s true,” Frank said from my other side. “Those three might be the best out of everyone that signed up, but he’s the only decent one left.” He chuckled as Caradoc waved at the three of us.

We watched the two Gryffindor Chasers run drills with the last three hopefuls in the air for while longer, occasionally making comments, but mostly we sat in silence. As the numbers dwindled, I started to feel a bit nervous.

I could see the few Seeker signups starting to fidget as the blonde girl landed her broom and made her way off the Pitch, clearly told that she didn’t make the cut. With only one more to eliminate before Potter started on the Seeker trials, I began to feel sick.

Maybe if I vomited, I could escape to the Hospital Wing? Or I could Disillusion my broom and pretend I’d lost it? Or just pretend that I was with Alice and Frank watching? Potter wouldn’t remember me as Mel’s friend anyway.

Though Mel would.

That could be a problem.

I rested my head on my broom handle in front of me, while I wrapped my arms around my stomach.

It felt like it was in my throat, and as the pressure worsened, I began to panic.

I forced myself to breath. Closing my eyes, I tried to shut out the sounds that would remind me where I was.

Breathe; just breathe.

You won’t make a fool of yourself; you won’t fall out of the air. No one will laugh at you and Potter won’t remember you forever as ‘that girl that thought she might be good enough.’

Oh, Merlin, what if he did though? Or worse, what if I flew fine, made the team, and then fell off my broom in the middle of the first game? Then he’d hate me even more, because I’d embarrass him in front of the whole school.

Oh Godric, what would Mel say? She’d hate me. I could just hear her now, ‘I risked it when I told Potter to let you join the team and you let me down, Keira.’ And then she’d look at me with that look, and then – well I’d probably cry and hide in the bathroom for the rest of the year. Maybe I’d die there, from lack of food or something. But then I could join Myrtle; I’m sure she wasn’t that bad. If I were stuck haunting the plumbing, I’d be pretty pissed off all the time too.

Yes. I should just go now, not try out. Then I wouldn’t risk letting everyone down.

Yes, good idea.

How was I supposed to leave without Alice realising my plan? Maybe I could Disillusion myself. That could work… Where was my wand?

“Keira?”

Oh hell. She knew what I was up too. She’d ask questions. Then she would lecture me on letting myself down by not trying out. Then I’d have to explain that by letting myself down, I was stopping myself from letting down others. Then she’d get angry. She always got angry about stuff like that. Godric, give me strength.

“Yes?”

“The Seekers are lining up,” she said pointedly.

I doubled over, as I swore that my breakfast – the little I’d eaten, anyway – was about to come up.

“You alright there, Nyx?” Frank placed his hand on my back, while I felt Alice shift in the seat on my other side, trying to get a better look at my now hidden face.

No. Did I look alright, Frank?

“Yeah, I’m fine. Just checking my laces. Don’t want to trip and embarrass myself.”

Ha! Didn't I ever.

“Right…” Why must his voice be so sceptical? Why? “You better move. Alphabetical order I think he wants you in.”

“'Kay,” I replied meekly.

I got out of my seat between the two of them, only just realising how much of a third-wheel I had been, and slowly made my way down the benches to the stairs.

Foot here – don’t trip – next step – ignore the people around you – foot firmly on the ground – steps one at a time – forget Mel telling you to hurry up – hold the handrail – don’t fall – don’t drop your broom – you can do this – don’t vomit all over the place – alphabetical order – N for Nyx – ignore the Hufflepuff – Hufflepuff?

“You aren’t in Gryffindor.” I turned to the girl next to me down the line, frowning at her.

“So? Neither is the Ravenclaw at the front of the row,” she said coolly, as if the fact that she was wearing yellow and black as opposed to scarlet and gold was the most insignificant detail in the world.

“So? It’s the Gryffindor house team, you need to be a Gryffindor to play.” I emphasised, hoping she’d realise she’d taken a wrong turn somewhere after breakfast.

“But I don’t need to be a Gryffindor to date Sirius Black.”

Sirius?

Seriously?

She was one of his fan club members?

“He’s not even on the team! He’s not even here!” I threw my hands in the air, dropping my broom, but not really caring. This girl was an idiot.

“I know he’s not on the team, stupid.” Yeah, only because you stalk him, I thought. “But he is here! See? Other side of the Pitch.”

“No, he’s bleeding–” I glared at her, until I noticed where she was pointing.

Or not.

He was walking along the other side of the field, hands blocking the sun from his eyes as he looked to the sky. Following his line of sight, I saw James on his broom above him; they must have been talking.

“He only just got here.” I turned back to the Hufflepuff, trying to point out that she must have looked ridiculous waiting around to tryout before he arrived.

Actually, scratch that. She still looked ridiculous, even with him here.

“He’s been here all morning. As if you didn’t notice! He’s been taking notes on the players for James,” she said in a haughty tone.

Fairly sure you aren’t on a first name basis with the Head Boy – slash – Gryffindor Quidditch Captain – slash – seventh year, being only a fourth year Hufflepuff yourself.

“Whatever.” I turned away from her, shaking my head in disbelief.

Looking up the line, I was surprised to find a few girls that weren’t in our house, though I recognised some of them to be in Potter’s fan club as opposed to Black’s.

This was pathetic.

“Ready?” Mel landed in front of me, hair perfectly windblown.

No.

“Yeah.”

“Excellent.” She turned around and caught her Captain’s attention. “OI, POTTER! GET YOUR ASRE DOWN HERE. WE’VE STILL GOT SEEKERS TO RUN THROUGH!” she bellowed across the pitch.

“YEAH, YEAH. HOLD ON, ANDREWS,” he yelled back.

Honestly, I was fine with him taking as long as he wanted. No rush.

Really.

“STOP TALKING TO YOUR BOYFRIEND, MATE!”

I snorted in amusement as Benjy and Caradoc joined in the shouting match, while Heath Chapman, the team’s Keeper, just sat in front of the hoops, shaking his head in exasperation.

Potter turned around and flew towards the Beaters, while Sirius began to jog across the Pitch towards us.

A laugh escaped me when James went to hit the two boys around the head for their comments. Benjy tried to duck, but the Captain rolled and hit him anyway, quickly flying out of reach of the Beaters’ bats.

Mel chuckled to herself as Potter landed and made his way over to all of us lined up.

“Is it always like this?” I asked, still watching Benjy and Caradoc, who were now trying to get Bludgers through the hoops, much to Chapman’s annoyance.

“Oh, yeah. Right party training is,” Mel threw over her shoulder as she wandered over towards Potter.

I squinted at her, unable to tell if she was being sarcastic.

When Sirius made it to James’s side, the Captain started. “I’m going to run the Seeker tryouts differently from the Chaser ones. We’ll release the Snitch, and after 10 seconds, you’ll be allowed to kickoff and try and catch it. You’ll be judged on your flying ability, the time it takes you to catch it, and for some of you, if you know the right way to hold a broom.” He rolled his eyes at a second year boy half way along the line, who promptly turned his broom the other way around.

“I think that’s it, isn’t it, Sirius?”

Sirius’s attention snapped away from the Ravenclaw girl at the front of the line, and he grinned at James. “Think so, mate.”

“Oh, that reminds me – only Gryffindor’s can try out. I thought that was a given, but apparently not. Darling,” he gestured to the Hufflepuff on my left, “while I’m sure you’re a fabulous flyer, you and your friends can go.”

I turned and raised an eyebrow at her. Looking back and forth between Sirius and James, she pouted slightly, before deciding better of it. Flicking her hair over her shoulder, and batting her eyelashes ridiculously, the blonde left the line with the other fan girls, winking at Sirius as she passed him by.

Black smirked at her as James continued. “Right, now that we only have Gryffindor’s, we’ll start. Sirius –” James turned to his best friend, “– mate, stop staring at her arse.”

*


“Ready?” I glanced at James briefly before nodding. There was no way I could articulate at the moment; the lump in my throat was way too big.

He released the tiny golden ball and I followed it with my eyes as he began to count.

“1 – "

It dodged to the left, then the right, slowly climbing higher.

“2 – "

I spun my head almost right around as it made its way down the pitch, still managing to keep track of it.

“- 3 – 4”

It climbed higher and higher and I began to tilt my head backwards, hoping not to loose sight of the ball.

“- 5 – 6”

I lost it for a moment in the opposite stands, but it glinted and I found it again.

“- 7 – 8”

It flew higher and higher, directly into the sun. I swore, shutting my eyes tightly to block out the light.

“- 9 –"

Brilliant. Just brilliant.

“- 10 -”

Did he just say ten?

Merlin, my stomach was coming up my throat - I was going to be sick.

Go!

I kicked off without thinking; the lump still in my oesophagus, but my stomach was left on the field.

Breathe. Remember to breathe. Focus, you can do this.

Why I felt calmer in the air, I had no idea. It made absolutely no sense, but then again, I’d been pretending to ride brooms since I was three. When I’d been told I was a Witch, the first thing I’d wanted was a broomstick. I guess I just liked the idea of being closer to the sky.

The breeze certainly helped. Merlin, it was wonderful after sitting in the sun for hours; it helped me focus. I shut my eyes again.

Breathe. You can do this, Keira. The Snitch was last by the Slytherin stands. You’ve got this. Forget that they’re timing you. Forget about Mel. Forget about the lump in your throat. Just breathe, because you can do this.

Still climbing, I changed direction, towards the green and silver stands, hoping, praying, it would still be there.

C’mon, if Henry can do this, so can you.

Henry.

I nearly went flying off my broom I stopped so abruptly.

Henry played bloody Seeker.

Oh, Goblins, I was a fool!

I can’t play against Henry! I can’t have one of the enemy as a boyfriend! Oh, Merlin, I hadn’t even told him I was trying out; I’d been so caught up in the excitement of him being back on Thursday, and he’d had his own Quidditch Trials on Friday evening, I hadn’t even thought about it.

This was going to ruin everything!

Excellent. Bleeding charming.

I spun around and looked down at Mel, wondering how I was going to be able to face her when I landed, wondering how I was going to explain why I hadn’t caught the Snitch.

She was watching me intently as Potter stood next to her, occasionally commenting on something I was doing, while Sirius was sitting on the ground, his back against the stands, as he watched the stopwatch in his hand.

Unable to deal with the looks of encouragement Melody was sending my way, I looked up at the stands where I’d been sitting before, instantly regretting it.

Alice was out of her seat, holding onto the railing, watching me keenly with Frank next to her. When she saw me looking her way, she yelled at me, waving both arms in the air, but I couldn’t make out what she was saying.

I sighed at the sight of the two of them together. They were wonderful, even if they didn’t know it, and it was a reminder of what I was giving up the Seeker position for; so I could stand there at the side of the stands, cheering on Henry with the same golden glint in my hair as Alice…

I banked a hard left, speeding towards her. Suddenly the cool air wasn’t as pleasant, harsh and dry against my eyes. But I didn’t blink; I didn’t dare take my eyes off the spot three inches to the left of Alice’s head.

She screamed as I came closer to her, panicking, before Frank tackled her to the ground.

Any – moment – now

The Snitch swerved at the last second, and I cursed as I missed it.

“WHAT ON EARTH IS WRONG WITH YOU, WOMAN? I’M HERE SUPPORTING YOU AND YOU TRY TO KILL ME!”

I chuckled at Alice’s words as I circled around the Gryffindor stands, catching sight of the Snitch again, low near the middle of the Pitch.

I leaned forwards, increasing my speed. Forgetting about Henry and how mad he was going to be, forgetting about how I was going to make it up to Alice for nearly killing her, forgetting about all of the ridiculous thoughts that I’d had before now. I even forgot how sore my eyes were in the wind because Heaven help me; I was going to do this.

It was just sitting there, in the middle of the field, like it was teasing me and I hardened my resolve as the space between us quickly fell away.

Henry could deal with it; I was sick of blending in with the portraits. I was going to be noticed.

I reached out my arm, as two meters quickly became one, which quickly became half of that again.

I could see it, envision it in my hand. I went to grab at it immediately ahead of me; when suddenly, it flicked to the left.

BLEEDING NO.

They were the only things that ran through my mind as I lunged off the side of my broom, reaching for the tiny golden ball.

It was cool in my palm; cooler than the air around me was, even at the ridiculous pace I was falling. It glinted gold in the light and as strange as it sounded, I smiled to myself as the grass quickly made its way up to meet me.

I’d done it.

I’d caught it, and even if I didn’t make the team, it wasn’t because I hadn’t tried.

For that moment, I felt invincible.

But that was gone as my shoulder hit the ground.

Sharp pain shot through my back, racing across my shoulders and up my neck to my temples, while the air shot out of my lungs as the sudden impact caused my diaphragm to spasm.

I couldn’t breathe.

I couldn’t breathe.

Slowly attempting to tilt my neck backwards, away from my chest, I hoped that it was just the angle that was blocking the access to my lungs.

It hurt when I moved.

Merlin, it hurt.

I shut my eyes, trying to stop the tears the pain was causing, but I was still desperately trying to draw air into my lungs.

A shadow fell across my face as I tried to keep back the sobs, knowing my body would hurt even more at the movement.

Distantly, James was swearing and I could hear mumblings of Mel’s voice in my ear, but the panic in my chest was slowly turning them to white noise; it was racking my body, and I tried to choke back another howl at the pain.

My lungs were begging for air, and slowly, slowly, I felt them expand and contract like they should. That was the only thing I focused on, getting breath back into my lungs without moving too much.

“Sirius, you be bloody careful with her!”

I barely registered the words until I felt something lift me into the air. My back arched of it’s own accord as white-hot pain shot through me like a fiery poker. I went to scream, but my body was shutting down.

Please. Just make it stop.

*


“What did you do to her?”

“I didn’t do a thing to her, Watts!”

“Well, you sure as hell did something, Potter! Pretty sure she didn’t just walk herself in here, deciding to pass out on the bed!”

“I didn’t say she did!”

“It’s what you’re implying!”

“Am not!”

“Are too!”

“I am not!”

“Yes, you bleeding are.”

“Will the both of you shut up before my headache rivals hers?”

“Mel, I still can’t believe you let her try out. You know she – "

'Let her?’ Henry, I bloody told her she was; she didn’t have a say in it! And I can tell you right now, if you’d seen her up there, you’d be eating your words. She was brilliant – yes, she scared the daylights out of Alice – but… Merlin. Potter, you saw left bank she made! Just out of nowhere!”

“Tell me about it. Honestly, Andrews, I don’t know why you didn’t make her try out years ago…”

“Because something could have happened to her? Like it did today, Potter! Maybe that’s why!"

“Watts, I swear to Godric –"

Doors slammed open with the sound of feet quickly making their way across the floor, echoing through the room.

“Potter! Where is she? Where’s – Merlin! Keira! Is she okay? Alice and Frank came back to the Common Room after curfew so worried, but I didn’t know what was wrong until Remus told me what Black had told him and -”

“Evans, she’s fine. Battered and bruised, but -”

“What is all of this noise in my ward? Potter, I said you and your friend could stay because you were witnesses to the incident, but the poor girl needs rest! Not the four of you causing a racket– look, you’ve woken her up already! Shoo! Out!”

“She’s awake? Keira!”

“You’re there? Don’t you dare just continue to lie there...”

“Nyx, you alright?”

"Keir... hun?”

I grunted.

I didn’t want to open my eyes; I didn’t want to move. My entire body was numb, and the bed was warm and comfortable. Oh, so comfortable.

Unlike the grass had been.

I winced at the memory, and grimaced when I realised the only thing that was stopping me from the same pain now, was the beautiful, beautiful numbness.

“Keria? I swear to Merlin, if you don’t open your eyes right now –"

“Calm down, Andrews. Give her a minute.”

“No, Potter, I won’t – "

“Shuddit, will you?” I mumbled, finally gathering enough willpower to open a heavy eyelid.

The four of them were staring at me while Madam Pomfrey, her brown hair done up in a tight bun, bustled about beside me, mixing something that looked a nasty shade of green.

Mel was sitting in a chair to my right, and only now did I realise she was holding my hand. She looked terrible - her hair in disarray with a slightly blood-shot gaze, like she’d refused to blink.

Lily Evans was standing behind her, smiling encouragingly at me, but her eyes were full of concern and she kept glancing at James.

The Quidditch Captain was standing at the end of my bed, hands in his hair. He looked like he was about to either laugh with relief or chastise my carelessness; I couldn’t tell which.

Finally my attention turned to Henry, who was also standing next to my bed, but closer than Potter was. His brows were furrowed with concern, but when he caught me looking at him out of my one opened eye, he smiled at me hopefully, and I attempted a feeble one back.

“Here, come on. Drink up – oh, don’t make that face. It’ll keep the pain away. That was a nasty fall you took there, girl. Quidditch is possibly the only reason I have a job at this school; the number of injuries it produces… Honestly.” I grimaced at the potion as it was given to me, but with a stern look from the Matron, her eyes daring me to defy her, I tipped it down my throat.

It tasted as bad as it looked. Vile and green, its taste rivalled that of the Earwax Bertie Botts bean Alice had talked me into trying for her in third year. My stomach lurched, an all too familiar feeling today, as I swallowed the concoction.

“That’s gross."

“No. It’s helpful, that’s what it is. Now, rest.”

“What time is it?” My eyelid won out and closed again.

“Just after eight,” Lily murmered. “Potter, we have rounds with Remus and Frank in three-quarters of an hour and you always complain about your stomach, even right after dinner. You haven’t eaten yet, have you?”

“No. You’re right. I’d forgotten.”

“About food? That’s a first.” I heard her snort in disbelief.

“Oh, shush, Evans. I had other things on my mind.”

“Like?”

“Nyx here.”

I peered through my lashes, curious as to why I didn’t hear a reply from Lily.

She was just looking at James curiously, a cross between a frown and a smile on her face, until she eventually pursed her lips and turned back to me. Her mind was somewhere else though; I could practically see it ticking away.

“Out, all of you! You've seen and spoken to her, and you all need to eat something yourselves, before I have you up here for malnutrition. Shoo!”

Smiling at Mel as she hesitantly stood, I watched James and Lily walk down the row between the beds to the exit. Opening the door for Lily, who gave him another one of those half frowns, the Head Boy turned back to me and yelled, “Oh, and Nyx? Don’t pull another stunt like this half way through a game, will you? I don’t want to loose my Seeker midway through the season, regardless of how magnificently you catch the Snitch.”

And with that, he closed the door behind him.

I turned to Mel, as a grin spread across her face.

“Did he just say...?”

“He better not have…” Henry growled from my left.

Ever so slowly, wincing at the dull pain that had managed to break through the numbness, I slid my hand over towards the Ravenclaw, who brought his hand to meet mine, entwining our fingers.

“Calm down. I tried out, all right? This is what I wanted.”

“To end up in the Hospital Wing, unconscious for hours?” he chastised.

I scowled at him, because he knew what I had meant. He just kept trying to turn it back around. Something was up. “What’s wrong?”

“Honestly, when I say out, I mean it!”

I turned my eyes towards the Matron, pleading silently, as her lips practically disappeared, they were pressed so tightly together.

“Please, Madam Pompfrey, five minutes, and I promise I won’t be brought in once with a broken leg, nose, concussion – anything – all season. Please? Just five minutes. I need to talk to her,” Henry pleaded.

The Matron frowned slightly before looking sternly at me. “Five minutes, then you rest.” She turned her gaze to Melody who was still standing there awkwardly, unsure of what was really going on. “You however, Miss Andrews, are leaving now.”

“Right… okay.”

Mel leaned down to hug me, said that she’d be back tomorrow, and made her way to the door, pausing to give me one more unreadable look before exiting the Hospital Wing.

“Five minutes, and five minutes only.” And with that, Madam Pomfrey made her way into her office, closing the door behind her.

Henry and I were the only ones in the Hospital Wing – no one else had been stupid enough to injure themselves this early in the year – and the silence between us was daunting.

“Hen,” I murmured, squeezing the hand I still held, “what’s wrong?”

He sighed, and rested his forehead on our entwined hands, kissing where my fingers met his briefly before speaking.

“I miss my Grandma, Keir. I didn’t spend anywhere near as much time as I should have with her these past few years, and – and I just feel... terrible. I know there was nothing I could do, nothing anyone could do, one can only live for so long before old age catches up with them eventually, but…”

I just wanted to hold him. To drag him up onto the bed and bury my face in his chest, and tell him that just because he hadn’t been the hero of the family, just because he hadn’t been the model grandson while he’d had the chance, didn’t mean that he’d failed.

“…I can’t have something bad happen to you, too. I can’t have Sirius Black - of all people - coming up to me at lunch and telling me you’re unconscious in the Hospital Wing, because you fell off your broom. Particularly, when I didn’t even know you were trying out for the team in the first place.” His eyes met mine and a wave of guilt washed over me.

I should have told him. Not that I’d deliberately not told him, mind. I just hadn’t remembered too.

But I should have.

Goblins.

“Oh, Henry, I’m so sorry. I was so happy you were back on Wednesday and Thursday that it completely slipped my mind. I barely saw you on Friday too, and –" I paused, realising that I was rambling. “ – I should have told you.”

“We’ve both been pretty pathetic these past few days. I’ve had three days work to catch up on, plus Quidditch – for both of us –" he added, with a slight frown, "and we –" But I cut him off.

“I get it, but… is that why you don’t want me on the Quidditch team? You think I’ll get hurt?”

“No.” But he said it slightly too quickly.

“So you’re worried we’ll whip your arse again in the final this year? Is that it? You can’t stand the idea of being beaten by a girl?” I smirked at him, and he scowled, knowing I was joking. “Henry, you’ve been Seeker for Ravenclaw since second year, and you’re fine, no broken bones, no missing limbs. I need this. I feel like I blend into the walls, like no one knows who I am at this school, and I’m sick of it. That’s why Mel made me try out. I never thought I’d make the spot.” He rolled his eyes, but I continued anyway. “And if Potter thinks I’m good enough for his team, then I’m going to play. Please, Hen; just this once, can you not worry about me, and support me instead?” I pleaded.

He blinked at me a few times, before a small, sad smile spread across his face as he leant forward and kissed my hair. “I will always support you. In everything you do, Keira Nyx. But after eight months, I know how much you mean to me, and the idea of something happening to you kills me inside. I’m still hexing Potter into next week, but I will support you.” He sighed, leaning back in his chair.

How I felt about what he’d just said, I wasn’t quite sure. The fact that he’d admitted how much I meant to him made me want to drag him up onto the bed all the more, plus the fact that he’d said he’d support me meant the world. But knowing that he was still upset by it distressed me. He wasn’t trying to guilt me into anything; he was just being honest, which could be added to the reasons of why he was perfect.

But he’d said that he’d support me, and that was the main thing. The fact that my boyfriend–turned–Quidditch–Captain–of–the–enemy–but–still–my–boyfriend wasn’t going to leave me (hear that, Madison Cleansweep?) over this, made me relax into the pillow.

“You’re beautiful,” he murmured, and I smiled at him, slowly closing my eyes, but squeezing his hand.

“And you worry too much, but the fact that you actually care about me so much still leaves me dazed.” I smiled sleepily.

“I’ve cared since the day that you ran into me, spilling ink all over my robes before running away in embarrassment.”

“Don’t mention that!” I grimaced at the memory. “I was fifteen and stupid.”

“Apparently not, because somehow you still had me chasing after you for months, trying to learn your name.” He chuckled.

“And I learned some of the best hiding spots in the school, trying to avoid you.”

“Mmm, until Anthony stumbled upon you and Reyna in the back of the Library.”

“And we didn’t even realise, until he turned up with you, the one person I’d been so brilliantly avoiding,” I replied, smiling at the memory.

“And you went the most wonderful shade of pink when you saw me.” He chuckled, kissing my head again.

“I’ve never been more embarrassed in my life than when I realised that I couldn’t run away from you anymore because you had me cornered.”

“And instead of jinxing you, like you thought I would, I asked you to Hogsmeade the next weekend.”

I opened my eyes, feeling my face flush the same way it had in the library that day. “And the rest is history.”

“And the rest is history,” he agreed, smiling at me.

I gazed at him, smiling shyly, and he leaned forward, out of his chair, brushing his lips against mine. I met them eagerly, sitting myself up in the bed, leaning towards him. With his hand brushing my hair back out of my face, I smiled as his lips moved against mine, wondering how completely drenching someone with ink had ended up like this.

“Mr. Watts, it has been far more than five minutes. If you would kindly stop kissing my patient, I would appreciate you leave like you said you would.”

I groaned as Henry jumped back so suddenly he almost toppled over his chair.

Why must you come out of your office at this moment? Really, another ten minutes would have been fine...

“Right. Sorry, Madam Pomfrey,” he said, slightly abashed.

She raised an eyebrow at him sceptically as he didn’t move from beside my bed.

“Yeah, going.” Smiling at me again, he made his way out of the Hospital Wing, mouthing, ‘I'll see you later’ from the door.

I grinned at him, but that same green mixture she’d given me before was thrust under my nose, and the Matron waved her wand, closing the door.

“Do I have to?”

“Do you want to spend three times as long in that bed then you have to?” I opened my mouth to reply, but paused for a moment as her words sunk in. She continued before I had a chance to say anything. “No, I thought not.”

Pulling a face, but figuring I may as well get it over with, I drunk the green goop, the twinge that was beginning to appear in my back again, disappearing.

“Madam Pomfrey… what happened while I was out?” I asked timidly.

“When Black brought you in unconscious followed by your entourage, you mean?”

“Uh… sure.”

Black?

“Potter was pulling his hair out, while I was thoroughly considering giving Miss Andrews some Calming Draught, she looked so worried. Though apparently conjuring a stretcher requires too much common sense, and carry you they did. Honestly. Now, rest. I’ll check on you during the night and we’ll assess your progress in the morning. Goodnight, Miss Nyx.”

“Night.”

Her shoes rapped across the floor as she made her way back to her office, skirts swishing as she walked.

Rolling onto my side, cringing slightly at the weight on the shoulder I’d practically landed on, I closed my eyes, letting my thoughts wander into that fuzzy place between sleep and awake. And while I was there, my thoughts turned to what James Potter had said.

I’d made the team.

I’d fallen off my broom, but I’d made the team - I could hear it now, though. The rumours that would surely be filing the corridors; conversations that made my screw my eyes shut and want to disappear of embarrassment. Possibilities swirled around in my head.

‘I heard she was a lousy flyer and that catching the Snitch on the way down was just lucky.’

‘Mmhm, ended up in the Hospital Wing, and it wasn’t even a real game of Quidditch.’

‘Who is she anyway?’

‘Oh, that girl, don’t know her name. The one that Watts is dating, can you believe it?’

‘Ha, Potter and Watts could both do better than her.’

All because I’d fallen.

Even if I hadn’t made the team, I’d surely have made an impression on the gossip mill.

Yes, an excellent start to the year by all standards.

First, being a casualty of the seventh year Gryffindors’ never ending war on the student body. Second, getting a detention with Slughorn (though Reyna had been there and I’d seen Henry, so that hadn’t been too bad). Third, almost getting caught by Filch and his psychic cat because of Peeves. Fourth, being made to try out for Seeker, (even if it had sort of but not really been what I’d wanted). Fifth, falling off my broom while trying out for Seeker. Sixth, ending up in the Hospital Wing. Seventh, being known as the fool for trying out for Seeker, falling off their broom and ending up in the Hospital Wing.

Yes, an excellent start to the year indeed.

Memories of the fall flooded the space behind my eyelids. The pain was overwhelming, even in the recollection; particularly when I’d been moved. That searing in my back as I’d practically buckled under the pain. Now realising it was Black that had carried me, I groaned, pulling a face in the dark Hospital Wing.

Bet he got a lovely view of my chest then.

Brilliant.

Maybe Henry could hex him too.




Authors Note:

Remember, reviews are the environmentally friendly option.
- A. :)


Chapter 6: Was It Something I Said?
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jabberwocky@TDA


Chapter VI - Was It Something I Said?



It was midmorning on Monday when Alice fell into the chair next to my bed.

“I swear Herbology will kill me. Whether it’s from Madam Sprout’s detentions, the flesh eating plants, or the acidic pollen we had to deal with today, if I’m ever missing, you’ll probably find what’s left of my body in Greenhouse Three, being eaten away by some vine.”

I chuckled, ignoring the slight twinge I still occasionally felt in my back when I moved. I was practically fine, and I hoped that I could convince Madam Pomfrey to let me head back to classes that afternoon.

“Somehow, I don’t think Frank would let you get eaten by a plant.” I smirked at her, and she began to rummage through her bag in an attempt to avoid my gaze, her cheeks slightly pink.

“You got post this morning: stuff from your parents.” She threw a magazine on my bed, still emptying her bag. I picked it up, noticing a note taped to the cover.

Keir,

Sorry I couldn’t be there to wave you off the other day. This guy’s case is a nightmare, but thankfully, I think we’ve argued it well, and the judge will rule in our favour.

I’ve had a read through and dog-eared some pages with interesting articles. Hopefully you’ll get a chance to read up on them before Christmas so we can get to work on some of those old projects of ours.

Love you darling,

Dad.


I sighed, pulling off the note and looking at the familiar cover of Classic Racer, Classic Mechanics.

For a barrister, my dad had some of the strangest hobbies.

“I still don’t get why he sends you those,” Alice said, frowning slightly at the glossy page I still held in my hand. “Surely he knows you’ve lost interest in oil changes and gear chains by now.”

“Ha! You’d think so, wouldn’t you? Something about the fact that we haven’t worked on anything together since I started Hogwarts - regardless of how long I’m at home over break.”

“Yeah.” She handed me the letter she’d been searching her bag for. “From your mum I think; writing looks like Annette’s.”

The small, loopy letters on the envelope were indeed my mums, and I suddenly remembered my unfulfilled promise to write to her. I set it on my side table to read later when I spied a copy of the Prophet still in her bag. I helped myself to the paper, propping it up on my knees so I could read the headlines: ‘French National team to tour England and Ireland after World Cup win.’

“Has Mel seen this? If I thought she was bad when she didn’t get tickets to the Cup over the summer, it’ll be nothing compared to if she doesn’t get to see them while they’re here.” I chuckled at the idea, as I watched the French national team perform their signature move, the Blitzen Ballet, over and over again in the photo accompanying the article.

Skimming my eyes over the text, another article caught my eye. ‘Twelve St. Mungo’s nurses attacked after helping muggles recover from magical injuries – is no one safe?’

“Yeah; thought that one might interest you.” Alice sighed, knowing exactly when I’d reached the article from the appalled look on my face.

“I just... Oh, dear Godric, Alice! They can't do that! That's... that's... Is there no moral line they won't cross? It's... disgusting."

The tiny girl in the chair just gave a sad smile, staring wistfully out the large windows across the room. “Do you ever think it’ll change?” she asked after a while, giving me time to calm down, her gaze still focused on sweeping green hills of Scotland in the distance.

“What? That this war will end?” She pursed her lips in thought, but stayed silent, letting me continue. “It doesn’t feel like it. No matter what Dumbledore says about ‘the light’ and believing in love, banding together, strength in numbers and all that, no, I don’t think we’ll ever see it change, Al. Least, it doesn’t feel like it.”

She nodded slowly, deep in thought, as she pulled her hair over one shoulder, fiddling with the ends absent-mindedly. You couldn’t see the red in it today; the light wasn’t right. “I’m so worried, Keir. I have no idea what I want to do when I leave Hogwarts, but I want to help make a difference, you know? I just don’t know how.”

I just stared at her, unable to comprehend how she didn’t realise she already made the biggest difference in the world. No one could light up a room light she could, look on the bright side of everything and beam at someone and make their whole day. ‘The Light’ that Dumbledore kept talking about didn’t make much sense in times as dark as these, but Alice Foster was the damned closest thing I had to one. That any of us had for that matter; she had no idea how much she shined.

“What?” She started when she noticed that I was looking at her.

“Nothing,” I lied, tossing the paper aside. I didn’t want to think about the war anymore; it always made my insides squirm.

“Right.” She eyed me sceptically, but didn’t pursue the matter. “It’s almost Lunch; I should get going. Reckon Madam Pompfrey will let out you this evening?”

“Hopefully.” I sighed, my eyes flicking towards the door to the Matrons office. “I’m so over sitting up here by myself.”

“You’re kidding, right?” Alice stared at me in disbelief as she absentmindedly put everything back into her bag. “I’d love to be up here sleeping all day.”

I gave her a pointed look, knowing that she’d be more restless than I was if she was in the same situation. Unsure how to respond, she pulled a face and I laughed while a grin formed on her features, lighting up her eyes.

“Anywho, I’m off to lunch, but I should be back up to see you again this evening. Don’t do anything stupid – like fall off a broom – while I’m gone now, okay?” she teased, leaving me scowling at her, and I watched her dance out of the ward in glee, hair flashing red in the sunlight as she went.

Smiling to myself as she shut the door, I picked up mum’s letter.

I read it through and smiled to myself as she asked how Henry was, and if I was working hard.

Flipping the parchment over and pinching the quill Madam Pompfrey had left after filling in my medical report, I began to brush over the details of my week. Although I conveniently left out the fact that I was writing to her from the Hospital Wing, or that I would have completely forgotten to write to her otherwise.


*


“You lot can come in now.” Professor Grimstone nodded at all of us as we filed past him into the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom.

I took the same seat I’d had for our first lesson, while Caradoc, Benjy, and Frank filed into the row in front. Dirk Cresswell, another boy in their dormitory, took the empty seat next to Caradoc. He didn’t spend much time with the boys in his dorm, preferring to pour himself over books instead, but he’d joined us a few times when we’d all been down by the lake last spring after exams. He was incredibly bright, teaching himself Gobbledegook, but I didn't know him very well.

Professor Gerard Grimstone leaned on the edge of his desk, arms crossed, observing the class. I couldn't pin his age and it bothered me. While he had white hair like Dumbledore, I'd wager the Defence teacher was far younger; his face didn't have anywhere near as many age lines.

His lips pursed slightly as the last of the students settled into their seats before he spoke. “Well, we best get started then, hadn’t we? We’ve got a lot to cover this term and as none of the other teachers in this job have lasted more than a year, I don’t plan on wasting any time.”

So he knew it was jinxed? And he'd taken it anyway?

Right.

“We’ll be continuing last lesson’s work on non-verbal defence spells. Any questions before you get out your books?” He paused for a moment, but no one raised their hand. They just glanced sideways at each other, as despite the class we’d had with him before, no one could really get a feel for the professor. He appeared to break all expectations.

“None? Excellent. If you copy down what’s on the board, we’ll then move onto some practical exercises.” He stood and made his way around the desk, leaning back in the chair, his face expressionless, but his eyes all knowing.

Of course, the one non-verbal spell I was been able to perform gave Dearborn a nosebleed, which resulted in Benjy and Frank taking him to the Hospital Wing, while I got an essay an inch longer than the rest of the class.

The bell rung for lunch and I quickly got to my feet, shoving my books in my bag as I shuffled along the row. Scowling at the fact that they weren’t fitting, I paused, jostling the books in an attempt to get the bag shut. Instead, I heard a large rip and they ended up all over the floor.

“For Merlin’s sake!” I cried, running my hands over my face before looking at the mess of ink and books all over the ground.

Alice paused by the door as a Hufflepuff pushed past her, leaving us as the only students left in the classroom. “You want a hand?”

“Nah, I’m alright. I’ll be down at lunch in a sec; save me a seat, yeah?”

“Sure thing.”

Alice nodded as Rae stuck her head back in through the door. Her eyes widened at the sight of my belongings scattered in an inky mess. “Geez. You want a hand with that?”

I opened my mouth to tell her I was fine, but Alice beat me too it, already pushing her back out the door and repeating what I’d said to her. Normally they’d insist, but they were just as hungry as I was.

Bending over and tapping books with my wand to rid them of the ink that had soaked through the pages, I began to stack them into a pile.

“Miss Nyx, you’re still here?”

I started, almost toppling my pile over. I’d forgotten I was still in a classroom.

Professor Grimstone was standing at the door to his office, his eyebrows slightly furrowed, but otherwise expressionless. He’d propped glasses on the end of his sharp nose and he held a book open in his hand.

“Yeah, my bag tore. Sorry,” I added, suddenly feeling as if I was intruding.

“Ah.”

I didn’t say anything as I gathered the rest of my things, vanishing the shattered glass of the ink well. Standing, hugging the large pile of books uncomfortably to my chest, I noticed he was still watching me; he hadn’t moved.

Feeling awkward, I turned to leave until the niggling that had been in the back of my mid since the start of the class took over.

“Professor?” I turned quickly to find him still standing there.

“Yes, Miss Nyx?”

I rushed the rest of the words before I could talk myself out of it. “Why did you take the job if you knew that it was jinxed?”

He didn’t say anything immediately; there was just a small, sad smile across his face. “So you admit it’s jinxed, Miss Nyx?”

“Well, yeah. I’ve been here six years and had six different Defence teachers. Something’s got to be going on, doesn’t it?”

“And do you think that I shall resign like your last teacher did?”

I remembered Professor Ortiz, last years Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. He’d practically run for the hills after Peeves had dropped Stink Pellets on him in the Great Hall, which of course had been on his return from falling in the lake (where he’d met the Giant Squid).

“I don’t think you’d be the type to fall in the Lake, Sir.”

“Nor do I, Miss Nyx.” He gave me a knowing look, and I felt slightly silly for initiating the conversation in the first place.

His accent was strange. He was certainly British, although his particular accent wasn't one I'd heard before. He cocked his head slightly, raising his eyebrows and I realised he was waiting for a response.

“But, Sir, the professor two years back had an allergic reaction to something in Greenhouse Two and was rushed to St. Mungo's. He never came back; you don’t have to resign. Almost none of the teachers we’ve had have resigned…”

I almost hit myself then. I should have just dropped it and left, but the psychology behind his decision fascinated me. Then, much to my own surprise, a small smile graced his face. “I’m well aware of the risk involved, Miss Nyx. To be honest with you, it was the reason I took the position. I saw it as an opportunity not to be missed. A sign, if you will, when Dumbledore approached me with the offer.”

Why was Dumbledore naturally drawn to hiring strange people?

“Thank you, Professor...” And I left.

At least physically.

Because really, while I was walking down the now deserted corridors, my shoes making a soft scuffling sound on the old worn stone, my mind was still back in the classroom, replaying the conversation and examining it from different angles. My stomach was steering me towards lunch, while my mind had no direction at all.

But when the scent of hot food hit my nostrils, I completely forgot about the slightly abnormal Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, and hurried into the hall.

“Where have you been? We’re already done!” Caradoc laughed as he saw me making my way towards the table.

“Chatting,” I replied absentmindedly, eyeing the roast beef sandwich Frank had made himself. "Your nose better? Sorry about that."

Caradoc laughed, nodding as he flicked his long hair out of his eyes. I decided then that it was in desperate need of a cut.

Benjy put down his fork now that he’d cleaned his plate of potato salad. “Chatting with?”

“Grimstone – are you lot done? Or are you staying?” I asked, more interested in the idea of food than I was conversation.

“Done. Rae and I where about to head back up to the Common Room and grab our other books before stopping by the library; I need to return the book I borrowed for that potions essay.” Mel ran her hands through her hair, pulling it back into a ponytail as she spoke.

I frowned slightly at the prospect of eating alone, but my mood quickly lifted as I spied Henry entering the hall. “Oh, never mind. I’ll see you lot later, alright?” I called over my shoulder as I ducked off towards the Ravenclaw table.

“Guess who,” I said as I let my arms slink down around Henry’s neck as I stood behind him.

He laughed, reaching up and squeezing one of my hands gently, before bringing my arm around his head and pulling me into the seat next to him.

“Hi there,” he said, grinning at me, while Anthony rolled his eyes across the table.

“Nyx! Hey there, girl. Good to see you again, how was your summer? I heard you ended up in the Hospital Wing over the weekend?” a familiar voiced cried and I peered past Henry to find that I’d completely missed Reginald Cattermole sitting on the other side of him.

“Reg!” I smiled at him enthusiastically, hoping that no one would notice how embarrassed I was at not remembering him earlier. Goblins, this week had been a mess. “How are you? How have you been? How was your summer? You went away, yes?”

“Hold up there; one question at a time.” Reginald Cattermole laughed, his narrow face stretching into a large smile, while he shook strawberry blonde hair. “I’m great. I’ve been good. Summer was brilliant. Yes, I went to Italy with my parents.” He paused, taking an exaggerated breath. “Did I cover everything?”

I laughed, nodding. "Yes, I think so.”

“Are you eating?” Henry nudged his plate towards me and I eyed the potatoes longingly for a moment before mentally hitting myself.

No, damn it. I don’t need the carbohydrates. Diet, remember?

Trying to lose weight.

“Nope, I ate before,” I lied, and quickly changed to the topic before Henry had the chance to insist. “Besides, nothing compares to the wonderful green stuff Madam Pompfrey keeps force feeding me. I have my last check up tonight.”

“Do you want me to walk you up to the Hospital Wing after dinner?” he murmured into my hair while Anthony and Reg rolled their eyes at each other, matching smirks on their faces.

Godric, he was wonderful. But I knew how much work he had, and he was going out of his way to walk me up there just to watch me drink a potion before leaving.

“Nah, I’m alright. But thanks.” I smiled up at him, my eyes meeting his blue ones. The butterflies started going crazy in my stomach. Surely, after eight months you weren’t supposed to get butterflies anymore? But I just couldn’t help it. He was gorgeous, and on top of that, he was mine.

I leaned up to kiss him briefly and was surprised to find his lips meeting mine halfway. They were slightly chapped but still moved against mine effortlessly, and I forgot where I was as I leaned further into him, his arm tightening around my shoulders, drawing me even closer.

“You two done?” Anthony rolled his eyes as his best friend pulled away from me and I desperately tried to hide the pout that I could feel forming on my lips.

Henry chuckled at me and leant down to kiss the tip of my nose before turning back to Anthony. “Only because you asked so nicely.”

I nudged him in the ribs gently to get his attention. “I should get going. I’ve got History of Magic. I’ll see you later.” I directed the last part to the other two Ravenclaws as well as I rose out of the seat.

“Have fun with Binns.” Anthony smirked, as Reginald nodded his farewell.

I kissed the top of Henry’s head, his light brown hair tickling my nose, before dancing out of the way as he went to grab my wrist. “Nah-uh. I’ll see you later.” I chuckled, and I made my way out of the Great Hall, catching a glimpse of his eyes still on my retreating back.


*


It was after I was kicked out of the closing Library that I made my way to the Hospital Wing, figuring Madam Pompfrey would give me a note as to why I would be out of bed after hours.

Lazily making my way along the first corridor, I was pleased that, despite the cool weather, it was still only the beginning of autumn, as it meant that the sun hadn’t fully set. The grounds had a soft glow from the light of the setting sun and on the reflection of the lake danced pinks and oranges, yellows and soft blues from the sunset that stretched across the sky. I paused at the window, more than happy to let my book bag slip off my arm onto the stone, as I marvelled at the breathtaking evening. Not a cloud in the sky and with the full moon out that night, I had an overwhelming sense of calm. It was almost impossible to imagine that outside the walls of the castle, a war was raging and people were dying. Indeed, it was almost impossible to imagine that anything at all could be wrong in moments like these.

But as I spied a lone figure sitting on the edge of the lake, I wondered if maybe I was mistaken. It looked like Professor Grimstone although it was impossible to tell from this distance. Their head was in their hands and their overall body language screamed that something was wrong. As I watched, they looked up at the sunset, pausing for a moment, before getting to their feet and briskly making their way back towards the castle, robes billowing out behind them in the evening air.

I deliberated if it was worth taking a detour to the Hospital Wing, ‘accidentally’ bumping into who ever it was and seeing if I could work out what they'd been doing.

As I thought about it, I remembered the conversation I’d had earlier that day and I cringed at the thought of having yet another one of those if it was indeed the Professor. I grabbed my bag hurriedly off the floor, and made my way towards the green concoction Madam Pompfrey would undoubtedly give me, suddenly desperate to not bump into them at all.

“Madam Pompfrey?” I called out, sticking my head around the door. I couldn’t see anything but a curtain erected around a bed at the end f the ward. There was no one in sight, until I heard the sound of shoes as the matron made her way out from behind the screen, pointedly closing the fabric behind her.

“Yes? Oh, Miss Nyx. Excellent. This way please,” she said briskly, tucking the strands that had fallen loose from her bun behind her ears.

I wandered up the aisle between the rows of beds, my eyes on the curtain. Why was it there? Whoever it was must be terribly ill.

I paused as Madam Pompfrey searched through the cabinets, bottles clinking and shuffling while she hunted. I peered over my shoulder, looking back at the screen. From my new angle, you could faintly see the shadow of someone lying on the bed behind the curtains and I frowned, worried that someone could be that sick.

“Here you are. Drink up.” The Matron clucked, placing the same green goo from before under my nose, which quickly regained my attention. I took it, tipping my head back and swallowing the whole thing in a desperate attempt to get it over with.

“Good. Now, does anything still hurt? Are you sleeping okay? Have you had issues concentrating?”

I mumbled replies to all of her questions - no it didn’t hurt, yes I was sleeping fine - but my attention kept wandering off to the curtain until Madam Pompfrey would clear her throat sharply, brining me back to our conversation.

“You may leave, Miss Nyx. But come straight back here if you experience any issues over the next few weeks.” She gave me a stern look, one McGonagall would be proud of, and I nodded quickly.

I thanked her and made my way back towards the exit, her shoes click clacking against the floor as she returned to her office. Looking over my shoulder one last time at the curtains, even though I knew it was useless and I wouldn’t be able to see anything, I left and entered the corridor, running straight into the Head Girl.

“Oh, goodness! I’m so sorry, Keira! You alright?” Lily asked, wide eyed with concern as I rubbed my forehead.

“Yeah; right as rain.” I winced.

There was no way I was going to get out of this without a lovely bruise on my forehead. Charming look that will be.

“Oh dear, that looks nasty.” Lily looked at me apologetically as she ran her hands through her hair. “I really need to watch where I’m going, don’t I? Damn. If it bruises, come and see me, yes? I know a spell or two that might help fix it up. What are you doing up here anyway?” She added, her demeanour suddenly changing.

“I had to stop by for a check up after my fall on the weekend. Why?” I asked, still rubbing the spot on my head.

“Oh, no reason. You all right now? Pompfrey gave you the all clear? Good.” She smiled at my nod. “Anyway, if you’ll excuse me, I need to talk to Remus.”

“He’s not in there,” I called as she slipped past me and into the ward. The redhead turned back, a look in her eyes that I didn’t recognise. “There’s no one in there,” I continued.

“What? Oh, yes. I know. I need to talk to Madam Pompfrey about Remus. He hasn’t been looking well lately. I’m worried he’s coming down with something; he has a terrible immune system, that boy. Anyway, I’ll see you around!” She smiled good-naturedly at me as she shut the door in my face, leaving me alone in the corridor.

It was only then that I realised that I hadn’t gotten a note explaining why I was out of bed after hours.

Damn.

I began to make my way down the corridor, distinctly aware of my footsteps echoing through the passageway, alerting any prefect to where I was.

The sun had long set by now, and the torches in their brackets along the walls of the main corridors had magically come to life, the fire dancing merrily in the cool air of the autumn evening.

I think I’d managed to make it to the third floor before I heard footsteps behind me and I began to feel sick. I hated confrontation, the idea of getting in trouble, of letting someone down, and while it wouldn't be as bad if it were a student as opposed to a teacher, I still dreaded the idea.

“Nyx? Why are you out of bed?”

The sick feeling left and I sighed instead, turning on my heel to see Potter closing the last few feet between us with his long strides.

“Hospital Wing. I had to get a check up after my fall last week.”

His glasses flashed in the torchlight as he stared straight at me, a look I couldn’t read hidden behind the spectacles. “Hospital Wing you say?”

“Yes. I had to get a check up after my fall last week,” I repeated, this time more slowly, making sure to articulate each syllable correctly because he apparently was hard on hearing.

“Right. You didn’t see anyone there did you?”

“No. Didn’t see anyone but Lily who I bumped into in the corridor outside.”

“Lily?” I had his full attention now. Of course Lily would get his full attention.

“Yes. I saw Lily and we had a chat and she said she had to go talk to Madam Pompfrey about Remus? I don’t know. She’ll vouch for my story. You can ask her -”

The look behind his glasses was gone now; apparently I’d said the right thing. Or not said the wrong thing. I wasn’t sure which, but either way he chuckled at me. “Like I’d put my new Seeker on detention for visiting the nurse after such a spectacular fall. No, not likely. Come on, I’ll walk you back so you don’t get in trouble if anyone else finds you. You walk really loudly, did you know that?” I scowled at him, which prompted another chuckle.

“No, I was not aware that I walked ‘really loudly’.”

“Mhmm. You might want to work on that if you plan on sneaking around the castle.” He grinned, before his mood shifted as we walked past a window, the moonlight falling across our faces. “Although I wouldn’t recommend it tonight.”

“I’ll keep that in mind next time I plan on sneaking to the Hospital Wing after curfew…?” I said it as a question, and laid the sarcasm on pretty heavy. I thought that I might have overdone it and pushed my luck too far, but James just laughed again as he jumped a trick stair and pushed a tapestry aside.

“Straight along and you’ll come out right by the Fat Lady. I don’t think you’ll run into anyone between here and there and I’ve got to finish my rounds. It’s going to be a long night, so I want to get the West side of the castle done pretty quickly. I’ll see you around, Nyx.” He smirked at me again, letting the heavy fabric of the tapestry drop back between us before I could open my mouth to reply.

What was it with people and cutting our conversations short this evening? Did I keep saying something wrong? And why did everyone give me that look when I mentioned I’d been at the Hospital Wing?

I made my way down the hidden passage, holding my wand out in front of me as I went. How it was supposed to take me to the Fat Lady, when Gryffindor Tower was on the east side of the castle, and this was heading south, I had no idea. But, true to James’ word, I stumbled out into the lit corridor of the portrait guarding Gryffindor Common Room. It was physically impossible, but then again, I went to school in a castle where the headmaster owned a bird the burst into flames without dying and ‘the staircase moved’ was a valid excuse for being late to class.

I should have known by now that ‘impossible’ wasn’t, and hadn’t really, been a word since I’d turned eleven.

Password?” The portrait asked, her tone clipped and eyebrow raised. She knew I was out of bed after hours and wasn’t impressed.

Brilliant, I was being judged by a picture.

Merlin, I wanted to get to bed.

“Leones iuba.”

She swung open with a huff and I ducked through to the Common Room, spying Melody chatting to Mary Macdonald. Making a beeline towards them, I caught sight of Frank and Alice poured over a Herbology textbook by the fire and I smiled to myself as they unconsciously leaned towards each other.

“Yeah, but I have no idea where James is; he’s got the bloody map while he’s off doing his bleeding Head Boy rounds,” I heard Black mutter as he cut in front of me, making his way towards the an armchair, Peter right beside him.

“Yeah, and I have no idea where he’s put the Cloak. There are no clouds tonight. Moon’ll be out soon,” Peter added, settling himself on the edge of a table.

I hesitated for a moment, knowing that Potter had headed over to the other side of the castle, but unsure if Black and Pettigrew really wanted my input in their conversation. Opening and closing my mouth a few times, wondering if I’d actually be able to articulate the words, I took a tentative step across the room towards the scarlet armchair.

Black’s gaze caught my movement, and he looked at me intently for a moment. His eyes roamed my face and I had the feeling of being completely exposed, thoughts, feelings, all of it. But then he blinked and the moment was gone. Perhaps I was being paranoid after Quidditch trials the other day. Yes, that must have been it.

“I just saw Potter. He said he was heading over to the West side of the castle, if you’re looking for him.” I blurted out. He’d seen me looking at him, and there was no way I could have backed out after that without looking stupid.

Peter looked up at me, unaware of my presence before. “Really? Thanks, Nyx.” He got to his feet and his mousey features worked their way into a smile before he turned to his friend. “Come on, Pads. We need to get the Cloak off him.”

Oh, dear Merlin, please don’t tell me I just helped them while they planned to pull another prank. Sirius nodded his thanks at me as stood, the briefest flash of a smile, before following his friend out of the Common Room.

“And that was about…?” asked Mary from where she now stood behind me.

“Honestly? I’m not even sure, but I'm sure that I’ll regret it later. Oh well.” I sighed as I turned around to face her, but caught Mel shaking her head at me, a look of exasperation on her face. “What?”

“Nothing. Just nothing.” She sighed as she rubbed her hands over her face in an attempt to get rid of whatever I was I’d done.

“But I – whatever. What where you two talking about before anyway?” I asked, changing the topic in an attempt to include Mary. If Mel had been attempting to become better friends with her before, I wasn’t about to put her efforts to waste now by excluding her.

“Oh, not much. School work mostly. How my parents are greengrocers, Melody thinks it’s fascinating.” She laughed, her eyes crinkling slightly at the sides as she smiled.

Mel shrugged. “Well it is! But anyway, have you seen Alice and Frank? Any closer and she’ll be sitting in his lap. Heaven help me, if they don’t start going out soon…” She left the empty threat hanging in the air as Reyna bundled down the stairs from the dormitories to join us, where we continued the conversation about greengrocers and school and how completely oblivious two people can be.



Authors Note:
This chapter is dedicated to Elenia, because without her support, I don't know if it ever would have been written. Also, a special thanks goes to Beeezie, for her nominating Canis Major for Gryffie Story of the Month, which it won. (Best early birthday present ever!)

Phew, alright. Here it is. Took forever, but it's finally been written and beta'd and uploaded. Hopefully you all like it, and feel that the plot is moving along okay. Can I just mention how absolutely thrilled (and completely shocked) I am at the fact that this has been favourited by 85 people?! I cannot thank you all enough for the support you've all given me and this story so far. Chapter seven is 75% done, and I'm hoping to have it up later this week as my birthday present to you all. (Yay, birthdays!)

I've got some plot bunnies for a Charlie/OC (post-hogwarts), and Hannah/Neville (post-hogwarts), so if any of you like the sound of either of those, (or would at least be willing to read them), let me know in a review or pop by my MTA (I love questions :D).

Remember, reviews are better than birthdays.
- Adele :)


Chapter 7: Snuffles
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fayeswonderland@TDA


Chapter VII - Snuffles


I stared at my empty plate, contemplating what exactly counted as a healthy breakfast. Eggs were the first things that came to mind.

I reached for them, staring down the pancakes the whole time I was ladling them onto my plate. Why did they put pancakes next to the eggs? My life would be so much simpler if the table was split into sections according to food groups. That way I would be well out of the pancake’s temptation.

“Woah. What did the pile of gluten and buttery goodness ever do to you?” Mel asked as she slid into the seat opposite me.

“Existed,” I scowled at her before pausing, peering at her suspiciously. “What?”

“Should I be saying congratulations to the happy couple?”

Goblins.

I’d forgotten that today marked nine months with Henry. It now made more sense, him grinning at me like a fool, spinning me around in the air and asking if I’d go to Hogsmede with him when I’d seen him yesterday.

I poked my tongue out at Mel in a very ladylike manner as the mail arrived, the owl’s soaring in through the open windows, dropping parcels and letters over the tables of students. Wren glided down towards me, landing on the edge of my plate and folding in her wings, almost knocking my coffee over as she did so.

She took one look at my eggs and turned her break up, far more interested in the pancake Melody had just placed on her plate. Of course the Chaser had no problem with the bird eating her breakfast. Mel was the reason I never met Wren’s standards after all, and I swear it would be entirely her fault if Wren ever got too fat to carry letters, which looked more and more likely with every half plate of food Melody let her choose from.

I untied the letter from the bird’s leg, saw my mother’s handwriting and threw the envelope in my bag for later.

“Where are Alice and Rae?” I asked, pushing the plate away from me, Wren still perched on the side, now helping herself to Mel’s pumpkin juice (she’d never been one for my coffee.)

“Frank caught up with Al in the common room, asking if she wanted to meet up sometime today and go over some essay they have due. I have no idea. All I know is that we’ll probably find them in some corner of the Three Broomsticks with Herbology textbooks as an excuse for sitting so close to each other.” She rolled her eyes before scratching the back of Wren’s neck.

I chuckled. “Right, and Reyna?”

“Dunno. She said she’d be down soon. I think she wanted to fix the hole in that cardigan of hers; it’s cold out today.”

I agreed as I peered at the ceiling. There were no clouds and the sun was weak. Cool air was making its way in through the open windows. Autumn was in full force now, and I smiled to myself at the thought of the reds and golds, oranges and yellows of the falling Scottish leaves.

Reyna eventually joined us, indeed without a hole in her cardigan, and we made our way towards the line that had formed in the entrance hall where Filch was checking over students and confiscating items before he let them leave.

“You’d think he’d be more worried about us brining stuff into the castle, as opposed to taking it out,” I muttered as the line slowly progressed, Mrs. Norris sitting off to the side, watching the proceedings.

“Right, because when has Filch ever made any sense?” Reyna gave me a pointed look, wrapping her grey cardigan tighter around her.

I grumbled in response, watching Leah Crawford being given the all clear at the front of the line and hurrying to join Rebecca Simmons and Mary Macdonald. The short brunette saw me and waved, and the three of us waved back at Mary as Rebecca and Leah smiled before turning to go.

Fifteen minutes and a confiscated quill later – seriously, what trouble did he think I was going to get up to with that? – we were given the okay, and made our way out onto the grounds, wandering along with the long, scattered line of students heading towards the gates.

Crisp and cool, the air whipped around us while the mid-morning sun attempted to warm the day. The Whomping Willow was trying to shake off all of its leaves with a few of the green ones still strong enough to hold on. I let my eyes roam the grounds, taking in the effects of autumn while we continued down the gravel path, stones crunching underfoot. Red caught my eye as I glanced at the lake, and I paused, peering at it.

“Watch it,” a Ravenclaw snapped as they ducked around me, muttering to their friends.

Mel pulled a face at them as they passed while Rae tapped me on the shoulder. “You alright? What’s up?”

“Nothing,” I answered quickly, starting at her touch. “I just forgot something.”

She raised an eyebrow as she shifted her weight, and I felt as though I was being scrutinized, as though she didn’t believe me. Which was probably fair, as I hadn’t forgotten anything at all.

“Want us to wait for you?” Mel spat her blonde hair out of her mouth as she fought with the wind.

“Nah, I’m alright. I’ll catch up with you later,” I called over my shoulder, already pushing against the flow of students slowly trickling out of the castle, away from the two of them.

I’d made it about twenty meters before glancing over my shoulder to see that they’d been swept up with the crowd and were no longer in sight, before abruptly changing direction, leaving the path of the multitude of students and heading down towards the lake instead. I hadn’t realised how bitter the wind actually was until now, the body heat of the masses long gone. Leaves crunched under my feet as I made my way across the grass, coming to halt beside a tree.

“Want some company? Or are you alright?” I smiled as Lily started, whipping her head around to look up at me. She’d been so lost in thought she hadn’t heard me coming.

“No, no! Sit down. I’m happy to have company.” She smiled back up at me, but it didn’t reach her eyes. The slight movement of her hand caught my attention as I saw her tuck a piece of parchment into the pocket of her jacket.

I slid down the tree, settling myself on the dew-covered grass next to her, both of us staring out across the lake. Her black jacket made a striking contrast to her red hair and I sat there in silence, envying it slightly.

We didn’t say anything for a while, both of us just sitting there, watching the lake and the grounds. I knew if she wanted to talk about it, she would in her own time, and if she didn’t, I didn’t mind. I just wanted her to know that I was there if she ever changed her mind.

She shifted where she sat, re-crossing her legs the other way and leaning her head up against the tree, closing her eyes. “My sister’s getting married, you know? Tuney’s engaged… to Vernon.” She pulled a face; her nose scrunched up as though there was a bad smell associated with the name.

I didn’t know her sister; hell, I hadn’t even known Lily very long, and I had no idea how to reply to that. So I just stayed quiet, waiting for her to continue.

“It has nothing to do with me. She can marry whoever she wants, you know? I just - It’s Vernon Dursley for crying out loud! She can do so much better than him and it kills me that she doesn’t see it.” The Head Girl opened her eyes, staring at her hands while I continued to sit there, not saying anything. She reached into her pocket and pulled out the piece of parchment she’d had with her before. She opened it once as if to read it, before deciding better of it and re-folding it again.

“You and - Tuney? - get along well?” I asked.

“Petunia. And yes. Well… no. Probably not. But we did, and sometimes still do, and –“ Lily paused, sighing. “We’re sisters.”

It was as if those words explained everything, the fights, the disagreements, the support, the disapproval, and the undying love that they’d never admit too. I didn’t have a sister. I didn’t have any siblings, but I did have Mel. And Alice. And Rae. And we fought, and bickered, and argued, pinched each other, borrowed each other’s stuff without asking and never remembering to return it… We were sisters in a way, and if I tried and thought about Alice marrying anyone other than Frank, someone who loved her and was worthy of her and made her happy, I wrinkled my nose too.

But that was unfair.

I didn’t know Petunia, or Vernon, and for all I knew, he could make her happy, and love her and be worthy. But I did know Lily, and I trusted Lily, along with her judgment of character, and had a feeling that Vernon was none of those things at all. The idea that Petunia, someone I didn’t even know, could possibly be selling herself short, made me feel very small in the world. And rather sad.

It must have shown on my face too, because Lily asked, “Are you okay? I’m rambling, aren’t I? I should be quiet. You don’t really want to hear about my sister’s engagement, do you? No, of course not. Sorry.”

“Lily, don’t be stupid. I’m more than happy to listen to you discussing what colour to paint your toenails if it would make you happy. I’m here for when you need someone to listen, and when you need to talk. We’re friends, right? That’s what friends do.” I gave her my best encouraging face, and she chuckled half-heartedly.

“Thank you. But if I ever do start discussing my nail polish at length, you have permission to hit me. Just make sure that I don’t paint them green first.”

I nodded solemnly before letting my expression break into a grin. “Why not green?” I asked out of curiosity, as she beamed back at me.

“Because I’d look like Christmas.” She gestured to her hair, and I snorted in an attempt to hide my laughter. She rolled her eyes, but didn’t seem to have the same sadness there as before.

“There isn’t much you can do, no matter who she marries. I think the thing she’d want the most is your support,” I said thoughtfully, wondering how I’d feel in the same situation. She nodded thoughtfully before rubbing her hands over her face.

“You’re right, you know? I owe her that, no matter what I think about Vernon. It’s just hard. We haven’t talked properly in years. We’ve tried, but we just don’t live in the same world anymore. The closest thing we’ve had to a decent chat is when she asked about Snape, and I said we weren’t friends anymore. She was pleased about that, said that I wasn’t as happy when I was around him, that I was worried about him, and that’s why I stuck with him for so long. Maybe she’s right. I don’t know. He and I aren’t friends anymore, and that’s all that matters. He’s been a right sod too, lately.”

“Really?” I asked, curious after what Marlene Spencer had said the other day in the Library.

“Yeah.” She nodded eagerly. “Cornered me after Potions the other day, and he kept going on and on about how sorry he was, about how I should forgive him so we could go back to being friends.” My eyebrows shot up at her words, but she continued without me interrupting. “I told him I shouldn’t have to do anything, let alone forgive him, that he was the one who insulted me while I was trying to stand up for him. Why he thinks he can be friends with me and those Slytherins who are rolling in dark magic and all for supporting You-Know-Who, I have no idea.”

I shook my head slightly as she spoke, my disbelief growing more and more. “He really said all that? Just expected you forgive him? Even though he supports He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named? The same guy that wants everyone dead? He’s mad! Surely he knows he can’t have it both ways…” I stared at her, waiting for her to tell me she was joking and that Snivellus had done no such thing.

“Expected? Not likely. He practically demanded it.” Lily shook her head in exasperation before her face took on a more thoughtful look. She sighed. “We had a fight actually. Ages back. When we were still friends. – so what? Fifth year? – Yeah, he was trying to get me to go to some meeting he and his friends were having. It was all about the Dark Arts and You-Know-Who. I said he had to stop the obsession, or our friendship would be ending pretty quickly, and he dropped the subject, but I knew he still wasn’t pleased with me. I didn’t really care, but after he called me… well, yeah. After he called me that, I’d had it. I was over his mood swings and snide remarks about Tuney, his obsession with dark magic and those creepy friends of his that had no problems hexing me in the hallways because I’m muggleborn.”

I stared at Lily Evans as she spoke, her eyes focused on the lake while she shifted through her memories. An overwhelming feeling of awe filled my chest as I realised what she’d gone through for years without anyone knowing. Why she was telling me now, I hadn’t a clue, but I was flattered that she’d consider me a close enough friend to do so. She continued talking about Severus Snape for a while, to the point where it was closer to midday than midmorning, and I sat there, occasionally making comments when she paused, but mainly in silence, just listening as she released all the feelings she’d been harboring for who knows how long.

“And yeah, that’s when Potter appeared in the doorway and Snape ran off without another word. It was almost funny actually, how terrified he was of James at that moment. Though it must be said, James looked furious with him for even attempting to talk to me, let alone cornering me after Potions. But Snape left and he walked me back up to the common room before excusing himself. It was… nice, actually.” She murmured the last part to herself and I tried to hide the smile that had appeared when she’d referred to him as James.

Lily sat there with her lips pursed and I had a feeling she’d forgotten I was there, but she eventually turned her head towards me, a soft smile on her face and her bright eyes glowing with an emotion I didn’t recognise. It wasn’t there long, however, as she exclaimed “Godric!” looking at something over my shoulder.

I spun around to find a large black shape incredibly close to my face and jumped backwards slightly before I realised what it was.

“What are you doing here, boy?” I laughed as the dog wagged its tail, walking over to position its self between Lily and I.

It was huge, with shaggy black fur and bright eyes that looked like they were laughing. Could dogs even laugh? I had no idea.

“What are you doing on the grounds?” Lily began to coo at the animal, scratching him behind his ears. Its tail thumped against the ground appreciatively. “How much do you want to bet he’s from Hogsmeade?”

“Evans! Have you seen – Oh. You found him.”

James Potter came around the tree, smiling at the redhead, while she continued to scratch the dog. Peter and Remus quickly appeared as well, looking like they weren’t worried about the dog at all, and that they’d rather be somewhere else.

“Steal someone’s dog, Potter?” Lily raised an eyebrow at him as she rose to her feet. The dog whined when she stopped scratching him, and I reached over and rubbed down his back. His tail quickly began thumping happily again.

James held his hand to his chest, pretending to be wounded by Lily’s words, but his eyes were dancing and giving him away. “Evans! I’m shocked that you’d say such a thing! As a matter of fact, we found him in the village and thought the manky old thing could do with a proper feeding. And a bath too…” He added, with a warning growl in reply, but it didn’t seem to faze him, opting to laugh instead.

“You homeless, boy?” I asked, still scratching him. He turned to look at me, his large eyes curious. “Has he got a name?” I turned towards Potter.

“Yeah. Padf-“ But Remus cut him off.

“Not that we can tell.” He gave James a pointed look as he wrapped his arms around him, cold in his thin sweater.

“Right. He’s nameless and homeless and dirty, aren’t you, mate?” James laughed again as the dog grunted at him.

“I don’t think he likes you much, Potter.” Lily sat back down, chuckling. “What shall we name him, Keir? Every puppy needs a name, even this one,” she cooed.

He rolled over onto his back and let us scratch at his stomach, obviously enjoying himself.

“How about Elvendork?” James suggested.

“You’ve got to get over that name, James.” Peter laughed while Remus gave the Quidditch player a hopeless look.

“What? It is unisex! You can’t deny it!” the Head Boy replied, throwing his hands up in exasperation at Peter’s comment, but you could still see the smirk on his face.

The dog just stared upside down at James from where he was lying before snorting in disapproval.

“Snuffles.” I laughed. “Let’s call him Snuffles.”

Lily giggled, nodding in agreement, while the giant animal continued to lie there on the grass, more than happy to be the centre of our attention.

“So, Snuffles,” I addressed the dog, and its head lolled towards me, “have you got a home?” It barked happily for a moment, before rolling to its feet and setting off across the grounds.

“Hold up!” James called as he looked between Lily and the mutt, clearly torn. The Head Girl laughed at him while climbing to her feet.

“Come on. Let’s go find him. He can’t go wandering around the grounds by himself,” she said, starting off after Snuffles, who was trying to catch the falling leaves in his mouth. “Filch will skin him alive if he tries to get inside the castle.”

I saw the three boys walk slightly faster at that.

“Oh, Potter, he’s adorable.” I heard Lily laugh as she began to jog ahead, quickly gaining ground on Snuffles.

James joined her of course, while all Remus had to do was quicken his pace slightly and his long legs kept him not far behind them. I held back, smiling at the scene of Snuffles jumping in the air, the swirl of orange and red leaves on the breeze and Lily’s laughter as James tried to run backwards before the dog tripped him up, dashing out of James’ reach before he could grab him.

“You alright there, Nyx?”

I tore my eyes away from the scene and found Peter waiting for me.

“Oh! Yeah, I’m good. Thanks.” I laughed as I made my way over to him, where he nodded before turning back to watch his friends.

“Is it weird,” I asked after a moment, “knowing that this time next year, you all won’t be here?”

He seemed surprised that I was talking to him, but quickly answered, a smile on his face. “Yeah, a bit. Don’t know what I want to do, you see. Makes the idea of leaving all the more daunting. I don’t think I want to get messed up in the war, unlike the rest of them.” He gestured to his friends, where James had just tackled Remus into a pile of leaves, Snuffles running around the two brawling men, yapping and barking in glee. “But you just can’t guess, I suppose. Everything changes so quickly these days, you know? Besides, I can’t say I don’t mind always being around the birds here at Hogwarts. Some of those Hufflepuffs are rather fine.”

I chuckled, looking back at his friends before I remembered something was missing from the picture. “Pettigrew –“ I began before he cut me off.

“Peter. Or Pete,” he added as an afterthought.

“Right. Peter, where’s Sirius?” I asked, peering at him out of the corner of my eye.

He opened his mouth to reply before the question sunk in, leaving him slightly pale and hesitant, but he quickly replied. “Uh, kitchens. We sent him ahead to get food for Snuffles. He has a soft spot for dogs, you know?” He nodded earnestly.

“What time is it?” I asked, watching as the dog rubbed its self on Lily’s legs, earning it a deep scowl from James while the Head Girl wasn’t looking.

“Half-past. Why?”

That got my attention.

“Half-past eleven?” I asked cautiously, a slight panic forming in my stomach.

“Nah, twelve.”

“Damnit!” I swore, thanking him before sprinting back up towards the path.

Snuffles was beside me in an instant, running along, his tongue lolling out the side of his mouth as he raced against the breeze.

“No, boy. Lily wants you,” I lied. “Go on. Shoo!” I stopped abruptly as the dog cut in front of me. Aware of how late I was, I bent down and scratched him behind the ears quickly before trying to send him back to the others. I made to lean forward and run my hand down his back, but of course the damned dog decided to nuzzle into my chest instead.

“Woah – No, you don’t!” I pulled back quickly, and he tried to bring himself forward to do it again. I quickly stood up, taking my chest with me. “Nuh uh. Not you, dog.”

He whined once before quickly losing interest in me and running back to where Peter had joined in James and Remus’ sprawl. I waved back at Lily who called that she’d see me later, before starting my sprint back along the path, my mind on Snuffles.

Before I entered the Three Broomsticks, I’d decided I’d be wearing higher neck tee shirts to Hogsmede from now on.

“Have any of you seen Henry?” I panted as I weaved my way between tables to the booth everyone was sitting in.

“Hey! There you are!” Mel cried, looking up from her conversation with Caradoc and Benjy. “We haven’t seen you for hours; where’ve you been?”

“I lost track of time. Have you seen Henry?” I repeated, slightly more urgently than before, looking around the Three Broomsticks in case he was hiding in a corner somewhere.

“Nope. Sorry, Nyx. Haven’t seen the bloke.” Caradoc shrugged while Benjy just shook his head.

“I’ll help you look for him if you want?” piped up Reyna before mouthing ‘I can’t stand their Quidditch talk anyway.’

“Really? Thanks. I’m so late as it is. I feel terrible for keeping him this long. We said we’d meet outside Zonko’s, but he wasn’t there when I passed it. I think he’s gone looking for me or something.” I was fidgeting now, anxious to move.

“Come on then. Let’s try up near Dervish and Banges,” she said as she weaved her way through the tables far more gracefully than I had. Deciding it was pointless to interrupt the conversation of Quidditch that had quickly picked up again, I left without saying goodbye to the others. I figured I’d see them later anyway.

“Dear Merlin. It’s nippy today, isn’t it?” Rae paused in the doorway, pulling on her cardigan. “I should have brought my coat.”

“Mmm,” I agreed as I pulled her along behind me, making my way up the main street.

My boots crunched on the autumn leaves while I squinted slightly, trying to shield my eyes from the wind.

“Reckon he’s in Honeydukes?” Reyna asked, eyeing the store longingly as we passed.

“I don’t think so. He’s not one for sugary things.”

“Yeah, but he’s probably with Anthony, and he has a real sweet tooth,” she reminded me.

I paused, turning to look at the store. She was right, and hell, even if he wasn’t in there, it gave me an opportunity to grab the crystallised pineapple I needed to bribe Slughorn with.

Rae took my hesitation as a yes and grabbed the opportunity to haul me into the store. “If they’re here, they’ll probably be over by the Peppermint Toads.”

The store was packed as usual, and the Halloween sweets were already starting to litter the shelves. Wizarding world or not, all retailers were the same these days. We shuffled through the crowd, towards the other side of the shop, the sound of people calling to their friends to ‘come check this stuff out!’ filling my ears.

“I don’t think he’s here,” I said, craning my neck to try and see over the group of Hufflepuffs standing in front of me.

Reyna frowned as she looked around, her height an advantage in the crowd. “Yeah, I can’t see him anywhere. Sorry about that.”

“Don’t worry about it. It was worth a shot, but if you’re happy to wait a second, I just want to grab some crystallised pineapple while we’re here. I think it’s up the back.”

“Yeah, sure. I’ll wait by the door; I can barely breath in here.” She scowled as a fifth year pushed past her.

I chuckled. “I’ll only be a minute.”

Following the path left by the fifth year, I made my way quickly towards the back of the store.

“Crystallised pineapple, crystallised pineapple,” I murmured under my breath as I searched the shelves. “Jelly Slugs, Ice Mice, Treacle Fudge, no. Crystallised – AGH!”

“I thought I might find you here.” A voice chuckled in my ear as strong arms encircled my waist.

“I couldn’t find you! I was late and when I got there you weren’t, and I went looking for you, and Rae thought you might be here with Andy and then you weren’t, but I thought – “ Henry cut off my ramble of a sentence with a kiss.

“Don’t worry about it. Anthony spotted Reyna by the door.” He smirked a little and I buried my face in his chest.

“Did he just?” I chuckled.

“Mhmm. He’s standing out the front chatting to her now; I left them to come and find you.”

“She thought you might be in here with him. Somehow she knows he has a weakness for Peppermint Toads.” I pulled away from his chest to give him a knowing look.

“We’ll get them there. It may take us a while, but he’ll eventually see sense.” He smiled down at me for a moment before kissing my forehead lightly. “You know, you smell faintly of dog…”

I choked on a laugh and it came out as a snort instead. “Yeah. That’s a long story.”

“I’ve got nothing but time.” He kissed me again, and I worked my arms up and around his neck, fisting my hands in his hair.

“Urgh. Get a room, the both of you,” a Slytherin sneered as they reached around us to grab a box of Jelly Slugs. “No one wants to see that.”

I pulled away quickly, my face on fire and eyes wide. Henry laughed it off, but I still took the long route between the shelves to avoid the fifth year.

As soon as we were out the door, Anthony spotted us.

“Nyx! There you are!”

He made his way over towards us, the wind pushing his hair into his eyes, while an easy grin covered his face. Rae followed him, pointedly ignoring the look I was giving her.

“We were looking for you everywhere.” Anthony reached out to ruffle my hair. I ducked, scowling at him. Henry laughed as he pulled me towards him, away from Anthony, before kissing my forehead.

“Not wanting to interrupt, but can we move? It’s a bit chilly to be standing around like this,” Reyna asked, her hair swirling around her face in the wind.

“Yeah, moving sounds like a good idea,” I said.

Henry placed his arm around me, letting his coat block some of the wind. “Where to then?”

“Three Broomsticks? I could go for a Butterbeer.” Anthony shrugged before turning to Reyna. “What about you? These two will probably ditch us at some point soon anyway.”

“Butterbeer sounds great.” She smiled, her cheeks even pinker than before. Either Anthony didn’t notice, or he chose not to comment. If it was the latter, I silently thanked him; if it was the former, I wondered how in Circe’s name he could be so blind.

The two fell into step beside each other, neither wanting to walk with Henry and I, which was quite fine by us.

“I missed you at breakfast this morning,” Henry murmured, pulling me closer to him as we made our way back to the popular pub.

“I got up pretty late. Most people were already in the line by the time I joined it with the girls. But you said we were meeting at twelve, so I didn’t think it mattered.” I twisted my neck around to look up at him and was rewarded as he kissed my nose before pulling away with a smirk, nodding towards Anthony and Rae just ahead.

“Reckon this’ll be the year?”

“It sort of has to be, doesn’t it? You’ll be gone next year.” I frowned slightly at the thought. What on earth was I supposed to do next year? I’d have the girls, sure, but it wouldn’t be quite the same with just them.

“I won’t be far away, you know that.” Henry nudged my hip with his own, sending me stumbling off to my left. He chuckled at me as I poked my tongue out at him. “I’ll always be around.”

Anthony’s loud laughter distracted me from a reply. Rae’s face was red, although due to the wind or being in such close contact with the Beater, I wasn’t sure. She was trying to illustrate something with her hands, and the Ravenclaw laughed again. I smiled, watching the two, as I made my way back to Henry’s side, settling into my spot under his arm.

“I think this will be the year,” I murmured as Reyna Wilkins threw her head back with glee at Anthony King’s reply.

“Good. It’s about time,” Henry replied from somewhere high above. I could hear approval in his voice.

The Three Broomsticks was far busier now than it had been before, but I welcomed the extra body heat as the door closed behind us. You couldn’t even see the booth Mel had been sitting in before through the crowd of students, their loud chatter filling the pub and almost drowning out the record player Madam Rosmerta had playing behind the bar.

“Can you see anything up there?” I asked Henry, who chuckled as he and Anthony scanned over the top of the crowd.

“Maybe. Come on,” he said as he began to guide me through the different groups of people, everyone parting for the popular Ravenclaw while I was pulled along behind. We were stopped once or twice with people wanting to talk to either of the two boys, but we still made decent progress through the throng.

I finally spotted our destination, a booth right in the back corner. The light above it had gone out, leaving it over looked by others. Anthony tapped it with his wand as the rest of us sat down. It quickly flared white, before settling into a happy orange glow.

“Sorry for crashing your date.” Reyna looked back and forward between Henry and I, and Anthony who smirked in agreement.

“Mmm, sorry Hen-hen – Oi!” I heard a thud as Henry’s foot collided with Anthony’s shin under the table.

“Cut the nickname,” he grunted, although I knew he didn’t hate it as much as he made out too.

“Right,” Anthony scowled, “drinks?”

“Please.” I nodded with a grin.

“Alright then. Butterbeers all round,” the Beater said as he got out of his chair and began battling his way through the crowd again.

“But seriously, sorry for crashing in on your date,” Reyna said again, frowning slightly. “It’s your nine months and everything, too.”

“Don’t worry about it. We’ve still got this afternoon. Besides, if it meant you got some time with Anthony…” Henry trailed off, laughing at the look of sheer horror on Rae’s face.

I elbowed my boyfriend for the jibe. “Seriously, Reyna, it isn’t that obvious. Don’t worry. But Henry is right. The more time you spend with him…” I shrugged, letting it hang in the air.

“I should just give up. Seriously, it’s been forever and there are so many other blokes at Hogwarts. Why’d I have to like the one that doesn’t like me back?” Her dark hair fell over her face as she buried her face in her hands.

“Because even though he’s damned blind about it, you’re perfect for him, and he’s perfect for you too, now that I think about it. You loosen up a bit when you’re around him,” I said, placing my finger under her chin so she’d look up again.

“Keir’s right. Besides, Anthony will realise soon enough. He talks about you more and more. I don't even think he realises he does it,” Henry added with a shrug.

“Really?” Reyna asked, looking skeptical.

“Yeah, course. I’m not going to lie to you about something like that.”

I gave her my best encouraging smile, but Anthony appeared before she could say anything else.

“Four Butterbeers,” he said, placing them on the table and divvying them out between us all.

“Cheers.” I laughed as I lifted the foaming tankard to my lips, relaxing as I felt it run down my throat and the heat settle in my stomach. Sighing, I leaned back into Henry, feeling him kiss my hair. I smiled slightly as I closed my eyes, content with the moment.

The tavern was warm, the conversations of students filled the space and I could faintly smell the sticky sweet smell of the Butterbeer in front of me. If I listened closely, I could make out the conversation about Zonko’s new products that was happening at the table nearby, or the debate over who would win the first Quidditch game of the season from the booth behind me. Rosmerta’s voice occasionally cut through the crowd as she called orders, and if you strained your ears, you could hear the sound of the Weird Sisters playing.

“You okay?”

“Yeah, fine.” I stated as Henry whispered in my ear, bringing me back to the conversation. I smiled, ignoring Anthony’s animated reply to something Reyna had just said.

“Want to get out of here?” I could feel his breath on my neck and momentarily forgot that he’d asked me a question.

“Mmm, lets.”

I slid out of my seat, Henry right behind me, and we’d made it a fair distance into the crowd when I heard Anthony call after us, although his exact words were lost in the growing sound of singing, as Madam Rosmerta flicked the music to Frankie and The Hippogriffs.

I reached for the door, but it opened of its own accord before James Potter stepped into the Three Broomsticks, blocking my way.

“Oh! Sorry there, Nyx.” He smiled good-naturedly, making to stand aside. Until he saw Henry, that was. “Watts.” Potter’s face was expressionless now, although one could argue the laughter behind his glasses was mocking.

“Potter.” Henry nodded, equally expressionless.

“Prongs, bloody get out of the doorway, will you – “ Sirius Black paused at the sight of the Ravenclaw Seeker. “Watts.” He nodded, his face now as blank as James’ and Henry’s. Then he saw me, and a smirk lit up his face.

I think I was missing something, with the way he looked back and forward between Henry and I, as if he was in on his own private joke. The smirk deepened with a brief glance towards my chest, and Henry’s arm tightened around my waist protectively.

I could see Remus rolling his eyes outside, and Peter was peering around the door, curious as to what exactly was going on.

“Excuse us,” I mumbled, casting my eyes towards the floor and making my way to push past as the two Gryffindors appeared to make no attempt to move.

“Nyx, before I forget!” James placed his hand on my shoulder and I turned to look back up at him. If Henry could, I swore he would have growled. “Training starts next Saturday, yeah? I just put up a notice in the common room, but thought I’d let you know.”

“No problems.” I smiled at him. “Thanks for telling me.”

James chuckled, about to leave, when he saw Henry’s face. “What? She’s my Seeker. Lay off, Watts. I’m not trying to steal her from you.”

“I still don’t like the fact that she’s on your team, Potter,” Henry growled and Sirius snorted in response.

Uh, yeah, hi? Anyone? Still here. There’s no need to talk about me as if I’m not.

“You still haven’t gotten over the fact that Prewett cleaned the Pitch with you during that last game. Madam Hooch confirmed it, Watts. Let it go,” James warned.

Dear Godric, if this is what it was all about, I was going to lose it. Yeah, Prewett and Henry had both caught the Snitch in what I must admit was a magnificent collision; they’d both been with Madam Pompfrey for a month. Prewett had more of his hand on the Snitch however, therefore Gryffindor won.

I thought they’d have let it go by now. It was last season, for Agrippa’s sake. New season, old grudges from the sounds of it. At least that explained why Anthony had been so quick to anger on the train; that had been bugging me, actually.

“Whatever, Potter. Come on, Keir.” And with that we left the rowdy pub, finally clearing the doorway so Remus and Peter could enter. Remus flashed me a brief smile, and I grinned back at him over my shoulder, just managing to catch Sirius still smirking at my retreating figure.

“Where are we headed?” I asked as Henry rubbed circles on my hand with his thumb.

“Just up here,” he said, and you could hear the smile in his voice. “I think there’s a spot that will shelter us from this blasted wind.”

I chuckled as he led me up a hill behind the Quidditch pitch, before making his way back down the other side. I faltered before shrugging and following him. Not yet half way down, he stopped and waited for me to catch up, before pulling me into his lap as he settled himself in the grass. As soon as you got below the height of the top of the hill, you were shielded from the wind and left to absorb the sun’s warmth, uninterrupted.

We sat there quietly for a bit, just the two of us, me in Henry’s lap, both looking out over the Scottish countryside to the mountains beyond.

“What are you thinking about?” the Ravenclaw murmured after a while, tucking a stray piece of hair behind my ear so he could kiss my cheek.

The war? How you weren’t going to be here next year? How I’d ever pass potions and be accepted into Healer training? How would my life be different if I wasn’t a muggleborn? How was Lily going to cope with her sister’s wedding? What did I do to deserve you? Why can’t this tiff between our two Quidditch teams just die like I thought it had?

“Nothing,” I said. “Nothing at all. What about you?”

I shuffled slightly so I could see his face, and he kissed my forehead before saying anything. “You, mostly. I can’t believe it’s been nine months.” His light brown hair fell into his eyes as he shook his head in disbelief. “It doesn’t feel like nine months. Although I’m certainly not complaining,” he said again, turning my chin so he could kiss me properly.

I sighed as his arms wrapped around my waist and pulled me closer, and I tangled my hands in his hair, letting his tongue swirl and fight against my own. I shifted where I sat, desperate to be closer to him, but the movement unbalanced us both, and we went rolling down the hill, still tangled in each other’s arms.

“Urgh,” I grunted as that same elbow hit the ground and Henry’s head landed on my chest.

“You okay? Are you hurt?” He was up on his elbows in an instant to save me from his body weight, and a look of concern covered his face as he looked me over for injuries.

“I’m fine, I’m fine.” I chuckled, wincing slightly as I rubbed my elbow. “I think I’m still recovering from the shock, but I’ll be okay.”

“You sure?” He asked, his blue eyes relaxing slightly as I continued to laugh quietly about the whole thing. He leaned down to kiss me again, but I rolled away, giggling. Smirking, he lunged for me and I rolled away again before getting to my feet and beginning to race back across the grounds, Henry right behind me.

Half way around the Greenhouses he tackled me, laughing as I shrieked in shock. Pinned underneath him, I let him kiss me again, and we stayed there as all the warmth of the sun disappeared, just happy to be alone in each other’s company.



Authors Note:
Please, please, please don't hate me! I know I said last chapter that the update would be soon, and it was supposed to be (because it was 60% done) but then my laptop broke and I went back to school and I had assignments and exams and more assignments, and I didn't get a chance. Anyway, I'm on holidays again now (yess! Winter break (Southern Hemisphere :P)) and in between my essays and stuff, I'm hoping to get another two chapters written. Anyway, things will move faster from here on and hopefully this chapter was halfway decent.

Remember, reviews are (almost) better than quicker updates.
- Adele. :)


Chapter 8: 'The Incident'
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bellatrixx@TDA


Chapter VIII - 'The Incident'


“I didn’t hear the bell go…” I vaguely heard Professor Flitwick over the sound of the class packing up.

“It did, Sir. Just before,” someone from the front of the room called over the noise of everyone moving towards the door. I didn’t hear Flitwick’s reply as I was pushed out of the classroom in the shuffle towards lunch.

“I have no desire to write that essay. Not now, not ever.” I pulled a face as Alice laughed.

“True, although I might have to get it done on Saturday. I’m working on my Herbology until then,” she mused, as we made our way down the stairs towards the great hall.

I smirked at her, knowing she’d be spending the whole time with Frank. “Herbology? Or biology?”

“What’s biology?” Alice turned to me, confused.

“Don’t get my muggle joke, Al. That’s cool,” I said, slightly exasperated, knowing that Rae would have appreciated it. “Just let me look lame; no big deal.”

She raised an eyebrow at me. “You make no sense half the time, did you know that?”

“I should – you remind me often enough,” I teased and she grinned as we entered the hall.

I spied Caradoc Dearborn sitting at the table and we make a beeline for the empty seats around him.

“Great friends you’ve got.” Alice laughed as she let her bag fall to the floor.

“Oh, shut it. I was with Cresswell, but then he wandered off and left me alone.” He scowled slightly, but it only lasted a moment. “How are we both? Lots of schoolwork? How’s Frank?” He smirked at Alice, who turned brighter than the beetroot she’d just put on her plate.

“Fine, last time I spoke to him,” she mumbled, keeping her eyes down.

I laughed as Mel and Rae joined us, also complaining about the essay Flitwick had given us.

“Due Monday!” Reyna cried as she helped herself to some roast potatoes before pausing. “You eating, Keir?”

I looked down at my plate, which only had a small amount of the roast chicken on it. “Yeah, I’m just not that hungry,” I lied.

“Here.” Mel placed a large serving of couscous salad on my plate. "You'll need the carbs for Quidditch practice."

"But I'm not at Quidditch practice," I protested, shifting the large serving to the side of my plate with my fork.

"But you will be on Saturday," Mel continued, placing potatoes next to my chicken. "Protein. You need more protein," she murmured to herself as she went to grab me some more meat, getting sidetracked by the roast vegetables.

"No, really, I'm fine," I said, swinging my legs over the bench. "I'm not hungry. I'm going to go start on this essay; I'll see you all later."

"But you haven't eaten a thing yet, Nyx. You can't just skip meals like that," Caradoc pointed out.

"He's right," Alice agreed, nodding earnestly, but I felt Mel's eyes narrow at me and I knew she was about to say something.

"I'm fine. I'll pick something up later!" I called over my shoulder, quickly making my way down the aisle between the tables, conscious that Mel knew exactly what I was doing.

Deciding that the library was both the best place to avoid people and get my work done, I adjusted my course, running straight into something solid.

“Sorry,” I mumbled, without thinking.

“Woah! Hey there.” Arms snaked around my waist and I looked up to see Henry smiling down at me. “You haven’t finished lunch already, have you? I was just coming to see if you wanted to join us.”

“More like beg her to join us.” Anthony snorted from where he was standing behind my boyfriend.

“Oh, don’t pretend you weren’t desperate for my company as well now, King.” I smirked, avoiding Henry’s question.

“Come on, come and eat with us. Cattermole’s on his way, he just got caught up talking to Macdonald about some assignment,” Henry said, as he began to steer me back towards the Ravenclaw table.

My eyes caught Mel’s halfway down the Gryffindor table and my breathing became labored. She was staring at me with that ‘I-know-what-you’re-doing-and-it-won’t-work-with-me’ look on her face.

“No, really, I’m fine,” I said, repeating myself from before. “I’m not hungry and I want to get my work done. I’ll see you at dinner?”

“Alright then,” he said, looking slightly hurt as I wormed my way out of his arms. “Do you want a hand, or will you be okay?”

I would have loved some help from Henry; I had no idea what I was doing with this essay, but at that moment, I just wanted to be away from people who kept telling me to eat. “Nah, I’ll be fine. You go eat.” I laughed, watching Melody out of the corner of my eye. “But I’ll see you at dinner, yeah? You can explain whatever I don’t get then?”

“Sure…” Henry frowned slightly as he turned to go and I felt a stab in my stomach at his expression.

“Hey,” I said grabbing his arm and turning him back to face me. “I’ll see you later.” I reached up and held his face between my hands before rising onto my tiptoes and kissing him soundly. “Dinner?” I breathed when I pulled away.

“Dinner.” He grinned, the frown gone now, as he pulled me back to kiss me again.

“Have fun there, mate. I’m going to see if some of that chicken gets rid of my sudden nausea,” Anthony mumbled as he made his way into the Great Hall.

I pulled away, laughing until I remembered that Mel would come looking for me as soon as she finished her own lunch and I was wasting my head start. Henry kissed the top of my hair quickly before leaving, and I turned and ran up the stairs towards the library, hoping to lose Mel amongst the shelves.

Weaving my way between the stacks, I made my way to the back of the library before I spied an empty table near a window seat. Please with myself for finding the hidden corner, I dropped my book bag and began sorting through my stuff for my quill.

"Oh! Keira, I wasn't expecting to see you here," a voice said from behind me. Spinning in my seat, I saw Remus Lupin with a crooked smile on his face. "Can I join you?"

Damn, had I taken his table?

"Course!" I said, slightly too quickly. "I haven't taken your spot or anything, have I?"

"It's where I usually sit, yeah, but I'd like your company." He smiled at me as he made his way around the table to sit opposite me. "What are you working on?"

I looked down at my blank piece of parchment and snorted. "If you could call it working. Flitwick's essay on turning vinegar into wine."

"Ah," Remus grinned, "then your next lesson should be an interesting one."

"Oh? Do explain."

"James and Sirius had an excellent time trying to out do the other’s vintage. James managed to turn his into some French one I couldn't pronounce. Sirius was getting lazy though, so he turned it back to vinegar while James wasn't watching. Prongs ended up spitting it out all over the desk. Poor Flitwick had no idea what was so funny."

I giggled as Lupin's smile grew, and the anxiety I'd begun to feel at lunch subsided.

"You've got some good stories, don't you?" I said a while later, twirling my quill in my fingers. I’d written a solid four sentences and decided it was time for a break.

Remus stretched in his seat. "I suppose. Although I just recount what James and Sirius have done. I wasn't part of it, so I don't know if they really count as my stories," he said thoughtfully.

"Were you there?" I asked, enjoying the conversation.

"Yeah."

"Then they're your stories too."

"In that case - yes, I have a lot of stories." I laughed as his face split into a smile while he reached for his parchment. "Do you want some help with the essay, or are you okay?"

"I'll be fine. I just need to actually do it, that's all." I scowled at the large amount of blank parchment below my lovely half a paragraph.

"Well let me know if you need a hand," he said as he continued with his own work.

Right - essay time. I dug my textbook out of my bag and began copying out relevant paragraphs.

I flipped through the book, as my essay got steadily longer. This was easier than I thought. I didn’t even think I had been in here that long, as I started my final passage.

"Have you got class now?" Remus asked, and I held up a hand to tell him to wait a second as I scribbled out the last of my sentence.

"Pardon?" I said as I blew on the ink to dry it.

"I asked if you had class now?" he repeated without annoyance.

It took me a moment to process the question. "Damn it to hell," I cried frantically stuffing everything in my bag. "Bye, Remus!" I called over my shoulder as I scrambled out of the library towards Defense, leaving him there, chuckling, as he continued with his work.

I was late, yes, but it was hard to regret it when it meant that my essay had been finished. I had the weekend free now, and I grinned as I pushed open the classroom door.

The smile dropped instantly as Professor Grimstone raised an eyebrow at me.

“Miss Nyx.”

“Professor.” I gulped, still standing in the doorway.

“If you aren’t going to disrupt my lesson any further, I would appreciate you taking a seat.” His eyes travelled to the empty one next to Mel.

I stepped forward hurriedly, but then paused as Mel met my eye. There was no way I was ready to talk to her about lunchtime now. Not now that I felt like sinking through the floor as everyone still stared at me. But realising that I didn’t have a choice, I sunk into the chair.

“Now, as I was saying – “ Grimstone turned back to the board and circled something I assumed to be important.

“You can’t avoid me forever,” Mel said under her breath as she resumed copying things down.

I didn’t answer her and I rummaged through my bag for the inkpot I’d put away only minutes before.

“Keira, I mean it,” she hissed at me as I tried to push down the pressure in my chest. Confrontation made me feel sick. The argument that was sure to come made my insides squirm and my breathing hard. I hated fighting with my friends. I hated fighting with anyone, and normally forgave far too easily just so I could avoid the whole thing.

There was no way Melody Andrews was going to let me avoid this one.

Her Mother-Hen instinct was out and clucking.

“Has everybody got all that?” Grimstone asked, as he moved behind his desk.

There was a chorus of confirmation, and he proceeded to tell us to partner up before looking out the window absently.
He really was a strange character.

“You have to eat!” Mel turned her chair to face me. I still didn’t say anything as I copied the notes I’d missed off the board. “You can’t starve yourself. It just doesn’t work.” I felt tears sting my eyes, as I didn’t look up from my parchment. “Damnit, Keira. We’re worried about you,” she said, pulling my work out from under my arm and replacing it with hers, before scribbling the stuff off the board a second time. She didn’t say anything but I felt the tension radiating off her in waves.

That same pressure in my chest was back with a vengeance, and this time guilt accompanied it. I’d really made her upset.

Reyna caught my eye, and guilt worked its way to the top at the sad smile she gave me. Alice was more encouraging from next to her, but that just made me feel worse.

I didn’t want to apologise – it had nothing to do with them – but I knew I couldn’t have them angry with me. Despite that, I still packed up my bag without a word when class ended, before hurrying out the door.

*

“You alright?” Henry looked down at me while I played with the food on my plate. I’d taken it hoping it would make Mel happy, but now I was so anxious about her being angry with me that I couldn’t eat it.
The irony didn’t escape me.

“Fine. Not hungry, that’s all.”

I knew he didn’t believe me, but I was grateful he didn’t say anything. Reginald Cattermole was chatting to Anthony about maintenance spells, and I had to remind myself that his father had been a builder. The Beater seemed more interested in if they’d work on his broom.

Losing interest in their conversation, I saw Marlene Spencer further down the Ravenclaw table, her nose buried in a book, while some bloke from my year tried to chat her up. I snorted in amusement. He could sit there for days, but he clearly wasn’t going to get anywhere.

Henry shifted beside me, attracting my attention.

“Come on.” He offered me his hand as he stood, and I rose to my feet. “You’re clearly not happy. Let’s go.” I rested my head against him, as he tucked me under his arm, walking both of us out of the Great Hall.

Mel frowned as we left, but I don’t think she was angry anymore, just disappointed in me. I felt sick at the thought.

I felt sick for the next few days actually. It was largely due to the fact that Mel, Alice, and Reyna only talked to me when they had to. We’d talk in the dormitory and when we were partnered in classes, but it was forced and I could tell they wanted to bring it up. Caradoc and Benjy would stare me down – in a way I would have found funny in any other situation – during meals as I sat off to the side, not including myself in the conversation. Frank just sighed, not saying anything on the subject, and for that I was grateful.

And I was eating, thank you very much. By breakfast the next morning I’d tried eating something proper, but I felt so sick with the idea of all my friends disappointed me that I felt physically ill. Why I just didn’t admit that I was sorry and that they were right, and forget about the whole thing, I had no idea. But by Saturday, when Potter was yelling at me across the Quidditch Pitch, I was ready to burst unceremoniously into tears, fifteen meters in the air or not.

“Good. Again!” He called from above me, dividing his attention between shouting at me and shouting at Mel who was training with Archie Holloway, while Heath Chapman looked about to lose it if Fenwick or Dearborn tried to fly through the goal hoops again.

I rolled again on my broom, coming back upright without falling off.

“Keep going!” James urged when he saw I was just sitting there, waiting for more instructions. “I can’t have you injured during a match. You’re a good flyer on your own, but with Bludgers, distracting cheers, and hunting for the Snitch, you’re going to need to work on your broom handling skills. Anyway, keep practising until I get back,” he called over his shoulder as he flew over to where Archie was dodging the Bludgers Mel was aiming at him. Last time I’d checked, that had been Benjy and Caradoc’s job, but whatever. They took pride in being professional Chapman annoyers.

Was that even a word? I wondered as I swung upside down on my broom, before righting myself. I continued to muse it over, still rolling and righting myself, rolling and righting myself, until it became a sickening pattern. Deciding that perhaps rolling the other way might help, I paused before swinging to my left this time.

It didn’t help.

The Pitch looked just as bad, if not worse, as I restored myself, right way up, on my broom.

I’d been rolling this way and that for over twenty minutes and my stomach wasn’t having it anymore. I leaned over the side of my broom, not to roll, but to empty my stomach as I vomited.

The few seconds it took for my stomach contents to reach the ground fifteen meters below were some of the worst of my life, to the point where I vomited again. Although the second time I screwed my eyes shut, determined not to witness the sight of falling vomit a second time.

“Merlin’s sock! Are you alright, Nyx?” I looked up to see three Chasers speeding towards me. Paranoid that they wouldn’t be able to stop in time, I began to panic until Archie and James came to an abrupt stop about a meter in front of me.

Mel, on the other hand, slammed into me, arms around my waist, while her momentum pushed us backwards a few meters. If something like this hadn’t been such a regular occurrence during the games of Quidditch I played with her and Jack over the summer, I probably would have toppled off my broom.

“I can’t deal with this anymore!” I swore she was sobbing into my hair.

“I can’t watch you getting sick and vomiting and not eating and distancing yourself and being quiet and going to bed early and –“

The only way I can think to describe what happened as Mel cried into my hair, James Potter looking on with horror at a crying girl, was that my chest exploded. It didn’t, not really, but the emotion I felt as Melody paused to take a shuddering breath probably could have caused a black hole in my stomach, it was so big. It caused tears at any rate, because I hugged her back viciously.

“I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have put you through that, and I’ve been trying to eat for days but knowing that you were angry with me made me feel sick and I couldn’t, and – Mel stop crying!” I choked out the words, pulling away from her as best I could as were both sitting in the air.

When she started hitting me, however, Caradoc and Benjy – who had been watching our breakdown from a safe distance – intervened.

“Don’t – you – ever – put – me – through – anything – like – the – last – few – days – GET OFF ME – ever – again!” She punctuated each word with a whack at my arm as the two boys tried to hold her back.

“I won’t! I’m sorry! Stop hitting me!” I cried, before rolling and hanging upside down from my broom to stay out of her reach.

Archie started laughing and I went to glare at him before realising that meant looking at him upside down. My stomach churned and I shut my eyes, deciding he could laugh as much as he wanted as long as I didn’t throw up again.

“Okay! I don’t even want to know what the hell has been going on between the two of you, but I think now that – Andrews! Stop beating up my Beaters! – What was I saying?” Potter ran his hands through his hair in exasperation looking at the team before him.

Archie Holloway was close to falling off his broom from laughter, Caradoc and Benjy both held one of Mel’s arms while she glared at them furiously, Heath Chapman was sitting quietly off to the side, mild amusement on his face, and I was still hanging upside down from my broom, my face a lovely red shade, realising now that without the momentum I lacked the abdominal muscle to haul my self the right way up.

I didn’t blame him for looking like he was about to lose it. We were the biggest mess of a team ever.

And totally screwed.

We all sat there for half a moment, not moving a muscle, not entirely sure what our Captain was going to do next, before he snapped and I remembered to breath.

“Dearborn, Fenwick - let Andrews go and fetch your bats. Chapman - back over to the hoops. Holloway, you and I are doing to do some passes with Mel and I. Nyx – get up the right way for a start, and then I want you chasing after us. It’ll help work on your speed and dodging, and while it has nothing to do with a Snitch, it’ll be good for Holloway to have someone resembling an opponent to intercept passes. That, and I think you’ve proven you can stay on your broom during a roll,” he added as an afterthought. When none of us moved, all still watching him as he watched us, James threw his hands in the air. “What do you all want? Laps? Get moving!”

“Righto.” Heath shrugged, making his way back over to the goal hoops, while Archie focused on evening out his breathing.

Mel shot the two Beaters such a dirty look I’m surprised they didn’t drop dead, but they quickly let go of her, before heading off towards the stands to grab their bats.

“I don’t know why I have two girls on my team. I hate girls; they’re the most bloody confusing things on the planet.” James shuddered before swinging his broom around and making his way back to where Archie was waiting with the Quaffle.

“You don’t hate Evans,” Mel muttered, scowling at the back of his head.

“No, I don’t. But she’s the most confusing of the lot,” James grumbled, just loud enough for us to hear.

Mel poked her tongue out at him before turning to me, a curious expression passing over her face. “Why are you still upside down?”

And just like that, she had forgiven me. From almost knocking me off my broom, to crying, to attacking me, to acting like the past few days hadn’t happened at all.

Bloody Melody Andrews. At this rate, I’d have grey hair before I was thirty.

“I – um – may or may not be able to get myself back up…” I mumbled, giving her an awkward smile.

NYX, WHY IN GODRIC’S NAME ARE YOU STILL HANGING FROM YOU BROOM?

“GIVE HER A MINUTE, POTTER!” Mel shouted back, before making her way over and grabbing my hand, hauling me the right way up.

I didn’t realise how much the effort had hurt my calves until they weren’t the only things holding me in the air. Dear Merlin, that was a beautiful feeling.

“You okay?” Mel smiled at me, and I knew everything was back to normal between us. It was even better than the relief in my calves.

“Yeah,” I breathed. “I’m good.”

“Let’s go then.” She laughed as she flew off towards James, but I gave myself a second, letting the blood drain back out of my head, before chasing after her.

We ran drills for a while, James deciding half way through a pass that we were staying late due to the time we lost thanks to ‘The Incident’. That’s what he’d decided to call my vomiting, Mel’s attack and everything in between.

The Incident.

I think it was because crying girls made him nervous.

“Alright, one more set, then you lot can go and – WILL YOU STOP SENDING THOSE BLUDGERS AT ME?” James roared at his Beaters, who shrugged innocently. They’d been aiming them at him since he’d told us we were staying back. Heath chuckled slightly from the goal hoops. I think he was glad that Caradoc and Benjy had taken a break from directing them at him.

“As I was saying,” James glared at the two of them, “one more set and then you lot can go and shower.”

The Beaters groaned, Chapman’s smile instantly dropped, Mel rolled her eyes and Archie shrugged. I was with Archie; it was our first training session with the team, and we weren’t about to complain. Besides, I felt I’d already caused enough trouble with The Incident before. James didn’t seem to regret putting me on his team yet, although I wasn’t about to give him a reason to, either. I just swung my broom around and flew back to my position, chucking the ball to Holloway.

I’m pretty sure he was thinking along the same lines as I was with the what-can-you-do shrug he gave me, catching the large, red ball easily, and positioning himself to run through the last of our drills.

“And… go!

I darted away from where I’d been and quickly gained on Archie. Mel was off to his left, while Potter was protecting his right, and I glanced back and forth between them, looking for an opening.

Suddenly, Mel went wide and I saw Archie prepare to throw to her. I raced towards the gap, hoping to intercept paths with the Quaffle, but was stopped short as James Potter was suddenly in front of me. He’d ducked under Archie and reformed their close nit triangle, passing the ball along to Melody without giving me room to get between them.

Damn.

I rolled perfectly – it better be perfect after all the ones I’d been forced to do earlier – and narrowly missed a Bludger that shot through the air I’d been occupying a moment before.

Silently cursing Benjy and Caradoc for being good at their job, I began to panic slightly as we approached the goal hoops. I needed to intercept the Quaffle before they got there.

I saw Archie’s hand twitch slightly, and I smirked as he went wide, instantly filling the space and catching the large ball off a surprised Mel.

“Well done. You’re learning to read the players, Nyx.” James laughed at Archie’s shocked expression at the exact same time Heath shouted from the goal hoops.

“Andrews! Watch – “

But the Bludger had already collided with her arm.

I watched, almost as if in slow motion, as her broom spun wildly off to the side, her arm flailing at an angle it certainly shouldn’t be.

James swore, but before any of us could move, she’d gotten the broom back under control. Well, as best she could with one arm.

We all landed quickly, and I stumbled on the grass on my way over to my best friend. No one could beat Benjy or Caradoc to her though as they seemed to have a never ending list of apologies coming out of their mouth.

She laughed, waving them away with her good hand.

She had a broken arm and she was laughing?

But as I neared I could tell it was forced.

“Hospital Wing,” James said, pointing back towards the castle as he got within earshot of Melody.

“I’ll be fi –“ she started, but I glared at her.

“You’re going to the Hospital Wing, even if I have to carry you the whole way there,” I said, staring at her pointedly.

“Mel, you head off with Keir. Holloway can go with you, because he’s big and scary and will make sure the blokes keep their hands off you while we aren’t there, and I’ll stick your stuff away. We’ll meet you up there when we’re done, okay?” Benjy smiled encouragingly, looking queasy every time he glanced at her awkwardly positioned arm.

The blonde opened her mouth to reply, but James just looked at her. “I’m Head Boy, Quidditch Captain, and will personally carry you up there if you don’t go yourself. Which is it, Andrews?”

“I’m going! I’m going! Sheesh,” Mel muttered as I gently began to steer her across the pitch.

“That looks bloody painful,” I murmured to her, biting the inside of my mouth so she didn’t see how worried I was. “It’s okay to admit it hurts.”

“I’m fine, really.” She ran her other arm through her hair, pulling at it distractedly.

I knew she wasn’t going to admit to the pain, so I didn’t say anything else, just gestured for Archie to hurry up as we neared the steps to the castle.

I glanced up when I heard someone call out.

"Have you seen Jam - what happened to Andrews?" Sirius asked, scratching the back of his neck from his spot in the doorway. He moved aside, his brow furrowed in concern when I offered no explanation.

"Bludger," Archie explained as Mel and I made our way across the hall.

Sirius tagged along as we made our way up the stairs towards the Hospital Wing, falling easily into step with Holloway. "Where's James?" he asked after winking at a fifth year Ravenclaw girl who had blushed furiously and dropped her books.

"He stayed back with the others to drop the gear off in the locker rooms. They shouldn't be too far behind us," Archie replied.

I didn't say anything. Largely because I didn't have anything to say, but at the same time, it was also because I was far more interested in getting Mel's arm looked at than chatting to Sirius Black, who seemed to be along for the ride because he had nothing better to do. It was convenient in some respects though; people moved out of the way when they saw him coming. The girls stepped aside with a blush, while the boys either glared at him, or nodded in respect. Either way, when Mel's mask began to crumble and you could see how much pain she was in, everyone quickly moved aside. They had that effect, Sirius and Melody did.

I'd had issues getting things to move in Charms with the help of magic; there was no way I could move a crowd with a facial expression alone. So I just steered her gently through the corridors, against the tie of students heading to the Great Hall for dinner, with my eyes down and an overwhelming urge to stop having people looking at the four of us, no matter how strange of a party we appeared to be.

Sirius reached the Hospital Wing first, pushing open both of the double doors with a bang. He looked far too please with himself as pushed past with Mel, rolling my eyes. Archie grinned up at him before following us over to the chair where I’d placed Melody.

"I'll go grab Madam Pomf -" but Archie's sentence was cut short as the Matron came bustling out of her office.

"Ah! I should have known it was you with an entry like that one," she said, rolling her eyes at Sirius's smirk as she made her way over to us. "Now - Oh, that's a nasty break, my dear. A Bludger, I suppose?" Madam Pomfrey asked as she inspected Mel's left arm. "If I’ve said it once, I've said it a thousand times - Quidditch is the only reason I have a job at this school. That and students bickering in the corridors, giving each other welts and fur."

She pulled her wand out of her apron and looked Mel sternly in the eye as she spoke. "This will hurt, but only for a moment." Melody nodded weakly, her face unusually pale, and before anything else could happen, the Matron had realigned her arm. I think it was all Mel could do to stop herself from screaming as she gripped my hand so tight I thought my fingers would snap off, a long stream of curses flying out of her mouth. Madam Pomfrey tapped her wand lightly on the spot above the broken bone, muttering something under her breath.

I jumped so high I swore I'd been shot when James burst through the door with the rest of the Quidditch team. Of course he had to barge through the double doors, simply opening one and slipping in was nowhere near dramatic enough for the Quidditch Captain.

"All fixed. But you won't be able to play Quidditch again for another four weeks; the bone may be healed, but it's still weak. I can make it heal faster, but I can't make it instantaneous unfortunately." The Matron frowned, her lips forming a thin line.

"What?" Mel started, distracted by James' entrance. "Hang on, I can't not play for four weeks! We've got out first match in at the beginning of November!"

I sat there quietly, but glanced at James, who seemed to be processing this new piece of information at a very fast rate. "Sirius," he said, talking to his best friend for the first time since he'd arrived, "you'll fill in for Andrews, won't you?"

Black ran his hands through his hair with a short, sharp laugh. "No."

"Why not?" piped up Caradoc, Benjy nodding in agreement from the bed he'd positioned himself on. "You're a great Chaser. Why won't you play?"

"Ask Simmons or someone else, yeah? I'm not doing it." And I could tell from Sirius' tone that it was final.

James scowled, but let it go now that he had the option of asking Rebecca. She'd been on the team before after all. It was just one game. It wasn't going to have her failing her N.E.W.T.s.

It'd be fine.

Of course it would, I thought, trying to ignore the queasy feeling I now had in my stomach.



Author's Note:
This is the new, beta'd version thanks to luvinpadfoot. A special shout-out to Elenia and Susurrous - the former being the only reason this chapter was finished, and the latter for leaving me such inspiring reviews. Thank you, both of you. :)

Anyway, this was a bit of a filler I suppose, but it sets stuff up for later chapters. I have chapter ten, eleven and twelve written already, so once I get nine done, then those next updates will be quicker. (Do I hear a hooray?) I had so many requests for more Sirius, so he made an appearance here at the end, but I'll try and have him more a focus in the next chapter. Chapters ten, eleven and twelve are fairly Sirius heavy, (particularly ten) so hopefully that will help curb your cravings! :P

Remember, reviews are better than that after exam feeling!
- Adele :)


Chapter 9: In Need of Naps
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bellatrixx. @ TDA
Chapter IX - In Need of Naps

Mel swore, kicking her trunk in anger as Alice sighed and offered to help. Reyna snorted and told Alice not to bother as I grunted and stuffed my head under my pillow to block out all the sound.

All in all, it was what had become a usual weekday morning since Mel had broken her arm. While it wasn’t in a cast, it was confined to a sling for the next few weeks because Madam Pomfrey didn’t trust her not to use it before it was fully healed.

“Honestly, stop. Stop! For Merlin’s sake, Mel, just let me help,” Alice cried, reaching out to fix Melody’s robes.

I think she’d been trying to fasten them with one hand when she’d gotten fed up and managed to tangle herself in them further. I wasn’t sure though, and I wasn’t willing to move my pillow to find out.

“I don’t know what Madam Pomfrey’s talking about. My arm is absolutely fine. I don’t need a bloody sling. I’m not going to do anything stupid,” the blonde muttered, letting Alice fiddle with her tie.

“I don’t know why you’re complaining,” said Reyna. “All the teachers are letting you use those note-taking quills because you let them think you’re left handed.” I could hear the disapproving scowl in Reyna’s tone, although I had a feeling it was more to do with jealousy than anything else. Seriously, those quills are amazing.

“Yes. Well…” Mel coughed as I heard Alice chuckle.

I smiled where I was under my pillow, my eyes still closed, as my thoughts grew heavy again. I had at least another fifteen to twenty minutes worth of sleep before I needed to get up. Mel just rose earlier than usual these days as it took her ‘eight times longer to do every bloody thing!’ thanks to her arm. She made enough noise stomping around to wake us all up, though. We hadn’t been late to a morning lesson for weeks.

“Oi, sleepy-head. Get up.” Reyna seemed to have remembered that I was there, which was a shame as I liked just listening to them bicker back and forward between themselves. It wasn’t something I had at home, being an only child, and listening to them squabble over trivial things never failed to leave me chuckling to myself in the corner, wondering if it was healthy how much I loved the three of them.

When I was eventually hauled out of bed and pushed into the bathroom, my uniform unceremoniously thrown in after me, I figured it was easier to just go with it.

Pulling my hair back into a ponytail as I exited the bathroom a while later, I paused at the excited look on Mel’s face. She caught sight of me and bounded across the room, leaving the sceptical looking Alice and the indifferent Reyna by their beds.

“Guess what just went up! Guess, guess, guess!”

My eyebrows furrowed as I came up with nothing. I crinkled my nose, knowing that it was probably something I wouldn’t like if Reyna looked so apathetic. I asked her what it was.

“Macdonald and Crawford were on the stairwell talking about it and then I sent Alice to go check if it was genuine while we waited for you – because, honestly, you take forever in the shower – and it’s true! There was a piece of parchment put up last night in the common room. It’s Sirius Black’s birthday next month, and the seventh years are throwing a party, Keira – Oh, don’t give me that face.”

“What face?” I said, instantly smoothing away the frown that I’d had seconds before.

Mel rolled her eyes. “Whatever, but it’s going to be great and we’re all going,” she said, rounding on Reyna who looked like she was about to open her mouth to object.

“You’re overly excited for someone who’s going to have to coordinate her dress with a sling,” Rae replied smoothly, choosing a different route.

The smile slid off Melody’s face as her gaze flickered to her arm for a moment, before she brightened considerably. “No, I won’t! It’ll be off by then. His birthday isn’t until a week or two after the first Quidditch game. I’ll be sling free.”

I caught Alice’s eye across the room knowing that she was remembering last time the current seventh years had tried to throw a birthday party. It’d had been for James back in March, and McGonagall had pointedly spent the entire evening sitting in a corner of the common room doing her marking. Needless to say, no party had occurred that night, much to Gryffindor Tower’s dismay. The seventh year boys were still nursing hangovers the next morning, however, which means they’d either been drinking in their dormitory, or had found a way out of the common room without McGonagall seeing. It wouldn’t surprise me if they had.

I knew that Alice wasn’t one to turn down a party but she also wasn’t one to rush into something that was likely to get her into trouble. Reyna, on the other hand, would huff and complain until she actually got there, and then she’d promptly begin to enjoy herself. Just looking at Rae, you could see she didn’t believe the party would go ahead once McGonagall got wind of it, and I didn’t exactly blame her.

“It’s not for ages, anyway,” I said, deciding now wasn’t the time to think about it. “I don’t think it’ll stay a secret for long, so we’ll see what happens once McGonagall hears about it. Chances are there won’t even be a party, so there’s not point picking out your outfit now.”

Mel pouted slightly, but agreed with a huff while Alice shook it off easily, bounding out the door with breakfast on her mind. I grabbed my book bag and caught Rae’s eye as I realised she’d waited for me, and giving her a smile as I looped my arm around her shoulders.

“Don’t worry about it. Chances are it won’t even happen. Besides, with Potter as Head Boy, I’m not sure how long this will even last. She turns a blind eye to the Quidditch parties, mainly because she loves beating the other houses as much as we do, but I can’t see her letting them throw Black a birthday party in the common room. It’ll be fine,” I concluded as we neared the bottom of the stairs.

Rae just grunted in agreement. “You’re right. McGonagall will – what is with this crowd?

We both just stood there at the bottom of the steps, watching the group of people that had crowded around the notice board, effectively blocking our way.

“I heard that they’re getting in that new band, The Snidgets. Their songs are all over the wireless these days!” one fifth year girl exclaimed to her friends as they pushed through the throng near us.

“Apparently Dumbledore wouldn’t let them hold a ball in his honour, so they had to resort to a party instead. I don’t know what the Headmaster’s problem is. A ball wouldn’t be over-the-top at all!” a voice drifted over from a group of fourth years.

“It’s true. Every girl that turns up has to take her shirt off – I know, right? I can’t wait to see her there,” said Carson Marshall, one of the boys in our year whom I wasn’t really friends with. His voice disappeared into the crowd before I could figure out which girl he was talking about – thank Merlin.

I sat down on the steps in shock, as more and more obscure rumours filled the crowd. “Can you believe this?” I laughed, unable to tear my eyes away from the mill of people all talking about Sirius’s birthday.

“Nope. I think it’s a hallucination because I’m hungry. Come on, let’s get to breakfast,” Rae said distractedly, staring at the throng with a look mixed of wonder and horror.

Battling through the crowd, we eventually made it to the portrait hole where we met up with the others.

“And here I was, thinking today would be like any other Thursday,” Frank muttered, giving the crowd one last look before opening the portrait hole for Alice. She blushed furiously, and I briefly entertained the idea of Sirius’s party actually going ahead. Maybe something like that would be exactly what the pair ahead of me needed. The thought was dismissed almost instantly, however, as I remembered both of the Head students were Gryffindors. I was still mildly surprised that the sign had even gone up.

The Gryffindor table was fairly empty when we reached the Great Hall, with the majority of our house still up in the common room discussing the news.

Mel, who had come straight to breakfast from the dormitory, paused with a piece of toast halfway to her mouth – she’d briefly given up on cutting up her food with one hand. “Do you reckon the other houses will be invited, too? I mean, Black is dating that Ravenclaw, isn’t he? Surely he’ll want her there.”

Alice shrugged and I rolled my eyes as I reached for the scrambled eggs, ladling them onto my plate. Reyna seemed happy with this and stopped staring at me out of the corner of her eye as she answered Melody.

“Nope. They broke up three days ago. She dumped him actually – not that he’s all that torn up about it. She got pissed off that he was hanging around with his friends more than he was her.” Rae scoffed.

Anybody in the school knew that Sirius’ relationships always came second to his friends. Of course, every girl who dated him wholeheartedly believed that she could be the one to change that, and, of course, they were all crushed and bitter when they realised that he hadn’t changed.

“I thought Ravenclaws were supposed to be smart,” I snickered, taking Mel’s knife off her and cutting her bacon into smaller pieces before she lost it and threw the silverware at someone.

“What’s this about Ravenclaws?” Henry asked, sliding into the seat next to mine.

“Just talking about Black’s latest break up,” I said, smiling at him while Melody continued to glare at the food I was cutting up.

“Mmm.” Henry nodded as he pinched some of the eggs off my plate. Alice took a break from shovelling food into her mouth to scowl at him. “He’s with a Hufflepuff bird now. Olivia Cole, I think it is. Some guys were talking about it at Quidditch training the other night,” he continued thoughtfully. “On the topic of Black, I’m assuming you lot all got that notice about his party in your common room, too?”

“There was one in Ravenclaw Tower? How’d they manage to get in there?” Alice asked, confusion flashing across her face as she glanced down the table to where the seventh year Gryffindor boys were sitting.

Henry shrugged, pouring himself some pumpkin juice. “It’s not that hard I suppose. It’s probably one of the easier common rooms to sneak into because you don’t need a password, just the answer to the riddle. As long as you get it right, the knocker doesn’t really care who it lets in. It just assumes that Ravenclaws are the only ones smart enough to figure out its question.”

“Forget how they got into Ravenclaw Tower – how are they expecting to get all of you into our common room for the party?” Reyna snorted. “That lot can’t just go around giving out the password. Isn’t that against the rules?”

“Potter’s Head Boy,” Mel replied, moving her food around her plate now that I was done cutting it up for her. “I’m sure he can get the password changed for a night. Hell, those four have pulled off harder feats.”
I pulled a face in agreement, remembering their dung bombs on the train. Henry pulled me into his side, playing with my hair.

“True,” Henry said before changing the subject. “How’s the arm going, Andrews?”

Mel looked up from her plate and if looks could kill, Henry would be dead. “Right brilliant, Watts. Thanks so much for asking,” she snapped.

“Is that sarcasm I’m detecting?” Henry raised an eyebrow as he reached for my toast but Alice snatched it out of his hand before he could put it in his mouth.

“Here,” she said, pushing a new piece in his hand and putting mine back on my plate. “She needs to eat everything on her plate. Potter’s orders. Quidditch. You know how it is,” she lied smoothly.

None of them had told Henry about my aversion to food from a few weeks back, deciding instead it was easier to use Quidditch as an excuse for staring me down as I ate and sceptically eyeing the portions I’d put on my plate. I found myself not minding their fierce protectiveness if it meant Henry or anyone else didn’t have to know.

Henry shrugged, buttering the toast Alice had handed him instead. “Speaking of Quidditch, how’s Simmons going?” he asked, looking back and forward between Melody and I.

“Yeah, she’s good. Still wish we had Mel, but Simmons played for years before she gave it up, so she knows her stuff.” I shrugged.

“Maybe you could give Seeker a go then, Andrews.” He laughed. “Then Simmons could keep your spot as Chaser.”

I opened my mouth to reply but paused as I realised what Henry had just said.

“But I’m Seeker,” I said slowly, staring at a spot four inches higher than his plate.

“Come on, Keir. I didn’t mean it like that,” he pleaded, pulling me into his side and I frowned as my head began to ache from the strong smell of his cologne. I shrugged him off and grabbed my bag off the floor.

“Yeah, well… it sounded like it,” I mumbled as Mel, Alice and Rae pointedly didn’t look at Henry or I.

“Anyway, I have to get my essay before class.”

Not in the mood to say much else, I made my way back down the table towards the Entrance Hall, wondering if I had time to duck outside before I was due in Ancient Runes. I was close to failing that class, but I didn’t really care at the moment.

“Hey, Keira, you alright?”

I started at the weight of someone’s hand on my shoulder and I turned to see Lily Evans with a concerned look on her face.

“Oh, yeah. Fine. Just thinking how I’m going to fail Ancient Runes this term, but whatever.”

“Runes aren’t that hard once you get used to them.”

I turned to where Leah Crawford’s voice had come from, only to see that all of the Head Girl’s roommates were looking at me with concern as well.

“You take Ancient Runes?” I blinked at the blonde who gave me a dreamy smile in affirmation.

“Leah’s subscribed to a magazine that’s written entirely in runes,” Mary said, giving me a pointed look that clearly expressed the belief that her roommate was crazy.

“As you do.” I laughed at her expression.

“As you do,” Rebecca agreed, a smile tugging at her mouth.

“They’re helpful with new spells!” Leah continued earnestly, either completely oblivious to, or pointedly ignoring, us laughing around her.

“Was it Runes that helped you flood our bathroom last weekend?” Lily smirked at her blonde friend, who didn’t seem phased in the slightest at the accusation.

“The tap was squeaking,” Leah replied simply.

Anyway,” Lily cut in before Rebecca could open her mouth.

I’d heard all about the incident at Quidditch training; Rebecca had been ranting all about it as she’d entered the locker room late, her robes soaked from her knees down. We were better friends, Rebecca and I, now that we’d spent the past few weeks together at training. Having something in common to talk about had certainly helped our new not-really-friends-but-more-than-acquaintances relationship.

“Um, Keir? Can we talk?”

I turned to find Henry with a sheepish expression on his face.

I paused for a minute before sighing. “If you want, but there’s really no need. I don’t like what you said, but I overreacted,” I said, knowing he hadn’t meant to upset me by the comment.

He frowned slightly, a small line creasing his forehead. “No, you didn’t. I – “

I kissed him quickly to shut him up. “Don’t worry about it. It’s fine, yeah? I need to get to class, though. I’ll see you later,” I said softly before turning back to where Lily was standing, now inspecting her fingernails with great enthusiasm. “I’ll talk to you later.” I chuckled as she looked at me, a guilty smile on her face.

“Wait, you’ve got Runes now, don’t you?” she asked, grabbing her bag off the floor. I nodded as she fell into step beside me. “I’ve got Arithmancy. I’ll walk with you.”

“Oh, thanks,” I said as she fell into step beside me. I threw another smile over my shoulder at Henry before we left the Great Hall.

“Henry’s nice,” Lily said as we crossed the Entrance Hall, watching me out of the corner of her eye.

“Yeah, I’m lucky to have him,” I said, frowning as we made out way up the stairs, replaying breakfast again in my head.

“How long have you two been dating?”

“Nine months. Actually, it’s closer to ten now, I think.”

“Wow,” said Lily, turning her head to look at me. “Things must be getting serious between the two of you then.”

“Yeah. We never fight, and all of our friends get along as well, which makes it easy.” I smiled to myself thinking of just how well Reyna got along with Anthony.

“You’re lucky that joining the Quidditch team hasn’t caused a problem. Rebecca had issues when she dated one of the boys on the Hufflepuff team. The weeks on either side of a match were a nightmare.” Lily shook her head at the memory, and I glanced at her, wondering if she’d brought up the topic up on purpose, but as I ran over my last conversation with Henry – when she’d been standing there – I realised we never mentioned why exactly I’d walked off.

Lily had no idea how close she was. It made me wonder how I hadn’t thought of the issues playing Seeker would cause before I tried out. It seemed so obvious to everyone else, even those who weren’t in the loop – like Lily. But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that even with hindsight, I’d still tryout again – even if I’d been thinking of ways to run away when I was actually there. I hadn’t even played a game yet, but I already felt like part of the team. Training was fun, even though I hated exercise, and I felt like I could consider the other Gryffindors my friends, which made me feel all warm inside, strangely enough. No, Henry and I would work through this, and I wouldn’t quit the team. We’d sort it out.

“Keira?”

“Yeah?” I started, realising Lily had been talking to me that whole time.

The Head Girl laughed good-naturedly at my expression. “I asked if you can still get to Runes from this corridor?”

“What?” I looked around, realising the staircase had moved while I wasn’t paying attention and I was now standing in a hallway I’d walked down a grand total of twice in the six years I’d been at school. “There’s that door that opens to the sixth floor along here, isn’t there?” I asked, pointing up the corridor.

“Yeah; fifth on the left.”

“Easy. I can get to Runes from here then.”

“In that case, this is where I leave you. It was nice talking to you, Keira. I’ll see you later!” Lily said as she began to make her way down the adjacent corridor to Arithmancy. I watched her go for a moment, her red hair bouncing slightly as she walked, and a twinge of jealousy sparked in my stomach. Squashing it quickly, I made my way down the hall to the door that would let me out two floors above and right around the corner from my Runes classroom.

*


"I'm going to fail Potions," I whined, letting my head fall to the desk with an audible thump. "I actually have no idea why rat spleen is important. It just turns everything blue."

"Well what does it say in the book?" Reyna asked, dropping her quill and pulling the volume across the Library table towards her.

I rolled my head to the side, my left ear pressed up against the desk so I could watch her as she scanned the page. "It 'adds a cooling sensation to the draught', but doesn't tell me why it's important." I lifted my head slightly, only to let it fall back to the desk again with another thump.

"Stop that," Rae said, waving a meaningless hand at me without even looking up from the page. "Ha!" She said with a triumphant smile, spinning a book around and pointing at the last part of a sentence located in the middle of the paragraph. "'Rat spleen creates a cooling effect in the completed potion or salve, which is why it is used in many medical potions'," she read aloud.

"So that's why it's important?" I asked pathetically.

"Just copy from here to here. Did you even read what it said?"

"Reading is hard," I moaned, lifting my head off the table.

"You were up till the small hours of this morning finishing that book of yours. Don't tell me reading is hard."

"Yes, but because I was up late reading, I can't read now. That's just how it works."

I was being pathetic, but I was annoyed that my homework wouldn't do itself so I could go back to the dormitory and nap.

I was a huge fan of napping.

"Oh, is it, now?" Rae asked, raising an eyebrow at me as she dipped her quill back into her inkpot before she started writing her essay again.

"Mmhmm," I replied, well aware I wasn't fooling anyone.

We continued to sit there in the Library for a moment, the only sound the scratching of Rae's quill, while I stared at the parts Reyna had said I'd needed to copy.

The essay was due in the morning.

I'd do it later.

"I can't concentrate. I'm going to go and sleep for a bit and see if I feel better," I lied. I could concentrate, I just didn't want too.

What I really wanted was my book, but I'd finished it last night, and I wasn't ready to start another one yet. That would be admitting that my time with Elizabeth and Darcy was over, and I wasn't quite ready for that.

"Alright. See you later, then." Rae flashed me a smile before continuing with her essay. I admired her diligence for a moment before remembering my bed was waiting for me. Grabbing the Potions book off the table, I took it up to the desk, waiting for Madam Pince so I could check it out. I had a feeling that by the time I finally got around to writing about why rat spleen was important that the Library would already be closed.

"Name?" Madam Pince asked, as I handed the book over to her.

"Keira Nyx." I sighed. Surely she'd remember me by now?

She peered at me for a moment, assessing if I looked responsible enough to have the privilege of borrowing the book before she finally stamped it, handing it over. "Due back on Monday," she hissed before ducking out from behind the counter and stalking off into the shelves.

Yeah. Great talking to you, too.

Scowling, I made my way to the door, trying to shrug my bag back onto my shoulder as my hands were occupied with the giant volume. A group of Ravenclaws pushed open the Library doors as they exited, and I hurried forward, managing to use my foot as a doorstop before it shut. Still struggling to keep my bag on my shoulder, I used my foot to push the door wide enough for me to slip through where I promptly toppled over someone; my bag flying and emptying itself of its contents while I lay there, sprawled on the floor. I shut my eyes and focused on my breathing.

Don’t get angry. You’re tired and irrational. Whoever it is didn’t do it on purpose.

Someone with higher powers hates me. That’s the only possible explanation for something like this right now.

“I’m so sorry. This was completely my fault.”

I cracked open an eye to see Remus Lupin dusting himself off and offering me a hand, but now that I was lying down I just wanted to stay there. This solid rock was surprisingly comfortable.

Wait, when was the last time this was cleaned?

I grabbed Remus’ hand and let him pull me to my feet.

“Don’t worry about it,” I said cheerfully, even though I wanted to cry at the sight of my inkbottle smashed all over the floor.

Maybe I should find a cushioning charm for my bag.

“Hold on – Reparo!” Remus pointed his wand at the shattered glass and I watched as the broken pieces flew together seamlessly before the ink gathered and deposited its self back in the pot. The Prefect then leant down and began to gather my books together. I stood there for a moment before what he was doing really sunk in.

“Wait – don’t worry about it. I’ll do it,” I said, dropping to my knees and hurrying to grab my parchment and quills.

“Guess I was in a bit of a rush. I want to get my Charms work done so I don’t have to worry about it later, and there’s no peace in the common room, so…” Remus trailed off gesturing to the doors of the Library.

“First years running amuck again? I forgot how loud they can be.” I laughed half-heartedly as I slowly got to my feet.

“Nah, Lily’s in a mood again. James did something nice and it’s thrown her off balance. She keeps sitting here, tapping her foot and asking me what he’s up to. Of course, she won’t believe me when I tell her that it’s nothing, so I left her sitting there pretending to read her book while she stares at him from across the room.” He rolled his eyes and I actually chuckled at that.

I was slowly beginning to count Lily as a friend of mine (as much as a sixth year could be friends with the popular Head Girl), but I was quickly realising that there was a lot more to her. Especially when James Potter was concerned.

“What about you? You done all your work for today?” The older boy asked, nodding at the essay that was sticking out of my bag.

“Are we every really done with work?” I joked, stuffing the parchment further into the satchel. “Nah, I was up all night reading and I’m in a rubbish mood because of it. I was just heading back to the dormitory for a nap before I lost it.”

“Fair enough.” He laughed before smiling at me. “Well, I’ll see you around then.”

“Yeah. I’ll see you around.”

And then he was gone, slipping through the doors to the library and leaving me standing there in the hall wondering why on earth Remus Lupin didn’t have a girlfriend.

True to his word, Lily was sitting with a book propped open on her knee when I entered the common room. It was only on closer inspection that you realised that she wasn’t reading at all, but watching James from under her lashes as he laughed with Peter and Sirius across the room. I hesitated a moment as I passed her on the way to the stairwell, but decided that it wasn’t my place to ask what she was thinking.
That, and my bed was calling from the dormitory.

So I walked past her, biting back the smile as she shifted when I blocked her view and made my way up the stairs, where I dumped my bag on the floor before I curled up on my bed.

“Get up, you lazy sod.”

I grunted in reply. I’d just gotten in bed, for Godric’s sake. Couldn’t I have five minutes?

“Keir, you have to eat. Come on.”

“Not hungry.” I buried my head further into the pillow.

“Oh, no you don’t. You’re eating wether you like it or not. Quidditch training is burning up every ounce of fat on you and if you don’t eat you’ll end up all angled and bony like Laura Hunter.”

I opened an eye at that. “Alice, are you saying I look like Laura Hunter?”

“No, but if you don’t come down to dinner you might.”

“She’s blonde,” I said before her words really sunk in. Dinner? How long had I been up here?

“And I don’t want you looking like a bag of bones, so get moving,” she said, coming around the bed and giving me a push.

“Oi! I’m moving, I’m moving,” I grumbled, rolling off the bed and looking for my shoes on the floor, hiding my alarm at the fact I’d been asleep for hours.

“Good. I’m going down, so I’ll see you soon,” Alice replied, as she made her way out the door, happy now that I was up and moving. “Oh! And don’t forget to fix your hair. It’s a total bird’s nest!”

Frowning, I ducked into the bathroom to see what she was talking about.

“Urgh.” I made a face at the sight I met in the mirror. Grabbing a brush off the counter, I began to tackle the mat that had formed at the back of my head. I’d never really gotten those detangling spells right. I really should work on that. Beauty charms would be a hell of a lot less painful than this, I thought, wincing as I continued to tug the brush through my hair.

When I was sure I was bald from the amount of hair that had come out in my brush, I made my way down to the common room, feeling much better than I had the last time I’d been there. Naps were wonderful, I decided as my footfalls echoed off the stone.

Voices rose up to meet me and I frowned, wondering who wasn’t at dinner.

From the look of it, it was almost all of the seventh year Gryffindors.

Lily was leaning against the back of the couch, a worried look on her face and a letter in her hand. Mary was beside her, staring out the window, but I had a feeling she was seeing something else from the glazed look she had in her eyes. James was pacing back and forth in front of the two girls, his hands in his hair and a string of profanities coming from his mouth, while Peter watched him with a frown from his position next to Remus by the portrait door. Sirius was leaning against the far wall, his face emotionless. His eyes flicked briefly to me as I stopped on the stairs, but then he was back, staring at the floor again.

Something had happened. That much was obvious.

Where were Rebecca and Leah? All the other seventh years were here.

Lily looked up at me and I realised there were unshed tears in her eyes.

Dread rising in my stomach at the thought of something so terrible it could bring even Lily Evans to tears, I opened my mouth, needing to know. “Wha –“

“It’s Rebecca,” she cut me off, and James looked around to see who she was addressing. “Leah’s with her now, but…” She paused, screwing her eyes tight shut for a moment as she inhaled deeply before continuing. “It’s her dad. He’s… he’s dead, Keira. Killed by You-Know-Who while he was visiting her Aunt. She’d married a Muggleborn, so…”

I lowered myself onto the step, not sure my legs would support me.

Rebecca. The Rebecca who’d told me stories in the locker rooms after practise; the Rebecca who lived in the room up the stairs; the Rebecca whose compartment I’d shared on the train to Hogwarts only a few months ago. Her father was dead. She’d never see him again.

The war suddenly seemed a lot more real than it had been a minute ago.

Lily took a shuddering breath and I vaguely noted that James had stopped his pacing, only to stand there, looking torn between wanting to comfort her and not wanting his face slapped.

He was killed because he was vising someone who had married a Muggleborn.

I was a Muggleborn.

He was killed because of people like me.

If I’d eaten, I think I would have been sick. As it was, my stomach was churning and I found it hard to breath properly.

Oh, God.

People like me.

“When’s the funeral?” Peter asked from his seat across the room.

“Fifth of November,” Lily replied.

James resumed his pacing.

Mary still hadn’t said a thing.

Even through the haze that had taken over my mind, the fifth of November sounded familiar. The fifth of November was important. The fifth of November was –

“The day of the Quidditch match,” I said, looking up.

James caught my eye with the slightest inclination of his head in confirmation.

Rebecca couldn’t play.

She was without a father and we were without a Chaser.

Did worrying about a Quidditch game right now make me a bad person?

I don’t know.

I think I did.

But even so, I couldn’t shake the new worry that had overtaken me. Without a third Chaser, we’d have to forfeit. Slytherin would win without us even stepping onto the Pitch.

I my gaze met Lily’s, who gave me a sad smile before wiping unshed tears from her eyes.

“Sirius,” James said, rounding on his best friend who looked up at the sound of his name.

“No. I’m not playing, Prongs. Forget it,” he said, his voice firm as he kicked off the wall and made his way over to the stairs. “It’s not happening,” he said as he turned and continued making his way up to his dormitory.

James turned and kicked the sofa in anger, pulling at his hair again as he muttered under his breath.

“I’m going to go check on Becs…” And then Lily was gone, too, making her way up the stair behind me.

“I’m going for a fly,” James announced to no one as he stormed out of the room. Remus and Peter followed soon after, no doubt to make sure he didn’t kill himself.

I continued to sit there on the stairs, turning it all over in my mind, feeling sicker and sicker the more I thought about it.

Mary still hadn’t said a word. She just stared out the window, seeing nothing.



Author's Note:
Just updating this chapter with edits and a CI. The next chapter should be up really soon! Thanks again for reading!
- A. :)


Chapter 10: Brownie Hunters In Their Natural Habitat
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Clara Oswald @ TDA
Chapter X - Brownie Hunters In Their Natural Habitat


I sat curled up in a window seat in the back corner of the library, staring out at the falling snow. Remus Lupin was pouring over textbooks at a nearby table, working on what appeared to be a monster of an essay. We had come to do this every Friday – he’d sit in the same seat at that table, studying, and I’d sit here by the window with a textbook propped open against my knees, hiding the cover of whatever story I was currently reading from Madam Pince.

Remus and I never spoke. The Librarian would have had as out on our arses if we did, but mostly it was due to this lovely silent understanding that Remus and I shared. A small smile to say hello, a small nod of acknowledgement when one of us was leaving, but mostly we just continued on in comfortable silence, him studying, me reading Muggle novels behind textbooks.

I watched him for a bit before I started the next chapter of Gone with the Wind. He intrigued me, Remus Lupin did. He was far too kind for someone who appeared to have so much pain behind his eyes. Scribbling madly across his parchment, he occasionally glanced over his arm to his textbook, but overall appeared to know most of it by memory. A small smile hung around my mouth as he played with his tie absentmindedly – until he noticed me.

Oops. Now I probably looked like a creeper, watching him like that. But when he gave me a grin, I felt the knot in my stomach relax. I smiled and screwed up my nose, and he stifled a snort of laughter.

“Moony, no laughing in the Library. Pincey would give you the same lifetime ban she gave Prongs if she thought you were enjoying your learning.”

I nearly dropped my books at the sound. I looked up past Lupin to see a sour looking Sirius leaning against a bookshelf with his arms crossed.

“And what’s got your wand in a knot?” Remus murmured, raising an eyebrow at his friend.

Sirius huffed, gave me a once over, and sat down next to his friend.

“Prongs.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah. He won’t take no for an answer.”

“What’d he want?”

I looked down at my book, wanting to sink into the floor. James Potter had nerve if he’d managed to piss Sirius Black off this badly. They were best friends, but if looks could kill, I’m sure James Potter would be long gone by now. What was the likelihood of my leaving now being ridiculously awkward? Fairly high. The level of awkwardness that would result from staying here for this obviously private conversation? Also fairly high.

I willed my muscles to move, to silently close my book, to walk widely around the table, possibly nod to Remus if he looked at me, and then once out of sight, run all the way back to the Gryffindor Tower.

They didn’t.

Instead my eyes bore into page 394 of my book, while my mind was chasing possibilities of what had Sirius so pissed. It must have been something really unreasonable. Really stupid. Probably some foolish idea that’s even worse than James’s others…

“He wants me to fill in for Rebecca in the match tomorrow against Slytherin. I told him no, but he won’t let it drop. Bleeding git…”

That was perfectly reasonable. Brilliant idea, actually. Probably one of the best ideas James Potter has ever had. Honestly, what was Sirius’ problem?

I felt someone staring at me and, wiping the expression from my face, I looked up to meet Remus’s eyes. I was caught. He was well aware I was paying more attention to his conversation than I was to Scarlett and Rhett. Sirius followed his gaze and looked at me before rolling his eyes.

“I suppose you want me to play as well, don’t you?”
Was it that obvious?

“It’d be great if you could, but if you don’t want to… I mean, if we can find another replacement that’s good enough, we could still win and get the points we need to keep ahead, but –“

“That’s a very polite way of saying ‘yes, Sirius. I completely agree with James and we need you to play or we’ll have our arses kicked into next week.’”

Embarrassed, I looked back down at my book.

“Right, well, if you’re avoiding Prongs, you’re welcome to stay here. I suppose he can’t find you as long as his lifetime ban is in place.”

“That’s the beauty of it, Moony: it lasts a lifetime,” Sirius muttered as he picked up Lupin’s spare quill and leaned back in his chair.

“Where’s Peter?”

“Stalking Prongs. And he completely agrees with him, too, standing there, begging, while James and I were arguing. Wanted to punch him in the bloody face. Maybe he’ll stop twitching his nose if I break it.”

“Unlikel – what are you doing?”

“Making it pretty,” Sirius teased.

I gave a sideways glace to the two of them, curious as to what Sirius was talking about, only to find what I assumed to be Remus’s spare quill now something magnificent. I gasped as I stared at the scarlet and gold quill with a feather longer than my arm. Pretty was an understatement. It was breathtaking.

Sirius laughed at my wonderstruck expression and pointed his wand at the quill still in Remus’s hand. Lupin scowled at his friend as the feather grew three times in size, now sparkling in the late afternoon sun.

“Why’d you have to make it pink, Padfoot? The red one wasn’t too bad, but why does this one have to be pink?”

“Because it’s pretty, Moony. Besides, it compliments your eyes.” Sirius batted his eyelashes to provide an example.

“You seriously worry me sometimes. You know that, right? Now change it back, I need to finish this essay for Grimstone.”

“Nah, I think I like it the way it is. Besides, that essay isn’t due till Thursday. Leave your Defence homework and entertain me. I’m bored.”

“Obviously,” Remus muttered, keeping his cool. “I’m heading back to the common room to finish this. You’re welcome to join me, or you can stay here. Either way, I still want you to change my quill back.”

“Stay here? In the Library? By myself? Good one, Moony. I almost thought you were serious there for a moment.” Sirius grinned, tapping Lupin’s quill again with his wand.

“Keira’s still here and James is back in the tower, so it’s a legitimate option, Sirius, but whatever. Just keep your argument with him at a reasonable volume so I can study.”

Sirius gave me a once over, giving the books propped open on my knees a weary look, almost as if they would bite him.

“Sit here and do nothing while Nyx reads her textbook? No thanks.” He made to stand and in a split-second decision, I dropped the library book that had been shielding my novel.

The movement re-caught Sirius’s attention and he raised his eyebrows in mild amusement. “Huh. Not a bad idea. Beats wasting my time yelling at that bloody git. But, seeing as I have nothing to read, I’m off.”

“It’s a Library, Sirius. There are hundreds of things to read.”

“I’m not sitting here reading a Herbology textbook, Moony. You can forget it. I’d rather face Prongs again. Unless this Library has something interesting magically appear in it in the next few seconds, you’re stuck with the sodding prat and me arguing through your study.“

“Well what are you into?” I piped up, knowing full well that while Remus had suggested Sirius return with him and there was no way he wanted him near James. I didn’t particularly want Sirius here either, but as his best friend appeared to have a lifetime ban, this was the only place that would keep them from hexing each other into next week.

“Motorbikes,” Remus answered my question dryly.

“Ah.”

Yeah, there were no books on Motorbikes in Madam Pince’s collection. Herbology? Sure. Transfiguration? No problem. Weird people from Romania whose names you couldn’t pronounce? By the bucketful.

But Motorbikes? Not so much.

“Wait, wait. If you happy reading Muggle stuff… here.” I reached into my bag and pulled out the latest magazine that my dad had sent that morning.

“You really are desperate for me to stay aren’t you, Nyx?”

I looked up at Sirius to find a raised eyebrow and a smirk on his face.

“Well I sorta’ like Gryffindor Tower the way it is, and don’t really want you and Potter blowing half of it up just because you’re pissed at each other. Besides, if you kill him, then we’re down two players for tomorrow’s match and its hard enough finding one replacement as is.”

“Nice save, but I see through it. Don’t think I’m unaware that you’re dying for my company.” He winked at me, but took the magazine anyway.

I glanced to Remus, who was smiling apologetically at me. The moody version Sirius was leaving and his big mouthed, obnoxious self was returning right when I’d convinced him to stay. Super. I didn’t really like my dormitory that much did I? I’d be okay if a stray hex destroyed it wouldn’t I? Surely that was better than this, right?

At least it’d give Remus some peace and quite for a bit. He wasn’t looking too well at the moment, and I suspected the last thing he wanted was to have to stop a Black and Potter fight. They were few and far between, but Merlin, they were nasty.

“Where’d you get this, Nyx?”

I smiled at Remus, who nodded his thanks at me before disappearing behind a bookshelf, and then turned my attention back to Sirius.

“My dad sent it through this morning. I used to read them with him before I started Hogwarts. He sends them to me every month with articles that he likes highlighted. I don’t read them much anymore, I just haven’t had a chance to put that one away yet.”

“That’s sorta’ cool. So it was like a bonding thing? Is your dad a… oh what are they called again. Starts with an ‘M’….”

“Mechanic? No.” I laughed as I watched Sirius screw up his features, trying to remember the word.

“That’s the one.” He nodded. “So if he’s not a mechanic, why does he read all these?” Sirius pushed his long hair out of his eyes while waving the publication around in the air.

“He likes to tinker with cars, which is a weird hobby for a lawyer, but whatever. I used to help him when I was little, pass him the wrenches and stuff, but that stopped after I came here.”

“Merlin, why? That’d be fantastic. My father wouldn’t even look at a car without wanting to hex the Muggle driving it,” he muttered, mood turning dark again. His eyebrows were furrowed together, his gaze was going straight through the table and I knew he was seeing something I never could. Some distant memory or the like, that was the cause of his new bad attitude.

“Well, you’re welcome to keep the magazine. I don’t read them anyway.”

“Seriously?”

His grey eyes met mine and their darkness from before had vanished. Instead it had been replaced by the curiosity and excitement of a toddler, wondering if he could keep the lizard he had just found under the doormat.

“Sure. As I said, I don’t read them. Makes sense for you to have it if you’re going to get use out of it.”

“Huh. Cheers, Nyx.”

I got a nod as he turned back to the glossy pages.

“Just grab a book off the shelf and read behind it though, yeah? If Madam Pince comes down here, which is likely with this much talking, she’ll turn us both out on our arses if she finds it.”

“Hmm? Oh yeah, Pincey. Sure thing,” he muttered as he leaned back in his chair and grabbed a random book off the shelf, all the while never taking his eyes away from the article on “What you should know about your tires.”

Tearing my eyes away from my book sometime later, I sighed and looked out the window, sick of reading about Scarlett and her insensitivity. The sun had set and, confused, I glanced at my watch. Merlin, it was late! I hadn’t realized I’d been here so long. Mel and the others would be looking for me.

Oh, damnit, the whole team would be looking for me. I’d completely missed the Quidditch meeting. I glanced at my watch again. Just past
9:30pm, I couldn’t even catch the end of it. Potter would kill me.

“Students still in the Library? The Library is closed. It’s past your curfew. Out! Out, out, OUT!”
I jumped and grabbed my bag, stuffing my book into it, hoping Madam Pince wouldn’t see.

“Wha-“ Sirius looked up, confused, and came face to face with the Librarian, staring down her beak-shaped nose at him.

Before he had the chance to move, however, I grabbed the magazine out from behind the book and stuffed it in my bag with one hand, using the other to yank on his shirt and pull him behind me down the long rows of shelves towards the door.

“WHAT WAS THAT YOU WERE HIDING FROM ME, BOY? BOOKS ARE NOT TO BE USED IN SUCH A MANNER! THEY ARE FOR - “

Her shriek followed us through the shelves and I no longer needed to drag a confused Sirius as he was now keeping pace, just as eager to put distance between the Librarian and us and I was.

“Thanks, Madam Pince! See you next time!” I called over my shoulder, but I doubt she heard me over her own voice.

“Are you mad? Did a Bludger hit you in the head? ‘See you next time?’ Why in Merlin’s name would you be going back in there again after that?” Sirius demanded as he ushered me out of the Library door and closed it forcefully, placing a nice, thick slab of wood between Madam Pince and us both.

“Give it a week. She’ll forget about it. No one remembers me anyway.”

“What’d you mean?”

“Hmm? That no one remembers me? Well it’s true. Slughorn’s been teaching me for six years and he has no idea who I am…still gets my name wrong. Calls me Kailey, Katherine, Claudia, Kayla, you name it, everything but Keira. And don’t forget, you had no idea who I was till the train this year either…”

“Does he really not know your name at all?”

“Nope. Reads it out on the roll and looks around as if there’s a new student, then I say it’s me, and he goes ‘Oh, Kara wasn’t it? Sorry, I must have read it wrong.’ And continues on.”

Sirius snorted with laughter, and I glared at him.

“Yeah, cheers for the moral support, Black.”

“Sorry, Nyx. It’s just he’s so – such –“ he started before he gave up and continued chuckling to himself.

Over his behavior, I turned on my heel and started back towards Gryffindor Tower. I’d made it two, three, steps max, before Sirius called out behind me, “Oi, where you going? Kitchens are this way.”

I faced him and cocked my head to the side, raising an eyebrow.

“What are you talking about? It’s after hours.”

“Yeah, but I missed dinner because of bloody Prongs and I’m hungry. C’mon. Food.” He nodded to the corridor stretching out behind him.

Apparently he wasn’t going by himself.

I groaned, but allowed my feet to plod along behind him as he turned and made his way along the dark corridor.

Just one cup of tea. Just one.

And maybe a Pumpkin Pasty…

But then bed. Yes, definitely bed.

Quidditch tomorrow. Don’t forget you have Quidditch tomorrow, Keira. Lovely early start to your Saturday and you need to rest up.

Yes, tea and a pasty, but then straight to bed.

*


“Is there anything else Abra can get for you, Mister Black? Miss Keria?”

“Another round, Abra! Bring us another round!”

“Right away, Mister Black.” The house elf nodded as she scuttled off.

I giggled at Sirius. ”How many have we had now?”

He leaned back in his chair and counted the glasses stacked neatly by Abra on the stool next to him, “1-2-3…6-7? 8. We’ve had 8.”

I giggled again and he laughed along with me while we waited for Abra to bring us more Firewhiskey, my tea abandoned long ago.

“Excellent! Abra, you’re a darling of a house elf. Thanks, love.” Sirius grinned as he took the two glasses from Abra and handed one to me.

The she blushed before leaving as silently as she came, but Sirius had already forgotten her. “1-2-3, bottoms up!” And with that, we clinked glasses and skulled the burning amber liquid.

I placed my glass with the other empty ones and leaned back into my chair, content.

“Whatcha thinking about, Nyx?”

I opened one eye to find Sirius Black watching me. He hiccupped and I giggled a little.

“I was just thinking how dessert would be absolutely fabulous now that I’ve recovered from that roast you force fed me.”

“You weren’t eating a thing! It’s not healthy I tell you. Women should eat. They all starve themselves and look terrible. You should all eat a good hearty meal.”

“You’re kidding, right?” I raised an eyebrow and leaned forwards in my chair. I had to steady myself from toppling forwards before I could continue. “All of those girls you get with – who was your last one? That Huffelpuff? Olivia Cole, that’s right – she’s as skinny as a stick! She turns sideways and disappears!”

“She’s a good shag, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think she needs a decent force feeding.”

“Ew, too much! Too much information, Black. I do not want to know about your love life with Cole.”

“Why? Scared it’ll put yours to shame?” he teased, a glint in his eye.

“What? No. Merlin, Black, I told you, I have no desire to know anything about what you and she get up to behind closed doors. I’ll never be able to walk into Transfiguration again without disinfecting everything in sight.”

“No? So you are shagging Watts then?”

“Seriously? That has nothing to do with you. I am not telling you about what Henry and I do or do not get up to.” I huffed, pursing my lips, not happy with the turn this conversation had taken.

“Ha! So he is getting some-“

“Merlin, to think this all started because I wanted brownies.”

“Brownies! You never said brownies! I can make those!” Sirius jumped to his feet as he said this, and Abra was by my chair instantly.

“Would Mister Black like Abra to fetch him brownies? Abra is more than happy to help Mister Black and Miss Nyx with anything, yes she is. Abra will get brownies right away.”

“No, no, no, no! Abra! Come here! Come here,” Sirius whispered hoarsely as he bent down to the house elf’s height. Placing two hands flat on the floor to balance himself, he sat on his haunches.

“How can Abra help Mister Black?” The house-elf eyed him almost suspiciously. Even crouching, Sirius was huge next to her.

“Can you get me the ingredients for brownies? And bowls and all of that?”

“Mister Black wants to make brownies?” Abra asked, her huge green eyes going wide, which was really saying something.

“Yes, love. I want to make – ” he hiccupped “– brownies.”

“Well… if Mister Black is sure… “ Abra eyed Sirius’ swaying form as he sat on the floor, hiccupping to himself. “Does Miss Keira want to make brownies also?”

“Hmm? Oh - “
Sirius cut me off, however. “No, no, no. I am making them. She can watch the master at work, but I am making the brownies.”

“Please, Abra? Could you get everything for him?” I giggled and the house elf beamed at me.

“Of course, Miss Keira! Abra can do that. If Miss Keira could just wait a moment, Abra will be right back.”

I watched her scamper off again, before I started rocking back and forward in my chair, gaining momentum.

“Up we get,” I told myself and as I began to lean forwards again, I used the energy to propel myself to my feet, grabbing onto the mantle of the huge fireplace, until the worst of the dizziness was over.

I looked down at Sirius, who was still crouched on the floor, swaying ever so slightly. I heard myself giggling for the umpteenth time that night, and a tiny voice in the back of my mind reminded me that I was behaving like a prat, but the alcohol in my system quickly shushed it.

“Remind me why I agreed to start drinking with you? I was only planning on having a cup of tea.”

“Because of my wit, charm and devilishly handsome looks?”

“No,” I drew out the word, looking at him pointedly, “I think it was more because you lied and said I’d worry less about Quidditch tomorrow.”

“Well, are you worried?”

“No?”

“Then I didn’t lie.” He grinned at me over his shoulder and in doing so lost his balance, resulting with him lying on the floor. “Oops.”

“What am I going to do with you, Black?” I laughed as he rolled onto his back and smiled stupidly at the ceiling.

“Help me up so I can make brownies?”

“Not likely. We’ve both had way to much to drink to be operating an oven.”

“I’ll cook them by magic then. I don’t know, I’ll think of something, but I am making brownies. Mark my words, Nyx, chocolaty goodness will be created.”

“If you can get off the floor that is…”

“When. When I get off the floor. Give me a hand will you?” he asked, looking down his nose at me, “Haha! I’m cross-eyed. There are three of you.”

“Because one just wasn’t enough?” I teased half heartedly, as an idea was being pieced together by my Firewhiskey-addled mind. “I’ll give you a hand up and even let you make brownies… But you have to do something for me first.”

“Oh?” He tried to lift his head off the floor but promptly gave up and let it smack back down with a large thud, long black hair sprawling out around his face.

I wondered the best way to go about this. He was already drunk, he’d had more than I had, demanding Abra give him a bigger glass because he was a man and all that, and he’d responded well to my girly giggling from before.

Was I sober enough to do this properly? No.

Was I going to try anyway? Yes.

I got down on my hands and knees and crawled over towards him. Sirius saw me coming and grinned, patting the tiles next to him, signaling for me to join him. When I reached him, I lay down on my stomach and propped myself up on my elbows.

“What’d you want, love?” He grinned at me, a glint in his eye again.

“I want you to play tomorrow. Fill in for Rebecca in the Quidditch match. We have no hope without you. You’re the best there is,” I cooed, trying to build on his ego.

Thank Merlin Henry wasn’t here.

“Ha, I know that. But still, no can do. I’m not playing tomorrow. Now, to get up by myself…”

He managed to prop himself up on his elbows before it all became too much for him and he slipped back to the ground. I continued to lie next to him, smiling as he scowled and pushed his hair back out of his eyes.

“Please, Black? I’ll help you up, then if you still want to make brownies we can.”

“I thought I was too drunk to be allowed to operate an oven…?” he raised a brow at me, cocky even when intoxicated.

“We’ll ask Abra to do it.”

“And you want me to play? Hangover and all?”

“Hangover and all.” I battered my eyelashes.

Maybe this would work.

“And I’m not going to get off this floor and make brownies any other way?”

“Nope. Not really.”

He sighed heavily and screwed his eyes shut. I held my breath while I waited for him to reply. It seemed forever before I saw his grey eyes looking at me again.

“Alright. But if Reg…” His words trailed off as he sighed heavily.

Ah. Regulus. It all made a lot more sense now. I wondered if he’d told James this-- that he hadn’t wanted to play against his brother, the one member of his family that still talked to him on occasion? He didn’t want to lose and give his younger brother something to gloat about, nor did he want to win and have his younger brother hate him.

“We’ll figure it out. Don’t worry.” I gave him a small smile and it seemed to work.

Sirius sighed again, closing his eyes before his game face emerged. “Ready? You’re about to watch the master in his natural habitat.”

“Isn’t it the hunter in his natural habitat?” I chuckled as I slowly got to my feet.

“What exactly would I be hunting, Nyx? You obviously didn’t think that through like I did. My sentence made sense, while yours did not.”

I offered him my hand. “Well, I dunno. You could be hunting brownies or something…”

I was about to tell him to scratch that, it didn’t make sense either, as I helped him to his feet, but before I could utter a word, Sirius boomed, “PADFOOT, THE BROWNIE HUNTER!” through the kitchen.

House elves stared at us from their benches, still cleaning down the kitchen after a days work. I felt my face go red and turned back to Black to see him nodding to himself. “I like it. Padfoot, The Brownie Hunter. It’s a keeper. Now, what did you say before? Oh yes, watch the hunter in his natural habitat.”

Sirius made his way over to the end of a table where Abra had appeared to leave ingredients and got to work. I grabbed the back of the chair I had been sitting at by the fire and dragged it over to the bench where Sirius was busy mixing things together, intent on watching.

By the time the brownies were ready to be cooked, Sirius was half sober – getting the mixture ready for the oven had taken far longer than it should have – and he pulled up his chair next to mine as we watched Abra take the tray away to be baked.

“How do you even know how to make brownies?” I asked as I watched Abra shoo away Sirius as he attempted to help her clean up.

“Hmm? Oh, Mrs. Potter – Katherine. She told me to stop calling her Mrs. P,” Sirius muttered to himself, his brow furrowed.

“James Potter’s mother? Oh, that’s cool. Does she do lots of cooking?” I asked, wanting him to keep talking and not slip back into his thoughts, because I knew he’d just get angry and moody if he did. I was aware he’d never had a good relationship with his family and that he had lived with Potter’s parents for a bit – everyone was aware of that after the giant row he and Regulus had had in the Entrance Hall the first day back after he’d moved out - but what blackness he encountered when he retreated into his own mind, I didn’t know. Nor did I want to, if it affected someone even as strong as Sirius Black.

“Huh? Yeah. She’s great, has all these Muggle cookbooks. She goes through all of them and makes each recipe at least once. We made brownies with her at the beginning of summer and Prongs and I liked them so much we decided to learn the recipe. Tweaked them a bit here and there, added more of this, less of that, you know. Made so many brownies I wouldn’t be surprised if the two of us gained seven pounds each. Mrs Po – Katherine had us out doing laps every morning, then when we’d come in, she’d have more freshly made brownies for us and we’d devour them. She’d come into the room saying they were meant to last for tomorrow, but we knew she didn’t really care. She just sent us out for another run the next morning, while she made more. We’d devour those, too and it became a cycle…” he trailed off absentmindedly, staring at the wall.

“Sounds like a good ritual to me.” I laughed.

“Yeah. The Potters are great.” He looked up at me, smiling, and my heart nearly skipped a beat.
His smile was wonderful. It wasn’t a smirk or a grin that he had when he was about to pull a prank, but a genuine, happy, beautiful smile that lit up his whole face and made his eyes twinkle.

I wondered just how much about the Potters’ relationship with Sirius Black that I didn’t know, that everyone didn’t know. Yet even though I was completely ignorant, I felt that smile told me everything one could ever be told. Not about how Mrs. Potter had made him brownies or how she’d then sent him out to burn them off or about how he and James had spent an entire summer perfecting a recipe and running laps, but about the love, kindness, sincerity and ease of their relationship, which at the end of the day, was all that was really worth knowing.

“They mean the world to you don’t they?”

“Go all soppy and cheesy on me why don’t you?” Sirius rolled his eyes, his smile gone.
I pushed on while I still had the last of the alcohol in my system to give me courage. “But they do don’t they? Potter… he’s like your brother isn’t he? The Potters, Lupin and Pettigrew are your family.”

He nodded uncomfortably, looking back at his shoes.

“Don’t worry, I’m an only child and Mel’s the sister I never had. So are Reyna and Alice, but Mel and her brother, Jack, treat me like family. My parents are both Muggles and struggle with a lot of it - magic and stuff - so I spend loads of time at Mel’s place. I know it’s not the same as your situation, not by a long shot, but what I suppose I’m trying to say is… don’t worry about it.”

Sirius gave me a look, which made me want to sink into the floor and hide for the rest of my life. After a moment however, it softened and I remembered to breathe. He nodded once, finalizing the conclusion of this particular conversation and was about to say something else, but was stopped by a steaming tray of chocolate brownies being thrust under his nose by a very pleased looking Abra.

“Look, Mister Black, Abra baked them just as you said and they came out of the oven looking like this. Is this right, Mister Black? Abra copied Mister Black’s directions exactly. Miss Keira! Look! Has Abra done well?”

The tray was then thrust in my direction and I almost began to drool as the smell hit me. They were huge, and the delicious smell of chocolate was overpowering. Sirius grabbed a knife, and, taking the tray off Abra, cut into the brownies eagerly. He popped a whole one in his mouth as he passed one to me. I bit into it and had to sit back down in my chair.

They were fantastic. I mean, they smelled amazing, but Merlin, the taste, the perfect balance between gooey and crisp, the chocolate chips that melted in your mouth… they were perfect.

“Good, aren’t they?” Sirius grinned at me as he bit into his second. “Abra, you were amazing yet again. Do you want one?”

Her green eyes widened in concern as she was offered a brownie bigger than my hand. “Oh no, Mister Black. Abra is fine, really she is. Abra wishes to join the other elves in cleaning the castle if Miss Keira and Mister Black don’t need anything else, otherwise Abra would be more than happy to stay and help Miss Keira and Mister Black with anything.”

“Oh no, Abra! If you want to go, go right ahead. We’re fine. We’ll just finish these and then we’ll be out of your hair. Don’t worry about us.” As soon as I’d spoken the words, I realized I really should have used a different phrase. House-elves didn’t have hair. Good one, Keira.

“Mhm, at the rate these are going, we’ll be gone in a minute or two,” Sirius said through a mouthful of what used to be chocolate brownie.

“What do you mean at this rate? I’m only half way through mine. They’re massive!”

“Not my problem. You snooze, you loose, love.”

He held up the now half empty tray and I gasped, stuffing the rest of my brownie in my mouth and reaching for another one. Sirius laughed at the determined expression on my face as I swallowed the remainder of my first and bit into my second.

“Hey, hey! A girl with an appetite, that’s what we like to see.”

By the time I’d finished my second brownie, which had taken far longer than the first, Sirius had cleaned out the tray. I shook my head at him, but he just shrugged and licked his fingers, pleased with himself.

“Come on, we should be heading back, we’ve been down here for ages,” I said, checking my watch to find it was 12:33am.

That couldn’t be right, surely? We hadn’t been down here three hours. Maybe we had. Merlin, I had to get up at six. I had a bleeding Quidditch match and right when I find someone to fill in so we don’t have to forfeit, it all becomes a moot point anyway because I went ahead and spent half the night drinking and baking in the kitchens.

“Godric, we have to get back! It’s half past midnight. We’ll be in detention for a week if we get caught. And we both have Quidditch tomorrow,” I said, my voice rising slightly.

I felt my stomach twist into that familiar knot at the idea of getting caught by a teacher and I wished I hadn’t eaten any brownies. The knot continued to tighten as I thought of how mad Mel would be at me for missing the meeting, and how disappointed in me she’d be when we lost tomorrow.

Or today, I corrected myself.

“Alright, alright. Let’s go.”

Sirius closed the kitchen door behind me and I almost started hyperventilating. Out in the corridor, anyone could see us. Any teacher could walk past, or any Prefect could spot us.

“You alright there, Nyx?” Sirius murmured as he watched me out of the corner of his eye.

“I just really don’t want to get caught. Henry… he’d ask so many questions.”

“Calm down. Learn to live a little!” But when he saw how freaked out I really was, he placed his arm around me. I was focusing so hard on not vomiting up my stomach contents that I didn’t even notice.

Sirius guided me across the Entrance Hall and up to the first floor, before he pulled me behind a tapestry.

“Nyx. Nyx! Look at me. Stress less. It’ll be fine. We won’t get caught, you won’t get detention, and for Merlin’s sake, forget about Watts alright?” he whispered, holding my face so I had no choice but to look at him.

I could barley see him in the dark passageway he’d dragged me into, but I found his grey eyes and they smiled at me.

“Alright?” he asked again, still smiling, and for half a second I believed him.

“Alright.”

As soon as the words were out of my mouth, he was dragging me up stairs, around corridors, through short cuts and past rooms I didn’t even know existed.

“Where are we going?” I whispered as I was pushed behind a suit of armor somewhere around the sixth floor.

“Common room?” Sirius gave me a confused look.

“Why this way though? I don’t even know where we are.”

“Flich and his cat. Seventh floor, west wing. Good thing I have the Map…” he muttered the last bit to himself, peering around the statue.

“What map –“ I started, but the rest of my words were swallowed quickly as I was pulled down the corridor again to a tapestry, which lead to the corridor outside the Fat Lady’s portrait.

Leonum animi,” Sirius grunted and amid a loud snore, the Fat Lady swung forward, allowing us to both duck inside with Sirius pulling the portrait closed behind him.

“See? Didn’t get caught. Nothing to worry about.”

“Oh sure, just Quidditch tomorrow.”

“Merlin, I agreed to that didn’t I?” Sirius said, running his hands through his hair. “Hell, on that note, I’m going to bed. See ya, Nyx.”

“Mmm. Night, Black. Cheers for the brownies,” I said as I made my way up the stairs to the girl’s dormitories, catching myself before I awkwardly fell.

*


“Get up! Bloody hell, Keira Nyx, you get up right now!”

A grunt escaped my throat, as I blinked wearily at the yelling in my ear. Merlin, it was loud. My head was pounding and my mind was groggy.

What time was it?

“Where the bloody hell were you last night? You didn’t turn up to the team meeting, then I stay up till past curfew and you still don’t show! Potter’s furious and I’m tempted to play despite what Madam Pomfrey said about my arm. Are you listening to a word I’m saying? Merlin, Nyx. GET UP!

My world began to slide and I toppled off the bed onto the floor. My head collided with the floorboards’ resulting in a loud thumping sound that was left ringing in my ears. I slowly sat up, holding my head.

“Was that really necessary? Is the sun even up?”

“Yes the sun is bleeding up, Keira, and if you had gotten up like I bloody told you, then no, it wouldn’t have been necessary.”

“Shhh, shh!” I waved my hands at her, hoping Melody would get what I meant. I needed to collect my thoughts. Godric, my head hurt.

“No, I will no be quiet! What is wrong with you? You still haven’t told me where you were last night!”

“NYX, GET YOUR ARSE DOWN HERE THIS INSTANT!”

“There you go. Potter wants you now. Have fun telling the team captain why you missed the meeting. He’s in a right mood, too, since we have no one to fill in for Rebecca. Well off you go then, don’t want to keep him waiting like I was all of last night. Honestly.”

Melody stormed out of the room and slammed the door. I could hear her on the stairs and I rubbed my eyes with the heel of my palm. Sirius Black drank way too much. This was entirely his fault.

I looked down at my singlet and realized it was on backwards. I began to correct this when James Potter’s voice was yelling at me again.

“YEAH, YEAH. I’M COMING!”

Urgh, bad idea. My brain was pounding on the sides of my skull as if it was going to explode. And to think, I hadn’t even had half as much as Sirius.

When my shirt was on the right way around and I’d grabbed a jumper, I made my way down the stairs.

“Where is she, Andrews? I need to talk to her. Where the bloody hell – “

He stopped when he saw me get to the bottom of the staircase, still blinking at the bright morning light streaming in through the Common Room windows. Godric, half the tower was here to watch James Potter yell at me.

“NYX! Oh, you beautiful woman! Come here!” Potter charged at me and before I knew it, I was being swung around in the air.

“What the – “ I mumbled as he put me down and hugged me tight, kissing the top of my head over and over again.

“How did you do it? Oh, it doesn’t matter how, just the fact that you did!”

I was spinning again. I didn’t like spinning.

“Down,” I croaked.

“What was that, love?” James Potter sung as he looked up at me, still holding me high above his head.

“Down.” I whispered it this time. My head couldn’t take the noise. I needed to find a good corner to curl up in and die.

“Of course. Anything for you.”

“Sleep?” I muttered hopefully.

He laughed, kissing my hair again as he set me on my feet. “No, anything but that, sweetheart. We’ve got a Quidditch match to win! Sleep comes after.” He winked.

“Potter, what in Merlin's name is going on? We have to forfeit! What are you doing, going on about Quidditch matches to win? Why do you keep kissing my best friend on the head?

“Oh, but Andrews, we don’t have to forfeit! That’s why this one here is just so beautiful,” he said as he hugged me to his chest. My head was pounding. “She got Sirius to agree to play. Isn’t she the most wonderful girl in the world?”

I blinked out from under James Potter’s arm and watched Melody’s expression drop. She stood there, mouth open, staring at me as Potter held me so tight I couldn’t breathe.

“Did you? Did you really?”

I could barely hear her, she had whispered the words so quietly. Unable to speak, I gave the tiniest of nods and suddenly she had flung herself on me as well. Mel was squealing in my ear at a pitch that was sure to break the windows. Somewhere in the background I could hear laughter and cheering.

“How’d you do it, Nyx? I tried all of yesterday and he just yelled at me.” James held me at arm’s length, positively beaming at me. I squinted as his glasses reflected the light into my eyes.

“She got me drunk.”

I turned along with half the room, to look at the figure that had just emerged from the boy’s staircase. He was still in his pajamas from the looks of it - track pants and an old t-shirt. Black hair was almost completely covering his eyes and he looked as if he was holding his head together with his two hands.

“You got him drunk? Is that where you were all of last night? Drinking? Merlin. Keira!

“Shhh, shhhh! Bloody hell, Andrews! Be quiet,” said Sirius, mustering up a glare.

I nodded in agreement, rubbing my eyes again.

“Besides, we weren’t drinking the whole night. If we were, I don’t think I’d have made it back to bed.”

“What were you doing then, Sirius? I spent my whole Prefect rounds looking for you and there wasn’t a sight to be seen. I couldn’t even find the Map, after you bloody hid it,” James asked, seeming to forget that half of Gryffindor Tower was here.

“That was sort of the point wasn’t it? For you not to find it.”

“What Map?” asked a voice from the crowd of gathering Gryffindors, but her friend shushed her, and Potter and Black both ignored the question.

I, on the other hand, thought it was an excellent inquiry and planned to ask the same when my head stopped throbbing.

“Seriously, where were you? You two were gone over half the night. The last one to see you was Remus and that was at four in the afternoon!”

I heard whispers from the crowd, and groaned at the thought of the rumors that would inevitably be the talk of the school by breakfast.

Sirius looked over at me, holding my head, and he nodded at Remus. “Fix her up will you? Then you can help me. Merlin, I need it if I’m supposed to play at eleven.”

Lupin came over to me, a slightly amused expression on his face, before starting to wave his wand and muttering something to himself.

“And we were… hunting.” Sirius shook his head, trying to clear it, before looking over at me. “Isn’t that right?”

I chuckled to myself, nodding.

“Sirius…”

“Relax, James, not like that. Though you won’t get a better answer out of me while I’ve still got this hangover.”

“Right. Remus?”

I looked back at Lupin who was standing next to me, still muttering under his breath. He made one last gesture with his wand and my head cleared.

“Done. Sirius, your go.”

“Merlin. That’s amazing. How’d you do that?” I asked still holding my head, astonished that the headache was gone.

“Can’t tell you all of my secrets now, can I, Nyx?” Remus winked at me over his shoulder, before he started the same recital for Sirius.

“Where are Rae and Alice?”

“Breakfast. And we should get going, too, if we want to be over at the pitch on time.” Mel nodded towards the portrait hole.

“Sure thing.”

The other Gryffindors slowly began to file out of the Common Room now that the show was over. When Remus was done fixing Sirius’s hangover, the rest of us continued down to breakfast, Mel bounding along, so thrilled that we didn’t have to forfeit. James, on the other hand, never left my side and when we filed into the Great Hall, he pulled me down to the seat next to him where he sat between Lily and I, before pouring me coffee.

The red head leaned forward and gave me a questioning look. I shrugged as James put his arms around both of us.

“Today’ll be a good day, Evans. I can feel it.”

“Oh, will it just?” Lily laughed, raising a brow at his good mood and at his arm around her shoulder.

“Mmhmm. We don’t have to forfeit, Andrews is on the mend, Slytherin will have their arses kicked and Padfoot isn’t menstruating anymore.”

Lily and I both hit James over the back of the head, and Sirius smiled at me as he sat down next to Remus.

Melody finished talking to Alice, who was further down the table eating with Frank, before she joined us, sliding into the seat between Lupin and Black.

“Reyna’s over at the Ravenclaw table apparently,” she said, looking at me knowingly.

“With Anthony?” I spluttered through my coffee.

“Mmm. Alice said they bumped into him on the stairs and all three of them were talking about the match. By the end of it, King asked if they wanted to sit with him and Henry. Rae agreed of course, but Alice said she had homework to finish with Frank and left them to it.”

“You know what? If I can just manage to catch that damned Snitch, today will be a good day indeed.”

“See, Evans?” James grinned. “Even Nyx agrees with me.”



Author's Note:
Look! I updated quickly! *happy dance* Anyway, the next chapter should be along soon. It involves the Quidditch match, and a few other things, so hopefully that'll be exciting. Fingers crossed you all liked the Sirius in this chapter (it's been a long time coming, I know!) and don't worry, there's some more of him in the next one, too. Let me know what you think, as I'm dying for feedback on this chapter (it was the first one I ever wrote, I think).

Remember, reviews are better than holidays (which are nearly over! D:)
- A. :)


Chapter 11: Game. Set. Match.
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empyreal. @ TDA


Chapter XI - Game. Set. Match.


When we finished breakfast, James rounded up the rest of the team and began to usher us all down to the pitch. I was halfway to the door before the thought crossed my mind.

“Give me a second, yeah, Potter? I’ll be right down I swear, just want to have a quick word with Henry.”

“What?” He looked back at me over his shoulder. “Uhm, alright. But make it quick will you, Nyx? I still need to fill you in on the meeting last night.”

I nodded earnestly and dashed over to the Ravenclaw table, surprised to find people already empting their chairs to get good seats for the game.

“Hi,” I breathed as I approached the Seventh Year boys.

“Hey, hey! Our golden girl. Your going to catch the Snitch before the game even starts, aren’t you sweetheart?” Anthony cried as he jumped out of his seat and put his arm around me. Reginald rolled his eyes but grinned, and I gave him a small smile before chuckling at Anthony’s words.

“Can’t promise anything, but I have it on good authority…”

“Excellent, because I’ve got twenty Galleons on it.”

“Twenty?” I stared up at him. He was obviously mad, must have taken a Bludger to the head last training or something. “Are you sure that’s wise?”

“’Course I’m sure! You’re my golden girl!”

“My girl first, your golden girl second, though. Right, Andy?”

“If you say so, Watts, if you say so; but I’m warning you now, one day I’m going to keep her and not give her back.”

Forcing myself to ignore the knot that was growing in my stomach at all the talk of Quidditch, I laughed at Anthony’s teasing and smiled at Reyna who was sitting next to where King had been moments before. She grinned back at me, and I knew the girls and I would all be getting the run down later of everything that had happened.

“I just thought I’d come and say hi before I head down to the pitch.”

“I’m still not sure about this you playing Quidditch business,” Henry stated as he rose out of his chair and pulled me into a hug.

“Why? Because we’ll whip your arses in the final? I’d be worried too,” I teased, winking at him as he drew away.

“Ha! Don’t worry Keir, we’ll go easy on you if you make it that far!” Anthony grinned at me, taking his position next to Rae again.

“You mean we’ll go easy on you,” I retorted, laughing.

I was about to tease Henry some more, but when I looked up at his face, I found him frowning down at me.

“What?” I murmured, hoping the others wouldn’t hear.

“Nothing… just – well I meant what I said. I’m not sure about you playing Quidditch.”

“I’ve been on the team since September, and only now you say something?"

“You didn’t tell me till after you were on the team that you even had any interest in playing, remember? And Andrews getting injured during training proves my point. It’s a dangerous sport, and I don’t want you getting hurt.”

“What? You just want me to quit the team then? Right before the first match of the season, is that it?” I stared at him with disbelief. I’m sorry, but this was stupid.

“Well if they found a replacement as good as Black for Andrews at such short notice, then I’m sure they could find one –"

I stepped away from him, staring up into his eyes, wondering where on earth this was coming from. “I actually cannot believe you. You’d never do that to your team, but you’re more than happy for me to do it to mine? That shows great loyalty, that does.” I shook my head as I walked away from him, out the main doors and across the dew covered lawns to the Pitch.

Barging into the locker room and finding it empty, bar Melody, I opened my locker and quickly began to change.

“You alright?” Mel frowned, walking over to where I was in the corner.

“What? Yeah. Fine,” I replied bluntly, deliberately avoiding her gaze.

Bloody Henry Watts just wanted me to drop out? Did he have any idea how much I would let down the team doing that? Mel would kill me, plus James and I were just starting to become friends – and I would be more than dead if I suddenly left him Seeker-less. There was no way in hell Henry would ever just desert his team like that, yet he expected me to do that to mine? Yeah, not likely, Watts. Bleeding git. He was as dumb as a concussed troll if he thought I’d just bat my eyelashes and agree with him completely, before running off to tell James moments before the match that he didn’t have a Seeker.

Safety, my arse. He had been playing for years and was absolutely fine, what made me different? That I was a girl? Girl I may be, but that didn’t mean I would live in a padded room my whole life. Dear Godric, I needed to hit something.

I grunted as I rested my head against the wall, my eyes screwed shut, trying to block out all of the tiny little things about Henry that bugged me. All of the little things I had noticed throughout our relationship but I had overlooked were creeping into my mind now that I was angry. I was breathing heavily when I jumped at a hand on my shoulder.

“You want to talk about it now or later?”

“Later. We’ve got a Quidditch match to win.”

“Alright then. Lets go,” Mel murmured with finality and we both left the Gryffindor girls locker rooms, joining the large group of players outside, all dressed in scarlet and gold.

“There you are, Nyx!” James grinned at me, “Running a bit behind schedule, but that’s alright. I have a really good feeling about today.”

I just couldn’t help smiling back. I wasn’t going to let Henry’s stupid comments wreck havoc in my head and ruin our chances of beating Slytherin. I was going to catch that Snitch and not end up in the Hospital Wing and Henry Watts could just watch me do it.

Besides, Anthony had twenty Galleons riding on me.

“Now, Nyx –“ James turned to me, but right as he did so, Professor McGonagall came into sight.

“Potter, we’re hoping to start the match shortly. Are you and your teammates prepared?”

“Ah, forget it. Just catch the Snitch, that’s all I ask, love,” he murmured, smiling earnestly, before he turned to McGonagall. “Yep, I think so, Professor. Andrews, you off to the stands? Or are you going to watch Pitch-side?”

“Stands. I asked Alice to save me a seat.”

“Fair enough. Wish us luck then!” James grinned, before following McGonagall over to the field, his black hair sticking up at the back like always.

“Pfft. He of little faith,” she mumbled, shaking her head after Potter. “I would wish you luck, but I know you don’t need it. Sirius is probably better than I am anyway.”

“Ha, unlikely,” Sirius snorted.

I turned and looked at him properly for the first time in his Quidditch robes. They fitted him well, slightly tight across the chest, but I couldn’t see any girl in the school complaining about that. He had pads across his knees and elbows, and was sporting the same brown, fingerless leather gloves favoured by Chasers.

“Not bad, Black. You clean up well.” I laughed.

He grinned at me, “Look! They’ve even got my name on the back!”

And sure enough there it was, under a large golden number three on a scarlet background, ‘Black’ was written in big capital letters.

“Well there you are. Same as the rest of us and at such short notice, too.”

“Yeah, I don’t know how Minnie managed it, but she got me a uniform. Bit small, but it’s only one game.”

“Oh, come on you lot,” cried Benjy, twirling his Beater bat around. “Lets go get some Slytherins.”

We all cheered, Melody included, before she ran back off towards the crowd. I followed the team towards the pitch, trailing behind Heath Chapman.

I stared at the back of his robes where a large gold number one was displayed beneath his mop of sandy hair. He had only started playing last season and was in the year below me, but was rather tall.

Just ahead of him, I spied Archie Holloway chitchatting away with Caradoc Dearborn while his hair kept falling in his eyes.

I looked around for Sirius, the knot I’d forgotten about in my anger at Henry coming back. So much pressure was riding on this match. I needed to catch the Snitch before Slytherin scored enough points to ruin any chance we had at winning, and I highly doubted my own abilities.

I spotted his long black hair behind the rest of the team. I stopped and waited for him to near me, all the while attempting to calm the sickening feeling in my gut.

“Hey, you alright?” I murmured when he looked up at me.

He nodded, but I knew he was lying. His brows were drawn together and he was scowling at his feet. Something was playing around in his mind. Something bad.

“It’s your brother, isn’t it?”

He glanced at me for a moment before nodding again, the scowl gone now, replaced by a look of utter defeat, which was so frightening that I completely forgot about my churning stomach. Because I staring up at the school playboy remembering his smile from the night before, the smile that had been so full of love and sincerity. I knew that for something to faze him this badly, it must be terrible. I wanted nothing more and nothing less than to be able to dive into his mind and know exactly what brought on these phenomenal mood swings at such rapid pace.

“Sirius,” I automatically stretched out a hand to comfort him, only realising at the last second what I was doing. He didn’t pull away however and so I proceeded to place my hand on his chest, “It’ll be alright you know. No matter how much we fret and worry, it won’t change anything. We’ll win or we’ll lose, and all that matters is that you and I do the best we can, because he will too. I don’t know Regulus, but he’s your brother, Black. Whatever the outcome, he’ll respect you if he knows you tried.”

“You really are one for soppy speeches aren’t you, Nyx?” he gave me a half smile, looking up from his shoes.

“COME ON YOU TWO! Merlin, what is this rubbish? We’re about to start!” Fenwick called back at us from the opening to the pitch.

I could hear chanting in the background and the knot swelled up again. Turning back to Sirius, I shoved him slightly for his comment, before walking over to my broom.

I nodded towards where the team was waiting for us, ignoring the overwhelming urge to vomit. “Come on. Let’s play Quidditch.”

*

“Holloway drops the Quaffle – Slytherin take possession – Higgs passes to Stokes – Potter intercepts the pass and races down the field – Black takes possession – oh, there are two Blacks in this game aren’t there? – Well, Sirius makes his way towards the goal posts – spectacular roll to avoid Wilks – Oh! That was a close call with the Bludger – C’mon Black, take the shot – TEN POINTS FOR GRYFFINDOR!”

I cheered from where I was high above them, as Katie Lawson– a Hufflepuff – announced our lead. Merlin. I breathed a sigh as my eyes followed Sirius down the pitch, thankful that he had been the one to score first. Hopefully it would improve his mood.

“An angry Barton throws the Quaffle back into the game and play resumes with Slytherin taking possession – Wilkes takes a nice Bludger to the head – well done Dearborn, I’m fairly sure that was you – but Wilkes appears to keep the Quaffle – probably because he has a head as thick as a brick – right, sorry, Professor – Anyway, Wilkes continues down the Pitch, flanked by Stokes and Higgs – where’s another good Bludger when you need one? – Holloway manages to intercept a pass and Gryffindor regains possession –“

I let my eyes roam the stadium for the tiny gold ball, distantly still listening to the commentary. The sky was overcast and the air was cold, especially at this altitude. I wouldn’t be surprised it if rained, although that was probably the last thing I needed. Then there was no way I’d find the Snitch.

“Potter looks gorgeous as he races down the Pitch with the Quaffle – what, Professor? He does! – The Gryffindor Captain passes to Holloway – who passes to Black – who dodges an attack from Stokes – wait, Stokes can’t do that, can he? – Apparently he can – Black has just passed back to Holloway – who re-passes to Black, dodging a Bludger from Mulciber – Black passes to Potter – Potter goes to score! – He missed, but don’t worry, Potter, we still think you’re gorgeous – play resumes as Slytherin –”

I grunted, loosing interest. Looking away from the Slytherins raging down the field below me, I spied Mel sitting front row on the Gryffindor stands, her eyes flicking back and forth between the game and me. Alice and Frank were on her left, both wrapped up in red and gold, cheering loudly, while Peter Pettigrew, Lily Evans and Remus Lupin were on her right.

I smiled to myself when I saw Remus nibbling on a bar of chocolate, a large coat shielding him from the most unpleasant of the worsening weather. Peter was sitting huddled up in his seat, not talking to anyone. Merlin, he looked cold.

Even from my tremendous height, I could see Lily on the edge of her seat and a chuckle escaped me. Her beanie kept slipping off her head, but she never noticed until Lupin handed it back to her, she was watching the game so intently. Every move, I could see her fidget. Every close call and she’d be on her feet with Mel.

The two of them, honestly.

I spotted Reyna next to Lupin, wrapped up warmly, and Anthony appeared to have joined her in the Gryffindor stands. He was leaning into Reyna, and appeared to be whispering in her ear, as I saw her laugh. They were damned perfect for each other, though trust the brilliant Ravenclaw to be the only one not to realise.

Anthony saw me looking his way and waved, giving me a thumbs up. I grinned back at him, when he gestured to the last person in the row. Henry was sitting there, his brows slightly furrowed. From what I could see, he was watching me intently. When he was aware I was staring at him, he began to rise out of his seat, but I spun my broom around and sped to the other side of the pitch.

A huge cry erupted from the stands and I startled, wondering what had happened. I saw James pumping his fist in the air and Sirius speeding down the length of the field, away from the Slytherin Beaters. “GO, GO GRYFFINDOR! GO, GO GRYFFINDOR!” was all I could hear, the cry filling the stadium.

I smiled, guessing Sirius had been the one to score and momentarily forget about Henry. The last thing I needed was to get so mad at him that I forgot about my current purpose.

“That’s Gryffindor, 60 points; Slytherin, 30 – with no sign yet of the Snitch, it’s still anyone’s game – brilliant save by the Gryffindor Keeper, Heath Chapman – and Potter speeds away with the Quaffle –”

I circled high above the game, scanning the pitch below. Finally locating Regulus Black near the Slytherin goal hoops, I continued my search, keeping an eye on him.

Anything gold, anything tiny, anything moving at high speeds.

Nothing.

I noticed Archie Holloway speed below me, Higgs and Stokes tailing him. James came up on Higgs’ right and attempted to manoeuvre the Slytherin out of the way so Archie could take a shot at the goals. Sirius quickly appeared on the other side, working on Stokes, while Caradoc and Benjy were battering Bludgers towards Angus Barton.

“I’m so glad that I commentate and don’t actually play Quidditch, because how Barton managed to avoid that, I’ll never know – that can’t be allowed! Professor! Surely he can’t just ram him like that!”

Like hell that was allowed! Wilkes had just shot out of nowhere and collided with James, causing the captain to lurch sideways. Anyone less skilled on a broom would have fallen, but James Potter, being James Potter, had just used the momentum to roll right over, before continuing after Archie’s assailants.

No wonder his ego was so big.

“Oh, and that was a nice shot from Fenwick – Higgs is still a blur of spinning green from that Bludger – I hope he falls – Only joking! – Kind of – Sorry, Profess – Look at James Potter go!”
I squinted, raising my hand to block out the midday sun, only to have a brief glance of black hair and the glint of glasses as they passed below me, Quaffle under his arm.

Feeling uncomfortable, I glanced around and saw that Regulus Black was still watching me, circling the pitch. Wasn’t he going to try and find the Snitch? Wasn’t that his job as a Seeker? To seek out that damned ball? Or had I been misinformed somewhere about what position he and I were playing?

“And that’s another 10 points for Slytherin, which leaves Gryffindor only 10 points ahead…”

Damned Snakes. Determined to find it before they had an opportunity to score again, I dropped down, closer to the game. Now, if I were a Snitch, where would I hide?

Regulus Black was still watching me, but he stayed where he was, slowly circling high above the Slytherin hoops. I drifted over towards the Gryffindor crowd and heard Lily’s voice screaming along with Mel’s as Archie Holloway flew past, passing to Sirius.

“Black has possession – Wilkes is gaining on him – passes to Potter – who dodges a Bludger sent his way by Mulciber before passing to Holloway – Holloway rolls, narrowly avoiding Higgs – HOLLOWAY SCORES! ANOTHER TEN POINTS TO GRYFFINDOR.”

Grinning, I looked over at the Fifth Year high-fiving James as he did a victory lap around the Slytherin hoops. That kid was good. With the rest of the season ahead of him, and with Potter as Captain, he’d end up as a damn fine Chaser.

Watching three emerald robes pass below me, racing towards the Gryffindor hoops with scarlet blurs in fast pursuit, I started to panic a little. We were only twenty points ahead, and while yes, we were still in the lead, we might not be for much longer. I didn’t know how long Archie would be able to go before tiring out and he started to make mistakes either.

I needed to catch that Snitch.

I glanced over at Regulus again to find he wasn’t there. Frowning, I looked around until I saw him lazily making his way towards me, searching for the Snitch as he did so. He caught my eye and smirked at me. It made me uncomfortable.

I was distracted, however, as Sirius flew past, laughing at the angry Slytherins on his tail. Regulus scowled at his brother, who flipped him off as he passed, and it was my turn to smirk.
“What are you so happy about, Nyx?” he sneered when he was within earshot and I winced slightly, increasingly uncomfortable with this whole set up. “You aren’t going to catch the Snitch. It’s your first game, and I’ve been playing for years. Quidditch is a Wizarding sport. A Muggleborn like yourself wouldn’t have the talent to play.”

“Black scores again and Barton looks pretty pissed – I meant annoyed, Professor!– Slytherin has position of the – Scratch that, Potter just intercepted their pass – He’s heading back up towards the Slytherin goals – Still no sign of the Snitch as Potter passes to Holloway – He makes to score! – Damn. Slytherin saves the shot – Higgs has the Quaffle and is making his way –“

Katie Lawson was right. There was no sign of the Snitch, and, happy to cut my charming conversation short with Regulus Black, I sped off towards the Gryffindor goal posts, quickly realising that he was following me at his own pace.

Git.

“No luck yet, Nyx?” Heath called when he saw me approach, still keeping an eye on the Chasers fighting it out at the other end of the Pitch.

“None whatsoever. I don’t suppose you’ve seen anything, have you?” I laughed, trying to ignore the fact that Regulus was hovering above me a few meters away.

“Can’t say I have…” he trailed off, as a Slytherin broke free of Sirius’ attempts to intersect his pass and began making their way towards the Gryffindor goal posts at high speed.

“I’m going to leave you to it,” I said with false cheer, pulling my broom up and getting out of there as soon as I could.

I watched Heath perform a close save from my position above before I saw it – a suspicious looking gold glint in the sand below the hoops.

I stared at it, wondering if I was imagining things, but then it moved.

And I dived.

And Heath swore at me as I shot past, nearly knocking him into the hoops.

And Regulus was next to me far sooner than I would have liked.

And the ground was coming up to meet me as I stared down the little gold ball.

And everything seemed to happen at once, because I blinked and realised I was going to collide with the ground right when the Snitch flitted off along the pitch, Regulus swearing loudly.

My eyes watched the Snitch make it’s way along the grass before I realised I was still going in the wrong direction, making a beeline to what would surely result in another trip to the Matron.

I pulled my broom up, too close to breaking my own nose for comfort, and to the left as I began racing after the ball that was only inches above the grass.

I bet it was having a lovely time, the bloody thing.

It scooted along as I began to pull up along side it, ready to chase after it if it flew off to the side. But it decided to shoot up above me instead, and, if I hadn’t been prepared for it to make a sudden movement like it had during my try-outs, then I probably wouldn’t have caught it.

But, as it was, my hand shot up, grabbing it, while I clamped my legs tighter around my broom so the thing didn’t pull me off.

I slowed, throwing my legs off the side of my broom and dropping the few inches onto the grass below, admiring the golden ball in my hand before I realised where I was.

GRYFFINDOR WINS!” came from the commentator’s booth, and I started, looking up from where I was standing in the middle of the pitch.

The entire school was watching me, chants of ‘Go, Go, Gryffindor!’ pounding in my ears, and I was just standing there on the grass, looking like I’d gone for a leisurely stroll.

I spun on the spot, taking in the scene of screaming students above me, green and red clad Quidditch players slowly making their way back down towards me.

I gulped nervously as I looked around to see where Regulus had ended up, and saw him sitting in the sand by the goal hoops, completely covered in the stuff, his broom handle buried deep in the ground and a livid expression on his face as he stared me down.

The whole school was watching me.

The whole school was cheering for me.

The whole school knew who I was as I stood there by myself in the middle of the pitch.

I looked down at the tiny golden ball in my hands as it curled in its wings, and I couldn’t help myself – I grinned.



Author's Note:
Another quick update! Hooray! The next one will take a few weeks, unfortunately, as I've only had four days of this term, and I'm drowning in work. I don't think I'll have a free moment all year, but I'm going to force myself to write. I think I'll need the break. That said, updates will be few and far between at least until April, when I get my next set of holidays. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this (I know I head loads of fun writing it), and again, let me know what you thought with a review. You guys have no idea how much they make me smile, even if I take weeks to reply to them. :/

Hope you're all well,
- A. :)

Chapter 12: Wanting Warmth
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thalia. @ TDA
Chapter XII - Wanting Warmth

James and Sirius managed to cut off my air supply with a hug as soon as their feet touched the ground, and I’ll never be sure how Mel made it down from the stands quite so quickly.

Damn right!” James cried, throwing his fist into the air in victory as Caradoc and Benjy nearly tackled me to the ground.

“Nyx! I told you!” Benjy said as he grabbed me.

We told you!” Caradoc corrected with a laugh as he pulled me back out of Benjy’s arms and into his own.

“Get your damned behind out of the way, Dearborn,” Mel shouted as she pushed Benjy aside. He looked slightly affronted at first, but his face softened quickly as Melody Andrews held my face between her hands, her cast sticking out at a right angle. “I swear to Godric, if you ever take that long to catch the Snitch again…”

“I –“

Wait, what?

But she threw her arms around me as best she could and hugged me close. “Keira Nyx, why didn’t I make you try out years ago!”

“Been asking myself the same question, Andrews.” Potter laughed from behind her. Lily was by his side, dancing from foot to foot with glee.

“Keira!” she yelled as Mel let me go. “Oh, I’m so proud of you! And to think you barely slept at all last night.”

That reminded me, and I chuckled as I worked my way out of her embrace. “Thanks, Lil. Where’s tall, dark and brooding?” I turned to James, who laughed before gesturing over his shoulder.

Peering around him, I saw Sirius shaking hands with Archie Holloway, the younger boy grinning up at the Seventh Year. Before I could move a step however, I was lifted into the air.

“Nyx! You just won me my bet!”

“Anthony King, you put me down!” I glared at him from my new height, unable to avoid him ruffling my hair as he set me back on the Pitch. I scowled at him, but he was so happy it was hard not to be as well.

That changed when I saw who was standing nervously behind him, though.

“Hey,” Henry mouthed, knowing full well I wouldn’t be able to hear him over the sounds of the Gryffindor stands, still cheering far above us.

“Hi,” I mouth back, unsure if I want to talk to him at the moment or not, although I knew I wouldn’t be able to avoid it forever.

“Keira! Come on! Back to the locker rooms for a team meeting!” Mel cried happily, walking backwards towards the edge of the Pitch.

“Coming!” I called, before turning back to Henry in the slowly dispersing crowd. “Can we talk later?”

“Of course,” he said, closing the gap between us. “Though I’m sure they’ll be having a party back in the Common Room, and you’ll want to go to that. At least for a bit,” he added, a small smile on his face as he looked down at me before him.

“I’m not a huge party person, you know that. Feel like coming and finding me around eight? I’ll slip out and we can talk.”

“Sounds like a plan. I’ll see you then.” Ever so slightly I saw him adjust his weight, and I knew him well enough to anticipate his next move.

But I was still angry at him, so I quickly smiled before jogging off to the locker rooms for that team meeting, feeling bad for leaving him there, but proud of myself for not caving at the same time.

Eight o’clock felt like hours away as I grabbed the towel hanging on the back of the door. James’ team meeting was more of an excuse for him to shout about how we were going to win the Cup, and for Benjy and Caradoc to climb on top of the lockers while he was too distracted to yell at them. They’d been trying to get away with that since third year, and while the idea didn’t quite hold its appeal anymore, they probably did it just to spite him.

Mel was chatting with Sirius when I exited the girl’s showers, still towel drying my hair.

“Potter, I reckon Black here should be permanent reserve,” Mel called over her shoulder to where the Quidditch Captain was stowing his broom.

“Fine by me, Andrews. It’s Padfoot you’ve got to work on.”

“Perhaps if you’re nice, I’ll think about it.” Sirius rolled his eyes as he stuffed his Quidditch robes into the basket in the corner where the house elves would tend to them.

“You lot coming or what?” Dearborn stuck his head back through the door, a ridiculous grin on his face. “Fenwick’s already chatted up three birds.” He rolled his eyes before spotting Archie leave the boy’s showers, still pulling his shirt over his head. “Come on, Holloway! Let’s see if we can find you a girl!”

“What? I don’t need a girl – “

“Of course you do! Now, come on. And hurry up you lot!” Caradoc called over his shoulder as he dragged the younger Chaser out the door.

Before any of us could move, Frank Longbottom stuck his head in the locker room. I shook my head. This was crazy.

“Potter. Black. You guys got food and drink sorted? I think Benjy said something about music, but I couldn’t hear him through the crowd of girls he was with.” Frank rolled his eyes.

“Yeah, Pete’s on it, and if Fenwick said he’s got music covered, then it sounds like we’re all set. Remus should have the place set up by now,” James said before turning to Sirius, who grinned. “Ready to celebrate?”


*

This was the first victory party I’d been too in a long time and my stomach was in knots as the portrait hole swung open. Normally I watched Mel’s game with Rae and Alice before quickly heading back and curling up in the dorm with a book, ignoring the music and people downstairs. Something told me I couldn’t do that this time. It might have been the fact that Mel was onto me, and kept glancing over her should every other minute to check whether I was still here. I still needed to talk to her about what had happened this morning, but I wanted to talk to Henry first. At least I’d have a reasonable excuse to leave at eight.

All the chairs in the Common Room had been pushed to the side, and one of the tables had a record player on it, undoubtedly one of Benjy’s albums blasting through the space. People were already dancing and Peter was pouring drinks at a table in the corner, flashing a grin as he topped off each glass with a flourish.

“Here’s our girl!” Caradoc shouted over the noise. “Here’s to starting off the season on a high!” He raised his glass in a toast, and everyone cheered before downing half their drinks. “And another for James Potter, who we all know will lead us to victory, yet again!” Sirius cheered loudly from behind me, and much to his credit, James actually appeared slightly embarrassed as the common room erupted in shouts and applause. I followed his line of sight to see Lily cheering with the rest, and I couldn’t contain the smile that spread across my face.

“Tell me about it,” a voice muttered in my ear, startling me. “About time, too. Still, they’ve got a long way to go, but at least it’s progress.” I turned to see Sirius smirking at me, and I laughed. “Drink?” he offered, and I nodded.

“Cheers.”

“Damnit, woman, there you are! Do you have any idea how hard it is to get near you?” Alice said as she hugged me.

“Apparently not,” I said as I hugged her back.

“You were brilliant, you know, absolutely brilliant. I thought you were going to fall flat on your face after seeing you at tryouts, but no, you managed. I’m so proud of you. You’re finally showing everyone else how great you are. It’s only taken you – what? Six years?” she teased, and I stuck my tongue out at her in return.

“She’s right though. Six years.” Reyna shook her head at me as she appeared beside Alice. “Oh well. Better late than never, I suppose.” I hugged her, too, before Sirius returned with drinks for all of us, although I’m not sure how he knew they were there.

“Well played today, Black.” Alice giggled as she took the last sip of her second drink sometime later. “You should have tried out for Chaser this year.”

Reyna peered at her out of the corner of her eye, and I eyed my own drink suspiciously. I was only halfway through my first, but I suddenly had the feeling I wasn’t just drinking Butterbeer. I casually placed it on the table behind me, not wanting to end up a giggling mess.

“Thanks, Foster, but I was only filling in. James couldn’t deal with me upstaging him all the time.” He nodded grimly, as if it was the sad truth, and I choked on my laughter as Alice giggled again.

The sound must had attracted Frank, because a second later he was there, congratulating Sirius on a good game, and watching Alice out of the corner of his eye with concern.

Nodding in the direction of the couch, Reyna took the hint and she, Sirius and I casually removed ourselves from the conversation, leaving Alice gazing up at Frank with a happy smile across her face.

“Maybe that’s all it’s going to take?” Reyna said, glancing over her shoulder at the pair of them.

“What? Getting one of them drunk?” Sirius scoffed. “I’ll be pissed if it is. Could have saved us months.”

So there was alcohol in my Butterbeer. Lovely.

“Tell me about it, they’ve been driving us all –“

“Hey, Wilkins, come here! Mel’s just about to tell us the story of your first broom ride.” Archie laughed, and before I could blink, Rae was off doing damage control.

Okay…” I said slowly, as her long hair disappeared into the crowd.

“Is it that bad of a story?” Sirius asked beside me, an amused expression on his face as he watched her go.

“Uh, yeah, and Mel’s going to get it if she was about to tell people.”

“Well, maybe you’ll have to tell me then?” Sirius smirked down at me, his hair falling in his eyes. “I’m always in the mood for a good embarrassing story.”

“Not likely, Black. I like my head the way it is, horn-free and all,” I mutter as I fall backwards onto the sofa.

“She’d seriously jinx you? It’s that bad?” he said, disbelieving. “Now you have to tell me.”

I raised an eyebrow at him and he laughed, sculling the rest of his drink and placing the empty glass on the floor beside his feet. When he turned to me, however, his expression was serious.

“Thanks, Nyx, for last night and all. Everyone’s right, it was a good game, and even though I’ll deny it forever, I’m glad you let me get drunk and then took advantage of me in my weakened state. Reg was all right with it – well, as all right as he’ll ever be – and I would have felt pretty crap today if you’d all had to forfeit because of me…” he trailed off at the end, scowling at his lap, as other thoughts were clearly occupying his mind.

“No problem.” I shrugged. “I’m just glad we won, and you playing wasn’t all for moot.”

He glanced back up at me, his easy smirk back on his face, but before he could say anything, Mel tapped me on the shoulder, frowning slightly.

“Hey, Henry’s outside. He said you were going to talk?”

What the hell was he doing here? There was no way it was eight already. He must be early. These parties never go this quickly when I'm upstairs.

Mel must have seen the alarm and confusion on my face, as she said, “I can tell him to get lost if you want. He’s my friend and all, Keira, but you come first.”

“Oh, no! I just – I still don’t know what I want to say, that’s all. Don’t worry about it, I’ll be out in a sec.”

“Okay then…” Mel muttered as she left, obviously not believing a thing I’d just told her. I stared after her, my mind back on the conversation Henry and I had had at breakfast.

“I think I’ve missed something,” Sirius said from beside me with a questioning eyebrow.

“Hmm?” I looked up at him to find his grey eyes meeting mine.

“Why’s Andrew’s offering to tell Watts to piss off?”

“We had a disagreement this morning, that’s all. Anyway, I should go talk to him.” I sighed. “See you, Black.”

He stood as I did, nodding in acknowledgement. “Later, Nyx.” Sirius grinned at me as I made my way across the room, while I rolled my eyes at him in return.

I caught a glimpse of him still standing there as I went to shut the portrait hole behind me, but then someone called his name and he merged in with the crowd.

Henry was watching me cautiously from where he was leaning against the wall outside in the corridor.

“Hey,” he said as made his way towards me.

“Hi,” I murmured in reply.

He was standing in front of me now and I had to crane my neck to look at his face. His hand twitched by his side, and I could tell he wanted to touch me, although I was grateful he didn’t. I knew if he did, I’d forgive him and I wasn’t ready to do that just yet.

“Can we walk?” I looked back at the portrait hole behind me, not wanting someone to come bursting out into the middle of our conversation.

“We can.” He smiled at me, and the knots in my stomach tightened. I still didn’t know what I wanted to say to him. At the moment, I didn’t feel like saying much at all. Forgiving him would be easier. I didn’t want to get into a fight, but I wasn’t going to let him keep up this disagreement either. If he could play Quidditch, so could I.

“Okay.” I nodded and we slowly began to make our way down the corridor, with no actual destination in mind.

I glanced at him as we walked in silence. His light brown hair was pushed back from his face, his light blue eyes thoughtful. He caught my eye, and I looked away quickly.

It wasn’t normally like this with Henry. We were usually effortless, but this silence between us was strained and uncomfortable and made my stomach churn.

I paused at the top of the stairs and Henry turned back to look at me from the second step down.

“What is it?”

“Do you know where we’re going?” I asked, and he shrugged.

“I have no idea, I was just following you.”

I snorted in amusement before sitting down, exhausted, and placing my head in my hands.

“You alright, Keir?” I felt Henry’s hand on my back and it all became too much. I fell sideways into his arms and he hauled me onto his lap, holding me to his chest. And I was happy to be there, although whether it was because it was Henry and I knew him like the back of my hand, or because he was my boyfriend of ten months, I was never sure.

I rested my head on his chest, and stared out at the paintings on the far wall. “This isn’t going to work.”

The words were out of my mouth before I could think, and I felt his hand freeze where it had begun drawing patterns on my back.

“What do you mean?” His voice came from high above my head, careful and cautious. Or was there some fear in there as well?

Oh dear.

This,” I waved my hands about, vaguely gesturing to everything, “this isn’t working.”

“Do you mean this staircase, or something else? Like Quidditch… or us?” he added in a whisper.

It was a good question, and I knew it was the one I’d been avoiding. “I don’t know.” I could barely hear myself. “Maybe.”

“Maybe what?”

“Maybe it is us. I thought it was just the Quidditch and your tendency to be controlling and how you won’t drop a grudge and playing against you as Seeker and –“ I paused. “No. I think it’s us.” I nuzzled my cheek against his chest and he began drawing patterns on my back again.

We sat like that for a while, both thinking about my words and I wanted desperately to slap myself. Henry’s the best thing to have happened to me. What on earth have I done?

“Maybe you’re right,” he says, breaking the silence. I release the breath I didn’t know I was holding.

“Really?”

“Yes? I don’t know. Keir…” I feel him exhale, and all I wanted to do was hug him because I knew he was hurting.

“I love you, Hen.”

“I know, Keir, I know. And I love you, too.”

“I don’t want to break up with you. This conversation wasn’t supposed to go like this,” I muttered mainly to myself.

“I don’t want to break up with you either, but you know how I feel about the Quidditch, and no matter what you say, that isn’t going to change. And the rest of my team will breathe easier knowing I’m not sleeping with the competition.”

“Henry, not much sleeping was done at all if I remember correctly.” I turn and raise an eyebrow at him, and he laughs.

“True. Although one of my favorite memories was waking up to find you still asleep,” the Ravenclaw said. “You look so peaceful when you’re like that. You worry too much normally.”

I smile at him before snuggling back into his chest. “I’m going to miss you, you know that, right?”

“Yeah, and I’ll miss you more,” he said into my hair. “Are you really that annoyed that I won’t drop a grudge?”

“Yes. It’s not as though it’s against Slytherin – it’s against Gryffindor: my house, my team. It’s irritating beyond belief when you or Anthony are anywhere near Potter or Black. Like when we were on the train, King lost it because they let off a dung bomb, and sure, I was pretty mad at them too, but in retrospect, Anthony was probably more pissed that it was them, rather than because of what they’d done. Its just stuff like that, Hen, it’s unnecessary and tiring,” I trailed off.

This was it – we were actually having this discussion. My stomach wasn’t in knots anymore. It had disappeared and left me feeling empty instead.

“Maybe you’ll get it now that you play. Quidditch grudges aren’t ones to let go of lightly, although I’m sorry Andy and I made you feel that way. It wasn’t intentional.”

“I know, and that’s why I didn’t say anything before, but now we’re here, having this conversation that I never thought we’d have, and it seemed like as good a time as any to bring it up.”

“Fair enough…” He was quiet for a while longer, and I had no idea what time it was anymore.

“Do me a favor?” I mumbled. This silence was getting to me.

“Anything, you know that,” he replied.

Oh, Henry, don’t say things like that. We’ve broken up - or are breaking up? Hell, I don’t even know where we are anymore.

“Don’t date Madison Cleansweep, alright?” I pulled away from him and looked up at his face, only to find him looking down at me with disbelief.

“Madison? You think I’d date Madison?” He laughed. “Oh, dear Rowena, no.” I felt the heat rising in my cheeks and I began to feel claustrophobic in his arms. I needed to run and hide, but Henry continued before I could move. “She’s given the team a great advantage with those brooms, but she’s got her head in the clouds if she thinks I’d ever consider dating her. No, she has her moments, but that’s about it.” He paused, lifting my chin so I was looking at him. “Were you jealous, Keira Nyx?”

Yes. Yes, Henry, I was.

“No.”

“I’d be jealous if someone was flirting with you like that. Hell, the idea of you with anyone else…” he trailed off.

“Maybe we shouldn’t do this then,” I said as I looked up at him again.

“No. You need this. You haven’t said anything to me about it, although I know you’ve mentioned to Mel about how you feel you go unnoticed. If it were anyone but you, I’d fully support her idea of getting them on the Quidditch team, and before you say anything, yes, I’m well aware I have double standards.” I raised my eyebrow at him and he shrugged. “I just want you safe, but I think I’m suffocating you instead. You deserve to shine, Keira Nyx, and if this is the only way you can do it, then fine.”

I felt cold, and pressed myself against his chest for warmth. His arms tightened around me briefly before shifting me out of his lap onto the step beside him. “You all right?” he asked, his eyes searching my face.

This was it. This was the end.

“Yeah, I’ll be fine. I just need a minute,” I replied, blinking up at him as I wrapped my arms around myself for warmth.

Slowly, he stood, never taking his eyes off me. “You’ll be okay, Keir. You’ll be better than me.” Leaning forward, he gently brushed his lips against my forehead, his nose buried in my hair. “I love you. Always will.” And with that, Henry Watts stepped back up onto the sixth floor and began to make his way back to the Ravenclaw common room, leaving me sitting on a cold stone step, trying to figure out where in that conversation I’d broken my own heart.

*

He found me. I’m not sure how, but I knew he would. Maybe it had something to do with that Map they’re always talking about, and maybe it didn’t. It might have been because we’d spent the night before in the same spot. I don’t know. Either way, he found me in the kitchens, in a seat by the fire, Abra lurking nervously behind me, wanting to help but not wanting to interrupt. I’d gone hunting for warmth and solitude, and I’d ended up here. I didn’t mind.

I felt him before I heard him, but I didn’t turn around. I just watched the fire dance, telling a story that us humans could never really understand, no matter what the Divination teachers say.

“Don’t worry, Abra. Two Butterbeers? Thanks.”

He was standing behind me. It was remarkable how much better I felt when he was. He was like a shield, blocking anything from touching me, from seeing me.

And the tears came silently, slowly, slipping down my face and falling off my cheeks. “What am I doing, Sirius? I’m pathetic,” I breathed as I ran my hands over my face.

“You are not pathetic. You’re a Muggleborn in the middle of a war. You’re a powerful witch that doesn’t believe in herself. You have a huge heart, and it leaves you feeling other people’s pain. You’re a kind soul, and you let people use you far too often, but that’s just who you are. You’re passionate, kind and motivated. You want to help people – you want to become a Healer for Merlin’s sake! You are not pathetic, Keira Nyx. Don’t you ever say that again.”

I peeked at him through my fingers to where he was now crouched beside me. His jaw was set and his eyes determined. What he’d said was so ‘un-Sirius’ - no joking, no brooding, no smirks. It was honest and determined and it scared me. Because he believed he was right. He thought I was all of those things. Since when did he think I was all of those things? Since when had Sirius Black cared about anyone other than himself and his closest friends?

He smiled sadly as he pulled my hands away from my face. “I mean it, Keira. You have no faith in yourself.” He scowled.

“You ego is big enough for the both of us,” I murmured, in hope of ridding his face of the scowl.

Woah – did I just say us?

I did.

My dear Godric.

I let the word run around in my head a bit more.

Us.

But I was distracted as a smile tugged at his mouth.

“Yeah, it probably is. But that’s beside the point, Nyx.”

“I hate this war, Sirius.” Tears started to sting my eyes again, and I furiously blinked them away. “I hate this so much. I feel trapped, like I’m not going anywhere. It’s as if the world has stopped and time isn’t passing; yet we keep living. Every day is the same. People are dying out there, and I feel selfish for sitting around in History of Magic and complaining about homework, yet I do anyway. They want people like me dead – hell, people like me are dying! And I’m sitting here feeling sorry for myself because Henry and I broke up? I am pathetic, Sirius. Please don’t tell me otherwise.”

He looks at me for a moment, his dark hair in his eyes, before swearing loudly, slamming his fist down onto the ground next to him. I heard house elves muttering behind us, but he ignored them, pulling at his hair in exasperation.

“I ran away from my family. I left them all behind and moved in with Prongs. I turned my back on them and have a bloody terrible relationship with my brother, who’s the only member of the family who’ll talk to me on occasion. The only reason I left is because of what they were trying to get me involved in, You-Know-Who and all that stuff. If I hadn’t been such good friends with James, seen how good his parents could be and how different the other side of this war is, I probably wouldn’t have left. I wouldn’t have joined them, but I would still be lazing around Grimmauld Place with my Gryffindor scarf just to piss mum off. That’s pathetic, Keira. The extent I went to – hell, still go to – to make them mad is pathetic. What they’re doing, what they believe in, is pathetic: that Muggleborns don’t deserve magic, that they stole it, that they should be killed. It shows how pathetic they are, and how narrow-minded and stupid people can be. You’re human, Nyx,” he smiled at me again, “you’re allowed to feel upset over things like this. I’d be worried if you didn’t, yeah?”

“But so many people are dying – ” I start.

“But you’re not. And you’re going to join the Healer program and help stop other people from dying, okay? You’re going to help where our side needs it the most, and you’re going to make a difference. Don’t you dare feel guilty,” he said, cutting me off. His eyes were blazing now, his face so close to mine that I was sure we were breathing the same air. “Got it?”

“Yes.”

“Good.” Sirius nodded with finality, before getting up from where he was crouched next to me.

“Is Sir and Miss happy to take their drinks now, Sir? Abra didn’t want to interrupt, Mr Black or Miss Keira.”

I looked up and smiled at Abra. No matter how bad I felt, just the sight of her big eyes and teatowl dress made me want to hug her. “Yes, Abra. We’d love those drinks. Thank you.”

She beamed at me as she placed them on a stool just off to the side of my chair. “Anything else, Miss Keira?”

“No thanks, Abra. I think we’re good.” She nodded and hurried away as Sirius reached for the glasses, handing one to me. Holding his up, I took the hint and clinked mine against his. “Cheers.” I laughed at his pleased expression. Thoughtful and deep Sirius was gone and happy and arrogant Sirius was back.

I asked him how the party had been after I’d left, and he said it’d been fine – that Peter had had too much to drink, and Remus had dragged him off the table where he’d started singing about how we were going to win this year. He chuckled slightly at the memory from his place on the floor in front of me, and I laughed imagining Remus’s expression.

We chatted aimlessly for a while, where I asked him about his love for motorbikes and he asked me about my Muggle parents. The whole time a question lurked unanswered in the back of my mind, and during a natural lapse in the conversation I finally asked, “Why did you come looking for me?”

“Because we're even now? I dunno. It’s too early in the morning for questions that require thinking.”

I raised an eyebrow at his expression, before trying to stifle a yawn. What time was it anyway?

“Is that a yawn, Miss Nyx?” Sirius chuckled, setting down his near empty glass. “Come on, I think it’s time we head back. There won’t be any prefects around anyway; only idiots are up at this hour.”

“We’re up at this hour,” I mumbled through another yawn.

“My point exactly.” He laughed as he hauled himself off the floor.

“Bye, Abra!” I called over my shoulder as we made our way towards the door, and the little house elf looked up from the bench she was working at to smile and wave at me.

“Goodbye, Miss Keira! Goodbye, Mr Black! Abra hopes you visit soon!”

And just in case I hadn’t been sure before, I definitely wanted to take her home with me now.

Sirius peered at me out of the corner of his eye as we made our way down the corridor outside. “What?” he asked.

“What?” I turned to face him, drawn out of my thoughts.

“Don’t ‘what’ me. What are you smiling at?”

“Nothing. Just Abra.” I grinned at him and he rolled his eyes as we entered the Entrance Hall.

“If you say so.”

We climbed the stairs in silence as we made our way back towards Gryffindor Tower. Somewhere on the third floor my eyelids grew heavy, and by the time we’d reached the fifth floor, I was ready to curl up on the slabs of flagstone and sleep.

“Tired?” Sirius chuckled as he waited for me by a tapestry. I was beginning to lag behind. I nodded sleepily, and as if on cue, I yawned again. “Come on, we aren’t far now.”

I pulled a face in reply, and before I knew it, he’d picked me up and was carrying me in his arms along the passage behind the wall hanging.

Sirius Black was carrying me. Actually carrying me.

I tensed slightly before looking at him, my eyes wide. Realizing that his actions may have been slightly out of the ordinary, he spoke.

“You’re too slow otherwise, and I do want to get back before sunrise. Some sleep this evening would be nice, you know?” He raised an eyebrow at me and I looked up at him, poking out my tongue before letting my eyes fall closed. His point was valid enough, I reasoned.

He was warm. So warm. He smelled like soap and something else that I couldn’t put my finger on. The first thing that came to mind was dog, although that couldn’t be right, so I dismissed it lazily.

My mind drifted as I appreciated the heat he radiated.

“Hey, Nyx? I can’t go up the stairs, so you’re going to have to walk. Nyx? Keira?” Sirius murmured.

“Hmmm,” I mumbled, refusing to open my eyes, still groggy from sleep. My cheek was resting against his chest, and while somewhere in the back of my mind I knew I’d be mortified in the morning, at that moment I didn’t care. He was comfortable, and I didn’t want to walk all the way up to the Sixth Year girl’s dormitory.

“Come on, wake up.”

I grunted as he gently lowered my legs to the ground, forcing me onto my feet.

“Night, Nyx.” He smiled at me before disappearing up the staircase to his own dormitory.

“Night, Black,” I murmured, even though he was already gone, before hauling myself up the stairs to bed.

Once I was back under the covers, I let my eyelids droop again as I waited for sleep to welcome me back into it’s arms.

I hated this war. I hated that Sirius didn’t really have a family, and I hated that Mel lost hers. I hated that I was lying here in my scarlet and gold dormitory, safe under a duvet while people might be dying outside – people like me. In that moment, I wanted to change the world.

Instead, I slept.



Author's Note:
Aaaaaand, we have a new chapter. Isn't that exciting? I'm excited at any rate. Hopefully you all like this one. It was hard to write, (mainly because I love Henry and I wanted to get the right feel across during their big conversation). Sirius came and found her, but don't think they're getting together anytime soon. He just feels he owes her after she got him to see sense and fill in, so he went looking for her incase she was in trouble. Sirius Black does not like feeling indebted to anyone. Anywho, I have exams at the moment (yuck) and I should be writing a speech at the moment, but it's hard and I don't want to, so I updated this earlier than planned.
Hopefully you like this chapter. Let me know what you think, because I'm craving the feedback on this one!

Remember, reviews are better than that after exam feeling!
Best wishes,
- A. :)


Chapter 13: Conversations and Confrontations
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Chapter XIII - Conversations and Confrontations

"So let me get this straight," Mel began from her spot next to me. "You were in the Library with Remus, when Sirius turned up because he was annoyed at James. Remus left, and eventually you and Sirius were kicked out, before you both proceeded to the kitchens. You then managed to convince Sirius Black – pureblood royalty, ladies man, and all round bad boy – to make you brownies?"

"After getting him drunk," Alice added from the end of my bed.

"After getting him drunk," Mel agreed, shaking her head in disbelief.

"While the next morning, you had a fight with your boyfriend of nearly ten months, played your first Quidditch match for Gryffindor, won your first Quidditch match for Gryffindor – and proved that Black's brother is rubbish, by the way – before coming back to the common room where you were seen having a brief but friendly chat with Black before you disappear to see Henry, who you break up with. Sirius then finds you in the kitchens, and helps you to bed in the early hours of this morning?" Reyna just blinks at me after repeating the second half of the story I'd just told them all. I think she's in shock.

I just nod, my mouth too full of the blueberry pancakes that Alice had brought up from breakfast. I'd still been asleep, but after they'd returned, the three of them had grown impatient and had woken me up to hear the story of the past two days.

It didn't feel like two days. So much had happened that it felt like weeks.

"Well then," Alice said with a nod, as if she was glad that everything had been sorted.

"There's no 'well then' about it," Melody replied, pinching a blueberry that I'd been chasing with my fork. I scowled at her along with Alice who was still monitoring my eating habits.

"So you're single now? Just like that?" Reyna piped up again. "You and Henry are over?"

"Yeah," I said slowly, trying to wrap my head around the fact that he wouldn't be joining us for breakfast as he'd grown accustomed to doing, that he wouldn't walk me to class, that he wouldn't pick me up and kiss my head when I ran into him in the Entrance Hall, and that he didn't even have any reason to talk to me. He could pretend I didn't exist if he wanted to.

But then brief flashes of the few times I'd seen him at the beginning of the holidays flashed through my mind, and I put my food aside, blushing. He could pretend I didn't exist if he wanted too, but I'd still seen him naked.

"There's still possibilities for you both later down the road," Alice said with a shrug. "He obviously loves you, and it's not like you broke up due to irreconcilable differences. It sounds more like you needed a break to focus on other things for a while."

"Maybe, I dunno. But that's not really something I want to think about now, if that's okay." I gave her a small smile, still adjusting to the knowledge that I wasn't supposed to hug him when I next saw him.

Godric, I missed him already. Maybe this breaking up business was a bad idea.

"Oh, no, of course. I was just saying, that's all," Alice hurried to correct herself, and I smiled at her, grateful when she returned it.

"While I'm still wrapping my head around it, I think it's a good idea," Mel said, helping herself to another blueberry off my plate. I shot her a glare before moving my plate to my other side, out of her reach. It was very rare that Hogwarts had pancakes for breakfast, and the blueberry ones were even rarer.

"What? Us getting back together later?" I asked, thinking we'd dropped this topic as it made me nervous about the whole breaking up in the first place business.

"Hmm? Oh, Merlin, no. I meant ending it. I like Watts, don't get me wrong, he's great, but I think this whole thing will do you good," Mel said.

"You broke up for the right reasons. You really need to be comfortable with yourself before you go into any serious relationships, otherwise everything ends up unequal and never works out in the end," Reyna nodded, agreeing with Mel. "Work stuff out, get into Quidditch, get it in your head that your weight isn't an issue – and that you're completely mental for thinking so – and then do what you like. If that means getting back with Henry then go for it. If it means going out with someone else, then that's fine, too. But I think you need some 'you' time, Keir."

I smiled at the lot of them, before struggling to hide a yawn. Merlin, I was exhausted.

Alice smiled at my sympathetically. "Tired?"

"Staying out with Sirius Black will do that to a girl," I deadpanned, before adding an overly obvious wink.

Alice laughed at my insinuation, but Reyna asked, "Does this mean you're friends or something?"

"Honestly? I don't know. I don't think so, at any rate. It means he knows my name now, and might acknowledge me in passing, but no, I don't think we're friends."

"Shame. If you had been, then you would have been forced to go to his party." Mel grinned at the scowl I shot her.

"Yeah, well, I'm not, so sorry to disappoint."

Before Mel could reply or Alice could tell us to shut up, there was a knock at the door.

"Are you lot in there?" called Lily Evans, and I sat up straighter against the headboard, suddenly aware that I was still in my pajamas.

Goblins, I bet I looked a mess.

"Yeah, what's up?" Reyna called over her shoulder after shooting the rest of us a confused look. We all shrugged, none of us with any idea why the Head Girl would be looking for us.

She poked her head around the door, smiling as she saw us, all squished onto my bed. "Mind if we come in?"

We?

"Of course you can come in. Anything the matter?" Melody asked calmly, but if you looked closely, her eyes were slightly too wide, too cautious, to be as relaxed at her tone.

"Oh, no, nothing's the matter, but, love," Lily turned her attention to me as Leah, Mary and Rebecca all followed her into our dormitory, “you should hear the things people are saying about you."

"Like what?" I asked quickly.

"Well, everyone's raving about that dive you made –"

"Which was brilliant, by the way," Rebecca cut in with a smile on her face, and it was the first time I'd seen her so happy since the news about her dad.

"Agreed," Lily continued. "And if they aren't talking about Quidditch, then they're talking about how you went missing with Sirius Black all evening, didn't get back till after midnight, and broke up with your long term boyfriend the next day. Is that true, by the way? About you and Henry?" Her smile slipped into a look of concern as she and Mary sat down on Mel's bed, leaving Leah to settle herself on the floor between the four-posters, while Rebecca opted to lean against the end of the bed.

"Far out, I sound like a cheating slag!” I buried my face in my hands. “But yes, the part about Henry and I is true. Although, it had nothing to do with Sirius Black." I frowned, looking out from between my fingers.

"You're all anyone can talk about, Nyx. You’re like a new celebrity. And all the people that knew you before yesterday are suddenly claiming it like it's some big deal. It's sort of pathetic really." Mary rolled her eyes, giving me an encouraging smile.

"Everyone was looking for you at breakfast. They seemed quite disappointed that you weren't there," Leah said suddenly. "Lily deducted House points."

"What for?" Rae asked, confused.

"Vicious rumour spreading and defamation of character, if they were speculating about cheating on Watts with Black or gossiping about your breakup. I didn't see any harm in them gushing over your magnificent dive, though." Lily grinned, and I felt some weight in my stomach lighten, knowing that someone was looking out for me. It was incredibly kind of her, and something she certainly didn't have to do, and yet she had, and I was grateful.

"Are you actually allowed to do that, though? Not that I have any complaints," Alice rushed to add.

"I'm Head Girl, I can do what I like." She laughed. "Besides, any excuse to take points off the other houses and help us in the Cup is a good one. And Keira here so happens to be more than a good excuse."

"Thank you," I said softly, incredibly grateful for what Lily had done.

"Don't mention it. It's not like McGonagall will have a problem with it. She's more competitive than Potter – she's just more subtle about it." Lily brushed it off.

"The real reason we stopped by was to make sure you were okay," Mary said.

"And to hear the story of what actually happened," Rebecca cut in.

Lily hit her over the back of the head with a hiss. “Becs!”

Of course she wanted the gossip, I thought. But I suppose I didn't blame her. I'd want to know if it had been one of them. Rebecca was just more forward about it.

Sighing, I repeated the story for the second time that morning; Mel, Alice and Rae cutting in occasionally with bits I'd explained to them in more detail that they felt were important.

"So, yeah, that's it. And I don't really know where Black and I stand now, or how I'm supposed to act around Henry, or anything really, but I suppose I'll figure that out as I go," I concluded.

The seventh years were quiet for a minute, contemplating all that I'd told them, before Rebecca asked a question.

"Did you sleep with Watts while you were together?"

I stared at the honest curiosity on her face, and if I hadn't been so glad this was the most normal she'd been since her dad died, I'd have been incredibly awkward about the whole thing.

"Uh, yeah. When I saw him over the holidays before he left for Wales, we..."

I didn't know what to say. Were these girls my friends? They weren't strangers, but I didn't know how to answer such a personal question. Would they judge me? They were older than me, probably all more experienced then me, and they now probably thought I was a slag. Brilliant.

"Guessing it was your first time?" Mary smiled. "Far out, it's so awkward at the beginning, isn't it? You just look at them and wonder how on earth it's going to fit," she said, laughing.

Not sure how we'd managed to sidetrack onto our sex lives, I chuckled nervously. But Mary smiled, and I realized she was offering up her story to make me feel less awkward about Rebecca asking for mine.

"Hurts, too. But after that it's not so bad. Especially if you're with someone who knows what he’s doing," she continued, and I suddenly remembered that Mary had had an on and off thing with Sirius Black for years.

Merlin, what had she thought of my tale of last night? And had she lost it to him? Was she talking about him now? Oh, good Godric.

"Michael will forever be the one that got away for you, won't he?" Lily laughed, nudging her friend in the side, and I released the breath I hadn't realized I'd been holding.

"Honey, if you'd been there, you'd know why," Mary said, nudging Lily back.

"Yeah, except I'm really glad I wasn't," the redhead said, making a face.

Rebecca grinned along with her mates, before turning back to the rest of us. "Any of you lot lost it?"

Alice, Reyna and Mel all shook their heads and Lily smiled. "Seriously, it's not something to worry about, despite what people might say. Find a decent bloke you care about, and even then, don't rush into it. I lost mine over the holidays between Fifth and Sixth year to this muggle guy I'd been having a fling with, and really I wish I hadn't."

"I lost mine beginning of fifth year," Rebecca started, "to some Seventh year I'd spent my summer with. Our families had both spent it in Briton, but anyway. We'd recognized each other from school, even though we'd never spoken, and started to hang out. We ended up having a bit of a fling. I figured when he got back to school that he wouldn't be interested, but he was, and we eventually did it in an empty classroom at three in the morning." Rebecca shook her head, a slight frown tugging at her mouth from the memory. "We saw each other for maybe two months after that, before it just fell apart. He was two years older than me, though, so I should have known that it was never going to work."

"I've never really had a boyfriend, so it hasn't been an issue," Rae said with a shrug.

"Ah, but we're working on that." Mel grinned, nudging Reyna with her foot. Alice laughed, and Mel turned to her. "Don't even get me started on you, miss! You're just as bad – if not worse – than Reyna, here."

Alice went pink, looking down at her hands in embarrassment as we chuckled.

"It's true. You and Frank are both so blind to your feelings," Lily said. "It'd be adorable if it wasn't so annoying."

Alice's head shot up, her jaw slack as she stared at Lily. "How do you know about Frank?"

We all laughed at that. "As I said, you and Frank are the only people who don't know about you and Frank."

"Yes, well..." Alice was bright pink with embarrassment.

The seventh year girls left not long after, and Rae, Alice, Mel and I spent most of the day in the dormitory where I could escape running into Henry, who’d no doubt heard the rumors about Black and I, or running into Black himself for obvious reasons. In fact, it wasn’t really until breakfast on Monday morning that I was forced to deal with everything that had happened.

“Nice of you to join us today, Keira,” Benjy said, nudging me in the shoulder as I slipped into the seat next to him. “We missed you yesterday, and so did half of Gryffindor, all stopping by to congratulate you. Of course, we said we were happy to pass it along, didn’t we, Doc?”

“Oh, yes. Benjy was very happy to pass along that fifth year girl’s praise. Chatted to her for a good ten minutes to make sure he got the message right,” Caradoc deadpanned, snatching the piece of bacon Mel was reaching for. She scowled, snatching it off his plate instead and stuffing it in her mouth so he couldn’t pinch it back. He scowled at her before inspecting the remaining bacon for some he liked the look of.

I chuckled, eyeing a blueberry muffin and reaching for it. Breaking off a piece and popping it in my mouth, I said, “And this message was?”

“That’s she single, broke it off with her boyfriend a few months ago, and now feels ready to move onto a new relationship when she finds the right guy; she prefers brunettes to blondes, and think’s Benjy here is pretty cute,” Caradoc rattled off as Fenwick’s face went slightly pink. Rae laughed as Alice nearly choked on her pumpkin juice.

“Didn’t forget anything?” I teased, popping more muffin into my mouth.

“I’m sure I have, but that was the gist of the conversation. You know, the important parts.” Caradoc nodded, looking thoughtful.

“Good, good. I’m glad.” Looking up the table as students slowly began the move to class. “What have we got first?” I asked no one in particular.

“Defense with Grimstone,” Alice said, looking up from her timetable. She’d had similar thoughts to me from the look of it.

“Ah, we should get going then.” Rae pushed away her plate and grabbed her bag, only to change her mind and seize her discarded toast for the road. Smiling at her, we began to make our way towards the Defense classroom.

In a good mood, I wasn’t really paying attention to the continued conversation; happy to just laugh at overheard jokes and stare out the windows we passed. The sunlight was weak, not really gaining strength until mid-morning these days. The sudden temperature drop we had every year – the true signifier of winter – wasn’t due for another week or two yet, although it was impossible to deny the evenings were growing cooler. I wondered if we’d have a white Christmas at Hogwarts this year? That’d be nice, I thought as we stepped onto the stairs leading up to the third floor.

I hadn’t made it four steps though, before the staircase began to move, the students near the top groaning as they appeared to have just missed their stop. Looking out over area, I tried to figure out which corridor the staircase would stop at, mapping out alternate routes to class in my head.

Turning on the spot, I was distracted by the three third years staring up at me from the bottom step, eyes wide. I smiled uneasily, about to turn back around and forget the awkward encounter, when one of them tugged on my robes slightly, apparently unable to reach my shoulder from their position below me.

“You’re Keira Nyx, right?” the one on the right asked, fiddling with her Hufflepuff tie. “The Gryffindor Seeker?”

“Uh, yeah,” I said, readjusting my bag on my shoulder, not sure where this was going.

“See!” she turned to her friend, hitting the brunette on the shoulder. “I told you it was her. We weren’t totally sure because you look different fifty feet in the air, but we just wanted to tell you that your catch on the weekend was wicked,” she explained, grinning at me.

“We were cheering for you,” piped up the third girl who didn’t appear to be as outspoken as her friends. Still, she shot me a small smile, as I stood there bewildered. Apparently Caradoc hadn’t been exaggerating as much as I thought when he’d said people had wanted to congratulate me yesterday.

Realising I hadn’t said anything, and that the three Hufflepuff’s looked like they were beginning to regret opening their mouths, I quickly forced a smile on my face. “Thanks! It’s really nice of you to say that.”

They smiled, but Rae cut them off before they could say anything else. “Come on, newly famous. We’ll be late to class now, even if we cut through the court yard,” she said, tugging on my robes as she made her way with the others up the stairs. Stumbling after her, I flashed another smile at the third years over my shoulder, not quite sure at which point of the conversation that the warmth had settled in my stomach.

I should have known it wouldn’t last for long.

*

Everything I’d been avoiding on Sunday morning caught up with me just after the bell went for lunch. McGonagall dismissed us promptly, probably because she couldn’t stand the sight of us any longer after our dismal attempts at turning a paperclip into a usable teacup. Teacups had been achievable. Apparently ones much bigger than our thumbs were not…

“Time slows when we’re in that classroom, I swear!” Alice said, rolling her neck and smiling as it cracked.

“It’s magic I tell you,” Rae joked, and I chuckled as Mel shook her head with a smile.

“Keira, can I talk to you?”

I started at the hand on my shoulder, freezing as I saw whom it belonged to.

Goblins.

And to think, I’d been avoiding responsibility for my actions so well up until now.

“Uh, sure, Olivia,” I said, stepping off to the side and in front of Olivia Cole. She glanced at my friends, wringing her hands slightly, and I looked over my shoulder to see them still standing there, assessing the situation. “I’ll see you down there.” I waved them on, a fake smile on my face as dread crept into my stomach.

Sweet Circe, this girl must hate me with all these rumors flying around.

Turning back to her, I swallowed, composing my face into polite interest as she continued to watch my friends slowly make their way to lunch. From the half smile on Olivia’s face, I could guess that they kept looking back at us.

Olivia was a pretty girl, I realized as I watched her watch my friends. Her hair was long, and from the looks of it, no strand was the same shade of brown, which left it shimmering through the spectrum in the corridor light. Her eyes were dark, even if slightly too far apart, and framed by manicured eyebrows, while she worried her full lip with her teeth.

Finally, she looked at me and smiled nervously again. “Look, you probably know what this is about, so I’ll cut straight to it – Sirius has been avoiding me since Saturday, and now with all these rumors popping up about your two disappearing on Friday night together, plus your sudden break-up with Henry Watts…” she trailed off, looking uncomfortable as I stood there blinking at her.

The dread was gone. She wasn’t yelling at me, and as far as I could gather, she wasn’t outright accusing me of anything either.

Okay. Deep breath. I could work with this; I just had to get in there and set the record straight as quickly as possible.

I opened my mouth, but she cut me off. “I’m not accusing you of anything, but you have to see why I’m a bit worried. I have no clue what’s going on, Sirius won’t talk to me, and I just want your version of what happened,” she hastened to add.

“First up,” I said smiling at her, “my break-up with Henry has nothing to do with Black. It was due to a whole bunch of things, but I can assure you, none of them were Sirius Black.”

Olivia let out a sigh, her smile stretching and becoming more genuine. I found mine mirroring hers, and upon realization, we both awkwardly chuckled.

“Secondly, yes, I was with Sirius for a few hours on Friday night, but it wasn’t at all like what people are saying. We were kicked out of the library and because we’d missed dinner, we went to get food. We talked about Quidditch a bit, and I convinced him to play for us in the match as we were down a Chaser. That’s it. It wasn’t some romantic dinner, or anything like that. It was mismatched chairs, surrounded by house elves, talking about sport; you have nothing to worry about, and I’m so sorry that the gossip in this school led you to believe otherwise,” I said, deliberately leaving out the alcohol consumption, the flirting that it had taken to get him to agree, and the actual number of hours we’d spent down there together. There was nothing going on between Black and I. I knew that, Sirius knew that, and anyone who’d been there would know that, but I also knew it wouldn’t sound like it if I told her the whole truth. My tone was sincere, though, as I took a step towards the Hufflepuff.

Godric, I was good at this; I even believed myself as I continued. “This whole thing is made up of independent events that’ve all happened to coincide at once, making things awkward for everyone involved. I can see how Black avoiding you would make it look worse than it is, but I’m glad that you came to talk to me. I would have come to clear things up yesterday, but I thought Black had spoken to you.”

That was a lie; there was no way I would have gone to see her yesterday. Hell, I still wish we weren’t having this conversation now. This was Black’s girlfriend; he should be cleaning up this mess. Then again, I hadn’t exactly been going out of my way to find Henry either. My nose twitched in distaste at the thought, but the rest of my face remained calm as Olivia nodded along with what I’d just said. I couldn’t break the mask until she was gone. I needed her on my side for this.

I could see her working my words through her head, testing them against what she’d heard and whether they seemed believable. I just continued to smile encouragingly at her. If I said something now, it’d appear that I was trying too hard to convince her. Guilty people over share when giving excuses, trying to cover every hole in their story. Honest people don’t see the possible holes in their story because it’s the only story they know, and therefore only share further details when prompted. Staying quiet and appearing open was important here.

Eventually she smiled, relaxing her shoulders, which I hadn’t realized had been tensed. “So you weren’t sneaking off to Hogsmeade to see a Healer because you’re carrying his baby?”

I blinked at her, once, twice, three times, as I processed what she’d just said.

“People think I look pregnant?”

Talk about rude.

“Not likely.” She chuckled. “I’m fairly sure it was just Justin Lewis being a prat. He loves it when there’s gossip in Hufflepuff that doesn’t involve him,” Olivia said apologetically, and I shrugged in acceptance. Getting annoyed at her wasn’t going to do much difference.

“It’s fine. Are we good, though? I don’t want any misunderstandings –“

“Keira!”

Ah, hell.

Olivia’s eyes widened slightly at the noise, and I recomposed my face as I turned towards Henry jogging up the corridor.

“We need to talk.” His voice was flat – measured – and I could smell his cologne from where he’d stopped next to me. He glanced at Olivia before doing a double take, realizing what he’d just interrupted. “You’re Olivia Cole, Sirius Black’s bird, right?”

“That’s me.”

“Good. Okay then… well… I know I’m probably interrupting something important, but if I could talk to Keira for a moment…”

I let my head fall backwards, staring at the ceiling. This was so awkward. Why did I have to be here for this? I just wanted lunch for heaven’s sake. I’d gotten Olivia onside, she was smiling at me like I was her best friend as opposed to a potential boyfriend stealer, and all in all, I think I’d done pretty well. Food seemed like an excellent reward before I had to tackle the Henry problem, which I knew would be harder; one, he and I had history which always complicated things; two, it was recent history – raw – which meant anything to do with it would hurt more than normal; and three, his Ravenclaw brain would pick apart everything I said and did, meaning it’d be a tedious conversation.

As Olivia said something that sounded like ‘that’s fine, we were pretty much done here anyway’ I heard footsteps approaching. Glancing around the Hufflepuff, I met eyes with Sirius Black, and sprang into action as he began to quietly retreat back the way he’d come from before either Henry or Olivia noticed him.

Ducking past her, I dropped my bag as I sprinted after him, grabbing the back of his robes as he tried to make a break for it around the corner.

“You,” I hissed, “are not leaving me to sort out his mess by myself. I’ve already been cornered by your girlfriend, and now Henry’s found me, and I’m not letting you bugger off to who-knows-where until it suits you.”

Sirius looked at me with wide eyes, surprised by my tone as I stood still holding the back of his robes. I clenched my jaw, refusing to let go until he conceded to help, although there was a flicker of guilt at the back of my mind. He’d only been doing what I wished I could do. There wasn’t really any reason to snap at him the way I had, was there? The longer we stood there looking at each other, the more the guilt grew, until I was about to let him go and apologize. Before I could say anything, however, his eyes flickered to something over my shoulder.

“Watts.” He nodded, the epitome of calm as he removed my hand from his robes.

I turned to find Henry standing there with a raised brow, my discarded bag over his shoulder. I took it from him before stuffing my hands in my pockets. How did I get myself into these situations?

“Oliva, I was just looking for you,” Sirius continued, moving towards her a soft smile on his face that hadn’t been there before.

She stepped towards him subconsciously, looking up at him with a wiry smile on her lips. “Were you just?”

“I was, but you were talking to both Nyx and Watts, and I didn’t want to get involved in their domestic. Since I’m with you now, though, why don’t we leave them to it and go talk, hmm?” he said, throwing his arm around her shoulder and steering her back up the corridor. He flashed me a look over his shoulder that clearly said “we’ll talk about this later” before disappearing around the corner.

I wanted to kick the wall, he was so infuriating. Kicking him would have worked just as well, now that I thought about it.

“If you’re done running from me,” Henry started, his eyebrow still raised as he dropped my bag to the floor.

“I wasn’t running from you,” I lied. I don’t think it was possible for his eyebrow to look more skeptic.

He took a step towards me and I felt the breath rush out of me as I realized we were alone. I could smell his cologne, which used to seem overpowering, but now smelt familiar, comforting… like home. I wanted to hug him. I wanted to fling my arms around him and never let go, and it killed me that I was the reason I couldn’t.

I took a step back, disguising it as re-adjusting my weight. I needed space. Oh, Godric, did I need space. I couldn’t even look him in the eye. Why do I suddenly feel like this now that I can’t have him?

“You need to tell me what happened Friday night, Keira. I’ve heard a lot of things these past forty-eight hours, and I need the truth from you.” His voice was hard – serious – and I didn’t like it.

“Nothing happened between me and Sirius Black, Henry. You know I’m not that type of person. This whole thing is made up of separate events that have all happened at once, and then grown hugely out of proportion thanks to gossiping Hufflepuffs.” I reworked my words from before, too distracted thinking of what Olivia had said of Justin Lewis and his pregnant rumour spreading. The prat.

“What did happen then, Keir? You were supposedly in the kitchens with him? How do you even know where the kitchens are?” As he shouted the last part, I frowned at him. I knew he was upset, and I knew he had the right to be, but I didn’t like that he was yelling.

“I was in the library with Remus Lupin, when Black came looking for him because he was in a tiff with Potter over the fact that he wouldn’t play on Saturday. Lupin was trying to study and so I gave Black one of those magazines my dad sends me because he’s interested in motorbikes. Black was appeased, Lupin went back to the common room, and I continued with my essay. We lost track of time, got kicked out, and had missed dinner. We were both hungry, so we went to the kitchens, which Lily Evans had showed me first week back, thank you very much,” I snapped. “Since I was with him, I thought I’d try and convince Black to play for us the next day, as that way he and Potter wouldn’t be at odds with each other anymore, letting Remus – and Gryffindor tower for that matter – have some peace and quiet. He eventually agreed to play, we went back to the common room, and that’s it, Henry. That’s all that happened.

He stood there for a moment, his jaw tense as anything, before his anger visibly collapsed as he sunk against the corridor wall, his head in his hands. “I believe you,” he mumbled. “I’m sorry, I had no right to yell.”

Damn right, you didn’t.

“It’s fine,” I said shortly, although the anger wasn’t really there.

I watched him for a moment before sitting across from him, making sure we weren’t touching.

“This is hard for me, too…” I started, unsure where I was going with the statement. He shot me a look, but I could tell he didn’t really mean it. “I’m sorry that all of this has happened at once. Black had nothing to do with us. What happened between us, I think that had been coming for a while, even if neither of us wanted to admit it.”

Henry wouldn’t look at me; instead he stared aimlessly up the corridor, resting his head back against the grimy stonewall.

“I just want to hold you,” he said eventually.

I just wanted to be held.

“I’m sorry,” I said as I got up to go, grabbing my bag and taking one last look at him.

And I was. I really was.



Author's Note:
I can't even apologise for how late this is, but my life has been crazy since I've last updated. I've sat through assessments, two lots of exams, I graduated high school, and somehow found a boyfriend, who's been more than amazing helping me through the problems my family is facing at the moment. Hopefully you'll all forgive me for this chapter's tardiness.

This chapter is not only late, but also a mess. There are things I don't like, things that I've pushed in here because I don't know where else to put them, and things that hopefully aren't too terrible to read. This hasn't been beta'd yet, I will hopefully update it (and add a chapter image from those amazing artists at TDA) soon. Still, I was desperate to get it to you, so hopefully it's okay. I'll try and have the next one up soon. Chapter 15 is underway, I just need to fill 14 first, haha.

Remember, reviews make my cry with happiness (even if I don't deserve them because I take too long to update).
Best wishes,
- A. :)


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