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Broken by Yasmin93

Format: Novel
Chapters: 7
Word Count: 30,323
Status: WIP

Rating: 15+
Warnings: Contains profanity, Mild violence

Genres: Drama, Romance, Action/Adventure
Characters: Lupin, Snape, James, Lily, Sirius, Pettigrew, OC
Pairings: Sirius/OC, James/Lily

First Published: 05/24/2017
Last Chapter: 09/27/2017
Last Updated: 09/27/2017

Summary:
Brooke's whole life halted to a stop whilst the rest of the world continued without her. Wanting more than anything to be happy again, Brooke relies on unlikely companionships to do this. And will finding out the truth heal her or push her further into the darkness?


Chapter 1: Chapter One - Going Home
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WARNING: Strong Language




 

 The bright red steam train waited patiently on the platform as children slowly piled onto it. The platform was scattered with families all saying their goodbyes. Nervous first years bid adieu to their parents. They looked nervously around them, eyeing each other up wearily. They were trying to figure out who looked like the sort of person they'd want to be friends with. It was that or sit by themselves for the long journey to Hogwarts.

The older children, the returning students, were all excited. They grumbled and rushed their goodbyes with their families as their eyes danced over the faces of everyone around them, searching for their friends. All they wanted to do was to meet up with the people they'd left months before and head back to the best place on earth.

Making her way through the platform barrier was a girl on her own. No family were there to wave her off, or wish her luck. Her face harsh but sad as her eyes glazed over, taking in the scene before her. Jealousy bubbled up inside her as she overheard conversations between father and son or mother and daughter. Resentment grew as she watched people hug their loved ones one last time before the Christmas holidays. Extremely aware that she had no one to say goodbye to, no one to give her parental advice or words of warning, she pushed her way through to the train with her trunk and owl cage in tow. Quickly climbing onto the train, she isolated herself from the happy families behind her, making herself comfortable in an empty compartment that looked out onto the platform.

Brooke Anderson was a beautiful witch. Her sharp, majestic face was normally softened by her blue/grey eyes, that were once filled with happiness and wonder. But now that they were dead and emotionless, they just seemed to make her face that much harsher. She had defined cheekbones and full lips that were constantly pressed together in a thin line. Creases were on each side of her mouth showing that it wasn't always this way. That once upon a time she was very prone to smiling. All of this was framed by her luscious deep red hair, that hung half way down her back in ringlets.

Her sad eyes flitted across the crowd out the window, stopping every now and then at overly happy students. This only caused the lump in her throat to get bigger.

First she noticed James Potter, a tall 17 year old boy, jumping up and down excitedly. His athletic build, from playing Quiddich helped him to stand out slightly from most of the other students. His black hair was wild and untamed as it stuck out in all directions. He'd knocked his glasses askew as he pulled him mum in for a hug, cutting her off from whatever she was saying. Brooke could only imagine it being a warning about staying out of trouble, that they all knew was a waste of time. The corners of Brooke's mouth curled up slightly at the sight of the Potters, as she thought back on everything they had done for her, but it seemed to make her heart grow heavier.

Moving her eyes on, not wanting to impose on the precious moment she could only wish for Brooke let her eyes fall on one of James' friends, Peter Pettigrew. He was a short, somewhat mouse like boy. His nose was pointed, and his mouth was too small for his face. His high cheekbones just added to the mousiness of his features He had blue, beady eyes and thin brown hair that hung limply into his eyes. Peter waved at James, his face lighting up at the sight of him and started rushing over to him. Half way there he tripped over his too large feet, only just managing to regain his balance. The corners of Brookes mouth curled up again but her eyes were left unaffected by the small smile.

Once Peter had disappeared out of sight Brooke started scanning the crowd again, hoping she might find something that would strike some sort of emotion in her. Something that would mean she wasn't dead any more. Something that meant she wasn't broken. All she wanted was to feel anything other than pain.

That's when her gaze met Regulus Black. A young, weak looking boy, as though he wasn't eating enough. His black hair fell at his shoulders. His dull grey eyes were dead and emotionless. He had what one would call a regal look to his face. High, defined cheekbones and a strong jaw. His face matched the emotion in his eyes, or lack there of. All it took was one glance and you knew he was a Black. He stood looking at the beautiful woman before him, showing the world where he got his looks from. She too had a harsh face, that seemed impossible to home a smile. Regulus simply nodded at his mother before turning his back to her.

The heaviness of Brooke's heart just seemed to get heavier at the scene. She couldn't understand how people could disregard their parents in such a manner. They never knew if it would be the last time that they would see them again. Her eyes glazed over again as she thought about how much some people didn't appreciate what they had. Anger rose in her when she thought about how lucky some people were but they just didn't realise it.

Having decided she'd seen enough Brooke tore her eyes away from the window and leant back in her seat. She let out a long sigh and screwed her eyes shut, thinking back to the last time she saw her parents. A sad smile appeared on her lips as she remembered the last loving words they said to her.

Brooke was stood on Platform 9 and ¾ with her mum and dad.

Her mum was just an older yet softer version of Brooke. Her red, curly hair fell by her shoulders, framing her soft, round face perfectly. Her eyes were a dark brown, so dark they could almost be mistaken for black. There were crows feet in the corners of her eyes as well as lines around her full lips, showing that her life was full of laugher and happiness.

Her dad however was the complete opposite. His short, blonde hair was styled to perfection, not even one strand was out of place. His blue/grey eyes shone brightly as he looked lovingly at his daughter a smile widening across his face, which were the only features that gave him away. His face was sharp and defined, and had no wrinkles or creases, giving him a harsh, well aged appearance.

“And please Brooke, stay out of trouble.” Her mum begged, although she knew all too well that it was a pointless plea. And the reason for that was making his way over to them.

“Charles! Eliza!” James called them, pulling them both into hugs one at a time. Eliza wrapped her arms around him tenderly, as though a mother would hug one of her own children. Whereas with Charles it was a brief hug with a single pat on the back before they pulled away. “I will personally make sure that Brooke doesn't get into any trouble.”

The Anderson's and the Potter's had been friends long before James and Brooke were born. James was the brother Brooke never had. In fact, he was the son her parents never had.

“That's what worries us.” Charles laughed, shaking his head. Brooke's whole face lit up as she laughed along with her dad. Her eyes shining brightly, appearing more blue than grey.

“I don't like what you're trying to insinuate, Sir.” James clutched his heart as he pretended to be hurt. “I'll have you know you're daughter is the bad influence, always dragging me into her mess.”

Brooke rolled her eyes as James wrapped his arm over her shoulder, flashing her one of his playful grins.

“James, take care of her please.” Eliza's voice was soft but firm this time. Her eyebrows furrowed as she got serious. There was something to her voice that was unrecognisable. Something Brooke had never heard in her mothers voice and it worried her.

“Mum.” Brooke answered back before James got the chance to respond. She wiped the smile off her face and looked at her mum with serious eyes. “Hogwarts is the safest place to be. I will be fine. It's you two who need to take care of each other.”

Fear could be seen on Eliza's face as she was talking to her daughter. Deep down she knew Brooke was right. She would be perfectly safe at Hogwarts. It's everywhere else that was turning nasty. It was her and her husband who would not be safe. Especially with the job they had to do. She pushed all of the fear out of her mind and smiled at Brooke again.

“I just worry. It's my job to.” Eliza grinned, pulling Brooke into an embrace as the whistle of the train blew.

Brooke quickly kissed her mum goodbye and gave her dad a hug and a kiss on the cheek. James shook Charles' hand and kissed Eliza on the cheek before reassuring them that their daughter was going to be safe with him.

James and Brooke made their way to the train amongst the last remaining students on the platform. Brooke gave her parents one last wave out the window, and she knew there was more going on than they were letting on. They really were scared about something but they wouldn't tell her. Brooke could see something in their eyes. But she pushed the thoughts to the back of her head, putting it down to saying goodbye to her for the whole school year. She blew them one last kiss and then they were out of sight.


The door to the compartment flew open causing Brooke to jump, her eyes springing open to see who had interrupted her thoughts. Lily Evans was stood in the doorway, light from the corridor shining off her making her red hair look even brighter. Her green almond shaped eyes took in the broken girl before her. Without a word she sat opposite Brooke with a friendly, understanding smile on her face.

“How are you doing Brooke?” Lily asked sweetly, not removing her eyes from Brooke's. She wasn't sure whether to approach the subject of what happened or to let Brooke bring it up instead. All she knew was Brooke needed to know she was there. Even if nothing ever came of it.

“I'm doing fine.” Brooke lied. She gave Lily her best fake smile which seemed to do the trick. Brooke had been asked that same question more times than she could count and had become a bit of a pro when it came to answering it and making her answers believable.

“Any news on what happened?” Lily asked carefully. She had no idea whether or not Brooke would even want to talk about it but thought it was worth a try.

“Can we not? Please.” Brooke croaked, her voice cracking. It had been two months since her parents had gone missing and Brooke was yet to say two words about it. What happened had just about killed her and she knew there was no way she could relive it. Not right then anyway. Rather than confiding in anyone she just withdrew into herself, refusing to talk about it. Becoming a shadow of who she used to be.

Lily nodded at Brooke sadly, unsure of what to say to her. Putting herself in Brookes shoe's Lily knew she'd hate being treated any differently than before. But for some reason her mind just went blank and she couldn't draw up a topic for conversation.

The train bellowed, igniting something in the remaining students on the platform. Within moments the platform became empty, leaving only tearful parents ready to wave their precious children off to school for the year. The corridor jumped to life as people pushed their way into empty compartments, chattering away to one another. The train pulled away from the platform, leaving behind all those parents. Leaving them in a horrible dark world.

The movement of the train stirred something in Lily and she hopped up from the seat and headed to the door, stopping just short of it. She turned back to look at Brooke.

“Head Girl duties call. But I'll come straight back afterwards, okay?” Lily explained. She wasn't sure if Brooke would even want her to come back. But still, she kept the friendly smile on her face whilst she waited for Brooke to respond. After all, Brooke was Lily's closest friend since she cut her ties with Severus.

“I'd like that. Thank you.” Brooke whispered. She moved her eyes from Lily to focus on the scenery passing by.

Lily felt a tug at her heart as she smiled sadly at the back of Brooke's head. She headed out of the compartment and shut the door behind her.

Brooke let out a deep breath and let herself disappear into a world of her own. A world where her parents were still alive. A world where she didn't have to deal with everyone treating her differently. A world where she was happy.

The peace and quiet was short-lived when moments later James stumbled through the door with a big grin on his face. He was followed directly by Sirius and Peter. The latter stopped as soon as they saw Brooke, their faces filled with pity.

“So, B.” James started causing Brooke to look up at him with a small smile on her face. “I know you don't like the riff raff I associate myself with. But everywhere else is full. Do you mind?”

Before the question had even finished coming out of James mouth he had taken the seat next to Brooke, wrapping his arm around her shoulders. This was enough for Sirius and he collapsed into the space opposite Brooke with Peter sitting next to him.

Sirius Black was Regulus' older brother. They were very similar in looks. Both aristocratically beautiful. Sirius too had high cheekbones and a strong, chiselled jaw. His hair however was a lot shorter, and was styled perfectly, lazily falling into his bright silvery grey eyes. However, his build was a lot more like James', tall and athletic. His silvery grey eyes were constantly shining brightly and a smile was always playing on his lips.

“Do I have a choice in the matter?” Brooke asked dryly as she leaned into James, breathing in his familiar smell. She felt herself relaxing into him and realised that this was the calmest she'd been in a long time. There was something about being with her best friend that just seemed to make everything that little bit better, even if only for a moment. Her heart seemed to ache a little less. It became a little easier to breath. She didn't feel so trapped in herself when she was around him.

“You know me. Just trying to be polite.” James grinned as he planted a kiss on the top of her head.

“You wouldn't know polite if it came and bit you in the arse.” Sirius smirked at James with a wink. James rolled his eyes at him, chuckling loudly.

Peter sat uncomfortably, playing with his hands. Obviously not knowing what he could or couldn't say. He wasn't one for confrontation and was constantly seeking peoples approval.

“Anderson.” Sirius spoke elegantly to get her attention. Brooke's eyes slowly moved to his and she noticed his eyes were dancing with glee. A playful smile appeared on his lips knowing anything he said would wind Brooke up. “You look like crap Princess.”

Brooke couldn't hide the disdain on her face even if she wanted to. If there was one person she couldn't stand it was Sirius Black. He was cocky and arrogant. He thought the sun shone out of his arse. And unluckily for her he was indeed one of James' best friends. Which meant that much to Brooke's chagrin she got to spend most of her time with the one person she hated more than anything.

And worst of all was the nickname he had taken to calling her the very first day they met on Platform 9¾. All because he knew all about who her parents were that made her a spoilt princess. And now, he used it just to get a kick out of her.

“I know something that will help perk you up.” He continued with a wink.

“In your dreams Black.” Brooke snapped. Her emotionless eyes glared at him as he faked heartbreak.

“So did you have a good holiday Brooke?” Peter asked, trying to defuse the situation. James threw him an exasperated look whilst Sirius kicked his shin. Realising his mistake pity filled Peter's now red face once again as he looked at Brooke, stuttering an apology.

“Don't Pete!” Brooke warned, her eyebrow raised. “Do not pity me.”

Peter mumbled a quiet apology and looked down at his hands. The last thing he wanted to do was cause anyone any upset.

Sirius on the other hand took a good look at Brooke. He took in her vacant expression and emotionless eyes. He noticed that unless James was there to help her through this she just shut herself off from the world. His eyebrows furrowed and his face grew hard.

“Snap out of it then.” Sirius snapped at Brooke. Her eyes snapped to his and her mouth dropped open in disbelief.

“I beg your pardon?” Brooke only just managed to get the words out. James gave Sirius a warning look, hoping it would deter him. Instead Sirius shook his head at James.

“Snap out of it.” Sirius repeated as though what he was saying was obvious. “If you don't want pity get on with your life. I get it. It's hard. But all the while you are this shell of a person all you're going to get is pity. Everyone is walking on eggshells around you because they don't know what they can and can't say to you. If you want people to treat you like before, then you need to be that person again. Snap out of it”

Brooke's face went from complete and utter disbelief to anger. She could feel every fibre of her body come to life.

“Get on with my life?” Brooke started raising her voice. James tightened his arm around her hoping it would calm her down but was out of luck. “I wish it was that easy Sirius. I wish I could just get over it and move on. But I can't! I've tried. Merlin knows I've tried. Why don't you tell me how to 'get on with my life'!”

Tears stung Brooke's eyes as she looked into Sirius'. That was the most she had spoken about anything relating to their disappearances to anyone but the ministry. And the aching of her heart was a reminder of why.

The tension in the compartment was suddenly thick. No one had said anything. Brooke pulled away from James and stared out the window again. James was glaring at Sirius, trying to tell him what a dick he was without talking. Sirius was trying to think of the right words to say and Peter was still playing with his hands uncomfortably.

The door slid open and Lily popped her head into the compartment to check on Brooke. As her eyes took in the scene her face dropped. She knew from the way everyone was sitting that something had gone on. It was obvious. You could cut the tension with a knife.

“Evans!” James grinned at her. The other three turned to watch the Lily and James, wondering if anything had changed this year. “You're looking rather exquisite today.”

“Potter.” She all but sighed his name whilst nodding her hello to Sirius and Peter.

“So, do you fancy...” James started to asked Lily, intending to ask her out but she raised her hand lazily to silence him. Her green eyes focused on his hazel eyes.

“Not a chance.” She spat causing him to sit back, rejection clearly affecting him. Sirius and Peter stifled a laugh and Brooke glanced at Lily trying to work her out.

James was irrevocably in love with Lily and had been chasing her for the last four years,

Lily on the other hand had never once shown James any interest. She thought he was arrogant, cocky and rude. To add to it James had a long standing feud with the guy who used to be Lily's best friend so it just came naturally for her not to like him. But even with all of this Brooke could swear she saw the corner of Lily's lip curl upwards. Only for a second though.

“We've not even made it to Hogwarts yet and it's already Evans 1, Potter 0” Sirius barked a laugh making James go pink. A small smile formed on Lily's lips as she sat next to Peter.

At that moment Remus Lupin walked into the compartment. A tall, gangly boy who had chocolate brown eyes with yellow specks in them. His hair was dusty blonde and hung just past his eyes. He was good looking, not in the same sense as James and Sirius, but in a worn and weathered sort of way. There were dark circles under his eyes, showing that he wasn't sleeping. A huge grin was on his face as he took in his friends before him.

“Well well well, look who finally decided to show up.” Sirius announced as Remus took a seat next to James. A smile toying on his lips.

“I can't help it that I'm a very popular person. I'm just needed everywhere else.” Remus laughed, smiling out of the side of his mouth and taking the final seat next to James.

“Don't say that Moony! You'll make him jealous.” James piped up, also grinning now.

“Oh yes, Merlin forbid anyone makes poor Sirius feel inadequate.” Brooke grumbled as she stared out the window. She hadn't even realised she had said it out loud until everyone started laughing at her comment, and Sirius just sat there glaring at her.

“Remus, did you find the Head Boy?” Lily asked, changing the subject to the first thing she could think of. “I mean, what sort of person doesn't show up to his first meeting as head boy?”

Remus shook his head at Lily and opened his mouth to speak when Lily screwed up her face at James. Something glistening on his robe had got her attention. A badge.

“You!” She gasped, staring at the Head Boy badge James had. “What idiot made you Head Boy? You've already missed the most important meeting!”

Brooke looked at James, also staring at his badge, unable to believe that James Potter had been made Head Boy.

“Well Evans, it looks like we're going to be spending a lot of time together this year.” James grinned, winking at Lily.

“Not if I have anything to do about it.” Lily muttered and stormed out of the compartment leaving everyone more relaxed than when she had entered.

“That's a fake, right?” Peter questioned. He eyeballed James suspiciously.

“Nope. All real. You are looking at the new Head Boy.” James straightened up, showing off the badge.

Remus stiffened slightly at the news. So slightly that no one seemed to notice him shifting uncomfortably in his seat. Remus was happy for James, but he just didn't understand it. Remus was the sensible one, the voice of reason. He was the prefect, and had been since fifth year. But suddenly, by doing nothing but causing trouble, pranking people and hexing Slytherins, James had managed to nab Head Boy role. It had always been a prefect that got chosen, so what made James so special?

Shaking his head Remus snapped out of it and a small smile appeared on his face.

“You have some making up to do then Prongs.” Remus looked towards James. “Lily was not happy that you missed the meeting. And I guess now she knows it's you she'll probably try to make your next year hell.”

“Oh come on, she's made his life hell for the last five years.” Sirius sighed. “Ever since he started chasing her. How much different can it be?”

Sirius looked round at everyone as he waited for someone to tell him otherwise. But everyone knew that he was in fact right. Lily had never made James' life easy, He was so accustomed to it now that it was just part of his daily routine. And Sirius, knowing he was right, had a smug look on his face as everyone in turn shrugged at him.

Brooke finally looked away from the window to watch the boys laughing and joking about their summer holidays. Her eyes scanned over the laughter lines on James' face. She took in the way Sirius' eyes sparkled when he laughed. Peters laugh was deep and throaty, drowning out everyone else. She watched them longingly as she tried to remember the last time she laughed. The last time she was carefree and happy. It was watching the four Marauders blissfully enjoy themselves that Brooke realised that she missed it. All she wanted was to be able to laugh. And maybe, hopefully, now that she was going home she could finally start to heal.

James hung back with Brooke, both of them watching as the rest of the guys rushed off the train to get a carriage. He finally took a moment to study her now that they were alone.

Brooke's robes hung off her thin frame hiding the fact that she'd lost so much weight. But all James had to do was look at her sunken cheeks to work it out. Her skin was paler that it usually was, another sign that she hadn't been looking after herself.

“You need to take me care of yourself B.” James spoke softly to her. He edged his way between Brooke, who was avoiding looking at him, and the door so she couldn't escape him.

“I've done my best J.” Brooke whispered, knowing that James wouldn't believe her lie.

“You can't fool me. So don't even bother.”

Brooke finally met James' gaze, letting out a sigh. She had known this was coming, but she had hoped that it wouldn't have happened until they actually got to school.

“I lost everything.” Tears filled her eyes as the words tumbled out of her mouth. “I have nothing left.”

James' breath caught in his throat as the words hit him. He had known that it was difficult on Brooke, but he never expected her to become so withdrawn that she forgot what she still had. Struggling to find words of comfort he just pulled her into a hug and felt her crumble in his arms.

Movement interrupted James and Brooke, and it was at that moment that they realised that the train was completely deserted and had started moving to leave the station. James grabbed Brooke's hand and dragged her through the carriages to a door leading to the platform. Taking one look at each other they both jumped out of the train, which luckily was yet to pick up any major speed.

Brooke lay flat on her back, looking up at the clear, starry sky in silence. Her arms were spread out as she felt the cold, concrete platform beneath her hands. She breathed in the fresh, crisp air as she slowly pushed herself up.

James was already back onto his feet and was reaching out to help Brooke up which she took.

“You haven't lost everything.” James soothed. He still had hold of Brooke's hand. “You just need to open your eyes. Then you'll realise just how much you still have.”

“James, they were my parents.” Brooke sobbed.

“And they were basically my parents too.” James explained as he wiped her tears away. “You're not the only one hurting. You just need to learn to deal with the pain in a different way.”

Brooke pulled away from James and walked away from him. Her heart was aching and there was a lump in her throat. Her head swam with memories of her life before all of this.

“Let's go James. We have a long walk to the castle.”

Brooke spun on her heals and headed off of the platform and started up the dirt road towards the school. The winds caught her hair, whipping it around her face. She folded her arms across her chest and kept her eyes locked on the road ahead of her.

The trees cast shadows on the road, leaving little light.

“Lumos.” James' chanted with his wand in his hand as he ran to catch up to Brooke.

For the whole journey to Hogwarts Brooke and James walked in silence much to James' chagrin. He had tried to make small talk but Brooke just wasn't interested. All she wanted to do was get to the one place that she hoped would help her feel less broken. Where she would have plenty to distract her.

* * * * *






Brooke stood in front of the castle and a small smile played on her lips. Relief washed over her for a short moment as she took in the welcoming sight before her. Here she was. She was finally home.


Chapter 2: Chapter Two - It's Different
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The great hall had it's usual clear ceiling reflecting the starry night sky. Blended voices filled the air as everyone chatted amongst one another as they ate. Four identical long tables were filled with students. One table for each house; Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Slytherin and Gryffindor. At the top of the hall was a fifth table seating all the professors, Dumbledore sitting in the centre.

As the doors to the great hall opened every set of eyes in the room turned to it, taking in the sight of James and Brooke. Silence fell upon everyone when they realised it was Brooke, before they started whispering in hushed murmurs.

Brooke looked at the floor as she and James made their way to the Gryffindor table, finding seats on either side of Sirius. Brooke took the seat next to Lily much to James' dismay.

“How can I just get over it with this happening every time they all see me.” Brooke snapped at Sirius, gesturing to the rest of the student body.

“What happened to you Princess?” Sirius couldn't stop the words from coming out of his mouth.

Brooke cringed at the pet name she had adopted when Sirius had first met her. He assumed because of who her parents were that he was a spoilt little brat and had no qualms about letting her know exactly what he thought. As his lips curled around the word Brooke couldn't help but recoil at the insult.

“You were always this strong person. If anyone had to go through this and come out the other side I would have put my money on it being you. But now look at you.”

Lily watched out of the corner of her eyes as Brooke opened and closed her mouth as she thought of a response. She clasped Brooke's hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze.

“My parents are missing Black.” Brooke's voice was harsh. “But you wouldn't understand anything about missing your parents.”

Sirius clenched his jaw and gave James an exasperated as he shook his head. He knew she was hurting, if anyone understood how she felt he was probably the closest to it. But Sirius wouldn't let it affect him. His knife and fork clattered to the table to indicate that he was done and he shifted on the bench so he faced James, Peter and Remus.

Brooke glanced at him, guilt rising within her. She knew that he'd had trouble with his parents the year before but she couldn't help but feel like he had brought some of it upon himself.

She put a small amount of mashed potato and sausage on her plate and started pushing it around her plate, not really eating much. She avoided speaking to anyone else throughout the remainder of the meal, thinking instead of how she didn't feel like she was home here any more. She didn't feel like she knew the people. Or maybe it was that they didn't know her any more. Had she really changed that much?

Soon enough all the food had disappeared from the tables and Dumbledore had stood up from the table he was sat. He cleared his throat to to get everyone's attention.

“Now that we are all fed and watered I would like to say a few words. Welcome, to the new students. And welcome back to all those returning.” Dumbledore's voice boomed, echoing around the entire hall. His piercing blues eyes gazing over the different students. “Firstly, My Filch would like me to remind you that Bouncing Boomerangs having been added to the list of banned items this year. If you wish to find the list it is on his office door.”

Students from the Slytherin table had started whispering amongst themselves. Brooke glanced over her shoulder and caught the eye of a dark haired boy sat at the Slytherin table. His face was stern and emotionless but his light brown eyes were filled with concern as he looked at Brooke. She gave him a weak smile before she turned her back to him.

“Secondly,” Dumbledore bellowed, “I would like to remind everyone that the forbidden forest is in fact forbidden to all students. Hogsmeade is also banned for students below third year.”

A number of lower years groaned about this. Brooke and the others sat watching Dumbledore, bored, as they'd heard it all before.

“Quiddich try-outs will be announced in the following days, if you wish to join your house teams please give your name to the house captains.” Dumbledore's voice grew louder over the excited chatter of students. James and Sirius included. “And finally! If you'd all welcome our new Defence against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Quin.”

Professor Quin was a short woman with her hair pulled back in a tight pony tail. Her teeth were crooked and yellow and her face looked as though it was bubbling. She was probably very attractive when she was younger, but now, life hadn't handed her a good hand by the looks of things.

Everyone clapped quietly, unsure of their new teacher.
“Remus?” Lily called over everyone. He turned to her, a smile on his face but his eyes questioning. “Can you lead the first years up to the common room please? I need to catch Potter up on what he missed earlier.”

Lily narrowed her eyes at James. Remus scoffed a laugh under his breath before nodding his response. There was no arguing with Lily. On a normal day Lily would be the nicest person you would ever meet, but when her temper went she saw red. And all that was without James, the bane of her life, being involved too.

“First years!” He raised his voice to get their attention as he stood from the table. “Follow me.”

The first years were the first to leave following their allocated prefects. Everyone else waited five minutes before leaving the tables and making their way to their common rooms themselves.

Lily got up next leading James, who was winking at Sirius, to an unused classroom. This left Brooke with Sirius and Peter. Both Brooke and Sirius were both as displeased as the other at this. But Brooke knew that her best chance at avoiding Avery was to stay with Sirius so she continued sitting next to him until he made to leave.

“We're going Anderson. You coming?” Sirius grumbled knowing he had to at least try. For James sake anyway.

Brooke nodded and they all made their way to the door. She glanced over at the Slytherin table hoping that Avery was still at the table but she couldn't find him. Clenching her fists she held her breath hoping to get to the common room without getting collared. Not that it did much luck. He was stood in front of the staircase that she needed to take. He was around the same height as Sirius but he didn't have the athletic build that Sirius did. But you knew just from looking at his face that he could take care of himself. Brooke's eyes locked onto his, still full of concern, and she knew there was no escaping him.

“Go on without me.” Brooke instructed Sirius who had clocked Avery standing there.

“Avery.” Sirius announced, puffing his chest out, trying to be intimidating. Avery just rolled his eyes.

“Black.” A smirk appeared on Avery's face. “Run along. This doesn't concern you. I need a word with Anderson.”

As Avery said Brooke's name she could almost believe that he wanted nothing to do with her. He spoke as if it was a huge inconvenience to him that he would have to mingle with her.

“Just go Sirius.”Brooke said coldly. “I'll be fine.”

“Fine.” Sirius sighed. He wasn't going to go out of his way to make sure she was alright. If she said he was going to be fine James James would just have to accept it. “See you around Avery.”

Sirius and Peter headed up the stairs leaving Avery and Brooke in the deserted corridor. Brooke studied Avery's face, noticing that he looked more grown up than when she last saw him, making him even more handsome. There was stubble on his harsh face.

Avery glanced around the corridor and make sure no one was around before he pulled Brooke into his arms. His body stayed completely rigid, but he pressed his lips to the top of her head. Brooke felt herself sink into him.

“I've missed you Buttercup.” He whispered to her as she wrapped her arms around his waist and nuzzled into him.

“I've missed you too Tommy.” Brooke whispered into his chest. They both pulled away and Avery's concerned eyes took in how sad and frail Brooke now was.

“You've lost weight.” He stated.

“Please don't Tommy. I don't need it from you too.”

“We're just worried about you.” Avery sighed. He looked around and noticed Lucius making his way out of the great hall. “Let's go for a walk.”

Avery didn't give Brooke a chance to answer him before he dragged her out of the front doors, only just getting out of sight before Lucius saw them.

It wasn't that he was embarrassed to be seen with Brooke because he didn't care who knew they were friends. Or he wouldn't if it was for this growing war and his parents. Both their mums had been really close at one point, and had kept up their friendship as long as their husbands would let them. The Avery's prided themselves on being pure-bloods. They strongly believed that the wizarding community should be purified of all muggle-born and half-bloods. Brooke's parents however did not follow the same views. When the Avery's joined Voldemort and became Death Eaters they refused to have anything to do with the Anderson's. Forbidding Avery from interacting with Brooke.

Brooke knew all about this but it didn't help push the feeling aside that he was ashamed of her because her, along with her family were blood-traitors. Especially considering sometimes she found herself feeling somewhat ashamed of her friend being a Death Eater, knowing what that would entail when he finished this year.

The pair of them wandered over to the lake. Brooke sat down with her back against a tree, Avery staying stood up next to her. Brooke looked out at the lake whilst Avery looked around stiffly making sure no one was around to see them together. He couldn't risk it getting back to his parents. The punishment he'd get just wasn't worth it.

“One day you're going to have to stand up to them.” Brooke spoke softly. Avery glanced at her, his eyes questioning. “Either that or we're going to have to stop this. It's only going to end bad for us and you know it.”

“When the time is right Buttercup.” Avery promised. He had things he had to do first. They both needed each other. She kept him from going insane. And he could help her. He just had to wait for the right time.

Brooke's empty eyes gazed at the lake. Calm ripples appeared throughout the dark water. If she focused hard enough she thought she could see the giant squids tentacle in the distance.

“Have you heard anything?” Brooke couldn't contain her curiosity. She needed to know. And if anyone would have heard anything it would be Avery.

“No.” Avery's voice echoed through Brooke's brain pushing away any hope that she had left. At this point all she wanted was news. She didn't care whether it was good or bad any more. She just needed answers. Closure.

“Oh.” Brooke brushed a single tear off her cheek roughly.

“They won't even say your names Buttercup.” Avery explained.

“But surely there is someone that you could ask?” Brooke tried desperately knowing it was a long shot.

“I can't ask anyone.” Avery gave her a sad smile. “And if you knew what they'd do to me you wouldn't ask me to. I'm sorry.”

* * * * *

By the time Brooke had got to the common room most of the Gryffindor's had gone to bed. She walked into the red circle room to find the Marauder's huddled together in the corner of the room. There were a tonne of parchment on the table in the middle of the boys, which Brooke could only assume included the map.

James glanced around to make sure no one was listening in to their conversation when he noticed Brooke. A grin spread over his face as he winked at her. The obvious sign that he was up to no good. And his reaction to her presence sparked a pang of excitement within Brooke. Something told her she wasn't getting out of this one. Besides, you can't break tradition, especially when it had never changed in the whole time they had been at Hogwarts.

Brooke sauntered over to the table as she rolled her eyes at James.. Deep down she had been hoping they'd start this up early on. Maybe everyone was right and all she needed was to get back into her normal routine. Or as normal a routine she could get herself into.

“We haven't even started any lessons yet and you guys are already up to something?” Brooke feigned disapproval. She would never admit to them how much she needed this or how happy she was that she had something to take her mind off of everything for a while.

Brooke watched, confused, as Sirius tried to slide some of the pieces of parchment under his arm without her noticing. He then glanced up at her with a sweet, innocent smile on his face. It was at that moment that Brooke knew something was going on. Sirius didn't do sweet or innocent.

“I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about.” He spoke softly. The sparkle in his eye, however, told Brooke otherwise. She knew that look. It was the same look she got herself. “We're just going over a couple of things from last year."

Brooke's eyebrows furrowed at the blatant lie he was telling. She had never been left out of their plans before, even when she wanted nothing to do with them. The Marauders had always found a way to involve her in one way or another, so what made this year suddenly different? Did they really think that this was going to help? Or maybe Sirius had finally found the excuse he had always wanted to finally get Brooke out of the picture?

Brooke watched Peter fiddle with his hands, refusing to look anywhere but a spot on the table in front of him. His reddening ears told her that he was worried about confrontation. It was the way Peter was acting that told her they didn't want her around.

A lump caught in her throat as she tried to make sense of their lack of interest in her. Her piercing eyes landed on James so he knew that she wanted answers.

“Maybe it's just best that you sit out of this first one B?” James shrugged, trying not to offend her as well as playing the situation down. “Just get yourself settled in first.”

“And whose brilliant idea was that?” Brooke scoffed as she eyed Sirius accusingly. It was common knowledge that he'd never liked her. And he'd never been keen on having a girl involved in all their pranks but to push her out? And to have the cheek to act like he was doing her a favour? Brooke couldn't contain the anger that had been bubbling up from the minute they'd lied to her.

Remus, who was closest to Brooke, turned to face her. His brown eyes always managed to calm her and he knew it. There was something about Remus that seemed to have a calming effect on everyone. He was most definitely the voice of reason within the group. The reason they hadn't torn each other apart. Without Remus they wouldn't be as close as they are now. And there is no way that Sirius and Brooke would have put up with each other for so long.

Brooke took to looking everywhere but at Remus not wanting to just let Sirius get away with this.

“I'm sure we can find something for you to do, if your head is in the game.” Remus spoke calmly, but his tone dared anyone to argue with him.

“Yeah. Won't it be easier if...” Peter started but the stern look Sirius shot at him quickly shut him up.

“Stand up for yourself Peter!” Brooke snapped zoning in on him. It wasn't that she was angry at him, it was that she was angry that Sirius found it acceptable to take advantage of him. Especially now when him standing up for himself meant that Sirius wouldn't get his way.

They all knew Peter could be an easy target, especially when it came to the group dynamics, but Sirius used that against him. The last thing Peter wanted was for his friends to fall out, which meant if shutting up meant that people wouldn't be angry with him he did it. Especially if it was Sirius. It was that reason that Brooke had never particularly taken much time to get to know Peter. He would always do what the alpha wanted. And Sirius thought he was the alpha.

“But...” Peter managed to stutter before he got cut off again.

“No buts! You don't need to sit their and let Sirius walk all over you all the time.” Brooke sighed as she pinched the bridge of her nose. “Or anyone in fact. You are your own person. Do and say what you believe is right!”

“And you don't need to let her push you around either Wormtail.” Sirius' smooth voice was unusually vindictive, causing Brooke to be completely overtaken by rage. Her hand found her wand from beneath her cloak and held it tightly, not yet drawing it out.

“I don't push him around Black!” Venom was oozing out of her voice. “You manipulate him to make him think that if he doesn't do as you please he'll lose you. Just like you manipulate everyone else so you always get what you want. You're a bully, but for some reason I'm the only person in the whole damn school that can see it! You've managed to fool everyone Sirius Black! But I know your game! I see what you're doing!”

“Oh come off it Princess.” Sirius chuckled, showing Brooke just how entertained by her he was. Especially as he knew his laughter would only anger her more. “I'm not playing any games sweetheart. I am who I am and if you don't like it don't be around me. It's a simple as that. Besides, isn't everyone running around doing your bidding? Walking on eggshells around you because you can't deal with your shit. Why do I have to pretend I give a shit about you for James' sake when you're making it as hard for us as you can?”

Peter's eyes were playing with tennis, pinging between Brooke and Sirius as he tried to sink into his chair and disappear. From the moment they had started planning this without Brooke he'd known it would kick off, but he'd never expected to be the cause of the argument.

James stood up and made his way to Sirius' side and was angrily arguing with him to bite his tongue whilst Remus did the same with Brooke.

“No one asked you to pretend to care! In fact, I'd sleep a lot better at night knowing you weren't worrying about little old me!” Brooke snapped over Remus, not paying any attention to anything that came out of his mouth. She let out a sigh and spun around on her heel, heading to her dormitory before Sirius could argue back with her.

That was when she noticed everyone watching the dramatic exchange. The poor, remaining first years looked petrified at the thought that this was going to be a part of their day to day lives from that point out. But everyone who had been there before knew what Brooke and Sirius' relationship was about and seemed unaffected by it. They were watching as if it was the latest episode of EastEnders. Listening in purely for a bit of gossip. The girl who lost her parents fighting with the boy who wasn't wanted by his.

“What did your boyfriend want anyway?” Sirius shouted to her, a sly grin was playing on his lips. He knew this would be his winning remark, as well as causing a bit of tension between James and Brooke.

“After everything you're still...whatever with him?” James asked, exasperated. His irritation with Sirius had now disappeared and was solely directed towards Brooke, who was now frozen on the spot at the remarks from both of the boys.

“James.” She whispered as she glanced to the ceiling before turning to face him. “It's nothing like that, I promise. I just wanted his help. For old times sake.”

The stragglers who had still been in the common room had seemed to realise that it was time to leave and all made their way to their dorms quickly. It wasn't often James was anything but his happy-go-lucky self and knew better than to stay and watch.

“What would you need his help doing that I can't help you with?” James' voice was getting noticeably louder. Remus and Peter snuck up to their form when James got involved. They all knew that nothing was about to get brushed under the rug. James wanted answers from Brooke, which meant no one was getting any sleep until she gave them.

Sirius was the only one who hadn't moved an inch. He remained in the exact position he was before watching the scene unfold as he dissected every word Brooke said in his head, hoping to catch her out.

“He has contacts.” Brooke carefully explained. She had to find the right words so that she didn't give James any idea that she was still friends with Avery. She knew what would happen if it came out and she couldn't bare to think of the outcome for Avery. “I just asked if he'd heard anything about my parents. If he could keep an ear out.”

Lying had always come naturally to Brooke, especially now with the whole ordeal with her parents. But if there was one person who could always see right through her lies it was James. It didn't matter what the lie was about he would always give her that look and she'd know he had clocked her.

This time she didn't get that look. Instead, Brooke watched as the anger drained from James' face and was replaced by understanding and, if Brooke was correct, sympathy. She knew he hadn't meant to snap at her, but she also knew what had happened between both of their families in the past. Because of that, they didn't like each other. Didn't even acknowledge each others existence. Any good friend would have cut Avery off properly a long time ago. Brooke just took to always making sure she was never seen with Avery, by anyone. Otherwise she knew she'd have to lie to James again, which she hated doing. That or she'd have to finally cut her ties with Avery, and for some reason every time she thought about doing something in her gut told her not to do it. Every time she tried it was like a force was dragging her back to him.

“Don't worry James. He said no.” She all but whispered. Her eyes moved to Sirius now, who no longer had that smug look on his face. Instead he was watching Brooke intently, curiosity filling each of his majestic features. Brooke could see in his eyes that something didn't sit right with him. He hadn't been fooled by her words and she knew by his face that he wasn't going to let it go.

James made his way to Brooke and wrapped his arms around her. She felt herself relax into his chest. The welcoming scent engulfing her.

“We will find them B. I promise.” He whispered in her ear before placing a kiss on the top of her head.

Once he let go and said goodnight Brooke made her way over to the sofa in front of the fireplace and gazed into the fire.

James made his way to the stairs to the dorm before he turned to face Sirius, whose scrutinising eyes were yet to leave Brooke.

“You coming Sirius?” James asked, eyed his best friend.

“Go on without me.” Sirius answered, not moving from where he was sat. “I won't be much longer.”

James nodded and headed up leaving Brooke and Sirius alone in the common room.

Sirius got up and moved to sit on the sofa next to Brooke. He eyed her up warily. Brooke knew that he wasn't going to leave her alone. But what she didn't understand was why. After the scene they had just caused, why would he even try to talk to her?

“So do you want to tell me what your chat with Avery was really about?” Sirius jumped straight to the point. His eyes observing her every move. He knew something was going on but couldn't put his finger on it.

Brooke stared at him in disbelief. Who did Sirius Black think he was? Questioning her as if she owed him something.

“I have no idea what you're talking about.”

“Oh come off it Brooke.” He growled with a smarmy smile on his face. “I'm not blind. The others might be turning the other way and walking on egg shells but you can't fool me. Besides, you were gone two hours. It doesn't take two hours to ask for his help and get told no.”

“Whether I'm hiding anything or not, what makes you think I'm going to tell you?” Anger was bubbling inside Brooke again. Her hands wrapped around her wand tightly. All she wanted to do was wipe that look of his face. “Why do you care Black? We're not friends!”

“After everything James has done, and is still doing, for you he deserves the truth.” Sirius was scowling now. He knew that she wasn't going to tell him. And to be honest that didn't care. But he had watched his best friend do everything he could to find her parents. “He has put himself in danger time and time again over the summer to find your parents. And where were you? Moping around waiting for everyone else to come up with something.”

“I never asked him to!”

“They were his family too!” Sirius shouted at her.

By this point the pair of them were now standing up facing one another. Brooke had her wand pointed at Sirius but he paid no attention to it. He knew she wasn't going to do anything. She needed to hear what he was saying. This would be what snaps her out of he. Sirius hoped.

“I was just trying to get him to help me.” Brooke pretended to give in. She let her hand drop to her side, her wand no longer pointing at Sirius' face. A long quiet sigh escaped from her lips. “That's it.”

Brooke knew that this time Sirius would believe her. He didn't need to know about her secret friendship and there was nothing else to tell. Sirius jumping on her was exactly what she needed to get him believe what she had said. Hopefully this meant he would back off a little bit.

“Why did he say no?”

“We're blood traitors.” Brooke stated matter of factly. “You of all people should understand how little those pure-blood enthusiasts are willing to help us out. We're almost as bad as muggle-borns in their eyes.”

“You're right.” Sirius nodded before heading up to the dormitory without another word.

Brooke sat back down on the sofa and went back to watching the fire. A small smile broke across her face as relief washed over her. She knew she could count on Sirius to treat her the exact same way he had before. Finally someone who didn't treat her like a fragile little girl.

Chapter 3: Chapter Three - The Dream
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As Brooke had expected, the first week of lessons flew by pretty quickly. She finally had a focus, a reason to take her mind of her parents for a little while. She could finally pretend her life was normal for a small period of time.

But it didn't matter how much she pretended everything was alright during the day, it all came crashing back as soon as she shut her eyes at night. Every night she would replay the moment that she got told her parents were missing before she went searching for them down a corridor. But every single time she would wake up before she'd manage to find them.

For the eighth time since she had got to Hogwarts Brooke found herself bolting upright with sweat dripping down her face. Her dream was nothing scary, but for some reason she found herself worked up in a state at the same time every night. She knew there was something else to it, but she couldn't figure out what it was.

This time though she could her her parents as she made her way down the corridor. Only faintly though. But it was as if they were hidden for so long and were finally breaking free of whatever was keeping the pair of them away from Brooke.

Not changing her routine Brooke made her way down the stairs of her dorm to the common room. She'd not bumped into anyone down there so far and knew it was very unlikely to happen, especially on a Monday night. But the thought still didn't keep her from sneaking down on her tip toes, as quietly as she could.

The shadows danced as Brooke walked down the stairs giving the appearance that they were alive. Brooke suddenly came to a stop as the feeling of somebody watching her took over. Her eyes darted around urgently, hoping to find the source of her feeling. There was definitely someone watching her, but there was
no one there.

“James?” Brooke whispered into the shadows, hoping that it was him or one of the others. If it was any of them under the cloak she knew they'd make themselves known. So when no one revealed themselves Brooke's stomach wrenched tightly.

Taking a deep breath Brooke rushed down the rest of the stairs as quietly as she could. As she made her way she made sure she didn't look in the shadows knowing it would just creep her out even more.

Brooke almost ran straight into the common room until she caught sight of Sirius talking to someone hidden from her view. She had managed to work herself up again that she hadn't even heard their voices. She stopped herself from walking in and hid so that she was out of Sirius' line of sight. He was the last person she wanted to find out about her late night habits.

But Brooke knew that there was something not right about the scene in the room before her. Not once had she ever bumped into anyone, let alone Sirius Black at this time of the morning. And she knew him a lot better than they both liked to admit. She knew the only reason he would be up at this time of the morning would be to help Remus or to set up a prank. It wasn't a full moon, and the person he was in the common room with definitely wasn't any of the other Marauders. So something told Brooke she had to stay and find out what it was. So rather than heading back up to her dorm, like she knew was the right thing to do, she managed to sneak into the common room and duck under a table without anyone seeing or hearing her. A sofa was blocking her view, but it also meant they couldn't see her. She didn't need to see them, as long as she could hear everything that was said.

“Like I said before,” The mystery voice growled. Brooke could almost hear him smirk. Whoever it was was well spoken, strong and malicious. Or that's what Brooke got from his voice anyway. There was something familiar with his voice though. Brooke had definitely heard it before but she couldn't figure out where she'd heard it. Or who the voice belonged to. “Stop looking.”

“You have no control over me.” Sirius snapped. It was obvious in his voice that this was the last place he wanted to be. “You never have.”

“That's no way to speak to an old friend.” The voice smarmed.

“Old being the main word there.” Obvious dislike filled Sirius' voice. Brooke had never heard him sound so bitter. Not even when arguing with her. “You chose your side. I chose mine.”

“You mean when you decided that you were a blood traitor?” The voice spat. “When you decided to turn your back on your friends. On your family. On everything you had ever known.”

“Don't act like you resent me just because I finally took a stand.” Sirius scoffed. “You resented me long before that. If I'm not mistaken wasn't it when I got sorted into the 'wrong' house?”

Brooke kept completely still as her mind ran over everyone in Slytherin that Sirius had ever had links to. Which was a lot of them. It had been his life before he got to Hogwarts. Pure-blood supremacy and everything. But still, she couldn't quite put her finger on who it was.

“Listen Black, it's nothing to do with that and you know it.” The voice made Brooke's skin crawl. There was something about it where you could just hear how evil he was by the way he sounded out words.

“No, it was when I wouldn't let you ambush Evans.” Sirius snarled. Brooke could just picture him looking down on whoever he was talking to. It was obvious from his voice that he didn't think highly of him.

“You think you had anything to do with that?” The voice snarled, obviously trying to wind Sirius up more. “The timing was all wrong. There will be better times to get her. Just like all the rest of them.”

It was at that moment that realisation washed over Brooke. She knew exactly who was stood in the common room and it sparked a deep hatred that she knew she would never be able to push aside. Just knowing that he was in the same room as her lit a fire deep within her that made it almost impossible for her to stay there and not say anything. But after the last time she saw him she knew better than to face him.

Rebastian LeStrange had left Hogwarts two years ago so Brooke couldn't figure out how he was standing there in the middle of the Gryffindor common room but pushed the thoughts to the back of her mind so she could find out why Sirius was wasting his time with him.

He had openly joined Voldemort's cause and became a Death Eater straight after leaving Hogwarts. His name was always in The Daily Prophet, and was never for anything good.

“You'll be stopped long before your silly little cause gets anywhere.” Sirius snarled.

A blood curdling laugh escaped Rebastian's lips as though he was laughing at his own private joke that Sirius didn't know about.

Brooke rubbed her arms to try and get rid of the chill that she got from laugh. Taking a deep breath she risked taking a peak at the scene, only managing to see Sirius. He was stood as straight and tall as he could, his chest was out as far as he could get it. His fists were clenched so tightly that the veins in his arms becoming apparent.

“You've said what you came to say. So what are you still doing here!” Sirius snapped, cutting the laugh off.

“I'm serious Black. She's not worth getting yourself killed over.” Rebastian warned. But this time there was something almost nostalgic in his voice. Like, despite everything, there was a small part of him that reminded him that the pair used to be friends. And because of that he still cared, deep deep down.

“What are you talking about? No one is going to get killed. I was just doing a friend a favour.” Sirius' voice wasn't as cold as it had started out.

Brooke was overcome with an array of emotions as different possibilities of what they were talking about rushed into her head. Who was he looking for? What were they on about? Could it be possible that he was actually willing to help her out?

Brooke rolled her eyes at her stupidity. Of course he wouldn't be helping her out. They don't get along, never have. He doesn't care what goes on in anyone's life but his own.

“The only reason I am even giving you this warning is because we were close once. And because we still have high hopes for you Black. But choose the wrong path and it'll be the last thing you do.” Rebastian spoke calmly but there was promise in his voice. “If you choose the wrong path I will come for you myself. Because anything I will do to you is nothing in comparison to what they have planned. You saved my life once, do me wrong and I will repay you by saving you from a long torturous life. Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

It sounded as though both of them sighed simultaneously.

“They're safe. That's all you need to know.” Rebastian said reluctantly. “Now, you must make your decision by the end of the school year.”

“What decision?” Sirius asked urgently. “What choice do I have to make?”

“You'll know when it comes to it. You'll understand.” Rebastian said sternly before disappearing out of the common room doors.

“You can come out now Anderson.” Sirius sighed as he sat down on the sofa.

“Sorry.” Brooke murmured as she crawled out from under the table and made her way towards him. “I shouldn't have been...”

Sirius lifted his hand up to cut her off. His eyes were focussed on the empty fireplace, unable to look at Brooke.

“It was about them, wasn't it? They're alive.” Her voice was barely a whisper. She couldn't believe it. After all this time she had finally got the answer she was looking for. They were alive, so why weren't they coming home?

“That doesn't mean anything though. They could still be anywhere.” Sirius spoke, his voice strong and calm. His eyes were giving his emotion away though. There was something vulnerable in them.

“Why?” Brooke questioned, her eyebrows furrowed. Sitting down next to Sirius he glanced up at her curiously. “Why have you been asking questions? We're not friends.”

“You haven't seen what James has been like.” Sirius explained. “He's good at putting on a strong front, but it's all killing him. They've been a big part of his life since he was born. I didn't do this for you. I did this for him.”

“Oh thank God!” Relief washed over Brooke causing a shocked look from Sirius. “As grateful as I am, you're the one person who didn't treat me any differently to how you did before all this happened. And I'm just glad that it's not going to change.”

A low chuckle escaped Sirius' throat and his grey eyes sparkled slightly.

“It's going to take a lot more than your parents going missing to make me like you Princess. Besides, it must be hard not having them at your beckon call, doing everything for you. I guess I can do one little thing to make sure you don't change too much from the infuriating, self absorbed girl that gives me a run for my money.” Sirius snided.

“There he is. The ever so reliable, arrogant pig who says what he likes and doesn't care about how it makes anyone feel.” There was something light about Brooke's words for once.

Rather than viciously snapping at one another it's like for the first time they were sniping in a light hearted manner. The corner of Sirius' lips curled up as he tried to stop the smile from forming.

“Wait, is Sirius Black actually smiling at something that came out of my mouth?” Brooked feigned being shocked. “The world really is ending! That or you must be really ill.”

Brooke placed the back of her hand to Sirius' forehead, which he recoiled away from, his eyes wide at the contact. A single 'HA' escaped from Brooke causing her hand to cover her mouth before the laughter came.

Unsure of what was going on Sirius watched as the laughter kept kept from Brooke who was unable to stop. It went on for a few minutes until the laughter turned into sobs.

The heavy feeling that had gone when she found out her parents were alive was suddenly back, and crushing her chest even more than before. The fact that they were alive, yet weren't with her made it harder. There was a part of her that had believed that they were dead. That there was no way she could ever see them again. But the knowledge that they were out there somewhere and they hadn't bothered getting in contact with her. That could only mean that they were somewhere that they couldn't contact her. They wouldn't just leave her high and dry like this.

Sirius, noticing the lack of laughter awkwardly wrapped his arm around her to try and comfort her. Despite how uncomfortable it felt he pulled Brooke into him and let her sob into his chest, her arms making their way around his waist.

“They're alive Brooke. You're going to see them again.” Sirius whispered soothingly in Brooke's ear.

The lump in her chest slowly dissolved as Sirius continued rubbing her back, the words doing nothing to make her feel any better.

Realising that she was finding comfort in Sirius Black, Brooke pulled away and shot off the sofa. She made her way to the dormitories but stopped as she got to the door to the stairs.

“Thank you Sirius. For finding out for me.” Her back still facing him.

Making her way up to her dorm the tears started flowing again. It was still late so no one would be awake. Hopefully Brooke could hop straight into bed without being seen by anyone else.

She'd already embarrassed herself by showing any sign of weakness in front of Sirius. She'd gone against everything she knew and broke down to the one person who would use it against her. But despite that, she could feel herself feeling grateful that he was there. Grateful that he was James' best friend.

Brooke was internally kicking herself for even allowing herself to feel anything other than dislike towards Sirius. She didn't want him treating her any differently, and now he actually might.

She climbed into her bed and shut the curtains before squeezing her eyes shut to force herself back to sleep. It wasn't long before Brooke felt herself drifting off into yet another dream.

* * * * *

Brooke slowly made her way down the cold, damp corridor. The walls were completely bare and made of mouldy wood. Dark, locked doors kept emerging on either side of her at different intervals. Every time Brooke got to a door she'd test it out just to see if she could finally find an unlocked one. With no luck she continued walking. Yet no matter how far she seemed to walk, the corridor kept on going with no turns. She was no closer to getting to the end than when she started.

Losing track of time Brooke was completely unaware of when she had started down the corridor. To her it felt as though it was all she had ever done. All she knew was she had to find something, and it was somewhere in one of the doors. All she had to do was find the right one. She'd continue looking forever if she had to.

Picking up her pace she started running between doors. Her breathing started getting heavy and the longer she spent in the same room the more she could feel herself panicking.

A faint whisper came from somewhere around Brooke, yet there were no doors at all. Brooke stopped in her tracks and tried to make out what the voice was saying but it was as if it was in a different language.

Brooke's heart had picked up and was crashing against her chest as though she was running a marathon. She could hear the thumping in her ears as her body worked in overdrive to try and stop the anxiety from coming on.

She looked around her and realised there were now two doors on each side of her. Glancing at each door she tried to listen hard to hear any sign of the voice she had heard. She had to find out what door it came from.

“Kill.” The voice came again. This time it filled the whole room and there was no way Brooke couldn't hear what it said. The cold, high pitched voice went straight through Brooke leaving her shaking with fear.

Taking a deep, calming breath Brooke tried to control the fear she felt slowly taking over her body. The worst thing that could happen would be for her to give in now. She was stronger than that. She was going to get to where she needed to. She had to. She'd been searching this corridor for months. She wasn't going to do it another night.

The door furthest away on her right suddenly swung open with force. Brooke jumped, letting out a gasp as her hand shot to her chest. Her other yanked her wand out and pointed it towards the door. Her fist was white as she grasped it.

Looking around her one last time, Brooke slowly made her way towards the door, her shaking hand kept her wand aimed in front of her as she approached the one thing she knew she'd been looking for.

That's when a too familiar sound drifted into her ears. A sound she hadn't heard in what felt like forever. The sound of her parents laughter.

Her heart had picked up again, sending blood drumming to her ears. A knot appeared in Brooke's stomach as she dropped her wand to the floor and ran into the room. The door slammed behind her but she paid no attention to it as she was transfixed on the view before her.

Her mum and dad were sat next to one another at a table piled with food. The smell of roast beef and gravy filled Brooke's nose. Every meal that had once been her favourite was on the table. The different smells mixing with one another as she caught a hint of curry mixed with fish pie.

The faces of her parents were pictures of pure joy. In fact, Brooke was certain she had never seen them both this happy ever. Not in person anyway. The looks on their faces were the same ones that Brooke had seen in their wedding pictures.

Eliza's red hair framed her face perfectly. Not a single strand was out of place. Her eyes somehow seemed light brown, as though they were shining so brightly they had in fact gotten lighter themselves. The crows feet that were normally occupying her face seemed to have gone. As Brooke looked at her mum she realised how young and youthful she seemed to look. Nothing like the worried mum who watched her go off to Hogwarts the previous year.

After taking in her mothers dramatic change in appearance Brooke directed her eyes to her dad who also looked somewhat younger. Which considering he had no age lines before shocked Brooke. His eyes too shone so brightly they were like the summer sky. And not a second went by where his pearly white teeth weren't on show.

“Mum? Dad?” Brooke whispered, not able to comprehend the scene before her. Her face showed every emotion that was running through her. Confusion, excitement, relief. But then pain. She couldn't figure out why they were so happy.

Charles and Eliza moved their gazes from one another to Brooke. They had been completely unaware she had entered the room until she'd interrupted. Their faces dropped when they took in the sight of their daughter. Panic replaced the inexplicable joy.

Eliza shot up, the chair she was on thrown to the floor behind her. She was followed closely by Charles.

“Go!” Eliza cried, pushing a struggling Brooke, who was trying to hug her mother, towards the door she came through.

“No!” Brooke shouted, pushing her way back towards the middle of the room towards her father. All she could think was that if she could get to him everything would be alright. She just needed to touch him. To know he was real.

Brooke managed to push past her mother and grabbed her fathers hand. It was warm and felt exactly how she remembered it. But he didn't grab hold of her hand back. In fact, he seemed rather subdued considering he hadn't seen her in over a year and it left Brooke lost.

“Leave us B.” Charles whispered in her ear, trying to think of the right words that would get her to leave. “We're happy. Stop looking.”

Brooke couldn't believe her ears. Here she was finally in front of her parents for the first time in a long time and they didn't want her there. They wanted her to go. And not to come back.

Then it dawned on Brooke that even if she wanted to she couldn't come back. She had no idea where she was. It kick started her body and she fought to grab hold of both of her parents. She was taking them with her. She wasn't losing them again.

“Come home.” Brooke sobbed, tears were flowing freely down her face. She couldn't leave them again. She wouldn't. They couldn't make her. She needed them. And she knew they needed her.

“We can't honey.” Eliza whispered softly. She reached out to stroke Brooke's cheek but Brooke pulled away shaking her head.

“Why not?” Brooke was sobbing so hard her chest was hurting. Her breathing was hitched.

“Just go.” Charles begged, his eyes dancing all around the room as though he was waiting for something. “Now! Before it's too late!”

The door swung open again, this time with a shadow in the doorway. Brooke and her parents spun to face the shadow. Fear was on both Eliza and Charles' faces.

“My Lord.” Eliza dropped her head as the figure stepped forward.

Brooke's eyes immediately drew to the figures eyes, the whites which were completely red from the distance. His skin was pale but looked as though it was melting away from the bones beneath it.

The haunting red eyes rested on Brooke. A sinister smile formed on the man's gaunt face. A smile that made Brooke shudder. It was a look that she knew she would never forget. It's the face of pure evil. She knew exactly who he was just from his eyes and smile.

Finally managing to pull her eyes away from his face Brooke noticed her wand in his hand. Her heart caught in her throat as she realised she had no way to defend herself. Whatever he was going to do she just had to let him do it. It was that or die.

Taking a deep breath Brooke refused to show her fear. If she was going to die she was going to die bravely. She'd die freeing her parents.

“Let my parents go!” Brooke directed, forcing her voice to be strong and commanding. She knew it was a long shot but it was the only shot she had left.

A cackle rang through Brooke's ear and she stared at Lord Voldemort in shock. He was laughing at her. What was so funny about her request? Wouldn't any child try to save their parents from imprisonment?

“Let them go?” He spoke softly, his voice high and cold. “They came to me.”

Voldemort continued to laugh at Brooke as she shook her head in denial. She wouldn't believe that they had chose to leave her. Chose him over her. It wasn't possible. She knew her parents. They wouldn't do that.

“You're lying.” Brooke accused, her voice faltering. She was barely heard over the cackle coming from the deformed man before her.

Brooke looked questioningly to her parents but the apologetic looks on their faces told her the last thing she wanted to know.

“Go Brooke.” Eliza begged. “This is your last chance.”

Brooke pulled away from her parents. Tears streaming down her face. She couldn't believe what she was hearing. Her heart was breaking a little bit more each moment she was around her parents. They chose to leave her. They abandoned her.

Running past the still cackling Voldemort she escaped the room. Just in time for one last glance behind her. One glance at her parents smiling and laughing with one another again. Then Voldemort made a motion with Brooke's wand and everything went green.



Chapter 4: Chapter Four - The Mask
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It had been four days since Brooke found out that her parents were in fact alive. Yet relief was the last emotion she felt. Fear, anger and confusion, yes. But not relief. The fact that she had heard it from none other than a death eater made it extremely hard for her to even attempt to be happy about the information.

Of course, she had to put a front on everyday. A face to show James that she was, in fact, happy about it. That she was extremely grateful with what Sirius had done. For, as soon as James found out, he completely overlooked the meaning behind them being alive. The fact that them being alive, but not letting anybody know where they were, must mean that they were being held somewhere against their will.

Brooke had gotten quite good at shutting these thoughts out of her head during the day. She had N.E.W.T's, quidditch, homework and even the Slug Club to focus on. But that didn't stop the dreams from haunting her every night without fail.

These dreams would chip away at any ounce of hope Brooke had left. There was something so realistic about them that made it hard not to believe what she was seeing. Even though it was the worst case scenarios she was dreaming about. The worst and the least likely. She knew deep down that there was no way her parents would willingly stay away from her. And in letting herself believe that they could she was going against everything she knew. By believing her dreams she was going against the people her parents were. She was letting them down.

This meant that it was the fourth morning in a row that Brooke had shot up suddenly. Sweat covered every inch of her body, her pyjamas drenched and her hair slicked to her neck and face. Her chest was rising and falling erratically as she stared at the curtains that surrounded her bed. It was a mount before her heartbeat was no longer audible in her own ears.

It was a moment before Brooke was able to calm herself down and control her breathing. It was only then that she drew the drapes open from around her bed, letting the morning sun blind her temporarily as she rubbed her eyes.

Taking a deep breath she shoved all her doubts and insecurities into a box in the back of her mind before locking it, adamant that they wouldn't creep out to plague her thoughts.

Today is going to be a good day. She mentally told herself over and over as a mantra. The start of what seemed to be her new routine. The way she started her day, everyday.

Marlene and Alice dubiously glanced over towards Brooke, obviously unsure what sort of mood she had woken up in. This was something they seemed to do every morning, trying to get a gauge of how they can act with her.

Alice moved her dark blue eyes away almost the instant she looked at Brooke. She was one of those 'nice' girls. A lot like Lily. Her dark eyes rarely without a twinkle. Her short black hair drew out the features of her beautiful face. Brooke always thought she looked a bit like a pixie, in a good way.

Marlene let her hazel eyes linger on Brooke's appearance, dragging from her head to her toes. The sight before her was the completely opposite of how she looked. Marlene was tall and curvy, the right amount of curves that everyone was jealous of. Her light blonde hair hung straight by her shoulders, not a strand was out of place.

Brooke glanced at her, smiling widely when she realised she had her attention. The smile was far from genuine, both the girls were aware of that. It wasn't that they disliked each other. Marlene was just jealous of Brooke's close relationships with the marauders, and Brooke didn't agree with Marlene's lifestyle of sleeping round. Rather than say anything though, Marlene returned a forced smile before turning to finish her make up.

Glancing down at herself Brooke let out a soft sigh as she took in the state of herself. Pushing herself of her bed she made her way to the bathroom, wondering when she would stop waking up that way.

Lily appeared at the doorway of the bathroom with a big smile on her face, her eyes radiating with happiness.

Typical Lily. Brooke couldn't help but think as a small smile formed on her face. There was something about the happiness that oozed out of Lily that lifted something off her heart. It was easier to breath around her. It was as though Lily's presence cleared the air around her of any negativities, no matter who was there with her.

“Brooke!” Lily exclaimed, her smile widening at the sight of a slight smile on Brooke's lips. The smile dropped a bit at the site of her friend. “Are you okay?”

Brooke flashed her teeth as she manoeuvred around Lily, managing to get them to swap places. “I'm fine Lils.” She shut the door, the smile dropping off her face as the click sounded. “I'll meet you at breakfast. Don't wait for me.” Making herself heard through the door as she started running the shower, hoping that it would prevent anyone from asking any prying questions.

* * * * *

“Brooke!” James shouted as soon as she walked into the great hall, beckoning her over to where he sat with the rest of the marauders.

Slowly making her way towards them she noticed that the whispers she got when she walked through the hall on the first day of the year had subsided a bit. It was still obvious people were talking about it, but at least they weren't being openly obvious now. Thankfully no one seemed to think that it was worth interrupting their breakfast any more.

As Brooke got to the table she squeezed between James and Remus, both of whom were shovelling forkfuls of scrambled egg into their mouths as though they hadn't eaten all week.

Glancing across the table she realised she was now facing Sirius, much to her chagrin. They hadn't spoke two words to each other since she broke down on him at the beginning of the week, and there was still a part of her that couldn't accept that he had no ulterior motives for helping her out.

Quickly pushing the thoughts to the back of her head she took in the disgusting sight of him eating his breakfast, in the most uncivilized manner she'd ever seen.

“What barnyard animal raised you, Black?” Brooke snapped in disgust. His head shot up to look at her with raised eyebrows. “Only an animal would eat like that. Close your mouth for Merlin's sake.”

Sirius' eyes glistened mischievously, the corner of his lips curling up. It was a look Brooke hadn't seen in a long time. It was the look that told people that it was on. The look he'd always give her when he had something humiliating planned.

Making a point of making sure his mouth stayed open whilst he chewed the rest of his mouthful he kept his eyes trained on Brooke's. A big grin appeared on his face once he'd swallowed.

“Well, well, well.” Sirius dragged out the words. “Looks like we have our princess back again. It's about time don't you think?”

There was a gleam in Sirius' eye though. Something that anyone who knew him well enough would recognise. Brooke was back, which meant the games were back on.

Brooke just shrugged, forcing a smile on her face. Yes, she's back. Or Brooke would do whatever it took to make people think the old her was back. Maybe if she pretended hard enough it would start happening on it's own. She knew she couldn't keep going on as this weak, fragile little girl. The world was continuing on without her, and she couldn't let that happen any more.

James had the biggest grin on his face as he watched the way Brooke had seemed to be coming back out of her shell. Bouncing up and down on his seat made it clear, not only to Brooke, but to everyone that he had something he needed to get off his mind.

“What is it James?” Brooke rolled her eyes in his direction.

“Quiddich try-outs this evening, after dinner.” James was still bouncing up and down, filled with excitement. “I need you both there.”

It was then that Brooke remembered he'd been made captain of the team this year. After all the bad things over the summer it was good to finally see good things happening to someone she cared about.

Everything drifted away in that moment. Seeing James genuinely happy for the first time seemed to take a weight off Brooke's shoulders. Being around these people, her family, was going to get her through this dark time. She would get through her last year at Hogwarts, and by then her parents would be home.

“I have a date.” Sirius mumbled with his mouth full of bacon to no ones surprise.

“And you can rearrange that date.” James ordered. “The two of you are basically my second in commands.” By this point James had his fork pointed at Sirius' face. “And if you want to survive your last year here you will be there. Got it Pads?”

Sirius glared at James but nodded anyway, causing Brooke to stifle a laugh as her and Remus shared a knowing look.

Brooke finally took in everything around her, only then realising the missing member of the group. “Where's Pete?” The shy boy that usually followed Sirius everywhere didn't seem to be anywhere in sight. And when she thought about it she was sure it had been a few days since she had seen him.

“His mum is ill or something.” Remus was looking over his book at the three sat around him. “He's gone to help out at home.”

Brooke felt a tugging at her stomach. At least Peter was able to help out with his mum. Spend some time with her. She would have given anything to do the same. To go home and spend a few days with her parents.

Looking around she seemed no one was really bothered. If they weren't bothered it must mean that it was nothing serious. If it was, Peter would have surely told everyone details. But then, it was Peter. He wasn't really one for telling people about his personal problems.

Pushing the thoughts of him out of her head, she shoved them in the box too. Nothing was going to ruin her day if she could help it.

* * * * *

The rest of the day pretty much went without a hitch. Brooke had managed to avoid being alone with Lily. Which meant she hadn't endured any questions she didn't want to answer. James ongoing obsession did come in handy every once in a while. Lily avoided James, which meant as long as Brooke stuck with him Lily avoided her too.

The guilt at the pit of Brooke's stomach got worse the closer she got to her last lesson of the day. She was avoiding her best female friend all because she didn't want to answer a few questions. Questions that were only there because she was worried about her.

But she knew it was only a matter of time before Lily caught up to her. She was on her way to Potions and would have to face Lily there. No running away or hiding behind James. She now had to answer the questions she should have answered days before.

Potions had always been Brooke's favourite subject, and even now it still was. It was the one subject that she excelled in, to the point of giving Severus a run for his money at being top of the class.

No matter what was going through her mind, Brooke always found everything disappeared as soon as she had a cauldron in front of her. Suddenly every bit of attention had to be on the brewing potion. One mistake could be drastic, she could blow herself up. One forgotten ingredient could mean the difference between a simple potion and a life threatening poison.

And normally Brooke would be happy that she was paired up with Lily. But it meant that she wouldn't be able to focus on her favourite work of art. She knew before the lesson even started that she would be distracted.

Slughorn explained, in a round about way, that they would be brewing Draught of Living Death. The chance of it coming up in their N.E.W.T's was too high not to perfect it.

Brooke spent the first five minutes of the lesson avoiding eye contact with Lily, putting off the inevitable. They both knew what she was doing.

Scurrying to the cupboard as soon as Slughorn excused the class, Brooke went and grabbed the ingredients she would need.

She knew that her attempted positiveness was slacking in this class, so she just stopped trying. The frown that had been on her face everyday over the holidays was back. Her eyes, dead to any emotion.

“You could be a bit more grateful.” A familiar voice urged her, their breath tingling her neck.

Brooke pinched the bridge of her nose. “How wasn't I grateful?” Brooke sighed. Her eyes automatically rolled at the sound of the sentence. “I said thank you didn't I?”

“Still, don't you think you should be a bit happier? They are alive after all.” James said in hushed tones so no one could hear their conversation.

Brooke turned around to face him to find him stood there with furrowed brows. She took a breath, her shoulders dropping at the sight of her best friend.

“Firstly, I am grateful James. But what do you expect me to do? Hug Black? Owe him my life?” She explained, her lips snarled as they formed his name. “And yes, I am happy they're alive. But that doesn't change anything. They're still gone. And I don't know where. And rather than thinking there is a large chance that they're dead now I just keep thinking of all the different things that are being inflicted on them.”

“But they're alive!” James' was obviously getting irritated at the negativity that was coming from Brooke.

Brooke knew he was right. They were alive. That should make her happy, but she just couldn't bring herself to start smiling about it. She couldn't start thinking that she was definitely going to get them back. It was a nasty world out there, and it was only getting worse. Even if they weren't taken it didn't mean she would ever see them again. It was a war, and bad things happened. Having hope would just make her hurt more.

“I know James! But unless you're going to sit back and let me go and find them then there is nothing I can do!” Brooke was unable to keep her voice quiet now. She knew that James meant well but she knew she was right. All she could do was pass the information onto the right people and wait.

Something seemed to click within James as he just looked at her, sadness filling his eyes, as realisation that Brooke was right sunk in.

“There's nothing we can do but wait James. And we still don't know anything that can lead us to them. So excuse me for not being over the moon.” Brooke finished as she grabbed the final ingredients.

“Who says we have to wait?” James tried quietly. But it was loud enough to get Brooke's attention and she looked at James, waiting for him to continue. “Why can't we go and find them?”

“Don't be stupid James!” Brooke said, her voice cracking. “There are professionals out there looking for them.”

“How is it stupid? If you're really struggling to sit back and wait, let's go.” James was whispering again to make sure no one heard what they were talking about.

Brooke glanced around to make sure they were completely alone. A small part of her wanted to jump at the idea to do exactly what James was saying. But her brain kept kicking in telling her she'd just get herself killed.

“You know just as well as I do that my parents will kill us both if we leave school to go and find them.” Brooke whispered, making sure she had the final word.

Brooke gave James a weak smile and started heading back to Lily.

Struggling to get what James said out of her head, Brooke found herself ignoring Lily. Was it really so stupid if they did go and find them themselves? Who better to go with than James? They could both look after themselves and maybe they'd find them quicker than these detectives she was relying on.

But then there was the fact that they wouldn't have any clue where to start looking. They wouldn't be able to just walk into a death eaters house and search the place. Not that they even knew where any death eaters lived.

Even though she knew there was only one thing she should do, internally she struggled to find the answer. The choice to just sit and do nothing was getting harder and harder with every new thought that ran through her mind.

Grabbing a piece of parchment out of her bag Brooke scribbled a note.

What about Christmas?

Looking around for Professor Slughorn, she made sure his back as to her as she flew the note to James. As he read the note a mischievous grin formed on his face before he nudged Sirius and started whispering something to him.

Suddenly Brooke realised she might have made a mistake. This wasn't something she wanted Sirius involved in. Especially not as much as he already was anyway. There was still something about his 'chat' with Rebastian that didn't sit right with Brooke.

“Brooke?” A voice interrupted her thoughts bringing her back to reality. “Are you even listening?”

Looking at Lily, Brooke realised she really had been ignoring her since she sat back down. “Sorry Lils. I was in a world of my own.”

“Are you going to tell me what's going on, Brooke?” Lily kept her eyes on her potion, waiting for it to start bubbling.

“What do you mean?” Brooke replied innocently, not wanting to come right out with it. She still hadn't worked out what she was even going to say to Lily yet. But she didn't want her worrying.

“You've been avoiding me all day Brooke. You avoid going to sleep.” She stated matter-of-factly. Her green eyes shone kindly. And it was those kind eyes that made Brooke realise that she was being stupid. She could tell Lily anything and she knew that. Suddenly she felt silly for even attempting to hide anything from her. “And I've noticed the way you wake up when you do finally sleep.”

Brooke glanced around the room, turning to Lily only when she was satisfied she could talk without anyone listening.

“Sirius found out my parents are still alive.” She whispered, both of them throwing ingredients into their cauldrons so they didn't draw anyone's attention.

“He what?” Lily gasped, her eyes widening at the revelation. “How? Why? Don't you two hate each other?”

Brooke couldn't help but roll her eyes, a slight smile forming on her lips. A smile that finally reached her eyes for the first time in days. Months in fact.

“He got in contact with an 'old friend'” Emphasizing the words old and friend so Lily would understand what she meant. Brooke found herself grimacing at the memory of being so close to Rebastian. “And he didn't do it for me. He did it for James.”

It was obvious that Lily understood instantly. It even seemed as though she was a little disappointed that she even had to ask. Of course, Sirius would do anything for James.

“Wait.” Lily stopped what she was doing and looked at Brooke with furrowed eyebrows. “If they're alive, what's wrong?”

Brooke sighed but continued focussing on her potion. It was clear to Brooke that Lily hadn't quite understood where she was coming from before.

“His old friend is a death eater Lils.” Her voice barely a whisper. Not wanting to see the pity on Lily's face, her eyes looked everywhere but there. “So now every time I go to sleep I have this nightmare. But every night it ends in the same way. It always ends with Voldemort killing them.”

Lily opened her mouth to say something but thought twice about it. Instead she searched Brooke's cold features.

“Yes, it's amazing that they're alive, but it means he has something to do with it.” Brooke looked up to Lily, her eyes filled with sadness as tears threatened to fall from them. “And that's never been a good thing in the past.”

Brooke studied Lily's face as she struggled to come up with something to say that would comfort her. Something more than just meaningless words.

“Brooke,” Lily turned to look at her.

“Don't worry. I told you so you could stop worrying about me. I don't need you to make me feel better. Words aren't going to do that.”

Someone sniggering behind the girls diverted their attention. Turning to look at the source of the laughter they were met with a deathly glare.

“Did I say you could look at me, mudblood!” The Slytherin snapped, making sure to lower her voice when she spat the last word. Her face was harsh and cold and hatred filled her mud brown eyes.

Cassie Turner, the biggest Slytherin in the whole school. And quite possibly the nastiest. She had no second thoughts about testing the unforgivable curses on other students. Sadly though no teachers were yet to have proof. She was built like a brick house, towering over almost every student considering she was well over six foot. Her black hair was constantly slicked back into a tight ponytail.

“Shut up, Turner!”Brooke retorted loudly, not caring who overheard.

Professor Slughorn, who was doing something in the ingredient cupboard, was entirely unaware of the quarrel taking place. The rest of the class had all diverted their attention to it though, leaving their potions to their own accord. At the sound of Brooke's voice James sat on the edge of his seat, waiting in case he needed to get involved.

“Well, what do we have here? The dirty blood traitor fighting battles for the filthy little mudblood.” Cassie's voice was filled with so much hatred and disgust that some of the other students actually gasped.

Lily stood her ground, not showing any signs that the nasty words had any effect on her. Brooke, however, had clenched her jaw whilst she curled her hands into fists. Her eyes not leaving Cassie's for even a second.

“Drop it.” Lily gently pulled on Brooke's arm, causing her to relax at her touch. “She's not worth it.”

“Yes she is!” James jumped in having seen Brooke about to turn away. He homes in on Cassie, his wand pointed at her face. “You let one of them get away with it then they'll all be doing it.”

“Lower your wand, Potter.” Cassie's hand reached up and pushed his wand away from her face. “I've always known you were stupid. But come on, we both know you're not that stupid.” Her eyes darted to Lily as she spoke.

“I'd stop whilst you're ahead, Turner.” It was Sirius' turn to get involved now. “Before you say something else. You don't stand a chance.” His eyes darted from James to Brooke and Lily.

Brooke couldn't help but roll her eyes. She should have known. Of course James and Sirius would get involved. Especially if Lily was involved.

Slughorn was still rattling on to himself in the ingredients cupboard, completely oblivious to what was going on in his classroom.

“For now. But there will come a time when we'll come on top.” A sinister smile appeared on her face. A smile that would make even the bravest of people shudder. “It's only a matter of time.”

I'd stop with the threats if I were you. Unless you want me to stop them for you.” Brooke had now ripped her wand out and pointed it at Cassie's face. Sirius quickly followed suit.

“Just stop it guys!” Lily begged but no one was listening to her. Anger on all three of their faces.

“I'd listen to the foul girl.” Cassie tried pushing for a bigger reaction.

“What in Godric is going on in here?” Slughorn's voice bellowed through the room as he appeared behind James and Sirius.

Brooke grumbled under her breath as she realised what Cassie had been doing, the two boys following suit. All of them lowered their wands and turned to face their teacher.

Cassie had managed to plaster the best innocent look on her face she could muster, not that she needed to. It already looked better for her than the others.

“It was a misunderstanding, Sir.” Cassie's voice was soft and scared. “They misheard something I said and next thing I knew they were all pointing their wands in my face. Threatening me.”

James and Sirius protested, both trying to get out what really happened, shouting over one another.

“Enough!” Slughorn's face was bright red in anger. “Anderson, Black, Potter. You will all stay behind after class.”

“But, Sir.” All three of them cried as they grew more and more impatient.

“I will not hear another peep out of any of you. Ten points from Gryffindor. Each.”

All three of them groaned as he turned his back to them, making his way to front of the class. This time paying close attention on them to make sure they didn't step another foot out of line.

Chapter 5: Chapter Five - Detention
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“I should have known he wasn't going to let us explain.” Sirius grumbled as he continued the rant he had started about Cassie and Slughorn as soon as they left Slughorn's classroom. “Of course he would automatically take that toads side. She's in his bloody house.”

Brooke couldn't help but roll her eyes at Sirius as she thought back to the incident. “She did it on purpose Black. For someone who's meant to know everything you don't half take your time clocking these things.” She glanced over to him to see him glare at her, sending her daggers. “Besides, whether it was him or Minnie, it didn't look good for us did it?”

James kept his mouth shut, shaking his head at his two best friends as they bickered like a couple of first years.

“Well if you could keep that little temper of yours in check none of us would be here would we?” Sirius retorted.

“Shut up, Black!” Brooke felt herself getting more irate as the handsome man pushed all of the blame onto her. “I never asked you to jump in. You do have self-control, don't you?” Her voice betrayed her, revealing just how annoyed she was. “Or do you have to involve yourself in everything James does. He can look after himself you know.”

“Guys can you please stop bickering for one day.” James grabbed both of them by their shoulders. “I'm going to bash your heads together if you don't.” He feigned smashing their heads into one another which only gained him a dead arm from Sirius.

Letting out a bark of laughter, Sirius got out of arms reach from James knowing it was only a matter of time before he retaliated.

Meanwhile James kept his arm around Brooke who had snaked her arm around his waist. The all too familiar scent of Irish Spring soap and a tiny hint of cologne tickled her nostrils making her visibly relax into the only family she currently had.

The three of them rushed into the Great hall, Brooke pulling away from James and making her way to Lily, who sighed at the sight of James.

Before anyone could sit down James squeezed past Brooke, taking the seat next to Lily. “So, how is my sweet on this glorious evening?”

Pinching the bridge of her nose with her finger and thumb Lily took a deep breath. “Potter.” She grimaced with gritted teeth. “When will you give it a rest?” Her jaw remained clenched as she stared at Alice who was sitting directly ahead of her.

“I'll give it a rest when you say yes to a date.” James put on his most charming smile, but Lily just shook her head.

“I wouldn't say yes if you were the last man on earth Potter!” Her voice was getting more agitated by the obsessive behaviour. “It's never going to happen!” Lily stood up from the table, leaving her barely touched dinner. “I'll see you in the dorm later Brooke.” And with that she stormed off with Alice close on her heels.

Brooke couldn't help but let out a sigh. Her two best friends hadn't ever gotten along, not that James hadn't tried. But Brooke couldn't help but feel torn constantly. Torn between taking sides. Of course she wanted James to be happy, and apparently being with Lily would make him happy. But she also wanted James to stop chasing Lily, even for a little bit.

“She's never going to say yes if you continue like that.” Brooke, who was sitting opposite James, put some carbonara on her plate. “Stop chasing her James. Show her that you've grown up. That you're not the same boy who started chasing her in third year.” She started playing with her food, having a small mouthful every now and then.

Sirius, who had been shovelling steak and ale pie into his mouth looked at James. “She has a point.” His words were barely recognisable with a mouth full of food.

“How you ever manage to get a girl is a shocker!” Brooke cried as she avoided the food spraying out of Sirius' mouth.

Swallowing his food Sirius flashed her a cheeky grin, a sparkle was in his eyes. “We never really do much eating together.” He winked at her.

“They wouldn't do anything with you if they saw how you eat.” She scoffed back.

“You ever think I just eat like this to put you off, Princess?”

Brooke let out a loud, fake laugh. “Your personality already does that for you.” She flashed a sarcastic smile back at him.

“Guys.” James sighed rubbing his head. “Can we get back to my problem please.” His usual smile was no longer on his face. In fact, it looked as though he was genuinely hurt.

Brooke stopped the laugh that threatened to escape her lips as she took in the sight of him. “Listen James, you're too persistent. You've been doing the same things since third year. Just back off. Make her think she's not that special to you.”

“Look at you trying to trick your best friend.” Sirius jeered.

Brooke rolled her eyes. “When you think about it, I'm helping both my best friend and my brother. She gets a break, and it'll probably lead to her missing his attention.” She thought for a moment. “Maybe.”


* * * * *

The cold air hit Brooke's face as she got outdoors. The rain pelting her face causing her curly hair to cling to it. Her feet were sinking slightly in the wet mud. Rather than continuing the walk her impatience got the better of her and she swung herself onto her broomstick and kicked off into the air.

In that moment Brooke became one with the wind. Soaring high in the sky, her mind went blank. Every single problem that she had didn't matter up there. Any issue was unimportant. It was just her and her broomstick and absolutely nothing else.

When she finally got to the quidditch pitch James had already started everyone off, so they were following Sirius, so he could send the students away that weren't up to scratch. By the looks of it there was a good crowd trying out this year. And with only two spots to fill Brooke could tell it was going to be a long process.

Continuing to fly towards everybody, Brooke only stopped to hover when she was directly next to James.

“Nice of you to join us.” He was obviously in a bit of a strop with Brooke but that only made her roll her eyes at him.

“Come on, I'm here now.” Brooke let out a sigh as she took in James' grumpy face. The way his eyebrows furrowed and he stuck his bottom lip out ever so slightly.

“Well at least act like you want to be here.” A sigh escaped from James' lips as lightening flashed across the sky. “Let's just get this over with shall we?”

Brooke glanced up at everyone following Sirius and turned to James.

“He can't come with us, J.”

“What are you talking about?” James' raised his eyebrow at her before following her gaze to Sirius.

“Christmas.” Brooke couldn't help but admire the grace that Sirius' had whenever he was on his broom but quickly shot the thought out of her head. “Black can't come with us.”

“I know you don't like him; but you need to remember he was the one that found out they were alive.” James assumed it was all to do with Brooke's dislike for his friend.

“It's nothing like that!” Brooke could feel herself getting worked up.

“So stop being stupid, Brooke!” His voice was raised, gaining the attention of everyone else on the pitch.

“Stupid?” Brooke stared at James in shock, not paying any attention to anyone watching the show. “Why don't you stop backing him up for once and accept that maybe there's actually a reason for why I'm saying this!”

Sirius got everyone to fly circuits, throwing a quaffle between them as he went and landed beside James.

“So go on then. Tell me what your problem is with Sirius this time.”

Brooke glanced at Sirius, her eyes lingering on his for a moment. She shook her head and took a deep breath, giving up.

“So we'll all go. Okay Brooke.” It wasn't a suggestion, James was telling her how it was going to be. He turned away instantly and mounted his broom, leaving Brooke and Sirius stood on the pitch alone.

“Care to explain what that was about?” Sirius' grey eyes bore into Brooke's.

Brooke opened her mouth to tell Sirius about her worries about him helping them. That she was worried that by helping her he would end up being helpful to their cause. Instead, she shut her mouth and shook her head.

“It's not important, Black.” She kept her voice strong but he just raised his eyebrow as he waited for a better explanation. “Just a misunderstanding.”

“Listen, Anderson. I understand that you don't like me, I really don't like you either. But James wants to do this too. So I'm going to do this for him.” Sirius explained to her, he too was telling her how it was going to be.

Irritation was evident on Brooke's face, her jaw clenched and chin lifted higher. It was something that always reminded Sirius of the Slytherins; of how his mother used to be every time he did something to disappoint her.

Without another word to each other the pair made their way to assist James with the try-outs.


* * * * *

“Why isn't Prongs here?” Sirius glanced up from the trophy he had been cleaning.

“Head boy duties.” Brook simply rolled her eyes at Sirius. “I guess it does have it's perks.”

Brooke moved onto the next trophy in the room, her mind wandering back to her argument with James earlier on in the day. He had ignored her for the rest of try-outs, and was still yet to talk to her. Not that she had made it any easier on him.

She knew she was being stupid but there was a part of her that was a little bit jealous about the way James never backed her up. He was always siding with Sirius, whether it was wrong or right.

“It wasn't because I don't like you.” Brooke spoke up after a long silence.

Sirius raised his eyebrow at her as he stopped what he was doing. “What?”

Brooke let out a small, inaudible sigh. “Earlier.” She turned to face Sirius. “You're James' best friend and I can't be the reason they'll try and turn you against him.”

It was Sirius' turn to sigh this time. “They'll try whether I help you or not. It does seem to be a family thing after all.” Sirius shrugged it off, not thinking of it being of any importance.

Brooke thought for a moment in silence, carefully trying to think of the right words to say. “How did you do it? Leave them all behind I mean.”

“I guess I just got one hiding too many.” Sirius avoided meeting Brooke's gaze. Talking about the things his mother had done to him was never easy; and had it been anyone else who asked he probably wouldn't have said anything. Brooke had seen it though. 

She was there when he'd finally had enough and escaped to the Potters. She had seen the state he was in because of his mothers temper.

Brooke thought back to the summer before when she had been staying with the Potters for the week. She remembered opening the door to reveal an unrecognisable Sirius. His face was swollen and covered in blood. He could barely open his dull grey eyes. He clutched at a couple of broken ribs, grimacing every time he took a step.

Glancing at him now he looked like a completely different person. He was alive again, his eyes full of life. There was something about him that Brooke was jealous about. His ability to just forget the bad and get on with his life. He was always loving life no matter what was going on in it.

“Do you ever hear from her?” Brooke met his gaze with her curious eyes.

“Nah.” Sirius shrugged. He didn't care whether he never heard from his mother again; in fact he'd prefer if he didn't. “Regulus will keep me up to date every now and then. Just to let me know how disappointed they are of me.”

Brooke sat down on the floor without removing her eyes from Sirius'. His eyes showing how intrigued he was by the sudden interest shown in him. “If I had my pick out of your whole family I'd be sat here with you any day. And that's saying something because I really can't stand you 99% of the time.”

Sirius barked his signature laugh which caused Brooke to smile at him. A proper smile that reached her eyes, which were soft for the first time in a long time.

“You almost seem like your normal self.” Sirius stated as he moved his hair out of his eyes so he could study Brooke's reaction better.

Brooke felt herself tense up but pushed through it, making herself relax again. “You don't treat me like I can break at any given moment.” Brooke's eyes remained soft as she looked down at her fidgeting hands. “It's hard to try and get past what's happened when so many people can barely look at me without pity being the only thing I see. James is trying but I just see this hurt boy who has lost part of his family too.”

Sirius nodded at Brooke. “He sees the same in you.” Sirius stands up and pulls Brooke with him, moving her so she can see her reflection in the trophy cabinet. “Look at yourself.”

Brooke stands staring at her reflection. Her eyes were surrounded by horrible dark circles, that stood out more on her abnormally pale skin. Her cheekbones were more defined and her collarbone was almost jutting out at a wrong angle.

Sirius was stood behind her, his chest almost touching her back whilst he watched her reaction in the reflection. “You need to start looking after yourself.”

Tears formed in Brooke's eyes and she just nodded in response, not trusting herself to talk without her voice breaking. Suddenly she was completely aware of the proximity between her and Sirius; and for the first time her heart started crashing against her chest.

“It's hard for people to treat you like you if you don't look like you.” Sirius' voice was soft and caring.

Shivers ran up Brooke's arms leaving goosebumps in their wake. Quickly rubbing her arms to get rid of them Brooke turned away from her reflection to face Sirius. Neither of them moved, they just stood looking at one another.

“It's hard.” Brooke whispered. She wasn't sure what was going on but her whole body was betraying her. All of a sudden there was this attraction to the young man in front of her that she had never experienced before. No matter how much she was shouting at herself to stop looking at him and to move away, she just couldn't do it.

“You'll figure out a way.” Sirius was completely unaware of Brooke's reaction to him. “You're the most infuriating, stubborn and strongest girl I have ever had the misfortune to meet.”

Brooke snapped out of it and rolled her eyes before shoving Sirius away from her. A small laughed escaped her lips before she turned around to finish cleaning the last few trophies.

It wasn't long until the pair had finished the last of the trophies and were making their way, slowly, back to the common room. It wasn't that they cared much about the company but Brooke was putting off going to bed and Sirius had a feeling that she didn't really want to go back.

“So, you say you want people to treat you how they did before?” Sirius had a huge, mischievous grin on his face that only made Brooke raise her eyebrow questioningly. “Are you up for a bit of mischief?”

Brooke couldn't hide the sly smile from appearing on her face which was all Sirius needed. He grabbed her wrist and pulled her in the opposite direction of the common room.

They made their way to the prefects bathroom, not making a sound until they got there.

“What are we doing here?” Brooke pulled her hand away from Sirius, her heart crashing against her ribcage loudly.

Sirius rooted in his pocket and picked out a couple of different coloured vials, giving two to Brooke and keeping two for himself. “Put it in their shampoo.”

Suddenly Brooke realised what was going on and she did as she was instructed, spreading the vials out between the different bottles that were put away by the sinks.

Neither Sirius or Brooke said anything to one another until they got back to the common room. Brooke was at the bottom of the stairs on her way to the dormitory when she turned to face Sirius. “Thank you.” Then she made her way to bed not listening to see if Sirius replied.

* * * * *

Brooke sat at the table on her own eating a small plate of eggs and bacon, when suddenly a blur of black flew into view, taking a seat opposite her.

“Black.” She greeted, noticing him trying to suppress his laughter.

Sirius nodded at her before keeping his eyes peeled on the door to the hall, Brooke following his gaze.

A red faced Lily Evans walked into the great hall, furious. But it wasn't her face or her anger that had people turning heads. It was her electric blue hair that replaced her lovely red hair.

Brooke choked on a mouthful of eggs and couldn't help but laugh at her friend.

Lily was followed directly by James, except James had candy floss pink hair to replace his messy black hair.

Brooke and Sirius had both cracked up laughing by the time the pair got to the table.

“I don't suppose you had anything to do with this, Black?” Lily spat as she sat down next to Brooke, trying to hide from the looks she was getting.

“I have no idea what you're on about, Evans.” Sirius' voice was a bit too innocent and everyone knew it was him. “Why don't you ask Anderson?”

“What!” Brooke glared at Sirius who just laughed at her reaction.

“B?” James laughed a hearty laugh as he messed up his pink hair.

Brooke just shrugged at the pair but the small smile on her mouth gave it all away. She glanced at Sirius who winked at her before laughing loudly.


Chapter 6: Chapter Six - The Bet
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“I give up!” Brooke lay her head on the table as she flicked through Theories of Transubstantial Transfiguration. She had never been able to master transfiguration, even though it was the one thing she had gone out of her way to try and excel in. “My head is going to explode if I have to write one more word of this awful essay!”

“Don't be so dramatic.” Lily stopped furiously scribbling her essay and gently placed her quill down. “What is it you need help with?” She leaned over to grab Brooke's barely started essay.

“All of it.” Brooke groaned into her book.

“It's not that hard.” Marlene rolled her eyes at Brooke which only agitated her more. “It's simple if you put your head to it.”

“I'll put your head to it in a minute!” Brooke grumbled the threat under her breath. Lily stifled a laugh whilst Marlene glared at Brooke, deciding not to respond.

“How about we have a little break then?” Lily's voice rang like bells.

“Why don't we go find the boys?” Marlene smirked suggestively causing both the others to roll their eyes.

Brooke grimaced. “As much as I hate to admit it, that could actually be a good idea. James is surprisingly good at transfiguration.”

Lily shook her head. “Please no. You both know I can't stand Potter.”

“And you also know he's family to me. Please just make a bit of an effort.” Brooke pinched the bridge of her nose and took a deep breath. “I love you both but your bickering doesn't half get on my nerves.”

“That's exactly how the rest of us feel about you and Black bickering.” Lily looked to Marlene for back up. Marlene, however, had chosen to ignore the pair of girls and was too busy engrossed in checking out a boy at the other side of the common room. Lily rolled her eyes and turned back to Brooke.

Brooke chuckled. “No Lils, it's completely different. Black and I don't like each other. He just doesn't treat me like I'm fragile, like everyone else does. You and Potter, you're different. There's something there between you.” Lily pretended to throw up upon hearing Brooke's words. “Whether you want to hear it or not, it's only a matter of time that you finally see James for what he is.” Brooke's eyes never left Lily's for a moment. “He's not that immature and arrogant toad that he once was. You just need to open your eyes and see it.” Brooke paused to take in Lily's thoughtful face. “And you will see it Lils. So please, just give him a chance. James is one of the good ones.”

“But he hasn't changed Brooke!” Lily's eyes were thoughtful as she tried to process what she had been told.

“Yes he has. You just don't want to accept it.” Brooke shrugged and a small smirk appeared on her lips. “Maybe you're just scared of what you'll feel? But I promise you that there is something there. It's so obvious.”

“You know me better than anyone!” Lily whined. She was still not accepting anything that Brooke had said to her. “How can you possibly believe you can see something that isn't there.”

Brooke chuckled. “Because I know you so well. I know things you don't even know about yourself yet.” Brooke stood up to go find the boys. “But please, if anything just go a bit easier on him. He really does like you.”

A light blush appeared in Lily's cheeks and she couldn't keep Brooke's gaze which told Brooke all she needed to know. That she was right about Lily; there was something there.

“Come on. Let's go find them.” Brooke decided better than to wait for Lily's response.

Marlene, who had paid absolutely no attention to anything they had said suddenly appeared interested at the prospect of finding the marauder's. Her and Lily both got up to follow Brooke's lead.

“Let's go find my man.” Marlene's voice was flirty and full of hope.

“Who's that, Lene?” Lily was shocked at the thought of Marlene being involved with anyone for more than one night.

“Black, of course.” Marlene spoke as though the others should have known but Lily just rolled her eyes, not even entertaining the conversation.

A scoff escaped from Brooke's lips causing Marlene's eyes to snap onto her. “He's no ones man. I would have thought you would know that having seen how he has been for the last few years. You'll just end up getting hurt.”

“What do you care?” Marlene snapped as her eyes narrowed in frustration.

Brooke thought for a moment and just shook her head in the end. “You're right McKinnon. I don't care.”

The three girls walked in silence from the common room to the lake, where they found James and Sirius laying on the ground, Sirius with his top buttons undone which revealed his chest. Remus was sat resting against the tree with a book in his lap. His hair was unusually untidy and the bags under his eyes were basically black. Peter was sitting close to Sirius, as he was every time they were together.

Brooke instantly walked over to James and plopped down beside him, flashing him a smile as a greeting whilst she nodded at Remus. Lily wasn't far behind Brooke which had peeked James' attention but he didn't say anything.

“B! To what do we owe this pleasure?” James' eyes wouldn't leave Brooke's as he tried to avoid Lily.

Marlene basically sat directly on top of Sirius as she squeezed between him and Peter, her hand going instantly to his bare chest as she flirted with him, laying it on thick.

“I'd had enough of that awful transfiguration essay.” Something in Brooke's eyes caused James to roll his eyes.

“I'll help you out with it tomorrow.” He flashed a grin at Brooke before his eyes moved to Lily. “Evans. Didn't expect to see you here.” His voice was cold and his eyes moved onto Marlene and Sirius, which shocked Lily. She'd been expecting some sort of flirting, not just dismissal.

“Do you two have to do that here?” Brooke was disgusted as she watched Marlene climb on top of Sirius and start kissing him.

Sirius pulled away and flashed a cocky grin at her. “You jealous Anderson?” He winked at her. “I'm sure McKinnon won't mind sharing.”

“Oh Merlin, no! I'm quite happy without catching anything.” Brooke stood up. “But if I have to watch that for one more second I'll have to claw my own eyes out.”

“The green eyed monster doesn't suit you, Princess. Don't worry you'll get your turn.” Sirius let out a chuckle at the disgusted look on Brooke's face.

“I really hope not!” Brooke and Lily started walking away from the group before Brooke turned around. “You coming? James? Remus?” Her eyes hovered on Peter for a moment. “Pettigrew?”

Instantly Remus and James glanced at Sirius and Marlene and decided being with the girls would be the better choice for their sanity. At the sight of James getting up to join them Lily let out a sigh but decided to head to Remus and talk with him. James wrapped his arm around Brooke's shoulders.

“Definitely. Otherwise it won't just be you clawing your eyes out.” He glanced over at Lily. “And there are definitely a couple of sights I wouldn't want to be living without.”

* * * * *

Sirius rushed into the common room and found Brooke exactly where he had thought she would be. On the arm chair in the common room, facing the door he had just come through.

His face was awash with fear and worry as he slowly made his way over to her sleeping restlessly, her face in a frown and her eyebrows knitted together as she thrashed about in the arm chair.

Making his way over to her, Sirius took in the vulnerable sight before him. The whimpering that escaped her mouth at random intervals.

“Anderson.” He spoke softly as he was leaning into touch her shoulder. His fingers clasped around her gently and he shook her. “Brooke!”

Brooke shot up, her eyes darting around the common room as she took it all in, finally letting them rest on Sirius' worried face, his eyes saddened under her gaze.

It was the first full moon of the year and Brooke had still not managed to turn animagi, much to her dismay. The thought of not being able to help Remus didn't sit well with her and she found herself unable to go to bed. It wasn't that she knew something would happen but this was her routine every full moon. That way she would make sure everything went alright.

“Remus! What's happened?” Brooke finally managed once she'd finally registered the lack of anyone else's presence.

“Come with me.” Sirius held his hand out for her as his eyes pleading.

Brooke glanced at his hand before slowly taking it, her eyes searching Sirius' face for any hint that he was pulling her leg. Instead, as soon as their fingers were linked he dragged her off the arm chair and out of the common room. “What's happened?” Brooke's voice begged Sirius as he dragged her to the hospital wing. “Black!” She planted her feet on the floor refusing to go any further until she knew what was going on.

“Brooke, please just trust me!” There was something in Sirius' eyes that made Brooke do just that and she let him drag her to the infirmary without another word.

When they got there Brooke rushed over to Remus, who was in the bed furthest away from the door. As soon as she got to him he looked away from her, not wanting her to see the shame in his eyes.

“Remus?” Brooke whispered as she grabbed his hand. “Are you alright?”

Sirius was still stood by the door of the hospital, slowly making his way to Brooke. But when Remus didn't answer her she glanced around the room. “Where are James and Peter?”

Her eyes shot round to Sirius as he came up to the side of her. His eyes told her everything she needed to know. James had been hurt. And the way Remus couldn't even look at her told her it was because of him.

“You didn't mean it Remus.” Brooke squeezed his hand trying to comfort him. They all knew the risks of going with Remus on a full moon but that would never stop any of them. Even if it was the last thing Remus wanted.

“We can't see him yet.” Sirius explained as he eyes landed on the curtained off bed opposite Remus causing Brooke's eyes to fall on it too.

“I'm coming next time. I'll start preparing myself tomorrow.” Brooke demanded, causing Remus to flinch and pull his hand out of hers.

“No. None of you will.” His chocolate eyes grew cold. Brooke went to object but Remus shook his head cutting her off. “I've just put one of my best friends in the hospital and we don't know the extent of the damage I've done. I'm not going to risk that again.”

Sirius let out a bark of laughter causing both Remus and Brooke to stare at him in disbelief. “Do you really think that anyone is going to let you go through that on your own?” He planted himself on the end of the bed. “Prongs won't have any of it.”

“It's too dangerous.” Remus' eyes were pleading with the pair to just let him have his own way. “Tonight shows that all it takes is one bad night and for one of you to get momentarily distracted. I could have killed him.”

Brooke took in the look on Remus' face and pulled him into a hug. “Stop beating yourself up over this. James will kill you himself if he catches you doing this.”

Brooke pushed every urge to run and see James to the back of her head. She knew she had to be there for Remus right now. They all did. He was bad enough for a few days after a good full moon. He needed them now more than ever. Besides, she knew she couldn't be any help to James right now. But that didn't stop crazy thoughts about losing him rush through her head.

Remus fell asleep pretty quickly afterwards leaving Brooke and Sirius awake both their eyes not moving from the curtains around James bed.

“What actually happened?” Brooke moved her eyes to Sirius, noticing him sigh before his eyes met hers.

“Moony threw me against a wall which distracted Prongs for a second too long.” Sirius paused for a brief moment. “Next thing I knew Moony had Prongs in his mouth. I had to get Moony off him and send Wormtail and Prongs back through the tunnel in human form. Madame Pomfrey said he got here just in time, any later and he might not have been so lucky.”

Brooke put her head into her hands. “I should have been there. I need to attempt this animagi thing again!”

“Nothing you could have said would have changed Prongs' mind. Even if you could do it he wouldn't let you go.” Sirius shrugged trying to make Brooke aware that there was nothing that could have been done to change the outcome.

“If I had been there I could have stopped it.”

“There's no way you would have been there so there's no point in thinking like that.”

“He's all I have left.” Tears threatened to escape Brooke's now bright blue eyes. “I could have lost him.”

Without a second thought Sirius moved to Brooke and took her in his arms where she sobbed into his chest.

“But you didn't lose me.” A voice croaked from across the room as Madame Pomfrey exited the curtains.

“You have two minutes before you need to go back to bed. Mr Potter needs his rest if he is to be out of here by morning.” Madame Pomfrey snapped as she glared at Sirius and Brooke.

James clocked Sirius' arm around Brooke and cleared his throat causing Brooke to jump away and run to his side. She threw herself into his arms and clung onto him, causing him to wince.

“Don't you dare do that to me again! Do you understand?”

Sirius was right behind Brooke and as soon as she let go of James he pulled him in for a brief hug, patting each other on the back as they did.

“I've got my first battle scar!” James' face lit up as he pulled his top down to reveal two already healing werewolf bites at the base of his neck and on his shoulder.

Brooke couldn't help but let out a giggle at her friends inability to see the seriousness in anything. Even if it did get him into danger all of the time.

“Right. Back to bed.” Madame Pomfrey appeared next to James' bed with a sleeping draught and made Sirius and Brooke head back to the common room.

* * * * *

“What's going on with Potter?” Lily whispered to Brooke after he walked past their desk only acknowledging Brooke. James had been ignoring her and taking a back seat in her life since Brooke had told him to a few weeks before.

The whole time he had been doing it Lily had been getting visibly agitated by the fact that he wouldn't even acknowledge her during their duties as head boy and girl.

“What do you mean?” Brooke feigned ignorance. She couldn't help but smile at the fact that her friend obviously had a thing for James but refused to admit it.

“He's barely said two words to me for weeks.” Lily was exasperated. “And even when he does he's cold. Patrolling has become extremely awkward.”

Brooke sniggered and threw a look in James' direction watching the way he was larger than life already, even considering the near death experience he had had the night before. “I thought you would have liked the break from all his 'cringey flirting'.”

A pink tinge appeared on Lily's cheeks as she opened and closed her mouth, trying to think of something to say. “I...I do. It's just gone from one extreme to another.” She managed to get herself together. “Trying to work with him the last few weeks has been awful when he just pretended I wasn't there. How can we work together if he can't even talk to me?”

Brooke took in the sight of Lily and couldn't help but let out a laugh causing not only Lily to look at her in shock but other students threw glances at her, James included.

“What's so funny, Brooke?” Lily asked, a bit shocked by her reaction. She was still refusing to admit that she felt anything but dislike towards James, even if it was making her miserable for doing so.

“You totally fancy him!” Brooke's voice was a loud whisper as she laughed at Lily.

“No I don't!” Lily was shaking her head but her eyes flickered to the back of James' head and the blush reddened. Brooke had known Lily for too long for her to successfully lie to her. “He's arrogant, cocky and so full of himself.”

“I think you're confusing him with Black.” Brooke couldn't help but let the dig slip into the conversation.

At the sound of his surname, Sirius looked up at the two girls, revealing that he had been listening in to the whole conversation. “Oh please stop, you're making me blush.” He winked at Lily who looked mortified, her eyes wide and mouth open.

“You've been listening this whole time?” Her voice was short and cold as her eyes narrowed at the boys. She stammered in utter disbelief, not wanting them of all people to think she was in anyway affected by James not talking to her.

Sirius let out a hollow chuckle. “It's hard not to listen when you talk that loud.” He swung onto the two back legs of his chair, his hair falling out of his eyes as he looked at Lily. “Besides, it's my duty as best friend to make sure that I report anything said about him back to James.”

“Mr Black. Could you please turn around and face your work rather than distracting the girls.” Professor Slughorn's face had a pink tinge to it, as it did every time he had to confront Sirius or James.

“But, Sir. It was Anderson who kept trying to get my attention.” He had a sly grin on his face as he glanced back at Brooke.

Brooke looked at him in utter disbelief, not quite understanding why he was getting her in trouble for something she hadn't done. “Stop lying, Black. You know full well this was all you. Again!”

The rest of the class turned to watch the altercation between Brooke and Sirius. This had become a regular occurrence over the last few weeks. They'd bicker constantly but it seemed to be more light-hearted than what it used to be. Neither on of them had actually gone out of their way to be nasty to the other. But if the opportunity was there to get a reaction they would take it.

Brooke mentally kicked herself for letting her think that the night before meant they might actually be able to be civil to each other rather than keeping up this thing where they go out of their way to wind each other up.

“Why would I lie, Sir? What would I get out of it?” Sirius addressed their teacher with that innocent smile on his face that everyone knew all to well.

“This isn't funny any more, Black. It wasn't funny the first time. And it still isn't know.”

“Both of you detention tonight. You will be here at 8pm.” Professor Slughorn sighed. “Stop distracting the class and get on with your work.”

Sirius turned away from Brooke with a mischievous grin on his face. Brooke sat there chucking ingredients into her cauldron refusing to talk for the rest of the lesson.

When they finally got dismissed Brooke and Lily made their way quickly out of the class and to the great hall so they didn't have to speak to James or Sirius. After they'd sat down though it wasn't long before they were joined by the two people they didn't want to see.

“What was that about, Padfoot?” Remus asked, catching up to Sirius as they all got to the table and sat down by Brooke and Lily.

“Seriously Brooke. You've had almost as many detentions as Sirius and that's saying something.” Lily piped up, hoping it would prevent the conversation from steering in her direction.

Brooke let out an empty laugh. “Come on, we both know he's just doing it to get to me. Besides, there's no way I'll get any more.” Brooke glared at Sirius who just smirked at her.

“Are you willing to bet on that?” Sirius' eyes danced dangerously. He was up to something and everyone knew it.

“That I'll get no more detentions?” Brooke thought about it for a moment but knew if it came to it she'd get screwed over. “No, you'll just do the same again.”

“How about, that you'll have less detentions than me between now and Christmas break?” Sirius offered.

This time Brooke thought about it. Not being one to miss out on a good bet she nodded at the group.

“So B, if you get less detentions, you win. What would you want?” James started mediating the bet so no one could go back on it.

A sly grin appeared on Brooke's face as she looked at Sirius. “I want your bike, Black.”

Sirius' face dropped and James' mouth hung open. Remus was watching on in amusement and Lily had no idea what they meant by his bike.

“But that would be the worst thing you could ask of Padfoot.” James piped up, trying to fight his best friends corner.

“Exactly.” Brooke continued, her eyes now full of life. It was the first time in a very long time that Brooke had felt a rush and Sirius knew that. He had been trying to make sure that she always had a little gleam in her eye and if this is what it took to try and get her back to normal permanently then he'd do it.

“Okay.” Sirius nodded which shocked Brooke. “What's the worst thing you can think of for yours?”

“A date with Black.” Lily said quietly but Sirius' and James' eyes both lit up at the prospect.

“Not just a date,” Sirius said, “I will make sure it's the worst date you have ever been on.”

Brooke grimaced at the thought of having to go on any sort of date with Sirius. Thankfully, anything she had felt during their detention had never came back and she was back to disliking him with no confusion. Besides, she was almost a hundred percent that she definitely wouldn't get more detentions that him. “Fine. Deal.” She stuck her hand out for Sirius to shake it.

Sirius couldn't stop the grin from appearing on his face whilst the others just shook their heads at the pair.

“Brooke?” A voice came from behind her causing her to spin around to look at the person it belonged to.

Stood behind her was a tall, but skinny, young man from Hufflepuff. His dark brown hair was just a touch shorter than James' but a hell of a lot neater. His face had a huge smile on it and his green eyes were sparkling.

“Ryan?” Brooke was a little shocked by the sudden acknowledgement of each other. They had a few classes together but they'd never really had that many conversations. “Is everything okay?” She tried to plaster her friendliest smile on her face.

“Well, I heard you didn't have a date to Hogsmeade tomorrow.” Ryan waited, as though his was waiting for an answer so Brooke just nodded, knowing what was coming and praying it didn't, especially in front of everyone. “Do you fancy going with me?”

Brooke looked around to find everyone staring at her waiting for her answer. “Urm...yes?” She found herself saying, not able to say no in front of this many people.

The smile on Ryan's face seemed to grow even wider. “Great! I'll meet you at 10am down here?” His eyes were eager as Brooke nodded at him before he sauntered off back to his table.

Lily giggled into Brooke's side who looked a bit uncomfortable.

“Pickery?” James scoffed looking less than impressed. “You could do so much better than him.”

“I'm sure she'll have a great time with the puff.” Sirius was enjoying the situation way too much.

“Shut up guys!” Brooke shook her head at everyone. “I couldn't reject him in front of all of you. Besides, he's pretty easy on the eyes and he's nice. What's so wrong with giving someone a chance?”

Remus shrugged and Lily turned to look at Ryan, admiring him from the distance. James and Sirius just shrugged as they shovelled food into their mouths.

Chapter 7: Chapter Seven - Hogsmeade
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“Anderson!” Sirius shouted as Brooke made her way out the common room. “Wait up.”

Brooke turned around to see him leaving Marlene with a scowl on her face. Brooke raised an eyebrow as Sirius got closer to her. “What do you want, Black?”

“We both have detention.” Sirius shrugged. “Might as well head there together.”

Brooke just nodded at him in agreement. She wasn't sure why he was appearing to make a bit of an effort with her, but it sparked something inside her that she couldn't put her finger on it; but she did the only thing she could think of; push it into her mental box and ignore it.

The pair climbed out of the portrait hole and started on their journey to the dungeons.

“So, you and Pickery?” Sirius had that usual twinkle in his eye; the one that meant he was going to be getting on Brooke's nerves.

“You were there.” Brooke really didn't want to get into any of that, especially with Sirius, but she had a feeling he was going to make it difficult to avoid.

“He's not exactly your type.” Sirius pointed out as he watched Brooke out of the corner of his grey eyes.

“And what do you know about my type?” Brooke couldn't believe she was talking about her love life to Sirius of all people. It's not territory they'd ever stepped foot in before.

A knowing smile appeared on Sirius' face. “They're not normally nice. The nice ones are always scared away by me and Prongs.” A glint appeared in his eyes.

“Scared away?” Brooke stopped in her tracks and turned to face Sirius, anger contorting her face. “What do you mean you scared them away?”

Sirius let out a bark of laughter. “We wouldn't do it on purpose. Well, I didn't” Sirius' eyes danced excitedly. “Do you really think I'd have any interest in who you date?”

Brooke felt a tug in the pit of her stomach but she wasn't sure what it was. “Then how did you scare them off?”

Sirius sighed at Brooke's questions, regretting ever bringing it up; but at least she wasn't going off in her own little worlds as much as she was. “If they avoid asking you out because of your relationship with Prongs then they're definitely not right for you. You need someone who will keep you on your toes. We both know you'd get bored otherwise.”

Brooke turned away from Sirius and started making her way to detention with Sirius falling into step with her. She'd never noticed people avoid her because of James and Sirius before.

“So if Pickery was willing to ask you out in front of all of us, I say good on him.”

Brooke let out a sigh. “Well I'm so glad I have your approval.” Her voice was cold and distant and Sirius knew that was the last thing she meant. “Why the sudden interest in my love life anyway? We're not friends.”

Sirius just shrugged and continued looking the direction they were going. “Just because we're not friends doesn't mean we have to be hostile to each other all the time. For Prongs' sake at least.”

“I guess you're right.” Brooke huffed. She snuck a peak at Sirius out of the corner of her eyes only to find him smirking. “Don't get used to it though.”

Sirius' smirk dropped slightly. “What?”

“To being right. It won't happen again.”

Sirius let out a light-hearted chuckle as he held the door open to let Brooke into Professor Slughorn's classroom. “After you, Princess.”

The pair walked into the classroom to find that all the ingredients had been taken out of the cupboard and were laid all over all the desks. Sirius' shoulders dropped at the state of the room whereas Brooke perked up.

“Miss Anderson. Mister Black. I'd like you both to give me your wands please.” Professor Slughorn greeted the pair and held out his hand for their wands. They both handed them over without any complaints. “I'd like you to scrub the shelves in the ingredient cupboard and then put everything back in there making sure the ingredients are in the correct order. I've got something I need to take care of so I'll be back in an hour and a half.” And without another word he scuttled out the door leaving Sirius and Brooke alone.

Brooke made her way towards the cupboard, inspecting some of the ingredients on her way.

“You won't find it there.” Sirius had been watching her as he slowly followed her into the dark cupboard.

Shooting around to look at him, Brooke stopped in the doorway. Sirius came to a halt as he crashed into her, his hands going to her waist to steady himself.

Brooke's heartbeat raced at the proximity of the two of them. Her skin tingled where Sirius was touching her, a feeling that seemed to be a reoccurring feeling when it came to Sirius. Her breathing hitched as she was unable to work out what was going on with her and why it was. Suddenly, she stepped back out of Sirius' reach and she could breath again.

“I don't know what you're talking about.” She lied when she was finally able to get her words out. Her dull eyes avoiding his.

“We'll take a detour to the greenhouses once we've finished here.” Sirius winked at Brooke before squeezing past, his chest brushing past hers. The close proximity sent shivers down her spine; but Brooke was getting good at pushing things to the back of her mind, so any inappropriate thoughts about Sirius that may have entered her mind were instantly pushed away before she had time to register them.

Brooke shouldn't have been shocked that Sirius had clocked her. If there was one thing she could admit about him it was that he was observant. There was very little that Sirius didn't pick up. So she wasn't too sure why she was so surprised that he'd caught her out so quickly.

“How did you know?” Brooke tried, and failed, to keep all the surprise out of her voice.

Sirius chuckled and shrugged at her, his eyes twinkling as they caught hold of hers. “It's what I would do.”

A sparkle that Sirius rarely saw appeared in Brooke's bright blue eyes, causing a grin to spread across his face. Neither of them removed their eyes from each others. Brooke's cheeks got hot as a blush spread over them. Clearing her throat she looked at the floor.

“We really should get this done.” Brooke took to looking at Sirius' tie, not liking the way she was starting to feel around him. The blushing, the tingling and the shivers had never been something that Brooke had felt before, with any guy. She knew now that she would have to limit anytime she spent with Sirius. They didn't like each other so she couldn't feel that way towards him. She decided it was only because of everything that had been going on. “I really don't want to be here all night.”

The sparkle that had briefly been in Brooke's eyes was dull again as she started to scrub the shelves with a sponge, trying to ignore the looks she felt Sirius' was giving her. He turned around and started cleaning the shelves on the other side of the cupboard.

“So, McKinnon's finally the girl to get the Sirius Black to settle down?” Brooke spoke with her back to him.

Sirius stopped what he was doing and glanced at Brooke. “Nah. Just an easy start to the year.”

Brooke turned to look at him, disgust visible on her face. It didn't matter how much she didn't like Marlene, it didn't sit well with Brooke to hear things like that said about her. “How can you say things like that about her when you're worse!”

“You don't even like her!” Sirius threw the sponge on the shelf and turned around to face Brooke. “What do you care what I say about her?”

“She thinks she's got you, Black. And whether I like her or not, I'll be the one who gets stuck listening to her go on and on about you. Even more so when you break her heart.” Brooke looked into Sirius' wide eyes. “And it seems I'm spending a lot of time with you. I don't want to be listening to people talk about you too.”

“Admit it Princess, you like spending all this time with me.” Sirius flashed her his charming grin.

“No. I don't.” Brooke denied as her heartbeat sped up at the sight of the smile. “Why are you doing it?”

“Marlene?”

Brooke shook her head and rolled her eyes. “Getting me detentions with you all the time. I'm going to start thinking you want to get me alone.” A cheeky smile lit up Brooke's face, the light in her eyes back, as she tried to hold back a laugh.

“Don't flatter yourself, sweetheart.” Sirius' smile changed to a cocky one.

“So, care to explain what you're playing at?” Brooke raised her eyebrow at him. “I mean, I have so many things I would rather be doing instead of spending my time in detention with you.” A small smile played on the corner of her lips. “Like sticking pins in my eyes.”

A bark of laughter filled the room. “That could be arranged.”

Brooke's laugh shocked Sirius. A proper laugh. A happy laugh that wasn't forced.

The pair turned back to continue the work they were doing, not saying anything until they were almost finished putting the ingredients back together.

The whole time it had been silent Brooke's mind drifted off to her parents, and what Rebastian had said. She thought about how they had no information to go on and even if everything was true and her parents were alive she had no idea how she would ever see them again.

The colour from her face drained and her eyes dulled. “So about Christmas.”

“What about it?” Sirius had a feeling he knew where the conversation was going to go. This time he wouldn't have James to back him up though.

“Where would we even start?” Brooke tried to keep the fear out of her voice. Because in truth, she had never been as scared as she was about never seeing two of the people she couldn't live without.

“We'll figure it out.” Sirius chanced a glance at her to see the worried, distant look that he had become accustomed to seeing. “Besides, I have a few ideas.”

Brooke's face became hopeful as she waited for Sirius to expand further on his ideas. But he just shook his head at her.

“Let me dig a little bit. Then I'll tell you everything.” Sirius noticed how dejected Brooke looked. “I promise.”

Brooke nodded at him and turned around to finish putting the last of the ingredients away. Her mind was racing through all the different ways Sirius could get himself in trouble by 'digging'. Then she thought about all the ways she could make sure he didn't get into trouble. She was thinking of ways she could make sure he wouldn't end up helping Voldemort's side, or so they couldn't use him.

Deciding enough was enough Brooke pushed the thoughts out of her head. It's not like she cared about Sirius and whether he ended up alright. No, it wasn't that she cared. It was because of James. That was it. She had to make sure that Sirius ended up safe and sound because James wouldn't be able to live with it any other way.

The two finally finished the detention, and were just about to head to the greenhouses but Sirius stopped them.

“There's no point in getting it now.” His face was soft and, if Brooke wasn't mistaken, caring. “You can't start it until the full moon so you're better getting it just before the next one. And it means we have a month to get the other ingredients ready.”

Brooke looked at Sirius, confusion spreading over her face. “Why are you helping me?”

“I've already done it.” Sirius just shrugged. “I know what you need to do. At least I can make sure you get it right. We wouldn't want you being half a donkey permanently.”

“A donkey?”

“Yupp. I just have a feeling that is what you're going to be. It would make sense.” Sirius kept his face straight causing Brooke to roll her eyes at him. Sirius however saw the smile she was trying to cover up. “Besides, everyone will be waiting up for us. We can't leave them waiting.”

Nodding, Brooke started making her way to the common room with Sirius falling into step beside her.

“So, why did you say yes to Pickery? And don't tell me it's because you like him because you've never given him a second glance before.” Sirius asked to fill the silence.

Brooke let out a small sigh. “I thought the only way I could properly go back to normal is to actually go back to normal. Maybe he doesn't make my heart race, or I don't secretly hope that I'm going to bump into him; but what if it could be that? I'll never know unless I give him a chance.” Brooke looked up through her eyelashes to catch Sirius watching her face, causing her to blush. Again. “Besides, it's been a while since I've been on a date.”

Brooke moved her gaze from Sirius to the corridor ahead, hoping that Sirius hadn't noticed the change in her complexion. The last thing she wanted was for Sirius to think she felt anything towards him, especially when she obviously didn't.

A small smile played on the corner of Sirius' lips as he watched Brooke clam up. “You want it to be that with him?”

“I don't know.” Brooke refused to look anywhere near Sirius, scared that if she did it would make her go red again. “But why are we talking about my love life again?”

“I never got the information I needed for Prongs earlier.” Brooke could almost hear the smirk on Sirius' face and suddenly felt stupid for thinking he could possibly be interested in her life. It suddenly all made sense. Of course he was only asking for James.

The rest of the journey neither of them talked and when they finally got back to the common room it was empty apart from Marlene. Sirius went straight over to her and planted a passionate kiss on her lips before pulling her hand so she got out of the arm chair and followed him out of the common room. As he was on his way out he threw Brooke one last wink but she just scowled a him before making herself cosy on the sofa with a muggle romance novel someone had left in the common room.

* * * * *

The journey to Hogsmeade had been a little bit awkward but that was more due to the fact that the marauders, apart from Sirius, were hanging around Brooke and Ryan, making it impossible for them to strike up a conversation without some sort of rude remark from them. Or rather without a rude remark from James. In the end the couple just walked in awkward silence.

By the time they finally got to Hogsmeade the boys all ran off to find the joke shop, leaving Brooke to follow Ryan towards the shrieking shack.

“Where are we going?” Brooke questioned as they got further and further away from any other students, who were all making the most of being able to go shopping.

Ryan looked at Brooke, flashing her a charming smile that didn't have any effect on her. “It's a surprise.” He grabbed her hand and linked his fingers through hers, making her a little bit uncomfortable but she didn't say anything and humoured him. “So is there anything going on with you and Potter?”

Brooke scoffed at his question before laughing, thinking he was joking. When she looked at him she found his curious green eyes gazing at her. “You're being serious?” Her eyes were opened slightly wider than usual.

“Well, yeah.” Ryan nodded. “You're always together. He's very...territorial over you.” He explained what the relationship must look like from an outsiders point of view. “Even today, it was like he was trying to make this as hard for me as possible.”

“And his obsession with Lily doesn't say enough?” Brooke was completely taken aback at the fact anyone could think that her relationship with James was anything but platonic. “James and I grew up together. His parents are my godparents and vice versa.” She found herself explaining anyway. “I guess he's just a bit protective over me, just like I would be with him. He just deals with it in the worst ways.”

Ryan nods as he takes her answer in. “Tell me more about yourself. Do you have any brothers or sisters?”

Brooke searched his face to try and find the normal sad, pitiful looks but never found it. Her suspicions that this had just been a pity date soon disappeared and she felt herself relax a bit more. “No, James is the closest thing I have to a sibling.” She thought for a moment.

“And your parents? What do they do?” Ryan continued trying to make conversation.

Brooke suddenly clammed up. Was it really possible that he didn't know anything about her parents? It had been a big thing. But it would explain the lack of sadness in his eyes when he looked at her. “Urm...enough about me. Tell me more about you.”

Ryan didn't seem to think anything of the sudden topic change and proceeded in telling Brooke all about his three sisters and one brothers. By the time they got to a small field with a picnic spread Brooke had been told about all his extended family too.

When Brooke saw the blanket with a picnic basket on top of it a what looked like a bottle of wine next to it, she couldn't help but let out a smile. “How did you do all this?” She couldn't hide her surprise.

“Your friend offered to help me out after I asked you to come with me.” Ryan explained. “He showed me how to get here to set it up earlier this morning.”

“Remus? I can't really see him breaking rules.” Brooke said thoughtfully. She knew it wasn't James or Peter as she had been with them all morning, so Remus was the only other option.

“It wasn't Remus. But that doesn't matter.” Ryan changed the subject, his smile was still revealing his pearly white teeth. The pair sat down opposite on another on the blanket and it wasn't long until Ryan was passing Brooke a plastic cup full of wine.

“This is nice.” Brooke was looking around the area with a slight smile on her face. They were in a small secluded area just away from the shrieking shack. Nice and intimate and romantic, and thankfully it wasn't Madam Puddifoot's Tea Shop.

Ryan nodded before getting some chocolate out of the basket and offering it to Brooke which she took. “So, Brooke, what are you planning on doing after we graduate?”

“I want a job within the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes. Preferably, I want to be part of the Accidental Magic Reversal Squad.” Brooke explained as she thought about what she wanted to do, revealing it to someone for the first time.

“Really?” Ryan looked shock as he looked intently at Brooke's face. “I would have thought you'd do the same as Black and Potter.”

Brooke let out a chuckle, throwing her head back slightly. Something tightened in Brooke's stomach at the mention of Sirius which Brooke put down to her 'dislike' for him. “No way. I'd never get the grades for going on to be an Auror. Besides, putting up with Black for even longer isn't exactly my idea of a fun time.”

“Oh, you and him don't get along?” Ryan seemed genuinely shocked by the revelation, which Brooke couldn't really understand because as far as she was aware it was obviously to everybody who looked at them.

“No. Not really.” Brooke scoffed whilst she shook her head. “Why are we talking about him on our date?”

A rustling noise came from the wooded area behind the couple which caused Brooke's head to spin around. “Did you hear that, Ryan?” She looked around them in every direction but couldn't see what could be the source of the noise.

Ryan started looking around too to try and figure out what Brooke was on about. “No. What was it?”

Brooke's eyes were wide as she tried to listen for the sound again but she had no luck and just shrugged in response. “I must be hearing things.” She plastered a false smile on her face to hide her worry. “Anyway, you never did tell me what you wanted to do next year.”

Ryan relaxed and turned his attention back to Brooke, his eyes lighting up as he looked at her. “My dad works for the Portkey Office in the Ministry and has got a job lined up for me already.”

The fake smile on Brooke's face grew larger. “Well, that sounds...interesting.” She tried her best to sound interested but found the more she spoke about Ryan, the more boring she realised he was. The spark that she had hoped would be there wasn't and the longer she spent on the date the more it became clear; and she could feel herself feeling a little bit gutted about it. “So what sort of things do you do in your spare time?” She tried, hoping that it would bring out something in him that could change her feelings for him and the date.

“I'm on the Quiddich team.” As soon as the words came out of Ryan's mouth the smile on Brooke's face became genuine.

“Me too!” Brooke's interest peaked. “What position do you play?”

“Keeper. You?” Ryan's face seemed to light up at the common interest and the two spent the rest of their time sitting their talking about Quiddich; which teams they supported, who the better house team was and why.

They were both sat there for another hour or so before they decided to head back to the high street and make the most out of their one day in Hogsmeade, knowing that there probably wouldn't be another one for a while.

Deciding the best place to continue their date would be The Three Broomsticks they started making their way there.

“I just need to pop in there and grab something for the Halloween Ball if that's alright?” Brooke asked as they walked past Gladrags Wizardwear. “I've already got in on order so will just pop in and out.”

Ryan flashed her a handsome smile and agreed to waiting outside the shop when they finally got there, Brooke not wanting anyone to see what it was she was picking up.

When Brooke got in the shop she made her way straight to the counter, bumping into Lily already paying for what she assumed was her costume.

“Brooke!” Lily grinned when she realised Brooke was behind her. “I thought you were on your date?” Lily's eyes lit up at the thought of gossip.

“I am. Ryan's waiting for me outside so I can pick up my mask for the ball, so I really can't stay and talk.” Brooke handed over her money and received her mask, already packed in a small bag for collection.

Unable to get away from Lily, they both headed out of the shop together and made their way to Ryan who was waiting patiently whilst talking to a 5th year girl from Hufflepuff. The girl was laughing hysterically at whatever Ryan had just said, her eyes gazing longingly at his face. It was the sort of reaction Brooke couldn't help but laughing at as it reminded her of all the times she'd seen people look at Sirius and James that way.

The Hufflepuff girl ran away when Brooke and Lily walked over to the pair of them, Ryan turning to face them with the smile that Brooke was yet to see his face without.

“Will you be joining us in The Three Broomsticks, Lily?” Ryan asked, making sure to acknowledge her.

Suddenly, there was a commotion from just behind them which caused Brooke to spin around. The sight causing her to instantly tense up. She mentally wished that the group of people would would past her and her friends.

“Well, well, well.” The voice drawled. “Looks like we have our favourite blood-traitor with a half-blood AND a filthy little mudblood.” Lucius Malfoy pulled his wand out as he got closer. “What a lucky find.” His voice was filled with disgust. “You really should start thinking about the company you keep, Anderson.”

Malfoy was followed by Avery, much to Brooke's dismay, and Mulciber. The second two followed Malfoy's action and drew their wands out as he did.

Brooke, Ryan and Lily all pulled their own wands out, taking defensive stances as they faced the group of Slytherins.

“Malfoy.” Brooke spat, her eyes instantly going cold. “Why don't you all get out of here before you make me do something that's going to hurt.” Her eyes lingered on Avery hoping he'd get rid of them.

Instead, Avery's eyes lost all emotion and his face went hard. There was something unfamiliar in him. Something Brooke had never seen before until this moment. Something evil. Something she thought she would never see in him; even if she did know about what was expected of him in his home. The fact that he was looking directly at her made her skin crawl. She didn't recognise the person in front of her, and he was supposed to be one of her best friends.

“What gives you the right to open your mouth to us in that tone?” Mulciber shouted from behind Malfoy. He caught Brooke looking around to see who was watching the altercation. “What's wrong Anderson? Are your precious little bodyguards not here to protect you?”

“We don't need them to take you on!” Lily spat, her face red with anger and her wand pointing at Malfoy.

“Go on then Avery.” Malfoy had an evil smile on his face, his eyes suddenly lighting up at the prospect of what was to come.

Avery's eyes didn't light up, and Brooke could swear she saw him hesitate for a moment as his eyes turned apologetic. No one except Brooke would recognise the look, so it was her who was panicking more than anyone. If he felt bad about what he was about to do she knew it was going to be something bad, something she didn't agree with. Whatever he was about to do was going to be evil.

“Crucio!” Avery yelled as Brooke fell to her knees as she let out a blood curdling scream.

Her mind went blank as all she could concentrate on was the excruciating pain surging through her body. Every single nerve in her body felt like it was being torn apart. Her bones felt as though they were on fire and her head felt like it was splitting open. Brooke stayed this way for what seemed, to her, like a lifetime.

“Expelliarmus!” Lily shouted almost instantly after Avery had cast his spell.

Brooke fell forward so her head was resting against the pebbled floor, a single tear seeped out of her eye and fell down her cheek as she lifted her heavy head up to look at a wandless Avery.

His eyes were open wide, obviously shocked at what he had just done, and watery as he took in the state of Brooke.

“Tommy?” Brooke's eyebrows knitted together as she tried to process what had just happened.

Malfoy and Mulciber ran off just as Avery got thrown across the street.

Brooke, filled with a sudden surge of adrenaline, found the strength to push herself off the ground and ran to where Avery had landed without a second thought.

“Tommy?” Her voice was soft as she made sure he was okay despite everything. Something inside of her was telling her that he deserved everything he had got. That he shouldn't have even thought about casting that spell on anyone, let alone her. But then another part of her knew she was glad it was her instead of Lily or Ryan. And she knew that Avery would know that.

She held her hand out to help him up but he swiped her hand away. “Don't, Buttercup.” He whispered as his eyes focussed on something behind her.

Brooke turned around knowing she had been stupid. She was faced with shocked looks from Ryan and Lily but it wasn't them her eyes focussed on. Instead they went wide as they focussed on someone she didn't want to see. A wand in one hand and an invisibility cloak in the other. His greys eyes were the angriest Brooke had ever seen them.

“Sirius!”


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