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Reckless by timeturner
Chapter 1: Reckless
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Ch. 1: Sirius' Mistake
In the inky black darkness, Sirius struggled. He struggled with longing, fear and desperation. He struggled against the weakness and he agonized over the feeling of helplessness that had engulfed him.
Sirius sank further into the shadows of his room. Company was the last thing he needed.
“Come now, it can’t be that bad.” The soft voice moved closer. Her steps were tentative and Sirius could hear the slight quiver in her voice.
“Afraid of me, Lily?”
“Of course not.” Lily sank down beside him. “Are you still angry?”
“You’ve disappointed me. You’re usually such an excellent judge of character.”
“What do you mean?”
“Coming here? To my room, in the dead of night? What would your little girlfriends say about you sitting in Sirius Black’s bed?”
“They’d be un-imaginably jealous.” Lily relaxed. “At least you don’t sound quite so angry anymore.”
“I’m not angry, Lily. I never was.” Sirius sighed. “Once again you’ve misjudged me.”
“I never misjudge you.” Lily said softly. “It’s just easier to say you’re angry than it is to bruise your ego by saying your feelings were hurt.”
Sirius ignored her comment and pulled her to her feet. “Let’s go walk the grounds. I could use some air.”
As they moved through the corridors and onto the darkened Hogwarts grounds, Sirius shortened his steps to match Lily’s smaller ones. The misty fog had grown heavy with nightfall and he didn’t want to chance her getting separated.
“So, why would they be jealous?” he asked absentedly.
“A midnight rendezvous with the mysterious and reclusive Sirius Black?” Lily laughed. “Their imaginations would run wild. They’re hopelessly infatuated with you.”
“Really? I never noticed.” Sirius shrugged and tried to get his mind back on their conversation.
“No, you never would.”
“Is that what this is, then? A rendezvous?” Sirius could see the blush on Lily’s cheeks evening through the murky fog. He laughed loudly and it echoed across the grounds. “Don’t despair, Lily. Your virtue is safe with me.”
Sirius slipped his arm around her shoulder, letting it rest there as they continued to walk further away from the castle.
“Where are we going?”
“Wipe that smug grin off your face. I don’t scare that easily.”
The two walked in silence until they reached the outskirts of Hogsmeade. Directing her to a path she’d never noticed before, Sirius led her to an alley behind several shops. “Wait here.” Sirius stepped a pace away from her and tapped on a wooden door. He talked quietly to the man who answered, then soon returned to her with two mugs in hand. “Come on, there’s a place around the corner we can sit and talk.”
“I don’t drink, Sirius.” Lily protested as she followed him to a quiet place in the trees.
“Relax, Evans.” Sirius plopped onto the ground with a thud, resting his back against a tree. “The mead is for me and the hot cider is for you.”
“Cider?” Lily sniffed the mug he handed her uncertainly.
“I didn’t spike it. I rarely find I need to get women drunk. You just looked chilled.”
“Kind of you.” She sank down beside him.
“Don’t spread it around.”
“Why do you let them affect you so much?”
“Yes, the Slytherins. Lily sounded exasperated. “You shouldn’t lower yourself to their level. It’s beneath you.”
“Who would’ve guesses that Sirius Black has self-doubts?”
Sirius didn’t answer and sipped his drink instead.
“Anyone who really knows you, I suppose.” Lily answered herself. “Remus didn’t mean those things.”
“Sure he did. He’s a prefect, isn’t he? I was fighting as dirty as Lucius. I probably should have been in Slytherin.”
“Don’t say that. You’re loyal…”
“Must you always be so positive? For once, can’t you see the other side of things?”
“You mean the other side of you?” Lily countered. “No, I can’t. Because it’s not true. The darkness you see in yourself is just a shadow. An illusive silhouette that you think will one day become real.”
“You’re just afraid you’ll turn out like your family.” Lily was surprised when Sirius didn’t argue.
“It haunts me.” He said quietly. “When I’m awake and when I dream. It’s always there.”
Lily moved closer to him, placing her hand on his arm. “You’re carrying a heavy burden, Sirius. Your family name is legendary.” Lily put her hand over his glass as he tried to take a drink. “But you are not them. You will not be known for the things they are known for.”
“Well, what will I be known for?”
“Whatever you want.” Lily said lightly. “And I can only imagine what that would be.”
“Loyalty.” Sirius whispered. “More than anything in the world, I want people to know my loyalty to my friends is true.”
“No.” Sirius cut her off. “They doubt. Everyone does. Just once, I want everyone to believe without question.”
“You could die happy with something as simple as that?” Lily asked in disbelief.
“Yes.” Sirius grinned. “I’m full of surprises.” Lily settled back against Sirius. “How about you?”
“I just want to have a family and grow old.”
“A muggle fantasy.” Sirius laughed and wrapped his arm around her in a hug.
“Think I’m crazy?” she dropped her head into his chest.
“You’ll have to find someone other than me to fulfill that fantasy.”
“Don’t think my family would welcome you with open arms.”
“Oh, yes. The dreaded mudblood.”
“Don’t say that.” Sirius moved her to face him. “I don’t want to ever hear you say that.”
“I was only joki…”
“No you weren’t.” Sirius shook his head. “I know it bothers you so don’t ever act like it doesn’t. But I can’t change my family.”
“You’re not the marrying kind anyway.”
“Remus or James. You should try them.”
“I’ll try and remember that the next time I feel the urge to sneak out.”
“I could make you forget.”
“Probably.” Lily ran her hand down his arm, the curves of his muscles making her hand fall in waves. When she realized what she was doing, she immediately jerked her hand away.
“Been listening to the school girls discuss me, have you?” he asked huskily.
“They have great stories, you know.” She said lightly. “Things you do…”
“I stay away from the girls at Hogwarts for a reason.”
“And why is that?”
“Because their gossip makes good girls like you think things like that.” Sirius said laughing.
“You can be such an ass.”
“We’ve been friends for a long time, Lily.” Sirius had gotten serious again. “We’ve sneaked out hundreds of times.”
“Well, of course we have.”
“Look at me.” Sirius commanded then his voice softened. “And you’ve never looked at me that way. Tell me I’m wrong.”
Lily eyed him defiantly but the words just wouldn’t come.
“I thought so. A mere curiosity brought on by the wet dreams of a bunch of gossipy girls.” Sirius pulled away from her and took another drink.
“Partially. I’ll admit that.” Lily answered finally. “But, Sirius, that’s not all.”
“Save the dramatics, Lily. There are some boys at the school who might buy it.”
“Why do you act like you’re above everyone? You’re our age, Sirius.” Lily’s irritation was continuing to grow.
“But you don’t survive in the Black household by being an immature, innocent git.”
“You’ve let yourself miss out on being a kid.”
“Well, perhaps one day I’ll be able to teach you something worthwhile because of it.”
“I don’t know. Like books aren’t everything? Like friends are something you don’t take so damn lightly?” Sirius said sourly. “Maybe I’ll even teach James some responsibility.”
“You need to learn that before you start giving lessons.”
“You mistake reckless for irresponsible.”
“They’re the same thing.”
“No.” Sirius pulled Lily close and gave her a quick kiss on the lips. “That was reckless.”
Lily tried to pull away but Sirius held tight. When he was certain she wasn’t going to move, he loosened his grip. Sliding his hands to her face, he let his hands caress the curves of her face. “This,” he whispered, “is irresponsible.”
Sirius’ breath was warm against her face as he drew closer. His lips traced hers without touching them. Lily leaned forward to kiss him, but Sirius kept their lips from meeting. Her breath was ragged and gave away her impatience as Sirius continued to explore the curves of her face with his lips. The tranquil stillness of the forest surrounded them and, in the hushed woods, the only noise to be heard was the seductive sounds of Sirius’ breathing and Lily’s pounding heart.
When he finally kissed her lips, his undemanding tenderness made Lily melt. She gasped for breath and Sirius slid his tongue into her mouth. His sensuous movements were unhurried, but he could feel Lily become more aggressive and exploring and he obliged by cupping his hand on the back of her head and deepening the kiss. Lily shifted her body to move closer to him and, as they made contact, Sirius immediately pulled away. Lily’s uneven labored breathing filled the darkness.
“Lesson over.” Sirius whispered.
“Sirius...” Lily reached toward him but Sirius caught her hand in mid-air.
“For your virtue and my sanity, lesson over.” Sirius repeated then kissed her hand and pulled her to lie back against his chest. He could feel her body quivering against his chest and he cursed himself. Why had he done that? If anything, her curiosity would be even greater than before and the likelihood that she wouldn’t go back and gossip was next to nil. Even worse, Sirius thought, he knew he was certainly leaving her in a position to want more. If he denied her for too long, what boy would she run to? Sirius’ unease grew with each passing thought.
“Irresponsibility affects someone else.” Lily’s voice caught as she spoke. She took a deep breath to try and return her breathing to normal.
“Exactly.” Sirius pulled her to her feet. “We should get you back.”
“I’m not irresponsible, Sirius. I won’t talk.”
“Hm.” Sirius’ disbelief was obvious.
“You only kissed me anyway.” Lily rationalized as they walked.
“Only? I think I’m offended.” Sirius laughed.
“No, I mean...”
“It’s okay.” Sirius squeezed her hand to reassure her.
“I just feel like we did…”
“Lil, it’s okay. I know what it did to you. Even if it was only a kiss.” Sirius kissed her forehead. “And I’m sorry for that.”
“Don’t be sorry, Sirius, you were just being you.” Lily smiled. “And you are fine just the way you are.”
Her words, although meant to be compliments, encircled Sirius like death. Was that who he really was?
Chapter 3: Safety for Sirius
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Safety for Sirius
The carnival like atmosphere of the last Hogsmeade weekend was intoxicating. Deep in the recesses of Dahlia’s pub, the Marauders had locked themselves in a back room with a dozen fellow Gryffindors. A long wooden plank table was loaded with food and drink and, in the corner, a cheery fire blazed brilliantly. Laughter and music filled the room as fire-whiskey and mead passed frequently around the group.
Sirius sat quietly by himself, his cool demeanor going unnoticed by all but his closest friends. His eyes had met Lily’s repeatedly throughout the evening, but he refused to go to her. He watched her closely, though, trying to determine her state of mind. She, unlike so many other women, confused him. Fiery and temperamental one minute, she’d be lovingly defending the underdog the next. He had watched in amusement as James and Remus cornered her into drinking and laughed out loud when she slipped off her shoes to dance across the stone floor with the other girls.
Sirius knew she had charmed the door so no un-invited quests would interrupt their end of term party, but Sirius still didn’t feel safe. As much as he desperately needed her tonight – her presence, her touch, and her calming words – he knew the risk of their being found together was immeasurable.
“Sirius.” Remus gave him a lop-sided grin and refilled Sirius’ glass. “You’re among friends.”
“Wise words even when you’re drunk?” Sirius laughed but Remus had already moved back into the crowd.
Sirius thought for only a moment, afraid he would lose his nerve. He searched the room for her and found her already looking at him. He tilted his head slightly, beckoning her toward him.
“Are you sure?” Lily asked softly, as she reached him.
Taking her hand, Sirius pulled her into his lap. “No, but I can’t avoid you either, now can I?”
“I thought you’d been doing an excellent job of that all day.”
“No fighting tonight, Lily.”
“You are in a rather dark mood.” Lily took a sip of his drink. She made a sour face but swallowed anyway.
Sirius chuckled. “Not up to your standards?”
“Just takes some getting used to.” Lily took another drink out of sheer defiance.
“Would you like one of your own?” Sirius laughed softly then leaned toward her, his mouth warm on her neck. “Let’s get out of here.”
“Do you care?” Sirius raised an eyebrow.
Sirius saw the hesitancy pass over her and he immediately understood. “My father and Lucius are here in Hogsmeade. I know. I wouldn’t take you where we could be seen.”
“I don’t care about that.”
Sirius shifted her out of his lap and took her by the hand. Giving a brief nod to James, he slipped out the door with Lily.
“Where are we?” Lily asked quietly, realizing they’d exited through a door she hadn’t noticed before.
“This goes back to Hogwarts, but there’s a place on the way…well, you’ll see.” Sirius tightened his grip on her hand to calm her. “You’re afraid of my father.” It was a statement, although in the darkened stone passageway it echoed more as if a question.
“For your sake, not my own.” Lily conceded.
“Then you’re a fool.” Sirius was glad when she didn’t argue.
“I’m following Sirius Black down some strange corridor in the middle of the night.” Lily laughed tensely. “A fool I definitely am.”
Sirius whirled on her. “Are you afraid of me?” Without meaning to, he growled at her.
“No. Yes.” Her voice was shaking.
“I’ll take you back now.” Sirius started to walk away, his anger and hurt overwhelming him.
Lily grabbed his shirt roughly and pulled him back. “I am scared of you.” She kissed him tentatively. “But for completely different reasons.”
Sirius searched her eyes questioningly but found only truth. Pressing her against the damp rocky wall, he kissed her tenderly. Her hands reached to wrap around him and Sirius could fight his emotions no more.
Pulling her body tight against his, all of his fears and uncertainties melted into a desperate longing for this one woman. The warmth of her body welcomed him, her soft caress offering him a safe haven from the world outside. Sirius relished the feeling of utter peace that being in her arms provided and, for a brief few moments, Sirius allowed himself to lose control.
“Sirius.” Lily’s voice was quavering, her body shivering from the depth of his touch.
Sirius tore himself away, crashing into the opposite wall of the narrow corridor. “I’m sorry.”
“No, don’t be.” Lily rushed to him. “That was you,” she whispered. “I mean, the real you.”
Sirius nodded, his breath still ragged. “I never…”
“Intended me to know your weaknesses?” Lily kissed his face, his lips, and his neck as she spoke.
“Something like that.” Sirius pulled her into a warm embrace, trying to break free from her distracting kisses. He couldn’t go on like this. He needed a talk to her, to tell her the truth. How could he possibly do that when the only thing he could imagine was holding her in his arms all night? Running to her for safety was inexcusable. Sirius’ body tensed as the outside world once again took over his thoughts.
“What’s going on?” Lily’s voice was strong now and she eyed him worriedly. “Something is really wrong, isn’t it?”
“Come. It’s not much farther.” Sirius slipped his arm around her waist and led her into a large opening in the corridor. “Not as cozy as Dahlia’s but much quieter.”
Lily moved around the small alcove. It was furnished with a few chairs, a sofa, and what looked to be a small library on transfiguration. A small table held a game of wizard’s chess, although the pieces seemed to have all wandered away. “What is this place?”
“Just a place to escape. James, Remus, Peter and I come here on occasion.”
“That way goes back to the school?” Lily pointed to a gloomy opening in the wall and Sirius nodded. “You Marauders are full of secrets, aren’t you?”
“You have no idea.” Sirius grinned, and then sank down on to the sofa. “Lily, there is something I have to tell you.”
Lily sank down beside him, the seriousness of his voice grabbing her full attention. She listened without interrupting and, for that, Sirius was grateful. He told her the news just as he had the Marauders and, just like James, Lily’s temper overcame her.
Sirius watched patiently as she paced the floor then as she threw things into the wall in frustrated anger. Sirius waited, knowing that she too would eventually let the truth of the situation seep in. Of all the things Sirius had available to him, options weren’t one of them. He’d skirted the issue for years and now that the decision to either join or refute his family’s beliefs was at hand, Sirius’ fate was soon to be cast. Eventually, Lily would realize that.
“Either way, you’re in danger. If you join them and they learn…” Lily trailed off. “And if you don’t join them…”
“Putting it that way makes it a lot easier for me.” Sirius laughed tightly. “I might as well go down for my beliefs than for being a traitor.”
“You know a better way to deal with it?” Sirius countered, fingering a chess pawn that had made its way back to the board. “I didn’t want you to hear it from somewhere else.”
“You mean you didn’t want me to think you died in vain?” Lily tried to disguise her fear under laughter, but Sirius knew her too well.
“Lily.” Sirius moved to embrace her.
“No! No! This isn’t happening. Not now.” Lily beat her fists against his strong chest, her tears falling freely. “They can’t do this to you.”
“It will get worse. You have no idea the darkness that Voldemort and his army will bring. This is just the beginning.” Sirius’ voice was soft and soothing. “You will be in danger. Even more so for being beside me.”
“You’re pushing me away?” Lily’s voice cracked. “You can’t be serious. We’ve never even been seen together.”
“That’s a chance I can’t take.”
“You mean won’t.”
“Okay, won’t. The result is still the same.”
“Alright.” Lily wiped her tears away and faced him squarely. “I’ll make you a deal.”
“Indeed?” Sirius eyed her warily. “What kind of deal?”
“I know how you hate sappy tear jerking displays of emotions. So, you will never in your life see another one from me.”
“Good. They are beneath you.”
“And, I’ll walk away from you with no regrets.”
“Okay.” Sirius struggled to keep his voice even, refusing to let even a hint of his emotions get through.
“But,” Lily moved closer to him, her voice soft. “You have to tell me you don’t want me.”
“That’s the deal. The day you tell me you don’t want me beside you is the day I move on with no regrets.”
Sirius started to open his mouth, but Lily closed it with a well placed kiss. “And don’t think I won’t know when you’re lying,” she whispered softly, her lips tracing Sirius’ neck.
Sirius knew he couldn’t lie to her. Not now, not with her body so close to his. Wrapping his arms around her waist, he let his hands slide along her curves. “Deal,” he murmured, their bodies locking as their kisses became more exploring and their movements more urgent. Sirius’ experienced hands slid over her blouse, pulling it out from her skirt. Lily leaned into him and, as soon as she did so, Sirius collapsed to the floor in excruciating pain.
“Sirius!” Lily dropped to her knees beside him as Sirius’ agonizing moans continued. “What’s wrong? What’s happening?” Lily tried to shake him but Sirius collapsed onto his stomach. Rolling him over, Lily let out a faint scream. Deep red blood, the darkest she’d ever seen, was streaming like water from a gash in his chest.
“Sirius!” Lily looked around for some explanation but could find none.
Sirius could hear her calling his name but he couldn’t find the strength to answer. This was the worst he could remember. The other times had never been like this. Fighting to stay conscious, he willed Lily to find James. James would know what to do. Please, Sirius thought, get James. The effort to communicate with Lily was too much but he vaguely heard her mention James before the blackness overcame him.
A/N: Thanks to all who are following the story and leaving constructive reviews. You are what's helped this story progress. Thanks ever so much!
Chapter 4: The Summons
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“Why don’t you take Lily back to Hogwarts?”
“No. I want to stay.” Lily’s voice shook as she said it, her eyes following the trail of blood across the room which led to Sirius.
Lily had run to James immediately when Sirius collapsed and now she, James and Remus stood quietly waiting for some sign Sirius was alright.
“What did you put on him?”
“It’s a balm of werewolf’s blood and phoenix tears.” Remus answered showing her the salve in an effort to keep her eyes off Sirius’ prostrate form. “An easy formula to make that will heal almost any wound with barely a scar to remain.”
“Easy to make? It doesn’t sound quite so easy to collect the ingredients. How exactly do you obtain werewolf blood without getting killed?” Lily tried to sound as if she was interested, but her thoughts kept returning to Sirius.
“You’d be surprised.” James coughed loudly, trying to hide his amusement.
“But, I don’t understand. What happened to him?”
“His father wants to see him.” James answered, the fury in his voice unmistakable.
“A summoning mark.” Lily was quiet. “I’ve read about those.”
James turned to face her. “While you read about them, we live them.”
“I only meant…”
“Forget it.” James moved to Sirius’ side as concerned washed over him. “Remus, it’s never taken this long for him to come around.”
“James.” Remus put a hand on his shoulder. “Come sit down. All we can do is wait.”
James nodded and sank down in a chair opposite Remus and Lily. He lifted his worried eyes to find Lily star intently at him.
“Something you need, Evans?”
“You really do care about him, don’t you?”
“Silly girl,” James murmured and broke her gaze. “Remus, can we clean this place up or something?”
“Scourgify,” Remus whispered and the room returned to its normal state. “I’m going to get Sirius some clothes for when he wakes up. Lily, are you ready to go back?”
“No. I’ll wait, but thank you.” Lily squeezed his hand and watched as he left then her eyes turned to James once again. “I wasn’t meaning to be rude, you know. I’ve just never seen you worried, I suppose. Or caring about something other than yourself.”
“I worry about him more than you could ever imagine.”
“Is it like this every time? I mean, every time his father summons him?”
“No. Never,” James answered, a puzzled tone in his voice. “It’s never even knocked the wind out of him much less done this.”
“He’s angry then.”
“It would certainly seem so.” A flash of unease crept over James. Lily didn’t know about Sirius’ decision to go against his family. How could that be?
“You and Sirius are getting closer, then?”
“We’ve been friends since first year. You know that.”
James could see her eyes drift to Sirius at the mention of his name. “Here, let me get that for you.” James moved to sit beside her, blocking her view of Sirius. Taking the towel out of her hand, he held it tightly against the cut on her arm. “Did you run into the wall?”
“I think so. Everything happened so quickly. I’m just not sure.”
James nodded. “So, you and him have been disappearing together in the middle of the night.”
“We’ve been doing that since third year.” Lily shrugged. “Is this going somewhere?”
“Things are different now, aren’t they, Lily?” he asked solemnly.
At the sound of her first name, her eyes focused on James. “Why are you being so nice to me?”
“Not exactly an appropriate time for sarcasm.”
“I’m not entirely sure I’m comfortable with this new side of you I’m seeing, James.” Lily’s voice dripped with purposeful sarcasm.
“Ulterior motive.” The raspy sound of Sirius’ voice made them both turn.
“Sirius.” James rushed to his side to help him sit up. “Sirius”
“Yes, now. She has a right to know.”
“Know what?” Lily looked at the two of them in confusion.
Sirius took a deep steadying breath as he checked over himself for injuries. “Help me up, James.” Sirius held tightly to James as he moved him to the couch.
“Rest, Sirius. Your strength will return shortly.”
“Hm.” Sirius let his head fall back hard on the couch and closed his eyes. “Let’s hope so.”
“You’re going to him, then?”
“You can’t.” Lily’s worried voice broke in.
“I don’t have a choice.”
“And back to the matter at hand.” James’ angry voice made Lily turn. “Are you aware of the decision our dearest Sirius has made?”
“He has decided to go against his family in their support of Voldemort.” James continued, ignoring Sirius’ plea.
“Okay? Do you see what they are capable of?” James motioned to Sirius’ ashen face.
“I know you worried, James…”
“He’ll be killed, Lily. They will kill him because of his stubborn loyalty to people like you and me. Do you want that on your shoulders?”
“It’s his decision, not ours.”
“You really don’t get it, do you? He has other options that will keep him alive. He could pretend to join them. He could stay away from me. He could stop seeing you.”
“I know what it means. I understand the ramifications of his decision.” Lily said tersely. “What I don’t understand is why you seem so ungrateful to a man who is willing to risk his life for you.”
“I want him alive! Not honorably deceased!”
Sirius coughed as he sat up. “Could you two please stop talking about me as if I’m not even here?” Sirius stood up slowly, testing his strength so as not to collapse. “I think you’re both putting way too much thought into this.”
“Or maybe, as usual, you’re not putting enough.” James returned.
“After I deal with my father, I’ll deal with that comment.” Sirius said lightly as he wandered around the room to check himself.
James shrugged rather than respond, and slumped down on the couch as Lily moved to Sirius’ side.
Slipping his hand to the small of her back, Sirius directed her into the hallway so they could talk privately.
“Are you alright?” He asked softly. “James can be just a tad overprotective at times.”
“As can you. Why didn’t you tell me all this?”
“It’s my battle.”
“That doesn’t mean you have to face it alone.” Lily argued but them immediately softened. “Are you okay?”
Sirius’ eyes followed hers. His white shirt hung open still covered with his own blood. The salve had healed the deep gash across his chest, but the dark red scar was still painfully visible.
“I look much worse than I feel, I assure you.”
“Your family.” Lily’s voice cracked as she let her fingers slip into his shirt and slide across the mark left behind.
“They are who they are.” Sirius managed, trying to distract himself from the comfort her touch was providing. “Lily,” Sirius tried to say her name with detachment but something in his tone gave his emotions away. He could see her thoughts change as her cloudy worried eyes began to sparkle again.
“Lily,” Sirius said again, trying to get her attention as she let her lips kiss the scar his father had left behind.
“I have to see my father.”
“Yes.” Lily whispered as her lips moved to his neck.
Sirius closed his eyes as her caresses warmed and strengthened him. He knew James was just paces away. He knew he had an obligation to his father. And he knew that, without her help, he could not pull himself away from this woman.
“I can’t afford to be distracted,” he murmured, forcing himself to open his eyes and look at her.
Lily was watching him intently, a small grin on her face. “It’s only a kiss, Sirius.”
Sirius didn’t hesitate. Slipping his hand behind her head, he pulled her into him. Her arms locked around his waist and, as his kiss deepened, she pressed her body hard into his. In the silent hallway, e could hear her gasp for breath. He gave her only a moment before kissing her again.
“Excuse me?” Remus’ voice tore them apart immediately. “Are you two going to be at this all evening or can we get this ordeal with your father over with?”
“Way to embarrass a lady, Remus.” Sirius grinned as he watched Lily fight to compose herself.
“My apologies, Lily.” Remus nodded her direction as he tossed Sirius his clothes. “Get yourself cleaned up. We’ll figure out how to get Lily back to Hogwarts.”
“James.” Sirius said as he changed his shirt. “I need James to take her back.”
“Lily, will you excuse us?” Remus asked quietly. Lily nodded and left the two alone. “James isn’t going to want you to go alone.”
“I won’t be. That is, if you’re willing to come with me.”
“Of course I am. You know that. It’s just…”
“James hasn’t got his head on straight, Remus. Until he does, he’s endangering himself and all those around him.”
“I know.” Remus nodded. “He’ll come around. I speak from experience.”
“He will, but until then” Sirius trailed off. “Will you go with me?”
“Do you have a plan?”
“Plans are over-rated.” Sirius winked.
“Don’t be so serious, Remus. It’s homecoming for the Black family. What could possibly go wrong?”
A/N: Thanks to everyone for your continued support with this story. All of you who have reviewed have helped influence the story tremendously and where it goes with each chapter. Thank you so much!
Chapter 5: The Noble House of Black
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The Noble House of Black
The ancient and most noble house of Black was bathed in a sea of brilliant lights. Sirius tried to strengthen his resolve as he and Remus stood silently observing the house. His father was supposed to have met him in Hogsmeade. The change in location did not sit well with either Sirius or Remus but there was little that could be done. Even Remus, who, in fearing for Sirius’ safety, had wanted to go back for the other Marauders, finally admitted that their only option was to continue on to Grimmauld. Both knew that if Sirius didn’t appear in a reasonable amount of time, his father would undoubtedly send someone to search for him. That, of course, would have led Voldemort straight to James and Lily. Sirius tried to shake off the feeling that James and Lily were in danger due to his absence.
“How long has it been since you’ve been here?” Remus asked quietly.
“Almost three years, I think.”
Sirius watched the house closely, as if staring at it long enough might make his father suddenly appear so that he wouldn’t have to enter the house again. His mind shifted to the last time he had been at Grimmauld. A fight with his father; slamming of doors; crashing of priceless family artifacts as his father’s temper soared; screaming from Regulus as he tried to stop the two; his mother begging him not to go….the images haunted Sirius like no other. He could still smell the scent of his mother’s perfume as she tried to pull him into her arms and convince him not to go. He had been foolhardy…had Sirius known that was the last time she would hold him in her arms, he would have relished each tender plea she whispered to him. But he had been too egotistical, too set in his own ways to ever understand how much his leaving would change the entire course of the Black family.
“Sirius?” Remus’ voice sounded far away, and Sirius fought to return to the present, the sting of his memories making his heart ache.
“Sorry.” Sirius murmured quietly, forcing all emotion out of his own voice. “Welcome to Grimmauld, Remus.”
“Nice place.” Remus muttered gloomily and Sirius grinned at his dry sense of humor. Leave it to Remus to bring his thoughts back to the matter at hand.
“It looks like they started the party without us.”
“I wonder who the guest of honor is.”
Sirius watched Remus out of the corner of his eye, wondering what Remus saw when he looked at Grimmauld. Perhaps he saw a friendly mansion, its lights beckoning to visitors through the darkness? Sirius shuddered. Maybe Remus was trying to imagine the treasures inside the house. Remus wasn’t from a wealthy background and it only made sense that he would be curious. Sirius, however, knew all to well the darkness and anger that drifted through each room of the house. A knot rose in Sirius’ stomach as he suddenly realized what was taking place in the Black household.
“Actually, Remus, you probably don’t want to know,” Sirius mumbled, sincerely hoping that dinner was already over. The last thing he wanted was for Remus to run back to Hogwarts and tell everyone who sat at the head of the table at a Black family gathering. One look at his childhood friend made Sirius chastise himself for thinking Remus would do such a thing, knowing that only the Marauders would ever know the true story of what happened tonight.
It’s the memories, Sirius thought silently, they are playing with me. They are preventing me from remembering who I am. Sirius tried to reassure himself. I am no longer a weak child. No one, especially no Black, has any control over me anymore. This house is not my home. Sirius repeated the thoughts until his breath became normal again.
“Shall we get this over with, then?” Sirius straightened his cloak and watched as Remus checked his wand.
“You won’t need that. They are family.” Sirius spat the word. “If that makes you feel any better.”
“It doesn’t.” Remus pulled out a towel, glanced at it for a brief second, and then shoved it back in his cloak.
Sirius looked at him quizzically. He’d never know Remus to be superstitious. “Good luck charm?”
“It’s a portkey,” Remus replied tightly. “Lily did it before we left. If there’s any problems it will take us back to just outside the Hogwarts grounds.” Remus looked at him as if waiting for a response.
Sirius opened his mouth to speak but quickly realized nothing he had planned to say about Lily would have been appropriate. “Thinking ahead that one,” he said finally. “You ready?”
They stepped to the door together and Sirius immediately hesitated. It had been so long since he’d been here, he felt like he was intruding into someone else’s home.
“I don’t think it’s necessary to knock at you own home, Black,” the deep voice of Lucius Malfoy filtered through the night as the door swung open. “And look, you’ve brought a friend.”
Sirius could feel Remus bristle beside him, but Sirius was calm. He had expected his father to attempt something like this… to send someone he knew Sirius hated to answer the door in hopes of intimidating him. Lucius was under orders to come to the door and that, in itself, make Sirius amused.
“Malfoy, I didn’t realize we had hired you as our new door keep.” Sirius said lightly. “Imagine my surprise. Will you take our cloaks as well?”
Remus tried to stifle a laugh but Lucius heard it. Lucius’ eyes turned to Remus, his voice a low growl, “You’d do well to hold your tongue.”
Remus eyed Lucius calmly without responding, but Sirius could sense his agitation. Lucius, more than anyone, had the ability to break Remus’ normally static emotions. The realization that his father somehow knew Remus would be with him, made Sirius’ anger flare.
“Get out of my way.” Sirius shoved Lucius out of their way. “Where is my father? I have places to be.”
Lucius straightened himself and looked down at Sirius. “In the library.” Lucius began to step away but then turned, a menacing smile on his face. “With Voldemort,” Lucius hissed, his cape swishing behind him as he disappeared down the hallway.
“Voldemort?” Remus grabbed Sirius’ arm before he could walk away. “Here?”
“I told you you didn’t want to know,” Sirius mumbled as he led Remus through the crowded hallways. “Stay downstairs. You’ll be safer.”
“I’m not leaving you.”
“Give me half an hour and if I’m not back then come looking for me, alright?” Sirius said lightly, his eyes scanning the crowd. Without intention, his eyes began to roam to the furnishings of the house. Little had changed since he’d left and, for a brief moment, Sirius could see the house as it used to be…quiet and warm, a place where he found refuge. In his mind, the night’s guests all disappeared as he drifted off to a summer day when his mother had opened the windows and rays of sunlight had cheered the whole room. He could envision him and Regulus playing wizarding chess on the mahogany floors, both more interested in seeing the pieces battle than actually winning the game.
Sirius’ eyes were drawn back to the party as a familiar face greeted him. “Besides, it will give you and Snape a chance to catch up.”
“Snape?” As Remus searched the room for his classmate, Sirius slipped away.
Sirius made his way through the hallway quietly, each step bringing back memories from his childhood that he’d hoped to forget. He fought to subdue the fear that was growing within him. They could do nothing to him unless he let them, Sirius reminded himself.
He took a deep steadying breath before entering the library, his nerves returning to normal.
“You needed something?” Sirius asked smoothly, making the men turn to face him.
“Welcome home, son,” his father returned as if Sirius’ appearance in his library after a three year absence was insignificant. He moved aside to allow Sirius to view his brother, who was sitting in a chair, an almost regal glow emanating from him. Regulus was smiling, something Sirius only remembered from his earliest childhood. Regulus’ cloak drew Sirius’ attention first. Emerald velvet highlighted with strands of spun gold made the cloak shimmer under the soft lights. Even to the Black family, who had long prided themselves on owning the finest and most elegant things, the cloak’s majestic and fluid design signified the coming of an extraordinary event. Sirius’ heart sunk.
“Is this a special occasion?” he asked for confirmation, his eyes looking from his father to Regulus while refusing to acknowledge Voldemort’s presence.
“It is at that. Regulus was initiated into Voldemort’s ranks tonight.” The pride is his father’s words made Sirius’ stomach lurch. “We had hoped you’d be able to join on the same night. I’m afraid I got a little carried away in the excitement. I assume you recovered from the summons?”
“Would I be here otherwise?” Sirius asked easily. He began to wander around the room, his fingers skimming lightly over objects he could vaguely remember holding in childhood. He had not counted on Voldemort’s presence when he announced his decision to his father. The complication unnerved him and he struggled to find a way to quell the anxiety growing within him.
“Is there a reason he’s here?” Sirius nodded Voldemort’s direction, meeting his gaze only briefly.
“He…” Regulus began but Voldemort cut him off.
“How thoughtless of me. Of course, Sirius, you have some catching up to do with your family. You’ve been gone much too long.” The challenge in Voldemort’s voice made Sirius meet his gaze but Sirius refused to be reckless tonight. Too many things depended on him staying in control so Sirius stifled the urge to lunge at Voldemort.
“Your consideration is noted.” Sirius nodded. “Would you mind…?”
“No, of course not. You are a very remarkable young man. I hope we will have the opportunity to talk again soon.” Voldemort stepped forward and extended his hand to Sirius.
Sirius debated ignoring Voldemort’s gesture for the briefest moment, but the challenge was too enticing and his foolish rebel nature made him succumb. The mistake was one he’d never forget.
Sirius shook his hand firmly, determined to stand strong, but an intense vulnerability enveloped him as Voldemort’s power surged through him. Sirius tried to block out his thoughts. He tried in desperation to hide the decision he had made, but Sirius was not prepared for the depth and magnitude of Voldemort’s power.
Voldemort jerked his hand away, his eyes flashing dangerously. “Or perhaps we shall meet in another manner.”
“Perhaps you are correct.” Sirius stood steady, unwilling to allow Voldemort to glimpse any further weaknesses from him tonight. Sirius watched as Voldemort left, knowing his time was running short. Remus was downstairs and Voldemort would quickly seek him out. How could he have been so arrogant to bring Remus? He should have come alone. The jumbled thoughts made Sirius’ stomach churn and he whirled to face his father.
“I will not be joining Voldemort.” Sirius tried to remain calm but thoughts of Remus made his voice rushed.
“I do not agree with his ideals. Or yours.”
“He’s trying to protect all of wizarding kind!” The defensive tone in Regulus’ voice shook Sirius.
“You’re a fool!” Sirius waved Regulus off. “You’ve no idea what methods…”
“Enough!” His father broke in and sudden realization dawned on Sirius.
“But you do.” Sirius said quietly. “And you refuse to tell Regulus.”
“Regulus has made a choice for the future.”
Sirius felt a stab of pain from his father’s words. Perhaps if he had stayed, Regulus would not have chosen this path. A path that would lead to death for his own brother.
Sensing his weakness, Regulus stepped forward. “Join me Sirius. It can be the Black brothers once again.”
Sirius’ eyes darkened, knowing the voice was not that of his brother. He stepped closer to Regulus, his voice solemn. “Command whoever you wish, Voldemort, but you will not seduce me.”
“Then you shall stand alone,” the throaty voice of Voldemort echoed from Regulus’ mouth and Sirius could feel himself being thrown across the room.
“Boys!” His father’s screams resonated through the house as objects from shelves pounded Sirius from every direction.
Sirius fell to the floor with each blow, always refusing to stay down. He refused to hit his brother.
Even if Voldemort is controlling you, I will not hurt you, my brother, Sirius repeated over and over to himself as the abuse continued.
“Finite!” a harsh voice from the doorway made everything stop still. Sirius watched as objects in mid-air fell to the floor and landed softly on the floor without breaking. “What’s come over you, Regulus? This isn’t how you treat your brother.” Voldemort moved to help Sirius up while Regulus stared blankly at the scene, unaware that the disaster in front of him had been his own doing.
“Fighting won’t convince Sirius to join us, Regulus.” Voldemort lifted Sirius to his feet. “He’s much too loyal for that. See how he wouldn’t strike you?” He gazed at Sirius intently. “No. His loyalty must be earned.” Voldemort’s eyes flashed as he searched Sirius for some emotion. “How fascinating.”
The intrigued tone in Voldemort’s voice made Sirius pull away from his touch. Sirius leaned against the wall trying to recover from the attack.
“Honorable wizards are such a rare find these days.”
“You should know,” Sirius returned, wiping away a trickle of blood as it slipped down his cheek.
“Indeed I do.” Voldemort gazed at Sirius questioningly, as if he expected Sirius to say more. “I believe your friend is ready to leave. He’s waiting downstairs.”
“I can get there myself,” Sirius said fiercely as Voldemort took his arm.
Voldemort smiled. “No. You see, I insist. We wouldn’t want you to get injured in your own home, how would we? I’d never forgive myself and it would be so hard to explain to your father.”
Sirius tried to break free but the day’s events had finally taken their toll. Sirius had no strength to fight him and was forced to let Voldemort lead him downstairs.
The shock in Remus’ eyes was obvious and even in his weakened state, Sirius knew how the situation must look. He was being aided by Voldemort; the arm of the Dark Lord himself was wrapped securely around Sirius’ body as they descended the stairs. The thought was more than Sirius could take and he dropped to his knees and vomited at Remus’ feet.
“Sirius and his brother had a disagreement. I assume you can help him return to Hogwarts safely?”
Remus pulled Sirius up without comment and steered him outside. Sirius leaned heavily on Remus as they walked. When they had gotten a safe distance away, Remus stopped to let Sirius rest.
“You’re having one hell of a day, my friend.” Remus checked over Sirius’ wounds. “You look as bad as I do when the full moon rises.”
“Oh, geez.” Sirius dropped to the ground as dizziness overcame him. He tried to feign a smile but didn’t have the energy. He grabbed his jaw as pain coursed through it. “Please don’t tell me that’s tonight.”
“No,” Remus chuckled. “I take it things went as you expected?”
Sirius’ mind flew to his brother. His only brother was under the control of Voldemort. Voldemort’s voice had been rising out of the mirror image of himself. Sirius grabbed his stomach, hoping to keep from vomiting again.
Sirius looked to Remus whose concern brought him back to the present. Regulus had already made his choice. And, no matter how much he hated it, Sirius knew there was no way for him to turn back. “No. Not exactly.”
Remus knelt down beside him, the strong grip on Sirius’ shoulder helping to calm Sirius. His somber voice was lulling Sirius into a world of safety and belonging. “Are you alright?”
“You wouldn’t happen to have that portkey handy, would you?” Sirius asked, ignoring Remus’ question.
“Good thing.” Sirius murmured as he felt the soft fuzzy towel being shoved into his hand. A familiar jerk at his navel made the feelings of hopelessness and despair momentarily disappear and Sirius smiled.
Hogwarts…just where he needed to be.
Chapter 6: The Invitation
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“His injuries aren’t that bad.”
“He’s just exhausted, I think.”
“Wouldn’t you be after the day he’s had?”
“Should we get Dumbledore?”
“Peter’s gone to fetch him.”
“Remus, what happened?”
Sirius struggled to hear but the voices had grown quiet. He tried to sit up but his body felt like a lead weight had been dropped on it. “Hey,” he whispered softly and could hear the footsteps moving closer. Lily, James and Remus slowly swam into view. “Where are we?”
“In the forbidden forest, just outside the Hogwarts grounds,” Lily whispered.
“Couldn’t send you to Hogsmeade Tavern? No, she has to end you to the Forbidden Forest.” James sank down beside him. “Well, you’re alive.”
“So it would seem.” Sirius took James’ hand as he struggled to sit up. “Why are we whispering?”
“We’re in the Forbidden Forest and we’re off grounds after curfew,” Lily answered.
Sirius’ laugh bellowed into the night air. “Curfew? Lily, please.” His voice was harsh but he couldn’t help it. “There are much worse things out there than that.”
“Indeed there are.” Dumbledore’s voice was loud behind them. “Did we get lost on our way back from Hogsmeade?” His eyes were twinkling even in the darkness. “That’s became quite the test of patience for us professors. You know, we do love our sleep.”
“No, Professor.” Lily broke in and Dumbledore turned his eyes to her. “I must say I’m surprised to see you here, Ms. Evans.”
“That’ my fault,” James interjected.
“Indeed?” Dumbledore looked as if he didn’t believe him and he turned a suspicious eye to Sirius. “So, Mr. Black, what emergency has called me to your side?”
“I’m just tired, Professor. Perhaps had too many drinks but since that is against school rules I will refrain from talking about it. I’d like to go to my room if that’s alright.” Sirius knew he was pushing his boundaries but, somehow, just couldn’t seem to calm himself as his anger at Voldemort came flooding back.
Dumbledore eyed Sirius intently waiting for a more suitable explanation. When Sirius provided none, he turned a penetrating gaze to Remus.
“He went home to see his father,” Remus supplied.
Sirius could see the change in Dumbledore’s demeanor instantly.
“Tonight? You were there tonight?”
“Yes, sir.” Sirius answered as Dumbledore kneeled down beside him. He placed a hand on Sirius’ shoulder.
“Sirius, are you alright? The rumors are true?”
Sirius wasn’t sure what shocked him more - Dumbledore calling him by his first name or that he somehow knew Voldemort had been there.
“Yes,” Sirius answered simply, feeling the gazes of the others settle on them.
“We need to get you to Hogwarts immediately. You’ll be safe there.” Dumbledore’s voice was strong.
Sirius knew better than to trust Dumbledore at his word. His parents had talked too much of Dumbledore’s need to control future events for Sirius to believe that his safety was any concern of the professor. A momentary ripple in whatever Dumbledore had planned perhaps, but not legitimate concern.
As they made their way back to the castle, Sirius leaned heavily on James. The day had exhausted him and the blows from Regulus had spent both his emotions and physical well being. The drifting moonlight filtering through the trees made him uneasy and a brief feeling of being watched overcame him. He glanced to James and was glad to see him scanning the area with a practiced eye. At least with James around, Sirius knew he was safe.
“Ms. Evans, will you please see Sirius to the infirmary?” Dumbledore asked as they entered the darkened hallways. “I’ll be there directly. First, though, I need a few words with these two.”
“Certainly, Professor,” Lily reached to take hold of Sirius but he pulled away.
“I can take myself.”
“I insist you not travel alone.” Dumbledore fixed Sirius with a penetrating gaze. “I wouldn’t want you to get side-tracked in your weakened condition. I’m sure you understand.”
“But of course.” Sirius exchanged a brief look of sarcasm with James before following behind Lily.
As they threaded through the corridors, Sirius’ temper continued to grow. With each step he made at Dumbledore’s orders, his rebel nature told him to run the other direction.
“You can’t run off,” Lily said as Sirius’ pace began to slow. “Besides, it would probably do you good to be checked over. Medically, I mean.”
“And since when do you know what’s good for me?”
“What?” Lily turned to face him. “Where did that come from?”
“I’m just curious,” Sirius’ voice was piercing. “When did you decide you know what’s best for me?”
“I’ve never said that.”
Sirius could see the quizzical look on her face, but he refused to be deterred. “I suppose that by kissing me you think you have gained some right to decide what I do and when I do it.”
Sirius moved away to avoid her touch. “Just so you know, I’ve kissed lots of people, Evans. You aren’t the first and definitely won’t be the last.”
Sirius began walking again, leaving Lily standing alone in the hallway. He walked slowly, giving her the opportunity to catch up but she didn’t seem to be moving. Even as angry as he was, Sirius refused to let her be put in danger. He wasn’t about to leave her standing along in the darkened hallways with only Dumbledore’s assurance that the school was safe. “Well, are you coming? You have to deliver your cargo, don’t you?”
“You know, you are one piece of work.” Lily’s normally charming voice was full of disgust. “You think that because you are a Black you have the right to treat people anyway you want.”
The comparison of him to the Black family name was more than Sirius could stand. His self control gone, he swept to her side, his body towering above her. “You’d be wise to hold your tongue.” Sirius’ eyes flashed dangerously. “I treat people however I so choose. It has nothing to do with being a Black. It has to do with not wasting my time on silly little girls like you who think they are much too clever for anyone to see their veiled innocence.”
Sirius’ enraged laughter bellowed through the hallway. “Oh, yes. It would probably be best that I came to you, wouldn’t it? That would fit nicely with your innocent act.” Sirius leaned to her, his voice growling in her ear. “Don’t worry; your secret is safe with me. I won’t tell a soul that it was you who sought out my touch. I won’t tell anyone that even, right now, as angry as you are, you can’t help but think of who’s bed I may run to tonight.”
“You egotistical, self righteous…” Lily’s hand tightened into a fist but Sirius caught it in mid-air.
“Save the dramatics for someone who hasn’t seen his brother under the control of Voldemort, Evans. There’s nothing that can faze me anymore.”
“What? Regulus?” Lily’s temper had seemingly disappeared instantaneously and she tried to shift closer to him.
Sirius dropped her arm and turned from her. “I have an appointment with the nurse.”
“Sirius!” Lily rushed to follow behind him.
Knowing she would follow him now, Sirius’ pace sped back up. He had to get this over and done with. He couldn’t take a risk at telling her anymore. He could feel her gaze on him and Sirius cursed himself for allowing her even a bit of sentimentality. He needed her to remain angry at him…to hate him with the same abhorrent passion Sirius felt for Voldemort. He should have realized that mentioning Regulus would soften her. Why could he never think ahead when she was around?
“Sirius?” Dumbledore’s voice filtered through the hallway. “I expected you sooner.”
“Got a bit distracted on the way, Professor. I do apologize.”
“Professor McGonagall, please see Ms. Evans back to her common room.”
Sirius refused to watch as they left. He would not give her the satisfaction of knowing he wanted her to stay.
“Sirius?” Dumbledore’s voice made Sirius turn. “May we talk honestly for a moment? I think it’s a long time passed due for us.”
“Of course, Professor. You have my full attention.” Sirius followed Dumbledore into an inner office, his steps tentative as his body began to protest his continued movement.
“There is a healing potion in the cup.” Dumbledore motioned to a small wooden table as they sat down in the two milky white chairs in the room. “It should help ease the ache from the injuries. I’m sorry I can’t offer you something to help the pain but I do prefer you have complete recollection of this conversation.”
“That sounds quite ominous. Surely, I’m not being expelled the last week of school for returning home without permission?” Sirius met Dumbledore’s eyes and his sarcasm immediately receded. “No, I didn’t think so. How can I be of help to you, Professor?”
“I, of course, have people tell me things that go on outside the walls of this school, Sirius. One such person told me of an induction ceremony that was to take place at the Black household this evening.” Dumbledore hesitated, waiting for Sirius to interrupt, but Sirius remained quiet. “I must admit, I was rather afraid it was yours.”
“No, Professor. I can’t say I entirely agree with my family’s beliefs.”
“That’s become quite obvious with the company you keep here at school, Sirius. I was just concerned that perhaps your family had finally weakened your resolve.”
“That’s not a concern you should have. Tonight, especially, has done nothing but strengthen it.” Sirius said quietly, his brother’s image once again floating through his mind.
“Then young Regulus has joined in support of Voldemort?”
“He took the mark this evening.” Sirius nodded.
“And you?” Dumbledore peered at Sirius over his wide rimmed glasses. “What have you decided, Sirius?”
“I actually have chosen not to decide.” Sirius answered simply. “I think I prefer to see who the winner is before picking sides.”
“Spoken like a true Marauder.” Dumbledore smiled faintly. “That assumes, of course, that there is a side in opposition to Voldemort.”
“If there’s not, then the wizarding world is in for a war like they’ve never dreamed possible.” Sirius tried to withhold the yawn he felt coming on. “And, by your silence, I would guess you are involved in the opposition. Or am I wrong?”
“That’s very astute of you. It seems you manage to surprise me at every turn this evening, Sirius.”
“Yes, I suppose my grades don’t lend much credence to the idea that I do have intelligence.” Sirius’ voice was bitter.
“On the contrary, your grades seem to show that you have more important things to dwell on than your school work. And yet,” Dumbledore looked at him questioningly, “you still seem to come back every year.”
“Rather puzzling, isn’t it?”
“Your loyalty to your friends is immense.” Dumbledore eyed him searchingly.
Sirius felt as if Dumbledore was looking for something in him, and Sirius had sincere doubts as to him finding whatever qualities he was looking for.
“The Order of the Phoenix, of which I am a member, is joining to help in the fight against Voldemort. Certainly, underage wizards are not allowed, but as you are almost of age, I felt the need to approach you myself.”
Sirius’ sat up, his exhaustion now forgotten. “To fight him?”
“And to get the word out of how dangerous he is. His supporters are growing in number every day; we will need all the help we can get.”
“Professor, his powers…” Sirius trailed off and Dumbledore nodded.
“I know, Sirius. I can only imagine what you’ve been through this evening. It’s not something I would have wished for any of my students. You, of any though, are the only one that could have handled it as well as you did. Your actions were commendable and your loyalty unquestionable. For that, you have earned my respect.”
Sirius nodded as the feelings of the night tore into his soul.
“Please think over the invitation to join us. I know it’s not something you would ever enter in to lightly.”
“I think now, it’s time you get some rest. On to your room and I will check on you in the morning.”
Sirius nodded, unable to even verbalize the emotional tide that had overcome him. In a daze, his somehow drifted into bedroom. Ignoring the questions and pleas from his fellow marauders, Sirius slipped under the covers in utter exhaustion
Chapter 7: The Room of Requirement: Lily
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The Room of Requirement
He had called her name in his sleep. Not loudly, of course, for his darkest thoughts were rarely broadcast for others to hear. But it had been loud enough to wake him from sleep.
Sitting up in bed, Sirius threw off the woolen blankets to try and cool the drenching sweat that covered him.
“Sirius, my friend, are you alright?” Although soft, Remus’ voice was strong. “You’re having a bad dream.”
“He’s just dreaming about his parents again,” James said sleepily. “Happens every time he sees them.”
The stern tone of Remus’ voice made James climb out of bed and flip on the light. “What’s going on?” James, now concerned, moved to Sirius’ side. “Not becoming a seer, are you?”
“Screw you, Potter.” Sirius jumped off the bed pushing the two aside. “Too much firewhiskey is all.” Sirius tried to block the dream from his mind. How could he have called for her? Her, of all people!
“Sirius,” James took his arm, “are you sure you’re okay?”
“Can I borrow the invisibility cloak?”
“What for?” Remus asked suspiciously.
“Of course,” James answered already handing it over.
Sirius ignored the exchange between the two and slipped out the door. He needed time to think…room to breathe in the suffocation that had quickly become his life. He tried to shake off the emotions that were overwhelming him. The dream had been so vivid.
Sirius stopped when he saw Lily curled up on the common room couch. What was she doing up at this hour? Here? Blocking his escape?
Sirius moved closer, knowing the invisibility cloak kept him safely hidden. Sirius watched as Lily sat up and scanned the room. Sirius smiled…she knew she was being watched but just couldn’t tell from where. He watched as she shook the feeling off, Sirius imagining she was chalking it up to paranoia after the day’s events. As she moved to leave, Sirius suddenly realized he didn’t want her to go.
“Lily, it’s me.”
“Sirius?” Lily sat up straighter, glancing nervously around the room.
“I didn’t mean to frighten you.” Sirius moved to kneel at her side, still not removing the cloak. The brush of the cloak against her legs alerted Lily to his presence and she jumped. “How long have you been here?”
Lily faltered until she found fabric and then she pulled the cloak off his shoulders. The sight of him made her gasp.
“Sirius, what’s happened?”
The concern in her voice made Sirius weak. How long had it been since someone worried about him? Truly worried about his welfare with no ulterior motives? Sirius knew that he should run. He was determined to end things with her before they got any farther out of hand. Wasn’t that the reason he had acted so malicious earlier?
“Sirius, what is it?”
Sirius could feel Lily’s soft comforting touch as she forced him to look at her. Her brilliant green eyes had turned murky with worry and the thought made Sirius’ heart wrench even more. How much more pain could he cause those around him? He had been so hateful to her and she had already forgiven him. The knowledge that he had somehow gained loyalty from her that he knew he didn’t deserve made Sirius ill.
“I should go.”
Sirius struggled to stand but Lily held tight and refused to let him move. As she searched his eyes, Sirius could see the visions of Voldemort, Lucius and then Regulus flash before him. The more he tried to hide from them, the more vivid the emotions of the day became. Knowing he had no more strength left to fight, Sirius crumbled. Silently, he dropped his head into Lily’s lap, his arms wrapping around her tightly in a moment of desperation.
Sirius could feel Lily’s hands sliding through his hair – a comforting feeling that reminded him of his mother’s safe touch when he was a child. The brief thought brought his dream rushing back and he vaquely wondered why he had called for his mother when he knew there was no chance she would ever hold him like this again. Oh, how he longed to have someone to run to.
Sirius shook himself. Wasn’t that what he was doing? Once again he was using Lily for solace. Sirius chided himself for allowing her to get passed his defenses yet again.
“I have to go.” Sirius pulled away from Lily’s touch and moved to leave, willing his heart to be as cold as his voice. Instead, it was Lily whose words cut into him like razored shards of ice.
“And where will you go, Sirius?” Lily asked quietly. “Madame Alexandra’s again?”
Sirius knew it was a dangerous question and briefly, he considered ignoring it. He also knew he’d never lied to Lily and he wasn’t about to start tonight. As much as he wanted to distance himself from her, he knew lying would not be the right way to do it. Her audacity to ask him such a thing angered Sirius. He had never made any commitments to her, or anyone for that matter. Why did she, just like his family, believe they had the right to judge him for his actions?
“I require neither your approval nor your acceptance of my behavior.”
“So, it’s alright to run to ladies of the night but not to me?”
“Precisely,” Sirius answered coldly. “Maybe when you grow up you’ll understand that.” Sirius knew he was being unfair, but still couldn’t resist. How could she manage to be so loving one minute and so viciously cruel the next? Did she not understand that he had just opened up a side of himself that only James knew existed? How could she twist it around so perversely after everything he’d just given her?
“This is ridiculous! One minute you’re kissing me and the next you treat me like dirt. I can get treatment like that from Severus.”
Sirius whirled to face her. “Snape?”
“I don’t need your approval either, Sirius,” Lily hissed.
Sirius’ mind flew back to his conversation with James.
“Even for all the crap I give her, she doesn’t deserve to be hurt. That’s all I’m saying.”
“No. Not you. Someone else.”
Sirius’ heart lurched to his throat. Snape? Why had no one told him? “Lily.” Sirius stepped toward her but Lily raised her hands.
“Don’t feign concern for me, Sirius. You are too wrapped up in yourself to think about anyone else right now.”
Sirius was stung. Of course he was defensive. He had just given away a part of himself to her and she had unceremoniously thrown it back in his face. Sirius thrust his fists deep in his pockets, unwilling to allow her to see how deeply she had hurt him. “Then, I’ll make every effort to stay out of your path, Evans.”
“Sirius, wait.” Lily grabbed his arm. “I didn’t mean that.”
“No. I think I finally got the truth out of you.” Sirius removed her hand. “Please excuse me.”
Sirius cursed himself as he rushed out of the room. How could he have been so stupid? To allow himself to open up his emotions to her? To actually have ever felt the need to protect her?
Sirius cursed again as he realize he’d forgotten the invisibility cloak, then cursed once more when he realized the truth – he still felt the need to protect her. What exactly was Snape doing to her? And why was she so secretive about talking about it? Aside from James, she was the only person he’d never had secrets from. Sirius paced the hallway in fury. If he ever found out Snape had laid a slimy greasy finger on Lily…
Sirius glanced to the wall as a tall wooden door magically appeared. Sirius chided himself. The Room of Requirement. How stupid of him! Why hadn’t he thought of it before? No one would be able to find him here. Unsure of exactly what he required except time to get his jumbled thoughts under control, Sirius stepped into the room hesitantly.
As his eyes adjusted, Sirius couldn’t help but feel his anger fade immediately. The soft colors of the bedroom he had walked into were easily recognizable. A warm fire crackled brilliantly in the corner and, in case he had any doubt, a picture of the Potter family stood beside the bedside.
“What is this place?” a soft voice asked from behind him and Sirius whirled to see Lily pulling off the discarded invisibility cloak.
“James’ bedroom,” he replied tersely.
“James Potter?” Lily circled the room, touching the possessions Sirius remembered so well from his time spent at James’ home. “So this is your safe haven?”
Sirius ignored her question. “Is there a reason you followed me? And stole the cloak at that? I think we’ve both said enough, don’t you?”
“Your temper always gets the best of you. I wanted to make sure you weren’t running off to slit Severus’ throat during the night.” Lily said lightly. “Besides, for once, you are going to listen to me when I have something to say.”
“Ah, well, by all means, Ms. Evans, do tell what’s so important that you would once again risk breaking curfew to be at my side.”
Sirius could see how the idea of getting in trouble unnerved her and he gave a sarcastic laugh. “No one will find us here. If you must, say what you want to say and just get out.”
“Alright.” Lily huffed, her temper rising to match his own. “First off, stop talking to me like I’m a stupid kid. I’m not. And second, I know why you run to Madame Alexander’s and not to me.”
“Oh really?” Sirius asked skeptically.
“Yes. You don’t want to use me and that’s all they’re good for. It’s their job so you don’t have to worry about feeling guilty about it.”
Sirius turned away so she couldn’t see his reaction…she did understand more than he thought.
“Third, my relationship with Severus really is none of your business. If I decide to be naïve and let him use me that’s my choice and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
“Just how many of these are there?” Sirius growled.
“Fourth,” Lily raged on, ignoring his sarcasm. “I know you don’t always think about yourself. That’s why you’re in this terrible situation to begin with.”
“How utterly observant.”
“And lastly,” Lily ignored him and moved to face him. “We’ve been friends for seven years. That’s a lot longer than whatever has been happening between us the last few days. Avoiding me and trying to run away from me isn’t something I’ll accept. And, if you’d take two seconds to think reasonably instead of flying off the deep end, you’d know that.”
“Are we done now?” Sirius asked hotly, unwilling to dwell on anything she was telling him. He was angry and he refused to allow some midnight confessions from Lily dissuade him. He wanted to be alone…to remember how happy he was each time he stepped foot into James’ home and forget everything he’d been through recently.
“Yes.” Lily’s voice broke and Sirius knew he had hurt her. His coldness had finally seeped through but rather than feel guilty, Sirius felt vindicated. He had finally succeeded at hurting her as badly as she’d hurt him.
“Good.” Sirius turned from her and stretched out on the bed. “I’m sure a smart little mudblood like you can find your own way out.”
Sirius was surprised when his verbal slap had no affect on her. She stood watching him silently, her radiant green eyes as dazzling as always. He watched as she sank to sit next to him on the bed and Sirius was intrigued. “Insults won’t get rid of you?”
“What did they do to you, Sirius?” Lily asked gently. “To make you so angry and wounded that you needed to come here to escape?”
It was a peace offering, and Sirius knew it but he remained silent, refusing to let her in to his emotions any further. He had made that mistake once and he refused to make it again.
Lily was naïve and that made it easy to excuse some of her behavior. The rest Sirius excused away because of the emotional riptide she was riding with the new feelings she was having for him. Lily was so intelligent, it was sometimes easy for him to forget that she was still a Hogwarts girl… the girls he had managed to avoid romantic entanglements with for almost seven years. Nonetheless, Sirius had started the whole thing with his arrogant kisses and then, tonight, had made it even worse by allowing Lily to know she could penetrate his defenses. It was his fault and Sirius knew it.
He couldn’t really blame her for speaking the truth and he definitely couldn’t blame her for being herself. He could, however, blame himself for being so irresponsible as to think she was mature enough to handle a relationship with him.
“I need you to listen very closely. Will you give me that?” Lily nodded and reached for his hand. As he allowed her to take it, Sirius could feel her grip. “I don’t want to talk about my family. I don’t want to talk about my childhood or why I live on my own or why this is my safe haven. It’s who I am and I need you to respect that. Just because you perceive some shift in the relationship we’ve had for the past seven years doesn’t mean I have changed. I didn’t talk about it before and I don’t intend to now.” Sirius’ voice softened. “You’ve been accepting of who I am for a long time, Lily. All I’m asking is that you continue to do the same.”
Sirius had tried to soften his words as much as he could, but she needed to hear the blatant truth. Lily’s silent tears let him know he had hurt her, but she still didn’t reply.
“Lily, do you understand?” Sirius wiped away her tears, trying to be as consoling as possible.
“I understand. You think I’m a child. I always thought it was just your arrogance that made you talk that way but you really do see me that way.”
It sounded terrible the way she said it, but Sirius had to admit that she was right. He did see her that way and he refused to ease her pain by lying to her and telling her it wasn’t true.
“What must I do to make you see I’m not a little girl anymore?”
Lily moved closer to Sirius, but the tone in her voice had already alerted him to her intentions. Sirius blocked her kiss with a tender touch on her shoulder. His voice was a whisper, “not that.”
Sirius pulled her to lie on his chest, refusing to allow her to look at him too closely. He knew he could easily get lost in her, and Sirius refused to risk temptations with her when his defenses were already spent.
“Rest, Lily, you’ve had quite an adventurous day.”
“You’re safe. Neither Death Eaters or professors wielding expulsion slips will get you in here.”
Lily nodded and Sirius could feel her relax in the safety of his arms. A chilling thought occurred to Sirius and he immediately wondered if he had somehow un-intentionally taken on responsibility for her. He certainly felt protective and responsible for her. The idea bothered him immensely and Sirius made a mental note to talk it over with James.
Something else stirred in Sirius’ memory and he touched Lily’s head lightly. “Lily?”
“You can’t change Snape either.”
“I know.” Lily answered quietly. “But sometimes all a person needs is a reason to change.”
“And you think you can be his reason?” Sirius asked, trying his best to hide the revulsion and condescension he was feeling.
“I have to try, Sirius.”
The hint of desperation in Lily’s voice kept Sirius from making a snide comment and he realized that, in Lily’s innocence, she believed no one was beyond saving. “Yeah, I guess you would.”
“I’m beginning to think I have a better chance of saving him from the dark side than you.” Lily tilted her questioning eyes to meet his but Sirius’ face remained placid.
He was quiet for a long time as he gazed at her, afraid of giving her too much. Finally, he let his lips brush against hers in a detached kiss. His emotions impassive, Sirius quietly answered, “you may very well be right.”
Chapter 8: The Room of Requirement: James
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The Room of Requirement: James
“Sirius?” James’ hushed voice woke Sirius immediately.
“James?” Sirius asked groggily. Shadows dances across the room from the fireplace, allowing him to see a vague outline of James’ figure. The serene atmosphere and feeling of safety made him temporarily forget he was still at Hogwarts. It was only when he tried to sit up and felt the weight of Lily’s sleeping form that Sirius remembered where he was. “What time is it?”
“Late. I got worried when you didn’t come back.”
“Sorry about that.” Sirius struggled out from under Lily, and began tucking the covers back up around her trying not to wake her. Sirius realized how this must look. It had been years since James had caught him in bed with a woman, and Sirius sensed a vague feeling of disapproval. “Did you charm her?”
James nodded. “She won’t hear a thing we say. Come sit by the fire, I brought coffee and Irish whiskey. I knew one or the other would appeal to you.”
Sirius tried to clear his mind as he moved near the fireplace. James’ failure to make a snide remark at finding him with Lily and his need to immediately put her under a charm made Sirius uneasy. James was rarely serious, but when it did come, it encapsulated him in a cloak of darkness that was almost impossible to penetrate.
“It’s been a long time since the two of us have set in front of this fireplace together.” James said sinking into a cushy chair opposite Sirius. “Your night must have been worse than I thought for you to have needed to come back here.”
Sirius didn’t reply but poured himself a cup of coffee then topped it off with a bit of James’ whiskey. The soft crackle from the fire caused him to lose himself in memories from their childhood and pictures of long summer days at the Potter house filled Sirius mind.
“Somehow, I don’t remember the view in my room being quite so interesting.” James remarked as if reading Sirius’ mind. He nodded toward Lily and Sirius followed his gaze. “Have you slept with her, Sirius?”
It wasn’t a question of curiosity but one of profound concern and Sirius reminded himself that this was not a stranger but James…his best friend in the world.
Sirius could see the look of disbelief wash over James and Sirius hesitated. He had never known James not to believe him and the idea that he had somehow put up a wall between the two with regards to Lily bothered him immensely. Sirius watched James ruffle his hair in unease, and Sirius sent him a penetrating gaze. “I have not, James. Believe whatever you like.”
“Why would I not believe you?” James shook his head, but Sirius could still hear the edge in his voice. Sirius watched intently as James took a sip of his coffee and Sirius knew he was attempting to find a way re-phrase his remarks. “I just find the relationship a bit precarious is all.”
The coolness of James’ tone did nothing to settle Sirius’ mind and he wondered what had made James so uncomfortable with his own question. It wasn’t as if they hadn’t talked about girls before and it was odd for James to seem so cautious about bringing up the topic. He followed James’ gaze to Lily and a feeling of awkwardness washed over him. James, of course, was right. This wasn’t any girl…this was Lily.
“So do I.” Sirius murmured finally.
“She’s coming to rely on you, Sirius.” James’ words were thick and heavy with meaning.
Sirius nodded…it was the exact same chilling thought he had had earlier. “I know.”
“Then I assume I don’t need to explain to you the danger of that situation?”
“Which one?” Sirius asked as he poured another cup of coffee for James. “That she will lose me in the end? That she’s putting her own life in danger? That she’s muggle born?”
“Don’t play the sarcastic apathetic Black here, Sirius. I know better.”
“Of course, I’ve thought about it, James.” Sirius muttered. “It’s a new development that I certainly didn’t plan on.”
Sirius knew it must seem odd to James. Sirius had been with many women and none had had the effect on him that Lily seemed to. Before, Sirius had always been able to break off a relationship with them and have no regrets. James had been witness to their fight earlier…Sirius had heard his soft breathing in the hallway and knew he must have grabbed the invisibility cloak in order to eavesdrop on Dumbledore’s news. James would have known it was Sirius’ attempt to break things off and move on. But, mere hours later, James had found him in bed with Lily. The confusion on James’ face was evident.
“Can you walk away?” James asked evenly as he poured more whiskey into his drink.
Sirius glanced to Lily momentarily then returned his gaze to James who seemed to be gulping his coffee in anticipation of Sirius’ response. Sirius’ voice, although steady, was wrought with emotion. “No more than I could from you.”
“That’s a danger to you.”
Sirius felt his hands relax and, for the first time, realized they had been clinched since James’ arrival. It was only natural for James to assume Sirius’ life would be in danger because of his relationship with Lily. But Sirius knew he had no intention of letting his emotions toward Lily make him careless. He smiled James’ direction to help reassure his dear friend. “What would the rest of the world do if they knew just how serious the jovial James Potter could be?”
“The same thing they’d do if they found out self-centered Sirius Black had weaknesses.”
“Weaknesses?” Sirius huffed. “Name one.”
“Your mother, your father, Regulus, a secret desire to protect the innocent while feigning indifference, loyalty to me, the save the world thing, Lily…”
“I said one, James.” Sirius interrupted testily but couldn’t help but grin.
James sat quietly for a moment and Sirius knew he was relishing the moment. Their days at Hogwarts were spent in fun and mischief and now that their years here were ending, it was impossible not to look back on their adventures with fondness. The dark moments they had shared…the moments that had drawn them closer than any of the other marauders…. were moments like these. Moments where the truth was the only thing mattered between them. Sirius’ eyes clouded as he realized how long it had been since they had had to do this. Nothing, since the days he had left his parents’ home, had weighed so heavily on both their minds. And whatever James had come to talk to him about, Sirius knew it was obviously important to him.
“Tell me, James. Before we’re old men and it doesn’t matter anymore.”
“You saw Voldemort tonight. I heard you telling Dumbledore.”
Sirius was surprised at James’ outburst. “It’s not a secret I planned to keep, James. Dumbledore wants secrecy, not me.”
“I’m not worried about that.” Sirius watched James in perplexity, unsure of where such a conversation was coming from. “I’ve heard, of course, about him. My parents talk about him all the time and the things he so desperately wants to achieve in the wizarding world. He doesn’t seem to care about what or who he has to hurt in order to achieve his goals.”
Sirius nodded waiting patiently for James to continue. When he finally did, his voice was so quiet, Sirius had to struggle to hear.
“Sirius, will he be as dangerous as people are saying?”
Sirius wanted to lie. He wanted to protect James from the terror he knew was coming. The memory of the helplessness and loss of control from Voldemort’s touch surged through him again and Sirius could feel his face blanch.
“Sirius,” James reached to touch him but Sirius pulled away afraid that, even now, Voldemort’s power might reach out and hurt James. “Then it’s true,” James whispered. “Everyone will be in danger.”
“More than anyone realizes.”
“Joining the Order…” James began.
“Is a waste of time and energy that could best be spent elsewhere,” Sirius returned. “I don’t need a bunch of old wizards like Dumbledore ordering me around and telling me how to destroy Voldemort.”
“You think you know how to defeat him?” James asked, his temper rising. He plunked his coffee cup down on the table, causing the dark liquid to splash across the floor. “How arrogant can you be?”
“I know what he believes in and how he determines the worth of a wizard.” Sirius explained calmly. Sirius waved his wand to clean up James’ mess before continuing. “There is a difference between knowing what he wants and knowing how to defeat him.”
James eyed him searchingly. “You believe by knowing him you can learn how to defeat him.” It was a statement rather than a question and Sirius didn’t respond. “You can’t do this, Sirius. You can’t try and get close to him.”
“You are being over-dramatic as usual and failing to comprehend the truth of our situation.” Sirius hesitated. “My situation,” he corrected softly.
“You were right the first time.” James corrected him disdainfully.
“This isn’t a school fight, James.”
“We are in this together. I won’t let you think otherwise.”
Sirius was quiet, refusing to lie to James. The moment his brother had joined Voldemort, this became a personal battle for him. Bringing in the other Marauders was just not an option. They all had something to lose, but Sirius? After tonight, Sirius knew he had nothing left to lose. “I dreamed of my mother tonight,” he whispered softly.
Sirius met James questioning gaze only briefly. “I called for her.”
“I know,” James admitted, “I was awake.”
“I didn’t figure your childhood demons were anybody else’s business unless you made it so.” James shrugged. “Besides, I knew you’d talk about it when you wanted to.”
“I wanted to run to her, James. I felt like a ten year old child in my father’s prescence.”
“Was she there?”
“I didn’t see her. But then, she would probably avoid me at all costs anyway.”
“You want to remember her as a kind and loving mother, Sirius. I know that. I even can understand it to some degree.” James said shaking his head. “But she was not that person.”
“Don’t you think I realize that?” Sirius returned angrily. “I know who she is and what she has become. I turned her in to that!”
“You’re a fool if you believe that.”
Sirius could hear the exasperation in James’ voice, but he was unwilling to give in so easily. “I’ve been called worse.”
“Sirius,” James’ voice was a stern whisper, “I know you think you deserted her and Regulus by leaving. That’s just not true. We’ve been through this a hundred times. They made their choice and you made yours. It was no ones fault. You’re blaming yourself for something that was out of your control. Just like my safety or any of the Marauders, for that matter, is.”
Sirius knew they would never agree and thought better than continuing the conversation and risking yet another lecture from James. “Regulus joined Voldemort tonight.”
“What?” James asked incredously. Sirius could see his mind turning with questions and worries. “He’s just a kid,” James sank back into his chair as the news took hold of him.
“An induction ceremony was going on when me and Remus got there.” Sirius shook his head in disgust. “And I wasn’t around to do a damn thing about it. Try having that on your conscience.” Sirius downed his drink and then stood to leave as the bitterness engulfed him again. He refused to take it out on James just because he was here, and Sirius knew that’s exactly where his emotions were taking him. Halfway to the door tiny movements made him turn and he caught a glimpse of Lily. Although she still appeared to be asleep a dark thought overcame him as Sirius remembered that James’ had never been good at doing charms. Shaking off the feeling and blaming it on exhaustion, Sirius asked, “Will you stay here? I’d prefer she not wake up alone.”
“James,” Sirius looked at him meaningfully, “I can’t.”
James nodded, Sirius’ words not lost on him. “What do you want me to tell her?”
“The truth. She was foolish to ever have gotten involved with a character like me.”
“It’s probably the best decision she’s ever made. It’ll change her life forever.” James winked conspiratorially but Sirius wouldn’t return it.
“That’s what I’m afraid of.” Sirius murmured gloomily, avoiding the smile James was sending him.
“Are we still on for our end of term blow out at your place? It is our last chance to see everyone before we go our separate ways.”
“James,” Sirius began to lecture him that now wasn’t exactly the time for a party but then thought better of it. James would hold it with or without his permission anyway. “Yeah. Tell everyone for me, will you?”
“Yeah?” he turned from the doorway.
“I need some answers here that you’re not giving me.” James’ voice was quiet and he began fiddling with his coffee cup rather than look at Sirius.
“I have some things I have to get straight for myself, James. It’s nothing more than that.”
“You’d let me know if it was, though?”
Sirius tried to answer immediately, but quickly realized that his brief hesitation had been noted by James, who glanced at him in unease. “Of course,” Sirius mumbled. “Night, James.”
A/N: Just a note of thanks to all of the members of the HPFF Author Comment group who have been so wonderfully supporting with the writing of the last three chapters. And, of course, special thanks to Noblevyne and Cor_Leonis for all their continued support and guidance throughout this story. You guys are the best!
Chapter 9: Mischief Managed
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A/N: This chapter was never written to be a part of this story but after numerous requests to give Sirius a happy moment by some readers, I plugged this in just for a bit of fun before things starts going completely downhill for Sirius and the rest of the group. Hope you enjoy the angst break (for a chapter at least)!
The noise in Sirius’ London flat was deafening. James’ party was apparently in full swing by the time he arrived. Sirius surveyed the crowd of his fellow classmates – many of whom were now considered full fledged wizards like himself. Sirius had though leaving Hogwarts would have been a defining moment but, somehow, it had paled in comparison to the rest of the week’s events. Sirius greeted everyone jovially, determined that he would not be the one to put a damper on such a happy event.
Pulling off his cloak, Sirius rolled up the sleeves of his crisp white shirt as James’ passed him a drink.
“You’ve outdone yourself, James.”
“Turned out well, don’t you think?”
“I’m rather partial to the fireflies floating about.” Sirius watched the little lights twinkling among the party-goers and darting in and out from among the myriad of floating silver trays filled with food and drink.
“Don’t worry. They won’t make a mess in your place.”
Sirius nodded distractedly. “Where’s Peter?”
“Occupied with a Hufflepuff over in the corner,” James said grinning.
“Drooling over your collection of book, I’d imagine. He was giving Lily the grand tour the last I checked.”
Sirius could feel James watching him intently. Sirius finished off his drink quickly then took James’ and downed it as well. “Thanks for the drink, my friend. It’s an excellent party.”
“Are you all right?”
Sirius winked. “Top of the world, James.” Sirius tried to step away but James caught his arm.
“Are you expecting trouble?” he asked softly. “Where have you been?”
Sirius paused momentarily but then offered James the widest smile he could. “Only trouble of my own making. You just stick to keeping the drunks away from the Black family crystal.”
Sirius sauntered through the ever growing, asking vague questions about people’s future plans and commiserating with those who had none. A cordial smile never left Sirius’ face, a talent he had learned from years of dinner parties at the Black house. Feigning interest and concern had become second nature for him and Sirius loved the idea that those around him were oblivious to his indifference.
It was only when a group of rather tipsy Ravenclaws tried to pull him onto James’ makeshift dance floor and started unbuttoning his shirt that Sirius finally decided he’d had enough. Determined to find the always melancholy Remus, Sirius retreated to his library. Taking two glasses of what appeared to be champagne; Sirius stepped toward the room and was surprised to find Remus and Lily in deep conversation.
“I guess I just didn’t expect him t live so luxuriously. His being on his own, I mean.” Lily fingered a painting hung on the library wall. “Fine art, crystal, imported leather sofas and hand carved furniture?” She shook her head disbelieving.
“He is a Black, Lily. A change of address doesn’t change that,” Remus returned, pulling a book off the shelf. “Sirius has an insatiable taste for the finer things, no matter how roguish he may appear.”
“The dark knight,” Lily mused.
“A knight,” Remus laughed, “not our Sirius. You are mistaking him for someone much more noble.”
“And you are jaded because you’ve heard him tell too many stories that are probably only half truths,” Lily countered smiling. “You don’t entrust your life to him for no reason, after all.”
“Sirius has earned my trust and respect, Lily.” Remus sank into a chair with his newly acquired book. “That doesn’t mean I feel comfortable in a world of fine china and crystal goblets.”
“You envy him…” Lily said lightly, “…his upbringing, his willingness to break the rules. They are the things you want to do but always rationalize against.”
“You, my dear, have had one too many drinks,” Remus said softly, but Sirius noticed how he refused to look at her. The uncomfortable silence between the two made Sirius feel for Remus and he cleared his throat.
“Perhaps one more won’t hurt, then?” Sirius leaned against the doorway as nonchalantly as he could. “If we’re lucky, Remus, she just may drink enough that she passes out and her incessant rambling will be no more.”
“Indeed.” Remus nodded.
Sirius could see the defiance in Lily’s eyes as she approached him. He had avoided her all week… only catching brief glimpses of her in the hallways since the night they met in the room of requirement.
Lily slipped the glass out of Sirius’ hand. “What a terrible thing to say to your guest.”
“My guest?” Sirius raised an eyebrow. “I don’t recall inviting you here. You must be thinking of James.”
“Hm, perhaps.” Lily slipped her arm through Sirius’ and pulled him into the room to sit with her and Remus.
Remus peered at Sirius over the top of his book. “Do you realize your shirt is half undone?”
“Yes, well, things are getting a little heated in the other room.” Sirius said as he began buttoning up his shirt.
“Too much excitement for you?” Lily asked grinning.
“Not nearly as interesting as trying to corrupt the school’s top two students.”
Lily and Remus both caught the glint in Sirius’ eyes. Lily tucked her feet up underneath her and Remus leaned forward.
“And just what did you have in mind?” Remus asked smiling.
Sirius stretched his arms along the back of the couch.” A going away present for everyone at Hogwarts. A class gift, if you will.”
“You want to sneak into Hogwarts?” Lily let out a little shriek but Sirius could see her eyes shining with mischief.
“Exactly what kind of gift, Sirius?” Remus asked leery.
“I haven’t quite decided that part yet.” Sirius grinned. “This is why I sit with the brains of the group in a library filled with misty old books rather than indulging in my many bad habits in the next room.”
Remus took Sirius’ glass out of his hand and swallowed a drink. “I’m game.”
“Excellent. Summon the others, will you?”
Remus nodded and went to retrieve his wand from his cloak.
Sirius let his fingers graze Lily’s shoulder to get her attention. “You sure you’re up for this? You have a perfect record, you know.”
“You only live once, right?” Lily sucked in a breath of nervousness and Sirius smiled.
“Well said,” he whispered and kissed her lightly on the cheek.
“They can’t revoke our wizarding status, right?” Lily asked, twisting her shirt nervously.
“Bit late for questions like that, don’t you think?” James asked and he and Peter appeared at the doorway.
“I wondered the same thing,” Peter said, tossing Sirius his cloak. “They can’t, right?”
“Oh, geez.” James shook his head. “Sirius, we’re surrounded by old ninnies.”
“They just haven’t had enough drink to steel their nerves yet.” Sirius grinned and waved his wand in the air.
Sirius watched as the group circled around the table, each taking a glass that he had conjured. They stood around him… his brothers, his friends… each dressed in their dark woolen cloaks in preparation of what might perhaps be their last adventure together. Sirius felt comfortable, almost happy, but could see the dark emotions that were starting to fall across the others as they thought about what might lie ahead. Sirius looked to James for some sense of direction and James winked. Sirius slid an arm around Lily, who had remained a pace outside their circle, and pulled her into the group.
“Any last words, gentlemen?” Remus asked and immediately noticed Lily ruffle. “And lady?” he corrected smiling.
“To a last adventure,” Peter offered.
“Too damn depressing,” Sirius said flatly.
“To the future?” Remus offered but all eyes looked at him sternly. “Perhaps not, then.” He laughed.
“Oh, to hell with this.” James lifted his glass. “To the Marauders…may we live long enough to be useful but die young enough to still piss off those we leave behind.”
The group downed their drinks in unison and, as promised, Sirius’ concoction strengthened all of their resolves. After a brief moment of dizziness, a warm laughter spread among them, making Sirius’ heart feel more alive than it had in weeks.
Sirius’ deep laugh echoed through the room. “Now, let’s see just how much trouble we can get Lily and Peter in to.”
“We could release James’ fireflies everywhere.”
“We could put an invisibility spell on the paintings.”
“We did that third year, remember?”
“We could disenchant the ceiling in the Great Hall.”
“No.” Sirius’ voice was firm and cut into the banter. “First years love that.” He surveyed the darkened and silent hallways of Hogwarts. “Anything on the map, Peter?”
“No, Sirius. I’ll let you know.”
Sirius nodded and began pacing the hall, his eyes roaming the area for things they could wreck havoc with. “Doesn’t anyone have anything monumental? Think big.”
No one answered and the group began milling about throwing out ideas here and there.
“Sirius?” James’ soft voice beckoned him over. “You said think big. Just how big did you have in mind?”
Sirius followed James’ gaze to the floors above, the tiniest rays of moonlight casting an eerie glow through the staircases. Sirius’ eyes met James and his face lit into a grin. “You are a genius, James. Genius. Lily, come here,” Sirius called softly.
“Come up with something?” Lily asked tiredly and Sirius knew she was beginning to think the entire adventure had been for nothing.
“Do you remember when you and I got caught breaking curfew back in fourth year? We had Professor McGonagall on our tail and you moved the staircases so we could get away?”
“Of course. Poor Annabelle got detention for a month because McGonagall thought it was her.”
“Think you could do hat on a much, much bigger scale?” Sirius glanced up to the thousands of stone staircases rising above them and Lily followed his gaze.
“Are you kidding?” Lily hissed. “The Grand Staircases?”
“And can you make it permanent?” James interrupted.
“Absolutely not!” Lily’s voice rose sharply making Remus and Peter join them.
“We’ve got a plan, then?” Remus asked.
“Remus, they are crazy.” Lily folded her arms across her chest. “They want to enchant the Grand Staircases.”
“Oh, wonderful idea.” Remus rubbed his hands together. “Do you know how?”
“It’s not like anyone is getting hurt. The staircases will just move every once in awhile.” Sirius shrugged.
“Just tell us how to do it then and you can be on your merry way,” James barked. “There are thousands of them; we’ve got to get started. It’s going to take most of the night.”
Lily whirled to face James. Unlike usual, her voice was coaxing rather than demanding. “James, you are talking about something that’s been here for…”
“Then it’s about time it got a face lift,” Remus interrupted.
“You guys are serious,” Lily murmured as all eyes fell on her. She eyed them silently and Sirius could see her struggling with herself.
Sirius started to say something, but James stepped in first.
“Lily, come on,” James whispered, his hand falling gently to the small of her back. “Be a little reckless.”
Sirius winked at James causing James to immediately drift away from Lily’s side.
“Okay.” Lily nodded and pulled the group closer. “Here’s what we have to do.”
After being giving instructions from Lily and making a few practice runs, the group split up to begin casting their spells on each of the massive stone staircases. James had been right… even with all of them it took them hours to accomplish the goal. Sirius and James, who had taken the top floors, were last to finish. The maze of moving stairs were difficult to negotiate on their way back down, and by the time they arrived, they were laughing hysterically.
They dropped to the floor beside the others. Gasping for breath, they all took a brief few minutes to admire their handiwork as the staircases shifted and moved at random intervals.
“Shh.” Lily grabbed James’ hand. “Did you hear that?”
The group hushed immediately so they could hear better. Remus was the first to his feet. “It’s Dumbledore.”
“Time to go,” James said quietly and prodded the group to the passageway hidden underneath one of the marble tables in the hallway.
Dumbledore’s steps echoed closer, his voice soft as he spoke to someone else that was hidden from view. James hurried Lily through the opening then motioned for Peter to follow.
“Peter, the map!” James’ eyes flew to the bit of parchment which lay several feet away where the group had been sitting.
“It was in my pocket, James. It must have fallen out.”
“No.” Remus touched James’ arm lightly. “We don’t need it anymore, remember?”
James nodded but Sirius could see the look of misery on his face. Sirius put his hand on James’ shoulder and smiled. “It served us well. Perhaps it can help another ingenious student break some rules one day.”
James nodded and the Marauders each raised their wands and softly, in unison, they murmured “mischief managed,” before slipping out the doorway.
A/N: As you may have noticed, the rating on this story was raised to Mature. I tried to give a few chapters warning before this was necessary, but the new rating does come into play in the next chapter. Just thought I’d give a heads up! Thanks to everyone who’s so loyally followed this story… and, yes, raindrops (fka ruperts luver) that definitely includes you!!! :)
Chapter 10: Lily's Blackmail
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Sirius had never seen Lily so animated. She was bounding around his living room, recounting each detail of the night’s escapades. The others had gone on to celebrate with drinks in Hogsmeade and James had even invited her to go along with them. But, for whatever reason, Lily had chosen to come back to the flat with him. Although Sirius would have preferred to be alone, Lily’s desire to come with him puzzled Sirius and his inquisitive nature prevented him from turning her away.
Sirius pulled off his cloak and sank heavily on to the sofa. He conjured himself a cup of steaming hot tea and listened to Lily’s peels of laughter as she whirled around the room.
Sirius smiled inwardly; glad to see Lily so vibrant and carefree. He couldn’t remember the last time they’d had so much fun together. As odd as it seemed, clever little Lily and mischief were a natural pair.
“Tea?” Sirius tried to distract her but she merely nodded and kept moving about. Sirius surveyed the room. Although a few of James’ fireflies still lingered, the house was otherwise spotless. No sign that a party had ever taken place could be found. Lily’s movements cast few shadows, a signal that the sun would soon be rising above the horizon. Nights of lost sleep had allowed Sirius to memorize how each room of his flat looked during all hours of the night. In the excitement of the evening, neither he nor Lily had realized when the hours slipped away. “You know it’s nearing dawn?”
“I feel so alive! Are all your adventures like this?” she hopped onto the couch beside him but before Sirius could answer she was talking again. “No one will be able to fix the staircases and why would they want to? It’s not as if…”
“Lily, please, relax,” Sirius begged.
“Don’t you dare try and ruin my night, Sirius Black!” Lily grinned as she sipped the tea he offered.
“I wouldn’t dream of it.”
“I can’t believe you haven’t let me go before. I’ve missed out on so much!”
“It sounds as if you will work hard to remedy that,” Sirius murmured, suddenly feeling suffocated by her constant banter.
“Well, of course. When Dumbledore showed up I just knew we were goners.” Lily tugged on Sirius’ sleeve. “And you four didn’t even blink an eye,” she said as she stifled a yawn.
“We should get you home.”
“My parents would not appreciate me coming in at dawn.” Lily shook her head.
“I can take you to Calist’s.” Sirius finished off his tea, and then conjured himself another cup as he spoke.
“No. She’s in Hogsmeade with the others by now, I’m sure.” Sirius watched intently as Lily hid her face behind the teacup. When she spoke, her voice was a whisper. “I could just stay here.”
“Pardon?” Sirius tried not to spew his tea across the room.
“I promise to behave.” Lily smiled.
“I don’t,” Sirius’ voice held a note of disapproval.
“Then I don’t either,” Lily laughed nervously. “Besides, you wouldn’t want me prowling the streets with Death Eaters on the loose would you?”
“I offered to escort you somewhere, Lily,” Sirius returned darkly. “It’s unlike you to try and convince me to agree to something by using blackmail.”
“And it’s unlike you to need convincing,” Lily countered. “Can I stay or not, Sirius?”
Lily’s question hung in the air, causing Sirius to choke on his own planned sarcastic response. Lily had cornered him with her words and her simple presence and she knew it. The idea infuriated him but, at the same time, Sirius admired her determination to get what she wanted. She wasn’t demanding to stay, she was asking permission. Sirius knew he could tell her no. He had every right to tell her no and send her on her way. But the warmth radiating from her body and the soft scent of lemon verbena overwhelmed him. Against his better judgment, Sirius nodded.
“All right,” he murmured and took her hand, “come on.” Sirius led her through the darkened hallway, candles flickering awake as he strode passed. “You can stay here. I’ll take the sofa.”
“This is your room?” Lily asked her steps tentative as she moved around the room.
Sirius nodded and watched as she gingerly fingered his meager belongings. While the rest of his place was decorated for entertaining, this room was all his own: his school cloak was tossed haphazardly on a ragged moss green chair; his dresser was littered with coins he had tossed without so much as a glance as to where they might land; a few photographs of he and the Marauders were tucked under quills on his night stand; and, perhaps most telling, the covers from the four poster mahogany bed inherited from his uncle were strewn wildly across the end of the mattress showing his many nights of troubled dreams. “Surprised?”
“Somehow, I expected a more exotic décor.”
Sirius straightened the black silk comforter to let her climb in. “Imagining a haven for seducing women, by chance?” he asked knowingly.
“Something like that, yes.” Lily snuggled deep into the massive bed.
“I’m sorry to disappoint you.”
“No, no.” Lily pulled the covers up around her. “This is much more revealing.”
“Hm.” Sirius’ face showed his unease but he quickly hid it. “Good night, Lily.” Sirius kissed her forehead softly then, with a wave of his wand, the candles flickered out.
Sirius sank onto his couch again, knowing he was too wired to sleep. Adventures with the Marauders always made him feel like a kid, but he refused to let Lily know that. She had been too excited for him to ruin it with his own liveliness. Tonight was her night, after all.
Sirius pulled off his shirt and shoes and dropped them to the floor. Conjuring himself a potent drink, Sirius swallowed it in one gulp and stretched out onto the couch. The drink made his head instantly fuzzy and he loved the floating sensation that somehow managed to keep all dark thoughts from reaching his mind. Sirius closed his eyes letting the warm feeling from the drink wash over him.
His thoughts remained hazy for a brief few moments then Lily’s face began to swim into view. Although indistinct, Sirius could see Lily laying in his bed, her tired body sinking into the feather mattress. He could envision the small hollow of her back, where he had so many times placed his hand as they walked, trembling slightly as she lengthened herself into a cat like stretch. The image of her red hair falling into a tumbled mass on his sheets made Sirius’ heart race and, in his delirium, he reached out to touch Lily’s sleeping form.
Sirius opened his eyes slowly, unsure if he had imagined the voice. As his eyes refocused, he could see Lily’s form a few feet away. Sirius fought to subdue the drink’s effects so he could appear collected in front of her. The last thing he needed her to realize was how much the simplicity of her presence in the next room was affecting him.
“Are you alright?” he asked worriedly, but as she stepped closer, Sirius became more worried about himself. Lily had wrapped herself in one of his sheets, the edges drooping to show her bare shoulders. The flickering candlelight behind her shown through the crème colored fabric, the gentle curves of her naked body causing a shadow to fall over him.
“Everything’s fine.” Lily moved to kneel on the floor beside him.
Without thinking, Sirius reached out and touched her cheek softly. “What is it, then?” He sucked in a breath, afraid he already knew Lily’s answer.
Lily let her lips slide along his bare chest, still holding tightly to the sheet covering her. “I didn’t come back with you to be alone.”
“Why did you come here, Lily?” Sirius touched her lips with his fingers to prevent her from kissing him again. “Did you come merely because I was there or did you come because it’s me?”
“Are you doubting my intentions or doubting you own self worth?” Lily asked pointedly, her voice soft but her words belied a hidden sword that pierced into Sirius.
Sirius would have been angry if she hadn’t ended the question with a well placed kiss on his neck. “Both I suppose,” he murmured in a rare moment of unmasked emotion.
“Well, stop being so damn analytical and enjoy yourself for one night. That’s what I did and look where it’s gotten us.”
Her embolden words took Sirius off guard and he struggled to control the passion her confidence had ignited within him. He tried to pull away but the haunting feeling of her caresses drew his hands to her body. Sirius let his hand slide down her bare back as she kissed his chest. “Aren’t you the brazen one all of the sudden?” he finally managed, his breath heavier than he intended.
“Terrified actually.” Lily smiled nervously, the confident look in her eyes now gone. “But that’s normal, isn’t it?” Lily’s shaky voice dropped to a whisper. “I mean, the first time…” Lily’s voice trailed off and Sirius’ heart wrenched.
“Oh, Lily,” Sirius’ voice broke as he called her name. Sirius had forgotten she’d never been with a man…a damn good flirt, but still innocent as the day he’d met her. Standing up, he pulled Lily with him. His voice was warm in her ear. “There’s nothing to fear from me, you know that, don’t you?”
“Of course I do,” Lily answered but Sirius could hear the quiver in her voice as she spoke.
Slipping his hands into hers, Sirius forced Lily to loosen the viselike grip she had on the sheets. Lily struggled to wriggle free so she could hang on to the fabric, but Sirius held tight.
Sirius kissed her gently, his lips caressing hers with a velvety compassion he’d shared with no other. “Hold on to me, Lily,” he murmured, his voice thick. “Everything else is just an illusion.”
Sirius cursed his manipulative response to her as soon as he uttered the words, knowing that merely fulfilling a moment of physical desire for Lily would eventually tear apart his soul. But before he could take back his reckless assertion, Lily let the sheet slip to the floor and quickly pressed her exposed body into Sirius’ for shelter.
Sirius let his hands slide along her curves, moving slowly and gently for fear of frightening her. His hands were warm against her shivering skin but, even as Sirius attempted to resist, the silkiness of her body tainted his rational thoughts.
“Lily,” Sirius cupped her face in his hands, “are you certain?”
“Yes,” Lily answered but the slight hesitation in her voice was obvious to Sirius and, even with the murky thoughts from his earlier drink, he knew enough to back away.
But Lily smiled reassuringly and took Sirius by the hand as she led the way to his room. “Do you always take so damn long to get a woman into your bed?” she asked with nervous laughter.
Sirius refused to reply, unwilling to admit to her that she was the first woman he had allowed into his own bedroom. Lily’s nervous banter amused him, but Sirius knew better than to let her know that. He hesitated at the doorway as he watched her climb into bed. Sirius knew if he undressed and went to her there would be no turning back. Even he had limits to how many times he could walk away from her touches.
Sirius wrestled with his emotions of his desire to protect Lily against his desperate hunger to feel needed by someone. Why had she come to him? He would never her sought her out, not for something like this. Sirius gripped the doorway, his tortured thoughts making him physically weak. Was this really the only thing he had to offer her? The only thing he had to offer anyone?
Sirius quieted his thoughts, unwilling to let Lily sense his unease. The last thing he wanted to do was hurt her and, more than anything, he knew that rejecting her now, when she was already so vulnerable and waiting patiently for him to join her in bed, would be something Lily could never recover from.
Why was he trying to be rational? Sirius…the Marauder known for taking risks… and he was taking the time to consider what one night with Lily might cost her.
“Sirius?” Lily’s voice was hesitant, almost fearful.
Sirius steeled himself as he began getting undressed. She was depending on him and he refused to let her know he had any misgivings about becoming her lover.
As Sirius slipped under the wrinkled linen sheets and silk comforter, he could feel Lily’s shivers ruffle the covers.
“Are you cold?”
Sirius made no attempt to move closer to Lily, allowing her the chance to come to him. “Are you scared?” he asked quietly.
“No.” Lily’s voice shook slightly then she laughed. “I guess just a bit.”
Sirius turned on his side to face her, still refraining from touching her. “Of me?”
Sirius raised an eyebrow at her quick response.
“I’m not. It’s just…” Lily’s voice trailed off and she moved her hand to gently follow the curves of his broad shoulders.
“You’ve told me too many secrets over the years to start playing shy now, Lily.” Sirius fought for control as her touch made him begin to forget his objections. This is Lily, he reminded himself. He couldn’t rush her. He couldn’t treat her like everyone else he’d ever shared a bed with. Sirius took a deep calming breath as Lily inched closer to him.
“This is a new you. Not the one I’m familiar with.”
“Clever answer.” Sirius touched her face hesitantly, afraid she would pull away. When she didn’t, Sirius pressed his lips to hers, kissing her as calmly as he possibly could. Their kisses were gentle and exploring and Lily’s body moved closer to him with each breath.
“I do know you,” Lily whispered lightly as her hands traced the jagged muscles on his back.
Lily’s slight caresses had caused their bodies to meet and Sirius embraced her tightly as her small frame became engulfed in his. He realized this was new for her. The feeling of being so intimate, so utterly exposed had to be overwhelming her. But she didn’t pull away and rather, Sirius noticed how Lily adjusted her position so that she could feel more of his bare skin against hers.
Her light exploring touches made Sirius cringe, knowing with each breath his self control was plummeting. Lily’s lips moved to his chest and Sirius drew in a breath. He knew he was reaching his last chance to forestall the inevitable.
“Lily,” he whispered harshly. It took a moment for her to realize the change in him… the tense ripples in his muscles, the fierce longing that turned his gray eyes brilliant; a desperate raw hunger that Sirius had kept hidden behind stoic emotions until this moment. The sheer depth of his emotions should have overwhelmed her, and Sirius was surprised when she didn’t pull away. He eyed her uncomfortably but rather than look fearful, Lily seemed to be filled with curiosity.
Her hands slipped further down his body and she pulled him tighter towards her. Without words, Lily’s soft surrendering moans reassured Sirius and he eased himself to lie on top of her. He kissed her deeply, the warmth of her body intoxicating him.
Sirius ignored her soothing words, his mind now on nothing but having her for his own. His lips began to travel her ivory skin and Sirius’ thoughts became muddled as Lily’s breath became ragged under his skilled touches.
The soft call of his name made Sirius forget his attempts at chivalry and his lips caressed the soft lines of her neck, breasts and abdomen. Sirius took her hands in his, encouraging her to explore. Lily moved ever so lightly, tucking her curves neatly into Sirius’ own contours. Her raspy breaths and the gentle raking of her nails along his back caused Sirius to arch toward her, his expert hands guiding Lily’s legs to encircle his hips.
A thunderous hammering on the door caused Sirius to halt all movements. As the sound repeated itself, a tormented groan escaped his lips. “Go away, James.”
Sirius kissed Lily lightly to wipe the embarrassed grin off her face.
“Sirius, you need to get out here.” Remus’ voice echoed behind James’ shouts.
“Not now!” Sirius’ cursed the Marauders as he let his lips trace the soft curves of Lily’s neck, determined to finish what they had started.
“Yes, now.” The deep voice and thundering crash of his bedroom door made Lily jump. She tried to wriggle from underneath him, but Sirius locked his body heavily onto hers, preventing her from moving. Although his eyes had darkened, Sirius refused to change position, something telling him that allowing Lily to swim into the intruder’s view was unwise.
“Malfoy,” Sirius answered but still refused to move. Sirius propped himself on his arms as Lily began to gasp for air under his weight. His eyes met hers only for a moment, but Sirius could see the terror that filled them.
“I’m rather occupied here, Lucius. What do you want?”
“Far be it from me to disturb your little tryst, but you are needed at home.”
“Errand boy now, are you?” At his words, he could feel Lucius’ anger from across the room and Sirius cursed himself. He could not taunt Lucius now… not with Lily in such a dangerous predicament. He would not allow her to be put in danger just because she happened to be the muggle born found in the bed of Sirius Black.
Sirius drew in a breath of defeat. “I’ll be along directly.”
“Good boy,” Lucius hissed and a soft pop let Sirius know he was gone.
Sirius rolled onto his back, disentangling himself from Lily. He closed his eyes trying to get his heart rate to return to normal. How could he have been so arrogant to think he could get away with it? To be found with a mudblood in his own bed by Malfoy? Sirius only hoped he’d managed to keep Lily’s identity a secret. If not…
The dark thoughts made Sirius’ body tense; each of his muscles causing a gentle tug on the sheets that covered him and Lily.
“Sirius?” James’ voice was nearby but Sirius refused to answer him until he got himself under control.
Sirius knew his irresponsibility tonight could have easily gotten Lily killed. Just when had he become so heartless that fulfilling some physical need was more important than the life of the only woman he’d ever truly understood?
His temper soaring, Sirius slammed his fist into the nightstand. Fragmented shards of the lamp and picture frames showered the bed, causing Lily to try and block Sirius from the debris. Sirius quelled the urge to grab Lily and shove her as far away from him as possible. Did she not understand how dangerous any association with him could be? As if I answer, Lily slipped her fingers into his clenched fist.
“Go away, James,” Lily said quietly and, for once, Sirius was grateful she had no problem telling him off. Lily moved to lay her head on his chest as James disappeared, her eyes intent on his. “Sirius?” Lily’s breath was warm against his face and she wiped away the beads of sweat that were clinging to his face.
“I’m safe. You kept me hidden,” Lily whispered, her voice holding a tinge of confusion.
Sirius wrapped his arm around her waist to reassure her, but he could see the shadow fall over her eyes. Lily knew he had already detached himself… his thoughts had taken him hundreds of miles away and a dozen years in the past even though she still remained in his arms.
“I was careless,” Sirius offered as a vague attempt at an explanation. “And put you in danger because of it.”
Lily intertwined her fingers with his. “I’m in danger no matter what, Sirius,” Lily said candidly. “We both know that, don’t we? We just keep pushing it out of our mind to pretend it’s not true.” Lily offered him a tiny smile. “It might as well be for something enjoyable like sharing the bed of the infamous Black.”
Sirius hesitated, a brief thought that Lily was perhaps using him floating through the edges of his mind. He tried to shake it off but the questions of why she would ever consort with him began to gather like storm clouds invading his thoughts. Pushing her gently to the side, he slipped out from underneath her and to the edge of the bed. He could feel Lily’s eyes boring into his back as he began getting dressed.
“Are you angry with me?” Lily asked quietly, making Sirius turn to face her as he stood up to pull on his shirt. He watched her pull the covers more tightly around herself and then, as he continued to eye her, Lily hugged a pillow to her body in a belated attempt to hide her naked body from view.
That she was suddenly embarrassed about exposing herself didn’t surprise Sirius, but it did stir a vague feeling of annoyance that Lily was still insisting on behaving like a silly child.
Sirius opened his mouth to speak but then thought better of it. Sirius closed his eyes to settle his emotions. Had he really expected that one night with him would turn her into a rational adult that could understand the depth of what they were facing? No, he knew better than that. If anything, he’d taught her that giving in to childish desires was acceptable regardless of the consequences. The thought that he had somehow hurt her more than helped made Sirius head spin. Opening his eyes, Sirius shoved his hands deeply into his pockets, his shirt still hanging unbuttoned on his stiff frame. “I’m angry at myself. Go get dressed. I’ll have someone take you home.”
“I can get home fine, Sirius. Don’t worry about me.” Lily straightened up in the bed, resting her back against his pile of pillows. “Just come back safely, okay?”
“I need to know you're home safe and don’t take that the wrong way. It’s just…”
Lily waved him off. “I understand.”
Sirius met her gaze and felt an instant connection with her he’d never felt before. She did understand him more than he’d ever realized and the idea that she could reach so far into his soul both pleased and unnerved him. Sirius had sworn to never allow a woman into his heart again… his own mother had filled him with such a cold empty void that he had long ago vowed to never allow such a thing to happen again.
Sirius was frozen, seeing her naked body and gentle curves silhouetted against the crème colored sheets and wondering how it was that he was one most exposed. Sirius gazed at Lily, unsure if she realized the depth of the connection they had made. The studious furrow on her forehead told him she had.
“Sirius,” James’ voice was soft but strong beside him. The comforting weight of his hand on Sirius’ shoulder pulled Sirius from his revelry. “We should go.”
“Of course.” Sirius turned to Lily, unsure of what was the appropriate comment after everything they had shared on this one evening, but Lily only smiled faintly.
“Take care of him, James.”
Chapter 11: A Rift Begins
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A Rift Begins
Sirius sank onto the sofa, reaching for his boots and could feel Remus and James watching him intently. “How did you know to come?”
“Lucius was in Hogsmeade,” Remus answered, “we overheard his plans.”
“Do you know what’s going on then?”
“You’re needed at home, does it matter?” Although James had tried to disguise it, Sirius could hear the edge in his voice.
Choosing to ignore him, Sirius asked, “Where’s Peter?”
“Watching the street in case anyone else shows up,” Remus explained, shifting his weight uneasily.
Sirius glanced from one to the other, realizing that it wasn’t just James that was uncomfortable. Sirius had never been able to read Remus well, but his actions tonight were unmistakable. “What is it?”
“Sirius, do you know what you’re doing?” Remus asked quietly after only a moment’s hesitation. “Here with Lily, I mean.”
Sirius looked at him for some hint of a joke but found none. His eyes searched James’, who turned away from his gaze but not before Sirius caught the look of disapproval on his face.
When he failed to answer, Sirius’ temper flared. *** Grabbing his cloak, Sirius yanked it on. “My personal life is none of your business.”
“Since when?” James whirled to face him. “You’ve never had any problem talking about your little conquests before.”
“James!” Remus took a step forward but Sirius placed a strong arm on Remus’ chest to keep him in place.
Sirius’ voice was low, his tone more menacing than he had intended. “Do you have something you want to say to me?”
“Damn you and your self righteous attitude, Sirius! You think that you can just go about doing whatever you want and not caring about the consequences!”
“Consequences to whom, James?” Sirius asked quietly, a feeling of utter foolishness washing over him. How could he have been so blind that he didn’t see this coming?
“Lily, of course. Think about what kind of danger you’ve put her in!”
Sirius’ softened gaze met Remus’ and he reached to him for support. Sirius’ grip tightened on Remus’ shoulder and his eyes closed in painful realization.
“What?” James’ angered flared as Sirius’ diminished. “Remus knows I’m right. He’s not going to side with you!”
“This isn’t about siding with anyone,” Sirius managed. “James, I didn’t know.” Sirius’ voice broke as he said the words.
Sirius knew James wanted to retort, probably wanted to curse him to Azkaban and Sirius was prepared to face it. He deserved whatever James felt like giving him. Sirius collapsed onto the sofa, his jumbled emotions of guilt and betrayal overwhelming him.
“I’ll leave you two alone,” Remus said quietly. “I’ll just check to see if Lily’s ready to go.”
Sirius nodded his thanks, and then dropped his head into his hands.
“Don’t play the crushed victim here. I’m not buying it this time,” James said hotly as Remus disappeared. “You turned on the infamous Black charm and seduced her before she even knew what hit her, didn’t you?”
“It wasn’t like that.”
“What a pathetic response. Tell me, Sirius,” the hiss with which James said his name pierced into Sirius like no spell could, “did you tell her ‘everything else was just an illusion’?”
Sirius nodded but before he had even raised his head, James lunged for him. Sirius knew he was stronger than James. He knew he could hold him off indefinitely, but Sirius refused to defend himself.
Sirius wasn’t sure how many times James hit him before the metallic taste of blood began to fill his mouth. Through bleary eyes, Sirius could see James recoil at the sight of Sirius’ blood on his own hands. Whether he felt gratification or sorrow, Sirius couldn’t tell.
James stepped a pace away and Sirius took the opportunity to pull out his wand. Reaching it as high as he could manage, Sirius tilted it forward.
Even though he was caught off-guard by Sirius’ actions, James’ refused to be silent. “Yes, Sirius, why don’t you try a killing curse? I understand the Blacks are famous for them.”
Sirius couldn’t hide the pain James’ words caused him. That James would believe he could ever turn on his friends made Sirius’ soul ache beyond anything he’d ever experienced. After all these years, how could James’ question his loyalty? Sirius whispered, “Arcio Postim.”
James turned just in time to see where Sirius’ spell was aimed – Lily had appeared in silence and only Sirius seemed to have felt her presence. Sirius’ spell had slammed the door inches from her face, sealing her away from the entire scene.
Sirius could hear the note of apology in James’ voice but he was unwilling to listen and shook his head. Reaching for his discarded white shirt, Sirius crumbled it into a ball and held it tightly to his face to try and stop the bleeding.
“How long, James?” Sirius asked softly.
“How long what?”
Sirius glanced to see the plastered look of innocence James had on his face and, even in his misery, Sirius couldn’t help but grin. “How long have you been in love with Lily Evans?”
Sirius watched as James struggled with himself and, for the briefest moment, Sirius thought James was going to start punching him again. But James sank onto the couch beside Sirius, his hands automatically running through his disheveled hair. James sighed heavily and bent forward to mimic Sirius’ position.
“This isn’t about Lily,” he answered calmly. “This is about you and the person you are turning in to.”
Sirius tilted his head toward James, wondering if he could have been so horribly mistaken about James’ emotions. He found it hard to believe he could have misread James so greatly. But, Sirius reasoned, hadn’t James been certain Sirius was placing a killing curse on him? Sirius shook his head wondering just when a rift of misunderstanding had developed between them.
“And just what am I becoming?”
The effective of James’ insult was instantaneous. Sirius shoved James into the couch as he headed for the door. “I have to go.”
“Sirius,” James voice was once more apologetic and he grabbed Sirius’ arm.
Sirius wrenched free. “If you want her, take her. But don’t come into my home and start passing down your damn muggle judgments on my actions.”
“Spoken like a true Black.” James replied easily.
“I am a Black, James, and you can either accept it or not.”
“I accepted it a long time ago, Sirius. What I won’t accept is this willingness to accept death that you’re carrying around because you feel the need to atone for your family’s sins.”
Sirius blanched but before he could retort, James continued. “The only reason you don’t welcome death is because you feel the need to protect me and the other Marauders and now Lily.” James’ voice grew soft. “Yes, Sirius, I know what you were doing tonight. The moment she decided to go with you I knew. I could have tried to stop it, but I let her go. And do you know why? Because I know behind that calm facade, you are terrified Snape or Voldemort or some other dark wizard is going to hurt her. And I know,” James touched Sirius’ arm lightly. “Being with you was the safest place she could be.”
Sirius pulled on his cloak, moving slowly as if in a trance. “I have to go,” he managed quietly.
“Sirius, I know you. I know you better than I know myself,” James’ voice was pleading. “Whatever’s going on with Lily, Sirius, you know you’re the one who’s going to pay for it. I can see the guilty in your eyes every time she touches you. I thought maybe she was what you needed…that she could keep you sane through all this.” James shook his head. “I was wrong. She’s distracting you and you’re likely to be killed for it. I’m not talking about Voldemort. I’m talking about this battle with your family.”
“You know nothing of what I’m facing,” Sirius cut in quietly.
“No, because you won’t let me! You’ve done your damnedest to keep me away from your family for ten years. How could I possibly know?”
“I’m protecting you.”
“I know you believe that, but Sirius,” James touched his shoulder, “this is one time where refusing to let me in could get us both killed.”
It took Sirius a moment to decide and, when he did, Sirius rushed to say it before he changed his mind. “Get the invisibility cloak.”
“You want to see my world, James? You want to know what I go home to?” Sirius growled. “I refuse to give you an opportunity to question my loyalty.”
“It’s time you judged for yourself,” Sirius whispered darkly. “My family is waiting.”
A/N: I know it’s heavy in dialogue, but after the drama of the last chapter I figured everyone could use a break. And, to be honest, the tension between the characters was so heavy I couldn’t really see them focusing on anything other than combative dialogue. Thanks to everyone who’s stayed around for this…it looks like there will only be a few more chapters until the end. I appreciate everyone’s help and support throughout this!
Chapter 12: Consolation
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“James, give me your wand.” Sirius pulled James to a stop paces away from Grimmauld.
“Are you out of your mind?” James struggled free of Sirius’ grasp, a look of utter astonishment on his face. “I’m a Potter, for goodness’ sakes. You think I’m going to walk into the Black household wand less?”
Sirius turned to him, the street lamps casting eerie shadows across their path. “The only way I can keep you safe is to make sure you don’t fly off-"
“I’m not some irrational kid anymore, Sirius. I’m not going to do something stupid.”
Sirius eyed James warily. “James.”
“You can’t ask me to go in there with no way to defend myself.”
“You mean, I can’t ask you to trust that I’ll protect you?” Sirius countered hotly.
“I don’t mean it that way.” James pulled out his wand and shoved it Sirius’ direction. “You better be right about this, Sirius.”
“If I’m wrong we’ll both be dead and it won’t much matter, now will it?” Sirius growled as he tucked James’ wand in his cloak alongside his own. “Keep close and whatever you do, don’t take off that cloak.”
“Really? You think that’s wise, do you?”
James’ smartass comment infuriated Sirius but he decided to let it drop. He had other things to concentrate on than chastising James for acting like a ten year old. Sirius was curious as to why he had been asked home so quickly after having just made an appearance. Although Sirius was certain Voldemort had something to do with it, the uncertainty weighed heavily on Sirius. Was it possible Regulus had changed his mind? That perhaps his family had finally seen the truth? Sirius couldn’t help but laugh at himself for such a crazy thought.
“Sirius?” James’ nervous voice sounded from somewhere behind him.
“Just thinking maybe they called me here to tell me they decided the whole full blood/half blood thing was a bad idea after all.” Sirius dropped his eyes. “Crazy, I know.”
Even through the cloak, Sirius could feel James’ comforting hand on his arm. “Not crazy, Sirius. Maybe one day – "
“No.” Sirius shook his head but smiled his thanks to James. “It’s too late to believe they will ever change, James. Let’s get this over with.”
Sirius stepped into the house more assuredly than last time, knowing he had James beside him. Even without his wand, James gave Sirius a strength no one else could.
“Sirius, I’m glad you got here so quickly. I do apologize for interrupting you at such an inopportune time.” Voldemort’s voice was genuinely kind and the idea that Voldemort actually had any feelings of his own stunned Sirius.
“I assumed it was urgent seeing as how I was just here.”
“Yes.” Voldemort took Sirius’ arm and began leading him up the stairs. Unlike before, Voldemort was gentle, his touch guiding and almost fatherly. “We’ve been trying to locate your father but haven’t been able to yet. Regulus is out looking for him as we speak.” Voldemort hesitated at a familiar doorway. “Your mother, Sirius, she’s taken ill.”
Sirius turned from his parent’s bedroom door. “What do you mean, taken ill?” Sirius asked his voice full of doubt.
“She collapsed at a party last night. She’s been bed-ridden ever since. Sirius,” Voldemort’s hand moved to Sirius’ shoulder. “She’s not expected to live much longer.”
Sirius’ heart leaped to his throat, unanswered questions overwhelming him. “Has she been ill? Why hasn’t anyone told me? What exactly is the matter with her? Have the healers been here?”
“I know you have many questions, Sirius. I’ll try and answer them as best I can. But, really, you needn’t waste any more time. Go to your mother, Sirius.”
Voldemort opened the door for him and Sirius stepped inside with James close behind. Voldemort closed the door quietly, allowing Sirius time alone with his mother. A slight medicinal smell permeated the air and a handful candles cast a soft glow across the room. From his position, Sirius could see his mother lying still in the over-sized bed. Her face was pale and gaunt, lacking in color or emotion. Her hair, normally tied in a neat chignon at the nape of her neck, was now spread haphazardly around her face. She seemed only distantly aware of his presence, an idea that bothered Sirius more than her appearance. He hadn’t been in the same room with her without being immediately scolded since he was ten.
Sirius’ emotions tumbled and he felt weak. This was the woman he had sought approval from his entire life only to be turned away with each decision he made. How on earth was he supposed to react?
As if sensing his turmoil, James gripped his arm tightly for support. But it was only when his mother called to him that Sirius came out of his haze.
“Sirius, is that you?” her weak voice was barely audible and Sirius immediately moved to her side. “Sit with me, my son.”
Sirius sank onto the bed beside her, desperately wanting to take her into his arms and make her understand why he had been away for so long.
“It’s been so long,” she whispered and took his hand in hers.
“What’s happened? What’s the matter with you?” Sirius could feel James’ warmth behind him and was suddenly grateful that it had been James’ to accompany him tonight.
“I’m old, Sirius. Old enough to realize I’ve made a lot of mistakes with you and your brother.”
“Don’t talk about those things now,” Sirius’ voice cracked as he spoke. He had never seen his mother this weak, this full of regret and compassion.
“I’ve only wanted the best for you, Sirius. You understand that don’t you? All this time, all these years, all the things we’ve argued over, they are only because I want the best for you.”
“I know,” Sirius answered, not sure if he really did understand.
“Sometimes we have to make sacrifices for the ones we love.”
Sirius sat up straighter. Her position hadn’t change, her voice still held no emotion. But something was definitely different. “Sacrifices?” Sirius asked hesitantly.
“I want you to do something for me, Sirius,” her voice was soft, almost pleading. “I won’t be here to watch over Regulus or your father. I need to know they are taken care of. I know it will require certain allowances on your part.”
“Allowances?” Sirius slipped his hand away from his mother. “You are asking me to join Voldemort.”
“Consider it my last request, Sirius,” her voice broke. “I don’t know how much longer I have. Please – "
Sirius dropped his head, unwilling to look at her. “I can’t.”
“You mean you won’t.”
The edge in her voice made Sirius uneasy. “Alright, I won’t.”
“You would refuse your dying mother’s request?” She asked harshly, sitting up in bed in one swift movement.
Sirius jerked away from her, almost colliding with James. The fire in her eyes was nothing new to Sirius but it was certainly unexpected. “You have a lot of energy for a woman on her deathbed,” Sirius’ voice was low, still not wanting to believe she would go to this level to control him.
But if he had had any doubts, when she jumped out of bed and lunged for him, all of his doubts dissolved. “You foul, loathsome, muggle loving prat! To deny your mother’s request. Is it that girl? The one they found you in bed with? She’s a muggle isn’t she? That school has poisoned you!”
Sirius took her abuse as he always had, waiting patiently for her to tire herself out. She threatened him with disownment, promised curses on his future but when she began screaming her intent to harm his friends and fellow school mates, Sirius could handle no more.
He left the room without comment, her shrieks following him down the hallway as he departed. Sirius could think of nothing but escape. He had so badly wanted to believe that she had changed her ways…that she was going to embrace him with open arms as her death approached. In the brief few moments he had believed her to be sick, he had hoped for reconciliation. He had dreamed of her approval for years and thought the time had finally arrived. That she would use his emotions to try and get her way, didn’t shock Sirius. But it did deepen the wounds his family has already created to a depth where they could never heal.
Sirius could feel James beside him and he wondered what on earth could be going through his mind right now. James had wanted an idea of what Sirius had to deal with but this, what his mother had done tonight, was more than Sirius ever desired for James to see. James didn’t deserve to be put through that. Sirius’ thoughts were interrupted by Voldemort’s appearance at the bottom of the stairs.
“How is she?”
“Oh, she’s had a remarkable recovery,” Sirius’ voice was heavy with sarcasm. “I feel confidant in leaving her in your care.”
“You don’t feel it would be better to wait here for your father’s return?”
“My mother has made it quite clear that I’m not welcome here,” Sirius returned, his voice calm but his thoughts jumbled with his maddening desire to escape from the house.
“I can convince her it is best.” Voldemort’s voice was dripping with sweetness.
“I do not and will not accept any intervention from you.” Sirius growled. “My family may have sided with you but, mark my words, I never will.”
Voldemort’s smile unnerved Sirius. “In time, you will see the error of your ways.”
Sirius hesitated, his confidence struck. He backed away from Voldemort, almost tripping over James. Sirius reached into the cabinet and pulled out a bottle of rum, knowing he would need it before the night ended.
“Shall I inform you when I learn of your father’s return?”
“Never contact me again. If you summon me here again, I swear I’ll burn this place… all of its precious relics and everyone inside.” Sirius spoke with confidence he did not feel.
“Somehow, I believe you would do that,” Voldemort smiled. “We’re a lot a like, you and me.”
Sirius held his tongue, knowing James was just paces away. If James thought for any reason that Sirius was no longer in control of the situation, James would undoubtedly act irrationally and put them both in danger. Without even acknowledging Voldemort’s comment, Sirius strode toward the door.
“Willing to share that drink with me before you go?” Voldemort asked, moving quickly to block Sirius’ path.
“I think not.” Sirius considered pushing him out of the way but then realized James would still be unable to get out of the house should anything go wrong. “And I believe I can find my own way out.”
Sirius turned on his heel, leading James toward the back entrance to the house. He found it odd that Voldemort made no additional attempts to block his exit and, without looking, could almost feel a sense of triumph in Voldemort.
Before Sirius gave himself a chance to analyze what Voldemort might have planned, he hurried into the back parlor intent on getting outside. He was halfway through the room when something caught his attention. Sirius tried to ignore the feeling but something continued to nag at his soul and he hesitated at the outside entryway. As much as he struggled with it, Sirius couldn’t resist the urge to turn around. The back parlor was just as he remembered from years ago. Everything was still in its rightful place. It took a moment for Sirius to even notice the crumbled form but, when he finally saw her, Sirius understood what had tugged so deeply at his soul.
An image he thought he’d never see again; a memory he’d tried to bury; a brokenhearted fate he assumed he’d overcome, and yet here she was. As the memories cascaded over him, all concerns for James’ safety were quickly forgotten as Sirius eyed the girl from the doorway. Somehow she looked much younger than he remembered. Her clothing was tattered; her coffee colored hair now dingy and matted. Her brilliant blue eyes – the ones Sirius had often described as one shade darker than midnight in sentimentality after making love – were now dull but he would still recognize them anywhere.
She had curled herself into a ball in Sirius’ favorite chair and now sat trembling in fear. Even in the darkest corner of his mind, Sirius could not imagine the depraved scenes Voldemort and Lucius might have put her through.
Sirius walked to her, towering above her trembling form. He had held her in his arms many times, far more than any other girl he’d taken as a lover, but could never remember her being quite this small. His hands knew every curve of her body from memory and Sirius fought to end the visions of Voldemort’s hands having traversed her olive skin.
Sirius reached his hand to her face, his heart wishing it not to be true. But she knew the rough feel of his skin and the gently way he caressed her face and she turned her inky blue eyes towards him.
“Sirius?” her voice was terrified but his touch seemed to strengthen her.
Sirius tipped her head from one side to the other, surveying the injuries she had sustained. Sirius swallowed the lump that had risen in his throat. “I’ve seen you look worse,” he whispered, trying to disguise the worry in his voice.
“Only at your hands,” she returned meekly, purposefully loud enough for Voldemort to hear.
Sirius’ heart plummeted. She still knew the words to say, still knew how to play the game that protected them both. Sirius fought the desperate urge to pull her into his arms. Sirius had forgotten just how well she knew his every move, though, and her eyes chastised him for even considering such a reckless action.
“Yes.” Voldemort stepped forward and touched her head. “I had heard you two were old friends.”
Sirius had had enough. For Voldemort to have taken her and now try to use her against him, the thoughts made Sirius’ blood boil. Sliding his hand into his cloak, he reached for his wand. But she was quicker than him…she always had been. Grabbing Sirius’ hands to prevent him from attacking Voldemort, she dropped to her knees in front of him.
“Please, I’ll do whatever you ask. I’ve behaved, haven’t I?” she glanced to Voldemort. “Haven’t I?”
That she was going to make him continue with this charade made Sirius ill. The muscles in his body began to quiver as he looked down on her…her fingers clutching him desperately but her eyes now shining brilliantly with determination. She was trying to force him to leave. That she still underestimated him infuriated Sirius.
“Send her back where she came from.” Sirius jerked away from her touch, brushing off his cloak as if she had infected it. “I don’t have time for this now.”
“I thought it might get your mind off your mother, Sirius.” Voldemort’s voice was unsteady as if, for once, Sirius had caught him off guard.
Taking advantage of Voldemort’s confusion, Sirius whirled on him. “I know where to find her should I change my mind,” Sirius spat. “Send her away. Don’t bring filth like that in the house of Black. My father didn’t approve of her before and certainly wouldn’t now.”
“That information was not provided to me.” The coldness in Voldemort’s voice told Sirius someone as going to pay dearly for the misinformation. “My apologies.”
Grabbing her roughly, Sirius shoved the girl out the door. A slight movement caught his attention and Sirius realized he’d just sent her flying into James.
Sirius cursed himself for failing to keep up with James’ whereabouts and turned to Voldemort. “Perhaps if you desire so much to rise about your muggle lineage you should choose better company.” Sirius could feel the instant rage well within Voldemort, but he didn’t care. He had to keep Voldemort occupied so James could rearrange the cloak and remain hidden.
“I assume you won’t be returning to Grimmauld?” Voldemort hissed dangerously.
“Not in your lifetime.” Sirius didn’t bother to take a last look…didn’t chance a last glance at his home place. Striding outside, he slammed the door, knowing any chance he might have had at reconciling with his family was now gone.
His emotions overwrought, his physical strength spent, Sirius had no idea what direction to head. Had it not been for James’ arm steering him, Sirius would have stayed firmly planted on the Black property. After they had gone a safe distance away from the house, James pulled off the invisibility cloak.
Sirius glanced James’ direction as if in a daze. The appearance of the girl had thrown him and the finality with which he’d left Grimmauld gripped all of his senses so much that he had only been vaguely aware of James’ presence.
“Sorry,” Sirius murmured as he pulled the cork out of the bottle of rum he had confiscated from the Black house earlier.
“I never imagined…”
Sirius waved him off. “And why on earth would you?”
“I understand now.” James stammered. “I mean, I understand why being called a Black is so cutting to you. I can’t believe your mother would try and manipulate you like that.”
“Hm.” Sirius continued to drink the bottle, trying desperately to drown the girl’s memory as they walked.
James caught his arm in mid-air as Sirius tried to take another swig. “What’s the matter with you?”
“Nothing, cursed family is all,” Sirius answered but wouldn’t meet James’ gaze. She was the one secret they had…the one side of Sirius’ life he’d shared with no one – not even James. At the time he thought he was protecting her but now Sirius wondered if he had only been trying to protect himself. Sirius closed his eyes as each breath drew him back into the world he had shared with her. The long summer nights spent lazily gazing at stars and voicing dreams they knew would never happen; the moments when he allowed his weaknesses to be exposed for only her to see; and the hours he’d spent holding her tightly in his arms, while she clung desperately to the hope that Sirius could keep the cold bitter outside world from seeping into their lives. But, Sirius reminded himself, he had failed her just like he failed everyone else who put their trust in him.
“Sirius,” James’ voice was gentle; as if he knew Sirius had fallen into the darkest depths and was afraid disturbing him might destroy him. “Who was that girl?”
“No one,” he answered a bit too quickly.
“You’re drinking whiskey like water, Sirius.” James’ words were tinged with doubt.
“Don’t be so melodramatic, James.” Sirius downed half the bottle in one swallow, afraid James was going to take it away from him.
“Sirius, your family…”
“I have no family,” Sirius spat angrily.
Sirius knew he had offended James somehow but just what he’d done he didn’t know. James was sulking as they walked and, even knowing he should probably say something, Sirius couldn’t bring himself to talk. They walked in a heavy silence, Sirius allowing James to lead him wherever they were going.
Sirius’ thoughts moved through his mind in jagged images, the events of the night still to fresh for him to make any sense of. As they reached their familiar childhood haunt which they had affectionately dubbed “Marauder’s Cliff,” Sirius couldn’t keep from wondering where the girl had gone. Was she waiting for him right now? The idea made Sirius miserable with longing and he downed more rum. From the corner of his eye, he could see James’ reproachful glare.
“Where do you think your father is?” James asked finally.
“Running an errand for Voldemort, of course,” Sirius said bitterly and finished off the rest of the bottle. “Killing off some unsuspecting muggle loving family.”
James grabbed Sirius’ arm as he teetered near the edge of the cliff. James pulled him back roughly and Sirius dropped to the ground. He smiled appreciatively to James and patted the ground for James to join him.
“He wouldn’t do that.” James didn’t sound convinced.
“No,” Sirius admitted, his voice slurring as he tried to conjure another bottle of rum. “He’d just finance it. He’s too much of a coward to do anything.”
“Give me that.” James slipped Sirius’ wand out of his hand. “You’re gonna kill us both waving it around like that,” he murmured and conjured another bottle for Sirius. “I don’t envision the Blacks to be cowards.”
“Oh, but we are.” Sirius nodded gratefully to James for the drink as he spoke. “They are afraid of losing their precious image, their house full of baubles, and their entire way of life.”
“And you?” James asked quietly. “What are you afraid of, Sirius?”
Sirius looked at him blankly for a moment, trying to get his murky thoughts to clear. Picking up the empty bottle, he tossed it over the edge of the cliff, listening as it shattered into a thousand pieces. “Being alone,” he murmured finally. “Nothing else.”
“It will, James. You, Lily, Remus, Peter, Ca...” Sirius’ voice trailed off as he caught himself beginning to mention the girl’s name. “You’ll all leave. That’s the way it works. And you are a fool if you think any different.”
Sirius offered a drink of consolation to James, who took it gratefully. They sat in silence for a few moments, James continually opening his mouth to say something and then deciding not to.
Sirius grinned at him in drunken amusement, and then stretched out to lie on the gravel. “You know, I’ve heard muggles say that if you do that too many times your face will stick like that. Do you think that’s true?”
“Oh, shut up.” James pulled the bottle out of Sirius’ hand and took a swig before handing it back. “Do you love her, Sirius?”
“Who?” Sirius was immediately on guard as visions of the girl filled his mind.
“Evans?” Sirius asked, briefly confused.
“Don’t make me hex you while you’re drunk.”
Sirius laughed. “No, James. I don’t love Lily Evans. I wouldn’t even know how.”
“Then what is it?”
Sirius opened his mouth to respond but then thought better of it. If James wanted to talk about Lily Evans, that was probably a much safer conversation to have. “She’s not the prat you take her for, James. You should give her a chance.”
“Only if you make me.”
“Well, then, I’m making you.” Sirius tried to punch him but was too drunk to even come close.
“You’ve never been so defensive of a girl before.” James shrugged. “It’s like you’ve put a wall up between us where she’s concerned.”
“Must you wait until I’ve had two bottles of rum to decide to be profound?” Sirius sat up and hesitated a moment as his head spun. “She’s bringing us closer, James. You’re just too pigheaded to see it. How’s that for profound?”
“You did your damnedest to break things off with her and then she’s in your bed.”
Sirius’ laugh was so loud and unexpected it made James jump. “She is rather determined when she sets her mind to something.”
“And she has it set on you?”
A dark shadow passed over Sirius. “No.”
“She’s of the belief I need saving,” Sirius murmured.
“She’s right,” James responded quietly.
“No, she’s wrong. You’re wrong, so don’t waste your time,” Sirius said flatly, all trace of drunkenness gone. “I’m beyond saving.”
A/N: Curious who the girl is? You can meet her in my new Sirius story The Edge of Light. It will serve as a prequel of sorts to Reckless. I hope you all will come join me! Oh, and if the cliff scene seems vaguely familiar, I promise I didn’t steal someone else’s idea – it’s the same setting I used for the Sirius one shot in Through the Looking Glass. It’s mine, I swear! :)
Chapter 13: Revelations
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A/N: Alright, here we go…down to the last three chapters. Hang on tight because they are all full of twists and turns and hidden meanings!
With the permanent break from his family, Sirius fell into a veiled darkness that even the Marauders couldn’t penetrate. Although James came to visit him each day, Sirius would allow no discussions of the events that had occurred.
Instead, James did what he could by making sure Sirius got safely into bed at the end of each night’s drunken rampage. The drinking and self-imposed starvation took a greater toll on Sirius with each passing day and, every morning, James’ heart would wrench as he watched Sirius struggle and then fail to find a reason to move on.
James’ first thought for help was Remus but, due to an untimely full moon, Remus had isolated himself from everyone much like Sirius was doing. Knowing Peter would be more a hindrance than help, James finally did the unthinkable. Swallowing his pride, he appeared late one evening on the doorstep of Lily Evans.
Broken, weary, and a tad embarrassed, James pleaded for her parents to forgive his late night interruption. When she finally appeared on the porch in her night clothes, James’ thoughts were jumbled and his eyes red and swollen. He had no energy to make his request to Lily seem proper so, running his hand through his disheveled hair, James settled on being truthful with Lily Evans for the first time in his life.
His voice raspy with emotion, his heart unwilling to let him hide his anguish, James begged of her: “Lily, if you can, please save him.”
James wasn’t sure how she knew he was talking about Sirius but she did. Pulling him to sit with her on the porch swing, Lily held his hand tightly in her own, their mutual concern for Sirius making them one. Lily told James she couldn’t save Sirius, he had to save himself. James tried to lash out at her silly philosophical answer but Lily’s patience with him was so much like Sirius’ that he eventually grew tired of arguing and just returned to sit at her side. Lily believed they both could give Sirius a reason to save himself though and, out of ideas himself, James settled on believing she was right.
As the days turned into weeks, James and Lily settled into a common routine. James would stay through the night and Lily would appear in the morning to take over. The two would sink tiredly into chairs at the kitchen table while they waited patiently for Sirius to wake. They spoke of Sirius or the atrocities Voldemort began to invoke on those that opposed him. As the violent acts continued to escalate, they talked occasionally of joining the Order Dumbledore had created to fight against Voldemort. But the idea hung stale in the air, neither James nor Lily wanting to make such a momentous choice without Sirius’ input.
Unfailingly, as they finished their second cup of coffee, Sirius would appear in the kitchen. He never seemed surprised to see them but he never seemed to welcome their company either. Sirius would join them for a single cup, waving their concerned words away with a swift movement of his hand, and then brusquely escort them to the door. What he did with each day neither knew and all their attempts to follow him had been met with Sirius easily eluding them within minutes.
But it wasn’t until Remus appeared with the news that Sirius had been seen in Hogsmeade with none other than Lucius Malfoy that the true depth of Sirius’ torment became obvious.
Sirius stretched painfully as rays from the morning sun drifted across his covers, awakening him from his drunken stupor. His muscles ached terribly, making him feel years older than his true age. He rubbed his chest gingerly, knowing he would pay for the previous night’s indiscretions in Hogsmeade. Intertwining his fingers, he pulled them behind his head, the soft roll of voices from his kitchen making him feel queasy. He laid still as he tried to focus on the deep sound of James’ voice. He had become so accustomed to the daily banter between James and Lily each morning that he found the seriousness in their voices to be disconcerting.
Sirius closed his eyes as hazy visions of Remus helped him place the third voice drifting through his home. A sickening feeling washed over him as he recalled Remus’ presence in Hogsmeade the previous evening. Sirius had been in the tavern, Lucius mere paces away from him, when Remus had appeared in the doorway. Although Remus strode forward, automatically giving Sirius the benefit of the doubt, Sirius had been too tired to provide an explanation. The confrontation with Lucius had been straining enough and to have to relive it by exposing their conversation to Remus was just more than Sirius could take. With a few cursory salutations, Sirius had left the tavern, Remus’ suspicious gaze following him as he left.
Sirius opened his eyes and cursed himself. Of course Remus would have run straight to James with the news. Had Sirius taken just a brief few moments to explain the situation to Remus last night, this entire episode could have been avoided. But now, as it was, the entire group was going to face him head on in an attempt to stun some sense into him. The thought exhausted Sirius and he hadn’t even got out of bed.
Sirius sat up slowly and dropped his feet to the floor. Glancing at the darkening bruises on his arms and the red welts crisscrossing his chest, Sirius reached for a bottle of pills perched precariously on the nightstand, its contents spilling out across the wood. Popping two in his mouth, Sirius grimaced as he forced them down his throat without the benefit of water. Testing his balance as he stood, Sirius teetered only for a moment before being able to stand solidly. He pulled on a dirty pair of trousers that he had discarded the night before, trying to recall the last time he’d actually done laundry. Sirius’ thoughts were muddled as he tried to both locate a shirt and create some reasonable excuse for his recent actions the others might find plausible. The truth was out of the question but his normal quick witted replies had left him. Deciding it best to get a cup of coffee and gauge their anger before settling on a plan, Sirius hurried to find a shirt that didn’t smell overly foul.
“Sirius!” Lily’s worried voice made him turn just in time to see her and James appear in the doorway.
Immediately at his side, Sirius drew in a pained breath as Lily’s soft hands began to trace and scrutinize his most recent wounds. “What’s happened to you?”
Encircling her wrists in his palms, Sirius broke away from her touches easily. “I’m alright, Lily. Thanks for the concern.” Sirius sent her a reassuring smile but neither her nor James returned it.
“But, Sirius…” Lily’s concerned eyes locked with Sirius’ and a rush of guilt tore into him. Even knowing he shouldn’t, Sirius loosened his grip.
Her hands moved gently across him, checking each wound in turn. Sirius balled his fists in his pockets as he tried to suppress the urge to flee from the confused feelings her touches always brought. Glancing at James, Sirius rolled his eyes at her over-protectiveness. But James was watching Lily closely and refused to return his gaze.
“Will he be all right?” James asked quietly.
“I think so, but…” Lily trailed off as she moved behind Sirius to examine his back. Her fingers traced a small figure on his shoulder and she turned questioning green eyes Sirius’ direction.
Glancing over his shoulder, Sirius’ eyes bore into hers with an unspoken demand for silence. Taking her hand in his, Sirius pushed it away from the mark imbedded in his skin. “That’s enough. Will you hand me my shirt please?”
Lily backed away from him quickly, her eyes giving away a fear Sirius had never seen before. Her panic caught him off guard, but immediate understanding flooded through him. Sirius grabbed Lily’s arm brutally as she tried to slip away, twisting it as he pulled her into him.
“Sirius, please!” Lily’s voice was soft, her tone not matching the immense fear in her eyes.
“Sirius, you’re hurting her.”
Ignoring James’ confusion, Sirius’ lowered his voice so only Lily could hear. Searching her eyes for truth, his words held no question only loathsome revulsion. “You have been with Snape.”
“No, Sirius. I –”
Sirius shoved her away with such force she stumbled backwards, James managing to catch her from falling only at the last moment. After pulling on his shirt, he turned his back on both of them. Sirius refused to let his head drop; refused to let even a hint of his grief be seen.
“Sirius, please.” Lily struggled away from James. “It’s not what you think. Let me explain.”
“I warned you,” Sirius’ voice shook more than he intended. Knowing he’d already given away his emotions, Sirius’ eyes drifted to meet hers. “How could you?” he whispered.
“Please,” Lily’s voice was begging, “don’t do this. Not now.”
“Lily, will you leave us?” James put a hand on Sirius’ shoulder as he stepped between the two.
Sirius didn’t bother to look up but heard the door close behind her. Sirius dropped onto the bed, for once not caring if his distress was obvious.
James dropped down beside him. “Sirius?”
“Tell me it’s going to end, James.” Sirius choked as he said the words. Sirius wasn’t sure why Lily’s actions devastated him so much. Of all the things he had faced recently, why was this the one that finally shattered his cool exterior?
“Where did the injuries come from?” James asked quietly.
“No,” his voice was flat, “enough hiding, Sirius. Tell me the truth or I’ll beat it out of you. And, by the looks of it, you don’t stand a chance.”
Although James hadn’t raised his voice at all, Sirius had no doubt he would follow through with his threat.
“I told you I wouldn’t go back to Grimmauld and I haven’t. I haven’t seen or spoken to my family since that night.”
“Death Eaters…followers of Voldemort.”
“And the pills?”
“They’re nothing more than muggle headache medicine, James. I may be isolating myself but I’m not suicidal.”
James ignored his smart remark. “Remus says he saw you with Lucius.”
Sirius cringed. He’d forgotten all about that. “He did.”
“He’s afraid you’re turning to their side,” James said easily. “I told him he was wrong. Tell me he’s wrong, Sirius.”
“He’s wrong.” Sirius whispered forcefully. “He’s never been more wrong.”
“Well, what do you expect him to believe? You disappear days at a time and then are found conspiring with Malfoy?”
“I expect him to believe the same thing you do. That I’m not aligning myself with Voldemort during the day and coming home to drink with you at night.” Sirius said bitterly. “Besides, you are the person I conspire with.”
“You can’t joke your way out of it this time,” James shook his head. “To hell with everyone else, Sirius, I need answers here.” James gripped Sirius’ arm tightly. “I deserve answers.”
Sirius didn’t know how to respond. He knew James was worried about him. Moreover, he knew James had a right to be worried about him. But Sirius believed that pushing James away was the best way to keep him safe. They had been brothers for so many years that the last few weeks without James at his side had taken more of a toll on him than anything his family could have possibly thrown at him. Sirius had lain awake in bed almost every night longing for the opportunity to tell James the many things that were streaming through his mind. But James had relied on the Marauders for so many years that Sirius really wasn’t sure James knew how to stand on his own. If, for even an instant, James could give Sirius some indication that he had grown up – some shred of proof that he had the strength and ability to survive on his own – Sirius would gladly pull him back to his side. After all, by his side was where James belonged.
Sirius searched James’ face for some indication that he was prepared to learn the truth. Sirius knew James genuinely cared about him, but telling James the truth would require James to keep secrets from the other Marauders – something Sirius wasn’t prepared to make him do.
“Sirius,” James’ gave him a knowing smile, “Let it be my decision.”
Sirius nodded slowly, unsure of what he was getting himself in to. “Do you have time to go to Hogsmeade with me this morning?”
“Wouldn’t miss it.”
“The others –”
“Can mind their own damn business,” James replied seriously. “Get dressed; I’ll get you some coffee started.”
When Sirius finally appeared in the kitchen, Remus and Lily were waiting expectantly for some idea of what was going on. James brushed each of Remus’ questions off in stride, leaving Sirius free to answer or ignore whatever he wished. Although Sirius tried to ignore Lily’s presence, he found it more and more difficult as the conversation wore on. Each time she started to speak, Sirius would cut her off with a stony gaze that chilled the entire room. She reached for him only once but Sirius jerked away from her touch with such hostility that her cup knocked over, its contents spilling over the table and into her lap. After that, she didn’t attempt to reach for him again.
“Sirius,” James’ voice was quiet as they began to make their way into Hogsmeade. “What’s Lily done?”
Sirius glanced at him uneasily. He knew James and Lily had finally gotten over their constant bickering and were close to becoming friends. As angry as he was, Sirius had no desire to come between that. “Nothing you need to be concerned with.”
“You don’t get this angry over nothing.”
“I’m not angry.”
“Then she’s hurt you,” James guessed. “Is it something I’ve done?”
Sirius smiled. “No, James. For once, you are innocent of all wrong doing.”
“Mark the calendar.”
“Mark it indeed.” Sirius answered nodding as he led James down a small alleyway. Pausing and taking a deep breath, Sirius steeled himself before knocking on the door. He had come too far to stop now and he knew it.
As he had expected, the door flung open and in a rush, soft warm flesh was buried in his arms. “You’re late. I was so worried something had happened. Were you with James and Lily? How are they? Are they okay?”
Sirius kissed her forehead and pushed her back into the room. Slipping his hand around her waist, Sirius moved to the side so that James became visible in the tiny doorway. She tried to scurry away but Sirius held her firmly. “Catarina, I’d like you to meet James Potter. James,” Sirius motioned for him to come in and close the door. “Catarina.”
James was too stunned to say anything and when he didn’t speak up, Catarina moved to wrap him in a warm hug. “I’ve heard so much about you over the years. I can’t believe I’m finally getting to meet you.”
“Years?” James questioned. “You…you are the girl that was with Voldemort.”
“Maybe you should sit down.” Sirius smiled warmly at James, a feeling of utter release washing over him.
“Actually, I’d rather have some answers.”
Catarina stepped to James’ side, linking her arm in his. “You sound as grim as Sirius. I thought you were the fun Marauder. Come, James Potter, sit with me. It’s high time we met each other anyway.”
Sinking down in a patchwork chair, Sirius smiled as he watched Catarina work her magic. No one had ever been able to remain mad at her and James was no exception. James let her lead him to a chair, where she sank down on the armrest beside him.
“How do you know so much about me?”
“I know everything about you. You are the little boy who at a mere ten years old wanted to fight dark wizards who were attacking a poor muggle gypsy at a summer carnival. Sirius kept you from pulling your wand and getting yourself killed, I might add.” Catarina’s voice was soft and flowing as if she was telling a fairytale to a young child. “You grew into a young man determined to do the same thing. Tell me, is Sirius still stealing your wand to prevent you from rushing out after the bad guys?”
“Something like that, yes.” James shook his head, sending a confused gaze to Sirius in hopes of getting some answers but Sirius remained silent. “If you know so much about me, why do I know nothing of you?” James asked her finally.
Catarina smiled and moved to sit near Sirius. “We are too much alike, you and I. Sirius was afraid you would steal me away.”
“He said that?” James’ eyes narrowed but Sirius only smiled.
“I told him that.” Catarina’s mischievous smile was infectious and James’ sour demeanor vanished. “So what’s happened, Sirius? You wouldn’t have brought him here after all these years if it wasn’t something terrible.”
“It was just time.” Sirius answered simply.
“So, exactly how long have the two of you…I mean –”
Sirius conjured a cup of tea for everyone rather than reply. Catarina winked at James. “I love it when he does that.”
“You’re a muggle.” James’ said startled.
“Ah, yes. I do see what you mean about that slow to catch on trait of his.” Catarina grinned but handed James a cup of the tea as a peace offering. “We met when Sirius was just a child. The same night the two of you became friends, as a matter of fact.”
“The woman,” James’ haunted voice cracked as memories from childhood flooded through him, “at the carnival. She was your mother.”
Sirius hand slipped along her back to comfort her as she nodded. “She has been safe for years, James. And then, at Grimmauld…”
“I remember,” James interrupted. “I remember the way she affected you.”
“I affected you?” Catarina winked at Sirius.
“Are you ever serious?” James cut in, and Sirius could sense his anxiety returning.
“When she needs to be, James, just like you.”
“But Lily –”
“Oh, yes. Do I get to meet Lily too?” Catarina stepped away from Sirius, her skirt swinging around her.
“I think not.” Sirius’ eyes narrowed meaningfully to James.
James dropped his head into his hands, the confusion overwhelming him. “I don’t understand. I mean you are trying to fight Voldemort on your own. I get that. It’s stupid but I get how your demented mind might see it as noble. What I don’t get is why you would turn away – hide all of this, hide her – from the Marauders. From me.”
Sirius turned away from the chastising look Catarina sent him and stood up to move about the room in an attempt to give James a moment. But Catarina moved to James’ side, dropping to sit at his feet.
“Now I understand why you’re here.” Catarina murmured. “Do you think Sirius would betray you?”
“But he’s afraid you believe that,” she countered.
James couldn’t ignore her pointed question. “Yes, but I don’t need to know everything he’s doing to know he’s on my side and not out doing something dim-witted.”
“Oh, really?” Catarina’s strong vibrant eyes locked with his. “Then why did he feel it necessary to bring you here today? Today? Not a year ago, not five years ago, but today.”
James didn’t answer but Sirius had to admire the way he held Catarina’s gaze. Even Sirius would have already broken under her penetrating stare.
“You doubted him.”
“Cat – " Sirius stepped forward but James raised his hand.
“She’s right,” James whispered. “Somewhere deep down I knew you were hiding something. I imagined it to be about your family.” James smiled weakly his eyes still focused on Catarina. “I certainly never expected you.”
“Yes, well, Sirius is an excellent secret keeper.”
“She’s not some sordid secret, James.” Sirius pulled Catarina to his side, his hand resting possessively in the small of her back. “My family would have had her killed years ago had they learned we were still communicating. Voldemort knowing about her…that just made everything come together for me. James,” Sirius’ voice dropped. “He will go to any lengths to get what he wants. He will destroy anyone that opposes him.”
“If he thinks you are the reason Sirius won’t join him,” Catarina interjected quickly, “you won’t stand a chance.”
“Why does he want you? You specifically?”
“I’m a Black,” Sirius answered simply.
“No, he wants you the same reason James does.” Catarina shook her head, a look of condescension on her face.
“His loyalty can’t be bought.” James answered quietly, his gaze locking with Sirius’.
Catarina nodded. “Well, now that we have all this serious business aside, perhaps you’d like some breakfast?”
“I was thinking more along the lines of a stiff drink, but breakfast will work.” James nodded his thanks to her.
“What is it with wizards and drinking?” Catarina shook her head as she disappeared through the door into a small kitchen. “You’d think you people had never heard of facing your problems rather than drowning them.”
“We people.” Sirius winked at James who came to join him at the window that looked out onto the streets of Hogsmeade.
“She’s amazing, Sirius.”
Sirius nodded. “She’s in danger, James,” he said quietly. “More than she cares to admit. Seeing her there, with him…”
“Is she okay? I mean…”
Sirius shrugged non-committedly. “I think it’s too soon for her to be willing to talk about it.”
“And it’s killing you.”
“My imagination is usually far worse than the truth turns out to be. But the images…” Sirius trailed off. “I’m afraid to let her leave this place, James.”
“Sirius, that you brought me here,” James began but Sirius tried to wave him off. “No, you’re going to let me finish this time. That you brought me here, that you trusted me enough to share this with me, it means more than I can explain.”
“James,” Sirius’ voices was steady as he tried to make his friend understand. “I have entrusted her life to you by bringing you here. You do understand that, don’t you?”
“Yes.” James gripped his shoulder tightly. “And one day, I will do the same to you. And you won’t doubt that I’ve made the right choice.”
Sirius nodded, still not certain that James knew what Sirius had done by bringing him here. He glanced to the kitchen, watching Catarina shuffling around and grinned. “She refuses to let me conjure breakfast. Any other meal it’s fine but not breakfast.”
“Sirius, does she know about Lily? I mean the two of you?”
“Yeah, James, Cat knows everything.” Sirius smiled. “And she’s just dying to meet her.”
“Braver man than me to do something like that.” James’ laughter brought Catarina into the room.
“This sounds much happier now. Are we okay then?”
“We’re good,” James answered. “Can I help you with anything in there?”
Sirius didn’t want the day to end. Having James back at his side, allowing the two of them to get to know each other as Catarina offered them a muggles tour of the town, Sirius felt as if the world couldn’t get much better. As he’d expected, James and Catarina had hit it off immediately. Catarina had made James feel as if he’d known her for years and, in return, James welcomed her like a sister he’d never met. It was only when darkness began to fall over the town that Catarina finally reminded him that he had to go.
“Already?” James asked quizzically.
“Death Eaters take over the town after dark,” Catarina explained. “It’s not safe for anyone to guess where Sirius’ has been. Especially after the close call last night.”
“Malfoy,” James murmured quietly.
“Malfoy,” Sirius confirmed nodding.
“Sirius, the mark…”
“James, I’ll be ready to go in just a minute.” Sirius took Catarina by the arm and led her into her bedroom. Pulling off his shirt, he sank onto the bed as Catarina pulled out a tiny leather case. Climbing onto the bed behind him, she pulled out a black ink needle and pressed it lightly into his flesh.
“James hasn’t seen it then?” she asked softly.
“No, and I only need it for a few more days,” Sirius answered then dropped his voice. “But Lily saw it.”
“Lily?” Catarina put down the tool and sank to face him. “How did she react?”
Sirius hesitated but knew Catarina would pull it out of him anyway. “She’s been with Snape.”
“She told you that?”
“I didn’t give her a chance.”
“She saw the mark, reacted and you went off on her, didn’t you?” Catarina shook her head.
“Don’t lecture me, Cat. Him, of all people. How could she do it?”
“First off, you don’t know she did anything. Second, if she did,” Catarina touched his arm tenderly. “She needs you now more than ever.”
“You won’t,” she countered.
“She tried to touch me this morning at breakfast.” Sirius took Catarina’s hand in his. “It made my stomach turn, Cat. The idea of her running to him, having his hands on her, she deserves so much better than that.”
“She deserves someone like James,” Catarina said softly, knowingly. “She has to learn that, Sirius. We’ve had this conversation a hundred times.”
“I know.” Sirius let his fingers travel her hand, the warmth of her skin providing him solace. “What I don’t know is how to help her.”
“Yes, you do.” Catarina brushed her lips to his, her hand caressing his cheek tenderly. “You are willing to do anything for me, anything for James. Why is Lily any different?”
“What she’s asking…” Sirius trailed off in thought. “What she wants,” he corrected himself, “the price is just too high.”
“And letting Snape get to her, letting him lead her to Voldemort, you’re willing to pay that price rather than just giving in?” Catarina dropped her forehead to rest on his. “Sirius, I know you’re angry. I know you feel betrayed. I know you’re afraid you won’t be able to walk away. But, Sirius, she needs you. I know,” her voice softened. “I remember. Don’t you?”
Sirius didn’t have to search for the memory; it was with him every waking moment of his day and often spilled into his dreams. Sirius lowered his lips to meet hers, brushing against them lightly. Her lips were warm and sweet on his and he lingered longer than he should, savoring the peaceful feeling her kisses always brought. “Of course I do.”
“Then forget about Snape.”
“I can’t,” Sirius pulled his shirt back on as he stood up. “I wish I could, but I can’t.”
“Then at least give her the chance to explain.”
“I have enough pictures in my head without her colorizing them for me, Cat.” Sirius’ voice was colder than he intended and Cat sent him a reproachful glare.
“Coward,” Cat said quietly. Taking hold of his shirt, she pulled Sirius toward her and began buttoning it for him. The easy manner with which Cat handled such a domestic task made Sirius temporarily forget the violence he knew to be going on outside. Sliding his arms around her waist, he gazed at her questioningly.
“A coward, am I?” Sirius snuggled his head into her neck, his lips caressing her skin with feathery lightness. Catarina tugged lightly on his shirt, pulling him down onto the bed and into her arms.
A moment of dread flowed through Sirius as he wondered just how much longer he would have to hold Catarina in his arms before the coming war tore them apart. Brushing a wisp of hair off her neck, Sirius caressed her cheek as a sad smile crossed his lips. “I have to go.”
“I know,” she kissed him lightly on the tip of his nose before he could pull away. As he headed for the door, Catarina called him back. “Sirius?”
“Yeah?” Sirius turned from the doorway to face her.
“You can’t win against her. You know that, don’t you?”
Sirius glanced at her uneasily as he tucked in his shirt. “I don’t know what you mean.”
“I mean, prepare yourself for the outcome because as much as you want to, you won’t be able to tell her no.”
Sirius laughed. “You underestimate me, Cat.”
Cat lowered her eyes, unwilling to look at Sirius when she spoke. “Sirius, you want to be loved so much. You’ll never be able to turn away someone who offers it.”
Sirius refused to acknowledge her comment. “I’ll see you soon, Cat.”
Chapter 14: Tragedy for the Marauders
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A/N: If you are against Sirius/Lily please stop reading now. This chapter will just offend you beyond all measure. Oh, and if Snape/Lily bothers you, you may want to avoid this chapter too. Warnings sufficiently given…for the adventurous open-minded people that have decided to continue reading….I hope you enjoy!
Tragedy for the Marauders
It was the first time in over a month that Sirius had come home from Hogsmeade sober. The state of his London flat made him cringe and he immediately began sending spells to each corner of the room to try and get it clean. The activity kept him busy for only a few moments, though, and afterward, Sirius was faced with the many thoughts he had been avoiding since the night at Grimmauld. Sinking onto the sofa, Sirius considered conjuring himself a drink but Cat’s words hovered in the back of his mind reminding Sirius that he had things to deal with.
Prepare yourself for the outcome.
Sirius had learned years ago not to discount anything Catarina said. If she told him he was too weak to resist Lily, then Sirius had no doubt she was right. He still didn’t believe her logic, though. After all, being loved was not high on his list of priorities, no matter what she thought. Had he ever been loved? Sirius shook his head, any memory of such eluding him. Of course, he remembered a time in his childhood when he thought his parents loved him, but their recent actions had proven their so-called love was just an illusion. Was love what he wanted? Sirius tossed the idea around in his head but could come to no definitive answer. Certainly it might be nice, but if things soured as quickly as they had with his parents, Sirius couldn’t imagine ever wanting something like that to befall anybody, much less himself.
The Marauders made him feel needed and Lily definitely made him feel wanted. In some sick twisted way, even Voldemort’s preoccupation with turning one of the Marauders made Sirius feel needed as well. But love? Sirius shuddered at the thought.
And then there was Cat. Sirius struggled with his emotions, unsure of exactly how she made him feel but knowing that, without her, he was somehow less of the man he could be. Where James knew the truth and allowed Sirius to hide from it, Catarina would force Sirius to face the darkest parts of his soul. He had learned some of life’s hardest lessons that way but, in retrospect, Sirius knew her determination was what had taught him to be strong against all odds.
Sirius slumped back into the sofa, running a hand through his hair in exasperation. A fleeting thought told him that allowing James and Cat to meet might not have been the wisest idea. After all, had it not been for them, he would be sufficiently drunk and passed out already just as he had every other night.
Sirius closed his eyes, draping on arm over them to block out the remaining light. He knew he was avoiding it – the image had continually flashed into his mind – but Sirius had managed to force it out each time. But he was slowly running out of things with which to divert his attention and the image was now demanding to be acknowledged.
Even the name made an acidic bile rise from Sirius’ stomach and into his throat. He had been bad enough at Hogwarts, but the idea that his slimy, greasy, rat-tail potion covered hands had been anywhere near Lily made Sirius’ stomach quiver. It wasn’t that it was Lily…Sirius couldn’t face the image of anyone sharing a bed with Severus Snape. James had joked years ago that Snape’s living quarters amounted to nothing more than a janitor’s closet where dirty blood covered entrails used as potion ingredients littered the room. For Sirius who, until recently, had kept an immaculate living space, James’ disgusting description could never be forgotten. To envision Lily, or anyone really, tossing about such a mess in the throws of passion with Snape required all of Sirius’ power not to vomit in his own living room.
When Lily had first befriended Snape, it had been a source of never-ending jokes between the Marauders. Little perky redheaded Lily making friends with the least liked boy at Hogwarts…the concept had amused Sirius to no end. As she’d grown up, though, Sirius had become more and more concerned about the relationship between the two. And when, mere months ago, he had learned that she was hiding a growing involvement with Snape, Sirius’ fears intensified. That Lily suddenly desired to conceal her association with Snape after years of being open had told Sirius one of two things: either they were already lovers or they soon would be.
The idea that Lily had taken on a lover didn’t bother Sirius. He’d made no claim to her and, in fact, had no desire to do so. But, aside from Voldemort or Lucius Malfoy, Sirius could think of no one that could destroy her faster than Snape. The good that lived within her; the innocent desire to better the world; the strong willed fighter she could be - all of the traits that had drawn them together in the first place - those are the ones that Snape could crush in an instant. No one could influence a woman more than her lover, as Sirius well knew, and to have kind and generous Lily influenced by a Death Eater was just something he wasn’t ready to cope with. Losing her to death at the hands of Death Eaters was one thing but having to fight against her was entirely another.
Sirius Lily giving herself to Snape was entirely his fault. She had been hinting at intimacy with him for years and he had always managed to keep her at arms length. Sure, they had shared juvenile kisses and their hands may have wandered a bit more than they should, but Sirius had always known where to draw the line. Then, this year, with graduation looming near and the real world becoming more inevitable, Sirius’ cocky personality had seeped into his relationship with Lily. He began taking chances and risks he would have never thought of before. That, coupled with her new awareness of her own sexuality had forced their relationship into something Sirius had never planned on or, for that matter, wanted. Her curiosity had become so overwhelming she must have sought out someone more willing than he and Sirius had no doubt Snape would have jumped at the opportunity to teach her what she so desperately wanted to learn.
Even in half sleep, Sirius jerked from his revelry at the urgent tone in James’ voice. Turning his head, he saw all the Marauders standing in his doorway, their new wizarding cloaks making them appear quite ominous.
“Dumbledore has summoned the Order.”
Sirius waved him off. “Don’t scare the shit out of me by showing up like that with some stupid news – "
“It’s Lily, Sirius,” Remus cut in. “She’s followed Snape apparently. They were cornered in Diagon Alley.”
“Followed him, did she?” Sirius scowled. “She gets what she deserves then.”
“Sirius!” Peter’s voice was stronger than usual. “They’ll kill her for sure.”
“And that’s my problem because?” Sirius shot back, deciding now was definitely the time for that drink he had been putting off for the past few hours. He conjured the drink but, as he raised it to his lips, James’ hand covered it.
“It’s your problem,” James said solemnly, “because she’s been taken to Grimmauld.”
Sirius desperately wanted not to care. He wanted to leave her and her stupid slimy disgusting lover to meet the end they were destined for. If they believed their actions would go unnoticed by Voldemort then they deserved what they got for being so foolhardy and egotistical. Even Sirius, who was known for making rash decisions, had known enough to plan ahead where Voldemort was concerned.
But, he did care. And glancing at the other Marauders, it was obvious they cared too. He sighed heavily and leaned forward to take a sip of his drink. “Dumbledore has a plan then?”
“Yes. He’s gathering a group to go in – "
“You’re joking, right?” Sirius laughed. “Don’t you think there’s a reason I had to be with each of you when you got into Grimmauld?”
“It’s unplotted,” Remus said quietly, the awe in his voice evident even under the circumstances.
Sirius shrugged. “Dumbledore can mount the biggest army he wants, it won’t help him find them. Even if he could find the house – "
“The corridors,” James nodded. “The house was a maze. They could be anywhere.”
“No,” Sirius shook his head. “If Lily’s at Grimmauld, there’s only one place she’ll be.”
“Sirius – "
“Don’t say it, Remus. Just don’t even say it.” Sirius stood up and began pacing the floor. “You heard her this morning. James, you did too.” Remus began to step toward him but James grabbed his arm and pulled him back, allowing Sirius to pace without interference. “Doesn’t she have to make her own decision? Sure, we’d like her to be on our side, but if she wants to hang out with loverboy Snape and the Death Eaters, who are we to make that choice for her?”
Sirius glanced from one to the other but James had silenced them all with a threatening gaze. “And why on earth should I make any effort to help Dumbledore, who did his best to make my life a living hell while at Hogwarts? For the first time in my life, I planned. Do you understand that? I thought ahead and had a freaking plan! I’ll lose everything!” Sirius fell back onto the sofa, dropping his head in his hands. He could feel their eyes on him but still none of the Marauders spoke.
Sirius drew in a breath to calm his nerves. He knew he had no choice. He couldn’t yet believe Lily had made a conscious choice…his brother had. “We have to do this my way. No arguments,” he said quietly, then turned a pointed gaze to James. “Agreed?”
Although he looked rather uneasy about the idea, James nodded slowly. “Agreed.”
It seemed like they had been preparing for hours, but Sirius knew it couldn’t have been more than twenty minutes. He had been eyeing the clock closely, knowing there was a certain window in which Lily would remain safe. He glanced to Peter and Remus who were attempting to remember Lily’s instructions for creating an emergency portkey. James was pacing through the house, looking for some way to keep himself busy but he seemed to be failing miserably. Although Sirius was grateful that his home now appeared to be cleaner than it had in weeks with James’ repeated cleaning spells being cast throughout. Sirius turned his attention back to his wand. It wasn’t exactly as if he could service it like a muggle weapon, so he focused his attention on cleaning it gently with his cloak. If nothing else, it gave him something to do with his hands until the time came to leave.
Sirius glanced up as James dropped down beside him, huffing slightly from his cleaning spree. “You all right?”
“You’re going alone, aren’t you?” James questioned.
“Yes, I am.” Sirius put his wand aside to give James his full attention.
“Sirius, what did you mean you’d lose everything?”
“Nothing, James. It doesn’t matter anymore.”
“It matters to me,” James said pointedly. “I’d like to know if you are walking in there with a death wish in your head. I’d at least like to be able to tell people how noble you were as you kicked the bucket.”
“Guys?” Peter’s meek voice came from across the room but both Sirius and James ignored him.
Sirius smiled gently. “There’s no need to hide behind jokes, James. I know you’re worried.”
“Hell yes I’m worried,” James lowered his voice as the others looked his direction. “You’ve been running around with a chip on your shoulder until just this morning. I want to know you’re not going to walk in there like a maniac and get yourself killed.” James muttered. “I want to know you’re coming back.”
“Well, then, make sure I have a reason to come back.” Sirius lowered his head towards James. “James, if this goes as I think, Cat will be in danger. She may even be at this very moment. I need you to take care of her. Get her to safety while I’m gone.”
James opened his mouth to object, but Sirius cut him off. “James, I can’t trust anyone else.”
James nodded. “I’ll take care of her.”
“Thank you.” Sirius moved away and began cleaning his wand again.
“Guys?” Peter tried again.
James ignored him. “You know, Regulus may be there.”
Sirius’ muscles tensed but he didn’t reply. He could feel James’ eyes turn to him but he still refused to move.
James gripped his arm tightly. “That’s it? This plan of yours; the meetings with Lucius? You were trying to find a way to save Regulus.”
“I did find a way,” Sirius corrected. “But it will only work once. When I expose myself against Voldemort, my chance is gone.”
The implications were obvious even to James. If Sirius exposed himself to save Lily, he could never save Regulus. Sirius had one chance to save his brother and he was giving it up to go after Lily.
“We’ll find another way.”
“There’s not another way, James,” Sirius murmured. “And we both know it.”
“Guys, will you please listen to me?” Peter moved to stand in front of the two. “I’m not sure what you think is going on but Lily is in danger here. You have no idea what Voldemort will do if he gets his hand on a mudblood like her. Abuse, torture, you just don’t know what he’s capable of.”
“Shut up, Peter,” James’ words were meant as a warning but it was too late.
Sirius stood, towering above Peter, his eyes glittering dangerously. “No, you have no idea. All you know is a bunch of rumors and innuendos that you’ve heard on the street. I know what that man is capable of. I’ve seen what he’s capable of doing to anyone, much less what damage he can inflict on a woman.”
“Yes, Sirius. I’m sorry, I – "
Sirius placed a comforting arm on Peter’s shoulder, but his voice was still a low growl. “Don’t ever lecture me on the dangers of that man, do you understand? I don’t ever want to hear his name again.”
Sirius squeezed Peter’s shoulder to reassure him. “Is the portkey ready?”
“Yes. It will bring you back here.” Remus nodded. “Should we wait for you?”
The hidden meaning of Remus’ words didn’t go unnoticed by Sirius. “No, I have the feeling I won’t be very good company. Besides, if it goes wrong, being here will be the first place they come looking for the three of you.”
“We’ll meet up tomorrow, Remus,” Sirius said winking. “And, man, will I have some stories to tell.”
Sirius slipped into the House of Black easily…he knew all the secret passageways by heart. He had no doubt Lily would be in the library. Voldemort had been drawn to the library’s rich history and it’s relation to everything he so desperately wanted. He would hold Lily in the library, convincing her to stay with his smooth charismatic words, and then would move her into the dungeons where he could do whatever he pleased without fear of intervention. While rescuing her from the catacombs would have been easier, Sirius had no guarantee that Voldemort wouldn’t torture her prior to the move. He had left time for Lily to be made comfortable at Grimmauld but not so much time Voldemort could cause irreparable harm. Out of pure spite, Sirius had procrastinated long enough to give Voldemort time to sufficiently scare her if he so chose.
From the passageway to the library, Sirius could see the meeting going on in the drawing room. Regulus was there, as expected, sitting in a corner by himself. Sirius knew he was waiting to be pulled into the group; knew at this very moment Regulus was silently longing for any of them to recognize him and make him feel like he belonged. Regulus had been jealous of the kinship between the Marauders for years and it only made sense that he would cling to the hope of one day finding such camaraderie. Sirius couldn’t quell the feeling inside of him that told him this would be the last time he saw Regulus alive. His brother, his flesh and blood…
Sirius memories and attempts at a mental goodbye where halted far too soon, however, as Snape appeared in the room. Sirius knew his time was fleeting and he hurried toward the library. Sirius didn’t bother to look in…he knew she would be alone.
“What are you doing here?” Lily’s voice held a note of contempt. “Decided to follow me, did you?”
“As I suspected,” Sirius said as he slipped into the room and shut the door. “Dumbledore has half the students from Hogwarts out rallying to save your life under the belief that you were kidnapped from Diagon Alley. But no,” Sirius shook his head. “You came here with him, didn’t you?”
“By him you mean Severus?”
“Is there anyone else you’d follow into hell?”
“Hell, is it? Looks like a rather cozy and inviting home to me.”
Sirius watched as Lily moved about the room, his patience wearing then. He had not desire to be in the house ever again and yet here he was being told it was cozy? “You probably would feel right at home here,” Sirius seethed. “Seeing how attracted you are to dark wizards and all.”
“Enough, Sirius. When you’ve calmed down we’ll sit down and discuss this but right now you aren’t going to believe anything I say.”
Sirius thrust his fists in his pocket in an attempt to control himself from physically lashing out at her. He was sacrificing his brother for her…could she possibly be more ungrateful? The idea that she didn’t know what she had gotten herself in to crossed his mind, but Sirius quickly pushed it aside. “I’ll never believe anything you have to say again, Lily.”
The raw honesty with which he spoke took Lily off guard, but she refused to bow to him. “So, this is your home. This is where you grew up.”
That she was choosing to ignore him rather than explain her actions cut into Sirius.
“Lily,” Sirius voice was full of anger, “if you were that curious I would’ve brought you here. Coming here this way, with him…”
“You would never have brought me. But that’s beside the point. I didn’t know where we were going.” Lily let her hands slide across the marble desk and Sirius’ anger quickly turned to rage.
He grabbed her arm and yanked her back to face him. “You are in danger. I’m in danger for coming here to get you. So, listen and listen well.” Sirius paused to make certain he had her full attention. “If you want to join them, so be it. I can’t stop you. If you don’t, then I am your only chance out of here. You are in a house full of Death Eaters and you are a filthy despicable mudblood invading their world. So you will make a choice right here and now what path you intend to follow because I will not put my life on the line for the sake of a silly school girl who thinks dark wizards are some mysterious creatures that may provide her a wild ride in bed.”
“How dare you – "
“Save you dramatics for Snape, Lily. Right now, you better make up your fucking mind.”
“I’m not going anywhere with you.”
Sirius scoffed and pushed her away. “I don’t recall asking you to come anywhere with me. If it wasn’t for James guilting me into this I would have let you rot in the dungeons of Grimmauld.”
Something akin to terror crossed her face and Sirius smiled. “Oh, yes, we have dungeons. Fully furnished ones with steel shackles on the wall and rats the size of dogs.” Sirius shrugged. “I suppose Snape could always collect them as potion ingredients when he comes to visit you.”
“Will you leave Snape out of this?” As soon as it was out of her mouth, Lily knew it was the wrong thing to say.
In one stride, Sirius was back at her side, his voice shaking with a fury he couldn’t conceal. “You brought Snape into this. If you didn’t want to stand up for him then perhaps you should’ve considered that before climbing into his bed.”
A sound outside the door caught them both off guard and they both fell silent. His anger temporarily forgotten, Sirius drew his wand with one hand and pulled Lily protectively behind him with the other. The footsteps continued on, however, and Sirius felt a soft tug on his arm. Turning to face her, he couldn’t help but think he was looking into the eyes of a frightened child.
“Sirius, I want to go,” she whispered, her eyes pleading.
Sirius looked away quickly for fear of forgiving her. “I have a portkey. Take it, it will send you back to my place. Once there, go home.”
“I don’t want – "
“This isn’t about what you want anymore, Lily. I’m telling you what you are going to do.” Sirius waited for her to protest but the movement in the hallway seemed to have scared some sense into her.
“I’m not leaving you here.” Although her voice was defiant, Sirius could feel her trembling next to him.
In one swift move, Sirius activated the portkey, shoved it into her hand and stepped away. “Yes, you are.” Before the words were out, she was gone.
Sirius knew he had t find a way out of the house quickly. If he hadn’t been so angry at Lily, he would’ve left with her. But, as it was, he wasn’t thinking very rational anyway. An image of Regulus crossed his mind and Sirius knew he was lying to himself. Somehow, someway, he was hoping he could save them both.
Stepping into the passageway he had entered from, Sirius stopped to watch the Death Eaters congregating in the Grimmauld parlor. Regulus, although now engaged in conversation, still seemed out of place. Sirius couldn’t help but think of how much he resembled Peter. Although amongst friends, Regulus like Peter was with the Marauders seemed a step away from the inner circle. Silently, Sirius was thankful that Peter seemed stronger than his brother…that he had found the strength to remain loyal even when the circle sometimes locked him out. Their similarities were so numerous; Sirius vaguely wondered what it would be like if Regulus had remained true and Peter had become a traitor. Sirius brushed the thought away. It did no good to think of such things…their fates had already been cast. Regulus was a Slytherin and Peter his true brother.
Sirius watched as a flurry of activity stopped the conversations between the Death Eaters. He strained to hear but the sound proof passageway that kept him hidden also prevented him from hearing the discussions going on. It appeared as though they were all leaving together and Sirius couldn’t help but give a self-satisfied chuckle. They were going to go out and celebrate the kidnapping of a mudblood and none had bothered to check that she was already long gone. Sirius smiled, knowing as soon as they were gone he could slip out undetected.
A half hour later, Sirius had slipped out of Grimmauld and was making his way cautiously through the neighborhood. Rather proud of alluding them all, Sirius was in no hurry to get anywhere but was still in defensive mode from the earlier events.
His eyes shifted uneasily over his surroundings. The feeling of being followed just wouldn’t leave. Finally, paces away and hidden in the shadows, Sirius saw him. “Remus?”
Remus stepped out from the shadows, one hand holding his wand and another shoved deep in his pocket. Although the wand wasn’t pointed directly at him, it unnerved Sirius.
“Relax, I told you I’d get out safe.”
“Where have you been?” The low accusing tone in Remus’ voice surprised Sirius.
“You know very well where I’ve been. What’s the matter with you? Full moon coming a bit too early this month?” Sirius’ laughter wasn’t returned.
Sirius caught himself before he spoke. “How should I know?”
“Didn’t you send him off somewhere?”
Sirius sucked in a noticeable breath…he’d sent James to care for Cat but he wasn’t about to tell Remus that. “Enough with the cryptic questions, what’s going on?”
Remus eyed Sirius for a few moments without responding and, whatever he was looking for he apparently didn’t find, as he lowered his wand. “We have to find James unless Peter already has.” Remus put a hand on Sirius’ shoulder. “Voldemort has attacked the Potters.”
Sirius struggled to find his voice. “What do you mean attacked?”
“They’re dead, Sirius. All of them.”
Sirius was numb, Remus’ words echoing into the hollow of his mind without comprehension. The Potters? Sirius’ body began to sway as he tried to process what Remus was telling him. Before Remus could catch him, Sirius fell to his knees. Struggling to keep from passing out, Sirius took spurts of shallow breath to try and regain control.
“Sirius.” Remus was kneeling beside him, his face contorted in an odd mixture of anger and concern. “You didn’t know.”
Sirius wasn’t sure how he was supposed to have known. He’d been off saving Lily at their request for goodness’ sakes. Sirius couldn’t speak but shook his head.
“My friend, I’m sorry. I thought,” Remus shook his head. “Never mind that now. Sirius, I’m sorry.” Remus clasped Sirius into his arms, his strong arms allowing Sirius a safe place to shed his tears.
Sirius broke free. “Take me to the Potters, Remus.”
“He’ll be there by now. He shouldn’t find them alone.”
“There’s nothing to find, Sirius,” Remus said quietly. “There’s nothing left. Not even the house.”
James beat them to the house.
When they arrived, James was sitting a few feet away from the charred hole where his house once stood. Where Sirius and he had slept on the porch on hot summer nights; where James’ family opened their door and hearts to Sirius when everyone else turned him away. James had his knees pulled tightly to his chest, his wand lying useless at his feet. Sirius and Remus sank on either side of him, none knowing what to say. As usual, though, James led them where they needed to go.
“I’m joining the Order,” he said softly, looking at neither Marauder for permission or approval.
“We all will, James,” Sirius returned.
“He has to be stopped,” Remus added. “Everyone’s future depends on it.”
“To hell with the future!” Sirius shouted but James put a heavy hand on his arm to quiet him. Sirius couldn’t understand…how could James be so calm? How could he not be angry?
“Do you think they felt anything?” James asked and Sirius sucked in a breath. Now he understood...James no longer had it in him to be angry. The knowledge that the boy he had known for so many years was suddenly grown filled Sirius with sadness.
“No, I don’t.” Sirius answered forcefully. “It would’ve been over in an instant.”
“I supposed that’s what’s important.” James whispered. “She’s safe, Sirius,” he said off handedly.
Ignoring Remus’ questioning stare, Sirius’ body trembled. James had kept Cat safe…why hadn’t Sirius been able to do the same for James’ family?
“Will they come back?”
James glanced from one to the other. “I think then that I’d like to stay here for awhile.”
“Of course,” Remus nodded as he stood up to leave. “You’ll summon if you need us?”
James nodded and grabbed Sirius’ arm as he began to leave. “Sirius?”
Sirius dropped to his knees, willing himself not to cry as tears began to form in James’ eyes. “You’ll go with me to the Order? Tomorrow morning, first thing?”
Sirius nodded and squeezed his arm tightly. “I’ll follow you anywhere, James. Whatever you want, it’s yours.”
James nodded and, as his emotions began to overwhelm him, Sirius stepped away to leave him alone.
Sirius wasn’t sure how he finally managed to get Remus to leave him alone. Remus seemed determined to follow him home, probably afraid Sirius was going to do something rash and retaliatory and get himself killed before they could even join the Order. Sirius, of course, had no intention of doing any such thing. All he wanted was to go home, to be alone to grieve the loss of the only true family he’d ever known. After what felt like an eternity and a hundred promises to behave, though, Remus had finally separated from him and allowed him to return home to find solace however he could.
He alternated between pure shock and hatred to wails of unfairness and tragedy. But most of all, Sirius’ despair was blinding to anything but his own emotions. Dropping his wand, he lunged at every personal possession he had. He threw trinkets into the wall, tore fabric from the furniture and turned over every bookshelf in his path.
Sirius whirled to see Lily watching him timidly from the hallway.
“You!” Sirius’ angry voice made her retreat. “I told you not to come here!”
Lily tried fearfully to rush into the bedroom and block the door but Sirius kicked it open.
“You shouldn’t be alone,” Lily whispered softly trying to soothe him.
“And just what do you know about?” Sirius stopped paces away from her. “You knew what they were planning?”
“No, of course not.”
“If you’re lying to me, I swear – "
“I’m not, Sirius, I swear!” Lily moved to touch him, determined to break through his wall. “Remus told me. He came looking for you.”
“Stay away from me.” Sirius yanked off his cloak and used it to shove all his belongings off the chest of drawers.
“This wasn’t your fault, Sirius.”
“Just stop with your damned incessant do good charade, alright? I know better.”
“You don’t know anything! You refuse to listen to anybody. If you’d just let me – "
“Let you what?” Sirius threw a vase toward her, missing her by mere inches. “Try and explain why I’ve lost my brother? Why you slept with Snape? Why the Potters are dead and I couldn’t do a damn thing to prevent it?”
“Stop blaming yourself!”
Sirius’ voice dropped a level, his anger so overwhelming he was finally beyond yelling. “I don’t need your patronizing. I need to bring James’ family back.”
“I know they are the closest thing to a family you’ve ever had but, Sirius, this is his loss not yours.”
“Sirius – "
Sirius grabbed her arm and jerked her toward the door. “Get out or I’ll tear you to shreds myself.”
“I’m not afraid of you.” Lily broke loose. “I don’t care how angry you are, you’d never hurt me!”
“You are not welcome here,” Sirius growled menacingly.
“I’m not leaving.”
“What do you want from me?” Sirius’ anger caused the Black family crystal to explode, shards of glass showering the entire room. “I have nothing to give you, don’t you understand?” Sirius shook her violently. “I have nothing left!”
Lily lifted her chin, meeting his icy glare straight on. “Coward! You are so terrified of everyone leaving that you refuse to live!” Urgency coursed through her veins, leaving no room for rationality and reason.
In one forward motion, she crashed into him, refusing to allow Sirius even a moment to reject her.
He took a perverse pleasure in her challenge, despair ebbing away as a sense of foolhardy strength took over. Gripping her waist, already pressed to his own, he forced a punishing and angry kiss to her lips, determined to prove to himself that he was immune to her.
For a moment, it seemed that he had won as the muscles in her body released slightly beneath his hands, but, as quickly as it had gone, her determined presence returned. Her lips were moving against his now, passionate and purposeful.
Savage intensity coursed through him as she met him blow for blow, nails digging slightly, tantalizingly across the exposed skin of his neck. His logic, his sanity – the shell Sirius had so carefully built around himself - shattered. For a moment, Sirius thought he could hear the pieces clattering to the floor.
The shock of her touch ran through him and, hatred flooded through him for everything that had been put on his shoulders. Refusing to care if he hurt her, his grip tightened, imprisoning her against the wall. Distantly it occurred to him that if he could only have gripped her hands, drawn them away from his collar, he mightn’t have lost control, but the thought was gone now as her lips seared a path down his neck and chest – hungry fingers clawing at his clothes.
In a swift movement, her arms were locked above her head, bare flesh exposed to him. His eyes trailed her a moment but, as a heaving gasp escaped her lungs, the last shreds of a controlled mind slipped, giving way to ravenous lust and he sunk teeth into her warm pink flesh.
Cries of longing and unbridled need exploded from her throat as he dragged his calloused hands roughly across her skin. The feel of fingernails digging into his back drove him further into maddening as he pressed her tighter to the wall, gripping her thighs around his waist.
Violently, he threw her upon the bed and crashed into her, smothering her lips with demanding mastery. Strangled moans escaped as gasps for breath as she grasped his chest to pull him closer, her nails bringing trickles of blood as she sought to pull him ever closer.
Breath caught in his throat, Sirius’ reaction to her violence was instantaneous. Twisting her hair into his fingers, Sirius yanked her head back and buried his teeth into the hollow of her neck. With surprising swiftness, Sirius came for Lily, her body welcoming him as she sought release. Her moans became deeper, her thrashing more uncontrollable and Sirius was forced to release her arms for fear of her hurting herself. Lily’s fingers dug into his skin once again and Sirius tried to ignore the pain as Lily’s screams of his name began to tear into his soul.
With sudden clarity, Sirius understood. Lily hadn’t been with Snape, she hadn’t been with anyone. She knew him better than almost anyone. She had chosen to come to him now, when she knew he would be unable to tell her no. When his defenses were at his lowest, she was offering him the safe haven he so greatly needed and the touches she so desperately craved. That she used him didn’t bother Sirius in the least. But the idea that he had so viciously come for her with so little disregard for her feelings burned inside him. Why had he not let her explain about Snape? It would have prevented the entire thing. That she was calling for him…Sirius… and no one else tore into him and he took a deep steadying breath.
Sirius’ lips parted hers gently, silencing her words with his breath. “It’s okay, Lily.” His words were soft in her ear, his touches and kisses now calm and reassuring.
She clung tightly to him as erratic spasms of ecstasy and relief surged through her. Ignoring his own needs, he kissed her face, wiping the sweat from her forehead as he waited for her breathing to return to normal. Sirius knew Lily’s physical needs had been so deep they frightened her and he studied her closely to make sure her fears had subsided along with her body’s tremors. Although exhausted, she offered him a tiny smile of reassurance. Knowing she was going to be alright, Sirius rolled onto his back, a physical and emotional exhaustion like he’d never known overwhelming him. The thought that he might have used her as well flittered in the recesses of his mind, but Sirius was too weak from the night’s events to even give it a cursory examination. His mind void of anything but uncontainable grief, Sirius closed his eyes and, in mere moments, he was asleep.
Chapter 15: Epilogue
[Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]
You learn that love doesn’t mean leaning and company doesn’t mean security
You begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts and presents aren’t promises
You begin to accept your defeats with your head up and your eyes open,
with the grace of an adult, not the grief of a child
You learn to build all your roads on today because tomorrows ground is too uncertain for plans.
And after awhile, you learn that you really are strong and you really do have worth.
- Author unknown
Sirius’ eyes fought to focus as Lily’s movements roused him from sleep. She was sitting on the edge of the bed, her bare feet dangling towards the floor. Her back was toward Sirius but he could see her rubbing her arm gingerly. He slid toward her and took her hand in his.
“Let me see,” Sirius murmured, his hands pressing gently around the forming bruises on her tiny arms. His eyes darkened with the realization that the marks were from him.
Lily touched his cheek softly then leaned to give him a reassuring kiss. “I’m fine, Sirius. Just a bit sore is all.”
Sirius looked at her skeptically and, in answer, Lily slid back under the covers with him, resting her head on his chest. “We got rather carried away last night.”
“Yes, I suppose I did,” Sirius answered in a low voice.
Lily gave a soft laugh that filled Sirius with warmth. “I’m sorry, Sirius, but you don’t get to take all the credit for last night.” Her hands drifted lightly over the deep punctures in his chest, left over reminders of where her nails had imbedded into his skin during their passionate encounter. “I would hate to see what your back looks like,” she added grinning.
“These are acceptable,” Sirius said taking her hand and moving it to rest it on the scratches that crisscrossed his chest. “This is not.” He nodded pointedly to the marks he had left on her body.
“Damn, Sirius, must you always be so overwrought with guilt?” Lily shook her head. “It’s not as if we haven’t been needing this for years, is it? So we gave in and acted a bit reckless, is that so horribly bad?”
Although she meant to say it glibly, Sirius knew she was asking for approval of her behavior. He let his hand slide lazily down her arm. “No, Lily. Nothing we did was wrong.”
“Then why must you act like it was?”
“Because needing you is a luxury I don’t have,” he answered, his voice filled with raw honesty.
“Sirius,” Lily kissed him tenderly, “you don’t need me. You never have. You just gave in to a temptation I put in front of you. Giving in to your emotions doesn’t make you weak or needy. Haven’t you learned that yet?”
“Apparently not,” Sirius whispered as her friendly touches became more caressing. “You are tempting me again.”
“Sirius,” the somberness with which Lily said his name made Sirius hesitate. “I’m going to hurt you. You know that, don’t you? You know in the end I’m going to walk away.”
Sirius smiled. “I know.”
“I don’t mean to. I mean, the last thing I ever want to do is hurt you. You’ve had enough hurt in your lifetime for a thousand men,” Lily tried to explain in a rush. “But…”
“It’s inevitable. Yes, Lily, I know.” Sirius kissed her softly.
“Then why?” Lily’s voice was full of confusion. “Why have you let me put you through this?”
“Because it’s what you needed,” Sirius replied simply. “You sought Snape out for the same reason, didn’t you? It wasn’t all about saving him, no matter what you tell yourself. There are some things I am unwilling to let you learn from him, no matter what it costs me.”
“And this is one of them?”
“Undoubtedly.” Sirius’ voice was soft, his touches on her skin growing longer and deeper. His kisses were lingering as he traced the curves of her face and neck.
“You’re saying goodbye,” Lily whispered and, as the realization dawned on her, silent tears began rolling down her cheeks.
Sirius wiped them away and smiled. When he spoke, his voice was quiet, almost reverent, and it made Lily smile. “My, Lily, you are a clever one.”
A/N: Thank you to everyone who has come along and read and reviewed this story. I’ve learned so much throughout writing this and I’m rather sad to see it end. Tanks for everything and I hope to see you (and get your wonderful advice) on my new stories!