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A Fossil in the Mud by cHayE710
Chapter 3 : Chapter Two: Midnight Outings
Rating: 12+Chapter Reviews: 28

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---Chapter Two: Midnight Outings---


I dug my spoon into my morning bowl of cereal and milk. Lifting up the spoon, I glanced over at the Gryffindor table yet again. I was truly pathetic. I was glancing over there every few seconds, waiting to see if Sirius Black had arrived for breakfast yet, even though I knew that he wouldn’t be. It was six in the morning, for heaven’s sake. Why would Sirius Black ruin his reputation for being “fashionably late” just so I could talk to him about our Transfiguration project?

I stayed in my seat while the Great Hall slowly filled up, though I was itching to get away.

‘Get a book out, at least, you dolt,’ Lexie advised with her usual contempt. ‘Don’t just stare at your empty bowl.’

With a start, I realized I was staring at my empty bowl, and had been for several minutes. Hastily, I reached into my bag and pulled out the first book that met my searching fingers. Propping it open on the table, I let my hair fall in front of my face and made like I was studying.

The whole reason I was still at the Great Hall was because of Sirius Black. I needed to go and talk to him, but he wasn’t here yet, and I couldn’t get inside the Gryffindor common room. And that fact that I was nervous about whether or not he had recognized me in the Owlery was still gnawing at my insides….

I knew the moment Sirius entered the Great Hall. He and his best mate, James Potter, always had to make a grand entrance, no matter what. The sudden increase in the giggling, high-pitched laughter of the girls was the biggest hint. I looked up discreetly from my book, though I doubted anyone would notice me staring at the Marauders since they’d all be too busy staring as well.

Sirius was still rubbing sleep from his eyes, and he looked distinctly rumpled as if he’d been forcefully booted out of his bed. Even so, he looked good-looking and attractive. I’ll bet he was the only one who could look disheveled and hot at the same time. He sat down at the Gryffindor table and started talking with his friends.

“To go or not to go. That is the question,” I mumbled to myself.

‘Just go,’ Lexie sighed, exasperated. ‘You’ve been waiting here for him to arrive, haven’t you?’

“Yes, but I don’t really think…” I whispered.

‘Think what? That he’ll listen to you? Well, you’ll never know unless you try.’

“Oh, all right,” I muttered, stowing my book away into my bag. I sat in my seat for another moment and looked over at the Gryffindor table to make sure that Sirius didn’t have a girl in his lap as he usually did. I didn’t think I could just waltz over there and interrupt a snog session….

He didn’t. Great. Now if I could just get my legs to take me over there….

‘Just go already! Are you planning to wait until you’re old and wrinkled?’ Lexie urged impatiently.

“All right!” I snapped back at her. “Keep your hair on!”

‘Don’t wet your pants,’ Lexie sniped back. Why did she always get the better of me?

Standing up and swinging my bag over my shoulder, I headed towards the Gryffindor table, trying to look as if this was a completely normal occurrence for me. As I neared them, I saw Black turning blue for some reason, but by the time I was close enough to talk to him, he was back to a normal skin color and joking with his friends.

“Um…Sirius?” I asked softly. He didn’t turn around, so I steeled myself to tap him lightly on the shoulder.

“Sirius,” I repeated, louder this time. He had turned around at my touch and was gazing at me intently with his dark eyes. For some reason, those eyes made the speech I had prepared inside my head fly away into oblivion.

‘Swallow,’ Lexie directed. ‘Swallow, and then tell him about the project.’

I swallowed. “About the Transfiguration project…” I was proud that my voice didn’t shake, even if I didn’t finish my sentence.

“Oh, right,” he said, propping his head on his hand and looking at me, still with that intense gaze.

“When do you think we should start?” I asked, acutely aware of his eyes on me, as well as all his friends’ as well.

“Why don’t you meet me in the library today around eight and we can go from there?” he suggested.

James Potter snorted rudely. “Padfoot, since when do you tell a girl to meet you at this or that time? Don’t you have to ask when she has time? And I thought you were suave…” Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew both snorted into their porridge.

“Shut up, James,” Sirius muttered out of the corner of his mouth and giving him a look. I was tempted to laugh at their antics, but I smoothed my face into an expressionless mask.

“Okay, so when you have time?” Sirius turned back to me to ask.

“Everyday,” I shrugged. I wasn’t a prefect, so I didn’t have any duties. I didn’t have any friends, so I didn’t have any plans with anyone.

“Then how about tonight at eight?” Sirius suggested. “Library?”

“Sure…” I trailed off as a pretty, petite girl came up to Sirius, pressing herself against him like a cat. She even looked ready to purr. Gross.

“Oh, Siri-poo, when do you have time for another date? I really enjoyed our last one,” the girl cooed, twining her arm into his. Sirius’s face was in a state of frozen shock, and I was sure there was a bit of horror mixed in as well, judging from his gaping mouth. But then again, I’m not good at reading people’s faces. Why would Sirius Black be horrified at having a girl practically drooling all over him? He was a womanizer, after all.

Just then, I realized I was staring at them with my eyes practically popping out of my head. I had to get out of here. I did not want to stay and watch Sirius neck with some girl.

“Okay… well, see you later,” I hastened to say. Then I turned away and quickly hurried out of the hall, desperate to spend some time recuperating in the bathroom.

‘Well, that went better than I thought it would,’ Lexie remarked casually.

“Yeah, I guess,” I gave in grudgingly. “But now I have to start hoping that I’ll live through tonight.”

Now that I was dreading the oncoming of night, the day passed even more quickly than usual. It seemed as if one moment I was walking into my first class of the day, and the next I was back in my Ravenclaw dormitory, watching the clock tick closer and closer to eight.

It was now five minutes to eight.

“Lexie, what am I going to do?” I panicked. “I don’t know what I’m going to do! I mean, all the other projects didn’t require much interaction with other people! I can’t take this! I’m not strong enough for this!”

‘Pull yourself together,’ Lexie ordered sharply. ‘It’s only a little school project! You’ll live!’

“But this is Sirius Black we’re talking about!” I hissed.

‘So what? He’s a person, just like everyone else you’ve ever worked on a project with! Now get your tie and get going!’ Lexie ordered.

I hurried to my dresser and rummaged around, looking for my special, good-luck socks that I had painted all over with winking faces. I had even spelled them to move. It always gave me a sense of security, for some reason.

‘Sense of security, my ass. You just like seeing faces winking at you whenever you look at your legs. Why don’t you get your raven-covered tie while you’re at it?’ Lexie said sarcastically.

“No!” I snapped, pulling on my socks. “I’m going to wear my crow-covered tie, and that’s that!”

‘Stop being an idiot and just wear the raven one! You know it looks better anyway!’

“It does not! The crow one has a much better pattern! See!” I held up the white tie covered with crows up to my face.

‘I see it already! You know what, whatever! They’re the same!’ Lexie sneered.

“They are not the same!” I cried. “Look at this—!”

‘And now you’re late.’

Startled, I jerked my head up to look at the time. Holy shit—I was ten minutes late already!

“It’s all your fault!” I snarled at Lexie, grabbing the nearest tie, looping it around my shoulders to make up properly later, jamming my feet into my trainers, and taking off down the stairs.

‘See, this is what happens when you argue with me. Why don’t you ever just listen to what I say?’ Lexie asked smugly.

I decided the best thing to do was to ignore her. I practically flew down the hallways, skidding around corners. As I neared the library, I slowed down and did my tie while still half-running. I didn’t want to arrive all disheveled and give the wrong impression of where I’d been. As soon as I rounded the corner, I saw Sirius Black pacing back and forth along in front of the door to the library. Feeling a twinge of guilt, I jogged up to him.

“I’m sorry I’m late,” I panted, a bit out of breath. He turned around, and I was amazed to see relief and concern mixed into his expression.

“Did something happen?” he asked, his tone sounding sincerely worried. “Are you sick? Do you have a fever? Did you not get done with your homework? Did a dirty Slytherin attack you while you were on the way here?”

I was taken aback by this sudden onslaught of words. Sirius’s mouth was moving so fast, and the rest of his words sounded like unintelligible ramblings of a madman at an asylum.

“But…” I tried to hedge in.

“Did you get hurt? I was waiting here for hours! You’re all disheveled…” he continued without a break.

“I’m not…” I tried again.

“I should have waited outside the Ravenclaw room instead of having you come here all by yourself…”

“Sirius, I’m fine…” I tried yet again. It didn’t work. He kept on ranting on about heaven knows what, using wild gesticulations. But then, all of a sudden, he stopped midword and merely stared at me.

Disconcerted by his direct gaze, I shifted uneasily, and flattened my hair with my hand. “I’m fine. Nothing would happen to me if I didn’t want it to happen.”

Okay… now Sirius was turning a very alarming red color.

“Are you okay?” I asked him. He shook his head yes very quickly, even though his face turned even redder. I hadn’t thought that that was possible. “Why don’t you start with breathing?”

‘You bonehead!’ Lexie cried. ‘Why wouldn’t he be breathing?’

“I don’t know,” I muttered. “Maybe…”

‘Maybe because he’s so struck dumb by the sight of your beauteous face that he forgot?’ Lexie snorted. ‘Please. Just get over yourself.’

“I’ve been over myself for a long time,” I snapped at her rebelliously.

‘Whatever you say,’ Lexie said cryptically.

“Um… Alexis?” Sirius asked. I turned back to him questioningly to find that he had regained a normal color and was looking at me weirdly again. Shit. I really had to stop talking to Lexie when other people were around.

“Yeah?” I asked, pretending that nothing was out of the ordinary and turning back to face him with a smile on my face.

“Uh… why don’t we get started?” he said hastily for some reason. Shrugging to myself, I fell in step with him and began walking through the halls.

And here’s the part where I strike up and keep up a brilliant, witty conversation in which I crack many funny jokes while Sirius laughs at them uproariously.

‘Only in your wildest dreams,’ Lexie said.

She was right—no, I was right. That makes so much sense. Anyway, the silence between Sirius and I got so pressing and suffocating, and I could practically taste the tension in the air. Our footsteps were too loud in the echoing hallways, and even my breathing was booming in my ears. Oh, why didn’t Sirius say something? He was renowned for being a lighthearted joker, a funny guy, but right now I wasn’t seeing any signs indicative of that. Gulping down a ball of fear, I tried to make my mouth blurt out anything, anything at all to break the silence between us.

“So… the sky’s blue, huh?!” my mouth finally worked out, blurting out the first thing that came to mind.

‘And once again, I must applaud you on your unsurpassed idiocy,’ Lexie muttered, slapping her head.

“Yeah,” Sirius replied, to my surprise. “Never noticed it before, right? And are you okay? You just slapped your forehead.”

Damn Lexie for making me do all those things. “Uh… I’m fine.”

Another long silence stretched after that while we walked through the almost empty hallways. The quiet was so bad that my left eye started twitching, something that always happened whenever I got nervous. I just had to say something more! What did people talk about all the time? Secrets? No, that was between friends. Makeup? No, guys didn’t do that. Food? That seemed kind of awkward, talking about ham…. My life? No, that was too presumptuous.

‘Think… think, Alex, think!’ I instructed myself silently.

‘Don’t hurt yourself,’ Lexie snickered.

Anything… anything…. What did I do to start our last conversation? I had talked about the sky… that was it! The weather! Everybody talked about the weather!

“Um… isn’t the weather today just peachy?” I stuttered. “The bright sun, the cloudless sky, the warm sunshine, the… the…” I furiously wracked my brains for something more to say about the weather.

“…And it’s not too hot and not too cold,” Sirius finished up for me, to my relief. “I’m surprised you remembered all the details of the day. It’s already several hours into the night.”

‘I don’t think calling you an idiot is enough anymore,’ Lexie sighed.

“Oy! You there! Yes, I’m talking to you, Ellison! You’d better stop right there!”

For once, I was immensely glad for the distraction of one of my knight friends who was stationed at the corner that Sirius and I had just passed. At the sound of the knight’s voice, Sirius had jerked around and was now eyeing the hallway as if a lethal pair of scissors was going to slice through the walls and cut him in half. This particular knight who had saved me from the silence was Sir Cairbre.

“Who, me?” I asked, opening my eyes very wide and darting a confused look at Sirius and a questioning look towards Sir Cairbre. Sirius wasn’t even looking at me; he was glowering at the knight with suspicion in his eyes.

“Don’t try acting all innocent with me, you scruffy ruffian!” the knight roared, rearing up with its joints creaking, cracking, and screeching.

I winced. “You really need to get those old joints oiled.”

“I do not! I am in perfect condition! Now get your cowardly carcass right back here, and fight me like an honorable woman would! All those tricks from behind… you take advantage of a good knight like me!” Sir Cairbre clanked.

“I honestly have no idea what that crazy knight is talking about,” I said to Sirius confidentially as we walked closer.

“Now, prepare to be decapitated!” Sir Cairbre roared, and with what was supposed to be a grand, graceful, and impressive flourish, he drew his sword. Actually, tried to draw it was more like it. Sir Cairbre’s rusty joints screeched horribly as he attempted to pull the rusty sword out of its equally rusty scabbard. With a final clumsy lunge, the knight dropped the heavy, unwieldy sword on the ground with a thump.

“Oh, would you get that for me, Alex?” Sir Cairbre panted. “I’m afraid my old age is finally catching up.”

“No problem,” I answered, picking up the sword and bracing it against my knee to lift it up high enough to give to the knight. “Here you go. Next time I come around I’ll have to get some oil for your joints.”

“If you could do that, it’d be wonderful!” he cried. “It would be no trouble to you?”

“None at all,” I replied promptly.

“Thank you!” Sir Cairbre said heartily. “So, where were we?”

“Oh, right at the part where you were supposed to chop off my head,” I supplied helpfully.

“Right!”—he cleared his throat—“Off with your head, you yellow-bellied, no-good scallywag!” Sir Cairbre reared back once more and took a mighty hack at my neck, which I ducked easily. Grinning, I moved out of range of the knight, who was swinging his sword around wildly.

“You’ll have to be faster than that, you old man,” I chuckled. Then I noticed that Sirius was on the ground under Sir Cairbre’s wild swings, looking distinctly amazed and dazed.

“Aha! You cur! Trying to sneak up under me?” Sir Cairbre roared, spotting Sirius. “I’ll give you something to sneak up on!” Oh, God! Sir Cairbre wasn’t going to be that stupid as to break a rule of our game… actually, he was.

Lunging forward—I did not want to be witness to a gruesome murder, and not to mention all those Sirius fanclubs would be after my blood for getting him into danger—I got a hold on one of Sirius’s feet. Digging my heels into the floor, I pulled with all my might, managing to drag Sirius away from the deadly sword just as it went crunching into the ground with an ominous clunk.

“Sir Cairbre,” I said sternly, moving to stand in front of the knight. I put my hands on my hips. “What did I tell you about the rules of our game?”

“Huh?” the knight jerked. “What rules?”

“You know,” I asserted.

“What?” he asked, adjusting his visor. “Making sure that there are no witnesses?”

“No… but that is very important,” I conceded.

“Getting rid of all witnesses?” Sir Cairbre suggested thoughtfully.

“Good one. Never thought of that…” I agreed, nodding. “But no,” I added hastily.

“Polishing my armor before the kill?”

“Throw in oiling your joints, too,” I said.

“Oh, yes, thank you for reminding me,” the knight nodded, the plume on his visor bobbing.

“And you probably want to incorporate some more flourishes,” I continued critically. “Your swings do have the right kind of wildness, but you have to finish with grace and sophistication.”

“Thank you so very much for those pointers, Alex,” Sir Cairbre thanked me profusely. “I don’t know what I’d do without them. Oh, and what do you think of my overhead hack? I know it packs a lot of power, but I was wondering if you could help me brush up on the finish.” With a rusty arm, he indicated the still-quivering sword that had its head dug into the carpet.

“Oh!” I slapped my forehead. “Stop trying to lead me off topic! Now, we were talking about the rules of our game.”

“Fine,” Sir Cairbre snapped. “Don’t help me on my overhead hack.”

“Sir Cairbre,” I said warningly. “You know what this means.”

“You’ll help me?” he clanked.

“No. I’m going to have to dismember you,” I answered matter-of-factly, putting a hand inside my pocket to get my wand.

“Dismember me?” he cried. “You wouldn’t’!”

“Care to try me?” I smiled.

“I don’t care,” the knight sniffed, regaining his pride. “I can still find someone to put me back together.

“Then I’ll just have to take your plume,” I shrugged carelessly.

“WHAT?” he bellowed. The sound vibrated inside his hollow armor for a long time after he finished.

“Go on,” I commanded, enjoying the sense of power that this was giving me.

“Oh… all right. I’m quite sorry, young man,” the knight apologized contritely. “I just got caught up in the moment. Do forgive me.”

I looked back at Sirius, who was rubbing his neck and head as if making sure they were still there and staring at us.

“Sirius?” I prompted.

“Wha—?” he jumped. “Oh… right. Yeah. Forgiven. Really.”

“Thank you, young man. You must really thank Alex—she saved your life!” Sir Cairbre advised. “But beware: she is more dangerous than you think.”

“Uh… yeah, I’ll keep that in mind,” Sirius muttered. I rolled my eyes and gave Sir Cairbre a good smack on his metal stomach, making his hollow insides echo.

“Ellison!” the knight whined. “You know I hate it when you do that! I vibrate for so long!”

“Really?” I asked sweetly. “I didn’t know that. I’ll keep that in mind, though!”

“Wench,” Sir Cairbre muttered.

“Mongrel,” I returned nastily before gesturing for Sirius. “Let’s go. We still have to find Delaney.” Sirius had his mouth hanging slightly open, and he seemed very unsure of himself.

And then yet another silence stretched between us. I sighed. When would this end? My wish was granted when… Sirius started laughing. Laughing. Yes, right out of the blue.

“Sirius…?” I asked softly.

Then he lost it. It looked really painful for him; he was rolling around on the ground in what looked like death throes. Great peals of laughter came tearing out of his throat, and tears even started streaming out of his eyes. Slightly worried, I knelt by him and tried shaking his shoulder. Was laughing this hard considered a normal occurrence? What if he had to go to the hospital wing?

“Are you okay?” I asked. “Stop laughing! What’s so funny?”

“Y-you!” he gasped out, taking in a huge breath and expelling it in yet another loud burst of laughter.

“What? Me?” I sat back, feeling embarrassed. “What did I do?”

“You… suits of… armor… funny…” Sirius gasped out. “J-just… YOU!!” Then he burst out into uncontrolled fits of hysterical laughter. Watching him laugh at me was just too funny, especially since he was writhing around like he was in serious pain. Against my will, a tiny giggle escaped my lips, and then I started laughing along with him.

We were fountains of hilarity, shooting out bursts of laughter at random intervals. I laughed so hard that my eyes started watering, my stomach got sore, and my cheeks cramped from smiling so hard. I wasn’t used to this! I had never laughed with such wild abandon before. Truth to tell, it felt so refreshing, so new.

“Hehe… are you done yet?” Sirius gasped weakly after some time.

“Are you?” I retorted.

“Quite,” he said promptly, sitting up and winching. “That was some heavy-duty stuff.”

“Quite,” I echoed his words, smiling.

“Okay, back to business,” he said, a little hurriedly. Curious as to why he was suddenly so flustered, I cocked my head and examined him closely.

“We should really g-get back to looking for Del—what?” he said, catching my look.

“Oh, nothing,” I ducked my head down in embarrassment. “So, uh, why don’t we try looking for her in her classroom?”

“Brilliant!” Sirius cried.

‘Not,’ Lexie contradicted. ‘You guys should have done that from the beginning.’

I smiled tentatively while my sore cheeks screamed in protest. “Well, let’s go then.”

I shakily stood up. Ouch. My stomach was in loads of pain because of the exertion I had put it through.

“Ah… I don’t feel like walking all the way up to the North Tower,” Sirius complained, knuckling his back. “And it’s so late, too. I think we should just go back.”

“No!” I cried. “We wasted so much time! We have to at least make some headway on this tonight.”

“Fine,” he sighed. “Let’s see…. Since it only ten right now, we can spend another two hours—”

“WHAT?” I screeched in surprise. “It’s ten already! Ten o’clock? PM?!”

“Yeah,” he replied slowly. “We’ve been walking around for a pretty long time.”

“No!!” I shouted in panic. “It’s almost the end of curfew! We can’t be caught this late! I have to get back to my dorm! I’ll get in trouble!”

“Don’t be daft,” Sirius chided nonchalantly. “Stop worrying. Come on, being caught out after curfew’s no biggie.”

“Yes, it is!” I hissed through gritted teeth, fighting the urge to run as fast as I could back to the Ravenclaw dormitories. “I’ll get told off by a teacher, and then I’ll get detention, and another one, and another one, and another one…. And then I’ll get suspended! Again, and again, and again, and again, and again…”—by this time I was pacing around in agitation, gesturing wildly with my hands—“and then I’ll get expelled, again and again, and again, and AGAIN! Don’t tell me ‘it’s no biggie!’”

“How can you get expelled over and over again?” Sirius mused.

“This is no time for silly questions!” I yelled. “I have to get out of here before I get it! Oh my God, expelled!”

“Would you stop yammering about getting expelled?” Sirius scoffed. “You’re not going to get expelled from getting one lousy detention. And I bet you’ve never even had a detention before.”

“I haven’t!” I confirmed. “It makes everything worse! It’ll tarnish my perfect, clean record!”

“You don’t need a perfect record,” Sirius told me.

“You only say that because you want to be the record for getting the most detentions!” I snapped.

“Stop worrying. I won’t let us get caught,” he assured me. “Come on. We still have to climb those blasted stairs up to the North Tower.”

“No!” I cried. “I have to get back to the dorm!”

“But I thought you wanted to make some headway on this project,” Sirius chirped in a singsong voice.

“I do!” I gasped. This was so painful! I was caught between my two greatest fears: getting into trouble and getting a failing grade. Even though I wasn’t the best kid, I had never gotten into any trouble, and even though I wasn’t the smartest student, I had never gotten a D before. And I couldn’t even imagine getting a T!! These thoughts appalled me.

“Come on. I promise I won’t get you into trouble,” Sirius’s voice brought me down to the present world and away from my furiously battling emotions.

‘Just do it,” Lexie snorted. ‘You never get enough excitement in your pathetic life anyways. Goodness knows I need something other than playing games with suits of armors!’

“Fine,” I expelled my breath, closing my eyes in horror that I was actually doing this. Me! Alexis Ellison!

“You look as if lightning’s going to come down and strike you on the spot,” Sirius commented.

“Is it over yet?” I gritted out between my clenched teeth. “I can’t look. Am I a pile of ashes yet? Strange, it doesn’t hurt to be struck by lightning…”

“Yes, you are now a pile of ashes,” he chuckled.

“This is not time to be horsing around!” I cried, my eyes flying open. “I’m in a very dire situation right now! And I’ll have you know—hey! I’m not a pile of ashes!”

“Let’s just get going,” Sirius said, grabbing my hand and heading towards the North Tower. I stiffened. He was holding my hand. I jerked my hand out of his grip, ignoring his confused look back at me, and instead concentrated on stepping as lightly as possible. What if some teacher heard our footsteps? What if they came to investigate? What if they found us? What if they gave me a detention? What if they suspended me? What if—

‘Stop thinking,’ Lexie advised. ‘Yeesh, you’re not the brightest crayon in the box, are you?’

“No, I’m not,” I agreed sadly. “I think I’m probably one of the darker ones, like brown or gray or something.”

‘You’re not getting this,’ Lexie sighed.

“I think I like gray better… no, but brown also brings me to mind very well as well… oh, but gray is really fitting…. Oh, oh, oh! I know I’ll be brown-gray! No, wait… gray-brown!” I cried.

‘Oh—my—God—’ Lexie groaned.

“What?” I asked. Lexie was being unaccountably weird again.

“Um… Alex? Who are you talking to?” Sirius interrupted my conversation.

“Oh, no one,” I answered, whipping back to attention. We reached the spiral staircase that lead up to Delaney’s classroom. “Just Lexie, that’s all.”

“Lexie?” Sirius raised an eyebrow.

“Oh, no… no… I wasn’t talking to anyone,” I hurriedly corrected.

‘Usually I’d say that you’re book smart, but not street smart. However, in your case, well… you’re neither,’ Lexie said.

“You’re one weird egg,” Sirious shrugged.

I let out a breath of relief when it became obvious that he wasn’t going to question me further about Lexie.

‘We really have to work on your lying skills,’ Lexie commented.

‘Shut up,’ I thought back at her.

‘Ah, you’ve finally figured out not to speak out loud?’ she retorted nastily.

I ignored her and concentrated on getting up the staircase without any mishaps. Staircases always scared me; they were evil things, both going up and going down. What if I tripped going up? Then I’d fall flat on my face and have the edges of the stairs cut into me. Oh, and I’d also be stampeded by the normal herd of students that usually filled the halls. And then if I tripped while going down the stairs… well, then I’d fall to my death, and then be stampeded by other students.

By the time I reached the end of the staircase leading up to the North Tower, my legs were shaking with exhaustion and I was breathing hard. I darted a sideways glance at Sirius; he seemed completely at ease and not in the least overworked.

Mental note: work out more often.

“Okay, now we just need to get up the trapdoor,” Sirius mumbled, walking towards the center of the bare room and looking up expectantly while I was still catching my breath back. Once I saw the silver ladder come down out of a trapdoor, I nearly took out my wand and blew it to smithereens. Except, of course, it was hard for me to move since I had a horrible stitch in my side. Stupid stairs.

“Ladies first,” Sirius indicated for me to go first with a charming smile. I hated that smile. It was bringing me closer to those horrible ladder rungs that would kill off what was left of my legs….

“In that case, I really couldn’t deny you your privilege,” I wheezed out. Sirius stared at me for a second, and to my surprise, he didn’t say anything more. In fact, he just climbed up the ladder with no other complaints!


I thought that all males would defend their manhood to death—but then again, I’m not really the sociable type, so I wouldn’t really know.

Just I was reluctantly putting my feet onto the first rung of the ladder, I heard Sirius breathe out in an amazed, almost scared voice, “Holy shit.”

“What?” I asked concernedly. Had Delaney been murdered?

Well, I really couldn’t blame the murderer….

“Come look,” he whispered down to me. With great difficulty, I climbed up the ladder the rest of the way and squeezed in right next to Sirius. His broad shoulders squashed me painfully into the side of the trapdoor.

“Is there any way for you to be less big?” I grunted.

There was no answer. I looked up at Sirius, who still had his eyes glued to something taking place inside the classroom. Curious, I turned towards the direction at which he was staring.

Bloody hell.





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