Chapter 1 : The Noblest Black
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(2nd April 1979)
He stood there, talking to James and Lily. The baby boy, whatever his name was, was being held by Lily. He was tickling the kid. Amara's heart skipped a beat. He was good with kids ... that could only be a bonus ...
Amara held her breath, and then turned away. Breathing heavily, she thought, Just stop it. Stop watching him. He's nearly three years older than you. He's way out of your league ...
She sank down into a sitting position, leaning against her fence. Why, oh WHY, did her mother have to buy a house two doors away from Lily and James Potter? Sirius stayed there ... most of the time, anyway. Sometimes he would go off for a week or two at a time. It was torture for her, watching Sirius Black nearly every day of the holidays ... but it was torture going back to school, too, where she couldn't see him ...
'Ara!' called her mother from the kitchen. 'Come and help me with these potatoes please ...'
Amara sighed, and stood up. Her darkish brown hair bounced around her face, and she heard a cheeky male voice saying:
'Hey, Sirius, look who it is ...'
Amara clenched her jaws and ran into the kitchen, going bright red. James could be quite annoying. Every time he saw her he'd ask if she'd suceeded in seducing Sirius yet, and walk off roaring with laughter. Even Lily's lips twitched when she heard James doing that. Sirius, however, merely flushed and said something very quiet and angry to them, which just made them laugh even harder.
Amara felt her insides burn with anger at the thought of them. They thought it was funny that she fancied their best mate - what about James? He had almost stalked Lily for nearly two years before she agreed to go out with him!!
'Hey, what's up, Ara?' asked her mother, Emily, looking up from the sink.
'Nothing,' said Amara resentfully, taking her wand out and flicking it at the pile of potatoes. They jumped out of their skins and once and landed in the saucepan.
'Done,' said Amara, and began to head into the hall, but -
'Ara,' said Emily sternly. 'Now you can make the pie. Ever since you came of age you've been making the housework quick and easy, and I don't like it when you do that.'
Amara rolled her eyes. 'What kind of pie are we having?' she said, thinking.
'Right-o,' said Amara. Turning away, she saw the hideous toad-shaped cookie jar that never had biscuits in. She pointed her wand at it. There was a tiny POP!, and it turned into a delicious-looking chicken pie. She moved it to the left a little so it didn't look too conspicious, and said, 'There you are, Mum.'
Emily turned and saw the pie. Frowning, she said, 'Well, I suppose that looks good. Cooking spells are always a good skill, I suppo-- Amara Xena Ricaird, where is my biscuit jar?'
'Er ... you threw it away yesterday,' said Amara hopefully. 'Remember? You finally noticed that it was hideous.'
'You know perfectly well that I know perfectly well I have not thrown that biscuit jar away!' said her mother strictly, hands on her hips. 'Get my jar back now and do it properly, young lady.'
Amara made a face, and Transfigured the pie back to the jar, because screwing up her face and conjuring a proper pie. It didn't look as good, but it was edible.
'Thank you,' said Emily. 'And if I find anything strange in there when I serve it ...'
'You won't,' Amara said loudly, before going upstairs. She entered her bedroom, a small, cluttered room decorated in red and gold, and peered out of her window. Yep, Sirius was still out there. He was now watching the 10-month-old baby crawling around the garden, laughing with Lily and James. Amara stood on her desk and opened her window wide. She could hear the three adults talking faintly:
'Come on, Harry, come over here, yay, that's it!' Lily was crooning to the baby. 'Who's a clever boy, then?'
She focused on James and Sirius's conversation. Sirius's voice was low, but she could still hear.
'I do NOT fancy Amara!' he was hotly. 'She's seventeen, for God's sake!'
'You can't say you don't at least think she's fit?' said James incredulously. 'Saying nothing against Lils, I have to say she is quite good-looking. Nothing on my Lils though, of course,' he added hastily, as Lily hit him. Harry gurgled happily and also hit his father.
'OK,OK,' Sirius said heavily. 'She's good-looking. I think she's pretty. But that's as far as it goes. I don't fancy her.'
Amara was listening intently, her ear pressed so hard against the window that it hurt. Sirius thought she was fit? Even James said she was good-looking? Maybe there was hope for her after all ...
She collapsed onto her bed, sighing. Sirius Black thought she , Amara Ricaird, was fit!! She felt as though she could dance round the room for happiness, but she didn't want to seem immature at all ...
Amara remained where she was until later that night, when Emily walked into the room and announced she was going to the pub down the road. Amara didn't reply; her brain was weighed down with fantasies about her and Sirius.
She heard her mother leave the house and then the click of her heels fading as she rounded the corner. Amara heard nothing from outside except an owl hooting and the wind whistling gently in the trees.
After a few minutes, she heard footsteps up the garden path, then the click of a letterbox. She frowned, lifting her head off her pillow. Who the hell could be delivering letters at this time of night?
Slowly, she heaved herself off her bed and ambled downstairs, her hair dishevelled. Along the hall, into the kitchen ... there was no envelope, just a scrappy piece of paper, on which was hastily written a scruffy note:
Meet me in the park at eleven o'clock. Come alone.
Amara frowned. S.R.B? Who was that? She folded the paper up and looked at her watch. It was ten to eleven. She stood there, pondering whether to go or not. It could be someone dangerous ... yet it could be someone fit from town ... oh, the dilemma!
Two minutes later, she rushed upstairs, but didn't bother to brush her hair or apply makeup, and then headed outside. She left a note on the kitchen counter for her mother then left the house, locking the door behind her. She walked quickly up the road towards the park. When she got there, she saw no one there.
Frowning again, Amara started to head towards the swings to wait for whoever wanted to meet her, she heard a charming, deep voice behind her:
'Mmmm, Amara. Au natural. Just what I hoped you'd be like ...'
She spun around. She knew that voice from somewhere, everytime she heard it it sent pleasant shivers down her spine. But she couldn't work out who the voice belonged to, and she saw nobody.
'Who's there?' she called, backing away towards the swings and brishing her brown hair behind her ears as the breeze caught it.
Someone walked out from behind a massive oak tree that had probably been there for three hundred years, and Amara's hands dropped away from her hair in surprise.
COMING UP: Amara gets a date with her dream man, much to her mother's disapproval. Then she has to go back to school. Without her boyfriend.
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