Disclaimer: Everything you recognize -- such as the characters, certain spells, and the Wizarding community -- belong to JK Rowling. I don't pretend to be the second-richest woman in the world... But I wish I was! Any characters or plots you aren't familiar with came from me.
We sat in the living room of my house, the familiar scent of pine and tea mixed together entering my lungs as I breathed. Sirius and my Father were in a staring fight as my Dad poured the tea into a small white cup made of glass. I stared back and forth at the two of them.
Out of the unnatural and uncomfortable silence, my Dad spoke in a hard voice. "What's your name again, boy?" His eyes pierced into Sirius'. I glanced at Sirius pleadingly, wanting to catch his eye, but he was determined to stay strong and keep his eyes fixated on my Father's.
"Sirius Black, sir."
I cringed at the sound of shattered glass. My Father had dropped his tea cup very unexpectedly. I jumped, alarmed. Sirius was still staring at my Father, though his face showed how anxious and nervous he was growing.
My Father quickly pulled his wand out and did a spell inside his head, cleaning up the mess he accidentally made. Then, he looked into Sirius' eyes once again and whispered, "Black?"
Sirius began to nod, but I stopped him before he could say anything. "Er, Dad, Sirius isn't like the rest of his family. Honest! He's almost the exact opposite, actually." I glanced quickly at Sirius, who nodded rapidly. He wasn't making a very good impression, to say at the least. I could tell right then, by the glint in my Dad's eyes, that he would hate Sirius forever and for always, no matter what.
"My family was so horrible that I moved out, sir. I really can't blame you for reacting the way you did," Sirius said earnestly. He was trying to look as convincing as possible. My Dad had a knack for not believing people when they told the truth. I kind of had that same trait, just not as severe...
My Father glared at Sirius, and then he turned to me. "I'm going to go check on dinner."
He trotted off toward the kitchen, leaving Sirius and I alone to relax. Sirius exhaled deeply, his strained face loosening in relief. It was then that he was able to look around the house instead of at my Father. The smell of tea had left when my Father dropped his tea cup on the small wooden table in between both of the large, beige couches with a sort of leaf design. There was a large rug beneath us with green and many shades of brown. The beige walls around us made the room cozy and made everyone in it more able to withstand the ugly designs in the rug.
"Not what you're used to, is it?" I turned to Sirius. He snapped his head in my direction with his eyebrows raised. His mouth was hanging open slightly.
"Er, well, the Black house has always had this touch of dodgy-ness to it. It's kind of relieving to see a change," Sirius said quietly.
"I never wanted to live here. I hate this place, and I hate living with this git of a Father. I've always dreamed of moving to America. New York City. It sounds fascinating..."
"Why don't you, then?" asked Sirius, growing more comfortable with my Dad's absence.
I almost gasped. "What? I couldn't do that."
"You just said you hate living here," Sirius reminded. "Run away like I did if you really want to see the States."
"Sirius," I groaned in a whisper, "I can't do that! I haven't got any money, anyway."
"I do! I can support you... We can take a trip to New York, just like you always wanted! Wouldn't that be fun? And when we get back, we can stay with James for Christmas!"
"And where will I go for the summer? Certainly not James' house; you're staying there. I couldn't stay with Remus because his parents would send me home, even though my Dad would never take me back after I leave. And Peter, well... I barely know Wormtail. Where does he live, even?" I asked rhetorically. Sirius beamed.
"Does that mean you're in?" he asked hopefully, adding a toothy grin.
I thought hard about whether I would accept his invitation. Two seconds later, I responded with a nod and a smile. "When?"
As Sirius opened his mouth to make a suggestion, my Father walked into the room. "Dinner's ready," he muttered to us. I looked over at Sirius and back at my Dad.
"Er, right," I said, standing up. My Father nodded and walked into the small, dingy dining room. As I was about to proceed, Sirius grabbed my arm forcefully, yet gently.
"Kris," he murmured under his breath so my Dad couldn't hear. "After dinner, we can...you know."
I smiled and batted my eyelashes. "But, Sirius, I don't think I'm ready to go that far with you--"
"Cut it out, I'm serious," he laughed lowly.
"I know who you are," I said sarcastically. He rolled his eyes.
"We are definitely getting your hair its normal color when we...do that thing. The blonde is stupefying you."
"Gee, thank you." I rolled my eyes, and my Father growled for us to come eat. At that point, I sighed and quickly kissed Sirius' cheek before heading into the dining room.
I sat down in front of my Dad, Sirius on my right. I looked down and saw green beans, mashed potatoes, and chicken. My Father's chicken was usually dry and flavorless, so you can imagine the exotic feel to the meal. Sorry you couldn't see me roll my eyes just now.
"So Black," my Father spat, "How do you do in school? What type of grades do you get?" My Dad forked some beans into his mouth, not taking his eyes off of Sirius. Padfoot looked at me, begging me to save him from answering that question. I, of course, could not help him out because I knew my Father would ignore me or tell me to let Sirius answer.
"Umm, well, I usually get good enough grades. I pass...." Sirius coughed. "These potatoes are wonderful, aren't they, Kris?"
"I'm used to them," I shrugged.
"Get in a lot of trouble, do you?" asked my Dad accusingly. I never told him that! How did he know Sirius was one of the top trouble-makers at Hogwarts??
"I prefer mischief; it sounds more mysterious and has more substance." Sirius grinned at me, and I smiled back nervously. Then he glanced at my Father's unhappy expression and added, "Uh, sir."
"Yes, and what are you planning on doing after school?" asked my Father in a snap.
"Dad, you could've started off with his favorite color or something," I cut in hastily.
"Kristin, I asked the boy a question. Please refrain from your act of rudeness. Continue, boy."
I looked down at my plate. What type of person asks those questions when they just met someone?
My idiot, soon-to-be-lonely Father, that's who, I answered to myself.
"Sir, I don't know just yet," Sirius said quietly. "I've been toying with the idea of become an Auror -- that's a dark wizard catcher. But...ah, I don't know. It's a very serious job to handle, especially with the rise of You-Know-Who and all..."
"You think that you have what it takes to catch dark wizards?" inquired my Dad with an arched eyebrow.
"I believe he does!" I cut in before Sirius could answer. He looked down at me and smiled.
"Well, that's why I've been so hesitant... I'm not sure I've got the seriousness for the job, nor the concentration or dedication," Sirius admitted honestly.
I looked at him, shocked. "Wow. Quit being so modest. I know you know you've got what it takes."
"Maybe. Even so--"
"If you want to be an Auror, I highly respect that," interjected my Father. "It's a tough job. If you succeed, you will indeed be able to support my daughter, boy."
Sirius looked taken aback, but slightly happy. "Thank you, sir--"
"Are you sure we should leave now?" Sirius asked, watching me rummage around through my things.
Not stopping, I said, "Yes! It was your idea!"
"Opinions change..." Sirius drifted. I raced around my bedroom while picking up dirty socks and clothing that I had neglected to pick up when summer ended.
"Oh no. No. You're not backing out to live in this palace just because my Dad is starting to be fond of you!" I stopped, turning to Sirius. "It's not going to last long, you know. He's still a git and that's not going to change." I stuffed a box of chocolate into my trunk next to the compartment for my wand. "I'm not going to stay. We made plans, Sirius! Stick to them! You don't know what he does when we don't have company and he and I are alone together! It's terrible! Nothing good ever happens! I'm sick of his bitterness! Ever since Mum left, things haven't been normal! He hasn't even tried to find a new wife! And he blames...it all...on me..."
I ended my rant softly and quietly, about to drop to my knees. My voice quivered as I spoke and my bottom lip trembled vigorously. Sirius came up to me and held me in his strong arms. I felt safe.
"Okay," he whispered into my hair while stroking it. "We'll go to New York City. We'll go."
I gazed up at him. He wiped away my tears slowly with his thumb and tried to make me smile. I couldn't smile, though. I felt like an idiot. Crying in front of my boyfriend? Making him try and cheer me up? I felt angry with my Dad for making me feel such emotions. I wasn't done ranting. I wasn't done making my point known. I was finished hiding myself, my feelings, and my personality.
"What's up?" Sirius sibilated, staring into my outraged face.
I released myself from his arms quickly and walked over to my trunk. I shut it loudly with the same sour appearance glowing through me. "I shouldn't have cried in front of you."
"Huh? No, love, it's okay to cry in front of me. I don't think anything less of you or anything. 'What does not kill you makes you stronger'!" Sirius quoted, making a reach to rub my upper arm.
"That's not what I meant," I said, wiping my eyes. I started to make my bed to keep myself busy. "I meant I shouldn't have cried in front of you, I should've cried in front of my Father! Just to show him what he's done to me all these years! I want to make him feel like he's worthless and of no significance! I want him to feel how he made me feel! And then, we're going to Gringotts to exchange some of that gold of yours for Muggle money. We'll need two plane tickets and hotel money and, and, we just...need to go now!"
I ran to the door after getting my trunk collected. My room was as clean as the guest room, almost as if I never lived there.
Sirius was shocked and ran in front of the door, blocking my exit.
"Sirius," I said angrily. "Let me through!"
"You need to calm down," Sirius said in a caressing voice, hoping it would soothe me.
"Were you calm when you left your house?" I snapped, arching my right eyebrow. "Come on, Padfoot! Nobody likes it, but I've got to do it. If I don't, then he'll never know and he'll neverchange!!!!"
He stopped to think for a moment. Finally, after thirty seconds of contemplation, he stepped aside and made to go fetch his trunk. As we departed, Sirius clearly stated, "I had no idea we had this much in common."
I didn't reply as we raced down the stairs because I was in my head, thinking of how to seethe to my Father.
My eyes glinted with an unrecognizable mischief as I got my wand out. I didn't care if I couldn't do magic outside of school. No one would care or know because it wasn't anything big. All I would be doing was changing my hair.
"What are you doing?" whispered Sirius, staring at my wand.
Then, I thought, why not change my clothes to something more ME as well?
I pointed my wand at my hair to show Sirius exactly what I was doing. "Reverto!"
The charm returned my hair to its normal colors quickly. The natural blonde faded away as if dripping from the ends. The black ends were back, and passing a mirror, I felt more powerful in telling my Father off.
I spotted him reading the Daily Prophet in the living room, shaking his head at the happenings going on around the Ministry. When I wheeled my trunk into the room, he looked up. My Father saw my hair and glossy eyes, and he growled in what was supposed to be a surprised gasp.
"What have you done to your hair? Why are you crying? Where do you think you're going?!" My Father spat a lot of questions at me in one breath. I shoved my wand into my pocket quickly.
"WHAT? DON'T YOU LIKE MY HAIR? I'VE GOT A WHOLE OTHER WARDROBE, AS WELL! WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE IT?" I was starting to make his face turn many shades of red and purple, maybe even cyanotic.
"Don't speak to me like that!" my Father hissed dangerously. It didn't scare me, though. "WHAT DID YOU DO TO HER, BLACK?"
Sirius, who was just standing in the shadows, trying to stay out of it, gasped. "I--"
"HE DIDN'T DO ANYTHING! DON'T TRY TO BLAME HIM! IF YOU'RE TO BLAME ANYONE, BLAME YOURSELF!" I got closer to my Father, who was a lot taller than me. "I'M SICK OF LIVING WITH YOU. SIRIUS AND I ARE GOING ON A LITTLE VACATION OF OUR OWN, BUT DON'T WORRY. I'M NOT GOING TO DO ANYTHING 'UNSEEMLY'! JUST TO MAKE YOU HAPPY! WISH YOU WOULD'VE THOUGHT TO DO THE SAME FOR ME INSTEAD OF BITCHING ABOUT MY STUPID FLIGHTY MOTHER EVER SINCE SHE LEFT!"
My Father was seriously turning a light red hue. It looked like he was choking, and when he spoke, I expected his words to be stifled and croaked. "How dare you speak about your Mother in such a manner." His voice was quiet and threatened to leak anger. It was slightly shocked and unnatural. "So you think that I'm a bad father? How so???"
"YOU SHOULD KNOW!" I up-roared in tears. "And if you don't, I'm NOT telling you! Face it, Dad! You wanted the perfect daughter, just so you could push her around and blame everything on her. It's a 'darned' shame that you got me instead." My words spilled over like a wave of sarcasm.
My Father looked at me and sat down on the couch. He didn't speak nor utter a sound. He just sat there with his mouth hanging open. He wasn't blinking. Once looking at me for the last time, he glared and told me to leave.
"Don't worry, I'm going," I said, my energy lost. My heart rate was going back to normal and my head throbbed painfully.
Sirius and I walked out the door, our trunks in our hands. Walking into the black night, I suddenly felt sick, tired, and extremely unsafe. That's when I looked at Sirius with tears streaming silently down my face. He put his arm around me as we walked absent-mindedly.
"That was hard for you to do," Sirius said knowingly. "You know what we've got to do?"
"What?" I said monotonously.
"We need to find a fireplace, Floo to James' house, and leave for New York in the morning."
"Thanks for letting us stay here for the night," Sirius told James as we hulled our trunks to the guest rooms. I was in awe. James' house was humongous. It was just...wow. I had never been to the Potter home before. I walked, staring at my feet. Is everyone else's house this nice? I thought, ashamed. At least I'm never going back to that hell-hole again...
"Yeah, no problem," James smirked widely. "So you two ran away?"
"Yeah. But I think she'd rather not talk about it," whispered Sirius to James. James nodded, understanding.
"Oh, alright. Umm, so you two are leaving for America in the morning?" James changed the subject quickly. I replied this time.
"Yep," I nodded. "I've always wanted to go to New York City. Doesn't that sound exhilarating? Well, it does to me. I've never gone on vacation anywhere because of my--" I cut myself off quickly. Staring at the ground, my voice was hindering on the word 'Father.' I wasn't about to talk about him so soon.
"Err, yeah! It's going to be loads of fun!" Sirius said in false cheer. We made it to our rooms. I gasped at the room's beauty and class. Sirius didn't seem as appalled and just continued talking. "Kris and I are going to Manhattan. We'll be staying at a hotel--"
"With two beds, mind you," I quickly stated, piercing Sirius' ego. He faked a hurt expression, making me roll my eyes. A smile threatened to appear.
"Ha-ha, Sirius isn't getting any! Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!" James cackled, mocking Sirius. I kicked James' shin and he screamed.
"What was that for?!"
"For being an idiot!"
He stopped abruptly, trying to find the good in my reasoning. Then he snapped, "Oh...'kay."
"So there's only one bed in this room," Sirius smirked. "Are we sharing?"
"Sirius, no offense, but I'm pin-straight." James held his hand up, raising his eyebrows.
"I meant Kris and me!" Sirius growled.
"Only if you want my parents to go ballistic and throw you out forever," James replied. "This is your room, Sirius. Kris' is right next door."
I raised my eyebrows excitedly and went to go see 'my room.' It was very pretty.
I ran over to my bed and plopped myself onto it. It was very soft and extremely comfortable. If I didn't have any self control, I would have fallen asleep right then.
"Kris?" James voiced with Sirius at his side in the doorway.
"Hmm?" I mumbled, closing my eyes.
"Erm, Sirius and I were thinking of going downstairs to the kitchen to have some ice cream," James smiled. "You coming?"
I didn't really feel like parading around in front of James' folks that evening. I didn't want to be near anyone except the bed that I was almost asleep on. "Oh, no. I'm a bit tired and not very hungry. I think I'm going to sleep now. You two, um...have fun."
"Alright then," James nodded and raised his eyebrows. To Sirius, he whispered, "Let's go, mate."
Sirius nodded to James and spoke to me quietly. "Good night, love."
"G'night," I murmured, clutching a pillow tight. I didn't bother myself with taking my shoes off or my clothes to put pajamas on. I was too exhausted and had a big day with Sirius ahead of me.
I felt a vibration underneath me. I heard laughs coming from two different people. My eyes fluttered open slowly to meet the face of a jumping James on my bed.
So naturally, I screamed.
James stopped jumping and got off of the bed to stand near Sirius. "Oh good! You're up! Finally. Get dressed and ready! Then come downstairs for some breakfast. We're having pancakes. You're going to spend three days in your very own dream!"
"I'm only up because you were jumping on my bed," I snapped, glaring through narrowed eyes. I held my blanket close to me because it was a bit cold in the room. Staring at James and Sirius, I waited for them to leave the room so I could get ready.
"Well? What are you waiting for? Get up!" James exclaimed cheerfully.
"No way!" I said in a high pitched voice. "Leave first!"
"Then you'll go back to sleep!" Sirius made himself known.
"I willnot! I'm not dressing myself in front of two eager teenage boys who know they're not going to 'get any'!" I weaved chuckles in and out of my words, slowly starting to stand up.
"Hey now, that's a bit harsh. It isn't James' fault that he hasn't got Lily anymore--" Sirius began quietly.
"Oh please, I was talking to the both of you," I said, walking over to my trunk to gather an outfit together. "And James has Lily still; she's just a bit out-of-reach at the moment."
"What did Lily say?" James asked hopefully.
"We didn't really talk much," I muttered, picking out some black pants with white pinstripes on them.
"Did she tell you what I told her?" Sirius piped, walking over to the unmade bed to sit on it.
I paused. Lily didn't tell me. Was there a reason for that, or was I just being paranoid? Then again, why would Sirius bring it up if he didn't want me to know? "Er -- no. She...didn't tell me."
"Man, what did you three talk about?" James probed, interested.
"Just leave, I need to get ready," I said energetically. I pulled a teal tank top out, along with a black, zip-up hoodie with multi-colored skulls going diagonally. I then got a wave of goose bumps on my arms. The air felt like ice.
"Fine, we're going, geez," James sighed dramatically.
"Wait!" I said, standing up with my clothes in my arms. James turned around, along with Sirius.
"Yes?" Sirius asked mockingly.
"Do you feel that?"
"The chill in the air of this room! Merlin!" I said in exasperation.
"It's winter, get used to it," Sirius laughed, his eyes shifty.
I then realized something. "Are you pulling a prank on me?"
"No! You're my lay-day," Sirius said, extending the word 'lady' while putting his arm around my neck.
"That never stopped you before," I snapped. "Look, I know you're not telling me something. I'm going to find out what that is, and when I do--"
"--it will be funny," James smirked, though he tried to hide it. "Meet you in Sirius' room!"
They rushed off with laughter. It was then that I knew something was up. I didn't like it at all.
I was uneasy as I made my way to the bedroom's bathroom. It was white and simple, so unlike the bedroom. I placed my clothes on the counter and searched for a towel. I grabbed a soft yellow one and set it next to my clothes. I looked around cautiously and started undressing right after I turned the shower on. I got those chills once again.
Stepping inside slowly, I felt the warm water kiss my body smoothly. I started to cleanse myself quickly, first smelling the soap and testing it on my finger. What if they put dye in it or something? Well, they didn't, so it was alright to use it. I then grabbed the shampoo and did the same thing. Nothing. When I was rinsing my hair, it got really cold all of a sudden. The warm, comfortable water had betrayed me and turned icy. I shrieked quietly and covered my mouth, stepping out of the shower. I grabbed the towel and securely wrapped it around me.
When I jumped out of the shower and turned it off, freezing to death, I turned around and saw a tall, transparent figure looming over me with a big grin. It was then that I could not stifle my scream. There was a ghost living in James' house!
"AHHHHH!!!" I yelled, rushing out of the bathroom. Too shocked, angry, and embarrassed to think correctly, I made my way to Sirius' room next door with the towel wrapped securely around my body.
When I opened the door roughly, James and Sirius were laughing their arses off. They knew about this and didn't tell me.
"You two knew!" I barked, slipping into the room and shutting the door. "And you didn't bother to tell me? YOU HAVE A FREAKING GHOST IN YOUR MANSION!!!"
"Shh, he's a little sensitive!"
"You know what, James? I could care less right now. I knew you two were plotting something! What did you do, send him in there or something? Hmm??" I snapped, though the boys thought it was funny. I guess I was acting like a maniac...but still!
"No, he likes the smell of the soap, so he usually hangs out in the guest bathrooms because my parents have banned him from the regularly-used ones," snickered James with a smile.
"You think I am that thick?" I said in disbelief. "Ghosts can't smell. They're dead! And you can't ban them from anywhere--"
"We asked him kindly then, however you want to look at it," James shrugged.
"Will you two be quiet? Merlin, you're having the dumbest argument ever..." Sirius interjected softly.
I turned to him with narrowed eyes. "It's not dumb if you're me -- which you're not -- so of course you think it's stupid! You aren't the one that got betrayed and used for entertainment purposes!"
Sirius just made a contorted expression, like he wanted to laugh but all he could do was smile the biggest, most stupid grin.
"What!" I snapped, looking at him in exasperation.
"You're not wearing any clothes." Sirius pointed to my fluffy yellow towel in amusement. "Need help dressing?"
"No! I just want to get that ghost out of my room!"
"Are you okay? You look slightly pale. Would you like me to wet a cloth for you?" Sirius changed the subject completely.
"Of course I look pale! I just took fifty years off of my life because of you two prats!" Stomping out of the room, I walked away from the small disagreement. Not fight. Just a disagreement. Sirius and I had only ever fought about serious things, not ghosts and random subject-changing.
I shut my door as I entered the room and gasped. There was a barn owl perching itself on my bedpost with a parcel on its leg.
I walked over to it slowly. It seemed like a nice enough owl; when I reached for the letter, it didn't bite me or anything. "Thanks," I said to it lamely, trying to open the letter while keeping my towel on. The room was still cold from the ghost, the unknown, mysterious ghost that popped up occasionally a few times.
I read the letter carefully with an angry face. Was I really reading what I was reading, or was I imagining the ink on the parchment telling me something I'd rather not believe?
"Oh," I gasped, covering my mouth with my a free hand. Tears started welling in my eyes. "It's all my fault.... How could this happen?"