The clinking of coins sounded like a gong in Sirius’ head and he moaned, turning over and burying himself under the sheets.
“Sirius?” A familiar voice roused him and he opened one bleary eye to see Alcyone standing in front of him, hair tied and fully dressed. That combined with the blast of sunlight that the opened hangings had revealed made him shut his eyes and wince.
“Close it,” he mumbled.
“C-c-curtains…” he yawned.
If he had looked, he was sure he would have seen comprehension dawning on her face before her quiet movements and the relief of semi-darkness assured him it was safe to risk opening his eyes again.
“Eleven. Everybody else’s left, so I came to get you. It’s Hogsmeade today, did you forget?”
He shook his head.
“Already awake, and already gone.”
Still closeted in the blankets, Sirius grinned easily. He and Remus had competed for who could sleep the longest for years now, both of them being the soundest sleepers and surprisingly enough, the easiest to wake up, in the entire dorm.
“We brought some breakfast up for you,” she answered, going to his bedside table now that he was awake.
“Mmm…” he rolled onto his side to watch her better, and as she made to go the door, he asked, “Where’re you going?”
She gave him a puzzled look.
“Could you wait for me?”
Her raised eyebrow made him smirk, and he tugged at her shirt
“Sirius…” He tugged harder. “Oh, all right,” she sighed, easing herself onto the stone ledge by the window. “Hurry up.”
Smiling slightly, he got himself out of bed, pulling clothes out of his trunk as he headed to the bathroom. The steam of the shower made Sirius close his eyes, letting the warmth wash over him. His thoughts slid to the day in front of him. A whole day with Alcyone…his imagination zoomed into overdrive…holding hands as they investigated the shops, sitting in The Three Broomsticks, Alcyone laughing at a joke he had made…his shoulder came into contact with the cool tile and he jumped, shaking his head back into reality. It actually had been James who had invited Alcyone to join the Marauders for the Hogsmeade trip, although Sirius had been ecstatic when she had agreed. It was almost as if she was on a date with him.
With that pleasant thought he turned off the shower, and began pulling on his clothes.
Left alone for some time, Alcyone glanced at the closed bathroom door, her wristwatch, and then moved to sit on Sirius’ bed, curious to see how he lived. She had been in the boys’ dorm before, but usually only for a few minutes, waiting at the door for them to grab a book, and once, to deliver a birthday present.
She looked at his open trunk with surprise. The folded clothes, stacked books, and carefully set Potions kits gave the impression of great neatness. His bedside table was more of the same; immaculate, with no spare quills hanging crushed out of half-opened drawers, or crammed bits of parchment squeezed into the cupboard.
This wasn’t at all what she’d imagined as the private space of Sirius Black.
Somehow, it was far more revealing.
The bathroom door opened with a click and Alcyone got up.
“You do scrub up quite well,” she smiled as they descended the staircase.
He grinned, but a faint tinge of colour appeared in his face.
“I’m glad you think so,” he said amusedly, before devouring the muffins, pumpkin juice, and toast waiting for him. “Ready to go?”
“Not yet, I have to change.”
“Change?” He had thought she was already dressed.
“I woke up only a bit before you did…this is what I wore last night. And I’m not going to Hogsmeade wearing an old pair of trousers and a shirt I slept in, Sirius.”
“It doesn’t look like it,” he offered.
“Thanks for the compliment, but no. I’ll be back in a few.”
He rolled his eyes, seriously doubting that claim, but went back to his breakfast, shaking his head over the silliness of girls.
“Why is it,” Sirius panted, catching his breath, “that girls always take so long to get ready?”
They had had to sprint down from Gryffindor Tower, braving the wrath of Filch, to get the last carriage to Hogsmeade.
“You’re just throwing an old stereotype at me,” Alcyone scoffed. “Besides…” she raised an eyebrow with a mocking glance. “You enjoy the end result, don’t you?”
He let his eyes linger appreciatively at the free tendrils of hair framing her face, the low scoop of the soft cream sweater she wore, and finally, the well-worn, dark blue jeans that he knew she loved.
“Well yes, I have to say I do,” he drawled and she laughed.
“No criticism? No fashion advice on how to arrange my sweater better or how to wear my shoes?”
“None at all,” he smiled, the sincerity in his voice making her colour. “You look perfect.”
Sirius, noting her almost blush, and her restless fingers, realised with an odd thrill of satisfaction that he was the only person who could make the collected Alcyone Lerant nervous.
Alcyone avoided his look, choosing to stare out the window rather than face the amusement she knew was there.
“I think we’re here,” she said quickly, moving out of the carriage so fast that she was gone before Sirius realised where they were.
“Why’d you run off on me like that?” he asked breathlessly.
“Did the thought that I possibly wouldn’t want your company occur to you?” She teased.
“Never,” he grinned. “you’d miss me too much.”
“Miss you?” She snorted. “Fat chance.”
“You’re just in denial,” he informed her complacently as they wandered into the Three Broomsticks, searching for the others.
“And you’re just drowning in your own conceit,” she retorted.
Her smug expression changed as she scanned the bar for their friends. “That’s odd…” she muttered. “Lily said she’d meet us here.”
“They may have lost track of time,” Sirius suggested, ushering her to a table. “We might as well get something while we wait.”
As it happened, neither Lily nor any other friends appeared at the Three Bromsticks and after waiting for close to an hour (and downing several Butterbeers), Sirius suggested that they move on.
“We can always catch up with them later,” he added, wincing as a blast of chilly air hit his face. For a spring day, it was unusually cold and blustery.
“Where to?” Alcyone asked lightly, scanning the array of brightly lit shops. “I would say Zonko’s if James hadn’t told me that he was planning to pick up whatever you lot need.”
“How about Honeydukes? I can always do with a bit of chocolate…”
“I can’t. I don’t like chocolate much,” Alcyone commented, grinning at Sirius’ shocked expression.
“Not like chocolate? Are you mad?”
She shook her head.
“I really can’t stand it. My cousin forced a whole bar down my throat once when I was seven and I nearly retched…it was awful.”
“That’s it,” Sirius declared, grabbing her hand and dragging her towards the store, ignoring the tingles that spiraled up his arm. “We’re cultivating a taste for chocolate in you.”
“Sirius…” He took no notice. “Okay, okay” she sighed, closing the door of the shop after her.
“Morning, Mr. Black,” the shopkeeper called to Sirius. “The usual?”
“Actually, I’m here to buy something for my friend,” he gestured toward Alcyone. “She doesn’t like chocolate, but we’re here for her to like it,” he ended confusingly.
The man behind the counter however seemed to have no problem deciphering Sirius’ odd explanation and nodded cheerily.
“Want to try out our samples?” he asked. “They’re just ready.”
Sirius’ eyes lit up with what Alcyone thought was a rather maniacal look.
Twenty minutes later, Alcyone was heartily regretting her acquiescence. The muscles at the corners of her mouth hurt from being continually opened, she felt slightly sick, and her mouth tasted disgustingly chocolatey. She clamped her mouth shut as she saw Sirius approaching with a suspiciously white sweet in his hand.
“C’mon…” he wheedled.
She glared her refusall, remembering that the last time she’d opened her mouth to say anything longer than a phrase, he’d stuffed a chocolate in.
“It’ll be the last one, I promise.”
Nothing but that, Alcyone later recollected, would have persuaded her to eat that last chocolate. As it dissolved into sweet nothingness however, her whole conception of chocolate underwent a change.
“That was good!” she exclaimed. “D’you have more?”
The fire in the common room burned steadily, attracting a large number of students, but despite the crowd, the Marauders still managed to get the sofa and two chairs to themselves.
“Lily, how come you never met up with us today?” Alcyone asked suddenly, looking up from her book.
Her friend grinned cheekily.
“How was your date with Sirius today?” she asked teasingly.
“It wasn’t a da-” she stopped short. “You did that on purpose? You deliberately left us alone the whole day?”
“Well you didn’t regret it, did you?”
“N-o…” she wavered. “But it was still wasn’t fair! We kept wondering where you all were.”
Lily relented, giving way to her curiosity.
“Yeah, what did you do?” Dorcas and Aella, who seemed to have been listening in, appeared out of nowhere.
“You were in on this too?”
“Of course,” Dorcas rolled her eyes. “You didn’t think that about seven of us could just vanish off into thin air without some effort, did you?”
“Well anyway,” Aella smirked. “I want to hear the details.”
“There really isn’t anything to tell,” Alcyone said frankly, putting aside the information that her friends had conspired to get her alone with Sirius. “We just went to the Three Broomsticks where we were waiting for you,” she gave each of them a pointed look, “Honeydukes, and a couple other shops.”
“So no kissing?” Dorcas asked lightly, and Alcyone almost fell off of her chair at the belated but violent nudge that Aella, meaning to reach Dorcas, had accidentally given her.
“None whatsoever,” she managed primly, ignoring Lily, Dorcas, and Aella’s giggles.
“Well that was a bit of a missed opportunity,” an amused voice said behind her, “but there will be other chances.”
Alcyone whipped around to see James, Remus, and Peter, all standing there with wide smirks on their faces.
For not the first time, she thanked Merlin she didn’t blush easily. As it was, she could feel her cheeks heat up.
“What?” he asked innocently, eyes shining with mischief.
“Oh shut up,” she said firmly, fighting the urge to smile through her embarrassment.
He winked at her and she pretended to ignore it.
“I think I’ll stop by the kitchens for tea,” she announced, moving toward the open portrait.
The others nodded, and as she stepped through the hole, she looked up and saw Sirius, waiting to come in.