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What It Is To Burn by SnitchSnatcher
Chapter 25 : Let It Snow
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 42


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Once I had finally travelled down the stairs and into the Gryffindor common room for the third time that morning, I found that Remus was waiting for me. There was an unreadable expression on his face and he was twisting his fingers at odd angles that didn’t look all that comfortable. Concerned, I hustled over to him, asking what on Earth was wrong. He gently took me by the elbow and asked if he could talk to me in private.

I couldn't but thinking, Oh Merlin, he’s going to break up with me - and we aren’t even dating!

I allowed him to lead me out of the common room and I followed him through a series of passages that I had no idea even existed. What was even odder still was that Remus seemed to be at home as we climbed up the rickety stairs and ducked under fallen wooden beams. It took us a good time before we reached our destination and the entire time we had walked, neither of us had spoken a single word.

When we finally reached the Astronomy Tower, a place that I was very familiar with, yet could not figure out for the life of me why Remus had led me hear when it was freezing outside, he turned toward me, the look I had seen on his face in the common room returning.

“I know,” he said, his voice barely above a whisper.

Immediately, my stomach plummeted and I couldn’t stop a hand from flying to my mouth. The air was stolen from my lungs and it felt as though a paper weight had been settled on my chest. My throat constricted and I wondered who had told him or he was clever enough to figure it out himself.

“You do?” I said back uncertainly.

He nodded his head gravely. “Yeah,” he murmured. “I do.”

My abdomen clenched painfully. “Look, Remus, I would’ve told you earlier-,”

“It’s okay, Elle,” Remus said, an peculiar smile on his face. “I know that it was necessary for you to keep it a secret.”

I blinked, completely befuddled. Holy Circe, what was he on? He was okay with the fact that I may or may not fancy his best mate more than I fancied him? That was just too strange to comprehend, not to mention something that seemed completely out of character for Remus. While I didn’t picture him as a bloke who got angry very easily, he was still a boy and boys got jealous when it came to girls rather easily.

“Y-you do?” I stuttered. It seemed as though that was the only sentence I was capable of saying.

“Of course I do,” he replied. “I’m not planning on telling him either.” His lips quirked into a frown and he shook his head to himself. “Well, not yet, at least.”

I continued to stare at him, utterly confused. The cold air was starting to get to my fingers, making the tips of them go numb. I folded my arms over my chest and tucked my hands firmly against my stomach to make sure that they didn’t get frostbitten, which wasn’t very likely, but you never know; it could happen.

Finally, I said, “What on Earth on you talking about?”

He stared back at me, looking just as confused as I felt. “What are you talking about?”

Ut oh, I wasn’t ready for that territory yet, seeing as how I hadn’t exactly mentally prepared for that question. I mean, honestly, how do you tell someone that you fancy their mate as well as them? It just wasn’t something that was commonly practiced, so naturally, it just had to happen to me. Oh, Karma. What a cow, right?

Biting the inside of my cheek, I said, “I asked you first.” Yes, it was a childish retort, but it was the only card I had left in my hand that was still playable. . .to a certain extent, anyway.

Despite the strangeness of the situation, Remus fought hard against a smile threatening to turn his lips upward, and fortunately for me, lost. I did love his smile; it was so warm and welcoming and so. . .Remus.

“I’m talking about Lucinda sneaking around with Diggory, that’s what,” he finally answered.

Both of my hands flew to my mouth as I failed to stifle my surprised gasp. Of all things, this was certainly the thing I least expected to hear from Remus. I tried to gain control over my senses and the feeling of relief that was flooding into my stomach. But something told me that my face was a dead giveaway that I was a little more than relieved.

Remus sent me a strange look, a singular eyebrow quirked in a silent question. “Why?” he inquired. “What were you talking about?”

I let my hands fall and shook my head. “Nothing,” I responded quickly. “I was - er - talking about the very same thing you were, of course.” I could feel the heat rising my cheeks as my mind struggled to come up with an articulate conclusion to my rather un-epic sentence. “What else would I have to say?”

The expression that danced across his handsome features was doubtful, but if he had an opinion, he didn’t voice it. He ran his tongue over his top row of teeth. “So, how long have you known?”

“About Lucinda and Diggory?” I squeaked. When he nodded, I responded with a question of my own. “How did you know that I know?”

“First tell me how long you’ve known and I’ll answer your question,” he bargained.

Great. Of course I had to face a Marauder when it came to this subject matter. If it had been anyone else, I might’ve been able to convince them to spill the Bertie Bott’s Every Flavoured Beans first, but this was Remus - and he had been trained by the very best: Sirius and James. Merlin, life really did have a personal vendetta against me.

I sighed, rolling my eyes. “Fine, I’ll tell you. But can we go somewhere warmer than the Astronomy Tower? I’m freezing my arse off,” I complained, shivering for further effect.

Remus pulled his wand out of his pocket and with a flick, I instantly felt loads warmer. Clever wizard and his use of practical magic. Heat spells really were nice at times. “Better?” he asked.

I nodded. “Much.”

Prodding me with the tip of his wand gently, he said, “So, go on. How long have you known?”

I licked my lips and murmured my answer. “Since the beginning of October.”

His warm brown eyes went as wide as saucers for the briefest of seconds, but they returned to normal size and he bobbed his head. “Wow,” he began, playing with the collar of his shirt. “That’s - er - a rather long time to know and not tell someone.”

“It’s not like it’s my position to tell!” I exclaimed suddenly. “It’s not like I asked to be put in the situation as it was.”

Remus stared at me, an expression of complete perplexity on his face. “What?”

Finding a comfortable wall to lean against, which was rather tricky when all the walls were either missing a huge chunk and were made of rough stone that stabbed you in the kidneys, I began to tell him all about the fateful afternoon I spent cooped up in the library. How I had discovered the little affair that Lucinda and Diggory had been having behind Sirius’s back by complete accident and had been sworn to secrecy by Lucinda herself “or else”.

“Or else?” he repeated. He appeared as though he was trying his absolute hardest not to laugh.

“Well, excuse me, but all of us don’t have strong, sturdy backbones like yourself, Remus,” I spat, somewhat bitterly. I glared at the wall opposite us and beside me, Remus sighed softly.

“I didn’t mean it like that, Eleanor,” he whispered gently. “I just thought that you had more sense than that.” When I scoffed in offence, he winced. “That didn’t make it much better, did it?”

“I’d say it made it a fair bit worse, actually,” I replied, my eyes focused on the stony wall.

“I guess I can’t really explain how I meant it, to be honest with you,” he said. “I just thought that you would’ve stood up to her.”

“To Lucinda?” I laughed. “Surely you must be joking. Me standing up to the likes of Lucinda? She would turn the whole student body against me in the snap of her perfectly manicured fingers.”

“You do realize that you’re being incredibly silly, right?”

“Silly? Hardly,” I said, snorting mirthlessly. “If anything, I’m being smart. I don’t know about you, but I don’t fancy being on the Ice Queen’s bad side, thank you very much.”

Remus pushed himself off the wall and came around to stand in front of me, blocking my view from the spot on the wall I had been concentrating on. Lowering his face toward mine, he muttered, “Are you really that frightened of her?”

I chewed on my lip and faintly nodded my head, feeling like an utter fool. I had just admitted to who could possibly be one of the strongest people I knew that I was afraid of some blonde bimbo with legs as long as the Nile.

Cupping my chin in his hands, he tilted my head upward and my eyes met his. “You shouldn’t be,” he continued, his voice still soft and smooth. “You’re a hundred times the witch that she could ever dream of being, not to mention a million times the better person.”

“You really think so?” I questioned weakly.

Remus smiled and pressed his forehead against mine, his hands on either side of my face. “I don’t just think so, Eleanor,” he breathed, his mouth mere centimetres away from mine; his lips brushed against my mouth with each word that he spoke. A shiver crept up my spine and settled into my neck, tingling pleasantly. “I know so.”

He kissed me. I completely forgot about the devastatingly handsome bloke with stormy grey eyes, tousled black hair, and charming smile that I had spent the better part of the morning with, and had felt very same feelings that I was now feeling toward Remus.

Merlin, this whole fancying business really wasn’t worth all the trouble. At least, that’s what I tried to tell myself.

X - - X

That day in the Astronomy Tower, Remus had told me how he had found out about Lucinda’s affair with Diggory. When he and James had been on their way back to the common room with the crate of firewhisky, Pringle’s fat cat had come twisting around the corner and they had been forced to split up as it would lessen their chances of getting caught. Remus had been the one with the Marauder’s Map, something which he had shown me once we went back to Gryffindor Tower, and once he made sure that James was safe in the common room, he began to creep back to the Tower, only to see something that surely couldn’t be right.

Why in the name of Merlin’s good mother would Amos Diggory and Lucinda Matthews be in the same broom cupboard together on the night of a party that Lucinda couldn’t attend because she had too much homework? Surely it must’ve been a mistake, and Remus couldn’t help but itch his curiosity and double check.

Unfortunately for Sirius, it turned out to be true. “The Map never lies,” Remus had said with a glum expression on his face.

“Why didn’t you come back to the party straightaway?” I’d asked curiously.

“I couldn’t face him, Eleanor,” he had responded, his face glum and tone subdue.

I couldn’t help but believe every word he spoke. I hugged him close to me and we stayed there, holding one another close for Merlin only knows how long before we realized it was freezing outside and there was a good chance we might catch hypothermia.

The days seemed to melt into one another after that. November slowly disintegrated right before my very eyes.

Remus and I made an agreement not to tell Sirius about his girlfriend’s indiscretions until we felt he was ready to know. We were aware that there would be severe consequences when he found out just how long we knew, but it would be worth it; there was no way we were going to crush his spirits around the holiday season.

As much as I hated Lucinda for the predicament she had put me in, I didn’t want Sirius to suffer from heartbreak because of the stupid wench. It was absolutely maddening, to tell you the truth. I felt like I was keeping a terrible secret, which I was, but now that I knew that Remus knew, the burden seemed to lessen. At the same time, it seemed to intensify the guilt as well. I could only imagine how horrible he would react when he found out. My stomach clenched at the thought. Of course, Sirius would be completely justified in his actions, but that didn’t mean I had to like them.

Our schoolwork was finally starting to catch up with us. The professors seemed to think that they weren’t drowning us under ridiculously large piles of homework and so, they assigned us more each and every night. Sometimes I think that they conspired together and attacked us all with outrageous assignments all at once to see who cracked first. (It was a sixth year Ravenclaw, if you must know, and he was in the Hospital Wing for a good two weeks before his anxiety had ebbed away enough for him to step into a classroom without hyperventilating.)

I knew that homework was supposed to be a severely dreadful thing to do, but I couldn’t help enjoying myself in the evenings when we all gathered around a table and did our assignments. Of course, not much work got done within the first hour or so, but once someone (usually Lily) voiced this particular sentiment, we all buckled down, pairing up to do the work. Remus would always sit to my right and Sirius would be at my left, which put me in a rough spot. Remus’s knee would brush against my own underneath the table and sometimes, he would grab my hand and tickle my palm with his long, thin fingers. I would giggle, but unconsciously lean toward Sirius. Our shoulders would brush and we’d lock eyes, simply staring at one another for a few seconds before we’d laugh under our breaths, only to be kicked in the shins by Lily and James.

Thankfully, no one, especially Remus, thought anything of it. At least, that’s what I told myself.

Speaking of Lily and James. . .things between them looked as though they were heating up, so to speak. Much to the surprise of nearly every single inhabitant in the castle, including and certainly not excluding a handful of teaches, they were actually getting along. Quite well, if their occasional hand holding in the corridors was any indication that they had sucked face a fair few times. Lily had told me they were “taking it slow”. If she was on Cloud Nine, there was no describing what planet James was currently residing on. Everywhere he went, there was a spring in his step, a smile on his handsome face, and a greeting to be spoken. Odder yet, he hadn’t cursed, hexed, or jinxed Snape since the start of term.

In between the copious amounts of homework we were given each night, Sirius and I met up to four times a week in the extra classroom to work on our potion, which was going spectacularly. Most of the time, we would concentrated on our potion for about a quarter of an hour before the joking and Ingredient War would begin. Half the time, I would return to the common room with bits of crocodile heart in my hair and frog spawn on my robes, Sirius looking no better than I. No one would question us as they didn’t understand how throwing potions ingredients at one another could be fun.

As much as I loved our potions meetings, I hated them as well. I loved that I was guaranteed a good laugh around Sirius while we worked on our Potions project, but at the same time, I felt guilty that I was subconsciously flirting with Sirius the entire time. I wasn’t going to deny it any longer: I fancied Sirius. And maybe a little more so than I should. I was more than well aware that he had a girlfriend, naturally, but it wasn’t just that. Even though I wasn’t officially going out with Remus yet, I had still snogged him on several different occasions.

I know I didn’t belong to anyone, but I felt like I was betraying Remus for hanging around his best mate so much. But it’s not like I could help it, right? I mean, I wasn’t the one who asked James to persuade Slughorn to switch partners, I wasn’t the one who had asked for Sirius to be my partner - mean, in a way, I did because I hadn’t been paying attention and karma was a right fat cow, but that doesn’t count. I mean, it does because I could’ve told Slughorn “no”, but since I hadn’t been paying any attention to Slughorn, which happened a good lot of the time.

I tried as hard as I could not feel any sort of attraction toward Sirius, but it was easier said than done. Although I had fancied Remus for a while back in fifth year, over the course of sixth year, it had waned until this term when I was hit in the face with a lot of Remus. Not that it was a bad thing or anything, but still. I don’t know whether it was because I liked Remus once before that made Sirius so much more. . .well, what was Sirius? I wasn’t even sure, so why was I trying to confuse myself even more so than I already was?

Because your life is a huge mess of confused obscurity. the Voice chimed in the back of my head tauntingly.

For once, I couldn’t help but agree with the Voice.

X - - X

It was already the second week in December. I was sitting in the middle of Transfiguration, my head lolling to the side and my eyes drooping shut when it happened.

“Oh my Merlin, it’s SNOWING!”

There was a loud chorus of chairs scraping along the cobblestone and a stampede of feet hurrying over to the window to see if the proclamation was true. Professor McGonagall tried to quiet down the class, but once she saw it was a pointless feat, she rolled her eyes and began to furiously mutter under her breath.

Sirius and James rose from their seats and came to join Lily and I at the back of the crowd. We watched in amusement as the class swarmed around the window, pushing and shoving to get the first glimpse at the blurry bits of white as they drifted past the window. The students ‘ohhed’ and ‘ahhed’ as they pressed their faces up to the window panes.

“You’d think they just saw Slughorn doing the conga,” muttered James under his breath, shaking his head to himself, although there was a wide smirk on his face.

We all snickered under our breath and the two dark haired males exchanged glances over our heads.

“Are you thinking what I am thinking, dearest Prongs?” Sirius asked.

“If you are thinking that this calls for a snowball fight, then yes, Sir Padfoot, I am thinking what you are thinking, my good man,” James replied.

Lily shook her head, her emerald eyes wide in protest. “Oh no,” she said, flat out. “I am not participating in a snowball fight.”

“Why not?” the boys cried in unison. I managed an intelligent noise of. . .well, it was just a noise, truth be told.

“Because I’ve seen your snowball fights and they get violent,” she stated, folding her arms over her chest. “And there’s no way I’m getting myself involved in a snowball fight that might get me injured.”

James turned his body towards hers, wrapping a nicely muscled arm around her shoulder so he could nuzzle her neck affectionately. “Don’t worry,“ he whispered loud enough for us to hear, “I’ll protect you.”

I looked at Sirius and mimed gagging, making him snort. We both shook our heads at the open display of affection. Sure, it was sort of cute the way they were all touchy-lovey-dovey but some of the time, like now, they overdid it. And according to Lily, they weren’t even officially dating yet!

As if he had been reading my mind, Sirius joked, “If they’re this bad now, imagine what they’ll be like when they’re married.”

I stared at him, wide eyed and curious, before returning to my seat with the rest of my classmates.

X - - X

 “I‘ve already told you; I‘m not going,” Lily growled through clenched teeth as I pinned her arms to her side.

“Oh, come on, Lily, you’re making this more difficult than it has to be,” Alice huffed in exasperation, trying to tug the green woollen jumped over Lily’s head, which was damn near impossible seeing as how the redhead was constantly thrashing about.

“You don’t even have to participate,” I reasoned breathlessly, having just received a sharp elbow to my stomach. I trod on her toes in retaliation. “You can just sit out on the sidelines and watch as the rest of us get pummelled with snowballs.”

“If I’m just going to sit on the sidelines,” Lily barked, thrashing some more, her dark red hair whipping me in the face, “then why should I even bother getting all dressed in winter clothes?”

Though she did have a good point, I played the meanest card in my hand. “James wants you to go, Lily,” I began, rewrapping my fingers around her upper arms. “Isn’t that enough?”

Almost as though she knew I had played the dirty card on purpose, which I had, she glared at me and huffed in annoyance. “Fine, I’ll get dressed.” We released her and flexed our fingers which were aching from the lack of strength. “But I’m warning you, if so much as one snowball hits me, it’s you that I’m skinning first.” She pointed her finger threatening between Alice and I, but all we did was struggle to contain our laughter.

Seeing as how Alice and I were already bundled up and prepared for our snowball fight, we waited in semi-impatience for Lily to tug on all her clothes. She kept shooting me death glares, but I ignored them, smiling at her in return. Once, she even went as far as flipping me her middle finger, which apparently means something highly offensive to Muggles. Although I don’t see what is so offensive about a middle finger.

Lily reluctantly followed us out the door as we trooped down the stairs. James had instructed us to meet him and the others in the Entrance Hall, where they would be waiting for the Quidditch team to gather. From there, the teams would be divided into two. By the time we had gotten there, I saw all the familiar faces of the Gryffindor Quidditch team along with half of Gryffindor. Apparently, the word had spread that there was going to be a huge snowball fight on the front lawn before dinner, and people had congregated.

Apparently, James and Sirius were always captains and therefore, they got to pick the teams. I took my place beside Remus, who smiled warmly at me in greeting, his arm snaking around my shoulders. I felt comfortable in his arms, but at the same time, part of my body stiffened. I wasn’t exactly sure what was happening, but I tried to ignore it to the best of my ability.

I fancy Remus, not Sirius; I fancy Remus, not Sirius; I fancy Remus. . .

“Eleanor!” called out an all too familiar voice.

My eyes widened in shock and I gestured toward myself helplessly. “What? You want me on your team?” I asked James incredulously.

The bespectacled boy nodded enthusiastically, smiling. “’Course I do.”

I glanced at Remus, who offered a simple shrug of his shoulders. He unwound his arm from around my shoulders and I started toward James, wondering if I was walking toward my death. I was surprised, to say the very least, that I was the first person chosen for either side. One would think that James would select Remus first and Sirius would then pick Peter for his team. But alas, the world doesn’t work like we all wish it would and I was the first one chosen.

“You realize that you’re going to lose, right?” I said out of the corner of my mouth as I took my place beside him.

“We’re not going to lose,” James assured me, his voice firm and bright as Sirius called out for Lily.

The redhead shook her head adamantly and threw a pleading look in our direction, but the tall boy shrugged his shoulders and mouthed, “There’s nothing I can do”. She glared at him before turning her hard gaze to me. I pretended to shudder and she whirled around, shoving Sirius with two hands on his chest and going to stand behind him.

Surprisingly, Remus was the last person chosen. One would think that he would take offence to it, but judging by the look on his face, he was okay with it. In fact, he seemed to be, dare I say it, gloating that his two best mates were arguing over him.

“No, I want Remus!” Sirius shouted.

“But it’s my pick, you prat,” James returned. “So therefore, I get him.”

“I don’t understand how you get the first and the last pick,” Peter interjected. “Shouldn’t you get the first pick, James, and Sirius get the last one?”

Both boys stared at Peter for a few seconds, rolled their eyes, and started yelling at each other again.

“All right!” Lily hollered over their pointless bickering. “What if Remus were to be a referee of sorts for the game to make sure that no one cheated?”

They considered it for a second, looking at one another and seemingly having a conversation with their eyes. If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve sworn that they were Legimens. They nodded and shook their heads a few times before coming to a mutual agreement.

“Sounds good,” James said.

Lily smiled brilliantly at James and turned toward Remus. “Good, now how about we switch places, Remus?”

“That’s fine with me,” Remus said, stepping around Lily and joining the ranks of Sirius. Lily came to stand in between the two groups and James was. . .glaring at her?!

“You did that on purpose,” he accused. “Didn’t you?”

“So what if I did,” she replied. She reached up and cupped his cheek in her hand. “If you’re going to force me to do something, you should know that I play dirty.” She winked at him and let her hand fall from his face, upon which was an expression of complete shock.

James and Sirius led their respective teams outside of the castle and across to either end of the lawn. I was halfway tempted to break rank and scurry over to Sirius’s team when Alice grabbed my wrist and hauled me in the right direction. I glanced back at Sirius just as he winked at me, which sent a chill up my spine. I suspected that it had something to do with the cold and not the fact that my toes had started to curl in my boots.

There were at least fifteen students on each team, not including their leaders. So, it was suffice to say that when we crowded all around each other to hear what James had in mind as a game plan, it was a little uncomfortable. Alice was standing to my right and Peter was on my other side; we were squished together and Peter’s elbow was digging into my rib cage uncomfortably. When one of the girls, a Ravenclaw judging by the colours of the scarf wrapped around her neck, complained, James turned his hazel eyes to her and glared.

“If you can’t handle being squished together,” he began dramatically. “There is no way you will be able to survive out there, Emily.” He lowered his head, again dramatically, and sighed. “It’s a harsh battle out there and only the strong survive.” He reached across the tightly knit circle and patted Emily on the shoulder. “It was good knowing you, my dear.”

The girl’s doe eyes grew wide and petrified. She looked like she was having second thoughts about joining the snowball fight that everyone would be talking about for days.

Once he had made sure that no one was going to chicken out on him and head south for the winter, as James had so subtly put it, he told us his plan. “Right, we’re not aiming at the other team,” he explained. “We’re aiming at Lily.”

I punched him in the shoulder. “No, we’re not!”

“I’m the captain and I say we are,” he replied.

“Well then, I’m joining the other team.”

James and Peter gasped in unison, shouting, “Traitor!”

Alice rolled her eyes. “Look, you all are being seriously immature about this. We’re hitting the other team heavy, all right?” She looked around the circle and when James opened his mouth to protest, she sent him a dark glare that was very uncharacteristic of Alice. “Look, you’re wanting to throw snowballs at your girlfriend-,”

“She’s not his girlfriend yet,” I reminded her, looking pointedly at James. “Although a little birdie told me that she would love to be.”

“Oh, shut up!” James cried shrilly. “And no, Alice, you’re not commanding the team; I am. So, here is how it’s going to work: Lucas, you take Emily and Ryan to the eastern flank. Bryce, you, Hector and Rosaline are going to cover the western flank. Caradoc and Henry, you guys just go your funny business and weave in and out of everyone, throwing as hard and as much as you possibly can. Peter, Ellie, and Alice? You’ll be with me and attack the other team when I give the go ahead.” He looked around the circle, which was now more tightly packed than before, and eyed us. “Are there any questions?”

Emily raised her hand.

“What?” James asked impatiently.

“Has the game started yet?” she questioned meekly.

“No. Why?”

“Because they’re already hurling snowballs at us!”

Right after she had finished her sentence, a snowball hit Peter in the back of the head. We all stood up from our crouched positions and whirled around to see that half of Sirius’s team was on the line magically drawn that was separating the two sides of the field. They were hurling snowballs at us and, as quick as whip, James placed a Shield Charm over all of us.

“Cheaters!” Alice called over her shoulder as we all began to back out of the circle and hurry toward our designated spots.

I crouched down behind a snow covered rock that had been conveniently placed on our side beside Peter, who had his wand gripped tightly in his hand.

“Hey!” Lily called from her spot on a ledge. “That’s cheating, Black! The game hasn’t even started yet!”

From where I was crouched, I could hear Sirius’s laughter and found myself struggling to hold back a giggle. What could I say? His laughter was infectious. “Haven’t you heard, Evans?” he shouted in return. “All is fair in love and war?”

“That has nothing to do with it!” Lily hollered and I could practically hear her rolling her eyes. “The only rule is that no magic can be used to conjure up snowballs. Other than that, magic can be used to build forts, to conjure shields, and repel attacks. Is that clear?”

There was a loud, collective shout of understanding and once she made sure that no one was on the wrong side, she shouted, “Game on!”

That was when the first legal snowball hit. Although she had been complaining earlier, Emily took the hit to the face like a champion and hurled her own over to the other team. Peter and I nodded at one another as we hurriedly started moulding snowballs in our gloved hands. He lobbed two over our protective spot behind the rock before I even had a chance to make one.

“You’re good at this!” I complimented as I peeked out from behind my spot and threw the ball of snow as hard as I possibly could at Remus. It hit him in the stomach and I pumped my fist in the air.

“I’ve been doing this for a long time,” Peter said, laughing as his snowball smacked some Hufflepuff in the neck and knocked him over. We both winced at the same time.

“I can tell,” I chortled, throwing another snowball.

From his position next to Alice, James called out to me and when I met his gaze, he beckoned me over. In a mad dash, I ran across the field, my head hidden by my arms. At least seven snowballs hit me as I scurried over to James and Alice.

“Is it almost time for the attack?” I asked anxiously.

“No,” Alice answered. “But we figured we could use you over here; Peter’s got himself covered.”

“He’s a master at the snowball business,” James said. “Which is why I picked him right after you.”

I nodded my head and started to pack more snowballs.

Fifteen minutes later, we were losing people fast. They were either running for cover like chickens with their heads cut off or they were being taken captive by the other team. Alice was one of the first people we had lost and all because she hurried toward the line to save the Gryffindor Seeker, Ryan. James had sworn colourfully under his breath as he cast a look around our side and saw that we only had four people left: Peter, myself, himself, and much to everyone’s surprise, Emily, who was throwing and hitting more targets than everyone else combined.

“What are we going to do?” I asked, my voice frantic as I dodged a snowball thrown at me by none other than Sirius Black. I stuck my tongue out at him and hurled a snowball in his direction, which of course, narrowly missed him. He and Remus slapped hands together and did some sort of dance, which would’ve been amusing if I wasn’t freezing my bum off and losing the game.

“We have no other choice,” Emily said. “We have to attack them and regain our prisoners! There’s no other way!”

“We can’t all go at once,” Peter reasoned as he shoved Emily out of the way of an oncoming ball of packed snow and ice. “Otherwise we’d lose for sure.”

“So that means one of us has got to go,” James stated, casting a look about the circle.

No one spoke for a few seconds. We had our backs to the other team and, since they were such gentlemen, James and Peter had taken the outer rim and were getting hit with all the snowballs. I licked my lips anxiously before nodding to myself. I could do this. This could be my moment.

“I’ll go,” I said, my voice a great deal stronger than it had been moments ago.

“Are you mad?” Peter cried. “You’re the weakest link in our chain!” When I scoffed, he sent me an apologetic look. “It’s harsh, but true.”

“Which is why they would never suspect me to go forward and attack,” I argued. “Look, all you’ve got to do is provide a distraction, which I know you’re good at,” I said, grinning up at James, who smiled widely back. “And I’ll dart across to get everyone else. I mean, all I’ve got to do is break through their defensive line to the prisoners’ camp. How hard can that be?”

The glance that was exchanged around the circle told me that they thought I wasn’t good enough for the job. I sighed and shook my head. “Regardless of what you guys say, I’m going.”

James patted me on the shoulder and gave it a squeeze. “You’re a brave soldier, Ellie.”

“Good luck,” Emily whispered as I crept away from the circle.

We all fanned out and I took my position to the left, slightly in front of everyone else. With a great cry, James stuck his arm up in the air and they began to hurtled snowballs at the opposing team, I would’ve thought they were using magic. Sirius’s team seemed to notice the extra artillery that was being used against them and I took their distraction as my chance.

I ran as fast as my legs would carry me through the shin deep snow, nearly tripping several times. Miraculously, I managed to catch myself each and every time and somehow, made my way across enemy lines. However, much to my dismay, Conner, a boy from Hufflepuff, had noticed.

“Oy! She’s trying to get the prisoners!” he shouted over all the mayhem.

I froze where I was, like a deer in the headlights, and gave a small whimper. Everyone turned their bodies toward me and started to lob snowballs in my direction. With a loud shriek, I hurried toward the prisoner line, where Alice had her arm outstretched to me. If I could only tag her hand, all our captives would be able to go back to our side peacefully. Her fingers were mere centimetres away from mine when I was tackled to the ground.

“NOOOOOOO!” Alice shrieked loudly.

I struggle to flip over onto my back and, when I did, I found that Sirius Black was straddling me, his knees on either side of my hips, and he was holding his fists in the air victoriously.

“Get off me!” I roared loudly, placing both of my hands on his chest and shoving. But of course, he didn’t budge.

In fact, he looked down at me and smirked widely. “I don’t think so, Cupcake,” he made fish lips at me before shoving a handful of snow down my robes. I shrieked and struggled against him, but this only made Sirius laugh even more.

The war was waging around us, but all I could think of was the fact that Sirius Black was sitting on top of me. Sure, he had just thrown snow down my robes and I was shivering like a mad woman, yet a pleasant warmth had built in my stomach and was currently spreading throughout the rest of my body. I tried not to focus on it as much, but it proved to be a difficult feat.

When his fingers brushed against my side, I squirmed. Have I ever told you that I’m devilishly ticklish?

“What’s this?” Sirius mused out loud. His fingers danced along my sides again and I emitted a small squeak of protest, my entire body going into a convulsion.

“Sirius, please!” I begged. “You can take me prisoner. But please don’t-” My words were lost as he began to tickle me. I wriggled about underneath him, screaming and pouting and begging for him to stop tickling me. On a side note, I should tell you that with each jerky movement, my entire being flushed brilliantly. Thank Merlin it was so cold outside!

“Say it!” he commanded laughingly.

“Say what?” I managed to get out, my voice rough.

“Mercy!”

With a squeal and another wriggle, I cried, “Mercy! Mercy!”

Thankfully, he stopped tickling me. For some reason, we were both panting while we stared at each other. Much to my surprise, and secret delight, Sirius dragged his tongue along his lips as I tried to wiggle out from underneath him. His hands grasped my wrists and he attempted to pin them over my head, but I fought against him. And somehow, I managed to flip us over. Now I was straddling him, my knees on either side of his narrow hips.

“What the-,”

But his words were muffled by the alarming amount of snow I managed to scoop up and dump on his face. I laughed triumphantly and stood up, reaching over to Alice and tagging her hand. She and the rest of the wrongfully imprisoned team gave a cry of victory and hurried over to our side of the line. I, unfortunately having been touched by the enemy, was forced to stay on the other side.

I held out a hand for Sirius and helped him to his feet. Snow clung to his dark hair and his long eyelashes, which I envied. I had short eyelashes myself. We stared at each other for another long moment before laughing loudly. He grabbed me by the upper arms and frog marched me backward into the holding pin.

“So much for revenge, huh?” he quipped as he packed a snowball.

I didn’t say anything. To me, it was worth it.


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