In the days after the birthday party, the whole school was shaken by the news that Sirius Black had decided to go steady with a girl. Mia had even heard Barbara Lasher commenting with a friend that maybe Sirius was only dating her because her family was loaded and he had been disowned and ‘that would be the only explanation for him to date the Davis girl’. Of course, just a few hours after Mia had told Sirius about that, Lasher showed up in the Hospital Wing covered in Hives.
“What’s that putrid smell?” Sirius asked mischievously as he and the Marauders passed night next to Lasher after leaving the Care of Magical Creatures class, the last of the day, about a week after his birthday.
“I’d say it smells like rash-ointment,” James pointed out. “Don’t you agree guys?” he asked Remus and Peter.
“Doesn’t seem like dung to me,” Remus simply said as Peter shrugged.
Sirius chuckled. “But who among us would need to use rash ointment?” he asked them, looking around. His eyes landed on Lasher and he smiled mischievously. “Babbs, how are the hives? Madam Pomfrey lets you walk around looking… or rather smelling, like that?”
Barbara turned redder than she already was with the rage. “I know it was you,” she said through her teeth, a glare on her face. “You did this to me!”
“I dunno. Maybe it is a side-effect of the bitchiness,” he pointed out. “The body works in the strangest ways.”
“You… YOU!” she growled.
“Look at the bright side,” James told her. “It will pass in a couple of weeks as long as you keep applying that wonderfully smelling ointment.”
Barbara gritted her teeth even more and reached for her wand. The only thing that kept her for cursing them was the fact that Filch showed up telling them to hurry inside because it was about to rain and he didn’t want them filling the whole castle with mud. Lasher looked even more furious and walked away with a murderous look on her face, followed by a bunch of other Slytherins leaving the Marauders behind laughing.
“Brilliant, Padfoot,” James said. “Just brilliant.”
Remus coughed. “Don’t we usually make a rule of not being too hard on girls?”
“That’s not a girl,” Sirius stated. “That’s a harpy. Rules don’t apply to her. Nobody questions my newfound capacity of loving a girl and gets away with it. And admit it, Moony, Babbs looks a lot more colourful now, doesn’t she?”
Remus tried to look serious but didn’t succeed. “Red does suit her like a glove.”
“There’s a… Hogsmeade visit… next weekend,” Mia told Sirius between kisses. The two of them had met about half an hour after his confrontation with Lasher and, after spending a while with their friends in the common room, excused themselves to Sirius’s dorm for a bit of snogging on his bed.
He pulled away for a moment. “There is?”
She nodded. “Didn’t you see the notice on the board? Lily put it there half an hour ago.”
Sirius shook his head. “Guess this means we get to have an actual date.”
Mia nodded. “Let me warn you that you won’t see me inside Madam Pudifoot’s for any money in the world,” she said. “Last time I was there—“
“Your date’s ex showed up, yelled at him and next thing you know they were snogging in an alley,” he recited. “Don’t worry, I’m as eager to go into that pink hole as you are.”
He grinned and pecked her lips again, a full snog following. Being able to actually show each other how they really felt was still pretty new to them. Sometimes Mia imagined that was all part of a very elaborate fantasy made inside her head – to tell the truth, if someone had told her one year before this would happen, she wouldn’t believe it. But at the same time it felt so damn right.
It was the knocking on the door that made them pull apart. Sirius rolled to her side and groaned. “What?” he asked.
A red-faced Peter opened the dorm’s door with a hand covering his eyes. Mia would have found that scene comical if it wasn’t for the fact that she was so frustrated for having been interrupted.
“I… er… I need to get my… book,” the short boy said. “Sorry.”
“You can stop covering your eyes, Wormtail,” Sirius told him in annoyance. “We look decent.”
Peter slowly lowered his hand and ran closer to his bed, opening his truck and taking out a book. “Er… thanks. Go back to… what you were doing.” After that, he practically ran out of the room.
They stared after him with eyebrows rose.
“We really need to start working on finding him a girlfriend,” Mia pointed out. “Maybe that will make him less awkward.”
Sirius shook his head. “Forget Peter,” he said. “Where were we?”
She smiled as he leaned to another kiss.
Saturday morning, Sirius and Mia managed to leave Hogwarts before the rest of the students started to form a mass in front of the school’s gates. The weather was remarkably cold, considering spring was almost coming, giving them a good excuse to walk around the village very cosily.
Also, the few students that had also gotten to the village early seemed to be looking at them intently, sometimes pointing and whispering things to each other.
“Is it me or everyone is staring at us?” Mia whispered to Sirius. She hated to be the centre of everyone’s attention – that was why being ignored by most of the non-Gryffindor school population never bothered her.
Sirius shrugged. “Just let them stare, as long as that is all they do.”
“It’s annoying,” she replied.
Her boyfriend laughed. “Well, you couldn’t expect people to take the fact that I am out of the market lightly,” he told her. “I’m sure people will eventually get used to you managing to get the hottest and most desired bachelor in the school for yourself.”
Mia rolled her eyes. “Add modest to that list of qualities,” she told him sarcastically.
He grinned and pulled her closer, kissing the top of her head. “The qualities are all for you.”
She couldn’t help smiling too and the two of them kept strolling lazily though the village’s main street. Suddenly, Mia stopped in her tracks. “What the bloody hell is she doing here?!” she asked in a surprised tone.
“Who?” Sirius asked in confusion. He suddenly realized who she meant. A tall woman with dark brown hair who Sirius wouldn’t give more than thirty years old and, if he didn’t know better, could have assumed to be Mia’s older sister was walking in their direction.
“There you are, Mia,” she said. “I was wondering if I had come too early.”
“Lulu, what are you doing here?” Mia inquired in disbelief. “How did you know I would be in Hogsmeade today?”
Lulu. So that is Mia’s nanny, Sirius thought. He had pictured her at least looking old enough to be Mia’s mother. Also, considering the circumstances of Mia’s upbringing, meeting that woman was the equivalent to meeting his girlfriend’s ‘parents’.
“Poppy told me,” Lulu replied. “You know, your school matron. We’ve known each other since school.” She turned to Sirius, checking him from head to toes. “And you must be Sirius Black.” Her tone was even – he couldn’t tell if she had approved him so far or not.
“Er… hi,” he said awkwardly.
Lulu looked close to laughing with his short and nervous reply before she turned to Mia. “Let’s go to the Three Broomsticks, shall we? It’s freezing out here.”
Before any of them could reply, Lulu turned around and started walking in pub’s direction.
“So…” Mia started as they followed the other woman to the pub. “That’s Lulu.”
“Yeah,” he said.
“I had no idea she was coming today,” she stated, looking at him. “Please say something.”
“You forgot to mention she was this young,” he said. “I swear I thought for a moment she was your long-lost sister or something. Are you related?”
Mia laughed as they entered the Three Broomsticks. “For the record, Lu is not that young - she’s thirty-four. And, as for being related, who knows? Everyone seems to be related in the wizarding world. I wouldn’t be surprised if she was my fourth cousin three times removed of something like that.”
That remark about everyone being related in the Wizarding World made Sirius shudder for several reasons but mostly because wondered for a moment if he and Mia were related too. Merlin, I hope not, he thought.
The two of them approached Lulu’s table and took the two seats in front of her.
“So, Sirius,” she started. “As you probably know, Mia is practically my family.”
“Yes… ma’am,” Sirius replied. He really didn’t know what to say – he had imagined he would have a lot of time to get used to the idea of meeting Mia’s mother-like nanny before that actually happened.
“Call me Lulu,” she said. “Ma’am makes me sound old. But, as I was saying, considering my history with Mia, I feel like I’m supposed to, well, make sure your good for her.”
“Lu!” Mia shouted in disbelief. Lulu couldn’t be doing that to her, she just couldn’t!
“Calm down, I’m not going to boil him alive,” she told Mia. “I’m just going to ask him a few questions.” Lulu turned to Sirius, who was now white as a sheet. “Let’s start. Criminal record?”
“What?” he inquired in confusion. His brain was very slow at the moment.
“Do you have any criminal record?” she repeated slowly.
“Er… do Filch’s punishment records count?” he asked back.
Lulu smiled. “Right, Mia mentioned you have knack for pranking. What’s life without a bit of fun? Anyway, how do you feel about muggleborns and half-bloods?”
“They’re as good as anyone else,” Sirius replied automatically. Maybe that wouldn’t be as bad as he had foreseen, if she was about to ask him questions of that sort.
“For Merlin’s sake, Lulu!” Mia said, her face bright red with embarrassment.
“It’s okay, Mia. I don’t have any addictions,” Sirius said. Well, maybe he had if snogging Mia counted.
“Stalking exes?” Lulu asked.
“Not that I know of,” he told her.
“How many ex-girfriends?”
Mia covered her face with her hands, hoping she would just die before Lulu embarrassed her further. Why the bloody hell was she doing that?!
Sirius hesitated in that one. “Ex-girlfriends: none. Dates and snogs: a bunch. Well, a large bunch.”
Lulu nodded. “And what made you all of a sudden see Mia so differently?” she asked.
“Lulu!” Mia shouted in disbelief. “We’re done here!”
“It’s okay,” Sirius told her, his hand covering hers. “She’s just doing her job protecting you.” He turned to Lulu. “Mia was always different to me. That’s why I never dared to date her before. Because she was too important for me to hurt.”
Lulu leaned back on her chair and smiled at Mia. “I like him.”
Sirius grinned in triumph and Mia looked at her disbelief. “So you had to question him like a criminal just to conclude that,” she accused.
“Your parents did a good job hurting you over and over,” Lulu said naturally. “I’m sure you can understand I don’t want you to suffer more than you need to, so I had to make sure this boy was good enough to take care of your heart.” She looked at Sirius. “Ironically enough, seems like he has already given his.”
“Er… thank you,” Sirius replied, not sure of what to say.
“Don’t thank me,” she said. “Just let me warn that if you ever hurt her… well, let’s just say you’d better have a coffin ready. And get over the nervousness – you’ll have to get used to me for when you come over during summer, which, by the way, I’m demanding or else Mia will be lurking around the house looking like something ate her puppy.”
“Thanks,” Mia said dryly before looking at Sirius. “See what I have to put up with?”
“I can’t complain,” he said. He actually liked Lulu – it seemed like the two of them shared the purpose of protecting Mia.
Lulu laughed. “Well, I won’t take more time from your date,” she said, getting up. She raised an eyebrow when Sirius and Mia got up too. “Aren’t you two going to stay all cosy here?”
“I doubt the other costumers would like to witness a snogging show,” Mia offered as she followed her nanny out of the pub.
“Oh, that reminds me,” she said. “Be safe!”
Mia blushed. “Lulu! We’re not doing that!” she whispered furiously as Sirius fought back laughter. Hearing a thing like that should be mortifying, coming from the person who had raised his girlfriend but, after meeting Lulu, it just sounded too comical to be truth.
The cold air of the street hit them like a train and he wrapped a protective arm around Mia.
“Well, it was nice to meet you, Sirius,” Lulu told him. “Keep an eye on—“
“Lucy?” an unfamiliar male voice called behind Lulu. By the way her face tensed, both Mia and Sirius realized it didn’t sound so unfamiliar to her. The man calling Lulu’s name was about the same age as Lulu. He was tall with short sandy blond hair and chocolate coloured eyes.
Mia’s nanny turned to see him. “Gabe,” she replied, her voice sounding soft. “It’s been years.”
He nodded. “It has.” His eyes fell on Mia and Sirius. Mia could swear she heard him gulp. “Aren’t you going to introduce me to your… friends?”
“Right,” Lulu murmured. “Gabe, this is Amelia Davis and her boyfriend, Sirius Black.” Then, she turned to the other two. “This is Gabriel McKinnon. We were… friends back in school.”
“McKinnon?” Sirius asked in surprise. “Like Marlene?”
“She is my niece,” he said calmly. “Do you two know her?”
Mia nodded. “She’s my dorm-mate.”
Lulu coughed and looked at Mia and Sirius. “Aren’t you supposed to be going back to your date?”
That was clearly code to ‘Get Lost’. Mia nodded, understanding whatever conversation those two were about to have was not for her ears. “It was nice to meet you, Mr. McKinnon.”
“Yeah, nice to meet you,” Sirius said too before the two of them walked away. “Very interesting, that nanny of yours,” he said when they were a few dozens of miles away from Lulu and McKinnon.
“Yeah,” Mia whispered. She snuggled closer to him and couldn’t help wondering why Gabriel McKinnon looked so familiar to her even though she had never met him before. She knew, however, better than to ask Lulu.
Meanwhile, in front of the Three Broomsticks the conversation had a slightly different tone. Lulu could feel Gabriel’s stare piercing through her like a sword even before their eyes met: pale green meeting brown.
“That girl… It was her, wasn’t it?” he inquired in a low tone.
Lulu nodded. “That’s her.”
He opened and closed his mouth once before actually letting the words out. “You went back for her?”
“I did,” she interrupted. “But I’m just her nanny. She doesn’t know. I couldn’t stay away, Gabe, I just couldn’t.”
He pursed his lips for a moment. “Well, you could have said something. Did you think it was easy for me? I’ve always wondered how she was, what she looked like…”
“You can stop wondering now,” Lulu said. “You’ve just seen her.”
“And she’s dating already…” he mumbled. “Merlin, time does pass.” He was silent for a moment. “Do you regret it?”
“Every day,” Lulu admitted sadly.
Gabriel sighed. “Me too,” he told her. “Maybe if things had been different we would have had an actual shot.”
She shook her head. “If things had been different they wouldn’t be like they are now, Gabe. The way they are isn’t perfect but at least she’s around.”
He nodded in acceptance. “It was good while it lasted. But you never know the future.”
“You never know,” she agreed.
“I’ve got to go on with the patrolling. The auror office put me here to look after the kids during the Hogsmeade weekend. After the last attacks they don’t want to take chances,” he told her.
“I’m glad they don’t,” she stated. “It was good to see you, Gabe.”
“You too, Luce,” he replied and started walking away only to turn around suddenly. “You did a good job, Luce. She seems like a good girl.”
“She is,” she confirmed. “A lot better than we were. And a lot smarter.” He smiled and this time, when he turned around, he didn’t turn back.
Lulu sighed. They had had something very powerful in the past but here they were now, parting ways again. Sometimes people were just not meant to be.
A/N: I am in a giving mood today, considering I wasn't going to post until friday... Alright, so I am daring your deductive skills - what is Lulu's big secret? I am obviously asking this to those who didn't read the previews version of the fic or you will already know. Pounds of imaginary candy to those who figure it out.