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The World is Ending by _EmBoDiMeNt_Of_A_nAtIoN_
Chapter 17 : No More Ms. Nice Girl
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 4


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((A/N: Whee!!! Ch. 17!  I feel so accomplished!! Thanks again to all those who reviewed!! And even to those who fave or alert!! Review today and get a free... non-existent cookie!  But seriously, reviews are like sunshine!! Review!!))

((Disclaimer: I am the manifestation of awesomeness, but... I am not J.K.))

I was through being Ms. Nice Girl.  I was done being patient.  I wasn’t going to wait any longer, and I finally snapped.

“Jordan, you’ve been in the bloody shower for over a half an hour, now get the fuck out so I can wash!”

Yes, Melanie was apparently in a better mood than usual.  She was taking advantage of this morning’s long lines for the showers to punish me for some yet unknown crime. 

“You didn’t say please, Gaunt; you obviously have absolutely no manners.  Besides,” she changed immediately from snobbish to delighted, “I’m celebrating today!”

I snorted.  “Celebrating what?” I asked.  “The five month anniversary of Sirius dumping you?”

“No!  The terrific stunt you pulled yesterday to get Sirius to dump that slag, April June.  Even I have to admit that it was rather impressive.”

“Dump her?” I repeated, confused.  “Did he really?”  I’d seen her at dinner, but as far as I could tell, she hadn’t seemed as if she’d just been dumped.

“Did you not see her bawling her eyes out last night?  It was bloody brilliant!” 

Holy shit.  Did Melanie just give me compliment?  Or at least something close to one?  “Er, right, must not have...”

“How could you miss it?  It was totally obvious, the way her mascara left those hideous streaks all down her cheeks, and she was basically sobbing, she was crying so hard!”

“I was a little distracted, all right!” I snapped as Melanie finally turned off the water. 

“I could tell.  How’s our little endeavor going, Gaunt?  Got him hooked yet?” she asked teasingly.  I could tell she knew full well how much progress I was making.  She was probably watching me.  Creepy...

“Oh, fine,” I replied, attempting and rather failing to be nonchalant.  “Piece of cake.  Speaking of cake, I want breakfast, and in order to get to breakfast, I need a shower.”

“Oh, really,” she asked venomously as she opened the door at last and walked out in only a towel.  “You’d think you smelled bad enough to attract thestrals!  Oh, wait... you do!”

I rolled my eyes and passed her to take a shower, relieved that she was finally leaving.  Indeed, she dried and dressed, and before long, everyone else had vacated the showers as well, leaving me to my thoughts.  And what thoughts they were.

Had I actually done it?  If Melanie was to be believed (which I was hesitant to do, for obvious reasons), April and Sirius had broken up yesterday.  Had I caused it?  Or was it something that might have happened even if I had let them go on snogging serenely yesterday at breakfast?  Maybe I was reading too much into it?

Why did it matter to me so much anyways?  Yes, I had Melanie’s threats hanging over my head, but it seemed like the feelings went deeper than that. 

“Ugh...” I groaned, turning the water down to freezing.  “I’m going wonky, sod it all!  Why is this happening?”  I shivered, glaring at the spigot. 

“Er, I don’t know?”

I jumped nearly a foot in the air, slipping and barely catching myself before I fell to the floor.  “Merlin’s pants, Mira, you scared me!”  I opened the door a crack and peeked through.  Mira appeared to be scowling at the stone floor.  The image reminded me that she hated me now. 

“Right, sorry,” she said coldly, folding her arms and looking increasingly like Melanie.  “I just thought you should know that it’s 8:30 and you’re missing breakfast.”  She didn’t wait for me to reply, turning on her heels and marching out of the bathroom with her nose in the air.  Irritation welled in me, and for a second I wanted to march after her and shake some sense into her.  And then I realized that I was still naked and I was now running late.

Off to a good start this morning, wasn’t I?

***~~~***

“Late again, Miss Gaunt!” Professor Aurelia trilled when I hiked into class, late, and took an armchair between Lily and Sirius.  “Another detention to add to the one you received yesterday, I think.  Now, back to the cards—“

Yes, she most definitely didn’t like me.  Lily gave me a worried look when my stomach growled.  Luckily, Aurelia didn’t hear it and went on talking about the real talent it takes to interpret tarot cards. 

“You missed breakfast, didn’t you?” she whispered.

“Yes... stupid bloody Jordan and her forty-five minute shower...” I scowled at my belly balefully.  James gave me a pitying look, and, surprisingly, Sirius looked a little worried as well.  “I’m fine, it’s not like going to starve,” I said, rolling my eyes at them and pulling the cards toward me.  Lily and James nodded, but all three continued to stare at me.  “Merlin, you three act like I’m gonna collapse any second.  I’m fine!” 

“Okay, okay,” James and Lily muttered at the same time, relaxing back into their chairs.  “We’re sorry, right Padfoot?” 

Sirius nodded and settling into his own chair, but he still watched me intently with an oddly unidentifiable look on his face. 

“Whatever.”

“Now, I shall divide you into pairs, and you shall take turns divining the future through the cards.  Let’s see now... Mr. Gaunt, with Miss Pennyfeather.  Miss Summerby, with Mr. Boot.  Mr. Lovegood...”

“So why’d you get detention yesterday?” Sirius asked suddenly while Aurelia continued to list pairs.  I scowled at said professor. 

“I was being ‘snippy’ with her.”

“And ‘catty,’” Lily added with a small grin.  “Can’t forget the sight of her screeching at you about being ‘snippy and catty.’  I didn’t think her voice could go that high.”

“I think she makes it low on purpose,” James put in thoughtfully. 

“Mr. Potter, with Miss Evans.” 

“Oh...” Lily said.  But, shockingly, she didn’t complain.  Instead, she sighed and followed an ecstatic James to a new table. 

“Those two are such a wonderful couple!” I exclaimed happily.  “Do you think they’ll go to next Hogsmeade together?”

“Why were you being snippy?”

I stared at him.  “Why do you—“

“Mr. Longbottom, with Miss Kirke.  Miss Gaunt, with Mr. Black.  Now does everyone have a deck?”  I went silent with a suspicious look in Sirius’ direction while Aurelia bid us to read each other futures using the Tarot cards, and then continued.

“Why do you care?  Maybe if you’d been in class, you’d know.  Do you want to go first?” 

Sirius scowled at me and snatched the deck of cards from my hands.  “Right, I was a bit busy breaking up with my girlfriend.  I thought that was what you wanted?"  He said bitingly as he dealt the cards the way Aurelia had drawn on her board.

I could feel blood rising to my cheeks, but I ignored it.  “Who said that was what I wanted?”

“Well, no one did, but it was what you wanted.  It was obvious.”

“It was not obvious, because it wasn’t what I wanted,” I lied, folding my arms stubbornly over my chest. 

“You’re a liar.  You know you wanted me to break up with her; I know you wanted me to break up with her.  It was obvious.”

“Why the hell would I care anyways?” I snapped as I observed the circle of cards. 

Sirius’ smirked and leaned over the table, hiding the cards from my view.  “Why don’t you tell me?”  His stormy eyes seemed to be telling me that he knew something; they were intense, and they seemed to insist that I understand what they knew.  But I had no idea what he was talking about.  Well, I sort of did, but not if he meant it in the way that I thought that he didn’t mean it.  After all, every time I thought that I knew what he meant, he actually meant something different, and so, because I thought that he meant that he knew that I might be attracted to him, he obviously meant something else.  Right?

Sirius laughed at my most-likely confused expression. 

“Oh, sod off, you prat; and tell me my future.” 

“Right then, let’s see...” he pulled out his divination book and flipped to the section about tarot cards.  He pointed at the card in the center.  The Lovers.  “That one... means... you’re in love with someone,” he said simply.

“Wow, that was detailed,” I said sarcastically, rolling my eyes.  “And obvious.  Next.”

“Okay... the Hierophant... Your public image and status with friends or in the community are of great concern... Don’t sacrifice your beliefs or freedom for status... Keep alert to the outside world...  Right...” he trailed off, glancing down at the next card.  “The King of Pentacles... upside down... means you’re sensitive... vulnerable to the suggestions of others... Tell your partners your objectives and feelings... Don’t be afraid of rejection...  Partners?” He smirked at me.  “Someone’s been busy.”

“You’re ridiculous.  What else?”

“Queen of Wands... ironic.  Don’t know how you’d be made queen, but... it means dealings with authority figures go well... talk things out with friends and lovers... plural again, you must have been busy.  Right, right, sorry...” he interrupted before I could tell him to sod off.  “Ten of swords... Trouble in personal relationships, aw, that’s too bad.”  He smirked again.  “Next... Wheel of Fortune... You made your bed, now lay in it... own up to your actions or suffer the consequences...  Yikes, what did you do?”

“Your commentary is pissing me off, Black.”

He ignored me, moving to a card with a dragonfly carrying a key.  Judgment.  It was upside down.  “Hmm...Your desire to escape is strong... Keep your mouth closed... Self-esteem is low and needs a boost.  Ain’t that the truth...” I grimaced at the reference to the earlier attempt; if only he know what had happened in the dormitory...  “The Empress... Your passions are of primary importance to you now... News of wedding, pregnancy, or children arrives... I’m not going to comment on that one...” he hesitated.  We were finally to the last card.  “Death...”

“Right...”

He looked at me with an eyebrow quirked.  “I’m glad I’m not you,” he commented, pushing the cards back together and passing the deck to me.

“Right... well it’s not like it means anything,” I growled, shuffling the deck.  “The class is a load of bollocks, anyways.  Besides, we’ve all got to die someday.”  He gave me an awed look.  “What?  I’m right!”

“Well, yeah, but... never mind, just do mine.”

I rolled my eyes at him, but dealt the cards anyway.  And then we sat and stared at them.

“You didn’t shuffle them right,” he said.

“I did too!  I think I know how to shuffle cards!” 

“Well, obviously not!  You can’t deal the same set I did; the odds are way to low.  It’s not possible.  Do it over.”

I rolled my eyes, but I drew the cards back in and shuffled them again.  “Fine, fine.”  He just glared at me. 

“Shuffle them good.”

“I am!  Merlin, you’re touchy today.”  I sighed, and dealt the cards again.

“It’s not bloody possible!  You did it wrong!”

“I did it just fine!”

“Professor, James and I keep getting the same circle!” Lily interrupted Sirius’ and my argument.  I turned around to look at James and Lily, as did Sirius.

“Do you, now?  Well, that is interesting...” Professor Aurelia whispered in a dramatic voice.  She strode over to their table and looked down at their cards.  “Ah, I see... the two of you will go through troublesome times together.  Very troublesome indeed... yes, your lives are entwined.  You will be together... until you die.”

Laughter followed her statements.  Everyone in the room knew that Lily and James wouldn’t end up together; after all, they might be getting friendlier, but they certainly weren’t in love, and odds were that they wouldn’t be spending the rest of their lives together. 

But me?  I had goose bumps, my hair felt as if it were standing on end, and my internal organs felt aflame.  Sirius looked like he felt about the same.

“Definitely a load of bollocks,” he muttered, snatching up the deck.  “I’ll try again.”

But nothing changed. 

***~~~***

“That class is ridiculous!” Lily exclaimed as we trekked to lunch.  “Me and James?  Together until we die?  That’s absurd!”

“Tell me about it,” I sighed, glancing over my shoulder to look at James and Sirius, who were both muttering furiously together.  As a matter of fact, there were a lot of muttering groups.  Word had spread quickly that James and Lily were supposedly meant to be together, and I was immensely relieved that they didn’t all know about mine and Sirius’ circles.  “I don’t believe anything I learn in that class for a second.  Aurelia’s a fraud anyway.”

“What did yours say?” she asked.  I blushed.

“M-mine?  I dunno, something about death and consequences... don’t look at me like that!  You said it yourself, that class is a bunch of lies, none of it is true!”

“Yes, well, I suppose you’re right, mine had Death too...”

“See!  Load of tosh, that’s what it is!  There’s no way I’ll be with Sirius!” I pouted, and then panicked.  “No, I mean, I didn’t—“

“What?” Lily gasped, staring at me as we entered the crowded Great Hall.  “You and Sirius?”

“No!  I mean, well, sort of... don’t say it so loud, Lily!  It’s just that, well, the same thing happened with me and Sirius that happened to you and James... the whole same cards thing.  I mean, it probably wasn’t the same at all!”

Lily shot me a skeptical look, but she withstood the suspicion in favor of getting her lunch.  “If you say so... Er, you may be happy to know... James asked me to next Hogsmeade visit.”

“Aha!” I exclaimed, causing Lily to jump.  “And you said?”

“I told him... I suppose.”

I stared at her.  “You suppose?” I repeated.

“I suppose.”

“Lily!”

“Well, I mean, it’s just that, I don’t know if I really like him that way yet, and I don’t—“

“Like who?  What way?” James asked, sitting next to Lily as Sirius sat next to me, and looking a bit put off by the conversation.  Lily and I both turned bright red.

“No one!  I don’t like anyone!” Lily denied, giving me a talk-and-you’re-dead look.

“Er, okay.”  But he didn’t look very convinced.  Sirius just stared at me.  He hadn’t really stopped staring at me since Divination had ended.  “Hey, Artemis, Sirius says you and he were having the same problem we were.  In Divination, I mean.”

I scowled at Sirius.  “Well then, why don’t we just tell the whole school, then, hm?”

“Well, why not?” Lily said glumly.  “In a matter of hours, everyone now knows that me and James are ‘meant to be together.’  It’s spreading all over the school like wild fire!” 

“I don’t understand!  That class is bollocks!  None of it is even near believable, they can’t honestly believe what Aurelia said!”

“They’ll do anything for good gossip,” Sirius offered, still gazing steadily at my face.  It was getting extremely annoying, but I wasn’t going to tell him so.  That was probably why he was doing it anyways.  “You room with Melanie, you should know that.”

“True.  But still!  It’s just a load of—“

“Miss Gaunt, a word if you please.” 

I glanced over my shoulder to look at Professor McGonagall.  Her lips were pressed together into a straight line, never a good sign when it came to her. 

“Er, Professor...” I looked from her stern face to the whole sandwich that I had in my hands.  I was hungry; I had missed breakfast, after all.  But Professor McGonagall looked more serious than usual, a remarkable feat for her, you can be sure.  I sighed and replaced my sandwich on the table.  “Of course.”  My companions stared at me with wide, worried eyes as she beckoned for me to follow, and together we headed for her office. 

It looked exactly the same as it had the last time I had been in (after I turned Sirius in a skunk, I believe), and I took the chair that Professor McGonagall offered me.  She sat across from me and clasped her hands together on top of the desk.  It reminded me vaguely of Dumbledore, when he’d explained first year to me and Apollo that we should, under no circumstances, use Parseltongue on school grounds.  Her eyes even seemed to twinkle the same way; and then I realized why.

Her eyes were brimming with tears. 

I wasn’t sure what to do.  After all, I’d never seen Minerva McGonagall in tears before; I’d never seen her relax her demeanor enough for any emotion except for anger or pride to slip through.  But she’d never cried, as far as I’d seen.  Of course she’d cried before; but I had reason to believe that no student had seen her cry.  And yet, hear she was, tears filling her eyes, staring at me with her usually thin line of lip turned down in a pitying frown.  My stomach seemed to drop a notch; something terrible must have happened, to make her this way.

“Pr-Professor?” I started when she made no move to speak.  “Are you alright?”

She gave an almighty sniff, pulling a handkerchief from nowhere.  “Yes, yes, I’m sorry,” she muttered, blowing her nose and wiping her eyes.  “It’s just that...  Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news.  Professor Dumbledore asked me to tell you, but I’m hardly the right person for the job.”  She sniffled again, and my stomach lurched again.  “You see... You-Know-Who’s followers, the Death Eaters...  they attacked your Great Aunt Diane Pemberly’s home.  I’m terribly sorry to tell you this.  Your Great Aunt, and her son and his family, perished in the attack.”

Now my stomach seemed to have jumped right out of my body altogether.  “Great Aunt Di... is dead?” I repeated numbly.  That was impossible.  Di was one of the strongest people I knew.  She couldn’t be dead!  And Charles?  He was strong, too.  He’d been Head Boy in his Hogwarts days, and he was... No, they couldn’t be dead.  All of a sudden, I was swept back to the happier moments of my childhood, most of which included Aunt Di and her family.  Me and my second cousin Zachary, Charles’ son, had greatly enjoyed pulling up Di’s Rhododendrons, or else using magic to set them aflame, though she always took these attacks playfully and with good humor.  Di had always made the best strawberry-rhubarb pie when I came to visit her, and she liked me over my brother (bonus!).  Charles and his wife, meanwhile, enjoyed spoiling me every Christmas, to the displeasure of my father.  Their son Zach had already graduated from Hogwarts, and he worked with his father against Voldemort and his followers.  Di helped them wherever she could.

Which was why, even though I didn’t want to, I could believe that the Death Eaters would target them.  But that they were dead? 

While all this was running through my mind, McGonagall continued to blubber about my Great Aunt.  This made sense too.  Di and Minerva McGonagall had attended Hogwarts the same year, and they were both in Gryffindor as well (she was on my mother’s side, in a family that didn’t value their pure blood quite as much).  They’d been best friends.  Currently, McGonagall was reliving one of their more adventurous times, when she’d tried and failed to keep Di from sneaking out after hours. 

I bit my bottom lip, tuning the professor out.  Dead... they couldn’t be.  But why would they tell me so if they weren’t?  I noticed that the voice in my head was laughing; it seemed intensely amused by my confusion and my distress, as it always was. 

Go away, I thought, just leave me alone!  Can’t I just suffer in peace?

But it continued to laugh, so I tuned it out too.  I was remembering last Christmas.  We’d been at Di’s house, exchanging gifts and “Merry Christmas”es.  Charles and his wife had given me a magical encyclopedia (detailing every known plant and animal in the Wizarding world).  Di, meanwhile, had given me the most gorgeous sapphire necklace, insisting that “every beautiful young woman should have a necklace made of sapphires.”  Even as my hand traveled to my throat, I remembered that I’d told her that I would never wear it, that she shouldn’t have given it to me, that it was going to waste away its life in a drawer or a bag or a box.  Where was that thing now?  The last time I’d seen it, it had been in my school bag, true to what I said to Aunt Di.  I hadn’t seen it for a while now...

But I couldn’t focus on that.  I still couldn’t even accept the fact that my favorite aunt and cousins may be dead.  What was wrong with the world?  Was it intent on torturing me?  First it gave me a shitty family.  Then it made me go to school with Sirius.  And then it decided I could use a crazy voice in my head and took away my favorite relatives.  Damn world.  Fine, be that way. 

I’ll make the best of it, I decided with resolve.  No letting the world get me.  I wasn’t going to lose to the world, oppressive as it was.  I wasn’t going to give in to Melanie and her blackmail, to Sirius’ hateful ways or to his unusually civil antics, and definitely not to this.  No. 

And then it hit me.  They were dead.  If Voldemort wanted them dead, then they were dead.  After all, so few could actually stand up to him, the darkest and most powerful wizard in the world.  Except maybe Dumbledore.  And Aunt Di and Charles were definitely nowhere near his level.  They were dead, gone forever.

No crying! I told myself, even as the tears gathered in my eyes, as shock and grief tore through my body.  I just told myself I wasn’t going to lose, and that means NO crying at all!  I can deal with this.

“Of course, Professor Dumbledore says that he will be willing to allow you to leave the school to be with your family—“

“No!” I yelled, which seemed to throw McGonagall off guard.  Aversion to the idea of going home to be with my family filled me with horror.  I could only imagine my mother’s grief-stricken form, my father’s smug face as he contemplated Di’s fate.  “Er, I mean... I’d rather not, Professor.  I’d rather stay here, if it’s all the same.  Except maybe for the funeral?”  McGonagall stared at me for a minute more, blinking a bit and still probably in shock from my shout. 

“Well... yes, I suppose that would be just fine.  And I’m sure Albus would be fine if I allowed you to miss classes, at least today’s.  After all, this is a terrible loss, and you can hardly be expected to work with such a shock...”

“No, no, I shouldn’t miss classes... N.E.W.T.s are at the end of this year and—“

“Miss Gaunt, you cannot possibly want to go to class in such a mental state!  In fact, I forbid you to go to class for the rest of the week!  You need a break, Miss Gaunt, and I order you to take one!”  Professor McGonagall huffed angrily, glaring down at me through shining, tear-filled eyes.  She had stood up in her sudden fury, and now she slowly lowered herself back into her chair.

Was she actually telling me I couldn’t go to class?  Stern, strict, stuffy Professor Minerva McGonagall was actually ordering me not to go to class?

Oh, Merlin, the world really was ending, wasn’t it? 

I gaped at her for what seemed like hours, but was, in actuality, only about five minutes, before she rose again. 

“Well, Miss Gaunt, I suggest you go and rest, or perhaps you should find something to preoccupy yourself.  I will—“

“But Professor!  If I don’t go to class, I’ll fall behind and—“

“I will alert your teachers to the fact that you are not allowed in class, and if I hear that you’ve tried to attend a lesson, it will be detention, Miss Gaunt!  Now, off with you!” she sniffed, pointing to her door and communicating clearly with a glare that our discussion was over.  The tears that had gathered in my eyes were gone, dried up by the shock and fury at the fact that I couldn’t go to class.  I glared at her furiously before grunting and stomping from her office.

I stayed in that same irate state as I stormed up to Gryffindor Tower, snarling the password at an offended Fat Lady and frightening a group of third years that had a break this period.  I found my dorm empty, as everyone else had classes to go to.  Shutting the door, I mutely cast a silencing charm over the whole room and threw my bag onto my bed.  Charm completed.  No one would hear this moment of weakness.

I screamed.

***~~~***

I resisted the urge to scream.  Again.  Where the bloody hell was it?

I’d searched what seemed like the whole castle for the necklace, the one I’d gotten from Aunt Di, but it was nowhere to be found.  I’d combed the girls’ dormitory, I’d searched the other girls’ dormitories, I’d rummaged around the Gryffindor common room (earning myself scathing glares from those who were attempting to do homework), and I’d went to all of my teachers to ask if they’d seen it.  As a last resort, terrible though it was, I’d even dared to go to Mr. Filch, the caretaker, to ask if he’d seen the damned sapphire necklace.  But it was nowhere.

I knew that it had to be somewhere, of course.  Things didn’t just vanish off the face of the earth.  Usually.  I was certain that it had been in my bag the last time I’d seen it.  But now it was gone.  Had someone stole it?  Had it fallen out?  Maybe it was like Leprechaun gold: maybe it vanished over time? 

I was currently on my way to the library, carrying said bag with me and figuring that if I didn’t find my necklace, then at least I could work on my Herbology homework, racking my brains to think of any place that I hadn’t searched already.  I rounded the corner into the main fifth floor corridor—

And immediately jumped back around it.  Because around that corner was the last person that I wanted to see.  Well, second to last.  Well, okay, maybe not even second to last, but definitely someone that I didn’t want to see.

Sirius and James were conversing in hushed voices, both with their backs turned to me, just around the corner.  I’d barely heard something that sounded like “old cat murdered her and now she’s six feet under in the forest,” before I’d recoiled.  No, I definitely didn’t want to deal with their questions, which they were almost sure to have, as I hadn’t been in class all afternoon and was quite clearly alive and well.  Well, for the most part.  I quickly hastened back down the corridor, thinking that I’d find another way to the library.

At the end of the corridor, I realized that it was a dead end corridor and that no matter how I got to the library, I still had to go around that corner.

Damn Founders.  Why the hell did you put this dead end here?  Stupid Slytherin ancestor, I cursed, turning around to trek back down the corridor and brave the torrent of inquiries only to see Sirius heading my way anyways.  What was interesting was the look of relief that colored his face.  Almost as if he’d worried.  Like I had yesterday.  Revenge?  Er, definitely, let’s call it that. 

“Artemis,” he acknowledged, coming to a stop about twenty steps away, obviously waiting for me to come alongside him. 

“Sirius,” I said as cordially as I could manage.  I was in no mood for his usual haughty and rude self.  Or for his unusual gawking and observant self.  Or whatever.  The point was, I wasn’t in the mood for Sirius, which would lead to serious trouble, which would lead to probable suspension or expulsion.  If Sirius noticed the sour mood, he made no effort to better it.

“I was wondering where you were,” he stated smugly, pleased, perhaps, that he’d found me.  “James and Lily were worried.  What did McGonagall want?”

“None of your business,” I replied tersely, walking right past him.  Unfortunately, he fell into step next to me.  Now, however, his expression was more concerned than relieved or smug. 

“Why were you skipping class?”

“It’s none of your business,” I repeated, my frustration level rising, especially when I remembered that I was supposed to be seducing this arse.  I wondered if there was a way to get his attention off of my foul mood, while at the same time not pissing me off further.  Oh, wait, that was probably impossible. 

“Something wrong?”  Would it work?  Well, I suppose it was worth a shot, right?  It would get his focus off of my bad temper and the mystery of why I wasn’t in class all afternoon.  At least, I think it would.

Nothing!  Merlin, it’s none of your—Oh, for the love of—“ I cursed as a seam on my bag split, sending books, parchment, and ink across the floor.  For a second, Sirius and I just stared at the mess; I considered leaving it there, just because I didn’t feel like cleaning it.  But then I’d get in trouble, and I wouldn’t have my Herbology stuff.  So I cursed and ground my teeth some more as I knelt down to gather up my stuff.  Dunno why it made me so mad, seeing how I was the one who split it... I didn’t look around at Sirius. 

Until he knelt down next to me and started gathering my stuff together.  Well, who would have thought that Sirius could be such a gentleman? 

“Did that on purpose, didn’t you?” he asked without looking up at me.  Ah.  He wasn’t being a gentleman, he was trying to antagonize me.  Again. 

I snorted indignantly, awed again by how good an actress I was.  Who knew?  “I don’t know what you’re on about, Sirius.  Did you hear me curse my bag?  Because I didn’t.”  It was a good thing that I was pretty good at nonverbal spells, regardless of how much I sucked with the actual charm itself.

Sirius smirked at me.  “I thought you had more guts than that, Artemis.  If you wanted to change the subject, you could have just said so.  This is just tragically cliché.”

“I like tragedies,” I snapped, losing my cool for a second as I shut and donned my repaired bag.  “And I didn’t do it on purpose!”

“Oh.  Right then, I’ll just get going then.  I’ve got things to do,” he said suavely, marching away down the corridor. 

“Wait, Sirius,” I called, though of course this was exactly what I wanted.  Damn Melanie Jordan.  Sirius stopped and looked back at me over his shoulder.

“Yes?”  I blushed at his nonchalant demeanor.  Merlin’s little finger, I hated him! 

“Er, are you going to Hogsmeade next weekend?” I asked, knowing that my face was probably a brilliant shade of red by now.

“I didn’t plan on it...”

“Oh...”

We stared at each other in silence for a minute.  Finally, Sirius broke it.

“Are you going to Hogsmeade next weekend?”

“I didn’t plan on it...”

Another awkward pause.  Really awkward.  Really very awkward.  Finally:

“So you did do it on purpose then?”

I glared at him.  “No!” I cried, stomping past him down the corridor.  Sirius chuckled as he caught up to me. 

“Hey, I bet you’re hungry,” he stated randomly.  “Since you missed breakfast, lunch, and dinner.” 

“So what?  You haven’t got a foot-long turkey sandwich hidden in your robes, have you?” I asked jokingly, rolling my eyes at him.  He just smirked at me.  If he pulled a foot-long turkey sandwich out of his robes, I was going to kill him. 

“’Fraid not, but I can get us into the kitchens to nick some food.  If you’re hungry.”  I looked at him suspiciously.  If I didn’t know any better, I would have said that he was trying to suck up to me.  “And your bag would be pretty useful too, for carrying extras, that is.  Well, as long as you don’t split it on purpose again.”

Oh, so that was it.  He wanted me for my school bag.  Lovely... and infinitely more Sirius than he’d been all day.  “I didn’t—“ I started, but he interrupted me.

“Right, right, you didn’t do it on purpose.  Are you in or not?”

I scowled at him.  “Fine.”  He grinned smugly.

“Excellent.”


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