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The World is Ending by _EmBoDiMeNt_Of_A_nAtIoN_
Chapter 19 : Of Love and Of Sorrow
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 7


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((A/N: Mwahaha!! Just kidding.  But seriously.  Here’s Chapter 19!  Wow, it’s getting rather long.  Er, anyways, enjoy it! And don’t forget to Review!! I thrive on reviews!!! :D  Also, read the A/N at the end, IT'S IMPORTANT!!!!))

((Disclaimer: I don’t own Harry Potter....))  

Lily scowled at me over her shoulder early Saturday morning, looking rather unhappy with my choice of words.  “I don’t think I’m ‘gorgeous,’ Ar; I think this homemade sweater is ridiculous, and my skirt is much to long to be attractive.  Do you think I should wear long socks?”

“I don’t get it, Lils,” I said with a frown, my eyes still half closed sleepily while I sat cross-legged on the end of my bed.  Lily had woken me up way earlier than I would have liked to help her pick out an outfit for her date.  “Remind me why you’re trying to make yourself look ugly?”

She glared at me.  “I explained it to you a billion times already!  It’s a test!”

“Right, right,” I muttered, wishing that my face were buried in my pillow and I were still dreaming about playing Quidditch with Snuffles.  “And how does this test work again?”

“Well, obviously, I’m going to dress in relatively unattractive clothes to see how James reacts!  I’ll see if he tells me the truth or if he lies to my face and tells me I’m pretty.”

“And if he tells you the truth, he’s not the one?” I asked, leaning against my bedpost for support.  I guess I shouldn’t have stayed up last night telling Snuffles about my great aunt...

“No, if he tells me I’m pretty, he’s not the one.”

“Okay, now I’m lost,” I admitted.  “Did you explain this while I was asleep?”

She sighed and joined me on the bed.  “If he loves me, he won’t let me wear ugly clothes in public.  And truth is important in a relationship.  So he has to tell me the truth about the clothes.”

“But... Lils, that’s stupid.”  Her look got darker.  “I mean, there are so many things that could go wrong with that,” I hurried before she could bite my head off.  “He could just be telling you what you want to hear, or at least what he thinks you want to hear; or he might not see your clothes at all, and tell you you’re pretty because he knows that you are.  Or—“

“You know what, you’re not helping,” Lily growled.  “And this’ll work, just trust me.  I know you think I’m being stupid, but I just know this will work.  Now, long socks, or no?”

I sighed and shook my head at her.  “Just wear the damned socks, you tosser.”  

By eight o’clock, Lily and I were dressed and ready to go to breakfast.  

“I can’t believe you’re really going to wear that...” I mumbled as we headed down the stairs to the common room, almost embarrassed to be seen with her.  I’d thought her clothes were... interesting before, but now, I could hardly look at her without either wincing or giggling.  She was wearing sneakers and bright pink socks that went up to her knees, but you couldn’t tell because she was also wearing a plain brown skirt that cut off mid-calf.  A ratty, bright pink t-shirt was mostly hidden by a deep green sweater that her mum had sent her two years ago and which now just barely fit over her head.  Over it all, she had her plain black winter cloak.  Her hair was pulled back, in exactly the fashion that McGonagall wore her hair.  

Lily just smiled.  “It’s—“

“I know, I know, but... you can’t tell me you’re not in the least embarrassed.”

“Of course I am!  But if this helps me figure out if James truly loves me, it’ll be worth it.  And it’ll work, I’m sure of it.”  

I sighed again, feeling exceedingly... plain next to Lily’s eccentric attire.  I was wearing my denim jeans, my navy sweater (store-made; my mum hated knitting, and there was nothing like the way Muggles knitted anyways), and my same-old trainers.  I had my jacket and my own winter cloak hidden in my purse (magically adjusted to hold all sorts of junk).  I still had no idea how she’d come to the conclusion that this “test” of hers was going to clear anything up.  More than likely, it would just destroy everything.  We reached the common room, where many people stared at Lily’s odd selection.  

“Staring is impolite,” I growled, glaring at them using Lily’s Look, since she was far more concern with James at the moment.  The spectators anxiously scurried out of the portrait hole, though some just went back to what they’d been doing.  Mission accomplished, I turned back to the tragedy in process.

“Lily-flower!” James crowed happily, bounding over and letting Sirius, Remus, and Peter follow him with wide eyes.  Sirius looked at me for an explanation, but I just shook my head. And kept shaking it in hope that James would notice and not tell Lily that she looked pretty in those clothes.  If Lily wanted to hear that she looked horrible, Merlin help us all, she would!  “Lily-kins, you’re looking beau—uh, Ar, what are you doing?”

I fought the urge to punch him and shrugged.  “I was, uh, trying to forget... about my homework?” I finished lamely.  Sirius gave me a skeptical look, but James seemed to accept the answer.  At least, he turned back to Lily with a big smile.

“You’re looking beautiful!” James completed, and then looked at me in concern when I hit myself in the forehead with my palm.  Sirius just watched me with one eyebrow raised.  Lily, meanwhile, went almost instantly from happy to confused.  

“You liar!” she snapped, swatting his arm away as he tried to take her hand.  “You can’t possibly expect me to believe that!  Look at me!  I’m wearing a bloody circus tent, this pink clashes horribly with my hair, and my mum’s a terrible knitter!”  I saw James’ eyes dart downward and realized that what I’d said to Lily before was completely true: he didn’t see Lily for what she was wearing; he saw Lily for Lily.  His brow furrowed, and I could tell he was trying to think of a way to stop Lily from ranting at him.  But there wasn’t any way.  Lily was on a roll as she turned red and continued to yell about how hideous she was.  

James, however, was clearly more determined than I was.  Lily looked just about as surprised as Sirius and I were when James calmly put his hands on her shoulders, looked her in the eyes, and smiled.  

“Wh-why are you smiling?” Lily growled.  “I’m bloody serious!  I—“

“Lily, I can honestly say that to me, you are the most gorgeous woman in the world, no matter what you’re wearing.  Even if that sweater does look horrible and those socks and that t-shirt do clash with your hair.”  

Throw in a romantic breeze, some rain, and give James an umbrella, and the couple would have looked at home in one of those classic romance movies that no one watches anymore, I thought.  The only thing that made me positive that he wasn’t lying, and that seemed to completely throw Lily of her guard, was the goofy smile that never left his face.  If they kissed, it would be perfect.

Instead, Lily pushed his hands off her shoulders.  “I’m going to change...” she muttered, leaving me alone with the guys.  As soon as she vanished up the staircase, the grin fell off James’ face and Sirius burst out laughing.  

“What the bloody hell was that about?” James asked me.  I shrugged again.

“I dunno, something about a test.  Don’t worry, though, I think you passed.”  And if he didn’t, I was going to have to have a little chat with her.

“Test?” Sirius repeated.  “I’ve never seen a girl give a guy a test like that before.”

“Yeah, well, you know Lily’s a little weird.  And,” I smiled, “I have to say that that was probably the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard you say, James.”

“Really?  Not too sappy?”

Sirius gagged.  “Was for me.  As long as my future wife doesn’t expect me to say that sort of stuff.”  Peter laughed and nodded, but Remus rolled his eyes.

“I bet he uses it on his next victim,” he commented; James sniggered.

“As if they’d believe him.”

“Lily believed you,” Sirius argued.

“Yeah, but I meant it,” James retorted.  “That made me believable.”

“You’re all a bunch of morons,” I deadpanned.  The four boys glared at me.  “So, Remus, how did it go with your great-grandmother?”

Remus looked confused for a second before a spark of realization lit his features.  “Oh, er, yeah, she’s—erm—she’s getting better.”  

Now it was my turn to be confused.  “But... I thought she was on her deathbed?”  Peter, Sirius, and James were looking between Remus and I with the deer-in-the-headlights look.  

“Oh!” Remus gasped, glaring at his friends, “right, right, I thought you meant my... other great-grandmother!  You know, the one who’s... still alive...”

“Wait a second,” I said, putting my hand up.  Now I was extremely confused.  “How many great-grandmothers to you have?”

“Well, I’ve got one who’s still alive, see, my mum’s dad’s mum; the other ones are all dead... including the one I went to visit on her deathbed this week.  And the other one, er, she hopefully won’t be dying any time soon, but if I’m gone again, you know where I am.”  He folded his arms and continued to glare at the other Marauders.

“Oh, that makes sense,” I replied, smiling; but it didn’t.  Now that I thought about it, I was pretty sure that he was lying, because he seemed to have a few too many great-grandmothers.  No, my math was probably off.  That was it.  “Ah, there’s Lily.”

Indeed, Lily had re-arrived, looking much better in a newer and better green sweater and a pair of jeans, with her hair down around her shoulders.  She still looked half-shocked that James had said something so sweet to her—and actually meant it.  I still wished they’d kissed.  But there was time for that later, I supposed, after they were officially dating.  

“Lily-kins!  You look beautiful!” James said again, the smile instantly reappearing on his face.  Lily blushed.

“All right, all right,” Peter whined, “can we please go get some breakfast?”

“Preferably before we all hurl,” Sirius added, ushering the couple towards the door.  James and Lily rolled their eyes and surrendered.

“You know, you two are adorable together,” I told the two (though I received a scowl from Lily as a reward).  “James, I hope that I can find someone as nice and gentlemanly as you are.”  I looked pointedly as Sirius and Peter.  Sirius and Remus snorted.

“James?  Gentlemanly?” Remus asked skeptically.  I glared at him and gestured towards the boy in question, currently holding Lily’s hand and leading her courteously down the corridor.  “Well... you may have a point.”

“He’s only, er, ‘gentlemanly,’” Sirius cut in, using the air quotes to frame my diction, “because he loves her.”

“Exactly.  Now I know that if I ever find the right guy, he’ll be gentlemanly because he loves me.”

Sirius stared at me.  “That’s stupid.  James is... well, to be honest, he’s weird.  An oddball.  A bit loopy.  Not the typical man.  As I’ve said before, I’m average.”

“And according to those you’ve dated, you’ve been a right gentlemen to all of them,” I countered.  

“Well, yes, because I didn’t love them.”

“You were nice to them because you didn’t love them?” I repeated.  What the hell was with everyone’s mixed up common sense today?  First Lily and her crazy “test,” and now Sirius’ being a nice guy to the girls he didn’t love.  “So then, would you be absolutely horrible to the girl you did love?” I asked.  For some reason, my heart seemed to squeeze while I waited for his answer.  If he said yes, could that mean that he might have a small crush on me back?  You know, since that’s all it was... stupid bloody hormones.

“I dunno,” Sirius answered with a shrug.  I resisted the urge to hit him and tried to concentrate on making my heart resume its normal pace.  I noticed that he was staring at me again.

Breakfast passed in a painfully normal, uneventful way.  When James and Lily had finished their breakfast, they bid us farewell and went off on their date.  Not long after that, Remus strode off to find his date; Peter headed off to do his homework; and Sirius and I were left alone.  Well, sort of; the Great Hall was public, after all.  Sirius and I finished breakfast and traced James’ and Lily’s path.  

“So what’s the plan?” Sirius asked me as we went through the front door into the frigid end-of-November air.  I scowled at the frost that covered the ground.

“I thought you were coming up with the plan?” I retorted as I shivered.  “You said something about the Shrieking Shack, right?”

“Well, yes, but if you’re cold—“

“I’m fine!  Bloody hell, I don’t need you to baby me!  If you wanna go to the Shack, let’s go.  Then we can go get something to drink and warm up or something.”  He scowled at me, but agreed; so we walked down Main Street, glad to see no one we knew, following the path that led up to the Shrieking Shack.  We had just spotted the thing when... it started snowing.  Sirius snorted.

“Let’s just skip this,” he insisted, ignoring my glaring.  “It’s freezing out here; we should just—“

“It’s not that cold,” I growled obstinately.

“It is that cold!” he snapped, shooting me a venomous look.  “If it wasn’t that cold, you wouldn’t be shivering!  Why are you always so stubborn? It’s cold outside, so you decide you may as well go sit outside until you catch a cold!  If you’d just go inside, maybe you wouldn’t get sick, hm?”

“You know, I haven’t gotten a cold yet, so I think until then I’ll be fine.  Don’t know why you’re so worried about it anyways.  I never said you had to go with me, did I?”

“Not out loud, but we both know that you’re glad I’m here.”  He huffed exasperatedly for a few seconds, but he didn’t argue anymore.  Instead, he said tentatively, “So, what do you think is haunting this stupid shack anyways?”

“Uh, ghosts?” I told him, glaring at his stupidity.  “What else would be haunting it?”

“Ah, yeah.  That makes sense.”  He didn’t elaborate.  I rolled my eyes at him.  “So... what’s your favorite color?” he asked suddenly.

I stared at him.  “What’s with the random questions?”  He just shrugged and looked at me expectantly.  “You’re a tosser, just so you know that.  I suppose I’d have to say silver.  Or blue.”

“Why silver?” he asked me, ignoring my halfhearted “or blue.”  I looked at him suspiciously.

“What do you mean, ‘why silver?’  You’re going to find a way to use this against me, huh?”

He rolled his eyes.  “No!  I was just wondering.  My favorite color is blue, because it’s calming and it reminds me of a clear day.  And because it—“ he cut himself off suddenly, looking confused.  I waited for him to continue, but he just seemed to get more baffled as we continued towards the Shack.  Finally, I gave up on it.

“I like silver because it reminds me a rainy day, and because silver is way better than gold.  Gold is so... showy.  Silver’s just better.”

“So why do you like silver better than blue?” he asked, seeming relieved that I’d let him off the hook.  He looked over at me, and I realized, or rather, remembered that his eyes were stormy gray, almost silvery.

“I don’t!” I cried.  Then I blushed and bit my lip.  “I mean, you’re right, blue’s so much better!  In fact, I don’t like silver!”

“But you just said that silver was your favorite.”

“I lied!  Is that so hard to believe?  Just—you know what, colors are stupid!  Let’s talk about something else.”

He shrugged again.  I could feel my face getting gradually redder.  I felt so awkward.  It was like... first date awkward, except that we definitely weren’t on a date.  I didn’t know what to say, and I kept wondering how I looked.  This was probably the most awkward I’d felt since I came to Hogwarts, which is sad, really.  It wasn’t supposed to be this way!  I wasn’t supposed to feel this way about him!  

By now, we’d arrived at the rickety white fence of the Shack.  As expected, it was abandoned: there wasn’t a soul in sight, dead or alive.  I sighed and looked at the boarded windows and doors.  

“The Shack looks so... new,” I thought out loud, more for something to say than because I really cared.  

“Well, it was only built the year before we got here.”

“Why do you think it’s so haunted?  I mean, usually old buildings are haunted, but this one’s only seven years old, and it’s the most haunted building in Britain.”

“I dunno, why the hell are you asking me?” Sirius growled, digging his toes into the frosted grass and looking down.  Rather suspiciously, I might add.  I got the feeling that Sirius knew quite a lot about the Shrieking Shack; I was just about to pressure him for an answer when he changed the subject.  “Is it all right if I ask you something... personal?”

I stared at him in confusion.  He glanced up at me nervously, and then glared back down at his feet.  “Something personal?” I repeated disbelievingly.  The conversation seemed to be heading downhill.  Or perhaps it was actually going uphill.  A billion possible questions flitted through my mind.  “That depends on what it is.  You can ask all you want, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ll answer.”

“That’s fine.”  He looked up at me again, and this time he didn’t look back down.  “I’d rather you didn’t answer than you lie.  So...” he took a deep breath; his face was turning a little pink.  “Do you like me?”

I gaped at him, hoping that the shock didn’t show on my face.  It definitely wasn’t what I’d expected.  Sirius’ complexion gradually darkened to scarlet, but he didn’t look away; he kept his eyes locked on mine.  “Er, well, sure I like you,” I said tentatively, unsure of what exactly he expected me to say.  “I mean, we’re friends, aren’t we?”

He rolled his eyes.  “You know what I meant.  Do you like me?”

I bit my lip and turned to scowl at the Shrieking Shack.  If Sirius was hoping for something specific, he wasn’t giving me any clues.  So I settled for a neutral response.  “What makes you think so?”  Okay, maybe it didn’t sound quite so neutral out loud as it did in my head.  Sirius, however, didn’t look disappointed or insulted; I took this as a good sign.  

“I heard you telling Sn-omeone how you liked someone you shouldn’t, and how you were jealous of his girlfriend, and something about Quidditch; you didn’t mention any names, but I kind of put it together.  Unless there’s someone else you think is a dickhead, had a tart of a girlfriend, and plays Quidditch?”

Something about Sirius’ explanation struck me as odd, but I couldn’t figure out what it was.  “Who was I telling?” I asked suspiciously; and then I realized whom I’d told, the only person I’d told.  Sirius had just opened his mouth, probably to lie to me, when I gasped and pointed at him a bit stupidly.  “You’re Snuffles!” I exclaimed.

“What the bloody hell are you talking about?” he asked me in an exasperated tone, but it was clear that I’d struck something.  His red face had paled slightly.  

“You’re an animagus!” I accused, poking his chest with the finger I’d been pointing at him with.  “You!  You’re Snuffles!”

“Who the hell’s Snuffles?” Sirius asked rather nonchalantly, pushing my finger away.  

“The dog!” I cried, waving my arms around like a madwoman.  Anger was welling inside of me, and it vaguely reminded me of our last venture to Hogsmeade.  This time, however, I was thankfully not quite so furious with him.  Though of course finding out that the dog that you’ve been telling secrets to is really your archenemy of sorts does tend to make you a bit upset.  “Snuffles is the dog!  The big black dog that’s always trying to get me in out of the cold!  And he has shaggy black fur that reminds me of your hair!  And he has those silver eyes that just stare at me while I basically spill all my troubles out because he’s the only one I trust not to tell anyone, and it was you all along!”  I’d taken hold of his cloak and was shaking him roughly as he looked at me, clearly thoroughly alarmed.  “How could you just let me sit there and spill my guts out to you?  You’re such a jerk!”

“Okay, okay!” he muttered, throwing his hands up to protect himself.  “I’m sorry; could you please not yell...”  I growled and pushed him away from me.  He sighed and straightened his cloak.  “You’re right.  I am Snuffles.  By the way, that is the stupidest name I’ve ever heard.  Sorry,” he continued quickly while I glared at him.  “I’m the dog, yes, I’m an Animagus.  But I’m not exactly legal, and I’d really appreciate it if you kept it quiet.  I’m sorry I just sat there and let you talk, but you have to admit that it’s easier to talk to a dog than to me, right?”  He looked at me expectantly, so I slowly nodded, still disgruntled by the fact that I’d been talking to him about things like how much I missed Aunt Di without knowing it was him.  “If it helps at all, I don’t plan on telling anyone anything you said, promise.”

He looked so sincere and apologetic that I almost felt guilty for yelling at him.  Almost.  Instead, I shrugged, folded my arms over my chest, and muttered, “Whatever.”

“Good.  Since that’s out of the way—“

“If you’re an Animagus, I bet James, Remus, and Peter are too, huh?”  Sirius groaned.

“Why the hell do we—“

“They’d have to be, because becoming an Animagus is extremely difficult!  I’ve looked into it, and there’s no way that I can do it without help; so, using logic and common sense, you can’t either!”

“I’m plenty smart enough!  I—“

“Not to mention, they’re your best friends, so it only makes sense.  What do they transform into?  Come on, Sirius, tell me?”

“It’s none of your business!  In fact, forget about it, all of it!  You never realized I was Snuffles, you hear?”

“Sirius!” I whined as he started walking back down the path, his arms crossed stubbornly.  “Tell me, please?”  I tried that really annoying flirting where you blink and flutter your eyelashes and stuff seductively, but I must have done it wrong, because he just scowled at me.  “I promise I won’t tell anyone!  You can even hex me if I do!  Please, Sirius?”
 
“Like I said, I’m not—“  Suddenly, he grabbed my arm and made a shushing motion.  He pointed between the trees at an approaching figure, a hateful look on his face.  “Snivellus,” he hissed.  I rolled my eyes.  

“Severus.”

“Snivellus,” he corrected.  “Talk about something else.”

I sighed.  “All right, all right.  Let’s see... I heard the Holyhead Harpies are going to win the Quidditch World Cup this year.”

Sirius snorted.  “As if.  They haven’t been good since the end of the fifties.  It’s going to be the Cannons, for sure.”

“If the Harpies suck, then the Cannons are a disaster!” I argued.  “They haven’t been good since before the fifties.  At least my team’s won in the past ten years.”

“Pfft,” Sirius replied, turning his attention to Snape, who was strolling along up the path as if he owned it.  “Well, look who it is!” he exclaimed, as though he were shocked to see greasy-haired Severus Snape on the path to the Shrieking Shack.  Actually, I was kind of shocked to see the greasy-haired kid on the path to the Shrieking Shack.  We hadn’t seen anybody else since we’d gotten off Main Street.  After all, it was cold, and the place was haunted.  So what was Snape doing out here?

“Shut up, Black,” Snape snapped.  All the while, the distance between us was closing, and nerves were building in my stomach in anticipation of conflict.  

“Hello, Severus,” I said kindly.  He was a friend of my brother, and a childhood friend of Lily.  As slimy and kind of annoying as he was, I didn’t really have a reason to hate him.  Clearly, it was another story altogether between Sirius and Snape.  

“Gaunt,” he said curtly, though not essentially rudely.  I was perfectly satisfied by the response, but Sirius seemed affronted.

“That’s not the way you talk to a lady,” he growled, and I could tell that his hand was tensed around his wand.  Even more shockingly, he’d just called me a lady.  I never thought the day would come!
 
“What would you know about talking to a lady, Black?”

“A hell of a lot more than you would!” Sirius snapped, pulling out his wand and pointing it at Snape’s face.

“What are you—“

“All right, you two!” I yelled, lowering Sirius’ wand for him and shooting a warning glare at Snape as he went for his own wand.  I positioned myself between the two, though if came down to it either would probably be willing to curse me to get to the other.  “I don’t care if you two hex each other, but you’re going to have to do it when I’m not around.  Sirius, come on, you were complaining about the cold and the snow; let’s go get something to drink!”

Sirius grumbled furiously, still glowering hatefully at Snape; but he allowed me to take his hand and drag him down the path.  Before we even reached him, Snape whirled around, black robes whipping out behind him, and marched away.  When he was out of earshot, I sighed.

“You moron!  Don’t pick a fight with him just because you think he’s lower than you!”

“I don’t think he’s lower than me!” Sirius argued, his sour look fading only slightly.  “I know he’s lower than me!  He’s greasy-haired, he’s biased, and he’s obsessed with the Dark Arts!  Not to mention he’s cowardly, he’s an idiot, he—“

“All right!  I get it; you hate him.  Where should we go?” I said, attempting to change the subject subtly.  Sirius rolled his eyes at me.  

“I dunno.  The Three Broomsticks?  The Hog’s Head?  Madame Puddifoot’s?” he offered sarcastically.  

“Well, if we still don’t want to be seen, the Hog’s Head would probably be the better choice.  But then again, Snape’s probably going to go tell people he saw us up here alone, so it might not really matter.  What do you think?”

“I think the Hog’s Head is closer and it’s freezing.  We can grab a drink and revert back to our original subject.”

I sighed and rolled my eyes.  “You mean... our favorite colors?” I asked with a small sardonic grin.  He scowled at me.  “Sirius, when have I ever given you a sign that I liked you like that?”

“You haven’t,” he answered honestly, “until now.”  

“Huh?” I asked stupidly, looking at him in bewilderment.  He held up our hands with a smirk.  I blanched.  I hadn’t even noticed that I hadn’t released his hand yet, but now I did with a disgusted look.  “Don’t be ridiculous!  I was trying to keep you under control!  I wasn’t—“
 
“Don’t worry, Artemis,” Sirius interrupted, putting his arm around my shoulders and pulling me closer to him.  “I won’t tell anyone.  Just like I didn’t tell anyone how you kissed me.  See, I can keep a secret.”

He was taunting me!  It was infuriating!  

“You know,” I growled, pushing his arm off me, “I don’t have to like you; you should feel lucky I do.  And by the way, all this is is a little crush.  Miniscule.  Teeny, tiny, baby crush.  Keep pushing my buttons, and I’ll hate you again.  Of course, that’s probably your goal, huh?”

“That’s stupid.  I don’t want you to hate me,” he told me.  He paused, looking at me curiously, again turning rather pink.  “I... like you too.  Teeny, tiny, baby crush,” he copied.  I gaped at him, aware that my face was getting more color back than it had had before.  
 
“This isn’t exactly how I thought this trip would go...” I muttered as we entered the Hog’s Head.

“Really?” Sirius asked sardonically.  “How did you think it would go?  Two butterbeers, please,” he ordered the barman.  

“Well, to be honest, I thought we would just hang out.  You know, like normal seventh year students.  But apparently, we aren’t normal.”

“Well of course we aren’t normal!” Sirius exclaimed, snatching the proffered butterbeers from the barman and leading the way to an empty table (which, frankly, nearly every table was).  “We’re much too special and extraordinary to be normal!”

“I thought you were ‘average?’  You and Lily spent all that time arguing over it.”

“I lied,” Sirius replied simply, handing me my drink and taking a seat.  “Come on, Artemis, I thought we knew each other!”

“Ha,” I told him, folding my arms and scowling at him.  “Right.”

“Right.  So what are going to do about this?” he asked me, taking a gulp of his drink.

“About what?”

He rolled his eyes at me.  “About us liking each other, dumbass.”

I scowled at him.  “That makes me want to date you,” I said sarcastically.  He smirked.  

“Well, if that’s what you want.”

I sighed.  Was that what I wanted?  “Is that what you want?” I asked, trying desperately to avoid answering the question.

“Is that what you want?” he shot back.  Was that what I wanted? I asked myself again.  Yes, I believed that it was.  But I didn’t want to be the one to say it.  I bit my lip and scowled at him.  

“How about this?” I said at last, just as Sirius seemed to be getting antsy and impatient.  “We’ll mutually agree that we both want to start dating.  Mutually...”

He shrugged.  “Okay.”

“But not like hardcore dating,” I added nervously.  “No snogging until after the third date, no groping and/or touching until the sixth date, absolutely no shagging until we both feel ready, and no putting me before your friends.  I hate that; what’s that stupid saying?  ‘Bro’s before ho’s?’  They’ve got it completely right.  We can’t go out too often either, because of homework and exams; if my grades start slipping, my dad will hex me, and it certainly won’t be pretty.  I’d typically say no holding hands until after the first date, but since you clearly aren’t liking any of my rules, I’m going to say you can choose that.”  He scowled at me and I smiled.  “Sorry.  I just thought we ought to lay down the rules before we start out; otherwise we’ll get in a fight about something stupid when I won’t let you kiss me and it’ll be over before it even begins.”  I scowled at his very unsatisfied look.  He opened his mouth and I sensed a tirade coming on; I sighed and folded my arms across my chest, leaning back into my chair.  “Okay, lay it on me.”

He smirked at me.  “Fine then.  These rules?  They’re bollocks.  There’s always snogging on the first date, makeout sessions start any time after that, the shagging and friends bit I get, sorta, and we can go out as often as we want.  Besides, you’re laying down rules, but you know how Marauders are with rules.  The more we dislike them, the more likely we are to break them.  And right now, I really don’t like them.  If this relationship, or whatever the hell you want to call it, is built on those rules, it won’t last long.”  He glared at my look of ire.  “I’m bloody serious, Artemis.  If you won’t let me snog you until the third date, we aren’t going to survive the week.”

“Huh,” I said wryly.  “I think you’re right.”  He gaped at me in shock, a look that quickly turned to suspicion.  For good reason.  “After all, first and second dates, at least to me, are when you should get to know each other’s personalities, figure out each other’s substance.  But you don’t have substance.  I suppose what you see is what you get.”

“Well, at least I won’t mislead you then.  And by the by, that sounds like the most boring idea of a date I’ve ever heard.  Who the hell wants to sit around and ‘get to know each other’ for an hour or two?”

“James and Lily.”  I glared at him furiously.  I certainly was not boring!  So maybe I didn’t want to just jump into a physical relationship.  Did that really make me boring?

“Right, well, they’re both weird.  We aren’t at all like them; and I hope you don’t expect me to tell you you’re beautiful no matter what you’re wearing, because like I said earlier, I won’t.”

I flushed in anger and perhaps embarrassment.  What the hell was wrong with him?  “You know, as physically attractive as you may be, you’re still the biggest arse I’ve ever met!” I snapped

“And you’re still queen of bitches, even if you are quite beautiful and sexy!” he retorted.

“This clearly isn’t going to work!  Maybe we should just forget this ever happened and go back to the school!”

“Fine by me!  Let’s get the hell out of here,” he growled, standing up and marching for the door without a backward glance.

I glared after him heatedly, but the cold feeling of loneliness in my stomach contrasted with the anger.  Well, that went well, I thought furiously.  

Bloody hell.  I’d done it again.

***~~~***

Sirius drew his cloak tight around him as he stomped outside into the chill November snowstorm, not looking back to see if Artemis was following him.  

Why was his blood boiling?  Why did he suddenly feel so angry?  He’d just had to piss her off, of course.  Rejecting all her little rules, in retrospect, was perhaps not a good choice.  Why couldn’t he just have suggested a compromise?  Or just dealt with her little rules?  Of course he was just playing with her emotions.  He didn’t really like her, or at least not in the way she believed that he did.  But then, why did he feel so angry about the little spat that they’d just had?  Or about the fact that she didn’t think they would work together?  Or the fact that she still thought he was nothing but an arse?  And why did he feel like his heart had just been ripped from his chest, ground to bits, then frozen and replaced in its original position?  He couldn’t be in love with Artemis Gaunt.  

But denying it was useless.  Whether this was true love or just, as Artemis had put it, a ‘baby crush,’ he couldn’t deny that he liked her.  The pain at her rejection made that much clear.  

Sirius sighed as he reached the castle gates, finally looking back to see if she was there.  Yes, she was; she was far in the distance, definitely out of earshot, but she was there.  Even so far away, he could still see her red face, heated by her fury.  

Fuck, Sirius thought to himself.  He’d screwed up now.  How was he going to fix this?  Sirius had no bloody idea.  He’d apologized to plenty of girls in his six and a half years at Hogwarts, but Artemis was no normal girl.  She’d probably just get even more irate if he bought her flowers and chocolate.  Well, perhaps not the flowers...

Then suddenly, he knew what he could do.  It wouldn’t solve everything, definitely not, and she might not even want him to do it; but it was the best thing he could think of.  After all, she’d complained about it to Snuffles multiple times the night before.  She didn’t want to attend her Great Aunt’s funeral alone, with only her family.  And as depressing and sobering as a funeral might be (unquestionably not date material) Sirius was willing to go with her if it helped her at all.  

((IMPORTANT A/N!!!  Alas!  I hate to say it, dear readers, reviewers, and super-awesome people, but all good things must come to a two month long hiatus.  That's... not the saying, but I'm afraid that it's the case.  As much as I hate to leave you all, it's time for me to get on with my life, meaning that I'm a member of the U.S. Navy, and it's time for me to head off to basic training, where I will, sadly, have no internet or computer access.  However, I most definitely intend to finish this story.  To sum up my ramble, which most of you probably didn't read anyways, I'm going to be unable to post for the next two months, which means that you won't see a new chapter till November, possibly December.  But I will be back with more chapters and more ArtemisXSirius!  So don't forget to review (because I really do love reviews), I can't wait to get back, and hope you all have a wonderful next two months!  IMPORTANT A/N!!!))


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