"Did you know what that boy's intentions are? He just doesn't seem like your type. Do you know what he wants from you? What if he's just trying-"
I didn't let my mother finish as I raced up the staircase and into my bedroom. It had been two weeks since school had ended and the ranting still hadn't ended. Every time I walked into the room, she would start up another long speech. I never answered her questions – just watched as she paced in front of me, usually multitasking with cleaning at the same time, loudly talking about Sirius.
She didn't even know any details; usually, she just assumed and continued talking to herself. At first, I was able to tune her out but lately, it had been getting really difficult to ignore her.
A movement out of the corner of my eye caught my attention. Turning, I saw François land on my desk, a letter in front of him.
"Thanks," I said, gently ruffling his feathers.
I immediately recognized the scrawl on the front of the letter. It had only been two days since his last letter but it didn't surprise me – he sent them back quickly.
You say that it would dangerous, but I can handle your mum. She's nice. I don't think she'll mind if I come over. She'll rant for awhile, yes, but I think she'd like to get to know me. I've gone a whole two weeks without seeing you, so, please say you'll forget about your mum and stop worrying...
P.S. Nice name for your bird, by the way. What's with choosing François?
My initial reaction was just to reply with 'no'. I couldn't have him come over with my mum the way she was. She would probably rather see Remus anyway. And I didn't want Sirius to come over and subject him to the horror of questioning.
But I missed him. I wanted to see him so badly. Was it worth the torturing from my mother to see him again?
The answer was simple.
Fine. I caved. You know I would, didn't you? Can you come over tonight? Try to make it a surprise – that way my mother won't think I planned this entire thing. Write back.
P.S. It's a...long story. Maybe I'll tell you one day.
It didn't take long for his response – only about an hour. And the letter only said three words. 'I'll be there'. Resisting the urge to break out into one of my father's favorite songs, I waited anxiously on my bed.
For a couple minutes, I swung my legs back and forth. And then I tried reading. But I couldn't keep my mind on the words. Finally, I just sprawled out on my bed, waiting for time to pass.
What was I going to say to my mum? 'Oh, Sirius just came by for a surprise visit.' That might work. But would she be suspicious? Knowing her, yes.
"Sirius is coming over?"
The intruding voice made me roll over, startled, to see who was at the door. Eleanor was standing in the middle of my doorway, staring at me.
I gave her a confused look. "I didn't say that." How would she know if he was coming over or not? Did she intercept my letters? How else would she know?
She shrugged, still staring at me unblinkingly. "You always fidget when he's around and your hands begin to shake. You can't sit still for even a second. And since you're doing that right now, I'm just guessing he's coming over."
She was so
good at that! Suddenly, the doorbell rang, interrupting my would-be answer. Eleanor smiled at me. "Is that him?"
Ignoring her question, I bounded down the staircase to get the door before mum got to it. But when I glanced out of the window, I could tell it wasn't Sirius. It was a woman.
Opening the door cautiously, I finally caught a glimpse of the visitor. "Aunt Denise!" I exclaimed.
Aunt Denise was my father's older sister – a witch too – and was the best aunt a girl could ever ask for. Never married, fun, and adventurous – she spent most of her time away from home in other countries. No one would ever guess that she was my down-to-earth father's sister.
She immediately enveloped me in a hug, pulling away to look at me. "You're so much older now, Ivy. It's been too long."
I smiled. "Three years."
"God, you're done with school, aren't you?" she asked, letting me go and closing the door behind her.
"Just finished with my seventh year," I responded. "Are you staying here because my parents didn't say anything-"
Aunt Denise shook her head, letting her short brown hair fly all over the place. "No, no, actually, I'm here for you."
Why would she be here for me? My first thoughts were that she wanted me to go with her somewhere exotic. "Okay..." I said slowly.
We moved to the living room, sitting down on the couch. "I'm planning on taking a two-year trip to South Africa," she began to explain.
So, she wanted me to go with her. But how could I leave everyone for two years? I just couldn't go two years without seeing my friends, my family...it was crazy...
"But I've recently bought a flat across town and I don't want it to stay empty. How would you like to house-sit for me?"
I raised an eyebrow, trying to process this information. "What do you mean?"
She smiled, probably waiting for this reaction. "The flat is your's until I come back. It's your choice – you don't have to stay in it if you don't want to."
My own flat. My own space. My own
residence. "Are you joking?" I asked, resisting the urge to jump up off the couch and scream.
"Denise! What a surprise!"
My mother walked into the room, wringing her hands with a cloth. Denise gave her an innocent smile. "Hello, Sarah. I was just catching up with Ivy here. I offered to loan her my flat while I'm away."
I could practically see my mother's eyes widen even from where I was. "You're giving Ivy her own place?"
My own place! This was too good to be true. I had to be dreaming again. No, no, I wasn't. It was real. Aunt Denise was giving me her flat.
"Is that a problem?" Aunt Denise asked.
My mum didn't know how to answer that question. She just opened and closed her mouth, finally snapping it closed. She just 'hmm'ed in response, but it was indifferent.
"Please, mum," I decided to beg. This had to happen. I wasn't going to let a chance like this slip through my fingers. "I promise I'll visit often. And I'll only be across town."
There was no doubt about it. The way my mum looked at me and sighed only meant one thing. I was definitely getting this flat. I could have squealed.
Aunt Denise suddenly stood up. "Well, then, I guess that's it. Ivy, here's the address-" She handed out a piece of parchment and I took it from her. "It's already hooked up to the Floo Network so you don't have to worry about that." We began to walk toward the front door. "I have to meet with the others going on this trip in about two minutes but-" And then the doorbell ringing interrupted her in mid-sentence.
We all looked out of the door window and I recognized the person outside before my mum did. Darting in front, I opened the door before she could get there.
Sirius didn't say anything as he noticed my aunt standing next to me. Instead, he just stood there, staring and looking absolutely adorable. I missed him even more than I thought...
I watched as Aunt Denise quickly said goodbye to my mother and then turned to me with a grin. Sirius was still standing behind her just waiting. "I'll see you soon, Ivy." Stopping in front of Sirius, she turned back and added, "And you can invite him
over any time you want."
My mother's face was priceless.
I laughed, taking a few steps back. "You believed her?"
Sirius was standing outside of the door, teetering on the threshold. He looked nervous, glancing at the room around him, even checking the ceiling. "She assured me."
All I could do was laugh again, watching as he clutched onto the sides of the door frame as if he was about to fall to his death. "She was joking," I explained. "She wouldn't have dad put enchantments on the door. She knows to respect my privacy."
But Sirius wasn't convinced. "Your mum hates me. Of course she'd want to respect your privacy, but she also wants to keep me out even more."
I had just moved into Aunt Denise's flat early this morning and, even though my mum had warned Sirius about coming over, I convinced him to come anyway. My mum had officially scared him; she gave him the whole speech. She was going to do everything to try to stop us from being alone in my flat, she didn't trust him, and she was going to watch us every hour of every day.
To Sirius that meant that she put some enchantments on the door to stop him from coming in. It was absurd: my mother hadn't even visited the flat.
I just crossed my arms. "Are you really just going to stand out there the rest of the day then?"
Sirius sighed. "I'm planning on coming in. I'm just mentally preparing myself."
I watched with a strange amusement as Sirius began to crack his knuckles and do a couple stretches as if he was going to back flip or jump a hurtle just to get into the room.
"Any time soon?" I teased him, backing up even more to give him some room.
He chuckled. "Okay," he finally said, brushing his hair out of his eyes. "You ready?"
Really, all he was doing was stepping into the room. I really doubted that alarms were going to start going off and something would attack him. My mother knew better than that. She'd know I'd never forgive her. I just nodded at him.
Sirius took a dramatic deep breath and lifted up one foot, stepping onto the hardwood floors of my entrance.
He looked up at me triumphantly. "Ha, nothing to worry about," he exclaimed as he stepped into the room fully, stopping in front of me.
And he was the one that was worried. "Oh, I don't know," I replied, shrugging slightly. "You know my mum. She probably has spells all around that watch our every move."
It was the first time we were alone since school – and I was extremely happy. Sirius couldn't hide his happiness either. He looked thoughtful for a second, glancing back up at the ceiling and around the moldings. "What angle do you think she has?"
I raised an eyebrow at the random question. "Probably over there-" I pointed to my left, picking a random spot.
"Good. Then let's give her a show," he replied with a smirk, catching me offguard by practically swooping me off my feet and spinning me around, placing me in front of my "mum's angle". And then he was kissing me again – the first time in weeks
– and I realized just how much I missed him in that moment.
It felt so right to be back in his arms – to feel him, see him, hear him. I eagerly returned the kiss but he wasn't surprised – almost as if he had suspected I would. Maybe he knew exactly how much I had missed him. Maybe he was feeling the same way.
Suddenly, he was deepening the kiss and his hand was on the exposed part of my skin beneath my skin, slowly moving upward.
I managed to break away, but he didn't want to stop. Instead, he moved down to my neck, leaving quick kisses on my skin. And I couldn't stop shivering.
A horrible thought then occurred to me. What if my mum really was
watching? Would she have been here by now? She obviously wouldn't condone this behavior and I could just see her apparating or flooing herself in, prying us apart.
But I couldn't think straight when he was murmuring short phrases between each kiss, his voice sending shivers down my spine.
"I missed you so much," was the latest.
I just whimpered in response. I couldn't respond intelligently – loosing my head, I was loosing my head.
Sirius immediately detached himself from me, his gray eyes widening in fright. I turned toward the source of the noise to find my owl. As I picked up the letter he dropped off, I barely could hide the grin on my face from the thought that my mother
scared Sirius so badly.
"Stop," Sirius said, pretty weakly, knowing exactly why I grinned.
I didn't respond, instead, just opened the letter to see a nice, cursive belonging to a certain Lily Evans.
You haven't written me in two weeks – I'm ashamed of you. What am I supposed to think when I don't hear from you for that long. And James told me something interesting – you're writing to Sirius. You can't just write him and not me – please remember to write sometime, okay? You must respond because James and I are planning on going to Diagon Alley soon and we want to meet with you there.
Please write back. If not, I'll just intercept one of the letters you send to Sirius.
Sirius didn't even have to take a second glance at the letter to know who it was from. "She has the worst timing," he groaned.
But what if Lily hadn't interrupted? How far would we have gone? Probably much farther than I wanted to. "Or great timing," I corrected him.
Sirius just stared at me with a blank expression. Was he used to girls saying 'no'? Was this the first time-
"Or great timing," he suddenly agreed.
And as I stared back at him, I wondered why he had agreed. Did he really want to take it slow? Or was he doing this just to make me happy? Was I too boring for him?
Just when I thought I was loosing that pessimistic voice of mine, it came back in full swing.
Lily didn't have to do much convincing for me to agree to meet her in Diagon Alley. Remus and Peter were also going to be there and I couldn't just go any longer without seeing them all. It seemed like forever ago that we were in Hogwarts, eating in the Great Hall, studying the library, and joking around in the common room.
Sirius appeared in my flat that morning and watched me scramble to find my shoes (that seemingly went missing). His eyes were scanning over the situation as I basically crawled on the floor to find the missing object.
They were right there last night-
Sighing, I stood up, brushing myself off. Sirius's eyes never left me and he had that amused twinkle in them.
I was just too frustrated to deal with him now. "What?" I snapped.
He grinned. "Accio Ivy's shoes
." And then the three pairs of shoes that I had brought over from my parent's house came flying into sight, landing on the floor in front of me.
Oh. "Thanks," I muttered, my cheeks probably turning bright red. I grabbed my black shoes and put them on in record time. When I looked up, that grin was still plastered on his face.
With a sigh, I grabbed his hand and pulled him toward the fireplace. "Shut it, will you?" I murmured, as he grabbed a handful of floo powder.
"You're so cute," he said teasingly, lightly giving me a peck on the lips before disappearing in the flames.
I hated it when I made a fool of myself and Sirius was able to take it so well. I wasn't cute – I was disorganized, frantic, stressed. Living by myself wasn't as easy as I thought it was going to be. I was constantly losing things and forgetting simple spells that could help me. And I had to find a job – but with this whole uprising of Voldemort, people were beginning to get scared and shops were closing.
Brushing my hair back in frustration, I grabbed some floo powder and stepped into the fireplace. "Diagon Alley!"
Spinning, spinning, no air, and then...light.
Finally opening my eyes, I saw a hand outstretched in front of me and I graciously took it. "Took you long enough," Sirius continued his teasing.
"Just making sure everything was situated," I quickly replied, fixing my robes and looking around at my surroundings.
Even though shops were beginning to see the danger, customers were still plenty, bustling down the alley, looking in windows. It looked exactly the same as a year ago, except for the shop on my right was closed, windows completely devoid of any merchandise.
"Where did they say they were meeting us?" I asked Sirius as we began to walk down the alley.
"Florean Fortescue's," he replied. "They should all be there by now."
We were running a bit late but it was only by ten minutes. When the shop came into view, I immediately recognized the four people sitting at the table outside and a bright smile appeared on my face.
Just seeing them again approved my damper mood.
"Ivy!" Lily called out, waving at us. Sirius and I both waved back as everyone at the table began to wave at us.
We were got nearer, everyone immediately stood up to greet us. James tried to grab me and spin me around again, but I successfully stayed out of his way. He pouted, but couldn't stop the grin from ruining his pout.
Seeing Remus's face again made me smile even more, if possible. He also looked happy to see me as he pulled me into a hug. "Hey, how are you?" he said softly into my ear in the midst of the embrace.
"I'm doing fine," I told him. "How about you? I haven't heard from you in awhile."
Remus smiled sheepishly. "I've been distracted with trying to find a place to live. Sirius already has his flat and offered his couch, but I'd rather find something a bit more...nicer."
"I'm sure my couch is nicer if you ever want to come over," I hinted.
James, Peter, and Remus all stared at me. I had told Lily in my response letter that I was living in my Aunt Denise's flat, but I guess she didn't tell anyone else. And Sirius hadn't told them? What a surprise.
"My Aunt Denise gave me her flat for now," I clarified. "And you're all invited to come over at any time."
"Congratulations," Remus exclaimed and then sighed. "Now I just need to find my own Aunt Denise."
I chuckled at his joking words as we sat down for some icecream. Looking around at the table, it almost felt like Hogwarts again – all sitting down to eat, conversing about our lives. And then I was back home where I belonged and it felt right.
But I couldn't shake the feeling that the war was going to break this all apart. And I couldn't just sit back and watch this happen.
That afternoon I stayed behind, taking in all the buildings in Diagon Alley. There had to be something that would-
My eyes fell on the massive gray building to my right. Windows lined the front on many different stories and a line of doors at the end of a staircase were constantly opening and closing as people kept going in and out. The name of the building was proudly displayed in big, block letters at the top.
And then I knew that I could contribute to the war. I didn't have to fight in the front of the line. I could do this - this was the job for me.
I knew I shouldn't have expected a fast reply when I walked into the doors of the Daily Prophet. I didn't expect them to immediately give me a job.
But when I walked in those doors and filled out the papers, it felt right. I was finally going to do something – I was going to write about the war. I was going to bring hope to the masses through my words. There was nothing better.
At first I thought that I had nothing to worry about. Of course they would want to hire me. I was perfect for the job – hardworking, top marks in school, and writing was my passion.
But then I began doubting myself. I had just graduated Hogwarts – why would they want to hire someone without experience.
I was right: five weeks passed without a single letter or anything. I had obviously not gotten the job. It was the worst feeling: failure. Just the thought of it made me sick to my stomach.
And then after five whole weeks, post finally came for me. I had an interview – an interview to work on current events articles for the Daily Prophet. That was exactly what I wanted.
The interview was seamless – I put on my best robes, smiled, and managed to answer every question without stuttering or letting my nerves get the best of me.
The end of the interview, I shook hands with the editor and was caught offguard when he said, "Welcome to the Daily Prophet, Miss Bennett." I didn't expect to be hired that easily – right there on the spot.
Sirius was ecstatic for me when he visited that afternoon. A massive smile broke out on his face and he started rambling about how we needed to have a party to celebrate.
And that's why around twenty people were crammed into my little flat, conversing with each other and congratulating me. I even had to dress up for the little party since it was "formal" though it wasn't much – just a nice set of robes and a slightly more time consuming hairstyle. It was pulled back in a twist (finally long enough to get into a ponytail) and pinned up. I was finding it a extreme relief to have my hair out of my face.
"Congratulations, Ivy!" Mary said as soon as I ended my conversation with Frank and Alice.
Just when I was about to look for Sirius too. There hadn't been any exploding objects or loud yells and I was beginning to wonder what he was doing.
"Thanks, Mary," I said, stopping to talk to her.
We began a conversation about the flat and I explained the Aunt Denise story to her. She found it somewhat hilarious that I had an aunt that traveled the world and had empty flats to give to her relatives. I had to admit – it was amusing. We laughed for awhile about the whole situation and then she went to talk to Dorcas, leaving me to look for Sirius again.
Finally, I spotted him standing by himself against a wall. His eyes were already locked on me and I wondered if he had been watching me the whole time.
After being stopped a couple times by my guests, I made my way over to him.
"Why are you standing here by yourself?" I asked him as soon as I was in hearing range. "After all, you're the one who planned this whole thing."
He looked as if he didn't know the answer himself. "I'm just...watching you."
For some reason, that answer made my heart start thudding madly. "Why?"
A smile began to tug at the corner of his lips. He was hiding something from me and he knew it was going to bug me until I found out. "I'll tell you after the party," he said. "Now go mingle."
I wrinkled my nose at the thought of not knowing for that long. With a sigh, I gave Sirius an exasperate look and walked up to the group with Remus, Peter, and James.
"He's been watching you all night," James immediately said, catching my attention.
I looked over at him. "Why?" Honestly, why was Sirius choosing this night to act so strangely? And why wouldn't he tell me what was going on?
"Well, you do look absolutely stunning tonight," Remus spoke up.
I glanced down at the normal dress robes I was wearing. "Um, I'm not that dressed up," I responded. I didn't even spend that long getting ready – with the exception of my hair being up, I looked exactly the same.
"It's not that," James exclaimed. "It's the way you've been acting tonight – total confidence and all. I think Sirius noticed the change."
All of this was just because Sirius thought I looked good? That wasn't strange – I hoped he did since I was his girlfriend. It would be strange if he thought I was ugly.
James had to add one more thing. "Trust me on this. He's completely enthralled with you right now."
I snuck a glance back at him. He was still watching me as if his eyes never strayed away. Did he know what his friends were telling me?
The party was beginning to wind down and I was getting nervous. When was Sirius going to talk to me? Was he going to wait until all the other guests were gone?
He was the last to leave as I had expected. As I thanked everyone for coming and showed them the door, he waited patiently behind me. And when I finally closed the door behind the last person, I turned around abruptly.
He chuckled at my sudden movement. "You really want to know that badly?" he joked. "What if it's something stupid like...I just realized how beautiful you are and you don't even try."
He still had that joking tone but his words caused a lump in throat. I didn't know how to respond; I was speechless and going over the edge.
"Exactly," he murmured, knowing what was going through my mind.
I barely had time to quirk an eyebrow before he pressed his lips to mine.
And then I understood.