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The Art of Breathing. by AC_rules
Chapter 31 : Acceptance.
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 39


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A/N - Helloo theree! I think this is a little fillerish but I did REALLY love writing this chapter and writing in general recently. I have been so stressed, honestly, it's getting to a point where I have nightmares about exams AFTER I've done them (especially today) and surprisingly I've got more chapters written because of it. So I have up to chapter 35 ish written but I'm updating them slowly as it will get to a point where I actually CAN'T do any more writing because of revision. Yummy.  Okay well, enjoy.... and please tell me what you think :)


Baby If I think about you I think about love
Darlin' If I had to live without you I live without love
And if I had the sun and moon We will shine them
I would give you both night and day Love satisfying


Feel like making love – Bad Company

 

The water had got to the point when it wasn’t burning my skin anymore, so I turned it up a notch. For a second my body shrank away from the water in the shower before becoming accustomed to it. I picked up the bottle of shower gel that Sirius had bought me and quickly put it back down, picking up one of Lily’s instead – she wouldn’t mind. I just really couldn’t deal with thinking about him right now. Oh dear.

It didn’t smell half as good as my own stuff, but anything that stopped me from smelling like Sirius was fine by me. I rubbed the stuff into my skin a little violently and tried to stop myself from panicking...

Why Mary? Why?

Ah! Stop it. I turned the shower up a little more till the water really was scalding hot, and leaving my skin bright pink.  My heart was beating a gazillion times a minute in my chest as I tried to calm myself down for two seconds so that I could think properly...

Or maybe not thinking would be the better course? Then I wouldn’t start stressing about... It.

My life is over.

In three months anyway.

So, to screw my life up even more than it was, I did the ultimate stupid thing – the most stupid thing in the whole world – I might as well have just taken ‘essence of stupid’ potion (if that exists) and jumped off a cliff, or murdered Dumbledore – just because. Hell, I could have run into the great hall naked screaming ‘I’M A HOUSE ELF! LET ME WASH YOUR PLATES’, and it would still be slightly less stupid than what I just did...

I can’t even think about it. It makes me want to throw up and cry at the same time.

Why Mary? Really? Why...?

Why the bloody hell did you sleep with Sirius Black?

And now I’m crying. Fantastic. And the shower doesn’t physically go any hotter, so there is nothing I can do to make myself feel better and stop myself from panicking. I let out a small, pathetic whimper and sank to the floor of the shower.

Sirius won’t come looking for me. I know that he can get up here (somehow) but I doubt he will. When, after having sex (ARGHHHHHHH!) with your girlfriend (and my hatred of the word has returned) and she suddenly goes ‘fuck, I have to wash my err... house elf’ (why do I have house elves on the brain? That is so disturbing it’s unreal) and runs away you just don’t go after her. Or maybe you do? I’m not clued up on the workings of Sirius Black anyway...

He’d realise I’m in the shower even if he came up here, which he won’t, so he wouldn’t be able to talk to me anyway. He wouldn’t come in whilst I was in the shower... Surely?  Except he’s seen it all now, so he probably won’t see it as a problem... Fuck.

Even worse – what if he thought I was actually watching my house elf in the shower, and now he’s convinced I’m some weirdo house elf lover... Oh Bajesus. That isn’t even a word.

Calm Mary, Calmmm...

It’s not that big of a deal, really. So you slept with him (ARGHHHHHHHH!) but you’ve been dating him for a month or something and yes, that makes you a little bit slutty but there’s nothing really wrong with that. Everyone else in the world is doing it. It’s fine.

Except it’s not really because I haven’t told him I’m dying and now I think it actually counts as a serious relationship (that or fuck-buddies... and that’s even worse), which means that really, by all accounts, I have to tell him.

And that’s when I make a lunge out of the shower, and throw up.

**************

Calm down, Mary. Calm down. It’s all going to be fine...

“ARGHH!” I yelled loudly, as I walked into a large, solid something, which turned out to be not that large and called Marlene McKinnon.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” she snapped, tripping backwards and moving away from me.  She didn’t look to be in a particularly good mood and glared at me as if the sight of me offended her very much. To be fair, it probably did. “Are you completely crazy? And you better not throw up on my shoes again!” she snapped, taking a step back looking at her (rather nice) shoes before glancing back at my feet.

“What are you talking about?!” I asked, wildly. There goes being calm...

“Last time you looked this mental you started going on about how Sirius kissed you and throwing up everywhere.”

Suddenly, just to prove her point, my stomach lurched at the word Sirius and I threw up again. All over her shoes.

I repeat – God hates me.

“Bloody hell!” she said, stepping backwards in disgust and pulling out her wand to clean it up. “What’s he done this time – stuck his tongue down your throat?” she asked sarcastically. I clutched my stomach and stepped backwards, leaning against the wall weakly. Really, this disease is a bitch.

“Stuck something somewhere else,” I muttered, slightly amused at my own attempt at a joke - apparently she heard me, judging by the look on her face... Why can’t I keep my mouth shut around her? Why must I tell her everything!?!

“You little slut,” she said appreciatively. “What was it... a month? A fortnight?”

“Not helping!” I added, clutching my stomach and collapsing down the side of the wall. My head was spinning and I felt even worse the longer I thought about it. Not good. Not good at all Mary. You stupid, idiotic attempt at a person, you should go and die... oh wait. You’re doing that.

Fantastic.

“Not really following why you’re throwing up though – unless you’re pregnant.”

“No!” I exclaimed loudly. At least I hope not. Oh shit. What if I’m pregnant? I wouldn’t be, right? We used some protection shit (I am not in the mood to think about technicalities right now) and that means that I couldn’t possibly be pregnant? Except sometimes it doesn’t work, surely... and...why am I worrying about this? I’d be dead anyway and so would the baby because I have... three months to live.

Still, one of the side effects was increased fertility...

...and another was earlier menopause.

So really....

“Okay, chill,” Marlene said, sighing deeply. I then realised that I’d been hyperventilating a little – oh God. Listen to her and chill... “What’s the big deal about this? It’s hardly worth throwing up over... I know he’s pretty ugly, but he’s not that disgusting...” she said, folding her arms and leaning against the wall.

“Ermm... are you or are you not involved with his less attractive younger brother?” I snapped back. She had a knack for getting to me. After all, she was the one who made me feel uneasy in the first place, which led to me sleeping with Sirius (ARGHHHH!). Really, it’s her fault. Sort of. Shut up Mary.

“Not currently,” she answered coolly. “As of yesterday.” 

Well that was news.

“You’re still a cradle snatcher.”

“And you’re a little slut, but we’re moving away from the point. Why are you freaking out?”

“I’M NOT FREAKING OUT!” I yelled loudly.

“If you’re trying to be funny, then... you failed.”

“Shut up.”

“You come running to me for advice, you should expect the tough love approach, McDonald,” she said dryly. She pulled out a cigarette from her pocket, looked at it, and put it back in her pocket again. I hoped that she was at least trying not to smoke. Her words from last time we’d talked washed over me and I tried not to feel sorry for her (as it was her fault that I was in this situation. Sort of, well not at all, but still I wanted someone to blame). But I couldn’t help it.

“I didn’t come running to you. I ran into you, and since when have you called me McDonald?”

“Mary doesn’t suit you much,” Marlene said. “It’s far too bland, and stop changing the subject.  What is so bad about this?”

“Because it means it’s serious!” I wailed.

“Or that you’re fuck-buddies,” she commented, sounding more and more amused. It scared me how similar our train of thought was.

“Shut up!” I practically screamed at her, and she held her hands up in defence. “I didn’t think it was serious and then... now it is.”

“By your standards – maybe not so much his. He is Sirius Black after all.”

I pulled myself up again so I was a little closer to her height... She was still a fair few inches taller though. Damn those tall genes. How tall was Regulus? It would be pretty funny if she was taller. I’d laugh so hard.

“Do you want to die? Because I may not be able to do magic but I have -”

“What is the big deal about it being serious?” Marlene asked, interrupting me and looking slightly bored by my antics. Well I’m sorry Miss Perfect.

“Because I haven’t told him!” I exclaimed, practically in tears.

“Told him...”

“About the whole terminal illness thing?” I hissed, and her eyes widened in comprehension.

“Ah.”

She paused for a second as she looked at me. “Isn’t Lily going on at you to tell him? She seems like that sort of type.”

“Lily doesn’t know either.”

Marlene seemed surprised.

“Alice?”

“No,” I snapped back miserably. “No one knows.”

“And yet you told me, a complete and utter stranger? Next thing you’ll be telling me you’re not going to tell the others that you slept with Sirius.”

“Of course I’m not! I assured them I wouldn’t!”

“And you did because...?”

“Because I have three months to live and I wanted to... Look it doesn’t matter.”

“You didn’t want to die the Virgin Mary?” she suggested. “Well that’s lovely; just use him because you’re desperate. Then I expect you ran away with some lame excuse. What was it? A Potions Essay? You needed to unpack? Family birthday?”

I could have used any of those excuses and what did I say... ‘Fuck, I need to wash my, err... house elf.’ Oh dear God above, please just kill me. A quick heart attack? A burst of lightning, yes yes, I am indoors, but you are God so you could do that if you wanted to, instead of leaving me to suffer.

“What was it, go on and tell me?” she implored, looking a little frightening and a little pissed. I decided that she was even scarier than Lily.

“I said – to quote ‘fuck, I need to wash my err... house elf’.”   

For a second I was sure she was going to pull out her wand and kill me herself, but then she did something even more surprising and...

Burst out laughing

“God, you’re priceless!” she exclaimed. “Even if you’re a heartless bitch that must have been hilarious – how did you keep a straight face? How did he keep a straight face?”

“I didn’t look back to check. It was more of a grab-my-clothes-and-run moment.”

“Then, let me guess, straight into the shower?” she suggested. She looked at my surprised expression for a minute and shook her head. “You’re not the only heartless bitch in the world you know – I told him I had to go water my plot plant,” she continued, sighing. “Still, he wasn’t in love with me at the time.” The mysterious ‘he’ was not named and I was pretty sure that was the way things were going to continue so I didn’t bother asking.

“If you’re insinuating that -”

“Yes, I am,” she cut across me. “And you’re not being fair, and when I was being a heartless bitch it wasn’t quite so bad. I wasn’t sleeping with him to prove some guy who only knew me for a month wrong.”

“I was not!” I exclaimed indignantly. “I was just... scared about missing out on so much. I only have three months for Merlin’s sake!”

“And when exactly in those three months were you going to tell your best friend and your boyfriend, who loves you, that you’re a goner?”

“When I’ve sorted it out in my head...”

“So basically, you’re leaving it till your funeral so you don’t have to do it yourself. I thought Gryffindors were supposed to be brave. You know what; you’re too much of a coward to sort this out so I’m sorting this out for you.  I am giving you three weeks to tell Sirius and Lily or I’m telling them myself.”

“You wouldn’t, because then I’d tell everyone about you and Regulus,” I said triumphantly (although my heart was starting to beat faster in my chest, maybe I was having a heart attack. There is still hope).

“There is no me and Regulus. Anyway, if you did that, I’ll tell Sirius why you slept with him,” she said, smiling at me as if the whole thing was funny. My heart stopped and my breath caught in my throat. She was leaving with no choice. I had to tell them. Three weeks. Fuck my life.

“And I suppose you’ve told the whole world,” I commented darkly, and I couldn’t stop myself from hating her now. I wanted to strangle the stupid bitch for being so right. Then she couldn’t tell anybody and I’d spend my last three months in a nice cell in Azkaban away from Sirius and Lily...

Oh shut up.

“No, I haven’t. But the difference between you and me is you have a best friend and a boyfriend whereas I have neither.”

“At the minute,” I said, and she shrugged. “You’re blackmailing me!?” I asked, after thinking about it for a minute. “Why is everyone in the world blackmailing me?”

“Maybe you’re too god damn stupid to get anything done yourself! You’ve got the perfect three months set up for yourself here – you have your friends and your boyfriend and your family and instead of enjoying it, you’re worrying yourself sick by keeping this stupid secret. Why? Because you’re too scared of admitting it out loud! Say it Mary. Just say ‘I’m dying’ and see how easy it is!” she snapped. I couldn’t open my mouth. “See, you’re just a cowardly little -”

“Miss McDonald, Miss McKinnon,” McGonagall said, walking towards us.

“- Slut,” Marlene finished under her breath.

“What are you two doing lingering in the corridors?”

“Free period,” Marlene said casually. “I was just about to go the Library when Mary here ran into me. So I’ll be off now,” she said, picking up her bag and stalking off with her bad mood plastered all over her face. I would feel bad, but she’s just ruined my whole life.

Well, what’s left of it.

“And I was just going to -”

“Walk out of Muggle Studies?” McGonagall suggested. I swallowed. “I need a word with you Miss McDonald, if you would accompany me into my office...”

I followed dutifully, wondering just how many detentions I was going to get...

******

“Right, have a biscuit,” McGonagall said, presenting me with the tin.

“Erm... thanks,” I said suspiciously, taking some shortbread and biting it nervously. It didn’t taste too bad, but it was far from fresh.

“It’s not poisoned,” she assured me, pulling out a file from her desk and taking out a few papers. “I’ve been meaning to talk to you for a while actually...” she said, running her finger down a piece of thick parchment. “Three months to live?” she asked, and her words startled me and sent a jolt of fear down my spine.

“Yes Professor,” I said, my voice weak. It was hard to even agree with it. Damn Marlene.

“Very well...  I don’t see how Muggle Studies is going to help you much in those three months so... you may drop it if you wish? Mr Black has done the same it seems, I ran into him earlier. He appeared to be looking for you and I can only be thankful for your sake that he didn’t hear your conversation with Miss McKinnon...”

She looked at me appraisingly for a second before looking back down at the file – my file.  “Are there any other subjects you would like to discontinue? It seems you won’t be... alive when it comes to the exam period anyway, but I would advise you to keep up some subjects just in case. Plus it would look very suspicious to anyone looking on, who didn’t... fully understand the situation if you suddenly dropped all your classes?”

Oh Merlin. She had definitely heard the whole conversation between me and Marlene. She knew about my sex life – McGonagall knows about my sex life.

Please, please, somebody give me a knife so I can stab myself.

Dear God, if you like me –even the tiniest bit – just send down a bolt of lightning and I’ll love you for the rest of my looonnngg death?

“However your academic record isn’t exactly outstanding, so if I asked you to drop certain subjects that I thought you had no hope in... that would be understandable, I am sure.”

“Can I drop transfiguration, charms and defence?” I asked nervously. She looked down at the sheet again.  I couldn’t look at her. God.  This random forty year old woman knows about my sex life and she’s sitting here talking to me about classes...

“All of which happen to be subjects where you sit next to Mr Black,” she said, sending me a knowing look. “Funny, before I overheard a certain conversation I was sure that those would be the subjects you would keep? In any case, I can’t let you drop those as they are your core subjects and I certainly would not let a student in any normal circumstances drop those, along with the chance to get a job. You can drop charms if you would like, but I want you continue at Defence against the Dark Arts, Transfiguration and Potions – there is no excuse at all for you not doing well in potions except laziness.”

“Right.”

“Have another biscuit,” she implored, and I took one. “I believe it turns out your brother is magical – yes? And he will be coming to Hogwarts next year?” I nodded. “And I expect he will be in Gryffindor?”

“Yes, Professor. He’s very brave,” I said, proudly. For a second I remembered the way he’d taken the news that he was dying so well, even before finding out about the cure...

“With a background like yours it is not surprising in the slightest,” McGonagall nodded. “You are far braver than many of the students we have in Gryffindor and I cannot image him being any different. I am sure he’ll be a credit to the school when all his magical ability is restored...” She looked at me for a second. “I don’t know if you have realised, but the reason I asked you to my office was not to discuss timetable changes.”

“Oh?” I asked as if I was surprised, when really I’d known what was coming from the beginning.

“I have been to talk to you for a few months now, since October, but time flies -” I took a sharp intake of breathe and McGonagall seemed to regret her choice in words. “What I mean, Mary, is that if there is anything at all I could do I would be most happy to help you,” she said, looking right at me as if I was a real person. It scared me a little. “I have a copy of your personal background...” she said, taking another sheet from the folder. I wondered what it said. “And... you have been most unfortunate. Especially in this past year, I had my suspicions that things were getting worse... after what Mulciber did to you... it wasn’t a particularly dark curse, but your body was merely weaker than the spell expected...” I shuddered, trying not to remember that particularly day. “Of course... it was still... three months,” she said suddenly, as if realising it for the first time. “Have another biscuit.”

“Is there a point to this, Professor, because I have some things to be doing..?”

“Really? I was under the impression that you were trying to avoid someone?” she asked sharply. “And naturally, there is a point,” she said, taking a sip of whatever was in her glass and pulling out a blank piece of parchment. “As head of your house I am duty bound to inform you about certain rules that have been over looked.”

Oh. My. God. She better not say it’s against the rules to have sex. Merlin. She’s going to mention it any minute now... except really? Is there a rule against it? Because what can they do really and why else would you go to boarding school?

“Blackmail is a very serious offence, and it would seem that more than one person was blackmailing you.” She definitely, definitely knew then. Oh, for the sake of Merlin’s saggy balls. “Then I could put a stop to this. None of these cases are serious?” she asked.

Oh no, Snape just keeps sending me threatening messages, Regulus threatened to have me and my family killed, but no it was nothing. Nothing at all.

“No,” I answered, smiling. She didn’t believe me.

“I don’t believe that Miss McKinnon is serious in her threat, as it would have much more serious consequences for her than you,” she said, though I didn’t find it altogether assuring.

“What would happen?” I asked, and she looked at me in surprise.

“I am certain that he would get similar treatment to his older brother, but people like Bellatrix Lestrange don’t tend to make the same mistake twice.”

So they wouldn’t revive him, like they had Sirius, and would instead curse him until he was definitely dead, even though he was stunned and couldn’t fight back. I suddenly felt sorry for her again.

“Although I daresay that Regulus doesn’t have quite as much magical skill as Sirius,” McGonagall said, writing something down on the piece of paper in front of her. “So I don’t think you need to worry about Miss McKinnon disclosing... any information you would rather have unknown... However I believe she has an excellent point.”

“Sorry?”

“I, and the headmaster, have made it our business to look out for you and see how well you and others are coping. I have been watching for any... irrational behaviour that doesn’t fit with your character, something that would show you aren’t coping as well as it sometimes seems.”

Like sleeping with Sirius. I flushed and looked downwards. “And although I disapprove of blackmail...” Oh god. She’s not going to blackmail me too, surely...? “I am giving you till the end of the month to tell them. Then I will sit them all down in my office, you included, and tell them myself.”

“No!” I cried, before putting a hand to my lips. “Professor you can’t, that’s... not fair!”

“It’s perfectly fair, and I would have done something sooner, but... have another biscuit.”

“No thank you.”

“Have another biscuit,” she snapped, sharply this time. “And be careful about who you trust,” she said, standing up and putting the file back into one of her draws. “You may go.”

Be careful who you trust? Threaten to tell everyone then tell me to be careful who I trust?

What bollocks. Complete bollocks.

***********

“Mary!” a voice yelled, and my insides froze with fear. Oh dear. I was not ready for this. I carried on walking and pretended I couldn’t hear him. “MARY!” the voice said again, and I could hear footsteps – he was running. Either he knew that I’d panicked and run away or he thought I was a House-elf lover and was about to break up with me for being such a freak. If he broke up with me... I wouldn’t have to tell him.

That would save me a great deal of effort.

“Hello there!” I said. Oh dear. That is not normal. On the other hand, people attracted to house elves are also not normal so there is a small chance that he will still just dump me for being a freak... even more chance maybe? Although he won’t, who dumps their girlfriend just after they’ve slept with them?

Sirius Black does. He actually does though. He’s that sort of type – man whorey. I am such a fool.

“Hello,” Sirius mocked in the same cheesy weird voice. Oh dear. “We need to talk,” he continued, grabbing my arm and pulling me down an empty corridor. How does he know what corridors are empty without even looking? I really don’t understand and I don’t feel like now is an appropriate time to ask. “Right,” Sirius began awkwardly.

Then, McGonagall came into view. She looked at both of us suspiciously before continuing off down the empty corridor. She sent me a look as if she knows that in my head I’m willing Sirius to believe that I am a house-elf lover who washes them in the shower. You know that you’re in a mess where that seems like the good option.

“Well I’m glad she walked past then, how awkward would it have been if she heard our conversation,” Sirius commented.

YOU THINK?!? YOU THINK IT WOULD BE AWKWARD IF SHE HEARD US DO YOU?

What is wrong with my life? Seriously. 

Actually, I don’t want an answer.

“Okay, care to explain before?” Sirius said, looking at me with his eyebrows slightly raised. Moment of truth... tell him I shower with house elves, or tell him the truth, or... come up with some other stupid excuse? Bingo.

What were Marlene’s excuses? Potions Essay.... Family birthday... Needed to unpack... they were all rubbish! Sirius was looking at me expectantly.

“Well, you see. It’s my Grandma’s birthday, and I forgot... so I had to go send her a present...”

“Washing your house elf?”

He doesn’t believe me. Why would he? I’m talking crap. Absolute crap. Lie more convincingly damn you Mary! I’m talking to myself, in my head. Wait – that’s perfectly normal? Isn’t it?

“Oh! Hah! See, my brother and me have a code for birthday presents. Wash means Send, and house elf means... erm... well... present. So I was just saying that I needed to send the birthday present.”

“Oh, okay,” Sirius said – did he honestly believe that? “How old is your grandma then?”

“A hundred,” I answered, not having a clue at all. It could have been my Grandma’s birthday for all I knew. I barely knew what she looked like, let alone when her birthday was. Hell. All my Grandmas could have died and I wouldn’t even know about it.

“Bit old for a muggle?” Sirius suggested.

“Well, I say a hundred. She always says she’s a hundred and pretends to be annoyed when she doesn’t get a letter from the queen. It’s quite funny really... I don’t know how old she actually is... eighty something?” That was almost kind of convincing.... yes?

“What did you buy her?”

“Some flowers!” I said desperately. “A big bunch of roses!” I am way too excited about that for him to believe me.

“And your owl – Dirt – can carry that can he?”

“Yes, very strong owl. Very, very strong. He’s like an ant – can carry twenty times more than his own weight. Very talented.”

Shut up Mary. Shut up.  You’re talking complete crap. I nodded, grinning like an idiot.

“I didn’t know you could send parcels from the shower,” Sirius commented, and he was trying hard not to laugh. Oh balls. I didn’t say anything for a second and just looked at him, my insides panicking and screaming.

“Okay, I’ll admit it. I was actually washing my house elf – he gets really dirty you see and I was just -”

“Mary. Stop,” Sirius said, shaking his head in amusement. “Would you honestly rather I think you do creepy, dirty things with house elves in the shower than just admitting you freaked out?” Sirius asked. He looked at my shocked expression for a minute. “Look, freaking out is fine as long as that’s all it is.”

“That’s all!” I said, a little too enthusiastically.

“But really – I have to go wash my house elf?” Sirius asked, laughing as if this conversation was natural. “That’s even better than ‘I have to go water my pot plant.’” That struck a chord in my brain and I froze and looked at him.

That meant one of two things, and only one of them was remotely believable.

“You slept with Marlene McKinnon?” I snapped, and Sirius froze for a second and didn’t answer. He looked down at the floor. “Whilst she was dating your brother?” I probed him.

“I didn’t know she was all right?” Sirius retorted, and my eyes widened. Oh bloody hell, this was a lot more complicated and a lot less one sided than ‘innocent’ Marlene McKinnon had made out (hadn’t she said ‘I could have fucked Sirius whilst he was a man whore – you did, you little liar!).

“Did he -”

“Yes, he found out – a few months after it happened. That’s why he told Mother dearest about Rachel. Really, do we have to talk about this?”

“So Rachel’s Dad died because you -”

Leave it Mary,” Sirius snapped. “And don’t you dare get mad at me about that. I have to live with the fact that -”

“I’m sorry; I shouldn’t have brought it up!” I cut across him, suddenly feeling guilty.

“And that was just one of the occasions when I was used. In her little quest to hurt my brother.”

“You don’t like her?”

“No. Not in the slightest,” Sirius said, looking more than a little angry. “Look I’m sorry, I should be mad, but that wasn’t my fault and it wasn’t Rachel’s fault. People died just because of some stupid teenage girls pathetic heartache.”

“I think she’s grown up since then,” I answered, biting my lip and feeling even sorrier for her than before, even though really it should be the opposite.

Sirius looked like he was about to punch someone.

“Look. I need some time to think for a while, just... are we okay? Yes?” Sirius asked, and I nodded and kissed him on the cheek. Then he walked away with his fists buried in his pockets.

He would not be happy when he found out Marlene had known before him – not at all.

Not that he was going to find out anything. Except now he had to, and I didn’t have any choice about the matter at all. So at some point, I would have to tell him. I always knew that though, it was just a lot... sooner than I’d anticipated.

***********

“Mary,” Lily said, sounding almost urgent as she pulled me aside. “We need to talk.”

“What is it with people saying we need to talk?” I snapped.

“What – who else said that?”

“McGonagall said pretty much the same thing, Sirius, you...”

“He broke up with you?” she asked in surprise.

“No – he didn’t and I’d prefer it if you stopped thinking that he-”

“What did McGonagall want? You’re not in trouble for the muggle studies thing are you? It was only a joke. Although you shouldn’t have walked off really. Still, if you’ve got more than a couple of detentions then...”

“Not a single detention, but she wanted to talk to me about dropping some subjects as I’m not doing fantastically at the minute.” Lily bit her lip – she really couldn’t relate to this kind of problem. “So I’m dropping Muggle studies and maybe.... charms.”

“Hmm,” Lily said, eyeing me as if I was about to start crying. “Aren’t you worried?”

“Not particularly no,” I answered – I didn’t want to think about it.

“But Mary, that way you’re only going to have...  like three NEWT’s.”

“Lily. I’m not going to pass any of them. So actually I’m going to have zero NEWT’s’.”

“What’s this?” Sirius asked, suddenly coming round the corner.

“McGonagall’s asked her to drop some subjects!”Lily answered. Sometimes I hated her for being such a goody two shoes. “

“What... why?” Sirius asked, turning towards me.

“You know full well that I’m shit at most of the subjects,” I snapped. “And yes Lily, I do know I’m going to get three or fewer NEWTs, which will make me completely unemployable but really I don’t care and I wish you’d just shut up and leave it.”

“Wait... what?” Sirius asked, looking at me in concern. As if any of it was really important. “But you need to get at least four NEWT’s. You should carry on with Charms.”

“Why? What good is it going to do?” I snapped. “I’m freaking terrible at magic! Even those Slytherin gorillas -”

“Crabbe and Goyle.”

“Thank you Peter, but I don’t know if you noticed I was trying to rant and I’d appreciate it if you didn’t interrupt me! And you,” I continued, pointing at Sirius. “If everyone is using this goddamn phrase then I will too, we need to talk.”

Then I turned to Lily who looked mildly frightened. “And what did you want to say Lily?”

“I’ll tell you in potions,” she said, grabbing my arm as Slughorn came to let us into the classroom.  “Sit here,” she said, pulling me into the desk next to her. Well, I wasn’t going to complain considering I was meant to be sitting next to James. I was positive that he’d be asking me more Lily advice any day now and... I really didn’t want to deal with it.

Snape glided (really glided – but in a creepy way rather than in a graceful way) across the room and stood in front of me, waiting for me to move out of his seat. “Mary’s sitting here today,” Lily said coldly. “You can sit next to James,” she said, purposefully making her voice sound soft and caring when she said the word ‘James’. “And Sev?” she asked, and I saw him visibly wince. “Don’t annoy him,” she said, smiling.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – that girl is bloody scary.

“Okay, what is that about?” I asked, and she grimaced.

“I ran into him over Christmas,” she said, glaring at his back. “Let’s just say it didn’t end well.”

“No repeating of the previous incident?” I asked, and Lily shook her head in horror.

“God no! I’m not completely stupid.”

“Questionable, as you did do it in the first place.”

“Well. Momentary lapse in judgement,” Lily said, pulling out her potion book and all the equipment/supplies that written on the board.

“Like new years eve?” I asked, and she flushed slightly.

“I need to go get some bat wings,” she said, standing up.

“Get me some too?” I asked, and she seemed not to have heard me.

“Hello there Mary Fairy,” Sirius said, sitting down in front of me on my desk. I found myself smiling at him despite my annoyance/panic/situation.  He smiled back and looked far too gorgeous for me to remain mad at him. “We could talk here?” he suggested.

“Not mad at me anymore then?” I asked, my voice cooler than I realised it could be when really all I wanted to do was reach up and kiss him.

“Well you’re obviously not mad at me anymore either,”  Sirius said, looking at my lips. I wished he wouldn’t. It was immensely distracting. 

“You need to get some bat wings right? Cause I need some too,” Sirius said, and I took the hint and stood up. We walked the distance (five meters) to the potion supply cupboard. “Excuse me Lily – we’re just getting some bat wings,” Sirius said, and Lily raised an eyebrow at us before leaving with her hands full of bat wings.

“So what did you want?” I questioned.

“Well what did you want?”

“No, what did you want?”

“I’m pretty sure that right now I want the same thing as you do,” he said, wrapping his arms around me.

“Oh really? And what might that be?”

“To find the bat wings.”

I laughed, and the noise reverberated around the potions cupboard and one of the glass jars began to shake. I lifted a hand up my mouth to stop myself but Sirius took my hand in his instead. “That’ll just get in the way,” Sirius said, closing more of the space between us.

“Nu-uh,” I said, stepping backwards. “You’re not going to find any bat wings in there. At least I hope so,” I added as an afterthought.

“I still think I should probably check,” Sirius said seriously. “Those things are getting everywhere these days. It’s like an epidemic. So if you just.”

“Nope. What Sirius wants Sirius gets...”

“I know,” Sirius said, smirking.

“And if Sirius Black wants bat wings, Sirius Black gets bat wings,” I said, holding out the jar labelled ‘bat wings’ that Lily had just put down.

“You’re such a tease,” Sirius said, taking the jar of bat wings out of hands and putting it back down on a random surface. “Do you know what else Sirius Black wants?” he asked, his face millimetres away from mine. I was just about to ask what exactly it was that Sirius Black now wanted (although I could have probably guessed) when the light from the storeroom seemed to diminish.

“What are you two doing in here?” Slughorn’s voice asked, making me jump a mile and Sirius turn around calmly.

“We can’t find the bat wings sir.”

Slughorn was blocking the light coming in from the classroom and standing in the doorway. I had a feeling that everyone on the other side was itching to know what exactly we’d been caught doing. They probably didn’t think we’d been having a conversation about batwings...  By tomorrow everyone would think I’d had sex with Sirius in the potions cupboard. Really.

“We’ve been looking all over,” Sirius continued. I wished I had the ability to lie so convincingly and I was beginning to understand how the Marauders got away with so much.

“Just don’t be too long. Ah – that’s them there,” Slughorn said, pointing to behind my head where Sirius had placed them.

I reached out for them at the same time as Sirius and ended up grabbing hold of his hand awkwardly.  Slughorn winked again, turned (I’m surprised the whole cupboard didn’t fall down) and walked out again.

“Little eager are we?” Sirius asked, looking at my hand. What a prat.

“Only to have all my potions ingredients so I can’t start work,” I said, smiling sweetly and turning to walk out of the room. He grabbed my arm and pulled me back towards him so that I was pressed against his chest and looking up at him in mild surprise.

“You’re forgetting the golden rule,” Sirius said. “What Sirius Black wants Sirius Black gets.” He then proceeded to kiss me.

Maybe by tomorrow I will have had sex with Sirius in the potions cupboard. Ha. I crack myself up sometimes.  

Then he released me, took a handful of bat wings and walked out of the potions cupboard looking sufficiently pleased with himself. Prat.

“What are you so happy about?” some Ravenclaw boy called out to him. Sirius just smirked and answered with “I really like potions.”

The dickhead – was it necessary to fuel the rumours?

“What an arsehole,” Lily commented when I came to sit down again (met by a chorus of cat calls and someone coughing something unpleasant – oh lovely). “Using you to boost his reputation.”

“Hmm,” I answered, still thinking of that kiss rather than what Lily was saying or potions.

“Mary! At least be annoyed with him!” Lily said, snapping me out of my mini daydream.

“What? Why?”

“Because... honestly! I don’t even know you anymore!”

“What?” I asked, actually listening this time.

“Or maybe I never knew you at all,” she said overdramatically, whilst cutting up something that looked a lot like a purple carrot - but squashier - rather violently. Thunk, thunk, thunk went the knife on the surface of the table and McGonagall’s words came to mind there is no excuse at all for you not doing well in potions except laziness’ and I had to admit she had a point. It was easy. Just cut some stuff up, shove it in a cauldron, and stir it... simple. So I’d just concentrate.

“If Sirius had done that to you before you would have slapped him round the face and told him to get on his bike.”

“Why? What’s the big issue?” I asked, trying to work out what exactly a ‘guddy root’ was and regretted not doing any work in potions for several years.

“Here,” Lily said, chucking something in my cauldron. “Just chop this – not that big. Finer than that – about 1cm thick pieces.”

She couldn’t resist helping me. “The big issue is that he just used you to make himself look better even though now everyone’s going to think you’re a right -”

“They’re going to think that anyway – let’s just face it.”

“But he didn’t even defend you!” Lily protested. “Doesn’t that bother you?”

Yes. A little, now you pointed that out.

“Sometimes there are bigger issues in life and sometimes there are more important things to think about.”

“Oh God!” She sounded more and more like James every day. “Don’t tell me – ‘its love Lily. We’re in love’,” she mocked in her best pathetic whiny voice, which made us both laugh. “‘I love you Siriiuusss!’” she wailed.

“Oh damn. There goes my chance,” James said, stopping at our table. “Better watch out Mary – you’ve got competition.”

“Don’t I always,” I replied.

“So Lilykins, how come you’ve stolen my potions partner, except to talk about your undying love for Sirius?”

Lily laughed and blushed. Oh Lord God almighty – they’re flirting (about her being in love with Sirius no less... dear Merlin what has happened to the world?).

“What are you doing over here? Other than to listen to me?”

“Isn’t that a good enough reason?” Cue Lily blushing. “Nah, I needed some batwings, and to get away from the smell. Really Lily, I don’t know how you could stand to sit next to him.”

Bad move James, bad move. Lily’s face returned to her normal colour and she folded her arms over her chest. Apparently she was the only one who was allowed to insult Snape.

“The batwings are kept next to the doxy powder,” she said coldly. James’s face fell slightly and he went sidling off to the store cupboard. I bet Snape was doing a little victory dance.

“Anyway, just don’t let him push you around,” Lily said, her voice a lot less harsh now, whether due to our laughing fit or to James I didn’t know. “And don’t put that in now,” she said, pulling my arms back from my cauldron. “Have you even read the instructions?”

“Yes!” I retorted. My eyes scanned the instructions again... I’d missed out a line. “Arghh. How can you do this Lily?” I asked, stirring my cauldron and realising it was completely the wrong colour. It was supposed to be purple and it was... green.

“Give it here,” Lily said, swapping seats with me. “Watch mine – just don’t add anything. Stir it if it looks like it’s getting too dark.” I nodded even though I had no idea what she was talking about.

 Lily was chucking things into my cauldron and, remarkably, it was turning back to the purple colour it was supposed to be. I watched her, transfixed, as she added things I couldn’t even name into the mixture and stirred it in complicated patterns... it was... amazing.

“How are you doing that?”

“Oh, Sev taught me how to just... go with your instincts,” Lily said, smiling. “And Mary – you need to stir mine. Twice clockwise, once anticlockwise.”

I took me a second to work out which way the clock went but then I followed her instructions and watched in amazement as her potion (which had darkened slightly) turned back to its perfect shade of lilacy-purple.

“Miss McDonald!” Slughorn said cheerfully. “This potion is excellent – really outstanding. The perfect shade of Purple. Twenty points to Gryffindor.”

“Actually sir -” I interrupted him, about to say that this potion was Lily’s.

“Isn’t it sir?” Lily said over my voice. “I don’t know how she did it. I missed out a line,” she said, looking glumly at her (my) potion, which was almost the exact same shade of purple now. “And I haven’t been able to fix it properly.

“It’s still brilliant, as always Miss Lily.”

“Oh yes sir – that goes without saying,” she said, grinning cheekily. Slughorn chuckled.

“Well, I’m having another meeting of the Slug club tonight Lily, and I expect to see you there.”

Lily smiled and nodded, although I knew full well she didn’t like the things that much at all. Especially since James and Sirius were invited and not many people she knew. “And Miss McDonald too I suppose,” he said, turning to me. I almost died of shock. “This potion is excellent. I knew your mother you know. Before she died, tragic, very tragic... excellent at quidditch – had to be given her bloodline. Do you play?” He didn’t wait for me to answer. “She could have gone professional if it wasn’t for... well... you know,” Slughorn said, and I nodded even though I didn’t. “Wasting her life and talent like that... such a shame.”

Then he wandered off again.

“What did your mother do?” Lily asked, curiously.

“Die?” I suggested, although it didn’t seem to add up. She had five years in between having me and leaving Hogwarts for her to play Quidditch....

“Hmm,” Lily said. “Well, you’re invited. Yes! Now I don’t have to go on my own.”

“Well, I wasn’t planning on coming,” I admitted, and Lily frowned at me.

“Considering everything I really think you should, Mary. He has lots of great connections and you could do with all the help you can get,” she said seriously. “You can’t even get a muggle job without qualifications.”

“I have OWLs,” I said. It was true. I’d still had a fair amount of magical skill before then and I’d tried hard on the theory, which meant I got mostly A’s and E’s.

“Hmm,” Lily said, not sounding all together convinced. “Anyway, what I wanted to tell you before. Well, yesterday actually but then I got distracted.” I vaguely remembered Lily yelling something about me not believing it before I got accosted by Sirius and the others. “Dad won the lottery!” she declared happily.

“Seriously?” I asked, and she grinned.

“Not like millions or anything like that. Ten thousand or so, but it’s great! It means we can go on holiday this summer somewhere nice and I got to buy some new books!” she said, pulling her bag onto the desk and showing me her brand new books. I’d forgotten how all of hers were second hand and battered. She looked delighted. “I think two thousand’s going towards Petunia’s wedding.”

“Petunia is getting married?” I questioned.

“Oh yes,” Lily said grimly. “At least it means she’ll be moving out soon anyway.”

“She’s a bit young isn’t she?”

“Nineteen,” Lily said. “Which is too young, but I don’t think they’re getting married for a few more years. Something about having a long engagement, but Mum got excited and pledged some money to her. Then Dad said to make things fair two thousand had to go in my wedding fund – like I’m ever going to get married.”

“You’re not planning on getting married?” I asked, surprised.

“No. Marriage only leads to one place.”

“Divorce?” I suggested.

“No, children, and I don’t want kids under any circumstances. Ever.”

“Oh,” I said. I wanted to tell her how lucky she was that she even had the option but... I couldn’t.

“And don’t tell me I’ll change my mind when I’ll get older and Mary, what did I say about stirring?” she snapped, and I sighed and looked back at the now blacker-than-necessary potion in Lily’s cauldron.

I decided to give up with potions too, it wasn’t worth the effort.

I set down the spoon on the table and Lily sighed.

**********

“Guess who I hear has been invited to the slug club party tonight?” Sirius asked cheerfully, as he sat down next to me at dinner. It was weird and scary to think about what we’d been doing earlier...

Actually, Mary, don’t think about it. It’s safest.

“Lily?” I questioned.

“No, no, more exciting than Lily – no offence.”

“None taken.”

“James? The minister of magic? You? Slughorn?”

“Okay, this is going to get boring – you,” Sirius said, tucking into his shepherd’s pie appreciatively.

“Mary, I honestly think if you just tried you’d be able to do it. There’s no explanation for it – you can’t just lose your magic unless you become really depressed or something and even if you were really depressed you’re much happier now. So just try it,” Lily implored, and I shook my head. “You were able to do magic when Sirius and James set fire to that experiment in muggle studies,” she pointed out.

“That was an emergency and I just -”

“Well precisely, it’s like when you’re younger and you haven’t learnt how to control your magic yet and it just happens when you’re feeling a strong emotion. You just need to remember how to channel it.”

“If any of the teachers didn’t think I was a lost cause then they’d be giving me this lecture.”

“Or maybe they’re confident you’ll work it out on your own. Just try it – anything.”

“Lily, there’s no point. I can’t do it.”

“But you can! I’m sure of it! It doesn’t make sense for you to suddenly just... lose power.”

“Yes well, it’s my blood condition...”

“What even is your blood condition?”

“It’s complicated. You’d have to ask Nate.”

“Okay, I will do,” Lily said, standing up. “I’m going to ask him right now.”

“Fine! Look!” I said, pulling out my wand and waving it through the air. “I can’t even produce sparks!” She sat down.

“Maybe it’s just your wand,” she said, taking it out of my hand and trying it herself. Red and gold sparks trailed from the tip and she sighed, handing it back to me. “Your wand feels so wrong. Try mine.”

She presented me with hers and I took it wearily, knowing it wouldn’t make any different. It felt too heavy and powerless in my hands. I waved it through the air a bit (producing no sparks) before handing it back to her.

“Yours is the wrong one.”

“The wand chooses the wizard!” James said, in an excellent impression of Ollivander, which made us all, even Lily, laugh.

“Try mine,” Sirius said, handing me his. It still felt heavy and unnatural and I knew full well that nothing was going to work. Still, it soon meant that everyone was swapping wands and trying things out with each other’s.

“It’s so heavy and weird!” Lily said, holding James’s and making water pour out of the end and into a nearby jug.

“That’s not something you want to hear a girl say when she touches your wand,” Sirius commented dryly. I looked over to the Ravenclaw table for the first time in a while and spotted Amanda walking out of the great hall. We still hadn’t apologised. Suddenly a wave of guilt washed over me and I stood up.

“I’ve just got to go speak to someone,” I said, dashing off out of the hall and following her. “Amanda! Amanda!”

She stopped and turned around. “Did you have a good Christmas?” I asked.

“Moderately so,” she answered, sounding a lot more alive than the last time I’d talked to her. “Well... My grandma died face first in her Christmas dinner. We thought she’d fallen asleep but, no, she just died with her face in a plateful of turkey.”

I bit my lip and tried very hard not to laugh, because that would be insensitive, but... she died in her Christmas dinner? That’s unfortunate but... a little bit funny. “Oh it’s fine,” she said kindly. “You can laugh, that’s what my granddad did when he found out and it was quite funny. She was old.” She shrugged. “We’ll miss her though.”

Goodness this girl is stupidly nice. She’d probably cried buckets over it and then said it was okay for me (the girl her boyfriend cheated on her with) to laugh at the fact her grandma died.

“It’s not funny, I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay. How was yours?” she asked, smiling as if she was genuinely interested.

“Oh... Moderately so,” I answered in the same fashion as her. “My mum died on Christmas eve, so it’s never the best of times. Then my brother set fire to the Christmas tree and we thought he had a terminal illness but it was a false alarm,” I said, startling myself at my honesty. I hadn’t meant to say that.

“Oh, what illness?”

“A rare one,” I answered – I’d already said too much. “Look, I wanted to talk to you about the whole Sirius thing. Is there somewhere we could talk?”

Her expression didn’t even stiffen and she just nodded.

“There’s a deserted classroom just round this corridor here,” she said. “No one’s used it in the past six years so I’ll doubt they’ll mind.”

“That’s the same with most classrooms though,” I said conversationally as she led the way. “I don’t think most of them have ever been used. Reckon the founders thought there’d be a lot more of us?”

“Probably. They sound like the overly optimistic type to me.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, think about it. Setting up a great big, fancy magical school, in a castle of all places, when witches were being burnt all over the place without trial and everyone hated us. That’s got to take some guts and a little stupidity to take the plunge. Then, thinking that they’d all live together and be friends forever?”

“You have a point there. You should write to Bathilda Bagshot and tell her your theories.”

“I don’t think she’d be too impressed to be honest,” Amanda laughed casually. “Plus, stupidly optimistic, witty and clever doesn’t quite sound as powerful somehow.”

“True,” I said, surprised at how easy it was to talk to her. “What I wanted to say, basically, was that... I’m really, really sorry about the whole Sirius thing. Honest to God I am, Sirius maybe not so much but he’s a twat and doesn’t understand girl’s feeling so -”

“And doesn’t his twatness bother you?”

“No,” I answered truthfully. “It makes me feel better about my bitchiness.”

She laughed at that even though I wasn’t really joking.

“I suppose that’s what love is about,” she said thoughtfully. “Loving the faults and not just accepting them...”

“Yeah,” I said awkwardly.

“Oh, are you still in denial?” she asked, and I laughed even though I knew she wasn’t joking either.

“Honestly though. I didn’t realise he was a jerk before I went out with him – if you can call it that. Marlene said I should and Nadine said it wasn’t the best idea but -”

“Wait, Marlene said you should go out with him?” I asked, and she nodded. “Marlene McKinnon?”

“Yes, I forgot you two were friends. Oh dear,” she said, suddenly realising what this information meant – Marlene had told Amanda to go for it with Sirius, and she had said ‘don’t let my brother get in the way of you and Sirius’, even though she’d already slept with the bloke herself whilst she was dating her brother. I mean, I knew that girl was complicated, but... this was a bit on the extreme side surely?

“I’m not even going to begin to try and understand her,” I said, sighing.

“Just, we’re okay aren’t we?” I asked, realising I was mimicking Sirius’s words from earlier and instantly regretting it. “I mean... Sirius is not worth you getting upset over.”

“But he’s worth you getting upset over him?”

“I’m not upset over him.”

“But you will be,” she told me. “I guess I didn’t care about him as much as I thought. It was a bit humiliating, sure, but I’m over it, but it’s obvious that you really do care. You’re not a bad person and I’m positive you wouldn’t have done that to me unless you’d really fallen for him...”

“Or maybe I’m just a bad person,” I said, shrugging. She laughed even though it wasn’t that funny. “I’m sorry, and don’t worry about me. I’m going to be just fine.”

Maybe a little dead, but other than that.

**********

“Hey, where do you think you’re going?” Sirius asked as I put my foot on the first step of the girl’s staircases. I was tired due to the incredibly boring meeting of the slug club, which had topped off my day fantastically... Well, to be fair, it hadn’t been that bad as James and Sirius had been pretending to narrate other peoples conversations, which made Lily laugh so hard that her butter beer came out her nose (not attractive). Still, I was tired and Lily was nagging me to do some Potions theory to keep up.

 Sirius pulled me round to face him and kissed me in a similar fashion to how he had done earlier in the potions cupboard, except this time it felt like the kiss might actually go somewhere.
“To bed?” I suggested, pulling away slightly but keeping myself wrapped around him because it made me feel so safe. “I’m tired.”

“Which would be my fault,” Sirius said, which made me laugh a little despite myself. “But... I don’t think so.”

“And why might that be?”

“We’re going for a ride,” he said, and I really hoped it wasn’t some sort of euphemism. “On your motorbike,” he continued, and I felt my face light up. “I moved it down earlier and it’s hidden near Hagrid’s hut. I’ve got the clock and the map, and now I’ve got you and we’re good to go.”

“You are incredible,” I said, thinking about how much effort he must have put into that. “Honestly, you’re amazing!”

“Come on now; don’t go inflating my oversized ego any more.”

“But for once you deserve it. I don’t care what anyone else says – you’re actually rather sweet.”

“Sweet?” he questioned, before kissing me in a way that was clearly supposed to prove to me that he wasn’t sweet in the slightest. It worked quite efficiently.

“I think we should go before we get carried away.”

“Plus people are staring.”

“Like that wasn’t your plan,” I scoffed, taking his hand as if it was the most natural thing in the world and pulling him out of the portrait hole. He pulled out the cloak and draped it over us and we walked down to Hagrid’s hut, stopping every ten meters or so to kiss.

**********

“You almost had it,” Sirius said, trying not to laugh as he looked at me sprawled across the floor with the motorbike lying next to me. “You just need to -”

“Not fall off?” I suggested, pulling myself up and ignoring how much it hurt.

“That might work.”

Sirius smirked as I pulled up the motorcycle from the floor and sat myself down on it again. “But... you‘re getting better. Look, I’ll show you...” Sirius said, getting on at the back in a much more graceful way than I could have ever managed.

“Why do I think this is going to end badly?” I asked, as Sirius reached around me and also took hold of the handle bars. He revved up the engine as I had done moments before and said “Trust me,” before pressing down the accelerator with his foot. The bike jerked forwards suddenly and Sirius panicked, jerked the handlebars, and the bike swerved.

 Due to the excessive safety features, the bike had a habit of throwing off its passengers instead of letting the bike fall on top of them. I swore as I landed a good foot away from the bike with a thump.

Sirius had explained that the more weight the bike had on it the more forceful the charm was in pushing you off. That meant that I’d flown twice as far with Sirius also on the bike, and my muscles were feeling the strain – god – surely it was safer just to let the bike land on you?

“The charm thing will weaken once you’ve broken the bike in,” Sirius explained from where he’d been thrown on the ground right next to me. “Sorry about that. I didn’t think that was going to happen.”

“Obviously,” I snorted, before starting to laugh. The noise seemed stupidly loud in the empty forest and I was struck again by how empty the world seemed when you were out here at night. I carried on laughing and Sirius’s bark joined mine. It was surreal – staring up at the sky having just been chucked off a flying motorbike and laughing like a pair of lunatics. “The stars are out this time,” I said, noticing it for the first time.

“That’s the Sirius star,” Sirius said, lifting up a hand and pointing at one of the shinning white dots – they all looked the same to me.

“Really?”

“It could be,” Sirius said, and then we were both laughing together. Sirius stopped laughing before I did and leant on his side so he was facing me. I copied his movement and smiled at him.

“What are you looking at?” I asked, surprised by the light and playful tone of my voice.

“You,” Sirius answered, and it made me want to jump up and start yelling at the top of my voice that this bloke – this one right here – was my boyfriend and I was so, so lucky to have him. All I did do in response was make a weird noise that was a mixture between a squeak and a yelp, and forget how to breathe a little. You – what a perfect response. “You know Mary, you are beautiful,” Sirius said seriously, looking at me so intently that I definitely couldn’t breathe anymore. My heart thumped painfully in my chest whilst my lungs struggled to fill themselves. Bloody hell. “Honestly, you’re just...”

He reached out a hand and touched the side of my face with it. I was melting and just watched him with wide eyed wonder. “Beautiful,” he breathed into the silence. “I don’t know – there’s just something about you, Mary McDonald.”

Then his other hand was resting on my cheek. My skin was now numb to all sensation except his warm hands resting on my cheeks – his hands were a little rough and I could feel the exact texture of his skin. “Everything means so much more with you,” he said, and I could have died then and there. Wow. “And I...” then he stopped, and leaned forward so that his lips touched mine so softly it was unreal. He was acting so un-Sirius like, it was crazy and wonderful and perfect. Except for some reason my heart dropped a little in my chest.

He kissed me a little more and I pulled myself up to meet him, but suddenly my mind wasn’t on the dizzying kiss, but the unfinished sentence: ‘And I...’ ‘And I...’ ‘And I...

And I what? And I what?

Then it hit me like a tonne of bricks – for a second, or maybe even less time than that, I thought, and almost wished, he was going to say ‘I love you.’

Oh bloody hell.

*********

It was just the setting. It had been perfect – the stars, lying in the grass, laughing under the night sky. It didn’t mean anything that I had wanted – expected – him to say it.

It was like one of those books when they have those perfect romantic moments and it just seemed a good moment for him to say it – it was like I’d forgotten it was me and Sirius lying there in the grass and instead it became one of those big romantic fantasies when it doesn’t matter who the guy is and where you are just because it becomes so perfect.

I didn’t want Sirius to love me. For a start that would make things beyond complicated, and love just didn’t exist when you’re sixteen years old. No teenagers fell in love; they were just romanticists who loved the idea of love so much that they believed that they were. Still, why did the prat have to ruin the whole moment with the ‘And I...’ nonsense? A nice clean ‘everything means so much more with you’ would have been the perfect ending to his little speech thing.

I sighed and turned over in bed.

I had to stop thinking about it – that was for sure. I was going to do my head in with all this over-analyzing, and the more I thought about it the more I was sure my argument didn’t really make all that much sense.

Every muscle in my body ached and it was hard to comprehend how much everything had changed so astronomically in a day. One single day and my whole world was upside down again. So much had happened.

Oh God. Tonight’s little motorcycle ride was further proof that I had to tell Sirius what was going on immediately, before Marlene/McGonagall/Snape told him for me. He’d be so angry when he found out I’d been lying to him? Or would he?

Surely he’d be more concerned that I was dying, profess his fake undying love for me and tell me he’d stick it out with me to the end. I didn’t want that. It would be so fake and unreal and it would make me feel so suffocated that I’d probably slap him round the face.

Then they’d all find out and start wrapping me in cotton wool, and giving me those looks so full of sympathy that I wouldn’t be able to hold a proper conversation with them. If they knew and I saw all their grief for me reflected in their eyes then I wouldn’t be able to hold it together for a whole day without breaking down into tears. I didn’t want that – I didn’t need that – it wasn’t going to help make me any happier.

Three weeks. That takes me up to Nate and Kate’s wedding, as he reminded me when I ran into him in the corridor that morning. Three weeks. Twenty one days. God knows how many hours.

I can’t do it. Even the thought of telling someone makes me want to drive myself into an early grave and jump off the Gryffindor tower into the black lake; I can’t swim.

I turned over in bed and found that I could no longer get comfy. I wished I’d just carried on thinking about the whole Sirius unfinished sentence thing, rather than this. My head clouded up and I wanted to run to the toilets and throw up, but I held it back.

What was it that Marlene had said?
The difference between you and me is you have a best friend and a boyfriend whereas I have neither. I knew there’d been a reason to keep Lily and Sirius away and spent my last few months as a lonely outcast. There wasn’t much I could do about it now though, was there?

Then, despite the immense guilt that was building up in my stomach, I found myself forming a plan in my head. An awful one that I couldn’t possibly carry through.

I shook my head and turned over again as if it would clear those thoughts right out my brain.

I had two choices – two very clear choices. One was the right one. One was the wrong one. One was easy. One was so much harder.

And, even though I regretted it, I knew I’d already made my decision as to which I was going to pick.

I just wish I didn’t have to hate myself for choosing it. 

A/N - Reactions? Predictions? Likes? Dislikes? Quotes? Reviews? Thank you very much you don't know how much your review's mean to simple folk like me :)

ALSO  
susemi!! LOOK HERE! Right, sorry about the pathetic excuse of a responce to you review which makes me seem very big headed on the last chapter... for some reason my computer cut off the end of the responce which is really annoying. Forgive me? :)


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