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Chapter 4 : Sirius's Seventeenth
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Sirius Black woke up on the morning of his seventeenth birthday, to the sound of laughter and whispering. He guessed correctly that it was probably his friends bringing presents, but if he was being honest he would have appreciated a few more moments sleep. He had been dreaming that he and Lily Evans were walking down Hogsmeade high-street holding hands, while she laughed, deliciously, at his jokes. He kept his eyes closed and rolled over.
“Oh no you don’t!” came James’s voice, and Sirius found himself hoiked into the air by his ankle, while James led a chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’.
“Let me down Prongs you idiot!” he protested above the raucous singing, whilst he struggled in the air, laughing despite himself. James dropped him onto the bed as he bellowed “happy birthdaaay too youuuuuuu” howling enthusiastically to finish.
“Hey, Mooney’s the only one who should be howling!” laughed Sirius, as he straightened himself up. Remus smiled wearily at this - the wolf jokes were a bit close to the bone. Peter, who was clutching armfuls of presents, threw them down on the bed with relish.
“Happy Birthday!” he said.
“Yes, Happy Birthday Padfoot” Remus added, slapping Sirius on the back.
“Present time then I suppose?” Sirius asked, as the others gathered around his bed.
“Duh, get started, we haven’t got all day!”
The first present was from James, who leaned over eagerly to watch his friend unwrap it. Sirius tore off the spellotape, and shook the purple wrapping paper until the present tumbled out onto the covers – it was a selection of dungbombs and other Zonko’s merchandise.
“Ha ha, excellent.” Sirius laughed “thanks Prongs.”
“Thought that might come in handy, for the party tonight.” James grinned.
Sirius’s thanks’ were convincing, but secretly he was disappointed. James was his best friend, and seventeen was a big birthday – dungbombs were just the usual fare. Fortunately, Remus’s present was more satisfactory. The most neatly wrapped parcel contained a heavy, gold pocket-watch, with little stars and planets moving around the face, and the image of a large black dog engraved onto the back.
Remus smiled and said it was alright, but was obviously pleased that his present was appreciated.
“Open mine next!” Peter gushed – needlessly, as his was the only present remaining. Sirius took up the heavy, square parcel. A book? He tore off the paper to reveal a shiny handbook on muggle motorbikes.
“Wow, Wormy - this is great!” was Sirius’s reaction, and he meant it too. Peter usually bought rubbish presents, but Sirius had always had a fascination with the muggle machines and was already itching to start flicking through the manual. Peter beamed with happiness as Sirius praised his gift, but James didn’t look as happy. He shot Peter an irritated look then exchanged a glance with Remus, who rolled his eyes. Sirius had two more presents, his cousin Andromeda had sent him a bumper box of chocolate frogs, and his little brother Regulus had sent him a box full of belongings he had left when he ran away from home.
“Little git” Sirius grumbled. “Probably clearing out my crap so he can get the bigger room. And you know, he used to be alright…” he trailed off. Despite his constant insistance that he hated his family, James and Remus knew that it did bother Sirius that they seemed to hate him back. The ‘present’ from Regulus looked as if it was about to send Sirius into one of his moods, so James acted quickly, ready to present him with something that he knew would cheer him up.
“Come on then Padfoot – get up” he said. “You’re birthday’s not over yet!”
“We’ve got something waiting for you – downstairs.”
Peter giggled excitedly, and Sirius was intrigued. James dragged him to his feet and the four of them headed down the boys staircase, laughing and pushing each other excitedly as they went. Sirius wondered what his surprise was going to be, maybe they had decorated the common room for the party? With balloons that looked like his head – yeah, that was the sort of thing that James might do.
They emerged into the empty common room, and Sirius stopped completely still, staring in amazement. Right in the middle of the floor was a huge, red motorcycle. Old fashioned, but powerful looking, with a black leather seat and large sturdy looking wheels.
“Merlin….” Sirius breathed, walking towards the bike like a sleep-walker and running a hand along the curved back. The sun was shining onto it through the wide glass window, and the metal felt warm beneath Sirius’s fingers. “Wow”. He muttered, stepping back to get a proper look. He pushed back his hair and laughed amazedly, shaking his head. He turned round to the other three.
“Happy Birthday.” Said James, with a grin.
“How did you…?”
“we bought it second hand and did it up a bit. It was Wormtail’s idea to paint it red.”
“It’s so… it’s amazing.”
“James did most of the work.” Remus admitted, as Sirius came forward and hugged them all in turn.
“I wasn’t expecting…”
“You didn’t think I’d just get you dungbombs for your seventeenth did you?” James laughed. Sirius had reached him last.
“Thanks mate.” He said, with feeling.
“And it was a surprise?” James asked, “Pete’s present didn’t give the game away?”
James laughed in relief.
“Thank God. I thought we could put some charms on it and stuff – get it to do some more interesting things. Maybe even fly? I thought you’d like to help with that though.”
“Yeah, definatley.” Sirius’s brain started buzzing with ideas on how to enchant the bike, however he was most excited to just get it out on the road.
“It’s brilliant.” He said, grinning manically around at his friends, especially James. “Absolutely brilliant.”
“How do I look?”
Louisa Castles emerged from a changing room in the Hogsmeade branch of Twilfitt and Tattings, and twirled around in front of Lily, who was there to give an opinion.
“Great” Lily said, and she was being truthful. Louisa was modelling a gold, sequinned mini -dress, with drooping, witchy sleeves, and the gold looked good against her pale skin and dark hair. Lily didn’t know much about wizarding fashions, but she knew that the dress suited Louisa.
“Good.” Louisa told her happily, prancing about in front of the mirror. “Because I was going to get it whatever you said.”
Lily waited for her friend to get changed, and then they headed to the counter to purchase the dress. Lily had already bought hers – an emerald- green, beaded wrap dress, that brought out the colour in her eyes. Louisa had told her that it looked amazing on -, so she had bought it, even though she felt she would look a bit overdressed at the party. The other girls in her dormitory however, shared Louisa’s opinion, when they were all getting dressed that evening.
“You look amazing Lily” Mary told her. “And you don’t look over-dressed, you should see what some of the other girls are wearing. And at least you don’t look like me – I look huge.”
“You don’t, you look gorgeous, you all do.” Lily said. “Is everyone ready to go?”
Everyone but Elizabeth was ready, as she was still applying her make-up. Elizabeth was wearing a knee-length, pale gold dress, Rachel was in hot-pink silk, Mary’s dress was navy blue with ruffles, and Alice wore red (unusual for her as she tended to stick to pastel colours.) Together they made a big impact as they entered the common room, although the party was already getting going. James Potter came running over to them.
“Hello Ladies,” he said, smiling. “Welcome to Sirius Black’s seventeenth. The birthday boy has, unfortunately, disappeared – most likely to the kitchens – but you’re welcome to come in and enjoy yourself anyway. When he turns up, I will send him to apologise to you formally, for not for being here to greet you like a good host.” He said all this in a very posh manner, then laughed youthfully and reverted back to his own voice. “Anyway you all look great” (his eyes seemed to focus on Lily as he said this) “and If you need anything, just shout.”
“Thanks James.” Mary told him. “ You don’t look so bad yourself.”
He grinned at her and winked, but it was Lily that he turned back to look at as he disappeared off into the crowd.
“He is so in love with you Lily.” Alice told her, when he was gone.
“Shut up” Lily replied.
The common room looked amazing, and the marauders had obviously gone all out to decorate it. After the motorbike had been stored away, James, Remus and Peter had got to work, trailing streamers across the room from their wands, hanging banners with “Sirius is Seventeen!” emblazoned on them in colour- change ink, and blowing up lots of the afore-mentioned balloons, shaped like Sirius’s head. Doctor Fillibusters fireworks were being set off left right and centre, and music was blaring from a gigantic gramophone.
By twelve o’clock the party was in full swing, and almost everyone was dancing. Lily was enjoying herself to the utmost, as she and her Gryffindor dorm- mates danced in the middle of the crowded room, singing at the tops of their voices. They were playing old songs that she remembered from first year, and she had had quite a lot of firewhisky to drink.
“You’ve a hold on my heart, tiiight as devil snare
And I know, I knoooooow you’ll always be theerrrre!”
She sang, and as she looked up she caught the eye of Sirius Black from across the room. He was looking at her and laughing to himself. She froze with embarrassment, but he walked away, still laughing. She went back to her singing.
The party seemed to be growing rowdier by the minute, and Lily wondered why Mcgonagal hadn’t come and put a stop to it yet. Mary was obviously thinking the same thing, as she shouted over the music to Lily
“Is this tower sound- proof or something?”
“No!” Lily mouthed back.
“Then why does no-one come and complain?”
As if her words had been a prophecy, at that moment the portrait hole swung open, and Proffessor Mcgonagal climbed through, closely followed by the new caretaker, Argus Filch. With a wave of her wand she silenced the gramophone, and the rest of the room seemed to follow it’s example.
“Can I ask…” she began, in an incredulous voice. “How Gryffindor students, can think it acceptable, to be making this level of noise at this time of night?”
No-one answered her. An uncomfortable silence followed her words, until somebody blew a party blower.
“Sirius Black!” she demanded, as it was Sirius who had made the noise. “I know it is your birthday but you are not so special that you can disregard every single Hogwarts rule. Ten points from Gryffindor, and a detention each for you and Mr. Potter, as I know he will be implicated in this.”
They both made disgruntled noises but Mcgonagal shushed them. “However, I will give you until one thirty to be back in your beds, so you can wrap this little celebration up. If I hear another peep out of any of you, Gryffindor house will remember this as the year when they finished last in the house cup, with no points whatsoever. Do I make myself clear?” There was a mumbled agreement.
“Thank you.” Said Mcgonagal, and with that she exited through the portrait hole, followed by Filch, who grumbled that punishment today was not what it was.
As she left, the guests as a whole appeared to turn on Sirius. They had been expecting the best party of the year, and all they got were a few measly hours.
“Bloody Mcgonagal,” Mary muttered to Lily, who personally thought that their head of house had been quite lenient.
“Okay, Okay….” Sirius was shouting. “I know this is crap but it’s not my fault…”
The students shouted insults at him.
“Hey, leave him alone you idiots,” James shouted, jumping in front of his friend as if to protect him. “It isn’t his fault, and the party’s been good hasn’t it?”
The guests shouted more insults. They had all had a lot of firewhisky, and Lily thought that they might start throwing curses at James and Sirius. She also knew that once a duel got started, then Sirius and James would happily hex the offending guests into oblivion – and probably get themselves expelled. Mcgonagal had given them until half one, maybe the party could be saved? She started to bustle her way to the front of the angry crowd.
“Sirius,” she muttered, pulling him aside. “I could give you a spell to muffle the sound in here, so the party could carry on.”
She quickly related to him how to perform the spell “muffliato” which was one that Severus had taught her. She told herself he wouldn’t mind her passing it on now – she hadn’t let on about Levicorpus, another of his inventions, and this was different anyway – it wasn’t like it could be used against him. Sirius soon had the grasp of the spell, and he and James tried to explain it to the guests, some of whom had already left in disgust. A few of them got the hang of it, which was all they needed, and a spell was soon cast, strong enough to muffle the sounds of the common room to the outside. The party continued, just a little less rowdily than before.
As Lily got back to her friends she was congratulated on saving Sirius’s party, and his reputation.
“He owes you now Lil” Rachel noted.
“Hmmm” said Mary wickedly, “I wonder how he could pay you? Maybe James isn’t the one you should go for after all?”
“Shut up!” Lily laughed awkwardly as Mary teased her, but the expression on Elizabeth’s face looked less amused. Lily looked back at her questioningly.
“You told yourself Severus wouldn’t mind, did you?” Elizabeth asked, with her eyebrows slightly raised. (Lily had previously taught her friends the Muffliato spell, and where it had come from.)
“He wouldn’t mind you telling the people he hates most in the world, a spell that he made up - especially since what happened last time one of his hexs got out?”
There was no judgement in Elizabeth’s voice, but Lily could tell she was a little bit disappointed with her. Lily just shrugged, shaking off the twinge of guilt she felt at the thought of Severus.
Following this conversation Lily wasn’t quite in the mood for dancing anymore, and so she and Alice headed towards the buffet table to get some drinks. Lily got herself a Butterbeer and felt content to sit out the last half hour of the party just talking and listening to the music, but this wasn’t to be. Sirius cornered her as she went to sit down.
“Hi Lilly, Alice” he said, smiling jauntily at both of them. He seemed very charming compared to any of the other boys they had spoken to that evening, as he gave no impression of being drunk – but maybe that was because he could handle his drink better than most. He put a hand on Lily’s arm and turned her towards him slightly – his grip was gentle but commanding.
“Lily could I have a minute?” his face was unreadable but there was something about the expression in his grey eyes that made her want to know what he had to say.
“Okay” Lily told him, turning away for a moment to see whether Alice would mind. Alice nodded to indicate that it was okay by her and then headed off to find Elizabeth and the others.
“Lets go somewhere a bit quieter?” Sirius spoke the words into her ear so that he could be heard over the music – his warm breath tickled. Lily nodded and followed him through the crowd, which was only slightly smaller than it had been before Mcgonagal’s interruption. He looked around, apparently for a quiet spot, and eventually settled on the staircase to the boy’s dormitories.
“Sorry,” he told her apologetically, as they stood together a few steps up “There really is nowhere else quiet, is there?” He grinned, and she shook her head, returning his smile.
“So, what do you want then?” she asked provocatively, with a shake of her head. She was feeling slightly tipsy and couldn’t help the feeling that there was something leading in this situation. It was this thought that was giving her butterflies. Sirius looked at her strangely.
“I just wanted to say thanks for saving my party,” he said with a laugh. Lily noticed the rich, gravely tone of his voice more than she ever had before, and she found she wanted him to keep speaking – she could listen to him talk all night.
“No problem.” She replied, inviting him to elaborate – but he didn’t. There was that strange, steely look in his eyes again, and as the silence stretched before them, Lily was reminded of their conversation in the owlery a few days earlier. Then, she had taken the first out and ran away before she had the chance to see what would happen next, but she didn’t feel like running now.
“Sirius,” she began. Before she could say another word Sirius had, in one commanding motion, pulled her into his arms and pressed his mouth to hers. Lily’s heart gave a lurch as she returned his kiss, feeling a mixture of shock and euphoria at the sensation. She gave herself over to it, throwing her hands around his neck as he cupped her face tenderly in one hand, and with the other ran his fingers through her hair. After a few minutes, although Lily couldn’t have told you how long exactly, they heard footsteps on the stairs and drew apart, just in time. Remus Lupin turned the corner, and found the two of them standing inches from each other, breathing heavily. Lily’s shock of red hair was all over the place. Lupin raised his eyebrows.
“James wants you.” He told Sirius, and continued on up the staircase.
When he was gone, Sirius and Lily looked at each other, with some awkwardness. It was maybe more apparent on Lily’s part, as Sirius tended to have a permanent look of being at ease.
“Should we go back down then?” Sirius asked, his voice slightly huskier than before.
“That’s probably a good idea.” Lily answered. Sirius made a gesture as if to take her hand and lead her down the staircase, but it seemed he decided that probably wasn’t a good idea. He stood aside to let her walk down first, following close behind her. No-one saw them as they stepped out into the common room together. Lily turned to Sirius to say that she was tired, and was going to head up to bed. He nodded, touching her hand gently before he left her side and walked away to find James. She took a deep breath before going to inform her own friends that she was going to bed. A few people were leaving now, as Mcgonagal’s deadline of 1:30 was fast approaching, so the other Gryffindor girls didn’t think it strange – Rachel even said she would come up with her. As Lily reached the steps of the girls staircase, she spotted Sirius and James a few paces away, talking together. They both smiled at her.
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