Chapter 7 : The Tapestry's Demise
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Nora didn’t exactly know where she was.
The firm mattress and crisp sheets underneath her definitely were not from her own bed. She wondered if perhaps she was in Sirius’s bed – and this gave her a warm, pleasant feeling – but then she realized her fingers were brushing cold metal bars on either side. A hospital bed.
She opened her eyes, which stung a little. Fresh sunlight poured in through a window to her left, but it was somewhat filtered because a curtain had been erected all around her bed. Nora recognized the daisy pattern of the curtains and gave a little start. The last time she’d been in one of these beds, she’d been knocked in the head with a Bludger during a Quidditch match between Gryffindor and Hufflepuff.
Sure enough, Madam Pomfrey came bustling over to her side as soon as she knew her patient was awake, looking flustered with pursed lips. “How do you feel?” she wanted to know.
“Why am I at Hogwarts?”
Madam Pomfrey’s nostrils flared. “Professor Dumbledore did not want you to go to St. Mungo’s,” she responded archly, as though she sincerely disapproved. “Brought you both in at three in the morning; had to nurse you in my dressing gown and nightcap. Gave me quite a shock, I don’t mind telling you.”
Nora propped her weight onto her elbow, sitting up a little. The matron was scrutinizing her eyes, tongue, and heartbeat, poking and prodding and making assessments. “Who brought me? And what do you mean, ‘both’? Who else is here?”
She clucked her tongue and didn’t speak, pointing next to Nora’s right with obvious displeasure.
Nora noticed for the first time a massive, shaggy black dog sitting quietly in a chair at her side, gazing solemnly at her with pale eyes. She had never seen him in his dog form before, and the fact that he was here in the open, risking his life just to be with her, made her heart swell. “Tried to get him to leave but he utterly refused,” she continued. “Not very hygienic in a Hospital Wing, but I must admit that’s a very loyal pet you’ve got there.”
Nora grinned. “He is pretty amazing, isn’t he?” She reached out and stroked his fur, which seemed less daring since he was an animal at the moment and therefore much less physically attractive to her. Sirius nuzzled his head against the palm of her hand, whining delicately. “I’m fine,” she assured him.
Madam Pomfrey was studying her with narrowed eyes. “And I expect you’re not going to tell me how it is you sustained these injuries, either?”
“Nasty fall,” Nora replied smoothly. “Always was a bit clumsy.”
The matron gave her a searching look and then sighed resignedly. “It would make my job a lot easier if patients were straight with me for once,” she muttered. “Severus wouldn’t answer me, the headmaster wouldn’t answer me…it’s all guesswork!”
Nora smiled apologetically, flexing her left arm. It felt a little stiff, like she’d slept on it wrong, but wasn’t broken anymore. She touched her shoulder, which made her wince.
“Yes, I imagine that’d sting,” Pomfrey remarked. “You’re patched up good as new, but the healing ointment always gets complaints. Horrid getting all the glass out while you were bleeding so much.” She shuddered. “Took six doses of Blood-Replenishing Potion every hour to set you right, you were that bad off.”
Nora blinked. “How long have I been in here?”
Pomfrey checked her watch. “You’ve been asleep for about nine hours. Odd, too – your dog hasn’t nodded off once. Been awake this whole time, just watching over you.”
Nora felt herself blush somewhat – a testament that she had blood in her veins again – and busied herself by looking at her left arm. Five opaque claw marks still remained as the only reminder of her nightmare at the Ministry. Nora was glad Pomfrey hadn’t gotten rid of them altogether. She didn’t want to forget about what had happened; she wanted the proof right there so she could remember exactly what she wanted to do to Malfoy at the first opportunity…
“If you’re all set, then, I’ll just be off to lunch,” the matron told her, and whipped between the curtains and out the door. Nora peeled back the curtain to see if anyone else was in the Hospital Wing, and found it empty aside from a boar-bristle brush that was scrubbing a chamber pot by magic.
“The coast is clear,” she told the dog, and he instantly morphed back into a man. She felt her heart rate increase from the sudden sight of him, looking so beautiful it was intimidating, and very distressed. “You didn’t get any sleep,” she accused.
His eyes were indeed rimmed with dark shadows, which signaled two nights’ worth of no sleep. He had to have been running on no energy whatsoever. “How could I?” he answered anxiously. “I needed to see you wake up and know you were alright.”
Nora snorted. “From the looks of things, you ought to be in this bed instead of me.” But then her voice dropped and her forehead creased with thought. “What happened?”
Sirius stared at her unflinchingly, pondering it over in his head. Nora’s cheeks flushed in response, but she couldn’t tear her gaze from his. He leaned forward tentatively, brushing her cheekbone with his warm hand. “Now that’s what I like to see,” he murmured gently. “A little color back.” A shiver danced down Nora’s spine, and she felt dangerously close to doing something stupid and impulsive. To save herself, she focused on the scars Malfoy gave her.
“What do you remember last?” he wanted to know, his voice very soft.
Nora bit her lip. “I remember you,” she said slowly. “After everything at the Ministry, the last thing I remember is you. You made a Patronus…” She stopped because Sirius suddenly looked stricken. “What?”
His neck was blotchy and burning, but she couldn’t see this. “Did you…how coherent were you?” he asked in a throaty voice.
She frowned. “Not very. I couldn’t even open my eyes, and my hearing was a bit wooly, but I remember you casting a messenger Patronus, telling it that I had lost a lot of blood.”
Sirius visibly relaxed. “That’s right,” he said. “You fainted soon after, I think. Snape came and got you, took you here because he thought Malfoy would guess you’d have to go to St. Mungo’s, and would probably meet you there with a nice load of Death Eaters. And I came along, much to his dismay.”
“Severus brought me?” she raised her eyebrows.
Sirius braced himself, looking defensive. “Would’ve done it myself if everyone didn’t think I was Voldemort’s protégée. I sent the Patronus to Dumbledore, but he hastened to the Ministry, wanted to see to Malfoy. He told Snape to come take you to Madam Pomfrey.”
Nora’s eyes widened. “Did Dumbledore catch Malfoy?”
Sirius shook his head bitterly. “He’d already escaped, but Fudge and Edgecombe were there; he modified their memories and repaired all the damage. Now Malfoy doesn’t have a lick of evidence that anyone was in the Ministry last night at all.”
Nora laid back for a long while, staring at the ceiling while Sirius watched her fathomlessly. She then turned on her pillow to face him. “Sirius?”
She managed a small smile, studying the alluring curve of his lower lip, those finely-carved aristocratic features and stormy grey eyes. “I’m going to kill Lucius Malfoy.”
“No, you’re not.”
She laughed. It was rather raspy, and he wondered with a stinging sensation how much screaming she’d done last night. “I’d like to see you try and stop me.”
“You’re not going to kill him because I am,” he responded evenly.
“I’ll let you have Pettigrew,” she teased.
“Five claw marks on my arm says he’s not.”
“I deserve to kill Malfoy more than you do,” Sirius told her. “He returned you to me in an absolute mess. Look at all the inconvenience he’s made; I’ve had to be a dog all morning and I missed having thumbs. And you got a decent amount of blood on me – laundry’s going to be awful.”
But his light tones did not fool her, and Nora sensed the undercurrents of fury Sirius was trying to downplay. “We’ll just play it by ear, then,” she reasoned. “And see who gets at him first.”
Sirius looked satisfied, as though he doubted Nora could beat him to their target. “Let’s not think of it now,” he said in a hushed voice, extending his hand as if to stroke her hair and then thinking better of it. Nora caught his hand in hers and studied a gold ring inlaid with a small ruby phoenix, latching onto any excuse to touch him and look blasé about it.
“Nice ring,” she commented.
He allowed her to admire it, trying not to show how much he enjoyed her fingers delicately tracing his. “Yes,” he said, clearing his throat. “One of the first things I did when I moved back to Grimmauld Place was to get this made. I had Remus do all of the business for me, of course.”
“You like phoenixes, do you?” she inquired, still looking at the magical bird’s many glittering facets. It was truly lovely.
“More important is the symbolization,” he explained, sounding somewhat self-conscious. “You know – rebirth, rising from the ashes anew. This sort of represented me overcoming twelve years in prison and trying to salvage hope for a new life. I know that currently where I’m at in my life, I’m not exactly a free bird. But someday, hopefully.”
Nora met his eyes. “There’s many different ways to be free.”
He watched her for awhile as she turned his hand this way and that to see how it sparkled in the light, his muscles tense and eyes blazing. He wasn’t even aware when the doors opened and someone else walked into the Hospital Wing. Upon hearing a voice, he jumped and was just about to phase into his Animagus form – but then he recognized the speaker.
“Nora, dear?” Molly chimed, pushing her way through the curtains. “I heard you were awake.” Her eyes froze on Nora’s hand, which was still playing with Sirius’s ring, and her eyes narrowed, shoulders stiffening somewhat. “Hello, Sirius,” she greeted rather formally.
“Good to see you again, Molly.” Sirius was perfectly polite, pretending not to notice her attitude. He shifted his weight to prop half the chair off the ground, resting on its back legs with an air of breezy casualness.
“I – er – I thought you would have gone home by now,” she admitted bluntly.
Sirius, with great effort, arranged his most winning smile. “Not at all, Molly.”
“Hm.” She sat down and rubbed her hands together, looking all around and not talking much. Finally, because Molly’s rudeness towards Sirius was embarrassing Nora and he wanted to minimize the latter’s discomfort, he spoke up.
“Well, I’m off to the Great Hall,” he announced cheerily. “Think anyone would share a bit of their lunch with a lovable stray dog?” He winked at Nora. “I’ll bring you back something.”
Molly began to chastise that this wasn’t a very good idea, but her desire to be alone with Nora won out and she gave up. When he was gone, she wasted no time making her thoughts very clear. “Lenora…” she pursed her lips, and Nora felt her defenses rising. “Is anything going on between you and Sirius Black?”
“No,” Nora replied honestly. Well, it was the truth, no matter what she wished otherwise. “Why do you ask?”
Her aunt looked agitated and fussed with the clasp on her handbag. “Oh, it’s nothing. Just, sometimes one of you says or does something that makes me wonder if it’s a good idea for you to be living with him.”
“What do you mean?” Nora hedged.
Molly sighed in exasperation. “He’s just too old for you, Nora. I mean, at the time you were being born, he was already at Hogwarts! And of course Black is a very nice man, no doubt, but the more you’re with him…the less you’re with other people. He’s confined to that house, or the dementors will get him. But the dementors aren’t after you, sweetheart, and you’re still living like a fugitive. I think he enjoys it too much that he’s got another hostage there, and doesn’t want you to be free. It’s so selfish. You never leave Grimmauld Place anymore…it bothers me, you two shut up together all the time.”
“I left Grimmauld Place last night, and look at where it got me,” Nora responded testily. “And Molly, I don’t think you’ve got much to worry about as far as Sirius and I are concerned. He doesn’t see me that way.”
Molly’s eyebrows were in her hairline. “Are you saying that you see him that way?”
Nora sat up straighter. “It wouldn’t matter even if I did,” she countered, trying to impress it upon her aunt exactly how invasive she found this conversation. “Like I said – he just doesn’t see me in that way, so you have nothing to worry about. I like Grimmauld Place. And I enjoy his company.” She attempted to steer the topic into another direction, adding, “You haven’t even asked for all the gory details about how I almost died. I think I feel offended.”
“But what if Sirius did feel that way about you?” Molly persisted.
Nora stared at her. “What’s your problem?” she asked. “You got something against Sirius?”
Molly backpedaled. “No, of course not. I just…oh, Nora, he’s a fugitive! Not that it’s his fault, but I’d like to see you with a nice young boy with a clean record. You know, I ran into Cargan Dearborn just the other day. He’s Caradoc’s son, I’m not sure if you remember. Caradoc was such a wonderful man…” she drifted off. “Risked his life for the Order and poor Cargan was only five when his father was taken by the Death Eaters. Never even got a body back. But Cargan’s so brave, he’s just like Caradoc. You recall going to school with him?”
“Vaguely,” Nora replied waspishly. “He was in Ravenclaw, a few years older than me.”
“Only three years older,” Molly informed her with a pleased smile. “He’s twenty-five, and such a lovely boy.”
“That’s very nice,” Nora said, beginning to feel harassed by her aunt’s intrusiveness. “And you know, I think I feel good enough to get out of here. I’m hungry and I’d like to join them all for lunch.”
“You can’t!” Molly exclaimed, putting out her arm. “Absolutely not!”
Nora stood up and smiled firmly. “I can, Molly. I’m an adult; I can do what I like. But thanks for your concern.” And although Molly did look put out, she couldn’t very well stop Nora from stepping into Madam Pomfrey’s office and changing out of the Hospital Wing spare robes into some clean clothes a house elf must have delivered.
Feeling a tad groggy and heavy-footed, Nora made her way from the Hospital Wing down to the Great Hall, saying hello to the occasional portrait or House ghost who remembered her. When she pushed open the enormous wooden doors, she caught sight of the dog known as Snuffles, leaping and bounding around and playing with his godson. Harry looked positively delighted.
Nora slid onto the bench between Ron and Ginny, who turned to her in surprise. “You’re already out?” Ginny asked suspiciously. “Did Madam Pomfrey dismiss you? We were up there to visit just this morning and she reckoned you’d still be in there until tomorrow.”
Nora rolled her eyes. “What’s she going to do, take away points? I’m dead starving.”
“What happened to you, anyway?” George piped up, passing down a plate of turkey sandwiches. “Mum wouldn’t tell us anything, but we know it’s for the –”
He couldn’t finish the sentence because Sirius nipped him on the ankle, growling warningly. Nora tossed the energetic dog a shred of her turkey, which he caught in his mouth. “Never you mind,” Nora brushed her cousin’s curiosities off with a wave of her hand.
“But look at your arm!” Hermione whispered, looking dumbstruck. “It looks like you’ve been mauled by a werewolf!”
“Got into a row with a house elf,” Nora replied blithely, moistening her parched mouth with a splash of pumpkin juice. “Unpleasant little git.”
Hermione and the others gave up, although still highly chary. Sirius jumped onto the bench next to Nora and eyed her plate jealously. “You want some more?” she teased. He wagged his tail. “Alright, then. Bark three times.”
Sirius obediently barked three times, and she threw some bits of food into the air for him to catch with his mouth. He waited for more, and she said, “I’ll let you finish my plate if you bring me back a souvenir from Slytherin.”
Sirius embraced the challenge, diving over to the Slytherin table and clamping his jaws around the shoe of Draco Malfoy, who shrieked in objection, grabbing onto the table with both hands before ultimately being pried away. The entire Gryffindor table burst into raucous laughter, watching the black dog fight Malfoy for his shoe. Sirius won, of course, and happily dropped the slobbery, destroyed boot at Nora’s side.
“Better get that to-go, mate,” Ron advised, his eyes following Draco Malfoy as he ran toward the exit, hobbling along with one shoe and looking murderous. “Ten galleons says he’s off to get Umbridge.”
Harry looked worried as well. “Yeah, I think he knows who you are,” he added. “Best get going.” Sirius’s tail stopped wagging and he looked somewhat crestfallen, but Nora agreed with Harry.
“Let’s get out of here,” she said in the dog’s ear. He followed her outside, where she transformed into an owl and they raced each other to the gates. Once they were beyond the grounds, each turned back into a human and turned on the spot, falling through nothingness as they disapparated.
Early October faded into late November with little commotion. Even though Dumbledore had succeeded in making Fudge and Edgecombe forget about that horrid skirmish at the Ministry, Malfoy certainly wasn’t likely to. However, the Order could not afford to slacken security even with the threat of something similar happening again, and any number of the Order could always be depended on for duty every night. Anyone, that is, besides Sirius or Nora. Nora was not offered any more shifts. She was told that this owed to the fact that Malfoy would most certainly be looking for her now, after she’d managed to escape him. But in truth, Sirius was curtailing proposed missions behind her back.
“Malfoy hasn’t made an overnight appearance since the incident,” Tonks reminded him once, looking cross. “Nora doesn’t mind going on watch again and we could certainly use more help. Divvying it up is such a headache because so few of us are willing and able to do it.”
“I’ll do it in her place, then,” Sirius replied brusquely.
“You know you can’t,” Kingsley had said. They heard Nora thumping down the stairs, eager to join them. “She’s got the best disguise out of all of us,” he implored. “She has the most advantages.”
“No.” And his expression was such that when Nora entered the room, no one breathed a word of it to her.
As Nora did not know any of this, she felt quite useless with the Order. She and Sirius both were keen to do more, take on more responsibilities. But honestly, there wasn’t much for the others to do besides sitting in an empty corridor outside the Department of Mysteries night after night. It was tedious and boring – which was a good sign, of course. But until Voldemort made a move, the Order had no choice but to wait, silent and stealthy and ready at a moment’s notice.
Since things were mercifully slow for the Order, the other members didn’t come around to Grimmauld Place too often, and both Sirius and Nora found themselves preferring this, as they could be more relaxed and like themselves without the presence of, say, Mad-Eye Moody. Nora was forever cooking up things for them to do, and Sirius indulgently allowed himself to be pulled into her web of strange activities. This was demonstrated one afternoon when Nora came trundling down the stairs wearing old clothes with her hair pulled back in a ponytail. Under her arm was a box of paintbrushes.
“What are you up to now?” Sirius mused, setting aside a newspaper with his own face peering out from under the caption of HAVE YOU SEEN THIS WIZARD?
“Good, we can use that,” Nora replied heartily, lifting the newspaper with her wand and making it flap behind them into the drawing room, one side of which was littered with various sheets of newspaper. She set down the brushes next to an assortment of paint cans and put her hands on her hips, surveying the room eagerly.
“You want to paint over the Black Family Tree?” Sirius asked doubtfully from behind her. “There’ll be protective jinxes in here, preventing anything like that.”
Nora raised her eyebrows and tore at a section of molding tapestry that included a picture of Walburga Black – Sirius’s mother. His eyebrows shot up. “How were you able to do that?”
Nora shrugged. “Stripped it – turns out there weren’t nearly as many complex spells on it as we’d guessed. And since you seem to hate this room and all that it represents, I thought perhaps we could change it up a little, do some remodeling.”
“Excellent,” he marveled. “But what are the paintbrushes for?” He studied her vivacious manner with wary eyes. “You’re going to make me act like a Muggle again, aren’t you?”
“Oh, but it’s fun!” she insisted. “You’ll see.”
Sirius changed his outfit into something more practical for Muggle painting, and they tore off the wall-to-wall tapestry by hand. “You’re right, this is immensely satisfying,” he said with a wicked grin, ripping up a picture of what had been himself before he was disinherited and his image on the family tree blackened.
“Which color would you like?” Nora asked when the whole tapestry lay in curling strips at their feet.
Sirius peered into the array of containers – red, yellow, blue, green, orange, purple, black, gold, and white. “How about all of them?” he suggested. Nora looked at him questioningly, and he smiled and dipped the paintbrush into the orange can. He brought it back out, dripping, and flung it onto the wall. It flew all over the place, splattering bits of ceiling in the process. “Isn’t it splendid?”
Nora, cottoning on, added some gold to it. Before long, the wall was covered with streaks of vivid color, some of it mixing together and looking quite awful, and some of it pretty terrific. Sirius performed a Hot Air Charm to dry everything, and then they began to personalize the walls with bits of random art. Sirius was thankful to get his mind off of other things, namely his godson getting into trouble with Dolores Umbridge all the time and being banned from Quidditch; trying to teach other students secret Defense Against the Dark Arts lessons and growing desperate in their climate of tyranny. Sirius had spoken to him in the fire, had hoped to give him some words of encouragement – but Umbridge had very nearly caught him and Sirius couldn’t risk using the Floo Network again. He was thrilled, though, that James Potter’s son wasn’t going to lie down and let himself be trampled over by a nasty old hag. He was fighting back. He was truly James’s son.
An hour or so into an enormous black dragon, Nora glanced up to see Sirius’s progress on the other end of the wall. He’d painted Buckbeak, and a dark-haired man sitting on top who she suspected was Sirius himself. He’d also drawn a massive motorbike, a Golden Snitch, and a small triangular shape with bars slanting across it. “What’s that?” Nora piped up.
Sirius frowned. “That was the window of my cell in Azkaban.”
Nora looked at it again, and noticed that it was surrounded by a tiny stall of sorts, with no real bed or belongings. In fact, it was completely empty aside from a thin, ragged pallet on the floor where he must have slept. Sirius never mentioned what his time was like in prison, and Nora didn’t want to ask. Judging by the tiny window, it was probably too miserable for words.
Sirius shook his head. “No idea why I put it up there.” He upended a gallon of red paint over top and Nora shaped it into a heart with her brush. She leaned back to appreciate her handiwork. “Very nice,” he murmured, “but it’s lacking something.” Jokingly, he scrawled S.B. + N.P. inside the heart with a thin white brush. “Look at that, I’m a dab hand at Muggle art!”
“How charming,” replied a sneering, nasally voice. Sirius and Nora’s laughter instantly died, swiveling to look at Severus Snape in the doorway, eyeing the pair’s joined initials with distaste. “I wouldn’t want to disturb your very important activity here.”
“Probably pointless if I reminded you it’s rude to just barge into other people’s houses, getting grease all over everything,” Sirius said loudly, turning back around and doodling a crude caricature of a man with black hair writing on a piece of parchment two inches from his long nose. “Don’t feel left out, Snivellus – I’ve added you in, as well.”
“I request a private word with Nora Prewett.”
Nora and Sirius stared in surprise. “What’s it got to be private for?” Sirius demanded.
“Not everything concerns you, Black,” Severus hissed. “I wish to speak to her alone.”
Sirius let go of his paintbrush, his features haughty and irate. “This is my house, I won’t have you making orders here –”
“Fine!” Snape retorted before he could finish. His black eyes snapped. “Nora, if you could please accompany me to my own house, then. If I cannot speak to you here, it will happen elsewhere.”
“To your house?” Sirius sputtered. “What are you planning to do, cut her up and feed her to Nagini?”
“What is all of this about, Severus?” Nora asked gently before the two could argue more.
Upon being addressed by her, his expression changed from heated to well-composed. “Would you come with me so that I may speak to you alone?”
Nora glanced at Sirius, who looked ready to start dueling, but said, “Of course, Severus.” He had, after all, brought her to Madam Pomfrey when she was near-death.
Sirius glowered, but as they turned to leave, said, “You can use the sitting room,” in a flat voice. Nora saw Snape’s mouth curl into a vindictive smile, and together they walked into the shabby sitting room.
Once the door was closed, Severus slashed his wand at the door and said, “Muffliato.” When he turned to face her, however, some of the composure lapsed.
“Hello, then,” she offered.
He hesitated, running a hand through his hair – which looked significantly less stringy than she’d ever seen it. In fact, Severus was looking quite dapper in elegant black robes with silver embroidery. “I don’t want to bother you,” he began, “But I was thinking the other day about…a situation.”
At the sound of her voice, his gaze darted over her and he met her eyes. At this point, he seemed to be losing his grip altogether. “There is a New Year’s Ball,” he informed her, quite like he was reciting this from a book. “And usually Hogwarts doesn’t do this – six years ago was the last time it was held. But last year the Yule Ball turned out to be a success and…so they’re doing one now for New Year’s Eve. All of the staff are encouraged to bring guests.” He paced rapidly from one end of the room to the other, unable to continue.
“Severus, are you asking me to go with you?” Nora asked.
He flushed crimson. “I’d like you to consider it,” he answered.
Awkwardness filled the air. Nora felt it pressing all around her. Go to a ball with Severus? She could hardly wrap her head around the image. But then, he had helped save her life. Agreeing to be his date to a Hogwarts dance seemed a minor gesture of thanks in return.
“You don’t need to answer now,” he rushed. “I am aware that the ball is not until the very end of next month, but I wanted to address it sooner rather than later because schedules fill up and priorities change.” He paused, focusing on a spot somewhere above Nora’s head. “Will you think about it?”
He started as if she’d sloshed a gallon of cold water on him. “What? You will?”
She nodded, smiling at the absurd expression on his face. “I’d love to.”
He blushed again, looking all around him as though not knowing what to do with himself or how to react. Clearly he had expected a ‘maybe’ at the very most. Nora found his humility and awkwardness rather endearing, and pitied him.
“Good.” He mumbled something unintelligible, and she thought he may have said, “Looking forward to it, then,” before nodding curtly several times, tripping on his robes, and finally leaving in a flourish with his face redder than ever.
After Severus was gone, Nora gathered her bearings and returned to the drawing room, only to find it vacant. The caricature of Snape had been drowned out with a colossal blob of blue paint. “Sirius?” she called.
Nora trekked downstairs into the kitchen, where Sirius was gulping down a shot of Firewhisky, his chair tipped back like he did whenever he was bored or agitated. He looked distinctly annoyed, but had resolved not to attack her with questions lest he look overbearing. Nora Prewett, he knew, was severely independent and did not like to be bossed.
Nora poured herself some tea and joined him. Raising the cup to her lips, she said with a smirk, “Not curious, then?”
Sirius raised his eyebrows. “Are you implying that I’m nosy?”
He smiled. “Well, you’re right. I am curious. Was it something about the Order? He should know better than anyone that I’m not a Death Eater; I’m not collecting secrets and selling them to Voldemort.”
“No,” Nora replied thoughtfully, fixing her eyes on him to evaluate his reaction. “Not Order business exactly. He…he asked me to go to the New Year’s Ball with him at Hogwarts.”
Well, this definitely complicates things.
Sirius was leaning against the window in his mother’s bedroom, having a nice little chat with Buckbeak and feeding him some dead ferrets Nora had scrounged up from Hagrid several days prior.
He’d never dreamed of making a move on Nora. It was a torment to admire her from afar, of course, but he knew how ridiculous his chances were. He was thirteen years her senior and jaded and not good enough for her. The problem, however, is that so was Snape. But that did not stop him from reaching out with his slimy claws and trying to reel her in. Did the man not own a mirror? Did he not see what kind of leagues he was dealing with?
And Nora had said yes.
If he’d had any idea that she might swing for a cockroach like Snape, he might’ve hit the playing field a little earlier, marked his territory somewhat. But despite the fact that she lived alone with another man, Nora Prewett was free game. And Snape, unlike Sirius, did not have any qualms about trying to get what he wanted even when he knew he had no business wanting it. He came, he saw, and he dove on the opportunity with absolutely no regard for what Nora deserved. That sneaky, pernicious little piece of work, swooping in after Sirius had wanted her for months, after he’d accepted that platonic friendship was better than nothing.
Sirius had never considered trying to sweep her off her feet, but he couldn’t stand by and let Snivellus do it. Sirius was by no means a spring chicken, but he was a hell of a lot better than that smarmy Potions prat and his oily hair, oily voice; everything about him was oily…
Snape had now put Sirius in a position where he was forced to stake the cards. If that git was going to make a move, he’d better be prepared for some competition.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I made some alterations to the layout of Grimmauld Place. For one, there is both a sitting room and a drawing room, rather than just a drawing room. Also, canon dictates that Sirius’s bedroom is on the fourth landing instead of the third (which is where I put it), and is across from Regulus’s room. Ideally, this would be the room Sirius gave to Nora, so I’ll just pretend he used to live on a separate floor. So I moved a few rooms around. Sorry, R.A.B.!
Just thought I’d mention the tweaks in case you’ve wondered about the differences. I’m sure there are loads more, of course, but those are the ones that stuck out.
Also: YES, I am implementing the ball cliche. I don't care. I want a ball and this is my story, so you're going to get a ball.
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