Sirius scuffed his boot heel along the side of the curb. After a few days of abstaining, he was smoking again. The urge had beaten him down until finally he succumbed and the pungently sweet smell of the fumes engulfed him. He closed his eyes and breathed in with surrender.
The bike was parked in the same spot it had been positioned in for nearly two months; though, of course, now it was fully functional.
Sirius briefly admired its beauty before throwing his cigarette onto the curb, stamping it out, and lighting himself another.
He leaned back against the grimy pink wall of the building and waited.
The sun had already set by the time Sirius heard the tinkling sound of heels approaching. From the dim lamp in the parking lot, he could see Eliza traipsing out of the corner of his eye. She was wearing that burgundy red dress again.
He had grown quite fond of that dress.
Sirius kept his eyes looking straight-ahead and swallowed one last puff of smoke before throwing down the cigarette and squashing it with the heel of his black, scaly boot.
"Trouble, what are you doing out here?" Eliza chirped at him as she drew closer. "I saw your bike swerve into the parking lot over an hour ago. I've been waiting for you to come inside for ages. I would've been out to get you before this, but Mum kept nagging me to restock the shelves."
Sirius stayed silent as she leaned over to kiss him.
Eliza frowned slightly as she pulled away from his still lips. "You started smoking again?"
Sirius shrugged noncommittally.
"That's fine," she decided good-naturedly. "We'll just get you inside for a strong cup of coffee and some pie – and maybe a toothbrush – and you'll taste just as good as new," she added with an uncharacteristic wink.
Sirius shook his head.
Eliza's smiled faded. "What's wrong?"
"No, it's a definite something, Sirius. C'mon, you can tell me."
Sirius shoved his hands into his pockets and walked over to his pristine motorbike. He ran a hand lovingly along the gleaming handlebars.
Eliza watched him for a few moments while fiddling with the gold locket that hung around her neck. "Sirius, what's going on?"
He stared at the ground evasively.
"Why don't you come inside? There's plenty of time to mope when you're sitting down."
Still not looking up, Sirius scoffed at her words.
"What's so funny about time?" she asked.
"Well, you're positively loquacious today, aren't you?" Eliza sang in a persistently cheerful tone.
Sirius groaned and sat down onto the curb.
"Look, Sirius, I think I get it."
He rolled his eyes.
"I've been expecting it, really."
"Sure you have."
"You're going away, aren't you?"
His shoulders tensed.
She took a careful step towards him before sitting beside him and pressing the issue further. "Leaving for school?"
Sirius, who had been staring at the bike, raised his gray eyes to her brown ones. "How'd you know?"
Eliza chuckled, though it sounded slightly more forced than her usual laughter. "I do own a calendar, you know. Doesn't really take a genius to figure out when the summer holidays end." There was a strained casualness to her voice, but Sirius could see the signs of devastation in her twitching lips and telling eyes. She turned her head and stood up, straightening out her dress. "So…when do you leave?"
He nodded and looked away.
"But you'll be back," she stammered quickly – hopefully. "You probably won't be able to visit me at my shifts after school, but you can stop by on weekends, right? I can see you as soon as Friday!"
Sirius remained silent.
"Well, you must have breaks every so often! Every school goes on break." Eliza pulled at her hair as she waited for him to answer. "Christmas, at least?" she offered weakly. "Surely, not until the next summer holidays!"
Sirius looked up at her with haunted eyes.
"Oh, God," she murmured. "Not even Christmas? What kind of school is it? The Prison Academy?" Her joke fell flat from its poor delivery.
Sirius took a deep breath that seemed to fill the silence. He stood up and took a step towards her. "I can't ask you to wait – "
Eliza held up a hand to silence him. "No, no," she muttered with an emphatic nod of her head as she kept her distance. "I understand completely. We'd both can't just wait around for each other. You probably have loads of other girls waiting for you. I don't want to hold you back. It'd be stupid to stay together that long if we can't see each other. Stupid, stupid…God, I'm just so stupid!"
Sirius strode over to her, and Eliza launched herself into his arms. Watery tears threatened to fall onto her cheeks.
"I'm sorry!" she apologized, sounding mortified as she hastily wiped her eyes. "I didn't mean to get so emotional. You tell me something like a grownup and say it all very properly, and I'm just bawling like a toddler. I'm sorry. God, I don't know what's wrong with me! I'm not trying to be such a ruddy mess. I know this isn't helping any. It didn't go look this in all the versions I practiced in front of the mirror. I was usually charming and aloof. You're really impressed. It's the blasé thing. I was very blasé. In some versions, you even decide not to…It was all very civil. Though, usually, when I said goodbye to you, I didn't imagine it'd be forever."
Sirius placed his hand soothingly through her hair as her words muffled into his shoulder.
"I'm so sorry," Sirius said quietly. "I should have never done this to you. Johnny was right. I should have just let you be."
Eliza pulled away from him. Her eyes were shining. "Is that what you think?" she asked disbelievingly.
"It's what I know."
"You don't know anything."
Sirius laughed humorlessly. "I should have never done this to you," he repeated, his voice laced with painful remorse.
"Do you regret it?"
Sirius kissed her swiftly. "Always and never."
"I don't," she croaked out. "I don't regret any of it. Sirius, I don't." Eliza brought her hands to her neck and removed her gold locket. Carefully, she opened Sirius's hand and placed it on his palm. "You shouldn't regret it either."
"I can't – "
"Yes, you can, Trouble," she said bravely as she closed Sirius's fingers around the locket. "You're going to move on and have wonderful adventures and see exciting places. You're someone special in this world Sirius, not some silly girl who makes pies at a lousy diner."
"You're special, Elizabeth Boyd."
Eliza reached up and kissed him softly. "Take me somewhere," she whispered against his lips.
"Somewhere I've never been before."
Sirius took her hand and guided her to the bike. They were silent as he glided the bike through the traffic on the streets. Eliza clung to him until him as the air fell still. Upon arrival at their destination, Sirius led her up the stairs to his flat, and they gently, sweetly, slowly, began to undress each other.
Upon his soft bed, they shared slow, deep kisses and lasting touches. Sirius kept his eyes open the whole time because he wanted to memorize everything about her – the way her delicate skin felt, the narrowness of her hips, the feel of her long brown hair through his fingers, the warmth of her body, the subtle aroma of chocolate, the longing in her eyes, the taste of her cherry on her lips…
Too soon, it was over, and he needed to take her back to her parents' house before her absence became problematic.
The girl kissed him again as familiar tears returned.
"Sirius, I don't want you to leave tomorrow. I don't think I can take it. I'm not ready. We're not ready. Please don't go. Stay with me. Just stay. Please."