Chapter 13 : A trip in the twilight
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“Sirius!” said Madame Rosmerta, “You still need to wipe down those tables.” Her voice was incredulous. Sirius cursed silently. He turned from the tavern door, from which he had just been about to make a speedy exit.
“Sorry boss,” he said. “I forgot.”
“Your mind’s somewhere else this evening, isn’t it?”
Sirius smiled at her, vaguely. Yes, it was, he thought. He had told Lily to wait for him, and now he would be late. But Rosmerta didn’t know that – it wasn’t her fault. He headed back to the staff room to grab a cloth and some Magical Mess remover.
“She’s a lucky girl.” Rosmerta told him dryly.
“It is a girl isn’t it? I can tell - you’ve got that look in your eyes.”
Sirius shrugged his shoulders awkwardly.
“She’s just a friend.”
“Does she know that? Poor thing.”
Sirius looked at the land-lady thoughtfully. She had a hand on one hip and a twinkle in her shrewd blue eyes.
“She knows that.” Sirius said. Rosmerta caught him by the shoulder, playfully, as he passed her, and wagged her finger at him.
“Well don’t you go breaking her heart. Girls aren’t always as strong as they look you know.”
He knew she was teasing, but for a moment she looked deadly serious. It made him wonder… but then she tossed her blonde curls and shoved him gently passed her.
“And you can start by being on time for your date – so you better get those tables cleaned.”
Sirius grinned and saluted.
She laughed at him, and wandered back to the bar, her turquoise high heels clacking against the stone floor.
Meanwhile, Lily was waiting in the common room again – catching up on some work, to pass the time before Sirius got back. ‘Tomorrow’ she thought to herself ‘I’m going to have to get some sort of a project or something!’She had finished her book, and had nothing to do all day but wait and think, which culminated in her worrying about Regulus. Assuming he had gone home for Easter, she wondered whether he would finally stand up to his parents. His plan to become a death-eater was beyond her understanding – what she did understand however, was that he had doubts. She hoped her conversation with him the night before term ended, had helped to increase these doubts. She hoped he would tell his parents that he wouldn’t join Voldemort, as she felt that whatever Sirius said about them, they wouldn’t be cruel enough to force their son to join, against his will. James and Sirius had painted Regulus as a spoilt child, and parents spoiled their children out of love, because they want them to have everything they want. If Regulus wanted to have nothing to do with Voldemort, then surely the Blacks would let him have his wish? These thoughts dominated Lily’s day, which, in a way, was a good thing – it stopped her from over-analysing the situation between herself, Sirius, and James Potter.
Her musings were cut short around six o clock, as the arrival of one Black brother drove the other from her mind. He arrived grinning, and apologizing for his lateness.
“Sorry Lily,” he began, “Rosmerta...”
“It’s fine.” Lily shrugged on her jacket, ignoring the jealousy that flared up inside her at the mention of Sirius’s pretty boss. “I hope you haven’t booked anywhere though, because if you have, we’re a bit screwed.”
Sirius raised an eyebrow.
“I told you we were doing something dangerous – does dinner sound dangerous to you?”
“I thought you were being melodramatic.”
Lily began to feel excited – she had been slightly worried at the idea of an evening alone with Sirius, but if they were doing something reckless and dare-devillish there would be no space for awkwardness. Dinner would have been an ordeal.
Sirius smiled at her, hearing the sincerity in her words. He led her out of the portrait hole, and down into the grounds. On a usual day there would have been plenty of people around to see them, but (being the holidays) there was no-one sitting by the lake or walking through the stone walk-way. It was getting dark.
“Do you mind waiting here for a minute?” Sirius asked, stopping. They stood beside the lake.
“No...” Lily began suspiciously, but Sirius was out of her sight before she could ask any questions. She crossed her arms across her chest and looked at the sky. It was the violet-blue colour of twilight, and clouds were gathering, blown together by the cold wind that swirled around Lily, chafing at her pale face until it glowed. She hoped Sirius wouldn’t be long. After a minute or two of silence, Lily heard a low growling sound in the distance. Was it Sirius’s surprise? Or some creature out of the forest, looking for something to eat? Lily took a couple of steps backwards, looking around for something she could defend herself with. Spotting a gnarled bit of branch that lay on the ground a few feet away, she snatched it up and wielded it like a weapon, grasping it in her shaking hands as the growling grew louder and louder. Suddenly, a burst of light flooded Lily’s surroundings, causing her to shield her eyes against the glare just as the growling reached it’s peak. As she uncovered her eyes she saw Sirius swing into view, astride a gigantic motorbike, his face stretched wide in a grin of pure excitement. Lily lowered her weapon.
“Scare me to death why don’t you!” she reprimanded, shaking her head. Sirius ignored her, instead focusing on the branch in her hand.
“What exactly were you planning to do with that?”
“Er, fight off the growing thing out the forest, that was coming to eat me?”
Sirius lifted an eyebrow.
“Isn’t that what your wand is for?”
Lily’s mouth fell open slightly in surprise. Well now she felt stupid.
“I thought whatever it was, might respond better to brute force.”
“So what do you think?” Sirius asked her. “Isn’t she gorgeous?”
“Yeah, beautiful.” Lily complimented. “And dangerous, as promised.”
“But where did you get it? Your parents wouldn’t buy you...”
Sirius laughed humourlessly.
“You got that right. My mother’d rather eat her own head. No, James and the others bought it for me – for my birthday.”
“I know. James is the best.”
The mention of James sobered them both for a moment, a flicker of guilt crossed Sirius’s face.
“James is loaded though.” Lily said.
“He still had to save.” Sirius assured her. “According to Remus, he and Peter chipped in, but James put most of the cash down – and this bike is a beast, even second hand it cost a packet, and then they had to do it up.”
“It was worth it though.”
“So worth it.”
Sirius revved the engine and twisted the bike up onto it’s back wheel, spinning in a circle before dropping back to earth. His grin was back with a vengeance.
“You ready then?” Sirius directed at Lily as he leaned over the handlebars, fire in his eyes. “Want a ride?”
Lily grinned back, a strange excitement filling her. She ran forward and swung herself up behind Sirius, not very gracefully.
“Hold on tight!” he laughed, and kick-started the bike.
“Whooo!” Lily cried out, exhilarated. The night air was cold and awakening as it rushed at her face and whipped her hair out behind her. She clung tight to Sirius’s waist as they sped across the grounds towards the castle entrance, realising only at the last minute that the gates were locked.
“Oh my GOD, Sirius!!” Lily yelled down his ear, “Slow down! We’re going to crash!”
Sirius threw his head back and laughed, sending Lily into a wild panic. He was crazy. He was going to kill them both.
“SIRIUS!” she bellowed. “STOP!!”
But he showed no signs of slowing and the cast iron gates were rushing towards them at a frightening speed. Lily prepared to hurl herself from the bike, to show some sense of self -preservation even if Sirius had none – or if she could just get her wand out in time...
Suddenly the bike jerked violently upwards, and Lily was forced to take the hand that had been reaching for her wand and throw it back around Sirius’s waist. She clung on for dear life as the bike rose into the air, smoothly, now that the ascent had begun. They were soaring up over the gates and out of the Hogwarts boundaries. The bike was now level, and the immediate fear of death gone. Sirius turned his head slightly as he shouted back to his passenger:
“Did I mention that it flies?”
Lily cursed him through shaking lips, yet she couldn’t help but laugh. They were flying over Hogsmeade now, the bike raised roughly fifty feet from the ground. Lily could see the lights from the houses below, and there were people – maybe two or three scurrying figures – leaving work or taking a night-time stroll.
“What if they see us?” Lily shouted to Sirius, while admiring what a pretty picture the village made from above.
“They’re wizards!” Sirius yelled back. “It’s okay!”
Lily suspected that there still may be problems, yet she chose to ignore her suspicions – she was enjoying herself immensely. They flew maybe once or twice around Hogsmeade, and then Lily suggested that they head out over the countryside. Sirius angled the bike towards the mountains and they soared over lakes and rivers, grassy hills and wide stretches of untouched land, grown wild and forgotten. Roads wound back and forward across this territory, but they saw no cars. The moon was out now, and Sirius and Lily were the only people for miles. Lily could have flown for hours, but their enjoyment was soon cut short by the inevitable. The clouds burst. What began as a light shower soon became a downpour, and so Sirius was forced to turn the bike around, and fly, half-blinded by the rain, back to Hogwarts. Soaked through, freezing and dishevelled, Sirius and Lily arrived back at Hogwarts around ten’o clock that night. Sirius flew the bike right up to the open window of Gryffindor tower, through which Lily clambered – her dripping hair plastered across her face, making it difficult for her to see where she was climbing.
“Run down and let me in once I’ve stashed this?” Sirius asked her. She nodded, wishing she could change into something dry first.
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