Chapter 1 : How I love you.
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When I was a student at Hogwarts I always liked to think of myself as the kind of girl who didn't easily fall for boys. You know, a strong woman who didn't need a man. The kind of girl who is above giggling and drooling at attractive guys in quidditch uniforms.
The truth is I always was a sucker for a pretty face. Especially during my years at Hogwarts. And, believe me, did Sirius Orion Black had a pretty face. In fact (I don't say this often, so its worth something) Sirius Black was fit.
Lucky for me, I've never been so far-gone in my love for pretty faces to believe that that is all that matters. A boy has to have brains. Which back then seemed to somehow exclude half the population of Hogwarts. Do we seriously let this many brainless witches and wizards graduate and be unleashed on the world at large each year?
Sadly, Sirius Black did have brains. Which pretty much meant I was a lost case.
I seriously (excuse the rubbish pun) had tried to deny any form of infatuation with Sirius Black. For one it was so terribly cliché when you heard the year seven girls giggle and say 'well of course every girl has to have a crush on Siri at some point.' I never was one to follow crowds. Which is why my brain seemed to take some kind of weird convoluted detour, and still ended up falling for Black's pretty face and pretty brain. I didn't notice half the things other girls noticed about Black. I didn't care for his arrogant swagger, for his height, for his quidditch prowess, for his flirty come-backs. I loved the line of his jaw (oh how I longed to trace it with my fingers), the arch of his eyebrows when he was amused or mocking, I loved his biting, witty sarcasm, and I loved his graceful arrogance when he answers questions flawlessly in class.
Oh I was such a goner.
I even tried to convince myself that I couldn't possibly like and admire someone from a mad pureblood-fanatic family such as the Black's. But I never could bring myself to judge someone for their family situation, and in all honesty, I admired him all the more for rising above it and attempting to carve his own road through the thousand-year-old walls of prejudice and hatred his family had bred. How could I not?
Having now explained how dreadfully (awfully) infatuated I was with Sirius Black, I can inform that it was many, many years before he ever learnt this fact. Because I never told anyone (except you, don't you feel special?).
I remember the first time I met Sirius Black. In fact it was his mother I met first of all. I fell into her. By accident of course. I don't remember how, or if she said anything. I just remember her face. She was a handsome woman, slightly awe-inspiring really, were it not for the grimace she drew her face into at having come into physical contact with a mudblood.
Her cupids bow mouth drawn into a sneer, her large doe eyes narrowed, dark, full of hatred, her dark hair drawn back in a French twist, making her cheekbones seem higher, sharper, her hand (I remember her hands well) long elegant piano fingers, a smooth small feminine palm, fingers studded with tasteful elegant rings (she had a thing for fine cut jade) raised as if to strike me.
I was terrified. And that was when the boy suddenly stood before me. A gentle portrait of his mother, the same dark eyes, an angels face, the dark curls, and long elegant piano fingers. Sirius Orion Black.
With a practised smoothness he directed his mothers attention to Celandine Malfoy (“look mother, Madam Malfoy's visit to Paris seems to have been profitable judging by her wardrobe...”) and already I had slipped away from Walburga Black's mind and memory. And I also from Sirius Black's. Just another little girl who got in the way of his mother's temper.
In hindsight I wonder whether he even looked at me, noticed my pale blue eyes filled with awe, noticed my wild blonde curls, noticed my face like a noticed his.
Despite being in the same year, our interactions were limited. He was in Gryffindor, I was in Hufflepuff. We had herbology, care of magical creatures and transfiguration together, and in seventh year, Newts potions and Newts Charms as well, but even then our interaction was limited to one term when we were forced to be partners on a project in herbology. All I can say is that despite his advanced knowledge of theory, Sirius Black with practical application of herbology is like watching stand-up comedy.
I didn't mean to, but that was when I committed his laughter to memory. In the years to come I would sometimes still hear his laughter in my dreams. Beautiful, loud, warm, barking laughter. And how the skin around his eyes crinkled when he laughed. Looking at pictures of him when he was older, those crinkles which had turned into wrinkles were one of the most beautiful parts of him.
Sirius only really discovered who I was when we had both graduated are were both in the order.
And the first thing he did was complain about the fact that he had been stationed to guard a family with me. The insult. In annoyance I shut him up with a silencing charm. Than spent the next twenty minutes torn between laughing at his outraged face and apologising profusely for having hexed him in my annoyance. Sirius Black seemed amused however, and there were no more complaints about his being stationed with me.
That was the night we were attacked by deatheaters, I killed for the first time, and the night I earned myself a scar across my face from a vicious slicing hex. It was also the first time Sirius looked at me with something close to awe. I looked at myself in a mirror later, and I looked a fright, but on the battlefield I must have looked terrifying. The cut traced from under my right eye down to my jaw, and in an act of shock and pain after having received it I had smeared the blood across my cheek and hand. My long blonde hair had mostly come out of the braid I had fashioned it in, and it too was stained dark with caked blood, my eyes were dilated wide, my robes tattered from stray slicing charms. Yet I held myself with my head high, gripping my wand firmly, my face determined.
That is until after the battle when I retched into the bushes and Sirius held back my hair for me, looking a little green himself. So romantic. Not.
It was after we had been on several order missions together that Sirius kissed me for the first time and I allowed myself the luxury of dragging my hands through his hair, and tracing my fingers along his jaw. Oh how I loved him then. His pretty face, all mine, his lips on mine, I thought I would implode with the joy.
Until we were attacked by deatheater again. That was the night Sirius earned a scar across his face from a slicing hex to match mine. Afterwards I healed every cut on his face with deliberate care, kissing every scar. He had the prettiest face in the world despite the scars. If anything, they only made him more beautiful, testifying to the spirit which I knew belonged to my Sirius.
Oh how we stole kisses. We would drag one another behind curtains, bushes, trees, pillars, doors, to steal sweet, sweet kisses, tracing one another’s features with our fingers. If I had skill enough with clay I could reform every dip, curve, wrinkle, scar and angle of his pretty face from memory.
Harry Potter was born, and Sirius Black exuded joy whenever his name was said. How he adored that little boy, and watching them together I dared to believe for the first time that one day Sirius would be the father of my children, and together we would give them a world of peace and beauty. And, I daydreamed, they would all have his pretty face, and maybe my blonde hair, and they would all be amazingly clever. I just knew it.
Those dreams were dashed one Halloween. How I wished I had traced his jaw with my fingers one last time before he left. How I wished I could remember what he mumbled in reply when I mumbled for him not to go when he rose and left me in bed still groggy and half-asleep. How I wished I had known what he was thinking that morning. But all of a sudden I was on my own, and the aurors were banging our door down, and I was weeping. Screaming. Where was Sirius? Where was he? Where was Sirius? I didn't know where Sirius was, I didn't know what he was doing, Where was Sirius?
The trails passed in blurs of tears for me. I felt like I was drowning. I had lost Sirius. Sirius had lost his freedom. I had lost my world. Sirius had lost me. I lost the baby. Our baby. All was lost. The baby we hadn't yet known existed. Oh how Walburga Black would have turned in her grave to know I had tainted to pure blood of the Black family line.
I often wondered whether things would have been different if Sirius had known I was pregnant. But in hindsight, reliving it again and again, turning it from side to side, on its head, inside-out I don't know how it could have in any way been different. Sirius was guilty. I closely escaped becoming a suspect, saved by my mudblood status.
I was denied visiting rights. Or rather, Sirius was, and I was the only one who ever attempted to visit him. So started my monthly pilgrimage to Azkaban to attempt to see Sirius. How I failed to believe my Sirius could have done what he did. How I longed to hear his confession from his own mouth. Perhaps than, I believed, I could hate him, hate his face. Instead I lived in terror of the love I still had for a man who was a murderer, a traitor. And still I continued my pilgrimage. Twelve years of twelve months pilgrimages to Azkaban. Even the dementors seemed to welcome me with recognition in those days. One-hundred-fourty-four visits to Azkaban.
Until they said there was no murdering traitor for me to appeal to visit. Black had escaped.
In the months after, how I tried to pretend that all was normal. That I did not have a lover on the run somewhere in England. And how I failed. Skittish, exhausted from lack of sleep, frightened of dark, shadows and corners, if Black were ever to return to me then, what a wreck he would have found. As it was it was several months before I say him again.
It was at an order meeting. Like the first time when he had actually noticed me. He was complaining. Again. Complaining of being cooped up like this. He didn't notice me until Dumbledore called for everyone to introduce themselves. Suddenly so terribly unsure of myself, so frightened of what Sirius would see in me I stood up, hoping no one could see the fear in my eyes.
“I'm Juniper Bright.” I said softly before taking my seat again.
I could feel Sirius' stare and couldn't meet his eyes.
It was afterwards that Sirius cornered me.
“I'm sorry.” He said softly.
What he was sorry for I didn't know, but it gave me the courage to meet his eyes. His face was as pretty as ever, but haunted, drawn, sharper, like his mothers had been.
That was when I couldn't possibly keep it from him any more. With shaking fingers (I couldn't decide whether or not to be ashamed of the shaking) I reached out and traced his jaw. His beautiful face.
There were a hundred things I could say. All things so important for him to know. Tell him I had believed in him all along. Tell him that I had tried to visit him in prison. Tell him about the baby. But instead I told him something that was very, terribly, far overdue.
“I've loved you so dearly ever since I was eleven years old.” I confessed in a low whisper.
He kissed me, stole it from my lips, and it was as sweet and beautiful as it had been thirteen years ago.
I must admit I always was a sucker for a pretty face. And somehow Sirius Black's face had become a map of all the little things I love so dearly about him.