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Like a House on Fire by 800 words of heaven
Chapter 5 : Rain, Rumours and Plans
 
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Millie's POV:

It wasn’t better in the morning. Well, at least not for Sarah anyways. If Remus didn’t notice Sarah’s obvious affections for him soon, I was scared that she was going to do something drastic. Not jump off the Astronomy Tower drastic or anything, but maybe cut off all her hair drastic (to quote the woman herself “like a stylish bob or something”). So as you can guess, breakfast was not the most pleasant experience. First of all, Sarah was looking longingly over at Remus and sighing audibly (and to be honest, annoyingly). Then, Lily had once again started to pay attention to what I ate, especially at breakfast. “You realise that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, don’t you Millie?” Yes, I did. “You should be having more than just a cup of tea,” Lily said sagely.

“I am. This is my second cup of tea,” I replied. I know, I know, not much of a breakfast. I’d probably get something later. “And if you let me drink it in peace, I’ll probably have enough time to drink my third cup of tea as well.”

“That’s just not good enough, Millie. You know –” but I never got to find out what I knew, because at that precise moment, it began to rain.

 

Yes, yes, I know. The enchanted roof reflects the sky outside but it doesn’t actually ever rain. Well, yes, it rains, but the water never reaches the ground. Or the tables, in this case. But for some strange reason, it was raining. People were getting wet, homework was being destroyed, and shirts were going see-through… including mine. And yeah, everyone was going nuts. Completely and utterly nuts, like Lord Voldemort had walked into the Great Hall nuts; it took Dumbledore three very loud cracks, which sounded suspiciously like gun shots, to get everyone paying attention to him. “Prefects, get your Houses back to your Common Rooms,” he intoned. What were we, five year olds that we still needed to be guided by our stupid Prefects to our Common Rooms every time a calamity happened? “And yes, if whoever’s responsible for this isn’t up in my office by the end of first period, the first Quidditch match of the season will be cancelled,” he added, almost as if it was an afterthought, which it clearly wasn’t. Understandably the student body gave a collective groan. It was so nice to see that in times of strife, us fellow Hogwarts students could band together and sulk at the unfairness of it all.

 

“You know who did this right?” Lily said. She was practically livid, like rain in the Great Hall was some kind of personal affront to her.

“Um, duh. Who else has the magical skill and the sheer guts to pull off something like that?” I said. Lily, Sarah and I were up in our dormitory, seeing as first period was cancelled so that everyone could dry off, fix up any ruined homework, and most importantly, the teachers could figure out how to make it stop raining.

“Are you saying that you’re impressed by what they did?”

“Millie’s right. It was pretty amazing. And come on, it was pretty funny – if you didn’t get wet,” said Sarah. It seemed that the rain had washed away her earlier lovelorn mood.

“And think about it positively. We get to miss out on a whole lecture from Professor Binns! I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth!” I added.

“But the first Quidditch match of the season could be cancelled!” cried Lily. “I thought you at least cared about that.”

“I highly doubt that the Marauders won’t own up to this. God forbid someone else takes the credit for their absolutely brilliant prank,” I said, rolling my eyes.

“But I don’t think you fully understand. Dumbledore seemed pretty mad. What if he cancels the Quidditch season, or says that Gryffindor has to forfeit all their matches?” Lily pretended that she hated Quidditch, but it was so obvious that she was a closet Quidditch fan.

“Would he do that?” asked Sarah worriedly. Unlike Lily, she was a hardcore Quidditch supporter and wasn’t afraid to show it. I think she knew more about Quidditch rules and regulations than I did and I was on the team!

“Nah,” I said breezily, but still feeling slightly worried. “Dumbledore loves his Quidditch, but he loves Gryffindor even more. There is no way he’s going to make us forfeit matches.” Dumbledore might not, but some of the other teachers might rally against him, and unless he wants a mutiny on his hands, he just might have to agree to their demands. Merlin, who knew a little bit of harmless rain, could cause so much trouble?

 

“Might I just say, White that you looked absolutely lovely this morning,” said Black. Thank Merlin that today I only had a single of Potions, otherwise I might have just poisoned myself with one of the many dangerous things that I had at my disposal as an advance Potions student.

“I thought I told you that I didn’t want to talk to you,” I said through gritted teeth. Obviously the Marauders had owned up, but I didn’t like the sound of the rumours too much. Detentions for the next six weeks didn’t even begin to describe the trouble they were in.

“You said nothing about me talking to you,” he smirked. Merlin, what a smart aleck!

“More like talking at me,” I muttered, but he must have heard, because his smirk got even, well, smirkier, if that was possible.

“But I must say, the wet look really suits you. You should do it more often.”

“It doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that my shirt was see-through does it?”

“You can’ blame a guy for looking now can you?”

“Yes, I can.”

“Yeah I guess you can. But I never had you down as a lacy bra kind of girl,” he mused. Just my luck, the one day I forget to wear a singlet it rains in the Great Hall. And Sirius Black seems to have been paying attention.

“You are such a dog Black.”

“You have no idea.” What the hell was that supposed to mean?

 

~*~

 Sirius' POV

Yeah, so we got into a little bit of trouble for what we did. Okay, we got into a lot of trouble, but you could tell that if Dumbledore hadn’t gotten wet, he would have thought it was pretty funny too. And you have to admit, it was an amazing piece of magic, so simple, so elegant, so… perfect. I could not have been happier with the results; it made all the trouble we got into more than worth it, and seeing White drenched was the icing on the cake. Hey, boys will be boys, right?

 

~*~

Millie's POV


I was amazed that Black had managed to stay alive for so long. And why was he so damn annoying? He was like a thorn in my side, a blemish on my (almost) perfect life (I was alive, right?). And why was he still haunting my thoughts so long after our little chat in Potions this morning? It was almost as if I didn’t have other things to think about. It was so annoying – Black was like a fly, always buzzing around your head not giving you a moment of peace, except I wasn’t so lucky – this fly was buzzing around inside my head…

 

I needed to cool off, get away from it all for a while. That was slightly difficult to do when you went to a boarding school. There was nowhere to go, especially in times like these. Curfew used to be tight, but this year, it had jumped to a whole new level, like they would find Voldemort roaming the corridors of Hogwarts at night. But I was undeterred. Lily and James were on patrol tonight, so I knew that I wouldn’t get in trouble if I was caught, unless it was by some teacher, but even then, I had a lot of faith in my image as the shy Gryffindor girl who was getting above average marks in all her classes. So I headed for the only place in the whole school where everything magically became better: the kitchens.

 

So there I was, eating a tub of chocolate ice cream, provided by the ever helpful house elves and wondering why Black was still bugging me and why I was even caring so much that he was bugging me so much! I mean, if I wanted to stop thinking about him, I should just stop thinking about him, right? But it wasn’t working. At least the ice cream tasted good. And that was when the devil himself walked in the door.

 

Okay, it might be a little mean to call Black the devil, but I really wasn’t happy to see him there. This was supposed to be my time alone, where I was all by myself. Not all by myself with Black! I already had to endure enough of that in Potions and that wasn’t like we were really alone. I really hoped that he was only here for a short stay and that he would go away soon. But as it turned out, today was not shaping up to be my day.

 

Black looked around and his sharp eyes spotted me. Dammit. He seemed a little surprised to see me here, but he still casually strolled over and sat down opposite me at the table. I pretended not to notice him – ignorance was the key. “Hey,” he said casually. “I wasn’t expecting anyone to be here.” Nor was I, surprise, surprise. When I didn’t say anything he kept on staring at me like he was going to will the answer out of me or something. I could feel his eyes boring in, almost as if they were searching, searching… for something. I saw a house elf waddle up to our table and place a tub of ice cream (choc mint, I noted with some approval) and a spoon in front of him. “Thanks,” he muttered; the house elf just bowed silently and waddled back to whatever he was doing before. We both then sat there for a while, completely engrossed in the task at hand. You’d be amazed at how much concentration it takes to eat a whole tub of ice cream. You’ve got to pace yourself, so that you don’t get too full too fast, or that you don’t get a brain freeze, but you can’t eat it too slow, otherwise you might just have to drink it with a straw. It was a delicate task, consuming a tub of ice cream. After a while, the silence got a little bit too overwhelming, even for me, and that’s saying something. “So, what’s your problem?” I asked as casually as I could.

“I beg your pardon?” Black asked, as if he’d been snapped out of deep thought, but that can’t be possible; a Marauder, actually thinking? (Except maybe Remus).

I raised an eyebrow. “Gosh, it must be serious,” I said gravely.

“Why do you say that?” he asked, looking adorably confused. Wait, I did not just think that Black was adorable in any way shape or form!

“You were polite.”

He grinned at me, and it wasn’t one of his, ‘I wanna get into your pants’ grins, or ‘I have the upper hand and I know it grins’ or even an ‘I’m an arrogant bastard, deal with it’ grins. It was just an ordinary, run-of-the-mill kind of grin that normal people often give. Except that with Sirius Black, hardly anything is ever ordinary. “You’re here eating ice cream as well, what’s your problem?” Classic question evasion: throw it back on whoever asked.

“I was recently orphaned,” I deadpanned, “What’s your excuse?”

“Nothing as serious as yours by far.”

“I guessed as much.” If his family had died, I’m sure I would have heard it. “So, what’s up?” Why was I asking him? Why?

“Oh, you know, the usual pressure of… stuff.” Evasive, very evasive.

“If that was the case, every single student would be down in the kitchens.” The kitchens would become a counsellor’s heaven. So many kids with problems!

“Only if every single student knew the location of the kitchens, that is.”

“True,” I conceded. “So I take it you’re not going to tell me?” Which I completely understood. I mean, he hardly knew me. And it wasn’t as if I actually cared, I was just asking to be polite. Several more minutes were passed in silence, then suddenly, Black said, “I was dumped.”

 

After the initial surprise, I couldn’t help but laugh. I know I shouldn’t have, but it was just too ludicrous. “What’s so funny?” Black asked, a frown distorting his handsome face. And no, I meant absolutely nothing by saying that his face was handsome.

“I think it’s very funny that Sirius Black is hiding in the kitchens eating ice cream because of girl troubles,” I said, after I had managed to get my laughter back under control.

“Yeah, well. I can’t say that this isn’t new for me,” he huffed.

“What? Never been dumped?”

“As a matter of fact, I have.”

“So are you usually so heartbroken after being dumped, or was this girl special?”

“Oh, what would you know?”

“Black, are you telling me that you’re in love with the girl who just dumped you?”

“No! I never said that! It’s just…”

“That you can’t live without her? Feel utterly incomplete? Like you’ve lost your other half?”

“No! It’s just that for the life of me, I can’t figure out what went wrong.”

“So usually, when you’re dumped, you’ve done something wrong?”

He gave me a hurt look. “Do you think that every relationship that’s ended for me has been my fault?”

“Uh, yeah.”

“Harsh, White. Real harsh.”

“You’ll get over it. Eat your ice cream and you’ll feel better.” He glowered at me, but began to eat his ice cream again. We ate on for a while longer until I couldn’t resist asking, “So who was she?”

“Who was who?” It seemed that every time I talked to him, he seemed to be lost somewhere.

“Who’s the girl who has your heart all a-flutter?”

“My heart isn’t a-flutter! And if you must know, her name’s Marissa.”

“What? The blonde Hufflepuff girl?”

“Yeah, you know her?”

“Um…” Yes, I knew her. And I had a sinking feeling why she broke up with Black too. “It’s more like, I know of her, really.”

He narrowed his eyes at me. “You know something, don’t you?”

“I know a lot of things Black.” I hoped it came out as nonchalantly as I imagined.

“You know why she broke up with me, don’t you?” Woah! Along with being exceptionally good-looking and vastly arrogant, could Black read minds too?

“Um… no?” That sounded like a lie, even to me.

“Yes you do.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Yes you do.”

“No, really, I don’t!” I shifted uncomfortably in my chair and went back to my almost empty tub of ice cream.

“Come on, you can tell me.” Um, no, I can’t. “You think I won’t be able to handle it?”

“No, that’s not it at all!” Yes, actually, it is. Why? Because you’re in here eating ice cream like a girl who’s just found out that her major crush wanted to marry his boyfriend of two years, but couldn’t because of the anti-gay marriage laws – and it wasn’t the anti-gay marriage laws making her eat the ice cream.

“Then why aren’t you telling me?”

“Because I don’t think I can!”

He looked confused. “What do you mean?”

“I overheard Marissa talking with one of her friends,” I mumbled, and judging by the content of that conversation, I was one hundred percent sure that the words exchanged were not meant for my ears, but it really wasn’t my fault if they didn’t notice me. They should pay more attention to their surroundings.

“So? It’s not as if she made you swear a vow of silence!” he paused for a moment, then asked, “Did she?”

“No.”

“Then why can’t you tell me?”

“Because I feel kind of guilty for overhearing their conversation and it doesn’t seem right to go blabbing it to the world!”

“You’re not blabbing to the world, just me!”

“That does not make me feel better, Black!”

“Take another spoon of your ice cream, it really helps.” I did as he suggested, then took a deep breath.

“Fine, I’ll tell you. I guess you have a right to know. You’ll probably know soon enough anyways,” I muttered. Sirius leaned back in his chair and waited silently. “Marissa was using you.”


~*~

Sirius' POV


I was being used? What the hell was that about? I was a user, not a usee! I felt my anger rising, but I didn’t let it show. Not until I knew more. “What do you mean?” I asked.

White looked even more uncomfortable than before. “Well, um… when I heard Marissa talking, she said, she said…”

“She said?” Why didn’t she just spit it out already?

“She said that she went out with you because she thinks you used one of her friends just so you could sleep with her and then when you were done you threw her away like a used tissue!” she let out so fast that I almost missed it. “Wow, that was a lot easier than I thought it would be,” she muttered. I don’t think she realised that she’d said that out loud.

“She called her friend a used tissue?” I said calmly.

White looked very confused. “You don’t mind people using you like that?”

I shrugged. “It doesn’t bother me when they’re plans aren’t going to work the way they had hoped.” White just looked even more confused at that. “No one knew we were going out.” If you could even call it that.

White began to look uncomfortable again and a tiny doubt sprang into my mind. “But that’s not all she said, is it?” I asked.

“Um, no…”

“Well out with it then.”

“She said that she was going to spread around that you two, had in fact, been going out.”

“But no one’s going to believe her!”

White shook her head. “You don’t understand. She’ll say that you two were trying to keep your relationship secret, that you two didn’t want everyone to know, that you guys had something special, that you loved her and wanted to marry her and father her children!”

“What?” I cried.

“Well, okay the marry her and father her children part seems unbelievable, so she probably won’t say that, but what she will say is that you loved her deeply, but that she dumped you anyways to expose you for the dirty, lying, cheating, piece of scum you are.” I looked at White in shocked silence. I wasn’t sure if the last part were Marissa’s words or White’s. “Her words, not mine,” clarified White. Now I wasn’t sure why I was so relieved that White didn’t think that I was a dirty, lying, cheating piece of scum.

“She said that too?” White nodded solemnly. I took a moment to think about what I had just heard. White was looking at me strangely, almost as if she couldn’t quite believe that I was taking this so well. “We can’t have the whole school thinking that I’m a dirty, lying, cheating, piece of scum, now can we?”

“Why not?” asked White.

“Because I’m not!” She gave me a look as if to say that she didn’t believe me. “What?” I asked. “You think that I’m a dirty, lying, cheating, piece of scum too?”

“Well… the evidence isn’t in you favour, Black.”

“How could you think so low of me?” I asked feigning hurt.

She rolled her eyes. “Oh come off it, Black. Even you must know the rumours that fly around about you! One minute with this girl, another minute, you’ve moved onto another one! It doesn’t paint a pretty picture!”

“They’re lies.”

“They can’t all be lies!”

“Well, they are!” We lapsed into silence, glowering at each other across the table, our ice creams left forgotten between us. But this was too ridiculous for words. Why did I care what White thought of me? Because you have a crush on her, said a voice in my head. That stupid voice was going to get it some day, but I had more pressing matters to handle first. I took a deep breath to calm myself and said, “Look, it doesn’t really matter right now, but what does matter is what Marissa’s going to do. We have to stop her.”

She gave me a startled look. “We?”

“Yes, we.”

“Why do I have to stop her? She’s your ex-girlfriend, you deal with it.”

“You have to help me because there are two kinds of evil people in the world: people who do evil and people who see evil happening but do nothing about it.”

“I haven’t seen any evil happen! I just overheard a conversation!”

“It’s the same thing.”

“You don’t even know if she’s going to do as she says!”

“White, you forget, for however short a period of time I was with Marissa, I did learn one thing. She’ll do exactly as you overheard her saying she would. Those Hufflepuffs can be very determined.”

“Even if she does do as she plans to, there’s no way of stopping her!”

“Maybe not stopping her, but definitely thwarting her plans.”

White eyed me apprehensively. “What did you have in mind?”

 

~*~

Millie's POV


Why oh why did I have to talk to the stupid git? Why couldn’t I just keep my mouth shut and eat my ice cream? Why? “No way, Black!” I said.

“Why? Don’t think it’ll work?” he asked.

“No, I don’t! And even if it does, I don’t want any part of it!”

“Come on White, it’s not as if you’ll have to be my girlfriend for real, you’ll just have to pretend!”

“I’m not doing it!”

“It’s the only way! If Marissa comes out saying that I was madly in love with her and that I’m suffering from a broken heart, no one will believe her when they see that she was quite wrong, because in actuality, I’m in a relationship with someone else!”

“But I don’t want to be your rebound!”

“You’re not my rebound! I don’t love Marissa! Will you get that into your head?”

“Then why do you care so much about what she says about you?”

“Because I have a reputation to protect! I can’t have people thinking that I’m some lovesick puppy moping around for a girl who’s too good for me! And also, more importantly, I don’t like being used.”

“You should have thought of that before you used her friend!”

“I didn’t use her friend! Merlin, White, do you believe everything that you hear?”

“No!” Just most of the things said about you.

“Then why won’t you do it?”

“Because I really don’t think it’ll work! I’m not an actress! I can’t pretend that I actually want to go out with you! People will see right through me!”

He frowned again. “Why is it so unbelievable that you’d want to go out with me?”

“You’re, um… not my type.” Merlin, wasn’t that lame?

“Not your type? And what exactly is your type?”

“Um… not you. Listen,” I said hurriedly changing the subject. “If you really think that your hare-brained scheme is going to work, well that’s your problem, but I don’t want anything to do with it!”

“Give me one good reason why it won’t work with you.”

“Because, because, I already have a boyfriend!”

Black regarded me for a moment then said, “Well that was the most blatant lie I’ve ever heard!”

“See? I’m a terrible liar!”

“Lucky for you, I’m not such a bad one. And it has to be you.”

“Why?”

“Because you’re the only one who knows the truth.”

“Tell one of your stupid fan girls to do it! They’ll love to! And I won’t tell anyone about your dirty little secret either!”

“What is it with everyone and the fan girls? I do not have fan girls!” Weird outburst there, Black. “But,” he continued, slightly more normally, “How can I trust someone else to keep this secret? I know that you can. It has to be you!” Was that a subtle attempt at flattery to get me to agree? I’m not sure.

“I’m sorry, Black,” I said as I got up from the table (my ice cream was finished anyways) “But I really can’t help you.” And then I walked out the door, leaving Black behind.





AN: Who loves plot progressions? I DO! Things are beginning to happen people! Get excited! And leave a review! And let me know what you think! By leaving a review! Did I mention that I would love it if you left  a review? YAY!


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