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Sirius walked into the Hospital Wing, Peter snickering behind him. They had had an unfortunate run-in with a couple of Slytherins and Peter was still filled with adrenaline from the fight. But Sirius paid him no mind. His mind was on other things. Well, just one thing really. And it had a name.
Sirius’ relationship with Marlie was . . . complicated.
They were shag buddies, had been since last year. And though that doesn’t sound complicated at all, Marlie drove him up the wall and she made him feel like a heartless dog. She fancied Sirius and wanted to be more than what they were but Sirius wasn’t the relationship type of bloke. Every time he rejected her, she grew angry. She yelled, she cried, she cursed him. Then she swore that he’d never have her again. And they wouldn’t speak for weeks, wouldn’t even look at each other, until finally she couldn’t stand it anymore and would practically drag him to her bed. And then it would start all over again.
This was one of those times.
But Sirius couldn’t deny that nobody made him feel quite the way Marlie did.
It wasn’t love, he knew that for sure. He wasn’t even certain he was capable of loving someone so unconditionally like she desperately wanted him to. Not like his friends. But that was a different kind of love.
No. What he had with Marlie wasn’t about love. Whatever it may be to her, to him it was about the excitement, the thrill. When it came to the bed, nobody compared to Marlie. She was exciting and unpredictable and utterly and completely wrong for him. He couldn’t deny how wrong his relationship with Marlie was. He cared for her, yes, but he didn’t love her.
As he entered the Hospital Wing, a small crowd of people surrounded the bed Mary lay in. She hadn’t been hurt while under the Imperius Curse, but Healer Horodowich insisted she stay overnight because of the shock she was bound to have. Sitting there on the small cot, laughing, Mary didn’t seem so shocked.
He spotted Marlie in the small crowd of people almost as quickly as he spotted Lily Evans or James. He had never seen anybody look so good in bright red lipstick. It went great with her blonde hair and bright blue eyes. As his eyes scanned the crowd, he was unsurprised to find Remus, James, Lily, and Turpin there along with Marlie. He was, however, surprised to find Layla amongst the others in the crowd. She was holding a small basket, pulling out large plates of food from the basket and handing them out to everyone.
“Thanks, Layla,” Mary was saying, “this definitely beats the food Horodowich was trying to force feed me earlier.”
Layla smiled at her in response.
Sirius looked at Marlie. She glanced at him briefly before scowling down at her food, her red lips pursed and her jaw tight. He rolled his eyes.
Peter happily joined the group, and Layla handed him a plate of food. He beamed at her, and she smiled back.
Sirius sauntered over behind Layla. “We’ve a detention to attend soon, darling,” he said in her ear.
She jumped. “Merlin, Black, you startled me,” she scolded. “I didn’t know you were here. Hungry?” She offered him a plate of food, and he accepted it with a gracious thank-you.
He sat down between James and Remus with a “Wotcher, mates” and began eating.
“Where’d you manage to get such wonderful food?” Mary asked Layla.
“Kitchens,” she replied with a small shrug.
“You know where the kitchens are?” Remus asked her, looking a little impressed.
“’Course she does,” Anna said with a shrug. “Who doesn’t?”
Sirius couldn’t help the smirking once he noticed Marlie glaring at Layla.
Layla noticed, and she raised an eyebrow before turning to Anna with a questioning look. Anna glanced at Marlie quickly, then turned to Sirius with a subtle glare.
He was no less than amused at the silent scenario that was playing out in front of him. He did so enjoy a good cat-fight.
“How are you feeling, Mary?” Lily asked, breaking the silence that had filled the room.
“I’m all right,” Mary said, shrugging. “I don’t even know why Healer Horodowich’s so set on keeping me here. There’s nothing wrong with me.”
“Maybe they don’t want you to feel as though you're in any more danger,” Lily suggested.
Anna frowned. “Why would she feel as if she were in any danger? She’s dating a Marauder.”
Funny how such a simple word as Marauder had so much meaning attached to it when one referred to James, Sirius, Remus, or Peter.
Mary smiled in Remus’ direction, and he grinned back at her.
“That’s right,” James said, puffing out his chest. “We’ll take care of that slimy git. Marauder’s honor.” He banged his chest for effect.
Lily rolled her eyes.
“Layla, what time do you have detention?” Anna asked.
Layla’s smile faded. “Eight,” she answered, looking a bit ashamed.
“Reckon you’d better get going then, should’t you?” Marlene told her dryly, earning a dirty look from Anna.
Sirius was suddenly at Layla’s side, his arm slung over her shoulder.
“Reckon Mickey’s right,” he said, “best get going before we show up late, yes?”
“Excellent. Coming Prongs?”
“Sure,” James replied easily, though it was obvious he’d rather stay and continue enjoying the company of Lily.
Layla followed the other two out of the Hospital Wing, shooting a snickering Anna a look of dread and panic.
As Sirius and James walked along the corridors, talking happily and joking around, Layla walked slowly behind them. Anxiety filled her body. The muscles in her stomach tightening painfully, the beginnings of a headache thrummed against her skull, and her hands were trembling and sweaty. She was chewing at her fingernails again.
“What d’you thi-whoa, are you okay, Lockwood?” James asked, looking a little worried. Sirius turned and looked at Layla. She must’ve looked awful because he furrowed his eyebrows at her.
“Fine.” Layla’s cheeks reddened at her embarrassingly squeaky response to the question.
“Are you sure?” Sirius asked. “You look like you’re going to be sick.”
Layla nodded. Her hopes of them not finding out she was nervous about detention were shattered when James started laughing.
“Turpin was saying that this is your first detention. You’re not having a panic attack about a silly little detention, are you?”
“No!” But her flaming cheeks gave her away.
Sirius grinned. “This is your first detention? Well, Miss Lockwood, I am honored to be accompanying you to such an important event in your life.”
“It’s not a good thing!” Layla snapped at him.
“Relax, it’s not a big deal,” James said, slinging an arm over her shoulder. He was grinning at her.
“Not a big deal?” She looked at him incredulously.
“Isn’t it so cute how nervous she is about a detention, Padfoot?”
Sirius shrugged. “Guess so.”
“It’s not funny, Potter,” Layla replied, angrily shrugging his arm off her shoulder.
They had arrived at the Trophy Room. Layla wrung her hands together nervously. “Right,” she said, straightening her shirt and tie. And then, burying her face in her hands, “Oh, Merlin, why am I worrying about my appearance at a time like this!”
“So cute,” James repeated, grinning at Layla like a fool.
Honestly, despite her sheer panic, Layla had to appreciate just how handsome James Potter was. How Lily Evans could constantly turn him down, Layla had no idea.
“Right,” Sirius said, opening the door. “S’later, Prongs.”
As Layla followed Sirius into the Trophy Room, she realized he was so much more handsome than James. It was rather disconcerting, really. Or rather, it would have been had she not been so worried about detention.
Oh, and Adam.
One mustn’t forget about Adam.
Layla felt terrible for being more concerned about her upcoming detention than her boyfriend who hadn’t even spoken to her all day.
Filch was waiting for them inside, arms crossed, glaring daggers at Sirius. Sirius grinned at him and greeted him in a warm, slightly patronizing way that one would greet an old friend. Filch nearly spat at him.
After realizing that all they had to do was clean the trophies without any magic, Layla had more than happily received the dirty rags from the caretaker. She was so ecstatic to find she wasn’t going to be tortured, as Filch so often threatened the students of Hogwarts, that she had to honestly fight the urge to begin humming merrily.
“How can you be so happy about having to clean all this without magic?” he asked, completely incredulous. “It’s going to take hours.”
“Better than being hung by my ankles,” she replied happily.
He raised an eyebrow. “You didn’t honestly think that was going to happen, did you?”
She merely shrugged in response, feeling a bit guilty. She was now acutely aware and feeling ashamed that she had done nothing to alleviate the problems that had arisen between her and Adam last night.
Sirius shook his head. “I can’t believe it’s already sixth year and this is barely your first detention.”
“Father disapproves of me getting into trouble,” she said nonchalantly.
“I don’t see why you have to listen to him all the time,” Sirius said rather bitterly after some time. “It just seems pointless to always want to please him if it leaves you unhappy.”
She didn't respond, and they finished the rest of their detention in a heavy, awkward silence.
As soon as Filch returned, examined the trophies, approved their work, and allowed them to leave, Sirius darted out of the room. Layla followed slowly behind and was surprised to see Adam leaning casually against the wall near the trophy room, glaring at Sirius as he darted by.
“Adam,” Layla remarked, surprise obvious in her tone. “How did you know I was here?”
“Anna,” came his easy reply. He pushed himself off the wall and started walking slowly alongside her.
“What did you need?” she asked politely. She was suddenly unsure of what to do with her hands, and she wrung them together. Realizing that wasn’t the proper thing to do, she dropped them to her sides, feeling rather awkward.
“I was hoping to talk to you,” he told her, clasping one of her hands in his. She instantly relaxed.
Layla nodded in understanding. “I’ve been meaning to talk to you, too. But I was just so worried about this blasted detention that it wasn’t exactly my top priority.” She bit her lip in embarrassment.
“Yeah, Potter was telling Anna how nervous you were. He thought it was bloody hilarious, that twat.” Layla gave a nervous chuckle. “Anyway, I just wanted to apologize for how I reacted last night. There was no need for me to be so upset about it. I mean, you were just helping the bloke with his homework. And in the middle of Gryffindor common room. It’s not like he took you off to some secluded corner in the library or something.”
“I wanted to say sorry, too,” Layla told him. “I shouldn’t have continued on with it when I saw how upset you were, however unjust it may have been,” she added hastily. “Besides, I’ve learned my lesson about tutoring Sirius Black. All it does is land you in detention.” She grumbled the last part.
Adam laughed, squeezing her hand. “I’ve been meaning to ask about that. How did you two end up in detention, anyway?”
“He was walking me back to Ravenclaw Tower, and we got caught after hours.”
“Sirius Black, Marauder extraordinaire, got caught wandering the castle after dark?” Adam raised an eyebrow. “What were you two doing that you got caught?”
“It was entirely my fault. I tripped over a suit of armor and made quite a lot of noise in the process,” Layla admitted, smiling sheepishly at Adam.
He let out a laugh, and Layla couldn’t help the grin that spread across her face. Adam had a nice laugh. And he made her happy, superbly happy. Or so she thought.
After he finished laughing, he tucked a hand under her chin and pulled her face up to his, kissing her gently. “I love you, Layla Lockwood,” he whispered against her lips.
“I love you, too,” she replied instantly. She was so sure of her feelings toward him. She felt in her chest and the pit of her stomach as he kissed her, the warmth of it spread over her like a thick blanket on a cold winter night. She was just so sure.
But she was wrong.
“Sirius, can I talk to you?” Marlie asked as soon as he entered the common room. It seemed as though she had been waiting up for him.
Before he could respond, she pulled his lips down to hers. He reciprocated immediately.
“I forgive you,” she whispered against his lips once she had regained her breath.
He made to kiss her again, but she placed a slim finger on his lips, preventing him from doing so.
“What?” he demanded immediately.
“I just have one condition.”
“It’s not even a big one,” she added quickly. “It’s just something small, really. Hardly anything to make a big deal about.”
“So why’s it a condition then?” he asked suspiciously, his eyes narrowed.
“It’s simply for the sake of my sanity,” she assured.
What sanity? Sirius wanted to ask, but he bit his tongue. “Let’s hear it then,” he said.
“I want you to stop talking to Layla Lockwood.”
“She’s my Potions partner, dolt, how do you expect me to do that?” he said, rolling his eyes.
“Well don’t talk to her outside of potions, then,” Marlie snapped.
“I’ve told you before, Mickey, you can’t tell me who I can and can’t talk to. You’re not my girlfriend.”
“Because you won’t let me be!” Marlie growled. She grabbed Sirius' arm just as he was about to walk away. “Why won’t you let me?” she pleaded.
Sirius exhaled slowly, trying to control his anger. He’d told her this nearly a million times, if not more. “I don’t want a relationship from you, McKinnon. I want a shag, and that’s all.”
And with that, Sirius wrenched his arm from her hold and walked away.
“I don’t see why you’re so horrid to her,” Lily said as he passed by her. “Merlin only knows why but Marlene loves you.”
Her comment fell on deaf ears.
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