It's well past midnight, the cold November wind has me shivering, and Sirius Black is glaring up at me from his seating place, which happens to be an enormous magically-grown pumpkin.
“Hagrid's pumpkin patch? Really?” I say coldly. “You disappoint me, Black. When Potter told me that you wanted to meet, I expected nothing less than the Forbidden Forrest.”
“You can see it just fine from here. Now sit down.”
That's not as easy as it sounds.
First of all, it's a command and all comands are good for is getting me to disobey just to prove that nobody can order me around. Secondly, by “sit down” Sirius Black basically means “make yourself comfortable on the pumpkins that were not good enough to make it into the last Halloween feast”.
Maybe he can manage to keep his charm and dignity while sitting on a pumpkin, but in my book that is definitely not the way to go when one wants to appear intimidating. And that's exactly what I'm aiming for.
Then again, my other option is sitting on the ground and, apart from being in no mood to get my robes all dirty and possibly muddy, I have also no intention of giving Sirius Black the oppurtunity to be able to look down on me.
So the pumpkin it is.
“Well, what did you want?” I ask harshly, while shifting uncomfortably on my vegetable of a seat.
I would never admit it to him but the truth is, I am nervous. I have learned the hard way that I cannot trust myself around Sirius Black and every moment that I am in his presence only reminds me of the stupid things that I did when the two of us were last alone.
Black seems to remember it, too. He's smiling at me in a knowing way, yet the smile doesn't reach his eyes.
The ends of his long hair do though, as I note absently.
“You know what, Avery?” he says coldly. “I liked you better when you weren't wearing that mask.”
There's no need to ask him what he means. Not when his fingers are pointing directly at my eyes.
“You know what, Black? You can cherish that memory because it's not going to happen again.”
Of course he knows why. He's just daring me to say it out loud.
“Because I don't like what happened the last time it did!” I say way louder than I intented.
Black doesn't look insulted. On the contrary, he seems quite satisfied with himself.
“What is it that you regret more?” he asks quietly. “The actual kiss or the fact that you enjoyed it?”
I am grateful for the darkness, as I can feel my cheeks turn a deep red at his words.
“I pushed you away,” I remind him.
“I seem to remember you kissing me back before you had to force yourself to push me away.”
“I did not!” I yell.
Which is a big fat lie.
I hate Sirius Black. If not for anything else, then for the fact that he has made me stoop so low as to lie. I've never had to lie before I got into this stupid mess with him.
Lying to myself does not count.
“How immature are you, Avery?” he asks me and this time the smile slips off his face.
He looks quite scary as he glares at me.
“What the hell do you mean?” I shout.
“I mean that you can't make up your mind. This isn't just about me and you kissing. This is about you. You can't even decide what you want but then you get all offended when your cousin tries to make your own decisions for you.”
“Your cousin may be a blood-obsessed Death-Eater in the making but at least he got this right. This is a war. And you cannot remain neutral forever.”
And there it is again. I have to choose a side.
Black looks at me soberly as he lets his words sink in.
“Is this what this is about?” I say finally, torn between laughing and shouting. “My initation to the Order of the Phoenix?”
“No,” he answers tiredly. “Didn't you hear me? This is about you. It's pretty clear that you can't stand any of them around you. Well, what are you doing about it?”
What am I doing about it really?
The silence that stretches between us is answer enough for both of us.
“What about Lily?” Black asks after a while.
His voice is calm again and his haunting eyes are fixed on mine.
“What about her?” I ask, perplexed.
“You're friends. You must be aware of the fact that she's a Muggleborn.”
“Of course I am.”
“Well, what do you think is going to happen to her if Voldemort takes over?”
I know the answer to that but it takes me a few seconds before I can say it outloud.
“She'll die,” I whisper, turning my gaze to the trees at the edge of the forrest.
Lily will die. Maybe not all Muggleborns will, but the ones who choose to fight will seal their fate. And Lily will fight.
“Exactly. She'll die,” Black repeats, before his voice drops so much that I have to strain in order to hear it. “And that can't happen. James can't lose Lily. He just lost his parents. He can't lose Lily too.”
For a moment I'm wondering whether he is talking to me or to himself, but then his eyes focus again and they turn to me.
“If hating them isn't reason enough for you to fight, and if Lily dying does not make you want to go after them, then what about revenge?” he says solemnly.
“Revenge for what?” I ask, confused.
He looks at me as if the anwer is obvious.
“Your mother,” he says before standing up.
When I've regained the ability to form words again, he's already started walking away.
“Black!” I yell. “What about my mother?”
He doesn't turn around nor does he stop, although I know that he's heard me.
“Black, come back here!”
The only response I get comes in the form of a giant black dog taking his place and running towards the castle.
A/N: So, I'm back again! :) Can't wait to hear what you think about this chapter! ;)