First of all, I wanted to say thank you for all the lovely reviews you have left in the previous chapter. It makes me immensely happy to see that you are liking my story and it encourages me to find time to write more for you. I am particularly proud of this one update, because I am very busy at the moment and I feared I wouldn't be able to update before Christmas!! However, I felt I owed it to you, my lovely readers, to make an effort.
I want to let you know two things before you go on to read this chapter:
1) This is a CRUCIAL chapter to the story. Things are going to get a lot more serious from now on, and there will be more and more involvement of our characters with the Order. There will be more darkness as Lord Voldermot raises to power and that will reflect on how the characters develop.
2) There is a new character that is introduced in this chapter. He is the first of many that will begin to show up - my addiiton to JK Rowling's amazing world (apart from Naomi). I will do my best to mix my own idea with what we know about The Marauders from what Rowling has said and we have read in the HP books. Be sure that I will not do anything that wouldn't make sense (i.e. sadly the Potters will die in the future after having Harry) because I want to stay true to what we know happened. However, there are many surprises coming your way and I hope that you like them!
Thank you again for reading and for being so amazing! Please, do leave a review if you have a few seconds to spare, it really makes my day =)
Lots of love,
P.S. As per usual, I do not own any of the characters, places or anything related to the HP world that belongs to the one and only JK Rowling. Thanks to her for creating this amazing universe that we all love so much.
Any mention to any real streets, places, or any resemblance to any real people are either purely coincidential or inspired by memories of my own experiences.
I knocked on the door and Naomi’s voice let me in. She was sitting on her bed with Sirius. It took me a moment to process it. I just couldn’t believe he had done it. He had her; the most difficult girl in the world was his. I smiled at them.
-“You guys haven’t started packing yet?”- I asked, moving towards my trunk.
-“We were just about to”- Sirius replied, beaming.
-“Sure you were”- I replied dismissively. Sirius got off the bed wearing only his underwear.
-“Will you please put some clothes on?”- I said, faking aggravation. Naomi chuckled. Oh Merlin, she chuckled.
-“Rhea, where’s everyone else?”- she asked, handing Sirius his shirt and getting off the bed.
-“Lily’s with James, he hadn’t packed either and I think she’s helping him whilst ranting about just how unorganized he is!”- I explained.
-“Meg left already didn’t she?”
-“Yes and so did Jo. They’ll write to you tonight I presume, they want to make sure you don’t forget them during Christmas”- I informed her. She smirked.
-“What they want is to be invited to my New Year’s party”- she replied, flatly. Sirius looked at her.
-“What party?”- he asked.
-“You’ll find out when you get your invitation, of course”- she said mysteriously.
-“It’s supposed to be the best one in London”- I told him. He beamed.
-“I love parties!”- I laughed.
-“We know that, Sirius”- Naomi said.
-“Good, I’m off now, gotta pack all my stuff. See you in the common room to go catch the train?”- he asked.
-“Sure”- we both replied.
Naomi disappeared in the bathroom for almost an hour. By the time she came out, freshly showered and looking gorgeous as ever, I was close to done with my packing. She took her time to get dressed, smoking a cigarette every other half an hour. I could tell there was something different about her as I watched her wave her wand around and her clothes parade across the room and into her trunk.
The train station was full of students carrying their luggage around and doing their best to find an empty compartment. We were a little late, Sirius, of course, had needed some help with his packing in the end. However, being Naomi’s clique had its advantages. The moment she opened the door to the compartment she wanted, the three girls sitting in it took their stuff and fled the scene without complaint. I still wasn’t all too comfortable with how cruel she could be sometimes, but even I had to admit that it was helpful to have people scared of her.
-“So! Christmas plans! We’re on holiday and we have so much time to just be happy!”- James beamed. Naomi rolled her eyes but I couldn’t help but to agree with him.
-“You wanted to check out a bit of muggle London, didn’t you?”- I asked.
-“Yes. There is this thing called… hmmm… winderland? Winland? Wondland? I don’t know, anynway, they have like this all these lights and music and stuff! I wanna go check it out”
-“Winter Wonderland, James. It’s Winter Wonderland”- Naomi said, visibly amused by his interest of the muggle world.
-“Oh my God! Yes, we can all go! I’d love to! My parents take Petunia and me all the time, it is so lovely”- Lily said. James smiled even more.
-“Would you want to go too?”- Sirius asked Naomi quietly. She looked at him. My God, did she look at him. I got goose bumps watching them, not that I’d ever tell Naomi if I wanted to stay alive and make it to my sixties.
-“Sure”- she agreed.
-“What about Christmas’ Eve?”- they all turned to stare at me.
-“It’d be nice to spend it together”- I insisted.
-“I’m spending it with my father”- Naomi sentenced. Her tone implied that the matter was not open for discussion, but I was not going to give up so easily.
-“Why can’t you and your father come celebrate with our family?”- I inquired. She looked doubtful for a moment.
-“We’ll think about it once we’re home and see what our families have planned, yes?”- Lily interjected. I frowned at her but Naomi nodded slightly and I knew I had lost my chance. For now.
I hadn’t realized how much I had missed the Potter’s until I walked through the front door. We’d said goodbye at the station and agreed on meeting soon, possibly for the Winter Wonderland visit that we’d promised James. Now, it was just family sitting in the living room and enjoying steaming cups of tea and some pastries and exchanging the best stories from our first few months at school with James’ parents. I loved this, I loved the Potters and how nice they had been to Sirius and I. If it were not for them we’d be homeless and probably quite miserable. They did not only give us a place to live in, but shared their parental love with us in equal share. James was also absolutely great about it; he had never once shown any sign that he minded sharing his parents with us. If it had ever bothered him, we would never know but I was positive that he was glad he had siblings, even if adopted ones.
-“So, Rhea, I hear you have a boyfriend! Will we meet him during the holiday?”- Mrs. Potter asked me. I could feel the heat rush to my cheeks immediately.
-“Hmmm… maybe, yeah I would guess… probably at Naomi’s New Years party? I’m sure you’re invited too”- I replied casually. Sirius’ eyes opened slightly suddenly alert. I realized the Potters probably did not know that he, too, had a new girlfriend.
-“Naomi?”- Mr. Potter asked –“Is this someone we should know? I don’t remember any of your friends with such a name”
-“It’s Mr. Ivy’s daughter dad”- James said, cheerfully.
-“Oh, right! So you’ve become good friends with her I take?”- he said, smiling.
-“Some of us more than others…”- James muttered with a cheeky smile. Of course, Mrs. Potter picked up on it immediately and eyed him suspiciously.
-“I thought you were still trying to woo Lily Evans”- she replied. There was no malice in her voice, just plain curiosity. I liked that about them, too. They did not judge who our friends or dates were as long as they were not dangerous.
-“He succeeded”- Sirius said shooting James a triumphant glare –“They are officially dating. If I were you I’d start shopping for a dress to wear to the Wedding, Dorea”
-“Really? Oh I’m so happy for you James, it was about time that girl realized what she was missing”- her smile was honest and wide and her excitement palpable as she added –“When are we officially meeting her?”
-“I don’t know…”- James paled considerably
-“Oh, come on, it’s not like they haven’t met her. She’s one of my best friends! She’s been over at the house a thousand times”- I said.
-“That’s true”- Mr. Potter said.
-“Well, we could always invite her for dinner or something… but only if Sirius introduces you to his girlfriend”- James announced. Both, Mr. and Mrs. Potter turned to look at Sirius in utter shock. They knew that him having an actual girlfriend, a real one, not just for play, was highly unlikely. He had, in fact, never had one during a holiday break.
-“Well, that explains why you were so quiet. Do you want to tell us, Sirius?”- Mrs. Potter asked gently. He… he blushed? Really?
-“You’re blushing mate, I’m starting to worry Naomi’s actually cursed you or something. Do you feel alright?”- James mocked him. Sirius looked murderous but took a deep breath and faced the Potters instead.
-“Well… I… Naomi”- he said quietly, trying to hide the smile that was growing in his lips.
-“Ivy’s daughter?”- Mr. Potter asked, visibly impressed.
-“Why the shock, darling? Is there anything wrong with the girl?”- Mrs. Potter asked. She knew her husband all too well. Lovely couple they were.
-“Absolutely not. That girl is possibly the most stunning woman I have ever seen in my life… but she’s… cold. Terribly so”- he informed his wife.
-“Well, she musn’t be if she is dating Sirius, am I right?”- Mrs. Potter asked him.
-“Oh, no, Charlus is totally right. She is cold and mean and even a little evil. She’s arrogant and manipulative and cunning”- Sirius said. Mrs. Potter looked horrified –“But she is also the smartest girl I know, no offense to Red, and she’s loyal and fierce and a great friend to those few privileged ones that manage to find the way to her heart She can be the nicest person ever, she’s well mannered and a true Lady. She likes music and has a lovely singing voice. She is witty and has a way with words that I wish I had myself. She puts her father before anything else, family is important to her. She has a smile that brings light to any room any moment and when she’s in a good mood it’s contagious. She is the bravest witch I know, probably braver than James and I and she is honest. And she understands me. She listens to me and she knows me, my family and what I’ve done and seen and gone through and she doesn’t care”
Everyone in the room was either tearing (Mrs. Potter) or open mouthed. I had never, ever stopped to think what Naomi looked like to Sirius. What Naomi was like to Sirius. It struck me in that moment that people can be very different depending on the eyes looking upon them… and Sirius’ eyes saw a Naomi that I had only barely gotten a few glances of on her best moments.
-“I am so happy for you, Sirius”- Mrs. Potter said, trying to keep her voice steady –“And, of course, we’d like to meet her too, if that’s okay”
-“I guess… yeah… she’s good friends with Lily and Rhea so I don’t see why not”-he muttered, suddenly shy after his honesty outburst.
-“Wonderful! Invite the girls over for dinner tomorrow night!”- Mrs. Potter sentenced. James and Sirius exchanged nervous looks but nodded in agreement.
I absolutely loved my London house. It was more of a Penthouse, but still. I loved it. It was the perfect blend of modern and traditional furniture, all of it handpicked by dad and I. We had abandoned the house where mother was murdered for neither of us could even set foot on that particular street, let alone live in the place. This was a fresh start and, even though I knew dad kept all her photos and things hidden somewhere, for me it had nothing that could remind me of her. This had also been recommended by my therapist, who argued that I should only remember mother when I wanted to to ensure I didn’t have those panic attacks that Remus had happened to witness once.
I was resting on a large futon on the terrace right outside my room. It was cold but the outdoors heaters that I had placed on both sides were doing a great job at keeping warm. That, and the expensive fur blanket that covered the bottom half of my body. A cigarette on one hand and steaming cup of coffee on the other, I had all I could ask for. It was my first afternoon back home and I hadn’t seen my father yet. He was away on some last minute emergency raid somewhere between the borders of Romania and Hungary and had left me a note promising he’d be back in two days, which was just in time for Christmas. I wasn’t mad at him, I understood that he was one of the best and that title went hand in hand with an ineludible responsibility. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way, a mediocre dad was not something I would be proud of.
A House Elf popped in front of me and lowered her eyes to the ground, awaiting permission to speak.
-“Hello Mita, what is it?”- I asked. I wasn’t in favor of those who mistreated their house elves. Just because their job was to serve us wizards it didn’t mean that they were not fully functional creatures, with a mind of their own and feelings that could be hurt. I was never the friendliest mistress but always treated them with due respect and did not punish them or hurt them in any way.
-“Me was wondering what my Lady wants for dinner, if anything at all?”
-“Hmmm… what time is it right now?”
-“It is a little past six, Miss”
-“I’ll have some dinner, but later. I’d like some vegetable soup, you know, no potatoes and very little oil… I’m thinking maybe pumpkin and carrots”- I instructed.
-“Of course, My Lady. We knows how you like your food. What time would you want it ready?”
-“Around eight will be good. I won’t be eating in the dinning room because dad isn’t home so have it prepared on a tray and I’ll call for it”- I said. She nodded and awaited to be dismissed –“Mita, I would also like you to write a letter to my event planner and ask him to come see me tomorrow morning. He should start with preparations for my New Year’s event. Bring me confirmation with dinner. You can go now, thank you”
With a little pop she disappeared and I was left, once again, alone with my thoughts. As per usual, they found their way to Sirius. I still had some difficulties grasping the concept of me having a boyfriend, not because I hadn’t had them before, the list was endless, but because he was the only one that I was dating because I actually wanted to… It was strange. I thought what my therapist would say. I was meant to schedule an appointment with him soon, it was good for me to have a session every now and then and it had been a while since the last one. However, I was unsure as to what that made me feel. Did I want to tell him? On the one hand, my therapist was the only person I had ever talked honestly to, aside from my dad. On the other, the reason I had a therapist in the first place was because I had lost all ability to feel like a normal person should. But that had changed. Sirius had fixed me, somehow. As confusing, scary and stomach turning as I found this whole idea, it was true. Sirius had given me back my feelings and they had chosen to sprung free all over the place: Lily, Rhea, James, Sirius, Remus… they all meant something to me, a lot more than anyone before, even Lulu.
My cigarette had died on the ashtray sometime during my inner debate about whether I should see my therapist or not, so I reached out for another one and used my wand as a lighter. I gasped in shock as the dim light from the tip of my wand illuminated my terrace and, right opposite me, the clear silhouette of a man.
-“Naomi Ivy, I’ve been looking for you”- his voice was soft, and grave.
-“Who are you?”- I asked cautiously. I realized he must not be out to hurt me because, if he wanted to, he’d already had his chance to do it. Now I was armed, my wand still on my hand, and I was alert.
-“Are you not going to ask me how I got past the fortress-like security of this place?”- I could hear a light mockery in his voice, which surprised me. That was the kind of remark I would make.
-“You’re already here, so there’s no point in worrying about the unfixable”- I replied.
-“Practical”- he muttered.
-“I’m only going to ask you one more time. Who are you?”- I said every word slowly, letting every letter out as if it was poison.
-“Nate, Nate Dawn”- he replied, lightly. I was taken aback by the fact that he seemed absolutely immune to me. Had I lost my charm to Sirius? What was wrong with me?
-“I don’t know you, and the fact that you know my name doesn’t make me particularly happy. You can tell me now what you want and why you’re here or you can leave as you came before I get really pissed off”- I threatened. I could hear a faint chuckle and the murmur of a cloak as he moved from where he was to step closer. The light from the heaters illuminated the space where he stepped and I was knocked breathless for a moment.
-“You seem to be awfully distracted, dear”- Marcus said. I looked at him and shrugged.
-“Yeah, something came up last night and I didn’t get much sleep to be honest. Anyway, where were we?”
-“The lights, I want to know if you like this illumination that Davianne has designed for your party”- Marcus was my event planner. He was the best of the best. He was a little hyper, had excellent taste and was very, very gay. I absolutely loved him – in that particular way one loves the people that works for them.
-“Hmmm… I was kind of thinking more along the lines of whites mixed with purples and maybe pinks, fuchsias even. Silver is way too typical, I mean, it’s New Year’s Eve, people know it is winter. We don’t need to remind them”- I said.
-“I totally agree with you, darling. We can blend these colours you propose together, create different areas… different moods! It’ll be marvelous”- he said excitedly. I smiled wickedly.
-“This year I need it to be spectacular, Marcus”- I emphasized the spectacular.
-“I did notice you’ve gone a beyond the usual this time. You’ve made a note here you want to host a full dinner for the most distinguished guests before the actual party begins”- he read off his notebook.
-“Exactly. I want a select group to be invited early to have a proper, formal, seated dinner. Then we’ll move them on to the ballroom where the rest of the guests will arrive and join the party”- I informed him.
-“I like it, I really, really like it! Of course, I’m going to recommend the catering for this dinner… I know you have an army of House Elves but you’ll want to serve the best food in the whole of Europe, won’t you?”
-“Absolutely”- I agreed. I liked Marcus and how he always guessed what I wanted. We’d planned so many things together that he made very few mistakes by now. I usually agreed to everything he suggested and none of his parties, for me or another client, had ever been anything but a complete success.
He went on to show me samples of cloths, colors and other details for the party. I let him talk and get overly excited about everything, humming and nodding here and there to let him know I was happy with what he had chosen. I lit a cigarette somewhere in between picking the type of cutlery we’d be using for the dinner and deciding on the shape of the glasses that would be used for the midnight toast. As soon as I lit my wand, I had a brutal flashback to the previous night. My insides turned and I had to take a long smoke to hide the avalanche of mixed feelings I had accidentally caused.
By the time Marcus left my penthouse I was already exhausted for the day. All I wanted to do was lie on my futon outside, smoke and drink indecent amounts of coffee. However, as soon as I walked into my room an owl greeted me. Sirius’ owl. I groaned and took the letter it held.
Lily is coming over for dinner tonight with the three of us (James, Rhea and I) and the Potters. I was wondering if you’d like to come too… Please, say yes!
Can’t wait to see you,
I groaned again, with a lot more sentiment this time. Seriously? We’d been dating for a few days and he already wanted me to do the whole “meet the parents” thing? Fair enough, he knew my dad but that was before he was my bo… we were dating, and it was under totally different circumstances. On the other hand, Lily and Rhea were going to be there, so it was not like I was the only girl around. And Mr. Potter was a great friend of my father’s. I rolled my eyes and went to the main chimney, the only one in the house connected to the Floo network, only to remember that Lily lived in a muggle house, which meant things were deliciously easy: I could just call her. I did, of course, have her number because I was a big fan of muggles in that sense. I always thought the whole owling or Flooing business was way too slow for talking to friends on emergencies such as this one.
-“Hello?”- the voice was high pitched, slightly irritating.
-“Hi, is Lily home? I would like to speak to her, please”- I said.
-“Who is this?”- the voice inquired. I found it odd, that I was being questioned. I mean, if I were a boy maybe, but I clearly wasn’t.
-“Her friend Naomi, who am I speaking to?”- I tried to be polite, even though the person on the other end was obviously not concerned with the rules of phone etiquette. I seriously hoped this was not Lily’s mother.
-“Petunia. I don’t know any Naomi’s that are friends of Lily’s. How do you know her?”- she asked again. I was beyond irritated by now. Petunia. I remembered that name, Lily had mentioned she had a sister. A muggle sister.
-“Look, it is none of your business. I want to speak to your sister, my friend, so please, get her on the phone”- I snapped.
-“Not until you tell me how you know her. She doesn’t have normal friends so I’m curious”- she insisted. I laughed.
-“I’m not a normal friend, Petunia. We go to the same school”- I let the word roll down my tongue with as much emphasis as I could manage. I smiled wickedly when she went silent. I could almost imagine her face twisting in disgust, or fear, or both and her leaving the phone to find Lily.
-“Naomi! I totally forgot you knew how to use phones”- Lily’s voice, a lot nicer than her sister’s, finally came on the line.
-“Thank Merlin it’s you! Petunia is seriously damaged, let me tell you”- I said, half joking.
-“She’s not too happy of the whole me being a witch situation”
-“Lily, that isn’t a situation. I’ll tell you if we are ever in a situation but you should pray that day never comes”- I said, casually.
-“Well… whatever, yeah. So, what’s up?”
-“The Potters. That’s what’s up”- I said in aggravation.
-“Oh! Right, Sirius invited you over for tonight’s dinner, right?”
-“He.DID”- I replied.
-“And? Are you going to come?”- she asked softly, as if afraid I’d snap. To be honest, I was close to snapping.
-“I don’t want to”
-“But you’ve called me to see if I think it would break Sirius’ heart if you didn’t come or if it’s okay”- she said, understanding.
-“I told Sirius I was trouble, dangerous and a total bitch”
-“He already knew that”- she interrupted.
-“And he goes and invites me over to meet his bloody parents when we’ve been dating for less than a week!!”- I finished.
-“They are not his parents, Naomi”- Lily muttered. I gasped lightly. She was right. I had not thought of that, of how Sirius felt towards the Potters and about the whole family business. This was not “girl meets the parents” but rather “girl accepts that I have a horrible family and have been adopted by my best friends’ parents because they are awfully nice”.
-“I had not stopped to think of that”- I confessed.
-“I know you hadn’t, that’s why I told you. Listen, the one meeting the parents is me, even if I do know them from before. Sirius probably wants you there because for one, he sure misses you already and, two, he has never cared for anyone the he does for you so he’ll probably like to see you’re okay with his living and family arrangements”
-“I have told him I’m okay with it!”- I protested.
-“You have to show him, Naomi”
-“Fine. I’ll go. But only because my dad is away and I’d be here all alone again tonight if I didn’t agree to this stupid dinner”- I gave in. She sighed.
-“Just try not to murder anyone, just have dinner, okay?”- she joked. I tried to chuckle over the phone but I couldn’t. All alone again tonight… That wasn’t completely true. I had had a visit last night. A most unexpected one, that was for sure. And one that I could not tell anyone about. Not even my own father, and that was something I wasn’t sure I was all right with.
I leaned on the balcony, letting my forearms rest against the frozen stone. My right hand held a cigarette that I was smoking happily before heading out to the Potters’ place for dinner. I had picked an Armani black dress that came down to mid thigh and knee high boots to match it. It was elegant and somewhere between “too formal, too sexy and too striking”. I had made a point of avoiding anything inappropriate as I did not want the Potters to think wrong of me, but I had also turned from the more traditional, classy options. I absolutely did not want them to think I was there as Sirius’ nice little girlfriend.
-“I see you’re going out”- the voice caressed my ears and left me shivering. I didn’t turn around.
-“Good, won’t be needing glasses any time soon then I guess”- I replied, hastily.
-“That would be most inconvenient”- he retorted. I turned around slightly and let the sight of him shock me again, just like it had done last night.
-“I wasn’t expecting you here again so soon”- I said, casually. He smiled.
-“I wasn’t expecting myself here either, but here I am”
-“I already told you I would think about it. I haven’t had much time to think today, so I have nothing to say”- I informed him, haughtily.
-“I know you don’t have an answer yet, but there are other things we can talk about”- he suggested, shrugging. It annoyed me to no end that he seemed to not care at all about anything. He didn’t even seem impressed by me, and, arrogant as that was, I wasn’t used to people not being struck by one of my smiles.
-“I don’t have time, like you said: I’m going out”- I dismissed him. Or so I thought.
-“I can come with”- he said. I looked at him, appalled. What was wrong with this boy?
-“No, you can’t”
-“Because you’re not invited”
-“So? I can be your plus one”
-“You are not serious”
-“No, that’s your boyfriend”
-“I will n… WHAT? What did you just say?”- I looked at Nate again. Really, intensely looked at him. I had no idea he knew anything about me other than what we had discussed the previous night.
-“I came looking for you, Naomi. Of course I know things about you”- he said, letting a lot more arrogance than I was willing to stand show in his voice.
-“You have to leave Sirius out of this”- I hissed.
-“Of course he’s out of this. Nobody is “in” Naomi, it can only be you”- his eyes darkened slightly, as if to show he was being completely inflexible about this.
-“I gave you my word that I’d keep quiet, if you know anything about me then you’ll know I won’t break my promise”- I snapped. He smiled.
-“You are protective of him, that’s awfully cute”- I felt my mouth drop open. And then I felt my brain started screaming at me to shut it, something like this had never ever happened to me. Ever.
-“You will not come to my terrace, in my house, uninvited, to mock my relationship with Sirius Black”- I threatened him. I was suddenly furious and I could feel my anger boiling up inside me like a volcano about to explode, and Nate was my Pompeii.
-“I didn’t mean to offend you, but if you’re offended maybe you’ve got some issues to think about. I’ll leave you to it, then. Bye, Naomi”- he winked at me and, just like he had done the night before, jumped off my seventh floor penthouse into the open air.
I flooed myself to the Potters half an hour later than I was supposed to. I hated being late, absolutely despised it but even more than that I despised not being able to tell the truth: that it was not my fault I was late but a moronic boy’s instead. The Potters had good taste. Their living room was elegant and sober, nothing too pretentious but quite chic. I heard some voices coming from what I assumed would be the dining room and I made my way, alone. Sirius would probably be furious, thinking I had stood him up or something. I approached the door and hear the conversation more clearly now. They were talking about me.
-“She promised she would come, so something must have come up. Naomi never breaks a promise”- Rhea’s voice said.
-“It’s a shame, really. Sirius was looking forward to seeing her tonight and we were quite happy about meeting the first girl that actually matters to him”- a woman’s voice replied. I guessed it was Mrs. Potter’s.
-“I just wonder what it is that could have her not show up… I mean, she did tell me her father wasn’t coming back until tomorrow. Do you think he could have returned early?”- Lily asked.
-“I would know if he were back. We have important business to deal with and Hugh would have contacted me already”- Mr. Potter said. I rolled my eyes. As if after all this time, my dad would contact him before spending some time with me.
-“You know, eavesdropping is exceptionally rude, even for you”- Sirius’ voice was a whisper so close to my ear that I felt his breath tickle the sensitive skin of my neck. Goose bumps exploded all over.
-“I was only checking if it’d be suicidal to walk in now”- I smiled, turning around.
-“You’re never late. I thought you weren’t coming. What happened?”- his eyes were a mix between relief, happiness, anger and concern. I waved a hand lightly to dismiss the issue.
-“A House Elf made a huge mess in the penthouse and I had to make sure it was sorted before my father comes in tomorrow morning and freaks out”- I lied. The concern and anger washed away and he came closer, putting his arms around me. The breathed in the scent of him, closing my eyes briefly to enjoy the feeling of being wrapped in arms I knew would never harm me.
-“I am glad you came”- he muttered against my lips before kissing me.
When we broke the kiss I let him take my hand and lead me into the dining room. He explained why I was late, introduced me to everyone and gestured for me to sit between Rhea and himself. Dinner was nice, the food was delicious and conversation was fluent and easy. There was no talk of war, threats or darkness. It felt as if they were trying to shut the world down. I could tell the Potters tried very hard to make James, Rhea and Sirius happy. They did not make distinctions, if I didn’t know better; I could have believed they were all siblings for real. Fortunately, Lily got a lot more attention than I did. I could tell she knew the Potters well, probably from being best friends with Rhea for such a long time. The fact that she was the center of attention, for once, didn’t bother me. I was still distracted by Nate’s sudden and, again, unexpected visit. I silently thanked Merlin for taking the spotlight away from me, if only for a few hours that one night.
Dinner was over rather quickly, which could only mean I had actually enjoyed myself. James and Lily excused themselves after Rhea announced she was going to bed. The Potters said their goodnights and Sirius and I were left alone in the living room, where we had had desserts. I studied him as he came back from the toilet. I liked the way he walked, chilled as if he was permanently relaxed. He had somewhat of a goofy air to him but I blamed that on his dog-shape, which inevitably ended up rubbing off in all animagus. I, for one, knew I sometimes moved as if was getting ready to hunt a prey.
-“Admiring the view?”- he smirked, sitting next to me on the sofa.
-“What view?”- I chuckled. He pulled me closer to him and I let my head rest on his shoulder.
-“So, have you thought about taking James to muggle world?”- he asked.
-“Well, I guess he’ll need as much supervision as he can get”- I said. Sirius laughed.
-“He’s not that bad”
-“Sirius, we’re taking James to a place with muggle machines that spin you around, throw you on the air and dead drop you from about 50 meters… and where there’s flashing colour lights and music and… well, you know… I wouldn’t be surprised if he got an epileptic attack from excitement”- I explained.
-“I’ll admit I am equally excited about this”- he muttered.
-“I know, but you are slightly calmer than he is. Although I’m concerned about you pissing yourself if we happen to see any bikes”- I half joked. He jumped up a little, hitting my temple with the bones on his shoulders.
-“You think there’ll be bikes?!”- he asked.
-“Behave”- I said, dryly.
-“You are no fun at all”- he complained, pouting a bit. I raised an eyebrow.
-“And here I thought I was quite good at keeping you entertained…”- I let my voice drop and adopt that tone that I had only ever used with Sirius. His eyes focused immediately and his lips curled upwards just the slightest bit.
-“I’m not so sure. Maybe you should practice some?”- he suggested, leaning closer.
Kissing Sirius was one of the best feelings I had ever felt in my life. He knew what to do, when to do it and how. It was maddening. I don’t know how long we kissed for, only that by the time Lily came to say goodbye my lips were swollen, I was flushed and my breathing was heavy. Unfortunately, Lily’s interruption brought me back to reality: this was the Potters’ living room and it was late. I had to go back home and get some sleep to welcome my dad back home properly the following morning. Sirius, after complaining a thousand times about the fact that I had to leave, finally gave me a last peck on the lips and I flooed home.
She came back home late. Her hair was a bit messy and her lips reddish, meaning Black had probably been enjoying himself. I watched her from the rooftop of the building opposite her penthouse, sitting in the darkness with a cigarette for all company. I hadn’t been happy that they had asked me to evaluate a girl. In fact, I had been furious. I was one of the best Wardens there was, definitely the best my age. There were very few Warden girls, I had only met two and one of them was already dead. I saw no point in even trying, however good this Naomi Ivy was she could never join our ranks and so I was appalled I had to waste my time studying the case.
I looked up again when the light of her room lit. She had already changed to some sort of lingerie that was supposed to serve as a pajama. How she was able to sleep in it, I had no idea. I felt a shiver run down my spine and I cursed heavily under my breath. I was not expecting her to be the way she was. If I had known, if I had been prepared, maybe it wouldn’t have shaken me up so much. I shut my eyes as she got in bed and turned the lights off again and revisited the memory of the night I had seen her for the very first time.
It was a Friday evening. It was cold and I was angry. Travelling all the way to Hogsmeage was a pain and that inn where I had a room was beyond uncomfortable. I had tried to get this assignment off my back, tried to pin it on some beginner but no. The Council had refused to give it to someone else. What a waste of my talent and my time. I had made my way to Hogwarts grounds on foot. Not even the Wardens could apparate there. I felt the familiar overwhelming awe as the castle came in sight. I had always wanted to go to Hogwarts and had never forgiven my mother for not sending me there, even though I got my letter when I was eleven. I climbed a tree close to the path the students would be following towards the village and sat on a comfortable branch. Hidden from sight and with good view of anyone that walked past, I let my mind wander. I was lost in thoughts of a better childhood when I heard the voices. The little sensor I had with me, enchanted to beep in presence of the subject of my investigation, began to snooze in my pocket. I looked towards the path walk and I saw her. Her companion, a red head witch, had said something to her. Something funny. Her laughter hit me with the force of a thunderstorm and my breath caught in my throat. I watched, unable to move, or think, or breathe, as she tilted her head slightly backwards and her hair cascaded down her back. Her smile was like the sun, bringing light to a world I had never noticed was grey and patchy.
I understood then why they wanted Naomi Ivy to become a Warden. She was something else. After watching her for over two months I had not only confirmed The Council’s suspicion that she was an extraordinary witch with abilities way beyond her years, but also that she was brave, reckless and a survivor. She was also uncorrupted; the Dark Arts had never tempted her so her soul was bright. She was a white one and those were rare nowadays, even more so because she had seen death at a young age. She was also damaged, severely so, which was a common trait amongst Wardens. Nobody with a perfect life wanted to devote himself or herself to The Mission, but damaged people were different. We knew we could survive, because we’d already been dead in a way.