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All Bets Are Off by maraudertimes
Chapter 20 : Libraries, Snogging, and Traitorous Thoughts
 
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I had avidly avoided Sirius and the Hospital Wing for the next week. I knew why of course, so Charlie’s constant jabs didn’t really have an effect, but they were always there at the back of my mind – I had strong feelings for Sirius, and I knew that I would end up heartbroken just like every other girl. I was scared to see him, to fall for him even more. Every second I spent with him would make it that much more difficult when he dropped me.

And even though Carter said I was thinking pessimistically, Charlie said to get over myself and see him, and Kendra was being oddly supportive, I wasn’t about to change my mind. Getting over Diggory had been hard enough, but Sirius Black was a charmer. He knew what to say and when to say it. I’m fairly certain that he could’ve gotten Slughorn to actually teach a class if he wanted to.

Of course, Slughorn teaching was a pretty hated event, so if he ever tried that I’d have to knock him unconscious. But that was beside the point. I was fully aware that I fancied Sirius Black. And it killed me to know that all of this would probably end in a week. Kendra had pointed out that his longest ‘relationship’ had been in second year when he and Melody Marchand, a third year, had gone out for three months. I wasn’t expecting it to last long.

So, I was curled up in the library reading a particularly depressing article in Witch Weekly titled ‘What To Do When He’s Done With You.’ Amelia, the only person who had agreed to come with me to the library, had taken one look at the title and scampered off to our regular table, telling me over her shoulder that Regulus should be meting up with her after his Quidditch practice. I had barely acknowledged her before starting on the testimonials of the women who had been ‘wronged by mankind’ – or so the author of the article said.

One woman had married a man who ended up leaving her for her mother – gross. Another had her boyfriend steal all her money so that he could get married to a woman in Brazil whose father was the leader of a drug cartel. Yet another had put her fiancé through Healer training so that he could run off with a nurse trainee and become a tomato farmer. All these stories had me in stitches, silently laughing at the idiocies of these women. They all stated that the men who had left them had ruined their lives, yet their lives weren’t ruined. Sure the men had taken their money and left them for someone else, but it wasn’t as if their careers had been sabotaged, or their families ripped apart.

Okay, the man who ran off with his wife’s mother may have ripped that family apart, but I know for a fact that her family reunion would not be as uncomfortable as some. Take Sirius, for example. If he ever showed up at a family reunion, a pig wouldn’t be the only thing that would be roasted. I sighed as his smirk entered my thoughts and I looked away from the idiotic magazine to see Regulus strolling down the aisle I was in, a small grin on his face.

“I see you’re reading… Witch Weekly? Really, Lexi?” he asked, raising an eyebrow at me.

I shrugged. “Needed to get my mind off of things.”

“Because you haven’t gone to see Sirius in the Hospital Wing for a week.”

I frowned. “How did you know about that?”

“I went to see him yesterday. Between curses at me – both magical and non-magical – he was muttering about having to talk to you since he hasn’t seen you in a week,” Regulus said, running a hand through his dark hair. “He’s getting out today, you know. So if you’re avoiding him, you better–”

“You better try harder next time.”

Regulus and I both snapped our necks turning to see Sirius leaning against the bookshelf. His easy smirk wasn’t on his face, and his eyes flashed darkly.

“I think I’ll be going. Amelia at our table?” Regulus said, pointing over his shoulder.

I nodded and smiled. “Bye Reg! See you later!”

He smiled uncomfortably and turned, walking away in the direction of our table where Amelia was. I turned back to Sirius and he walked over to me.

“I think we need to talk, Ace,” he said quietly as he sat down next to me.

I stiffened but didn’t move away. “I don’t think we need to talk. In fact, we never need to talk again. We can use sign language. Although I don’t know sign language. Have you ever played charades?”

“Ace, you need to calm down,” Sirius said, nudging me with his shoulder. “What’s wrong?”

I smiled down at the magazine and laughed forcibly. “Nothing’s wrong. Why would anything be wrong? I’m fine! You’re fine! We’re fine, although I suppose we’re not technically a ‘we’ are we?”

I looked over at him, a panicked look on my face. He seemed surprised and looked down, only to have a strange look pass over his face.

“’What To Do When He’s Done With You?’” he said incredulously. “What the hell, Ace? Is this what’s got you in a strop?”

I felt my cheeks redden furiously and I ducked my head. “Shut up, Black.”

“Merlin, Ace! What’s going on in your bloody mind?”

“Nothing! Nothing at all. In fact, there is so much nothing, that we shouldn’t even be talking,” I said, standing up. “I’ll see you around, Sirius.”

But before I could actually leave, Sirius had grabbed my wrist and spun me around. I was partially amazed at how fast the bugger could stand up, but mostly fascinated by his eyes. It was stupid and cliché, but they were stormy and deep and they seemed to be looking into my soul. It was at the same time mesmerizing and making me feel like a girl in those cheesy romance novels that Sydney likes to read; the ones she thinks none of us know about.

“Alexandra James,” Sirius said softly, “tell me what’s wrong.”

I felt tears form in my eyes but I blinked them off. I took a shaky breath before saying, “I’m scared.”

“Of what?” Sirius asked, reaching up to cup my cheek in one hand while placing his other hand on my waist. “Of spiders? I can kill those for you.”

I laughed shakily. “Nah, Kendra’s apparently fearless. She’s got the spiders.”

“Then what’s wrong?” he asked.

I bit my lip and blushed even more. When I tried to look down, Sirius tilted my head up and made me look dead in his eyes.

“What are you scared of?” he asked more forcefully.

I look a deep breath. “Of you.”

“What?!” Sirius looked taken aback. “Lex, what did I do?”

He seemed terrified and I almost laughed, but for the seriousness of the conversation.

“I don’t want to be like the rest of your ‘conquests,’” I said shakily, feeling horrible as his face dropped. “When you were in the Hopital Wing, I… I felt horrible. If you didn’t wake up, I don’t know what I would’ve done.”

Sirius smirked and brought his second hand up to my face. “Ace, I think you like me. That’s nothing to be scared of. It’s what usually happens after two people go on a date and have fun.”

I felt the tears welling in my eyes again but I did nothing to stop them. “But look at your track record. It’s been girl after girl; heartbreak after heartbreak. I’m setting myself up for failure!”

“Merlin, you daft girl,” Sirius said, shifting his weight from one foot to the other and looking down. “I promise you that this isn’t like those times. I really truly like you.”

I felt a smile tug at the edges of my lips. “How can I trust you? Aren’t you the infamous Sirius Black? The boy that no girl should trust?”

He chuckled and I couldn’t help giggling as well. He had looked back up at me while I was talking and his eyes were shining.

“What if I told you,” he said, his gaze flickering down to my lips as they always did, “that I think that I’m falling in love with you?”

I stiffened and backed away as he leaned in to kiss me. He seemed surprised and gave me a confused look.

“You’re falling in love with me?” I asked, feeling my head spin as I tried to process everything. “You’re falling in love with me?!”

Sirius dropped his hands and ran one of them through his hair looking about as panicked as I felt. “I’m sorry, that felt rushed. I really should not have said that.”

“No, you really shouldn’t have,” I said slowly. “Because I don’t think I’ll be able to say that back for… a while.”

Sirius smiled, running both of his hands through his hair now. “That’s okay. You don’t have to say it back until you’re ready.”

I felt my breathing quicken and my throat constrict. “Sirius, I don’t know if I’ll be ready for a long time. You do know that, right?”

“I realize.”

“And what happens if I’m never able to say that?” I asked warily.

Sirius smirked and stepped back towards me, wrapping one of his arms around my waist and pulling me towards him. “If you can never even say the word again, I don’t care as long as you kiss me, right now.”

I chuckled nervously but didn’t hesitate in leaning forward and pressing my lips to his. He responded forcefully, and within ten seconds I had to pull away and whisper that if he didn’t stop, Madame Pince would kick us out. He told me he didn’t care so I hit him with the rolled up Witch Weekly.

“Come on,” I chastised, “we are not snogging in the library.”

Sirius smirked and ran his hand up and down one of my arms. “Well then what we were just doing?”

“Celebrating your return from the Hospital Wing,” I grinned. “And we can continue when we’re not in the library.”

Sirius waggled his eyebrows and smirked at me. “Well, we certainly can continue this somewhere else, but before we leave, can I ask what the bloody hell you were doing talking to my brother?”

I stepped back and gave him an incredulous glare. “Do we really have to talk about this now?” When all he did was give me a questioning look, I rolled my eyes. “He’s basically dating Amelia, and to be honest, he’s super sweet.”

Sirius scoffed. “I’m pretty sure you’re just a sucker for the grey eyes. He’s really just a–”

“Well,” I interrupted, “I think your eyes are something else. And would you stop thinking about Regulus. I thought we were supposed to be celebrating your release from the prison of the Hospital Wing.”

Sirius rolled his eyes and smirked. “Yes, we were. Now let’s go find an empty classroom or a broom cupboard and continue this.”

“Merlin, you bloody arsehat!” I scoffed, rolling my eyes. “You’ve completely ruined that by talking about Reg.”

“It’s Reg now?!”

“Okay, I’m going back to my common room. Owl me when you’re done obsessing.”

“If you leave, I’m going to find the bloody bastard and your pretty little chaser and I will ruin their little study date.”

“If you do that,” I said threateningly, “I promise that the only person you’ll kiss for the next few months is Potter.”

“According to Lily, James isn’t that bad at snogging!” Sirius retorted, grinning at me.

“Fine,” I said, crossing my arms. “If you so much as go near Amelia and Reg today, I’ll curse your hair off.”

“Bloody fine, you crafty minx!”

**********************

“So, he popped the ‘L word’ and you freaked out?”

I jumped and brought my hand to my chest as Charlie stepped out from a hidden alcove. She smiled and kept pace with me, offering me a grape from a small bowl she had in her hand. I shook my head no and she shrugged.

“How did you know about that?” I asked, nudging her with my shoulder. “I’m pretty sure I would have remembered if you had been part of that conversation.”

Charlie shrugged and popped a grape in her mouth. “If you’re going to talk about personal things,” she said, staring straight ahead and smiling, “maybe you should make sure no one’s in the next aisle.”

“Charlie!” I whined, giving her a reproachful look. “How in the hell did you even realize that was happening?”

“Kendra,” she shrugged as if that was a completely valid explanation.

Which it kind of was. Kendra was pretty good at knowing what was happening, when it was happening, and where it was happening. She was some kind of Hogwarts savant.

“Well, next time that happens, do you mind not eavesdropping? What are we supposed to talk about later?” I asked, starting to walk to the common room again.

Charlie shrugged. “How about that Carter and I broke up?”

I stopped again, my eyes popping out. “You and Carter… broke up?!” She nodded and I continued. “Why?!”

“It wasn’t working out. We both decided it was for the best,” she said shrugging. “Amicable break up.”

“What about Quidditch?”

“What about Quidditch? Amicable. Breakup. We both decided it wasn’t for the best. Our playing won’t be affected, I promise.”

I rolled my eyes. “Charlie, are you sure he’s okay with this?” I looked over at her and saw tears forming in her eyes. I hadn’t noticed this before, but her eyes were bloodshot and she kept wringing her hands. “Shit, he’s the one who broke it off. Are you okay with this?”

“Yeah,” she said, sniffling. “Completely. There was an awkwardness from the first break up and it just wasn’t going to work.” She shrugged and smiled sadly for a moment before the armour cracked and the fake happiness fell from her face. “I can’t do this, Lexi. I really thought… I really…”

I felt my chest hurt as tears began to fall from Charlie’s eyes. I pulled her over to the side of the corridor and wrapped my arms around her as she broke down. She began to sob into my shoulder and I immediately wished I had worn an older shirt. That sounds very insensitive, but would you like snot on one of your better shirts?

“Charlie, it’ll be okay,” I soothed, rubbing her back. “Now let’s sit down and cry it out, yeah?”

She sniffled and pulled away from me, rubbing at her eyes. “Okay,” she nodded.

I took her head and walked over to the corridor wall. Sliding down to sit, I let Charlie lean her head on my shoulder when she sat down next to me. I wrapped my left arm around her shoulders and let her cry, saying soothing words every once in a while. At one point, a small second year came running down the corridor and did a double take, but I quickly sent him on his way with a fierce glare. After a few minutes of dead silence other than Charlie’s sobs and a few comforting words from me, Charlie finally blubbered some real words out, but it was so gibberish that I couldn’t understand a thing.

“What was that, Char?” I asked, rubbing her shoulder.

Charlie sniffled and coughed a little before speaking up. “Why do you get a boy who’ll say he’ll love you when you don’t want that? I want that. I want a boy to say he’s falling in love with me. And you don’t want it.”

I squeezed her tight and let out a little giggle. “Yeah, I guess I’m a selfish bitch, aren’t I? If you want, you can have him. Sirius, I mean. Merlin knows that he annoys the bloody hell out of me.”

Charlie laughed and I felt better knowing I could make her happy right then. She turned to me and smiled.

“Nah. Sirius Black isn’t my type,” she said, and her voice broke on the last word. She paused for a moment and then snorted. “Merlin, I sound like the stupid reserve.”

I giggled at that and was glad that Charlie laughed as well. The reserve chaser that Carter had decided on was a fourth year named Marcus who was currently going through an extreme stage of puberty. That particular stage was where his voice had not stabilized, and it took a whole lot of effort not to laugh whenever the little dolt said anything. I’m pretty sure Jackson had to bit his tongue every time the fourth year opened his mouth in order not to burst out laughing and hurt poor Marcus’s feelings, since he kept complaining that he had tasted far too much blood since Marcus joined the team.

“Merlin, that boy is the epitome of prepubescent teenage boy voice,” Charlie giggled. “I swear, I don’t think his voice will ever get deeper.”

I snorted and leaned into her. “Don’t say that. That’ll jinx it! Next practice, he’s going to have a really deep voice and we’ll never have prepubescent boy voice at practice ever again.”

“Well, we could always do some sort of spell work and send Jackson back to that awkward stage,” Charlie volunteered.

“Charlie! Why would we ever do that?” I asked, pretending to be horrified. “What if it goes horribly wrong and he loses that beautiful six pack I’ve come to love?”

We giggled and Charlie wiped the remaining tears off of her face. “Thanks, Lexi,” she said, smiling at me. “You’re a really good friend.”

I smiled and shrugged. “I learned from the best, Char. And you are the best.”

We giggled and hugged and it just felt so right. I hadn’t had best friend time in a long time and I had really missed it. I was about to pull away from the hug, but Charlie tightened her grip on me.

“Lexi, I’m really glad I have you,” she said. “And even though I don’t deserve you sometimes, I’m glad that you stick around.”

“No problem, Char,” I said, closing my eyes and smelling her mint shampoo. I pulled away from her and smiled, tucking a strand of her blonde hair behind her right ear. “Now let’s go get some food and binge eat to push down these feelings, yeah?”

“I worry about the way you cope with feelings, Lexi.”

I raised an eyebrow at her. “Say that after a box of chocolate croissants.”

**********

When we got back to the common room, a boy with black hair, hazel eyes, and wire-rimmed glasses was lounging on the couch. At first I didn’t think anything of it, but just as I stepped onto the first stair leading up to the dormitory, I froze.

“Potter?” I asked, turning to look at the smirking boy who had his feet up on a coffee table. “What the bloody hell are you doing here?”

He stood up and shoved his hands into his pockets. “I’m waiting for Kendra. Lily got really mad at me and I want to know how to make things better.”

“Do you want us to go up and see if Kendra’s in the dormitory?” Charlie offered.

James looked grateful and nodded a little sadly. “Yeah, thanks!”

We nodded and began to make our way up to our room. As we reached the door, Charlie grabbed the door handle and turned. Opening the door, we heard small whines and the sound of sobs. We walked inside and saw Lily and Kendra on Kendra’s bed, the redhead completely dissolved into tears. I sucked in a breath and hesitated before rushing over.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, completely confused as to what to do. Kendra just shook her head. “Is it James?”

That was obviously the wrong thing to say as Lily began sobbing harder. I was getting tired of these sobbing girls, especially since it was all over guys. I sat on the bed next to Lily and began rubbing circles on her back, not unlike what I had done for Charlie. She tried to say something but none of us seemed to understand her, even if all three of us nodded and muttered our agreement.

Charlie had walked over and sat down next to me on Kendra’s bed, and Lily had somehow managed to lay herself down so that her legs were across Charlie and I, while her head was in Kendra’s lap. Every once in a while she would say something but it would be rendered gibberish by her crying. Finally, Lily began to calm down and wiped the tears off her face, taking in a deep breath.

“Merlin’s beard,” she semi-sobbed, clutching on to Kendra’s legs as if for dear life, “I never knew that boy troubles would be so stressful.”

Kendra began petting Lily’s head, offering her comforting words. I gave Charlie a strange face and she grimaced back at me. After a few minutes of Kendra fawning over the distressed Lily, I sighed disgruntledly and fell back to lie on Kendra’s bed, letting Lily’s legs slip slightly on mine.

“Why are boys so complicated?” I asked no one in particular. “And they say that they can’t understand us. Bloody bastards are confusing!”

“Amen!” Kendra sighed, continue to pat Lily on the head. “Okay darling,” she said to her blubbering friend, “you have to get up now. No more wallowing about what James may or may not have said about your freckles. You’re going to get up, wipe those bloody tears off of your face, and do what Lexi here usually does best.”

We all looked at her quizzically.

“Stare at Sirius and then pretend we weren’t when he looks over?” asked Charlie.

Lily sniffed and then said, “Use ourselves as human bludger shields?”

I felt slightly disgruntled and glared at Kendra, but she just smirked. I shot a look at Charlie too but she just shrugged her shoulders as if to say ‘it’s true.’ Charlie just chuckled at my obvious un-amusement as Kendra piped up again.

“Let’s go to the kitchens and eat to cope with these feelings!” she cried victoriously.

Charlie began guffawing in an entirely unladylike way as Kendra and Lily giggled too. I glared at all of them before sighing and letting out a chuckle as well.

“Am I really that predictable?”

Kendra raised an eyebrow at me. “You have a pack of cookies under your bed that you think no one knows about.”

“Point taken.”

With that, we all got off of the bed and took a minute, fussing over Lily who seemed to be adamant not to leave, for Merlin forbid anyone saw her looking a mess. Once she decided that she was ready, we all walked over to the dormitory door when I remembered something.

“Oh, uh, Lily?” She looked over at me expectantly and I smiled sheepishly. “Before you leave, James is down in the common room.”

Her face went pale and then within a second went red. All of a sudden, she opened the door, stormed out of the dormitory and raced down the girls’ stairs. Kendra, Charlie, and I all looked at each other in confusion for a moment before sprinting after her. We could hear her stomping down the stairs, and I could almost picture her hair becoming actual fire. As the three of us raced down after her, we only just made it down in time to see Lily slap James across the face and then start screaming.

“How dare you saw what you said and then have the audacity to come to my friends’ House common room, to wait for me, when I’ve made it obvious that I do not want to talk to you.” Lily burst into tears again. “Go away, James. I don’t want to talk to you ever again!”

“Oh, come on Lils,” James said, reaching out and grabbing her hand. “You’re just over reacting. Seems like it’s someone’s time of the month!”

With a resounding crack, Lily’s unoccupied hand flew out and caught James across the cheek once again. Her green eyes burned as she went from sad to livid in a split second. She yanked her other hand out of his and stormed away, leaving the Ravenclaw Common Room in a state of shock. From the open door, we could hear her yelling obscenities about ‘that bloody idiot Potter,’ and how if she’d ‘rather spend a year in Azkaban than see his bloody face one more time!”

James looked distraught and looked to Kendra, Charlie, and I expectantly. Kendra just shrugged and hurried away after the furious Lily. Charlie and I glanced each other and then followed suit, murmuring ‘You really blew it this time,’ and ‘Just stay away from her for a little while,’ as we passed James.

Once we got into the corridor, it wasn’t hard to track down the other two. Lily seemed to have been so emotional that she was leaving crying first years in her wake. One of them seemed to have been hit by lightning, such that her hair stood on end. Another was babbling in rhyme much to her dismay and her friends’ amusement. I had half a mind to try and reverse the spell for that one, but I honestly had no idea how. It took several minutes but we finally caught up to Kendra and Lily near the Great Hall. They had stopped at the edge of a large crowd of students, all who seemed enraptured in something.

“What’s going on?” I asked, straining to see over the large number of heads.

Kendra shrugged but I saw a familiar face in the crowd turn around.

Derek Wood gave us a sad look before saying, “Its Professor McLaren. They’ve decided that the best place for her is St. Mungo’s. I heard that Dumbledore’s already got a replacement waiting.”

I stood on tiptoes to see the bobbing heads of what I assumed to be Healers walk past the crowd of students. A second later, large trunks and bags hovered after them; they were no doubt Professor McLaren’s belongings.

“Do they not know what happened then?” Lily asked, her tears and anger at James Potter forgotten.

“No,” Wood said simply. “Professor McLaren’s in no fit state to talk about it, and the only other person who would have an idea is Sirius.” He looked straight at me. “Guess he hasn’t said anything to you?”

Guilt pounded at me as I realized that I hadn’t once asked him about the incident. I shook my head slowly and stared blankly ahead at the seemingly impenetrable wall of students.

“I haven’t asked, and even if he did, wouldn’t he have told Dumbledore?”

Silence met my ears and I felt sick. Could Sirius possibly have known what had happened to both he and Professor McLaren? Of worse still, could he have known before it actually happened? He did seem intent on talking to her after you date, I told myself. But then I quickly shook my head to get those traitorous thought out of my head. Sirius was a good bloke. He obviously didn’t have anything to do with the attack. Right?


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