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Chapter 23 : Old Home Week
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Chapter Twenty-Three: Old Home Week
Sirius paced in the darkness uneasily. When exactly had he become possessive of her? He didn’t care if she was physically intimate with Draco. Although she probably doubted it and he knew Remus would never believe him, he had learned years ago that it was not only possible but sometimes beneficial to have nothing more than a physical relationship with someone. Exactly when he had started to feel something other than sheer animalistic attraction to her befuddled him. She was a female…he expected her to feel something. It was unlike a woman to not mistake sex with some other silly emotion like caring or friendship or love even. He shuddered. When had he lost control over this situation and, more importantly, how the hell was he supposed to get it back?
He dropped into a chair, rubbing his stubbly chin in concentration. He couldn’t expect Draco to be good enough in bed to make her forget about him. Not merely because his talents would be sub par, but Sirius knew enough of Draco to know he’d open his mouth and say something stupid at the most inopportune time. Why couldn’t the boy learn to keep his mouth shut? He could keep quiet, sweep Hermione off her feet and Sirius would never have to worry about this brief nasty bout of mixed emotions that he was trying to subdue.
“You look like you could use a stiff drink,” Bill called from the doorway. He offered him a smile. “Up for an evening out with the boys?”
Sirius grumbled before he could contain it. “If ‘boys’ includes ferret face then no, I think I’ll pass.”
“I’m not sensing a bit of tension between you two, am I? Grateful you saved his life not grateful you are bedding his wife to be?” Bill grinned at Sirius, who turned a stunned look his direction. “Don’t worry, he doesn’t know. Neither does Remus because that will undoubtedly be your second question.”
Sirius frowned, his mind whirling with moments when he could have possibly made their relationship visible to anyone much less Bill who was at Grimmauld on such a rare occasion.
Bill smiled. “You would never know by looking at the two of you, Sirius. Relax. She mentioned to Fleur that her nightmares have ceased,” he explained with a self conscious shrug. “You and I both know, there’s only one thing that makes her nightmares go away. Like I said,” he continued, “you could probably use a stiff drink.”
Sirius nodded gratefully, the ease at which Bill was accepting of his predicament making him feel less isolated. He had worked hard to hide his relationship with Hermione to protect Juliette but, as Bill was willing to point out, there really was no need to be so secretive with the adults. Sirius cursed himself for once again falling in to a “need to be accepted” mode rather than just being honest and straightforward with the others. He offered Bill a lopsided smile. “Best offer I’ve had in days.”
“How many have we had?” Bill asked the waitress as she brought them another round of drinks.
“Not as many as you want, I suspect,” she replied smiling. “Anything else, boys?”
Remus waved her away with a smile then pushed his empty glass aside to replace it with the fresh one. “Tonks is gonna kill me for coming home drunk again.”
“When are you going to marry her and make an honest woman—"
Sirius laughed. “Marriage doesn’t bode well for the Marauders, Bill.”
Bill nodded drunkenly. “Yeah, you do have a point.”
“Hey, isn’t that—" Remus nodded across the barroom as a rush of patrons crowded to the doorway.
“Viktor Krum,” Bill nodded.
Sirius perked up immediately. “As in Hermione’s first kiss, Krum?”
Remus laughed as he raised an arm to Viktor. “Can’t say that’s what he’s most famous for, no. He helped us a lot during the war; used his bloody popularity to rally supporters for us.”
Remus stood up, wavering just a tad, as Viktor approached the table.
“Sit down before you fall, Remus,” Viktor clapped him on the back and helped him sink into a chair. “Bill,” he outstretched his hand then turned a smile to Sirius. “I don’t believe we’ve—"
“Viktor, meet Sirius Black.”
“The dead one?”
“The only one,” Sirius countered already liking the Bulgarian’s cocky matter-of-fact manner.
“Join us, will you?”
“I don’t want to interrupt,” he answered Bill’s question but his eyes were still peering curiously at Sirius.
“Stay for the whiskey or stay for the company of previously dead people,” Sirius slurred, “one must appeal to you.”
Viktor dropped into a chair and took the drink Sirius offered. “Just for one, though, I’m meeting someone. Perhaps you know him? Oliver Wood?”
“Ah, yes. I know Oliver well,” Bill nodded. “Rumors are true, then? About the two of you restarting the Quidditch World Cup?”
“It seems like its time,” he answered nodding, trying to ignore the cackling of patrons that had assembled around them. “We still need Ministry approval, of course, and financial backing, but—"
“Lucky for you, then, that you are drinking with a top Ministry official and a filthy rich bastard.” Sirius grinned.
“Sirius-" Remus tried.
“But, Remus,” Sirius turned a pleading look his direction, “it’s Quidditch!”
“I did not mean—" Viktor tried to stand but Bill pulled him back down.
“They can help you,” he admonished. “Be grateful not guilty. Look, there’s Oliver. Oliver!” Bill jumped up and enveloped him in a hug. “Sit. My lady! Drinks for all, if you would.”
Oliver turned a mystified look to the table. The motley assortment causing him to hesitate. “Are you all drunk, then?”
Viktor downed a glass and nodded. “Close enough.”
Oliver’s eyes scanned the group, passing over Sirius and then traveling back. “Sirius Black?” he breathed and a hush fell over the group.
Loopy from his drink, Sirius lifted his fingers to count things off. “I didn’t kill James and Lily Potter. I was never a Death Eater. I didn’t use dark magic to escape Azkaban. I fell through a veil ten years ago but apparently didn’t die and now I am back.” He glanced curiously at this fingers and then to the group. “Did I miss anything?”
Remus laughed. “He knocked Draco senseless the other day.”
Oliver seemed flummoxed but the honest kinship he saw between the men made his reservations evaporate. “Well, if you are punching Draco Malfoy, you can’t be too bad in my book.”
The harried waitress stumbled through the growing crowd around their table. Remus just managed to catch the bottles before they dropped to the floor. She nodded her thanks but turned a stern look to them all. “Either you have to stop drinking so fast or the fan club has got to go. I’m not—"
Sirius chuckled at the drunken apologies. “Seeing as how we’ve no intention of slowing down—"
He rose high in his chair, spreading his arms wide. He toppled a little in his drunkenness and nodded gratefully to Viktor and Bill, who had grabbed his feet to keep him steady. His voice low and gravelly, he tried to keep his laughter in check.
“I, Sirius Black, having risen from death, command you to leave before I must cast—"
He got no further before the group filtered a dozen different directions.
“Sirius, really,” Remus took hold of his arm and pulled him back into the chair. “Have you any idea what the papers will read tomorrow?”
“Zombie that defied death threatens masses?” Bill offered laughing. “Good show, Sirius. Now, where were we?”
Oliver glanced from one to the other, a smile crossing his face as he realized none seemed coherent enough to remember. “Toasting Sirius for kicking Draco’s ass?”
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