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In My Time of Dying by Stag Night
Chapter 28 : Kiss and Make Up
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 12


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In My Time of Dying
Disclaimer:
The story title is a song originally recorded (under that title) by Bob Dylan. The world, characters and canon events belong to J. K. Rowling. Everything else belongs to me. It is illegal to publish and distribute fanfiction without J.K. Rowling's permission. You may not copy, post elsewhere, change or edit any part of this story. You may not claim it as your own.



C H A P T E R . T W E N T Y - E I G H T
Kiss and Make Up





Hogsmeade was unsurprisingly dead. The wave of disappointment at seeing the village - a place where he and his friends had experienced many joys over the years - didn’t even strike him anymore. It was like living in a different life now. Some of the shops had shut down, with windows and doors boarded up. Most of them closed down much earlier than they ever used to; nobody bothered to be outdoors at night anymore, after all.


The Hogs Head Inn, however, was always open. It was there that the shadiest of people frequented, not wanting to deal with the lighter (and considerably more crowded) Three Broomsticks. Or, farther away, the Leaky Cauldron. These were the people with something to hide, the people that wanted to avoid confrontation or being noticed.


Sirius wondered, sometimes, if Death Eaters themselves ever visited the small pub for a drink. The run down old place seemed like a terrible location to hold their Order meetings, but by now, they could all recognise the usefulness.


Most people stayed away, so their was little risk of discovery. Of those who visited, few would ever suspect that such a gathering would happen there, of all places. Most people, if they did pay attention to the visitors who were quietly led out of the room to a secret staircase, were too sloshed to think anything of it anyway.


But Sirius had to smirk when he turned to see the look of apprehension on the Minister’s face as the older man’s eyes scanned over the gruesome Hog’s Head sign hanging over the street. The poor fellow probably thought he’d been removed from one evil to go to another.


“Here,” muttered Sirius, stepping out from beneath the Invisibility cloak. They couldn’t let anyone see the Minister, after all. Everyone was looking for him, and as he’d wondered before, who knew if a Death Eater sat drinking in the bar at the very moment.


Even if there wasn’t an actual Death Eater, one could never be too certain these days that the person right next to him wasn’t a loyal follower of the Dark Lord. Anyone could pass a message along that the Minister was in the Hog’s Head, after all, and it would only take a second for a real Death Eater to appear, and then that could even expose the Order’s presence.


He double checked to be certain the Minister was covered before turning to open the door. “Be very quiet,” he muttered under his breath.


The Minister seemed frightened, and he didn’t say a word. He really didn’t have much choice, Sirius realised with amusement, because he hadn’t bothered to search for or try to recover the man’s wand.


Inside the inn, Aberforth didn’t even bother to wait for Sirius to give him a password. Sirius was pleased, for it likely meant that Dumbledore had gotten his Patronus’s message, was already here and had told his brother that Sirius would be coming. Aberforth lead them through the doorway to the hidden room and staircase to the basement. He nodded pleasantly at Sirius, and his eyes lingered in the open space, as if he had felt something, as if he was aware that somebody hidden was among them.


Sirius rounded the corner, hoping that the Minister was following. What would he do if the man used the opportunity of an Invisibility cloak to make his escape? But he heard a footstep behind him. The Minister didn’t seem to have any fight left in him to run, and for that Sirius was glad.


Dumbledore stood alone in the centre of the room, and he strode forward quickly when he saw Sirius.


“Sirius,” he said urgently. “I have received your Patronus.”


Though it was rather obvious that he had, or he wouldn’t be there, Sirius didn’t say anything. He didn’t get a chance to, anyway, for Dumbledore’s eyes immediately darted towards a place behind Sirius.


(Sirius had been struck before with the thought that Dumbledore could see through Invisibility cloaks. He had sworn before, while still at Hogwarts, that the old Headmaster had spoken directly to him and James as they stood holding their breath beneath it for fear of being discovered where they shouldn’t be.)


Sirius tried not to make a face, let his sudden irritation of that fact (it really wasn’t fair, after all) show as he glanced behind him and saw nothing, despite knowing the Minister was there. Dumbledore spoke quickly.


He said, “Ollie,” and his tone took on less urgency and more gentleness as he stepped forward. “Are you all right? It is safe to remove your disguise, now. You are among friends fighting against the Dark side, now.”


The Minister seemed to hesitate, but a moment later the cloak came off to reveal the portly man standing before them. He balled up the cloak nervously, and Sirius glared at the bundle, feeling that that was no way to treat an object that had always been so helpful and endearing to him and his friends. When the Minister held it out to him, Sirius accepted it readily, and tried to smooth it’s wrinkles as Dumbledore interrogated the man.


“Who took you?”


The Minister’s voice shook as his eyes flickered to Dumbledore. “I… I believe it was one of the Lestrange’s sons. I don’t know which one.”


At that moment, Aberforth appeared with a glass and a bottle of firewhisky. The Minister snatched them both, poured himself a shot, and downed it in one gulp. He refilled the glass then, and sipped more slowly, and after a moment he waved a hand dismissively at Dumbledore.


“I can never tell those Lestrange boys apart. But perhaps it was the older one, because the eldest Black daughter was there as well.”


“Bellatrix,” supplied Sirius in a flat voice.


The Minister nodded. “Yes,” was all he said. He took another drink and licked his lips, appearing to ponder things as he stared at the floor a moment. He finally glanced at Dumbledore again.


“I don’t know what happened, or how they got into the Ministry. How they got into my office! It was a fine morning, and I took the Floo network from my home straight to my office as I always did. And yet somehow, they were there. Somehow, they penetrated the Ministry’s defences and were waiting for me.”


“They spent the night. They hid out and never left,” said Sirius, his voice growing more intense the longer he spoke. “They brought werewolves in to kill people, and to create a diversion-”


Dumbledore held up a hand to silence him, and Sirius trailed off.


The Minister looked weary. He sank towards the ground, and fortunately Dumbledore was quick to summon a chair to slide beneath the man just in time. A million thoughts ran through the Minister’s head; Sirius could see each reflect in his pale eyes.


“There were werewolves in the Ministry?” he finally choked out. “How can that be?”


“Ollie,” said Dumbledore quietly. “We have been keeping an eye on things within the Ministry for a very long time now. And there are many, many people who are supporting Voldemort.”


“Don’t say his name!” hissed the Minister, his face going red. “Cripes, are you trying to give me a heart attack, Albus?”


Dumbledore merely waited pleasantly for the Minister to finish speaking before he continued as if the interruption had never happened. “Many people are fulfilling his wishes simply because they are afraid of what will happen if they don’t. Some are under the Imperius Curse even as we speak, and do the Dark Lord’s bidding simply because they are forced to. Some are more active followers, but keep their noses clean in public. You would never know…”


“That blasted Lucius Malfoy,” growled the Minister. “He has everyone fooled. He was there. I haven’t been able to tell much, being locked down in a dungeon. But I’m fairly certain that I was kept in his manor. Lucius Malfoy, of all people! He has had us all wrapped around his little finger!”


To illustrate his point, the Minister held up his finger, his entire hand shaking with rage. Sirius could tell he was becoming rather drunk.


“He’ll be sent to Azkaban for the rest of his life when I’m done with him. For treason,” continued the Minister savagely.


“Ollie,” warned Dumbledore in a low voice. “Might I suggest you not be so hasty in your quest for revenge. As I have been trying to tell you, many people are in support of Voldemort right now. You don’t know who you might be dealing with at any time.”


The Minister appeared annoyed. “What would you suggest I do, Albus, just sit by and let them get away with it?”


Dumbledore nodded once, appearing pleased that the man, though drunk, picked up on it so quickly. “Precisely. One wrong move to implicate somebody important to Voldemort, Ollie, and it could be the end of you. You must always watch yourself, and when the war is over, know that nobody will get away with anything…”


“Now you listen here, Dumbledore,” said Ollie, standing up to point his finger in Dumbledore’s face. Sirius watched in amusement. “You don’t know what I went through. I was gagged and bound and petrified. Do you know what it’s like to be carried to your doom when you can’t do anything about it? When you can’t even blink your eyes? To be taken back through the Floo to my own home, to hear my wife scream in horror and know there was nothing I could do as they carried me out to the back alley and Disapparated away!


“If you think for one instant, Albus, that I am going to let somebody get away with that-”


Dumbledore interrupted again. “Minister, I understand that you wish to release your vengeance upon those responsible for the crimes committed against you, however, I must warn you again that doing so could result in danger for you and your entire family.”


Stopping to gesture towards Sirius, Dumbledore turned to the Minister and added, “And what of your rescuer? What dangers are you going to throw young Sirius Black into when people demand to know of how you escaped?”


Sirius, who hadn’t thought of that, felt his heart briefly stop beating.


The Minister did, at least, give Sirius a sympathetic look before his face hardened once more. “A crime has been committed, Dumbledore. Against your Minister of Magic, no less. That is one of the gravest of offences; it threatens the very security of all of Wizarding Britain. I would have thought you, of all people, would stand behind me in this. Nothing is more important than getting those who are guilty the punishments that they deserve.”


“This is a complicated war, Ollie. We can’t be too quick to take action, or we could risk everything. And allow me to remind you that the Dementors are currently working for Voldemort, roaming free and happily sucking the souls out of innocent people. I really don’t think sending anyone to Azkaban right now will matter when security is at its lowest.”


Ollie stood up, clearly ready to leave. He narrowed his eyes at Dumbledore. “I will assign Aurors the task of patrolling Azkaban in the Dementors’ absence.”


“Ah,” said Dumbledore. “A good substitution, indeed. I have often thought that the use of Dementors was cruel and unusual punishment, but very few seem to agree with me.”


“I should think not,” grumbled the Minister under his breath. “The Dementors are the only thing that lets people sleep at night, knowing there is no chance for escape.”


“Regardless,” continued Dumbledore, pretending not to hear him. “Might I suggest that the Auror’s time could be desperately used elsewhere, outside of guarding the prison? France is in a bit of a catastrophe with the giant movement, and could certainly use our help. If they are not stopped, the giants will be Britain’s problem, anyway.”


The Minister glared grumpily at Dumbledore. “Why don’t you go back to your school, old man,” he growled.


At once, Dumbledore lost the twinkle in his eye, and he stiffened, becoming rather fierce looking. When he spoke, it was harsh enough to cause Sirius to gape in awe and fear (he wasn't sure which was the stronger emotion).


His former headmaster had raised his voice slightly; he was commanding and intimidating. “Do not forget,” he spoke slowly, though his tone no less hard for it. “You have narrowly escaped by sheer luck. Do not allow yourself to be vulnerable again. The Ministry will fall if you are not careful.”


The Minister seemed annoyed at being spoken to in such a manner, for he raised his finger at Dumbledore, as if to give a piece of his mind, but after a moment only shook his head and lowered his hand. He turned and quite suddenly stalked back up the staircase.


“Ollie,” called Dumbledore loudly after him, still looking menacing although his tone was more matter-of-fact now. “Do remember to cover your face, at least until you arrive safely at home.” There was a grunted response, and then the man was gone.


Sirius lowered his brow and snapped his mouth shut, for it had been hanging open. His grey eyes flicked to Dumbledore, and the old man looked quite pleased. His blue gaze regained its twinkle, and he cast it upon Sirius.


“How did you rescue him, Sirius, I was certain it would have to be a raid to get the man out.”


Sirius swallowed. “I picked the lock. The Muggle way,” he added. “I remembered seeing the stairs down to the basement at a party, once. It was the first place I checked because it seemed the most obvious. He was there, so I picked the chains that bound him, and with the Invisibility cloak…” he shrugged. “It really wasn’t that hard, and I didn’t think I could just leave him there once I had found him.”


Dumbledore chuckled. “And how do you feel about that now, Sirius?”


“I wish I had left him there,” said Sirius flatly. All he could think about now was Bellatrix or his parents or his aunt and uncle coming after him once learning the news that it was he who had rescued the Minister. Right from beneath their noses. He could think of nothing that would enrage Bellatrix more.


“Do not be too hard on him, Sirius,” said Dumbledore with a friendly pat on his shoulder. “Ollie is normally a fantastic person. One of the best Ministers we’ve ever had, and as of late, it hasn’t been easy to be the Minister. And I would not doubt that sitting in a dungeon for weeks has made him slightly grumpy.”


“Professor, do you think he’ll tell it was me?”


“Oh, most definitely,” said Dumbledore, and Sirius thought his tone was all too pleasant about the subject. “But, Sirius, the man has been missing for several weeks, and the Malfoy family has always had a very, very good standing with the Ministry. Do Death Eaters donate thousands upon thousands of galleons to St. Mungo’s to help the unfortunate? I don’t believe most do. And neither will anyone else.


“When Ollie walks in his front door, his wife will immediately notify the Magical Law Enforcement. They will arrive to find the Minister drunk, angry, and spewing rather unbelievable stories of his capture and rescue, incriminating one of the most respected families in the wizarding community. Two, in fact, if you wish to include your own.”


“No,” said Sirius quickly.


“Ah, just one, then.”


Sirius didn’t look convinced, so Dumbledore tried to further reassure him. “Do not worry, Sirius. I tried to warn the Minister against seeking revenge just yet. He is only going to harm himself, and chances are he isn’t even going to remember your name when he tries to explain his escape.”


“But my family,” said Sirius in disappointment. “Bellatrix. She will know it was me after he talks. It won’t be hard to figure out.”


“Be very careful, Sirius.”


“I always am, lately.”


“Then everything is as it should be.” Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled again. “You ought to go home and try to rest. I expect that the next few days will be busy ones.”








II.

Dumbledore was terribly right about the coming days becoming busier. There was a flurry of interviews and accusations, and it seemed for a while that wherever one looked, there was always the blinding flash of a camera. At least it seemed that way within the Ministry of Magic.


The Minister could go nowhere without a cluster of Aurors assigned specifically to protect him, and he was also unable to escape the questions that flew at him anytime he showed his face out of the office.


Alastor Moody and Edgar Bones leaned against a wall one day, absently taking a lunch break and munching on sandwiches. The freedom to leave the Ministry was gone now, and nobody ever got to have lunch out anymore. It didn’t matter for those who were also in the Order - they hardly ever left the Ministry anyway, always trying to keep an eye on things. Many other employees, however, walked around disgruntled and unhappy, clutching their boring brown lunch bags with annoyed expressions on their faces.


The two Order members watched the Minister juggle the questions thrown at him with eyes like hawks. Moody ripped a bite off his sandwich with his teeth.


“Do you think he regrets being rescued,” he grumbled. He was worried, now. Something didn’t feel right about the Minister being back, although he could see no signs of the man being under the Imperius Curse. He’d tried many times in the past couple of days to get the Minister alone, just to get a good look in the man’s eyes, but the Aurors never left the nervous man's side.


“Aye,” said Edgar with a nod. He bit into an orange he’d just finished peeling, and didn’t appear to notice as juice squirted out against the wall beside his head. “Malfoy’s got him all in a panic, hasn’t he?”


It was the current headline news, the accusations against Lucius Malfoy. It had sparked a minor war between the Minister and his supporters, and the civilians who counted Malfoy as one of their peers. After all, everyone knew of the Malfoy family’s generous donations and the prestige that came with the Malfoy name. Generations of Malfoys had been around for centuries, always pureblood, always wealthy and elite. It was practically a crime in itself to accuse a Malfoy of such things, things that such a wonderful family would always be far above.


And so when the Minister declared he’d been rescued by some fellow (as it turned out, he was too drunk to remember the young hero's name) from the Malfoy Manor, and that he’d even spoken to Dumbledore in secret afterwards, he’d been accused of being touched in the head. It was even worse when he’d arrived home after speaking to Dumbledore, only for his loving wife to alert the authorities with delight that he was back. Only for everyone present to smell the reek of alcohol and firewhisky on his breath as he slurred his explanation.


It, also, was further worsened when the Aurors had done a search of Malfoy Manor and they had been unable to uncover the hidden door to the dungeons, as it was disguised rather well as simply a part of the wall. Moody sneered and ripped another bite from his sandwich. If he had been there for the raid, he would be able to find that door. Sirius Black had told him where it was. It was unfortunate that he’d been dealing with another random Death Eater attack, another murdered family, when the raid had happened, for he knew the truth, and he'd have done a better search.


He tried to talk Barty Crouch into another raid, this time with himself as a part of it, but Crouch refused, not wanting to bother the Malfoys, whom he seemed to consider innocent of all accusations, any further.


We can't do another raid, Alastor, not without any evidence. Once was pushing it, and we're lucky Lucius was willing to let us in on nothing but the Minister's word in the first place - especially with no previous record of any wrongdoing... well respected family...


Moody was irritated. If only Dumbledore hadn’t have gotten the Minister drunk… but it had been done to protect Sirius. Unfortunately, that led to protection for Lucius Malfoy as well. Moody had thought that sacrifices would have to be made in this war, that they would have to do things they didn’t want to do. If that meant dying, then they had all known what they’d signed up for. But that was Dumbledore’s weakness; he would let Lucius - a criminal - go to save one of the Order members instead.


(Although, even if he hated to admit it, he would have been quite upset if Sirius Black had been killed because the Minister had been able to supply his name.)


As they watched, it was easy to see the shine of sweat on the Minister’s forehead, the nervous way he shifted his weight and the way his eyes darted around before he answered questions. It was only the reporters who rallied around the Minister these days, always wanting to stir up more controversy for the Daily Prophet. Everyone else pretty much stayed away. Most people felt betrayed by the Minister’s disappearance, only to be found at home again, safe and drunk.


“Oi!” shouted one man from the throng of people moving through the busy Atrium. “Are you going to accuse me of kidnapping next, Minister?” The voice couldn’t be matched with a face from the busy crowd.


The Minister’s eyes bulged. “Who said that!” he demanded wildly, quickly becoming defensive.


“Ah, go have another drink,” snapped somebody else, in a gruffer voice.


“This is terrible,” said Edgar to Alastor. “We’re trying to fight a war here… Everyone should be banding together.”


Moody only nodded. “Things are going to get worse before they get better, Edgar. Mark my words.”






III.

James’s birthday was something to look forward to for all; James’s parents had invited everyone over for a small party. So many things had gone wrong in the past couple of months, from the McKinnons’ deaths to the Underground to the Minister. Even personal things, such as Lily’s parents, didn’t escape the doom that seemed to hover over everything in the world. Remus’s birthday had been enjoyable, but quiet and subdued due to the timing of the full moon.


But James’s birthday was like a lighthouse in the middle of a dense, foggy sea. They were all well, there was no full moon lingering just around the corner. It was simply a nice get together for a lovely reason, something that hadn’t been done since Sirius’s birthday months before, and even then, Remus wasn’t there for that one.


Sirius was ecstatic. He stepped out of the fireplace in the Potter home and immediately began casting spells, so that celebratory ribbons adorned everything and confetti sprinkled from the ceiling.


James’s mother pursed her lips at him. “I hope you are cleaning that up.”


Giving her a sheepish grin, Sirius tossed a gift (with a terrible wrapping job) at James. “Happy birthday, mate.”


James caught it with ease, even if Sirius’s throw was a little off. “Thanks. Is Moony coming?”


“Right behind me,” said Sirius, settling into a chair, and a moment later Remus appeared in the fireplace as well.


“Happy birthday, Prongs,” he said with a cheerful smile. “Oh, blimey,” he added as a cascade of confetti fell on his head. “Here you are, then,” he said, stepping quickly towards James and thrusting his gift out. “Hullo,” he added shyly to Mrs Potter.


James laughed. “Slow down, Moony,” he said. Remus blushed and shoved his hands in his pockets. To break the awkward silence, James informed them all, “Wormtail’s in the kitchen. Probably sticking his finger in the cake…”


“He better not be!” gasped Mrs Potter, struggling to get out of her chair in her old age.


“Mum! Merlin. I’m just taking the Mickey, really, you don’t have to…” objected James, trailing off in laughter.


“He probably is, though,” said Remus under his breath.


“Let’s go find him and go to my room,” James suggested brightly. “I don’t think my mum is enjoying having so much company.”


“Where’s Evans?” asked Sirius as they made their way into the kitchen. They were pleased to find Peter not in the cake as expected, but instead having a nice conversation with James’s father.


“She’ll be over later,” lied James absently.


Sirius balked. “Why?” he demanded. “She hasn’t got anywhere else to be.”


James only shrugged. “Just tired. She’s in bed, you prat, you know we’ve all been in Order meetings until the early mornings…”


“Does she not want to be around us?” pressed Sirius knowingly. Remus looked rather displeased at the suggestion, and he watched James warily for the answer.


“No… she does,” said James carefully. He bit his lip and his eyes flicked quickly to Sirius, who could see the hints of desperation and pleading in them. “Will you stop,” James hissed under his breath.


Sirius could only blink at him. He'd never meant to hit a nerve with James; he'd only figured that if she was going to miss her own fiancée's birthday party, it would be for a reason other than just being 'tired'.


James turned away from his best friend. “Wormtail,” he snapped. Peter looked up in surprise. “Come on, we’re going up to my room for a bit, until it’s time to eat. We’re driving my mum crazy.”


As the four were halfway up the stairs, Sirius grabbed James’s arm and pulled him back. He glared meaningfully and didn’t have to say a word.


James swallowed. “We had a fight,” he whispered, so that Remus and Peter didn’t hear. They kept climbing the stairs, unaware that James and Sirius had stopped moving.


“Why,” was all Sirius had to say, and his tone was rather demanding.


“Over her sister,” muttered James. “Lily wants to go to her wedding.”


“I thought she wasn’t invited,” said Sirius.


“She’s not.”


“Then why-”


“I don’t know, Padfoot. Because it’s all the family she has left, perhaps?”


Sirius frowned, and James continued up the stairs without him. “Is that your first big fight, then?” he finally asked. Perhaps if anyone else had asked, James would have been annoyed, but only Sirius could get away with such personal things put so bluntly.


James reached the top step and rounded the corner, heading down the hall. “Yes,” he said over his shoulder. He stopped suddenly. “Hey, Sirius. Do you think we’re too young to get married?”


Sirius frowned at James. “What are you talking about, Prongs, you had one argument and now you’re rethinking marriage? That’s the most barmy thing I’ve ever heard…”


“But we're hardly nineteen...”


“And yet you fight a war,” said Sirius pointedly. “Everyone argues now and then, James.” He wrapped his arm around James’s neck then, and with his other hand ground his knuckles into the top of James’s head, thoroughly messing his hair up and causing great pain to his friend all at once. “Even us.”


James wrestled out of the hold and shoved Sirius into the wall. “I know that,” he objected in his own defence. He ran his hand through his hair and thought a moment.


“I just wasn’t expecting to have such a huge disagreement so soon… I mean, we've never had a fight before. At least not since we started dating,” he added quickly, upon seeing the look Sirius threw him, one that clearly was meant to remind him of years one through six at Hogwarts. “I mean, we were fine for over a year, and then we get engaged, and boom! Fight.”


“Yeah,” said Sirius finally, straightening the portrait he’d knocked crooked. He glanced at James and grinned. “But don't forget, Prongs, you two have to learn how to live with each other now. Believe me, it takes time getting used to living with you.” He ducked James's swing and added quickly, “Besides... It's healthy to fight. Now you get to have a birthday shag and a make up shag.”


James shook his head and watched his friend in amusement. “As far as you know, Lily is still saving herself. So…”


“Oh, right, Prongs.” Sirius stepped away from the portrait and stroked his chin distractedly, trying to determine whether or not it was level. James frowned.


“Er, how did you know?”


Sirius couldn’t stop the chuckle that escaped him. “Ah, Prongs. The look in your eye… I knew right when I saw it. It was right after the…” and he stopped short, horrified to find himself about to speak so lightly about somebody’s death. His smile faded and he eyed James reproachfully.


“The McKinnons,” finished James softly. Sirius only nodded, and the two watched each other for a moment, both lost in thought.


“Oi,” demanded Peter suddenly. Neither James nor Sirius had noticed him suddenly come up behind James, who turned quickly to address the interruption. Peter feigned a disapproving frown, teasing them. “Are you lot coming, or what? Otherwise, I’m going back downstairs to stick my fingers in that cake.”


“The hell you are,” smiled James, punching Peter lightly in the shoulder. “That cake is mine. And Lily might make me one, too. And no, you can't have it!”







IV.

When James stepped out of the fireplace and into his own small cottage, Lily was there. She had been waiting for him all day, feeling guilty and sick and nervous about confronting him when he finally came home. And when he appeared, all she could do was stop and stare at him shyly.


It took only the tiny smile he offered for her to forget it all and throw herself into his waiting arms.


He grunted as he caught her, and the force of her energy nearly knocked the wind out of him. Though he had invited her into his embrace with his gesture, the fact that she'd so readily accepted had caught him off guard. All through the first six years at Hogwarts, after all, he had come to know her temper and the way she held grudges rather well. But her arms squeezed lovingly around his neck, and it only took a moment to overcome his hesitation and surprise before he wrapped his arms more tightly around her.


“I’m sorry, James,” she murmured into his throat. He tried not to shiver in pleasure at the way her sweet, warm breath brushed against his skin. “I shouldn’t have missed your birthday, it was really childish of me…”


“No,” disagreed James softly, his voice mildly hoarse from the soot and Floo powder, and her tight hold, and perhaps a small bit of relief as well.


“Listen, Lily. I shouldn’t be trying to stop you from going to Petunia’s wedding. I know she’s still your sister, no matter what. I just don’t want to see her make you miserable.” He frowned reluctantly and took a deep breath. “And,” he said, blurting the next part out very quickly, and half hoping she wouldn't take him up on the offer. “If you want me to be your date to this wedding that we are crashing, I’d be happy to.”


“You’d better be my date,” she said slyly, leaning back to see his face and smile. “You are my fiancée, after all.”


“Guilty,” he admitted. Lily watched him force a frown upon his face, although he was rather unsuccessful at making it look real - even if he hadn't escaped having to accompany her.


“You know, James,” she said after a moment, and she idly toyed with the buttons on his shirt. “It’s still your birthday.”


“Indeed, and the night's still young!” he agreed eagerly. His hazel eyes seemed to light up as he watched her face move slowly closer, until he finally let them close in bliss. She gently pulled his glasses off, and her breath tickled his skin and she softly pressed her cool lips to his eyelids. She moved down, towards his mouth, her nose tracing a gentle line down his cheek. At the last moment, she skipped his lips, just to tease him.


“Happy birthday, James.” Her lips barely brushed against his jaw (which was quickly going slack as his own lips parted and his mouth hung open). He let his head fall back, relishing the cool, gentle kisses around his throat and chin.


James struggled to concentrate and hold his head up as she moved towards his lips again, kissing the corner of his mouth as it curled into a confident grin. Sirius was right, he hoped.


A birthday shag, and a make up shag.



Author's Note:
Hello readers! I've gotten a few reviews lately that sound a little panicky about my slow updates. Just want to say stop worrying :) It might be slow going now and then - it IS a little bit of a complicated thing, after all, and there's a lot going on. It kind of moves from one thing to another, you know, with the werewolves and then the Minister, and then the next thing (no, I won't tell you what that is).

I'm a little short on time lately, not only with the holidays but also with my son being in Kindergarten this year, and carpooling, and I also have to babysit my two nieces during the day - and all that aside from my actual life and other interests.

I won't ever stop updating until it's done, it's too much fun to write and I'm really enjoying it, and it's also one of the most awesome things I have ever done. So STOP worrying! Sometimes I run into a problem that needs to be fixed, and it takes a little longer to brainstorm, and sometimes I write myself into corners, and sometimes I am just plain unmotivated. Things like that. I'm really thrilled you guys like the story so much, but I feel really bad whenever somebody tells me they feel like giving up on reading it because it seems like I'm not going to update anymore.

I promise, more updates will come :) WE'RE IN THIS TOGETHER, OKAY GUYS! lol

So I know you guys have been waiting a long time for this chapter, and I wanted to hurry and get it up. It's done, but it hasn't been read over or corrected or anything. After reading it, you know by now that it's a little bit short (long A/N here) and not one of my best - but it's a little necessary setting up for the next chapter, in which something big should happen. I just finished it and put it up COMPLETELY UNEDITED, so go easy :)


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In My Time of Dying: Kiss and Make Up

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