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Broken by Yasmin93

Format: Novel
Chapters: 13
Word Count: 56,885
Status: WIP

Rating: 15+
Warnings: Contains profanity, Mild violence

Genres: Drama, Romance, Action/Adventure
Characters: Lupin, Snape, James, Lily, Sirius, Pettigrew, OC
Pairings: Sirius/OC, James/Lily

First Published: 05/24/2017
Last Chapter: 02/19/2018
Last Updated: 02/19/2018

Summary:
Brooke's whole life halted to a stop whilst the rest of the world continued without her. Wanting more than anything to be happy again, Brooke relies on unlikely companionships to do this. And will finding out the truth heal her or push her further into the darkness?


Chapter 1: Chapter One - Going Home
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WARNING: Strong Language




 

 The bright red steam train waited patiently on the platform as children slowly piled onto it. The platform was scattered with families all saying their goodbyes. Nervous first years bid adieu to their parents. They looked nervously around them, eyeing each other up wearily. They were trying to figure out who looked like the sort of person they'd want to be friends with. It was that or sit by themselves for the long journey to Hogwarts.

The older children, the returning students, were all excited. They grumbled and rushed their goodbyes with their families as their eyes danced over the faces of everyone around them, searching for their friends. All they wanted to do was to meet up with the people they'd left months before and head back to the best place on earth.

Making her way through the platform barrier was a girl on her own. No family were there to wave her off, or wish her luck. Her face harsh but sad as her eyes glazed over, taking in the scene before her. Jealousy bubbled up inside her as she overheard conversations between father and son or mother and daughter. Resentment grew as she watched people hug their loved ones one last time before the Christmas holidays. Extremely aware that she had no one to say goodbye to, no one to give her parental advice or words of warning, she pushed her way through to the train with her trunk and owl cage in tow. Quickly climbing onto the train, she isolated herself from the happy families behind her, making herself comfortable in an empty compartment that looked out onto the platform.

Brooke Anderson was a beautiful witch. Her sharp, majestic face was normally softened by her blue/grey eyes, that were once filled with happiness and wonder. But now that they were dead and emotionless, they just seemed to make her face that much harsher. She had defined cheekbones and full lips that were constantly pressed together in a thin line. Creases were on each side of her mouth showing that it wasn't always this way. That once upon a time she was very prone to smiling. All of this was framed by her luscious deep red hair, that hung half way down her back in ringlets.

Her sad eyes flitted across the crowd out the window, stopping every now and then at overly happy students. This only caused the lump in her throat to get bigger.

First she noticed James Potter, a tall 17 year old boy, jumping up and down excitedly. His athletic build, from playing Quiddich helped him to stand out slightly from most of the other students. His black hair was wild and untamed as it stuck out in all directions. He'd knocked his glasses askew as he pulled him mum in for a hug, cutting her off from whatever she was saying. Brooke could only imagine it being a warning about staying out of trouble, that they all knew was a waste of time. The corners of Brooke's mouth curled up slightly at the sight of the Potters, as she thought back on everything they had done for her, but it seemed to make her heart grow heavier.

Moving her eyes on, not wanting to impose on the precious moment she could only wish for Brooke let her eyes fall on one of James' friends, Peter Pettigrew. He was a short, somewhat mouse like boy. His nose was pointed, and his mouth was too small for his face. His high cheekbones just added to the mousiness of his features He had blue, beady eyes and thin brown hair that hung limply into his eyes. Peter waved at James, his face lighting up at the sight of him and started rushing over to him. Half way there he tripped over his too large feet, only just managing to regain his balance. The corners of Brookes mouth curled up again but her eyes were left unaffected by the small smile.

Once Peter had disappeared out of sight Brooke started scanning the crowd again, hoping she might find something that would strike some sort of emotion in her. Something that would mean she wasn't dead any more. Something that meant she wasn't broken. All she wanted was to feel anything other than pain.

That's when her gaze met Regulus Black. A young, weak looking boy, as though he wasn't eating enough. His black hair fell at his shoulders. His dull grey eyes were dead and emotionless. He had what one would call a regal look to his face. High, defined cheekbones and a strong jaw. His face matched the emotion in his eyes, or lack there of. All it took was one glance and you knew he was a Black. He stood looking at the beautiful woman before him, showing the world where he got his looks from. She too had a harsh face, that seemed impossible to home a smile. Regulus simply nodded at his mother before turning his back to her.

The heaviness of Brooke's heart just seemed to get heavier at the scene. She couldn't understand how people could disregard their parents in such a manner. They never knew if it would be the last time that they would see them again. Her eyes glazed over again as she thought about how much some people didn't appreciate what they had. Anger rose in her when she thought about how lucky some people were but they just didn't realise it.

Having decided she'd seen enough Brooke tore her eyes away from the window and leant back in her seat. She let out a long sigh and screwed her eyes shut, thinking back to the last time she saw her parents. A sad smile appeared on her lips as she remembered the last loving words they said to her.

Brooke was stood on Platform 9 and ¾ with her mum and dad.

Her mum was just an older yet softer version of Brooke. Her red, curly hair fell by her shoulders, framing her soft, round face perfectly. Her eyes were a dark brown, so dark they could almost be mistaken for black. There were crows feet in the corners of her eyes as well as lines around her full lips, showing that her life was full of laugher and happiness.

Her dad however was the complete opposite. His short, blonde hair was styled to perfection, not even one strand was out of place. His blue/grey eyes shone brightly as he looked lovingly at his daughter a smile widening across his face, which were the only features that gave him away. His face was sharp and defined, and had no wrinkles or creases, giving him a harsh, well aged appearance.

“And please Brooke, stay out of trouble.” Her mum begged, although she knew all too well that it was a pointless plea. And the reason for that was making his way over to them.

“Charles! Eliza!” James called them, pulling them both into hugs one at a time. Eliza wrapped her arms around him tenderly, as though a mother would hug one of her own children. Whereas with Charles it was a brief hug with a single pat on the back before they pulled away. “I will personally make sure that Brooke doesn't get into any trouble.”

The Anderson's and the Potter's had been friends long before James and Brooke were born. James was the brother Brooke never had. In fact, he was the son her parents never had.

“That's what worries us.” Charles laughed, shaking his head. Brooke's whole face lit up as she laughed along with her dad. Her eyes shining brightly, appearing more blue than grey.

“I don't like what you're trying to insinuate, Sir.” James clutched his heart as he pretended to be hurt. “I'll have you know you're daughter is the bad influence, always dragging me into her mess.”

Brooke rolled her eyes as James wrapped his arm over her shoulder, flashing her one of his playful grins.

“James, take care of her please.” Eliza's voice was soft but firm this time. Her eyebrows furrowed as she got serious. There was something to her voice that was unrecognisable. Something Brooke had never heard in her mothers voice and it worried her.

“Mum.” Brooke answered back before James got the chance to respond. She wiped the smile off her face and looked at her mum with serious eyes. “Hogwarts is the safest place to be. I will be fine. It's you two who need to take care of each other.”

Fear could be seen on Eliza's face as she was talking to her daughter. Deep down she knew Brooke was right. She would be perfectly safe at Hogwarts. It's everywhere else that was turning nasty. It was her and her husband who would not be safe. Especially with the job they had to do. She pushed all of the fear out of her mind and smiled at Brooke again.

“I just worry. It's my job to.” Eliza grinned, pulling Brooke into an embrace as the whistle of the train blew.

Brooke quickly kissed her mum goodbye and gave her dad a hug and a kiss on the cheek. James shook Charles' hand and kissed Eliza on the cheek before reassuring them that their daughter was going to be safe with him.

James and Brooke made their way to the train amongst the last remaining students on the platform. Brooke gave her parents one last wave out the window, and she knew there was more going on than they were letting on. They really were scared about something but they wouldn't tell her. Brooke could see something in their eyes. But she pushed the thoughts to the back of her head, putting it down to saying goodbye to her for the whole school year. She blew them one last kiss and then they were out of sight.


The door to the compartment flew open causing Brooke to jump, her eyes springing open to see who had interrupted her thoughts. Lily Evans was stood in the doorway, light from the corridor shining off her making her red hair look even brighter. Her green almond shaped eyes took in the broken girl before her. Without a word she sat opposite Brooke with a friendly, understanding smile on her face.

“How are you doing Brooke?” Lily asked sweetly, not removing her eyes from Brooke's. She wasn't sure whether to approach the subject of what happened or to let Brooke bring it up instead. All she knew was Brooke needed to know she was there. Even if nothing ever came of it.

“I'm doing fine.” Brooke lied. She gave Lily her best fake smile which seemed to do the trick. Brooke had been asked that same question more times than she could count and had become a bit of a pro when it came to answering it and making her answers believable.

“Any news on what happened?” Lily asked carefully. She had no idea whether or not Brooke would even want to talk about it but thought it was worth a try.

“Can we not? Please.” Brooke croaked, her voice cracking. It had been two months since her parents had gone missing and Brooke was yet to say two words about it. What happened had just about killed her and she knew there was no way she could relive it. Not right then anyway. Rather than confiding in anyone she just withdrew into herself, refusing to talk about it. Becoming a shadow of who she used to be.

Lily nodded at Brooke sadly, unsure of what to say to her. Putting herself in Brookes shoe's Lily knew she'd hate being treated any differently than before. But for some reason her mind just went blank and she couldn't draw up a topic for conversation.

The train bellowed, igniting something in the remaining students on the platform. Within moments the platform became empty, leaving only tearful parents ready to wave their precious children off to school for the year. The corridor jumped to life as people pushed their way into empty compartments, chattering away to one another. The train pulled away from the platform, leaving behind all those parents. Leaving them in a horrible dark world.

The movement of the train stirred something in Lily and she hopped up from the seat and headed to the door, stopping just short of it. She turned back to look at Brooke.

“Head Girl duties call. But I'll come straight back afterwards, okay?” Lily explained. She wasn't sure if Brooke would even want her to come back. But still, she kept the friendly smile on her face whilst she waited for Brooke to respond. After all, Brooke was Lily's closest friend since she cut her ties with Severus.

“I'd like that. Thank you.” Brooke whispered. She moved her eyes from Lily to focus on the scenery passing by.

Lily felt a tug at her heart as she smiled sadly at the back of Brooke's head. She headed out of the compartment and shut the door behind her.

Brooke let out a deep breath and let herself disappear into a world of her own. A world where her parents were still alive. A world where she didn't have to deal with everyone treating her differently. A world where she was happy.

The peace and quiet was short-lived when moments later James stumbled through the door with a big grin on his face. He was followed directly by Sirius and Peter. The latter stopped as soon as they saw Brooke, their faces filled with pity.

“So, B.” James started causing Brooke to look up at him with a small smile on her face. “I know you don't like the riff raff I associate myself with. But everywhere else is full. Do you mind?”

Before the question had even finished coming out of James mouth he had taken the seat next to Brooke, wrapping his arm around her shoulders. This was enough for Sirius and he collapsed into the space opposite Brooke with Peter sitting next to him.

Sirius Black was Regulus' older brother. They were very similar in looks. Both aristocratically beautiful. Sirius too had high cheekbones and a strong, chiselled jaw. His hair however was a lot shorter, and was styled perfectly, lazily falling into his bright silvery grey eyes. However, his build was a lot more like James', tall and athletic. His silvery grey eyes were constantly shining brightly and a smile was always playing on his lips.

“Do I have a choice in the matter?” Brooke asked dryly as she leaned into James, breathing in his familiar smell. She felt herself relaxing into him and realised that this was the calmest she'd been in a long time. There was something about being with her best friend that just seemed to make everything that little bit better, even if only for a moment. Her heart seemed to ache a little less. It became a little easier to breath. She didn't feel so trapped in herself when she was around him.

“You know me. Just trying to be polite.” James grinned as he planted a kiss on the top of her head.

“You wouldn't know polite if it came and bit you in the arse.” Sirius smirked at James with a wink. James rolled his eyes at him, chuckling loudly.

Peter sat uncomfortably, playing with his hands. Obviously not knowing what he could or couldn't say. He wasn't one for confrontation and was constantly seeking peoples approval.

“Anderson.” Sirius spoke elegantly to get her attention. Brooke's eyes slowly moved to his and she noticed his eyes were dancing with glee. A playful smile appeared on his lips knowing anything he said would wind Brooke up. “You look like crap Princess.”

Brooke couldn't hide the disdain on her face even if she wanted to. If there was one person she couldn't stand it was Sirius Black. He was cocky and arrogant. He thought the sun shone out of his arse. And unluckily for her he was indeed one of James' best friends. Which meant that much to Brooke's chagrin she got to spend most of her time with the one person she hated more than anything.

And worst of all was the nickname he had taken to calling her the very first day they met on Platform 9¾. All because he knew all about who her parents were that made her a spoilt princess. And now, he used it just to get a kick out of her.

“I know something that will help perk you up.” He continued with a wink.

“In your dreams Black.” Brooke snapped. Her emotionless eyes glared at him as he faked heartbreak.

“So did you have a good holiday Brooke?” Peter asked, trying to defuse the situation. James threw him an exasperated look whilst Sirius kicked his shin. Realising his mistake pity filled Peter's now red face once again as he looked at Brooke, stuttering an apology.

“Don't Pete!” Brooke warned, her eyebrow raised. “Do not pity me.”

Peter mumbled a quiet apology and looked down at his hands. The last thing he wanted to do was cause anyone any upset.

Sirius on the other hand took a good look at Brooke. He took in her vacant expression and emotionless eyes. He noticed that unless James was there to help her through this she just shut herself off from the world. His eyebrows furrowed and his face grew hard.

“Snap out of it then.” Sirius snapped at Brooke. Her eyes snapped to his and her mouth dropped open in disbelief.

“I beg your pardon?” Brooke only just managed to get the words out. James gave Sirius a warning look, hoping it would deter him. Instead Sirius shook his head at James.

“Snap out of it.” Sirius repeated as though what he was saying was obvious. “If you don't want pity get on with your life. I get it. It's hard. But all the while you are this shell of a person all you're going to get is pity. Everyone is walking on eggshells around you because they don't know what they can and can't say to you. If you want people to treat you like before, then you need to be that person again. Snap out of it”

Brooke's face went from complete and utter disbelief to anger. She could feel every fibre of her body come to life.

“Get on with my life?” Brooke started raising her voice. James tightened his arm around her hoping it would calm her down but was out of luck. “I wish it was that easy Sirius. I wish I could just get over it and move on. But I can't! I've tried. Merlin knows I've tried. Why don't you tell me how to 'get on with my life'!”

Tears stung Brooke's eyes as she looked into Sirius'. That was the most she had spoken about anything relating to their disappearances to anyone but the ministry. And the aching of her heart was a reminder of why.

The tension in the compartment was suddenly thick. No one had said anything. Brooke pulled away from James and stared out the window again. James was glaring at Sirius, trying to tell him what a dick he was without talking. Sirius was trying to think of the right words to say and Peter was still playing with his hands uncomfortably.

The door slid open and Lily popped her head into the compartment to check on Brooke. As her eyes took in the scene her face dropped. She knew from the way everyone was sitting that something had gone on. It was obvious. You could cut the tension with a knife.

“Evans!” James grinned at her. The other three turned to watch the Lily and James, wondering if anything had changed this year. “You're looking rather exquisite today.”

“Potter.” She all but sighed his name whilst nodding her hello to Sirius and Peter.

“So, do you fancy...” James started to asked Lily, intending to ask her out but she raised her hand lazily to silence him. Her green eyes focused on his hazel eyes.

“Not a chance.” She spat causing him to sit back, rejection clearly affecting him. Sirius and Peter stifled a laugh and Brooke glanced at Lily trying to work her out.

James was irrevocably in love with Lily and had been chasing her for the last four years,

Lily on the other hand had never once shown James any interest. She thought he was arrogant, cocky and rude. To add to it James had a long standing feud with the guy who used to be Lily's best friend so it just came naturally for her not to like him. But even with all of this Brooke could swear she saw the corner of Lily's lip curl upwards. Only for a second though.

“We've not even made it to Hogwarts yet and it's already Evans 1, Potter 0” Sirius barked a laugh making James go pink. A small smile formed on Lily's lips as she sat next to Peter.

At that moment Remus Lupin walked into the compartment. A tall, gangly boy who had chocolate brown eyes with yellow specks in them. His hair was dusty blonde and hung just past his eyes. He was good looking, not in the same sense as James and Sirius, but in a worn and weathered sort of way. There were dark circles under his eyes, showing that he wasn't sleeping. A huge grin was on his face as he took in his friends before him.

“Well well well, look who finally decided to show up.” Sirius announced as Remus took a seat next to James. A smile toying on his lips.

“I can't help it that I'm a very popular person. I'm just needed everywhere else.” Remus laughed, smiling out of the side of his mouth and taking the final seat next to James.

“Don't say that Moony! You'll make him jealous.” James piped up, also grinning now.

“Oh yes, Merlin forbid anyone makes poor Sirius feel inadequate.” Brooke grumbled as she stared out the window. She hadn't even realised she had said it out loud until everyone started laughing at her comment, and Sirius just sat there glaring at her.

“Remus, did you find the Head Boy?” Lily asked, changing the subject to the first thing she could think of. “I mean, what sort of person doesn't show up to his first meeting as head boy?”

Remus shook his head at Lily and opened his mouth to speak when Lily screwed up her face at James. Something glistening on his robe had got her attention. A badge.

“You!” She gasped, staring at the Head Boy badge James had. “What idiot made you Head Boy? You've already missed the most important meeting!”

Brooke looked at James, also staring at his badge, unable to believe that James Potter had been made Head Boy.

“Well Evans, it looks like we're going to be spending a lot of time together this year.” James grinned, winking at Lily.

“Not if I have anything to do about it.” Lily muttered and stormed out of the compartment leaving everyone more relaxed than when she had entered.

“That's a fake, right?” Peter questioned. He eyeballed James suspiciously.

“Nope. All real. You are looking at the new Head Boy.” James straightened up, showing off the badge.

Remus stiffened slightly at the news. So slightly that no one seemed to notice him shifting uncomfortably in his seat. Remus was happy for James, but he just didn't understand it. Remus was the sensible one, the voice of reason. He was the prefect, and had been since fifth year. But suddenly, by doing nothing but causing trouble, pranking people and hexing Slytherins, James had managed to nab Head Boy role. It had always been a prefect that got chosen, so what made James so special?

Shaking his head Remus snapped out of it and a small smile appeared on his face.

“You have some making up to do then Prongs.” Remus looked towards James. “Lily was not happy that you missed the meeting. And I guess now she knows it's you she'll probably try to make your next year hell.”

“Oh come on, she's made his life hell for the last five years.” Sirius sighed. “Ever since he started chasing her. How much different can it be?”

Sirius looked round at everyone as he waited for someone to tell him otherwise. But everyone knew that he was in fact right. Lily had never made James' life easy, He was so accustomed to it now that it was just part of his daily routine. And Sirius, knowing he was right, had a smug look on his face as everyone in turn shrugged at him.

Brooke finally looked away from the window to watch the boys laughing and joking about their summer holidays. Her eyes scanned over the laughter lines on James' face. She took in the way Sirius' eyes sparkled when he laughed. Peters laugh was deep and throaty, drowning out everyone else. She watched them longingly as she tried to remember the last time she laughed. The last time she was carefree and happy. It was watching the four Marauders blissfully enjoy themselves that Brooke realised that she missed it. All she wanted was to be able to laugh. And maybe, hopefully, now that she was going home she could finally start to heal.

James hung back with Brooke, both of them watching as the rest of the guys rushed off the train to get a carriage. He finally took a moment to study her now that they were alone.

Brooke's robes hung off her thin frame hiding the fact that she'd lost so much weight. But all James had to do was look at her sunken cheeks to work it out. Her skin was paler that it usually was, another sign that she hadn't been looking after herself.

“You need to take me care of yourself B.” James spoke softly to her. He edged his way between Brooke, who was avoiding looking at him, and the door so she couldn't escape him.

“I've done my best J.” Brooke whispered, knowing that James wouldn't believe her lie.

“You can't fool me. So don't even bother.”

Brooke finally met James' gaze, letting out a sigh. She had known this was coming, but she had hoped that it wouldn't have happened until they actually got to school.

“I lost everything.” Tears filled her eyes as the words tumbled out of her mouth. “I have nothing left.”

James' breath caught in his throat as the words hit him. He had known that it was difficult on Brooke, but he never expected her to become so withdrawn that she forgot what she still had. Struggling to find words of comfort he just pulled her into a hug and felt her crumble in his arms.

Movement interrupted James and Brooke, and it was at that moment that they realised that the train was completely deserted and had started moving to leave the station. James grabbed Brooke's hand and dragged her through the carriages to a door leading to the platform. Taking one look at each other they both jumped out of the train, which luckily was yet to pick up any major speed.

Brooke lay flat on her back, looking up at the clear, starry sky in silence. Her arms were spread out as she felt the cold, concrete platform beneath her hands. She breathed in the fresh, crisp air as she slowly pushed herself up.

James was already back onto his feet and was reaching out to help Brooke up which she took.

“You haven't lost everything.” James soothed. He still had hold of Brooke's hand. “You just need to open your eyes. Then you'll realise just how much you still have.”

“James, they were my parents.” Brooke sobbed.

“And they were basically my parents too.” James explained as he wiped her tears away. “You're not the only one hurting. You just need to learn to deal with the pain in a different way.”

Brooke pulled away from James and walked away from him. Her heart was aching and there was a lump in her throat. Her head swam with memories of her life before all of this.

“Let's go James. We have a long walk to the castle.”

Brooke spun on her heals and headed off of the platform and started up the dirt road towards the school. The winds caught her hair, whipping it around her face. She folded her arms across her chest and kept her eyes locked on the road ahead of her.

The trees cast shadows on the road, leaving little light.

“Lumos.” James' chanted with his wand in his hand as he ran to catch up to Brooke.

For the whole journey to Hogwarts Brooke and James walked in silence much to James' chagrin. He had tried to make small talk but Brooke just wasn't interested. All she wanted to do was get to the one place that she hoped would help her feel less broken. Where she would have plenty to distract her.

* * * * *






Brooke stood in front of the castle and a small smile played on her lips. Relief washed over her for a short moment as she took in the welcoming sight before her. Here she was. She was finally home.


Chapter 2: Chapter Two - It's Different
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The great hall had it's usual clear ceiling reflecting the starry night sky. Blended voices filled the air as everyone chatted amongst one another as they ate. Four identical long tables were filled with students. One table for each house; Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Slytherin and Gryffindor. At the top of the hall was a fifth table seating all the professors, Dumbledore sitting in the centre.

As the doors to the great hall opened every set of eyes in the room turned to it, taking in the sight of James and Brooke. Silence fell upon everyone when they realised it was Brooke, before they started whispering in hushed murmurs.

Brooke looked at the floor as she and James made their way to the Gryffindor table, finding seats on either side of Sirius. Brooke took the seat next to Lily much to James' dismay.

“How can I just get over it with this happening every time they all see me.” Brooke snapped at Sirius, gesturing to the rest of the student body.

“What happened to you Princess?” Sirius couldn't stop the words from coming out of his mouth.

Brooke cringed at the pet name she had adopted when Sirius had first met her. He assumed because of who her parents were that he was a spoilt little brat and had no qualms about letting her know exactly what he thought. As his lips curled around the word Brooke couldn't help but recoil at the insult.

“You were always this strong person. If anyone had to go through this and come out the other side I would have put my money on it being you. But now look at you.”

Lily watched out of the corner of her eyes as Brooke opened and closed her mouth as she thought of a response. She clasped Brooke's hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze.

“My parents are missing Black.” Brooke's voice was harsh. “But you wouldn't understand anything about missing your parents.”

Sirius clenched his jaw and gave James an exasperated as he shook his head. He knew she was hurting, if anyone understood how she felt he was probably the closest to it. But Sirius wouldn't let it affect him. His knife and fork clattered to the table to indicate that he was done and he shifted on the bench so he faced James, Peter and Remus.

Brooke glanced at him, guilt rising within her. She knew that he'd had trouble with his parents the year before but she couldn't help but feel like he had brought some of it upon himself.

She put a small amount of mashed potato and sausage on her plate and started pushing it around her plate, not really eating much. She avoided speaking to anyone else throughout the remainder of the meal, thinking instead of how she didn't feel like she was home here any more. She didn't feel like she knew the people. Or maybe it was that they didn't know her any more. Had she really changed that much?

Soon enough all the food had disappeared from the tables and Dumbledore had stood up from the table he was sat. He cleared his throat to to get everyone's attention.

“Now that we are all fed and watered I would like to say a few words. Welcome, to the new students. And welcome back to all those returning.” Dumbledore's voice boomed, echoing around the entire hall. His piercing blues eyes gazing over the different students. “Firstly, My Filch would like me to remind you that Bouncing Boomerangs having been added to the list of banned items this year. If you wish to find the list it is on his office door.”

Students from the Slytherin table had started whispering amongst themselves. Brooke glanced over her shoulder and caught the eye of a dark haired boy sat at the Slytherin table. His face was stern and emotionless but his light brown eyes were filled with concern as he looked at Brooke. She gave him a weak smile before she turned her back to him.

“Secondly,” Dumbledore bellowed, “I would like to remind everyone that the forbidden forest is in fact forbidden to all students. Hogsmeade is also banned for students below third year.”

A number of lower years groaned about this. Brooke and the others sat watching Dumbledore, bored, as they'd heard it all before.

“Quiddich try-outs will be announced in the following days, if you wish to join your house teams please give your name to the house captains.” Dumbledore's voice grew louder over the excited chatter of students. James and Sirius included. “And finally! If you'd all welcome our new Defence against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Quin.”

Professor Quin was a short woman with her hair pulled back in a tight pony tail. Her teeth were crooked and yellow and her face looked as though it was bubbling. She was probably very attractive when she was younger, but now, life hadn't handed her a good hand by the looks of things.

Everyone clapped quietly, unsure of their new teacher.
“Remus?” Lily called over everyone. He turned to her, a smile on his face but his eyes questioning. “Can you lead the first years up to the common room please? I need to catch Potter up on what he missed earlier.”

Lily narrowed her eyes at James. Remus scoffed a laugh under his breath before nodding his response. There was no arguing with Lily. On a normal day Lily would be the nicest person you would ever meet, but when her temper went she saw red. And all that was without James, the bane of her life, being involved too.

“First years!” He raised his voice to get their attention as he stood from the table. “Follow me.”

The first years were the first to leave following their allocated prefects. Everyone else waited five minutes before leaving the tables and making their way to their common rooms themselves.

Lily got up next leading James, who was winking at Sirius, to an unused classroom. This left Brooke with Sirius and Peter. Both Brooke and Sirius were both as displeased as the other at this. But Brooke knew that her best chance at avoiding Avery was to stay with Sirius so she continued sitting next to him until he made to leave.

“We're going Anderson. You coming?” Sirius grumbled knowing he had to at least try. For James sake anyway.

Brooke nodded and they all made their way to the door. She glanced over at the Slytherin table hoping that Avery was still at the table but she couldn't find him. Clenching her fists she held her breath hoping to get to the common room without getting collared. Not that it did much luck. He was stood in front of the staircase that she needed to take. He was around the same height as Sirius but he didn't have the athletic build that Sirius did. But you knew just from looking at his face that he could take care of himself. Brooke's eyes locked onto his, still full of concern, and she knew there was no escaping him.

“Go on without me.” Brooke instructed Sirius who had clocked Avery standing there.

“Avery.” Sirius announced, puffing his chest out, trying to be intimidating. Avery just rolled his eyes.

“Black.” A smirk appeared on Avery's face. “Run along. This doesn't concern you. I need a word with Anderson.”

As Avery said Brooke's name she could almost believe that he wanted nothing to do with her. He spoke as if it was a huge inconvenience to him that he would have to mingle with her.

“Just go Sirius.”Brooke said coldly. “I'll be fine.”

“Fine.” Sirius sighed. He wasn't going to go out of his way to make sure she was alright. If she said he was going to be fine James James would just have to accept it. “See you around Avery.”

Sirius and Peter headed up the stairs leaving Avery and Brooke in the deserted corridor. Brooke studied Avery's face, noticing that he looked more grown up than when she last saw him, making him even more handsome. There was stubble on his harsh face.

Avery glanced around the corridor and make sure no one was around before he pulled Brooke into his arms. His body stayed completely rigid, but he pressed his lips to the top of her head. Brooke felt herself sink into him.

“I've missed you Buttercup.” He whispered to her as she wrapped her arms around his waist and nuzzled into him.

“I've missed you too Tommy.” Brooke whispered into his chest. They both pulled away and Avery's concerned eyes took in how sad and frail Brooke now was.

“You've lost weight.” He stated.

“Please don't Tommy. I don't need it from you too.”

“We're just worried about you.” Avery sighed. He looked around and noticed Lucius making his way out of the great hall. “Let's go for a walk.”

Avery didn't give Brooke a chance to answer him before he dragged her out of the front doors, only just getting out of sight before Lucius saw them.

It wasn't that he was embarrassed to be seen with Brooke because he didn't care who knew they were friends. Or he wouldn't if it was for this growing war and his parents. Both their mums had been really close at one point, and had kept up their friendship as long as their husbands would let them. The Avery's prided themselves on being pure-bloods. They strongly believed that the wizarding community should be purified of all muggle-born and half-bloods. Brooke's parents however did not follow the same views. When the Avery's joined Voldemort and became Death Eaters they refused to have anything to do with the Anderson's. Forbidding Avery from interacting with Brooke.

Brooke knew all about this but it didn't help push the feeling aside that he was ashamed of her because her, along with her family were blood-traitors. Especially considering sometimes she found herself feeling somewhat ashamed of her friend being a Death Eater, knowing what that would entail when he finished this year.

The pair of them wandered over to the lake. Brooke sat down with her back against a tree, Avery staying stood up next to her. Brooke looked out at the lake whilst Avery looked around stiffly making sure no one was around to see them together. He couldn't risk it getting back to his parents. The punishment he'd get just wasn't worth it.

“One day you're going to have to stand up to them.” Brooke spoke softly. Avery glanced at her, his eyes questioning. “Either that or we're going to have to stop this. It's only going to end bad for us and you know it.”

“When the time is right Buttercup.” Avery promised. He had things he had to do first. They both needed each other. She kept him from going insane. And he could help her. He just had to wait for the right time.

Brooke's empty eyes gazed at the lake. Calm ripples appeared throughout the dark water. If she focused hard enough she thought she could see the giant squids tentacle in the distance.

“Have you heard anything?” Brooke couldn't contain her curiosity. She needed to know. And if anyone would have heard anything it would be Avery.

“No.” Avery's voice echoed through Brooke's brain pushing away any hope that she had left. At this point all she wanted was news. She didn't care whether it was good or bad any more. She just needed answers. Closure.

“Oh.” Brooke brushed a single tear off her cheek roughly.

“They won't even say your names Buttercup.” Avery explained.

“But surely there is someone that you could ask?” Brooke tried desperately knowing it was a long shot.

“I can't ask anyone.” Avery gave her a sad smile. “And if you knew what they'd do to me you wouldn't ask me to. I'm sorry.”

* * * * *

By the time Brooke had got to the common room most of the Gryffindor's had gone to bed. She walked into the red circle room to find the Marauder's huddled together in the corner of the room. There were a tonne of parchment on the table in the middle of the boys, which Brooke could only assume included the map.

James glanced around to make sure no one was listening in to their conversation when he noticed Brooke. A grin spread over his face as he winked at her. The obvious sign that he was up to no good. And his reaction to her presence sparked a pang of excitement within Brooke. Something told her she wasn't getting out of this one. Besides, you can't break tradition, especially when it had never changed in the whole time they had been at Hogwarts.

Brooke sauntered over to the table as she rolled her eyes at James.. Deep down she had been hoping they'd start this up early on. Maybe everyone was right and all she needed was to get back into her normal routine. Or as normal a routine she could get herself into.

“We haven't even started any lessons yet and you guys are already up to something?” Brooke feigned disapproval. She would never admit to them how much she needed this or how happy she was that she had something to take her mind off of everything for a while.

Brooke watched, confused, as Sirius tried to slide some of the pieces of parchment under his arm without her noticing. He then glanced up at her with a sweet, innocent smile on his face. It was at that moment that Brooke knew something was going on. Sirius didn't do sweet or innocent.

“I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about.” He spoke softly. The sparkle in his eye, however, told Brooke otherwise. She knew that look. It was the same look she got herself. “We're just going over a couple of things from last year."

Brooke's eyebrows furrowed at the blatant lie he was telling. She had never been left out of their plans before, even when she wanted nothing to do with them. The Marauders had always found a way to involve her in one way or another, so what made this year suddenly different? Did they really think that this was going to help? Or maybe Sirius had finally found the excuse he had always wanted to finally get Brooke out of the picture?

Brooke watched Peter fiddle with his hands, refusing to look anywhere but a spot on the table in front of him. His reddening ears told her that he was worried about confrontation. It was the way Peter was acting that told her they didn't want her around.

A lump caught in her throat as she tried to make sense of their lack of interest in her. Her piercing eyes landed on James so he knew that she wanted answers.

“Maybe it's just best that you sit out of this first one B?” James shrugged, trying not to offend her as well as playing the situation down. “Just get yourself settled in first.”

“And whose brilliant idea was that?” Brooke scoffed as she eyed Sirius accusingly. It was common knowledge that he'd never liked her. And he'd never been keen on having a girl involved in all their pranks but to push her out? And to have the cheek to act like he was doing her a favour? Brooke couldn't contain the anger that had been bubbling up from the minute they'd lied to her.

Remus, who was closest to Brooke, turned to face her. His brown eyes always managed to calm her and he knew it. There was something about Remus that seemed to have a calming effect on everyone. He was most definitely the voice of reason within the group. The reason they hadn't torn each other apart. Without Remus they wouldn't be as close as they are now. And there is no way that Sirius and Brooke would have put up with each other for so long.

Brooke took to looking everywhere but at Remus not wanting to just let Sirius get away with this.

“I'm sure we can find something for you to do, if your head is in the game.” Remus spoke calmly, but his tone dared anyone to argue with him.

“Yeah. Won't it be easier if...” Peter started but the stern look Sirius shot at him quickly shut him up.

“Stand up for yourself Peter!” Brooke snapped zoning in on him. It wasn't that she was angry at him, it was that she was angry that Sirius found it acceptable to take advantage of him. Especially now when him standing up for himself meant that Sirius wouldn't get his way.

They all knew Peter could be an easy target, especially when it came to the group dynamics, but Sirius used that against him. The last thing Peter wanted was for his friends to fall out, which meant if shutting up meant that people wouldn't be angry with him he did it. Especially if it was Sirius. It was that reason that Brooke had never particularly taken much time to get to know Peter. He would always do what the alpha wanted. And Sirius thought he was the alpha.

“But...” Peter managed to stutter before he got cut off again.

“No buts! You don't need to sit their and let Sirius walk all over you all the time.” Brooke sighed as she pinched the bridge of her nose. “Or anyone in fact. You are your own person. Do and say what you believe is right!”

“And you don't need to let her push you around either Wormtail.” Sirius' smooth voice was unusually vindictive, causing Brooke to be completely overtaken by rage. Her hand found her wand from beneath her cloak and held it tightly, not yet drawing it out.

“I don't push him around Black!” Venom was oozing out of her voice. “You manipulate him to make him think that if he doesn't do as you please he'll lose you. Just like you manipulate everyone else so you always get what you want. You're a bully, but for some reason I'm the only person in the whole damn school that can see it! You've managed to fool everyone Sirius Black! But I know your game! I see what you're doing!”

“Oh come off it Princess.” Sirius chuckled, showing Brooke just how entertained by her he was. Especially as he knew his laughter would only anger her more. “I'm not playing any games sweetheart. I am who I am and if you don't like it don't be around me. It's a simple as that. Besides, isn't everyone running around doing your bidding? Walking on eggshells around you because you can't deal with your shit. Why do I have to pretend I give a shit about you for James' sake when you're making it as hard for us as you can?”

Peter's eyes were playing with tennis, pinging between Brooke and Sirius as he tried to sink into his chair and disappear. From the moment they had started planning this without Brooke he'd known it would kick off, but he'd never expected to be the cause of the argument.

James stood up and made his way to Sirius' side and was angrily arguing with him to bite his tongue whilst Remus did the same with Brooke.

“No one asked you to pretend to care! In fact, I'd sleep a lot better at night knowing you weren't worrying about little old me!” Brooke snapped over Remus, not paying any attention to anything that came out of his mouth. She let out a sigh and spun around on her heel, heading to her dormitory before Sirius could argue back with her.

That was when she noticed everyone watching the dramatic exchange. The poor, remaining first years looked petrified at the thought that this was going to be a part of their day to day lives from that point out. But everyone who had been there before knew what Brooke and Sirius' relationship was about and seemed unaffected by it. They were watching as if it was the latest episode of EastEnders. Listening in purely for a bit of gossip. The girl who lost her parents fighting with the boy who wasn't wanted by his.

“What did your boyfriend want anyway?” Sirius shouted to her, a sly grin was playing on his lips. He knew this would be his winning remark, as well as causing a bit of tension between James and Brooke.

“After everything you're still...whatever with him?” James asked, exasperated. His irritation with Sirius had now disappeared and was solely directed towards Brooke, who was now frozen on the spot at the remarks from both of the boys.

“James.” She whispered as she glanced to the ceiling before turning to face him. “It's nothing like that, I promise. I just wanted his help. For old times sake.”

The stragglers who had still been in the common room had seemed to realise that it was time to leave and all made their way to their dorms quickly. It wasn't often James was anything but his happy-go-lucky self and knew better than to stay and watch.

“What would you need his help doing that I can't help you with?” James' voice was getting noticeably louder. Remus and Peter snuck up to their form when James got involved. They all knew that nothing was about to get brushed under the rug. James wanted answers from Brooke, which meant no one was getting any sleep until she gave them.

Sirius was the only one who hadn't moved an inch. He remained in the exact position he was before watching the scene unfold as he dissected every word Brooke said in his head, hoping to catch her out.

“He has contacts.” Brooke carefully explained. She had to find the right words so that she didn't give James any idea that she was still friends with Avery. She knew what would happen if it came out and she couldn't bare to think of the outcome for Avery. “I just asked if he'd heard anything about my parents. If he could keep an ear out.”

Lying had always come naturally to Brooke, especially now with the whole ordeal with her parents. But if there was one person who could always see right through her lies it was James. It didn't matter what the lie was about he would always give her that look and she'd know he had clocked her.

This time she didn't get that look. Instead, Brooke watched as the anger drained from James' face and was replaced by understanding and, if Brooke was correct, sympathy. She knew he hadn't meant to snap at her, but she also knew what had happened between both of their families in the past. Because of that, they didn't like each other. Didn't even acknowledge each others existence. Any good friend would have cut Avery off properly a long time ago. Brooke just took to always making sure she was never seen with Avery, by anyone. Otherwise she knew she'd have to lie to James again, which she hated doing. That or she'd have to finally cut her ties with Avery, and for some reason every time she thought about doing something in her gut told her not to do it. Every time she tried it was like a force was dragging her back to him.

“Don't worry James. He said no.” She all but whispered. Her eyes moved to Sirius now, who no longer had that smug look on his face. Instead he was watching Brooke intently, curiosity filling each of his majestic features. Brooke could see in his eyes that something didn't sit right with him. He hadn't been fooled by her words and she knew by his face that he wasn't going to let it go.

James made his way to Brooke and wrapped his arms around her. She felt herself relax into his chest. The welcoming scent engulfing her.

“We will find them B. I promise.” He whispered in her ear before placing a kiss on the top of her head.

Once he let go and said goodnight Brooke made her way over to the sofa in front of the fireplace and gazed into the fire.

James made his way to the stairs to the dorm before he turned to face Sirius, whose scrutinising eyes were yet to leave Brooke.

“You coming Sirius?” James asked, eyed his best friend.

“Go on without me.” Sirius answered, not moving from where he was sat. “I won't be much longer.”

James nodded and headed up leaving Brooke and Sirius alone in the common room.

Sirius got up and moved to sit on the sofa next to Brooke. He eyed her up warily. Brooke knew that he wasn't going to leave her alone. But what she didn't understand was why. After the scene they had just caused, why would he even try to talk to her?

“So do you want to tell me what your chat with Avery was really about?” Sirius jumped straight to the point. His eyes observing her every move. He knew something was going on but couldn't put his finger on it.

Brooke stared at him in disbelief. Who did Sirius Black think he was? Questioning her as if she owed him something.

“I have no idea what you're talking about.”

“Oh come off it Brooke.” He growled with a smarmy smile on his face. “I'm not blind. The others might be turning the other way and walking on egg shells but you can't fool me. Besides, you were gone two hours. It doesn't take two hours to ask for his help and get told no.”

“Whether I'm hiding anything or not, what makes you think I'm going to tell you?” Anger was bubbling inside Brooke again. Her hands wrapped around her wand tightly. All she wanted to do was wipe that look of his face. “Why do you care Black? We're not friends!”

“After everything James has done, and is still doing, for you he deserves the truth.” Sirius was scowling now. He knew that she wasn't going to tell him. And to be honest that didn't care. But he had watched his best friend do everything he could to find her parents. “He has put himself in danger time and time again over the summer to find your parents. And where were you? Moping around waiting for everyone else to come up with something.”

“I never asked him to!”

“They were his family too!” Sirius shouted at her.

By this point the pair of them were now standing up facing one another. Brooke had her wand pointed at Sirius but he paid no attention to it. He knew she wasn't going to do anything. She needed to hear what he was saying. This would be what snaps her out of he. Sirius hoped.

“I was just trying to get him to help me.” Brooke pretended to give in. She let her hand drop to her side, her wand no longer pointing at Sirius' face. A long quiet sigh escaped from her lips. “That's it.”

Brooke knew that this time Sirius would believe her. He didn't need to know about her secret friendship and there was nothing else to tell. Sirius jumping on her was exactly what she needed to get him believe what she had said. Hopefully this meant he would back off a little bit.

“Why did he say no?”

“We're blood traitors.” Brooke stated matter of factly. “You of all people should understand how little those pure-blood enthusiasts are willing to help us out. We're almost as bad as muggle-borns in their eyes.”

“You're right.” Sirius nodded before heading up to the dormitory without another word.

Brooke sat back down on the sofa and went back to watching the fire. A small smile broke across her face as relief washed over her. She knew she could count on Sirius to treat her the exact same way he had before. Finally someone who didn't treat her like a fragile little girl.

Chapter 3: Chapter Three - The Dream
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As Brooke had expected, the first week of lessons flew by pretty quickly. She finally had a focus, a reason to take her mind of her parents for a little while. She could finally pretend her life was normal for a small period of time.

But it didn't matter how much she pretended everything was alright during the day, it all came crashing back as soon as she shut her eyes at night. Every night she would replay the moment that she got told her parents were missing before she went searching for them down a corridor. But every single time she would wake up before she'd manage to find them.

For the eighth time since she had got to Hogwarts Brooke found herself bolting upright with sweat dripping down her face. Her dream was nothing scary, but for some reason she found herself worked up in a state at the same time every night. She knew there was something else to it, but she couldn't figure out what it was.

This time though she could her her parents as she made her way down the corridor. Only faintly though. But it was as if they were hidden for so long and were finally breaking free of whatever was keeping the pair of them away from Brooke.

Not changing her routine Brooke made her way down the stairs of her dorm to the common room. She'd not bumped into anyone down there so far and knew it was very unlikely to happen, especially on a Monday night. But the thought still didn't keep her from sneaking down on her tip toes, as quietly as she could.

The shadows danced as Brooke walked down the stairs giving the appearance that they were alive. Brooke suddenly came to a stop as the feeling of somebody watching her took over. Her eyes darted around urgently, hoping to find the source of her feeling. There was definitely someone watching her, but there was
no one there.

“James?” Brooke whispered into the shadows, hoping that it was him or one of the others. If it was any of them under the cloak she knew they'd make themselves known. So when no one revealed themselves Brooke's stomach wrenched tightly.

Taking a deep breath Brooke rushed down the rest of the stairs as quietly as she could. As she made her way she made sure she didn't look in the shadows knowing it would just creep her out even more.

Brooke almost ran straight into the common room until she caught sight of Sirius talking to someone hidden from her view. She had managed to work herself up again that she hadn't even heard their voices. She stopped herself from walking in and hid so that she was out of Sirius' line of sight. He was the last person she wanted to find out about her late night habits.

But Brooke knew that there was something not right about the scene in the room before her. Not once had she ever bumped into anyone, let alone Sirius Black at this time of the morning. And she knew him a lot better than they both liked to admit. She knew the only reason he would be up at this time of the morning would be to help Remus or to set up a prank. It wasn't a full moon, and the person he was in the common room with definitely wasn't any of the other Marauders. So something told Brooke she had to stay and find out what it was. So rather than heading back up to her dorm, like she knew was the right thing to do, she managed to sneak into the common room and duck under a table without anyone seeing or hearing her. A sofa was blocking her view, but it also meant they couldn't see her. She didn't need to see them, as long as she could hear everything that was said.

“Like I said before,” The mystery voice growled. Brooke could almost hear him smirk. Whoever it was was well spoken, strong and malicious. Or that's what Brooke got from his voice anyway. There was something familiar with his voice though. Brooke had definitely heard it before but she couldn't figure out where she'd heard it. Or who the voice belonged to. “Stop looking.”

“You have no control over me.” Sirius snapped. It was obvious in his voice that this was the last place he wanted to be. “You never have.”

“That's no way to speak to an old friend.” The voice smarmed.

“Old being the main word there.” Obvious dislike filled Sirius' voice. Brooke had never heard him sound so bitter. Not even when arguing with her. “You chose your side. I chose mine.”

“You mean when you decided that you were a blood traitor?” The voice spat. “When you decided to turn your back on your friends. On your family. On everything you had ever known.”

“Don't act like you resent me just because I finally took a stand.” Sirius scoffed. “You resented me long before that. If I'm not mistaken wasn't it when I got sorted into the 'wrong' house?”

Brooke kept completely still as her mind ran over everyone in Slytherin that Sirius had ever had links to. Which was a lot of them. It had been his life before he got to Hogwarts. Pure-blood supremacy and everything. But still, she couldn't quite put her finger on who it was.

“Listen Black, it's nothing to do with that and you know it.” The voice made Brooke's skin crawl. There was something about it where you could just hear how evil he was by the way he sounded out words.

“No, it was when I wouldn't let you ambush Evans.” Sirius snarled. Brooke could just picture him looking down on whoever he was talking to. It was obvious from his voice that he didn't think highly of him.

“You think you had anything to do with that?” The voice snarled, obviously trying to wind Sirius up more. “The timing was all wrong. There will be better times to get her. Just like all the rest of them.”

It was at that moment that realisation washed over Brooke. She knew exactly who was stood in the common room and it sparked a deep hatred that she knew she would never be able to push aside. Just knowing that he was in the same room as her lit a fire deep within her that made it almost impossible for her to stay there and not say anything. But after the last time she saw him she knew better than to face him.

Rebastian LeStrange had left Hogwarts two years ago so Brooke couldn't figure out how he was standing there in the middle of the Gryffindor common room but pushed the thoughts to the back of her mind so she could find out why Sirius was wasting his time with him.

He had openly joined Voldemort's cause and became a Death Eater straight after leaving Hogwarts. His name was always in The Daily Prophet, and was never for anything good.

“You'll be stopped long before your silly little cause gets anywhere.” Sirius snarled.

A blood curdling laugh escaped Rebastian's lips as though he was laughing at his own private joke that Sirius didn't know about.

Brooke rubbed her arms to try and get rid of the chill that she got from laugh. Taking a deep breath she risked taking a peak at the scene, only managing to see Sirius. He was stood as straight and tall as he could, his chest was out as far as he could get it. His fists were clenched so tightly that the veins in his arms becoming apparent.

“You've said what you came to say. So what are you still doing here!” Sirius snapped, cutting the laugh off.

“I'm serious Black. She's not worth getting yourself killed over.” Rebastian warned. But this time there was something almost nostalgic in his voice. Like, despite everything, there was a small part of him that reminded him that the pair used to be friends. And because of that he still cared, deep deep down.

“What are you talking about? No one is going to get killed. I was just doing a friend a favour.” Sirius' voice wasn't as cold as it had started out.

Brooke was overcome with an array of emotions as different possibilities of what they were talking about rushed into her head. Who was he looking for? What were they on about? Could it be possible that he was actually willing to help her out?

Brooke rolled her eyes at her stupidity. Of course he wouldn't be helping her out. They don't get along, never have. He doesn't care what goes on in anyone's life but his own.

“The only reason I am even giving you this warning is because we were close once. And because we still have high hopes for you Black. But choose the wrong path and it'll be the last thing you do.” Rebastian spoke calmly but there was promise in his voice. “If you choose the wrong path I will come for you myself. Because anything I will do to you is nothing in comparison to what they have planned. You saved my life once, do me wrong and I will repay you by saving you from a long torturous life. Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

It sounded as though both of them sighed simultaneously.

“They're safe. That's all you need to know.” Rebastian said reluctantly. “Now, you must make your decision by the end of the school year.”

“What decision?” Sirius asked urgently. “What choice do I have to make?”

“You'll know when it comes to it. You'll understand.” Rebastian said sternly before disappearing out of the common room doors.

“You can come out now Anderson.” Sirius sighed as he sat down on the sofa.

“Sorry.” Brooke murmured as she crawled out from under the table and made her way towards him. “I shouldn't have been...”

Sirius lifted his hand up to cut her off. His eyes were focussed on the empty fireplace, unable to look at Brooke.

“It was about them, wasn't it? They're alive.” Her voice was barely a whisper. She couldn't believe it. After all this time she had finally got the answer she was looking for. They were alive, so why weren't they coming home?

“That doesn't mean anything though. They could still be anywhere.” Sirius spoke, his voice strong and calm. His eyes were giving his emotion away though. There was something vulnerable in them.

“Why?” Brooke questioned, her eyebrows furrowed. Sitting down next to Sirius he glanced up at her curiously. “Why have you been asking questions? We're not friends.”

“You haven't seen what James has been like.” Sirius explained. “He's good at putting on a strong front, but it's all killing him. They've been a big part of his life since he was born. I didn't do this for you. I did this for him.”

“Oh thank God!” Relief washed over Brooke causing a shocked look from Sirius. “As grateful as I am, you're the one person who didn't treat me any differently to how you did before all this happened. And I'm just glad that it's not going to change.”

A low chuckle escaped Sirius' throat and his grey eyes sparkled slightly.

“It's going to take a lot more than your parents going missing to make me like you Princess. Besides, it must be hard not having them at your beckon call, doing everything for you. I guess I can do one little thing to make sure you don't change too much from the infuriating, self absorbed girl that gives me a run for my money.” Sirius snided.

“There he is. The ever so reliable, arrogant pig who says what he likes and doesn't care about how it makes anyone feel.” There was something light about Brooke's words for once.

Rather than viciously snapping at one another it's like for the first time they were sniping in a light hearted manner. The corner of Sirius' lips curled up as he tried to stop the smile from forming.

“Wait, is Sirius Black actually smiling at something that came out of my mouth?” Brooked feigned being shocked. “The world really is ending! That or you must be really ill.”

Brooke placed the back of her hand to Sirius' forehead, which he recoiled away from, his eyes wide at the contact. A single 'HA' escaped from Brooke causing her hand to cover her mouth before the laughter came.

Unsure of what was going on Sirius watched as the laughter kept kept from Brooke who was unable to stop. It went on for a few minutes until the laughter turned into sobs.

The heavy feeling that had gone when she found out her parents were alive was suddenly back, and crushing her chest even more than before. The fact that they were alive, yet weren't with her made it harder. There was a part of her that had believed that they were dead. That there was no way she could ever see them again. But the knowledge that they were out there somewhere and they hadn't bothered getting in contact with her. That could only mean that they were somewhere that they couldn't contact her. They wouldn't just leave her high and dry like this.

Sirius, noticing the lack of laughter awkwardly wrapped his arm around her to try and comfort her. Despite how uncomfortable it felt he pulled Brooke into him and let her sob into his chest, her arms making their way around his waist.

“They're alive Brooke. You're going to see them again.” Sirius whispered soothingly in Brooke's ear.

The lump in her chest slowly dissolved as Sirius continued rubbing her back, the words doing nothing to make her feel any better.

Realising that she was finding comfort in Sirius Black, Brooke pulled away and shot off the sofa. She made her way to the dormitories but stopped as she got to the door to the stairs.

“Thank you Sirius. For finding out for me.” Her back still facing him.

Making her way up to her dorm the tears started flowing again. It was still late so no one would be awake. Hopefully Brooke could hop straight into bed without being seen by anyone else.

She'd already embarrassed herself by showing any sign of weakness in front of Sirius. She'd gone against everything she knew and broke down to the one person who would use it against her. But despite that, she could feel herself feeling grateful that he was there. Grateful that he was James' best friend.

Brooke was internally kicking herself for even allowing herself to feel anything other than dislike towards Sirius. She didn't want him treating her any differently, and now he actually might.

She climbed into her bed and shut the curtains before squeezing her eyes shut to force herself back to sleep. It wasn't long before Brooke felt herself drifting off into yet another dream.

* * * * *

Brooke slowly made her way down the cold, damp corridor. The walls were completely bare and made of mouldy wood. Dark, locked doors kept emerging on either side of her at different intervals. Every time Brooke got to a door she'd test it out just to see if she could finally find an unlocked one. With no luck she continued walking. Yet no matter how far she seemed to walk, the corridor kept on going with no turns. She was no closer to getting to the end than when she started.

Losing track of time Brooke was completely unaware of when she had started down the corridor. To her it felt as though it was all she had ever done. All she knew was she had to find something, and it was somewhere in one of the doors. All she had to do was find the right one. She'd continue looking forever if she had to.

Picking up her pace she started running between doors. Her breathing started getting heavy and the longer she spent in the same room the more she could feel herself panicking.

A faint whisper came from somewhere around Brooke, yet there were no doors at all. Brooke stopped in her tracks and tried to make out what the voice was saying but it was as if it was in a different language.

Brooke's heart had picked up and was crashing against her chest as though she was running a marathon. She could hear the thumping in her ears as her body worked in overdrive to try and stop the anxiety from coming on.

She looked around her and realised there were now two doors on each side of her. Glancing at each door she tried to listen hard to hear any sign of the voice she had heard. She had to find out what door it came from.

“Kill.” The voice came again. This time it filled the whole room and there was no way Brooke couldn't hear what it said. The cold, high pitched voice went straight through Brooke leaving her shaking with fear.

Taking a deep, calming breath Brooke tried to control the fear she felt slowly taking over her body. The worst thing that could happen would be for her to give in now. She was stronger than that. She was going to get to where she needed to. She had to. She'd been searching this corridor for months. She wasn't going to do it another night.

The door furthest away on her right suddenly swung open with force. Brooke jumped, letting out a gasp as her hand shot to her chest. Her other yanked her wand out and pointed it towards the door. Her fist was white as she grasped it.

Looking around her one last time, Brooke slowly made her way towards the door, her shaking hand kept her wand aimed in front of her as she approached the one thing she knew she'd been looking for.

That's when a too familiar sound drifted into her ears. A sound she hadn't heard in what felt like forever. The sound of her parents laughter.

Her heart had picked up again, sending blood drumming to her ears. A knot appeared in Brooke's stomach as she dropped her wand to the floor and ran into the room. The door slammed behind her but she paid no attention to it as she was transfixed on the view before her.

Her mum and dad were sat next to one another at a table piled with food. The smell of roast beef and gravy filled Brooke's nose. Every meal that had once been her favourite was on the table. The different smells mixing with one another as she caught a hint of curry mixed with fish pie.

The faces of her parents were pictures of pure joy. In fact, Brooke was certain she had never seen them both this happy ever. Not in person anyway. The looks on their faces were the same ones that Brooke had seen in their wedding pictures.

Eliza's red hair framed her face perfectly. Not a single strand was out of place. Her eyes somehow seemed light brown, as though they were shining so brightly they had in fact gotten lighter themselves. The crows feet that were normally occupying her face seemed to have gone. As Brooke looked at her mum she realised how young and youthful she seemed to look. Nothing like the worried mum who watched her go off to Hogwarts the previous year.

After taking in her mothers dramatic change in appearance Brooke directed her eyes to her dad who also looked somewhat younger. Which considering he had no age lines before shocked Brooke. His eyes too shone so brightly they were like the summer sky. And not a second went by where his pearly white teeth weren't on show.

“Mum? Dad?” Brooke whispered, not able to comprehend the scene before her. Her face showed every emotion that was running through her. Confusion, excitement, relief. But then pain. She couldn't figure out why they were so happy.

Charles and Eliza moved their gazes from one another to Brooke. They had been completely unaware she had entered the room until she'd interrupted. Their faces dropped when they took in the sight of their daughter. Panic replaced the inexplicable joy.

Eliza shot up, the chair she was on thrown to the floor behind her. She was followed closely by Charles.

“Go!” Eliza cried, pushing a struggling Brooke, who was trying to hug her mother, towards the door she came through.

“No!” Brooke shouted, pushing her way back towards the middle of the room towards her father. All she could think was that if she could get to him everything would be alright. She just needed to touch him. To know he was real.

Brooke managed to push past her mother and grabbed her fathers hand. It was warm and felt exactly how she remembered it. But he didn't grab hold of her hand back. In fact, he seemed rather subdued considering he hadn't seen her in over a year and it left Brooke lost.

“Leave us B.” Charles whispered in her ear, trying to think of the right words that would get her to leave. “We're happy. Stop looking.”

Brooke couldn't believe her ears. Here she was finally in front of her parents for the first time in a long time and they didn't want her there. They wanted her to go. And not to come back.

Then it dawned on Brooke that even if she wanted to she couldn't come back. She had no idea where she was. It kick started her body and she fought to grab hold of both of her parents. She was taking them with her. She wasn't losing them again.

“Come home.” Brooke sobbed, tears were flowing freely down her face. She couldn't leave them again. She wouldn't. They couldn't make her. She needed them. And she knew they needed her.

“We can't honey.” Eliza whispered softly. She reached out to stroke Brooke's cheek but Brooke pulled away shaking her head.

“Why not?” Brooke was sobbing so hard her chest was hurting. Her breathing was hitched.

“Just go.” Charles begged, his eyes dancing all around the room as though he was waiting for something. “Now! Before it's too late!”

The door swung open again, this time with a shadow in the doorway. Brooke and her parents spun to face the shadow. Fear was on both Eliza and Charles' faces.

“My Lord.” Eliza dropped her head as the figure stepped forward.

Brooke's eyes immediately drew to the figures eyes, the whites which were completely red from the distance. His skin was pale but looked as though it was melting away from the bones beneath it.

The haunting red eyes rested on Brooke. A sinister smile formed on the man's gaunt face. A smile that made Brooke shudder. It was a look that she knew she would never forget. It's the face of pure evil. She knew exactly who he was just from his eyes and smile.

Finally managing to pull her eyes away from his face Brooke noticed her wand in his hand. Her heart caught in her throat as she realised she had no way to defend herself. Whatever he was going to do she just had to let him do it. It was that or die.

Taking a deep breath Brooke refused to show her fear. If she was going to die she was going to die bravely. She'd die freeing her parents.

“Let my parents go!” Brooke directed, forcing her voice to be strong and commanding. She knew it was a long shot but it was the only shot she had left.

A cackle rang through Brooke's ear and she stared at Lord Voldemort in shock. He was laughing at her. What was so funny about her request? Wouldn't any child try to save their parents from imprisonment?

“Let them go?” He spoke softly, his voice high and cold. “They came to me.”

Voldemort continued to laugh at Brooke as she shook her head in denial. She wouldn't believe that they had chose to leave her. Chose him over her. It wasn't possible. She knew her parents. They wouldn't do that.

“You're lying.” Brooke accused, her voice faltering. She was barely heard over the cackle coming from the deformed man before her.

Brooke looked questioningly to her parents but the apologetic looks on their faces told her the last thing she wanted to know.

“Go Brooke.” Eliza begged. “This is your last chance.”

Brooke pulled away from her parents. Tears streaming down her face. She couldn't believe what she was hearing. Her heart was breaking a little bit more each moment she was around her parents. They chose to leave her. They abandoned her.

Running past the still cackling Voldemort she escaped the room. Just in time for one last glance behind her. One glance at her parents smiling and laughing with one another again. Then Voldemort made a motion with Brooke's wand and everything went green.



Chapter 4: Chapter Four - The Mask
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It had been four days since Brooke found out that her parents were in fact alive. Yet relief was the last emotion she felt. Fear, anger and confusion, yes. But not relief. The fact that she had heard it from none other than a death eater made it extremely hard for her to even attempt to be happy about the information.

Of course, she had to put a front on everyday. A face to show James that she was, in fact, happy about it. That she was extremely grateful with what Sirius had done. For, as soon as James found out, he completely overlooked the meaning behind them being alive. The fact that them being alive, but not letting anybody know where they were, must mean that they were being held somewhere against their will.

Brooke had gotten quite good at shutting these thoughts out of her head during the day. She had N.E.W.T's, quidditch, homework and even the Slug Club to focus on. But that didn't stop the dreams from haunting her every night without fail.

These dreams would chip away at any ounce of hope Brooke had left. There was something so realistic about them that made it hard not to believe what she was seeing. Even though it was the worst case scenarios she was dreaming about. The worst and the least likely. She knew deep down that there was no way her parents would willingly stay away from her. And in letting herself believe that they could she was going against everything she knew. By believing her dreams she was going against the people her parents were. She was letting them down.

This meant that it was the fourth morning in a row that Brooke had shot up suddenly. Sweat covered every inch of her body, her pyjamas drenched and her hair slicked to her neck and face. Her chest was rising and falling erratically as she stared at the curtains that surrounded her bed. It was a mount before her heartbeat was no longer audible in her own ears.

It was a moment before Brooke was able to calm herself down and control her breathing. It was only then that she drew the drapes open from around her bed, letting the morning sun blind her temporarily as she rubbed her eyes.

Taking a deep breath she shoved all her doubts and insecurities into a box in the back of her mind before locking it, adamant that they wouldn't creep out to plague her thoughts.

Today is going to be a good day. She mentally told herself over and over as a mantra. The start of what seemed to be her new routine. The way she started her day, everyday.

Marlene and Alice dubiously glanced over towards Brooke, obviously unsure what sort of mood she had woken up in. This was something they seemed to do every morning, trying to get a gauge of how they can act with her.

Alice moved her dark blue eyes away almost the instant she looked at Brooke. She was one of those 'nice' girls. A lot like Lily. Her dark eyes rarely without a twinkle. Her short black hair drew out the features of her beautiful face. Brooke always thought she looked a bit like a pixie, in a good way.

Marlene let her hazel eyes linger on Brooke's appearance, dragging from her head to her toes. The sight before her was the completely opposite of how she looked. Marlene was tall and curvy, the right amount of curves that everyone was jealous of. Her light blonde hair hung straight by her shoulders, not a strand was out of place.

Brooke glanced at her, smiling widely when she realised she had her attention. The smile was far from genuine, both the girls were aware of that. It wasn't that they disliked each other. Marlene was just jealous of Brooke's close relationships with the marauders, and Brooke didn't agree with Marlene's lifestyle of sleeping round. Rather than say anything though, Marlene returned a forced smile before turning to finish her make up.

Glancing down at herself Brooke let out a soft sigh as she took in the state of herself. Pushing herself of her bed she made her way to the bathroom, wondering when she would stop waking up that way.

Lily appeared at the doorway of the bathroom with a big smile on her face, her eyes radiating with happiness.

Typical Lily. Brooke couldn't help but think as a small smile formed on her face. There was something about the happiness that oozed out of Lily that lifted something off her heart. It was easier to breath around her. It was as though Lily's presence cleared the air around her of any negativities, no matter who was there with her.

“Brooke!” Lily exclaimed, her smile widening at the sight of a slight smile on Brooke's lips. The smile dropped a bit at the site of her friend. “Are you okay?”

Brooke flashed her teeth as she manoeuvred around Lily, managing to get them to swap places. “I'm fine Lils.” She shut the door, the smile dropping off her face as the click sounded. “I'll meet you at breakfast. Don't wait for me.” Making herself heard through the door as she started running the shower, hoping that it would prevent anyone from asking any prying questions.

* * * * *

“Brooke!” James shouted as soon as she walked into the great hall, beckoning her over to where he sat with the rest of the marauders.

Slowly making her way towards them she noticed that the whispers she got when she walked through the hall on the first day of the year had subsided a bit. It was still obvious people were talking about it, but at least they weren't being openly obvious now. Thankfully no one seemed to think that it was worth interrupting their breakfast any more.

As Brooke got to the table she squeezed between James and Remus, both of whom were shovelling forkfuls of scrambled egg into their mouths as though they hadn't eaten all week.

Glancing across the table she realised she was now facing Sirius, much to her chagrin. They hadn't spoke two words to each other since she broke down on him at the beginning of the week, and there was still a part of her that couldn't accept that he had no ulterior motives for helping her out.

Quickly pushing the thoughts to the back of her head she took in the disgusting sight of him eating his breakfast, in the most uncivilized manner she'd ever seen.

“What barnyard animal raised you, Black?” Brooke snapped in disgust. His head shot up to look at her with raised eyebrows. “Only an animal would eat like that. Close your mouth for Merlin's sake.”

Sirius' eyes glistened mischievously, the corner of his lips curling up. It was a look Brooke hadn't seen in a long time. It was the look that told people that it was on. The look he'd always give her when he had something humiliating planned.

Making a point of making sure his mouth stayed open whilst he chewed the rest of his mouthful he kept his eyes trained on Brooke's. A big grin appeared on his face once he'd swallowed.

“Well, well, well.” Sirius dragged out the words. “Looks like we have our princess back again. It's about time don't you think?”

There was a gleam in Sirius' eye though. Something that anyone who knew him well enough would recognise. Brooke was back, which meant the games were back on.

Brooke just shrugged, forcing a smile on her face. Yes, she's back. Or Brooke would do whatever it took to make people think the old her was back. Maybe if she pretended hard enough it would start happening on it's own. She knew she couldn't keep going on as this weak, fragile little girl. The world was continuing on without her, and she couldn't let that happen any more.

James had the biggest grin on his face as he watched the way Brooke had seemed to be coming back out of her shell. Bouncing up and down on his seat made it clear, not only to Brooke, but to everyone that he had something he needed to get off his mind.

“What is it James?” Brooke rolled her eyes in his direction.

“Quiddich try-outs this evening, after dinner.” James was still bouncing up and down, filled with excitement. “I need you both there.”

It was then that Brooke remembered he'd been made captain of the team this year. After all the bad things over the summer it was good to finally see good things happening to someone she cared about.

Everything drifted away in that moment. Seeing James genuinely happy for the first time seemed to take a weight off Brooke's shoulders. Being around these people, her family, was going to get her through this dark time. She would get through her last year at Hogwarts, and by then her parents would be home.

“I have a date.” Sirius mumbled with his mouth full of bacon to no ones surprise.

“And you can rearrange that date.” James ordered. “The two of you are basically my second in commands.” By this point James had his fork pointed at Sirius' face. “And if you want to survive your last year here you will be there. Got it Pads?”

Sirius glared at James but nodded anyway, causing Brooke to stifle a laugh as her and Remus shared a knowing look.

Brooke finally took in everything around her, only then realising the missing member of the group. “Where's Pete?” The shy boy that usually followed Sirius everywhere didn't seem to be anywhere in sight. And when she thought about it she was sure it had been a few days since she had seen him.

“His mum is ill or something.” Remus was looking over his book at the three sat around him. “He's gone to help out at home.”

Brooke felt a tugging at her stomach. At least Peter was able to help out with his mum. Spend some time with her. She would have given anything to do the same. To go home and spend a few days with her parents.

Looking around she seemed no one was really bothered. If they weren't bothered it must mean that it was nothing serious. If it was, Peter would have surely told everyone details. But then, it was Peter. He wasn't really one for telling people about his personal problems.

Pushing the thoughts of him out of her head, she shoved them in the box too. Nothing was going to ruin her day if she could help it.

* * * * *

The rest of the day pretty much went without a hitch. Brooke had managed to avoid being alone with Lily. Which meant she hadn't endured any questions she didn't want to answer. James ongoing obsession did come in handy every once in a while. Lily avoided James, which meant as long as Brooke stuck with him Lily avoided her too.

The guilt at the pit of Brooke's stomach got worse the closer she got to her last lesson of the day. She was avoiding her best female friend all because she didn't want to answer a few questions. Questions that were only there because she was worried about her.

But she knew it was only a matter of time before Lily caught up to her. She was on her way to Potions and would have to face Lily there. No running away or hiding behind James. She now had to answer the questions she should have answered days before.

Potions had always been Brooke's favourite subject, and even now it still was. It was the one subject that she excelled in, to the point of giving Severus a run for his money at being top of the class.

No matter what was going through her mind, Brooke always found everything disappeared as soon as she had a cauldron in front of her. Suddenly every bit of attention had to be on the brewing potion. One mistake could be drastic, she could blow herself up. One forgotten ingredient could mean the difference between a simple potion and a life threatening poison.

And normally Brooke would be happy that she was paired up with Lily. But it meant that she wouldn't be able to focus on her favourite work of art. She knew before the lesson even started that she would be distracted.

Slughorn explained, in a round about way, that they would be brewing Draught of Living Death. The chance of it coming up in their N.E.W.T's was too high not to perfect it.

Brooke spent the first five minutes of the lesson avoiding eye contact with Lily, putting off the inevitable. They both knew what she was doing.

Scurrying to the cupboard as soon as Slughorn excused the class, Brooke went and grabbed the ingredients she would need.

She knew that her attempted positiveness was slacking in this class, so she just stopped trying. The frown that had been on her face everyday over the holidays was back. Her eyes, dead to any emotion.

“You could be a bit more grateful.” A familiar voice urged her, their breath tingling her neck.

Brooke pinched the bridge of her nose. “How wasn't I grateful?” Brooke sighed. Her eyes automatically rolled at the sound of the sentence. “I said thank you didn't I?”

“Still, don't you think you should be a bit happier? They are alive after all.” James said in hushed tones so no one could hear their conversation.

Brooke turned around to face him to find him stood there with furrowed brows. She took a breath, her shoulders dropping at the sight of her best friend.

“Firstly, I am grateful James. But what do you expect me to do? Hug Black? Owe him my life?” She explained, her lips snarled as they formed his name. “And yes, I am happy they're alive. But that doesn't change anything. They're still gone. And I don't know where. And rather than thinking there is a large chance that they're dead now I just keep thinking of all the different things that are being inflicted on them.”

“But they're alive!” James' was obviously getting irritated at the negativity that was coming from Brooke.

Brooke knew he was right. They were alive. That should make her happy, but she just couldn't bring herself to start smiling about it. She couldn't start thinking that she was definitely going to get them back. It was a nasty world out there, and it was only getting worse. Even if they weren't taken it didn't mean she would ever see them again. It was a war, and bad things happened. Having hope would just make her hurt more.

“I know James! But unless you're going to sit back and let me go and find them then there is nothing I can do!” Brooke was unable to keep her voice quiet now. She knew that James meant well but she knew she was right. All she could do was pass the information onto the right people and wait.

Something seemed to click within James as he just looked at her, sadness filling his eyes, as realisation that Brooke was right sunk in.

“There's nothing we can do but wait James. And we still don't know anything that can lead us to them. So excuse me for not being over the moon.” Brooke finished as she grabbed the final ingredients.

“Who says we have to wait?” James tried quietly. But it was loud enough to get Brooke's attention and she looked at James, waiting for him to continue. “Why can't we go and find them?”

“Don't be stupid James!” Brooke said, her voice cracking. “There are professionals out there looking for them.”

“How is it stupid? If you're really struggling to sit back and wait, let's go.” James was whispering again to make sure no one heard what they were talking about.

Brooke glanced around to make sure they were completely alone. A small part of her wanted to jump at the idea to do exactly what James was saying. But her brain kept kicking in telling her she'd just get herself killed.

“You know just as well as I do that my parents will kill us both if we leave school to go and find them.” Brooke whispered, making sure she had the final word.

Brooke gave James a weak smile and started heading back to Lily.

Struggling to get what James said out of her head, Brooke found herself ignoring Lily. Was it really so stupid if they did go and find them themselves? Who better to go with than James? They could both look after themselves and maybe they'd find them quicker than these detectives she was relying on.

But then there was the fact that they wouldn't have any clue where to start looking. They wouldn't be able to just walk into a death eaters house and search the place. Not that they even knew where any death eaters lived.

Even though she knew there was only one thing she should do, internally she struggled to find the answer. The choice to just sit and do nothing was getting harder and harder with every new thought that ran through her mind.

Grabbing a piece of parchment out of her bag Brooke scribbled a note.

What about Christmas?

Looking around for Professor Slughorn, she made sure his back as to her as she flew the note to James. As he read the note a mischievous grin formed on his face before he nudged Sirius and started whispering something to him.

Suddenly Brooke realised she might have made a mistake. This wasn't something she wanted Sirius involved in. Especially not as much as he already was anyway. There was still something about his 'chat' with Rebastian that didn't sit right with Brooke.

“Brooke?” A voice interrupted her thoughts bringing her back to reality. “Are you even listening?”

Looking at Lily, Brooke realised she really had been ignoring her since she sat back down. “Sorry Lils. I was in a world of my own.”

“Are you going to tell me what's going on, Brooke?” Lily kept her eyes on her potion, waiting for it to start bubbling.

“What do you mean?” Brooke replied innocently, not wanting to come right out with it. She still hadn't worked out what she was even going to say to Lily yet. But she didn't want her worrying.

“You've been avoiding me all day Brooke. You avoid going to sleep.” She stated matter-of-factly. Her green eyes shone kindly. And it was those kind eyes that made Brooke realise that she was being stupid. She could tell Lily anything and she knew that. Suddenly she felt silly for even attempting to hide anything from her. “And I've noticed the way you wake up when you do finally sleep.”

Brooke glanced around the room, turning to Lily only when she was satisfied she could talk without anyone listening.

“Sirius found out my parents are still alive.” She whispered, both of them throwing ingredients into their cauldrons so they didn't draw anyone's attention.

“He what?” Lily gasped, her eyes widening at the revelation. “How? Why? Don't you two hate each other?”

Brooke couldn't help but roll her eyes, a slight smile forming on her lips. A smile that finally reached her eyes for the first time in days. Months in fact.

“He got in contact with an 'old friend'” Emphasizing the words old and friend so Lily would understand what she meant. Brooke found herself grimacing at the memory of being so close to Rebastian. “And he didn't do it for me. He did it for James.”

It was obvious that Lily understood instantly. It even seemed as though she was a little disappointed that she even had to ask. Of course, Sirius would do anything for James.

“Wait.” Lily stopped what she was doing and looked at Brooke with furrowed eyebrows. “If they're alive, what's wrong?”

Brooke sighed but continued focussing on her potion. It was clear to Brooke that Lily hadn't quite understood where she was coming from before.

“His old friend is a death eater Lils.” Her voice barely a whisper. Not wanting to see the pity on Lily's face, her eyes looked everywhere but there. “So now every time I go to sleep I have this nightmare. But every night it ends in the same way. It always ends with Voldemort killing them.”

Lily opened her mouth to say something but thought twice about it. Instead she searched Brooke's cold features.

“Yes, it's amazing that they're alive, but it means he has something to do with it.” Brooke looked up to Lily, her eyes filled with sadness as tears threatened to fall from them. “And that's never been a good thing in the past.”

Brooke studied Lily's face as she struggled to come up with something to say that would comfort her. Something more than just meaningless words.

“Brooke,” Lily turned to look at her.

“Don't worry. I told you so you could stop worrying about me. I don't need you to make me feel better. Words aren't going to do that.”

Someone sniggering behind the girls diverted their attention. Turning to look at the source of the laughter they were met with a deathly glare.

“Did I say you could look at me, mudblood!” The Slytherin snapped, making sure to lower her voice when she spat the last word. Her face was harsh and cold and hatred filled her mud brown eyes.

Cassie Turner, the biggest Slytherin in the whole school. And quite possibly the nastiest. She had no second thoughts about testing the unforgivable curses on other students. Sadly though no teachers were yet to have proof. She was built like a brick house, towering over almost every student considering she was well over six foot. Her black hair was constantly slicked back into a tight ponytail.

“Shut up, Turner!”Brooke retorted loudly, not caring who overheard.

Professor Slughorn, who was doing something in the ingredient cupboard, was entirely unaware of the quarrel taking place. The rest of the class had all diverted their attention to it though, leaving their potions to their own accord. At the sound of Brooke's voice James sat on the edge of his seat, waiting in case he needed to get involved.

“Well, what do we have here? The dirty blood traitor fighting battles for the filthy little mudblood.” Cassie's voice was filled with so much hatred and disgust that some of the other students actually gasped.

Lily stood her ground, not showing any signs that the nasty words had any effect on her. Brooke, however, had clenched her jaw whilst she curled her hands into fists. Her eyes not leaving Cassie's for even a second.

“Drop it.” Lily gently pulled on Brooke's arm, causing her to relax at her touch. “She's not worth it.”

“Yes she is!” James jumped in having seen Brooke about to turn away. He homes in on Cassie, his wand pointed at her face. “You let one of them get away with it then they'll all be doing it.”

“Lower your wand, Potter.” Cassie's hand reached up and pushed his wand away from her face. “I've always known you were stupid. But come on, we both know you're not that stupid.” Her eyes darted to Lily as she spoke.

“I'd stop whilst you're ahead, Turner.” It was Sirius' turn to get involved now. “Before you say something else. You don't stand a chance.” His eyes darted from James to Brooke and Lily.

Brooke couldn't help but roll her eyes. She should have known. Of course James and Sirius would get involved. Especially if Lily was involved.

Slughorn was still rattling on to himself in the ingredients cupboard, completely oblivious to what was going on in his classroom.

“For now. But there will come a time when we'll come on top.” A sinister smile appeared on her face. A smile that would make even the bravest of people shudder. “It's only a matter of time.”

I'd stop with the threats if I were you. Unless you want me to stop them for you.” Brooke had now ripped her wand out and pointed it at Cassie's face. Sirius quickly followed suit.

“Just stop it guys!” Lily begged but no one was listening to her. Anger on all three of their faces.

“I'd listen to the foul girl.” Cassie tried pushing for a bigger reaction.

“What in Godric is going on in here?” Slughorn's voice bellowed through the room as he appeared behind James and Sirius.

Brooke grumbled under her breath as she realised what Cassie had been doing, the two boys following suit. All of them lowered their wands and turned to face their teacher.

Cassie had managed to plaster the best innocent look on her face she could muster, not that she needed to. It already looked better for her than the others.

“It was a misunderstanding, Sir.” Cassie's voice was soft and scared. “They misheard something I said and next thing I knew they were all pointing their wands in my face. Threatening me.”

James and Sirius protested, both trying to get out what really happened, shouting over one another.

“Enough!” Slughorn's face was bright red in anger. “Anderson, Black, Potter. You will all stay behind after class.”

“But, Sir.” All three of them cried as they grew more and more impatient.

“I will not hear another peep out of any of you. Ten points from Gryffindor. Each.”

All three of them groaned as he turned his back to them, making his way to front of the class. This time paying close attention on them to make sure they didn't step another foot out of line.

Chapter 5: Chapter Five - Detention
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“I should have known he wasn't going to let us explain.” Sirius grumbled as he continued the rant he had started about Cassie and Slughorn as soon as they left Slughorn's classroom. “Of course he would automatically take that toads side. She's in his bloody house.”

Brooke couldn't help but roll her eyes at Sirius as she thought back to the incident. “She did it on purpose Black. For someone who's meant to know everything you don't half take your time clocking these things.” She glanced over to him to see him glare at her, sending her daggers. “Besides, whether it was him or Minnie, it didn't look good for us did it?”

James kept his mouth shut, shaking his head at his two best friends as they bickered like a couple of first years.

“Well if you could keep that little temper of yours in check none of us would be here would we?” Sirius retorted.

“Shut up, Black!” Brooke felt herself getting more irate as the handsome man pushed all of the blame onto her. “I never asked you to jump in. You do have self-control, don't you?” Her voice betrayed her, revealing just how annoyed she was. “Or do you have to involve yourself in everything James does. He can look after himself you know.”

“Guys can you please stop bickering for one day.” James grabbed both of them by their shoulders. “I'm going to bash your heads together if you don't.” He feigned smashing their heads into one another which only gained him a dead arm from Sirius.

Letting out a bark of laughter, Sirius got out of arms reach from James knowing it was only a matter of time before he retaliated.

Meanwhile James kept his arm around Brooke who had snaked her arm around his waist. The all too familiar scent of Irish Spring soap and a tiny hint of cologne tickled her nostrils making her visibly relax into the only family she currently had.

The three of them rushed into the Great hall, Brooke pulling away from James and making her way to Lily, who sighed at the sight of James.

Before anyone could sit down James squeezed past Brooke, taking the seat next to Lily. “So, how is my sweet on this glorious evening?”

Pinching the bridge of her nose with her finger and thumb Lily took a deep breath. “Potter.” She grimaced with gritted teeth. “When will you give it a rest?” Her jaw remained clenched as she stared at Alice who was sitting directly ahead of her.

“I'll give it a rest when you say yes to a date.” James put on his most charming smile, but Lily just shook her head.

“I wouldn't say yes if you were the last man on earth Potter!” Her voice was getting more agitated by the obsessive behaviour. “It's never going to happen!” Lily stood up from the table, leaving her barely touched dinner. “I'll see you in the dorm later Brooke.” And with that she stormed off with Alice close on her heels.

Brooke couldn't help but let out a sigh. Her two best friends hadn't ever gotten along, not that James hadn't tried. But Brooke couldn't help but feel torn constantly. Torn between taking sides. Of course she wanted James to be happy, and apparently being with Lily would make him happy. But she also wanted James to stop chasing Lily, even for a little bit.

“She's never going to say yes if you continue like that.” Brooke, who was sitting opposite James, put some carbonara on her plate. “Stop chasing her James. Show her that you've grown up. That you're not the same boy who started chasing her in third year.” She started playing with her food, having a small mouthful every now and then.

Sirius, who had been shovelling steak and ale pie into his mouth looked at James. “She has a point.” His words were barely recognisable with a mouth full of food.

“How you ever manage to get a girl is a shocker!” Brooke cried as she avoided the food spraying out of Sirius' mouth.

Swallowing his food Sirius flashed her a cheeky grin, a sparkle was in his eyes. “We never really do much eating together.” He winked at her.

“They wouldn't do anything with you if they saw how you eat.” She scoffed back.

“You ever think I just eat like this to put you off, Princess?”

Brooke let out a loud, fake laugh. “Your personality already does that for you.” She flashed a sarcastic smile back at him.

“Guys.” James sighed rubbing his head. “Can we get back to my problem please.” His usual smile was no longer on his face. In fact, it looked as though he was genuinely hurt.

Brooke stopped the laugh that threatened to escape her lips as she took in the sight of him. “Listen James, you're too persistent. You've been doing the same things since third year. Just back off. Make her think she's not that special to you.”

“Look at you trying to trick your best friend.” Sirius jeered.

Brooke rolled her eyes. “When you think about it, I'm helping both my best friend and my brother. She gets a break, and it'll probably lead to her missing his attention.” She thought for a moment. “Maybe.”


* * * * *

The cold air hit Brooke's face as she got outdoors. The rain pelting her face causing her curly hair to cling to it. Her feet were sinking slightly in the wet mud. Rather than continuing the walk her impatience got the better of her and she swung herself onto her broomstick and kicked off into the air.

In that moment Brooke became one with the wind. Soaring high in the sky, her mind went blank. Every single problem that she had didn't matter up there. Any issue was unimportant. It was just her and her broomstick and absolutely nothing else.

When she finally got to the quidditch pitch James had already started everyone off, so they were following Sirius, so he could send the students away that weren't up to scratch. By the looks of it there was a good crowd trying out this year. And with only two spots to fill Brooke could tell it was going to be a long process.

Continuing to fly towards everybody, Brooke only stopped to hover when she was directly next to James.

“Nice of you to join us.” He was obviously in a bit of a strop with Brooke but that only made her roll her eyes at him.

“Come on, I'm here now.” Brooke let out a sigh as she took in James' grumpy face. The way his eyebrows furrowed and he stuck his bottom lip out ever so slightly.

“Well at least act like you want to be here.” A sigh escaped from James' lips as lightening flashed across the sky. “Let's just get this over with shall we?”

Brooke glanced up at everyone following Sirius and turned to James.

“He can't come with us, J.”

“What are you talking about?” James' raised his eyebrow at her before following her gaze to Sirius.

“Christmas.” Brooke couldn't help but admire the grace that Sirius' had whenever he was on his broom but quickly shot the thought out of her head. “Black can't come with us.”

“I know you don't like him; but you need to remember he was the one that found out they were alive.” James assumed it was all to do with Brooke's dislike for his friend.

“It's nothing like that!” Brooke could feel herself getting worked up.

“So stop being stupid, Brooke!” His voice was raised, gaining the attention of everyone else on the pitch.

“Stupid?” Brooke stared at James in shock, not paying any attention to anyone watching the show. “Why don't you stop backing him up for once and accept that maybe there's actually a reason for why I'm saying this!”

Sirius got everyone to fly circuits, throwing a quaffle between them as he went and landed beside James.

“So go on then. Tell me what your problem is with Sirius this time.”

Brooke glanced at Sirius, her eyes lingering on his for a moment. She shook her head and took a deep breath, giving up.

“So we'll all go. Okay Brooke.” It wasn't a suggestion, James was telling her how it was going to be. He turned away instantly and mounted his broom, leaving Brooke and Sirius stood on the pitch alone.

“Care to explain what that was about?” Sirius' grey eyes bore into Brooke's.

Brooke opened her mouth to tell Sirius about her worries about him helping them. That she was worried that by helping her he would end up being helpful to their cause. Instead, she shut her mouth and shook her head.

“It's not important, Black.” She kept her voice strong but he just raised his eyebrow as he waited for a better explanation. “Just a misunderstanding.”

“Listen, Anderson. I understand that you don't like me, I really don't like you either. But James wants to do this too. So I'm going to do this for him.” Sirius explained to her, he too was telling her how it was going to be.

Irritation was evident on Brooke's face, her jaw clenched and chin lifted higher. It was something that always reminded Sirius of the Slytherins; of how his mother used to be every time he did something to disappoint her.

Without another word to each other the pair made their way to assist James with the try-outs.


* * * * *

“Why isn't Prongs here?” Sirius glanced up from the trophy he had been cleaning.

“Head boy duties.” Brook simply rolled her eyes at Sirius. “I guess it does have it's perks.”

Brooke moved onto the next trophy in the room, her mind wandering back to her argument with James earlier on in the day. He had ignored her for the rest of try-outs, and was still yet to talk to her. Not that she had made it any easier on him.

She knew she was being stupid but there was a part of her that was a little bit jealous about the way James never backed her up. He was always siding with Sirius, whether it was wrong or right.

“It wasn't because I don't like you.” Brooke spoke up after a long silence.

Sirius raised his eyebrow at her as he stopped what he was doing. “What?”

Brooke let out a small, inaudible sigh. “Earlier.” She turned to face Sirius. “You're James' best friend and I can't be the reason they'll try and turn you against him.”

It was Sirius' turn to sigh this time. “They'll try whether I help you or not. It does seem to be a family thing after all.” Sirius shrugged it off, not thinking of it being of any importance.

Brooke thought for a moment in silence, carefully trying to think of the right words to say. “How did you do it? Leave them all behind I mean.”

“I guess I just got one hiding too many.” Sirius avoided meeting Brooke's gaze. Talking about the things his mother had done to him was never easy; and had it been anyone else who asked he probably wouldn't have said anything. Brooke had seen it though. 

She was there when he'd finally had enough and escaped to the Potters. She had seen the state he was in because of his mothers temper.

Brooke thought back to the summer before when she had been staying with the Potters for the week. She remembered opening the door to reveal an unrecognisable Sirius. His face was swollen and covered in blood. He could barely open his dull grey eyes. He clutched at a couple of broken ribs, grimacing every time he took a step.

Glancing at him now he looked like a completely different person. He was alive again, his eyes full of life. There was something about him that Brooke was jealous about. His ability to just forget the bad and get on with his life. He was always loving life no matter what was going on in it.

“Do you ever hear from her?” Brooke met his gaze with her curious eyes.

“Nah.” Sirius shrugged. He didn't care whether he never heard from his mother again; in fact he'd prefer if he didn't. “Regulus will keep me up to date every now and then. Just to let me know how disappointed they are of me.”

Brooke sat down on the floor without removing her eyes from Sirius'. His eyes showing how intrigued he was by the sudden interest shown in him. “If I had my pick out of your whole family I'd be sat here with you any day. And that's saying something because I really can't stand you 99% of the time.”

Sirius barked his signature laugh which caused Brooke to smile at him. A proper smile that reached her eyes, which were soft for the first time in a long time.

“You almost seem like your normal self.” Sirius stated as he moved his hair out of his eyes so he could study Brooke's reaction better.

Brooke felt herself tense up but pushed through it, making herself relax again. “You don't treat me like I can break at any given moment.” Brooke's eyes remained soft as she looked down at her fidgeting hands. “It's hard to try and get past what's happened when so many people can barely look at me without pity being the only thing I see. James is trying but I just see this hurt boy who has lost part of his family too.”

Sirius nodded at Brooke. “He sees the same in you.” Sirius stands up and pulls Brooke with him, moving her so she can see her reflection in the trophy cabinet. “Look at yourself.”

Brooke stands staring at her reflection. Her eyes were surrounded by horrible dark circles, that stood out more on her abnormally pale skin. Her cheekbones were more defined and her collarbone was almost jutting out at a wrong angle.

Sirius was stood behind her, his chest almost touching her back whilst he watched her reaction in the reflection. “You need to start looking after yourself.”

Tears formed in Brooke's eyes and she just nodded in response, not trusting herself to talk without her voice breaking. Suddenly she was completely aware of the proximity between her and Sirius; and for the first time her heart started crashing against her chest.

“It's hard for people to treat you like you if you don't look like you.” Sirius' voice was soft and caring.

Shivers ran up Brooke's arms leaving goosebumps in their wake. Quickly rubbing her arms to get rid of them Brooke turned away from her reflection to face Sirius. Neither of them moved, they just stood looking at one another.

“It's hard.” Brooke whispered. She wasn't sure what was going on but her whole body was betraying her. All of a sudden there was this attraction to the young man in front of her that she had never experienced before. No matter how much she was shouting at herself to stop looking at him and to move away, she just couldn't do it.

“You'll figure out a way.” Sirius was completely unaware of Brooke's reaction to him. “You're the most infuriating, stubborn and strongest girl I have ever had the misfortune to meet.”

Brooke snapped out of it and rolled her eyes before shoving Sirius away from her. A small laughed escaped her lips before she turned around to finish cleaning the last few trophies.

It wasn't long until the pair had finished the last of the trophies and were making their way, slowly, back to the common room. It wasn't that they cared much about the company but Brooke was putting off going to bed and Sirius had a feeling that she didn't really want to go back.

“So, you say you want people to treat you how they did before?” Sirius had a huge, mischievous grin on his face that only made Brooke raise her eyebrow questioningly. “Are you up for a bit of mischief?”

Brooke couldn't hide the sly smile from appearing on her face which was all Sirius needed. He grabbed her wrist and pulled her in the opposite direction of the common room.

They made their way to the prefects bathroom, not making a sound until they got there.

“What are we doing here?” Brooke pulled her hand away from Sirius, her heart crashing against her ribcage loudly.

Sirius rooted in his pocket and picked out a couple of different coloured vials, giving two to Brooke and keeping two for himself. “Put it in their shampoo.”

Suddenly Brooke realised what was going on and she did as she was instructed, spreading the vials out between the different bottles that were put away by the sinks.

Neither Sirius or Brooke said anything to one another until they got back to the common room. Brooke was at the bottom of the stairs on her way to the dormitory when she turned to face Sirius. “Thank you.” Then she made her way to bed not listening to see if Sirius replied.

* * * * *

Brooke sat at the table on her own eating a small plate of eggs and bacon, when suddenly a blur of black flew into view, taking a seat opposite her.

“Black.” She greeted, noticing him trying to suppress his laughter.

Sirius nodded at her before keeping his eyes peeled on the door to the hall, Brooke following his gaze.

A red faced Lily Evans walked into the great hall, furious. But it wasn't her face or her anger that had people turning heads. It was her electric blue hair that replaced her lovely red hair.

Brooke choked on a mouthful of eggs and couldn't help but laugh at her friend.

Lily was followed directly by James, except James had candy floss pink hair to replace his messy black hair.

Brooke and Sirius had both cracked up laughing by the time the pair got to the table.

“I don't suppose you had anything to do with this, Black?” Lily spat as she sat down next to Brooke, trying to hide from the looks she was getting.

“I have no idea what you're on about, Evans.” Sirius' voice was a bit too innocent and everyone knew it was him. “Why don't you ask Anderson?”

“What!” Brooke glared at Sirius who just laughed at her reaction.

“B?” James laughed a hearty laugh as he messed up his pink hair.

Brooke just shrugged at the pair but the small smile on her mouth gave it all away. She glanced at Sirius who winked at her before laughing loudly.


Chapter 6: Chapter Six - The Bet
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“I give up!” Brooke lay her head on the table as she flicked through Theories of Transubstantial Transfiguration. She had never been able to master transfiguration, even though it was the one thing she had gone out of her way to try and excel in. “My head is going to explode if I have to write one more word of this awful essay!”

“Don't be so dramatic.” Lily stopped furiously scribbling her essay and gently placed her quill down. “What is it you need help with?” She leaned over to grab Brooke's barely started essay.

“All of it.” Brooke groaned into her book.

“It's not that hard.” Marlene rolled her eyes at Brooke which only agitated her more. “It's simple if you put your head to it.”

“I'll put your head to it in a minute!” Brooke grumbled the threat under her breath. Lily stifled a laugh whilst Marlene glared at Brooke, deciding not to respond.

“How about we have a little break then?” Lily's voice rang like bells.

“Why don't we go find the boys?” Marlene smirked suggestively causing both the others to roll their eyes.

Brooke grimaced. “As much as I hate to admit it, that could actually be a good idea. James is surprisingly good at transfiguration.”

Lily shook her head. “Please no. You both know I can't stand Potter.”

“And you also know he's family to me. Please just make a bit of an effort.” Brooke pinched the bridge of her nose and took a deep breath. “I love you both but your bickering doesn't half get on my nerves.”

“That's exactly how the rest of us feel about you and Black bickering.” Lily looked to Marlene for back up. Marlene, however, had chosen to ignore the pair of girls and was too busy engrossed in checking out a boy at the other side of the common room. Lily rolled her eyes and turned back to Brooke.

Brooke chuckled. “No Lils, it's completely different. Black and I don't like each other. He just doesn't treat me like I'm fragile, like everyone else does. You and Potter, you're different. There's something there between you.” Lily pretended to throw up upon hearing Brooke's words. “Whether you want to hear it or not, it's only a matter of time that you finally see James for what he is.” Brooke's eyes never left Lily's for a moment. “He's not that immature and arrogant toad that he once was. You just need to open your eyes and see it.” Brooke paused to take in Lily's thoughtful face. “And you will see it Lils. So please, just give him a chance. James is one of the good ones.”

“But he hasn't changed Brooke!” Lily's eyes were thoughtful as she tried to process what she had been told.

“Yes he has. You just don't want to accept it.” Brooke shrugged and a small smirk appeared on her lips. “Maybe you're just scared of what you'll feel? But I promise you that there is something there. It's so obvious.”

“You know me better than anyone!” Lily whined. She was still not accepting anything that Brooke had said to her. “How can you possibly believe you can see something that isn't there.”

Brooke chuckled. “Because I know you so well. I know things you don't even know about yourself yet.” Brooke stood up to go find the boys. “But please, if anything just go a bit easier on him. He really does like you.”

A light blush appeared in Lily's cheeks and she couldn't keep Brooke's gaze which told Brooke all she needed to know. That she was right about Lily; there was something there.

“Come on. Let's go find them.” Brooke decided better than to wait for Lily's response.

Marlene, who had paid absolutely no attention to anything they had said suddenly appeared interested at the prospect of finding the marauder's. Her and Lily both got up to follow Brooke's lead.

“Let's go find my man.” Marlene's voice was flirty and full of hope.

“Who's that, Lene?” Lily was shocked at the thought of Marlene being involved with anyone for more than one night.

“Black, of course.” Marlene spoke as though the others should have known but Lily just rolled her eyes, not even entertaining the conversation.

A scoff escaped from Brooke's lips causing Marlene's eyes to snap onto her. “He's no ones man. I would have thought you would know that having seen how he has been for the last few years. You'll just end up getting hurt.”

“What do you care?” Marlene snapped as her eyes narrowed in frustration.

Brooke thought for a moment and just shook her head in the end. “You're right McKinnon. I don't care.”

The three girls walked in silence from the common room to the lake, where they found James and Sirius laying on the ground, Sirius with his top buttons undone which revealed his chest. Remus was sat resting against the tree with a book in his lap. His hair was unusually untidy and the bags under his eyes were basically black. Peter was sitting close to Sirius, as he was every time they were together.

Brooke instantly walked over to James and plopped down beside him, flashing him a smile as a greeting whilst she nodded at Remus. Lily wasn't far behind Brooke which had peeked James' attention but he didn't say anything.

“B! To what do we owe this pleasure?” James' eyes wouldn't leave Brooke's as he tried to avoid Lily.

Marlene basically sat directly on top of Sirius as she squeezed between him and Peter, her hand going instantly to his bare chest as she flirted with him, laying it on thick.

“I'd had enough of that awful transfiguration essay.” Something in Brooke's eyes caused James to roll his eyes.

“I'll help you out with it tomorrow.” He flashed a grin at Brooke before his eyes moved to Lily. “Evans. Didn't expect to see you here.” His voice was cold and his eyes moved onto Marlene and Sirius, which shocked Lily. She'd been expecting some sort of flirting, not just dismissal.

“Do you two have to do that here?” Brooke was disgusted as she watched Marlene climb on top of Sirius and start kissing him.

Sirius pulled away and flashed a cocky grin at her. “You jealous Anderson?” He winked at her. “I'm sure McKinnon won't mind sharing.”

“Oh Merlin, no! I'm quite happy without catching anything.” Brooke stood up. “But if I have to watch that for one more second I'll have to claw my own eyes out.”

“The green eyed monster doesn't suit you, Princess. Don't worry you'll get your turn.” Sirius let out a chuckle at the disgusted look on Brooke's face.

“I really hope not!” Brooke and Lily started walking away from the group before Brooke turned around. “You coming? James? Remus?” Her eyes hovered on Peter for a moment. “Pettigrew?”

Instantly Remus and James glanced at Sirius and Marlene and decided being with the girls would be the better choice for their sanity. At the sight of James getting up to join them Lily let out a sigh but decided to head to Remus and talk with him. James wrapped his arm around Brooke's shoulders.

“Definitely. Otherwise it won't just be you clawing your eyes out.” He glanced over at Lily. “And there are definitely a couple of sights I wouldn't want to be living without.”

* * * * *

Sirius rushed into the common room and found Brooke exactly where he had thought she would be. On the arm chair in the common room, facing the door he had just come through.

His face was awash with fear and worry as he slowly made his way over to her sleeping restlessly, her face in a frown and her eyebrows knitted together as she thrashed about in the arm chair.

Making his way over to her, Sirius took in the vulnerable sight before him. The whimpering that escaped her mouth at random intervals.

“Anderson.” He spoke softly as he was leaning into touch her shoulder. His fingers clasped around her gently and he shook her. “Brooke!”

Brooke shot up, her eyes darting around the common room as she took it all in, finally letting them rest on Sirius' worried face, his eyes saddened under her gaze.

It was the first full moon of the year and Brooke had still not managed to turn animagi, much to her dismay. The thought of not being able to help Remus didn't sit well with her and she found herself unable to go to bed. It wasn't that she knew something would happen but this was her routine every full moon. That way she would make sure everything went alright.

“Remus! What's happened?” Brooke finally managed once she'd finally registered the lack of anyone else's presence.

“Come with me.” Sirius held his hand out for her as his eyes pleading.

Brooke glanced at his hand before slowly taking it, her eyes searching Sirius' face for any hint that he was pulling her leg. Instead, as soon as their fingers were linked he dragged her off the arm chair and out of the common room. “What's happened?” Brooke's voice begged Sirius as he dragged her to the hospital wing. “Black!” She planted her feet on the floor refusing to go any further until she knew what was going on.

“Brooke, please just trust me!” There was something in Sirius' eyes that made Brooke do just that and she let him drag her to the infirmary without another word.

When they got there Brooke rushed over to Remus, who was in the bed furthest away from the door. As soon as she got to him he looked away from her, not wanting her to see the shame in his eyes.

“Remus?” Brooke whispered as she grabbed his hand. “Are you alright?”

Sirius was still stood by the door of the hospital, slowly making his way to Brooke. But when Remus didn't answer her she glanced around the room. “Where are James and Peter?”

Her eyes shot round to Sirius as he came up to the side of her. His eyes told her everything she needed to know. James had been hurt. And the way Remus couldn't even look at her told her it was because of him.

“You didn't mean it Remus.” Brooke squeezed his hand trying to comfort him. They all knew the risks of going with Remus on a full moon but that would never stop any of them. Even if it was the last thing Remus wanted.

“We can't see him yet.” Sirius explained as he eyes landed on the curtained off bed opposite Remus causing Brooke's eyes to fall on it too.

“I'm coming next time. I'll start preparing myself tomorrow.” Brooke demanded, causing Remus to flinch and pull his hand out of hers.

“No. None of you will.” His chocolate eyes grew cold. Brooke went to object but Remus shook his head cutting her off. “I've just put one of my best friends in the hospital and we don't know the extent of the damage I've done. I'm not going to risk that again.”

Sirius let out a bark of laughter causing both Remus and Brooke to stare at him in disbelief. “Do you really think that anyone is going to let you go through that on your own?” He planted himself on the end of the bed. “Prongs won't have any of it.”

“It's too dangerous.” Remus' eyes were pleading with the pair to just let him have his own way. “Tonight shows that all it takes is one bad night and for one of you to get momentarily distracted. I could have killed him.”

Brooke took in the look on Remus' face and pulled him into a hug. “Stop beating yourself up over this. James will kill you himself if he catches you doing this.”

Brooke pushed every urge to run and see James to the back of her head. She knew she had to be there for Remus right now. They all did. He was bad enough for a few days after a good full moon. He needed them now more than ever. Besides, she knew she couldn't be any help to James right now. But that didn't stop crazy thoughts about losing him rush through her head.

Remus fell asleep pretty quickly afterwards leaving Brooke and Sirius awake both their eyes not moving from the curtains around James bed.

“What actually happened?” Brooke moved her eyes to Sirius, noticing him sigh before his eyes met hers.

“Moony threw me against a wall which distracted Prongs for a second too long.” Sirius paused for a brief moment. “Next thing I knew Moony had Prongs in his mouth. I had to get Moony off him and send Wormtail and Prongs back through the tunnel in human form. Madame Pomfrey said he got here just in time, any later and he might not have been so lucky.”

Brooke put her head into her hands. “I should have been there. I need to attempt this animagi thing again!”

“Nothing you could have said would have changed Prongs' mind. Even if you could do it he wouldn't let you go.” Sirius shrugged trying to make Brooke aware that there was nothing that could have been done to change the outcome.

“If I had been there I could have stopped it.”

“There's no way you would have been there so there's no point in thinking like that.”

“He's all I have left.” Tears threatened to escape Brooke's now bright blue eyes. “I could have lost him.”

Without a second thought Sirius moved to Brooke and took her in his arms where she sobbed into his chest.

“But you didn't lose me.” A voice croaked from across the room as Madame Pomfrey exited the curtains.

“You have two minutes before you need to go back to bed. Mr Potter needs his rest if he is to be out of here by morning.” Madame Pomfrey snapped as she glared at Sirius and Brooke.

James clocked Sirius' arm around Brooke and cleared his throat causing Brooke to jump away and run to his side. She threw herself into his arms and clung onto him, causing him to wince.

“Don't you dare do that to me again! Do you understand?”

Sirius was right behind Brooke and as soon as she let go of James he pulled him in for a brief hug, patting each other on the back as they did.

“I've got my first battle scar!” James' face lit up as he pulled his top down to reveal two already healing werewolf bites at the base of his neck and on his shoulder.

Brooke couldn't help but let out a giggle at her friends inability to see the seriousness in anything. Even if it did get him into danger all of the time.

“Right. Back to bed.” Madame Pomfrey appeared next to James' bed with a sleeping draught and made Sirius and Brooke head back to the common room.

* * * * *

“What's going on with Potter?” Lily whispered to Brooke after he walked past their desk only acknowledging Brooke. James had been ignoring her and taking a back seat in her life since Brooke had told him to a few weeks before.

The whole time he had been doing it Lily had been getting visibly agitated by the fact that he wouldn't even acknowledge her during their duties as head boy and girl.

“What do you mean?” Brooke feigned ignorance. She couldn't help but smile at the fact that her friend obviously had a thing for James but refused to admit it.

“He's barely said two words to me for weeks.” Lily was exasperated. “And even when he does he's cold. Patrolling has become extremely awkward.”

Brooke sniggered and threw a look in James' direction watching the way he was larger than life already, even considering the near death experience he had had the night before. “I thought you would have liked the break from all his 'cringey flirting'.”

A pink tinge appeared on Lily's cheeks as she opened and closed her mouth, trying to think of something to say. “I...I do. It's just gone from one extreme to another.” She managed to get herself together. “Trying to work with him the last few weeks has been awful when he just pretended I wasn't there. How can we work together if he can't even talk to me?”

Brooke took in the sight of Lily and couldn't help but let out a laugh causing not only Lily to look at her in shock but other students threw glances at her, James included.

“What's so funny, Brooke?” Lily asked, a bit shocked by her reaction. She was still refusing to admit that she felt anything but dislike towards James, even if it was making her miserable for doing so.

“You totally fancy him!” Brooke's voice was a loud whisper as she laughed at Lily.

“No I don't!” Lily was shaking her head but her eyes flickered to the back of James' head and the blush reddened. Brooke had known Lily for too long for her to successfully lie to her. “He's arrogant, cocky and so full of himself.”

“I think you're confusing him with Black.” Brooke couldn't help but let the dig slip into the conversation.

At the sound of his surname, Sirius looked up at the two girls, revealing that he had been listening in to the whole conversation. “Oh please stop, you're making me blush.” He winked at Lily who looked mortified, her eyes wide and mouth open.

“You've been listening this whole time?” Her voice was short and cold as her eyes narrowed at the boys. She stammered in utter disbelief, not wanting them of all people to think she was in anyway affected by James not talking to her.

Sirius let out a hollow chuckle. “It's hard not to listen when you talk that loud.” He swung onto the two back legs of his chair, his hair falling out of his eyes as he looked at Lily. “Besides, it's my duty as best friend to make sure that I report anything said about him back to James.”

“Mr Black. Could you please turn around and face your work rather than distracting the girls.” Professor Slughorn's face had a pink tinge to it, as it did every time he had to confront Sirius or James.

“But, Sir. It was Anderson who kept trying to get my attention.” He had a sly grin on his face as he glanced back at Brooke.

Brooke looked at him in utter disbelief, not quite understanding why he was getting her in trouble for something she hadn't done. “Stop lying, Black. You know full well this was all you. Again!”

The rest of the class turned to watch the altercation between Brooke and Sirius. This had become a regular occurrence over the last few weeks. They'd bicker constantly but it seemed to be more light-hearted than what it used to be. Neither on of them had actually gone out of their way to be nasty to the other. But if the opportunity was there to get a reaction they would take it.

Brooke mentally kicked herself for letting her think that the night before meant they might actually be able to be civil to each other rather than keeping up this thing where they go out of their way to wind each other up.

“Why would I lie, Sir? What would I get out of it?” Sirius addressed their teacher with that innocent smile on his face that everyone knew all to well.

“This isn't funny any more, Black. It wasn't funny the first time. And it still isn't know.”

“Both of you detention tonight. You will be here at 8pm.” Professor Slughorn sighed. “Stop distracting the class and get on with your work.”

Sirius turned away from Brooke with a mischievous grin on his face. Brooke sat there chucking ingredients into her cauldron refusing to talk for the rest of the lesson.

When they finally got dismissed Brooke and Lily made their way quickly out of the class and to the great hall so they didn't have to speak to James or Sirius. After they'd sat down though it wasn't long before they were joined by the two people they didn't want to see.

“What was that about, Padfoot?” Remus asked, catching up to Sirius as they all got to the table and sat down by Brooke and Lily.

“Seriously Brooke. You've had almost as many detentions as Sirius and that's saying something.” Lily piped up, hoping it would prevent the conversation from steering in her direction.

Brooke let out an empty laugh. “Come on, we both know he's just doing it to get to me. Besides, there's no way I'll get any more.” Brooke glared at Sirius who just smirked at her.

“Are you willing to bet on that?” Sirius' eyes danced dangerously. He was up to something and everyone knew it.

“That I'll get no more detentions?” Brooke thought about it for a moment but knew if it came to it she'd get screwed over. “No, you'll just do the same again.”

“How about, that you'll have less detentions than me between now and Christmas break?” Sirius offered.

This time Brooke thought about it. Not being one to miss out on a good bet she nodded at the group.

“So B, if you get less detentions, you win. What would you want?” James started mediating the bet so no one could go back on it.

A sly grin appeared on Brooke's face as she looked at Sirius. “I want your bike, Black.”

Sirius' face dropped and James' mouth hung open. Remus was watching on in amusement and Lily had no idea what they meant by his bike.

“But that would be the worst thing you could ask of Padfoot.” James piped up, trying to fight his best friends corner.

“Exactly.” Brooke continued, her eyes now full of life. It was the first time in a very long time that Brooke had felt a rush and Sirius knew that. He had been trying to make sure that she always had a little gleam in her eye and if this is what it took to try and get her back to normal permanently then he'd do it.

“Okay.” Sirius nodded which shocked Brooke. “What's the worst thing you can think of for yours?”

“A date with Black.” Lily said quietly but Sirius' and James' eyes both lit up at the prospect.

“Not just a date,” Sirius said, “I will make sure it's the worst date you have ever been on.”

Brooke grimaced at the thought of having to go on any sort of date with Sirius. Thankfully, anything she had felt during their detention had never came back and she was back to disliking him with no confusion. Besides, she was almost a hundred percent that she definitely wouldn't get more detentions that him. “Fine. Deal.” She stuck her hand out for Sirius to shake it.

Sirius couldn't stop the grin from appearing on his face whilst the others just shook their heads at the pair.

“Brooke?” A voice came from behind her causing her to spin around to look at the person it belonged to.

Stood behind her was a tall, but skinny, young man from Hufflepuff. His dark brown hair was just a touch shorter than James' but a hell of a lot neater. His face had a huge smile on it and his green eyes were sparkling.

“Ryan?” Brooke was a little shocked by the sudden acknowledgement of each other. They had a few classes together but they'd never really had that many conversations. “Is everything okay?” She tried to plaster her friendliest smile on her face.

“Well, I heard you didn't have a date to Hogsmeade tomorrow.” Ryan waited, as though his was waiting for an answer so Brooke just nodded, knowing what was coming and praying it didn't, especially in front of everyone. “Do you fancy going with me?”

Brooke looked around to find everyone staring at her waiting for her answer. “Urm...yes?” She found herself saying, not able to say no in front of this many people.

The smile on Ryan's face seemed to grow even wider. “Great! I'll meet you at 10am down here?” His eyes were eager as Brooke nodded at him before he sauntered off back to his table.

Lily giggled into Brooke's side who looked a bit uncomfortable.

“Pickery?” James scoffed looking less than impressed. “You could do so much better than him.”

“I'm sure she'll have a great time with the puff.” Sirius was enjoying the situation way too much.

“Shut up guys!” Brooke shook her head at everyone. “I couldn't reject him in front of all of you. Besides, he's pretty easy on the eyes and he's nice. What's so wrong with giving someone a chance?”

Remus shrugged and Lily turned to look at Ryan, admiring him from the distance. James and Sirius just shrugged as they shovelled food into their mouths.

Chapter 7: Chapter Seven - Hogsmeade
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“Anderson!” Sirius shouted as Brooke made her way out the common room. “Wait up.”

Brooke turned around to see him leaving Marlene with a scowl on her face. Brooke raised an eyebrow as Sirius got closer to her. “What do you want, Black?”

“We both have detention.” Sirius shrugged. “Might as well head there together.”

Brooke just nodded at him in agreement. She wasn't sure why he was appearing to make a bit of an effort with her, but it sparked something inside her that she couldn't put her finger on it; but she did the only thing she could think of; push it into her mental box and ignore it.

The pair climbed out of the portrait hole and started on their journey to the dungeons.

“So, you and Pickery?” Sirius had that usual twinkle in his eye; the one that meant he was going to be getting on Brooke's nerves.

“You were there.” Brooke really didn't want to get into any of that, especially with Sirius, but she had a feeling he was going to make it difficult to avoid.

“He's not exactly your type.” Sirius pointed out as he watched Brooke out of the corner of his grey eyes.

“And what do you know about my type?” Brooke couldn't believe she was talking about her love life to Sirius of all people. It's not territory they'd ever stepped foot in before.

A knowing smile appeared on Sirius' face. “They're not normally nice. The nice ones are always scared away by me and Prongs.” A glint appeared in his eyes.

“Scared away?” Brooke stopped in her tracks and turned to face Sirius, anger contorting her face. “What do you mean you scared them away?”

Sirius let out a bark of laughter. “We wouldn't do it on purpose. Well, I didn't” Sirius' eyes danced excitedly. “Do you really think I'd have any interest in who you date?”

Brooke felt a tug in the pit of her stomach but she wasn't sure what it was. “Then how did you scare them off?”

Sirius sighed at Brooke's questions, regretting ever bringing it up; but at least she wasn't going off in her own little worlds as much as she was. “If they avoid asking you out because of your relationship with Prongs then they're definitely not right for you. You need someone who will keep you on your toes. We both know you'd get bored otherwise.”

Brooke turned away from Sirius and started making her way to detention with Sirius falling into step with her. She'd never noticed people avoid her because of James and Sirius before.

“So if Pickery was willing to ask you out in front of all of us, I say good on him.”

Brooke let out a sigh. “Well I'm so glad I have your approval.” Her voice was cold and distant and Sirius knew that was the last thing she meant. “Why the sudden interest in my love life anyway? We're not friends.”

Sirius just shrugged and continued looking the direction they were going. “Just because we're not friends doesn't mean we have to be hostile to each other all the time. For Prongs' sake at least.”

“I guess you're right.” Brooke huffed. She snuck a peak at Sirius out of the corner of her eyes only to find him smirking. “Don't get used to it though.”

Sirius' smirk dropped slightly. “What?”

“To being right. It won't happen again.”

Sirius let out a light-hearted chuckle as he held the door open to let Brooke into Professor Slughorn's classroom. “After you, Princess.”

The pair walked into the classroom to find that all the ingredients had been taken out of the cupboard and were laid all over all the desks. Sirius' shoulders dropped at the state of the room whereas Brooke perked up.

“Miss Anderson. Mister Black. I'd like you both to give me your wands please.” Professor Slughorn greeted the pair and held out his hand for their wands. They both handed them over without any complaints. “I'd like you to scrub the shelves in the ingredient cupboard and then put everything back in there making sure the ingredients are in the correct order. I've got something I need to take care of so I'll be back in an hour and a half.” And without another word he scuttled out the door leaving Sirius and Brooke alone.

Brooke made her way towards the cupboard, inspecting some of the ingredients on her way.

“You won't find it there.” Sirius had been watching her as he slowly followed her into the dark cupboard.

Shooting around to look at him, Brooke stopped in the doorway. Sirius came to a halt as he crashed into her, his hands going to her waist to steady himself.

Brooke's heartbeat raced at the proximity of the two of them. Her skin tingled where Sirius was touching her, a feeling that seemed to be a reoccurring feeling when it came to Sirius. Her breathing hitched as she was unable to work out what was going on with her and why it was. Suddenly, she stepped back out of Sirius' reach and she could breath again.

“I don't know what you're talking about.” She lied when she was finally able to get her words out. Her dull eyes avoiding his.

“We'll take a detour to the greenhouses once we've finished here.” Sirius winked at Brooke before squeezing past, his chest brushing past hers. The close proximity sent shivers down her spine; but Brooke was getting good at pushing things to the back of her mind, so any inappropriate thoughts about Sirius that may have entered her mind were instantly pushed away before she had time to register them.

Brooke shouldn't have been shocked that Sirius had clocked her. If there was one thing she could admit about him it was that he was observant. There was very little that Sirius didn't pick up. So she wasn't too sure why she was so surprised that he'd caught her out so quickly.

“How did you know?” Brooke tried, and failed, to keep all the surprise out of her voice.

Sirius chuckled and shrugged at her, his eyes twinkling as they caught hold of hers. “It's what I would do.”

A sparkle that Sirius rarely saw appeared in Brooke's bright blue eyes, causing a grin to spread across his face. Neither of them removed their eyes from each others. Brooke's cheeks got hot as a blush spread over them. Clearing her throat she looked at the floor.

“We really should get this done.” Brooke took to looking at Sirius' tie, not liking the way she was starting to feel around him. The blushing, the tingling and the shivers had never been something that Brooke had felt before, with any guy. She knew now that she would have to limit anytime she spent with Sirius. They didn't like each other so she couldn't feel that way towards him. She decided it was only because of everything that had been going on. “I really don't want to be here all night.”

The sparkle that had briefly been in Brooke's eyes was dull again as she started to scrub the shelves with a sponge, trying to ignore the looks she felt Sirius' was giving her. He turned around and started cleaning the shelves on the other side of the cupboard.

“So, McKinnon's finally the girl to get the Sirius Black to settle down?” Brooke spoke with her back to him.

Sirius stopped what he was doing and glanced at Brooke. “Nah. Just an easy start to the year.”

Brooke turned to look at him, disgust visible on her face. It didn't matter how much she didn't like Marlene, it didn't sit well with Brooke to hear things like that said about her. “How can you say things like that about her when you're worse!”

“You don't even like her!” Sirius threw the sponge on the shelf and turned around to face Brooke. “What do you care what I say about her?”

“She thinks she's got you, Black. And whether I like her or not, I'll be the one who gets stuck listening to her go on and on about you. Even more so when you break her heart.” Brooke looked into Sirius' wide eyes. “And it seems I'm spending a lot of time with you. I don't want to be listening to people talk about you too.”

“Admit it Princess, you like spending all this time with me.” Sirius flashed her his charming grin.

“No. I don't.” Brooke denied as her heartbeat sped up at the sight of the smile. “Why are you doing it?”

“Marlene?”

Brooke shook her head and rolled her eyes. “Getting me detentions with you all the time. I'm going to start thinking you want to get me alone.” A cheeky smile lit up Brooke's face, the light in her eyes back, as she tried to hold back a laugh.

“Don't flatter yourself, sweetheart.” Sirius' smile changed to a cocky one.

“So, care to explain what you're playing at?” Brooke raised her eyebrow at him. “I mean, I have so many things I would rather be doing instead of spending my time in detention with you.” A small smile played on the corner of her lips. “Like sticking pins in my eyes.”

A bark of laughter filled the room. “That could be arranged.”

Brooke's laugh shocked Sirius. A proper laugh. A happy laugh that wasn't forced.

The pair turned back to continue the work they were doing, not saying anything until they were almost finished putting the ingredients back together.

The whole time it had been silent Brooke's mind drifted off to her parents, and what Rebastian had said. She thought about how they had no information to go on and even if everything was true and her parents were alive she had no idea how she would ever see them again.

The colour from her face drained and her eyes dulled. “So about Christmas.”

“What about it?” Sirius had a feeling he knew where the conversation was going to go. This time he wouldn't have James to back him up though.

“Where would we even start?” Brooke tried to keep the fear out of her voice. Because in truth, she had never been as scared as she was about never seeing two of the people she couldn't live without.

“We'll figure it out.” Sirius chanced a glance at her to see the worried, distant look that he had become accustomed to seeing. “Besides, I have a few ideas.”

Brooke's face became hopeful as she waited for Sirius to expand further on his ideas. But he just shook his head at her.

“Let me dig a little bit. Then I'll tell you everything.” Sirius noticed how dejected Brooke looked. “I promise.”

Brooke nodded at him and turned around to finish putting the last of the ingredients away. Her mind was racing through all the different ways Sirius could get himself in trouble by 'digging'. Then she thought about all the ways she could make sure he didn't get into trouble. She was thinking of ways she could make sure he wouldn't end up helping Voldemort's side, or so they couldn't use him.

Deciding enough was enough Brooke pushed the thoughts out of her head. It's not like she cared about Sirius and whether he ended up alright. No, it wasn't that she cared. It was because of James. That was it. She had to make sure that Sirius ended up safe and sound because James wouldn't be able to live with it any other way.

The two finally finished the detention, and were just about to head to the greenhouses but Sirius stopped them.

“There's no point in getting it now.” His face was soft and, if Brooke wasn't mistaken, caring. “You can't start it until the full moon so you're better getting it just before the next one. And it means we have a month to get the other ingredients ready.”

Brooke looked at Sirius, confusion spreading over her face. “Why are you helping me?”

“I've already done it.” Sirius just shrugged. “I know what you need to do. At least I can make sure you get it right. We wouldn't want you being half a donkey permanently.”

“A donkey?”

“Yupp. I just have a feeling that is what you're going to be. It would make sense.” Sirius kept his face straight causing Brooke to roll her eyes at him. Sirius however saw the smile she was trying to cover up. “Besides, everyone will be waiting up for us. We can't leave them waiting.”

Nodding, Brooke started making her way to the common room with Sirius falling into step beside her.

“So, why did you say yes to Pickery? And don't tell me it's because you like him because you've never given him a second glance before.” Sirius asked to fill the silence.

Brooke let out a small sigh. “I thought the only way I could properly go back to normal is to actually go back to normal. Maybe he doesn't make my heart race, or I don't secretly hope that I'm going to bump into him; but what if it could be that? I'll never know unless I give him a chance.” Brooke looked up through her eyelashes to catch Sirius watching her face, causing her to blush. Again. “Besides, it's been a while since I've been on a date.”

Brooke moved her gaze from Sirius to the corridor ahead, hoping that Sirius hadn't noticed the change in her complexion. The last thing she wanted was for Sirius to think she felt anything towards him, especially when she obviously didn't.

A small smile played on the corner of Sirius' lips as he watched Brooke clam up. “You want it to be that with him?”

“I don't know.” Brooke refused to look anywhere near Sirius, scared that if she did it would make her go red again. “But why are we talking about my love life again?”

“I never got the information I needed for Prongs earlier.” Brooke could almost hear the smirk on Sirius' face and suddenly felt stupid for thinking he could possibly be interested in her life. It suddenly all made sense. Of course he was only asking for James.

The rest of the journey neither of them talked and when they finally got back to the common room it was empty apart from Marlene. Sirius went straight over to her and planted a passionate kiss on her lips before pulling her hand so she got out of the arm chair and followed him out of the common room. As he was on his way out he threw Brooke one last wink but she just scowled a him before making herself cosy on the sofa with a muggle romance novel someone had left in the common room.

* * * * *

The journey to Hogsmeade had been a little bit awkward but that was more due to the fact that the marauders, apart from Sirius, were hanging around Brooke and Ryan, making it impossible for them to strike up a conversation without some sort of rude remark from them. Or rather without a rude remark from James. In the end the couple just walked in awkward silence.

By the time they finally got to Hogsmeade the boys all ran off to find the joke shop, leaving Brooke to follow Ryan towards the shrieking shack.

“Where are we going?” Brooke questioned as they got further and further away from any other students, who were all making the most of being able to go shopping.

Ryan looked at Brooke, flashing her a charming smile that didn't have any effect on her. “It's a surprise.” He grabbed her hand and linked his fingers through hers, making her a little bit uncomfortable but she didn't say anything and humoured him. “So is there anything going on with you and Potter?”

Brooke scoffed at his question before laughing, thinking he was joking. When she looked at him she found his curious green eyes gazing at her. “You're being serious?” Her eyes were opened slightly wider than usual.

“Well, yeah.” Ryan nodded. “You're always together. He's very...territorial over you.” He explained what the relationship must look like from an outsiders point of view. “Even today, it was like he was trying to make this as hard for me as possible.”

“And his obsession with Lily doesn't say enough?” Brooke was completely taken aback at the fact anyone could think that her relationship with James was anything but platonic. “James and I grew up together. His parents are my godparents and vice versa.” She found herself explaining anyway. “I guess he's just a bit protective over me, just like I would be with him. He just deals with it in the worst ways.”

Ryan nods as he takes her answer in. “Tell me more about yourself. Do you have any brothers or sisters?”

Brooke searched his face to try and find the normal sad, pitiful looks but never found it. Her suspicions that this had just been a pity date soon disappeared and she felt herself relax a bit more. “No, James is the closest thing I have to a sibling.” She thought for a moment.

“And your parents? What do they do?” Ryan continued trying to make conversation.

Brooke suddenly clammed up. Was it really possible that he didn't know anything about her parents? It had been a big thing. But it would explain the lack of sadness in his eyes when he looked at her. “Urm...enough about me. Tell me more about you.”

Ryan didn't seem to think anything of the sudden topic change and proceeded in telling Brooke all about his three sisters and one brothers. By the time they got to a small field with a picnic spread Brooke had been told about all his extended family too.

When Brooke saw the blanket with a picnic basket on top of it a what looked like a bottle of wine next to it, she couldn't help but let out a smile. “How did you do all this?” She couldn't hide her surprise.

“Your friend offered to help me out after I asked you to come with me.” Ryan explained. “He showed me how to get here to set it up earlier this morning.”

“Remus? I can't really see him breaking rules.” Brooke said thoughtfully. She knew it wasn't James or Peter as she had been with them all morning, so Remus was the only other option.

“It wasn't Remus. But that doesn't matter.” Ryan changed the subject, his smile was still revealing his pearly white teeth. The pair sat down opposite on another on the blanket and it wasn't long until Ryan was passing Brooke a plastic cup full of wine.

“This is nice.” Brooke was looking around the area with a slight smile on her face. They were in a small secluded area just away from the shrieking shack. Nice and intimate and romantic, and thankfully it wasn't Madam Puddifoot's Tea Shop.

Ryan nodded before getting some chocolate out of the basket and offering it to Brooke which she took. “So, Brooke, what are you planning on doing after we graduate?”

“I want a job within the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes. Preferably, I want to be part of the Accidental Magic Reversal Squad.” Brooke explained as she thought about what she wanted to do, revealing it to someone for the first time.

“Really?” Ryan looked shock as he looked intently at Brooke's face. “I would have thought you'd do the same as Black and Potter.”

Brooke let out a chuckle, throwing her head back slightly. Something tightened in Brooke's stomach at the mention of Sirius which Brooke put down to her 'dislike' for him. “No way. I'd never get the grades for going on to be an Auror. Besides, putting up with Black for even longer isn't exactly my idea of a fun time.”

“Oh, you and him don't get along?” Ryan seemed genuinely shocked by the revelation, which Brooke couldn't really understand because as far as she was aware it was obviously to everybody who looked at them.

“No. Not really.” Brooke scoffed whilst she shook her head. “Why are we talking about him on our date?”

A rustling noise came from the wooded area behind the couple which caused Brooke's head to spin around. “Did you hear that, Ryan?” She looked around them in every direction but couldn't see what could be the source of the noise.

Ryan started looking around too to try and figure out what Brooke was on about. “No. What was it?”

Brooke's eyes were wide as she tried to listen for the sound again but she had no luck and just shrugged in response. “I must be hearing things.” She plastered a false smile on her face to hide her worry. “Anyway, you never did tell me what you wanted to do next year.”

Ryan relaxed and turned his attention back to Brooke, his eyes lighting up as he looked at her. “My dad works for the Portkey Office in the Ministry and has got a job lined up for me already.”

The fake smile on Brooke's face grew larger. “Well, that sounds...interesting.” She tried her best to sound interested but found the more she spoke about Ryan, the more boring she realised he was. The spark that she had hoped would be there wasn't and the longer she spent on the date the more it became clear; and she could feel herself feeling a little bit gutted about it. “So what sort of things do you do in your spare time?” She tried, hoping that it would bring out something in him that could change her feelings for him and the date.

“I'm on the Quiddich team.” As soon as the words came out of Ryan's mouth the smile on Brooke's face became genuine.

“Me too!” Brooke's interest peaked. “What position do you play?”

“Keeper. You?” Ryan's face seemed to light up at the common interest and the two spent the rest of their time sitting their talking about Quiddich; which teams they supported, who the better house team was and why.

They were both sat there for another hour or so before they decided to head back to the high street and make the most out of their one day in Hogsmeade, knowing that there probably wouldn't be another one for a while.

Deciding the best place to continue their date would be The Three Broomsticks they started making their way there.

“I just need to pop in there and grab something for the Halloween Ball if that's alright?” Brooke asked as they walked past Gladrags Wizardwear. “I've already got in on order so will just pop in and out.”

Ryan flashed her a handsome smile and agreed to waiting outside the shop when they finally got there, Brooke not wanting anyone to see what it was she was picking up.

When Brooke got in the shop she made her way straight to the counter, bumping into Lily already paying for what she assumed was her costume.

“Brooke!” Lily grinned when she realised Brooke was behind her. “I thought you were on your date?” Lily's eyes lit up at the thought of gossip.

“I am. Ryan's waiting for me outside so I can pick up my mask for the ball, so I really can't stay and talk.” Brooke handed over her money and received her mask, already packed in a small bag for collection.

Unable to get away from Lily, they both headed out of the shop together and made their way to Ryan who was waiting patiently whilst talking to a 5th year girl from Hufflepuff. The girl was laughing hysterically at whatever Ryan had just said, her eyes gazing longingly at his face. It was the sort of reaction Brooke couldn't help but laughing at as it reminded her of all the times she'd seen people look at Sirius and James that way.

The Hufflepuff girl ran away when Brooke and Lily walked over to the pair of them, Ryan turning to face them with the smile that Brooke was yet to see his face without.

“Will you be joining us in The Three Broomsticks, Lily?” Ryan asked, making sure to acknowledge her.

Suddenly, there was a commotion from just behind them which caused Brooke to spin around. The sight causing her to instantly tense up. She mentally wished that the group of people would would past her and her friends.

“Well, well, well.” The voice drawled. “Looks like we have our favourite blood-traitor with a half-blood AND a filthy little mudblood.” Lucius Malfoy pulled his wand out as he got closer. “What a lucky find.” His voice was filled with disgust. “You really should start thinking about the company you keep, Anderson.”

Malfoy was followed by Avery, much to Brooke's dismay, and Mulciber. The second two followed Malfoy's action and drew their wands out as he did.

Brooke, Ryan and Lily all pulled their own wands out, taking defensive stances as they faced the group of Slytherins.

“Malfoy.” Brooke spat, her eyes instantly going cold. “Why don't you all get out of here before you make me do something that's going to hurt.” Her eyes lingered on Avery hoping he'd get rid of them.

Instead, Avery's eyes lost all emotion and his face went hard. There was something unfamiliar in him. Something Brooke had never seen before until this moment. Something evil. Something she thought she would never see in him; even if she did know about what was expected of him in his home. The fact that he was looking directly at her made her skin crawl. She didn't recognise the person in front of her, and he was supposed to be one of her best friends.

“What gives you the right to open your mouth to us in that tone?” Mulciber shouted from behind Malfoy. He caught Brooke looking around to see who was watching the altercation. “What's wrong Anderson? Are your precious little bodyguards not here to protect you?”

“We don't need them to take you on!” Lily spat, her face red with anger and her wand pointing at Malfoy.

“Go on then Avery.” Malfoy had an evil smile on his face, his eyes suddenly lighting up at the prospect of what was to come.

Avery's eyes didn't light up, and Brooke could swear she saw him hesitate for a moment as his eyes turned apologetic. No one except Brooke would recognise the look, so it was her who was panicking more than anyone. If he felt bad about what he was about to do she knew it was going to be something bad, something she didn't agree with. Whatever he was about to do was going to be evil.

“Crucio!” Avery yelled as Brooke fell to her knees as she let out a blood curdling scream.

Her mind went blank as all she could concentrate on was the excruciating pain surging through her body. Every single nerve in her body felt like it was being torn apart. Her bones felt as though they were on fire and her head felt like it was splitting open. Brooke stayed this way for what seemed, to her, like a lifetime.

“Expelliarmus!” Lily shouted almost instantly after Avery had cast his spell.

Brooke fell forward so her head was resting against the pebbled floor, a single tear seeped out of her eye and fell down her cheek as she lifted her heavy head up to look at a wandless Avery.

His eyes were open wide, obviously shocked at what he had just done, and watery as he took in the state of Brooke.

“Tommy?” Brooke's eyebrows knitted together as she tried to process what had just happened.

Malfoy and Mulciber ran off just as Avery got thrown across the street.

Brooke, filled with a sudden surge of adrenaline, found the strength to push herself off the ground and ran to where Avery had landed without a second thought.

“Tommy?” Her voice was soft as she made sure he was okay despite everything. Something inside of her was telling her that he deserved everything he had got. That he shouldn't have even thought about casting that spell on anyone, let alone her. But then another part of her knew she was glad it was her instead of Lily or Ryan. And she knew that Avery would know that.

She held her hand out to help him up but he swiped her hand away. “Don't, Buttercup.” He whispered as his eyes focussed on something behind her.

Brooke turned around knowing she had been stupid. She was faced with shocked looks from Ryan and Lily but it wasn't them her eyes focussed on. Instead they went wide as they focussed on someone she didn't want to see. A wand in one hand and an invisibility cloak in the other. His greys eyes were the angriest Brooke had ever seen them.

“Sirius!”


Chapter 8: Chapter Eight - Revelations
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"Sirius!" Brooke's shocked voice was barely a whisper. At that point all she could do was hope that he hadn't seen what Avery did to her, but the repulsion in his eyes told her otherwise.

Sirius' eyes darkened as they darted back and forth between Brooke and Avery, finally resting on the shivering red head. He had seen her in some states over their final year at school but nothing compared to this.

Her normal rosy complexion drained of all colour, making her look as though she was extremely ill. Those eyes that he had been spending so much time trying to bring back to life were completely dead again; just like they were on the journey at the beginning of the year. Her whole body was shaking so much that it was hard to ignore.

Lily rushed over to Brooke and wrapped her in a hug. "Are you okay?" She whispered into Brooke's ear, her green eyes were wide with fright and Brooke couldn't work out which of the two was shaking more violently.

Without removing her eyes from Sirius' penetrating gaze she nodded at Lily before pulling away from her. "I'll be fine." She made her way over to Sirius but he walked past her, his wand still pointed at Avery.

"Piss off, Avery! Before I do to you what you did to Anderson!" He clenched his jaw as his fist started going white around his wand. There was something almost crazed in his eyes that made Avery do just that, throwing one last apologetic glance at Brooke before he scrambled away.

Something about looking at the boy on the floor stirred something within Sirius. He wanted to kill him. Not just kill him, he wanted him to feel pain. The pain that he had just put Brooke through to be exact.

Sirius' dislike for Avery had never been a secret, in fact they often went out of their way to hex each other. This time though, what Sirius was feeling wasn't familiar. He had never been so worked up about a Slytherin hurting someone else. And for that person to be Brooke made it even harder for him to understand what was going on.

As he turned around Sirius put his wand away in his cloak. His eyes landed on Brooke who was still unable to drag her scared eyes away from him. In that moment Sirius thought back to the vulnerable, fragile girl that James was worrying about so much. A girl that he couldn't let come back. He'd worked so hard to bring the girl his best friend loved back, he couldn't risk losing her again.

Sirius turned to Lily and Ryan, who were both still in shock. "You two should go to The Three Broomsticks. We'll meet you there in a minute. I just need a quick word with Anderson." His face was completely devoid of all emotion which made Lily worry even more about what was going to go on between the pair.

Ryan seemed quite happy with letting Sirius take over his date as he stood with wide eyes and nodding at Sirius. He too had lost all his colour, but somehow he managed to look in a worse state than Brooke was.

Lily was about to open her mouth to object until she took a look at Sirius' expression. It was obvious he wouldn't be taking no as an answer. Sending a small smile in Brooke's direction she more or less dragged Ryan away from Brooke and Sirius before the latter exploded with them still there.

"It's not what it looked like." Brooke said as soon as they were alone not giving Sirius the chance to get a word it. They both knew that it was bullshit but it was the only thing Brooke could think to say. She needed time to think about how she was going to explain what happened. She needed time to either make up some story that would get Sirius off her back, or she could finally tell someone the truth about her and Avery.

"So Avery didn't just use an unforgivable curse on you?" It was obvious Sirius was fuming by the way he spat his words at Brooke. Brooke flinched back at the venom in them and Sirius realised that she thought he was angry with her. Yet, she was the last person he was angry with. He was angry about what had happened to her, that he couldn't do anything to stop it sooner so she didn't have to go through that pain. He was angry that he had to listen to what he could now admit was the worst sound he had ever heard. Her screams of agony.

Her blue eyes moved to the floor as she looked for the right words to explain what happened. "No, he did." Her voice cracked as she realised that it was going to be impossible to lie to Sirius. Something that she didn't understand because she had never felt the urge to tell him the truth before. There was something in his eyes that made Brooke want to open up to him completely, but she decided that he only cared because of her relationship to James.

"And you didn't run to make sure he was alright, even after he used it on you?" He couldn't even begin to imagine what had gone through her head in that moment. He couldn't understand how she wanted to help someone who had caused her so much torturous pain just moments before.

"Listen, Sirius. At the end of the day he has been a huge part of my life for a very long time." Brooke decided to just tell the truth about everything. Her brain had been working in overdrive trying to figure out a way to get herself out of this situation but this was the only way. Brooke had known so from the moment she'd laid her eyes on him. "I can't just cut someone out of my life like that."

"He used the cruciatus curse on you! How can you still feel anything other than hate towards the bloke?" Brooke flinched away at the venom in his voice. Venom she assumed was aimed at her for still being in cahoots with her Tommy.

"Well you made it impossible for me to find out why!" Brooke took a step toward, squaring up to Sirius, hoping to intimidate him into leaving her alone. It didn't work and Sirius' stance never wavered.

Instead, he closed the gap between them, glaring down at Brooke, leaving barely an inch between them. "You shouldn't want to find out. Look at the facts. He hurt you, end of!" Unable to control the volume of his voice, Sirius ended up shouting the more he spoke. For some reason that he couldn't explain or even understand the thought of anyone hurting Brooke filled him with rage. No matter how much he tried to understand why he just couldn't figure it out. They had never been close, or friends for that matter. Yet there he was angry because she'd been hurt in ways no one should go through.

"But you don't understand what he's having to go through!" Brooke's voice grew in volume too. Her whole body shook in rage as she saw red. Sirius of all people should know what she was talking about. He had grown up with exactly the same upbringing as Avery. Their parents views were the same. Their discipline methods where extremely similar. She had hoped that if anyone would understand where she was coming from it would be the guy standing in front of her.

"You forget who my family is, Brooke." His voice went from full of anger to full of sadness as he finally understood what she was trying to say. "It wouldn't matter how much I felt pressured into living a certain life, I would never hurt someone I cared about the way he hurt you."

Brooke's heart fluttered at Sirius' words. As her gaze landed on his she tried to work out what it was she was seeing in his eyes. It was something she had never witnessed in them before, yet it looked vaguely familiar. Unsure what to do with the rest of her body at the close distance between the two, she almost hugged herself, one hand wrapping around her upper arm.

"I would rather he do it to me over anyone else that was there. He knows that." Her voice was soft again as the couple calmed down. It was the truth, she'd only feel terrible if Avery had hurt any of her friends. And she wouldn't know if she would ever be able to forgive him. That was the only reason he did it to her. She was sure of it.

"That doesn't excuse what he did." Without thinking what he was doing Sirius tucked a stray bit of hair behind Brooke's ear causing her breath of visibly hitch. Noticing her breathing a small smile formed on his mouth. Not one of his cocky, arrogant ones. Or one of his smiles that he uses to pull girls. It was a new smile that Brooke hadn't seen yet. A smile that Brooke automatically returned without thinking. A smile that sent shivers down her spine.

"Why would you want a reason from him anyway? I thought you and him weren't friends." His hand lingered on Brooke's face, his thumb stroking her cheek. Neither of them could figure out what was going on. Both a bit weirded out by what was going on. They never touched. Not like this anyway.

"I...It's...We've been in contact." Brooke stammered, deciding honesty was the best policy in every aspect, even if it was going to make so many people not talk to her. It was too late to lie at this point anyway.

Sirius backed away from Brooke, his eyebrows knitted together as confusion washed over his face before it was replaced with realisation. He had suspected it before, but for some reason had taken Brooke's fake excuse rather than chasing it up like he usually did. "What?"

"We never stopped talking." She admitted, trying to work out what Sirius was thinking as he suddenly became cold and closed off.

A bemused laugh came from Sirius. "You're kidding me?" But Brooke didn't answer him. Not trusting her voice she shook her head instead. "I was right the whole time. And you've been lying to Prongs this whole time? Even after what that snake did?"

"You don't understand. That had nothing to do with Tommy!" Brooke was desperate now, hoping to get through to Sirius as quickly as possible. If she couldn't, she knew it was only a matter of time before he spoke to James about it and she couldn't risk losing James. "He wasn't there!"

"You don't know that!" Sirius was so close to seeing red that Brooke thought smoke was going to shoot out of his ears any second.

Now he was angry at Brooke. For lying to his best friend. For lying to him. He understood that they weren't friends but he at least expected some honesty. Especially from Brooke. She had never been one to lie for people. And by saying that Avery couldn't possibly have been there was a lie. It had to be. Or so he thought.

Brooke sighed, her stomach doing cartwheels as her eyes fell to the floor. For some reason she could bring herself to look at Sirius, not wanting to see his reaction. "He was with me that night."

"Doing what?" Sirius asked, not understanding where Brooke was going with this.

Brooke glanced up at him shyly, not wanting to say. He was the first person she had even told about that night and she was yet to actually say it out loud.

"You and Avery?" Sirius' eyes were wide with shock. That was the last thing he had expected her to say. "If that's true why didn't you at least tell James that's what happened?"

"Tommy asked me not to." Sirius just looked expectantly at Brooke whilst he waited for her to continue. "If anyone found out he was spending time with me, especially like that, he would have ended up looking worse than you did when you ended up at James' that day." Brooke's cheeks went red at topic of her love life. She was a personal person. She always strived on making sure people, especially Sirius Black, knew as little about her life as possible. Yet there she was revealing one of her deepest secrets to him.

The look on Sirius' face was nothing like Brooke had imagined. She thought he would be disgusted at her, but instead his face filled with pity. He felt sorry for her, and with that Brooke decided it was time to use that in her favour.

"It was a long time ago Sirius. Please can we just leave it where it belongs. In the past." Brooke found herself begging him. Her blue eyes, dull but pleading. "Please, James doesn't need to know. Besides, it's not like I'll be having anything to do with Tommy after today."

For a moment it looked as though Sirius was thinking about whether he would help Brooke out by doing what she asked. His dark grey eyes met her bright blue eyes as he shook his head. "Prongs needs to know about this."

"So you want me to drag up the past? You want me to make him relive possibly the worst thing he's every had to experience?" Brooke really didn't want to have to tell James that he had cut a good friend off for the last few years for no reason. She knew that it would cut him up and she was going to do whatever she could to make sure he didn't have to feel like that.

Sirius looked thoughtful again for a moment. "Okay, maybe you're right. But he does need to know Avery's still been in your life." His face had a look on it that told Brooke there was no getting out of this. "Someone is bound to tell him, especially after your actions today."

As much as she hated to admit it, Brooke knew Sirius was right. It was only a matter of time until the events of what happened got back to her best friend and if she told James herself she might even be able to salvage their friendship.

"Brooke, if you don't tell him I will." Sirius knew this was the only way he could get her to actually tell James. "And at least if you do it you can say what you need to so he's not overly angry at you."

As much as she hated to admit it, Sirius was right. She did have to be the one to tell James, she knew it. Not wanting her voice to betray her she just nodded her agreement before the pair went to meet Ryan and Lily in the pub.

The rest of the day went of without a hitch, which considering earlier events wasn't that difficult. The remainder of Brooke's date with Ryan was awkward, Ryan making it obvious that he didn't really want to be in Hogsmeade anymore. Not that Brooke could blame him. She definitely wouldn't be remembering the day as a good one.

It didn't help that Brooke spent the time with Ryan trying to figure out what she had felt early with Sirius. And why she'd let him get so close. She didn't like him. His personality made her cringe, the way he always had a new girl on his lips made her feel sick. Yet there was some part of her that was drawn to him. An attraction that she couldn't explain.

Of course, she knew he was desirable, but she'd never desired him before. She could admit that he was extremely handsome, and the older he got the better he looked. Maturity was definitely a good look on him. But she'd never been attracted to him before. She'd never been one of those girls who swooned over him. Never had she clammed up in front of him, unsure of what to say. So what was it that made him affect her so much all of a sudden?

By the time the couple got back to the castle Brooke hadn't said a word for a good half an hour. Her mind was in the clouds as she tried to analyse her feelings and reactions.

A cough interrupted her thoughts. Turning to face the source of the sound it dawned on her that she was still with her date, and had probably been ignoring him for the walk back to the castle.

"I'm sorry Ryan." Brooke was genuinely sorry as she looked at his piercing green eyes. "It's been a long day. I'm sorry I've been away with the fairies a bit."

Understanding flashed across Ryan's face and he flashed her a soft, apologetic smile. "You shouldn't be apologising. I was just saying that this has been a bit of a failure as far as first dates are concerned." Ryan directed Brooke off towards the lake to see if he could salvage what was left of their time together.

Brooke's stomach started doing flips when she realised what Ryan was trying to do. If this had happened earlier on during the date she would have welcomed it. But the thought of the two of them being alone together now didn't excite her too much. She had even started thinking of ways she could head straight up to the common room.

Thoughts of the picnic that he had sorted out came back to her, making her feel bad about wanting to leave him so quickly. It had been the sweetest thing anyone had done for her and there she was thinking of ways to get away from here.

As guilt washed over her Brooke found a nice spot to sit at next to the lake, Ryan sitting down beside her.

"You can say that again. It's definitely not how I was expecting to spend my day, that's for sure." Brooke let out a nervous laugh as she looked back into Ryan's eyes.

"We'll have to do it again some time." Ryan had definitely recovered from earlier on in their date. The colour was back in his cheeks and he was full of confidence again. He reached out and tucked a strand of hair behind Brooke's ear, the exact same thing Sirius had done just hours before. This time however Brooke felt nothing, not even a little butterfly in her stomach.

Not sure whether she wanted to accept another date or not Brooke was silent for a moment. Hoping that it was just because of the days events she nodded in agreement to another date.

At the sign of a second date Ryan slowly leant in, his hand moving from Brooke's ear to behind her neck. His lips slowly pressed against Brooke's, causing her eyes to automatically shut. Their lips moved together softly. To Brooke's dismay, yet again, she didn't feel anything. Not even a flutter.

Ryan however looked at her as though he had just had an amazing experience, making Brooke suddenly feel bad for agreeing to a second date. Especially if he thought there was more chemistry between them than there was.

"Thanks for today." Brooke plastered a sweet smile on her face. A smile she had perfected so many times when it came to getting out of trouble with teachers. "But it really has been a long day. I hope you don't mind me cutting this short?"

Ryan was completely understanding and even walked her to the Gryffindor common room, like a perfect gentleman. When they got there they said their goodbyes, which included another soft and tender kiss from Ryan.

When they pulled away Brooke turned around to find Sirius and James looking at the couple. James had a cheeky grin on his face, as though he found the whole situation too amusing. But Sirius, his look was indifferent, as though absolutely nothing had gone on earlier in the day.

The look made Brooke start having doubts about what she had felt, putting it down to the curse Avery had cast on her. It must have lowered her defences making her temporarily susceptible to his awful charms.

"Don't say anything!" She pointed her finger at James causing him to laugh. A laugh that always made all Brooke's trouble float away.

"Shrivelfig." Sirius announced to the fat lady who swung open letting the three of them through the door.

Sirius instantly went to find Marlene, planting a passionate kiss on her lips as soon as he reached her. Brooke found herself watching the scene unfold and feeling what she could only describe as uneasiness. Which she assumed everyone else was feeling too at the sight of Sirius and Marlene eat each others faces.

A hand grasped Brooke's upper arm as she went to find Lily or Remus, pulling her back towards the portrait hole. "Are you alright B?" James voice as soft, his concerned brown eyes boring into her own.

"I'm fine James." Brooke said honestly, her voice just as soft as his. She knew this would happen as soon as she saw him. Twenty questions to make sure she's alright. It always happened, but this time Brooke was going to make sure she was fine.

"I'm going to kill him." Anger filled his voice as his protectiveness came out. He had been like this their whole life. Anytime someone hurt, or even attempted to hurt Brooke James would be right there making them wish they had never messed with her. In some senses Brooke knew she was lucky that someone always had her back. But at the same time she wished he would let her fight her own battles, not that she could ever tell him that.

"How about we leave it for now? Please? I don't want to make things worse." Brooke scrambled to find the words. She had to think of an excuse for James not to hurt Avery until she had the balls to tell him the truth. And she would tell him, she swore to herself. Just not right then.

With her mind in overdrive, all she wanted to do was go to bed and forget this awful, confusing day had ever happened. Or at least forget about it for now.

"I just want to go to bed James. Please don't do anything. I'm begging you." Her eyes really were begging, a look that she rarely gave to James. It was also a look that he couldn't ignore. Whenever those eyes came out he couldn't do anything except what she wants him to do.

James pulled her in to hug her and kissed the top of her head. "He ever even breaths on you again and I'm going to make sure he wishes he was never born."

"I love you too James." Brooke pulled away from him and made her way straight up to the girls dormitory where she collapsed into bed fully clothed and instantly fell asleep.

For the first time in a very long time Brooke had a dreamless and peaceful night. Which is just what she needed to be ready to confront everyone she needed to the following day.

Chapter 9: Sirius Black
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"It all happened so quickly." Sirius explained for what felt like the hundredth time. He was sat at a table in the corner of the common room with James, Remus and Peter having just told them what had happened, again. He was yet to tell them the whole story and he had a feeling James could tell. As much as Sirius wanted to tell him, a part of him wanted to give Brooke the chance to do so herself. He knew deep down that he was only doing it as a punishment for lying to James for so long.

James, who had never done anything but be there for her, had never lied to her. Even when he found out about Remus' furry little problem he talked Remus into telling her. As far as anyone was aware he had never had a secret that Brooke didn't know anything about. The moment he managed to become an animagus she was the first to know. When they finally managed to get the Marauder's Map working James had used it to find her and show her instantly.

Yet she had managed to keep a secret from him for almost three years. A secret that could very well change the dynamics of everything, to the point of no return, if he heard from anyone other than her. It was because of this that Sirius made sure that he didn't once let slip about anything that would hurt James.

"I don't understand why she doesn't want us to do anything." James held his head in his hands as he thought of all the different ways he could get back at Avery.

"Maybe she just wants to forget about it all for now?" The voice of reason spoke through Remus.

"Or she's in love with him." Peter added his thoughts, but they only caused James to laugh at his supposed stupidity not realising just how close he was to being right.

Sirius on the other hand looked over at Peter, inspecting his face to see if he might have known anything. Even though he knew there was no reason for him to be trying to work out, as Peter was never one to pay attention, he couldn't help but wonder why that idea had been what he said.

"I think Moony is right though." Sirius interrupted the laughter. "Her and Avery were close once. It's not going to be easy on her after what he did."

Thoughts of Brooke entered Sirius' mind. Where she had never stopped talking to Avery, he must have been one of the only people she trusted, and for him to hurt her like that must be having some negative effect.

Suddenly he was scared for Brooke. The thought of her reverting back within herself flashed through his mind as he saw her writhing in pain. Imagining her eyes void of all emotion again or not eating. She had finally started to go back to the old happy-go-lucky girl that gave him a run for his money. All Sirius could do then was hope that she didn't let it get to her. Even if he did doubt that she could do that.

They all knew that if she did revert back to her ways she wouldn't have a say in what James did to Avery. And as James' best friends Sirius and the others would surely be involved in whatever it entailed.

"He better pray to Merlin that she's alright after this!" James' jaw clenched as anger washed over him. Anger that seemed to be contagious as it was only a small amount of time later Sirius felt the exact same feelings.

This anger scared him though. All he could think about was hurting Avery in ways he had never dreamt of hurting anyone, not even his family. Thanks to who his family were Sirius knew a lot of magic that would make any normal wizard cringe away, and this source of anger is the very thing that could fuel it. It had taken every ounce of self control for Sirius to just send Avery away instead of hurting him like Brooke had been hurt. At that moment he really had been tested; and he almost failed. And that terrified him more than anything.

Taking deep breaths, Sirius managed to calm himself down, pushing all the dark thoughts out of his head. He couldn't afford to start thinking like that. If he did it wouldn't make him any better than any of those Slytherins.

He was already too close to them than he liked to admit. He for one, could begin to understand why they are the way they are. Especially those from the Sacred Twenty-Eight families. The pressure that was thrust upon them to believe that they, pure-bloods, were better than anyone else. And the discipline those sort of families inflict on those that don't agree with it. So many times Sirius almost gave into his mothers ways. So many times he almost took the easy way out rather than standing up for his own beliefs. So he did, he understood why they were the way they were. Most of them anyway. But that didn't mean he would ever let them know that.

There were so many times that Sirius thought that it could have been him in their places. It could have been him standing where Avery was today. If he had decided to stay with his brother, who knows what could have happened.

Quickly shaking the thoughts out of his head Sirius looked upon his best friends and realised that no matter what he did before he got to Hogwarts, as long as he met these three boys he would have always turned out fine.

"She's strong, Prongs." Sirius said hoping to snap James out of it. "You should really start seeing that. Give her a couple of days and then go and talk to her. I'm sure she'll tell you then what to do about it."

All three pairs of eyes turned around to stare wide eyed at Sirius in shock at what he had just said.

"Since when do you say anything about Brooke that's not an insult?" Remus raised his eyebrow suspiciously making Sirius internally kick himself. Of course he'd look into something like that. Everyone else would normally just let it slide, especially after what happened, but no. Now Sirius would have to be careful what he said in front of Remus. He really did enjoy looking into things a little bit too much, more often than not getting the wrong outcome.

"When she's not around." A bark of laughter escaped Sirius' mouth, shortly followed by Peter following his suit. Like he did every time. James just shook his head but Remus was still studying Sirius intently.

"Maybe you should start being a bit nicer to her when she is around." James started, bringing up the topic that he had brought up at least once a month for the last six years.

Sirius couldn't help but scoff and roll his eyes. As much as he hated to admit it, he was a lot nicer to her than he had ever intended on being. And he didn't even know what it was. When he was alone with her his mind seemed to forget that he hated her. Whenever he was around her he felt the need to wrap her up in cotton wool and make sure she was protected from everything that life could throw at her.

When they were together it was as though there was some sort of magnet drawing him to her. All he wanted to do was make her feel better and make her laugh. He even wanted to make sure there was that shine in her eyes that stopped them from looking dead. Yet when he wasn't anywhere near her she never crossed his mind. And if she did the thoughts just made him angry.

The only thing he could put it down to not wanting to see anyone he had to spend time with so broken. So yes, he had gone out of his way to help fix her. But as soon as she was fixed he could go back to his normal life disliking her.

"I'm as nice as I can be without wanting to throw up." Sirius laughed again, relieved that the conversation had moved on. It meant he could finally stop all the thoughts from haunting his mind.

"She's really not that bad if you actually got the chance to know her." Remus' voice stern, as though he was talking to a little boy. "In fact, she's actually a really good friend to have around."

Sirius looked at Remus, raising his eyebrow, not wanting his eyes to betray him. He knew Remus was right. Brooke really wasn't that bad, he had seen that this year. He had seen a side to her that he never thought he would see. A side that made him realise that Remus and James had been right all this time. She really wasn't that bad. But he would never admit it. He had spent too much of his time making a fuss of how much he couldn't stand her. There was no way he was going back on it now.

* * * * *

Sunday came and went pretty quickly with no word or sight of Brooke or Avery, not that it bothered Sirius. All of Monday went pretty much the same way but he knew it wouldn't last the whole day. It was Quiddich Monday evening which meant one thing, Brooke would be there. And Sirius thought he had given her plenty of time to come clean to James at this point.

Sirius made his way to Quiddich practice with Marlene hanging off his arm. Something that was really starting to get on his nerves. He promised himself that he would break things off with her after practice. After all, she was never meant to last very long and was merely there to prevent boredom from kicking in. He could find another Marlene before he went to bed if he really wanted to.

It wasn't anything personal, but Marlene just didn't interest him enough to keep her around. Yes she really was such an attractive girl, most blokes where after her, but there wasn't much other than looks. She was shallow, ditsy and didn't have much behind the ears.

Tugging his arm out of her grasp he said his goodbye as he jogged off to the changing room where he bumped into Brooke just about to leave.

Brooke's eyes were glazed over slightly and completely emotionless. Her face was stern and she let out an audible groan when she had bumped into Sirius.

As he looked at her he realised just how much she had gone back to the way she was before. It shocked him because he could have sworn she wasn't that affected when he had spoken to her afterwards. He couldn't help but think that she had probably spoken to Avery since.

"Anderson!" Sirius put on his charming smile that was reserved for any member of the female population. "Just the girl I was looking for." Brooke glared at Sirius having been avoiding this moment for as long as she could. "I was starting to think you were avoiding me."

Sirius knew full well that she had, in fact, been avoiding him. He also knew that it would irritate her by making it clear that he knew exactly what sort of game she was playing.

"I don't know what you're on about, Black." Her voice was cold and uninterested. She walked around Sirius and went to make her way to the pitch.

Sirius grabbed her arm and pulled her back to face him. In that split moment her eyes became alive with emotion. As quickly as he'd seen it though, it went away just as quickly. "Have you spoken to Prongs?"

Brooke glared at Sirius to tell him that she wasn't finding any of this amusing but he couldn't help but smirk at her. Despite the face she was putting on there was no denying that her heartbeat had at least doubled at his touch. His hand stayed on her arm, above her hand, making it extremely difficult for Sirius not to notice.

"No. I can't." Brooke's voice was still as cold as her eyes, not wanting to show Sirius any emotion.

"Let's make this a game shall we?" Sirius eyes lit up at the prospect of getting a reaction, that he was yet to receive, out of Brooke. "I'm breaking things of with Lene after practice. If you don't speak to James by the time I'm done, I'll tell him myself. Got it?" His eyes made the threat a promise. They both knew that she only had a couple of hours to grow a pair and talk to her best friend. "See you on the pitch." Sirius winked at her, feeling her pulse racing even faster, before letting her go and heading to get changed.

The team had been playing a practice match with some of their reserves to make up numbers. Brooke and Sirius were the only two beaters in the whole game, which wasn't a problem. Even if they didn't get along there was no denying they were the best team of beaters that any of the four house teams had seen in years. The two bounced off each other, working with each others energies. Just as one of the teams caught the snitch Sirius relaxed and started flying in circles around the team.

Suddenly a bludger came out of nowhere, hitting Sirius in the ribs and knocking him off the broom. He heard James shout his name as he fell from his broom, pain shooting all up the side of his body. All the voices started getting further away as his vision went fuzzy. Trying to prepare himself for impact with the ground as he got closer but he never did. Instead everything went black.

Chapter 10: Chapter Ten - Sorry
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Everything seemed to go in slow motion as Brooke's wide eyes followed Sirius' body falling closer to the ground. The ability to move had completely escaped her as her beater bat slipped through her fingers, following Sirius' path. Her mind wasn't able to focus on anything apart from the space between Sirius and the pitch decreasing with every passing moment. The wind in her ears was blocking out any sounds around her making it impossible for Brooke to snap out of it.

It took James speeding past Brooke on his broom to finally bring her back to reality. Her dull blue eyes focussed on James, taking in his almost white face and wide eyes. The urgency that filled his face to get to Sirius before it was too late tugged at her heart.

Moving her eyes from one best friend to another they landed on Lily who looked composed, calm and collected as she sprinted from the sidelines reducing the distance between herself and Sirius as she fumbled for her wand in her robes. Just behind her was Marlene who looked as though she was screaming Sirius' name over and over again.

Despite everything Brooke still couldn't will herself to do anything apart from hover where she was and watch the nightmare unfold before her. No matter how much she told herself to fly towards Sirius she couldn't do it. It didn't matter how much James would need her there, her body was not listening to a thing her brain was saying. Overbearing guilt washed over her as she watched as Sirius seemed to be falling quicker than James could get to him.

"ARRESTO MOMENTUM!" Lily's scream reached Brooke's ears diverting her attention to the red haired beauty on the ground. Lily's wand was in hand, aiming directly towards Sirius. Her face was full of unwavering concentration as she watched the rate Sirius was falling reduce instantly; much to the relief of everybody watching.

James' feet landed on the floor just mere moments after Sirius landed with a soft thud, flinging his own broomstick harshly to the side. The scene of Sirius initially falling off his broom flashing through his mind over and over again. Thoughts of what would of happened had Lily not been there took turns in playing out in his head. For the second time in three days he found himself worrying for one of his closest friends which was enough to send his mind into overdrive.

Snapping out of her trance, Brooke pushed down hard on the front of her broomstick sending her whizzing downwards as she rushed to James' side. She too threw her broomstick to the side and went to James side who had sent Marlene to get Madam Pomfrey, her hysterical crying was going right through him. Giving her something helpful to do had seemed to calm her down a touch.

Lily was kneeling next to James, whispering soothing words in his ear as he panicked about his best friend. Still unable to get his head around what he had just seen, he was struggling to even register everything that had gone on.

Brooke knelt down on the other side of Sirius as she watched his chest gently raising up and down to calm herself down. "He wasn't looking." She murmured, still shocked that Sirius had been hit by the bludger which had been sent in that direction by none other than herself. "Why wasn't he paying attention?" Brooke couldn't look at her two best friends in the eyes, not even noticing that they weren't bickering for once.

James moved his attention from Sirius to Brooke as he took in the look of her face, trying to figure out her thoughts. He had spent a lot of his time doing this over the years. It didn't matter how close Brooke was to him it wasn't often that she opened up to him. The both knew that Brooke trusted him, she just didn't know how to open up; especially if she had done something she knew James wouldn't agree on.

It was Brooke's inability to tell James things when she knew they would disappoint him that often caused problems between the pair. James could tell her until he was blue that by avoiding it she would only make it worse; but that never made her capable of building up the courage to do just that. Thankfully, James had learnt all of Brooke's tells and she didn't have to say anything for him to know what she was thinking, to a certain extent.

His face dropped almost instantly as he took in her morose state. Her eyes had completely lost all of their life, making them appear a dull grey/blue rather than the bright blue they seemed to be when they were full of emotion. She was unable to tear her eyes away from the body before them, which told James exactly what she didn't want him to know. "What did you do, Brooke?" His voice was harsh and demanding.

Finally plucking up the courage Brooke moved her gaze onto James'. However, she soon regretted it when she was faced with a look of disappointment that she hadn't seen from him in a very long time. "I...He...It was an accident." She stammered, feeling more deflated the longer she looked into those brown eyes that once made her feel so safe. "He should have been paying attention." Brooke's eyes fell back to Sirius as tears threatened to cascade down her face as she realised what she'd done.

James stood up, anger filling his eyes as he looked between his two best friends. One, unconscious on the floor after what could have ended with his life. Then the second, guilt apparent on all her features as she took in the state of the guy in front of her. "You have got to be kidding me!" James was unable to push the rage to one side. He knew that he needed to handle Brooke carefully, but after everything that had gone on he just couldn't bring himself do it. "I thought you outgrew this years ago!"

Brooke mumbled an apology as she continued thinking about what she had just done, trying to figure out why she'd let it get this far. She knew James was right; she had outgrown it. Or she thought she had.

It had been a long time since Brooke had let her emotions get the better of her; but once upon a time it had been a regular occurrence. Especially when it came to Sirius. The amount of bludgers she had sent barrelling towards him on purpose was impossible to count. All those times though Sirius had known to be on look out and had never even been clipped. Brooke's anger had almost lost her James numerous times when they were in fourth year so she had made a point of sorting it out so she wouldn't lose control again. Yet there she was, looking down at the still body of someone who had done nothing but tried to look out for her since the start of the year.

Lily put a soothing hand on James' hoping it would calm him down. "I'm sure Brooke has a valid reason for-" She spoke softly to try her hand at defusing the situation.

"I don't need people fighting my battles all the time!" Brooke interjected causing Lily to jump at the outburst. As anger clouded her mind again she smashed her eyes shut and took three deep breaths hoping it would level her out but had no avail. Her eyes shot open as she glared at her friends. "I screwed up! And do you really want to know my reason?" Brooke's eyes were darting between the two, pointlessly hoping neither would want the reason.

All the hoping and praying in the world wouldn't have been enough to get James to drop it. "Yes, I want to know what made you think it was alright to try and kill one of the people that I care about as much as you. Especially after all he has done is try to get along with you. And not even because he wanted to! He did it because I asked him to!" James knew that what he was saying was just going to make Brooke feel worse but in that moment, as much as he hated to admit it, he didn't care.

The first tear escaped the safety of her eye and slid slowly down her cheek. Brooke found she was suddenly getting more and more uncomfortable with the company she was in; not sure she even wanted Lily to witness this. Deciding that she could trust Lily with her life she continued despite her doubts. "He found something out about me and was trying to make me tell you. He gave me a couple of hours to do it before he told you himself." Brooke admitted, no longer able to look at James' angry face. "I guess I just thought that this would give me a bit more time." Her head hung like a child's would whilst being scolded.

Suddenly James felt himself calm down a little at those words, knowing how difficult it would have been for her to open up. Especially if it was something she didn't want anyone knowing; and even more so if she was being forced to do so.

A part of James always got annoyed at the fact that Brooke couldn't tell him everything; and it had taken him a long time to accept that it was always going to be that way. He knew how much of a private person she was about things, and unless it was completely necessary she would keep her cards very close to her chest. He'd never quite understood what it was that made her that way though, as her parents were two of the most open people he'd ever met; but she'd been that way for as long as he could remember.

Brooke took a deep breath as she looked back into those brown eyes, completely forgetting that Lily was even stood next to James. "He found out I had been in contact with Tommy."

Instantly at those words James' eyes went from understanding and filled back up with rage at the mention of his old childhood friend. The friend that had not only betrayed him; but betrayed his family too.

As Brooke looked at James, trying to figure out how he was feeling fear ran through her bones. Fear that after everything they had been through this was going to be the one thing that actually drove James away. She wondered if it would even matter that they loved each other like brother or sister after this.

"After everything that him and his family did, you still had contact with him?" James asked exasperated, to which Brooke just replied to in response. "It wasn't just my parents they did it to! They're your family too!"

Lily took this moment to give the pair some distance, not wanting to get involved in what was basically family drama. She made her way just far enough away that she was out of earshot as she continued waiting for Marlene and Madam Pomfrey.

The tears that Brooke had been trying to hold back since the first tear had slipped down her face had finally spilled down her cheeks. She brushed them away roughly with the back of her hand and sniffed. "He wasn't there J." Her voice cracked as she looked at the shock on James' face. "He was with me that night." A light pink tinge reached her cheeks telling James everything that he needed to know so she didn't have to go into detail. "I wouldn't have been in contact with him had I not been 100% sure." Relief washed over Brooke as the burden of having hidden her relationship with Avery was lifted off her shoulders.

James' eyes were open in shock as his brain worked in overdrive to process the information he'd just been told. "I told you what happened that night, B. I heard him at my house. I know his voice." At that moment he was too shocked to feel anything else; that had been the last thing he'd expected to hear. "Besides, why wouldn't you tell me if that was true?"

Brushing away the last of the tears, Brooke managed to stop any more from cascading down her face. "He asked me not to." James was barely able to hear her voice. "You know what his family is like. Just imagine what they'd do to him if they found out he was with me."

This time it was James' turn to sigh as he teased his already messed up hair. "Then how do you explain me hearing his voice, Brooke."

Brooke automatically shook her head. "You must have been mistaken. He was with me all night." She wasn't having it anymore. She knew she was right. Seeing someone trumps hearing someone in her mind.

James scoffed and held his head in his hands. "You really need to sort yourself out, B." He looked at her with a face full of sadness as he looked the broken girl stood in front of him. "There is only so much more of this that I can take. You could have killed Padfoot, all because he was looking out for me. I get you've been through a lot but that is no excuse to go back to your dark place. Use your friends to get past this. Heck, use Sirius to get past this. Surely by now we've all proved that we can relied on, especially considering everything you've put us through."

Brooke nodded her head as she looked down at the ground unable to push down the feelings of shame. She had hurt James in ways she would never have imagined hurting him all because she had no self-control. It had always been hard for her to control it anyway considering she was an impulsive person who never thought of the consequences of her actions; but now things had gone one step too far.

Before either of them could say anything else Marlene and Madam Pomfrey were running past Lily to get to Sirius.

"What happened?" Madam Pomfrey asked, her voice was sharp. Kneeling down she pulled her wand out and cast a spell before moving it up and down his body to find out where he was hurt.

Brooke was about to relay the details of what happened but James beat her to it. "Sirius was momentarily distracted, but it just so happened that it was just as a bludger was heading his way. It smashed him in the ribs, I think, before he fell off his broom." He explained as quickly as he could knowing that Madam Pomfrey was not one for slow, long explanations, especially when there was work to be done. "Lily broke his fall with a spell so he shouldn't have received any damage from the fall."

As Madam Pomfrey was levitating Sirius to transport him to the castle she turned to Lily. "Well Miss Evans, it appears you have just saved this boys life. You did the right thing." And with that she levitated Sirius to the infirmary with Marlene quick on her heels.

James turned to face Brooke taking in the, yet again, fragile state of Brooke. "Listen, B, you can't keep coasting through life like this."

This time Lily wasn't going to back out of the intervention to help her best friend. "Ja...Potter is right. You're just going to end up pushing everyone away." Her eyes were soft as she tried to get through to Brooke, hoping that it wouldn't seem like her and James were ganging up on her. "What you did today, that's not the Brooke we all love."

Brooke stood there, forcing her annoyance down at James and Lily both turning on her. Even though she knew they were both right it didn't make it any easier to swallow the bitter pill they'd handed her.

"I love you B, I really do." James was trying to keep his voice soft but was struggling, the urge to leave Brooke there and run after Sirius to make sure he was okay was too much. "But one more stunt like that and you're off the team. You pull anything like that again and I don't know if I'm going to be so understanding."

The breath Brooke was holding was slowly released as soon as she'd realised that James had yet again put up with more from her than she'd ever expect anyone to.

"You have a lot of apologising to do when he wakes up." James directed her, adamant that she would push aside her pride for him. "And then you're going to give him a break. Do you understand?" Having finally had enough of being torn between two people he decided they would have to try to get along for him.

Brooke nodded and mumbled a yes.

"And make sure you grab Sirius' broomstick please. Put everything away." James ordered as he started walking to the castle with Lily, her hand rubbing his back for a brief moment until she realised what she was doing. Then she yanked her hand away and put some distance between herself and James.

* * * * *

Breakfast wasn't going down too well for Brooke the following morning, as she sat on her own in the great hall having not seen any evidence of her friends all morning. The bags under her eyes had darkened a shade, revealing that she had, once again, not had a good nights sleep. It was the barking laugh of none other than Sirius that drew her attention from the bit of toast on her plate to the entrance of the hall.

The sounds of them were heard long before they appeared through the doors, but surely enough in walked Sirius and James, side by side, followed by Remus and Peter. All of them were laughing and joking as though nothing had happened the previous day.

Sirius' grey eyes locked onto Brooke's. He gave her a knowing look and a sly smirk as they neared where she was sitting. Making a point of sitting directly opposite her, Sirius started digging in to the eggs and bacon.

"From what I've been told I owe my very good nights sleep to you, do I?" He said without removing his eyes from her as he shovelled food into his mouth. He knew by the end of the day she was going to be ready to knock him off his broom again but he couldn't stop himself from winding her up.

Unable to keep herself from cringing at the sight before her, she pushed her plate away from her having decided she was done with breakfast. This resulted in yet another barking laugh from Sirius. "Listen, I'm really sorry about. Well, you know."

"You're just lucky James got to me first." His eyes flicked over to James who was now sitting next to Brooke. "Bringing up past mistakes to make me go easy on you." Those same eyes landed back on Brooke who was just staring at him not sure what to say.

She knew James would do something to try and make sure things within the group hadn't been affected too badly by what had happened but she would have never thought that Sirius would just accept it like that. He wasn't one to let things go if he felt like he had been wronged.

"I will make it up to you." Brooke spoke softly, not able to look Sirius in the eye. She had never been one for apologising, even more so when she was surrounded by everybody listening; but she knew she had to swallow her pride and get it over and done with if she wanted things between her and James to be alright.

They all knew just how forgiving James was, even when he probably shouldn't have. James was only human though, and even he had a limit. It was getting to that stage where Brooke knew she was going to have to be careful. She couldn't risk testing where that limit was after everything that had gone on.

The look on Sirius' face made Brooke feel uneasy and regret mentioning making it up to him. From it she could only assume that he would make sure that she did something she was never going to enjoy doing.

"Give us a kiss and I'll say we're even." He couldn't resist adding a wink at the end.

Brooke scoffed loudly and looked directly into his eyes, her own eyes were cold and dull. "Even if you were the last man on earth. No scrap that, the last person on earth with me, I'd rather go and find myself a troll to kiss."

A new idea obviously flashed through Sirius head as his smirk grew wider revealing his pearly white teeth. "That can be arranged."

Brooke rolled her eyes and grabbed her bag before saying her goodbyes to James, Remus and Peter before heading out the great hall and making her way to the library. It wasn't long before she heard footsteps running to catch her up. Turning around disappointment washed over her as she identified Sirius.

"What do you want, Black?" Her voice was cold again as she refused to stop, despite him telling her to do so. Suddenly he'd pushed her behind a tapestry and was blocking her way out so all she could do was press her back against the wall. "What do you think -"

Sirius took a step closer to Brooke so there was practically no gap between the two of them. His arms instantly rest against the wall, on either side of her head so that there was no way she could escape. He slowly brought his lips down to her ear so that she could feel his breath on her.

Her breathing hitched at the proximity, his breath was leaving goosebumps on her neck. Next thing she knew her heart was crashing against her chest at the anticipation of what was coming next.

"Don't worry about making it up to me." His voice was low and seductive in her ear. "I'll get you back for it, Anderson. I just won't be stupid enough to get caught." He pulled away from her ear and moved to look into her eyes with his now cold, malicious eyes.

Brooke shoved him away from her and barged past him to get away from him. She'd known it was too good to be true. Sirius Black didn't just let things go. She should know, she was exactly the same so she should have expected it.

As she walked to the library she couldn't help but wonder about the sort of thing that he was going to do to get her back. She had almost killed him, surely he wouldn't do the same. As different things ran through her head she couldn't help but worry as she thought back to the prank he had played on Severus the year before.

Chapter 11: Chapter Eleven - Tears
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Over the rest of the week the dynamics of the group had changed a lot. Brooke found herself spending less and less time with the marauders, hoping that by doing so Sirius would forget about 'getting back at her'. This meant that Brooke found herself spending a lot more time in the library with Lily, so for the first time since being at Hogwarts she was finally on top of all her work. Remus had also taken to joining Brooke and Lily since he was in the library a lot of the time anyway.

Deciding that it was too nice outside to be cooped up in the library the three wrapped themselves up before going sitting by the lake. Lily was laying on her stomach with her legs bent upwards at her knees whilst she casually worked on a potions essay. Brooke was laying on her back reading a book of fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen that Lily had given her for Christmas a few years back. Then Remus was sat cross legged, facing the two girls, absentmindedly flicking threw his DADA text book.

No one was saying anything, which had also become a regular thing. Not that they didn't have anything to say; but every now and then it was nice to not have to say anything. Or in Brooke's case she just decided that she didn't have anything to say to anyone and had closed herself off completely from everyone throwing herself into her books whenever she wasn't working.

Letting out a bored sigh as he slammed his textbook shut, Remus then fell backwards onto the grass. "If I read one more word about defensive spells that we learnt two years ago I'm going to go crazy." He threw his arm so it was covering his eyes from the sun.

Brooke couldn't help but smirk at the sudden outburst from Remus. Considering he could sit with his nose in a text book all day, it always made him seem a little bit more normal when he couldn't take any more. It was those moments that Brooke realised he wasn't another Lily in the making.

"But Remmy." Brooke rested her book on her stomach and propped herself up on her elbows. "You're already crazy."

Lily sniggered at the comment, glancing up at Remus from her parchment.

A shy smile appeared on Remus' face as he looked between the two girls. "And what gives you that impression?"

It wasn't that Remus was shy at all, not around Lily or Brooke, and definitely not around the other marauders. There was something about him that came across as coy. He wasn't as in your face as Sirius and James. He didn't thrive with being the centre of attention; so it was times like this when he did come across as a shy person.

"Have you seen your best friends?" Brooke just shrugged at him as though he should have already known what he was going to say. "To spend all your time with those three, you definitely can't be all there in the head."

"Is that right?" A laugh erupted from Remus' chest. "So what does that make you? I can't imagine you're all that sane having spent your whole life with Prongs."

"Oh, haven't you heard?" Brooke looked at Remus as seriously as she could before laying back down. "I'm a stark raving fruit cake. There's absolutely no hope for me."

"I'll vouch for that." An unmistakable voice came from behind Brooke as a shadow cast over her face. She scowled at the sound of it as she pushed herself back onto her shoulders before chancing a glance at the athletic figure.

"Speak of the devil and he shall appear." Brooke sighed and turned away from Sirius as he chuckled at her words.

Making his way over to Remus he threw himself down onto the floor, resting his arms behind his head. "All better being the devil than the stark raving fruit cake with no hope." The smarmy grin on his face grew wider.

The cocky attitude radiating from Sirius was enough to try to patience of a saint. Now Brooke knew she was no saint, so as soon as she started feeling herself getting riled about just by the presence of someone she knew it was time to remove herself from the equation.

Brooke had barley stood up when James came barrelling into her sending her flying into none other than Sirius' lap, James landing on top of her so there was no escape. Feeling the heat of Sirius' hard chest on her back sent shivers down her spine. A reaction that she couldn't believe she was having.

Not attempting to move, James lay there cackling about his clumsiness. He was laughing so much that even if he had attempted to get up he had no control over his stomach muscles.

Using all her strength Brooke tried shoving James off of her. "James!" She groaned through her teeth as she tried again to get the giant lump off her.

From behind her Sirius was shaking as he silently chuckled to himself. Lily had delicately covered her mouth with her hand as she tried to stop herself from chuckling at the scene. Remus, having gotten used to the antics of his fellow marauders found himself shaking his head at the trio.

Finally regaining his composure James rolled off of Brooke and carried on laughing when she shot up as fast as she could, her face far from impressed.

"If you wanted to get close to me, Princess, you only had to ask." Sirius sent Brooke a wink that made her stomach do a flip. "You really don't have to get James to make it happen."

Brooke was starting to wonder whether it was actually Sirius that wound her up, or if it was the reactions she got when she was around him. Reactions that she'd pay someone to take them away from her as long as it meant there was nothing between her and the womaniser.

"If it was my choice I wouldn't go near you with a ten foot barge pole." Despite her insult Brooke couldn't help but smile sweetly at Sirius.

"A ten foot what?" Sirius responded in confusion.

"It's another way of saying that the thought of touching you repulses me." Brooke sighed, trying to make sure that Sirius had no idea about the effect he seemed to be having over her. "What was all the rush about, J?" She asked as she turned to face James, her voice slightly harsh.

James looked at Brooke through his wonky glasses and wrapped his arm around her, pulling her tight into his side. "I have an idea for the ball tomorrow night." The grin was still yet to leave his face. "And I need your help." His eyes danced between Remus and Brooke.

Sirius' uninterested look make it clear to everyone that he already knew about what James was going on about. He sat there checking out a group of girls who were walking past them all giggling at the looks they were receiving from him.

The head girl looked at James with a disapproving look. "You better not be thinking of pulling any pranks tomorrow, Potter." Her eyebrows furrowed at the thought of the head boy pulling a prank in front of most of the school. "You're meant to be setting an example."

A look of innocence appeared across James' face as he looked into Lily's green eyes. "Of course not Lily." He flashed her a charming smile as he forced himself to not be as in her face as he usually was. "I wouldn't even dream of it."

Lily, who was still slightly shocked at the lack of nicknames and how James had seemed to stop asking her out just raised her eyebrow at him. There was something about the lack of attention she was receiving from the boy that tugged at her stomach. "You and I both know that's bull." James went back to grinning and winked at Lily before their eyes locked.

She knew there was obviously something going on, she wasn't stupid. She also knew that there was no way any of them would let her know, just to make sure that she didn't try and stop them from doing whatever it was. Sure that Brooke would have nothing to do with it she decided to stay where she was anyway. If James wanted to speak to them without her, he'd have to wait until later. She wasn't going to run away at the sight of him any more.

Watching the two of her friends look at each other longingly, Brooke couldn't help but snigger as her eyes moved to Remus. It turned out he had also noticed the same thing as he too was trying to suppress his laughter so that he didn't ruin the moment.

"As much as I like to see here and watch you two ogle each other I kinda want to know this plan." She spoke loudly making both James and Lily jump and look anywhere but each other. Both of them had a pink tinge to their cheeks; Lily more so that James.

Moving his glaring eyes onto Brooke he pulled a face that she had grown to know as his 'I can't believe you just did that' look. He was probably right in sending it to her as it had been the first time since on the quiddich pitch that they'd even been close enough to each other to talk to each other. For some reason Lily had taken to avoiding James; much like Brooke was with Sirius. Except, Brooke could put money on the fact that it wasn't for the same reasons.

James' grin instantly came back though, which meant one of two things; they were definitely planning a prank, or he was planning something to do with Lily. If it was the latter Brooke wasn't sure if it was a good idea. The pair might have been able to hold a conversation for more than two minutes without it breaking out into world war three; but that didn't make it a good idea for James to suddenly jump back into the whole trying to hard to get her.

"Well, if you're up for a quick walk I can spill the beans to you." James stood up and held his hand out for Brooke to take. "Don't worry Lils. I won't be leaving your lovely self alone. Moony and Padfoot will keep you company." He turned to face Sirius. "Be on your best behaviour Pads. We don't want you scaring the beautiful lady away."

Lily's face turned a light shade of pink as James flashed a charming smile in her direction before pulling Brooke to her feet. The pair walked off with James' arm draped over Brooke's shoulder, not saying anything until James was positive no one could listen in.

The pair decided to walk around the lake so that they could meet up with the friends they had just left. "What do you need from me?" Brooke was sceptical. More often than not it was her who always ended up doing the grunt work, being the smallest out of everyone.

James gave a light-hearted laugh. "Just some information." James pulled Brooke in tighter as she wrapped her arm around his waist. A simple act that was so common between the pair of them that neither of them thought anything of it. "I need to know what Lily is going to wear to the ball."

Brooke couldn't help but roll her eyes at her friend. "And why would I tell you that, Mr Potter?"

As James looked down at her he saw a twinkle in her eye that he hadn't seen in a long time. A twinkle that he had only seen when she had been around Sirius. He took a proper look at Brooke, thinking that maybe this time she was actually getting on the road to recovery, so to speak.

"I just need to know who to look for so that I can direct my attention at the right person." James admitted to his best friend.

Brooke pulled away from James and stopped him from walking by turning him to face her. "Listen, J. You're finally getting somewhere with her. She no longer snaps at everything you say. Every now and then she almost forgets to call you Potter. Don't mess it up by throwing yourself at her again." Her eyes bore into James' as she tried to get through to him, not wanting him to mess anything up with Lily.

James just laughed in her face and yanked her into his chest to hug her. "This is why I love you." As he let go Brooke raised a questioning eyebrow. "Besides, I'm not going to be throwing myself at her. She's not going to know it's me spending the night with her." The grin was back, but this time Brooke couldn't help but grin along with him. "She won't know until she's had the most amazing time and then when she realises it was with me she'll realise I'm serious about her."

Continuing to make their way back to where the others were Brooke glanced at James, noticing just how happy he was at the prospect of this working. "I can't tell you what she's wearing. But I promise you'll know exactly who she is." Brooke smirked at him. "I can't ruin the surprise. It's your face that I'm looking forward to seeing the most."

His grin finally faltered for the first time since Brooke had seen James that day. "Oh come on. Please Brooke. I will do anything." James dropped down to his knees and he grabbed Brooke's hands as he begged her, his eyes gleaming as he finally felt like he could stop walking on eggshells around her.

Snatching her hands out of his hands, she pushed him over so he fell backwards onto the grass. "There is nothing you can do for me that I can't do for myself." Brooke tried to suppress her laughter but ended up snorting by doing so.

On hearing the snort escape from Brooke's nose James cackled loudly, which in the process made the snorting worse.

"Besides, I really doubt you can do everything for yourself." James laughed with a wink as he stood back up to join Brooke in the rest of the journey back.

Brooke cringed before punching him in the arm. "You're disgusting." Brooke shook her head as James rubbed his arm. "I think you've been spending too much time with Black."

A single laugh erupted from James. "I said nothing wrong. You really need to get your head out of the gutter. And there was me thinking you were better than that." He feigned being shocked as he nudged into Brooke.

It was the first time since the beginning of the year that the two of them had managed to joke around with each other like they did before. It was rare for them to actually be alone together for more than five minutes and even if they were it just didn't feel as relaxed as it used to. Finally it felt like home to both of them.

It wasn't long until they reached where Remus, Sirius and Lily were sitting, talking about the upcoming ball. Sirius had been trying his hand at seeing if he could get any information out of Lily for James but she was being tight lipped.

James felt a pang of jealousy when he watched Lily laugh at something Sirius had said but instantly pushed it away, telling himself he was being silly. Sirius was after all one of the marauders and they had a code. A code that Sirius wouldn't break even if his life depended on it. James could safely say he had nothing to worry about when it came to the marauders and girls.

Sirius and Lily both stopped laughing instantly as they looked at something over Brooke and James' shoulder. Lily automatically grabbed her wand out of her waistband, anger filling every crevice of her face. Remus too had pulled his wand out but kept it firmly in his hand which was down by his side. Sirius however had shot up and made his way to Brooke so that he was between her and Avery.

Turning around to see what they were looking at, Brooke tensed up instantly at the sight. Heading their way at some speed was Avery. His face didn't look hostile but that didn't stop Brooke from instantly thinking back to what he did to her the last time she saw him.

James still hadn't turned to see what was going on by the time Avery got just behind him. "Butter...Brooke. Can I have -"

At the sound of a voice that James had known so well he spun to face him before grabbing him by his collar and throwing him up against the tree. Moving his face close to Avery's face his lips turned into a snarl. The dusky scent that James had always ascociated with Avery and his family filled his nostrils.

"You've got some nerve." James growled, his voice was low and just the tone of it was threatening. "What makes you think I'm ever going to let you be alone with Brooke again?"

Brooke put her hand on James' shoulder to try and get him to let Avery go. "James."

He just shrugged her hand off and then pulled Avery to him before smashing him against the tree for the second time. "If I even catch you looking in Brooke's direction I will make you wish you were dead!"

This time Sirius helped pull James off Avery but instantly got his wand out and pointed it at Avery's neck. "What do you want?"

Avery put his hands up in surrender. "I just want to talk to Brooke."

"Not going to happen." James tried to grab him again but Sirius held an arm out to stop him.

Brooke stepped forward and wrapped her fingers around Sirius' hand to pull his wand away from Avery's neck. "I want to hear what he has to say."

James opened and closed his mouth trying to think of what to say to Brooke to talk her out of talking to Avery. "B, he's not worth it. Why can't you see that?"

In James' head Brooke should have instantly cut all ties the second he used an unforgivable curse on her; so the fact that she as still willing to listen to him baffled him. If he had it his way the Slytherin wouldn't even be breathing the same air as her.

Brooke, on the other hand just wanted to know what he had to say. "You don't have to go anywhere. I'm not asking to be alone with him. Just that you let me hear him out."

"Speak then." Sirius spat as he took a step back.

Avery diverted his sad, pale blue eyes to Brooke. "I am so sorry, Buttercup. I never thought any of that would happen. If I could go back and change it I'd make sure I wasn't there." He tried to ignore the audience watching him.

"Well you can't." Brooke snapped.

Avery sighed deeply. "I know it's too late. And I know I should have thought about the consequences of my actions, but I can't lose you." With his hands still raised in the air Avery took a step towards Brooke. "You are the one thing that keeps me sane in my messed up life. You're my rock. Don't let my stupidity ruin that." He reached out to hold her hand but she flinched away from him causing him to drop his arms in defeat. "I'm so sorry."

"So am I." Brooke's eyes were glassy from the tears that had formed as she watched while Avery walked back to the castle, his shoulders sagging as he went.

Sirius reached out to stroke Brooke's back to comfort her but she flinched away from him too. "Don't touch me, Black." The glimmer in her eyes that James had seen just a short while before had completely vanished.

The small group of people all looked at Brooke with weary eyes, not sure what to expect from her next. Noticing the looks Brooke scoffed at shook her head at them all.

"I've got a book to hand in at the library." She lied before rushing to the castle, her arms wrapped around herself. Unable to take her eyes off the floor as she made her way to the first female toilets she could find.

It was only when she was finally safe in the confines of a cubicle that she let go. Tears cascaded down her face as she thought back to how she had lost her friend. She sobbed silently as she realised just how damaged she was after everything that had gone on. Leaning up against the door gave Brooke the balance she needed as she convulsed because of the harsh sobs. The harder she cried, the more she seemed to suffocate herself as she attempted to get everything out of her system once and for all. Her parents and how she was starting to lose all hope of ever seeing them again. Then she cried about Avery, the guy she'd had a bond with that no one would understand. The only person other than James who had been in her life before coming to Hogwarts, and now she'd lost him. Finally she cried about Sirius and what she'd done to him. Even though their relationship was far from functional she found that most of the time that she was around him she forgot about all her troubles. And she'd went and thrown that away because she couldn't handle her emotions.

Half an hour went by before Brooke even dared to leave the cramped cubicle. Having made her way to the sink she splashed water in her face before looking in the mirror. Her eyes were red and puffy and her cheeks had become blotchy, which was probably the most colour that had been on her face in a long time.

Taking a deep breath to calm the final errant sobs that formed she pushed her way out of the toilets and made her way to the great hall for dinner where she knew she'd have to face everybody. As she walked in she spotted both the girls and the guys all sitting together without her for the first time. Rather than joining them Brooke decided to sit at the end of the table, not wanting to have to face any of her peers.

Fatigue escaped Brooke that night so she decided to not even bother going up to the dormitories, favouring instead the arm chair in front of the fire. Her legs were pulled up to her chest and she had a book open on the arm of the chair but was too focussed on watching the flames flickering in the fire place.

A single tear made its way down Brooke's cheek just as a pair of legs stopped in front of her causing her to quickly swipe it away. With her raw eyes she looked up to see who was looking down at her and was once again disappointed.

"Are you okay?" Sirius asked, his voice was soft and concerned.

Brooke looked at her book and pretended to read it. "Sad book." Her croaky voice was harsh.

Sirius snatched the book from the arm of the chair and started reading the page it was open on before moving to the previous page. "The Little Mermaid? It doesn't sound sad." He threw the book onto her lap and sat on the table, resting his elbows on his knees. "You gonna tell me what's really wrong?"

With glazed eyes Brooke looked at Sirius, her face was mixed with confusion and annoyance. "Don't act like you care." She snapped weakly. "Just leave me alone. I'm really not in the mood."

With a sigh Sirius stood up and held his had out for Brooke. "Come with me." She didn't respond, just looked at his hand wearily. "Truce. You look like you could do with it. But, it's for one day only." His piercing grey eyes observed her with concern.

Deciding it was better than sitting on her own and feeling sorry for herself Brooke reached for Sirius' hand and he pulled her off the chair before dragging her out the common room. As soon as they got out of the portrait hole they let go of each others hands.

The castle was dark and quiet, even the subjects in the pictures were sleeping. The pair walked through corridors in silence as they listened out to make sure there were no teachers around about to catch them out of bed after curfew.

It wasn't until they got outside that either of them even dared saying anything. "Where are we going?" Brooke asked in a barely audible voice.

When Sirius looked at her he couldn't stop himself for feeling bad for Brooke. Life had completely left her. Any progress people had made to bring her back out of her shell had all gone down the drain. The sight of the completely broken girl with him was enough to pull at his heartstrings. If he thought she was damaged before it was nothing on this.

It wasn't just her eyes that showed it this time. It was the way she nervously chewed on the inside of her cheek, showing that there was obviously things on her mind. Then there was the way her arms were rested across her chest, as though she was hugging herself. Her shoulders slumped and she refused to take her eyes of the floor rather than walking with confidence like she always had before.

"We're going to grab some dew." He shrugged trying to be as casual as possible.

Brooke stopped in her tracks and looked up at Sirius, avoiding to look into his eyes. "Why?"

Sirius stopped and turned to face Brooke, looking at her emotionless face. "Because I said I'd help you. And I told you we're in a truce for the day. So make the most out of this. You have 24 hours."

"Don't do this just because you pity me."

A small smile appeared on Sirius' face. "How can anyone not pity you?"

Sirius didn't know it was possible for Brooke's face to drop even more until it did. Her sad eyes moved to finally meet his worried eyes. "When will it stop?"

"When will what stop?" Sirius' voice was soft and the pair started moving towards the forbidden forest where they were heading before.

"The pain. I don't want to be haunted any more." Brooke looked at the floor again so she didn't have to see Sirius feel sorry for her. "I can't close my eyes without seeing my parents dying, or the look on Avery's face before he cursed me."

"Time." Sirius said flatly. "You won't be lost forever. You just need to deal with it properly. Bottling it all up is just going to end badly for you, or the people around you."

Brooke sighed. "I just can't make myself care. I don't feel anything any more. It's easier this way."

Sirius made a point of not looking at Brooke not wanting to make her feel uncomfortable now that she was finally opening up to someone properly. "But that's the thing about pain. It demands to be felt. You'll deal with things a lot better if you let yourself feel it."

"I felt it today, Sirius, I couldn't handle it." Brooke sniffed.

"It might be hard to begin with, but it will only make you stronger in the long run."

Shocked at Sirius and his ability to come up with things so profound, Brooke remained silent for the rest of their time outside. Thinking about everything that had been said she tried to work out whether or not Sirius was right. Would it be better for her to feel the pain of everything that had happened? She was always led to believe that it was a sign of weakness.

When the couple finally got back to the common room Brooke took the vial of dew from Sirius before nodding a thank you in his direction before disappearing up the stairs to bed.

Sirius watched at she made her way up the stairs, taking a seat on a sofa instead of following suit. Suddenly the thoughts of getting back at her for everything didn't sit too well with him. It wasn't that he didn't want to; but more that he wasn't sure if he could even attempt to knock her down even further when she was already at rock bottom. James wouldn't let him get away with it either.

Sitting there thinking about what he was going to do it wasn't long before his eyelids were getting heavier and he fell asleep there on the sofa.

Chapter 12: The Halloween Ball
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For the past five years it had become a tradition for the marauders to sabotage the Halloween ball. Every single year they had managed to find different ways for it to be cancelled by lunch, so that they could throw a party of their own. Each year it became more and more anticipated until even the teachers had learnt to expect it. It didn't matter what lengths the faculty would go to to prevent this from occurring, the boys always found a way to pull off, what would be, one of their biggest pranks of the year. So when it finally came to the big day it was no surprise that the marauders were the centre of everyone's attention as they patiently waited for the big event.

As soon as the boys stepped foot in the great hall for breakfast everyone rested their eyes on the four. Even the teachers found themselves eyeing up the troublesome group, looking to find any signs to be suspicious. It never came though. Breakfast came and went calmly and without a hitch, as did lunch. The later in the day it got the more on edge the rest of the school seemed to get. It was, after all, the marauders last year. That could only mean one thing; it was sure to be their best prank so far.

Disappointment spread like wildfire around the students when it got to early afternoon and there still hadn't been a prank. Everyone got to the point where they were avoiding stepping foot anywhere near the great hall, for fear that they would get caught up in whatever was going to happen.

The prank never came though, to the disappointment of the one and only Sirius Black. James had made sure that, from the minute he knew Lily was head girl, there would be no Halloween prank. He had spent hours talking Sirius into letting the ball happen, and it wasn't easy; but he couldn't ruin the ball that Lily had spent so much time organising. The ball he had spent so much of his spare time helping her as much as he could.

It wasn't long before word got around that the prank was not happening and there wouldn't be another party. At the news everyone seemed to go into overdrive, rushing around trying to get everything together and get themselves sorted in time.

All of that day Brooke had spent in bed feeling sorry for herself. There was no reason that would drag her out of the confines of her drapes. She didn't have any desire to speak to or even see anyone. Despite the lack of human interaction, she knew it was only a matter of time before that all changed. She couldn't stay a hermit forever, so it was no surprise when Lily forced her out of bed to get ready for the first Halloween ball they would be attending since their first year.

Brooke had a small smile on her face as she looked at her three, dolled up room mates. They were all stunning, not that she was surprised. The girls that stood before her were undeniably beautiful, all in different ways. Marlene was sexy, she knew how to work her body and that captivated everyone. It was no surprise that she always had a boyfriend; even if she never stuck with one for too long. Lily was so naturally beautiful that she didn't even have to do anything, she was the girl next door. And then there was unique Alice. She'd never been one to follow any trends, she did her own thing. From the shortness of her pixie cut hair, to the bright, hippie style she always walked around in; it all shouted Alice.

Marlene was stood in front of the mirror putting one last coat of scarlet lipstick on before turning to face the others girls. Her hair had been changed to a lighter shade of blonde and curled and pinned back into the style of Marilyn Monroe. Her white dress defining all her curves perfectly. It had been no surprise to any of the girls when Marlene revealed this as her costume.

Alice was wearing a red, chequered country shirt, the front tied in a knot by her belly button with high waisted dark blue jeans that came to the bottom of the top. Covering her short brown her with a big blonde wig that she had put a flower in the side and topped the whole look off with a pair of fancy cowboy boots. Anyone who had a little bit of knowledge of muggle music would know exactly who she was. That still didn't stop Marlene from asking who Dolly Parton was every two minutes.

Lily had managed to put two plaits in her hair and with a simple spell she managed to make sure they stuck out away from her head. She had a long-sleeved, bright purple top with a tatty, short-sleeved blue dress with red patches on it. The dress came down to mid thigh and was slightly baggy on her. She had two different coloured stockings on; one red and black striped, the other was black with a hole in the knee. The outfit was finished with some black clumpy boots.

"Who are you supposed to be again, Lily?" Marlene stared at her friend, trying to work out why anyone would want to go to a party looking like an orphan that couldn't dress themselves properly. "Are you sure you're meant to look like that? None of it matches."

Lily couldn't help but roll her eyes. "Pippi Longstocking. She's a girl from a muggle children's book." She explained for what felt like the hundredth time.

Brooke had also went for a muggle costume, thanks to the help of Lily. Brooke hadn't watched many films, one of the ones she had was The Wizard of Oz. It was for that reason she had decided to dress up as Dorothy. She had a white blouse with puffy sleeves that stopped halfway down her upper arm and just below her neck. Over this she had a blue dress that stopped just below her knees. She wore short white socks, and some red, sparkly stilettos. Her red hair had been plaited and tied with blue ribbons. A wicker basket was hanging in the crook of her elbow, finishing the whole look.

"I don't know who any of you are meant to be." Marlene scoffed. "And to think two of you are pure bloods. How do you even know these...people?"

Lily laughed as she made sure her hair was going to stay for the whole evening.

"That's the point Lene." Alice's voice rang through the dorm. "There's not going to be anyone else dressed like us because half the school have no idea who we are." Her dark blue eyes shone brightly as she took in everyone's costume.

Grabbing her camera Lily ushered everyone together. "This is our last Halloween together girls. Say cheese." All four girls obliged, smiling at the camera once they all huddled up together, Alice's arm wrapped around Brooke and Marlene whilst Lily squeezed in making sure to get all four of them.

Brooke was still not saying much to anyone, her emotions still raw from the previous days break down. She knew that Lily would kill her if she didn't go to the party; so she plastered a smile on her face and joined in with the rest of the girls. Laughing, joking and taking pictures with each other. She had even managed to get along with Marlene; which is probably more because since Sirius had ended things with her she seemed to not be as in your face. She wasn't really one for getting dumped, it was usually her doing the dumping. Well that and the fact that with Brooke not talking, it was hard for anyone not to get along with her.

The fours girls made their way down the stairs to the common room and stopped in their tracks when they caught sight of the marauders. They all stared at them with their mouths open before Lily started laughing at the group. Marlene, once again, had no idea who they were meant to be, but thought they all looked ridiculous.

All four of them had painted their faces white and had put big, black wigs on. They all had different black patterns painted over the white. Sirius had a star over one eye and red lipstick on. James had black forming patterns over both eyes, whereas Remus had black outlines around his eyes, and they both had black lipstick on. Then lastly Peter had a patch over each eye, a black nose and two stripes on each side of his face. He, like Sirius, had red lipstick. All four of them were wearing knee length platform boots and tight black trousers, which were covered with metal studs or chains. Sirius had a top on that was so low it revealed most of his toned chest, and had feathers on the sleeves. James had a top, revealing his chest again, but with chains all meeting in the middle of his bare chest, and went down over his crotch in silver. Peter had, rather than a top, two silver straps that crossed over his front. Lastly, Remus was wearing a silver top that kind off wrapped around the front, and had large silver wrist bands on it. All in all, they looked ridiculous.

"I'm surprised." Lily was still chuckling at the four boys. "I didn't figure any of you were KISS fans."

Brooke couldn't help but smile as she looked at the boys, and it wasn't long before Alice was laughing along with Lily.

"What can I say? We're a very cultured group of lads." Sirius' signature smirk was plastered on his face. His words made Remus scoff at him. "Okay, Remus is." He admitted. "But, look at the theatrics. How could we not love it?"

"Besides," James shrugged as he went to wrap his arm around Brooke's shoulder before he sung at the top of his lungs. "I WANNA ROCK AND ROLL ALL NIGHT!"

"AND PARTY EVERYDAY!" Sirius and Remus continued after him as they made their way out of the portrait hole. The rest of the journey to the great hall continued in the same way. The boys were repeating the same lines over and over until they got to the door. The girls followed them, laughing as they did.

The great hall was unlike anything the students had ever seen before. The enchanted ceiling was dark as night, speckled with stars and above the stage was a big, bright full moon. One giant, black chandelier hung in the centre of the hall, with a few smaller ones at regular intervals around it. Dead, leafless branches were situated around the outside of the hall, climbing towards the ceiling. Fake spiderwebs connected the branches to the chandeliers, spread unevenly across the ceiling.

The stage had been set up where the teachers usually ate, with a small dance floor in front of it. Scattered around the room were round tables, topped with black tablecloths and a single, smoky grey vase. The vases each table were filled with dark red and black roses. There were eight seats at every table, all set out with enough plates and cutlery for a three course meal. The refreshment stand was decorated in the same way as all of the tables, a large punch ball taking up most of it.

"Wow Lily. This is incredible." Brooke gushed as her eyes scanned the room. "I've never seen anything like it. It might even beat the guy parties." After taking in the décor of the room Brooke diverted her eyes to the rest of the student body. There were ghosts, werewolves, vampires, skeletons and witches scattered all over the place. These were typically the first few years. As the students got older they had started to realise that if they dressed up as things from the muggle world there would be less people dressed as the same things.

Lily grabbed Brooke by the arm and dragged her to the table that everyone else had already settled down at leaving just two seats. Lily ended up sitting between James and Remus. This left Brooke to sit between Sirius and James. There was something about the way everyone eyed Lily that made it extremely obvious that they had all played a part in the seating arrangements.

Brooke found herself silently listening to everyone else's conversations as they all ate. Remus, Lily and James had struck up a conversation about head and prefect duties and what was to come. Peter was solely focussed on eating his food, not paying attention to anything anyone was saying around him. Marlene and Alice were gossiping about Alice's blossoming relationship with Frank Longbottom. That left Sirius to interject his opinions into everyone's conversation.

It wasn't long before Brooke felt a hand rest just above her knee and give her a little squeeze before the hand disappeared. Her eyes diverted up to meet the curious grey eyes that were looking down at her. She raised one eyebrow questioningly.

"You okay?" He whispered so quietly that he may as well have just mouthed the words.

This then made Brooke furrow both her eyebrows as she nodded at him. She wasn't about to ruin anyone's night with her misery so she plastered a fake smile on her face and flashed it in Sirius' direction.

"I don't believe you." Sirius moved closer to her so no one else could overhear, his arm brushing against her slightly. "Firstly, your voice isn't doing my head in for the first time since I've known you. And secondly, you just let me get away with touching you. What's wrong, Anderson?"

For an unknown reason Brooke felt her whole body tense up as she got more and more irritated. All she wanted was to be left alone so she could go through the motions of the night with Lily. She had no intention of interacting with anyone she didn't have to; and Sirius was the top of that list. She was at the dance for Lily and James, and that was it.

Brooke turned to face Sirius, her face was completely void of all emotions. "You really want to know what's wrong with me?" She spat.

Sirius nodded eagerly, an innocent smile spread across his face. It was as though he was doing her favour, completely unaware that his attention was aggravating her.

"You. You are what's wrong with me. Can't you just leave me alone for one night, without trying to do whatever this is." Her hushed voice was filled with venom as she spat the words at Sirius. Turning away from him she noticed everyone around the table was staring at her; which was the last thing she had wanted. She hadn't wanted to create a scene, or an awkward atmosphere. As she took in the disappointed look on Lily's face Brooke knew she had to get her shit together for her friend. "I'll be right back."

A screech echoed around the hall as Brooke pushed her chair backwards to leave the table. As she made her way outside for some fresh air she couldn't stop thinking about how she was ruining the night for her friends. It wasn't that she didn't want to be there; she'd been looking forward to it since she knew there was no chance of it being cancelled. Yet there she was, dwelling on everything that had been going on rather than enjoying herself like she was meant to. Everything was supposed to go back to normal once she got back to Hogwarts; but somehow everything had managed to get worse.

Brooke sat on the floor, leaning against the wall of the castle with her eyes shut. The wind was blowing her plaited her into her face, but she was completely ignoring it. So still that she may as well have been a statue, Brooke didn't move until there was movement beside her. Even then all she did was open her eyes and peak to the side where the body sat, their arms touching slightly.

Closing her eyes again, Brooke tried to melt into the wall as a sigh escaped her chest. "I'm not going to get rid of you tonight, am I?" Her eyes fluttered open as she turned to look into Sirius' grey eyes.

There was something about being close to Sirius that made Brooke's heart race, even more so now that they were alone. It was something that, no matter how hard she tried, she couldn't seem to shake it. No matter how much she didn't want to be feeling it, it was still there. Her head was telling her that even if she did manage to spend time alone with him she still didn't like him. Just because she didn't want to kill him any more, it didn't mean that they were friends. It didn't matter how much she told herself any of this her body kept betraying her. It was as though her body wanted something that she didn't want. Something she couldn't want.

"Like I said this morning," Sirius' eyes were deep and full of emotion. His voice was soft, but there was a hint of amusement in it. "You look like you need a truce. The day isn't up yet. Besides, I have something that might help." He pulled a hip flask out of his costume somewhere.

"You're going to get me drunk?" Brooke asked incredulously, but she took the flask out of Sirius' hands when he offered it to her anything. Taking a swig, she couldn't help but grimace as the burning liquid slid down her throat.

A bark of laughter left Sirius as he watched Brooke's face. "No, I'm just going to help you on your merry way." He took the flask off her and took a swig himself, not reacting to the firewhiskey, before passing it back to her.

The pair sat like this until the flask was finished. Sirius, having been a regular drinker, was not affected by the amount he had drunk. Brooke, however, had never been a heavy drinker, so knew it was only a matter of time before the drink kicked in.

"You're already here, and you've made the effort." Sirius glanced down at Brooke's costume. "Not that anyone has any idea who you are supposed to be." Brooke stifled a smile before looking at Sirius' painted face. "So you may as well forget everything for one night and enjoy yourself."

"I will keep a smile on my face for Lily. I can't say I'll forget anything and I definitely won't be enjoying myself."

"I wouldn't count on it." A twinkle appeared in Sirius' eyes as he looked at Brooke with a mischievous smile on his face.

"Why are you looking at me like that?" She leaned away from Sirius, knowing that she had somehow got herself involved in some sort of game with Sirius Black.

"I am making it my mission to make sure you have a good time tonight." He stood up before holding his hand out to Brooke. She took his hand and let him help her up. Rather than letting go of her, Sirius pulled Brooke into him and rested his other hand on her waist. He moved his head so his lips were by her ear. "And when I give a girl all my attention she never has a bad time."

Butterflies squirmed around in Brooke's stomach at the words. Instead of reacting to them though she shoved Sirius away from her and yanked her hand out of his hand. "So you've made me a challenge?" She raised her eyebrow and feigned disgust.

With a handsome grin on his face, Sirius shrugged before resting his hand on the small of Brooke's back to lead her back into the castle. Electricity ran from Sirius' hand and up Brooke's spine at the touch, causing Brooke to shiver and step away from Sirius, not wanting her body to give away what she was feeling.

"No. You made this a challenge, Princess. Just remember, I never fail a challenge."

Brooke rolled her eyes as her and Sirius walked back into the great hall to find dinner was over and half the students had migrated to the dance floor. Lily, Marlene and Alice were amongst those students and were laughing as they all danced with each other. The boys were stood to the side of the dance floor talking in hushed tones to each other. It didn't take a genius to know they were up to something; and Sirius' face lit up as he made his way over to them with Brooke.

"Is it time?" Sirius asked as he bounded over to the boys causing the three of them to jump at the sudden sound. This encouraged a laugh to slip out of both Sirius and Brooke's mouths. The sound of Brooke's laugh seemed to put a smile on James' face.

"Almost." James wrapped his arm over Brooke's shoulder and pulled her into him slightly. "Are you in, B?"

Her eyes drifted to James to find him looking down on her with a cheeky smile on his face. There was something about it that made Brooke feel like she couldn't say no. "What's the plan?"

James and Remus took it in turns to explain to Brooke their plans to spike the punchbowl and it wasn't long until she was agreeing to it and even giving them her own opinions on what would make it go off without a hitch.

Soon enough Brooke found herself stood by the punch to make sure that no one could get to it until Sirius had spiked it from underneath the invisibility cloak. As she pretended to get herself a drink she couldn't stop her gaze from finding James who had managed to talk Lily into dancing with him. For the first time Brooke was watching her two best friends laughing and joking with each other as James tried, and failed, to dance in time with the music. She was completely unaware of the smile that had formed on her face as she watched them together. From afar you would never have guessed that only a few short months ago they couldn't even say four words to each other without Lily getting mad.

"He's finally getting somewhere." Sirius' voice made her jump from beside her.

"Be quiet." Brooke mumbled under her breath, not wanting it to look like she was talking to herself. "Someone will hear you."

"I'm almost done." Sirius sounded as though he was holding back his laughter at Brooke's paranoia but she decided to just ignore it.

"Hey, you." A voice came from Brooke making her jump, yet again. It was becoming apparent to her that it really didn't take much to scare her anymore, especially after everything that had gone on. She turned around anyway to the source of the voice.

"Oh, hey Ryan." She plastered her fake smile on her face. The smile that was slowly becoming the only smile that was ever on her face.

Ryan was completely oblivious that the smile wasn't genuine and took it as an invitation to start a conversation with her despite the fact that he hadn't even acknowledged her since their date. "You look nice."

"Umm..." Brooke glanced down at what Ryan was wearing to see that he was clearly dressed up as one of the many dementors that were scattered around the room. "Thanks. You're costume is...nice." Brooke couldn't stop her voice from wavering as she spoke.

"So, I know we haven't spoken in a while, but I was wondering if you'd like to dance?" His green eyes were soft and kind.

Brooke looked around as she thought about how to turn him down. It wasn't that she didn't want to dance; but she couldn't leave the table and risk their plan being ruined. "I can't. I...I'm um...waiting for someone."

Ryan looked a little deflated until Sirius appeared at Brooke's side, wrapping his arm around her shoulder. "Sorry I left you hanging like that, Princess." His eyes were wild with excitement as a lopsided grin slowly made it's way onto his face. "Are you ready for that dance?"

Ryan seemed to understand and made his way back over to his friends to enjoy the rest of his night as Brooke grabbed a glass of the alcoholic punch before downing it and grabbing a second one.

"So this dance?" Sirius asked seriously as Brooke shrugged his arm from her shoulders. "He's going to notice if we don't have a least one dance."

Brooke sighed and downed the second drink before she followed Sirius to the dance floor. Her body was alight with excitement as they made their way to an empty spot but her mind was yelling at her telling her it was the last thing she wanted.

The upbeat song ended and changed to a slow tempo song as the pair got near their friends. Sirius held his hand out for Brooke to take. As she did he pulled her into him, his other hand resting gently on her waist. Brooke placed her hand on his shoulder as gently as she could but found she was suddenly very aware of every part of her body that Sirius was touching as he led her in the dance.

"I never knew you could dance." Sirius mused as he noticed Brooke effortlessly follow his lead.

Brooke moved her eyes up to meet Sirius'. "There's a lot you don't know about me, Black."

"Apparently so." Sirius chuckled. "Maybe we should rectify that." Brooke's face screwed up at Sirius' words. "I mean, we are going to be spending a lot of time with each other at James'. We may as well make an effort to be friends."

Brooke smiled at Sirius. "Yeah, maybe."

"Besides, the more time I seem to spend with you, the more I realise that you might not be as much of a pain in the arse as I originally thought."

Pretending to be hurt, Brooke attempted to pull away from Sirius but he tightened his grip so it was impossible. "I'm not the one who's the pain to be around!"

"Of course not. We just have to be on look out for bludgers if you don't get your own way." Despite Sirius' light-hearted tone Brooke suddenly felt uncomfortable about the topic. She hadn't forgotten about the threats he had made after the incident; and she knew it was very unlikely that he wasn't going to go through with them.

"I thought we were dropping all of that for now?" She eyes him, dubiously.

Sirius dipped Brooke slightly then pulled her back up to him so she crashed against his chest. "Fine. Are you going to tell me what's got your knickers in a twist?"

At the sound of the music change Brooke pulled herself out of Sirius' grasp. "That was our one dance. Now if you don't mind, if I'm going to be stuck with you all night I'm going to need a few more drinks."

As the rest of the evening drew on Brooklyn found herself drinking more and more of the punch that she had helped spike. The more drunk she got, the more she found herself forgetting everything and just enjoying herself. After spending most of her night with Sirius closely on her heels Brooke finally managed to escape him and get Lily to herself.

"You're dancing with Sirius?" Lily asked, not able to hide her astonishment.

"We had one little dance!" Brooke cried out in exasperation. "And now I can't get rid of him. He seems to think I need his constant attention to enjoy myself."

Lily chuckled as she eyed the boys. "You have been smiling." She stated.

"Spiked punch can make you enjoy anyone's company." Her words were slurring a tiny bit, but it didn't matter how drunk she got, she wasn't going to start admitting her feelings to herself, or anyone else for that matter. Wanting to change the subject her eyes drifted to the group of boys laughing and joking with each other. "Anyway, you've been spending a lot of time with J."

Lily's cheeks flushed a shade that almost matched her hair. "I...um...we...I don't want there to be an atmosphere tonight. I mean, it is our last year together. Wouldn't it be better if we all got along?"

A smile slowly crept onto Brooke's face as she looked at the flustered red head in front of her. Lily could come up with all the excuses in the world but none of them would fool Brooke. They both knew each other too well to even attempt to lie to each other, but it didn't stop them from doing so when they didn't want to admit things to themselves.

"I don't suppose I could steal another dance from you, Princess?" Sirius' voice interupted the girls conversation, his hand resting on the small of Brooke's back. Brooke turned around and starting to protest but Sirius shook his head at her. "I thought we were going to try and be friends. For Prongs."

"Fine." Brooke sighed as Sirius dragged her onto the dance floor, this time the song was slightly more upbeat; only ever so slightly. This meant the pair took the same dancing stance as before. This time however Brooke swore Sirius' grasp wasn't as gentle or careful as before. It was more sure. "So why did you choose to spend your whole night with me? Why not some other girl who you'd actually stand a chance with?"

His grey eyes danced with emotion as he gazed into Brooke's eyes. "That would have been too easy. Besides, you deserved one night where you could forget everything. Without me you wouldn't have been able to do that."

Brooke felt giddy, unsure if it was the alcohol, the fact Sirius had chosen to spend the night with her over everyone else, or how close they were to each other.

"You're so sure of yourself." Brooke couldn't prevent the smile from spreading across her face. "Me enjoying my night had nothing to do with you and everything to do with firewhiskey."

Sirius threw his head back as he let out his bark of laughter before moving his lips to Brooke's ear. "You keep telling yourself that, Princess. We both know the truth. It's only a matter of time before you succumb to my charms."

"Keep dreaming, Black." Brooke spoke as she ignored the goosebumps she was covered with.

Out of the corner of her eye she caught Lily storming away from James and pulled away from Sirius herself. "I have to go." Without waiting for an answer Brooke made her way towards Lily, running out of the great hall to do so.

"Lily!" Brooke shouted after her as she followed her down a corridor that led towards some empty classrooms. "Wait!"

Lily stopped in her tracks and glanced up at the ceiling as she waited for Brooke to catch her up.

"What happened Lils?" Brooke started walking, causing Lily to continue walking beside her.

"He tried to kiss me." Lily refused to look at Brooke as she tried to make sense of her emotions. She couldn't work out what she was feeling and it scared her. "I just panicked and ran away."

Brooke glanced at Lily out of the corner of her eye as a smirk appeared on her face. "Do you want to know what I think?"

Lily shrugged knowing that she would hear what Brooke had to say whether she wanted to or not.

"I think that you like him, but you don't want to admit it. Admitting it means that you have been wrong about J all this time. You won't even admit it to yourself." Brooke's voice was soft and calming, and as much as Lily hated to admit it she was right. "So when he went to kiss you, you realised that you wanted him to and that scared you."

"Well, if it isn't our favourite little mudblood." A voice snarled from behind the two girls causing them both to turn around.

Brooke had already pulled her wand out as she spun around to face the Slytherin the voice belonged to.

Or group of Slytherins. Lucifer Malfoy was stood at the front of the group, obviously the instigator. His bleach blonde hair hung by his shoulders. His eyes dark, with a murderous look on them as he snarled at the girls. Mainly Lily.

Brooke's eyes focussed on Avery, who was stood next to Malfoy, his face just as nasty and evil. Taking in his face Brooke felt disappointment and anger overtake her. She knew this day would come. The day he would start on one of her friends. The day they would finally be forced against one another. As if him turning against her wasn't enough.

"What was that?" Brooke asked them, her voice full of disgust. A dangerous gleam appeared in her eyes as she looked past the two at the front and took in the rest of the group.

Rosier, Mulciber were just behind with Severus Snape and Barty Crouch Jr hiding at the back.

Lily went pale at the sight of Severus with a group of Death Eaters, whose obvious goal at that moment was to torment her. Not talking to each other had been her choice, but she had never expected to see him here. Looking guilty, as if they were doing it for him.

"You heard, Anderson." Avery snapped, his jaw clenching. Everything about him was dark and emotionless. It was as though, if he let his emotions in he wouldn't be able to do what he 'needed' to do. What was expected of him. He was completely cut off from himself, his emotions pushed somewhere they couldn't get out; allowing himself to be overtaken by the darkness.

"Or did you lose your hearing too?" Malfoy snarled. "You really must be more careful. With the people you're hanging around it won't be long until you lose everyone."

His words tugged at her heart. She knew exactly what he was trying to use to hurt her.

"But then you didn't lose your parents did you?" Avery piped up again. His voice nasty but his words got Brooke's attention. Her wand dropped slightly as she looked at him, waiting for him to continue. "They just up and left. Their own choice. But I guess that must be the worst possible outcome."

Keeping her face straight Brooke lifted her wand to aim at Avery, refusing to say anything in case her voice cracked and gave her away.

"They're much happier with us though. So much happier now they don't have to put up with you." It was Malfoy's turn to try and get a rise from her now.

"Stupefy!" Lily cried as she flicked her wand in the direction on Malfoy, stunning him.

Avery shot a spell towards Lily which Brooke deflected back at him, setting the sleeve of his robes on fire.

It went on like this for a bit, spells flying back and forth between the Slytherins and the girls. No one had done any damage, not that the Slytherins weren't trying. The girls just focused on deflecting and blocking, throwing in a few stuns if they had the time.

"Sectumsempra!" Snape shouted over everybody.

"Brooke!" Lily shouted as she ran towards her. "Look out!"

Chapter 13: Chapter Thirteen - Blood
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The girl on the floor grew weak as her crimson blood spilled onto the surface around her. Her skin paled drastically, getting whiter with every passing second. The gash in her side showed no signs of closing, no matter how much pressure her friend put on it.

The group of Slytherins looked on at the two girls. Avery's eyes were wide with shock as he looked at his old friend. Snape's mouth was opening and closing as though he were trying to find something to say, not that anything would have made the situation any better. Lucius was baring his teeth in what could only be described as a sinister smile that was devoid of emotion. His eyes however were alight with excitement as they danced over the injured girl on the floor. The others were laughing amongst one another at the success of their duel.

Footsteps echoed towards them causing most of the Slytherins to run in the opposite direction. Then it was just the two girls, Avery and Snape left in the corridor.

"What's the counter curse?" Avery snapped at Snape, whose mouth was imitating that of a fish.

The sound of his piers voice seemed to trigger something within him as he dropped to his knees, his head shaking side to side as he forced his voice out. "I didn't...There isn't...Not yet..." He struggled to get any coherent sentences out, instead just saying minimal words that made no sense altogether.

Tears dropped down the girls face as she tried all the healing spells she knew to close up the slash in her friends side. Nothing made the slightest change to it though, blood still spewed out everywhere. Her hands were drenched with blood as she kept them covering the wound.

The footsteps finally stopped as they rounded the corner, bringing James, Sirius and Alice face to face with the traumatic events that had happened just moments before.

James' face dropped as he looked between the two girls; his best friend and the girl he loved. One lying still on the floor, both of them covered with her blood. He knew the colour had drained from his face instantly. Guilt. He felt guilt for trying to kiss Lily. If he hadn't then maybe she wouldn't have ran away; and if she didn't run away her and Brooke would have still been safe in the great hall. Safe with him. When he was finally able to tear his eyes away from the two vulnerable girls and they landed on Avery and Snape. In that split second all his guilt vanished and was replaced by pure hatred. In one swift movement he bounded past the two girls and had Avery against the wall by the scruff of his neck. A crack echoed in everyone's ears as James' fist connected with Avery's jaw.

Realising what was going on Alice sprinted back to the great hall as fast as her feet would carry her. She knew from the state of everything it was only a matter of time that would save her friend. Time that might not be on their side if she didn't get help straight away.

"Leave him." The girl croaked as her wet eyes rested on James.

"But-"

"Leave. Him." Her voice was strong and demanding. She wasn't taking no for an answer. Punishing Avery for something he hadn't actually done was last on her list of priorities.

"Didn't mean to..." Snape was still coming out with random snippets of sentences as his black eyes stayed directed at the body on the floor.

As the words rang in James' ears he dropped Avery before turning to face Snape, his eyes wide with shock. He'd known that Snape was a snivelling death eater wannabe but he never would have thought him capable of this.

"What did you do?" Sirius homed in on Snape, his eyes seemed to darken as he looked at the boy who filled him with so much hatred and disgust.

"Didn't mean to...Got in the way...Meant for her." Snape stuttered, not paying attention to anyone apart from the girl on the floor. "So sorry."

It was then that Sirius resisted the urge to beat Snape senseless and went and rested at the side of the girls body. He placed his hands gently on to of the ones that were trying to stop the blood. "She's going to be alright, Princess." His voice was calm and soothing making Brooke almost believe him.

Tears continued to dampen her cheeks as she looked at Lily's body and thought about how the curse wasn't even meant for her. She was unable to shake the thought that ever since the beginning of the year drama had seemed to follow her around. People were now getting hurt because of her and that was the last thing she wanted.

"It was meant to be me." There was no way to tell how Brooke was feeling from the sound of her flat voice. It was cold, and completely emotionless. Her eyes moved from Lily's ghost white face to Snape who was still sobbing on his knees. "Get him out of here."

Without a second thought Avery grabbed Snape by his robes and dragged him away from the mess. He knew it was for the best. If one of the professors saw him there, in that state it would only be a matter of time before they realised what happened. He hoped that James would keep it to himself and get some sort of personal revenge rather than trying to get Snape expelled. That's what the James he once knew would have done; but people change. Avery didn't know James any more so he couldn't guess how any of this was going to pan out.

As Avery and Snape disappeared out of sight James made his way to Lily's side. He picked her hand up, his thumb stroking it softly as Sirius muttered a few spells to counter dark magic. As much as he had hated his upbringing, he had learnt a few tricks that he had learnt use in his favour. He didn't manage to completely stop the bleeding but he did manage to slow the rate in which it was doing so down.

"How?" Brooke's voice was soft as she watched Sirius work his magic.

"I'll be sure to show you some time." He promised as he replaced Brooke's hands with his own

Footsteps could be heard getting closer to the four students again, a Scottish accent filling the corridor. Brooke physically relaxed with relief. Within moments Professor McGonagall was following Alice as the pair ran to where Lily was.

"Miss Fortescue, go and let Madam Pomfrey know I am on my way with Miss Evans." Alice nodded at her professor before running away from her, heading towards the infirmary without a word. "You three will go to my office and wait for me there. Do you understand?" Her voice was strict, final and matched her posture. There was no arguing with her.

The three students nodded and McGonagall wasted no time in waiting for any of them to say anything. She cast a spell to make Lily float by her side and pressed her own hands to the wound as she walked her to the hospital wing.

When Professor McGonagall was out of ear shot both James and Sirius turned to face Brooke. She was staring down at her bloody hands and the pool of blood that had been left on the floor. It was then she realised she had been kneeling in it and was completely covered in her friends blood. Her mind was going in overdrive as she replayed Lily jumping in front of the curse over and over. Shock caused her to freeze, not even able to tear her eyes away from the scarlet liquid.

"What happened, B?" James' voice was quiet but strong as he tried to divert Brooke's attention onto him but she ignored him. "Brooke?" Still nothing. "Brooke Evelyn Anderson!"

At the sound of her full name Brooke found herself staring at James' face. She took in everything about it. He was paler than usual with worry lines on his forehead that rarely made an appearance. At some point he had taken his wig off and was absent-mindedly messing up his hair.

"What happened?" He tried to soften his face to hide the worry from it. There was a sense of urgency to his words, as though he needed to know every detail of what happened before McGonagall did.

"It was meant for me." Brooke whispered as she stared off into the distance. "She jumped in front of me and got hit herself." At that she just continued staring at nothing.

A hand gently landed on her back causing Brooke's gaze to turn to Sirius. "We got that much, but what started it all."

Brooke just stared at Sirius in silence as she thought back to what had actually happened. She had been so wrapped up in what had happened to Lily that everything else had been pushed out of her mind.

"They said my parents had joined them. That it was there choice." Brooke murmured as she looked back at the floor. "Malfoy said something about them being happier there than they were with me so Lily stunned him."

"They're lying." James stated instantly. There was no way he could believe that his godparents had chosen to fight for Voldemort's cause.

"I don't know. It was as though Tommy had used this chance to tell me."

James scoffed at Brooke in disbelief as he stood up. "B, I know you still want to think there's a good bone somewhere in his body but there's not. His only motive was to hurt you. That's it."

It was hard to let go of someone. James understood that more than anyone. Avery had done everything he could have to show Brooke that he was nothing more than a death eater. The sooner she accept that the better. Her loyalty would be her downfall if she wasn't careful and James knew he had to do what he could to make her see clearly.

Letting out a sigh, Brooke pushed herself up onto her feet. "You weren't there. He didn't have to say anything."

"When will you realise that none of them give a shit about us? Any of us." Sirius started. "It's us versus them. They want what they want and we don't agree with it. It's black and white. There is no in the middle."

"Well maybe if there was a middle we wouldn't be in a stupid war that's only getting worse everyday." Brooke glared at Sirius. "And you don't know what he's like. You don't even know him."

"You forget who my family is. Just because I haven't been friends with the bloke does not mean I don't know him." He went against all his instincts to snap at Brooke and instead he kept his voice calm. He knew she was only snapping because she was hurting, and if she needed someone to lash out on he could be that for her. Whatever she would throw at him would be nothing in comparison to what he'd already been through.

"Oh yes! How could I forget! You were brought up in the exact way as Tommy. In fact, don't they have some sort of plan that you're a big part of?" Brooke snapped, whipping her head around to look at him not caring that James hadn't been told about the whole conversation that had taken place in the common room. "But it's us and them remember. No in between."

"What are you talking about?" James' brows furrowed as he tried to figure out what Brooke meant.

"Nothing." Sirius sighed as he turned to face Brooke. "Just a misunderstanding on Anderson's part." His eyes narrowed but again he kept his cool. "She doesn't know what she's talking about."

Brooke threw her hands in the air. "Of course I don't. I've been through too much to understand what was said between you and LeStrange. I must have made that part up, right? The part where you make a choice and if you don't choose their side you die?" Brooke had taken a step towards Sirius. Rage was bubbling up inside her threatening to make her explode. It didn't matter how much she tried to hold it in, it was getting too much. Everything that had gone on was too much.

"Sirius?" James took a step towards him as he tried to get more answers.

Sirius never once raised his voice and never once let Brooke think he was getting angry at her, when in reality he wanted nothing more than to wring her neck in that moment. "And what's wrong with dying for what you believe in?"

A single humourless laugh escaped Brooke's lips. "You, Sirius Black, are going to sacrifice yourself? You who only thinks about himself? That would never happen!"

"Maybe, just maybe, some of us would rather die than live a life in debt to Voldemort. I escaped that life, there is no way I will ever go back." Sirius looked from Brooke to James and then back again. "If I have the choice to live a long life but fight for him I would rather die. That is not the life I want."

"We'll just have to wait and see, won't we? Until then though, let's take you along to find my parents and put you in danger of fulfilling what they want." It didn't matter what Sirius said to Brooke nothing was putting the fire out within her. She couldn't explain it or calm it down. Everything was slowly going red and Brooke knew when she did she would risk pushing James away once and for all.

James stepped in front of Brooke and turned her away from Sirius to face him. "B, why don't we have this conversation later?"

"Oh yeah, so you can have a bit of time to come up with a reason as to why you're backing him up instead of me!" She snapped, not caring about the shocked looked on both the boys faces.

"You're going to that place Brooke. You need to snap yourself out of it before you do something you regret." He, like Sirius, made sure to keep his voice calm. He could see that Brooke was rapidly going to her dark place and he knew once she did she'd end up saying or doing something stupid.

"James, I know you're trying to help but leave it. One of my best friends has just been hit by a curse that was meant for me. I don't even know if she's going to make it! She lost so much blood!" She gestured towards all the blood on the floor and her clothes. "And I can't even go and make sure she's alright because now I have to go and explain what's just happened to McGonagall!" Tears of anger started flooding down Brooke's cheeks. Her nails were biting into the palms of her hands as she clenched them into fists. "I don't even know what to say! I can't drop Tommy in it."

The more Brooke cried the more she felt the anger fade away. It was as though every tear was her bodies way of releasing it without her going mad. James slowly stepped towards her and pulled her into his arms where she sobbed into his chest for a moment.

James knew he would never understand the workings of his friends mind. In fact, he often thought that even she didn't understand them. Nevertheless, it still killed him to see her in such a state. In the whole time that her parents had been missing he'd never seen her like that. Sure, he'd seen her shed the odd tear here or there, but she never just lost it like this. She could usually sort herself out and then forget it ever happened. He had a feeling though, that everything was starting to catch up with her and she was slowly getting more and more lost in her own head.

"Just stare at your hands and don't say anything." Sirius offered. "We'll do the rest."

The trio made there way to McGonagall's office where Brooke did exactly as she was told. She stared at her bloodstained hands and didn't say a word whilst they waited for their teacher to come and interrogate them. James and Sirius watched her sceptically, hoping that this wasn't going to be the thing that pushed her further into the abyss.

The door swung open and McGonagall stormed in and went and sat in her chair opposite her pupils. Her face was stern, her lips pressed together so tightly that they formed a straight line. "Explain." Her eyes were jumping from one pupil to another.

"James and I showed up with Alice so we didn't actually see anything that happened." Sirius started to explain to the strict professor.

James took one look at Sirius and knew where he was going. "Brooke hasn't said a single word to us. It doesn't matter what we've tried she just won't speak." He lied easily. Im a way it was good that it was McGonagall and not Dumbledore. Somehow, he could always tell when they were lying but the Scottish teacher in front of them had no idea.

McGonagall's tense shoulders relaxed as she took in the state of the poor girl before her. Slumped shoulders and vacant eyes that were fixated on the blood still on her skin. Standing up out of her seat, McGonagall pulled her wand out and made her way over to Brooke.

"Tergeo." She muttered, cleaning up all of the blood from Brooke before getting the boys to do it to themselves too. "Are you alright, Miss Anderson?"

Brooke glanced up at the professor to find her looking down at her with a soft, concerned look on her face. She couldn't bring herself to answer so she just nodded at her. Her eyes however held no emotion and gave her away.

"Take Miss Anderson to Madam Pomfrey and make sure she drinks a calming draught. And maybe something to help her sleep. It looks like she could do with some rest." McGonagall instructed the boys, her penetrating gaze took in the deteriorated state of the fragile girl. "And then I'd think it wise for you both to head to your common room. I think you've had quite enough excitement for one night, don't you?"

The boys did exactly as they were told for what could possibly be the first time in their whole time at the school. Even with Brooke's arguing they still didn't stray from the plan they had been given. Had it been any other person they probably would have let it slide and got up to no good like they normally did; but looking at the girl before them they realised that she was nothing like the Brooke they had both known. Instead, a stranger had taken her place. A stranger who was withdrawn, touchy and isolated. The happy, sarcastic troublemaker seemed to be completely gone.

Brooke could have dragged her feet the whole way and it wouldn't have made a difference, she still would have ended up in the same place in the end. By the time the boys dropped her off to the hospital wing she had given up fighting. She'd decided that maybe it was for the best that she just went along with it. It was go along with it or get taken there by force. As much as she knew she could give one of the boys a run for their money she knew that she'd have no hope against the pair of them.

After making sure Brooke took both the calming draught and a potion for dreamless sleep, the two marauders headed back to the common room only to find it completely empty. That meant everybody was still at the ball; all unaware of the disturbing scene that had take place at the same time.

James headed straight for the armchair in front of the fire, Sirius following and sitting on the sofa. The warmth of the fire heat up the pair, who hadn't realised how cold they were until they sat down and noticed they were both shivering.

"She'll be alright, mate." Sirius made his attempt at making James feel better but they both knew it was hopeless.

James shook his head and let out an estranged laugh. "Which one?"

"Both of them." They both knew Sirius had originally been talking about Lily but he did mean what he said. "Brooke just needs a push in the right direction."

"A push?" James raised his eyebrows. "She needs a lot more than a push."

Sirius stared at the fire for a moment; watching as the flames flickered, eating up the wood. "So let's give her more than a push."

James looked at Sirius as he tried to figure out what he meant. He couldn't think of anything they could do to help her. She was so cut off that even he was having trouble trying to figure out where he stood. And that was something that had never happened in their relationship before. He was always her big brother. He protected her and looked out for her; yet there he was failing her. Somehow he was never there when she needed him and he was starting to be unsure of how he could comfort her.

"How do you suggest we do that?" He humoured Sirius.

"An intervention."

"Padfoot, mate. She's not going to stand for anything like that. She'll barely talk to anyone without biting their heads off." James ran his hand through his hair for what was probably the hundredth time that night. "What makes you think she is going to sit there and take people telling her what a mess she's become?"

Sirius rested his elbows on his knees and leant towards James slightly. "So we don't tell her what a mess she is. We get everyone together, and I mean everyone. Avery included." The pair of them cringed at the thought of having to be in the same room as Avery and be civil to him but James didn't say anything and let Sirius continue. "And everyone tells her what they love about her. And how we all need her back. Maybe when she realises the effect she has on everyone she might take a look at the bigger picture."

"But why do we need Avery?"

"As much as we both hate to admit it, he's been a big part of her life. He might be able to help get through to her. Besides, if he can tell her the truth about her parents it might give her something to cling onto. A bit of hope." Sirius explained.

As much as James hated to admit it, he knew Sirius was right about Avery. He really could be the best chance they had of getting Brooke back to her old self before it was too late. Thinking over the idea, weighing up the pros and cons in his head, James tried to think of a valid reason that outweighed all the ones for him to be there. Not even using an unforgivable on her was a good enough reason if he could help her. And she needed all the help she could get.

"I know you don't like the idea, but if we don't do something soon it's only going to be a matter of time before she tries not knock someone else off their broom." His grey eyes observed his friend. Sirius wanted nothing more than to have his happy-go-lucky best friend back but he knew that wouldn't happen until Brooke showed signs of improvement.

"An intervention?" James looked at Sirius with a glimmer of hope in his eyes.

"An intervention." Sirius said with a nod and a big grin on his face.

* * * * *

Rumours were flying around the school about what had actually happened to the head girl. All of which were as far from the truth as they could be. It was being said that Brooke had jynxed her to look like an old man for some reason; that's why she got sent to St Mungo's. Then there was the rumour that someone had put something in her drink at the ball and Madam Pomfrey couldn't work out what is was so couldn't cure it. They were just some of the many different ideas being thrown around.

Her friends paid no attention to any of them and had taken to ignoring anyone who asked about her or Brooke; who was still asleep in the hospital wing two days later at breakfast. There were just too many people to try and convince that it was nothing serious and when they still weren't sure what was happening with Lily it made it harder to explain what happened to people.

The guilt that James had felt for being the reason that Lily ran out of the hall was still haunting him. Even more so because he wasn't sure if there would be any lasting damage. He knew Lily was in the best place she could be, and she was going to be fine, but none of it would have happened if he had just left her alone. She obviously didn't feel the same way about him or she wouldn't have ran away from him. All he could think about was that maybe it was about time that he finally let her go and moved on. It was one thing to deal with her rejecting him at every chance, but he couldn't handle what had gone on.

He spent most of his time trying to find out as much as possible but no one seemed to be giving him any answers. Madam Pomfrey had refused to tell him anything, as did Professor McGonagall. James found himself heading up to Dumbledore's office to get the information he needed there but once again found himself out of luck. When he finally accepted that he wouldn't know anything until Lily came back he gave up trying, instead choosing to focus his attention on ways to help Brooke, just in case Sirius' plan didn't work.

With the same idea, Sirius found himself splitting his time between getting everyone together shortly after Brooke woke up and sitting by her bed. With Remus' help he had managed to set up a link between everyone's wands so that he could send them a signal to meet in the common room when she awoke. For some reason he decided that would be the best time to do it. Brooke wouldn't have enough time to get herself worked up and would hopefully be in an alright mood that she wouldn't instantly storm out.

That was the reason he found himself offering to sit with her most of the time. Or that's what he told himself. As he sat in the chair beside her bed with a book of poetry in his hand he couldn't stop himself from peering over it every now and then to glance at the sleeping girl. There was something about watching her so peaceful and relaxed that made him feel calmer. She seemed like the girl who was always laughing and joking with James. The one who wouldn't let Sirius get away with anything, who would pull him up on anything she thought necessary. It gave him hope that he could get her back. For James that is. Or that's what he kept telling himself.

It was lunchtime on the second day since Brooke got taken to the infirmary and Sirius, had just relieved James so he could go and get some food. Once again Sirius found himself reading his poetry book to pass the time before James came back to keep him company. When he did finally look up from his book he was met by two dull blue eyes. There was nothing in them that gave away what Brooke was thinking about. In fact, there was nothing on her face that showed any emotion to hint at her feelings.

"What are you doing here?" Brooke's voice was croaky and weak where it hadn't been used in a while. At first she wasn't sure if she was seeing things or was going crazy when she saw Sirius. He was the last person she would have ever expected to be sat there when she woke up.

"We've been taking it in turns. Prongs has just gone to get some food" Sirius shrugged as he placed his hand in his pocket, wrapping it around his wand for a brief moment. "We wanted someone here when you woke up and I guess it is your lucky day. Girls would pay to wake up to this handsome face."

"Let me know where those girls are because it seems you haven't had much luck with them recently." She snapped, disgust was apparent in her voice.

Sirius laughed at the girl before him. "I think I like you better when you're asleep."

"I like you better when I'm asleep to." Brooke sighed as she rested her head back onto the pillow.

"Good dreams?" Sirius smirked as he winked at Brooke.

"No , Black. You're not in them at all. At least I can get away from you there." Brooke snuck a glance of Sirius only to catch him with a big grin on his face.

The way he was always smiling made Brooke extremely jealous. She knew he had been through a lot growing up yet he always managed to love his life and make the most of it. It was something she always admired of him. Especially in that moment when she was struggling to even put a fake smile on her face for the world to see.

"How is Lily?" She turned her face to look at Sirius directly which meant she caught the drop of his smile.

"She's at St Mungo's. They're doing everything they can for her but it's dark magic so Madam Pomfrey had trouble fixing her up. She's going to be fine, we just don't know when she'll be back" Sirius explained to her. "No one will tell us anything though."

Her head automatically nodded up and down as she took in what Sirius was saying. Despite the good news that Lily was going to be alright she couldn't help but crave more information about her situation.

"No one had ever seen the spell Snape had used on her so no one will know if there are any lasting effects until Lily is examined some more." Sirius continued when Brooke didn't say anything.

"So how do you know she's going to be fine?" Brooke scoffed as her eyebrows furrowed in frustration.

"If I could slow the bleeding down the healers are going to have no problem patching her up." Sirius shrugged. He was completely certain that they had nothing to worry about when it came to Lily. Besides, she's stubborn. There was no way she would let this be the end.

Without waiting for the matron, Brooke swung her legs over the side of the bed before pushing herself off, landing with a soft thud. It was then that her stomach gave a load growl causing her hand to rest on it. At that moment she realised how hungry she was. "How long have a been asleep?"

"Today's the second day." Sirius spoke softly as he tried to think of a way to give everyone a bit more time to get everything and everyone together. Then Brooke's stomach rumbled for the second time. "Fancy heading down to the kitchens? You sound like you could do with some food?"

Brooke looked at Sirius, unsire if she even wanted to be alone with him. She definitely didn't want to be stuck with him for any longer than was completely necessary. She didn't really want to be with anyone if she was completely honest but that would only leave her alone with her thoughts; and being alone with her thoughts seemed like an even worse idea than being stuck with Sirius for a little bit. At that decision she nodded and the pair headed to the kitchens in silence.

Sirius decided that it was best not to say too much to Brooke unless she specifically asked him a question. He knew he needed her to remain calm if he wanted his plan to work. He also that if he said too much she'd automatically get herself wound up. Whether he tried to or not he just seemed to have that effect on her. They didn't say a word to each other until they both got to the portrait hole leading to the common room. Making sure that she wouldn't be able to escape Sirius fell back a small amount so Brooke had to enter first.

The sight in front of her made Brooke stop in her tracks. The marauders, her room mates, a few other students from lower years or different houses and Avery all stood looking at her. Not one of their faces showed a hint of a smile. It was Avery her eyes lingered on as confusion arised at the sight of him in the common room and standing next to James. She took in the bruise on the side of his jaw and the confusion only seemed to double.

"What's going on?" She asked, looking back at Sirius who was stood between her and the way out.

"We all need to talk to you, B." James stood up and took a step towards her. He hoped she'd understand what they were trying to do so he didn't actually have to say it. Suddenly now she was looking at him with her blank eyes it all seemed like a bad idea.

It didn't take long for Brooke to understand and her shoulders sagged as she looked at her friends. "You have got to be kidding me?"

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