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The Marauders Kiss by sweetprofanities
Chapter 59 : Anger and bargaining.
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 13


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Special shoutout to CreekMomma for the cute little snippet prompt. I worked it in a little different to fit, but I loved the concept and so IT IS IN. 



Chaos was an understatement in regards to the emotions smacking around Ali’s head. She was confused and broken. She was filled with a burning rage yet lethargic at the same time. She cried for nearly two weeks without stopping. Not sobbing, no, but her eyes filled with tears every time she saw a picture of her mother hugging her father. Or others of Kanika swinging her younger self around at the beach. The little moving figures were a permanent reminder of what she had lost. After a while she started turning them down so there was less painful remanets’ around every corner of the house.

The morning she had finally decided to go home, after James had helped her realise she was allowed to feel the way she was, she was taken upstairs by Professor McGonagall and Madam Pomfrey. She had gone into her dorm only to find herself subjected to more solemn looks from her unsavoury dorm mates. She couldn’t handle their faces. Every one of them was the same. So sad. So full of sympathy. She came down the stairs only to be met with her friend’s faces, baring the same look. She’d had enough. She couldn’t handle one more sympathetic stare.

So when Sirius gave her that same face, that same “I’m so sorry” face, she put her foot down.

James seemed to be the only one that wasn’t amplifying her inner hatred. It was strange. Out of all the friends she had made over the last year, she really expected James Potter to be the last one she would tolerate in such a situation. But that night, as he ignored protocol and broke down her barriers to hug her- instead of apologising every thirty seconds, and just saying “I know” in its place. It was the only thing that made it real.

When she got home that morning, the realness of the situation increased tenfold. Her father was just as much of a mess as she was. Her grandparents were there. Grandma Anne was with her father. Grandpa Tucker was with her baby brother in the kitchen, cooking.

Ali nearly lost her footing when Tucker leapt off the counter and ran at her. He wrapped his arms around her thighs and she fell to her knees to envelop him in a bone crushing hug. He was okay. He looked incredibly confused, but he was okay.

‘Mum’s gone.’ He said the words so calmly but with a frown on his face. ‘They said she was saving some muggle kids. She saved them, though. They’re okay.’ He just smiled at her. At that moment Ali felt like she was going to vomit again. She had to bring Tucker into her arms and knelt there clutching him until she recovered from the pain radiating in her chest. Her grandfather came over to wrap his arms around them on the kitchen floor and that first day home was spent in a sweet, mourning silence.

Then the other side of their family showed up.

There were more “sorry’s” thrown about than ever before as their enormous middle-eastern extended family flooded the house. The only bearable one was her cousin Misha who just sat by her through most of it, silently. Nay was even quiet for the most part. Of course her mother’s side of the family had very ancient customs concerning burial. Even muggles believed their traditions to be archaic. It meant that the funeral had to move back to where Aaliyah’s grandparents had lived, and Kanika was born, in Cairo.

They never much visited that side of the family. Cairo was far too chaotic for their little family’s liking. Ali found herself thanking a higher power for the fact that her eldest uncle had taken a handful of his younger siblings to live with him in England when he left home. That handful included Kanika and her favourite Aunty Lula.

Through most of the chatter, Ali had stayed quiet with Tucker on her lap. Her father and paternal grandparents were by her sides. But when her aunts and uncles began discussing traditional mummification, Ali lost it. An intense anger took over and she screamed about barbaric traditions and had to be subdued by her little brother’s upset form, pulling on her hand. In the end they settled for allowing the magical spells to be cast over her casket and to burying Kanika with the specific grave goods required, in the family tomb.

Weeks went by and the family member’s visits began to dwindle. Most of their nights were spent the same way. Christian would come in to find Ali and Tucker laying together on Ali’s bed and would curl up with them. When Tucker would fall asleep, they would talk about the strangest things. Tedious Ministry gossip. Nothing involving the war. Just things like Christian’s boss, Barty Crouch, going a little bit haywire with power. Then there was the magical family that lived down the road with the growing number of tiny redheaded children. They had just had a third. They would also quiz each other on famous animagus’ of the century. Any topic at all that didn’t require mentioning the gaping hole ripped into their lives.

Ali enjoyed pretending, for any possible amount of time, that her mother wasn’t gone. Pretending like she was just on a late shift made it easier. But the delusion never lasted long. It hurt the most when she would wake up in the morning with her father on one side and her brother on the other, and the missing part of their family wasn’t standing in the door way smiling at them.

Those were the mornings she would creep out of bed to go downstairs and cry. Because the only person she had to be angry with… was herself.

When she finally decided to come back to school over a month later, she was lost. She didn’t feel like reading. She didn’t feel like learning or doing any of her homework. She didn’t want to see anyone. Sirius had written to her over and over asking how she was and giving her kind words. She eventually stopped reading his messages. Everything seemed to be painted in shades of grey. It felt like her heart was barely beating and she had herself to blame.

So when she got back to school, already missing her little brothers grip on her clothing, she seemed undeniably filled with hot, burning rage. But in the same breath she was tired and wanted nothing more than for the school year to end so she could sleep for the entire summer. It was very confusing. When she walked inside her dorm she noticed three of the four girls were present. The least desirable three.

‘Hey, Adams.’ Bianca gave her a weak smile. Ali didn’t respond. Her blank expression spoke legions for her and so she just moved on hoping that was a one off, and that these girls at least would go back to ignoring her.

She put Snowball down with a collection of other bits and pieces, and stashed away her mother’s last letter in her bedside draw. She took out her wand and cast the colloportus spell non-verbally. She looked back at her dorm mates. Maria was frozen, cleaning her glasses, staring at Ali. Bianca was standing in front of her bed, staring at Ali. And Anna was midway through pulling her brush through her hair, would you believe it, staring at Ali.

Ali huffed a sigh and made to leave the room. She heard scuffling and when she turned around at the stairs, all the girls were following her. She tried to ignore it but as she got to the bottom most staircase, Anna called out her name.

‘Wait! Adams.’ Anna got to the last step and Ali spared a glance around to see everyone in the common room. She just had to pick a Sunday night to return.

‘What do you want, Cox?’ Ali spat out glaring at her. She could see Lily’s flaming red hair emerging at the base of the boys’ stairs and soon after it came every mop of hair belonging to the seventh year delinquents she had come to call friends.

‘I just… I wanted to-’ Anna was looking around, and stepped in closer to Ali. Bianca and Maria stayed on the stairs, watching on. ‘I wanted to say, I’m sorry.’

Ali felt something suddenly snap in her head. How many times would she have to hear the word sorry? She drew in a deep, loud breath as she stared at Anna. She felt a twitch pull around her mouth. Her breathing became laboured before she opened her mouth to reply.

‘You’re sorry?’ The words had quite literally lost all meaning to her, ‘You’re sorry. Sorry?’ Anna had taken a slight step back. Ali hadn’t even realised she was advancing.

‘What are you sorry for, Anna? Please. Elaborate.’ Ali was trying her upmost to calm her breathing, but she couldn’t quell the intensity of her emotions. She was almost shaking.

‘Uh- I’m- Uh- just sorry. I’m just sorry.’ Anna stuttered.

‘Sorry? You’re sorry. Well fucking congratulations, Anna. You’re sorry! You’re fucking sorry! Look at that. What are you sorry for, Anna? What are you fucking sorry for, Anna? Are you sorry for being a pompous fucking bitch to me for the last six years? Are you sorry for the countless times I’ve had to console first years, crying in the girls bathrooms, because you told them they were fat or ugly? Are you sorry about that?

               ‘Are you sorry for putting frog spawn in my sheets in third year because Adam King asked me to Hogsmeade instead of you? What about back in second year when you made Bianca cut her hair short because you two looked too alike and you had to be the prettier one? Are you sorry for that!? What about the time you accused me of being a lesbian because I told you to leave Lily Evans alone, because you couldn’t handle the fact that James Potter liked her over you? ARE YOU SORRY FOR THAT!?’ Ali raised her hands and smacked them into Anna’s shoulders, causing her to wack up against the wall behind her.

‘Ali!’ Someone called behind her but she wasn’t done.

‘What about the time you were laughing at me on the platform because my mother was yelling at me!’ Tears started to form in her eyes now and the people speaking behind her stopped, ‘are you sorry for that? Are you sorry for making me scream at my mother? Are you sorry for telling half the school even my mother had to watch out for me, because I was out of control? Are you fucking sorry for that!?’ Ali watched on as Anna fumbled over broken parts of words as her tongue got tied over and over again. She was so angry. This girl, this stupid girl, had been the reason she had turned around to her mother and screamed at her. This stupid girls merciless laughter had be the cause of that fight. It was the reason Ali’s last words to Kanika had been telling her she was a bad mother.

She actually heard something snap this time and before she knew it she was on top of her pathetic dorm mate’s chest pulling at her hair and slapping her in the face while tears streamed down her cheeks.

It didn’t take long before someone was pulling her off and by the time she was on the other side of the room, the entire common room was in heated chatter all around them.

‘Adams, what’s gotten into you?’ James’s voice came from her left but when she wiped her eyes, the first person that swam into her recovering vision was Sirius. His hands were still firmly around her arms from where he had pulled her off Anna and over to an unoccupied nook. His face was concerned. His pale eyes were lit up with worry. His skin looked like powdered snow. He was staring directly into her very soul.

Ali’s subsiding heart rate picked right back up again after registering their closeness. She hadn’t seen his face in over a month. Well, she hadn’t seen his face in person that is. She quickly averted her eyes and looked down at their feet. She had a black pair of shoes on, but Sirius’s feet were bare where his pyjama bottoms covered his ankles. That’s when she realised, as her eyes wandered up, his top half was also uncovered. She quickly forced her gaze to return to the floor.

Everyone was talking around her. After the last month, Ali had learnt to completely tune people out. It was probably a trait she had been developing since her first year at Hogwarts, but she had certainly perfected it now.

‘Can you all just shut up?’ Sirius’s voice. She felt her breath catch a little. She’d forgotten the tone he could take when he was being serious. His voice got deeper. It made her cheeks flush as she kept her attention on the floor. She wanted to hit herself. How could she be feeling like this? It wasn’t okay.

‘That brat had it coming.’ Lily said beyond James.

‘That brat is a student, Lily. Have you forgotten you’re Head Girl?’ James responded. Ali was barely listening.

‘Ali’s a prefect. She could get in trouble for that, Lily.’ Remus chastised, ‘someone go and talk to the brat and make sure she’s not going to go to McGonagall.’

‘I’ll go!’ Peter offered. As they all spoke around her, the rage within her started to ebb. Her breathing evened out and she shut her eyes, just listening. Lily was standing up for her while Remus and James seemed to be the voices of reason. Peter had disappeared and Marlene’s voice could now be heard.

‘Adams, all I can say is, right on.’

‘Marlene.’ Remus warned. Ali ignored them. She ignored them directly but allowed their chatter to fill her head and cast away her inner turmoil.

Then she felt Sirius’s grip on her arms tighten and she winced a little, forgetting she was still being held prisoner.

‘Ali?’

‘Don’t.’ Ali stopped him, opening her eyes. Everyone else around them stopped now and settled for listening to her words. She swallowed. ‘Just- don’t.’ She stared into his pale eyes and saw the look. That look. The look of concern. The look of pained sympathy. She hated that look.

She pulled out from Sirius’s grip and walked away from all of them. She bypassed Peter, talking to Anna and the other two, and didn’t bother to apologise. She blocked out every obstacle and made her way up the stairs, in through the door way and over to her bed. Snowball was curled up already. She didn’t even bother changing. She just kicked off her shoes and closed her curtains around her bed before shutting her eyes and praying that tonight she would dream of a simpler time.

*

‘You’ve been doing a very good job of it.’ Ali said, a week on, in potions class.

‘Of what?’ Regulus asked. He had reclaimed his old seat beside her and his eyes were not moving from his notes.

‘Avoiding me.’ Ali said easily. Since her mother passed, she felt different. She felt less inclined to keeping her thoughts to herself. And less inclined to care about the consequences.

‘Who said I was avoiding you? Maybe I just thought you didn’t need the help anymore?’ Regulus offered, still not bothering to capture her gaze.

‘And what? Now I do?’ Ali was ready to fight him based on his reply. She found comfort in arguments with people since she had come back to school. She couldn’t explain it. But picking fights and arguing with people was taking her mind off the arguments going on in her head.

‘No.’ Regulus answered, and turned to lock his eyes on her own, ‘But I believe the other students need help avoiding you. And I am a prefect, after all.’ He grinned at her, then went back to his work. For the first time in over a month Ali was speechless.

When Regulus had sat down next to her again, she’d wondered if it was for the same reason as last time. Last time he had told her he’d taken up a spot beside her because she looked like she needed it. It had helped him out, too. But it was for her benefit. When he’d sat beside her this time, she thought it might have been in regards to her recent fall outs with, now, three other students.

She wasn’t sure what had gotten into her. But she was just so filled with rage so many of the things she used to chastise people for, she was doing without a second thought.

Time and time again, students had approached her with their condolences. She had hexed two and kicked the third out of the chair beside her in transfiguration class. That one happened to be Dirk Creswell. And boy it made her feel good. McGonagall had looked incredibly strange that day. Her expression had all but screamed ‘justice!’. But then she had just put a hand on Ali’s shoulder and told her not to do it again.

She hadn’t gotten in trouble for the boils she cast on one student, or the body-binding curse she cast on the other. She just couldn’t hear, one more time, the words “I’m so sorry for your loss”. So now when students approached her, she was making examples of them. She hoped it would make them all stop looking at her. She just wanted to go back to being invisible. She didn’t want to be the student being gawked at for dating Sirius Black. She wanted even less to be the student being gawked at because her mother was dead.

So when Regulus Black grinned at her, and cracked a joke- well it was a nice change. She worked for the rest of the class beside him without as much as a word spoken between them. When the bell rang Ali looked over at Regulus and he looked back at her.

‘Change becomes you, Adams.’ He smiled at her again.

‘Well, you’re just as ugly as ever.’ Ali shrugged and gave him a rather nonchalant expression. Regulus actually laughed.

‘This new side of you is charming.’ Regulus gathered up his things, and packed them into his bag. He leaned in to Ali as she made to walk by him on her way to the door, ‘And you shouldn’t lie, Adams. I have it on good authority that you seem to admire Black family traits. Very much so.’

A sour look appeared on Ali’s face as Regulus laughed at his well delivered taunt. He left the room before her, following his group of friends. As much as she wanted to punch him, she was still happy that he wasn’t tip-toeing around her like so many others.

Since her handful of run in’s with other students, people in the halls started parting a way for her. She made her way up from potions class and her sixth year peers quite literally kept their distance. She looked towards the great hall and decided against it. She’d been trying to avoid the seventh years all week. One of them in particular. So instead she climbed her way up to the third floor and stood out the front of the library entrance.

It had been a while since she’d hid in these walls. She made her way inside and when she came across Madam Pince, the librarian looked up at her with a frown.

‘Evening, dear.’ She nodded to her. Ali nodded back and kept going. It wasn’t as bad as the ‘sorry’ remarks. But the look she gave her was the same and the rest. Everyone pitied Ali. Poor Ali, she lost her mother. Poor Ali.

‘No.’ She spoke aloud to herself, lost in her own thoughts again, as her eyes started to water.

‘No?’ Someone replied and Ali jumped back, startled.

Sirius was sitting at her table, alone. Ali just stared at him for a moment. She turned around, fully ready to leave the premises, hoping that that would work. But Sirius was getting wiser to her tactics now and had a hand around her wrist before she could take more than two steps.

‘Ali.’ He started.

‘No.’ Ali refused to look at him.

Ali.’ He took on a more demanding tone. It was a step up from the previous one. But it still wasn’t what she wanted to hear.

‘No!’ She tried to yank her hand away, but Sirius was clearly getting fed up with the lack of communication. She had managed to avert him for a week at school. She had ignored him for a month while he had written to her over and over. She just couldn’t deal with this.

‘Ali! Talk to me!’ He snapped.

‘No!’ She ripped her wrist from his grasp and strode hotly from the library in search of silent, apathetic sanctuary.

*

A couple of nights later, Ali was standing at the portrait hole exit waiting on James and Lily. They were arguing over whether or not to allow Ali to take over Lily’s shift for rounds.

‘Acting like she’s too fragile for daily activities isn’t helping anyone.’ James’s heated whispers reached over to Ali’s ears.

‘James, she’s not ready for it.’

‘And I say she is. Just take this chance to study more for your NEWT’s. That’s why she’s doing it. Just accept the courtesy.’ James argued. For a moment the two just stared at each other, before Lily huffed a breath and shooed him away. Refusing to leave her on any kind of bad terms though, he snatched her hand up and pulled her into a kiss, before he dodged her retaliation and ran over to Ali with a smile.

‘Come on.’ He said, pushing her through the portrait hole and out into the corridor.

‘Thanks.’ Ali said, happy that she had some kind of duty to fill her time. While she had currently lost her vigour towards reading textbooks, she was going crazy with her thoughts.

‘For pulling you into having to patrol the halls? Oh you’re welcome. Don’t mention it.’ James winked at her and started to laugh.

‘You know what I mean.’ Ali insinuated and she pushed him as they walked along.

James nodded a reply as he pulled her into a hug, ‘I know.’

Ali only tensed up slightly from the contact, but they walked along in silence for a while, on their way to the grand staircase. Ali felt a harsh pang in her heart from the kindness James was bestowing on her, yet again. She didn’t deserve it.

‘Adams-’ James started, sounding strained, ‘I know you’re going through a world of pain. And I’m here for you, whatever you need. Things to keep you occupied. Not treating you like a wounded hippogriff. I’m on board.’ James stopped her at the staircase and looked her in the eye.

‘But-’ He took a deep breath, ‘what the hell are you doing with Sirius? He’s going mad. I can’t keep lying to him and saying you need space. This-’ he indicated back and forth between them ‘-shows me you can handle talking. You need to talk to him.’

Ali stared back at James. She knew he was right. It was so refreshing to have someone stand before her, telling it to her straight. She sighed. She had seen Sirius here and there and he looked terrible. It wasn’t her intention to hurt him. Far from it. She was just so angry with herself, she was even keeping her contact with James to a minimum. But he seemed to take personal boundaries about as well as his regard towards school rules. Sirius on the other hand was a little more polite.

Thinking about the reason she was avoiding Sirius made her guilt levels rise towards James also. She nodded to him, to show him she agreed. Her words were currently lost to her.

‘You’re okay.’ Instead of questioning her, he seemed to be informing her of her own state of being. His hands came up to close over her ears and he pulled her closer to place a kiss to her forehead. After that he left her alone, and descended the stairs to start his rounds.

When did James Potter get so wise?

She headed off down the stairs after regaining her thoughts. It wasn’t more than twenty minutes into her rounds down in the dungeons that she heard a scuffle in progress. She crept up to the corner and peered her head around to see what was happening.

‘You’ll hear about this Black!’ Mulciber bellowed over to Sirius from where he stood further down the dank corridor.

‘Oh, will I?’ Sirius sounded confident, and boastful. For a moment Ali forgot what year it was, and was reminded of all the times she had found Sirius Black at the back end of some kind of rule breaking or duels in the corridors, with every and any house occupant.

‘You won’t have the protection of this school forever.’ Wilkes hissed. For some reason Ali wanted to watch this particular argument play out. So she kept herself hidden.

‘Yeah, neither will you.’ Sirius spat with a grin. That grin. It was the same grin he had given her the night they had caught Bulstrode out for stealing polyjuice potion and making out with Anna Cox in Sirius’s form.

‘You better go to Madam Pomfrey before his head gets any bigger.’ Sirius finished and that’s when Ali noticed Avery nursing his engorged head. Wilkes and Mulciber both helped him as they turned towards the spot Ali was hiding and came towards her. She quickly pushed herself up against the wall and the dumb brutes ran straight passed her.

Once they were up the stairs and out of sight she peered back around the corridor and heard muffled weeping.

‘Hey, it’s okay. They’re gone.’ She heard Sirius say. He was knelt down by a tiny Hufflepuff first year, ‘you’ll remember that spell, yeah?’ Sirius asked him.

The little boy nodded, rubbing his forearm.

‘Is your arm okay?’ Sirius asked, examining it. The little boy just nodded again. ‘You better make a run for it then. Rounds have already started, you don’t want to get caught out of bed. The prefects around here are ruthless.’

The little boy uttered a fumbled mess of thank you’s and such before heading off towards where Ali was, still tucked away, watching. When he came around the corner, he noticed Ali and froze. She brought a finger up to her lips to keep him silent then smiled at him. His grin back was so wide, he seemed to forget he was still nursing his arm.

As he nodded and made his way off in the direction of the kitchens and out of sight, Ali turned back to see what Sirius was doing. Instead of spying on him though, she came face to face with his piercing eyes and swallowed.

‘Detention?’ Sirius asked, looking her up and down.

‘No.’ Ali shook her head, and made to turn around to leave.

‘Hey!’ Sirius demanded, coming into step with her and striding to keep up, ‘Ali!’ he was certainly sounding less and less tolerant of her unexplained emotions.

‘Sirius, I can’t.’ Ali felt a knot catch in her throat.

‘You can’t what?’ Sirius asked, pulling her to a stop in the entrance hall. ‘What, Ali? What can’t you do? You need to give me something here. Because if it’s you can’t handle me right now, that’s fine. I can wait. But if it’s you can’t do “this” anymore,’ he gestured between them, ‘then I need to know, so I can leave you alone.’ Something in his voice cracked and he suddenly looked away.

‘Sirius…’ Ali watched him as he kept his focus directed anywhere but on her. She wanted to reach out and touch him so badly. She wanted to hug him like they used to. But she refused to allow herself such a comfort when she felt she didn’t deserve it. But her resolve was cracking. And the innocent way Sirius had his fists balled up by his sides at the moment… she wasn’t sure how much longer she would last.

‘I’m sorry about your mum, Ali.’ Sirius looked up at her finally, ‘I am-’

‘No.’ Ali breathed out. Why did he have to ruin it? She took a step back. ‘Stop it. Just- just stop it.’

‘Stop what? What have I done?’ Sirius grabbed her wrist again instinctively even though she hadn’t yet begun her retreat, ‘Can you please just talk to me? I can’t stand you avoiding me and turning me away.’ Sirius’s voice held so much pain it made Ali’s eyes sting.

‘Stop saying sorry.’ She said as tears brimmed on her eyelids.

‘But-’

‘No. Why are you sorry? Why? Why do I deserve a sorry?’ Ali pleaded, staring across at him in the dimly lit entrance hall as a suit of armour shut its helmet of its own accord.

‘I don’t know, Ali. It’s just what you say.’ He shrugged seeming confused.

‘Well it’s stupid.’ Ali tried to wipe her eyes, ‘I don’t deserve a sorry. I don’t deserve a sorry!’ She reiterated in just over a whisper, as her emotions started to affect her voice. For a while there was a silence around them. She had been trying so hard to avoid this. ‘I blamed you.’ She admitted, looking back up at him. Sirius just blinked at her. He was undeniably confused now.

‘I actually tried to blame you. And Potter. And that stupid cow, Anna Cox. I blamed everyone. Anyone.’ She explained, now unable to stop. As the words spewed from her mouth, so did the tears from her eyes.  She averted his gaze again feeling so guilt ridden. ‘I tried to blame Anna Cox for being the reason I was so embarrassed with- with her! I screamed at her on the platform! And I tried to blame that on Cox. Then I tried to blame Potter! I tried to make out like if I hadn’t stayed for his birthday, I would have gone home to be with her! Maybe then she’d be alive. I tried to blame James! He’s been so good to me. I can’t even look at him Sirius.’ She was trembling as she shut her eyes trying to ignore what was happening. She had done her best to ignore these overpowering emotions for so long.

‘And you.’ She opened her eyes to look back at him, ‘I tried to blame you, too. If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have had the argument with her. I would have gone home for the holidays. I might still have my- my-’ her words failed her.

‘Ali.’ Sirius’s voice was kind.

‘No.’ Ali warned him quietly, but powerfully, ‘I don’t want your sympathy.’ Ali pushed a hand up to wipe her eyes with the sleeve of her school jumper, ‘the only person that deserves any blame is me.’ She finally admitted aloud. These thoughts had been plaguing her for weeks now. All the sorry’s. All the sad faces. She didn’t deserve sympathy. She deserved disgust and repugnance. ‘The only person I have to blame for everything that’s happened, is me!’

               ‘So no, I don’t want to hear one more fucking sorry. Even if it is what you fucking say.’

Sirius had been awfully quiet.

‘Why do you deserve the blame?’ He asked, setting her wrist free only to softly take her hand. They heard Peeves clattering down the staircase and so Sirius pulled her from the hall over to a more secluded corridor. ‘Why would you deserve any blame?’ Sirius asked again, as genuine as was possible.

‘Me. My-’ Ali choked a little on her words as Sirius ushered her up against a corridor wall. Her back met with the stone and she proceeded to slide down to her knees, ‘-my lasts words to her-’ Ali looked up at Sirius desperately. Her eyes flickered back and forth between his crystal clear, sympathetic ones.

‘I don’t deserve any sympathy, because my last words to my m-mother,’ she had to swallow the pain in her throat before she could continue, ‘were that she was a bad one! I was too proud to apologise in time! I didn’t go home because I was stubborn! What if- what if I had gone home?’ She whispered desperately, clinging to the front of Sirius’s robes now.

‘What if I was at home, and for some reason she stayed home with me that night. What if that was the difference between her living and d-’ Ali froze. She was in too much pain to continue. Tears were streaming from her eyes. She was a mess. She hadn’t let herself crumple like this back at home. Discussions about little redheaded boys running around the neighbourhood were more important. But for some reason… for some reason it was all coming out now.

‘Ali,’ Sirius reached up and cupped both his hands around her face, releasing the grip he had taken on her shoulders when he had knelt down before her. He dragged each of his thumbs over her cheeks as she kept her eyes shut tight, ‘what if you went home and she still died? What if you sent that letter long before, and she still died? What if you never dated me, but your mum still died?’ he asked.

Ali was still choking on her sobs, but she slowly opened her eyes as he continued to wipe away her falling tears.

‘You can plague yourself with “what ifs” until the bicorns come home, Ali. It doesn’t change the fact that a terrible thing happened. Your mum died. And it hurts enough already having lost her. Do you really deserve beating yourself up over it, too?’

A silence rang around them as they stared at one another.

‘I should have apologised sooner.’ Ali looked away feeling an intense pain penetrating her chest at the nagging thought that had been in the back of her head since Dumbledore had said “it’s your mother”.

Sirius tightened his grip on her face and pulled her chin back up so she was looking at him. The laboured breathing due to her crying could be heard all the way down into the entrance hall.

‘Ali your mum loved you. She adored you. And the last thing you want is the people you love to be in this kind of pain.’ He explained, ‘Of course you’re going to hurt for a while. She was your mum. But if I can vouch for her, she would not want you kicking yourself over “what ifs”. You don’t want the people you love to suffer.’

Sirius glided a thumb over her cheek, catching more tears. He stared at her strangely for a moment, taking in every inch of her face. Suddenly he smiled at her and leant forward to place a chaste kiss on her cheek where another trail of tears were escaping.

When he pulled back, and Ali could see the glistening, salty remnants on his lips she broke. She completely let go of any attempt to hold back her emotions and cried loudly and grabbed a hold or his robes. She pulled him down into her arms and dug her nails into his back. For a moment Sirius seemed shocked as she pushed up onto her knees and pressed her body into his. Just for a moment.

It didn’t take him long to close his arms around her and bury his face in the nook of her neck, allowing her to continue crying. He didn’t let go of her until she pushed away from him to get a better look at his face.

‘And this-’ Ali spluttered, motioning between them, ‘makes me the guiltiest of all.’ She stared at him desperately. He just looked back, confused again.

‘My mum is gone. My beautiful mum, she’s gone. I can’t wrap my head around it. Sometimes I forget, you know? I forget she’s not here anymore. How are you just supposed to settle into that? For sixteen years she’s always just been there. Was there. And now she’s gone…’ Ali slid her hands over Sirius’s shoulders and down to rest on his ticeps.

‘But instead of thinking constantly about how incredibly fucked up this is. All I can fucking think about is you.’ She admitted staring directly at him. Sirius’s eyes suddenly opened a lot wider. His hair was shorter than usual and fell in the most perfect way around his face. That face she couldn’t get out of her mind.

‘I’m supposed to be in such intense pain. Everyone keeps telling me. And I am. Fuck I am. But when I’m trying to hold it together around Tucker. Or when I need to stop myself from crying. I just think of you.

‘You and your stupid hair. And your rule breaking. And the time you thanked me for letting you off detention early.’ Her breath was still hitched, but her tears were now drying, ‘I think about you, coming down to breakfast early just because you wanted to see me. I think about you in the hospital wing, finding me touching your chest. I think about you all the time!’ Ali suddenly slammed her little fists down onto Sirius chest in her anger as more tears formed in her eyes.

‘I’m supposed to be sad. I am sad. But I should be consumed by it. I said such horrible things to my mum… my mum that I will never see again. And I should be consumed by that. And every time I start to focus on it- I break away by thinking of you. I- you- you’re just always there.’

‘Ali-’

‘Iloveyou.’ It was rushed and choked out through half a sob but she managed to look directly into his eyes as she said it. There was a silence between them for a moment as she held her fists against his chest and the words slowly sunk into his mind. They stared back at one another and when Sirius went to open his mouth, Ali beat him to it.

‘Don’t!’ She demanded, ‘don’t say anything back. If you say anything back- I’m just going to think it’s because my mother died. And I won’t accept that. But- I just- I needed to say that. I don’t even know if I mean it- I’m sixteen. My mother just died. But I can’t stop thinking about you. And the way you make me feel. I spent so many years wandering around this school, empty. And I-’ she screwed her face up, ‘-I feel whole with you. It feels right being beside you.’

She suddenly slapped a hand up over his mouth and shook her head, ‘Far out I sound pathetic.’

Sirius reached up and pulled her hand away from his mouth and without speaking, leant over and placed a kiss to her lips. As he pulled back, he wiped the remains of tears away from her face and stood up.

He offered a hand down to her, and pulled her up to her feet.

‘You’re not pathetic.’ Sirius’s words were calm. A vast change from the beginning of their conversation. ‘I think Prongs can handle rounds with just the other house prefects. You’ve already caught one idiot out of bed.’

Without an explanation, he led her from the corridor back out into the entrance hall to where Peeves was bouncing around, off the banisters. Sirius made some kind of gesture to him, and the poltergeist stared at them for a moment, before going back to what he was doing. They climbed the stairs in silence and when they re-entered the common room, there were still a lot of people around.

Sirius directed her right by them and their sympathetic stares and over towards the boys stairs. Ali didn’t argue, and when they got into the boys dorm, Remus and Peter didn’t question their arrival so much as they looked back at each other with a smile.

Sirius threw his blankets and pillows back onto his bed, directed Ali to sit on the bed, then pulled the curtains around before sitting down with her. Silently he got comfortable while Ali watched, then pat his chest, indicating for her to lie down on him. Ali was hesitant for just a moment before she joined him. Once she felt safe, her tears started to fall again. But Sirius just hugged her, and continuously placed kisses on her face, any place he could reach.


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