“I ran away...when I was sixteen.”
“Where did you go?”
-Sirius Black and Harry Potter, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (movie)
Maya’s 5th year, the Marauders’ 6th Year
A few weeks into the summer, James was awoken by the sound of someone calling his name; a low and desperate sound. James peered into the dark, confused, before he thought to look inside of his school trunk. There, he found the two-way mirror he had given Sirius a few years before. A few minutes later, James ran out of the house, broomstick in hand. The next morning, Mr. And Mrs. Potter welcomed Sirius Black into their home without a question asked.
That was why, come September, James and Sirius arrived at King’s Cross together, where they were joined in their compartment by Maya, Remus, and Peter. That journey was the most subdued they’d had on the train. Remus had a copy of that morning’s Daily Prophet and Maya was reading it over his shoulder. Peter gazed out the window with a worried expression and James and Sirius’ conversation was about serious things – such as the classes they would need to take to become aurors.
“Deaths and Disappearances,” Remus read aloud. He looked up. “Should I read them to you?” Peter swallowed nervously while James and Sirius exchanged glances.
James nodded. “Go ahead.”
Remus opened his mouth, but was cut off by Maya letting out a strangled noise, leaping to her feet, and running out of the compartment.
“What the...” Peter began. But suddenly Remus was rushing after her, and James snatched the newspaper.
“Who is it?” Sirius demanded.
“Thomas O’Rielly,” read James.
“Maya’s friend?” Asked Peter in a chocked whisper.
“Or his father,” said James grimly. Sirius got up and went after the other two. James almost followed, but some inner instinct told him that two people rushing after Maya was more than enough, so instead he turned to the first page and began to read. His stomach tightened as he read a headline, “Lestrange’s Make Ministry’s of Magic’s Most Wanted List.” James scowled darkly at the picture of Sirius’ cousin looking up at him with a maniac look. Thank God that Sirius didn’t end up like them, James thought. He couldn’t even imagine life without his best friend.
Maya raced through the crowded hall of the Hogwarts Express, her throat tight. She hadn’t thought to look for Thomas on the platform earlier, if he wasn’t here...Maya didn’t know what she would do. She was so used to Christy and Thomas sitting beside her in class...she loved them both...if anything had happened. The war had never felt more real.
There. In a compartment, Maya saw Christy and the other girls in her year...but there was no sign of Thomas. Maya burst through the door, cutting short all conversation and Christy leapt to her feet in alarm. “Maya? What...?”
“Thomas is on the missing list,” Maya panted. “Have you seen him?”
Christy’s eyes grew huge and she shook her head wordlessly. The two girls ran back out into the corridor, each looking into compartments. There was no sign of him...Maya was starting to despair and Christy had started to sob when, finally, in the very last compartment…Thomas was leaning against the wall of the compartment where the window and the seat back made a corner, his eyes glassy. His thirteen-year-old sister, Megan – usually so lively – was curled on his lap, crying. At the sound of their footsteps, both of the O’Rielly’s looked up. For a moment, the four were frozen that way, just looking. Then Christy ran into Thomas’ arms as Maya scooped up his little sister.
“Mum...” Thomas said in a muffled voice into Christy’s hair. “She made us catch the train...said he would have wanted us to go...even though...haven’t seen or heard anything in three days...”
Megan was sobbing into Maya’s shoulder and the older girl stroked her hair. Remus and Sirius both appeared in the hallway and, with barely a glance between them, closed the door and kept the other curious students that were reading the Prophet away.
Later, Sirius and James were talking right outside the Great Hall. There was an effect Hogwarts had that, despite the gloomy trip there, both boys were grinning. Remus was off doing prefect duties, Peter was who-knows-where and Maya was with Thomas. The two sixth years had slipped into the easy dynamic of planning Quidditch Try-outs – James had been made Captain – and discussing Professor Slughorn’s choice of attire – a strange punce-colored suit. It was almost normal. Almost.
Regulus was approaching the Great Hall, anger and betrayal a hot, knotted ball in his chest. And then, the sight of James and Sirius laughing and talking like brothers. He couldn’t stand it. Regulus ran and shoved Sirius – who has several pounds on him – into the wall. “Traitor!” Regulus voice rang through the hall.
Sirius shot James an, ”I’ll handle this look” and told Regulus, “Whatever our parents told you is a lie.”
“Is it a lie that you ran away?” Regulus spat, his hands clenched into fists. “Is it a lie that you turned your back on our family? That you decided we’re worth nothing to you?”
“Reg...” Sirius swallowed hard. Regulus didn’t know. He hadn’t been home when it happened.
“Answer the question?!” Regulus shouted. A crowd had begun to form.
“I won’t deny that I never want to set foot in that house again,” Sirius growled. “But you need to understand...”
“No!” Regulus stepped closer, and Sirius found his hand instinctively reaching for his wand. “You need to understand! Our family has survived hundreds of generations! Thousands of people! We trace our line back to the beginnings of magic, we survived the Dark Ages! How can you turn your back on that much history? You’re the first-born son, dammit! How the hell can you do this?”
“Maybe our family was great once but...” Sirius tried again.
“It’s still great!” Regulus counteracted.
Sirius scoffed. “You really believe that?”
“It would be if you weren’t such a blood-traitor!”
Regulus accusation rang in the silent hall. The crowd shifted uncomfortably. James had his wand in his hand and he was watching a gleeful Avery with disdain.
Sirius’ eyes flashed, his own temper boiling. “Now who’s the liar?” Sirius hissed.
“You’re abandoning everything magic stands for...”
“Having magic doesn’t mean you can do whatever the hell you want!” Sirius shouted back.
“It’s our responsibility to...” Regulus’ shouts were just as passionate but Sirius cut him off.
Regulus fell silent, his eyes burning. Sirius took a deep breath and said much quieter. “No. I won’t do this with you. Not now; not here.”
“So you’re also a coward,” Regulus sneered.
“Insult me all you want,” Sirius snapped. “But you’re my little brother and I’m going to protect you for as long as I’m alive. Even if you don’t...”
“I hope you die, then!” Regulus shouted. “At least then I’ll get the bloody house!”
“I hope you die.”
words felt like a knife in Maya’s gut. With those four words she felt something
delicate that had held her friendship with Reg snap. Just like Severus had
slipped away from both her and Lily, Regulus had decided to join the dark side
of his family’s recent past. But if that was how Maya felt,
Regulus’ words tore Sirius apart. The look of pain that flashed across his face
was so deep that Maya felt tears gather behind her eyes. But Regulus didn’t
notice. Anger still flames in his eyes, he stalked off into the Great Hall.
Professor McGonagall was suddenly there, shouting for the students to please sit down so that the sorting could begin. Sirius turned and fled up the stairs. Maya made as if to follow, but she stopped herself when she saw James already following his best friend. But suddenly Remus was there, putting a restraining hand on James’ arm.
“Just this time, Prongs,” Remus said quietly. “Let Midnight take care of it.” James nodded and Maya shot them both a grateful look before chasing after their friend.
Sirius had hidden in the first classroom he had found, curled with his back against the teacher’s desk.
“Padfoot?” Maya asked.
“Hi, Midnight,” he said softly. She sat beside him and leaned against his arm. She was always cat-like, even in human form. Sirius let his eyes drift close and his hand found his way to play with her hair.
“He didn’t mean it,” whispered Maya.
“He did,” said Sirius softly. He clenched his fist and let it fall against his leg. “I tried to keep them from getting to him...but here, in that damn House with Snape and Avery and them...”
“I know,” said Maya. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s not your fault,” Sirius said shakily. “It’s just...” He let his head fall against the desk. “He was the only thing worth saving. Now I have no family.”
“That’s not true,” Maya pulled
away from him and glared at him. “Listen to me, Sirius Black. You have us. We’re
Sirius looked at her a bit listlessly, his hair falling to half-cover his dark eyes.
“James is your brother,” Maya insisted. “And so are Remus and Peter. And I...”
“Don’t say you’re my sister, Maya,” said Sirius suddenly, his voice strained.
Maya went silent. She was suddenly aware of the pounding of her heart. “Why not?” She managed to say breathlessly.
“Cause then,” said Sirius, more serious than she had ever seen him. “This would be wrong.” And he leaned forward and captured her mouth in his.
And they’d been wanting to kiss for a long time now.