Much Ado About Hogwarts

Dress Rehearsal

‘Every Actor in his heart believes everything bad that’s printed about him’ – Orson Welles

0o0o0o0

Remus was confused. He’d only awoken in the Shrieking Shack a handful of times, usually when Madame Pomfrey had had a busy evening; she liked to have him back in the Hospital Wing by the time the main school was awake. He stared at the ceiling above him, feeling tiny prinks and scratches from the dusty floorboards beneath him.

And that was another thing… he was usually groggy and shaking with pain… but today, although he ached and his skin stung in places, it wasn’t that bad…

He stretched experimentally: unusually, his limbs responded willingly, with only the slightest protests… He hauled himself to his feet, gingerly testing his legs.

This was weird.

He wrapped a ragged blanket around himself, grateful that this would be one occasion when the faithful Matron of Hogwarts wouldn’t have to see him naked. Why was he in the hall of all places? He usually woke up in the splintered remains of what could have been a drawing room or a parlour…

His eyes traced the pattern of scratches and scores on the wall. He frowned; there were more in the area that he had gone to sleep than anywhere else, though as usual they were mending now, as Dumbledore had charmed them to…

He shook his head; the memories were there, and would surface when they wanted to, as they always did. He shuffled into the next room, shivering a little from the bitter cold outside, and sat on the long abandoned, stuffing-less chair that rested against the wall to wait for Madame Pomfrey.

There were things that he did remember about the previous evening; things that were making him blush even now. Whatever guilt he felt about taking from Sirius what he might feel was his he pushed to one side, deciding to dwell on the positive sides of the experience.

He remembered how warm she was, pressed up against him, and the look in her eyes as they stared at one another in the darkness. She loved him. If he had any reason to doubt it before, (which he hadn’t) he had none now. She loved him, and that was that. He smiled to himself, remembering the way her hair and skin had felt under his hands… the beautiful sounds she made… the way she smelled like home…

The way she smelled…

His head snapped up; he stared through the door at the spot where he’d woken up.

Eleanor.

0o0o0o0

Sirius hadn’t slept.

After hours of fuming he’d given up on the idea entirely and had simply got up again, pulled on some random clothes and went back into the Common Room. He’d thrown himself into the chair closest to the fire, feeling a strange sense of satisfaction from stealing Remus’s usual place, and sulked, waiting for the rest of the Tower to wake up.

It would be hours yet before Madame Pomfrey would release Remus and they could have their little heart-to-heart… he balled his hands into fists.

He’d been going over it again and again all night.

He hadn’t thought his quiet friend had it in him to be so cruel – even unintentionally.

Got that one wrong too, eh, Padfoot? he thought, savagely.

He glared at the fire.

He ought to have been watching more closely. Remus wouldn’t have made a move unless he’d been brooding on it for a while – it had taken him three years to pluck up the courage to talk to the pretty Ravenclaw he used to study with at the weekends… Which meant that Sirius had been completely oblivious to the usually bloody obvious signs… he wondered how long Remus had been mooning over her. From James and Peter’s expressions the evening before, he’d wager that it had been quite some time since she’d caught his eye.

He tried to remember times when Remus hadn’t been quite himself, which was difficult because Sirius hadn’t really been himself for more than a year… He’d been a little standoffish around Valentines Day, he recalled, but Sirius had thought that it was his reserved friend’s way of coping with publicly playacting all the way across Hogsmeade… And then there had been the way he’d acted at Christmas when she’d unwrapped the present Sirius had carefully found for her in one of the catalogues that Frank had been ordering camera supplies from… Or even the way he’d sulked his way through the Autumn Gala, nearly a year ago… when Sirius had asked Ellie to the ball and danced with her for most of the night… He’d rather lost track of things that night, given the proximity and willingness of Trixie, but he did remember seeing Moony prowling around the edge of the dance-floor looking ready to eat someone.

He hadn’t thought that it might be him.

He felt a stab of guilt… he hadn’t intended to hurt his friend…

But Remus had hurt Eleanor…

And after everything she’d gone through before the summer!

She’d trusted him then… enough to go straight to him after her attack…

And somehow he had betrayed that trust.

He bit back a growl, settling for aiming a kick at an innocent cushion. It flew across the room and hit the back of the Fat Lady’s portrait, dropping to the floor with a soft thud.

Remus picked it up as he walked in.

“Did it do you some personal injury?” he asked, quirking an eyebrow.

Sirius just stared at him. He looked just as exhausted as usual, but significantly more mobile; he was also a little twitchier than normal.

Remus stared back for a couple of seconds, then shrugged and turned away.

Guilty conscience, though Sirius, with grim satisfaction.

“You tell me,” Sirius snarled.

Remus, who had been making his way up to the dormitories, turned back to him in surprise.

“I beg your pardon?” he asked, gawping at his friend.

Sirius glared at him, gripping the arms of his chair.

“Where were you last night?”

Remus looked completely baffled, but he was beginning to get a little annoyed too, Sirius could tell. Well, let him, he thought, angrily.

“It was full moon, you tit, where do you think I was?”

Before that,” Sirius growled.

“In the Hospital Wing,” Remus answered, shortly. He was still frowning, but Sirius had caught the flash of something in his expression, meaning that his friend wasn’t telling him everything.

“And before that?”

“The same place you were!” Remus was controlling his expression carefully now, if Sirius hadn’t known him as well as he did he would never have spotted it.

“So!” spat Sirius, still managing to hang onto the chair and not floor the werewolf. “You weren’t off making Ellie cry her eyes out then? Or was that someone else?” He saw the shock and momentary panic before Remus could cover them up; it looked like he was doing some very quick thinking.

How could he be so callous?!

“I-”

But Sirius didn’t let him finish. He’d seen enough to know that Remus had indeed crossed a line with Eleanor, and that he didn’t care enough to be worried that everyone else knew it.

He launched himself out of the chair and across the room, getting the first few punches in before Remus had time to defend himself. He knocked his friend to the floor, expecting him to be weak from his transformation, but apparently Remus had recovered more quickly than usual. He threw Sirius off him, sending him flying into one of the big, squashy sofas and turning it over in the process.

Neither boy wasted any time, and by the time Sirius was on his feet and hurling hexes, Remus had charmed the stairs to the girls’ dormitories and vaulted up them, re-charming them as he reached the top and having to duck a particularly nasty knee-reversal jinx.

Sirius, not to be thwarted, hurled jinx after jinx at his former best friend, interspersed with a spattering of more mundane curses.

Remus blocked most of them, finally managing to get a silencing charm through the crackling barrage of magic.

0o0o0o0

The seventh year girls’ dormitory was roused by shouting and the unmistakeable crack and fizz of jinxes bouncing off their door.

The three of them were on their feet and had their wands out in seconds, at which point Eleanor promptly fell over, since her haste had tangled her legs up in the blankets from the night before.

Lily stuck her head around the side of the door and had to beat a hasty retreat as a rebounding hex smacked into the wood, inches from her face. She swore.

Alice managed to get fully out into the corridor before one of Sirius’s stray jinxes flew past her and she leaped out of the way, sending jinxes and blocking charms down the stairs. Remus, who had flung himself to the floor to avoid the worst of it, scrambled towards the open door and got behind it, helping Lily to keep up a counter-offensive. Even silenced, Sirius knew enough non-verbal spells to make life awkward.

It was Lily that got him, in the end. She hit him with a full body bind that span him around with its force and left him face down in the common room.

Alice pushed Remus further into their dormitory as Lily addressed the corridor at large – heads were popping out on all sides, tousle-headed girls staring blearily out at the commotion.

“It’s alright, ladies. Just Sirius-bloody-Black deciding we need to be woken up at gods-forsaken-o’clock in spectacular fashion this morning. Feel free to take your feelings out on him later…”

Eleanor, meanwhile, had managed to get untangled, though Alice was still sniggering at her.

“What the hell was that about?” asked Lily, closing the door behind her.

“Fuck if I know,” said Remus, probably more strongly than he’d intended.

Alice gave him a Look, then made him sit down on Eleanor’s bed.

“He just went mental and started hitting me,” he said, huffily, glancing at Eleanor, who bit her lip. This could be a problem.

“And you’re sure you have no idea what it was about?” asked Lily, hands on hips. Even in her pale pink pyjamas and still a little bleary with sleep she still made rather a terrifying figure.

Remus had the good grace to look shifty.

“He said… he said I’d upset Eleanor…” he turned, quickly. “I didn’t, did I?”

Eleanor gave him a weak grin that did absolutely nothing for his self-confidence.

“Let me heal those bruises,” she said, and got out the dittany, turning him to face her. Alice and Lily, recognising this as a couple-thing, busied themselves with making their beds and brushing their hair and finding bits of uniform.

He had a nasty welt forming on his right cheek and around his eye, and a deep cut on his lower lip was oozing blood.

“Why is it that whenever we leave you boys to your own devices someone ends up injured?” she muttered, brushing drops of dittany across his face.

“I didn’t upset you, did I?” he repeated, in a low voice.

Eleanor avoided his eyes.

“I did?”

“Stop moving about.”

He caught her hand as she went to heal his lip.

“Ellie…”

“You didn’t upset me,” she said. “Now, can you hold still so I can heal your lip?”

“Sirius said you were crying… after we,” he cocked his head. “You know…”

Eleanor sighed.

“I was…” She still wasn’t meeting his eyes, and it was really beginning to worry him.

“Was it… didn’t you want to –” he stammered, clearly in some distress. Was I that bad? he thought, miserably.

Lily, who had been eavesdropping, decided to intercede.

“She wanted to, you wanted to, stop panicking.”

“Lily!” admonished Eleanor, shocked; Remus went crimson.

“You told them?” he hissed, eyes wide.

“We made her,” said Lily, matter-of-factly. “She was sobbing all over the place.”

“She was? You were?” Remus looked as though he didn’t know who to gawp at first. Eleanor had turned a bright scarlet, clashing horribly with her lover’s face.

“And from what I hear, I should be taking points from you, young man,” Lily grinned, impishly; somewhere in the back of the room, Alice giggled.

Remus looked up at Lily in plain incredulity.

“I could be saying precisely the same thing to you, young lady,” he said, and Lily’s grin began to fade. “History of Magic corridor, around six o’clock?”

Lily’s mouth formed a perfect ‘o’; Alice dropped whatever it was she had been doing and hurried over.

That’s where you were? You were with James?” she looked rather like Christmas had come early.

Lily cleared her throat.

“I’m – er – going for a shower…” she said, grabbing her uniform.

“Wait for me!” cried Alice, gleefully, following her friend into the bathroom at high speed.

Eleanor’s eyes met his as the bathroom door slammed, and they both burst out laughing.

“Well that was effective,” he managed, calming down a little. “Did you have to tell them?” he asked, ruefully. He wasn’t annoyed as such, just a little surprised.

“They’re really rather persuasive… and as Lily said, I was quite upset.”

He frowned again, laying a hand on her arm.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“No, but I suspect I should…”

Remus winced; that really didn’t sound good.

“…can’t have you getting all paranoid on me, can I?” she smiled, though he noted that it didn’t quite meet her eyes. He waited for her to continue.

“Last night was…” she frowned, searching for the words. “Wonderful,” she said firmly. “And something I’d rather like to do again…”

He couldn’t help it, he started to grin, and she smiled back at him, properly this time.

“Definitely,” he said, and she chuckled.

“Yes… but last night was also full moon…”

“I – I didn’t hurt you, did I?” he asked, suddenly afraid. “I recall being quite…” he blushed harder. “Enthusiastic…”

“No – no, nothing like that… I…” she took a deep breath. “Enthusiastic is good… I just know how you are on full moon, and I should have been stronger – it was my responsibility to stop us doing anything potentially foolish, and I didn’t. I let you down.”

“No! No you didn’t – really,” he said. “Ok, so maybe we should have waited another week, but we’ve been fighting this for too long – you haven’t let anyone down – certainly not me!”

“Really? But –”

“No arguments, you’ve been nothing but lovely… a little infuriating at times,” he allowed, and she gave him a playful shove.

“It’s still probably the most interesting thing that’s ever happened in the History of Magic classroom.”

Remus snorted.

“I don’t know, James set fire to his desk in third year, to see if that would make any impression on Professor Binns.”

“Did it?”

“No, he didn’t even stop talking. A few people got singed though.”

Eleanor laughed.

“That sounds like James all right.”

He pulled her into his lap.

“I wish we could have stayed together all night,” she said, into his chest, helpfully reminding him of the other thing they really needed to talk about.

“Ellie,” he said, pushing her away gently. “You were outside the Shrieking Shack last night, weren’t you?”

“Yes,” she said, and it was her turn to look shifty.

“You can’t do that,” he said, urgently. “Ever. If I got out –”

“The walls are about four foot thick!” argued Eleanor. “With probably even more protective spells on them than the Chalet!”

“That’s not the point!” he continued, hotly.

I think it is! I heard you in there, and you stopped trying to break everything in sight and followed me around the Shack instead – you couldn’t get out, and there’s no way I could get in –”

Remus looked like he would very much like to disagree, but was prevented by the sudden arrival of Claire, who didn’t look remotely like his presence was much of a surprise. He shot Eleanor a suspicious glance as Claire yawned.

“Sorry,” she said. “It’s a bit early for me…”

“For all of us,” said Eleanor. “I take it you’ve heard about our new alarm clock then?”

The other girl nodded.

“I’ve been summoned to act as a mediator. Apparently Peter and James are quite worried…” she looked at the way they were sat. “I take it that whatever Sirius has been raging on about is a load of rubbish?”

“I think he got the wrong end of the stick…” said Eleanor.

“He pretty much just up and punched me,” said Remus, indicating his lip. The cut was beginning to stop bleeding now, and Eleanor took the opportunity to attack him with the dittany while he wasn’t paying attention.

“Ow!”

“Give it a moment or two…”

He huffed at her and Claire laughed.

“I’m going to assume that you two are still being foolishly secretive?” she asked, eyes sparkling.

“We were going to sort it all out after the Gala,” Remus mumbled, torn between embarrassment and annoyance.

“Right, then. I’ll go and talk to the boys – don’t worry about a thing!” she announced, and left.

“She’s chirpy of a morning,” Eleanor observed.

“How many people know about us? I mean, whatever we are…”

“I think now we’re sort of secret lovers,” Eleanor said, and laughed. “I’m living up to that Regency romance background again.”

“You didn’t answer the question,” Remus pointed out, smiling a little.

“Oh, well, Lily and Alice rumbled us at the start of the summer, and they told Claire… and I think Severus knows – or at least he knows we’d like to be…” she grimaced. “I did try not to tell them, but they’re –”

“Persistent, yes…”

“They know about Sirius, too.”

He looked at her, and broke out into a slow but brilliant smile.

“You know what? I really love that they know – we don’t have to pretend in front of them.”

He watched as Eleanor’s smile matched his and he held her tightly.

“I wish you’d let me stay outside the Shack,” she said, softly. “You’re so much better than usual this morning – hardly any scratches at all.”

Conceding that she had a point, he thought about how much trouble there would be if they boys came and let him out and she was out there. Even if he did keep more of his mind with them around…

“You have to promise me that you won’t do it again,” he said, gently. “I can’t stand the thought of hurting you – I mean, if I bit you…”

“Alright,” she said, sighing. “I promise. I just don’t like the thought of you being out there all alone.”

You have no idea, he thought.

“Remind me that there’s something important I need to tell you,” he said, into her hair. “After all of this mess is sorted out.”

0o0o0o0

Claire knocked on the door to the Gryffindor boys’ Common Room, smiling at the surprise of a huddle of first year boys, who hadn’t expected to see an invading Hufflepuff this side of breakfast.

Peter opened the door, looking worried, and hustled her inside. They’d tied Sirius to one of the bedposts to stop him leaping out and renewing his assault on the girls’ dormitory, and she couldn’t help but laugh at him. He gave her a murderous look.

“Well?” asked Peter. “What did they say?”

“Remus has no idea whatsoever what’s going on,” she said, eyeing Sirius, who had redoubled his efforts to escape at this announcement.

“Really?” asked James, hopefully.

“Really,” she confirmed. “And he’s a bit miffed at being randomly assaulted first thing in the morning – as are the girls, by the way,” she added, for Sirius’s benefit. “The ones I saw were looking fairly mutinous, I’d watch yourself.”

Sirius was, by now, purple with rage. Claire ignored him.

“And Eleanor?” asked Peter, frowning.

“She seems just as bewildered as everyone else,” she told them. “She’s healing Remus up as we speak.”

There was an uncomfortable silence in which no-one except Claire would look at Sirius. She watched in fascination as his complexion swiftly changed from puce to very pale cream.

“Did you actually speak to Remus before hitting him?” she asked, quietly.

The look of horror on Sirius’s face suggested that no, he hadn’t.

“So you decided, without asking anyone what was going on, that your best friend of six years had suddenly turned into some kind of ravening monster,” she paused. “Other than a werewolf - completely ignoring the past six years where I know as well as you he hasn’t so much as dreamed of hurting anyone, let alone being – how was it Peter put it? Sexually inappropriate? With one of his best friends?”

Sirius looked more and more wretched with every word; James was very wisely keeping out of it, while Peter stared at his girlfriend in unabashed admiration.

“You lurked in the Common Room until he came back from the Hospital Wing,” she continued. “The Hospital Wing! Where he usually stays until tea-time on days like this, given that his body has just torn itself to pieces and put itself back together twice in the one night! What were you thinking?!”

Claire seemed to be getting louder with each point she made, and all three of the boys were wincing each time. It was quite something to see the usually quiet Hufflepuff this angry, and Sirius was staring at her as if hypnotised.

“How dare you assume someone’s guilt? What gives you the right to just haul off and attack someone? Of all the stupid, arrogant, infuriating things you’ve ever done, Sirius, this one takes the sodding biscuit!” She pushed her long brown hair out of her eyes, angrily; he was still just sitting there and taking her tirade. Granted, he was still tied up, but he was also looking chastened and horrified. “I only hope for your sake that Remus can find it in him to forgive you,” she finished, and turned on her heel.

That ought to do it, she thought, as she headed back into the Common Room.

Peter caught up with her at the bottom of the stairs.

“Claire –”

“What?” she snarled, spinning around. Her face softened. “Sorry.”

“S’ok,” said Peter, once he’d fought the urge to flee. “I just wanted to say: that was magnificent!”

Claire blushed slightly, and Peter grinned.

“Really – me and James wouldn’t have been able to say it and he needed to hear it. He can be a real arse sometimes,” he admitted. “Thank you.”

Claire smiled and dimpled prettily, and Peter took the opportunity to steal a kiss.

“Eleanor’s alright, though?” he asked, as they broke apart.

“Yes, she’s fine,” Claire grinned. “I haven’t heard the full story yet, but I think it was probably just show nerves.” It was surprisingly easy to lie on someone else’s behalf, but it still gave her an uneasy feeling in her stomach. She decided that once all of this was done with she’d tell him everything.

“Claire…” Peter asked, frowning. “Do you know if Eleanor fancies… someone?”

The question caught her off-guard, but she could always claim not to know.

“Like who?”

“Oh, I don’t know… Sirius? Remus? Severus?”

Severus?” asked Claire, laughing. “Well I know she doesn’t fancy him… she keeps mentioning that he fancies someone and we keep trying to guess who.”

“Really? Any luck?”

“No.”

“Oh.”

“And I don’t know about the other two. I mean, she’s close to both of them, but I think she trusts Remus more…”

“So if she has to choose between them…”

“If she has to choose, she’ll go for Remus. If she has to choose. But why would she have to?”

Peter gave her a sideways look that told her that, contrary to popular belief, some of the boys had been paying attention.

“You have to have seen the way they act around her,” he said.

“Well, yes, but who’s to say she won’t choose someone else?” she asked, testing the water.

Peter looked at her oddly.

“You know, don’t you?”

Claire bit her lip. She couldn’t lie to him.

“You can’t tell anyone – even James – but I don’t think we’ll need to worry about anything after next Sunday.”

He gave her a Look, and she realised that James and Peter had been trying to prevent some kind of massive fallout for some time. Really, it was only fair that they had some warning; Eleanor would understand. Eventually.

“Except possibly Sirius,” she said, quietly.

Peter nodded.

“I won’t say anything. It’s just… I don’t think he’ll take it well.”

“No, neither do I.”

They looked at one another, both fervently glad that their romance had been much simpler.

“It’ll be alright,” said Peter, though he sounded a little bit like he was trying to convince himself.

0o0o0o0

“Where the hell is Sirius?” James asked the world at large. “We’ll be starting in ten minutes!”

He was struggling to get his costume boots on while still standing up – there were rather a lot of nervous young men trying to do the same and they were already taking up all the available sitting space.

“He wasn’t at dinner either,” said Frank, trying to make his beard look more dignified.

“Should we be worried?” asked Eleanor, passing out swords.

“I don’t know,” said James, frowning deeply. “I haven’t seen him like this since…” he glanced at Severus.

“Since he tried to make me into Remus’s dinner?” Severus asked, tersely. His stage nerves were kicking in and he was rapidly returning to his much surlier self.

Eleanor and Frank stared at him.

“He what?”

“Look, there’s no time to go into it now,” said Peter, who appeared to be acting as a natural mediator even off the stage. “Let’s talk about it tomorrow.”

Eleanor nodded, uncertainly. At least she knew why they hadn’t got on when she had arrived.

“There he is,” Frank said, frowning. “He looks awful.”

“So he should,” mumbled Remus, who had taken the morning’s fight very personally (and anyway, his jaw still really hurt).

“I’ll go,” said Eleanor, gathering up Sirius’s costume. She caught him by the arm and hustled him behind a screen. “You’re late,” she said, tersely. “No arguments. Clothes off.”

Sirius did as he was told, not meeting her eyes and barely looking around; he didn’t even make a lewd comment.

“No jokes either,” she added, but she needn’t have bothered. He had none of his usual bonhomie.

Once he had his boots on he stood completely still, as if he wasn’t really there; Eleanor had given him an evil goatee and wrapped a sword belt around his waist before he made any kind of move.

She watched his eyes follow someone – presumably Remus – wander past. He had dark circles under his eyes and his hair was a lot more tousled than she’d ever seen it.

“Sirius?”

He didn’t respond, and Eleanor decided that desperate measures were required. She ran her hands through his hair, making it much more presentable. He didn’t even flinch.

Really rather worried now, Eleanor took his arms and shook him firmly; that got his attention. His eyes slid to meet hers, and she saw how very unhappy he was.

“I know today has been rough –”

He gave a hollow laugh.

“But you have to get through this rehearsal. If you don’t put everything into it you’ll be letting us all down.”

He frowned.

“I’ve already done that.”

“A misunderstanding that we can talk about tomorrow,” she said firmly. “Tonight you’re Don John, not Sirius. Deal with it tomorrow.”

He nodded, miserably.

“When did you last sleep?” she asked.

“I had a sleep this afternoon,” he mumbled.

“But nothing before then?”

He shook his head.

“And when did you last eat?”

“Yesterday.”

Eleanor winced. They’d be lucky if he didn’t pass out.

She cast around for inspiration, and found it amongst the gaggle of curious onlookers that the cold hadn’t quite driven away.

Her pigtails were quite as erratic this year, as if she’d begun to grow into them.

“Olivia!” she called, and the second year in question detached herself from her friends and hurried over, curiously. “Do you want a secret mission?” Eleanor asked, with a grin.

0o0o0o0

“You don’t have to do this,” said Sirius, somewhat embarrassed.

“Yes I do,” Olivia insisted, waving a plate full of food under his nose in the ‘interval’. “Eleanor set me a secret mission.” She grinned, mischievously. “And now I know how to get into the kitchen, and no one else in my year does.”

Sirius managed a half smile at that.

“Looking to be a trouble maker?” he asked.

“Absolutely. When you lot leave, there will be a mischief vacuum. I intend to fill it,” she grinned, through her freckles.

“I would keep friends with you lady,” he chuckled, then added: “it’s from the play,” on her puzzled look. “Well, thanks,” he continued. “Really. I didn’t think anyone would help me after this morning.”

“What actually happened? All I heard was explosions.”

“I… misinterpreted a situation and tried to kill my best friend,” he said, miserably. “I was exceptionally stupid. As usual.”

“Did you manage it?”

“No, thank Merlin.” Then: “Don’t you think you’d have heard by now if one of the other students was dead?”

“In Hogwarts? My brother got locked in the Quidditch store-room for a week last year and only me and his room-mates noticed. And Professor Binns has never noticed that he’s dead. I mean, that would be fairly high on my list of things to notice.”

“You have a point,” he conceded.

“Have you talked to him about it?”

“No,” he gave a hollow chuckle. “I don’t think he’ll ever speak to me again. It’s not the first time I’ve messed up.”

“He’ll come around.”

“I don’t think so. You know, I’ve been trying to fight it all my life but I can’t seem to stop myself becoming the villain in everything I do. I’m a Black – it’s in the blood.”

“I don’t think that’s true,” said Olivia, speculatively. “I mean, you can be a bit of an idiot sometimes –”

“Thanks.”

“But you’re a boy, that’s what boys do. You don’t do it all the time, either. You’re like my brother, Corin. He’s a bit of an idiot some of the time, but he always comes through when I need it. You’re a nice person, really.”

Sirius stared at her.

“Do you think so?”

“Yes,” she nodded, emphatically. “You’ll be ok – and your friend will come around. It might take a while, but if he’s really your friend then he’ll forgive you – particularly because it was a misunderstanding.”

He looked at the girl in front of him. He vaguely remembered her from the year before – possibly in possession of a tiny purple Pigmy Puff. Clearly, Olivia was one to watch. And she had no idea what she’d just done for him.

“Thanks, Olivia.”

“No worries. Drink your coffee, it’ll go cold.”


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