As we sat at the table enjoying our breakfast, I noticed that Sirius's arm would brush against my shoulder every now and then, or his hand would touch mine as he reached for a piece of bread. Although I was not truly experienced in the department of romance, I had a fairly good idea of what it looked like when a boy was trying to get close to me. We mostly chit-chatted about small things, such as quidditch and classes, while we finished up our meal. I still was not comfortable in divulging my true self. After all, it had hardly been a day since I met him. I barely knew who Sirius was. Aside from being devilishly handsome and quick-witted, Sirius was as much of a mystery to me as I was to him.
"I can't believe we are in most of the same classes," said Sirius as he brought a goblet of pumpkin juice to his lips. "Remind me again why I have not seen you before?" I smiled and looked down at my empty plate.
"I suppose you just haven't been looking," I lied. I could feel his eyes piercing through me.
"Well you have caught my attention now, Miss Horsefeather," Sirius said playfully, "and I doubt I will ever be able to look away." He had such a way with his words. He knew exactly what to say to make a girl blush. He squeezed my hand as he stood up. "May I escort you to Gryffindor tower?" He asked as he held out his arm for me to grab. I just smiled and laced my arm through his and allowed him to walk me out of the Great Hall.
As we headed up the first flight of stairs, Sirius cleared his throat. "So Marilyn, why aren't you in Slytherin?" My body stiffened at this question and my breath quickened.
"What do you mean?" I said rather curtly, hoping he was not implying that I was more like a Slytherin than a Gryffindor, or even worse, he knew something about my secret. I looked straight ahead as I waited for him to explain.
"I didn't mean anything by it," he said quickly. I could tell he felt that he might have upset me by asking. "It's just that your family," he began as he stumbled over his words, "I mean, the Horsefeathers have a very pure blood line, and, as I recall, your entire family has been in Slytherin." He stared down at his feet.
"How do you know so much about my family?" I asked, taking my arm out of his.
"Well, The Ancient and Most Noble House of Black," he continued, sounding very sarcastic as he mentioned his family name, "has very strong ties with every pure blood family in Britain." He did not sound very proud to be part of this 'Noble House of Black.' "Everyone in my family has been in Slytherin as well," he continued as I took his arm again, "except me, of course."
"You do not strike me as the Slytherin type. You're too kind-hearted," I said with a smile. "The Sorting Hat did well with you." Sirius looked at me, his dark eyes glittering.
"It did well with you, too," he said with a wink. I sighed, knowing that was not entirely true.
As we entered the common room, James and Remus were sitting at a table near the corner playing exploding snap. They had another person with them who I did not know. I whispered into Sirius's ear. "Sirius, who is that with Remus and James?" He smiled and pulled me over to where they were.
"Hello boys!" Sirius said excitedly. James and Remus barely bothered to look up. They were so enthralled with their card game that they gave a small nod. The other boy sitting at the table turned around, a mousey smile on his face.
"Hey Sirius! Want to play? This hand is about over!" The boy said.
"Maybe in a bit, Wormtail," Sirius said, and he nudged me forward to introduce me. "Marilyn, this is my friend Peter. The four of us are the sneakiest, cleverest blokes in the castle!" Sirius laughed as he clapped Peter on the shoulder. I held out my hand to greet him. He seemed a bit hesitant to shake it. "Don't be shy, Peter! Shake the girl's hand!" Peter chuckled nervously as he grasped my hand.
"Nice to meet you, Marilyn. Would you care to play?" He asked, sounding very cordial.
"No thanks, Peter. I think I'll just sit here and enjoy the fire," I said with a warm smile. As I sat down on one of the couches, Sirius came over and set a box down in front of me, and gave me a smirk.
"Wizard chess!" he said, sounding quite amused with himself as he opened up the box and took out the pearly white and ebony pieces. He set up the board with the white pieces on my side. "Ladies first!" We played chess for what seemed like hours. Sirius always demanded another game because he was not winning as often as he would have liked. I was very entertained at his frustration. "You're very good at this. Better than I would have guessed," he said with his hand over his mouth as he contemplated his next move.
"Well, I am full of surprises." That was the truth. "I played all the time when I lived with my grandmother," I said as I looked down at my lap. "We were very close." Sirius moved his rook a few spaces and said 'Check.'
"Were?" He asked softly as I considered my next move. Then he began to recant his question, as if the answer would hurt my feelings. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to pry." He said as he rubbed the back of his neck. I moved my queen diagonally.
"Check mate," I said, and my queen stabbed his king through the heart with her scepter, and he fell to his knees as he clutched his chest. "No, it's alright," I said quietly, and I looked around for the other three. They were no longer at the table playing cards, so I assumed they had gone to the Great Hall for some lunch. "My grandmother died my third year. I was here at Hogwarts when it happened," I said as I looked toward the fire.
"I'm sorry," Sirius said again. I could tell it made him a bit uncomfortable to talk about morbid things.
"Oh, it's alright. It was a long time ago." I said, trying to sound airier than I really felt. Sirius looked up and gave me a small, sympathetic smile. I sighed and felt the need to change the subject again. "Tell me about you, Sirius. I've known you a full day and I feel like I barely know you," I said teasingly, nudging him with my foot. He grinned and adjusted his incline on the couch.
"Well," he began, "I ran away from home this summer and now I live with James," he said as he gazed up toward the ceiling. "I never had a great relationship with my parents. I did not agree with many of their beliefs."
"I did not have a very good relationship with my parents either," I said, not meaning to interrupt him. "So how is it living with James?" I tried not to talk about my own problems.
"It's really great. His parents are the best. They've been better parents to me these past few months than mine ever were. I really enjoy it there. I think you'd like them." I smiled to myself. I'm sure James's parents were exceptional; otherwise I doubt he would have turned out as nice as he was. "So what of your parents?" Sirius asked as he turned to look at me. I just shrugged.
"I never knew them. I was three days old when they dumped me on my grandmother," I said coldly. I sensed Sirius was uncomfortable again. "It wasn't a bad life, though, living with my grandmother," I said warmly, trying to diffuse the tension. "She was very intelligent and full of life. You would have liked her," I said smiling as I touched his hand. His eyes traveled up to meet mine. They were so full of soul and bewilderment. It was no wonder I always found it difficult to look away from them. It was like looking into a crystal ball. He took my hand in his.
"Marilyn, I know we just met and all," he said, almost shyly, "but I feel very close to you. As if I have known you for years." I felt like his eyes were peering into my soul, but I did not pull away. "And those eyes," he continued, surveying me carefully, "I don't know how I'll ever be able to look away." I felt my face turn red.
"You've said that once today already, Sirius," I said, still not looking away from him.
"Then I must really mean it," he said smiling.
"Honestly," I said softly, as if I did not want anyone around to hear me, even though the room was completely empty, "I feel the exact same way." I did not want this moment to end. I felt so vulnerable and open as we sat to closely together by the fire. I could feel the passion rush between us. It was nearly too much for me to handle.
We were still holding hands when the portrait hole flew open and James, Remus, and Peter stumbled into the common room. I ripped my hand away from his as he scooted to the edge of the couch, as if we had just been caught with our hands in the cookie jar. The three boys did not seem to notice however. They were preoccupied with something else exciting. James trotted over to the far wall by the staircases and held up a piece of parchment, and muttered the sticking charm to fasten it to the wall.
"James decided on the new members of the team while we were at lunch!" Peter said excitedly as his gaze traveled to me. I jumped off the couch and ran over to him, shaking off the previous encounter I had just had with Sirius.
"I thought you weren't going to have this up until dinner!" I said eagerly, craning my neck to see past him and find my name on the parchment.
"Well, Marilyn," James said as he stepped out of the way, "like you, I was growing impatient as well." He laughed as Sirius joined us by the wall, trying to get a look in as well. I nearly screamed when I saw my name listed first under the title 'Chaser.' I wrapped my arms around James's neck.
"You have no idea what this means to me," I said softly in his ear. My heart was pounding with delight.
"You deserve it, Marilyn," he said, returning my hug. I released him and my face was beaming with an enormous, toothy smile. "I doubt the other house teams will know what hit them! Our first practice is tomorrow night at six. Bring your A game," he said, with a lighthearted stare.
"I won't let you down, captain!" I said with a small salute. James headed up the steps toward the dormitory as more Gryffindors came down to investigate. Sirius wrapped his arm across my back and pulled me into a slight embrace.
"Congratulations! As if you didn't already know you had made the team," he said playfully. I wiggled free from his hold and headed toward the chess board still sitting in front of the couch.
"Best out of five-hundred then?" I said spiritedly with a wink, mocking Sirius's mischievousness, patting the spot next to me as I sat down. The pieces had already mended themselves back together. He just rolled his eyes as he made his way over.
"You've got to let me win a few," he said with playful exasperation in his voice, and we played until the sun had set beyond the hills.