Turning Time

PART TWO: The Untold Story of Sirius Black

21 July, 1968 11:26

"Disgusting."

I hung back, unsure of who my mother was talking to. Her voice sent a shiver down my back. I'd heard it somewhere before but couldn't remember where.

"I thought we were better than them."

"Apparently not," my father replied, just as serious.

"When they overturned the buggery laws for the Muggles last year, you remember what I said, don't you?"

"I remember we both knew it was only a matter of time—"

"…before the Ministry did the same, and look what has happened now."

I could tell my parents were angry, but my curiosity led me step out into the kitchen.

"Sirius." My mother noticed me and glanced at my father before saying, "Sirius, we've told you it's wrong for two men to be together like your father and I."

"What about two women?" I asked, then when I noticed my dad smile, I giggled. I didn't get the joke, but it was rare my dad so much as turned up a corner of his mouth.

My mother bent down so we were at eye level. I knew in that moment how serious she was. "I want to make this very clear, Sirius. Muggles, they are animals. I can't explain it very clearly to you yet, but know that they do things that are bad. Dirty. And wanting to…to hold hands and kiss someone who is the same sex as you is wrong."

I nodded. "Okay. Are you mad at me?"

She glanced at my father. "We'll be alright, Sirius. We know what's right for Britain, and know the Dark Lord will fix this." She hugged me briefly, and while I enjoyed the attention, I had a deep sense of shame that I didn't understand.

1 September, 1971 10:49

Making friends had been difficult, since I'd yet to meet someone who wasn't a complete twat. Boarding the Hogwarts Express, I could only hope that Hogwarts would be different, that the people would be—at the very least—tolerable.

I glanced into the first compartment from the door I entered. The boy sitting there looked up. "Hello."

"Hello." I put my trunk in the overhead compartment. Before I turned to sit, a girl rushed in, teary-eyed. She sat promptly down across from the boy and fixed her eyes outside the window.

The boy and I exchanged a glance before I sat next to him. "I'm Sirius Black."

He smiled, then shook my hand. "James Potter." He was slight, brown-skinned, black-haired, bright-eyed. Part Indian, maybe? He seemed bearable, but then again, his straight posture reminded me of the rich arses from my primary school.

"Where're you from?"

"St. Albans. You?"

I was right, he was rich. "Islington, London." I could tell James was assessing me, studying my features, but I pretended to not notice.

A boy slid open the compartment door and sat down opposite the crying girl. She glanced at him and then looked back out of the window. "I don't want to talk to you," she told him, voice constricted.

James, ignoring them, took out his wand and addressed me. "Wanna see some magic I taught myself?"

I nodded and propped my arm up.

"Alright, watch this." He waited for someone to walk past the compartment. "Rubrum rosea," he said, and with a swish of his wand, the boy took on a vibrant pink pigment.

I laughed. "Bloody hell, how long d'reckon he's gonna be like that?"

"Oh, it should wear off by the time we're at Hogwarts." James' teeth were white, straight.

"…You'd better be in Slytherin," the boy next to me said to the red-headed girl.

"Slytherin?" James' attention flipped to the two strangers. "Who wants to be in Slytherin?" James scoffed and turned to me. "I think I'd leave, wouldn't you?"

"My whole family have been in Slytherin," I said, unsmiling.

James regarded me, surprise exaggerated. "Blimey. And I thought you seemed all right!"

I grinned; so he didn't care. "Maybe I'll break the tradition. Where are you heading, if you've got the choice?"

James lifted an invisible sword. "Gryffindor, where dwell the brave at heart! Like my dad."

The boy made a small, disparaging noise.

James turned on him. "Got a problem with that?"

"No," said the boy, though his slight sneer said otherwise. "If you'd rather be brawny than brainy—"

I cut him off. "Where're you hoping to go, seeing as you're neither?"

James roared with laughter.

The girl stood up, rather flushed, and glared from James to me. "Come on, Severus, let's find another compartment."

"Ooh…" James and I imitated her lofty voice; James tried to trip the boy—Severus—as he passed.

"See ya, Snivellus!" I called as the compartment door slammed.

It took a while for us to stop laughing. When we'd recovered, James said, "I'm glad you don't want to be in Slytherin. I mean, hell, look at that kid. Evil, I've heard, the whole lot."

I snorted. "You're telling me. My mother, father, cousins, everyone—all Slytherins, and all…" I thought for a moment, searching for the right word.

"Dickheads?" James suggested.

I smirked. "Sure, let's go with that."

Time is supposed to go by quickly when you're having fun. But by the time we got off the train, it felt like years had passed. I was overcome with the distance between my new life and the one at home. I could almost sense that the times were splitting.

The sensation of a fresh start overwhelmed me as we made our way through Hogwarts. James and I were amazed at every aspect of the school; the statues, the ghosts, and above all, our headmaster Albus Dumbledore.

I was one of the first to be called up to be sorted.

After I put on the Sorting Hat, it said, "Ah…another child of the Black family…But what do we have here? Cunning, sure, but ambitious, not so. A strong distaste for Slytherin, too…I suppose my choice is clear—GRYFFINDOR!"

I split into a wide grin. Murmurs broke out at the Slytherin table among the applause. I noticed the dumbstruck expression on Narcissa's face and shot her a smug look.

After I took my seat by the upperclassmen and waited to see who else was sorted. Lily Evans, Remus Lupin, Mary MacDonald, Peter Pettigrew, and Cheresse Podmore were all sorted into Gryffindor. Finally, James sat down in the chair. The hat had barely grazed his hair when it exclaimed, "GRYFFINDOR!"

James bounded over to join the Gryffindor table. He immediately introduced himself to the other boys.

"Hello, I'm James Potter." James shook their hands.

"Sirius Black." I grinned, following James' gesture.

"Remus Lupin. And this is Peter Pettigrew." They smiled politely at us, then returned to their close observation of the Sorting.

After Lauren Tempah, Florence Tyler, and Aluria Vane were sorted into Gryffindor, Dumbledore invited us to eat.

James let Lily alone for the rest of dinner, but I could tell that he was very aware of her proximity, eyes shifting ever so often when she laughed.

After dinner, we headed to our dormitory. "I call the bed by the door," James said, carrying his things over.

I chose the bed across the room from him. Peter took the bed next to James, Remus the one next to me.

"So, Remus, where're you from?" James glanced at me, smirking. We thought there was something off about him.

"Basildon."

"Oh, I've been to Basildon," James said.

"D'you have family there?"

James shook his head. "I haven't much family. My dad and my mum are about it."

"Me too," Peter and Remus said at the same time, then glanced at each other, the sad statements broken by the coincidence.

I waved off their pity party. "You lot are lucky. I have tons of family, but they're all pureblood, so they're all about You-Know-Who and keeping the bloodline clean…"

"That is worse, I'd think," Remus said.

"Thanks." I pretended to glare at him before chuckling. "No, you're right. So you're not pureblood, then?"

"I'm half-blood. My mum's a Muggle, she's Welsh, and my dad's a wizard, English, he works for the Ministry." Oddly, Remus stopped after that to continue unpacking.

James went next. "My mum's from an Indian pureblood family, and my dad's from England, also pureblood. We're not with Voldemort, we're against him, of course."

"My family—we live in Rudgwick—they prefer to stay out of things like this, to be honest," Peter said. "But I'd quite like to do my part in the war."

James took out one of his Quidditch posters. "I wish we had more training. All these courses to prepare us for planting things, appreciating animals…we could use real training, real magic to get us ready to fight."

"As long as our professors teach us well, I think we'll be fine," Remus said, then lowered his head, embarrassed.

James and I glanced at each other, then he asked, "Remus, how'd you get your scars?"

I raised my eyebrow at James, then looked at Remus.

"I'd rather not talk about it…" He avoided our eyes, unpacking quickly.

I opened my suitcase and fished out pajamas. "That's alright. Scars aren't bad, you know. It's worse being a prick. Just talk to anyone in my house for at least five minutes, you'll understand what I mean…"

"You don't have to be defined by your family." Remus looked at me seriously, and I prickled with either annoyance or…something else.

"I know. That's why I hate that my name is Sirius, it's been passed down in my family."

"What's it mean?" James asked.

Before I could reply, Remus said, "It's a star in the constellation Canis Major." Remus hurried to explain himself after I raised my brow at him. "Sorry, I know because my mum's obsessed with astronomy. Legends and things, too. That's why she named me Remus—it's from…" He paused, face turning red. "I—I can't remember."

There was an awkward pause, then James said, "My name means 'brilliant, handsome, and talented' in old English."

"Really?" Peter lit up with admiration, then realized James was kidding and frowned. "Oh."

I snickered. Remus smiled, too.

"I'm a compulsive liar. Just kidding," James added, with a pointed look at Peter. Then he said, "There's a paradox for you."

I didn't get it, but Remus chuckled.

Catching my expression, James said, "Sorry if my humor's too highbrow for you, Sirius."

Ignoring his comment with a smile, I instead asked Remus, "At school, were you the kid everyone loathed for being a know-it-all?"

Remus winced. "I was home-schooled."

James glanced at me. "That must've been awful."

Sensing we hadn't tried to be malicious, Remus recovered. "Yeah, it was. There wasn't anyone my age where I lived, I really only had my family." He didn't meet our eyes. "It's common for wizards, you know, to be home-schooled, it's not just me."

James sat up. "Wait—are we the first people you've met that're your age?"

Remus fidgeted. "I suppose so."

I worked through my opinion of Remus. He was shy, but not necessarily awkward—just unused to…I couldn't figure it out. I hadn't realized I was staring at him until he looked up and met my gaze. A shiver ran through me.

Remus looked to James. "Did you go to boarding school, then?"

"Yeah. All boys' boarding school, too."

The image of his immediate infatuation with Lily flashed in my mind. "So what's the longest you've ever spoken to a girl?"

"Including you, or…?" He chuckled. "I dunno, there's always been family friends and stuff, sometimes. But I suppose I've never really been friends with a girl. Why?"

"Just wondering."

"To be honest, I thought I'd be the only one who hadn't kissed anyone yet."

I pulled on my pajama top. "Just give it a month or so, then you'll be in trouble. All those hormones are bound to get going."

"Great. How'll I get Lily to snog me by the end of September?"

"Oh, Merlin…" I said, and we all laughed.

Most people need a month to really get to know someone, decide if they want to be friends. For us, it only took the rest of the night. We had reached the point by four in the morning where we couldn't stop laughing, where anything anybody said or did was hilarious. My gut felt tingly, a numbing sort of warmth that bubbled up to my lips in the form of laughter.

Sitting cross-legged on our beds, realizing it was already the best day of our lives, I decided we were made for each other.

18 September, 1971 20:12

James looked between us. "I've been waiting to show you this." He rummaged through his things and pulled out a silvery cloak.

"What is it?" I reached out to touch it.

"An invisibility cloak. Been in my family for generations."

I looked up from the cloak. "Do you realize what we could do with something like this?"

James grinned. "Exactly." He pulled it over himself and vanished.

Peter laughed a little with excitement.

"Just think," said James' disembodied voice, "With this, we can rule Hogwarts."

2 November, 1971 5:02

"Guys, wake up."

I stirred, but only got up when Peter shook me.

James groaned. "Peter, for your sake, I hope it's time for breakfast."

"No, that's not it. Remus is gone."

A louder groan. "You heard of the loo? He's probably taking a piss."

"He left straight after we went to bed at ten thirty."

"Taking a shit, then?" I grumbled, pressing a pillow over my head.

"It's six in the morning. I've woken up a few times during the night, he hasn't been back—"

"How about you check the toilet and the common room and if he's not there, we'll look for him." James suddenly sounded awake.

After a minute, I sat up and rubbed my eyes. "What's the worst that could've happened? And anyway, how're we gonna do anything about it?"

Peter returned. "Couldn't find him."

"Looks like we're going on a hunt. Here, let me enchant your shoes so they're not as loud." James muttered something and waved his wand, one time per shoe. "Okay, now why don't we check the Hospital Wing first? He's looked awful the past couple days, maybe he's come down with something."

I stood up and stretched. "And what if he's not there? It could be another family emergency."

James yawned, then said, "I suppose. If he's not there, we'll assume that until the morning, and ask Dumbledore."

"Alright."

Peter and I lined up behind James and he threw the cloak over all of us. We'd managed before with four people underneath the cloak, traveling across the entire school, so we could maneuver well enough to the Hospital Wing with the three of us.

There was a singular lamp lit in the very corner of the Wing. But even in the dark we could've recognized Remus' sleeping form.

"I'll go out first." James slipped out from under the cloak and crouched down beside Remus' bed. He reached out and shook Remus' shoulder lightly.

Remus jerked awake, looking around quickly. He realized who James was, then asked, "What are you doing here?"

"I've brought the others, they're under the cloak, hang on."

As we emerged, Peter said, "You left in the middle of the night."

"I didn't feel well."

I noticed a bandage on his face. "Then what's that?"

"This?" Remus reached up slowly and gestured to it. "Er, there were these weird sores that appeared on my face, on account of me being sick."

James glanced at me. "Are you okay now?"

"I'm fine. Look, you all should go back, try and get more sleep before breakfast. Really, I'm fine."

James heaved a sigh. "Well, get better."

9 December, 1972 16:15

"I figured it out. I know where Remus has been every month since our first September at Hogwarts." James held his chin up, smug.

"Well…" I nudged him. "Out with it."

"Okay, so I've been looking for a pattern in his excuses, something to connect his absences…He's been gone once a month, sometimes one night, sometimes a few days. We knew that. But more exactly, the absences always have been about 29 days apart."

"So?"

"So guess what's about 29 days apart?"

Peter fidgeted with impatience. "What?"

"The full moon."

The full moon. So Remus was…?

"He's a werewolf. It makes sense: the scratches, the sickness, the secrecy."

Peter was more taken aback than I was. "A werewolf? Do you think Dumbledore knows?"

"He has to know."

"So what are we gonna do?" Peter asked, and we looked at James.

James shrugged. "Ask him, I suppose. There's nothing he can do now that we know." He paused, thinking. "What I don't get is why Remus didn't tell us."

"Let's find out, then," I said. "I'll fetch him."

I hurried down to the common room and found Remus sitting next to Lily, laughing. "Hey, Remus, we're going over plans upstairs."

Remus looked up, crestfallen. "Oh, sure, alright."

"We'll continue this tomorrow." Lily smiled, touching his arm before getting up and joining Aluria Vane by the fireplace.

"You and Lily are getting along well." I said, once we were out of earshot.

"Yeah, she's a laugh." Remus didn't say anything else, like he was holding back.

After we entered the dorm, I closed the door behind us. James and Peter sat on their respective beds, so we sat down on ours.

"Remus, will you be completely honest with us?" James asked, holding Remus' gaze.

Remus furrowed his brow. "What d'you mean?"

"I figured out that you're a werewolf."

Remus stiffened. "Why would you think—"

"It wasn't hard to figure out." He spotted a break in Remus' composure so he added, "Well, it was, but the regular illnesses? The family visits? We were sure to find out eventually."

I realized something else. "The Shrieking Shack. The upperclassmen say once every month you can hear these screams—they say it's ghosts—"

"Okay." Remus took in a shuddering breath. "You're right."

Peter let out a tiny gasp. "But why—"

"I didn't tell you because I knew this would happen. That you—you all wouldn't want to be friends with me anymore. I didn't want to come to Hogwarts because of it. Of putting people in danger, of getting too close—" His voice started to shake, so he stopped talking.

I gaped at him. "Why did you think it would change anything?"

"If anything, you're cooler now," Peter added.

"That's a bit of a stretch, Peter, but at least—Sirius is right." James met his eyes, solemn. "It's not going to change anything. Why should it? Even if we'd known before we were friends, it wouldn't matter. Remus, there are worse things to be than a werewolf. A Death Eater, for one."

Remus laughed a little, teary-eyed.

After a moment, Peter asked, "You haven't killed anyone, have you?"

Remus' expression fell. "No. No, I haven't."

I shot Peter a look, then asked Remus, "How long have you been a werewolf?"

"Have you heard of Fenrir Greyback? He bit me when I was seven. Since then…well, there's no cure for being a werewolf. Nothing to ease the process." Remus chewed his lip. "So I would transform, every month, and—it's the most painful thing I think anyone—at least that I've experienced. Transforming into a werewolf, it's though your body is being pulled in every direction, your bones grind against each other, and I—I forget who I am."

Remus glanced up, expecting us to have lost interest, perhaps, then found that we were engrossed, so he continued.

"Before it started, my parents would have to lock me up in this room, in our basement. At first, they would wait by the door, and after I changed back, they would hold me and cry. Eventually, perhaps I was nine, they simply turned the music up and waited upstairs. It was too hard for all three of us to endure." Remus put his head in his hands, then continued, "After I finished transformations, they'd have to dress my wounds, help me into bed." Remus looked up, eyes red-rimmed but dry. "I had no friends. I didn't think I could have any. Hogwarts was an idea, but didn't seem possible until Dumbledore visited. He told us they'd plant a tree, create a tunnel leading to a shack in Hogsmeade where I could transform in peace. He said the teachers would know, but they wouldn't mind."

Remus looked at us. "And here we are."

James stood and sat down next to Remus. "Thanks for telling us, mate."

I got up. "Let's have a chat with Dumbledore, tell him we know."

7 November, 1972 23:10

James leaned back in his chair. "We've got to focus on the Slytherins."

Remus nodded. "Right, there's no point in bothering anyone they've targeted, too." After we raised our eyebrows at him, he added, "For now."

James closed his eyes. "Snivellus, then. It's been at least a week, hasn't it? Since we've done something?"

"That's only because we've been caught up in schoolwork," Peter rushed to say.

"That's true." James opened his eyes and sat up. "I've got it. Simple, effective. If we do it, and they retaliate, anything similar wouldn't be so embarrassing for us."

After James told us his idea, we figured out a time and place. The next day, we waited until after Potions to make our move.

"Confundo," James said, and Snape stopped. We pulled him into the bathroom, and he started to peel off his clothes.

Peter, James, and I giggled; once he was down to his underwear, we lost it.

A fire had been lit inside me. I hadn't felt this good since the last time we'd messed with Snape.

"Confundo," James said again, and Snape set off as usual to lunch, oblivious to what he was—or wasn't—wearing.

Remus crossed his arms. "If we get to lunch first, they might not suspect us." Before we could object, he continued, "Or you could see the whole thing, either way—"

James crossed to the door. "Let's go, then!"

We hurried out of the bathroom and took every shortcut we could manage. By the time we made it to the Great Hall, Snape hadn't shown up yet.

"C'mon, let's sit here." I gestured to a bench not too close to or far away from Lily.

We only had to wait a minute before Snape entered the room. Slowly, people began to notice, and whispers turned to laughter.

I looked at Mulciber and Avery, hoping to find they were infuriated, but they weren't. If anything, they were annoyed at Snape, not whoever was responsible for his state. "They don't bloody care," I said to Remus, who looked at me as though I'd been born that day.

"It's not as though they're friends," Remus said.

I regarded him, confused. "Of course they are."

Remus shrugged. "By association, you could call them that. They aren't like us. They wouldn't care about that sort of thing."

Mulciber took off his cloak and handed it to Snape without looking at him, face twisted in disgust. So maybe they weren't friends, but that was Snape's fault.

21 December, 1972 16:15

"Hang on, Sirius, d'you mind treating my scars? I don't usually get them on my back where it's hard to reach…"

"Sure. Where's the—?"

"Over here." Remus handed me the lotion and sat down on the edge of his bed. "Oh, sorry." He took off his shirt. "How bad is it?"

The cuts crisscrossed across his back, red, angry. "It's…not so bad. Does it hurt?"

"Yeah. Of course it's better than it was right after…"

"Shit, okay, I'm gonna be honest, Remus, this is awful. I haven't a clue how you managed to keep this to yourself."

"I've done it since I was attacked, so it's not as difficult as you'd imagine."

"Still, I—we're best friends. You know now we won't abandon you for anything like that." At this, Remus trembled, so I had to change the subject. "Alright. It'd probably be easier if you lie down."

"Okay." Remus lay on his stomach, arms folded to serve as a pillow.

I squeezed some of the lotion onto his back, and he shuddered.

"Cold?"

"Yeah, a bit."

"Tell me if it hurts."

Remus' voice was a bit muffled. "This is the last dose, so it won't hurt once everything's covered."

Using small circular motions, I moved the lotion as lightly as possible until his back was covered.

Remus turned his head to see if I was finished. "Alright, you should be able to rub it in now."

"You're sure it won't hurt?"

"Positive."

I placed my hands on his shoulder blades and began to massage his back.

Remus let out a tiny moan, then became very still. "Sorry."

My heart pounded. "I'm not hurting you, am I?"

"No, it's good…" he said, voice drifting off.

I positioned my knees on either side of him and pushed my palms into his back. "You're really tense."

"Mhm." His voice was faint.

After a moment's contemplation, I worked my hands farther down, to his lower back, where the cuts has tapered off. Remus flinched, his breath catching, but he didn't protest. I brushed my fingers against Remus' skin, then ran my hands down his sides and up again, causing him to arch his back.

"That's good," he said quickly.

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah."

"Okay, well, put your shirt back on and we'll go back to the common room to—" But Remus wasn't moving. "What's wrong?"

"I'll catch up, just—you can go without me."

I raised an eyebrow, but as he was still pressed onto his stomach, he didn't catch the look. "Alright." I grabbed my wand and went downstairs.

Ten minutes later, Remus joined us at our usual table.

"Still hurting?" James asked as he dealt us a hand for Exploding Snap.

Remus shook his head, face flushed. He wouldn't look at me. What had I done? Had it been weird, back in the dorm? Oh, shit. Did he think I was…?

For the rest of the night, Remus couldn't speak a word to me directly. He could hardly laugh at anything any of us said. So before we went to bed, while James and Peter went to brush their teeth, I tried to think of what to say to him. Just as I was about to speak, he looked up from his book and said—

"I'm feeling better. Sorry, I know I was acting out of sorts. It's just that the transformations wear me out, and this past one was awful."

He didn't meet my eyes, but maybe it was for another reason. I wasn't particularly great at reading his emotions, so I had to assume nothing had changed between us. "I'm just glad you're feeling better."

16 January, 1973 21:15

"Sirius, d'you mind helping? I'm gonna clean the dorm."

"Why have I got to—" I caught his expression, and stopped. "Fine." What could he want?

Once we were upstairs, Remus shut the door.

My heart thudded. I imagined him locking the door, crossing to me and kissing me. I took a deep breath to bring myself back to reality.

"I have to tell you something."

"Okay…?" I sat down on my bed, and he sat across from me.

Remus breathed in deeply, then exhaled. "You can't tell James."

I nodded, truly unable to anticipate what he'd say—

"I fancy Lily. I have for about a while now."

"Oh. So—"

"I don't want to fancy her. James fancied her first, and he hasn't much intention of not fancying her, it seems…"

"Right. So you want my help setting you up with someone?"

"I suppose, but who would…who would fancy me?"

Without meaning to, I looked intensely at Remus, who met my gaze before turning his gaze away. I cleared my throat. "Why don't we throw a Valentine's Day party so you can pick someone there?"

"Pick someone? Like I'm shopping? I don't know if I—"

"Well, you have to, right? For James' sake?"

Remus sighed. "I know. Sure, let's have a party."

"I suppose we actually have to clean now, don't we?"

Remus rolled his eyes.

14 February, 1973 17:01

A month later, on Valentine's Day, we finished setting up in the Gryffindor Tower.

"Okay, Remus and Peter, you've got the butterbeer?"

"Yeah. Two kegs. We put them by the snacks."

"Brilliant. Sirius, music?"

"Ready. I have to ask around for more records, but otherwise it's set up."

James scanned the list. "That's all we had left to do. I'm gonna wash up, fix my hair—make sure everything's together by six!"

Later that evening, Remus and I watched James attempt—in vain—to gain Lily's favor. I could tell the hand that held her drink was wound up, ready to throw her butterbeer on him when he crossed the line.

"You realize you're moping," I said to Remus, still eying the two of them.

Remus sighed. "Then what do call what you're doing?"

"Touché." I searched the room for a girl that would suit him. "Do you care what house she's from?"

"No." Remus, stubborn, was making it obvious he didn't want to help me in my search.

"Age difference?"

"One year older or younger. If they're older than third year and interested in me, there would be a problem with them, I think."

"And finally, can it be a girl you've already fancied? Because if not, that eliminates six options."

"Six? You think I've fancied six people here?"

"I was being generous. You want me to name them?"

"Fine. But keep your voice down."

I started at the far left end of the room. "Cheresse Podmore, Mary MacDonald, Lauren Tempah—"

"What makes you think I fancied Cheresse Podmore?"

"Everyone fancied her in our first year."

"Did you?"

I felt an uncomfortable jolt at the implication of answering truthfully. "No."

"Then don't include her. Who else?"

"Marguerite Sparrow—"

"Nightingale."

"Marguerite Nightingale, Thriza Marr, and…Joan Norwood. Have I missed anyone?"

"Lily."

"Right. Is there another girl?" He shook his head, so I said, "Why don't we find someone like Lily. You seem to have a type."

"A type. What's my type?"

"Girls with a mouth on her. You know, they like to talk, to have their opinion known…"

"First off, you think that's a bad thing?"

"No, just a preference."

"Second, if I even have a type, it's more than a 'girl with a mouth on her.'"

"Oh yeah? What else?"

Remus turned pink. "I dunno. I suppose you're right, I tend to like people who are outgoing."

I surveyed the room. "Why not Ada Twiford, then?"

Remus followed my gaze. "I suppose I've always thought she was attractive."

"There you go! Bring her a butterbeer. If you need Peter to be your wingman—"

"I can handle it." Remus smiled, a bit nervously. "Thank you."

"Don't thank me until you're spending your free time snogging." Without waiting to see him go, I left to join James in his serenade to Lily. Before I could, I spotted one of our rivals, Raven Faralyn, as she walked into the room from the portrait hole. I pulled her aside. "Faralyn, you can't be here. I thought common sense would tell you that."

She glared at me. "You're gonna do this in front of everyone?"

I looked around. Some people were glancing in our direction, concerned. "They know you're not innocent. That you're basically a Slytherin. I know what my brother gets up to, and you two are best friends, right, so—"

"So I'm guilty of being friends with Regulus?"

"A crime in itself, sure." I stepped closer to her. "Don't pretend you aren't planning on joining You-Know-Who after Hogwarts."

"The invitation said no Slytherins. That was the only restriction, unless—"

"Sirius, what's going on?" Remus stepped between us.

"Faralyn just showed up. I was just telling her—"

"Leave it, Sirius, I have to talk to you."

I scowled at Faralyn, who raised her eyebrows and crossed her arms, then said, "Fine. We're not done, though."

Once she'd walked away, Remus told me what happened. "I sabotaged it on purpose. She was nice, but I couldn't bring myself—I don't want to meet someone like this, at a party, I've decided."

"You'd rather be friends first."

"Yeah."

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