The moment the words leave my mouth, I frown to myself. Grimmauld Place? Why'd that pop into my head? Is that even where Sirius lives?
Whoops, too late.
I spin past dozens of fireplaces and fall out at my destination in front of, er, two pairs of feet. I look up to meet the eyes of two very stern-looking people staring down at me. I guess… wrong house? I spring to my feet and brush the dust off my jeans.
“Sorry, mister and missus—er, yeah, sorry, I'll be leaving,” I mumble as I turn to walk right back into the flames.
But the moment I take a step, Sirius pops out and nearly runs me over.
“Hey, Mum. Hi, Dad,” he says with a wave, completely unfazed that I just face-planted into his chest. Instead, he just grabs me around the waist and turns me around to face his parents.
Wait, you're kidding right? These scary adults are his parents? And my happy-go-lucky Mum and Dad are actually friends with these guys?
I automatically straighten up and plaster a nervous smile on my face. “Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Black,” I say, nearly stumbling through the words despite myself. “I’m glad to see you are doing well.”
His mum gives me a warm smile, contrary to her sharp eyes. “Hello, Cecilia dear. It's so good to see you again.” She then turns back to Sirius. “You're late,” scolds Mrs. Black in a stern voice.
Sirius just shrugs. “Cecilia's mum wanted to chat with me before I left. Ran a little over time,” he explains unblushingly. “But we got here before it started anyway, didn't we?”
Sirius' mum straightens up disapprovingly. “It might be more than enough time for you, but dear Cecilia is a lady. You should understand that.”
What does that have to do with anything?
Sirius just grins again. “Oh, I'm sure Cecilia will have no problems whatsoever. Right?” he adds before giving my side a little squeeze and pulling me even closer.
Finally unable to take it anymore, I elbow Sirius in the ribs as inconspicuously as possible two meters away form his parents. “What are you doing? Let go of me!” I mutter furiously under my breath.
“My parents are under the impression that we've been dating for the whole of the first term,” he replies out of the corner of his mouth, his wide smile still unmoving.
I look at him aghast, or at least I did in my mind. “You git! You know better than anyone that we obviously haven't!”
“Well, what was I supposed to say to them?” Sirius whispers back a little louder than he probably should've. I glance up at his parents warily and see that they are thankfully having their own little private conversation.
Now, I glare at him point blank. “You could've told them the truth, or that we were waiting until we were of age to date or something!”
“Well, it's a little late now isn't it, smart one—”
“What are you two quarreling about over there?” Sirius' father asks suspiciously. “Is there a problem?”
“No, no problem at all!” Sirius turns back to his dad with a laugh of a certain fakeness only I seemed to detect. He pulls me even closer, if that were possible. “Just play along, it's only an act!” he hisses to me.
I mentally roll my eyes. “Yeah, just a happy couple talking happily about happy things and happiness,” I say with a unnaturally huge smile.
Sirius steps on my foot, but I ignore it. It's his own fault he lied to his parents, the idiot.
Surprisingly, Sirius' father smiles at my words. He turns to his wife with a satisfying nod, “What a cute fiancé we chose for our Sirius.”
Mrs. Black nods in agreement. “They do look lovely together.” And with that, the two of them turn around arm in arm and walk off down the hall away from us, chuckling to themselves.
I stare at their retreating backs with my jaw dropped. “What bizarre parents,” I say in awe. Totally not what I imagined as the parents of such a flirt.
Sirius sighs exasperatedly, “Yeah, they are positively mental.” Then, with my trunk still under his left arm and my waist in his other, he steers me down the hallway the opposite direction from his parents. “C'mon, let's get out of here.”
After a moment of silent walking, I stop in my tracks, attempting to wriggle out of his arm. “Your parents left, so you can let go of me now.”
“Okay.” He grins, but doesn't move an inch away from me. Instead, he drops my trunk and turns towards me with both of his arms wrapped around my waist.
“Don't say okay if you're not going to do it,” I mutter irritated, looking anywhere but at his eyes, which was relatively difficult considering the fact that they were practically inches away from my own.
“Okay,” Sirius says again, clearly amused.
“I said don't—what are you doing?” I ask hastily as he cups my chin and tilts my head up so our faces are merely centimeters apart now. “You know I hate it when you do that, don't you?” I grumble.
“Well, you better get used to it then.” Sirius gives me another one of his crooked grins. “You're stuck with me for the duration.”
I push myself away from him, trying to feign indifference. Whether I even remotely succeeded, who knows.
“Yeah, whatever,” I say as nonchalantly as I could. “And what are we doing just standing here anyway? Didn't you say we were late for something?”
“Oh, that's right!” Sirius smacks his forehead with the palm of his free hand. Talk about getting your priorities straight. “You have to get ready for the ball! I can just throw whatever on, but you on the other hand…”
“Ball?” I repeat bemused. “What ball?”
Sirius just smirks. “That ball.”
I push myself up on my elbows and look around at the room I was given. Like a proper look. I was lying on an enormous bed twice the size of the one I have at home and three times as extravagant. The room itself was monumental with floor-to-ceiling windows all along one wall of the room, a full-length mirror on another wall, and a doors leading to god knows how big a closet and bathroom. And I thought my family was rich?
Blimey, if this is the size of a guest room, I can only imagine the sheer vastness Sirius’ room, which conveniently was just across the hall from mine. Coincidence? I THINK NOT.
I let out a grossly overdramatic groan and swing my legs over the side of the bed.
“Not to mention I have to get ready for a bloody ball, like, right now!” Clutching my head in my hands, I blindly spin around in frustration. “And where am I supposed to find dresses anyway? It’s not like I’m going to even touch those tasteless clothes Mum got me—whoa!”
And in my blind clumsiness, I stumble through… a wardrobe? I look up to see an incredible assortment of dresses. Speak of the devil.
“Miss?” a voice calls from outside my door.
“Yeah, come in!” I say absently, still staring in awe at all of the dresses. “Whose dresses are these?” I ask the house elf that entered my room, “Mrs. Black's?”
“They’re all for you, miss!” the house elf squeaks from somewhere along my waist-line, “All made for the future mistress of this household!”
I gape at the house elf and then back at the dresses. They're all for me? That's insane! Other than these weird balls, when else am I ever going to wear these? For dinner? To go to the bathroom? How do you pureblood royalty I don’t even know.
“The ball starts in an hour, miss!” the house elf squeaks again. “Would the miss like help getting prepared for the young master?”
“I can probably manage on my own, thanks,” I reply vaguely as I attempt to gather my scattered wits off the floor.
Or so I think.
When was the last time I dressed up for anything, anyway? Ideally, I would have learned a thing or two during my fifteen years of living at home with Mum, but you’d be surprised how much I let go through one ear and out the other sometimes. Plus, how was I supposed to know I was going to spend the rest of my life attending bloody balls?
“Well, better start picking a dress for starters,” I mumble to myself as I start flipping through the dozens of dresses in my apparent future wardrobe. “Okay, so green would clash with my eyes. White? As if I'm not pale enough already. Ugh, I'm not a very pink-y person… since it apparently makes me look fat, bloody hell. Red? Definitely more a Sonata color.”
I slump against the dresses and sigh.
“Agh, I knew it. I’m rubbish at this. What am I going to do? I wonder if the Blacks will notice if I just don’t show up at their stupid ball…”
Why don't you have anything in a shade of violet or something? That would really bring out your eyes.
Sirius' voice suddenly echoes through my mind, so clearly that it's almost as if he's standing right next to me.
I look up in surprise and something catches my eye. It was so convenient, I swear it was straight out of a bleedin’ fantasy book. How on earth did I not notice it before? Right there in front of me hung a dress of deep burgundy, the perfect shade to compliment my lavender eyes.
Wow, this could actually work. Er, somehow.
I quickly throw on the dress and move out in front of a full-length mirror. Hmm, parts of it hugged my figure a little tighter than I would've liked, but, y'know, good thing I have Sonata's model-like body. Wait, I mean, good thing she has mine… which means I have hers... which is mine.
Damn circular logic and all its friends.
After a few finishing touches that even I was proud of, especially considering that I hadn't formally dressed up for anything in years, I finally haul arse out the door and tip-toe down the hallway. I have to hold the massive skirts of the dress bunched up in my fists so I don’t trip over my own feet and faceplant on the floor, but I manage the journey to the main hall in record time.
Sooner than I would've hoped, the loud chattering of voices begins echoing louder and louder in my ears.
Suddenly, I'm feeling kind of dizzy… and that exponentially increasing anxiety nearly skyrockets as I step out into the open on the stairs before the gigantic ballroom.
This… was a definitely bad idea.
I’m about to turn on my heel and just walk away when I hear a familiar voice call out to me from the bottom of the staircase.
I spin around to see Sirius grinning at me from his place leaning against the bannister. Was he waiting for me?
I raise my eyebrows at him from the top of the stairs, scrutinizing his off appearance.
Well, he looks oddly out of place tonight. He’s not even wearing dress robes! Insead, Sirius is sporting nothing more than a dress shirt, slacks, waistcoat, and tie with canvas shoes to boot. Now I’m confused. Am I overdressed, or is he underdressed?
I'm saved the effort of scanning the room and freaking myself out again when Sirius gives me a look and a nod, gesturing for me to come down.
I take a step, bracing myself for the queasiness that would enter my stomach every time I feel I'm in the spotlight, but it doesn't come. For some reason, all I can see are the soft grey eyes awaiting me at the bottom of the stairs and all I can hear is the rhythmic clacking of my black heels on marble… and before I know it, I'm by his side.
But before I can say one word to him, he gives me a sly look and bows down slightly.
“Dance with me.”